25. Almost Famous
Cameron Crowe’s dramatic retelling of his own life as a teenage wunderkind reporter for Rolling Stone. The best part of this movie isn’t Kate Hudson or Zooey Deschanel; it isn’t even Francis McDormand as the perpetually hyperventilating mother archetype, but Jason Lee’s heart-wrenching performance of the hit song “Fever Dog.”
It’s weird that there are so many movies from the 1980’s that tackle themes that are so prevalent today. The first Robocop expertly examines themes of gentrification, the militarization and privatization of the police force and capitalism run rampant. Also, it’s gory as all hell.
23. Robocop 2
Robocop 2 wasn’t as smart as it’s predecessor but it did prove to be prophetic as the city of Detroit did eventually go bankrupt. Although, unlike in the film, there wasn’t a greedy corporation hell bent on owning it afterwards.
22. The Running Man
There might be “running” theme with some of Amazon Prime’s movies. “By 2017, the world economy has collapsed” and so begins Stephen King’s The Running Man. Arnold Schwarzenegger is Ben Richards, a man scapegoated for not following orders to slaughter innocent women and children. He’s then sentenced to play the sadistic titular game show and run for his life.
21. The Greasy Strangler
The Greasy Strangler is a film that could have only come around in a world post-Tim and Eric Awesome Show Great Job! A father and son pine for the same woman while an oily maniac strangles his victims on the street. Must be seen to be believed. RIYL: Graphic male nudity.
20. There Will Be Blood
It was a beautiful moment in time when every other day you could hear someone saying, “I drink your milkshake” in a public space. Maybe, if we’re lucky, we’ll get a popular catchphrase that remains as hopelessly strange when decontextualized. This is the story of Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) and his lifelong pursuit of riches through oil.
19. The Love Witch
The Love Witch came out in 2016 but you’d never know it by looking at it. Shot on 35mm and lit and styled to look like the Technicolor films of the 50s, 60s and 70s, Samantha Robinson plays the modern-day spell-caster who uses her powers to get men to fall in love with her with disastrous results. The film examines gender roles and ideas of contemporary feminism.
18. American Pastoral
Based on Philip Roth’s magnum opus, American Pastoral sees the directorial debut of Ewan McGregor who also plays the main character Seymour “Swede” Levov. An all-American couple finds their lives slowly crumbling as their daughter joins up with a radical 1960s counter-culture group.
17. American Honey
There aren’t many times that you get to be pleasantly surprised by Shia LeBeouf but American Honey is one of them. An adolescent runaway gets mixed up with a gang of crusty travelling sales-teens. They party hard and fall in sticky, alcohol-soaked love.
Reese Witherspoon is always at her best when she’s just playing Reese Witherspoon. This adaptation of the Tom Perrotta novel of the same name might have been one of the first movies where she did just that. High school teacher Jim McAllister (Matthew Broderick) tries to thwart the dreams of Tracy Flick (Witherspoon) becoming class president.
15. Author: The JT LeRoy Story
In 1999, the novel Sarah, about a boy and his life with his prostitute mother, became a literary sensation when it came to light that it was a sort-of true story written by sixteen-year-old phenom, JT LeRoy. After many years, publications and public deceptions, it turned out that LeRoy was a persona adopted by author Laura Albert. Author tells the story behind the story of this stranger-than-fiction tale.
14. Eddie Murphy: RAW
Known just as much for it’s controversial material as it is the wardrobe, Raw might have been the apex of Murphy’s career and it’s still the #1 stand-up box office film of all time. Fair warning: not all of Murphy’s jokes have aged well and sometimes they’re downright offensive even by 1980s standards.
13. American Playboy: Season 1
Drawing on more than 17,000 hours of footage and 2,600-and-counting scrapbooks, American Playboy is set to be the defining document on the iconic Playboy Magazine. The 13-episode series marks Amazon’s first foray into original documentaries.
12. Bosch: Season 3
Based on the award-winning novels penned by Michael Connelly, Bosch is kind of like the Burn Notice of Amazon—it’s supposed to be pretty good but nobody actually knows anyone who watches it. You-know-you’ve-seen-him-somewhere actor Titus Welliver stars as Bosch, an ex-Special Forces hard-nosed homicide detective solving mysteries on the mean streets of Hollywood.
11. Catastrophe: Season 2
Apparently, this show is hilarious. Rob Delaney and Sharon Hogan star as a couple of newly minted parents navigating the world in lieu of post-partum depression and unwanted sexual advances. It’s been called “piss-in-your-pants” funny.
10. Animal Kingdom: Season 1
After the death of his mother, seventeen year-old Josh Cody goes to live with his criminal family members who spend their days drinking, drugging and committing violent crimes.
9. The Handmaiden
Chan-Wook Park (Stoker, Oldboy) directs this loose adaptation of the Victorian crime novel Fingersmith. In 1930s Japan, a Korean handmaiden and her conman partner seek to defraud a Japanese woman of her rather large inheritance.
8. Captain Fantastic
After the death of the family matriarch, Ben Cash (Viggo Mortensen) is forced to take his children out of their wilderness seclusion where he’s trained them to be smart, athletic and devoid of reliance on technology. Hilarity ensues for this sheltered unit.
7. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
The prototype for all American horror films and a true masterwork of cinematography. Like Jaws urged viewers to stay out of the water, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre warned sexy teens away from taking road trips through the American South.
6. Big Fan
Patton Oswalt carries this character study of an obsessed New York Giants fan. The film is equal parts hilarious, cringe-worthy and heartbreaking. Beaten by his favorite player, Paul Aufeiro (Oswalt) gives new meaning to the phrase “never meet your heroes.”
5. Blue Ruin
What do you do when the guy who killed your parents gets out of prison? Kill him and burn every branch on his family tree of course.
4. Green Room
Set against the backdrop of the white supremacist movement in the Pacific Northwest, Green Room pits a punk rock band against murderous skinheads. Another instant classic by Jeremy Saulnier.
3. Gimme Danger: Story of the Stooges
Directed by Jim Jarmusch, Gimme Danger chronicles the rise of the definitive Detroit rockers (fronted by the inimitable Iggy Pop) who helped birth the punk rock and alternative movement as we know it.
2. One More Time with Feeling
Documenting the recording of the Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds’ sixteenth studio album The Skeleton Tree after the death of Cave’s fifteen year-old son. Cave provides intermittent narration about the creative process and grief throughout.
1. The Witch
It’s cold. It’s snowy. It’s isolated. It’s New England in the 1600s. Young Thomasin has been accused of witchcraft as strange happenings begin to plague her family. Is she a witch? Or is this just a metaphor for puberty?