The War of the Worlds: Sky on Fire
The first and most influential film adaptation of H. G. Wells’s sci-fi classic, this brilliantly imagined vision of apocalypse captured American anxieties at the height of the Cold War.
Read and See: Ales Adamovich and Literature out of Fire
In postwar Belarus, where documents were either inaccessible or had been destroyed, the cowriter of Come and See pioneered a new form of literature sourced from the nightmarish testimonies of survivors.
Tokyo Olympiad: The Wind Passing Through the Flagpoles
Kon Ichikawa aimed to show “the sweat” and “the pathos” of athletic ambition in this monumental documentary, the most extravagant Olympic film to date.
Portrait of a Lady on Fire: Daring to See
Art becomes a tool for remaking one’s world in this unforgettable depiction of lesbian love, a film that director Céline Sciamma has called “a manifesto about the female gaze.”
The Cameraman: Man with a Movie Camera
Buster Keaton struggled with higher-ups at MGM while making his last great film, which the studio would later hold up as a model of a perfectly constructed comedy.
An Unmarried Woman: The Business of Being a Woman
Paul Mazursky’s candid tale of self-discovery reflects feminist politics of the 1970s while also hearkening back to the glories of classic Hollywood women’s pictures.
Dance, Girl, Dance: Gotta Dance
Pioneering Hollywood filmmaker Dorothy Arzner brought a rare feminist sensibility to this backstage drama that explores the role of ambition, friendship, and love in the lives of two dancers.
Me and You and Everyone We Know: Punk Cars Bodies Movies
Miranda July took her punk spirit and wild imagination to the big screen with this first feature, which explores universal themes of shame and pain through her singular voice.
The Cremator: “No One Will Suffer”
Juraj Herz’s macabre tale of madness epitomizes the artistic and political audacity of Czechoslovak cinema during its golden age of liberalization, a period that would soon prove to be short-lived.
Destry Rides Again: Riding High
After a career drought, Marlene Dietrich roared back to fame and acclaim with this ingenious comedy-western hybrid, made in what is widely considered one of the peak years of the studio system.
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.