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Show Boat: Rollin’ on the River
Show Boat: Rollin’ on the River

A landmark stage musical receives its greatest cinematic treatment in this beautifully mounted saga that reflects the changing state of race relations across three generations.

By Gary Giddins

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The Prince of Tides: The Artist’s Mirror
The Prince of Tides: The Artist’s Mirror

The result of a three-and-a-half-year quest, this Oscar-nominated drama is a high-water mark in the career of one of Hollywood’s most distinguished artists.

By Bruce Eder

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The Cranes Are Flying: A Free Camera
The Cranes Are Flying: A Free Camera

A war film that emphasizes personal drama over public platitude, this masterpiece by Mikhail Kalatozov features the vitality and freewheeling cinematic experimentation characteristic of post-Stalin cinema.

By Chris Fujiwara

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Leave Her to Heaven: The Eyes of Ellen Berent
Leave Her to Heaven: The Eyes of Ellen Berent

In this Technicolor film noir masterpiece, Gene Tierney stars as one of cinema’s most dangerous and sympathetic femmes fatales, a woman who finds it impossible to conform to postwar gender roles.

By Megan Abbott

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Bamboozled: New Millennium, Same Bullshit
Bamboozled: New Millennium, Same Bullshit

For one of the most provocative and eerily prescient films of his career, Spike Lee confronted the racist neo-minstrelsy that continues to pervade mass entertainment.

By Ashley Clark

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Salesman: For God and Company
Salesman: For God and Company

Chronicling the trials of a door-to-door salesman in midcentury America, this incisive portrait of consumer culture revolutionized the art of documentary filmmaking.

By Michael Chaiken

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Three Fantastic Journeys by Karel Zeman: Storm of Craft
Three Fantastic Journeys by Karel Zeman: Storm of Craft

One of Czechoslovak cinema’s masters of illusion dazzled audiences with obsessively handcrafted fantasias that combined live action, animation, and the influence of nineteenth-century graphic illustration.

By Michael Atkinson

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Paris Is Burning: The Fire This Time
Paris Is Burning: The Fire This Time

New York City’s 1980s drag-ball scene comes to vibrant life in Jennie Livingston’s documentary, a landmark chronicle of the resilience and realness of queer communities of color.

By Michelle Parkerson

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Teorema: Just a Boy
Teorema: Just a Boy

Pier Paolo Pasolini’s seemingly irreconcilable allegiances to Marx, Freud, and Jesus Christ come to the fore in this radical provocation, which marks the midway point of the polymathic artist’s filmmaking career.

By James Quandt

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Roma, or the Art of Making Ruins
Roma, or the Art of Making Ruins

Alfonso Cuarón’s vivid re-creation of his childhood memories holds up a mirror to the social instability that roiled his hometown in the 1970s.

By Valeria Luiselli

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The Layers of Roma
The Layers of Roma

In a polarized and violent world, Alfonso Cuarón’s masterpiece offers a pure message of human solidarity that transcends class and race. But its story is also firmly rooted in the historical specificity of 1970s Mexico City.

By Enrique Krauze

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Fail Safe: Very Little Left of the World
Fail Safe: Very Little Left of the World

Sidney Lumet brought his vivid sense of the messiness of human experience to this stark nuclear thriller, which centers on a series of earth-shattering decisions made in quiet rooms.

By Bilge Ebiri

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All About My Mother: Matriarchal Society
All About My Mother: Matriarchal Society

Of the many odes to motherhood in Pedro Almodóvar’s filmography, this Oscar-winning hit is the most exquisite exploration of maternal love’s all-consuming power.

By Emma Wilson

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Le petit soldat: The Awful Truth
Le petit soldat: The Awful Truth

One of the lesser-known films in Godard’s extraordinary run of 1960s masterpieces, this severe, angular thriller was the director’s first foray into the political territory that would prove so essential to his later work.

By Nicholas Elliott

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Holiday: Play Mates
Holiday: Play Mates

With the chemistry they perfected in their third collaboration, Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant proved they were a match made in screwball heaven.

By Dana Stevens

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Old Joy: Northwest Passages
Old Joy: Northwest Passages

Twelve years after her debut film, Kelly Reichardt returned with this breakout feature, an exploration of the softer side of American masculinity that the director has called her version of a “New Age western.”

By Ed Halter

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The Sound of Yesterday’s Future: Notes on the Until the End of the World Soundtrack
The Sound of Yesterday’s Future: Notes on the Until the End of the World Soundtrack

When he set out to make his dream project, Wim Wenders enlisted several of his favorite musical acts—including bands like U2 and Depeche Mode—to contribute to the film’s soundtrack.

By Ignatiy Vishnevetsky

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Until the End of the World: The End of the Road
Until the End of the World: The End of the Road

Wim Wenders’ string of successes in the eighties freed him to mount one of the most ambitious productions in European film history, an epic he characterized as “the ultimate road movie.”

By Bilge Ebiri

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The Story of Temple Drake: Notorious
The Story of Temple Drake: Notorious

Often credited with inciting full enforcement of the Hays Code, this harrowing melodrama is one of the few Faulkner adaptations that successfully evokes the writer’s distinctive ambience and unsettling contradictions.

By Geoffrey O’Brien

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All About Eve: Upstage, Downstage
All About Eve: Upstage, Downstage

Full of booze, bons mots, and backstabbing, Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s impeccably crafted showbiz drama is the rare movie where—as its star, Bette Davis, once put it—“it all came out right.”

By Terrence Rafferty

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Now, Voyager: We Have the Stars
Now, Voyager: We Have the Stars

Perhaps the quintessential woman’s film of its era, this saga of self-discovery captures Bette Davis at the height of her reign at Warner Bros.

By Patricia White

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Cold War: You’re My Only Home
Cold War: You’re My Only Home

Two lovers cross boundaries both personal and national in this ambitious, zigzagging love story, one of the most romantic films of this century.

By Stephanie Zacharek

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Betty Blue: The Look of Love
Betty Blue: The Look of Love

Underneath its brilliantly colored, highly stylized surfaces, this key work of 1980s French cinema is a heartrending portrait of a woman struggling to both inhabit and reject traditionally feminine roles.

By ​Chelsea Phillips-Carr

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The Daytrippers: Alone, Together
The Daytrippers: Alone, Together

A scrappy comedy made on the cheap, Greg Mottola’s feature debut finds hilarity and heartbreak in the tale of one Long Island family’s Manhattan odyssey.

By Emily Nussbaum

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