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The Day After (1983)
Best Nuclear Holocaust Film
This continues to be THE nuclear holocaust film. It does an amazing job of drawing the viewer in, getting the viewer to identify with the characters and then shattering the world those characters live in. It is supremely disturbing, as was intended, even nearly 20 years after it was made. I don't know that it's the sort of film one "recommends," but it is certainly an excellent film worthy of commendation for what it has achieved and continues to achieve. Many actors and film-makers talk about "changing the world," but it's rare that any of them can make a real claim to having done so. This is one of the rare instances where it's not hyperbole to say that it has.
The Candidate (1972)
One of those movies that reminds you why Robert Redford is more than just a pretty-boy actor.
This movie, released in 1972, is perhaps most surprising now because so many of the issues its political characters debate and discuss are still relevant in today's politics - even in this year's presidential election.
The storyline is actually pretty basic and unexciting, but the execution is good and the acting is more often than not quality.
I think I gave it a nine as much for the quality of its social commentary as for its merits as a film.
The Crow (1994)
Excellent adaptation of the graphic novel
This movie is one of my favorite movies of all time.
The way it is adapted from "comic book" form is amazing. The sets, the characters and the story all retain a very graphic feel. It follows the story fairly closely - at least as closely as most movie adaptation of books - but viewed independently of the "comic book" is simply amazing. The acting is all around perfect for the story and roles, the locations and sets are everything one could hope for, and the story is entertaining and perhaps surprisingly hopeful.
La haine (1995)
Viva la France!
Okay, so I'm not a huge Francophile or anything, but I still think this is an excellent movie, and and excellent French movie at that.
The performances are solid, the subtle (usually subtle) pokes at American culture interfering with French society add a certain charm and depth (personally I laughed at the references to "Donald Canard"). It definitely has a French view, with a short riddle/allegory retold numerous times throughout to reinforce the theme of the movie.
I recommend any film lover or Francophile or simply internationally-minded American to see this.
SLC Punk! (1998)
Little-seen but fun to watch
A story of a punk in the conservative town of Salt Lake City, Utah, discovering what it really means to rebel is fun and even touching at times. I wish it had been viewed by more people because I definitely think it could have done well with a wide range of viewers.
Central do Brasil (1998)
This is an amazing film
I can't imagine a better film I've seen that revolves around a child. This film from Brasil is simply amazing. It avoids cheap tricks to evoke emotion, and earns every sentimental feeling it wrings out of the viewers. If only all films could be this well written, acted and directed.