(Photo by Fox Searchlight/courtesy Everett Collection)

The 100 Sexiest Movies Of All Time

What makes a movie truly sexy, enough to to grant it entrance to our guide of the sexiest movies ever? Variety is the spice: For some movies, it’s about the animal chemistry between its stars (Body Heat, Mr. and Mrs. Smith) or the building passion of its characters (Brokeback Mountain, Titanic). With others, the turn-on is the illicit thrill of being bad (Unfaithful, Secretary) or the purity of self-awakening and discovery (Gloria, Moonlight). Sometimes it’s about the mood a movie evokes, intoxicating and overwhelming, like with In the Mood For Love or Y Tu Mama Tambien. And, yeah, sometimes it’s all about the sex scenes: Mulholland Drive, Lust, Caution, In the Realm of the Senses have got your number.

Whatever your definition (and if you need even more, see the 200 best and worst erotic movies), it all awaits in the 100 sexiest movies ever, ranked by Tomatometer.

#100

Original Sin (2001)
12%

#100
Adjusted Score: 15082%
Critics Consensus: Laughably melodramatic, Original Sin features bad acting, bad dialogue, and bad plotting.
Synopsis: Luis (Antonio Banderas) and Julia (Angelina Jolie) are bound together first by matrimony, and then, by fierce love and desire.... [More]
Directed By: Michael Cristofer

#99

After (2019)
18%

#99
Adjusted Score: 19495%
Critics Consensus: Tepid and tired, After's fun flourishes are let down by its generic story.
Synopsis: Tessa Young is a dedicated student, dutiful daughter and loyal girlfriend to her high school sweetheart. Entering her first semester... [More]
Directed By: Jenny Gage

#98

Elles (2011)
23%

#98
Adjusted Score: 23919%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A journalist (Juliette Binoche) tries to balance the duties of marriage and motherhood while researching a piece on college women... [More]
Directed By: Malgoska Szumowska

#97

9 Songs (2004)
24%

#97
Adjusted Score: 26335%
Critics Consensus: The unerotic sex scenes quickly become tedious to watch, and the lovers lack the personality necessary to make viewers care about them.
Synopsis: A man (Kieran O'Brien) reminisces about his steamy affair with an American woman (Margo Stilley) he met at a rock... [More]
Directed By: Michael Winterbottom

#96
#96
Adjusted Score: 35596%
Critics Consensus: While creatively better endowed than its print counterpart, Fifty Shades of Grey is a less than satisfying experience on the screen.
Synopsis: When college senior Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) steps in for her sick roommate to interview prominent businessman Christian Grey (Jamie... [More]
Directed By: Sam Taylor-Johnson

#95

The Lover (1992)
32%

#95
Adjusted Score: 32132%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Set in 1920s colonial Indochina, a pretty, virginal French teenager (Jane March) meets a handsome Chinese playboy (Tony Leung Ka... [More]
Directed By: Jean-Jacques Annaud

#94

In the Cut (2003)
34%

#94
Adjusted Score: 38911%
Critics Consensus: Director/co-writer Jane Campion takes a stab at subverting the psycho-sexual thriller genre with In the Cut, but gets tangled in her own abstraction.
Synopsis: An English teacher (Meg Ryan) has an affair with a detective (Mark Ruffalo), though she suspects him of murdering a... [More]
Directed By: Jane Campion

#93

Adore (2013)
33%

#93
Adjusted Score: 35358%
Critics Consensus: Naomi Watts and Robin Wright give it their all, but they can't quite make Adore's trashy, absurd plot believable.
Synopsis: Two lifelong best friends (Robin Wright, Naomi Watts) each begin a steamy affair with the other's son, but trouble begins... [More]
Directed By: Anne Fontaine

#92
#92
Adjusted Score: 43228%
Critics Consensus: As romantic comedies go, 40 Days and 40 Nights is smutty, sexist, and puerile.
Synopsis: Matt Sullivan's (Josh Hartnett) last big relationship ended in disaster and ever since his heart's been aching and his commitment's... [More]
Directed By: Michael Lehmann

#91

Emmanuelle (1974)
40%

#91
Adjusted Score: 40748%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: The wife of a French diplomat becomes involved in a series of sexual liaisons after joining her husband in Thailand.... [More]
Directed By: Just Jaeckin

#90

Kama Sutra (1996)
40%

#90
Adjusted Score: 40432%
Critics Consensus: Kama Sutra refreshingly approaches sensuality from a female perspective, but audiences will be turned off by this romance's silly plotting.
Synopsis: In 16th-century India, Princess Tara (Sarita Choudhury) is raised alongside her maid Maya (Indira Varma). The two best friends turn... [More]
Directed By: Mira Nair

#89

Love (2015)
40%

#89
Adjusted Score: 43214%
Critics Consensus: Love sees writer-director Gaspar Noé delivering some of his warmest and most personal work; unfortunately, it's also among his most undeveloped and least compelling.
Synopsis: ... [More]
Directed By: Gaspar Noé

#88

Elisa & Marcela (2019)
40%

#88
Adjusted Score: 39387%
Critics Consensus: While it may be visually attractive, Elisa & Marcela is an underwhelming melodrama that lacks passion and energy.
Synopsis: ... [More]
Directed By: Isabel Coixet

#87

28 Hotel Rooms (2012)
47%

#87
Adjusted Score: 30896%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A night of casual sex between a New York novelist (Chris Messina) and an accountant (Marin Ireland) from Seattle unexpectedly... [More]
Directed By: Matt Ross

#86

Summer Storm (2004)
48%

#86
Adjusted Score: 48364%
Critics Consensus: Strong performances and an inclusive approach to sexual awakening aren't enough to make Summer Storm a truly memorable coming-of-age story.
Synopsis: A teenager comes to terms with his sexuality and his feelings for his best friend over the course of a... [More]
Directed By: Marco Kreuzpaintner

#85

Cashback (2006)
48%

#85
Adjusted Score: 49584%
Critics Consensus: An unlikable protagonist, messy editing, and gratuitous nudity might make audiences ask for their cash back.
Synopsis: Would-be artist Ben (Sean Biggerstaff) realizes he has an extraordinary way of dealing with the tedium of his dead-end job... [More]
Directed By: Sean Ellis

#84

Sleeping Beauty (2010)
48%

#84
Adjusted Score: 51564%
Critics Consensus: Sleeping Beauty's provocative premise and luminous art design is hampered by a clinical, remote presentation, delivering boredom and shock in equal measure.
Synopsis: A college student (Emily Browning) becomes a niche sex worker for a high-end brothel where customers pay to fondle her... [More]
Directed By: Julia Leigh

#83
Adjusted Score: 52234%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Unlucky-in-love stockbroker Stella (Angela Bassett) jets to Jamaica with her gal pal Delilah (Whoopi Goldberg) for some fun in the... [More]
Directed By: Kevin Rodney Sullivan

#82

Unfaithful (2002)
50%

#82
Adjusted Score: 55294%
Critics Consensus: Diane Lane shines in the role, but the movie adds nothing new to the genre and the resolution is unsatisfying.
Synopsis: Described by director Adrian Lyne ("Fatal Attraction") as "an erotic thriller about the body language of guilt." When Edward (Richard... [More]
Directed By: Adrian Lyne

#81

Romance (1999)
50%

#81
Adjusted Score: 50750%
Critics Consensus: Romance is a slim look into a woman's sexual psyche, with sex scenes that slightly excite while exploring human emotions.
Synopsis: A woman (Caroline Ducey) has several affairs, trying to spark the interest of her lover (Sagamore Stévenin), a self-absorbed, male... [More]
Directed By: Catherine Breillat

#80

Chloe (2009)
51%

#80
Adjusted Score: 55919%
Critics Consensus: Despite its promising pedigree and a titillating premise, Chloe ultimately fails to deliver the heat -- or the thrills -- expected of a sexual thriller.
Synopsis: Catherine and David Stewart (Julianne Moore, Liam Neeson) are a well-to-do couple living in a posh area of Toronto, but... [More]
Directed By: Atom Egoyan

#79

Basic Instinct (1992)
55%

#79
Adjusted Score: 60684%
Critics Consensus: Unevenly echoing the work of Alfred Hitchcock, Basic Instinct contains a star-making performance from Sharon Stone but is ultimately undone by its problematic, overly lurid plot.
Synopsis: The mysterious Catherine Tramell (Sharon Stone), a beautiful crime novelist, becomes a suspect when she is linked to the brutal... [More]
Directed By: Paul Verhoeven

#78

Malena (2000)
54%

#78
Adjusted Score: 55456%
Critics Consensus: Malena ends up objectifying the character of the movie's title. Also, the young boy's emotional investment with Malena is never convincing, as she doesn't feel like a three-dimensional person.
Synopsis: In 1941, Renato was 13 years old and although the world was at war, nothing ever happened in this sleepy... [More]
Directed By: Giuseppe Tornatore

#77

Cruel Intentions (1999)
55%

#77
Adjusted Score: 58913%
Critics Consensus: This darkly comic drama and its attractive young cast are easy on the eyes, but uneven performances and an uninspired script conspire to foil Cruel Intentions.
Synopsis: Annette (Reese Witherspoon) unwittingly becomes a pawn in Sebastian's (Ryan Phillippe) and Kathryn's (Sarah Michelle Gellar) deliciously diabolical wager of... [More]
Directed By: Roger Kumble

#76

Troy (2004)
54%

#76
Adjusted Score: 61467%
Critics Consensus: A brawny, entertaining spectacle, but lacking emotional resonance.
Synopsis: Based on Homer's "Iliad," this epic portrays the battle between the ancient kingdoms of Troy and Sparta. While visiting Spartan... [More]
Directed By: Wolfgang Petersen

#75

The Hunger (1983)
55%

#75
Adjusted Score: 56492%
Critics Consensus: Stylish yet hollow, The Hunger is a well-cast vampire thriller that mistakes erotic moments for a satisfying story.
Synopsis: John (David Bowie) is the lover of the gorgeous immortal vampire Miriam (Catherine Deneuve), and he's been led to believe... [More]
Directed By: Tony Scott

#74

The Dreamers (2003)
60%

#74
Adjusted Score: 65178%
Critics Consensus: Though lushly atmospheric, The Dreamers doesn't engage or provoke as much as it should.
Synopsis: In May 1968, the student riots in Paris only exacerbate the isolation felt by three youths: an American exchange student... [More]
Directed By: Bernardo Bertolucci

#73

Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005)
60%

#73
Adjusted Score: 67609%
Critics Consensus: Although this action-romance suffers from weak writing and one too many explosions, the chemistry generated by onscreen couple Pitt and Jolie is palpable enough to make this a thoroughly enjoyable summer action flick.
Synopsis: John (Brad Pitt) and Jane Smith (Angelina Jolie), a couple in a stagnating marriage, live a deceptively mundane existence. However,... [More]
Directed By: Doug Liman

#72

Nine 1/2 Weeks (1986)
61%

#72
Adjusted Score: 61494%
Critics Consensus: 9 1/2 Weeks' famously steamy sex scenes titillate though the drama unfolding between the beddings is relatively standard for the genre.
Synopsis: Two strangers, Wall Street trader John (Mickey Rourke) and art gallery assistant Elizabeth (Kim Basinger), become involved in a new... [More]
Directed By: Adrian Lyne

#71

Jason's Lyric (1994)
61%

#71
Adjusted Score: 60821%
Critics Consensus: Jason's Lyric is a sexually charged film whose violent streak weakens or, depending on your perspective, supports the melodrama.
Synopsis: In a violent, drug-infested neighborhood in Houston, Jason (Allen Payne) dreams of something better. He works as a TV salesman... [More]
Directed By: Doug McHenry

#70

Something New (2006)
61%

#70
Adjusted Score: 64192%
Critics Consensus: Something New tackles serious questions about race and interracial relationships with genuine appeal and an alluring romance that develops as naturally as the plot.
Synopsis: Career-minded Kenya McQueen is set up on a blind date with architect Brian Kelly, but backs out when she realizes... [More]
Directed By: Sanaa Hamri

#69

Querelle (1982)
62%

#69
Adjusted Score: 61318%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In a French bordello, a young sailor meets a murderer who also is his supposed brother. Based on Jean Genet's... [More]

#68

Henry & June (1990)
64%

#68
Adjusted Score: 63907%
Critics Consensus: Henry & June celebrates sensuality and passion, though the portentous filmmaking drags it down by a large degree.
Synopsis: A literary love triangle is explored in this film, which was the first to earn an NC-17 rating. While traveling... [More]
Directed By: Philip Kaufman

#67

Wild Things (1998)
63%

#67
Adjusted Score: 65009%
Critics Consensus: Wild Things is a delightfully salacious, flesh-exposed romp that also requires a high degree of love for trash cinema.
Synopsis: When teen debutante Kelly (Denise Richards) fails to attract the attention of her hunky guidance counselor, Sam (Matt Dillon), she... [More]
Directed By: John McNaughton

#66

Crash (1996)
63%

#66
Adjusted Score: 66294%
Critics Consensus: Despite the surprisingly distant, clinical direction, Crash's explicit premise and sex is classic Cronenberg territory.
Synopsis: "Crash" is about the strange lure of the auto collision, provoking as it does the human fascination with death and... [More]
Directed By: David Cronenberg

#65

The Reader (2008)
63%

#65
Adjusted Score: 71146%
Critics Consensus: Despite Kate Winslet's superb portrayal, The Reader suggests an emotionally distant, Oscar-baiting historical drama.
Synopsis: Michael Berg (David Kross), a teen in postwar Germany, begins a passionate but clandestine affair with Hanna Schmitz (Kate Winslet),... [More]
Directed By: Stephen Daldry

#64

Bitter Moon (1992)
65%

#64
Adjusted Score: 66296%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: An alcoholic writer (Peter Coyote) in a wheelchair recalls his sexy wife (Emmanuelle Seigner) for an English aristocrat (Hugh Grant)... [More]
Directed By: Roman Polanski

#63

Magic Mike XXL (2015)
65%

#63
Adjusted Score: 74758%
Critics Consensus: Magic Mike XXL has enough narrative thrust and beefy charm to deliver another helping of well-oiled entertainment, even if this sequel isn't quite as pleasurable as its predecessor.
Synopsis: It's been three years since Mike Lane's (Channing Tatum) retirement from stripping, but the former dancer misses the excitement and... [More]
Directed By: Gregory Jacobs

#62

Intimacy (2001)
66%

#62
Adjusted Score: 66894%
Critics Consensus: Acted out with both physical and psychological nakedness by its two leads, Intimacy is an unflinchingly honest look at alienation.
Synopsis: A man (Mark Rylance) wants to know more about the nameless woman (Kerry Fox) with whom he has weekly trysts.... [More]
Directed By: Patrice Chéreau

#61
Adjusted Score: 67394%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Two young girls turn their after-school hangouts into group hook-ups and start a swinging party craze in their school.... [More]
Directed By: Eva Husson

#60

The Pillow Book (1996)
67%

#60
Adjusted Score: 68866%
Critics Consensus: The Pillow Book is undeniably sensual and visually ravishing, but the film's narrative lacks the hypnotic pull of its imagery.
Synopsis: A Japanese model (Vivian Wu) who likes lovers to adorn her body with calligraphy falls for an erotic Englishman (Ewan... [More]
Directed By: Peter Greenaway

#59

Dirty Dancing (1987)
69%

#59
Adjusted Score: 74815%
Critics Consensus: Like its winsome characters, Dirty Dancing uses impressive choreography and the power of song to surmount a series of formidable obstacles.
Synopsis: Baby (Jennifer Grey) is one listless summer away from the Peace Corps. Hoping to enjoy her youth while it lasts,... [More]
Directed By: Emile Ardolino

#58

Shortbus (2006)
68%

#58
Adjusted Score: 72080%
Critics Consensus: The sex may be explicit, but Mitchell integrates it into the characters' lives and serves the whole story up with a generous dose of sweetness and wit.
Synopsis: John Cameron Mitchell's SHORTBUS explores the lives of several emotionally challenged characters as they navigate the comic and tragic intersections... [More]
Directed By: John Cameron Mitchell

#57

Closer (2004)
68%

#57
Adjusted Score: 74764%
Critics Consensus: Closer's talented cast and Mike Nichols' typically assured direction help smooth a bumpy journey from stage to screen.
Synopsis: Alice (Natalie Portman), an American stripper who has moved to London, meets Dan (Jude Law) on the street. While looking... [More]
Directed By: Mike Nichols

#56

Sex and Lucia (2001)
71%

#56
Adjusted Score: 72654%
Critics Consensus: Beneath the gratuitous nudity lies a complex and visually striking movie.
Synopsis: After learning that her boyfriend, Lorenzo (Tristán Ulloa), a talented but troubled writer, may have committed suicide, the beautiful Lucía... [More]
Directed By: Julio Medem

#55

Lust, Caution (2007)
72%

#55
Adjusted Score: 78081%
Critics Consensus: Ang Lee's Lust, Caution is a tense, sensual and beautifully-shot espionage film.
Synopsis: During World War II a secret agent (Tang Wei) must seduce, then assassinate an official (Tony Leung Chiu Wai) who... [More]
Directed By: Ang Lee

#54
#54
Adjusted Score: 75947%
Critics Consensus: Ozon may not explore his themes as fully as he should, but Young & Beautiful poses enough intriguing questions -- and features a strong enough performance from Marine Vacth -- to compensate for its frustrations.
Synopsis: Isabelle (Marine Vacth), a 17-year-old student, loses her virginity during a quick holiday romance. When she returns home, she begins... [More]
Directed By: François Ozon

#53
#53
Adjusted Score: 75377%
Critics Consensus: Though it makes for rather unpleasant viewing, The Piano Teacher is a riveting and powerful psychosexual drama.
Synopsis: Erika Kohut teaches piano at the Conservatory in Vienna. In her early forties, she lives at home, cooped up with... [More]
Directed By: Michael Haneke

#52

High Art (1998)
76%

#52
Adjusted Score: 77169%
Critics Consensus: A surprisingly sultry performance from Ally Sheedy elevates High Art from pretentious melodrama to compelling -- if still a little pretentious -- romance.
Synopsis: Syd (Radha Mitchell), a low-level editor at a photography magazine eager to establish herself, discovers her neighbor is the once-celebrated... [More]
Directed By: Lisa Cholodenko

#51

Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
76%

#51
Adjusted Score: 82227%
Critics Consensus: Kubrick's intense study of the human psyche yields an impressive cinematic work.
Synopsis: After Dr. Bill Hartford's (Tom Cruise) wife, Alice (Nicole Kidman), admits to having sexual fantasies about a man she met,... [More]
Directed By: Stanley Kubrick

#50

The Lost Boys (1987)
77%

#50
Adjusted Score: 81623%
Critics Consensus: Flawed but eminently watchable, Joel Schumacher's teen vampire thriller blends horror, humor, and plenty of visual style with standout performances from a cast full of young 1980s stars.
Synopsis: Teenage brothers Michael (Jason Patric) and Sam (Corey Haim) move with their mother (Dianne Wiest) to a small town in... [More]
Directed By: Joel Schumacher

#49

Secretary (2002)
77%

#49
Adjusted Score: 81991%
Critics Consensus: Maggie Gyllenhaal impresses in this romantic comedy with a kinky twist.
Synopsis: Lee Holloway (Maggie Gyllenhaal), a young woman with a history of severe emotional problems, is released into the care of... [More]
Directed By: Steven Shainberg

#48
#48
Adjusted Score: 84535%
Critics Consensus: Darkly funny, fearlessly bold, and thoroughly indulgent, Nymphomaniac finds Lars von Trier provoking viewers with customary abandon.
Synopsis: ... [More]
Directed By: Lars von Trier

#47

Betty Blue (1986)
78%

#47
Adjusted Score: 77229%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A would-be writer (Jean-Hugues Anglade) falls for an unpredictable woman (Béatrice Dalle), then he slowly realizes that she is going... [More]
Directed By: Jean-Jacques Beineix

#46

Take This Waltz (2011)
79%

#46
Adjusted Score: 83634%
Critics Consensus: Featuring excellent work from an outstanding cast, the bittersweet drama Waltz proves that in the right hands, a familiar tale can still ring true.
Synopsis: A young woman (Michelle Williams) is torn between the husband (Seth Rogen) that she loves and a new man (Luke... [More]
Directed By: Sarah Polley

#45

Magic Mike (2012)
79%

#45
Adjusted Score: 87124%
Critics Consensus: Magic Mike's sensitive direction, smart screenplay, and strong performances allow audiences to have their beefcake and eat it too.
Synopsis: By day, Mike (Channing Tatum) makes ends meet any way he can -- handyman jobs, detailing cars or designing furniture.... [More]
Directed By: Steven Soderbergh

#44

Shame (2011)
79%

#44
Adjusted Score: 87680%
Critics Consensus: Boasting stellar performances by Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan, Shame is a powerful plunge into the mania of addiction affliction.
Synopsis: Successful and handsome New Yorker Brandon (Michael Fassbender) seems to live an ordinary life, but he hides a terrible secret... [More]
Directed By: Steve McQueen

#43
Adjusted Score: 17934%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In six vignettes from Los Angeles, the subject of sexuality and relationships within the black community shatters stereotypes about black... [More]
Directed By: Dennis Dortch

#42

Live Flesh (1997)
81%

#42
Adjusted Score: 82140%
Critics Consensus: Live Flesh surveys the fallout from an act of violence with a mature melodrama that sees Pedro Almodóvar working in surprisingly restrained form.
Synopsis: Victor (Liberto Rabal) goes to meet Elena (Francesca Neri) for a date. Elena, uninterested, tells Victor to leave the apartment... [More]
Directed By: Pedro Almodóvar

#41

I Am Love (2009)
81%

#41
Adjusted Score: 84728%
Critics Consensus: It stumbles into melodrama, but I Am Love backs up its flamboyance with tremendous visual style and a marvelous central performance from Tilda Swinton.
Synopsis: At a dinner -- during which her husband, Tancredi (Pippo Delbono), learns that he and his son Edoardo Recchi Jr.... [More]
Directed By: Luca Guadagnino

#40
#40
Adjusted Score: 88505%
Critics Consensus: A beguiling tragicomedy, Vicky Cristina Barcelona charms with beautiful views of the Spanish city and a marvelously well-matched cast.
Synopsis: Americans Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) arrive in Spain for a summer vacation at a friend's (Patricia Clarkson)... [More]
Directed By: Woody Allen

#39
#39
Adjusted Score: 82364%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A young woman begins a new life at the Apollonide bordello, a high-class brothel in Paris.... [More]
Directed By: Bertrand Bonello

#38
#38
Adjusted Score: 86387%
Critics Consensus: Confident directing and acting deliver an insightful look at young athletes.
Synopsis: Monica (Sanaa Lathan) and Quincy (Omar Epps) are two childhood friends who both aspire to be professional basketball players. Quincy,... [More]
Directed By: Gina Prince

#37

Swimming Pool (2003)
83%

#37
Adjusted Score: 88047%
Critics Consensus: A sensual thriller with two engaging performers demanding our undivided attention.
Synopsis: When uptight British writer Sarah Morton (Charlotte Rampling) has difficulty with her new detective novel, her publisher, John Bosload (Charles... [More]
Directed By: François Ozon

#36

Mulholland Dr. (2001)
84%

#36
Adjusted Score: 90299%
Critics Consensus: David Lynch's dreamlike and mysterious Mulholland Drive is a twisty neo-noir with an unconventional structure that features a mesmirizing performance from Naomi Watts as a woman on the dark fringes of Hollywood.
Synopsis: A dark-haired woman (Laura Elena Harring) is left amnesiac after a car crash. She wanders the streets of Los Angeles... [More]
Directed By: David Lynch

#35

Atonement (2007)
83%

#35
Adjusted Score: 91795%
Critics Consensus: Atonement features strong performances, brilliant cinematography, and a unique score. Featuring deft performances from James MacAvoy and Keira Knightley, it's a successful adaptation of Ian McEwan's novel.
Synopsis: This sweeping English drama, based on the book by Ian McEwan, follows the lives of young lovers Cecilia Tallis (Keira... [More]
Directed By: Joe Wright

#34
#34
Adjusted Score: 88838%
Critics Consensus: With Matt Damon's unsettling performance offering a darkly twisted counterpoint to Anthony Minghella's glossy direction, The Talented Mr. Ripley is a suspense thriller that lingers.
Synopsis: To be young and carefree amid the blue waters and idyllic landscape of sun-drenched Italy in the late 1950s; that's... [More]
Directed By: Anthony Minghella

#33

Disobedience (2017)
84%

#33
Adjusted Score: 96365%
Critics Consensus: Disobedience explores a variety of thought-provoking themes, bolstered by gripping work from leads Rachel Weisz, Rachel McAdams, and Alessandro Nivola.
Synopsis: New York photographer Ronit Krushka flies to London after learning about the death of her estranged father. Ronit is returning... [More]
Directed By: Sebastián Lelio

#32
Adjusted Score: 88173%
Critics Consensus: This romantic crime drama may not be to everyone's taste, but The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover is an audacious, powerful film.
Synopsis: When churlish mobster Albert Spica (Michael Gambon) acquires an upscale French restaurant in London, he dines there nightly, effectively scaring... [More]
Directed By: Peter Greenaway

#31

Black Swan (2010)
85%

#31
Adjusted Score: 96494%
Critics Consensus: Bracingly intense, passionate, and wildly melodramatic, Black Swan glides on Darren Aronofsky's bold direction -- and a bravura performance from Natalie Portman.
Synopsis: Nina (Natalie Portman) is a ballerina whose passion for the dance rules every facet of her life. When the company's... [More]
Directed By: Darren Aronofsky

#30
Adjusted Score: 89033%
Critics Consensus: Sexual taboos are broken and boundaries crossed In the Realm of the Senses, a fearlessly provocative psychosexual tale.
Synopsis: A former prostitute (Eiko Matsuda), now working as a servant, begins a torrid affair with her married employer (Tatsuya Fuji).... [More]
Directed By: Nagisa Ôshima

#29

Blue Valentine (2010)
86%

#29
Adjusted Score: 94133%
Critics Consensus: This emotionally gripping examination of a marriage on the rocks isn't always easy to watch, but Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling give performances of unusual depth and power.
Synopsis: Dean (Ryan Gosling) and Cindy (Michelle Williams) live a quiet life in a modest neighborhood. To the casual observer, everything... [More]
Directed By: Derek Cianfrance

#28
#28
Adjusted Score: 97039%
Critics Consensus: A beautiful, epic Western, Brokeback Mountain's love story is imbued with heartbreaking universality thanks to moving performances by Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal.
Synopsis: In 1963, rodeo cowboy Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) and ranch hand Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger) are hired by rancher... [More]
Directed By: Ang Lee

#27

Bound (1996)
90%

#27
Adjusted Score: 91422%
Critics Consensus: Bound's more titillating elements attracted attention, but it's the stylish direction, solid performances, and entertaining neo-noir caper plot that make it worth a watch.
Synopsis: Sparks fly when Violet (Jennifer Tilly) sets eyes on Corky (Gina Gershon) in an elevator. Violet is the girlfriend of... [More]

#26

My Golden Days (2015)
90%

#26
Adjusted Score: 93121%
Critics Consensus: My Golden Years is a complex, well-acted coming-of-age drama.
Synopsis: A middle-aged anthropologist (Mathieu Amalric) reminisces about family, school adventures, a student trip to the USSR and the love (Lou... [More]
Directed By: Arnaud Desplechin

#25

Titanic (1997)
89%

#25
Adjusted Score: 101419%
Critics Consensus: A mostly unqualified triumph for James Cameron, who offers a dizzying blend of spectacular visuals and old-fashioned melodrama.
Synopsis: James Cameron's "Titanic" is an epic, action-packed romance set against the ill-fated maiden voyage of the R.M.S. Titanic; the pride... [More]
Directed By: James Cameron

#24

A Royal Affair (2012)
90%

#24
Adjusted Score: 93922%
Critics Consensus: A Royal Affair is a lavish and sumptuous costume drama with a juicy story to back it up.
Synopsis: A young queen falls in love with her physician, and they start a revolution that changes their nation forever.... [More]
Directed By: Nikolaj Arcel

#23
#23
Adjusted Score: 95115%
Critics Consensus: This understated romance, featuring good performances by its leads, is both visually beautiful and emotionally moving.
Synopsis: In 1962, journalist Chow Mo-wan (Tony Leung Chiu Wai) and his wife move into a Hong Kong apartment, but Chow's... [More]
Directed By: Kar Wai Wong

#22
#22
Adjusted Score: 92578%
Critics Consensus: With She's Gotta Have It, Spike Lee delivered his bracing first shot across Hollywood's bow -- and set the template for the groundbreaking act to follow.
Synopsis: Beautiful Nola Darling (Tracy Camilla Johns) can't decide what kind of man she wants to date, so she decides to... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#21
#21
Adjusted Score: 96765%
Critics Consensus: It has perhaps aged poorly, but this languidly paced WWII romance remains an iconic, well-acted film, featuring particularly strong performances from Burt Lancaster and Montgomery Clift.
Synopsis: At an Army barracks in Hawaii in the days preceding the attack on Pearl Harbor, lone-wolf soldier and boxing champion... [More]
Directed By: Fred Zinnemann

#20
#20
Adjusted Score: 96270%
Critics Consensus: A road movie that's not only sexy, but intelligent as well.
Synopsis: The lives of Julio and Tenoch, like those of 17-year old boys everywhere, are ruled by raging hormones, intense friendships,... [More]
Directed By: Alfonso Cuarón

#19

Ex Machina (2014)
92%

#19
Adjusted Score: 103686%
Critics Consensus: Ex Machina leans heavier on ideas than effects, but it's still a visually polished piece of work -- and an uncommonly engaging sci-fi feature.
Synopsis: Caleb Smith (Domhnall Gleeson) a programmer at a huge Internet company, wins a contest that enables him to spend a... [More]
Directed By: Alex Garland

#18
#18
Adjusted Score: 94685%
Critics Consensus: Stylish, seductive, and clever, Stephen Frears' adaptation is a wickedly entertaining exploration of sexual politics.
Synopsis: The Marquise de Merteuil (Glenn Close) and the Vicomte de Valmont (John Malkovich) display the petty jealousies and jaded insouciance... [More]
Directed By: Stephen Frears

#17

Boogie Nights (1997)
93%

#17
Adjusted Score: 97458%
Critics Consensus: Grounded in strong characters, bold themes, and subtle storytelling, Boogie Nights is a groundbreaking film both for director P.T. Anderson and star Mark Wahlberg.
Synopsis: In the San Fernando Valley in 1977, teenage busboy Eddie Adams (Mark Wahlberg) gets discovered by porn director Jack Horner... [More]
Directed By: Paul Thomas Anderson

#16

Out of Sight (1998)
93%

#16
Adjusted Score: 97885%
Critics Consensus: Steven Soderbergh's intelligently crafted adaptation of the Elmore Leonard novel is witty, sexy, suprisingly entertaining, and a star-making turn for George Clooney.
Synopsis: Meet Jack Foley (George Clooney), the most successful bank robber in the country. On the day he busts out of... [More]
Directed By: Steven Soderbergh

#15
#15
Adjusted Score: 97038%
Critics Consensus: Like Body Heat, The Last Seduction updates film noir techniques for a modern era, imbuing this erotic film with '90s snark.
Synopsis: Looking to escape her unhappy marriage, villainous femme fatale Bridget Gregory (Linda Fiorentino) convinces her husband, Clay (Bill Pullman), to... [More]
Directed By: John Dahl

#14
#14
Adjusted Score: 96604%
Critics Consensus: Sexy, smart, and darkly humorous, Stranger by the Lake offers rewarding viewing for adult filmgoers in search of thought-provoking drama.
Synopsis: Franck falls in love with Michel, an attractive, potent and lethally dangerous man.... [More]
Directed By: Alain Guiraudie

#13

Carol (2015)
94%

#13
Adjusted Score: 106076%
Critics Consensus: Shaped by Todd Haynes' deft direction and powered by a strong cast led by Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, Carol lives up to its groundbreaking source material.
Synopsis: Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara) spots the beautiful, elegant Carol (Cate Blanchett) perusing the doll displays in a 1950s Manhattan department... [More]
Directed By: Todd Haynes

#12
#12
Adjusted Score: 121498%
Critics Consensus: Call Me by Your Name offers a melancholy, powerfully affecting portrait of first love, empathetically acted by Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer.
Synopsis: It's the summer of 1983, and precocious 17-year-old Elio Perlman is spending the days with his family at their 17th-century... [More]
Directed By: Luca Guadagnino

#11

Fallen Angels (1995)
95%

#11
Adjusted Score: 95709%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: An assassin (Leon Lai Ming), his boss, an entrepreneur (Takeshi Kaneshiro) and two women cross paths in Hong Kong after... [More]
Directed By: Kar Wai Wong

#10

Desert Hearts (1985)
96%

#10
Adjusted Score: 96602%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A New York professor (Helen Shaver) divorces her husband and has an affair with another woman (Patricia Charbonneau) in 1959... [More]
Directed By: Donna Deitch

#9
#9
Adjusted Score: 99268%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Beautiful young housewife Séverine Serizy (Catherine Deneuve) cannot reconcile her masochistic fantasies with her everyday life alongside dutiful husband Pierre... [More]
Directed By: Luis Buñuel

#8

Weekend (2011)
95%

#8
Adjusted Score: 97994%
Critics Consensus: It may be a chamber piece but Weekend's revelations on modern sexuality expand far beyond the modest setting.
Synopsis: A gay man's (Tom Cullen) weekend-long encounter with an artist (Chris New) changes his life in unexpected ways.... [More]
Directed By: Andrew Haigh

#7

The Handmaiden (2016)
95%

#7
Adjusted Score: 108697%
Critics Consensus: The Handmaiden uses a Victorian crime novel as the loose inspiration for another visually sumptuous and absorbingly idiosyncratic outing from director Park Chan-wook.
Synopsis: With help from an orphaned pickpocket (Kim Tae-ri), a Korean con man (Ha Jung-woo) devises an elaborate plot to seduce... [More]
Directed By: Park Chan-wook

#6
#6
Adjusted Score: 99948%
Critics Consensus: In his feature directorial debut, Steven Soderbergh demonstrates a mastery of his craft well beyond his years, pulling together an outstanding cast and an intelligent script for a nuanced, mature film about neurosis and human sexuality.
Synopsis: Ann (Andie MacDowell) is trapped in a sexually and emotionally unfulfilled relationship with her husband, John (Peter Gallagher), a successful... [More]
Directed By: Steven Soderbergh

#5
#5
Adjusted Score: 100555%
Critics Consensus: My Beautiful Laundrette is fast and all over the place because it has so much to say, and show, including a highly watchable fresh-faced Daniel Day-Lewis.
Synopsis: In a seedy corner of London, Omar (Gordon Warnecke), a young Pakistani, is given a run-down laundromat by his uncle... [More]
Directed By: Stephen Frears

#4

Body Heat (1981)
98%

#4
Adjusted Score: 100303%
Critics Consensus: Made from classic noir ingredients and flavored with a heaping helping of steamy modern spice, Body Heat more than lives up to its evocative title.
Synopsis: Shyster lawyer Ned Racine (William Hurt) begins a passionate affair with Matty Walker (Kathleen Turner), wife of a wealthy Florida... [More]
Directed By: Lawrence Kasdan

#3
Adjusted Score: 120053%
Critics Consensus: A singularly rich period piece, Portrait of a Lady on Fire finds stirring, thought-provoking drama within a powerfully acted romance.
Synopsis: In 1770 the young daughter of a French countess develops a mutual attraction to the female artist commissioned to paint... [More]
Directed By: Céline Sciamma

#2

Moonlight (2016)
98%

#2
Adjusted Score: 123133%
Critics Consensus: Moonlight uses one man's story to offer a remarkable and brilliantly crafted look at lives too rarely seen in cinema.
Synopsis: A look at three defining chapters in the life of Chiron, a young black man growing up in Miami. His... [More]
Directed By: Barry Jenkins

#1

Gloria (2013)
99%

#1
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

Moonrise Kingdom

(Photo by © Focus Features)

105 Great Movies to Watch Alone

For some, staying home right now can mean curling up with a loved one on the couch for a date-night flick or gathering the whole family together for movie night. For many others, it can mean flying solo – long days and nights of streaming by yourself. We’re here to help with some movie suggestions we think are tailor-made for that latter experience.

Just like going to the movie theater alone can be a singularly joyous “treat yo self” excursion, solo home-viewing can be a great experience too – if you choose the right film. There are movies out there that actually benefit from being watched alone: It might be that they require a level of concentration and focus that distracting friends and loved ones just won’t allow you, or that the maximum scare factor is best felt when you are completely isolated – just like the babysitter being stalked on screen. It might just be that the movie has the kind of awkward/titillating sexy bits that make watching it with a first date – or, let’s say, mom – not exactly ideal. Watch it alone – no judgment, no nervous giggles.

To help those solo-fliers get through the next little while, the RT team pulled together a list of movies perfect for watching alone for all of those reasons – and a bunch that are just guaranteed to put you in an awesome mood the moment they start. Which might be the best reason of all.

What’s your favorite movie to watch by yourself? Let us know in the comments.
Click on each movie’s title to find out more, including where to stream, rent, or buy.  


BECAUSE THE MOVIE REQUIRES YOUR ABSOLUTE CONCENTRATION…

#13

Memento (2000)
93%

#13
Adjusted Score: 100064%
Critics Consensus: Christopher Nolan skillfully guides the audience through Memento's fractured narrative, seeping his film in existential dread.
Synopsis: Leonard (Guy Pearce) is tracking down the man who raped and murdered his wife. The difficulty, however, of locating his... [More]
Directed By: Christopher Nolan

#12
#12
Adjusted Score: 75875%
Critics Consensus: Charlie Kaufman's ambitious directorial debut occasionally strains to connect, but ultimately provides fascinating insight into a writer's mind.
Synopsis: Life is looking pretty bleak for theater director Caden Cotard (Philip Seymour Hoffman). His wife and daughter have left him,... [More]
Directed By: Charlie Kaufman

#11

The Irishman (2019)
95%

#11
Adjusted Score: 123934%
Critics Consensus: An epic gangster drama that earns its extended runtime, The Irishman finds Martin Scorsese revisiting familiar themes to poignant, funny, and profound effect.
Synopsis: In the 1950s, truck driver Frank Sheeran gets involved with Russell Bufalino and his Pennsylvania crime family. As Sheeran climbs... [More]
Directed By: Martin Scorsese

#10
Adjusted Score: 101335%
Critics Consensus: Propelled by Charlie Kaufman's smart, imaginative script and Michel Gondry's equally daring directorial touch, Eternal Sunshine is a twisty yet heartfelt look at relationships and heartache.
Synopsis: After a painful breakup, Clementine (Kate Winslet) undergoes a procedure to erase memories of her former boyfriend Joel (Jim Carrey)... [More]
Directed By: Michel Gondry

#9

Annihilation (2018)
88%

#9
Adjusted Score: 108010%
Critics Consensus: Annihilation backs up its sci-fi visual wonders and visceral genre thrills with an impressively ambitious -- and surprisingly strange -- exploration of challenging themes that should leave audiences pondering long after the end credits roll.
Synopsis: Lena, a biologist and former soldier, joins a mission to uncover what happened to her husband inside Area X --... [More]
Directed By: Alex Garland

#8

Magnolia (1999)
83%

#8
Adjusted Score: 89661%
Critics Consensus: Magnolia is an ambitious, lengthy work that ultimately succeeds due to interesting stories and excellent ensemble performances.
Synopsis: On one random day in the San Fernando Valley, a dying father, a young wife, a male caretaker, a famous... [More]
Directed By: Paul Thomas Anderson

#7

12 Monkeys (1995)
89%

#7
Adjusted Score: 93669%
Critics Consensus: The plot's a bit of a jumble, but excellent performances and mind-blowing plot twists make 12 Monkeys a kooky, effective experience.
Synopsis: Traveling back in time isn't simple, as James Cole (Bruce Willis) learns the hard way. Imprisoned in the 2030s, James... [More]
Directed By: Terry Gilliam

#6

Zodiac (2007)
89%

#6
Adjusted Score: 100385%
Critics Consensus: A quiet, dialogue-driven thriller that delivers with scene after scene of gut-wrenching anxiety. David Fincher also spends more time illustrating nuances of his characters and recreating the mood of the '70s than he does on gory details of murder.
Synopsis: In the late 1960s and 1970s, fear grips the city of San Francisco as a serial killer called Zodiac stalks... [More]
Directed By: David Fincher

#5

Silence (2016)
83%

#5
Adjusted Score: 103529%
Critics Consensus: Silence ends Martin Scorsese's decades-long creative quest with a thoughtful, emotionally resonant look at spirituality and human nature that stands among the director's finest works.
Synopsis: Two 17th-century Portuguese missionaries, Father Sebastian Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Father Francisco Garupe (Adam Driver), embark on a perilous journey... [More]
Directed By: Martin Scorsese

#4

The Deer Hunter (1978)
91%

#4
Adjusted Score: 99252%
Critics Consensus: Its greatness is blunted by its length and one-sided point of view, but the film's weaknesses are overpowered by Michael Cimino's sympathetic direction and a series of heartbreaking performances from Robert De Niro, Meryl Streep, and Christopher Walken.
Synopsis: In 1968, Michael (Robert De Niro), Nick (Christopher Walken) and Steven (John Savage), lifelong friends from a working-class Pennsylvania steel... [More]
Directed By: Michael Cimino

#3

Parasite (2019)
98%

#3
Adjusted Score: 127460%
Critics Consensus: An urgent, brilliantly layered look at timely social themes, Parasite finds writer-director Bong Joon Ho in near-total command of his craft.
Synopsis: Greed and class discrimination threaten the newly formed symbiotic relationship between the wealthy Park family and the destitute Kim clan.... [More]
Directed By: Bong Joon-ho

#2

The Master (2012)
84%

#2
Adjusted Score: 95045%
Critics Consensus: Smart and solidly engrossing, The Master extends Paul Thomas Anderson's winning streak of challenging films for serious audiences.
Synopsis: Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix) is a troubled, boozy drifter struggling with the trauma of World War II and whatever inner... [More]
Directed By: Paul Thomas Anderson

#8

The Game (1997)
76%

#8
Adjusted Score: 79710%
Critics Consensus: The ending could use a little work but this is otherwise another sterling example of David Fincher's iron grip on atmosphere and storytelling.
Synopsis: Nicholas Van Orton (Michael Douglas) is a successful banker who keeps mostly to himself. When his estranged brother Conrad (Sean... [More]
Directed By: David Fincher

#1

Inherent Vice (2014)
73%

#1
Adjusted Score: 83383%
Critics Consensus: Inherent Vice may prove frustrating for viewers who demand absolute coherence, but it does justice to its acclaimed source material -- and should satisfy fans of director P.T. Anderson.
Synopsis: In a California beach community, private detective Larry "Doc" Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix) tends to work his cases through a smoky... [More]
Directed By: Paul Thomas Anderson

#1

Burning (2018)
95%

#1
Adjusted Score: 105592%
Critics Consensus: Burning patiently lures audiences into a slow-burning character study that ultimately rewards the viewer's patience -- and subverts many of their expectations.
Synopsis: Jong-soo runs into Hae-mi, a girl who once lived in his neighborhood, and she asks him to watch her cat... [More]
Directed By: Lee Chang-dong

#1

Vertigo (1958)
94%

#1
Adjusted Score: 104482%
Critics Consensus: An unpredictable scary thriller that doubles as a mournful meditation on love, loss, and human comfort.
Synopsis: Hitchcock's romantic story of obsession, manipulation and fear. A detective is forced to retire after his fear of heights causes... [More]
Directed By: Alfred Hitchcock

#1

The Tree of Life (2011)
84%

#1
Adjusted Score: 94537%
Critics Consensus: Terrence Malick's singularly deliberate style may prove unrewarding for some, but for patient viewers, Tree of Life is an emotional as well as visual treat.
Synopsis: In this highly philosophical film by acclaimed director Terrence Malick, young Jack (Hunter McCracken) is one of three brothers growing... [More]
Directed By: Terrence Malick

#1

The Prestige (2006)
76%

#1
Adjusted Score: 83670%
Critics Consensus: Full of twists and turns, The Prestige is a dazzling period piece that never stops challenging the audience.
Synopsis: An illusion gone horribly wrong pits two 19th-century magicians, Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) and Rupert Angier (Hugh Jackman), against each... [More]
Directed By: Christopher Nolan

#1

Under the Skin (2013)
84%

#1
Adjusted Score: 95071%
Critics Consensus: Its message may prove elusive for some, but with absorbing imagery and a mesmerizing performance from Scarlett Johansson, Under the Skin is a haunting viewing experience.
Synopsis: Disguising herself as a human female, an extraterrestrial (Scarlett Johansson) drives around Scotland and tries to lure unsuspecting men into... [More]
Directed By: Jonathan Glazer

#1

Gattaca (1997)
83%

#1
Adjusted Score: 85785%
Critics Consensus: Intelligent and scientifically provocative, Gattaca is an absorbing sci fi drama that poses important interesting ethical questions about the nature of science.
Synopsis: Vincent Freeman (Ethan Hawke) has always fantasized about traveling into outer space, but is grounded by his status as a... [More]
Directed By: Andrew Niccol


BECAUSE THE MOVIE IS GONNA MAKE YOU UGLY CRY…

#13
#13
Adjusted Score: 84626%
Critics Consensus: Benigni's earnest charm, when not overstepping its bounds into the unnecessarily treacly, offers the possibility of hope in the face of unflinching horror.
Synopsis: A gentle Jewish-Italian waiter, Guido Orefice (Roberto Benigni), meets Dora (Nicoletta Braschi), a pretty schoolteacher, and wins her over with... [More]
Directed By: Roberto Benigni

#12

Pan's Labyrinth (2006)
95%

#12
Adjusted Score: 104471%
Critics Consensus: Pan's Labyrinth is Alice in Wonderland for grown-ups, with the horrors of both reality and fantasy blended together into an extraordinary, spellbinding fable.
Synopsis: In 1944 Spain young Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) and her ailing mother (Ariadna Gil) arrive at the post of her mother's... [More]
Directed By: Guillermo del Toro

#11

Beaches (1988)
40%

#11
Adjusted Score: 42764%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Hillary (Barbara Hershey) and CC (Bette Midler) meet as children vacationing in Atlantic City, N.J., and remain friends throughout the... [More]
Directed By: Garry Marshall

#10

Steel Magnolias (1989)
70%

#10
Adjusted Score: 71202%
Critics Consensus: Steel Magnolias has jokes and characters to spare, which makes it more dangerous (and effective) when it goes for the full melodrama by the end.
Synopsis: M'Lynn (Sally Field) is the mother of bride-to-be Shelby Eatenton (Julia Roberts), and as friend Truvy Jones (Dolly Parton) fixes... [More]
Directed By: Herbert Ross

#9

Stepmom (1998)
46%

#9
Adjusted Score: 49820%
Critics Consensus: Solid work from Julia Roberts and Susan Sarandon isn't enough to save Stepmom from a story whose manipulations dilute the effectiveness of a potentially affecting drama.
Synopsis: Three years after divorcing Jackie (Susan Sarandon), the mother of his children, Luke Harrison (Ed Harris) decides to take the... [More]
Directed By: Chris Columbus

#8

The Color Purple (1985)
81%

#8
Adjusted Score: 82021%
Critics Consensus: It might have been better served by a filmmaker with a deeper connection to the source material, but The Color Purple remains a worthy, well-acted adaptation of Alice Walker's classic novel.
Synopsis: An epic tale spanning forty years in the life of Celie (Whoopi Goldberg), an African-American woman living in the South... [More]
Directed By: Steven Spielberg

#7
#7
Adjusted Score: 81715%
Critics Consensus: A classic tearjerker, Terms of Endearment isn't shy about reaching for the heartstrings -- but is so well-acted and smartly scripted that it's almost impossible to resist.
Synopsis: Widow Aurora Greenway (Shirley MacLaine) and her daughter, Emma (Debra Winger), have a strong bond, but Emma marries teacher Flap... [More]
Directed By: James L. Brooks

#6

Toy Story 3 (2010)
98%

#6
Adjusted Score: 110116%
Critics Consensus: Deftly blending comedy, adventure, and honest emotion, Toy Story 3 is a rare second sequel that really works.
Synopsis: With their beloved Andy preparing to leave for college, Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), Jessie (Joan Cusack), and... [More]
Directed By: Lee Unkrich

#5
#5
Adjusted Score: 89620%
Critics Consensus: Wise, funny, and heartbreaking without resorting to exploitation, The Fault In Our Stars does right by its bestselling source material.
Synopsis: Hazel Grace Lancaster (Shailene Woodley), a 16-year-old cancer patient, meets and falls in love with Gus Waters (Ansel Elgort), a... [More]
Directed By: Josh Boone

#1

Wendy and Lucy (2008)
85%

#1
Adjusted Score: 92420%
Critics Consensus: Michelle Williams gives a heartbreaking performance in Wendy and Lucy, a timely portrait of loneliness and struggle.
Synopsis: Wendy (Michelle Williams), a near-penniless drifter, is traveling to Alaska in search of work, and her only companion is her... [More]
Directed By: Kelly Reichardt

#4

My Girl (1991)
53%

#4
Adjusted Score: 52522%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Tomboy Vada Sultenfuss (Anna Chlumsky) has good reason to be morbid: her mother died giving birth to her, and her... [More]
Directed By: Howard Zieff

#3

Selena (1997)
67%

#3
Adjusted Score: 68589%
Critics Consensus: Selena occasionally struggles to tell its subject's story with depth or perspective, but those flaws are rendered largely irrelevant by Jennifer Lopez in the title role.
Synopsis: In this biographical drama, Selena Quintanilla (Jennifer Lopez) is born into a musical Mexican-American family in Texas. Her father, Abraham... [More]
Directed By: Gregory Nava

#2

Up (2009)
98%

#2
Adjusted Score: 109563%
Critics Consensus: An exciting, funny, and poignant adventure, Up offers an impeccably crafted story told with wit and arranged with depth, as well as yet another visual Pixar treat.
Synopsis: Carl Fredricksen (Ed Asner), a 78-year-old balloon salesman, is about to fulfill a lifelong dream. Tying thousands of balloons to... [More]
Directed By: Pete Docter, Bob Peterson

#1
Adjusted Score: 110804%
Critics Consensus: Playing as both an exciting sci-fi adventure and a remarkable portrait of childhood, Steven Spielberg's touching tale of a homesick alien remains a piece of movie magic for young and old.
Synopsis: After a gentle alien becomes stranded on Earth, the being is discovered and befriended by a young boy named Elliott... [More]
Directed By: Steven Spielberg

#1
Adjusted Score: 89503%
Critics Consensus: Beautifully scripted and perfectly cast, Me & Earl & the Dying Girl is a coming-of-age movie with uncommon charm and insight.
Synopsis: An awkward high-school senior (Thomas Mann) and a gravely ill classmate (Olivia Cooke) surprise themselves by becoming inseparable friends.... [More]
Directed By: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon

#1

Stories We Tell (2012)
94%

#1
Adjusted Score: 98578%
Critics Consensus: In Stories We Tell, Sarah Polley plays with the documentary format to explore the nature of memory and storytelling, crafting a thoughtful, compelling narrative that unfolds like a mystery.
Synopsis: Through a series of revealing interviews, filmmaker Sarah Polley investigates the truth about her family history.... [More]
Directed By: Sarah Polley

#1

Old Yeller (1957)
100%

#1
Adjusted Score: 101875%
Critics Consensus: Old Yeller is an exemplary coming of age tale, packing an emotional wallop through smart pacing and a keen understanding of the elemental bonding between humanity and their furry best friends.
Synopsis: While Jim Coates (Fess Parker) is off on a cattle drive, his wife, Katie (Dorothy McGuire), and sons, Travis (Tommy... [More]
Directed By: Robert Stevenson

#1

Marley & Me (2008)
63%

#1
Adjusted Score: 67367%
Critics Consensus: Pet owners should love it, but Marley and Me is only sporadically successful in wringing drama and laughs from its scenario.
Synopsis: Newlyweds John and Jenny Grogan (Owen Wilson, Jennifer Aniston) leave behind snowy Michigan and move to Florida, where they buy... [More]
Directed By: David Frankel

#1
#1
Adjusted Score: 28940%
Critics Consensus: Though wholesome, the Mandy Moore vehicle A Walk to Remember is also bland and oppressively syrupy.
Synopsis: Set in North Carolina, "A Walk To Remember" follows the rite of passage of a jaded, aimless high school senior... [More]
Directed By: Adam Shankman


BECAUSE THE MOVIE WILL INSTANTLY PUT YOU IN A BETTER MOOD…

#13

Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
93%

#13
Adjusted Score: 104518%
Critics Consensus: Warm, whimsical, and poignant, the immaculately framed and beautifully acted Moonrise Kingdom presents writer/director Wes Anderson at his idiosyncratic best.
Synopsis: The year is 1965, and the residents of New Penzance, an island off the coast of New England, inhabit a... [More]
Directed By: Wes Anderson

#12

Groundhog Day (1993)
97%

#12
Adjusted Score: 103334%
Critics Consensus: Smart, sweet, and inventive, Groundhog Day highlights Murray's dramatic gifts while still leaving plenty of room for laughs.
Synopsis: Phil (Bill Murray), a weatherman, is out to cover the annual emergence of the groundhog from its hole. He gets... [More]
Directed By: Harold Ramis

#11

The Goonies (1985)
77%

#11
Adjusted Score: 80849%
Critics Consensus: The Goonies is an energetic, sometimes noisy mix of Spielbergian sentiment and funhouse tricks that will appeal to kids and nostalgic adults alike.
Synopsis: When two brothers find out they might lose their house they are desperate to find a way to keep their... [More]
Directed By: Richard Donner

#10
#10
Adjusted Score: 109747%
Critics Consensus: Clever, incisive, and funny, Singin' in the Rain is a masterpiece of the classical Hollywood musical.
Synopsis: A spoof of the turmoil that afflicted the movie industry in the late 1920s when movies went from silent to... [More]
Directed By: Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly

#9

Amélie (2001)
89%

#9
Adjusted Score: 95344%
Critics Consensus: The feel-good Amelie is a lively, fanciful charmer, showcasing Audrey Tautou as its delightful heroine.
Synopsis: "Amélie" is a fanciful comedy about a young woman who discretely orchestrates the lives of the people around her, creating... [More]
Directed By: Jean-Pierre Jeunet

#8
#8
Adjusted Score: 103679%
Critics Consensus: A delightfully postmodern fairy tale, The Princess Bride is a deft, intelligent mix of swashbuckling, romance, and comedy that takes an age-old damsel-in-distress story and makes it fresh.
Synopsis: A fairy tale adventure about a beautiful young woman and her one true love. He must find her after a... [More]
Directed By: Rob Reiner

#7

The Birdcage (1996)
81%

#7
Adjusted Score: 83778%
Critics Consensus: Mike Nichols wrangles agreeably amusing performances from Robin Williams and Nathan Lane in this fun, if not quite essential, remake of the French comedy La Cage aux Folles.
Synopsis: In this remake of the classic French farce "La Cage aux Folles," engaged couple Val Goldman (Dan Futterman) and Barbara... [More]
Directed By: Mike Nichols

#6
#6
Adjusted Score: 86807%
Critics Consensus: Matthew Broderick charms in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, a light and irrepressibly fun movie about being young and having fun.
Synopsis: Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick) has an uncanny skill at cutting classes and getting away with it. Intending to make one... [More]
Directed By: John Hughes

#5
#5
Adjusted Score: 85312%
Critics Consensus: Though there was controversy over the choice of casting, Zellweger's Bridget Jones is a sympathetic, likable, funny character, giving this romantic comedy a lot of charm.
Synopsis: At the start of the New Year, 32-year-old Bridget (Renée Zellweger) decides it's time to take control of her life... [More]
Directed By: Sharon Maguire

#4

Clueless (1995)
81%

#4
Adjusted Score: 89087%
Critics Consensus: A funny and clever reshaping of Emma, Clueless offers a soft satire that pokes as much fun at teen films as it does at the Beverly Hills glitterati.
Synopsis: Shallow, rich and socially successful Cher (Alicia Silverstone) is at the top of her Beverly Hills high school's pecking scale.... [More]
Directed By: Amy Heckerling

#3

The Intouchables (2011)
75%

#3
Adjusted Score: 79772%
Critics Consensus: It handles its potentially prickly subject matter with kid gloves, but Intouchables gets by thanks to its strong cast and some remarkably sensitive direction.
Synopsis: An unlikely friendship develops between a wealthy quadriplegic (François Cluzet) and his caretaker (Omar Sy), just released from prison.... [More]

#2

Tommy Boy (1995)
42%

#2
Adjusted Score: 43340%
Critics Consensus: Though it benefits from the comic charms of its two leads, Tommy Boy too often feels like a familiar sketch stretched thin.
Synopsis: After his beloved father (Brian Dennehy) dies, dimwitted Tommy Callahan (Chris Farley) inherits a near-bankrupt automobile parts factory in Sandusky,... [More]
Directed By: Peter Segal

#1
#1
Adjusted Score: 99432%
Critics Consensus: Little Miss Sunshine succeeds thanks to a strong ensemble cast that includes Greg Kinnear, Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Alan Arkin, and Abigail Breslin, as well as a delightfully funny script.
Synopsis: The Hoover family -- a man (Greg Kinnear), his wife (Toni Collette), an uncle (Steve Carell), a brother (Paul Dano)... [More]

#1

The Full Monty (1997)
96%

#1
Adjusted Score: 98724%
Critics Consensus: Cheeky and infectiously good-natured, The Full Monty bares its big beating heart with a sly dose of ribald comedy.
Synopsis: After losing his job at a steel factory, Gaz (Robert Carlyle) learns that his wife wants to sue him for... [More]
Directed By: Peter Cattaneo

#1

Mamma Mia! (2008)
55%

#1
Adjusted Score: 61295%
Critics Consensus: This jukebox musical is full of fluffy fun but rough singing voices and a campy tone might not make you feel like "You Can Dance" the whole 90 minutes.
Synopsis: Donna (Meryl Streep), an independent hotelier in the Greek islands, is preparing for her daughter's wedding with the help of... [More]
Directed By: Phyllida Lloyd

#1

Billy Elliot (2000)
85%

#1
Adjusted Score: 88273%
Critics Consensus: Billy Elliot is a charming movie that can evoke both laughter and tears.
Synopsis: The life of 11-year-old Billy Elliot, a coal miner's son in Northern England, is forever changed one day when he... [More]
Directed By: Stephen Daldry

#3
Adjusted Score: 55628%
Critics Consensus: Provides lots of laughs with Myers at the healm; as funny or funnier than the original.
Synopsis: In his second screen adventure, British super spy Austin Powers must return to 1969, as arch-nemesis Dr. Evil has ventured... [More]
Directed By: Jay Roach

#1

Step Brothers (2008)
55%

#1
Adjusted Score: 63169%
Critics Consensus: Step Brothers indulges in a cheerfully relentless immaturity that will quickly turn off viewers unamused by Ferrell and Reilly -- and delight those who find their antics hilarious.
Synopsis: Brennan Huff (Will Ferrell) and Dale Doback (John C. Reilly) have one thing in common: they are both lazy, unemployed... [More]
Directed By: Adam McKay

#1
#1
Adjusted Score: 75831%
Critics Consensus: Eddie Murphy was in full control at this point, starkly evident in Coming to America's John Landis' coasting direction.
Synopsis: Prince Akeem (Eddie Murphy) is the prince of a wealthy African country and wants for nothing, except a wife who... [More]
Directed By: John Landis

#1

Airplane! (1980)
97%

#1
Adjusted Score: 103487%
Critics Consensus: Though unabashedly juvenile and silly, Airplane! is nevertheless an uproarious spoof comedy full of quotable lines and slapstick gags that endure to this day.
Synopsis: This spoof comedy takes shots at the slew of disaster movies that were released in the 70s. When the passengers... [More]

#1

Game Night (2018)
85%

#1
Adjusted Score: 99575%
Critics Consensus: With a talented cast turned loose on a loaded premise -- and a sharp script loaded with dark comedy and unexpected twists -- Game Night might be more fun than the real thing.
Synopsis: Max and Annie's weekly game night gets kicked up a notch when Max's brother Brooks arranges a murder mystery party... [More]

#1

Pride (2014)
92%

#1
Adjusted Score: 98186%
Critics Consensus: Earnest without being didactic and uplifting without stooping to sentimentality, Pride is a joyous crowd-pleaser that genuinely works.
Synopsis: Realizing that they share common foes in Margaret Thatcher, the police and the conservative press, London-based gays and lesbians lend... [More]
Directed By: Matthew Warchus

#1

Pitch Perfect (2012)
81%

#1
Adjusted Score: 86241%
Critics Consensus: Pitch Perfect's plot is formulaic, but the performances are excellent and the musical numbers are toe-tapping as well.
Synopsis: College student Beca (Anna Kendrick) knows she does not want to be part of a clique, but that's exactly where... [More]
Directed By: Jason Moore

#1

Hot Fuzz (2007)
91%

#1
Adjusted Score: 99758%
Critics Consensus: The brilliant minds behind Shaun of the Dead successfully take a shot at the buddy cop genre with Hot Fuzz. The result is a bitingly satiric and hugely entertaining parody.
Synopsis: As a former London constable, Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg) finds if difficult to adapt to his new assignment in the... [More]
Directed By: Edgar Wright

#1
Adjusted Score: 43264%
Critics Consensus: Undisciplined, scatological, profoundly silly, and often utterly groan-worthy, Robin Hood: Men in Tights still has an amiable, anything-goes goofiness that has made it a cult favorite.
Synopsis: Crusading nobleman Robin of Loxley (Cary Elwes) escapes from prison in Jerusalem and returns home to find that the evil... [More]
Directed By: Mel Brooks

#1

Sing Street (2016)
95%

#1
Adjusted Score: 107232%
Critics Consensus: Sing Street is a feel-good musical with huge heart and irresistible optimism, and its charmimg cast and hummable tunes help to elevate its familiar plotting.
Synopsis: In 1985, a Dublin teenager (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) forms a rock 'n' roll band to win the heart of an aspiring... [More]
Directed By: John Carney

#1

Big (1988)
97%

#1
Adjusted Score: 102799%
Critics Consensus: Refreshingly sweet and undeniably funny, Big is a showcase for Tom Hanks, who dives into his role and infuses it with charm and surprising poignancy.
Synopsis: After a wish turns 12-year-old Josh Baskin (David Moscow) into a 30-year-old man (Tom Hanks), he heads to New York... [More]
Directed By: Penny Marshall

#1
#1
Adjusted Score: 112580%
Critics Consensus: With a terrific cast and a surfeit of visual razzle dazzle, Crazy Rich Asians takes a satisfying step forward for screen representation while deftly drawing inspiration from the classic -- and still effective -- rom-com formula.
Synopsis: Rachel Chu is happy to accompany her longtime boyfriend, Nick, to his best friend's wedding in Singapore. She's also surprised... [More]
Directed By: Jon M. Chu


BECAUSE THE MOVIE’S VERY SEXY BITS WILL BE LESS AWKWARD SOLO…

#13

Magic Mike XXL (2015)
65%

#13
Adjusted Score: 74758%
Critics Consensus: Magic Mike XXL has enough narrative thrust and beefy charm to deliver another helping of well-oiled entertainment, even if this sequel isn't quite as pleasurable as its predecessor.
Synopsis: It's been three years since Mike Lane's (Channing Tatum) retirement from stripping, but the former dancer misses the excitement and... [More]
Directed By: Gregory Jacobs

#12

Basic Instinct (1992)
55%

#12
Adjusted Score: 60684%
Critics Consensus: Unevenly echoing the work of Alfred Hitchcock, Basic Instinct contains a star-making performance from Sharon Stone but is ultimately undone by its problematic, overly lurid plot.
Synopsis: The mysterious Catherine Tramell (Sharon Stone), a beautiful crime novelist, becomes a suspect when she is linked to the brutal... [More]
Directed By: Paul Verhoeven

#11
#11
Adjusted Score: 96270%
Critics Consensus: A road movie that's not only sexy, but intelligent as well.
Synopsis: The lives of Julio and Tenoch, like those of 17-year old boys everywhere, are ruled by raging hormones, intense friendships,... [More]
Directed By: Alfonso Cuarón

#10

The Dreamers (2003)
60%

#10
Adjusted Score: 65178%
Critics Consensus: Though lushly atmospheric, The Dreamers doesn't engage or provoke as much as it should.
Synopsis: In May 1968, the student riots in Paris only exacerbate the isolation felt by three youths: an American exchange student... [More]
Directed By: Bernardo Bertolucci

#9

Lust, Caution (2007)
72%

#9
Adjusted Score: 78081%
Critics Consensus: Ang Lee's Lust, Caution is a tense, sensual and beautifully-shot espionage film.
Synopsis: During World War II a secret agent (Tang Wei) must seduce, then assassinate an official (Tony Leung Chiu Wai) who... [More]
Directed By: Ang Lee

#8

Sirens (1994)
74%

#8
Adjusted Score: 75454%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In 1930s Australia, Anglican clergyman Anthony Campion (Hugh Grant) and his prim wife, Estella (Tara Fitzgerald), are asked to visit... [More]
Directed By: John Duigan

#7

Secretary (2002)
77%

#7
Adjusted Score: 81991%
Critics Consensus: Maggie Gyllenhaal impresses in this romantic comedy with a kinky twist.
Synopsis: Lee Holloway (Maggie Gyllenhaal), a young woman with a history of severe emotional problems, is released into the care of... [More]
Directed By: Steven Shainberg

#6

Boogie Nights (1997)
93%

#6
Adjusted Score: 97458%
Critics Consensus: Grounded in strong characters, bold themes, and subtle storytelling, Boogie Nights is a groundbreaking film both for director P.T. Anderson and star Mark Wahlberg.
Synopsis: In the San Fernando Valley in 1977, teenage busboy Eddie Adams (Mark Wahlberg) gets discovered by porn director Jack Horner... [More]
Directed By: Paul Thomas Anderson

#5

Wild Things (1998)
63%

#5
Adjusted Score: 65009%
Critics Consensus: Wild Things is a delightfully salacious, flesh-exposed romp that also requires a high degree of love for trash cinema.
Synopsis: When teen debutante Kelly (Denise Richards) fails to attract the attention of her hunky guidance counselor, Sam (Matt Dillon), she... [More]
Directed By: John McNaughton

#4

Unfaithful (2002)
50%

#4
Adjusted Score: 55294%
Critics Consensus: Diane Lane shines in the role, but the movie adds nothing new to the genre and the resolution is unsatisfying.
Synopsis: Described by director Adrian Lyne ("Fatal Attraction") as "an erotic thriller about the body language of guilt." When Edward (Richard... [More]
Directed By: Adrian Lyne

#3

Bound (1996)
90%

#3
Adjusted Score: 91422%
Critics Consensus: Bound's more titillating elements attracted attention, but it's the stylish direction, solid performances, and entertaining neo-noir caper plot that make it worth a watch.
Synopsis: Sparks fly when Violet (Jennifer Tilly) sets eyes on Corky (Gina Gershon) in an elevator. Violet is the girlfriend of... [More]

#2

Swimming Pool (2003)
83%

#2
Adjusted Score: 88047%
Critics Consensus: A sensual thriller with two engaging performers demanding our undivided attention.
Synopsis: When uptight British writer Sarah Morton (Charlotte Rampling) has difficulty with her new detective novel, her publisher, John Bosload (Charles... [More]
Directed By: François Ozon

#1

Mulholland Dr. (2001)
84%

#1
Adjusted Score: 90299%
Critics Consensus: David Lynch's dreamlike and mysterious Mulholland Drive is a twisty neo-noir with an unconventional structure that features a mesmirizing performance from Naomi Watts as a woman on the dark fringes of Hollywood.
Synopsis: A dark-haired woman (Laura Elena Harring) is left amnesiac after a car crash. She wanders the streets of Los Angeles... [More]
Directed By: David Lynch

#1

Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
76%

#1
Adjusted Score: 82227%
Critics Consensus: Kubrick's intense study of the human psyche yields an impressive cinematic work.
Synopsis: After Dr. Bill Hartford's (Tom Cruise) wife, Alice (Nicole Kidman), admits to having sexual fantasies about a man she met,... [More]
Directed By: Stanley Kubrick

#1

Weekend (2011)
95%

#1
Adjusted Score: 97994%
Critics Consensus: It may be a chamber piece but Weekend's revelations on modern sexuality expand far beyond the modest setting.
Synopsis: A gay man's (Tom Cullen) weekend-long encounter with an artist (Chris New) changes his life in unexpected ways.... [More]
Directed By: Andrew Haigh

#1

Body Heat (1981)
98%

#1
Adjusted Score: 100303%
Critics Consensus: Made from classic noir ingredients and flavored with a heaping helping of steamy modern spice, Body Heat more than lives up to its evocative title.
Synopsis: Shyster lawyer Ned Racine (William Hurt) begins a passionate affair with Matty Walker (Kathleen Turner), wife of a wealthy Florida... [More]
Directed By: Lawrence Kasdan

#1

Shame (2011)
79%

#1
Adjusted Score: 87680%
Critics Consensus: Boasting stellar performances by Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan, Shame is a powerful plunge into the mania of addiction affliction.
Synopsis: Successful and handsome New Yorker Brandon (Michael Fassbender) seems to live an ordinary life, but he hides a terrible secret... [More]
Directed By: Steve McQueen

#1

Showgirls (1995)
22%

#1
Adjusted Score: 24971%
Critics Consensus: Vile, contemptible, garish, and misogynistic -- and that might just be exactly Showgirls' point.
Synopsis: Nomi (Elizabeth Berkley) arrives in Las Vegas with only a suitcase and a dream of becoming a top showgirl. She... [More]
Directed By: Paul Verhoeven

#1
#1
Adjusted Score: 35596%
Critics Consensus: While creatively better endowed than its print counterpart, Fifty Shades of Grey is a less than satisfying experience on the screen.
Synopsis: When college senior Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) steps in for her sick roommate to interview prominent businessman Christian Grey (Jamie... [More]
Directed By: Sam Taylor-Johnson

#1

Fear (1996)
46%

#1
Adjusted Score: 46648%
Critics Consensus: Fear has an appealing young cast, but their efforts aren't enough to consistently distract from an increasingly overblown - and illogical - teen stalker story.
Synopsis: When 16-year-old Nicole Walker (Reese Witherspoon) meets 23-year-old David McCall (Mark Wahlberg) at a Seattle nightclub, she falls in love.... [More]
Directed By: James Foley


BECAUSE THE MOVIE’S EVEN SCARIER IN PERFECT SILENCE…

#13

The Descent (2005)
86%

#13
Adjusted Score: 93861%
Critics Consensus: Deft direction and strong performances from its all-female cast guide The Descent, a riveting, claustrophobic horror film.
Synopsis: A year after a severe emotional trauma, Sarah (Shauna Macdonald) goes to North Carolina to spend some time exploring caves... [More]
Directed By: Neil Marshall

#12

A Quiet Place (2018)
96%

#12
Adjusted Score: 118865%
Critics Consensus: A Quiet Place artfully plays on elemental fears with a ruthlessly intelligent creature feature that's as original as it is scary -- and establishes director John Krasinski as a rising talent.
Synopsis: If they hear you, they hunt you. A family must live in silence to avoid mysterious creatures that hunt by... [More]
Directed By: John Krasinski

#11
#11
Adjusted Score: 44222%
Critics Consensus: There is indeed a good amount of tension in this French slasher, but the dubbing is bad and the end twist unbelievable.
Synopsis: A beautiful young Frenchwoman, Alex (Maïwenn Le Besco), travels out to the country to visit her family and brings along... [More]
Directed By: Alexandre Aja

#10

The Strangers (2008)
48%

#10
Adjusted Score: 54443%
Critics Consensus: The Strangers has a handful of genuinely scary moments, but they're not enough to elevate the end results above standard slasher fare.
Synopsis: Kristen (Liv Tyler) and James (Scott Speedman) are expecting a relaxing weekend at a family vacation home, but their stay... [More]
Directed By: Bryan Bertino

#9

Hush (2016)
93%

#9
Adjusted Score: 95376%
Critics Consensus: Hush navigates the bloody waters of home invasion thrillers and incisive slashers for a contemporary horror puree.
Synopsis: A deaf woman is stalked by a killer in her home.... [More]
Directed By: Mike Flanagan

#8

28 Days Later (2002)
87%

#8
Adjusted Score: 94188%
Critics Consensus: Kinetically directed by Danny Boyle, 28 Days Later is both a terrifying zombie movie and a sharp political allegory.
Synopsis: A group of misguided animal rights activists free a caged chimp infected with the "Rage" virus from a medical research... [More]
Directed By: Danny Boyle

#7

Alien (1979)
98%

#7
Adjusted Score: 108927%
Critics Consensus: A modern classic, Alien blends science fiction, horror and bleak poetry into a seamless whole.
Synopsis: In deep space, the crew of the commercial starship Nostromo is awakened from their cryo-sleep capsules halfway through their journey... [More]
Directed By: Ridley Scott

#6

Dead Silence (2007)
21%

#6
Adjusted Score: 22878%
Critics Consensus: More tasteful than recent slasher flicks, but Dead Silence is undone by boring characters, bland dialogue, and an unnecessary and obvious twist ending.
Synopsis: After his wife meets a grisly end, Jamie Ashen (Ryan Kwanten) returns to their creepy hometown of Ravens Fair to... [More]
Directed By: James Wan

#5
#5
Adjusted Score: 88330%
Critics Consensus: Though its underlying themes are familiar, House of the Devil effectively sheds the loud and gory cliches of contemporary horror to deliver a tense, slowly building throwback to the fright flicks of decades past.
Synopsis: Desperate to make some money so she can move into a new apartment, college student Samantha Hughes (Jocelin Donahue) takes... [More]
Directed By: Ti West

#1

The Others (2001)
83%

#1
Adjusted Score: 89447%
Critics Consensus: The Others is a spooky thriller that reminds us that a movie doesn't need expensive special effects to be creepy.
Synopsis: Grace (Nicole Kidman), the devoutly religious mother of Anne (Alakina Mann) and Nicholas (James Bentley), moves her family to the... [More]
Directed By: Alejandro Amenábar

#4

Don't Breathe (2016)
88%

#4
Adjusted Score: 103090%
Critics Consensus: Don't Breathe smartly twists its sturdy premise to offer a satisfyingly tense, chilling addition to the home invasion genre that's all the more effective for its simplicity.
Synopsis: Rocky (Jane Levy), Alex and Money are three Detroit thieves who get their kicks by breaking into the houses of... [More]
Directed By: Fede Alvarez

#3

The Shining (1980)
85%

#3
Adjusted Score: 93374%
Critics Consensus: Though it deviates from Stephen King's novel, Stanley Kubrick's The Shining is a chilling, often baroque journey into madness -- exemplified by an unforgettable turn from Jack Nicholson.
Synopsis: Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) becomes winter caretaker at the isolated Overlook Hotel in Colorado, hoping to cure his writer's block.... [More]
Directed By: Stanley Kubrick

#2

Wait Until Dark (1967)
96%

#2
Adjusted Score: 96529%
Critics Consensus: Nail-bitingly tense and brilliantly acted, Wait Until Dark is a compact thriller that makes the most of its fiendishly clever premise.
Synopsis: After a flight back home, Sam Hendrix (Efrem Zimbalist Jr.) returns with a doll he innocently acquired along the way.... [More]
Directed By: Terence Young

#1

The Conjuring (2013)
86%

#1
Adjusted Score: 93985%
Critics Consensus: Well-crafted and gleefully creepy, The Conjuring ratchets up dread through a series of effective old-school scares.
Synopsis: In 1970, paranormal investigators and demonologists Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) and Ed (Patrick Wilson) Warren are summoned to the home of... [More]
Directed By: James Wan

#1
#1
Adjusted Score: 41731%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A retired police detective (Charles Durning) hunts a deranged British seaman out to re-create a baby sitter's (Carol Kane) horror.... [More]
Directed By: Fred Walton

#1

Silent House (2011)
43%

#1
Adjusted Score: 46809%
Critics Consensus: Silent House is more technically proficient and ambitious than most fright-fests, but it also suffers from a disappointing payoff.
Synopsis: Sarah (Elizabeth Olsen) is working with her father (Adam Trese) and uncle (Eric Sheffer Stevens) to renovate an old family... [More]
Directed By: Chris Kentis, Laura Lau

#1
#1
Adjusted Score: 106177%
Critics Consensus: It Comes at Night makes lethally effective use of its bare-bones trappings while proving once again that what's left unseen can be just as horrifying as anything on the screen.
Synopsis: After a mysterious apocalypse leaves the world with few survivors, two families are forced to share a home in an... [More]
Directed By: Trey Edward Shults

#1

The Orphanage (2007)
87%

#1
Adjusted Score: 94026%
Critics Consensus: Deeply unnerving and surprisingly poignant, The Orphanage is an atmospheric, beautifully crafted haunted house horror film that earns scares with a minimum of blood.
Synopsis: Laura (Belén Rueda) has happy memories of her childhood in an orphanage. She convinces her husband to buy the place... [More]
Directed By: J.A. Bayona


Thumbnail image: Everett Collection, Paramount Pictures, Focus Features

Twenty-five years ago today, Thelma and Louise jumped behind the wheel in search of a little freedom — and although the trip didn’t turn out quite the way they’d planned, their movie has enjoyed a far smoother journey, becoming one of the best-reviewed (and most popular) road trip movies of the last quarter-century. In celebration of Thelma and Louise‘s latest milestone, we’ve compiled a list of audience-tested and critic-approved road trip movies that’ll keep you going for hours.


The Blues Brothers (1980) 73%

blues brothers copy
The Journey: A mission from God, of course — and a pretty righteous one at that: Elwood Blues (Dan Aykroyd) and his recently paroled brother, “Joliet” Jake (John Belushi) set out to reassemble one of the mightiest blues bands ever to get their mojo working, all in the name of raising $5,000 to save the orphanage where they were raised.

The Roadblocks: Unfortunately, the brothers embark on their journey with a suspended license, and they aren’t about to slow down for a little inconvenience like the police (or mall pedestrians). Meanwhile, one of Jake’s spurned girlfriends (a bazooka-toting Carrie Fisher) is hot on their tail, and has no intention of letting the Blues Brothers reunite — or, for that matter, letting Jake live. Confined to the highways and byways of Illinois, The Blues Brothers doesn’t cover as much ground as most road movies, but it’s a high-speed trip — and it culminates in one of the most righteous car crashes ever filmed.

Notes from the Road: “Constantly hilarious, with a comic supporting cast to die for.” — Jeffrey M. Anderson, San Francisco Examiner

Watch Trailer


Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006) 91%

borat-rodeo copy
The Journey: A Kazakh celebrity (Sacha Baron Cohen) travels to the United States to make a documentary for the folks back home; soon after arriving, he becomes captivated by the sight of Pamela Anderson and heads across the country to make her his wife. Sexytime! Highfives!

The Roadblocks: Borat is essentially his own roadblock — if he isn’t shocking and/or offending middle Americans with his witless comments about women and minorities, he’s picking an epic, distressingly naked fight with his best friend and producer (Ken Davitian). It will not surprise you to learn that things don’t go according to plan.

Notes from the Road: “Although I knew it was dishonest, cynical, and the ultimate in cheap-shot humor, I laughed more at Borat than at any other film this year. So I guess the joke is on me.” — Peter Keough, Boston Phoenix

Watch Trailer


Easy Rider (1969) 83%

easy rider
The Journey: Flush with the proceeds after selling a bunch of cocaine to their connection (Phil Spector), freewheeling Wyatt (Peter Fonda) and Billy (Dennis Hopper) head east from Los Angeles on their motorcycles, hoping to make it to New Orleans in time for Mardi Gras.

The Roadblocks: It’s the establishment, man. Okay, so they might be biking across the country with drug money stuffed in a tube, but Wyatt and Billy aren’t bad guys. Problem is, their scruffy appearance and relaxed attitude toward local customs have a way of attracting untoward attention from The Man.

Notes from the Road: “This is a glorious widescreen vision of a hot and bothered America, at once beautiful and lost.” — Ian Nathan, Empire

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Grandma (2015) 91%

Grandma Lily Tomlin copy
The Journey: A teenager (Julia Garner) and her grandmother (Lily Tomlin) hit the road together, the former seeking money to pay for an abortion and the latter grieving the recent death of her longterm partner.

The Roadblocks: They’re both broke and the girl needs $850, for starters — and then there’s the complicated tangle of personal relationships that forces its way into their path at seemingly every turn, initiating a series of uncomfortable reckonings along the way.

Notes from the Road:Grandma is a small film, but one with huge things to say about the meaning of family and the value of living on one’s own terms.” — Calvin Wilson, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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It Happened One Night (1934) 99%

it happened one night copy
The Journey: If you’ve ever watched a romantic comedy where the main characters start off hating each other, only to slowly realize that they’re falling in love, you’ve seen the far-reaching effects of the hugely influential It Happened One Night, in which Frank Capra brings his lightest touch to the story of an impetuous heiress (Claudette Colbert) whose botched wedding sends her on the road with a down-on-his-luck reporter (Clark Gable).

The Roadblocks: Screenwriter Robert Riskin pulled out all the stops for Colbert and Gable’s journey, including a series of screwball misunderstandings, the most famous hitchhiking scene in movie history, and an added dash of last-minute wedding excitement in the final act. If its ingredients all seem overly familiar now, it’s because they worked so brilliantly here.

Notes from the Road: “It Happened One Night  is a true classic in every sense of the word, one that withstands the test of time and indeed defies it completely.” — Scott Nash, Three Movie Buffs

Watch Trailer


Little Miss Sunshine (2006) 91%

little miss sunshine copy
The Journey: They’re as hilariously dysfunctional as any family in an American indie film, but say this much for the Hoovers of Albuquerque: When young Olive (Abigail Breslin) finds out she’s a late qualifier for the Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant in Los Angeles, parents Sheryl (Toni Collette) and Richard (Greg Kinnear) pack the whole gang in their aging VW Microbus and head west together.

The Roadblocks: The Hoovers are on a tight 48-hour timetable, for starters; making matters more difficult is their lack of funds, as well as the gloomy presence of Sheryl’s brother (Steve Carell), who recently tried to commit suicide, and Richard’s father (Alan Arkin), whose heroin habit just got him kicked out of a retirement home. And then there’s the matter of that ancient yellow Microbus…

Notes from the Road: “This inspirational, hilariously sad dysfunctional-family-road-trip dramedy offers absolutely everything — except pretension.” — Brian Marder, Hollywood.com

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Midnight Run (1988) 94%

midnight run copy
The Journey: They were far from the first mismatched couple to find adventure on the road, but bounty hunter Jack Walsh (Robert De Niro) and Mafia-crossing accountant Jonathan Mardukas (Charles Grodin) are among the most entertaining to watch. Promised $100,000 and given a strict deadline to get there, Walsh has to get Mardukas from New York to Los Angeles so he can be returned to police custody — but the mobster Mardukas swindled (Dennis Farina) has other ideas.

The Roadblocks: Once Mardukas loudly feigns fear of flying and gets them kicked off their flight to L.A., he and Walsh are forced to embark on a hellish cross-country journey that finds them dodging interference from the mob, a competing bounty hunter (John Ashton), and their own loathing for one another. A sequel is reportedly in the works; here’s hoping the decades in between haven’t softened their mutual disdain/begrudging respect.

Notes from the Road: “When it comes to odd-couple action comedies, this is pretty much the epitome of how to do it.” — Luke Y. Thompson, New Times

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The Motorcycle Diaries (2004) 83%

motorcycle diaries
The Journey: Feckless young Ernesto Guevara (Gael García Bernal) and his skirt-chasing buddy Alberto (Rodrigo de la Serna) set out across South America by motorcycle, seeking to experience the open road (and, in Alberto’s case, its women) before starting work at a leper colony in Peru.

The Roadblocks: As pretty much everyone who watched it already knew, Ernesto grew up to be the revolutionary Che Guevara — and The Motorcycle Diaries dramatizes his political awakening on the trip, sparked by firsthand experience with systemic corruption and a poverty-stricken populace.

Notes from the Road: “You get so caught up in the beauty of the images, and lost in the weathered faces found along the way, you quite forget that you’re traveling with Che Guevara — which is, of course, exactly what the original experience would be.” — Moira MacDonald, Seattle Times

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The Muppet Movie (1979) 88%

the muppet movie copy
The Journey: After being discovered by an agent (Dom DeLuise) while singing “The Rainbow Connection” in his Florida swamp, Kermit the Frog decides to head for Hollywood — and along the way, he meets all the old-school Muppets we know and love.

The Roadblocks: Unfortunately, Kermit also attracts the attention of Doc Hopper (Charles Durning) and his mealy-mouthed sidekick Max (Austin Pendleton), whose frog legs restaurant franchise needs a new spokesman — and who doesn’t take kindly to being spurned by a banjo-playing frog.

Notes from the Road: “Still one of many great reasons to be a movie buff.” — Rory L. Aronsky, Film Threat

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National Lampoon's Vacation (1983) 93%

national lampoon vacation copy
The Journey: Just like in real life, any time a fictional character announces “we’re going to spend some time as a family” to his or her wife and kids, you know trouble lurks just around the corner, and National Lampoon’s Vacation is a perfect example. Desperate to take an old-fashioned family vacation, Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) plans a trip from Chicago to L.A., where they can enjoy Walley World, a.k.a. “America’s Favorite Family Fun Park.”

The Roadblocks: Things go wrong early and often, from the eight-headlighted lemon Clark buys from an unscrupulous car salesman (Eugene Levy) to an ill-advised pit stop at the depressing Kansas homestead of Cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid) and his off-putting clan. It doesn’t help that beneath Clark’s family values exterior lurks the heart of a drooling lech; his panting pursuit of an unnamed beauty (Christie Brinkley) causes almost as many problems as his refusal to ask for directions.

Notes from the Road: “Constantly hilarious, with a comic supporting cast to die for.” — Jeffrey M. Anderson, San Francisco Examiner

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Pee-wee's Big Adventure (1985) 87%

UNSPECIFIED - APRIL 02: Full shot of Pee-Wee Herman as Himself riding bicycle, swinging from vine. (Photo by Peter Sorel/Warner Bros./Getty Images)
The Journey: After refusing to sell his beloved bike to his neighbor Francis (Mark Holton), Pee-Wee (Paul Reubens) discovers that it’s been mysteriously stolen — and sets off on a long, perilous journey after receiving a tip that it’s being held in the basement of the Alamo.

The Roadblocks: Well, for starters, the Alamo doesn’t have a basement. And then there’s the biker gang, and the fire at a pet store, and the former child star in possession of the bicycle… what doesn’t stand between poor Pee-Wee and his bike?

Notes from the Road: “It’s a true original — a comedy maverick that looks and feels like no other movie I know.” — David Steritt, Christian Science Monitor

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Rain Man (1988) 89%

rain man copy
The Journey: A mildly sleazy huckster (Tom Cruise) is shocked to discover, after his father’s death, that he has an older brother (Dustin Hoffman) who inherited almost everything — and who’s autistic. Seeing an opportunity, he heads back to L.A. with his long-lost sibling in an attempt to gain custody.

The Roadblocks: Cruise’s efforts to get back to Los Angeles by plane are thwarted by his brother’s phobia, forcing the two to travel by car (and make regular stops for viewings of The People’s Court). Naturally, the slow journey in close quarters brings the two closer together — and brings up long-buried family secrets.

Notes from the Road: “A fascinating, often very moving, frequently funny film.” — Jay Boyar, Orlando Sentinel

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Sideways (2004) 97%

sideways copy
The Journey: Seeking a respite from his bleak existence — and a way to reconnect with his longtime friend — divorced middle-school English teacher Miles (Paul Giamatti) plans a weeklong excursion through the Santa Barbara wine country with soon-to-be-married Jack (Thomas Haden Church). Miles means for them to play golf and indulge in their shared love of wine, but as in all road trip movies, things don’t exactly turn out the way they’re supposed to.

The Roadblocks: Sideways is full of messy detours and unfortunate events, including a broken nose for Jack, a car crash, and a howling early-morning pursuit by a naked giant (memorably played by Lost’s M.C. Gainey) — but they can all be traced back to one thing: Jack’s fear of commitment and unquenchable thirst for sexual conquest.

Notes from the Road: “From its first minutes, maybe even from the credits, you know you are seeing something very special.” –Terry Lawson, Detroit Free Press

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Thelma & Louise (1991) 85%

thelma and louise copy
The Journey: Looking for a little break from their workaday existences, best pals Thelma (Geena Davis) and Louise (Susan Sarandon) get in Louise’s ’66 convertible T-bird and hit the open road for what’s supposed to be a simple two-day vacation.

The Roadblocks: Men, mostly. After Louise fatally intervenes in an attempted rape on Thelma, the duo turn fugitive — and their journey is further complicated when a run-in with a hunky young thief (Brad Pitt) leaves them caught for cash and stuck in an increasingly desperate spot.

Notes from the Road: “Their adventures, while tinged with the fatalism that attends any crime spree, have the thrilling, life-affirming energy for which the best road movies are remembered.” — Janet Maslin, New York Times

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And Your Mother Too (2001) 92%

Y Tu Mam· TambiÈn (2001 Mexico) Directed by Alfonso CuarÛn Shown from left: GarcÌa Bernal (as Julio Zapata), Maribel Verd˙ (as Luisa CortÈs)
The Journey: A pair of friends (Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna) share a coming-of-age adventure in late 1990s Mexico with a cousin’s estranged wife (Maribel Verdú) after their girlfriends leave town.

The Roadblocks: To begin with, the idyllic secluded beach they’ve promised their female companion doesn’t exist — which actually isn’t as big a problem as the hornet’s nest of secrets and repressed desires that’s knocked over after they all start fooling around. It’s the end of an era for Mexican politics, and for our protagonist’s relationships.

Notes from the Road: “Easily one of the sexiest and funniest films about class struggle ever made.” –Manohla Dargis, L.A. Weekly

Watch Trailer

 

Not since Charlton Heston played a Latino drug officer in Touch of Evil has a giant of American cinema so, ahem, convincingly inhabited a Mexican on screen like Will Ferrell in this week’s Casa de mi Padre. Making his Spanish-language debut, Ferrell plays slow-witted black-sheep-of-the-clan Armando Alvarez, whose swarthy brother Raul (Diego Luna) is taking the family into the drug trade against the nefarious La Onza (Gael García Bernal). Meanwhile, Raul’s fiance, the beautiful and tragic Sonia (Genesis Rodriguez), has fallen for Armando, a wedding turns into a hyperreal bloodbath, and a mystical white panther stalks the patently fake jungle sets dispensing oracle wisdom. The movie is an affectionate satire of the unintentionally comic Mexican telenovelas, with a heavy dose of bad Spaghetti Westerns, overly sincere performances, and even a touch of Jodorowsky strangeness. We sat down with the star recently for a chat about the film…


This movie has everything: action, romance, surrealism, panthers…

Will Ferrell: [Laughs] Yeah.

As I understand, you’d always wanted to do a Spanish-language movie. At what point did it become this one?

You know, I had the general idea and then it really was Andrew Steele, the writer, who just kind of created the whole story, the whole setting. When we talked about it I was kind of like, “Andrew, I don’t know what exactly but I’m sure it’s gotta be some epic story, probably with a love element and some sort of melodramatic tale.” But yeah, he kind of turned it into this story and added the narco traficante element to it. Then when we added Matt Piedmont, the director, to it, he kind of added the surrealism element with the way he shot things and finding and using old lenses at Panavision to shoot on, shooting it anamorphic and not processing the film and stuff like that. It just kind of kept getting… the simple structure was built and then more and more layers of schlack were added.

That being the technical term.

Yeah. [Laughs]

Were you, like Matt, a fan of the telenovelas?

I had seen telenovelas just, you know, cruising around the TV and had always thought to myself, “God, these things are kind of fascinating.” They were so over the top and had this weird style to them; they were very bizarre. So that was where the initial concept came from, but then Andrew, those guys, they know their cinema really well and they were kind of connoisseurs of bad Mexican cinema from 1969 through the middle ’70s — you know, a lot of these Spaghetti Westerns with the jump cuts and the continuity issues and things like that.

So we’re not talking about Sergio Leone-level stuff here.

Noooooo.

More like the kind of movies you’d accidentally see on late night TV…

Late at night on TV, poorly dubbed in English. [Laughs] So they started talking about what if we added those elements, and I thought — that’s amazing. But I can’t say that I knew that world so well. Between Matt and Andrew, they really gave it the style that it has.

When you committed to do this, had you made the decision to speak fluently in Spanish?

Yeah.

Genesis Rodriguez was very full of praise for your… cadence.

[Laughs] That’s very nice.

She’s the expert, having been in telenovelas.

She would know. She’s a pro. And Diego [Luna], too, actually did telenovelas ’til he was 19, I guess, which I didn’t know. We didn’t realize that he saw it as an opportunity to make fun of what he had done as an actor.

He didn’t think you were serious about the movie, right? Like it was some kind of practical joke?

Yeah. He even sat down with us — we all had drinks in Venice and he was like, “Are you really gonna learn Spanish?” And I’m like, “Yeah.” Then he said, “Alright, well… I guess I’m in.” [Laughs] But when I had the initial idea I always thought, “If I’m gonna do this, the joke won’t be that I speak Spanish poorly.” The joke has to be that you’re sitting in the theater, watching it, and I come up on screen speaking Spanish and a couple of things go through your head, like: “How long is this gonna last? Is it gonna last the whole movie? There’s no way… oh my god, I think it is.” And the third point being, “And he sounds pretty good, I think.” [Laughs]

‘Cause that gag would’ve gotten old in about two minutes.

Exactly. That’s a sketch. So I knew that if I was gonna do this I had to at least sound as authentic as I could. That’s why he hedged our bet a little bit with the family, with the father and Diego commenting at times, “You speak so weird” and “You’re not the smart one.”, Also, we knew that for native speakers I would sound decent, but a little off. So I tirelessly worked with a translator for about six weeks out from shooting, and then every day, on the set, we’d drive together and go over the lines, and then drive home together and go over the next day’s lines.

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src=”http://content9.flixster.com/site/10/24/96/10249667_ori.jpg” width=”630″ height=”255″ />

Does Matt speak Spanish?

No. Matt doesn’t speak Spanish, Andrew doesn’t speak Spanish, so… [Laughs]

That must have been an interesting set. Genesis was saying that Gael and Diego would sometimes ad-lib and you’d be left with a kind of blank stare…

[Laughs]

How did that work? I mean, you obviously have your particular comedic style, so how did that mesh when you’re speaking Spanish? Did that mean you had to find a different style of comedy when you were doing it?

You know it was almost, in a weird way, like being a silent film actor — [laughs] — or what I imagine that would have been like, in the sense that I knew that it would be all I could do just to memorize what my lines were and get them down with authenticity and emphasis in the right places, so it sounded like I was speaking the right way. That would be hard enough. I just knew that it was not like I was gonna get all that down and then start fluently improvising. So I just kind of found moments: in reactions, non-verbal, physical things — like the moment where I help Genesis up on the horse, and the moment before that where I’m talking with Efren [Ramirez] and Adrian [Martinez] and I’m rolling the cigarette and we’re laughing. I couldn’t get the cigarette to work at all, everything was just spilling out and I just went with it.

Which became a running gag.

Yep. We just kept running with it, and finding these through lines; they were the things that were more improvised, as opposed to actual dialogue.

Will we ever see that missing reel of you wrestling with the white panther?

[Laughs] No. I don’t think there’ll be any wrestling. We always had that — the lost footage. The other character, the other kind of personality in the movie, is that it’s just bad. It’s a bad movie, so we wanted… we just knew we didn’t have the time or resources to choreograph a scene with a puppet panther.

Where did you find these puppets? There’s one taxidermy that looks like he was found on the side of a road.

The one that moves actually came from Henson.

The animatronic one?

Yeah. Those people were nice enough to want to be involved for very little money. [Laughs] And then Piedmont, he loves his set design and production design and finding strange taxidermy and things like that. Kevin Kavanaugh, the production designer, who’s actually an old friend from growing up in Orange County, he was so scrappy and innovative and he came up with a lot of that stuff. That set that Kevin built, of the lake, that’s one of the funniest moments to me — where Genesis is like, “It’s the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen” and it just looks terrible.

It’s like a sound stage version of a sound stage set.

[Laughs] Right, right. That’s what I like about this movie.

But I like that it’s mixed with some quite impressive cinematography elsewhere.

Yes. And at times, the movie looks big and expensive, it’s crazy.

Since they’ve done several films together, did Gael and Diego come as some kind of package deal?

[Laughs] Yeah. I mean they’re good friends. I think they just talked to each other and were like, “Hey, we have such a history together on screen — let’s do this together and kind of make fun of that.” I think there were so many meta opportunities for them they were just, “Let’s do this.” [Laughs]

I get the impression that those guys are amusing, but I was surprised at how funny they really are in this.

You know, it’s funny: they’re pretty impressive guys, because they’re really funny in English — they’re sarcastic, you know; just when we talk in English they have a great sense of humor. It doesn’t surprise me, though, that they were funny, because they’re so committed. I always found that to be the case when I was on Saturday Night Live — the best hosts, a lot of the time, were the straight dramatic actors, ’cause they would just commit to scenes wholeheartedly without saying “Give me a funny line here.” They knew that if they just trusted the context it would play funny, and sure enough those were some of the funnier shows. These guys, they instinctively knew that as well.

Genesis plays it very straight, too — which makes her funny.

Yeah, I think so too. That scene on the horseback where she talks about her upbringing and living on the streets and everything like that, it’s just delivered so dramatically that it makes me laugh.

I read some talk that you and Adam [McKay] are working on a sequel to Step Brothers. Will that be your next project together, with him directing?

Yeah, I think so. In fact, I’m calling him right now, after this interview, to let him know that you’re the third or fourth journalist who’s said “Step Brothers 2 — come on.”

John C. Reilly will be back, I’m assuming.

Oh, absolutely. We already have a story beated out — it’s just a question of whether we can write it in time and get it ready for a certain slot in the fall, and that sort of thing.

I think seeing you in two together in the Tim and Eric movie whet the appetite again.

I know! John’s the best and I love working with him. We’re dying to do something again together.


Casa de mi Padre is in theaters this week.


Edinburgh 2009

The Edinburgh Film Festival has come to a close and Rotten Tomatoes thought we’d make a traditional look back over all of the films playing at this year’s fest and present to you – in strictly alphabetical order – our 10 must-sees. As a public-facing festival, Edinburgh’s selection attempts to combine the accessible with the artistic, and delivers a collection of movies both diverse and outstanding. From spoof comedies to harsh drama, from in-depth documentaries to cutting-edge animation, Edinburgh dares to be different and programmes a festival that’s at turns youthful and experienced, offering movies for just about any cinemagoer imaginable. And for us, it’s two weeks of life in dark rooms — just how we like it.

Edinburgh 2009

Black DynamiteMichael Jai White is silencing the jive talkers in this hilarious spoof of Blaxsploitation capers of the 70s. It really is the grindhouse that Grindhouse should have been, as White — the titular Black Dynamite — attempts to foil a plot to deal drugs to orphans that goes all the way to the White House. The jokes wear a little thin towards the end, but for the large part it’ll have you in stitches, and Jai White revels in the period humour as booms enter shots, actors miss cues and them poor orphans are all drugged up. – Joe Utichi
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Edinburgh 2009

Le DonkShane Meadows and Paddy Considine are best known for their thoughtful, considered drama collaborations like Dead Man’s Shoes and A Room for Romeo Brass, so news of a mockumentary shot in five days with Considine taking on the character of a Northern roadie called Le Donk was ever so slightly worrying. We needn’t have taken the time to fret, though, because the result is riotously hysterical, and Considine revels in creating a character so desperate for attention that you can’t help but fall in love with him. Le Donk is shifting gear for the Arctic Monkeys and brings along a documentary crew for the week while he tries to introduce the world to a rapping prodigy he’s discovered. Meadows’ forte is in finding real heart at the centre of any story, and that continues here, for while the journey is brilliantly funny, you also get a sense of the character as a human being. We want more. – JU

Edinburgh 2009

Exam – From Stuart Hazeldine, who’s already making Hollywood waves working with Alex Proyas and scripting Paradise Lost, Exam is a modest British sci-fi thriller set in one room as a group of candidates from all sorts of racial and social backgrounds compete for a mysterious job. A blank sheet of paper sits in front of them and they’re told to answer the question on it. Over 80 minutes of real time, we enjoy their interaction as they try to figure out their situation and work with and against one another. It’s the kind of small-scale/big-impact sci-fi flick we don’t see enough of these days and it’s simply gripping from start to finish. It transcends its modest budget to deliver a slickly shot and incredibly entertaining experience. Expect big things from Hazeldine, and cross fingers and toes that Exam finds a distributor willing to give it a big release – you won’t want to miss it. – JU
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Edinburgh 2009

Fish Tank
Red Road director Andrea Arnold proves she’s no one-trick pony with this stunning follow-up set on an Essex estate. Newcomer Katie Jarvis plays 15-year-old Mia, a would-be street dancer with a neglectful mother and a hilariously cheeky little sister. When charismatic Connor (Hunger’s Michael Fassbender) starts dating her mother, Mia’s world changes — but is it for the better? The ambiguity of their relationship drives both plot and characterisation forward in this beautifully observed, bitterly funny and utterly involving drama that marks Arnold as a true British talent. Watch out for a winning turn from up-and-comer Harry Treadaway, too. – Anna Smith
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Edinburgh 2009

For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism – It wouldn’t be right if a site about film critics didn’t include a documentary about film critics in its top 10. A critic himself, Gerald Peary goes on a journey of the American film writer, starting right at the beginning and presenting a detailed history of the art. Along the way, he gives faces to the faceless critics of newspapers, TV shows and websites and profiles them on what made them critics. Incredibly eye opening, and featuring contributions from the likes of Roger Ebert and Harry Knowles, it’s a documentary well worth watching. – JU

Edinburgh 2009

HumpdayLynn Shelton‘s hilarious comedy is also the winner of our second Rotten Tomatoes Critical Consensus Award, and joins the powerful company of Let the Right One In. Mark Duplass and The Blair Witch Project‘s Joshua Leonard star as a pair of straight friends for whom a drunken night turns into a harsh reality as they realise they’ve talked each other into having sex with one another for a local amateur art-porn festival. Deftly exploring masculinity and homosexuality as well as relationships both intimate and not, Shelton’s indie is a real treat. – JU
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Edinburgh 2009

Mary and Max – This delightfully offbeat Australian stop-motion animation deserves to be a huge hit. Beautifully narrated by Barry Humphries, it tells the story of Mary Daisy Dinkle, a lonely Australian girl with a mother who spends all day “testing sherry” and a father who lives in his shed. After pulling a random address out of a New York phone box, Mary writes to Max Jerry Horovitz, an equally lonely middle-aged American. An unlikely pair of penpals is born as Mary and Max begin to share the intimate details of their lives. The animation is terrific, and the visual gags work just as hard as the verbal ones. Themes become darker as the film progresses, but Mary and Max never loses its sense of hope or Amelie-style charm. A must-see. – AS
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Edinburgh 2009

Moon – Sam Rockwell stars in a futuristic sci-fi made by David Bowie’s son: what’s not to like? Turns out Duncan Jones (famously born Zowie Bowie) has inherited his father’s talent: this debut is an assured, inventive film that makes good use of its tiny cast. Rockwell is Sam Bell, an astronaut working solo on a space station on the Moon. It’s a lonely life, but his sentient computer Gerty (voiced by Kevin Spacey) keeps him company and tends to his needs. Their odd couple friendship sets the film off to an amusing start, but events turn sinister when Sam discovers his doppleganger on the moon. All sorts of possibilities spring to mind — time travel, cloning, twins, the lot — in this intriguing thriller that pays tribute to cult sci-fis such as 2001: A Space Odyssey. – AS
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Edinburgh 2009

Rudo and CursiGael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna are reunited on the big screen eight years after Y tu mama tambien introduced them to international audiences and made a hot name out of director Alfonso Cuaron. This time it’s his brother Carlos behind the camera (he scripted the previous film) but the chemistry is still there as the pair play brothers who are plucked out of the Mexican slums to become overnight soccer superstars. But the fun comes when the duo start enjoying their manic lives a little too readily and tensions start to form between them. – JU
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Edinburgh 2009

The September Issue – No-one in the fashion world commands more fascination and influence than Anna Wintour. The feared editor of US Vogue was the inspiration for Meryl Streep’s character in The Devil Wears Prada, yet the real woman has remained shrouded in mystery — until now. Filmmaker RJ Cutler follows Wintour from the office to fashion shows, shoots and meetings as she plans the September issue of Vogue. The result is a fascinating portrait of a blunt, decisive and ambitious woman. And when Wintour ruthlessly kills pages commissioned by creative director Grace Coddington, the dynamic between the two strong-willed women becomes the centrepiece of an increasingly revealing documentary. – AS
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Diego Luna

Diego Luna is bristling at RT’s suggestion he pick just five favourite films. “It’s really unfair to have to say only five films,” he complains as he picks his final choice. “This barely covers my life; I’m up to about the age of 16 by the end of the list!”

The 29-year-old has been acting since before 16 in his home country of Mexico, but burst onto the international stage aged 22 as part of the trio of leads in Alfonso Cuaron‘s Y Tu Mama Tambien. That film marked his first collaboration with Gael Garcia Bernal (see his five favourites here), a partnership that continues – this time with Cuaron’s brother Carlos at the helm – with Rudo and Cursi, out now in UK cinemas.

Indeed, the Cuaron connection is another sticking point for Luna. “I’d also want to say that when I saw Children of Men, for me it wasn’t only a fantastic film, but it was an important film for me because not only do I know the guy but I’ve worked with him, collaborated with him. Every time I have something I show it to Alfonso and hear what he has to say. I’d actually say that film is, for me, the most important film today because it’s a relationship I’m still working on and learning from.”

But what of his final list? Read on to find out more.


Diego Luna

Bambi

Bambi

“It’s so corny, but it was the first film I saw and the thing about the mother hit me really badly. I remember it was a good connection with my sister, who was fifteen years older. I was about 5 or 6.”

Click on a thumbnail below.

Bambi
Bambi

The Bicycle Thief
Bicycle Thief

Cinema Paradiso
Cinema Paradiso

Amarcord
Amarcord

The Big Lebowski
Big Lebowski


Diego Luna

The Bicycle Thief

The Bicycle Thief

“I’m still kind of psychoanalysing myself but my first shock was with the relationship between the mother and then the father. To find out that your parents are not perfect and in fact they do behave sometimes like thieves to protect you, it was powerful.”

Click on a thumbnail below.

Bambi
Bambi

The Bicycle Thief
Bicycle Thief

Cinema Paradiso
Cinema Paradiso

Amarcord
Amarcord

The Big Lebowski
Big Lebowski


Diego Luna

Cinema Paradiso

Cinema Paradiso

“Three Italians! I remember crying really badly with that when all the films in the projection room are on fire. I remember that also it was a film that when I was really young I could see myself reflected in the younger part of the film. And you can grow with the film, you know. When you become more mature you find a lot of sadness in the story of the old guy while he’s watching at the beginning and the end.”

Click on a thumbnail below.

Bambi
Bambi

The Bicycle Thief
Bicycle Thief

Cinema Paradiso
Cinema Paradiso

Amarcord
Amarcord

The Big Lebowski
Big Lebowski


Diego Luna

Amarcord

Amarcord

“Still with the Italians, I’m sorry! With many things in life you’re there because there’s a cute girl around that you want to go out with and you end up finding magic. You end up not caring about the girl but wanting to stay there because of what you found. That happened with Amarcord to me. I really thought a lot about creating images and the connection that cinema had with theatre in a way. That film feels a little bit like theatre. I lived all my life watching theatre and it’s when I found the connection with what I was watching and could do in my life.”

Click on a thumbnail below.

Bambi
Bambi

The Bicycle Thief
Bicycle Thief

Cinema Paradiso
Cinema Paradiso

Amarcord
Amarcord

The Big Lebowski
Big Lebowski


Diego Luna

The Big Lebowski

The Big Lebowski

“This was a really important movie for me as a teenager. It was a movie I could have fun with, that I thought was a piece of art and that I thought was doing something modern that had to do with my life. Cinema until then, the ones I really appreciated were done by guys that lived in a different reality from mine and were talking about something in the past that had connections with what I was living but I would have to make an effort to be part of the story and make it work for my reality. With the Coen brothers I thought I was looking at something which was an idea from the day before, you know, and also the commitment they had to their point of view was amazing. I felt excited and it was the perfect film to fall in love with when I was young.”

Click on a thumbnail below.

Bambi
Bambi

The Bicycle Thief
Bicycle Thief

Cinema Paradiso
Cinema Paradiso

Amarcord
Amarcord

The Big Lebowski
Big Lebowski


Rudo and Cursi is out now in UK cinemas.

Gael Garcia Bernal

Gael Garcia Bernal may be Mexico’s best known acting export of recent years, having made a powerful debut in Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu‘s Amores perros in 2000. A year later he co-starred with Diego Luna (read his five favourites here) in Alfonso Cuaron‘s Y tu mama tambien. After a busy career which has seen him work with the likes of Pedro Almodovar, Michel Gondry and Fernando Meirelles, he reteams with Luna, and a different Cuaron — Carlos — for Rudo and Cursi.

Of his five favourite films, Bernal had an easier time picking them than his co-star — and curiously they’ve both chosen a Disney classic as their first choice — and told us, “These films are definitely a little glimpse on who I am. I could keep going forever to give the full picture. These reflect not only my life but also the work I do.”


Gael Garcia Bernal

Dumbo

Dumbo

“It was the first film I saw and through it I discovered cinema. Simple as that.”

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Dumbo
Dumbo

Paris, Texas
Paris, Texas

Rocco and His Brothers
Rocco…

The Mirror
The Mirror

Memories of Underdevelopment
Memories…


Gael Garcia Bernal

Paris, Texas

Paris, Texas

“It was one of the most intense ways of getting into the adult world and I saw it when I was really young. I couldn’t believe that there were stories that were so close to reality. It felt like that, it felt very real.”

Click on a thumbnail below.

Dumbo
Dumbo

Paris, Texas
Paris, Texas

Rocco and His Brothers
Rocco…

The Mirror
The Mirror

Memories of Underdevelopment
Memories…


Gael Garcia Bernal

Rocco and His Brothers

Rocco and His Brothers

“It’s amazing. It’s a story about a family and the whole human drama is there. It’s fantastic.”

Click on a thumbnail below.

Dumbo
Dumbo

Paris, Texas
Paris, Texas

Rocco and His Brothers
Rocco…

The Mirror
The Mirror

Memories of Underdevelopment
Memories…


Gael Garcia Bernal

The Mirror

The Mirror

“I think that’s when I discovered that the juxtaposition of images is what cinema is all about.”

Click on a thumbnail below.

Dumbo
Dumbo

Paris, Texas
Paris, Texas

Rocco and His Brothers
Rocco…

The Mirror
The Mirror

Memories of Underdevelopment
Memories…


Gael Garcia Bernal

Memories of Underdevelopment

Memories of Underdevelopment

“It’s a beautiful, beautiful movie. A philosophical introspection on the nature of revolution and change and deciding to be on one side or the other. And it’s about how the outside world makes you decide how to step on one side or the other. It’s possibly one of the most eye-opening films i can ever recommend to anyone because it gives you a glimpse on an internal struggle.”

Click on a thumbnail below.

Dumbo
Dumbo

Paris, Texas
Paris, Texas

Rocco and His Brothers
Rocco…

The Mirror
The Mirror

Memories of Underdevelopment
Memories…


Rudo and Cursi is out now in UK cinemas.

RT Interview: Director Carlos Cuaron on Rudo and Cursi

Brother of Children Of Men helmer Alfonso Cuaron and Oscar-nominated screenwriter of sizzling Mexican roadtripper Y Tu Mama Tambien, Carlos Cuaron makes his directorial debut with comedy drama Rudo and Cursi. He inked the script, too, which sees Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna as rival siblings going head to head as professional footballers. Rudo is the tough-guy goalkeeper. Cursi is the happy-go-lucky goal-machine. Something has to give. Powered by their energetic performances, it’s spiky, frantic, funny and, according to Cuaron, nothing to do with football…


Rudo and Cursi

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Are Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna any good at football in real life?

Carlos Cuaron: I cannot say they are the worst players… but they are not as good as Rudo and Cursi! We all play in the same Saturday league, although they don’t play that often because they’re always working or touring. They used to play in a team that I founded 23 years ago. We just have fun.

How much of the salty banter between Gael and Diego is ab-libbed?

CC: It’s all scripted. There’s very little improv, because we didn’t need it. Maybe only two or three bits. I was looking for naturalness and the dynamic these two guys have together is just amazing.

Why did you decide not to shoot the football scenes?

CC: When I was writing the script, I knew didn’t want to make a sports movie. I was very clear that I wanted to make a sibling rivalry story. So when I was writing the script, the football was getting in the way of the drama. One day, I saw Michael Haneke’s Funny Games, which is probably the most violent film I’ve ever seen — but the violence is off camera. When I finished watching the film, I said, ‘Hey, that’s what I have to do.’ Haneke gave me this solution.

Rudo and Cursi

Gael Garcia Bernal in Rudo and Cursi

Why haven’t been any great football films?

CC: Sports like baseball or baseball are easy to dramatise, because all of them have a pause and that helps with the tension. Football never stops. I’m a football fan. I believe in the beauty of the game. If you are a fan, you have two choices. Go to the stadium, where you see the whole beauty of it. Or stay at home, watch the beautiful moves on the slo-mo cameras. Don’t go to the cinema, because you won’t see it there.

So did you use the penalty kicks as your action scenes?

CC: Exactly. The only moment football really stops is with a penalty kick — and that is a moment that is really dramatic. A penalty kick becomes a Western duel. It’s two guys facing each other. Destiny and potential death, whether metaphorical or literal. That’s why in the penalty kick at the end of the film, I shot it like an homage to the Sergio Leone Westerns I saw when I was a kid, especially The Good, The Bad And The Ugly.

Your brother, Alfonso, produced Rudo and Cursi. What do you think is his best film?

CC: I think Children Of Men is just amazing. I’m not a Harry Potter fan but I enjoyed Azkaban. I did Y Tu Mama Tambien with him and I think it’s a beautiful movie. But when he says that A Little Princess is his most personal film, I know that it is. It was our first feature. Whenever we talk about it, I tell him, ‘We were so unconscious. We knew shit, man!’ I didn’t even know how scripts were written! I hope I could do that again. But how can you recapture that freshness? I think Francois Truffaut said that a director’s first film is his best because it is his purest. And that’s probably true.

What’s next for you? Something in Hollywood, maybe?

CC: I have an agent in Hollywood and he’s looking for material. If I get the offer and I feel I relate to that material, I will do it. I would love to do a horror film, a thriller, a tearjerker… I like diversity. I would just like to sustain my sense of humour!

Rudo and Cursi is out in the UK today.

The Edinburgh International Film Festival is well underway in the Scottish city, screening hundreds of brand new films and cramming A-listers into posh hotel suites. This year, Rotten Tomatoes is proud to be an official media partner of the festival, and we’ll be presenting an award to one of the films in the programme. Click here for more information.

Edinburgh Castle

The festival has, in the past, played home to the world premiere of Serenity and the European first-show for Clerks II. Its programme is open to the public, and provides a wide variety of home-grown, European, American and international cinema. Last year’s festival saw two of the freshest movies of the year play to UK audiences for the first time – Knocked Up and Ratatouille – and they were joined by the indie likes of Hallam Foe and French warbler Les Chansons d’Amour.

In short, there’s something for everyone of every age, gender and nationality, and it’s probably one of the most relaxed and, in turn, exciting festivals on the calendar. It’s also a good place to start or join in that ever-exciting early awards buzz, and with that in mind we thought it’d be a good idea to let you know what we think of the films on display so you can add them to your wish-list.

We’ve picked twenty interesting films from the programme so far to tell you all about. If you didn’t make it to the festival, this is your guide to the hot films to look out for in the coming months!

The Edge of Love

Set in London at the beginning of the Second World War, The Edge of Love revolves around charmingly scruffy poet Dylan Thomas (played by Matthew Rhys), famed for his intense, romantic verse, and the two loves of his life – wife Caitlin (Sienna Miller) and childhood sweetheart Vera (Keira Knightley).

The material lets the talented ensemble produce career best work; Knightley, despite an initially jarring Welsh accent, is pitch perfect as the slightly naive but banterous Vera, whilst Miller impresses hugely with her portrayal of an emotionally damaged, promiscuous pleasure-seeker.

It’s all fairly depressing, and not entirely convincing, with the spiralling self-destruction on show dredging up all the ‘tortured poet and his muse’ clich�s found in a million bad TV literary adaptations. The result is a well-intentioned but ultimately unsuccessful stab as serious, romantic drama that is not as clever or affecting as it thinks it is. Orlando Parfitt

Summer

Robert Carlyle makes a welcome return to form in Summer, an intelligent and brilliantly-acted family drama. The Scot plays Shaun, an embittered middle aged man who spends much of his time reluctantly caring for his wheelchair bound best friend Daz. The film goes onto examine what bought him to this point in his life, uncovering years of misfortune, bad decisions and an uncaring establishment. Shaun then looks back with rose-tinted glasses at his youth and yearns for the freedom’s of his salad days, before his troubles began. Fairly bleak to-to-be-sure, but intensely moving and powerful too, thanks to the emotionally resonant central performances. OP

Donkey Punch

With Donkey Punch, you get two great movies for the price of one; a brilliantly set-up, marvellously tense teen thriller, and a barmy, magnificently over-the-top slasher horror. It’s just a shame they’re shoe-horned together in the same film.

We begin with a trio of girls from Leeds, Northern England, on holiday in Mallorca and getting ready for a night on the tiles. Eventually they meet up with four good-looking men who persuade them to continue their night on a yacht they’ve ‘borrowed’ from the harbour master.

Things suddenly take a turn for the nightmarish however when one of the men delivers the donkey punch of the title (we won’t reveal what it is, but it’s kind of disgusting). She drops dead, and now the lads must try and get rid of the body and calm down the two remaining girls.

It’s a brilliant set-up, but suddenly a new film cranks into action, as the girls begin picking off the lads one-by-one in increasingly bizarre, over-the-top and hilarious ways. Those with a strong stomach should still definitely seek out Donkey Punch – a refreshing, if maddeningly schizophrenic antidote Hollywood norm. OP

Mum and Dad

Very rarely does RT get shocked, sickened or appalled at the cinema these days. This little indie horror film at Edinburgh turned out to have one of the highest concentrations of sheer wrongness we’ve ever seen – in a good way.

Mum and Dad revolves around airport cleaner and Romanian immigrant Lena who, one night, after a series of misadventures, finds herself unable to get back home. ‘Luckily’ her seemingly-happy-go-lucky colleague Birdie offers her a bed for night with her family. Thinking her troubles are over, at least in the short term, Lena accepts, but the invitation turns out to be a one way ticket to a hellishly violent, sadistic suburban hell.

Birdie’s sinister ‘family’ includes ‘Mum’ — a barmy, torture-obsessed housewife whose sadistic deeds are made all the more shocking by her maternal pretentions — and ‘Dad’, a fat, greasy sexual predator who wears a party hat. So begins a nightmarish journey for Lena as she is forced to abandon all humanity to escape this twisted family unit.

if you’re a hardcore horror fan and have a strong constitution — and have a healthy disregard for family values – then you should check this out, just don’t say we didn’t warn you! OP

Elite Squad

A deserved winner of the Golden Bear in Berlin this summer, Elite Squad, Jose Padilha‘s testosterone-fuelled actioner revolves around Nascimento, commanding officer of BOPE, the hard-as-nails paramilitary wing of Rio’s police force entrusted with keeping order in the cities drug-cursed favelas.

Macho and ultra-violent, the director defiantly take sides in the drug war through blaming both drug dealers and their rich clients for the violence and social problems their trade creates. However Elite Squad is more even handed than some have suggested, with Padilha not shying from showing the brutality of BOPEs methods and the widespread corruption in the police force. OP

The Wackness

An amusing exercise in ’90s nostalgia, The Wackness is anything but wack…

It’s New York in 1994; Cobain has just shot himself, Biggie and Tupac are still friends and Giuliani has only just been elected mayor. Experiencing it all is Luke (played by former child star Josh Peck) a self-confessed loser in his last year at high school – and also a part-time pot dealer.

We meet him in the office of one of his clients – and best friend – Dr. Squires (Ben Kingsley), a self-medicating psychiatrist. The film then follows the pair through one long, hot, life-changing summer.

It’s the often hilarious script that stays in the mind. Kingsley generally gets the best lines (when Luke tells him he feels down, he asks “is it because of Kurt Cobain?”), and despite a wavering New York accent, shows a real flair for comedy. OP

Standard Operating Procedure

Standard Operating Procedure is essential viewing, but often difficult to watch. Master documentary maker Errol Morris (who won an Oscar for his Robert McNamara interview The Fog of War) sits down with (almost) all of the prison guards responsible for the sickening scenes of prisoner humiliation and torture that emerged from Abu Ghraib prison in the aftermath of the Iraq war.

You may find Morris’ empathy with his subjects, almost all of whom show little remorse for their heinous acts, hard to bear, but it’s arguable that by simply letting these individuals have their say they damn themselves far more than any liberal commentator could. Documentary at its most powerful and timely. OP

Timecrimes

Imagine the basic conceit of Groundhog Day — a man is forced to relive the same day over-and-over again – re-imagined as an atmospheric, jolly creepy Spanish horror film and you’ll be somewhere near to Timecrimes.

This superbly sinister effort follows Hector — an ordinary suburban guy who one night glimpses a naked woman through the trees. He goes outside to investigate, but finds himself attacked by a rather angry and aggressive man with a bandage head.

The movie is at its most effective in the opening scenes in the woods, with director Nacho Vigalondo proving adapt at conjuring scares and making guys with bandaged heads look very creepy indeed. Timecrimes, along with the similarly well-produced Spanish-horror-thriller [Rec], proves the Iberian peninsula a fertile breeding ground for brilliantly made frighteners with brains. OP

Somers Town

After the success of This is England, Shane Meadows returns with Somers Town, a smaller-scale but still hugely affecting film again revolving around adolescents on the margins of society.

Thomas Turgoose (spectacular as the young skinhead in England) plays Tomo, a teenager from Nottingham who — for reasons that are never explained — arrives by train in London despite not knowing a soul and having nowhere to go. After he’s mugged and loses all his money, he befriends Marek, a Polish boy living with his builder father. They soon become close friends, and both lust after the hot French waitress who works in their local cafe.

It’s a simple, almost plotless story, but one that is made immensely powerful by the characteristically superb and naturalistic performances. The simple shooting style – the film is shot in black and white and features little camera movement – amplifies the bonhomie and natural chemistry of the two young leads as they embark on a series of hilarious scrapes. OP

Blood Car

A spectacularly silly, amusing and gory examination of the world’s problems with fossil fuels, Blood Car is set to become a cult favourite.

Set in the near future – with cars rendered almost non-existent by the scarcity of oil – this low budget effort centres around Archie; an ultra environmentally conscious vegan kindergarten teacher who has been trying to build a car that runs on vegetable juice.

One day, with the car engine refusing to run on the fauna-based liquid, he accidently cuts his hand, a drop of blood dripping into the contraption and immediately starting the motor. The result? Green fingered Archie has inadvertently invented a car that runs on human blood.

It’s a hilariously dark stuff that feels like it could have evolved from a Grindhouse fake trailer. A deliciously tasteless scene towards the end of the film, featuring a trigger-happy government agent and Archie’s kindergarten class, is worth the price of admission alone. OP Faintheart

The Edinburgh Film Festival drew to a close at the weekend with the world premiere of Faintheart, a sweet and sentimental romantic comedy set in the world of Viking re-enactments.

Faintheart revolves around Richard (Eddie Marsan), an overgrown kid who is far happier brandishing his broad-sword in battle than he is in facing up to family responsibilities at home. When he misses his father-in-law’s funeral in favour of a Viking brawl, wife Cath (Jessica Hynes) kicks him out, leading our hero on a quest of the heart as he struggles to win her back with the help of his Norse chums.

It’s charming stuff, played for laughs by a uniformly excellent cast and the script is chock-full of comic gems, laughing along with its subjects without ever actually poking fun at them. The result is a fine family film that is sure to leave a smile on your face. Chris Tilly

Man on Wire

Philippe Petit‘s successful 1974 attempt to cross the gap between the Twin Towers on a tightrope is documented in this kinetic film from James Marsh as a fast-paced caper about a charismatic Frenchman’s drive to do something outrageously necessary. From the moment the Man on Wire starts we’re introduced to Petit as a man with passion and belief who is convinced that these two buildings were built for him to cross.

What follows is an examination of the method behind the madness, as the sheer endurance trial that was the planning of the event is shared through Petit and his key collaborators. He spent 45 minutes on wire, but rigging it, sneaking the rigging into the building and planning the entire operation took years, stretching right back to a news article he read in a dentist’s office about the Twin Towers’ construction. The film leaves its audience in no doubt that Petit is special and that this act of rebellion – the walk was totally illegal – was his gift to the world. Absolutely gripping stuff. Joe Utichi

Let The Right One In

It’s hard to know how much to reveal about Let the Right One In. Such is the nature of the film’s delicate plotting that it’ll prove to be a different but equally fulfilling experience should you be aware of its subject matter or not before you watch it. Like Pan’s Labyrinth, the film’s fantastical elements disguise the real human drama of its characters and while it might, on the surface, appear to be a new twist on a familiar genre, at its heart it’s one of the most original coming-of-age stories in years.

As Oskar, young actor Kåre Hedebrant’s confident performance is at turns sweetly innocent and surprisingly dark. If your tolerance for foreign-language films is limited, let this film change your mind. If the idea of a coming-of-age story fills you with dread, let it convince you otherwise. In fact, if you only see one film that’s off the beaten path this year, you’d do very well to let the right one in. JU

Red

When an old man (Brian Cox), fishing by a river, is forced to witness a group of young hoodlums shoot his dog he becomes determined to see justice prevail; pursuing the boys’ fathers (Tom Sizemore and Robert Englund) to encourage them to punish their sons and, when that fails, turning to the law. Red is a heartrending tale of a man who has lost everything trying and who is desperately to hold onto what’s right, Brian Cox is relentless in the lead role, delivering a stunning and strangely disturbing performance as he seeks retribution.

The film may go a little too far before the end, but for the most part it’s brilliantly gripping with shades of Stephen King about its thrilling structure. JU

The Visitor

Walter is a sad, lonely, embittered Connecticut teacher whose life has been on a downward spiral since the passing of his wife. However, all of that changes when he is sent to New York to present a paper on economics, and arrives to discover an immigrant couple living in his long-forgotten apartment. Understandably perturbed, Walter kicks them to the kerb, but compassion leads him to go after them and invite the strangers into his empty home.

The Visitor is stirring, heartbreaking stuff, told at a stately pace perfectly in keeping with the story unfolding. Director Thomas McCarthy truly gives his characters time to breathe, and as their story slowly plays out, it’s impossible not to be swept up in the gut-wrenching emotion of it all. He’s helped out by a grandstanding performance from Richard Jenkins as Walter. It’s brilliantly multi-layered and full of subtlety and nuance.

Combined with McCarthy’s economic script – which brilliantly deals with the sensitive topic of immigration without ever feeling preachy or patronising — it makes for a magical movie-going experience that will provoke thought, discussion, sadness and joy in equal measure. Truly outstanding stuff. CT Alone in Four Walls

One of the most powerful documentaries in a long time, Alone in Four Walls introduces us to the inmates of a Russian prison for boys aged 11-14, interspersing their daily activities with tales of their crimes from the boys themselves and from their families and victims. It’s hard to know what to feel about these inmates as they go through the usual struggles of adolescence and the regional struggles of poverty on one hand and then we’re told, in police report detail, what found them in the institution to begin with.

Emotionally harrowing, with an incredible attention to cinematography, this, like all documentaries should be, is a window on a world we’ll never come across, but more than that it’s a frighteningly appropriate film for a world in the throes of increasing teenage violent crime. Want to keep kids out of jail? Showing them this would be a good place to start. JU

Encounters at the End of the World

Werner Herzog returns to documentary filmmaking with Encounters at the End of the World, this time travelling to Antarctica to share stories about the people who call the frozen continent home. Starting off, and frequently returning to his base in McMurdo, a desolately grey and dreadfully functional town that most in Antarctica call home.

Herzog’s typically editorialised commentary singes the film with humour, as he shares with us his insistence to financiers that he wouldn’t be travelling all that way to make another movie about penguins, though, of course, he finds a researcher to plug with questions about the flightless birds’ sexual proclivities and mental instabilities. There are moments of extreme humour as he interrupts a woman’s tales of her travels by opining that “her story goes on forever,” and wonders how many languages have died in the time he’s been talking to a man who’s explaining, at great length, how often languages die.

But, equally, there are scenes that seem extended for no reason other than to keep the running time feature length and while Herzog finds plenty of characters, few of them seem compelling enough to warrant the journey. People who call Antarctica home are bound to be slightly weird by our standards, but are they really as crazy as Herzog seemed to hope on his journey out there, or are they just people doing their job exploring extremes so that we don’t have to? JU

WALL*E

Not only is WALL*E one of the freshest films of the year – some critics have even thrown around the word ‘masterpiece’ like they believe it this time – but it’s also one of the loveliest, most charming and most accomplished animated films of all time. Pixar’s tale of a little robot, WALL*E, who dreams of a new companion in the shape of a sleek and shiny probe called EVE is a testament to Pixar’s emphasis on story and emotion.

It shouldn’t work – not in an era of big, noisy and exposition-heavy event movies – and yet it really, truly does. Within a few minutes without even a hint of dialogue the film has you totally invested in this little character’s journey and you’re with him right until the end. Combine such a strong core with some of the most beautiful and creative artwork ever seen on screen and WALL*E deserves to be remembered as a proper classic. JU

The Black Balloon

The Black Balloon is a typically-bright but satisfyingly-dark Australian drama about a teenage boy, Thomas Mollison (Rhys Wakefield), whose autistic brother Charlie (Luke Ford) requires constant attention and whose acting out is starting to put a strain on the friendships Thomas is developing at a new school. When a girl comes along, in the form of a beautiful school friend, Thomas’ relationship with his brother, and parents who’ve largely ignored him to take care of Charlie, will be tested.

Toni Collette and Erik Thomson co-star, but it’s really a movie for Wakefield and Ford, with the latter particularly brilliant as the autistic Charlie. It’s a selfish side of caring that’s rarely witnessed but inevitably present; a teenager’s desire for a “normal” brother and a relationship with his parents that’s hampered by the special needs of his sibling and it’s handled delicately and emotionally without delivering and overly-sentimental piece. JU

mancora

Mancora will be compared to Y Tu Mama Tambien, being that it’s about a sexually-charged road trip involving three hot, young things in a Spanish-speaking country, but there’s something decidedly more real about the consequences of these actions. As incest makes way to tribal drug trips, the characters go on hard, real journeys and push themselves to their limits, perhaps in an attempt to find some feeling within them: as the film begins, our lead, Santiago, has lost his father to suicide and finds that he’s disillusioned with his surroundings.

But, rather disappointingly, the film quite simply isn’t as entertaining as Alfonso Cuaron‘s predecessor, and the conclusion of the journey feels false and all too convenient. Nevertheless, it’s of a high quality and should make stars of its leads if it’s given the exposure in North America that it deserves. It certainly marks Ricardo de Montreuil as a director to watch. JU

BAFTA is putting the final preparations in place for BAFTA Goes to Mexico in association with ezylet.co.uk, a weekend of special Mexican events that starts tonight with a glitzy party and a celebration of the work of director Alfonso Cuaron. RT-UK caught up with Cuaron ahead of the celebrations to talk about Mexican filmmaking, keeping it in the family and, of course, the possibility of a return to the world of Harry Potter.

RT-UK: You must be having a busy week, I imagine you have a bunch of friends coming in for the BAFTA celebration…

AC: Actually it’s the first time I’ve seen people here, today. I’ve been really busy, though, I’ve been writing and supervising the film that my brother Carlos is shooting in Mexico – he wrote Y Tu Mama Tambien and he’s directing his first feature. It’s Gael [Garcia Bernal] and Diego [Luna], the same cast of Y Tu Mama Tambien, I’m producing that with Guillermo [del Toro] and Alejandro [Gonzalez Innaritu]. Then I’m producing a short that Jonas, my son, is directing that is going to Venice. And his feature film is going to Venice too, so it’s a lot of stuff going on!

RT-UK: It seems like it’s a good time to be a Mexican filmmaker.

AC: The most important thing, I think, is the community; that’s what’s more exciting than anything else. It’s really a community that supports each other and it’s a community that’s extremely politically aware. It’s a community that understands that sometimes cinema is a means for something more important. In that sense it’s a community that, even with aesthetic differences sometimes, comes together for the important issue. It’s really exciting to be a part of that.

And it’s also a community that has decided to, finally, erase the borders so it’s not about Mexicans it’s about filmmakers. A big chunk of the Argentinean and Brazilian community are making fantastic films and there’s no difference between them and the Mexican community; it’s pretty-much the same. It’s about filmmakers that you bond with. I have so many good friends in that community and we’re always looking to collaborate.

RT-UK: You’ve started a production company with Guillermo and Alejandro, is that going to continue your form of making films both in Mexico and the rest of the world of various different ideas and sizes?

AC: The thing is that the company doesn’t have a nationality, in a sense. Right now we’re producing Carlos’ film in Mexico but there’s a plan to do this other film in Argentina and probably one that’ll be in America. For us it’s not about Mexico, it’s just about filmmakers. I believe in what Marco Muller from the Venice Film Festival talks about as nomad cinema. You can see it in Sokurov films, that he can do Russian Ark in Russian in Saint Petersburg in the Hermitage Museum and he can do The Sun about Hirohito in Japanese in Japan. Both films have the same soul and the same heart of this filmmaker who happens to be Russian. This community of filmmakers that are bonding are doing so because they have the same approach, I think.

RT-UK: It seems to be the case that you’re able to preserve a certain sense of passion whether you’re making Y Tu Mama Tambien or Harry Potter which are clearly very different films.

AC: Yeah, hopefully. They’re mine so it’s kind-of difficult to talk about because I’m too close to them, but I can see it in the work of my peers; I can see it in Guillermo through Pan’s Labyrinth and then I watch Hellboy and I can see that same passion again; it manifests, for me, in the girl in Pan’s Labyrinth and the teenager on the roof in Hellboy; those two are Guillermo del Toro. Two different manifestations of the same thing.

RT-UK: Does being around Guillermo, Alejandro and the rest of that community make you raise your own game?

AC: We’re brutally honest with each other. Sometimes painfully honest! But that’s an amazing comfort, you know, because you know that you don’t have to be trying to smell the bullshit around. I trust their judgement and I know that if they’re going to get tough on me it’s coming from the standpoint of caring and love. That just pushes the envelope. If I’m getting lazy or anything or if I talk about the next project I’m going to do, sometimes they’ll tell me, “You know what, that’s becoming lazy. You’re not trying to stretch yourself. You can do that, but it’s boring. Go and do it, become a ‘bureaucrat of cinema,'” as we say.

And it’s not exclusive to those two either; I can have these conversations with Fernando Trueba or Emanuele Crialese. It’s very obvious to see the Mexicans just because we’ve known each other for a long time and I guess it’s easy to identify the three of us together, but each one of us has relationships with other filmmakers that we’re in constant communication with. There’s this attitude of love of filmmaking and love for filmmakers. Yeah, there are filmmakers that are very competitive but, then, maybe they don’t want to be your friends!

RT-UK: It’s not about movies being better than each other; it’s about having a good raft of great movies…

AC: Well that’s the thing, I love my work but I really admire seeing a great film and when I see a great film I tend to want to meet with and talk with the filmmaker. In most cases you realise it goes both ways; a communication is established and in many cases a relationship is established, and once you’ve established that relationship it’s a great support to know that you can rely on somebody else. You can call and ask someone for advice. Obviously with Guillermo and Alejandro there’s baggage, there’s history, and that makes everything very telepathic, very second-hand.

RT-UK: Making Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban appeared to be a strange decision after Y Tu Mama Tambien, but it also appeared to lead to the chance to make Children of Men – what’s the story behind that?

AC: Well, actually, I wrote Children of Men right after Y Tu Mama Tambien and that didn’t happen at the time. Of course Harry Potter helped make Children of Men happen. That’s one of those beautiful coincidences; I did Harry Potter because it crossed into my life and I was completely unfamiliar with the material. Guillermo is the one who kept on telling me, “You need to read it.” Originally I was making jokes about them offering it to me. I read it and I really fell in love with it. It just made sense, you know, and when I did it I spent the two most beautiful years of my life doing that film. After one of the perks was that I could do Children of Men; it’s just one of those things, I’ve been very lucky. Sometimes you have to just not follow your ego as the perception you wish people had of you, you have to follow what you feel is the right thing and you have to understand why you’re making those choices.

That was the thing about Harry Potter, I have to say, it was something instinctual that I knew I had to do it. When you commit to a movie you’re committing one or two years of your life to a movie, and that affects what you do with your life. I don’t want to get really old and realise that I’ve wasted my life making films. I want to look back and say that I lived and that I was making films as I was living. It’s the combination of all of that stuff.

RT-UK: Is the Potter universe something you’d like to return to?

AC: You know, it was such a great opportunity and such a beautiful two years and everything around Harry Potter – JK Rowling’s creation – is enveloped in this really beneficial energy. I got the benefits of that energy for those two years. So yes I’d be very tempted to do so even though, at this point, I feel a little bit like I have to try to do the films that are not going to exist without me. On the same token, I would be really tempted because it was really beautiful. I just started reading the last book and something I respect is the care the producers have put in the film franchise. It would have been so easy after the success of the series just to take the cynical approach of knowing that no matter what people are going to see those movies. Actually they’ve been taking a lot of care from beginning to end, so yeah I would be really tempted.

Recently RT had the chance to chat with Alfonso Cuaron about his latest film, "Children of Men." Will the director’s face light up like a Christmas tree when Oscar noms are announced?

Arguably, "Children of Men" is Cuaron‘s best yet (with a current 92% Tomatometer), no small feat considering his filmography includes "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" and "Y Tu Mama Tambien."

And Universal agrees: they’re giving "Children of Men" a plum Christmas Day opening, despite not exactly being feel-good holiday fare. It’s a desolate, almost overwhelmingly bleak vision of the future, one in which humanity’s survival is no longer ensured beyond the next generation.


Cuaron on the set of "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban"

But Cuarón is nothing if not optimistic. His quixotic energy permeates all of his movies, which range from brusquely sexual comedies ("Y Tu Mama Tambien") to family-friendly blockbusters ("Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban").

And his energy comes through in person. On a computer screen, Cuarón might read like a cynic ranting about the today’s political climate. But hearing him talk, there’s subtle cheerfulness in his voice, one which reveals he never stops anticipating the future and what it may eventually bring.

In our extensive roundtable chat, we talk dystopias, adolescents, a tropical North Pole, and a certain bespectacled teenage wizard.

———

On Directing a "Harry Potter" Film

Alfonso Cuaron: Actually, at the beginning, when they offered me the whole thing, I was kind of snobby about the whole thing. I never read the books or seen the movies, and I was kind of arrogant about it, I have to confess. And then Guillermo del Toro called me and completely…pretty much…how do you call it? When your parents do the thing?

Not to reprimand. But…sort of. He called and said, "Have you read the book? Okay, read the book and then call me." So then at page 100, I called and said, "Man, this is brilliant." He says, "Yeah, you have to do it." That’s what happened. But then, of course, I read one and it’s one of those things where you keep on reading.


Clive Owen and Julianne Moore guard the future in "Children of Men"

On Challenging His Audiences

AC: I despise movies that explain. I cannot stand exposition in movies. I start getting, like, a rash. It’s like getting suffocated in the theater. Because I love cinema. And cinema is becoming something that is not cinema. Cinema is becoming a medium of illustrating stories. Cinema is becoming a medium in which you can close your eyes and you can watch the movie.

I really love films in which audiences partake with the whole thing. They have to fill up all the gaps in-between the moments that you create. And I’m not saying that as a filmmaker, but as an audience. I enjoy watching a movie where I have to make my own conclusions.

On Developing "Children of Men"

Q: You were given a script of this, and you were initially reluctant.

AC: Oh, because the script sucked.

Q: Did you retain anything from that original script?

AC: Zero. I didn’t even finish the script. I read 15, 20 pages and I said, "Okay, bye-bye." What happened was the premise kept on haunting me. And I had to stop at some point to reconsider why it kept haunting me. And that’s when the whole process began.

Click here for the full interview!

"Children of Men" is in theaters today.

In this week’s Ketchup, Jason Bourne will discover his true identity in 2007 in "The Bourne Ultimatum," we’ve finally got some non-pirated pictures of the third "Pirates of the Caribbean," and we get to marvel at the all-new "300" trailer.

Also, the next Bond film gets a storyline, and we get a "The Hills Have Eyes 2" trailer. Read on for more.

This Week’s Most Popular News:

Bourne’s Identity Revealed in "Ultimatum"

We thought "The Bourne Identity" was revealed at the end of the first film, but his "Supremacy" confirmed there was more to the story. Now, Matt Damon promises that the third film, "The Bourne Ultimatum" will finally find Jason Bourne knowing his whole story.

First Official "Pirates 3" Pics!

We’ve seen a few sketchy-looking on-set snapshots from the third "Pirates of the Caribbean" flick, but not this pretty. Click on in to enjoy a few crisp-looking photos from "At Worlds End."

Trailer Bulletin: The Amazing-Looking "300"

Between RT and the other sites I write for, I’ve pretty much run out of adjectives for how awesome Zack Snyder’s "300" looks. And by "looks" I mean … wow. The visual fireworks are pretty darn dazzling. And now there’s even more in an all-new theatrical trailer.

Story Set for Next Bond Flick?

There’s already been a good deal of conjecture and gossip thrown around regarding the NEXT James Bond movie, and here’s the latest: Apparently the next 007 adventure will be based on an Ian Fleming story called "Risico" — but that story’s already been used for an earlier Bond flick!

Teaser Bulletin: The Horrible "Hills Have Eyes 2"

…and I mean "horrible" as in "scary," not as in "a terrible movie" — because obviously I haven’t seen the thing yet. Anyway, an early (and kinda creepy) teaser trailer for "The Hills Have Eyes 2" has hit the ‘net, so come check it out!


"Pirating has become a big problem in China these days…"

In Other News:

  • Carey Malloy will pen the big screen adaptation of "Tag," a horror comic book published by Boom! Studios.
  • Jeff Baena ("I Heart Huckabees") will write the battle-of-the-sexes comedy "The Awakening of Jean-Luc Barbara," with commercial director Justin Reardon making his feature directorial debut.
  • Paramount has acquired the film rights to the upcoming Vanity Fair article "The Shop," written by CIA maven and investigative journalist David Wise. Plot details have not been disclosed.
  • Julia Roberts will produce and possibly star in the feature adaptation of Lolly Winston’s bestselling novel "Happiness Sold Separately." Scott Coffey ("Ellie Parker") will direct and adapt the screenplay.
  • Intrepid Pictures has acquired the psychological thriller "The Prince," based on a screenplay by Dave Kalstein, about a wrongly accused prep-school student who takes revenge on his former classmates.
  • "Nightmare Detective," the latest supernatural thriller from Japan, has been picked up by The Weinstein Company for distribution in North America, the U.K., Australia and New Zealand.
  • Scott Rudin will join Miramax to bring the Tony-winning Catholic-themed play "Doubt" to the big screen, with playwright John Patrick Shanley set to write and direct the film.
  • Andy Tennant will direct the film adaptation of the Jennifer Cox memoir "Around the World in 80 Dates," for Reese Witherspoon‘s Type A Films production company.
  • Topher Grace will jump a decade to star in "Kids in America," as a recent college gaduate contemplating adulthood in the late 1980s. Michael Dowse will direct.

This week at the movies, we’ve got antisocial behavior ("Jackass: Number Two," with Johnny Knoxville and the gang), hell-raising politicos ("All The King’s Men," starring Sean Penn), fearless warriors ("Fearless," starring Jet Li), and flying aces ("Flyboys," starring James Franco). What do the critics have to say?

For some, the perilous, grotesque antics of the "Jackass" posse offer inarguable proof of America’s cultural decline, if not a bellwether of the Apocalypse. For others (Critical Consensus included)… well, what can I say? Wasabi snooters? Off-road tattoo? Gets me every time. Now, Johnny Knoxville, Bam Margera, Steve-O and the rest are back with "Jackass: Number Two," a film that promises to be as puerile as its title. But guess what? It’s getting pretty good reviews! The critics say this latest collection of stoopid stunts and bad behavior maintains a certain warped integrity in addition to its sophomoric laughs. At 64 percent on the Tomatometer, this "Jackass" may be worth a ride, provided you can stomach this stuff. And it’s better-reviewed than its predecessor (49 percent).


I want those #&^%@* snakes out of this #&^%@* ball crawl!

"All The King’s Men" has everything that makes for a compelling movie. It’s got a great cast (Sean Penn, Jude Law, Kate Winslet, and Anthony Hopkins, among others). It’s based on a great novel (by Robert Penn Warren). It’s got great cinematography. Unfortunately, critics say, the superlatives end there. Loosely based on the life of populist Louisiana Governor Huey "The Kingfish" Long, "All The King’s Men" tells the story of a small town rabble-rouser’s ascent in politics and descent into shady morality. Critics say the film is too bombastic to work, with too many vague characters and an over-the-top performance from Penn. The film received a muted reception in Toronto; it currently stands at 15 percent on the Tomatometer. And it’s well below the 1949 Oscar-winning original film (94 percent).


Sean Penn makes Howard Dean seem pretty chill.

Jet Li has come to personify a specific film subgenre: the historical martial arts epic. "Hero" and the "Once Upon a Time in China" movies were marked by sweeping visuals and Li’s remarkable athleticism. But the star says he’s no longer making that type of picture; if that’s the case, critics say "Fearless" makes for one heck of a swan song. The film tells the tale of a great martial arts master who looks inward after succumbing to his own ego and the murder of his family. The scribes say "Fearless" is quite a show, with remarkable action sequences and an interesting philosophical undercurrent. "Fearless" is currently at 70 percent on the Tomatometer. And it’s Li’s third consecutive fresh American release, following "Unleashed" (68 percent) and "Hero" (94 percent).


"Fearless": I had no idea people wore baseball hats in China in the early 1900s!

"Flyboys" tells an old-fashioned tale of courage and heroism with the latest in CG technology; unfortunately, critics say, the technology ends up overshadowing everything else. The film tells the story of a group of Americans who volunteered to fly in WWI alongside the French. According to the critics, "Paths of Glory" this ain’t; they note that the CG effects are excellent, and the dogfights are exciting, but the story and the characters are far less involving. At 37 percent on the Tomatometer, "Flyboys" doesn’t soar.


"And another thing… None of you better be making any wisecracks about ‘The Pink Panther!’"

Also in theaters this week in limited release: "American Hardcore," a documentary about the life and death of the louder-faster punk rock style, is at 100 percent; "The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros," a coming of age tale set in Manila, is at 100 percent; "Jesus Camp," a documentary about evangelical Christian campers, is at 93 percent; "Old Joy," a meditative tale of eroding friendship starring indie darling Will Oldham, is at 88 percent; "Solo Con Tu Pareja," the debut of "Y Tu Mama Tambien" helmer Alfonso Cuaron, is at 80 percent; "The Science of Sleep," Michel Gondry‘s latest head trip starring Gael Garcia Bernal and Charlotte Gainsbourg, is at 69 percent; the "Project Greenlight"- approved horror flick "Feast" is at 57 percent; and "Renaissance," a visually remarkable French noir, is at 50 percent.


"I wish I could be as carefree and wild/ But I got cat class and I got cat style."

Recent Johnny Knoxville Movies:
—————————————–
41% — The Ringer (2005)
0% — Daltry Calhoun (2005)
15% — The Dukes of Hazzard (2005)
54% — Lords of Dogtown (2005)
52% — A Dirty Shame (2004)

Recent Jet Li Movies:
—————————–
68% — Unleashed (2005)
94% — Hero (2004)
26% — Cradle 2 the Grave (2003)
14% — The One (2001)
49% — Kiss of the Dragon (2001)

Recent Dean Deviln-Produced Movies:
————————————————-
90% — Who Killed the Electric Car? (2006)
54% — Cellular (2004)
47% — Eight Legged Freaks (2002)
61% — The Patriot (2000)
25% — Godzilla (1998)

It played in just over 100 theaters back in July, so you can be forgiven if you haven’t heard a whole lot about "Crónicas" just yet. But the Ecuadorian crime thriller (which features a stellar lead performance by John Leguizamo) hits DVD this week, so if you’re on the lookout for something a little exotic, intense, and insightful, you should absolutely toss this title onto your Rental List / Netflix Queue. After watching (and enjoying the hell out of) the film, I tossed a handful of questions to writer/director Sebastián Cordero, and here’s what the filmmaker had to say.

RT: "Cronicas" is loosely based on actual events. What were the events that inspired the "Monster" character in your film?

SC: A few true cases of serial killers in Ecuador and in Colombia were the inspiration for the "Monstruo de Babahoyo".

One of them was the "Monstruo de los Andes" (Pedro Alonso Lopez), who supposedly raped and murdered hundreds of little girls in Ecuador, Peru, and Colombia. He was a fascinating and sick character: a friend of mine who met him in prison a couple of decades ago told me he was extremely charismatic, very well liked by other inmates, and a sort of mediator when conflicts arose in the jail. The death sentence doesn’t exist in Ecuador, and the maximum jail time you could do in Ecuador at the time (no matter what your crime was) was 16 years. Pedro Alonso did his time in jail, and was actually released a year early because of his good conduct. He was deported to Colombia, where he was put in a low-security mental institution, from where he soon escaped. Nobody’s heard from him since then, but his psychiatrist (with whom I met) told me his type of behavior probably wouldn’t have changed, although old age would eventually cut down his libido.

The other inspiration was Luis Alfredo Garavito, a child rapist and murderer in Colombia who supposedly killed 192 children over a period of ten years. I remember when I read about his arrest, I was struck by an interview of his wife at the time, and how she said she thought he was a good man, and had never suspected he could lead such a double life. She actually had a child who potentially could have been his victim, and she had never felt unsafe with him (except when he drank).

I felt the duality within these real characters was absolutely fascinating, particularly since I had been playing with the idea to explore characters that had such extremes within them. It was a real challenge to me to have one character be the most terrible "monster" you could imagine, and yet be at times the most sympathetic character in the story.

RT: Your movie bears a few heavyweight names in producers Alfonso Cuaron & Guillermo del Toro. How did they get involved at the beginning?

SC: The original link to both Guillermo and Alfonso was the great Mexican producer Bertha Navarro. I met Bertha when my first movie ("Ratas, Ratones, Rateros") had been nominated for a Mexican Ariel Award as Best Foreign Film. I told her about the project of "Cronicas," and she was very enthusiastic about it, soon becoming attached as a producer to the film. Bertha had produced "Cronos" and "The Devil’s Backbone", and was actually the person who gave Guillermo his first break, and they’ve been working together since then; so it was only natural to make Guillermo part of this project. Alfonso came in almost immediately after: Bertha had worked with him before (and knew him very well from Mexico), and it coincided that after the success of "Y Tu Mama Tambien", he and his partner Jorge Vergara had been looking for projects to produce in Latin America. Guillermo and Alfonso became ideal mentors for me, because they respected completely my vision as a director, but they also pushed me to the limit, making sure I was getting the most out of everything. They’re both perfectionists, and when you have people like that pushing you so passionately, you want to take them up and push with them all the way.

RT: John Leguizamo delivers some fantastic work in the film. How early did he come on to the project? Did you find that his involvement helped gain interest from distributors?

SC: John actually came on to the project pretty late (a few months before shooting). I had always had him in mind for Manolo Bonilla, but had been skeptical about him because I had heard his Spanish wasn’t fluent enough. On the other hand, I loved the idea of casting a Latino who had lived all his life in the US, because I felt his severed "roots" was something that added a lot to his character. Eventually, I met John, and realized that his level of Spanish was good enough for the movie (although he always jokes that his grammar level is the same as a third grader, which is the age when he left Colombia!), and actually I loved the idea of playing with him switching back and forth between Spanish and English (something a lot of Latinos in Miami do).

John’s involvement in the film definitely helped to gain interest from distributors, particularly in the US, where he’s very popular. It’s funny, but in Ecuador, while we were shooting the film, people were more familiar with Leonor Watling (because of "Hable con Ella") than with John. I must also add that once John came on board, he immediately became one of my strongest allies, fighting a lot of battles by my side, and supporting the movie passionately at every step of the way.

RT: "Cronicas" has been a favorite across the festival circuit (Cannes, Toronto, Sundance, and many others) for quite some time now. What was it like to finally sit down and watch your movie with an enthusiastic festival audience? Was your pre-festival cut the same as your final release cut? Did you reshape the film in any way based on audience reactions?

SC: It’s amazing to watch the film with an audience, because for the first time in a very long process, you gain a little bit of perspective on the movie you’ve been working on, and you get an idea of what’s working and what isn’t. The biggest challenge I find when writing, directing, or editing a film is to be able to step back and look at the film as if you were just another spectator, so that you can evaluate the problems and issues you might be having with some sort of objectivity. When watching the complete film with an audience, you absorb everyone’s reactions, which is a difficult but terrific experience. The film wasn’t changed since its premiere at Cannes in 2004, but I played with the editing for many months before that (even after it had been submitted to Cannes)… the changes didn’t come from “audience reactions” per se, but from the comments I got from Alfonso, Bertha, Guillermo, and Isabel (Dávalos, my Ecuadorian producer); and from the reactions I had gotten from my close group of collaborators whose advice I trust the most at every step of the way.

RT: The critical reaction to the movie has been generally quite positive. Do you find yourself reading reviews and taking praise/criticisms to heart? How important is it to a filmmaker that he feel "embraced" by ‘the critics’?

SC: It’s wonderful to feel “embraced” by the critics, but that’s not the reason you make a movie, and you always have to maintain some distance and healthy cynicism about people’s reaction to the movie. I like to read and hear everything that’s been said about the movie, and I usually deal pretty well with the negative stuff (I’m more aware than anyone that my movies are far from being perfect, and filled with flaws!). I usually try not to let the positive things get to my head, and to learn from the negative things so that I don’t make the same mistakes again. However, you do need to take negative criticism with a grain of salt or you will get paralyzed with your upcoming work.

RT: Aside from Mr. Leguizamo’s commanding lead performance, there’s some thoroughly fantastic work from Damian Alcazar as the duplicitous (and potentially dangerous) Vinicio Cepeda. How difficult was it to cast this character, considering his "duality" throughout most of the film, and how did you decide upon Mr. Alcazar?

SC: Damián Alcazar is one of the greatest actors I’ve ever met, and everyone in México will tell you the same. He’s not very well known internationally (yet), but I feel his range as an actor is astounding, and I would work with him again as soon as I get a chance to. I originally saw him in “La Ley de Herodes” ("Herod’s Law"), a magnificent black comedy about political corruption in Mexico, but didn’t originally consider him for "Cronicas" because his character was supposed to be Colombian, and I was really worried that the different accents would be an issue. Bertha Navarro (my producer) kept insisting that the Colombian accent would not even be a problem for Damián, and thankfully I trusted her. Damián did such a good job that when people saw his portrayal of Vinicio in Ecuador, everybody thought he was a Colombian actor. I think I loved the fact that Damián is really such a nice guy, and he projects that, making you want to trust him, and yet you do sense a dark side inside of him (something which I wanted both in his role and in John’s).

RT: "Cronicas" has been entered as Ecuador’s official "Oscar-eligible" title, which is quite an honor in and of itself. Coming from a nation that doesn’t produce a large amount of movies, how important is it to you that Ecuador be "cinematically represented" on a stage like the Academy Awards?

SC: That was very important for me, particularly since Ecuador produces very few films per year, and there is no support from the government or cultural organizations towards local filmmaking. So, to have Ecuador “represented” on an international stage like the Academy Awards brings a lot of awareness that supporting local filmmakers is important. Almost all Latin American countries have strong laws that support filmmaking through a film institute, tax breaks, and financial support (that’s the reason Argentinean cinema is so vibrant today, despite the economic crisis there), and for years Ecuadorian filmmakers have been fighting for support… So when one of our films gets international attention, it’s another way of making politicians realize how important film is to a country’s identity.

RT: After dozens of festival screenings around the world, "Cronicas" ended up as a Palm Pictures release. How did that process work, and how do you feel about the way your film was marketed and released?

SC: After the first Cannes screening, there was a lot of interest from several distributors in "Cronicas", and Palm’s offer was probably the most interesting: plus, they were so passionate about the film that we felt we were in good hands with them. In general, I feel Palm did a good job with the release of the film. Of course, there are always risks we were aware of (like counter-programming, or targeting the film to a Latino audience) which might have not worked as well as we wished, but I think the film did very respectably, and I’m pleased with the results.

RT: With foreign and "arthouse" distribution being the niche market that it is these days, does a film like "Cronicas" work "better" on a home video release?

SC: Although you always want to catch a film on the big screen, you have to be realistic about the fact that most of your audience will watch an “arthouse” film on DVD at their convenience. However, without the theatrical distribution, an “arthouse” film will never have the same reach on home video, so it’s the combination of the two releases, which helps the success of the film.

RT: The film is a smart and quietly scathing indictment of modern TV journalism. Do you feel that the mass-media world often makes it more difficult for law enforcement to do their job? Is it ever acceptable (or advisable) for a journalist to "intrude" upon the story he’s reporting? Is "Cronicas" a criticism of a specific event, or is it a criticism of modern journalism in general?

SC: I think there are a lot of grey lines when you deal with ethical and moral dilemmas, and the nature of journalism definitely begs for a lot of questions to be asked, questions which don’t necessarily have right or wrong answers. For me, Manolo’s first transgression happens when he decides to stop the lynching at the beginning of the film: as a journalist he should have only been reporting what he witnessed; but as a human being you admire him for stepping forward and actually doing something to stop this atrocious violence (even if he might be doing this for the “ratings”). I’m very cynical about people’s reasons for doing things, and yet I do believe that a character like Manolo might be very idealistic too, and might be starting out with the best intentions. It’s only later on that his arrogance blinds him into thinking he’s the only one who can do anything to catch this killer. I think I was trying for the movie to work on different levels: to make you think about the nature of modern journalism (the moment you point a camera somewhere, you’re changing the very event you’re covering) without necessarily pointing the finger to anyone; but also to examine human nature, its arrogance, and lack of tolerance.

RT: How difficult is it to balance the "entertainment" side of a film — along with the messages you’re trying to convey?

SC: To me a good film should hook you and not let go off you until the final credits, but it should also make you think. I think there’s nothing contradictory with being entertained and thrilled by a great story, which might also have a strong message. You don’t want to insult your audience with losing subtlety and beating people over the head with a “message” everyone is aware of, and you don’t want to make the film too challenging to enter. A right balance is tricky, but it’s definitely something I strive for.

RT: Congratulations on being hired to direct Harrison Ford in the historical thriller "Manhunt". Do you see many similarities between this project (which is about a Civil War veteran charged with apprehending Abraham Lincoln’s assassin) and "Cronicas", which has to do with a TV reporter who tries to bring a serial killer to justice?

SC: Thank you. There are actually quite a bit of similar themes in these two movies, and I’m really looking forward to exploring these with a completely different approach.

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