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Cinema: Classic and Contemporary

Movie Favorites

As feature story writers and filmmakers, we naturally appreciate cinema productions of all kinds. Perhaps our favorite genre is “dramedy” which combines serious drama with comedy—very difficult to effectively pull off. In any case, we share just a very few of our favorite productions with hopes we’ll learn about some of your top picks! (NOTE: Dates of TV series are the first year released. We don’t mention the movie platforms for each film since they can change and be looked up on-line). Updated 5/20/2024

TV Series

The Bear (2022) A wonderful, multiple award-winning dramedy (our favorite genre) about a NY-based chef who inherits from his family a run-down Chicago sandwich shop and tries to transform it into something special.

Lupin (2022) This exciting French language crime drama (with subtitles) on Netflix, set in present-day Paris, is a heart pounding thriller with many plot twists and turns. It’s a limited series that you won’t be able to stop watching!

1883 (2021) This prequel (which stands on its own) to the Yellowstone TV series is a straightforward, period western that combines stunning visuals with gritty drama and violence. It’s made obvious that America’s western frontier in the late 19th century was very beautiful and alluring but that a high price was paid by the early pioneers to tame those wild lands.

1923 (2022) Another Western prequel to the Yellowstone series and a sequel to 1883. Covers the early 20th century including the Great Depression, Prohibition, and issues related to westward expansion.

Mare of Easttown (2021) In this crime drama limited series starring Kate Winslet and Jean Smart among others, Winslet plays a detective investigating a murder in a small town near Philadephia. With many personal family problems as well as professional challenges, Winslet investigates a murder and a kidnapping as she navigates a treacherous situation. For her performance, she won an Emmy in 2021 as Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. The series has been praised by critics for its screenplay, characters, acting and presentation of women.

Exterminate All the Brutes (2021) A highly original mini-series documentary, by Raoul Peck, on the origins of white supremacy and slavery from a world perspective.

Ted Lasso (2020) A sports comedy drama about an American college football coach hired to coach an English soccer team in an attempt by its owner to spite her ex-husband. Its uplifting tone is great therapy. The series became in 2020 the most Emmy-nominated freshman comedy series in Emmy Award history.

The Queen’s Gambit (2020) A troubled, young orphan played by Anya Taylor-Joy discovers she’s a chess prodigy and must confront her demons to achieve her dreams. The limited series won multiple Emmy awards.

All Creatures Great and Small (2020) A wholesome, feel-good series about the trials and tribulations of a Yorkshire veterinarian, his family and friends during idyllic, pre-World War II England.

The Marvelous Ms. Maisel (2017) Rachel Brosnahan stars as a beautiful woman in 1950s New York who establishes herself as a stand-up comedian. A multiple Emmy award-winning series.

Godless (2017) A riveting, western drama about a ruthless gang of outlaws and residents of a small town seeking justice. Outstanding performances by Jeff Daniels, Michelle Dockery and Merritt Weaver. Won several Emmys for acting and and for cinematography.

The Crown (2016) Multiple Emmy award-winning biopic of England’s royal family.

Schitt’s Creek (2015) The hilarious multi award-winning series about a previously well-to-do family trying to make a comeback.  The approximately 20-minute episodes, as addictive as popcorn, offer positive messages about self-reliance, the importance of family, and social inclusiveness. The series “cleaned up” at the 2020 Emmys.

Grace and Frankie (2015) Hilarious comedy starring Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston. Two competitive female friends face the music when their husbands disclose their gay relationship .

Better Call Saul (2015) Bob Odenkirk and Rhea Seehorn star  in this series about a lawyer (and his partner) who can’t avoid trouble (a prequel to the hit series Breaking Bad). The final season is now available.

Longmire (2012) A modern western set in Wyoming.  Robert Taylor stars as an honest, upright Wyoming sheriff who faithfully preserves law and order while dealing with multiple professional and personal issues

Breaking Bad (2008) Bryan Cranston struggles as a troubled schoolteacher in this mega-hit. Also stars Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn, Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks and Giancarlo Esposito.

 

Recent Movies

Forgotten Love (2023). A Polish film released on Netflix with a growing number of fans. On one level, it’s about the tragedy of a widely respected Polish surgeon who is stricken with severe amnesia as a result of a random attack by robbers at around the same time his wife unexpectedly and inexplicably leaves him for a younger man. After the surgeon resurfaces 15 years later, the narrative centers on his reuniting with his beloved daughter and her eventual finding love with an ardent suitor who is of a different class in society. The movie’s universal themes center on justice, the basic goodness of humanity, and the enduring power of love.

 

The Holdovers (2023). A fascinating narrative filmed at Deerfield Academy about an unconventional professor and difficult student who don’t like each other, yet develop a friendship when both are stuck at school during a holiday.

The Boys in the Boat (2023). An upbeat film, based on a true story, about an underdog crew team from the University of Washington, that wins gold at the 1936 Olympics in Germany.

Killers of the Flower Moon (2023) A riveting, Oscar-worthy account from director Martin Scorcese and actors Robert de Niro and Leo de Caprio of white exploitation of Oklahoma’s Osage Native American.

Anatomy of a Fall (2023) A thrilling, who-done-it psychodrama about a mysterious death in the French Alps. Won an Oscar for Best Foreign Film.

All the Light We Cannot See (2023) A poignant love story during the latter days of the French Resistance in WW2.

Rustin (2023) An emotional biopic of Bayard Rustin, the behind-the-scenes organizer of the legendary 1963 civil rights March on Washington.

It Ain’t Over (2022) A wonderful documentary about legendary Yankee baseball player Yogi Berra, as told by family, friends and former players.

She Said (2022) An engrossing true drama about two determined NY Times journalists seeking to uncover evidence to convict Hollywood producer and sex offender Harvey Weinstein. Excellent performances by Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan.

Where the Crawdads Sing (2022) A haunting drama set in the North Carolina marshlands about a young, resilient girl coming of age after losing her parents. She’s suspected of murder but eventually finds love and an authentic connection with her natural surroundings. Based on the novel of the same name by Delia Owens.

The Devil to Pay (2022) An interracial thriller that evolves into a dramatic revenge story about a young black woman who has lost her husband at the hands of cruel, white trash in a lawless area of Appalachia. Outstanding performance and accolades for African American actress Danielle Deadwyler.

The Fabelmans (2022) A biopic about the childhood of Steven Spielberg as he aspires to become a filmmaker. Outstanding performances by Gabriel LaBelle, Paul Dano and especially Michelle Williams.

The Swimmers (2022) The riveting, true story about two Syrian sisters who escape war-torn Damascus to start a new life in Europe and compete in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

I Wanna Dance with Somebody (2022) A dramatic biopic about the life and career of the incomparable singer Whitney Houston.

Belfast (2021) Directed by Kenneth Branagh and nominated for Best Picture, Best Screenplay and Best Director for the Academy Awards, the movie is a poignant, semi-autobiographical film which chronicles the life of a working class family and their son’s childhood during the political tensions of the late 1960s in northern Ireland. The screenplay, acting and gorgeous black and white cinematography are especially wonderful. The film’s narrative unfolds spontaneously, rather like a documentary film captured in real time.

Don’t Look Up (2021) Written and directed by Adam Mckay and featuring an all-star cast (Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Leonardo de Caprio and others), this social satire with sci-fi overtones is simultaneously hilarious and disturbing. The movie’s disturbing messages are delivered with comedic packaging and is wildly entertaining. In fact, it has been one of the most widely screened, recent movies on Netflix and was nominated for multiple Golden Globe and Academy Awards.

Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It (2021) Discover in this fabulous documentary how Moreno overcame a humble upbringing and incredible odds as a woman from Puerto Rico in Hollywood and became one of a select group of Emmy, Grammy Oscar, and Tony winners. In fact, she’s one of the most incredible talents in showbiz history!

West Side Story (2021)  Steven Spielberg’s version of this classic musical starring Ansel Elgort, Rachel Zegler, Ariana DeBose and Rita Moreno. Streaming to begin in March, 2022 on Disney Plus.

The Last Duel (2021)- Based on a true story in medieval Europe, this drama thriller is about a love triangle, women’s rights, and, ultimately, a duel to the death.  Stars Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Adam Driver and British actress Jodie Comer. The movie represents a reunion of the Damon-Affleck writing, producing, and directing team.

Passing (2021) Set in the 1920s during the Harlem Renaissance, this dramatic, beautifully filmed black and white drama explores U.S. racism and black identity issues in the Jim Crow era.

Munich, The Edge of War (2021) Set in the fall of 1938, this gripping drama is about a failed plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler.

Nightmare Alley (2021) An Academy Award-nominated psychological thriller with a circus of eccentric characters starring Bradley Cooper, Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchette.

Judas and the Black Messiah (2021) This drama, based on true events, tells of an FBI informant who infiltrates the Black Panthers and aids the capture and death of Chicago Panthers leader Fred Hampton

I Care A Lot (2021) An entertaining thriller based loosely on real life scams of senior citizens. Stars Rosamund Pike as an opportunist taking advantage of assisted living seniors She won a Golden Globe Best Actress for this one.

Breaking Boundaries, The Science of the Earth (2021) David Attenborough’s latest documentary about the perilous challenges of climate change.

A Life on our Planet (2020) Ninety-four-year-old David Attenborough’s latest documentary. The renowned English filmmaker and naturalist calls this his final statement about the world’s environments. The film offers gorgeous cinematography and a wake-up call for mankind to protect the planet.

My Octopus Teacher (2020) A father re-connects with Nature and affirms what’s important in life in this beautiful, award-winning documentary.

Wild Mountain Thyme (2020) Emily Blunt stars in this compelling, beautifully-acted Irish love story.

News of the World (2020) Tom Hanks stars as an aging civil war veteran who returns a young girl to her relatives after she was was taken in by Kiowa Indians and raised as one of them.

The Trial of the Chicago Seven (2020) This Oscar and Golden Globe nominated film is based on the infamous 1969 trial of seven defendant scharged by the Federal government with conspiracy and more, all arising from the countercultural protests in Chicago at the Democratic Nationla Convention

Burden (2020) A true story about love and redemption in Laurens, South Carolina.—a young man makes the difficult decision to leave the Klu Klux Klan and start a new life. Forest Whitaker as the black reverend is wonderful as is the rest of the cast. This film won the Sundance audience award.

Minari (2020) A Korean family tries to adapt to life in Arkansas and learns the value of resilience and family in this Oscar and Golden Globe winning production

The Mauritanian (2020) A true story Starring Jodie Foster and Benedict Cumberbach. She plays a lawyer determined to seek justice for a Guantanamo prisoner.

Promising Young Woman (2020) Carey Mulligan stars in this very original female, revenge story.

Little Women (2019). A coming-of-age story involving several sisters and based on the novel by Louisa My Alcott. Stars Saoirise Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Meryl Streep and others. Nominated for multiple Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actress.

The Good Liar (2019) Ian McGregor and Helen Mirren star in this sophisticated cat and mouse drama about revenge after troublesome WW2 events.

The Best of Enemies (2019) Based on a true story in Durham, North Carolina about the unlikely relationship between a civil rights activist and a Klu Klux Klan leader.

Just Mercy (2019)—A true story about a young, Harvard Law School lawyer determined to get justice for an African American death row I mate wrongly accused of murdering an 18-year-old woman. Great cast including jamie Foxx and Michael Jordan.

Ride Like a Girl (2019) An Australian biographical sports drama based on the true story of the first female to win the coveted Melbourne Cup competition in 2015.

Ford v. Ferrari (2019) Matt Damon, Christian Bale, and Tracy Letts star in this true, exciting story about a legendary race at Le Mans in 1966.

The Highwaymen (2019) An American drama about the bringing to justice in the 1930s of notorious criminals, Bonnie and Clyde. This true story is told from the perspective of the police and celebrated Texas Ranger, Frank Hamer (starring Kevin Costner), who tracked the couple down. It could be worth seeing this along with the 1967 award-winning movie, Bonnie and Clyde, starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, which tells the story from the perspective of the couple on the run (along with a few more liberties taken with the historical facts).

Green Book (2018) This heartwarming dramedy is a true story about the relationship between a black concert pianist and his white chauffeur (played by Viggo Mortensen) as they tour the early 1960s South.

Red Joan (2018) A drama thriller starring Judi Dench, based on a true story, about a retired widow unexpectedly charged with treason by the British Secret Service on suspicion that she provided classified information to Russia, including details about the building of the atomic bomb.

Mary Queen of Scots (2018) A compelling, historical drama starring Margot Robbie, Saoirse Ronan.

Ladybird (2017) An outstanding coming of age film starring Saoirse Ronan and directed by Greta Gerwig.

Morning Glory (2017) A young journalist played by a dynamic Rachel McAdams tries to turn around  a TV news show.  Also starring Harrison Ford and Diane Keaton.

The Big Sick (2017) A very funny dramedy and love story between a Pakistani comedian and an American graduate student who must reconcile cross-cultural issues. Stars Kumail Najiani, Zoe Kazan and Holly Hunter.

Genius (2016) A compelling Aretha Franklin biopic tells a story never fully related before

Cafe Society (2016) and Midnight in Paris (2011). Our two favorite Woody Allen films.

Spotlight (2015) A biographical drama directed by Tom McCarthy, it tells the true story of investigative journalists at the Boston Globe who uncovered the Boston area sex scandals within the Catholic Church. This film is created so realistically, it’s like viewing a documentary in real time. Great performances by Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Live Schreiber and Stanley Tucci. It won an Academy Award for Best Picture.

Hot Pursuit (2015) An action comedy starring Reese Witherspoon and Sophia Vergara who both shine in this hilarious relationship between a Latin drug lord’s wife and a straight, play-it-by- the-rules female cop.

The Railway Man (2013) Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman star in this true story of redemption in the aftermath of WW2

Hemingway and Gellhorn (2012) Clive Owen and Nicole Kidman play Ernest Hemingway and Martha Gellhorn, respectively. From their meeting in Key West to high adventures in various war zones in Europe and Asia and, finally, to Gellhorn’s divorce from him, the narrative covers the ups and downs of this tumultuous relationship.

Great Expectations (2012) The most recent, wonderful movie adaptation of our favorite Dickens novel, starring Helen Bonham Carter, Ralph Fiennes, Holly Grainger and Jeremy Irvine (as Pip). Precursors include the 1946 classic movie by David Lean and the 1998 modern take on the story starring Gwyneth Paltrow, Ethan Hawke and Robert DeNiro.

Silver Linings Playbook (2012)  Starring Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and Robert de Niro, this very poignant romantic conedy was well-received and was nominated or won multiple Academy Awards and Golden Globe awards. Lawrence won an Academy Award for Best Actress.

State of Play (2009). A political thriller with fine performances by Russell Crowe, Ben Affleck and Rachel McAdams.

City Island (2009) A hilarious dramedy, this one about a dysfunctional family in which everyone has dark secrets not revealed until an unforgettable, life-changing event near the end of the narrative. Directed by Raymond De Felitta, the film stars Andy Garcia (in an atypical role), Alan Arkin, Emily Mortimer and Julianna Margulies.

Up (2009) A 3-D computer-animated comedy/drama adventure film from Pixar. This is essentially a poignant love story with many uplifting life lessons. Directed by Pete Docter, the film received five Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, making it the second animated film in history to receive such nominations.

Wall-E (2008)  An animated feature about a garbage-cleaning robot, abandoned on Planet Earth by humans who have long since departed and left their mess, embarks on a space journey that will alter the course of history. Humans are depicted as controlled by a super-computer, lazy, obese, and self-indulgent in the extreme. The movie seems remarkably prophetic now with the rise of AI, climate crisis, materialism, and the pre-occupation of humans with digital gadgets and games.

Valkyrie (2008) A thriller starring Tom Cruise based on an actual attempt by German officers to assassinate Hitler in the waning days of WW2.

Cadillac Records (2008) A dramatic, biographical drama about the rise of Chicago-based Chess Records  and its role in promoting the careers of the early blues and rock and roll music greats, including Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Chuck Berry, Little Walters, Etta James and others.

Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (2007)- Legendary director Sidney Lumet’s film four years before he passed away. An extremely captivating crime drama starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke, Albert Finney and Marisa Tomei. About an attempted robbery of a family jewelry store that goes awry with comic, and increasingly disastrous, consequences.

Find Me Guilty (2006) A movie, directed by Sidney Lumet, covering the true courtroom drama of the trial of Mafia boss Jack DiNorscia. The boss, not a lawyer, chooses to represent himself in the courtroom rather than betray his colleagues. Humor and drama mix to produce a surprise ending to this longest trial in U.S. history (nearly two years long!).

Classics

De-Lovely (2004) A poignant biopic about composer Cole Porter directed by Irwin Winkler and starring Kevin Kline and Ashley Judd. Beautifully designed and filmed. And, of course, the music is magical.

Road to Perdition (2002) A successful and compelling American  period crime drama starring Paul Newman (in his last great role), Tom Hanks, Jude Law, Stanley Tucci, and Daniel Craig.

Best In Show (2000) A hilarious mockumentary comedy written and directed by Christopher Guest. Much of the dialogue was improvised during filming. A lot of the comedy relates to the personalities of some overly serious dog owners at a prestigious show that match those of their animals!

Gladiator (2000) Russell Crowe stars as a gladiator seeking revenge against the Roman emperor played by Joaquin Phoenix in this epic loosely based on historical characters.

The Winslow Boy (1999) In early 20th-century England, a father dramatically risks everything to defend his young son who was wrongly accused of stealing a small sum of money and faces being expelled from the Royal Navy Academy. Based on an actual event that set legal precedents, it’s all about standing up for one’s principles and beliefs. Various subplots add depth to the main narrative. Directed by David Mamet with great performances by British actor Jeremy Northam and others.

A Simple Plan (1998) Bill Paxton, Billy Bob Thornton, and Brigitte Fonda star in this riveting crime thriller

The Legend of 1900 (1998) An allegorical epic directed by Giuseppe Tornatore is about an orphan abandoned on a cruise ship in the early 20th century. It stars Tim Roth, Pruitt Taylor Vince, and Melanie Thierry. The orhan becomes a brilliant pianist who entertains countless shipboard guests for years. When he is influenced by a friend (who narrates the film) and his love of a beautiful young woman, he must decide whether or not to leave the ship and live on land. The wonderful music score by Ennio Morricone and outstanding screenplay and cinematography make the film poignant and haunting.

As Good As It Gets (1997) Jack Nicholson at his outrageous best! Directed by James Brooks and also starring Helen Hunt, Greg Kinnear and Cuba Gooding Jr. A wonderful dramedy with unforgettable characters. Received an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture. Both Nicholson and Hunt won simultaneous Oscars for Best Actor and Best Actress, respectively…as they say, as good as it gets!

Good Will Hunting (1997) Stars Robins Williams, Matt Damon, and Ben Affleck about the redemption of a young man who is discovered to have “genius” level talents.

Liar, Liar (1997) Jim Carrey and Jennifer Tilley star in this classic comedy in what is perhaps Carrey’s most hilarious performance. He was nominated for a Golden Globe as Best Actor in a Comedy.

Rob Roy (1995) An historical biography and drama starring Liam Neeson as Rob Roy-an 18th– century Scottish clan chief, Jessica Lange his wife, and Tim Roth as a nobleman antagonist. Inspired by Scotland’s beloved writer Sir Walter Scott’s novel of the same name. Beautiful cinematography of the Scottish highlands. Excellent acting with Tim Roth earning an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

Legends of the Fall (1994) Brad Pitt, Anthony Hopkins and Julia Ormond star in this early 20th century western saga. Nominated for three Academy Awards and won for Best Cinematography.

The Shawshank Redemption (1994) Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman star in this inspiring story about a man who is imprisoned wrongly for two consecutive life terms, becomes a force for good, and ultimately achieves redemption and the life of his dreams. Received multiple Academy Award nominations and was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry.

Forrest Gump (1994) Tom Hanks and Robin Wright star in this multi-Academy Award winning movie about a retarded man who becomes successful in spite of his handicaps. The importance of love, loyalty, courage, serendipity and doing what you love are inspiring themes that are poignantly conveyed.

Sleepless in Seattle (1993) A classic, love story with a great sound track  starring Tom Hanks, and Melanie Griffith.

My Cousin Vinny (1992) A classic courtroom drama in which newcomer actress Marisa Tomei won an Oscar as Best Supporting Actress.

Fried Green Tomatoes (1991)  A poignant, epic American drama set in the South and with a stellar cast: Jessica Tandy, Cathy Bates, Mary Stuart Masterson, Cicely Tyson and Mary-Louise Parker. An elderly woman (Jessica Tandy) in a nursing home, befriended by a housewife in her 40s (Bates), tells stories about the residents of a long-abandoned town. Themes of the connectedness of human lives and the enduring value of friendships create a moving drama. An outstanding, award-winning screenplay, great acting, and beautiful cinematography add to the pleasures of this movie.

Dead Poets Society (1989) Robin Williams stars as an inspiring, unorthodox teacher at an elite and very conservative Vermont boarding school. The movie received various Oscar nominations and the BAFTA award for Best Film, among other accolades.

Field of Dreams (1989) Kevin Costner stars as an Iowa farmer who builds a baseball field in his  cornfield which attracts the ghosts of baseball legends. The positive, underlying message is to follow your dreams no matter how impractical others think they are. Nominated for three Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Score.

Cinema Paradiso (1988) Set in a war torn Sicilian town (WW2) , the movie directed by Giuseppe Tornatore covers the close friendship of a budding filmmaker with an older mentor and a poignant love story with a beautiful woman. The music score by the incomparable Ennio Morricone is haunting. Won multiple awards including Academy Award for Best International Feature

Moonstruck (1987) This wonderful, romantic dramedy stars Cher and Nicholas Cage. Cher won an Oscar for Best Actress and Cage should have also won.

Broadcast News (1987) A riveting drama about intrigue among strong personalities in the television industry starring Holly Hunter and William Hurt.

Prizzi’s Honor (1985) A black comedy crime film directed by John Huston and starring Jack Nicholson, Kathleen Turner in her prime, and Angelica Huston who won an Oscar for best actress in a supporting role.

The Color Purple (1985) An award-winning classic directed by Steven Spielberg based on the novel of the same name. Starring Whoopi Goldberg, Oprah Winfrey and others. About a young black woman and her long struggle to gain freedom and re-unification with her children in the  early 20th century Jim Crow era South.

A Passage to India (1984)- Director David Lean directs his final epic film—an historical drama set in the 1920s during the British Raj. The film earned 11 Academy Award nominations.

George Stevens: A Filmmakers Journey (1984) A wonderful biopic of this legendary film director. His credits include Shane, A Place in the Sun, Giant, Alice Adams and The Diary of Anne Frank, among others.

Sudden Impact (1983) Clint Eastwood is Dirty Harry in this classic with more memorable one-liners than any other film.

The Verdict (1982) This riveting courtroom drama stars Paul Newman as a lawyer down on his luck who seeks redemption. Also features actress Charlotte Rampling.

Apocalypse Now! (1979) Director Francis Ford Coppola’s epic about the Vietnam War starring Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando and other notables such as much younger Harrison Ford and Robert Duvall. Based loosely on Joseph Conrad’s masterpiece novella Heart of Darkness. Also see many excellent features as well as the documentary about the making of the film by Coppola’s wife Eleanor titled Hearts of Darkness, A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse.

Network (1976) High drama in the television industry starring Faye Dunaway, William Holden and Robert Duvall.

Cabaret (1972) This raucous musical set in 1930s Berlin stars Liza Minnelli, Michael York, and Joel Grey. The film earned multiple Academy Awards Winner including Best Actress for Liza Minnelli.

Midnight Cowboy (1969) A drama starring Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman about two desperate drifters trying to survive in NYC. The gritty side of the city (Times Square hustlers, etc.) is depicted as never before. Both Voight and Hoffman received Oscar nominations for Best Actor but both lost to John Wayne for his performance in the movie True Grit. However, this was the first X-Rated movie to receive Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay.

Wait Until Dark (1967) A riveting, nail biting crime thriller with Audrey Hepburn and Alan Arkin.

In the Heat of the Night (1967) Academy Award-winning story about race relations in the South starring Rod Steiger and Sidney Poitier

Bonnie & Clyde (1967) An American biographical crime thriller starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway. It’s a landmark film that broke many cinematic taboos related to showing sex and violence. It won two Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actress (Estelle Parsons) and Best Cinematography.

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967) An award-winning movie about racism and interracial marriage in San Francisco. Katherine Hepburn won an Oscar for Best Actress and Spencer Tracey and Sidney Poitier were excellent. The themes seem relevant 50 years later. Sadly, Tracey passed away just 17 days after the movie wrapped.

Dr. Zhivago ((1965) An epic historical romance based on a novel by Boris Pasternak  and directed by David Lean. The film own 5 Oscars.

The Leopard (1963) Based on the classic novel of the same name by Guiseppe di Lampedusa, the movie, starring Burt Lancaster, Claudia Cardinale, and Alain Delon, is set in Sicily during the mid-19th century revolution against the aristocracy ruling class. Besides covering historic events of the era the film, directed by Luchino Visconti, explores themes of human mortality, religion, and the transience of both institutions and people.

Lawrence of Arabia (1962) An epic award-winning film directed by David Lean about the exploits of Colonel T.E. Lawrence in Arabia during WW 2.

How the West Was Won (1962) A true western epic with an all-star cast including Jimmy Stewart, Karl Malden, Carol Baker, Debbie Reynolds and others. The narrative follows the fortunes of  a family as they deal with the challenges of life on the western frontier in the 19th century.

To Kill A Mockingbird (1962) The classic and timeless coming-of-age story and courtroom drama in a small southern town where racism is still problematic and must be confronted. Starring the incomparable Gregory Peck, Mary Badham and Brock Peters.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) Classic Manhattan love story starring Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard and adapted from a Truman Capote novella.

Judgment at Nuremberg (1961) With Stanley Kramer directing and an all-star cast—Spencer Tracey, Maximilian Schell, Montgomery Clift, Richard Widmark, Burt Lancaster, Judy Garland, and many more—this film won multiple awards too numerous to list here. It’s an excellent, nuanced conveyance of the perpetrators of evil by those who should have known better.

A Raisin in the Sun (1961) Portrays a few weeks in the life of a 1950s African American family that lives on Chicago’s South Side. Their competing dreams and aspirations create tensions as family members decide what to do with the recent inheritance of an insurance payment. Sidney Poitier delivers an outstanding performance early in his career.

Spartacus (1960) Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier, Peter Ustinov and Jean Simmons star in this epic, historical drama about the leader of a slave revolt in the Roman Empire. Great sound track. The movie earned multiple Academy Awards.

The Diary of Anne Frank (1959) Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning play, the movie is based on Frank’s WW2 diary. This Oscar-winning movie stars Millie Perkins and includes a stunning performance by Shelley Winters.

Bridge Over the River Kwai (1957) An epic WW 2 war film directed by David Lean which won 7 Academy Awards.

East of Eden (1955) Compelling drama and love story set in early 20th century California. Based on the John Steinbeck novel, the movie stars James Dean and Julie Harris. Directed by Elia Kazan.

On the Waterfront (1954) A multi-Academy Award winning crime drama directed by Elia Kazan and starring Marlon Brando, Eva Marie Saint, Karl Malden and Rod Steiger.

Shane (1953) The classic western about a lone gunslinger facing the end of an era at the close of the 19thcentury. This epic transcends the western genre and covers much more: how a strong character can become a transformative influence; the coming of age of a young boy; a love story; and the major issues related to settlement of the 19th-century American wilderness.  Directed by George Stevens (a master) and starring Alan Ladd, Van Heflin, Jean Arthur, Jack Palance and Brandon de Wilde. Woody Allen has called it “the greatest film ever made.”

The Red Shoes (1948) One of the most famous and popular movies ever made about ballet and the tension between dedication to high artistic achievement and love in an artist’s personal life. The dance cinematography is elaborate and magical.

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) Perhaps the most beloved Christmas story of all time—about a man struggling with his past and trying to find meaning in his life. Ultimately an upbeat movie that calls for looking on the bright side. Another director Frank Capra classic starring Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore and others.

Casablanca (1942) Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman star in this classic WW2 romantic drama

Suspicion (1941) A romantic suspense movie from Alfred Hitchcock about a woman (Joan Fontaine) suspecting her husband (Cary Grant) might murder her for her money. Beautifully acted, especially by Joan Fontaine, who won an Oscar for Best Actress for her performance. The ending however, demanded egregiously by RKO Studio, takes great liberties with the ending in the book on which the movie was based— and on Hitchcock’s preferred ending.

Rebecca (1940) A romantic, psychological thriller directed by Alfred Hitchcock and produced by David Selznick. The only of Hitchcock’s films to win an Oscar for Best Film. Stars Joan Fontaine and Laurence Olivier who deliver stellar performances.

You Can’t Take It With You (1938)  An early Frank Capra classic starring Jimmy Stewart and Jean Howard with a positive challenge to make the most of one’s life by focusing on your passion.

Musicals: Carousel (1956) Sound of Music (1960) My Fair Lady (1964), Mary Poppins (1966), Mary Poppins Returns (2018), and Showboat(1936)—all classics

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