6. JFK
Now Streaming on FilmStruck

Release Date: 1991

Genre: Political thriller

Director: Oliver Stone

Cast: Kevin Costner, Kevin Bacon, Tommy Lee Jones, Laurie Metcalf, Gary Oldman, Michael Rooker, Jay O. Sanders, Sissy Spacek, and about 500 other people

As far as historical accuracy go, JFK borders on offensive. Oliver Stone altered or ignored so many facts in tackling the story of the Kennedy assassination that you can’t help but think of his approach to this story as disingenuous. But here’s the thing: JFK isn’t a documentary. It’s a narrative film, and as long as you think of it as (primarily) fiction, it’s a masterpiece. Stone’s film attempts to blow the lid off the truth behind Kennedy’s death, and ends up revealing approximately 1000 different conspiracies, some plausible, some laughable. Is Stone even looking for the truth? Not really. He’s just trying to make sense of one of the most tragic events in American history. Kevin Costner is in Frank Capra-hero mode playing District Attorney Jim Garrison, who gets in way over his head when he starts investigating the Kennedy assassination. Stone’s film jumps back and forth in time, with flashbacks within flashbacks within flashbacks. “It’s a mystery wrapped in an enigma,” one character says of the Kennedy assassination, and that description could apply to this film as well. Stone, cinematographer Robert Richardson and a team of editors piece together a film that looks and feels like almost no other movie, with film stocks, aspect ratios and color changing wildly. It can be frenetic and disorienting, but if you’re on board with what Stone is doing here, you’re in for something remarkable. Just please, remember: almost nothing here is accurate.

For fans of: NixonNatural Born KillersU-Turn, cameos galore.


7. Creepshow 2
Now Streaming on Shudder

Release Date: 1987

Genre: Horror anthology

Director: Michael Gornick

Cast: Lois Chiles, George Kennedy, Dorothy Lamour, Tom Savini

Castle Rock hit Hulu this week, and if you’re looking for more Stephen King action, here you go. Creepshow 2 is the follow-up to Creepshow (obviously), and while Stephen King‘s stories still serve as the basis for the film, King himself didn’t pen the script. Those duties instead fell to original Creepshow director George A. Romero, and Lucille Fletcher. But Romero didn’t return to the direct the sequel. Instead, Michael Gornick took over. Gornick does fine, but let’s face it – he’s no Romero. So Creepshow will always be superior to Creepshow 2. There, now that we’ve got that out of the way, I can tell you that Creepshow 2 is still full of creepy, icky fun, just like the first film. This is an anthology, so you get several different stories. One of the most disturbing is The Raft. In that segment, a group of teens head out to a lake and find themselves the victims of a gooey, melty monster. My personal favorite, though, is “The Hitch-hiker”, in which a woman runs down a hitchhiker and drives off, only to have his very talkative corpse follow her.

For fans of: CreepshowTales from the CryptTrick ‘r Treat, people ripping the skin off their faces.


Now Streaming on Hulu and Amazon Prime Video

Release Date: 1985

Genre: Amish crime thriller

Director: Peter Weir

Cast: Harrison Ford, Kelly McGillis, Lukas Haas, Danny Glover, Patti LuPone

We take Harrison Ford for granted as an actor. The gruff, seemingly miserable Ford has spent a good chunk of his career playing the same characters, and I feel like this causes some people to classify him as “one note.” But Ford does have range! And one of his very best performances is in 1985’s Witness, in which the actor isn’t gruff or miserable. Instead, he’s very charming. When he’s not killing people. Ford plays a cop from Philadelphia who gets assigned to a case in which a young Amish boy (Lukas Haas) witnessed a murder. It turns out the murderers are crooked cops, and Ford is badly injured. In order to hide him from the corrupt, murderous cops, Haas’ mother (Kelly McGillis) takes Ford back to their Amish community to hide-out. There, Ford is an outcast at first, but he slowly begins to fit in, while also striking up a romance with McGillis’ character. One of director Weir’s greatest tricks in this film is that it starts off seeming like it’s going to be a gritty crime thriller, only to turn into a reflective, romantic drama in which there are wide shots of Ford standing in wheat fields and rolling up his sleeves. And just when you settle into the film’s calm, tranquil style, things turn suddenly, and shockingly, violent again. And gosh darn it, Ford is phenomenal here, bringing a vulnerability that he doesn’t often display in other parts (although he does dabble; see: The Fugitive and Regarding Henry).

For fans of: Days of HeavenThe Truman ShowThe Fugitive, Harrison Ford in a straw hat.


9. A Most Violent Year
Now Streaming on Netflix

Release Date: 2014

Genre: Crime drama

Director: J. C. Chandor

Cast: Oscar Isaac, Jessica Chastain, David Oyelowo, Alessandro Nivola, Albert Brooks

A Most Violent Year didn’t make much a splash when it arrived in 2014, which is really weird. Because A) the movie is fantastic; B) it stars Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain; and C) it’s from indie powerhouse A24. Perhaps this is simply a movie made to be rediscovered at a latter time. Like right now, for instance. The film is set in New York in 1981 – the most violent year in the city’s history, thus the title. Oscar Isaac is a businessman trying to make it big with his up-and-coming oil company, but his trucks keep getting hijacked. Isaac’s character wants to stay clean and on-the-level, but his wife (Chastain), the daughter of a mob boss, urges him to start fighting back against the people ripping him off. A Most Violent Year is a slow-burn, and the plot is really secondary to the performances. Isaac shines as the conflicted lead character, trying so hard to not give in to an easy life of crime while speaking in a soft, measured tone. The real standout, though, is Chastain, who is tough and scary, commanding the screen with her presence (and very ’80s fashion).

For fans of: The GodfatherWe Own the NightThe Conversation, Oscar Isaac playing Young Al Pacino.


10. The Mind’s Eye
Now Streaming on Shudder

Release Date: 2016

Genre: Horror throwback

Director: Joe Begos

Cast: Graham Skipper, Lauren Ashley Carter, John Speredakos, Larry Fessenden, Noah Segan, Matt Mercer

Hey, you want some exploding heads? Then The Mind’s Eye is for you. Joe Begos‘ horror throwback is part Scanners, part Firestarter, and part red-and-blue-light show. Graham Skipper and Lauren Ashley Carter play a couple with deadly psychokinetic powers. The two find themselves separated, and kept prisoner at a facility by a super-crazy doctor (John Speredakos) who wants to harvest their powers for his own nefarious uses. That’s the basic plot, and it gives Begos a chance to go wild with practical effects and an abundance (perhaps an overabundance) 0f style. Carter knocks this one out of the park as a long-suffering, very dangerous telepath; she’s tragic, manic and believable, even as she’s blowing up people’s heads with her thoughts. Look for bonus appearances from Larry Fessenden and Noah Segan, both of whom are contractually obligated to appear in every single movie like this.

For fans of: ScannersFirestarterThe Guest, synth-heavy scores.

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