Warner Bros.

The 99% Club: An Ode to the Almost-Perfect Movie

The 99% Club: You’ll find it, way past 98% on the Tomatometer, but just before 100%. Inside, a coterie of cinema’s practically-finest, movies promising an experience beyond most others – movies that are almost perfect. These are the ones to warm hearts, stir the soul, call forth eruptions of laughter, and rattle your bones. To anyone who approaches to see and hear their stories, they will enthrall the audience…save the stray naysayer or two, of course.

Its members are fleeting; membership comes with no lifetime guarantee. Any additional Rotten reviews could toss the movie from the 99% Club and into the gutter that is a 98% score, to associate with the likes of Wizard of Oz and The Godfather.

You’ll notice most in the 99% Club are from this century. Movies may or may not be getting better, but they are getting reviewed more. When a work generates nearly 400 critics’ appraisals, its Tomatometer score can better endure Rotten reviews and sustain its 99% score. Classic films, by dint of having fewer reviews in written existence, can have their scores torpedoed by a single Rotten remark.

The 99% Club: On the cusp of triple-digit Valhalla. Come join in their almost-perfection.

#59
#59
Adjusted Score: 104032%
Critics Consensus: Rich, insightful, and occasionally heartbreaking, 20 Feet From Stardom is an energetic tribute to the passion, talent, and hard work of backup singers.
Synopsis: Filmmaker Morgan Neville shines a long-overdue spotlight on the hit-making contributions of longtime backup singers like Darlene Love and Merry... [More]
Directed By: Morgan Neville

#58

56 Up (2012)
99%

#58
Adjusted Score: 100089%
Critics Consensus: Director Michael Apted continues to utilize cinema as a window into the lives of everyday people, and in the reflection of this documentary we can glimpse our own aging humanity.
Synopsis: Continuing a project he began in 1964, filmmaker Michael Apted revisits his original subjects and sees how their lives are... [More]
Directed By: Michael Apted, Paul Almond

#57

Darbareye Elly (2009)
99%

#57
Adjusted Score: 100135%
Critics Consensus: About Elly offers viewers performances as powerful as its thought-provoking ideas, and adds another strong entry to Asghar Farhadi's impressive filmography.
Synopsis: A young teacher disappears before being introduced to a potential suitor in northern Iran.... [More]
Directed By: Asghar Farhadi

#56

All About Eve (1950)
99%

#56
Adjusted Score: 111878%
Critics Consensus: Smart, sophisticated, and devastatingly funny, All About Eve is a Hollywood classic that only improves with age.
Synopsis: Backstage story revolving around aspiring actress Eve Harrington. Tattered and forlorn, Eve shows up in the dressing room of Broadway... [More]
Directed By: Joseph L. Mankiewicz

#55

Amazing Grace (2018)
99%

#55
Adjusted Score: 108279%
Critics Consensus: Brilliantly capturing a remarkable performer near the peak of her prodigious power, Amazing Grace is a thrilling must-watch documentary for Aretha Franklin fans.
Synopsis: Singer Aretha Franklin performs gospel songs at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles in 1972.... [More]
Starring: Aretha Franklin
Directed By: Alan Elliott

#54

Apollo 11 (2019)
99%

#54
Adjusted Score: 109212%
Critics Consensus: Edifying and inspiring in equal measure, Apollo 11 uses artfully repurposed archival footage to send audiences soaring back to a pivotal time in American history.
Synopsis: Never-before-seen footage and audio recordings take you straight into the heart of NASA's most celebrated mission as astronauts Neil Armstrong,... [More]
Directed By: Todd Douglas Miller

#53
#53
Adjusted Score: 108163%
Critics Consensus: Ash Is Purest White finds writer-director Zhangke Jia revisiting familiar themes while continuing to observe modern Chinese society with an urgent, empathetic eye.
Synopsis: In an industrial city in China, a young dancer named Qiao falls in love with a mobster named Bin. When... [More]
Directed By: Jia Zhangke

#52
#52
Adjusted Score: 106787%
Critics Consensus: A documentary-like depiction of a nation's real-life efforts to expel a colonizing force, The Battle of Algiers puts viewers on the front lines with gripping realism.
Synopsis: Paratrooper commander Colonel Mathieu (Jean Martin), a former French Resistance fighter during World War II, is sent to 1950s Algeria... [More]
Directed By: Gillo Pontecorvo

#51
#51
Adjusted Score: 100188%
Critics Consensus: Suffused with happiness and modest charm, Bill Cunningham New York offers a touching, gently humorous portrait of its subject without invading his jealously guarded privacy.
Synopsis: Bill Cunningham, one of the mainstays of the New York Times, has been a contributor to the renowned newspaper for... [More]
Directed By: Richard Press

#50

Cameraperson (2016)
99%

#50
Adjusted Score: 106400%
Critics Consensus: Fresh and inventive yet immediately accessible, Cameraperson distills its subject's life and career into an experience that should prove immediately absorbing even for those unfamiliar with her work.
Synopsis: Cinematographer Kirsten Johnson exposes her many years behind the camera through a memoir made up of decades of footage shot... [More]
Directed By: Kirsten Johnson

#49

Casablanca (1942)
99%

#49
Adjusted Score: 114647%
Critics Consensus: An undisputed masterpiece and perhaps Hollywood's quintessential statement on love and romance, Casablanca has only improved with age, boasting career-defining performances from Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman.
Synopsis: Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart), who owns a nightclub in Casablanca, discovers his old flame Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman) is in town... [More]
Directed By: Michael Curtiz

#48

The Chambermaid (2018)
99%

#48
Adjusted Score: 101595%
Critics Consensus: The Chambermaid uses one woman's experiences to take audiences inside a life -- and a culture -- that's as bracingly unique as it is hauntingly relatable.
Synopsis: A young chambermaid working in one of the most luxurious hotels in Mexico City enrolls in the hotel's adult education... [More]
Directed By: Lila Avilés

#47

Chinatown (1974)
99%

#47
Adjusted Score: 105800%
Critics Consensus: As bruised and cynical as the decade that produced it, this noir classic benefits from Robert Towne's brilliant screenplay, director Roman Polanski's steady hand, and wonderful performances from Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway.
Synopsis: When Los Angeles private eye J.J. "Jake" Gittes (Jack Nicholson) is hired by Evelyn Mulwray to investigate her husband's activities,... [More]
Directed By: Roman Polanski

#46

Eighth Grade (2018)
99%

#46
Adjusted Score: 118499%
Critics Consensus: Eighth Grade takes a look at its titular time period that offers a rare and resounding ring of truth while heralding breakthroughs for writer-director Bo Burnham and captivating star Elsie Fisher.
Synopsis: Thirteen-year-old Kayla endures the tidal wave of contemporary suburban adolescence as she makes her way through the last week of... [More]
Directed By: Bo Burnham

#45
#45
Adjusted Score: 100166%
Critics Consensus: Brutally honest and utterly compelling, Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me offers a riveting, vanity-free portrait of its legendary subject while offering a few essential truths about the human condition.
Synopsis: Plagued by medical issues and memory lapses, the Broadway icon contemplates retirement and mortality as she approaches her 87th birthday... [More]
Starring:
Directed By: Chiemi Karasawa

#44

Faces Places (2017)
99%

#44
Adjusted Score: 108179%
Critics Consensus: Equal parts breezily charming and poignantly powerful, Faces Places is a unique cross-generational portrait of life in rural France from the great Agnès Varda.
Synopsis: Director Agnès Varda and photographer and muralist JR journey through rural France and form an unlikely friendship.... [More]
Starring: Agnès Varda, JR
Directed By: Agnès Varda, JR

#43

Finding Nemo (2003)
99%

#43
Adjusted Score: 110331%
Critics Consensus: Breathtakingly lovely and grounded by the stellar efforts of a well-chosen cast, Finding Nemo adds another beautifully crafted gem to Pixar's crown.
Synopsis: Marlin (Albert Brooks), a clown fish, is overly cautious with his son, Nemo (Alexander Gould), who has a foreshortened fin.... [More]
Directed By: Andrew Stanton

#42

For Sama (2019)
98%

#42
Adjusted Score: 104496%
Critics Consensus: As intimate as it is heartbreakingly resonant, For Sama powerfully distills the difficult choices faced by citizens of war-torn regions.
Synopsis: A young woman is followed through five years during the revolution in Aleppo, Syria - through love, marriage and motherhood.... [More]

#41

Gloria (2013)
99%

#41
Adjusted Score: 104059%
Critics Consensus: Marvelously directed by Sebastian Lelio and beautifully led by a powerful performance from Paulina Garcia, Gloria takes an honest, sweetly poignant look at a type of character that's all too often neglected in Hollywood.
Synopsis: An aging divorcee (Paulina García) embarks on an intense affair with a man (Sergio Hernández) she picked up at a... [More]
Directed By: Sebastián Lelio

#40

Goldfinger (1964)
99%

#40
Adjusted Score: 104826%
Critics Consensus: Goldfinger is where James Bond as we know him comes into focus - it features one of 007's most famous lines ("A martini. Shaken, not stirred.") and a wide range of gadgets that would become the series' trademark.
Synopsis: Special agent 007 (Sean Connery) comes face to face with one of the most notorious villains of all time, and... [More]
Directed By: Guy Hamilton

#39
#39
Adjusted Score: 107803%
Critics Consensus: Boasting dazzling animation, a script with surprising dramatic depth, and thrilling 3-D sequences, How to Train Your Dragon soars.
Synopsis: Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) is a Norse teenager from the island of Berk, where fighting dragons is a way of life.... [More]

#38
#38
Adjusted Score: 113487%
Critics Consensus: I Am Not Your Negro offers an incendiary snapshot of James Baldwin's crucial observations on American race relations -- and a sobering reminder of how far we've yet to go.
Synopsis: In 1979, James Baldwin wrote a letter to his literary agent describing his next project, "Remember This House." The book... [More]
Directed By: Raoul Peck

#37

The Interrupters (2011)
99%

#37
Adjusted Score: 101719%
Critics Consensus: Impeccably crafted and edited, The Interrupters is a tough and honest documentary about street violence that truly has the power to inspire change.
Synopsis: Members of the activist group CeaseFire work to curb violence in their Chicago neighborhoods by intervening in street fights and... [More]
Directed By: Steve James

#36
#36
Adjusted Score: 100390%
Critics Consensus: The Invisible War is a vital and frank expose on sexual assault in the U.S. military, shot by master filmmaker Kirby Dick (This Film is Not Yet Rated).
Synopsis: A filmmaker explores the ever-increasing incidents of violent sexual assault within the U.S. military.... [More]
Directed By: Kirby Dick

#35
#35
Adjusted Score: 101499%
Critics Consensus: Beautiful, thoughtful, and engrossing, Jiro Dreams of Sushi should prove satisfying even for filmgoers who don't care for the cuisine.
Synopsis: Revered sushi chef Jiro Ono strives for perfection in his work, while his eldest son, Yoshikazu, has trouble living up... [More]
Starring: Jiro Ono
Directed By: David Gelb

#34
#34
Adjusted Score: 104891%
Critics Consensus: A galvanizing glimpse behind the scenes of a pivotal election, Knock Down the House should prove engrossing for viewers of all political persuasions.
Synopsis: A young bartender in the Bronx, a coal miner's daughter in West Virginia, a grieving mother in Nevada, and a... [More]
Directed By: Rachel Lears

#33
#33
Adjusted Score: 110037%
Critics Consensus: Taut pacing, brilliantly dense writing and Oscar-worthy acting combine to produce a smart, popcorn-friendly thrill ride.
Synopsis: Three policemen, each with his own motives and obsessions, tackle the corruption surrounding an unsolved murder at a downtown Los... [More]
Directed By: Curtis Hanson

#32

Lady Bird (2017)
99%

#32
Adjusted Score: 128243%
Critics Consensus: Lady Bird delivers fresh insights about the turmoil of adolescence -- and reveals writer-director Greta Gerwig as a fully formed filmmaking talent.
Synopsis: A teenager (Saoirse Ronan) navigates a loving but turbulent relationship with her strong-willed mother (Laurie Metcalf) over the course of... [More]
Directed By: Greta Gerwig

#31

Le Havre (2011)
99%

#31
Adjusted Score: 101179%
Critics Consensus: Aki Kaurismäki's deadpan wit hits a graceful note with Le Havre, a comedy/drama that's sweet, sad, and uplifting in equal measure.
Synopsis: A shoeshiner tries to save a refugee.... [More]
Directed By: Aki Kaurismäki

#30

McQueen (2018)
99%

#30
Adjusted Score: 106091%
Critics Consensus: McQueen offers an intimate, well-sourced, and overall moving look at a young life and brilliant career that were tragically cut short.
Synopsis: Archival footage and interviews with friends and family offer insight into the extraordinary life and career of British fashion designer... [More]

#29

Miss Juneteenth (2020)
99%

#29
Adjusted Score: 108687%
Critics Consensus: Like a pageant winner walking across the stage, Miss Juneteenth follows a familiar path -- but does so with charm and grace.
Synopsis: A former beauty queen and single mom prepares her rebellious teenage daughter for the "Miss Juneteenth" pageant.... [More]

#28
#28
Adjusted Score: 101183%
Critics Consensus: Thrillingly unorthodox and emotionally searing without being didactic, The Missing Picture is a uniquely poignant documentary -- and so much more.
Synopsis: Filmmaker Rithy Panh re-creates atrocities of Cambodia's Khmer Rouge between 1975 and 1979.... [More]
Starring: Randal Douc
Directed By: Rithy Panh

#27

Moolaadé (2004)
99%

#27
Adjusted Score: 100059%
Critics Consensus: A vibrant, powerful, and poignant glimpse into the struggles of women in modern Africa.
Synopsis: For fear of enduring genital mutilation, a group of girls flee their own "purification" ceremony and take refuge with Collé... [More]
Directed By: Ousmane Sembene

#26
#26
Adjusted Score: 107754%
Critics Consensus: My Life as a Zucchini's silly title and adorable characters belie a sober story whose colorful visuals delight the senses even as it braves dark emotional depths.
Synopsis: A police officer (Nick Offerman) and some new friends help an orphan adjust to life at a foster home.... [More]
Directed By: Claude Barras

#25
Adjusted Score: 114598%
Critics Consensus: Powerfully acted and directed, Never Rarely Sometimes Always reaffirms writer-director Eliza Hittman as a filmmaker of uncommon sensitivity and grace.
Synopsis: Faced with an unintended pregnancy and a lack of local support, Autumn and her cousin, Skylar, travel across state lines... [More]
Directed By: Eliza Hittman

#24
#24
Adjusted Score: 107825%
Critics Consensus: Gripping, suspenseful, and visually iconic, this late-period Hitchcock classic laid the groundwork for countless action thrillers to follow.
Synopsis: This classic suspense film finds New York City ad executive Roger O. Thornhill (Cary Grant) pursued by ruthless spy Phillip... [More]
Directed By: Alfred Hitchcock

#23

On the Record (2020)
99%

#23
Adjusted Score: 102419%
Critics Consensus: On the Record uses harrowing first-person accounts to powerfully and persuasively confront the entrenched sexism of an industry and its culture.
Synopsis: Filmmakers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering examine the sexual assault allegations against hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons.... [More]
Directed By: Kirby Dick, Amy Ziering

#22
#22
Adjusted Score: 111340%
Critics Consensus: With his electrifying performance in Elia Kazan's thought-provoking, expertly constructed melodrama, Marlon Brando redefined the possibilities of acting for film and helped permanently alter the cinematic landscape.
Synopsis: Dockworker Terry Malloy (Marlon Brando) had been an up-and-coming boxer until powerful local mob boss Johnny Friendly (Lee J. Cobb)... [More]
Directed By: Elia Kazan

#21

Paddington 2 (2017)
99%

#21
Adjusted Score: 113872%
Critics Consensus: Paddington 2 honors its star's rich legacy with a sweet-natured sequel whose adorable visuals are matched by a story perfectly balanced between heartwarming family fare and purely enjoyable all-ages adventure.
Synopsis: Settled in with the Brown family, Paddington the bear is a popular member of the community who spreads joy and... [More]
Directed By: Paul King

#20
Adjusted Score: 100255%
Critics Consensus: Andy Goldsworthy and his art are beautifully captured in this engaging documentary.
Synopsis: Andy Goldsworthy's art is supposed to fall apart. He creates large-scale outdoor sculptures and artworks out of natural materials like... [More]
Starring: Andy Goldsworthy
Directed By: Thomas Riedelsheimer

#19

Saint Frances (2019)
99%

#19
Adjusted Score: 105568%
Critics Consensus: Saint Frances approaches an array of weighty issues with empathy, humor, and grace -- and marks star and writer Kelly O'Sullivan as a tremendous talent to watch.
Synopsis: After an abortion, a deadbeat nanny finds friendship with the 6-year-old she's hired to watch.... [More]
Directed By: Alex Thompson

#18

Selma (2014)
99%

#18
Adjusted Score: 111027%
Critics Consensus: Fueled by a gripping performance from David Oyelowo, Selma draws inspiration and dramatic power from the life and death of Martin Luther King, Jr. -- but doesn't ignore how far we remain from the ideals his work embodied.
Synopsis: Although the Civil Rights Act of 1964 legally desegregated the South, discrimination was still rampant in certain areas, making it... [More]
Directed By: Ava DuVernay

#17

A Separation (2011)
99%

#17
Adjusted Score: 106429%
Critics Consensus: Morally complex, suspenseful, and consistently involving, A Separation captures the messiness of a dissolving relationship with keen insight and searing intensity.
Synopsis: When Nader (Payman Maadi), a bank employee, refuses to leave Tehran, his wife, Simin (Leila Hatami) sues for divorce in... [More]
Directed By: Asghar Farhadi

#16
#16
Adjusted Score: 105622%
Critics Consensus: Warm, funny, and brilliantly animated, Shaun the Sheep is yet another stop-motion jewel in Aardman's family-friendly crown.
Synopsis: All is well at Mossy Bottom Farm, except for the fact that the animals will do anything to get out... [More]

#15

Shoplifters (2018)
99%

#15
Adjusted Score: 112585%
Critics Consensus: Understated yet ultimately deeply affecting, Shoplifters adds another powerful chapter to director Hirokazu Koreeda's richly humanistic filmography.
Synopsis: On the margins of Tokyo, a dysfunctional band of outsiders is united by fierce loyalty and a penchant for petty... [More]
Directed By: Kore-Eda Hirokazu

#14

Song of the Sea (2014)
99%

#14
Adjusted Score: 101351%
Critics Consensus: Song of the Sea boasts narrative depth commensurate with its visual beauty, adding up to an animated saga overflowing with family-friendly riches.
Synopsis: An Irish youth (David Rawle) discovers that his mute sister is a selkie who must find her voice and free... [More]
Directed By: Tomm Moore

#13

Starred Up (2013)
99%

#13
Adjusted Score: 103243%
Critics Consensus: Smart, hard-hitting, and queasily realistic, Starred Up is an instant classic of U.K. prison cinema.
Synopsis: An explosive teenager runs into his equally violent father after being switched to an adult prison from a facility for... [More]
Directed By: David Mackenzie

#12

Sunset Blvd. (1950)
98%

#12
Adjusted Score: 110741%
Critics Consensus: Arguably the greatest movie about Hollywood, Billy Wilder's masterpiece Sunset Boulevard is a tremendously entertaining combination of noir, black comedy, and character study.
Synopsis: An aging silent film queen refuses to accept that her stardom has ended. She hires a young screenwriter to help... [More]
Directed By: Billy Wilder

#11

The Tale (2018)
99%

#11
Adjusted Score: 102140%
Critics Consensus: The Tale handles its extraordinarily challenging subject matter with sensitivity, grace, and the power of some standout performances led by a remarkable Laura Dern.
Synopsis: Jennifer has it all, with a loving boyfriend and a great career as a journalist and professor. But when her... [More]
Directed By: Jennifer Fox

#10
#10
Adjusted Score: 108016%
Critics Consensus: An impressive technical achievement with a walloping emotional impact, They Shall Not Grow Old pays brilliant cinematic tribute to the sacrifice of a generation.
Synopsis: Using state-of-the-art technology and materials from the BBC and Imperial War Museum, filmmaker Peter Jackson allows the story of World... [More]
Starring: Peter Jackson
Directed By: Peter Jackson

#9

Things to Come (2016)
99%

#9
Adjusted Score: 109619%
Critics Consensus: A union to cherish between a writer-director and star working at peak power, Things to Come offers quietly profound observations on life, love, and the irrevocable passage of time.
Synopsis: A passionate middle-aged philosophy professor (Isabelle Huppert) rethinks her already much-examined life after an unforeseen divorce.... [More]
Directed By: Mia Hansen-Løve

#8

The Third Man (1949)
99%

#8
Adjusted Score: 112107%
Critics Consensus: This atmospheric thriller is one of the undisputed masterpieces of cinema, and boasts iconic performances from Joseph Cotten and Orson Welles.
Synopsis: Set in postwar Vienna, Austria, "The Third Man" stars Joseph Cotten as Holly Martins, a writer of pulp Westerns, who... [More]
Directed By: Carol Reed

#7

Tower (2016)
99%

#7
Adjusted Score: 105852%
Critics Consensus: Tower probes into a painful chapter of American history with sensitivity and grace -- and revisits its events from a valuable new perspective.
Synopsis: On Aug. 1, 1966, a sniper rode the elevator to the top floor of the University of Texas Tower and... [More]
Directed By: Keith Maitland

#6

Truman (2015)
99%

#6
Adjusted Score: 102511%
Critics Consensus: Well-written, well-acted, and patiently crafted, Truman takes an affecting look at a long friendship separated by distance but undimmed by time.
Synopsis: Terminally ill actor Julián wants to spend his final days tying up loose ends. When childhood friend Tomás pays him... [More]
Directed By: Cesc Gay

#5
#5
Adjusted Score: 99654%
Critics Consensus: Samurai epic as a touching drama.
Synopsis: In 1860s Japan, samurai Seibei (Hiroyuki Sanada) lives in a rural village with his mother and daughters, where he is... [More]
Directed By: Yôji Yamada

#4
Adjusted Score: 104221%
Critics Consensus: Jacques Demy elevates the basic drama of everyday life into a soaring opera full of bittersweet passion and playful charm, featuring a timeless performance from Catherine Deneuve.
Synopsis: Geneviève (Catherine Deneuve), a beautiful young Frenchwoman who works at a small-town boutique selling umbrellas, falls for dashing mechanic Guy... [More]
Directed By: Jacques Demy

#3

Under the Shadow (2016)
99%

#3
Adjusted Score: 104300%
Critics Consensus: Under the Shadow deftly blends seemingly disparate genres to deliver an effective chiller with timely themes and thought-provoking social subtext.
Synopsis: After Shideh's building is hit by a missile during the Iran-Iraq War, a superstitious neighbor suggests that the missile was... [More]
Directed By: Babak Anvari

#2

Wadjda (2012)
99%

#2
Adjusted Score: 103730%
Critics Consensus: Transgressive in the best possible way, Wadjda presents a startlingly assured new voice from a corner of the globe where cinema has been all but silenced.
Synopsis: A rebellious Saudi girl (Waad Mohammed) enters a Koran recitation competition at her school and hopes to win enough money... [More]
Directed By: Haifaa Al-Mansour

#1

The Wailing (2016)
99%

#1
Adjusted Score: 102606%
Critics Consensus: The Wailing delivers an atmospheric, cleverly constructed mystery whose supernatural thrills more than justify its imposing length.
Synopsis: Suspicion leads to hysteria when rural villagers link a series of brutal murders to the arrival of a mysterious stranger... [More]
Directed By: Na Hong-jin

April is shaping up to be a pretty good month for movies, leading into the proper summer movie season. But if you’re afraid of big crowds, or you just feel like lounging at home all month in your unicorn snuggie (and who doesn’t?), then Netflix has a pretty good lineup waiting for you. As usual, the month is heavily frontloaded, with most of the interesting titles coming out on April 1, but see below for the full list.


L.A. Confidential (1997) 99%


Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, Kevin Spacey, and Kim Basinger star in Curtis Hanson’s period noir about the criminal underworld of 1950s Los Angeles and the police of dubious morals who are called upon to investigate a multiple homicide with possible mob connections.

Available 4/1 on: Netflix


The Iron Giant (1999) 96%

Vin Diesel, Jennifer Aniston, and Harry Connick Jr. lend their voices to Brad Bird’s animated feature debut, about a large sentient robot who finds himself lost in a small Maine town in 1958 and befriends a young boy.

Available 4/1 on: Netflix


6 Balloons (2018) 86%

Dave Franco and Abbi Jacobson star in Marja-Lewis Ryan’s drama following a woman over the course of a night as she drives her heroin-addicted brother through LA, looking for a detox center.

Available 4/6 on: Netflix


Abacus: Small Enough to Jail (2016) 93%

This documentary centers on the Chinese immigrant family who owned and operated the Abacus Federal Savings bank in New York, the only bank to face criminal charges in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis.

Available 4/1 on: Netflix


Heat (1995) 87%

Al Pacino and Robert De Niro headline Michael Mann’s celebrated heist movie that centers on the cat-and-mouse game between a career criminal on his last job and the detective determined to catch him.

Available 4/1 on: Netflix


Scarface (1983) 82%

Al Pacino offers an unforgettable performance in Brian DePalma’s iconic drama about drug kingpin Tony Montana’s rise to power and eventual downfall.

Available 4/1 on: Netflix


Friday Night Lights (2004) 82%

Billy Bob Thornton stars in Peter Berg’s drama based on true events about a Texas high school football team’s struggles to win the state championship.

Available 3/1 on: Netflix


Seven (1995) 82%

Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman star in David Fincher’s thriller about a retiring detective who takes on a green partner in order to solve a series of grisly murders based on the Seven Deadly Sins.

Available 4/1 on: Netflix


Life Is Beautiful (1997) 80%

Roberto Benigni and Nicoletta Braschi star in Benigni’s dramatic comedy about a Jewish father who concocts elaborate stories to prevent his young son from learning the truth when his family is imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II.

Available 4/1 on: Netflix


The Joel McHale Show With Joel McHale: Season 1 (2018) 83%

Joel McHale hosts this weekly series from Netflix that looks at news and pop culture from around the world, much in the same way that McHale previously did on Talk Soup.

Available 4/1 on: Netflix


Kodachrome (2017) 71%

Jason Sudeikis, Ed Harris, and Elizabeth Olsen star in this drama about a man who agrees to drive his dying father across the country in order to develop four rolls of Kodachrome film.

Available 4/20 on: Netflix


Sin City (2005) 77%

Robert Rodriguez’s Certified Fresh adaptation of the Frank Miller comic is a dark, grisly collection of interconnected pulp fiction starring Bruce Willis, Jessica Alba, and Mickey Rourke, and shot with a unique visual flair.

Available 4/1 on: Netflix


Una (2016) 76%

Rooney Mara and Ben Mendelsohn star in this drama about a young woman who seeks out an older man with whom she shared a relationship 15 years before that got him arrested and put in jail.

Available 4/1 on: Netflix


The Lost Boys (1987) 77%

Coreys Haim and Feldman, Jason Patric, and Keifer Sutherland star in this Joel Schumacher cult classic about a pair of brothers who become entangled in the world of local vampires after they move to a new town.

Available 4/1 on: Netflix


Sunshine Cleaning (2008) 74%

Amy Adams and Emily Blunt star in this comedy about a down-on-her-luck single mother who starts up a crime scene cleaning business with her sister.

Available 4/1 on: Netflix


Boys on the Side (1995) 74%

Drew Barrymore, Whoopi Goldberg, and Mary-Louise Parker star in this drama about three women who set out on a road trip from New York to California together.

Available 4/1 on: Netflix


Cold Mountain (2003) 70%

Nicole Kidman, Jude Law, and Renée Zellweger star in Anthony Minghella’s period drama that follows an American Civil War soldier as he travels home through Confederate territory to his beloved, a preacher’s daughter struggling to keep her family farm alive.

Available 4/1 on: Netflix


Fracture (2007) 72%

Ryan Gosling and Anthony Hopkins star in this psychological thriller about a hot-shot attorney who engages in a war of wits with the wealthy engineer he’s been tasked with defending in court for the murder of the engineer’s wife.

Available 4/1 on: Netflix


Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003) 69%

The third chapter of the Terminator saga, set 10 years after T2, follows John Connor (Nick Stahl) as he attempts to evade another assassin sent from the future, this time in the form of a woman (Kristanna Loken), again with the help of a T-101 (Arnold Schwarzenegger).

Available 4/1 on: Netflix


Cabin Fever (2002) 62%

Eli Roth’s cult favorite horror film centers on a group of college friends vacationing in the wilderness who begin to turn on each other when one of them becomes infected with a terrible, fast-acting sickness.

Available 4/1 on: Netflix


Kill the Irishman (2011) 62%

Ray Stevenson, Christopher Walken, and Vincent D’Onofrio star in this period crime drama based on the true story of Cleveland mobster Danny Greene, who battled the Italian mafia for control of the city during the 1970s.

Available 4/1 on: Netflix


Cube (1997) 64%

Vincenzo Natali’s high-concept sci-fi horror film follows six strangers who wake up to find themselves trapped in a system of cubes rigged with deadly mechanisms and must work together to find an escape. A prequel, Cube Zero, is also available to stream.

Available 4/1 on: Cube, Cube Zero


The Duchess (2008) 62%

Keira Knightley and Ralph Fiennes star in this biographical look at the Duchess of Devonshire, Georgiana Spencer, who captured the public’s heart and helped enact sweeping changes as a political leader.

Available 4/1 on: Netflix

The new Flatliners arrives in theaters this weekend, and with it a new crop of foolhardy young scientists determined to find out what happens after we die. Of course, many filmgoers found the answer in 1990, when the first Flatliners rounded up some of the hottest young actors in Hollywood (including Kiefer Sutherland, who makes a return appearance in this edition). Thinking back to that original outing has us feeling nostalgic for the ’90s, so we decided to dedicate this feature to a look at the freshest wide domestic releases of the decade by Adjusted Tomatometer (take a look at the year-by-year lists) — and invite you to rank your own favorites along the way. It’s time for Total Recall!


Use the up and down arrows to rank the movies, or click here to see them in chronological order!

In an early episode of of the first season of Agent Carter, Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) donned a blonde wig and sparkling dress in order to go undercover at a glitzy party. For the rest of the season, however, costume designer Giovanna Ottobre-Melton stuck with more everyday clothing for the show’s stars. With the action in season two packing up and moving from New York City to Los Angeles, Old Hollywood glamour finds its way back into the show.


Glamour Is In The Details

A lot of research goes into the costuming of the show, with many of the costumes either being vintage pieces from the era or recreations from vintage materials. Wynn Everett, who joins the cast this season as glamorous actress-scientist Whitney Frost (inspired by Hedy Lamarr) revealed, “The way they have done this show, from the costumes to the hair to the makeup, they are so determined to stick to detail. Underneath everything we’re wearing [vintage] undergarments. One day I was like, ‘I’m just gonna wear my own undergarments,’ and I walked on set and the costume department was like, ‘Wynn, go back and put on the right bra and the right hose!’ They just are so incredibly detail oriented.”


In The 1940s Everything Was Chic

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Joining the cast this season is Reggie Austin as scientist Jason Wilkes, who is a big fan of his wardrobe, saying it’s “just out of control. Everybody gets to wear awesome things. The ’40s were a great time to wear clothes. Everyone gets to wear some really cool, chic get ups. So yeah it’s nice.”

Lesley Boone, who plays Rose, chimed in, “I mean, it’s so much fun. I feel like an actor. Everybody’s dressed up, everybody’s in the ’40s, there are all these cars. You really feel like you’re doing something, not just sitting around on set and waiting.” Enver Gjokaj (Agent Sousa) added, “When I started off acting, this is what I thought acting was going to be. And it wasn’t. But this show, it’s hanging out, ’40s car walks by, tons of extras in costume, and you look up and down the street and you’re in the ’40s. It’s wonderful.”


Casual Friday Can Be Every Day

agent_carter_From_Here_To_Eternity

One inspiration for the men this season, including Agent Sousa, was Frank Sinatra and Montgomery Clift in From Here To Eternity. For this season, Gjokaj says, “Daniel has a bit of a West Coast vibe going on. And he’s running the West Coast SSR, so he’s kind of, he’s the boss now. I think he gets to set whether or not there’s casual Fridays.”


Shooting In Old Hollywood Locations Brings The Magic Back

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Moving the action of season two from New York City to Los Angeles allowed the show to shoot in some of Los Angeles’ most iconic locations, including the Griffith Observatory, most famously used in Rebel Without A Cause. Star Hayley Atwell said that in prepping for this season, she watched the film, “knowing that we were going to shoot there, and I just wanted to see it on film again. It felt iconic, and a lot of these places Peggy probably will know about as well, so there’s this excitement of when, you know, like for me, 10 years ago when I first came out here and saw the Hollywood sign for the first time. You just think it’s so exciting, that first hit of it. And I think Peggy, who’s doesn’t really have much interest in the Hollywood world, per se, but I think it’s very much in her psyche because it’s part of the culture of her day, to have that kind of Golden Age of Hollywood.”


Glamour Comes With A Dark Side

agent_carter_the_big_heat

In this world of Old Hollywood, appearances are everything, but as Atwell points out during this era in Los Angeles’s history, “of course there’s an undercurrent of darkness, and that’s a lot to do with the gangsters and the serial killers that were kind of rife back then. It seemed to be these famous cases, and we’ve touched upon those a little bit. And I think it kind of add more of a film noir feel to it, and does make the whole thing a little bit more filmic.”

New to the cast, Kurtwood Smith, who plays War Department veteran Verson Masters, added, “I think it has a very noir feeling this year.”

Showrunners Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters confirmed they watched Noir Summer on Turner Classic Movies while working on the season and found particular inspiration from Gloria Grahame in The Big Heat. They also confided that modern noir like Chinatown and L.A. Confidential were also a big influence, with Fazekas elaborating, “L.A. Confidential was a big touchstone for us even last season.”

agent_carter_la_confidential

Butters added, “When you’re talking about telling stories in the ’40s, a lot of the film noir of the ’40s takes place in L.A. And obviously, we shoot in L.A. So it had been something that we had talked about a lot. And we started to build the story around that because what’s great about that is, you have the glamour and glitz of Hollywood and you have crime and corruption right next to each other. We just started to say ‘Well, how would we get Peggy to L.A.?'”


The two-hour season premiere of Marvel’s Agent Carter airs on January 19th at 9PM on ABC.

It’s the time of year to leave out milk and cookies and upgrade that home security system, because Krampus is coming to town on Friday. The Adam Scott horror/comedy brings season’s beatings to a family who unwittingly unleash a yuletide demon upon their suburban household, and inspires this week’s 24 Frames: a picture collection of December-set movie thrills. We’re also presenting choices across all genres in this gallery, because everybody gets what they want on Christmas…EVEN SATAN.

Danny DeVito has been in a pair of long-running sitcoms, produced and directed some major hit movies, and turned in notable cameos in some of the most critically adored films of all time (including One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Terms of Endearment) — and all those achievements don’t even include most of his filmography, which expands this week to include his appearance in All the Wilderness. Clearly, this is the perfect time to pay tribute, and that’s exactly why we decided to (ahem) DeVote this list to the irascible, irrepressible Mr. DeVito. It’s time for Total Recall!


10. Tin Men (1987) 77%


After leaving the city for The Natural and Young Sherlock Holmes, Diner director Barry Levinson returned to Baltimore with 1987’s Tin Men, a downbeat comedy about a pair of aluminum siding salesmen (DeVito and Richard Dreyfuss) who begin a bitter, decades-long rivalry after (literally) bumping into each other during a disastrous first meeting in the ’40s. Boasting fine period detail, a terrific cast that also included Barbara Hershey, John Mahoney, and Bruno Kirby, and soundtrack work from the Fine Young Cannibals, Tin Men impressed critics like Luke Y. Thompson of New Times, who called it “Primo Levinson” and wrote, “DeVito’s rarely been more human, and Dreyfuss is at his funniest.”

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9. Batman Returns (1992) 80%


Initially reluctant to film a Batman sequel, Tim Burton was eventually persuaded to return to Gotham after wresting complete creative control from Warner Bros. The result was 1992’s Batman Returns, a casting dream that found Batman (Michael Keaton, donning the cowl for the final time) facing off against Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer, resplendent in leather) and the Penguin (a scenery-chewing DeVito). Though some critics (and parents) felt the film was too dark, most reviews were positive; in fact, before Christopher Nolan came along with Batman Begins, Batman Returns was the best-reviewed film in the franchise, something Desson Thompson of the Washington Post attributed to the fact that it “comes closer than ever to Bob Kane’s dark, original strip, which began in 1939.”

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8. The War of the Roses (1989) 85%


DeVito and his Romancing the Stone castmates Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner teamed up for the third time in this pitch-black comedy about a wealthy married couple (Douglas and Turner) whose disintegrating marriage becomes a desperate, violent squabble over their shared possessions. Doing double duty as director and co-star, DeVito extended his directorial hot streak (begun with 1987’s Throw Momma from the Train), while Douglas and Turner took the love/hate banter they perfected during Stone and Jewel of the Nile and subtracted the love, fueling one of the most entertainingly venomous divorces in cinematic history. As Rob Vaux of the Flipside Movie Emporium put it, “For anyone who ever spent Valentine’s Day alone with a bottle of scotch, for anyone who ever watched the love of their life go stomping out the door, for anyone who ever gazed in hatred at the happy couple spooning in public? This is the movie for you.”

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7. The Rainmaker (1997) 82%


John Grisham has seen plenty of his books turned into movies, but in 2004, he told Entertainment Weekly that The Rainmaker was the best. It’s easy to understand why: with Francis Ford Coppola behind the cameras and an ace cast that included Matt Damon, Mickey Rourke, Jon Voight, and DeVito, it’d be hard to ask for a more skillfully assembled adaptation of the story of an idealistic young lawyer (Damon) who teams up with a resourceful paralegal (DeVito) to bring down an unscrupulous health insurance company. Although it failed to outgross many of them, it was, as Empire’s Ian Nathan argued, “A stronger bet than the previous 35 or however many Grisham movies before it.”

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6. Hercules (1997) 84%


Before he was the Lorax, DeVito lent his pipes to Disney’s Hercules, appearing as the voice of the pugnacious satyr tasked with toughening up the titular Olympian (Tate Donovan) and assisting him in his quest to prove his worth as a true hero. Crafty and incorrigible, Phil gave DeVito the opportunity to walk away with many of the movie’s best lines — and entertained critics like Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times, who wrote, “Light on its feet and continually amusing, this free-spirited show-biz version of Greek mythology ranks with the best of modern Disney animation.”

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5. Get Shorty (1995) 88%


DeVito strapped on his producer’s hat for Get Shorty, a $115 million adaptation of the Elmore Leonard novel about a loan shark (John Travolta) who dreams of leaving the business and turning his life story into a hit film for a big-time Hollywood star (DeVito). Sharp, funny, and stocked with an impeccable array of talented actors, including Gene Hackman, Rene Russo, and Dennis Farina, Shorty entertained critics and audiences alike — including Newsweek’s David Ansen, who pointed out, “Hollywood has been in love with mobsters since the beginning of movies. But the other side of the equation has seldom been considered. That is, until now.”

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4. Romancing the Stone (1984) 85%


Nobody plays “gleefully unscrupulous” quite like Danny DeVito, and he was given free rein with Robert Zemeckis’ Romancing the Stone, which found him playing a shady antique smuggler whose bumbling plot to get his hands on a treasure map put him at odds with a romance novelist (Kathleen Turner), a dashing explorer (Michael Douglas), and a murderous Colombian colonel (Manuel Ojeda). Loads of swashbuckling fun in a perfectly ’80s way, Stone raised more than $86 million at the box office, spawned a sequel, and won the admiration of critics like Tim Brayton of Antagony & Ecstasy, who called it “A grand example of the rarest combination of adventure, humor, and sexual chemistry which all crackle along with abandon.”

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3. Matilda (1996) 90%


For his first directorial effort since 1992’s Hoffa, DeVito did something altogether different: an adaptation of the Roald Dahl novel Matilda, about a bright young girl (Mara Wilson) with loathsome parents (played by DeVito and Rhea Perlman) and a budding set of telekinetic abilities. Dahl’s flair for dark storytelling was a perfect fit for DeVito’s sensibilities, and the result was a modest hit greeted by appreciative reviews from critics like Rob Thomas of Madison’s Capital Times, who wrote, “DeVito gleefully preserves Dahl’s dark comic tone, which should delight both kids and parents.”

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2. Ruthless People (1986) 93%


An ’80s spin on O. Henry’s Ransom of Red Chief courtesy of the Zucker/Abrams/Zucker laugh factory, Ruthless People gave DeVito one of his most marvelously grotesque roles: Sam Stone, the millionaire fashion magnate who’s planning to murder his equally off-putting wife (Bette Midler) when she’s kidnapped by a vengeful fashion designer (Helen Slater) and her doltish boyfriend (Judge Reinhold). Seeing an opportunity to have his dirty work done for him, Stone cheerfully neglects to pay the ransom, setting in motion a chain of hateful behavior. “DeVito is the mainspring of Ruthless People, the engine of murderous intensity right at the center,” observed Roger Ebert. “His passion is so palpable that it adds weight to all the other performances in the movie.”

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1. L.A. Confidential (1997) 99%


Danny DeVito almost certainly isn’t the first actor that comes to mind when you think of L.A. Confidential — that honor most likely goes to Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, Kevin Spacey, or Kim Basinger — but his character, publishing sleazemonger Sid Hudgens, was still crucial to the story, setting in motion some key moments in the storyline and serving as the film’s narrator. And while this might not be the definitive performance in DeVito’s career, it does illustrate his gift for choosing the right script; as Variety’s Todd McCarthy wrote, this Best Picture nominee is “An irresistible treat with enough narrative twists and memorable characters for a half-dozen films.”

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Finally, here’s DeVito squaring off against Oscar the Grouch in a series of visits to Sesame Street:


  • Check out Danny DeVito’s complete filmography.
  • Read more Total Recall.
  • It’s terrible, but there’s something hot about bad cops. They’re authoritative, powerful, within arms reach of the worst villains life can throw and, they’re only occasionally redeemable. What a challenge.

    In honor of David Ayer‘s Street Kings we did a little bad-to-worse survey of the boys who soil their blue. Some of them are hot, some of them caustic, but all of them are fascinating. The cops on this list might shame those who loyally “Protect and Serve” but you know what they say, it’s hard to look away from a train wreck.

    10. Web Smith (Wesley Snipes) in Rising Sun

    Web Smith (Wesley Snipes) is a good cop. He’s mostly clean, except for one little incident in his past, involving a drug dealer, a crib, and a small stack of bills. Web’s been walking around with this secret for a long time, and the bad news is that someone else knows about it, and it eventually gets used as leverage against him. But compared to the plans and conspiracies surrounding the murder he’s investigating, the old bribe is really just small change.



    9. Everybody but Al Pacino in Serpico

    Frank Serpico was an honest cop in a sea of corruption. The entire NYPD may not have been completely corrupt, but in Serpico it sure feels like it. Even the low-level officers are on the take, and hush money from bookies and dealers is passed around between cops with such banality that when Frank refuses a bribe, his brother officers think that there is something wrong with him.



    8. Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) in The Departed

    It’s one thing when a cop goes bad, seduced by the power and authority that comes with the job. But it’s something else entirely when the cop in question wasn’t good to begin with. Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) becomes a police officer so that he can work as mole within the Boston PD, and feed information back to his gangster pal Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson). So instead of making the streets safer, he’s just making them safer for crooks.



    7. Alonzo Harris (Denzel Washington) in Training Day

    The only thing more frightening than a bad cop is a bad cop responsible for others. When Alonzo (Denzel Washington) takes Jake (Ethan Hawke) out on his Training Day the day looks more like a trip into a nightmarish revisioning of The Wizard of Oz than a beat cop instructional tour. Some crimes seem easy to overlook (Alonzo’s incessant drinking while driving) but others (like extortion or drug trafficking) are harder to overlook. And it’s this play between the upholding of the law and its use that makes the situation between Alonzo and his pupil such a challenging one.



    6. Pete Davis (Ray Liotta) in Unlawful Entry

    Before Ray Liotta played Hank Hill in Goodfellas he used that baby face to play Officer Pete Davis in Unlawful Entry. Kurt Russell and Madeline Stowe play happy and successful couple who open their doors to Davis just in time for him to slowly devolve into a stalking, hooker-brutalizing monster. Liotta plays his cards close to his chest, alternating between irksome and alluring, conscientious and reckless, honorable and deviant, all without skipping a beat.



    5. Sheriff Cobb (Brian Dennehy) in Silverado

    We meet Cobb early on in Silverado, and it’s clear than he and one of the heroes, a somewhat reformed outlaw named Paden (Kevin Kline) have a history together. Cobb comes off as menacing, and since he’s played by Brian Dennehy, you know he’s going to come back later. Sure enough he does come back, as the sheriff of Silverado, and the other members of his gang are now his deputies. But in spite of his position, Cobb isn’t much of a tyrant; he may be sheriff, but the cattle baron that’s bribing him is the one that’s really calling the shots.



    4. Captain McCluskey (Sterling Hayden) in The Godfather

    After multiple turns playing crooks in Noirs from The Asphalt Jungle to The Killing, Sterling Hayden had perfected the diligent working-class villain. Who then could be more evocative as the mob-complicit Captain McCluskey in Coppola’s Godfather? Hayden’s establishment in the industry along with his kindly good looks made him an easy choice for McCluskey, and his performance in this part is short but leaves a lasting impression (on more than just the tablecloth).



    3. Norman “Stan” Stansfield (Gary Oldman) in Leon the Professional

    Norman Stansfield (Gary Oldman) is corrupt on almost all levels. He’s a pill-popping, mob-affiliated DEA agent that uses his position to run his own little drug empire. He uses his own officers to rub out the competition, but he’s not above hiring a professional from time to time either. And he’s not simply ruthless; he’s crazy enough to really enjoy hurting or killing anyone that stands against him. Between this film and Romeo Is Bleeding, Gary Oldman seemed to embody the half-crazed cop role in the early 1990s.



    2. Captain Dudley Smith (James Cromwell) in L.A. Confidential

    Captain Dudley Smith (James Cromwell) isn’t as crazy Oldman’s Stansfield in Léon, but he’s working on a much larger scale. The seemingly upstanding Captain Smith asks purist recruit Ed Exley (Guy Pearce) to rat out corrupt cops, in what seems to be a genuine effort to clean up the department, but Smith is merely covering his bases. He’s also using the brutish Bud White (Russell Crowe) on a goon squad that runs mobsters out of L.A so that Smith can maintain control of the city’s drug traffic. James Cromwell is frighteningly believable as the “man in charge,” especially once we see how corrupt he really is.



    1. The Lieutentant (Harvey Keitel) in Bad Lieutenant

    The title for Abel Ferrara‘s completely unredeemable drama is perfect: unambiguous, straightforward, and completely without explanation. This Bad Lieutenant abuses his power in the most unrelenting and disturbing ways, offering us only slivers of insight into his conscience. (Perhaps this is because he only has a sliver of a conscience.) In addition to watching Keitel wantonly abuse his authority by randomly pulling guns on cops and citizens alike, you can actually catch him smoking stolen crack, naked. In fact, you only need to see the poster art to get the idea — and to see proof he’d been working out. He may not be working on a grand scale, but his behavior is so shocking that you can’t imagine any cop being worse that this.



    That’s our list of the 10 most corrupt cops in the movies. Who would you add to the list? And do you think any cop is more corrupt than Kietel in Bad Lieutenant?

    If you want Cinematical’s take on the subject, check out their Cinematical Seven feature on Out of Control Cops.

    In this week’s Ketchup, Kirsten Dunst talks about the woes of blue-screen theatrics, Robert Downey Jr. discusses his "Iron Man" pedigree, and the new "Magneto" director comes with plenty of superhero experience.

    Also, Sam Raimi admits to being a "Spider-Man" revisionist, and another Frank Miller work is headed for the big screen. Read on.

    This Week’s Most Popular News:

    Dunst Admits Bad Spidey Acting

    Kirsten Dunst is an acclaimed actor having conquered period pieces, character drama and comedy. Can the "Spider-Man" films be her biggest acting challenge to date?

    New "Iron Man" Pic and Thoughts from Downey

    Did Robert Downey Jr.’s history of substance abuse have anything to do with him getting the role of Tony Stark (aka "Iron Man")? Probably not, but it’ll still help the actor get into the character, I bet.

    David Goyer to Direct "Magneto"

    He’s had his hand in a whole bunch of superhero flicks, and you can now add another one on to the filmography of writer/director David S. Goyer. He’ll be directing and (re-)writing the "Magneto" flick for Fox.

    "Spider-Man 3" Turns "Spider-Man 1" on Its Head

    "Sam Raimi never does "Spider-Man" as just a guy in tights beating up bad guys. The first film had a huge moral message and the second even tried having Peter Parker give up the powers. Now, "Spider-Man 3" even revises some events from the original.

    WB Grabs Another Hot Frank Miller Title

    With "300" in the rear-view mirror, but not before snagging more than $430 million in worldwide box office, Warner Bros. is hungry for another Frank Miller project. And now they have one…


    I forgive you, too, Kirsten.

    In Other News:

    • Australian Luke Ford and Michelle Yeoh have joined the cast of "The Mummy 3," which is scheduled to begin shooting this Summer, and will open in theaters in Summer 2008.
    • John Calley will produce an adaptation of the upcoming Anthony Moore novel "The Swap" for Columbia Pictures.
    • GreeneStreet Films has acquired Craig Clevenger’s suspense novel "The Contortionist’s Handbook" for a big screen adaptation. A writer and director have yet to be named for the project.
    • Warner Independent Pictures has acquired domestic distribution rights to Leonardo DiCaprio‘s environmental documentary, "11th Hour" with Warner Bros. Pictures International acquiring overseas rights.
    • Emma Roberts will star in "Wild Child," a comedy that will begin production this summer for Universal Pictures, with Nick Moore directing.
    • George Clooney and his Smoke House partner Grant Heslov are working on a dramedy for Warner Bros. Pictures detailing how the CIA used a fake movie project to smuggle six Americans out of Tehran during the 1979 hostage crisis.
    • Film and stage director Julien Nitzberg is working on a biopic of professional wrestler Sputnik Monroe, who helped integrate wrestling in the South in the 1950s.

    Will he play someone quirky?

    Will the friendly neighborhood webslinger reclaim the holy grail of the movie biz – the opening weekend box office record?

    After attacking most major markets around the world throughout this week, Sony’s global assault hits North America on Friday with "Spider-Man 3," the much-anticipated super hero sequel which ushers in a new summer movie season with a bang. And it could indeed be a record bang.

    Director Sam Raimi returns with his illustrious cast including Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst in the new mega-budgeted tentpole film following up on a pair of Spidey films that together grossed an eye-popping $1.6 billion worldwide earlier this decade. In the new PG-13 adventure, Peter Parker tries to take his relationship with his galpal Mary Jane to the next level just as three new villains enter the scene looking for some love and affection of their own from Spider-Man. James Franco, Thomas Haden Church, Topher Grace, and everyone’s favorite lady in the water Bryce Dallas Howard co-star. The new saga features the super foes Sandman, Venom, and the New Goblin.

    With an official production cost of $258M (and some speculate that it is actually higher), Spider-Man 3 stands as the most expensive movie yet to hit theaters. But despite the enormous pricetag, and not to mention the extravagant marketing tab, the super sequel stands a chance of approaching $1 billion in global box office this summer with tons more cash coming from video, television, and merchandising. So the eye-popping budget almost seems justified.

    Sony staked its claim to the first weekend of May over a year ago and competing studios took the warning by making sure they did not program anything worthy against it, or even on the weeks before and after its opening. That puts "Spider-Man 3" in the enviable position of having the entire marketplace all to itself for a full two weeks before the next summer sensation, "Shrek the Third," hits the marketplace. Spidey should easily have over $250M in the bank before the ogre pic opens giving the super hero a mammoth headstart in the annual race for the summer crown.

    The lack of competition will be key this weekend in "Spider-Man 3"’s attempt to break the all-time opening weekend record set last summer by "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest" which exploded to $135.6M over a regular Friday-to-Sunday period. As big as that bow was, there was still a potent $60M spent on the rest of the top five films that weekend. This frame, look for the films in the two through five slots to collect only a third of that amount. The advantage the Venom flick has over the last "Pirates" is that the current marketplace is so dead that multiplexes will be handing over every possible screen. Whereas a July film might only get three or four screens at a venue, a tentpole release in early May can spread like black alien goo to a fifth, sixth, or seventh screen at the same multiplex since there’s absolutely nothing else of value to waste auditoriums on. This increases the grossing potential significantly.

    Running time will not be an issue as "Spider-Man 3" actually runs about 10 minutes shorter than "Dead Man’s Chest." Thanks to the weak marketplace (last weekend was the worst frame in seven months), Sony has booked a record 4,253 locations for its bow this weekend breaking the previous high of 4,163 theaters for the launch of 2004’s "Shrek 2." The studio is not reporting its total print count, but based on other megablockbusters of its type, it can be safely estimated that over 8,000 total screens will offer up this new super hero flick. Possibly over 9,000. By comparison, the second "Pirates" hit set sail in 4,133 theaters with over 8,500 prints while "Star Wars Episode III" took off with over 9,400 prints in North America in mid-May 2005.

    The marketing campaign has been running on overdrive with numerous red carpet premieres around the world over the last two weeks. The push seems to be helping as "Spider-Man 3" has surpassed the opening day marks of its two older brothers in every market. The event film grossed a stunning $29.2M on its first day in 16 territories on Tuesday breaking the all-time opening day record in ten of them including France, Italy, Hong Kong, Egypt, Belgium, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines. The tally was more than the first-day grosses in the same countries of the first two "Spidey" films combined. By Sunday the juggernaut will be playing in a stunning 107 markets across the globe. North American audiences may follow suit and push "3" ahead of the then-record $114.8M opening of the first Peter Parker pic from five years ago this very weekend. That same size audience turning out this weekend at today’s ticket prices would unload about $130M domestically.


    Spidey hangs comfortably knowing a big opening weekend is ahead.

    Although the new tale has little competition on its second weekend, its spider legs may not be as strong as those of the previous webslinger films. The first two were very big crowdpleasers with many calling the second installment the better film. Expectations are sky high for the new one. Yes, the threequel is a fun thrill ride worthy of kicking off the summer popcorn season and boasts impressive action sequences and effects. But its weak script and cram-a-ton-of-stories-into-one-film feel will not make many fans think of it as the best "Spidey" yet. It becomes so much of a super hero soap opera by its midpoint that it won’t have the same word-of-mouth as the previous ones. While that will have no effect on the opening weekend gross, it could eat into repeat business down the road. Last summer’s "X-Men: The Last Stand" opened powerfully to $122.9M over the four-day Memorial Day frame but tumbled down to $16.1M by its third weekend.

    When franchises hit the third installment, pressure mounts to offer something new to the table so casual fans don’t lose interest. What "Spider-Man 3" has going for it is the buzz that has circulated (naturally or artificially – you decide) about how this could be the final "Spider-Man" film for Raimi, Maguire, and Dunst together. That succeeds in giving the film a sense of urgency in that fans feel that this might be the last party for the beloved trio. Add in the magazine covers, talk show appearances, and globe-trotting premieres and Spider-Man has truly conquered pop culture this week which will make movie fans not want to be the only goofballs on Monday who didn’t see the can’t-miss blockbuster.

    Advance ticketing has been running at a record pace. Movietickets.com has reported that sales are ahead of "Dead Man’s Chest" at the same point in the advance sales cycle and three times better when compared to "Spider-Man 2." Add in Thursday night midnight shows, and the higher-priced Imax venues where tickets run as much as $15 in New York City, and the grossing potential climbs even higher.

    "Spider-Man 3" stands an excellent chance of setting a new industry record for the biggest opening in history. The marketing assault has been amazing, audience anticipation is sky high, competition is zero, and every screen out there is dumping its spring trash in favor of the Sandman flick. Towering over its foes, "Spider-Man 3" might swing into the friendly neighborhood of $140M over the Friday-to-Sunday span this weekend.

    Who would dare go head-to-head against Spider-Man this weekend? The Hulk of course! Eric Bana joins forces with Drew Barrymore in the poker drama "Lucky You" which Warner Bros. is quietly dropping into the marketplace. Offered as a counter-programming option for adult women, the much-delayed film from director Curtis Hanson ("L.A. Confidential," "8 Mile") tells of a hardcore card shark who juggles rocky relationships with his need to win a tournament. The PG-13 film could not have asked for a more unlucky frame. Although countering super hero films with chick flicks can be a good move ("My Best Friend’s Wedding" vs. "Batman & Robin," "The Devil Wears Prada" vs. "Superman Returns"), this time this film just doesn’t have the goods. Buzz is low, reviews are bad, and Drew just isn’t the draw she used to be. Plus "Spider-Man 3" boasts plenty of female appeal so the choice will be simple for most women. Not likely to find full houses in its 2,525 theaters, "Lucky You" looks to settle for a distant second place showing with about $7M this weekend.


    "I’m not sure this hand is strong enough to go against Spider-Man."

    Elsewhere in the land of single-digit millions, "Disturbia" will end its three-week reign atop the charts. The Paramount thriller has been enjoying good legs with second and third weekend declines of 42% and 31%, respectively. This time the fall should be harder since "Spidey" will appeal to the exact same audience. A 45% drop would give "Disturbia" about $5M for the session and a solid 24-day cume of $59M.

    The supernatural thriller "The Invisible" probably burned through much of its audience on opening weekend so a 50% drop to around $4M could result. That would give Buena Vista $13M after ten days. Fellow sophomore "Next" starring Nicolas Cage should collapse as well as moviegoers showed no interest last weekend. A 50% decline should lead to a $3.5M frame and a dismal ten-day total of only $13M.

    Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

    I was wondering when we’d start getting smacked with all the poker movies … and here comes one! Curtis Hanson‘s "Lucky You" stars Eric Bana, Drew Barrymore, and Robert Duvall. It looks pretty cool to me, and it opens on September 8th. Check out the trailer right here.

    "Huck Cheever is a blaster—a player who goes all out, all the time. But in his personal relationships, Huck plays it tight, expertly avoiding emotional commitments and long-term expectations. When Huck sets out to win the main event of the 2003 World Series of Poker—and the affections of Billie Offer, a young singer from Bakersfield—there is one significant obstacle in his path: his father, L.C. Cheever, the poker legend who abandoned Huck’s mother years ago."

    Co-starring Debra Messing, Jean Smart, and Charles Martin Smith, "Lucky You" also has a pretty impressive screenwriters’ pedigree. It was written by Hanson ("L.A. Confidential") and Eric Roth ("Munich").

    Fans of Philip Pullman’s "His Dark Materials" series have reason to rejoice this morning: New Line Cinema has given an official greenlight and production date to "The Golden Compass," which will be brought to the big screen by Oscar-nom Chris Weitz.

    Thanks to ComingSoon.net for the New Line press release:

    "New Line Cinema has officially greenlit production on "The Golden Compass," the highly anticipated adaptation of the first of author Philip Pullman’s bestselling "His Dark Materials" trilogy, it was announced today by New Line’s Co-Chairmen and Co-CEOs Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne. Production on the $150 million-budgeted film is scheduled to begin September 4 in the UK, with Oscar-nominated writer/director Chris Weitz ("About a Boy," "Antz") at the helm.

    "’The Golden Compass’ is the most ambitious film that New Line has undertaken since ‘The Lord of the Rings‘ trilogy, and we have assembled a remarkable creative team, headed by Chris Weitz, to bring it to fruition," commented New Line’s Shaye and Lynne.

    Newcomer Dakota Blue Richards has been cast in the lead role of Lyra Belacqua. Richards landed the role after filmmakers conducted an extensive casting search throughout England, during which they saw more than 10,000 young girls. Open calls were held in Oxford, Cambridge, Exeter, and Kendal, before Richards was chosen from the Cambridge call for an audition and subsequent screen test.

    "Dakota made what should have been an extremely difficult decision quite easy," says writer/director Weitz. "We wanted a completely new face for Lyra, but I was surprised that any young girl, especially one without training, could light up the screen as Dakota does."

    Pullman adds, "I’m delighted with the casting of Dakota Blue Richards as Lyra. As soon as I saw Dakota’s screen test, I realized that the search was over. Dakota has just the combination of qualities that make up the complicated character of this girl, and I very much look forward to seeing the film take shape, with Dakota’s Lyra at the heart of it."

    Helping to bring "The Golden Compass" to the big screen will be an all-star production team that includes Oscar-winning production designer Dennis Gassner ("Road to Perdition," "Big Fish"), Oscar-nominated costume designer Ruth Myers ("L.A. Confidential," "Emma"), and Oscar-nominated visual effects supervisor Mike Fink ("X-Men," "X2: X-Men United," "Road to Perdition").

    "The Golden Compass" is being produced by Deborah Forte of Scholastic Entertainment and Weitz’s Depth of Field production company. Paul Weitz (an Oscar nominee for "About a Boy") and Andrew Miano will serve as executive producers on the film. Bill Carraro will also serve as a producer on the film.

    Based on the bestselling and award-winning Pullman novels, the "His Dark Materials" trilogy is comprised of "The Golden Compass," "The Subtle Knife" and "The Amber Spyglass." It revolves around a young girl who travels to the far north to save her best friend. Along the way, she encounters shape-shifting creatures, witches, and a variety of otherworldly characters in parallel universes."

    In addition to the facts laid down in the press release, we also have a potentially juicy piece of casting news from the guys at IGN FilmForce: "According to England’s Daily Mail, (Nicole) Kidman has been offered the key part of Mrs. Coulter — scientist, socialite, and conspirator. With the actress’s good looks, charm, and intensity, she could be just right for the part; apparently Pullman himself has endorsed her for the role. As of yet, however, there’s no word — official or otherwise — that Kidman has accepted the part."

    Hmmm, guess I better take a visit to the library….

    Today is the opening day for "Superman Returns," which can mean only one thing: Sequel Talk. Over the course of several cast & crew interviews, IGN FilmForce was able to collate a variety of sequel-centric responses, and the general concensus seems to be this: If Bryan Singer‘s on board, so is everybody else.

    From IGNFF: "Brandon Routh: "You know we’ll do as many as everyone wants to get together and do."

    Kevin Spacey: "Well, I think they’re probably gonna wait and see what happens. There’s certainly discussion about doing a second one, and I would love to do a second one, if Bryan is at the helm.

    Screenwriter Dan Harris: "If there is a sequel with Bryan involved we will do it."

    Meanwhile the executives at WB are thinking "Hell yes, there’ll be sequels. Someone get Brett Ratner on the phone!"

    "Superman Returns" opens today. Enjoy.

    Director John Hillcoat had a big ambition when he undertook "The Proposition": a Western with a truly Aussie sensibility.

    "It’s the Australian West," he said. "We’ve tried to reclaim it for ourselves."

    "The Proposition," opened in limited release in the U.S. on May 5 after an enthusiastic response at the Toronto and Sundance film festivals.

    In the film, set in the Outback in the late 1800s, Charley Burns (Guy Pearce) is captured by the authorities, and given an ultimatum by Captain Stanley (Ray Winstone): if he slays his older brother Arthur (Danny Huston) within a week, his younger brother Mikey will be set free. If not, Mikey dies.

    "The Proposition" is filled with sharp supporting performances by the likes of Emily Watson and John Hurt, as well as some startling cinematography, a haunting score by Nick Cave (who wrote the screenplay), and fascinating characters, whose capacities for good and evil deeds shift convincingly.


    Guy Peace in "The Proposition"

    Australia’s colonial history leant itself to a lot of potential for drama, from the harshness of the climate to the settlers’ condescending, often violent attitudes toward the Aboriginal population. Hillcoat said he wanted to make a film that was true to history but also worked dramatically.

    "It’s been a dream to do a film out in the elements like that and trying to tackle that part of our history because it hasn’t really been seen on the screen like that," he said.

    Hillcoat said he was inspired by revisionist Westerns of the 1970s, and films that displayed a realistic, sometimes harsh frontier, like Robert Altman‘s "McCabe & Mrs. Miller," Sam Peckinpah‘s "The Wild Bunch," and Terrence Malick‘s "Days of Heaven."

    "What I loved about Peckinpah and Altman and Malick is there’s a link to reality, and what the times were, a kind of truthfulness about what it would have been like back then," he said.

    For years, Hillcoat had wanted Cave to do the score for such a Western in an Australian setting. They agreed that Cave would have a go at the script, but Hillcoat thought it would be a loose outline that would later be fashioned into a screenplay. Over a matter of a few weeks, Cave came up with the scenario.

    "Once he started, out it came, the story of the brothers and the central conflict that we could hang all this stuff on," he said. "Nick surprised me and himself."


    Nick Cave and John Hillcoat

    When Pearce got the script, he thought it was something special.

    "It was so beautifully written," he said. "It was so poetic and so evocative, which is very rare. It was very easy for my imagination to be fueled and to get a sense of what it was they were trying to tell."

    Pearce was also attracted to the moral complexity of the story.

    "Obviously the scenario is quite extreme and rather harrowing," he said. "It almost seems like an impossible task to contemplate how one might choose one brother over another or one family member over another, particularly when it comes to having to kill [someone]."

    The moral ambiguity and violence in the script, as well as the plan to shoot the film in the Outback, made the film a tough sell, Hillcoat said.

    "It was incredibly hard to finance because of the tone and the script," he said. "The financers knew it was a logistical risk to go out there and build sets in that kind of territory. By the time the money got together and we finally had everyone ready to go, we had slid into the beginning of the summer."

    Trouble struck early when Hillcoat and several members of the crew were involved in a serious car accident, in which their vehicle hit some rough terrain and rolled over three times.

    "They’d thought I had broken my neck," he said. "Twenty-four hours later, I greeted the key cast that had arrived on a charter flight. I had a neck brace and black eyes. That was just the beginning."


    Guy Pearce and Danny Huston

    The environment posed many serious challenges; temperatures reached well into the 100s, and many scenes were shot at night because the cameras were too hot to touch. The week after production, fierce winds leveled the majority of the sets. So as rough as the conditions were, things could have been worse, Hillcoat said.

    "Luck has a major part when it has to do with the developments," he said. "Those strong winds could have come at any moment when we were shooting, so we were lucky."

    And the difficulty of the shoot created both a sense of camaraderie among the cast members and a greater feeling for the material.

    "All that stuff adds to what you’re doing," Pearce said "The environment really informs what you’re doing. The environment and the world that these people live in and the level of survival is far more extreme than what we know it to be today, [although] certainly [it is] for some cultures, not for others. It was a real fascinating sort of journey to enter into that."

    "It was one of those situations where everyone knew it was going to be quite extraordinary," Hillcoat said. "Everyone kind of bonded rather than tore each other apart."

    Much of the good feeling on the set came from Hillcoat’s method of directing, Pearce said.

    "He really knows what he wants, and what he wants is very true and honest performances," he said. "He’s very open to having you find that very true and honest place. He certainly doesn’t limit you in your honest interpretation of the work. He’s my kind of director."


    Guy Pearce and John Hurt

    And in getting to the truth of the material, the film often depicts some very graphic floggings, shootings, and spearings. But Pearce said it’s the tone of the film, the sudden but inevitable flare-ups, that make the violence seem more shocking.

    "Some say, ‘Oh, the film is violent.’ I think on some level, people are inadvertently complimenting the film by saying that, because we’re talking about the fact that it actually is effective," he said. "There are plenty of films out there that are violent, where people run around with machine guns and shoot the hell out of everybody, and there’s no aftermath. To me, that’s disrespectful in film. It’s just like a video game.

    "To me, this feels complete in the addressing of violence: You have the lull before the storm, you have the really horrific storm, and you have the cleanup afterwards," he continued. "There’s probably less violence in this film than in the majority of other films. It’s just that when it happens, it feels real."

    The violence feels more real because of the setting, Pearce said.

    "It’s kind of a looming violence," he said. "We know that this world is a harsh and dangerous one, and it’s one that’s fraught with all sorts of difficulties in regards to surviving. You feel quite troubled at the idea that potentially anything violent could happen. It’s that looming violence that adds up for people when they watch it."

    Regardless, Pearce said he feels American audiences will find a lot in the story that will resonate.

    "I feel it should particularly appeal to Americans because on some level, there’s a similar frontier environment, [with] people really being out of place and trying to make a home in such a harsh environment that’s not their own," he said. "And really, the story’s about human emotion rather than necessarily a historical document."


    Emily Watson

    Those complex emotions are in some ways incongruous with the idea of the Western in film, with exception of the 1970s anti-Westerns, Hillcoat said.

    "Your sympathies keep swinging between some of the characters, and that’s very unusual because normally the American West is put into very black and white terms," he said.

    And Hillcoat said he feels that dealing in black and white is a problem in today’s political climate, one that "The Proposition" refutes.

    "Life isn’t like that," he said. "I know Bush is trying to tell everyone life is like that. Part of the mood of all that in a political context [is] empire building and the consequences of violence. I’m hoping it will ring a chord here [in the U.S.]."

    And it has certainly made a big impression on Pearce; he said the film, from the cinematography to the music to his co-stars’ performances make "The Proposition" a particularly special film for him.

    "It’s by far my favorite film that I’ve ever been in," he said. "Look, that’s not to take anything away from ‘Memento‘ or ‘L.A. Confidential,’ because I think they’re both extraordinary pieces of work. But there’s something about this that moves me in a way I haven’t felt before.

    "I have to be fair, because I haven’t watched the other [films] for a couple years," he continued. "[But] there’s something so raw. Maybe it means more to me because it’s an Australian story."

    Still, Pearce said, "It’s a story about human emotions, so it doesn’t really matter where it’s set."

    Following a hotly-contested bidding war, New Line Cinema stood victorious with the film rights to Nicci French’s "Land of the Living," a fairly intense-sounding story of horror, survival, and … skepticism. Celebrated author James Ellroy is attached to adapt Ms. French’s novel into screenplay form.

    Says Variety: "New Line Cinema beat out several bidders to acquire screen rights to the Nicci French novel "Land of the Living," with James Ellroy set to write the script.

    Deal was near seven figures both for the rights to the book and Ellroy’s script fees. Novel was published two years ago but gained steam when Ellroy pitched his take on the novel and to do his first adaptation of a book other than his own.

    Story concerns a promiscuous woman who’s captured and tortured by a serial killer. After surviving the ordeal, she has to figure out what happened because cops and even her friends think she fabricated the story."

    Movies based on Ellroy’s books include "Cop" (1988), "L.A. Confidential" (1997), "Dark Blue" (2003), and Brian De Palma‘s upcoming "The Black Dahlia."

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