Moonage Daydream: “Who Is He? What Is He?”
Brett Morgen’s portrait of David Bowie is a free-associative hybrid of pop history and imaginative extravaganza—impressionistic, eclectically allusive, and, above all, immersive.
La Bamba: American Dreaming, Chicano Style
In this vibrant, music-filled portrait of an artist and his community, director Luis Valdez gathers what little is known about rock-and-roll idol Ritchie Valens and fuses it with a lived-in understanding of what it is to be Chicano.
The Trial: Crime of the Century
In the film he once called his best, Orson Welles found a cinematic language equal to Franz Kafka’s distinctive effects, creating a vertiginous experience that accentuates the writer’s subterranean perversity.
Drylongso: A Refuge of Their Own
Cauleen Smith’s debut feature celebrates the bond between two young Black women and the ways that they imaginatively, collaboratively choreograph their lives in the face of their common vulnerabilities.
Bo Widerberg’s New Swedish Cinema: Another Sweden
While frequently drawing from the depths of his private life, the writer-director also sought to shake Swedish cinema out of a state of complacency by engaging with the country’s turbulent social landscape.
Dim Sum: A Little Bit of Heart: Family Style
For the first of several domestic melodramas in his filmography, Wayne Wang drew on the influence of Yasujiro Ozu and the talent within his own San Francisco community to explore the relationship between a mother and her daughter.
The Outlaw Variations: The Ranown Westerns’ Finely Drawn Antagonists
The protagonists in Budd Boetticher’s five classic Columbia westerns are paired with opponents who, venal though they may be, almost always have their reasons.
Some Things a Man Can’t Ride Around: Budd Boetticher’s Ranown Westerns
In his five collaborations with actor Randolph Scott and producer Harry Joe Brown, Boetticher presents an unsentimental vision of honor-bound men competing and banding together in a desolate landscape ruled by chance.
After Hours: No Exit
Martin Scorsese drew on the influence of Hitchcock and Kafka for this anxiety-ridden tale of one bizarre night in New York City—a movie that energized him during a tumultuous period in his career.
The Watermelon Woman: Faking It/Making It
In her audacious debut feature, Cheryl Dunye blends romantic comedy and staged archival material to explore love, friendship, and early U.S. cinema’s history of exclusion.
The Elegiac Heart: Pier Paolo Pasolini, Filmmaker
With a divided self that reflected the fissures in his country in the wake of World War II, the most courageous and dangerous Italian artist of his generation transcended dogma and resisted affiliations.
The Servant: A Cruel Servility
In their first collaboration, director Joseph Losey and screenwriter Harold Pinter explore the cultural fissures in modern England by dramatizing a kind of role-play in which no role is stable or easy to define.
Targets: American Sniper
Inspired by golden-age monster movies and the story of a real-life mass murderer, Peter Bogdanovich’s debut feature evokes the psychic dread of America in the 1960s, a decade defined by long-distance and increasingly high-profile gun violence.
Triangle of Sadness: The Captain’s Dinner Is Coming Up
In his second Palme d’Or–winning film, Ruben Östlund uses familiar reality-television tropes to stage a deeply unnerving spectacle of obscene wealth and class outrage.
Small Axe: Seared into Consciousness
Steve McQueen’s monumental, five-film portrait of London’s West Indian community is a howl of endorsement for political resistance and a vivid indictment of institutional malaise.
Chilly Scenes of Winter: Nowhere Fast
Described by director Joan Micklin Silver as “a kind of weird romantic comedy,” this defiantly ambiguous exploration of amour fou presents its obsessive antihero in all his contradictions.
Last Hurrah for Chivalry: Long Live Chivalric Brotherhood
A pivotal early film from legendary Hong Kong director John Woo, this martial-arts classic explores the heroic ethos of youxia, Chinese warriors willing to sacrifice their lives to fight for justice and fulfill their promises.
India Song and Baxter, Vera Baxter: In the Thrall of Duras
One of the towering figures of postwar French literature, Marguerite Duras was also an innovative filmmaker whose rarefied cinematic style dared audiences to see less and listen more.