9 Souls – A crazy and uneven Japanese story of 9 escaped convicts.
A Man Named Pearl – Simple and hopeful documentary about a self-taught topiary artist.
A River Runs Through It
A Single Man – Well worth seeing just for the gorgeous photography and Colin Firth’s performance. Conversely, the story is contrived and Julianne Moore is bad.
Abre los Ojos (Open Your Eyes) – The original “Vanilla Sky” puts to shame the Tom Cruise version.
Amelie – A light, cute French rom-com with the heavenly Audrey Tatou.
Bad Sleep Well, The – Interesting Kurosawa corporate revenge thriller.
Basketball Diaries, The – An intense, angsty performance by a young Leo.
Be Kind Rewind
Being John Malkovich – Before “Adaptation,” Jonze/Kaufman came up with this insane mindfuck.
Big Fish – After “Scissorhands,” it’s the most heartfelt of Tim Burton’s movies.
Blame it on Fidel (La Faute à Fidel)
Boss of it All, The – An inventive comedy and interesting psychological study by Lars von Trier.
Bottle Rocket – The first and most under-appreciated Wes Anderson film.
Bourne Supremacy, The – The worst of the trilogy, but still pretty awesome.
Broken Embraces (Los Abrazos Rotos)
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
City of Lost Children, The – Dark enchantment from the creators of “Delicatessen.”
Dancer in the Dark
Date Night – A sometimes brilliant, mostly just kind of funny action comedy with great chemistry between Carrell and Fey.
Eraserhead – So disturbing that I never want to see it again.
Fearless – A super-intense, depressing and cheesy story of a man caught between life and death. Great Jeff Bridges performance.
Fitzcarraldo – A fine Herzog/Kinski collaboration, again dealing with a man’s obsession.
Forgetting Sarah Marshall – Not as spectacularly funny as “Hangover,” but points for realism.
French Connection, The
Grizzly Man – Fascinating Herzog doc about a man obsessed with grizzlies.
Hangover, The – Vomiting onto a police cruiser hands down the best part.
High and Low – Kurosawa commenting on honor in a suspense mystery.
High Noon – An extremely well-made (though not terribly entertaining) classic.
Hulk – Ang Lee’s underrated vision is too long, but awesome in all other aspects.
I Love You, Man – Frequently hilarious comedy with great banter and chemistry between Paul Rudd and Jason Segel
Ikiri – Touching Kurosawa drama on the meaning of life.
Il Postino: The Postman – Charming but slow Italian romantic comedy that turns inexplicably heavy at the end.
Insomnia – Pacino gives one of his best performances (i.e. no screaming).
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1st & 2nd)- Awesome story plus socio-political commentary, not to be confused with the terrible Nicole Kidman remake.
Irreversible – Two of the most disturbing scenes you will ever see frame this tragic and utterly inventive movie.
It Might Get Loud – In Davis Guggenheim’s forgotten documentary on three famous guitarists, Jack White shines and The Edge douches. Jimmy Page is Jimmy Page.
Kick-Ass – The CGI gore is irritating, but overall a fun and fairly unique superhero movie, and more salient social commentary than the overrated “Social Network.”
Kill Bill Vol.1 – Terrific action, but Vol. 2 has the emotional payoff.
Kwaidan – Four expressionist Japanese ghost stories by Misayaki Kobayashi.
Last of the Mohicans – Beatiful, exciting, epic, great soundtrack, and super cheesy.
Last Waltz, The – Scorsese nearly manages to dweeb up The Band’s last concert.
Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, The – High quirk and low emotional quotient.
Live Flesh/Carne Tremula – A taut Almodovar sexual thriller with an excellent performance by Javier Bardem. As with most Almodovar films, events are ridiculously contrived but the overall effect is satisfying.
Lonely are the Brave – A brisk and interesting Kirk Douglas vehicle based on Edward Abbey’s The Brave Cowboy, an anti-civilization story of the last wild man in the West.
LOTR: Fellowship of the Ring – Best of the trilogy, but still way too long and cheesy.
Lost Highway – Another Lynch nightmare, more sordid than the rest.
Lust, Caution – Sexy WWII Chinese espionage film; Ang Lee gives it class.
Macbeth (1971) – Surprisingly good version by Roman Polanski, produced by Hugh Hefner.
Machinist, The – Christian Bale’s performance is mesmerizing.
Man on the Train/L’Homme du Train – A unique and meditative take on the one-last-score heist flick. Great dialogue, philosophy and performances throughout, even if the ending doesn’t fully hold up.
Mesrine (Pts. 1 & 2) – Astonishing production quality and a fantastic Vincent Cassel performance loses points for choppy editing/pacing, lack of sufficient backstory, and occasionally distracting make-up when transforming Cassel into notorious French gangster Jacques Mesrine (think John Dillinger with the personality of Pablo Escobar).
Moon – Directorial debut by Duncan Jones features existential sci-fi intrigue and an impressive performance by Sam Rockwell.
My Best Fiend
Nueve Reinas – Original Argentinian version of the U.S. remake “Criminal.”
O Brother, Where Art Thou? – Wonderful elements don’t quite mesh.
Others, The – One of the classier haunted house thrillers available.
Outlaw Josey Wales, The – It’s fitting that Clint Eastwood directed perhaps the best 70s Western not made by Sergio Leone.
Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid –With a cool turn from Bob Dylan, this is much better than the same director’s “The Wild Bunch,” although with just as much misogyny and animal cruelty.
Precious – A unique though not-very-interesting story with a jawdropping final scene by deserved Oscar winner Mo’Nique
Princess Bride, The – Loses its charm as an adult, but still a classic.
Raging Bull – A great story that seems mundane in the context of Scorsese’s career.
Road, The – Not many child actors could pull off the role of Cormac McCarthy’s apocalyptic hero. . . neither can this one.
Rushmore – Probably the funniest of the Wes Anderson films.
Samurai Rebellion – from “Harakiri” director Misaki Kobayashi.
Saving Private Ryan
Scarface (1932) – Not as entertaining as the Al Pacino remake, but groundbreaking with its story, acting, action choreography and cinematography.
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World – As ridiculous as “Kick-Ass” in the new comic/videogame genre, but scores higher for sheer audacity in visual production, and maybe Michael Cera’s best performance to date.
Secret of Kells, The – The animated telling of the creation of the famous Book of Kells has fantastic artwork but too slight a story.
Snatch – Fun, but the dialogue gets more annoying by the viewing.
Straight Story, The – David Lynch’s most mainstream and least provocative.
Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance
Talk to Her/Hable con Ella – Another perverse Almodovar film, this one about a man who falls in love with a comatose woman. The story is intriguing and well-told, but it’s a light treatment overall and the nudity feels gratuitous.
They Live! – The ridiculous (and often hilarious) sci-fi/horror flick starring “Rowdy” Roddy Piper is remarkable for its virulent anti-capitalism stance in the midst of the ’80s. The terrific concept could have been powerful but John Carpenter opts for campy fun.
Thing, The – John Carpenter’s remake of the ’50s “Thing from Another World” is pretty awesome. It holds its own with the “Alien” films for sheer claustrophobic paranoia, and it outgores them by a long shot.
Throne of Blood – Kurosawa does Macbeth in feudal Japan with samurai.
Tokyo! – Three strange shorts set in the titular city, the 1st memorable for being directed by Michel Gondry, the 2nd for being freaking crazy.
Up! – A surprisingly funny and touching computer animated kids-flick.
Verdict, The – Great performance from Paul Newman in a beatifully shot, realistic courtroom drama.
Virgin Spring, The – Ingmar Bergman’s examination of faith, mercy and forgiveness.
White Diamond, The – Werner Herzog with an airship in the jungle.
Wild at Heart – Lynch’s most fun film perhaps, with an Elvis-y Nic Cage.
Wild Strawberries – Ingmar Bergman’s haunting, dreamy take on aging and regrets.
Wings of Desire – A meditative and ethereal story of an angel who forsakes his wings in the name of love. Peter Falk as himself lends a wonderful touch to the proceedings.
Winter’s Bone – Depressing, haunting, and poignant take on hillbilly organized crime.
Wolfen – A consistently engrossing and totally original take on werewolves, a highly satisfying watch despite being out of date.
Want to find out about a movie I’ve mentioned here? Go ahead and wikit.