25. The Leftovers: Season 3
140 million people disappear without a trace in this riveting HBO original series. Where did they go? What happened to them? What secrets are hidden in Justin Theroux’s new beard? The series does not seek to answer these questions but, instead, ponders the quandary of what those left behind do in the wake of the “sudden departure.”
24. Veep: Season 6
After last season’s curiously prophetic ending—seeing the well-qualified female former vice president Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfuss) lose to a slick talking male politician—it will be interesting to see where season 6 takes their charismatic lead in the wake of her being knocked down a peg.
23. Silicon Valley: Season 3
HBO’s “Entourage for nerds” returns with their third season. The trailer would have us believe that Richard leaves his cadre of social awkward programmers to start a new Internet. Will he succeed? Will we see them reunite by mid-season? Probably both.
22. Crashing: Season 1
Crashing makes good use of Pete Holmes’s clean comic abilities as a recently divorced and down-on-his-luck stand up comic seeking shelter in the homes of a cavalcade of comedic heavyweights (Sarah Silverman, Artie Lange, TJ Miller et. al.). The show’s first season was a success and unsurprisingly HBO has already renewed it for a second.
21. Girls: Season 6
Millennials may never seem so interesting again now that Girls is coming to an end. The show lasted a jaw-dropping six seasons and now we’ll have to wave goodbye to Marnie, Hannah, Shoshanna and the British one… probably over Skype and from a coffee shop.
20. Big Little Lies: Limited Series
The limited miniseries seems to be a growing trend for HBO and Big Little Lies is evidence that the network should continue to pursue the medium. If anyone thought that glimpsing through the keyhole into the lives of bored, rich white women was a dead theme, they were wrong. The all-star cast (Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern and Shailene Woodley) viscerally brings to life the Liane Moriarty murder-thriller novel of the same name.
19. Absolutely Fabulous: the Movie
Edina and Patsy are back in their long-awaited return. The film finds the hard-partying duo knocking supermodel Kate Moss into the River Thames and subsequently fleeing to the French Riviera. Expect lots of drinking and shopping while the duo try to figure out just how to stay live on the high life.
18. Romancing the Stone
A loveless romance writer gets chucked into a real life adventure in the jungles of Colombia with a charming mercenary. Michael Douglas elevates the film above just an Indiana Jones-esque rom-com-with-bullets cash grab.
17. Cop Car
Try to think of a disappointing Kevin Bacon movie. You probably immediately gravitate toward Footloose but you’re wrong. Cop Car centers around two kids who go for a joyride in a crooked cop’s car. Kevin Bacon has a moustache, a badge and a loaded gun. What more could you ask for?
16. 28 Days Later
Two words: fast zombies.
15. Urban Cowboy
Who ever thought that after Saturday Night Fever John Travolta could make a convincing mechanical bull-riding cowboy named Bud Davis? He does pretty well here opposite a proto-feminist Sissy Spacek in this classic of honky tonk cinema.
14. War Dogs
Jonah Hill and Miles Teller step out of their comfort zones to play two loathsome arms dealers who supply guns and ammo to shady folks in league with Afghan forces. Based on a true story that helps to remind people that it’s totally OK to make light of an illegal arms race in the Middle East.
13. Crimson Tide
Gene Hackman and Denzel Washington butt heads over whether or not to launch a nuclear missile at Russia. Bonus points for James Gandolfini and Viggo Mortensen. Fun fact: Crimson Tide was co-written by an uncredited Quentin Tarantino.
12. Suicide Squad
Remember when the whole world waited with baited breath to see just how sick and twisted Jared Leto’s tattooed, millennial representation of the Joker was going to be? Especially after all the reports of him sending used condoms and dead pigs to his cast mates? And then, remember how he ended up in Suicide Squad for all of five minutes?
Despite being one of America’s most universally celebrated (and universally despised) authors, adapting Philip Roth to the big screen has always posed a bit of a challenge (just ask Ewan McGregor). James Schamus does admirably here with his take on Indignation—the story of a brilliant young Jewish man feuding with the dean of his university while pining for a Christian, conservative girl in Ohio.
10. Play Misty for Me
Clint Eastwood is a polarizing figure. When he’s not yelling at chairs in front of a crowd of old white men, he’s out making pretty decent films. Play Misty for Me is his directorial debut and one of the few roles that didn’t see him with a revolver, cigar and a cowboy strut. Eastwood plays a Hollywood DJ that gets into bed with the wrong woman.
9. Be Kind, Rewind
The aughts were a good time for Michel Gondry—Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind garnered him an Academy Award and The Science of Sleep put the power of his vision on full display. Be Kind Rewind didn’t become the hit that it should have but history will no doubt remember it fondly. Jack Black and Mos Def find themselves having to low-budget recreate their favorite movies after Black inadvertently wipes all the tapes at their dwindling video store.
8. Cape Fear
The heartwarming tale of a former public defender and the convicted rapist that wants to kill him and destroy his family. The film marks the seventh of eight collaborations between Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro (whose tattoos continue to inspire prisoners and alt-indie band members to this day).
7. Slumdog Millionaire
How could a street kid know so much useless, game show trivia? Danny Boyle directs Dev Patel with all the toilet gags, drugs, sex and money you’ve come to know him for.
6. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
The title does a great job of summing up the basic plot. Come for the story of one of the most enduring legends of the American West, stay for the excellent performances of Brad Pitt and the perpetually brooding Casey Affleck.
5. The Deer Hunter
In the span of four years, there were eleven American-made films about the Vietnam War. Seven of them were made in 1976 alone. The Deer Hunter remains one of the most powerful. Christopher Walken and Robert De Niro play American soldiers forever changed by the horrors they are subject to.
4. The Simpsons Movie
This film has everything: a pet pig, graphic nudity and a clueless president who signs off on executive orders without reading them.
3. The Aviator
The biopic of eccentric genius/really rich guy Howard Hughes starring Leonardo DiCaprio as directed by Martin Scorsese.
An aging outlaw takes on one… last… job. Clint Eastwood directs and stars in his last western, tackling the violent and imperialistic truths of the Old West mythos that many other Hollywood films tend to skirt.
1. All the President’s Men
Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman play Woodward and Bernstein following the money all the way to Nixon. If there’s one movie that should be required viewing for all of America, it’s probably this one.