We have been busy at Rotten Tomatoes these last two months recommending tons of movies and TV series to watch during quarantine (you can find a ton of lists here). But sometimes you’re not in a position, or mood, to plonk yourself down in front of a screen. Perhaps you’re working, or gardening, or cooking, or exercising, or hiding in a closet for a few minutes of peace and quiet away from your kids/pupils/audience. Either way: tough to follow the twists and turns of Ozark as you do that. To help in these moments – and to generally keep you sane and healthy as we endure our collective cabin fever – the RT staff curated a list of 15 scores to pair with different parts of your quarantine life. Looking for something to push you through that last set of burpees? We have an orchestral doozy for you. Got a swoony Zoom date? Try something with French flavors. Want a new soundtrack to your Animal Crossing hours? Daft Punk is here to help.

What movie music are you listening to at home? Let us know in the comments. 


Gattaca (1997) 83%

Gattaca

(Photo by © Columbia/courtesy Everett Collection)

Composer: Michael Nyman

There are moments in Gattaca where nothing much is happening on-screen, but the rich Michael Nyman score is going in hard. In my early Gattaca-watching career (I’ve seen the movie eight or nine times now), I thought this was faulty, like the music was overcompensating. Plainly, this was a bad take. The music is devastatingly romantic. And not just how it informs the relationship between Jerome and Irene (Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman), but also Jerome’s love for himself, to believe he is capable of something far beyond his cursed birthright. These times ask us to search for this kind of inner strength, to navigate daily life’s new chaos, and carry a torch of hope for the not-too-distant-future. Gattaca‘s soundtrack, culminating in the impossible beauty of “The Arrival,” is the music of that guiding light.

Listen when: Working from home – this s–t is motivating! – but only if you like your job, and you’re not on a call. – Alex Vo, Editor


Romeo and Juliet (1968) 95%

Romeo and Juliet

(Photo by Courtesy Everett Collection)

Composer: Nino Rota

Italian composer Nino Rota has quite the résumé: La Dolce Vita, 8 1/2, and, of course, the first two Godfather films, both of which earned him Oscar nominations, and the second of which got him a win. My personal favorite, though, is his score for Franco Zeffirelli’s 1968 version of Romeo and Juliet, starring Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey. Maybe it takes me back to the high school English class in which I first saw the film, but there’s something about Rota’s love theme – a little trepidatious at first before a rousing strings-led swell, all laced with a certain feeling it’s not going to turn out well – that helps me focus when editing or reading. Be warned though: The score’s final tracks, which accompany the tragic finale on screen, are intense. Skip those, re-start from the beginning, and pretend the young lovers had a dagger-less ending.

Listen when: You’ve carved out some time in your day to read (and have got your “looking interested” photo programmed to your Zoom feed). – Joel Meares, Editor-in-Chief


Anatomy of a Murder (1959) 100%

Anatomy of a Murder

(Photo by Courtesy the Everett Collection)

Composers: Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn

There are several reasons why Otto Preminger’s Anatomy of a Murder is one of the greatest courtroom dramas ever, but it’s arguably best remembered for its striking opening title sequence by Saul Bass and its incredible soundtrack, composed by none other than jazz legend Duke Ellington and his longtime collaborator Billy Strayhorn. Together, Ellington and Strayhorn put together a complete musical package that was alternately sultry (“Flirtibird”), playful (“Happy Anatomy”), melancholic (“Almost Cried”), and mysterious (“Midnight Indigo”), and it all still feels fresh and alive today. Of course, the most memorable song is probably the “Main Title” theme that accompanies Bass’ opening credits, but the whole score just drips with style. It’s also worth noting that it was not only one of the first soundtracks entirely scored by jazz musicians, but also the first one for a major Hollywood film that was created by an African-American composer. Movie soundtrack or not, it’s a masterpiece.

Listen when: You’re feeling fancy and having a glass of wine in a bubble bath. – Ryan Fujitani, Snr. Editor


The Handmaiden (2016) 95%

The Handmaiden

(Photo by © Amazon Studios /Courtesy Everett Collection)

Composer: Jo Yeong-wook

The Handmaiden, like so many others, is the type of film that Bong Joon-ho spoke of when he urged English-speaking audiences to hurdle over the “one-inch barrier of subtitles” during one of his acceptance speeches last year for Parasite. The Korean- and Japanese-language film, which was not selected for Best International Film in 2016, sadly never reached a wide audience and was instead relegated to join other underrated/unknown non-English gems (most of which are available to stream – so get busy). Due to its under-the-radar status, many not only missed the seductive romance-thriller director Park Chan-wook weaved, but also the humorous and erotic score that plays throughout most of the film. The music, like the film it plays beneath, is surprising and genre-defying, mixing dark themes employing strings, clarinets, and harps with romantic melodies.

Listen when: You’re scrolling through exotic locales, dreaming of the day you can travel to distant lands once again. – Jacqueline Coley, Editor


Drive (2011) 93%

Drive

(Photo by Richard Foreman Jr/©FilmDistric/Courtesy Everett Collection)

Composer: Cliff Martinez

You can split Drive‘s original Cliff Martinez soundtrack into three categories: Pensive, ethereal, and fittingly, driving. “Kick Your Teeth” and “Skull Crushing” are among the pensive songs, and they suggest a shadow looming high over your shoulders, like a clockwork beast wound up to strike. The ethereal songs make you feel like you’re drifting through a hazy dream, and have incongruous names like “They Broke His Pelvis” and “Wrong Floor.” These two moods converge in the driving songs (“Rubber Head,” “Where’s the Deluxe Version?,” “Hammer”) that speak to those luxuriating in their delusional power fantasies and modern fairy tales. And, in this world, who can blame them?

Listen when: You’re out for a sanctioned late-night drive, on the route with the most lights. – Vo


Toy Story (1995) 100% and Toy Story 2 (1999) 100%

Toy Story 2

(Photo by © Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, © Pixar)

Composer: Randy Newman

Over four films, the themes and movements of Randy Newman’s Toy Story scores have become as familiar to many ’90s kids as “The Imperial March” – though the effect of Newman’s sometimes jazzy, sometimes rousing music is far less hair-raising. In fact, the music of Toy Story is total comfort food during these trying times, particularly the first Toy Story’s opening flourish, “Andy’s Birthday,” which will shoot you straight back to a buttery-smelling movie theater circa 1995, to the first time you saw this computer-animated marvel. (“Sid” on the other hand may give you those Darth Vader vibes; skip it.) The sung songs on these soundtracks are a treat – “You’ve Got a Friend In Me” will keep you smiling, while you can turn to Toy Story 2’s “When She Loved Me,” performed by Sarah McLachlan, if you just feel like having a good cry. You know, the kind you have when you’re watching a Pixar movie.

Listen when: It’s 3pm, you have a few hours of work left, and you need a solo pick-me-up. – Meares



Tron: Legacy (2010) 51%

Tron: Legacy

(Photo by ©Walt Disney Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection)

Composers: Daft Punk

Director Joseph Kosinski already had a daunting task before him when he agreed to helm a sequel to a beloved cult classic, but he made things just a bit easier on himself by recruiting possibly the most fitting composers for the film: Daft Punk. The legendary French electronic duo – who, unsurprisingly, admitted the original Tron was a big influence on them – relied on a mix of traditional orchestral compositions and some that blended strings and horns with synthesized elements and their trademark arpeggios to create a propulsive, otherworldly sound. Their work goes a long way toward establishing the mood and tone of the film, and considering they started working on the score even before the film entered production, it’s incredible how well it fits the dark cyberpunk aesthetic. Daft Punk being who they are, the Tron Legacy soundtrack got a lot of attention, and while audiences may argue about the quality of the film itself, the music remains one of its undisputed high points.

Listen when: You need some epic music while you fish in Animal Crossing. – Fujitani


Amélie (2001) 89%

Amelie

(Photo by Courtesy the Everett Collection)

Composer: Yann Teirsen

The accordion-heavy music that playfully scored Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Oscar-nominated film Amélie has, in the almost 20 years since the movie’s release, become synonymous with Paris and particularly Montmartre, the cobblestoned neighborhood where most of the story takes place. French musician Yann Tiersen earned wide international acclaim for his work – and a César Award, and a BAFTA nomination – but would go on to later say that the fame Amelie gave him was something he resented; he would be forever linked to the quirky French hit. His score, despite his feelings, is iconic for a reason, providing a sonic fantasy land that, back in 2001, allowed a pixie-like waitress to find her happy ending, but today can take the listener anywhere they want to go. Perhaps you will take a moment in these times to fantasize about slow walks on the Seine with your one true love.

Listen when: Noshing on something French – crepes and Nutella are easy enough – on a Zoom date with your boo. – Coley


Oldboy (2003) 81%

Oldboy

(Photo by Tartan Films/courtesy Everett Collection)

Composers: Choi Seung-hyun, Lee Ji-soo, Shim Hyeon-jeong

South Korean director Park Chan-wook’s twisty and twisted revenge thriller is rightly revered as a genre standout that helped put the country’s contemporary cinema on the world map. Its pulpy narrative, stylish direction, and one-take hallway fight sequence get all the attention, but the film wouldn’t have had the same impact if it weren’t for the score, composed by Choi Seung-hyun, Lee Ji-soo, and Shim Hyeon-jeong. While the more propulsive, electronic pieces may sound a little dated, the moody orchestral numbers feel like they’ve been ripped from some elegant, forgotten film noir; listen to “Kiss Me Deadly,” “It’s Alive!”, “The Big Sleep,” or any of the score’s melancholy waltzes for starters. Oh, and in case those titles didn’t clue you in, most of the original compositions are named after other movies, many of them film noirs themselves, which is a nice extra detail for movie buffs.

Listen when: You need to blow off some steam after a long day working from home – or you’re trying to solve the mystery of those undelivered Amazon packages you ordered. – Fujitani


The Farewell (2019) 97%

The Farewell

(Photo by Casi Moss, courtesy of A24)

Composer: Alex Weston

The score for Lulu Wang’s incredibly moving The Farewell is an aspect of the movie that I think gets too often overlooked; recall some of the film’s most memorable moments – the family slo-mo walk, the driving away in the cab at the end – and you’ll see how important the musical choices were for making them stand out. Alex Weston’s compositions feel unapologetically classical, even operatic – the wordless vocals throughout come courtesy of tenor Mykal Kilgore – and yet they also feel inherently Eastern, an apt sonic effect given the themes of the film. A departure from most of the music, and a standout track, is soul singer Elayna Boynton’s cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Come Healing.”

Listen when: The crushing anxiety of all that is happening starts seriously stressing you out. Or when rearranging the bookshelf. – Meares


Columbus (2017) 97%

(Photo by ©Superlative Films/courtesy Everett Collection)

Composer: Hammock

Hammock is a Nashville post-rock band that composes long, unhurried ambient songs without vocals or drums. Columbus is a quiet movie about two lost strangers (John Cho, Haley Lu Richardson) who meet in the Ohio town and bond over its surprising modernist architecture. By any measure, the band and movie are far from mainstream in their respective mediums, but the two coming together for the original soundtrack is a thing of niche beauty. Across Columbus director Kogonada’s pristine, meticulous shots and the building intimacy between the characters, Hammock’s music is used very sparingly, so listening to the 16-song soundtrack is a true act of discovery for Hammock fans. The songs, per usual, are compact galaxies of swelling sound. They suggest stillness, composure, and reflection – the kinds of moods one might feel when studying architecture. Or observing the world around you. As long as you’re looking up.

Listen when: Dusk starts to settle in in and your work for the day is all done, or you’re doing a spot of gardening. – Vo


Carol (2015) 94%

Carol

(Photo by Wilson Webb/©Weinstein Company/Courtesy Everett Collection)

Composer: Carter Burwell

The Oscar-nominated score for Todd Haynes’ haunting love story, Carol, is considered by many to be one of the best film compositions from the 21st century. The ’40s-inspired score also provides the perfect soundtrack for quiet meditation in the age of COVID-19. For Carol, Carter Burwell composed delicate and teasing melodies with woodwinds, strings, and xylophones that will instantly help you get Zen-y. Like the fated lovers at the center of the drama (masterfully brought to life by Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett), Burwell’s chord progressions delay their resolution but find their home triumphantly in the end.

Listen when: You need a moment of relief from your “Baby Shark”-induced headache (and the kids that instigated it). – Coley


If Beale Street Could Talk (2018) 95%

If Beale Street Could Talk

(Photo by Annapurna Pictures)

Composer: Nicholas Britell

Two-time Oscar nominee Nicholas Britell’s most recognizable music might be his theme for HBO’s Succession, and while we certainly pay our respects to that antsy ditty – and the memes it inspired – it’s a little anxiety-inducing for our current moment. For something more soothing and just knock-your-socks-off gorgeous, Britell’s score for Barry Jenkins’ If Beale Street Could Talk is a wonderful blend of euphoria and melancholy that feels perfectly of its place and setting (Harlem, 1970s). It’s a lush strings-heavy score that follows the beats of the doomed love story the movie tells; listen to bonus track “Harlem Aria” to see what the score might have sounded like had Britell stuck with horns as the dominant instrument.

Listen when: You’re out on a socially distanced walk and really soaking in your surrounds. – Meares


The Last of the Mohicans (1992) 93%

The Last of the Mohicans

(Photo by 20th Century Fox Film Corp.)

Composers: Trevor Jones, Randy Edelman, Dougie MacLean

The story behind the score of Michael Mann’s epic rendition of James Fenimore Cooper’s 1826 novel is fraught with strife, which makes it all the more impressive that it turned out as incredible as it did. Mann initially asked composer Trevor Jones for an electronic score, but switched things up quite far into the production when they realized orchestral music would be more appropriate. Jones had to scramble not only to deliver an entirely new score, but also to keep up with the film’s last-minute editing, and Randy Edelman was brought on board to help finish it on time. The end result, of course, is a dramatic, sweeping array of compositions that evoke the film’s most emotional scenes. The film’s main theme, “Promontory,” a reworking of Scottish singer-songwriter Dougie MacLean’s “The Gael,” is instantly recognizable, but the star of it all is arguably the main title score. It’s an ominous procession of drums, strings, and horns that erupts into an iconic refrain that’s somehow heartbreaking and triumphant at the same time, and if it doesn’t inspire you to fight for something – anything – then you might need to get your pulse checked.

Listen when: You need extra motivation during your stay-at-home workout. –Fujitani

Of the three big movies opening this weekend, only one of them as geared at younger audiences, namely the sci-fi teen romance Every Day, and if you’re not particularly interested in seeing it, Christy offers up a quintet of alternatives you can check out at home instead.


THE MOVIE

Every Day (2018) 63%

Rating: PG-13, for thematic content, language, teen drinking and suggestive material.

Think of this as a speed-dating version of Freaky Friday. Angourie Rice stars as a Maryland high school student named Rhiannon who falls in love with a spirit – or a soul, or something – that switches bodies every 24 hours. At first, this being – who goes by the initial A – takes over the body of her handsome but arrogant boyfriend (Justice Smith), turning him into a sensitive and attentive sweetheart for the day. From then on, A seeks out Rhiannon in whatever body he/she is in to spend more time with her. Either you’re going to go with this far-fetched romantic notion or you’re not. But your kids already may be familiar with Every Day, since it’s based on a Young Adult novel of the same name by David Levithan. There’s some mature material here, as Rhiannon kisses several incarnations of A and it’s suggested that she eventually has sex with one of them (although we don’t really see it). Her original boyfriend smokes, and we see the two of them at a party with teen drinking. Several characters curse. And one of the teenage girls A inhabits plans to commit suicide. But although this movie ultimately goes off the rails, it has a worthwhile message about getting to know people for who they truly are inside, regardless of the expectations you might have based on their outward appearance. Fine for viewers around 11 or 12 and older.


THE RECOMMENDATIONS

Rhiannon and A are doomed: They can never be together forever because A must hop from one body to the next every 24 hours. It’s tragic, really. But if Every Day seems a little too grown-up (or just plain ridiculous) for your kids, here are some other stories of impossible young love that might work instead:

A Little Romance (1979) 71%

Rating: G

A total charmer, featuring a winning, 13-year-old Diane Lane in her film debut. Lane stars as a bright American girl named Lauren who lives in Paris with her wealthy parents. She meets and immediately hits it off with a sly, confident French kid named Daniel (Thelonius Bernard), who’s obsessed with American movies. They’re both wise beyond their years (and they definitely talk in a more sophisticated way than most kids their age), which makes them both outsiders. But Lauren’s mother (Sally Kellerman) doesn’t approve of Daniel, which puts their blossoming romance in peril. An impish, adorable Laurence Olivier steps in to become their protector and co-conspirator; he’s a pickpocket who helps the kids escape to Venice to seal their love with a kiss beneath the Bridge of Sighs at sunset. Director George Roy Hill tells a simpler, sweeter story here following the starry, influential Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Sting, and A Little Romance won an Academy Award for its score. It’s about precocious, rebellious kids – which will probably appeal to your own kids — but there’s a sweetness at its core. There’s a tiny bit of kissing and swearing. Fine for viewers around 8 or 9 and older.


Romeo and Juliet (1968) 95%

Rating: PG

Your kids are going to have to read it in high school anyway, so you may as well give them a head start. Director Franco Zeffirelli’s gorgeous, swoony romance is considered one of the definitive Shakespeare adaptations. It was nominated for four Academy Awards including best picture and director, and it won for its cinematography and costumes. You know the story by now: Teenagers Romeo (Leonard Whiting) and Juliet (Olivia Hussey) fall in love, even though their families have long hated each other. Bad things happen. Tweens and teens will love it – the passion, the angst, the sacrifice – and they’ll probably be smitten by the film’s beautiful, young stars. But (spoiler alert!) there is death at the end.

Or if you’re feeling adventurous, you can show your kids Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo +Juliet (1996, PG-13). It was quite divisive among critics when it came out, but I appreciate the daring of it – the effort to find a bold, new angle into a story we’ve heard a million times before. Young Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes star as the title characters in the Australian director’s telling, which takes place in a modern setting while retaining (much of) Shakespeare’s original dialogue. They do the balcony scene as a swimming pool balcony scene, for example. Traditionalists balked, but younger viewers may respond to this hipper adaptation. It’s pretty violent, though, with a lot of guns and gang activity. OK for viewers around 11 or 12 and older.


Pretty in Pink (1986) 73%

Rating: PG-13.

Both of the following achingly angsty high school dramas were directed by Howard Deutch (they were his first and second features, actually) and written by the late, great John Hughes. They are essentially the same movie, separated by a gender swap.

In Pretty in Pink, working-class Andie (Hughes regular Molly Ringwald) enjoys an unlikely romantic spark with the wealthy and handsome Blane (Andrew McCarthy). Naturally, their respective cliques think it’s a ridiculous idea for them to be together – especially Andie’s best friend, the wisecracking Duckie (Jon Cryer in the role that put him on the map), who’s secretly in love with her. Society in general – and high school, specifically — simply will not allow them to be together.

In Some Kind of Wonderful (1987, PG-13), it’s the guy who’s the outsider: Eric Stoltz’s Keith. He falls for the beautiful and popular Amanda (Lea Thompson), and the two forge an unexpected connection – much to the dismay of Keith’s tomboyish best friend (Mary Stuart Masterson), who now realizes she’s been in love with Keith all along. This is yet another movie in which the hierarchical structure of high school will not allow for such fraternization. Plus, Amanda’s ex goes out of his way to make life miserable for Keith.

Both feature language and teen partying, as is usually the case in Hughes movies. There are some grown-up conversations. But for the most part, these would both be fine for viewers around 13 and up.

(Photo by Mary Clavering/Young Hollywood/Getty Images)

Ross Lynch is going from Disney to Dahmer. He’s playing a teenaged Jeffrey in My Friend Dahmer, a prequel to the madness that would drive Dahmer to kill (and rape and consume) 17 people over 15 years. Heady stuff for Lynch, who wasn’t born yet when Dahmer was killed in prison in 1994 while serving multiple life imprisonment sentences. And the role is perhaps even shocking to his fans, who’ve been following his career through Disney Channel’s Austin & Ally, and as 20% of R5, the rock band he fronts with his four siblings.

“I like the idea of shocking people and playing something that was so far from what people were used to seeing me in,” Lynch explains on making this his leading actor debut, “Even when I was on Disney Channel, I had that in the back of my head, and I put it out in the universe that I wanted to do an indie film next. I wanted to do something that was darker and with just a little bit more … something with more substance. A lot of this film is what is not being said.”

As My Friend Dahmer opens in limited release this Friday, we spoke with Lynch to get his Five Favorite Films, and followed up with more on expanding a career into film after conquering radio and TV.


Romeo and Juliet (1968) 95%

It was made in 1968, and it’s kind of old school. I actually ended up watching it for school, but I was home schooled, so I watched it in my house. For whatever reason, when I saw that film, dude, I loved it. I [was] addicted to it. Kind of ended up falling in love with Olivia Hussey. I became a fan girl, I’m not even kidding you. I thought about it nonstop for a long, long time.

The Theory of Everything (2014) 80%

My second favorite film right now… This is also a film that hit me pretty hard. The Theory of Everything. I like what it says about life. It made me appreciative of life, about everything. Ultimately, I think those are some of my favorite movies, where you leave the theater, you sit up and you want to be a better person, or you want to enjoy life more.

About Time (2013) 69%

I’m still debating whether or not I want this on my list, but did you ever see About Time, with Domhnall Gleeson? Same kind of thing. An uplifting film. Makes you appreciate the time you got.

Boogie Nights (1997) 93%

You can’t really go wrong with Boogie Nights. [I first saw this] maybe 16, 17, maybe a little younger. I have a lot of older siblings, so I saw really inappropriate stuff when I was pretty young.

I remember the impact Boogie Nights made when it came out. It’s still carrying on.

Yeah, especially with young filmmakers. That film is very, very often referenced. A lot of it because of the technical aspects, along with, obviously, the acting. The whole vibe of it. ’70s Hollywood is epic.

Django Unchained (2012) 86%

A recent film. But man, I had to pick a Quentin Tarantino film. I’m a really big fan. He’s super unique. I appreciate the people who have a thing that’s completely different than whatever anyone else is doing.

Was it a fight to pick the Tarantino movie you wanted on your list?

I definitely thought about Pulp Fiction for a second. You know what I think it was? I was a little too young to really grasp everything about Pulp Fiction on the first watch. When I saw Django Unchained, I was really immersed in the world and everything that was happening. Based on my personal experience with the film, it’s Django Unchained. But, as far as the better movie, you probably should say Pulp Fiction.


Alex Vo for Rotten Tomatoes: Is there anyone you’re looking at as you make these big steps in your career?

Ross Lynch: I look up to people like Jamie Foxx, the people who do everything. He’s got an Oscar, he’s not an average actor, he’s always playing these awesome roles, like Django Unchained. Or Baby Driver, where he’s this random gangster dude.

Ultimately, I just want to be an artist, really. I want to do films that are interesting and that people probably wouldn’t expect me to do, like My Friend Dahmer. I also want to make music that is maybe a little further left field than the norm of pop radio. Obviously, I still have ambition in mind. I still want to get on the top 40, and all those things like that. I’m always wanting to just be creative.

I also really look up to people like Steve Jobs and Elon Musk, the innovators of today that push the envelope. Maybe in the future, I’ll do something like that, too.


My Friend Dahmer is in theaters this Friday.

We know her as the charming, strong-willed housewife (Lynette Scavo, Desperate Housewives), the passionately driven mother of a murdered son (Barb Hanlon, American Crime), and the inspiring transexual parent of an estranged runaway teen (Bree, Transamerica). This week, though, we get to see Felicity Huffman as a CIA director who must work with the Vice President (played by Victor Garber) to find the President of the United States (Samuel L. Jackson) when he goes missing in Big Game. Huffman, one of today’s most lauded TV and film actors, gave us her list of five favorite films — movies that not only have entertained her but have served as inspiration for her ever-thought-provoking acting work. Here is the list, along with an astute explanation for each selection. Enjoy!


 

Romeo and Juliet (1968) 95%

The one [film] that made me want to be an actor is [Franco] Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet. I went and saw it and, because there might have been some sex scenes, I had to sit in front of my mom, and any time those beautiful young people took off their clothes, I would feel her hand clamp down on my eyes [laughing]. But that’s when I went, “Yes, that!”

RT: So it was the sex scenes that inspired you?

No, no! It wasn’t the sex scenes obviously, I didn’t see them [laughing]! It was just so romantic and so beautiful and I thought, “Oh my God, I want to be Juliet!” And of course I’ve had a career that is not about being the Juliet but I’m still in the business so I’m grateful for that.

RT: Have you played Juliet?

Never. Never. I think I would have been cast as the Nurse long before Juliet. Even even when I was sixteen, I still would’ve been cast as the Nurse. But, we can’t all be Juliet.

Dead Man Walking (1995) 95%

I think the next one was Dead Man Walking. One, it was a brilliant film with brilliant performances, but I thought the filmmaker put forth the question without giving us the answers. And I thought he did it masterfully. You know, it’s a question of capital punishment. It wasn’t preachy, it wasn’t didactic, it wasn’t sort of a polemic that you kind of go, “Let’s investigate this like an English class.” It was telling you a great story because, you know, all the audience wants to hear is what happened next. So it was telling you a great story, and based on the story telling I found my perspective changing. I had great sympathy for Sean Penn’s character and then suddenly I didn’t. And I thought he deserved exactly what he got. And then in the next fifteen minutes, my point of view would change. That’s why I thought it really involved you on an emotional level on the question of capital punishment. But even more than that I think it showed what film can do and what really great storytelling can do.

Rudderless (2014) 64%

People might question this but Rudderless, which was directed by my husband [William H. Macy]. But I say Rudderless because of two things. One is because of the way the movie was structured, and the way Bill directed it. The audience got to experience in a small way, I think, what parents get to experience when their child does something horrific. That you’re going along with one experience of your child, which is, “He or she is like this, and this is the kind of person they are, and I love them dearly.” And then they do some horrific, incomprehensible action and it pulls the rug out from under you. And Bill did that and the movie Rudderless does that; it pulls a rug out from under you. Your breath gets knocked out of you, you go, “[Gasp].” And suddenly you are reevaluating Billy Crudup’s relationship with his son from a completely different perspective and, again, I just think that’s masterful storytelling.

The other reason is Billy Crudup’s performance. And, acting with Billy Crudup, I mean, what, did I do two scenes with him, maybe three? It really changed the target for me. I went, “Oh that’s what good acting is.” Really, and it really informed my work on American Crime. So for me it was a clinic on great acting. So for those two reasons.

Foxcatcher (2014) 87%

[Number] four is Foxcatcher. And again the two performances for me were — well, I guess the three performances — but one is the director. First of all, it was just so visually beautiful. And I felt like it was visually beautiful for a purpose, not just like, “Look at this lovely shot, and now we’ll get back to storytelling.” I mean every shot moved the story forward in some way, and yet was beautiful, or horrific. I thought Mark Ruffalo was just amazing, and Steve Carrell. So I watched it two or three times. I just thought it was just brilliant.

RT: That was such great character work.

It was great character work and I never saw the seams. I never went, “Oh, it’s a person playing a character.” It was just so beautiful. I love that one.

Pitch Perfect 2 (2015) 65%

Finally, I think I’ve got to say Pitch Perfect 2. Because I think, one, it’s an incredibly enjoyable movie. I love it. I love the singing. But also because I think it moved forward… I think it helped the cause of women behind the camera. And I think those things are really important and must be supported.

RT: Absolutely. Do you have the soundtrack? Do you sing along?

Actually we do! [Laughing] We drove into town the other day– we’re out in this ranch in the middle of nowhere — we drove into town and put it in — my girls and I, we’ve now seen it now three times — and put it on our iPhones and sang all the way in. And I think Elizabeth Banks is just kick ass.

Kerr Lordygan for Rotten Tomatoes: Congratulations on Big Game coming out this week. What a fun movie. I mean, it’s fun for everybody, all audiences.

Felicity Huffman: That’s what I think, It’s just a fun family action movie, you know? It’s quirky, it’s humorous, it’s just entertainment. It’s pure entertainment.

RT: And you got to work with Victor Garber who is awesome.

Huffman: Oh my God, I have such an enormous crush on Victor Garber.

RT: I think we all do. It was a lot of fun and you’re playing a CIA operative which is a little different, right?

Huffman: A little different. A little. And I got to act with Jim Broadbent who is fantastic. And the director Jalmari [Helender] was really funny. He would literally go into hair and makeup and put on wigs and make everybody laugh as he danced around and made faces. It was a really fun set.

RT: And to have such a young hero [Onni Tommila starring as Oskari] —

Huffman: Totally, a young hero. Also, he’s so sweet to look at with that face. Yeah.


Big Game opens in limited release, digital HD, and On Demand Jun. 26, 2015.

Patricia-Heaton's-Five-Favorite-Films

It’s fitting that Patricia Heaton’s new movie is called Moms’ Night Out — not just because it opens on Mother’s Day weekend, but also because, between The Middle and Everybody Loves Raymond, Heaton has become one of the most iconic moms on TV today.

Having just produced and acted in a movie of her own, we thought we’d ask Heaton what her favorite films are. Getting the list down to just five was a task she described as “harder than having a c-section,” so seven will have to do.


On the Waterfront (Elia Kazan, 1954; 100% Tomatometer)



Every aspect of the movie is excellent. There isn’t one wrong move — from the script, to the acting, to the music. It’s such a beautiful human story about an individual struggle set against the corrupt unions screwing over the dock workers. So, you have this social background for the situation, and then you have the personal human journey of the brother of one of these union mobsters, who has to sort of turn on his own people. Marlon Brando pretty much rocked the cinema with this new style of acting, and you can never go back to Cary Grant. As wonderful as Cary Grant is, Marlon Brando changed the game. Karl Malden has one of the greatest movie monologues of all time as the priest in the docks, encouraging everyone to take a stand. He was like the first Norma Rae. I have the soundtrack on my iPod. I love great movie soundtracks, and I consider that one of those.

What would you be doing while listening to movie scores on your iPod? You wouldn’t be working out to the On the Waterfront soundtrack, right?

No, usually sitting in traffic in L.A. and trying to escape.

Ordinary People (Robert Redford, 1980; 92% Tomatometer)



To Kill a Mockingbird is way up there, but that’s also like an On the Waterfront kind of classic movie, also with a personal journey set against a bigger social issue — racism — but I’m going to go instead with Ordinary People, directed by Robert Redford with Mary Tyler Moore, Timothy Hutton who won an Oscar — one of the youngest Oscar winners I think — Donald Sutherland, and Judd Hirsch playing the psychiatrist. [Editor’s note: Hutton was 20 when he won the Oscar for Best Actor in a Supporting Role in 1981 and still holds the record as the youngest winner in that category today.]

I have seen that movie a million times. One of the worst parts was I saw it when I was really depressed in New York and it was running on a loop on like HBO or something and I just remember not being able to get out of my bathrobe and watching Ordinary People over and over again.

I actually was at the Mark Twain Awards in Washington — the comedy awards for Neil Simon — and Robert Redford happened to be there because he worked with Neil Simon and so did I. And so I was able to tell him that Ordinary People was one of my favorite movies of all time. It’s a perfect movie. That too has wonderful music. It’s based on a book and it’s often very difficult to translate books to film and especially with such an internal struggle. Mary Tyler Moore [gives] one of the most brilliant performances I have ever seen of a very tightly-wound woman who’s trying to keep a good face on things. She’s just painfully tortured in that movie and it’s a hard role to do because she comes off as very weird and cold to Timothy Hutton, the surviving son — his brother had died in a boating accident and Timothy Hutton survived. For me, I know a movie is timeless when I can show it to my kids and they are enraptured by it — they’re glued to it and they’re following every plot point — and I knew when I showed Ordinary People to my kids, they would love it… The art direction in that [holds up] too. Mary Tyler Moore’s wardrobe you could wear today. It’s so classic and beautiful, and the house that they live in — it’s great. And the movie is just so moving and powerful.

Ruggles of Red Gap (Leo McCarey, 1935; 100% Tomatometer)



Charles Laughton plays an English butler whose British lord loses him in a poker game to a cowboy from Red Gap, Washington. Ruggles is the butler, a manservant, and he’s forced to move to America, and this cowboy doesn’t [Heaton goes into cowboy twang] feel comfortable having a manservant because it’s ‘Merica and every man is his own man and we have freedom. He tries to help Ruggles become a free man and Ruggles’ family’s whole tradition was being menservants to people. He finds it very hard to embrace American freedom. It has really funny, terrific, and moving performances, and not very many people watch it — or have even seen it or heard of it. I make my boys watch it every Thanksgiving. I’m like, “Boys, it’s that tiiiime!” and they’re like, “Noooooooo, not Ruggles.” but I think they’ll come to appreciate it.

That’ll be on their favorite films lists…someday.

Someday. Also, it’s a real treat for actors to watch. It has very broad characters, but they are so finely drawn that you go with it. What’s great about this is that they’re arch performances, but they’re really grounded in their weird reality. It’s authentic. It really works. You go with it. There are other ones that are probably more familiar to your readers, but it’s one of my favorite all-time movies and I’d like to throw it in because maybe someone who hasn’t seen it will take a chance on it.

How did you discover that movie? It sounds hilarious.

I think I just saw it years ago on AMC or the local public station. I think it was on a PBS thing and I just happened upon it, and I was so blown away. It’s one of the movies I like to give to writers on shows as Christmas gifts because they’ve never heard of it, and they all find it delightful.

The Wizard of Oz (Victor Fleming, King Vidor, 1939; 99% Tomatometer)



I want to throw a shout-out to — I can’t decide. It’s between Woody Allen or Mel Brooks.

How do you choose?

You can’t. Bullets Over Broadway, The Producers, Annie Hall, Young Frankenstein. It’s really, really difficult. One of the movies I think is wonderful is one of the more serious ones… Crimes and Misdemeanors. One of the greatest. That whole era in the 1980s of the movies he was making was terrific. It’s hard to pick between any of those. That’s a whole category; I don’t know how to pull one out of there… And then I have three I don’t know which to pick between — and they’re very, very different — Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet, All the President’s Men, or The Wizard of Oz.

One of the reasons I say Wizard of Oz is because I had to watch it a hundred times because my boys really loved it growing up, and they would just love to get into bed and watch The Wizard of Oz. I watched it over and over and the more I watched it — you know, sometimes when your kid is hooked on something, you want to put a gun in your mouth for the umpeenth time they’ve watched Barney or Dora the Explorer — but the more I watched The Wizard of Oz, the greater it got. Then, for me, it also has the association of time with my children, so I think that’s part of the reason I have that on my list.

Talk about a movie that holds up! How does Wizard of Oz do that so well?

It has these wonderful actors in it and Judy Garland was such a gifted person. But there’s nothing else like it, and the songs were wonderful. I think when it came out, it wasn’t a great success, but it became a success over time. I think people didn’t know what to make of it, but it’s such a lovely fairy tale… When I was watching it growing up, you only saw it once a year. That only came on on Thanksgiving. It was a big TV event.

That, and I think The Incredible Mr. Limpet with Don Knotts used to come on Thanksgiving too.

Yes! That’s right! But I remember being so frightened of Margaret Hamilton in The Wizard of Oz, but it was so good that I could not not watch it. Walking up the stairs up to bed at night, after I watched the movie in the dark? I could barely do it. I had to run and get into bed. It took days to get over it. She was really, really frightening. It was a really well-done movie.

Did you ever see Wicked?

I love Wicked. I have friends who are producers of that show, Mike and Matt Rego and Hank Unger. It’s such a great retelling of that story. I didn’t expect anything because sometimes musicals can be sorta burdensome. I remember going to it, thinking, ‘It’s three hours long, my friends are producers on it, and I just gotta go, I have no idea what it’s about,’ and I was thrilled through the whole thing. Loved it.

Romeo and Juliet (Franco Zeffirelli, 1968; 97% Tomatometer)



Romeo and Juliet is on my list because I saw it when I was at a very formative age. I think I was 14 or 15, and at that age, girls are very dramatic about romance and they’re just starting to get those feelings, and love is very painful and very important. It’s overwhelming and you have these huge crushes, and so Romeo and Juliet is all about that huge first love. And you couldn’t have found two more beautiful teenagers than Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting… and that was the first time I had ever seen Michael York and he was stunning — he was stunning.

The costumes were gorgeous. Zeffirelli was a beautiful artist. He designed theater and opera and sets, so it was just beautiful. I think why I love Italy so much now is because of that movie, and it made me fall in love with Shakespeare. That’s one of the first times that Shakespeare became not just some dusty old English thing that you had to study in school, but it became really alive. You know what else did that really well? Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet… So, Romeo and Juliet was my first introduction. I walked around pretending I was Olivia Hussey. I had my long dark hair parted in the middle, and we had these, like, hippie baby-doll blouses that had the empire waist, so I would wear that all the time and I’d sorta stare at myself in the mirror. Of course, there was nobody in Cleveland, OH who looked anything like Leonard Whiting, so it was all in my head.

All the President’s Men (Alan J. Pakula, 1976; 98% Tomatometer)



And then there’s All the President’s Men.

Are you cheating? Are you picking more than five?

I’m sort of getting around to it.

What’s amazing about All the President’s Men is that the only thing that happens in the whole movie is people make phone calls. There are no computers so they can’t look anything up — they’re looking up stuff in the Yellow Pages and they’re using, like, rotary phones. It’s Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford who are brilliant in it. They’re so natural. So, they’re making phone calls, they’re looking through files, and they’re having meetings in their newspaper’s editor’s office. That’s all that happens in the movie, and it’s as exciting as any big blockbuster movie. I mean, it’s really a huge accomplishment.

It shows that it doesn’t matter what something’s about if you do it well.

If you do it well — well-written, well-acted and well-directed. Absolutely.

That’s a really funny observation about the phone calls.

You can’t look anything up on the computer! They had typewriters! Typewriters! It’s a wonder any crime ever got solved.

Tootsie (Sydney Pollack, 1982; 88% Tomatometer)



I know we’re probably done, but I just have to say Tootsie is so wonderful and farcical… Feature comedy is very difficult to do. Tootsie took a crazy, ludicrous situation and made it utterly believable. You really believe Dustin Hoffman and the trials he had as a woman.



Next, Heaton talks about her new movie Moms’ Night Out, and why pain is so funny.


RT: So, let’s talk about Moms’ Night Out, which opens Mother’s Day weekend.

With Moms’ Night Out, there’s a script that when we first got it, my husband David Hunt and I weren’t sure about producing it and acting in it. When we came on as producers, we got to get our hands in there and massage our characters and fill them out a little bit more. As an actor, you want to have something that your character is struggling with — something they have to overcome. So, we were able to add that in. Really, comedies are usually about pain. If you look at Tootsie, that was about an actor who can’t get a job; he’s in great pain. And then he falls in love with someone and he can’t reveal who he is, so he’s in constant struggle — and that’s what make it so funny.

For Moms’ Night Out, all our characters are struggling. Sarah Drew, who plays Ally, is a mother of three young children, toddlers, and she’s overwhelmed and trying to be perfect. Probably, if I were to say what this movie is about, it’s really a love letter to mothers. As Salvador Dali said, you shouldn’t fear perfection because you’ll never achieve it. I think we need to throw out this idea of perfection — the perfect home, the perfect wardrobe, the perfect children who are speaking French and playing the violin and they’re math geniuses or whatever — and we have to let go of perfection and substitute it for appreciation. Live in the moment and appreciate the gift that children are, as tough as that job is. It’s the toughest job in the world being a mom.

Moms’ Night Out is a great way to celebrate Mother’s Day because it really is a celebration of mothers — different mothers too. I play a pastor’s wife and I have a teenage daughter and my character’s whole issue is also this idea of always having to have a perfect facade. When I did some research about pastors’ wives, the number-one word they used to describe themselves is “lonely.”


RT: That’s so sad.

Patricia Heaton: I know, but doesn’t it make total sense? Everyone can come to them with their problems — and they do — but they can’t really go to members of the congregation and say, “My husband’s driving me crazy” because he’s the pastor. They have to keep their failings to themselves because they’re trying to keep up an appearance, and they have to make sure, because their husbands are the leaders, that they protect them… It sounds like a serious drama, but I’ve always found that the best way to tackle subjects like that is through comedy. Classic comedy is like you’re massaging a person’s soul so that they’re relaxed and having a good time, and then they’re more open to going with the characters and going on their journey with them.


RT: As far as Moms’ Night Out goes, I know that when moms get to go out, it’s a very big deal.

Patricia Heaton: My husband a few years ago said, “What do you want to do for your birthday?” assuming I’d say something like, ‘Let’s go out to dinner,’ and I said, “I want to go away for the weekend with my girlfriends” and he was so offended. But especially when you’re all moms of younger kids, it’s really hard to get away. For the last seven years, five of my friends and I have gone away. It started out going locally — we’d drive up to Santa Barbara or out to the desert — and then one year, I was doing a play in New York, so everybody flew to New York. And then for my 50th birthday, we all went to Hawaii to Maui, so I have not just Moms’ Night Out, I have Girls’ Weekend Away. Maybe that’ll be the sequel.


RT: One of the things about the movie is that it starts out great for the moms, but it’s just awful for the dads.

Patricia Heaton: I think that’s one of the reasons we have a hard time. We tend to complain about our husbands not pitching in, and yet we’re very reluctant to hand anything over to them because we don’t like the way they do things. You ask any woman and they’ll say, “It’s true. I wish he would help me, but only if he helps me in my exact way to my specifications and follow all my rules.”


RT: He’ll do it wrong.

Patricia Heaton: He’ll do it wrong. That’s right. And so Moms’ Night Out is really just a huge celebration [of mothers]. And it’s also something that you can feel comfortable bringing your own mother too.


RT: Yeah, that’s a big selling point.

Patricia Heaton: Yes, and it’s really funny.


RT: One of the things that made me laugh was seeing Trace Adkins. He’s, like, twice everyone else’s size. He looks like a giant.

Patricia Heaton: He’s amazing. He’s very intimidating because he’s a man of very few words — and the few words he does speak are in this huge, deep country voice. But he’s just the sweetest teddy bear ever.


RT: Who knew he was a comedic actor? That was a surprise for me.

Patricia Heaton: He’s wonderful! I just had a feeling. When we came on board, he was already attached and I thought, ‘That’s perfect. I know he’s going to be great in this. I just know.’ And he was.



Moms’ Night Out opens this weekend in theaters.

Click here for more Five Favorite Films.

After her stint on the island of J.J. Abram’s Lost, Maggie Grace has taken to the big screen with roles in a series of high-profile movies — including Faster, Twilight: Breaking Dawn and, most famously, Taken, in which she played Liam Neeson’s kidnapped daughter. It seems movie villains never learn, however. In this week’s Lockout (also from Taken producer Luc Besson), Grace plays the President’s daughter, dispatched as an emissary to a floating space prison where — you guessed it — she’s taken hostage, prompting Guy Pearce’s mercenary mission to rescue her. We’re assuming Neeson was probably too busy fighting space wolves or clones of himself (take note, Besson…), but he and Grace will be reunited for more daddy-daughter carnage in the inevitable Taken 2, due later this year. In the meantime, we spoke with Grace this week for a conversation about her five favorite films.

The English Patient (Anthony Minghella, 1996; 83% Tomatometer)



I think when you ask for favorite films, you’re really asking “favorite films at 15” — you know what I’m saying? Formative favorite films. I don’t think they really change much. You sort of can’t argue with your inner 13-year-old that watched something 25,000 times. Now I’ll see something adult and be affected by it — like A Separation, which I saw and I loved — but it’s gonna be hard to top those 25,000 viewings when you were 13. You get past pubescence and it’s cooked. Put a fork in it, your favorite films is done. [Laughs] Don’t hold me to it. The English Patient: Oh my gosh, it was just so affecting when I saw it. The performances are impeccable. The sense of time and place; everything about it. It’s really one of those kinds of epics — like Lawrence of Arabia is an epic. You rarely see epics any more.

Romeo and Juliet (Franco Zeffirelli, 1968; 97% Tomatometer)



The 1968 version of Romeo and Juliet, the Zeffirelli version. I really fell head over heels in love with that movie when I was 13. I watched it countless times. Just hearing the score makes me feel like I’m 13 again.

It might be the best Romeo and Juliet on film.

I think it certainly is. You know, they cast pretty close to their ages; I think Olivia Hussey was about 16, and it really captures that emotional stuff.

Shouldn’t you have been watching the Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes version when you were 13?

Well, they gave great performances. But I couldn’t forgive them for cutting the Queen Mab speech. [Laughs]

Breaking the Waves (Lars von Trier, 1996; 86% Tomatometer)


Breaking the Waves, I saw that when I was — and this was ill-advised [laughs] — I was in Bucharest, alone with the flu. I don’t know what possessed me to put that in to watch, but I think you could imagine it was pretty devastating. It’s so raw and amazing, and Emily Watson is one of my favorite actresses.

When Harry Met Sally (Rob Reiner, 1989; 91% Tomatometer)



Well I think we just have to have a shout out to the rom-com genre in there and it’s a perfect example of the two, you know, really lovable, flawed characters — perfectly flawed for one another. As my grandmother used to say, “There’s a lid for every pot.” So I think that out of that genre that’s probably my favorite.

When did you first see that one?

Probably as a teenager. But, you know, I rewatch it with girlfriends. [Laughs] I’m pretty sure I know it line for line at this point.

Sophie’s Choice (Alan J. Pakula, 1982; 81% Tomatometer)



I just feel like there’s so much estrogen in this list. [Laughs]

Well you’re in so many action films; that kinda balances your list out.

I really need to do a five favorite action films. I think Die Hard would be up there. No… I’m afraid it’s gonna have to be Sophie’s Choice. [Laughs] Sorry! One of the greatest performances of the 20th century, I think. She’s incredible. I mean, I kinda liked many of her films but that one springs to mind first. I figured I can’t list all five as Meryl Streep films, right? That’d be a little annoying. It’s hard to pick one, but if I had to I’m gonna go with that one.

She did win an Oscar for it.

Yeah. You know, she really should have won many more times than she has. It’s easy to get confused as to which performance of hers was Oscar-nominated and which was Oscar-winning. I think at this point it doesn’t matter. It’s just cumulative. They should just give her a bigger Oscar.

They should remodel the Oscar in her likeness and give that out to other winners.

[Laughs] That’s a fantastic idea.


Lockout is in theaters this week.

Friends, readers, Tomato-fans, lend me your ears. Not stepping o’er the bounds of modesty, we at RT humbly present to you the Greatest Shakespeare Movies, a list of the Bard’s best-reviewed films that (we hope) is fit for the gods.

One of the wonderful things about William Shakespeare‘s works is how adaptable they are. Thus, our list contains adaptations both reverent (Sir Laurence Olivier‘s Hamlet) and revisionist (Ten Things I Hate About You, My Own Private Idaho). We’ve got the Bard in outer space (Forbidden Planet), in high school (O), and in feudal Japan (Throne of Blood). Our list also contains great performances from some of the finest actors ever to tackle Shakespeare’s deft, mysterious verse, including Orson Welles, Kenneth Branagh, Denzel Washington, and Rick Moranis.


“I’d say you’re more like a Winter’s day.”

Though our list may seem to be madness, there is method in’t: each of the films presented here has at least 20 reviews, so you won’t see such classics as the Marlon Brando-toplined Julius Caesar or Olivier’s Richard III. And we omitted movies like Shakespeare in Love and Looking For Richard, as we avoided films that weren’t taken directly from a specific work and were primarily about staging the plays.

Can one desire too much of a good thing? Check out our list and be the judge. As the Bard might say, “The best is not, So long as we can say, ‘this is the best-reviewed.'”

This week the shelves are packed, and just in time for the holidays! Check out the long-awaited big-screen debut of Springfield’s finest (The Simpsons Movie), Matthew Vaughn‘s fantastic tale of witches, romance, and flying pirates (Stardust), or, as we strongly advise, take a chance on one of the year’s best cinematic gems (Once).


The Simpsons Movie

Tomatometer: 88%

It took eleven Simpsons scribes to bring the yellowest family in America to the big screen — and a marketing campaign turning 7-Eleven stores into Kwik-E-Marts that can only be described as “inspired” — but the payoff was huge. After 19 more-or-less stellar seasons (ok, quite a few were less but it got better, didn’t it?) Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie made a fashionably late entrance into the movies, to the tune of over half a billion dollars and counting, with a feature-length adventure involving the destruction of Springfield, a pet pig, environmentalism, Albert Brooks, and Green Day.

 



Stardust

Tomatometer: 75%

Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess’ illustrated fairy tale captivated readers upon publication in 1997; a decade later, Layer Cake director Matthew Vaughn enlisted the likes of Claire Danes, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Charlie Cox) in an English town called Wall bordered by a secret realm of magic, pirates and witches, the Certified Fresh Stardust dazzled critics with its heartfelt, if sprawling, tale of romance and adventure. Check out the DVD for behind-the-scenes commentary, deleted scenes, and a blooper reel.

Once

Tomatometer: 98%

John Carney‘s Irish Once is, quite simply, one of the best films of 2007. The micro-budgeted musical — shot for an astounding $160,000 guerilla-style, on the streets of Dublin — stars real-life artistic partners Glen Hansard (of The Frames) and Marketa Irglova, as a busker and an immigrant who meet and form an immediate musical bond. The Grammy-nominated soundtrack bears 13 hauntingly beautiful original songs, which alone are worth the price of admission. If you missed it in theaters — and a lot of you did — pick it up now on DVD.

Blade Runner: The Final Cut


Tomatometer: 96%

In 1982, Ridley Scott unleashed his stylishly noir sci-fi tale of replicants and blade runners onto the world, and geeks the world over were never the same. But whose vision did they see? After a 1992 Director’s Cut that was ironically not Scott-approved, we now have Blade Runner: The Final Cut. At 93 percent, the original version already had overwhelming critical praise; at 96 percent, Scott’s “final” vision, available this week, may be even closer to perfection.

Bring It On: In It To Win It

Tomatometer: N/A

The original Bring it On (2000) was a gem of a teen comedy about a privileged high school cheer captain (Kirsten Dunst) trawling the cutthroat waters of competitive cheerleading; the uninspired sequel, set on a college campus, provoked one to lament “it’s already been broughten.” Thankfully, a third installment (Bring it On: All or Nothing, starring Hayden Panetierre) revived the flagging franchise, leading us to hope, spirit fingers waving, that the feat could be repeated…in a third sequel! Bring it On: In It To Win It is that new hope — a cheertastic take on Romeo and Juliet. Sigh.

Balls of Fury

Tomatometer: 25%

If you’re like me, you love Comedy Central’s Reno 911; maybe, then, you won’t mind the underrated Balls of Fury, an Enter The Dragon-style spoof about the illicit ping-pong circuit starring Dan Fogler, Christopher Walken, Maggie Q and James (Lo Pan!) Hong. Lo Pan!

Underdog

Tomatometer: 15%

Oh Jason Lee, what hath you wrought? You haven’t had this bad a critical ravaging since Stealing Harvard!

Welcome to Day Three of RT’s Five Days of Christmas Countdown, in which we serve up a different list each day of the best holiday flicks around. Today, we’ve got the best-reviewed holiday thrillers — a list that includes a proto-slasher, a cop/buddy flick, and a wrestling match between love and hate.

The holidays are here, and it’s time to break out the sleds, roast the chestnuts, and watch a movie or five about yuletide magic (or a decided lack thereof). And when in doubt regarding your best viewing for any occasion, as always, we’re here to help; the merry elves at Rotten Tomatoes have listed the Tomatometers, checked them twice, and will be presenting, during the Five Days of Christmas, the best-reviewed holiday films in the following categories: Classics, Comedies, Animated/Children’s, Dramas, and Thrillers. Pour yourself a cup of eggnog and get ready for some fine seasonal viewing!

Top Five Holiday Thrillers

All this holiday cheer is all well and good, but what if you like a few chills to go with your jingle bells? We’ve got just the five movies for you. Whether it’s running barefoot through shards of broken glass, Shelley Winters at the bottom of a lake, or sorority girls being hunted down by a murderous psychopath that strikes your yuletide fancy, you’ll find it here!

5) Black Christmas (1975) 63%

Think John Carpenter‘s "Halloween" invented the use of the killer’s-perspective shot? Nope — they’re all over the place in Bob Clark‘s "Black Christmas," released a full four years earlier. Not a film geek and don’t care? Not to worry, "Black Christmas" has lots to love, including the stunning Olivia Hussey (otherwise known as "The Hottest Juliet in the History of Film") and pre-fame versions of Margot Kidder and Andrea Martin. For its 32nd birthday, "Black Christmas" is receiving the big-budget remake treatment. It is bound to suck. Rent the original instead, and you’ll be likely to jump in terror the first time someone calls to wish you a merry Christmas.

Starring: Olivia Hussey, Keir Dullea
Directed by: Bob Clark

4) Gremlins (1984) 80%

"No exposure to bright light. Don’t get him wet. And never feed him after midnight." These would later go on to be helpful rules for taking care of young "Gremlins" star Corey Feldman, but in this holiday classic, they’re the three quick steps from cuddly Mogwai to leathery, troublemaking Gremlin. One of a series of mid-1980s kids’ classics from director Joe Dante, "Gremlins" is notable for helping to provoke the invention of the PG-13 rating, which seems laughably quaint if you compare its more violent bits with those of, say, "Spy Kids." (If viewed back-to-back with "The Santa Clause," "Gremlins" will make for a very Judge Reinhold Christmas. And there isn’t a thing wrong with that.)

Starring: Hoyt Axton, Phoebe Cates
Directed by: Joe Dante

3) Lethal Weapon (1987) 91%

This film’s connection to the season may seem rather tenuous, and we suppose it might be; that being said, it’s hard to argue with the inclusion of a movie in which Christmas is celebrated immediately after Gary Busey receives a brutal, richly deserved public pummeling. Were the sequels necessary? Hardly, but that doesn’t make a dent in Richard Donner‘s steely direction, Mel Gibson and Danny Glover‘s easy chemistry, or Michael Kamen and Eric Clapton‘s terrific score.

Starring: Mel Gibson, Danny Glover
Directed by: Richard Donner

2) Die Hard (1988) 95%



Nothing says "Christmas" like sending a dead terrorist in a Santa cap down an elevator with a note saying "Ho, ho, ho. Now I’ve got a gun." After Bruce Willis killed his movie career with "Blind Date" and "Sunset," it was "Die Hard" that brought it back from the dead — while simultaneously reinventing large chunks of the entire action-movie genre. The sequels couldn’t help but be inferior (and it’s best not even to think about the upcoming "Die Hard 4.0"), but the first entry in the John McClane saga is a lean, mean action machine. Revisit Nakatomi Plaza this season and let the bullets fly all over again.

Starring: Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman
Directed by: John McTiernan

1) The Night of the Hunter (1955) 100%

Ah, noir for the holidays — there’s nothing like it. Christmas may not be the first thing on your mind when you watch the tale of murderous Harry Powell (played by Robert Mitchum) and his quest to learn the location of a treasure hidden by his dead prison cellmate, and in fact, there’s nothing terribly jolly about impersonating a preacher or marrying a woman to get at her kids. But if a bloody shiv in your stocking sounds like some primo Christmas cheer, "Night of the Hunter" will have you shaking like a bowl full of jelly.

Starring: Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters
Directed by: Charles Laughton

Click here for Day Two: Top Five Seasonal Dramas
Click here for Day One: Top Five Yuletide Comedies

The British Academy of Film & Television Arts (BAFTA) held their annual awards presentation on February 21st, and they managed to dole out some love for an interesting variety of films and filmmakers — most of which have been on the receiving end of other awards already, but they’re good choices anyway, if it’s me you’re asking.

Best FilmBrokeback Mountain

The Alexander Korda Award for Outstanding British Film of the Year — Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit

The Carl Foreman Award for Special Achievement by a British Director, Writer or Producer in their First Feature Film
Joe Wright, Pride & Prejudice

The David Lean Award for Achievement in DirectionAng Lee, Brokeback Mountain

Original ScreenplayPaul Haggis & Bobby Moresco, Crash

Adapted ScreenplayLarry McMurtry & Diana Ossana, Brokeback Mountain

Film Not in the English LanguageThe Beat That My Heart Skipped

Actor in a Leading RolePhilip Seymour Hoffman, Capote

Actress in a Leading RoleReese Witherspoon, Walk the Line

Actor in a Supporting RoleJake Gyllenhaal, Brokeback Mountain

Actress in a Supporting Role
Thandie Newton, Crash

The Anthony Asquith Award for Achievement in Film Music
John Williams, Memoirs of a Geisha

Cinematography
Dion Beebe, Memoirs of a Geisha

EditingClaire Simpson, The Consant Gardener

Production DesignStuart Craig, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Costume DesignColleen Atwood, Memoirs of a Geisha

Sound
— Walk the Line

Achievement in Special Visual EffectsKing Kong

Make-up & HairThe Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Short Animation Film — Fallen Art

Short Film — Antonio’s Breakfast

The Orange Rising Star AwardJames McAvoy

BAFTA is a charity with principal objects to promote and advance education through its events and to cultivate and improve public taste in the film, television and games industries. Its principal activities are the staging of UK and international awards ceremonies, special tribute evenings and an ever-expanding events and education programme. BAFTA has approximately 6,500 members worldwide.

The writing/producing/directing team of James Wong and Glen Morgan ("Final Destination," "Willard") has been commissioned to mount a remake of the 1974 cult classic "Black Christmas." Production is scheduled to begin this September, and producer Steve Hoban says "It’s going to be a classic horror film, but it won’t be a gorefest … This is an era of paranoia, so I think the timing could be really good, because this is a film all about paranoia."The original "Black Christmas" was directed by Bob Clark ("Porky’s," "A Christmas Story") and starred Keir Dullea ("2001: A Space Odyssey"), Olivia Hussey ("Romeo and Juliet") and Margot Kidder ("Superman").

Tag Cloud

best reboot fresh Exclusive Video comic venice festival Writers Guild of America spanish Apple Women's History Month HBO Max 1990s TCM international women scary The Academy Biopics Marvel Television Drama canceled TV shows criterion hispanic Britbox Netflix Christmas movies Tomatazos ITV Holiday SXSW series disaster nature indie rt archives Hallmark Christmas movies Syfy superman Nickelodeon teaser diversity Mindy Kaling screen actors guild revenge free movies Creative Arts Emmys TLC serial killer zombie doctor who dexter rt labs critics edition Musicals Red Carpet Television Academy NYCC Mystery feel good stop motion WGN historical drama Fox Searchlight USA Network Fall TV Comedy BET hidden camera NBA 99% Anna Paquin VOD 24 frames Cartoon Network vs. E! renewed TV shows Cosplay scary movies pirates of the caribbean 2018 breaking bad Paramount Plus know your critic CBS true crime El Rey anime elevated horror TCA harry potter CMT scene in color E3 Acorn TV Tubi Sony Pictures Captain marvel political drama Nat Geo Christmas Reality Competition critics scorecard BBC One ghosts FOX sequel Elton John new star wars movies rt labs Turner Classic Movies slasher 90s Toys Box Office comiccon Trailer Awards Tour obituary mission: impossible TV renewals live action binge Best and Worst ESPN Stephen King space Sneak Peek basketball Amazon Character Guide Binge Guide GLAAD 2017 talk show twilight Funimation Horror psychological thriller FXX DGA award winner Animation marvel cinematic universe Freeform saw cops japanese romantic comedy YouTube target comic book movie kong superhero Disney Black History Month DC Comics dramedy dragons medical drama 20th Century Fox wonder woman FX Pride Month BET Awards laika Photos tv talk 72 Emmy Awards asian-american Amazon Prime Paramount Quiz italian police drama concert CW Seed 2015 Trivia Chernobyl Film Festival TCA 2017 Marvel politics Image Comics ID nbcuniversal YouTube Premium supernatural Polls and Games Musical french USA SDCC book dc Hollywood Foreign Press Association Disney Plus cancelled TV shows universal monsters ratings boxing OWN reviews golden globe awards IMDb TV theme song genre blockbuster Rocketman Dark Horse Comics Superheroes San Diego Comic-Con Disney streaming service Hulu franchise adenture Comics on TV spider-man LGBTQ PaleyFest Shondaland GoT Kids & Family GIFs biopic worst movies Crunchyroll APB rom-coms slashers canceled Year in Review Winners satire Trophy Talk Tokyo Olympics witnail Fargo Logo art house 2020 BBC America live event aliens cooking Amazon Prime Video hist Star Trek DirecTV Comedy Central Calendar marvel comics dceu monster movies sports 45 Pixar Reality Comic-Con@Home 2021 stand-up comedy RT History HFPA archives king kong First Reviews Star Wars Crackle fast and furious Spike romance transformers 21st Century Fox 2016 73rd Emmy Awards The Arrangement Adult Swim game show halloween RT21 die hard Ovation Sundance TV Lucasfilm football spain sopranos Baby Yoda Alien Rom-Com Mudbound Holidays ViacomCBS Wes Anderson young adult documentary cartoon stoner deadpool directors comic books HBO Go movie Broadway spanish language Opinion MTV travel hispanic heritage month Thanksgiving TV OneApp Western Election The Purge blaxploitation 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards screenings king arthur cinemax heist movie video on demand ABC television 007 Turner kaiju Song of Ice and Fire VH1 crime DC streaming service Lifetime Christmas movies 71st Emmy Awards cancelled DC Universe royal family Spring TV American Society of Cinematographers Pop TV olympics Starz nfl TV One Pacific Islander child's play Infographic kids boxoffice First Look Valentine's Day 93rd Oscars Interview Ellie Kemper AMC Plus 2019 Apple TV+ parents cancelled TV series Winter TV toy story Showtime Classic Film CNN legend robots Instagram Live Peacock Neflix streaming movies debate children's TV Mary poppins hollywood telelvision leaderboard The Walking Dead spy thriller VICE vampires 79th Golden Globes Awards National Geographic Emmy Nominations Disney Channel blockbusters psycho Schedule facebook casting Heroines Superheroe Esquire BBC based on movie cars Sci-Fi Watching Series news Discovery Channel CBS All Access golden globes popular Film PBS Amazon Studios Pet Sematary comic book movies Academy Awards indiana jones Country IFC Disney+ Disney Plus comics period drama thriller dark YouTube Red chucky Tarantino Awards LGBT worst Family Epix Netflix TV movies IFC Films rotten Super Bowl Travel Channel war all-time MSNBC batman unscripted documentaries godzilla jurassic park Martial Arts Teen Masterpiece A24 The Walt Disney Company game of thrones werewolf posters BAFTA emmy awards Fox News technology critic resources lord of the rings Pirates President toronto Pop Rock Walt Disney Pictures 2021 films adaptation Food Network justice league spider-verse TCA Winter 2020 Universal Pictures Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt new york Sundance Now Spectrum Originals Tumblr Legendary classics TruTV Comic Book WarnerMedia trailers zero dark thirty A&E Apple TV Plus crime thriller festivals joker mockumentary black comedy Video Games a nightmare on elm street Mary Tyler Moore quibi Set visit Prime Video foreign Vudu PlayStation Music 4/20 high school crossover australia Podcast south america Avengers mutant sag awards History docuseries Grammys strong female leads independent Premiere Dates mcc science fiction See It Skip It rotten movies we love Countdown Sundance Tags: Comedy zombies movies natural history docudrama black Ghostbusters Hallmark james bond TIFF social media mob streaming sequels Cannes New York Comic Con MCU Extras new zealand comedies Emmys what to watch razzies Mary Poppins Returns Universal video SundanceTV Columbia Pictures Arrowverse Brie Larson action-comedy AMC richard e. Grant Chilling Adventures of Sabrina NBC latino TBS Lifetime Black Mirror halloween tv composers cults Paramount Network Lionsgate Summer Marathons finale FX on Hulu Television Critics Association animated cats Shudder singing competition cancelled television Rocky discovery aapi anthology HBO Warner Bros. TNT crime drama X-Men Endgame green book sitcom YA jamie lee curtis prank trophy The CW adventure dogs christmas movies versus dreamworks remakes miniseries Fantasy Hear Us Out ABC Family TCA Awards japan spinoff Marvel Studios Certified Fresh ABC Signature biography gangster book adaptation name the review Oscars The Witch Nominations Bravo suspense TV Land Action