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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.