‘The Irishman’ (2019)

Martin Scorsese re-teams with Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci for the first time since “Casino” (1995), itself a return to the organized crime territory of their earlier 1990 collaboration “Goodfellas” — and then adds Al Pacino as Jimmy Hoffa. A lazier filmmaker might merely have put the band back together to play their greatest hits. Scorsese does something far trickier, and more poignant: He takes all the elements we expect in a Scorsese gangster movie with this cast, and then he strips it all down, turning this story of turf wars, union battles and power struggles into a chamber piece of quiet conversations and moral contemplation. A.O. Scott called it “long and dark: long like a novel by Dostoyevsky or Dreiser, dark like a painting by Rembrandt.” (Scorsese’s “The Departed” and “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” are also streaming on Netflix.)

Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci in The Irishman (2019)

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Jake Gyllenhaal in “Zodiac.” Merrick Morton/Paramount Pictures

‘Zodiac’ (2007)

Director David Fincher’s breakthrough film was the serial-killer thriller “Seven,” but he had no intention of repeating himself with this 2007 mystery. Because the real-life Zodiac killer was never apprehended or tried for his crime, Fincher sidestepped the big payoff of most true crime stories, crafting instead a film that focuses on the kind of obsessiveness it takes to follow that trail, year after year, without a satisfactory conclusion. Our critic called it “at once sprawling and tightly constructed, opaque and meticulously detailed.”

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Daisy Ridley in “The Last Jedi.” Lucasfilm

‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ (2017)

In this, the eighth installment of the “Star Wars” saga, the writer-director Rian Johnson (“Looper”) bends the boundaries of the series in fascinating ways — tinkering with iconography, exploding expectations and taking the universe in unexpected directions. “The Last Jedi” delivers the blockbuster goods, with chases, dogfights and lightsaber battles galore. But it is also a subtle and thoughtful meditation on the franchise itself, and the necessity of storytellers who are willing to take big risks. Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac, and John Boyega all shine, but the powerhouse performer is Mark Hamill, who brings a lifetime of hope and disappointment to his long-awaited revival of Luke Skywalker. Our critic called it “a satisfying, at times transporting entertainment.” (Johnson’s first feature film, the scorching neo-noir “Brick,” is also streaming on Netflix – as is the Isaac-fronted sci-fi drama“Ex Machina.”)

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Grainger Hines in “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.” Netflix

‘The Ballad of Buster Scruggs’ (2018)

The latest from Joel and Ethan Coen is an anthology film set in the Old West, a series of stories of varying length and style, some as short and simple as jokes, others with the richness and depth of a great short story. Our critic wrote, “It swerves from goofy to ghastly so deftly and so often that you can’t always tell which is which,” and what seems at first like a filmed notebook of ideas and orphans instead becomes something of a workshop; it’s a place for the Coens to try things, experimenting with new styles and moods, while also delivering the kind of dark humor and deliciously ornate dialogue that we’ve come to expect. (For slightly wilder comedy, check out “To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar,” “Stripes” or “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.”)

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Pam Grier in “Jackie Brown.” Darren Michaels/Miramax Films

‘Jackie Brown’ (1997)

Quentin Tarantino followed up “Pulp Fiction” by reworking Elmore Leonard’s novel “Rum Punch” into a vehicle for the ’70s exploitation movie legend Pam Grier, and the result has all the hallmarks of a Tarantino picture: memorable and musical dialogue, playful construction, eccentric supporting characters and a throwback aesthetic. But Grier and Robert Forster (as a seen-it-all bail bondsman) lend the picture a maturity and gravitas that can elude even Tarantino’s best work. (Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds” is also streaming on Netflix.)

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Anne Hathaway, left, and Rosemarie DeWitt in “Rachel Getting Married.” Bob Vergara/Sony Pictures Classics

‘Rachel Getting Married’ (2008)

The story of a troubled child’s return home for a big family event isn’t exactly untold. But Jenny Lumet’s script is filled with keenly observed details and emotional truths, brought to vivid life by the director Jonathan Demme. And the performances are astonishing: Rosemarie DeWitt’s work as the bride easily conveys the years spent tolerating and apologizing for her sister, while Anne Hathaway is a marvel, raw and tempestuous, perpetually and precariously balanced between keeping it together and melting down. “It has an undeniable and authentic vitality,” wrote A.O. Scott, “an exuberance of spirit, that feels welcome and rare.” (For more classic family drama, queue up “Rebel Without a Cause.”)

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Keanu Reeves, left, and Hugo Weaving in “The Matrix.” Warner Bros.

‘The Matrix’ (1999)

This series-spawning smash is a gloriously inventive stew of dystopian future sci-fi, Hong Kong-style “gun fu,” turn-of-the-century paranoia and jaw-dropping special effects. Its big action set pieces have been imitated to death, but rarely with the visceral energy and giddy enthusiasm brought by the Wachowskis, two independent filmmakers who were given the tools and budget of a big studio picture and had an absolute blast. Our critic called it “a furious special-effects tornado.”

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Alex Hibbert, left, and Mahershala Ali in “Moonlight.” David Bornfriend/A24

‘Moonlight’ (2016)

The 2017 Academy Award winner for best picture, this triptych about a young, gay African-American man’s coming of age in Miami is a quietly revelatory piece of work, exploring and challenging modern perceptions of masculinity, family, power and love. Director Barry Jenkins (adapting a play by Tarell Alvin McCraney) creates a world so dense with detail and rich with humanity that every character gets a chance to shine; the themes and ideas are all above board, but conveyed with subtlety and understatement. Our critic described it as “a poem written in light, music and vivid human faces.”

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From left, Johnny Lee Miller, Ewan McGregor, Kevin McKidd and Ewen Bremner in a scene from “Trainspotting.” Liam Longman/Miramax Films

‘Trainspotting’ (1996)

The director Danny Boyle brought the cult novel by Irvine Welsh to the screen as a visceral experience, chasing the relentlessly energetic narrative like the drug addicts at its center chase a high. Ewan McGregor found a star-making role in the protagonist, Renton, a Scottish miscreant who insists he chooses the dangers of addiction over a life of suburban prescription; Robert Carlyle is the supporting standout as the scariest member of his crew. “It rocks to a throbbing beat,” our critic wrote, “and trains its jaundiced eye on some of the most lovable lowlifes ever to skulk across a screen.”

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Harrison Ford in “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” Lucasfilm

‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ (1981)

So much of this 1981 Steven Spielberg adventure has entered the realm of pop culture immortality — the rolling boulder, the melting Nazi face, the truck chase — that it’s easy to forget how fleet-footed, fresh and funny it is. Riffing on the Saturday afternoon serials that thrilled them as children, director Spielberg and producer George Lucas packed a full series of heroes, villains, cliffhangers and fisticuffs into a single crowd-pleasing feature. Our critic called it “one of the most deliriously funny, ingenious and stylish American adventure movies ever made.” (For more of Dr. Jones, check out “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” on Netflix.)

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Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway in “Bonnie and Clyde.” Warner Bros.

‘Bonnie and Clyde’ (1967)

“This here’s Miss Bonnie Parker. I’m Clyde Barrow. We rob banks.” With those simple but accurate words, the producer and star Warren Beatty helped kick off a whole new movement of subversive, challenging, youth-oriented moviemaking. Directed by Arthur Penn, the film initially received mixed criticism — our critic dismissed it as “a cheap piece of bald-faced slapstick” — but in the passing years, its power and influence became undeniable. Every performance is a gem, but Beatty and Faye Dunaway rarely rose to this level in their other work, mixing sexuality, danger, restlessness and ennui.

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From left, Eric Idle, John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Terry Jones and Michael Palin in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’ (1975)

The British comedy troupe Monty Python created its funniest, wildest and cult-friendliest feature-length comedy with this 1975 send-up of the legend of King Arthur — and of medieval literature in general, and of big-screen epics. Graham Chapman is the ostensible lead as Arthur, leading his Knights of the Round Table on a quest for the Grail, but the plot is merely a clothesline on which to hang blackout sketches and self-aware gags, and there are many. Our critic called it “a marvelously particular kind of lunatic endeavor.” (For more fun with Python, queue up the button-pushing 1979 Biblical spoof “Life of Brian.”)

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A scene from the Alfonso Cuarón film “Roma.” Carlos Somonte/Netflix

‘Roma’ (2018)

This vivid, evocative memory play from Alfonso Cuarón is a story of two Mexican women in the early 1970s: Sofía (Marina de Tavira), a mother of four whose husband (and provider) is on his way out the door, and Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio), the family’s nanny, maid and support system. His scenes are occasionally stressful, often heart-wrenching, and they unfailingly burst with life and emotion. Our critic called it “an expansive, emotional portrait of life buffeted by violent forces, and a masterpiece.” (Fans of challenging drama should also seek out “Frozen River” and “A Serious Man.”)

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Jeff Bridges, left, and Gil Birmingham in “Hell or High Water.” Lorey Sebastian/CBS Films

‘Hell or High Water’ (2016)

The director David Mackenzie (“Starred Up”) draws on the mythos of classic Westerns to tell this contemporary story of robbers driven to crime not by greed and status but by economic distress and desperation. Ben Foster’s trigger-happy thrill-seeker, Chris Pine’s rational man with a purpose and Jeff Bridges’s wise old lawman are so well drawn and authentically acted that the dialogue scenes are as thrilling as the shootouts. Our critic praised the “verve and tongue-tickling texture” of Taylor Sheridan’s dialogue.

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Jesse Eisenberg, top, and Owen Kline in a scene from “The Squid and the Whale.” James Hamilton/Samuel Goldwyn Films

‘The Squid and the Whale’ (2005)

Two young men weather their Park Slope parents’ nasty divorce in this ruthlessly intelligent and mercilessly evenhanded coming-of-age story from the writer and director Noah Baumbach, who drew upon his own teen memories and put himself, not altogether complimentarily, into the character of the 16-year-old Walt (a spot-on Jesse Eisenberg). Laura Linney is passive-aggressive perfection as his mother, while Jeff Daniels, as the father, masterfully captures a specific type of sneeringly dissatisfied Brooklyn intellectual. The film is “both sharply comical and piercingly sad,” as A.O. Scott wrote, as Baumbach dissects this family’s woes and drama with knowing precision. (Fans of misanthropic comedy may also enjoy “Her or “The Lobster.”)

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Colin Firth in a scene from “A Single Man.” Eduard Grau/Weinstein Company

‘A Single Man’ (2009)

The fashion designer turned filmmaker Tom Ford made his feature directorial debut with this moving, melancholy (and, unsurprisingly, aesthetically stunning) adaptation of the novel by Christopher Isherwood.  An Oscar-nominated Colin Firth stars as George, a college professor and “bachelor,” as gay men in his era were so often euphemistically known. Accompanying George through one long, difficult day — the anniversary of the death of his boyfriend — Ford burrows deep into the tortured psyche of his protagonist, and Firth is up to the challenge, playing the role with what Manohla Dargis called “a magnificent depth of feeling.” (Firth also shines in “The King’s Speech.”)

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Anya Taylor-Joy in “The Witch.” A24

‘The Witch’ (2016)

A Puritan family, banished to the woods of New England by its community, encounters a frightening force of true evil in this potent mixture of art-house drama and supernatural thriller from the writer and director Robert Eggers. Resisting jump-scares and cheap thrills in favor of slow burns and discomforting dread, Eggers builds his story to a climax that seems both terrifying and inevitable. Our critic called it “a finely calibrated shiver of a movie.”

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Uma Thurman in “Pulp Fiction.” Linda R. Chen/Miramax Films

‘Pulp Fiction’ (1994)

Three crime stories — a hit man out to dinner with his boss’s wife, a boxer who decides not to throw the big fight and a contract killing gone awry — are shuffled like cards in a deck, told out of order and with delightful narrative curveballs in this 1994 hodgepodge from the writer-director Quentin Tarantino. He writes the kind of tasty, self-aware dialogue that actors love to devour, and he puts together an enviable ensemble cast of big names, fallen stars and rising talents to deliver it. Our critic calls it a work of “depth, wit and blazing originality.

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Emma Roberts in “The Blackcoat’s Daughter.” A24

‘The Blackcoat’s Daughter’ (2017)

Osgood Perkins — son of the “Psycho” star Anthony Perkins — writes and directs this unnerving and disturbing story of creepy goings-on at a near-empty girls’ boarding school. The performances (from Kiernan Shipka, Lucy Boynton, and Emma Roberts) are sharp and the scares are genuine, while Perkins’ orchestration of mood and atmosphere is chillingly effective. Our critic called it “perfectly acted and gorgeously filmed.”

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Jacob Tremblay and Brie Larson in “Room.” George Kraychyk/A24

‘Room’ (2015)

Brie Larson won an Oscar for her powerful leading performance in this moving adaptation of the novel by Emma Donoghue, in which a woman held for years in captivity tries to escape from her kidnapper with the help of her young son. Lenny Abrahamson’s intimate direction emphasizes the claustrophobia of their surroundings, but tantalizes with the promise and possibility of escape. (For more Oscar-winning drama, stream “Milk” and “Rain Man” on Netflix.)

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Kathryn Hahn and Paul Giamatti in “Private Life.” Jojo Whilden/Netflix

‘Private Life’ (2018)

Kathryn Hahn and Paul Giamatti shine as two New York creative types whose attempts to start a family — by adoption, by fertilization, by whatever it takes — test the mettle of their relationships and sanity. The wise script by the director Tamara Jenkins is not only funny and truthful but also sharply tuned to their specific world: Few films have better captured the very public nature of marital trouble in New York, when every meltdown is interrupted by passers-by and looky-loos. “Private Life,” which our critic called “piquant and perfect,” is a marvelous balancing act of sympathy and cynicism, both caring for its subjects and knowing them and their flaws well enough to wink and chuckle. (The funny, moving “Obvious Child” is another wise look at living, and getting pregnant, in New York City.)

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Paul Newman in “Cool Hand Luke.” Warner Bros.

‘Cool Hand Luke’ (1967)

Paul Newman turns in one of his most iconic performances as the former war hero Lucas Jackson, whose tenacious, rascally free spirit and refusal to kowtow to authority maddens his keepers on a Florida chain gang — and inspires his fellow prisoners. The director Stuart Rosenberg cranks up the sweaty atmosphere and high intensity, placing the viewer right alongside Luke as he fights, runs and bets his way through his sentence, and Newman calls upon all of his considerable charisma to give the character life. Our critic praised its “intelligent contemplation of the ironies of life.” (For more classic Newman, stream “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” on Netflix.)

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Merab Ninidze and Ia Shugliashvili in “My Happy Family.” Netflix

‘My Happy Family’ (2017)

A 52-year-old Georgian woman shocks her family, and her entire community, when she decides to move out of the cramped family apartment — leaving her husband, children and parents behind in order to finally begin a life of her own. “In this world, there are no families without problems,” she is told, and the conflicts of the script by Nana Ekvtimishvili (who also directed, with Simon Gross) are a sharp reminder that while the cultural specifics may vary, familial guilt and passive aggression are bound by no language. Manohla Dargis praised its “sardonically funny, touching key.” (For more critically acclaimed foreign drama, try the Oscar nominated Hungarian film “On Body and Soul.”)

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Tilikum in a scene from “Blackfish.” Gabriela Cowperthwaite/Magnolia Pictures

‘Blackfish’ (2013)

In investigating the death of a trainer at SeaWorld, the director Gabriela Cowperthwaite traces the sordid history of the capture and training of performing killer whales, masterfully juxtaposing SeaWorld’s own commercials and promo videos with the grisly tales of accidents, attacks and public relations spin. Paced like a thriller and written like a deft courtroom summation, it is intelligent, methodical and harrowing; our critic called it a “delicately lacerating documentary.” (Netflix is also streaming the acclaimed documentaries “The Look of Silence,” “Elena” and “Icarus.”)

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Leila Hatami in “A Separation.” Habib Majidi/Sony Pictures Classics

‘A Separation’ (2011)

The Iranian director Asghar Farhadi won a richly deserved Academy Award for best foreign film for this story of a man, his wife, their child and the family they disastrously intersect with. In dramatizing the moral, social and legal fallout of a domestic episode that was either a misunderstanding or an assault, Farhadi displays his gift for telling stories that hinge on the tiniest events. A.O. Scott called it “tightly structured” and “emotionally astute.” (Fans of this foreign morality play may also enjoy “Burning.”)

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Denzel Washington in a scene from “Malcolm X.” Warner Bros. Pictures

‘Malcolm X’ (1992)

Denzel Washington turns in one of his finest, fiercest performances in this thrilling, powerful biopic from the director Spike Lee, who tells the story of the civil rights icon on an epic, “Lawrence of Arabia”-sized scale. It’s a story of evolution, following Malcom X’s progression from petty thief to religious leader to international figure, refusing to reduce his theology and philosophy into easy catchphrases or simple explanations. Our critic called it “an ambitious, tough, seriously considered biographical film that, with honor, eludes easy characterization.”

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Justin Timberlake in “Justin Timberlake and the Tennessee Kids.” Netflix

‘Justin Timberlake + the
Tennessee Kids’ (2016)

Jonathan Demme’s final feature film was shot on the last two nights of Justin Timberlake’s “20/20 Experience” world tour, at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. The pairing of director and subject is unexpected, but Demme is up to the job; as in his Talking Heads film “Stop Making Sense,” he deftly captures the energy, electricity and playfulness of a live concert performance, a directorial feat that is harder than it looks. (Love music documentaries? Check out “Amy,” “20 Feet From Stardom” and “Metallica: Some Kind of Monster.”)

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A scene from “The Little Prince.” Netflix

‘The Little Prince’ (2016)

Director Mark Osborne (“Kung Fu Panda”) took an unconventional approach to adapting the classic children’s book by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry for the screen, placing its story of an aviator’s encounters with a magical little boy inside a contemporary tale of a little girl’s friendship with that aviator (now a grizzled old man). It sounds like a recipe for disaster, fixing a book that isn’t broken, but “The Little Prince” is a small miracle, maintaining the magic and sweetness of the original while contextualizing it for a new generation. Our critic called it “unusually forceful and imaginative.” (Viewers looking for more offbeat family fun should try “Coraline,” “The Dark Crystal” or Billy Elliot.”)

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Angela Davis, scholar and activist, in “13TH.” Netflix

‘13TH’ (2016)

Ava DuVernay (“Selma”) directs this wide-ranging deep dive into mass incarceration, tracing the advent of America’s overcrowded (and disproportionately minority-filled) modern prison system back to the 13th Amendment of the United States Constitution. It’s a giant topic to take on in 100 minutes, and DuVernay understandably has to do some skimming and slicing. But that necessity engenders its style: “13TH” tears through history with a palpable urgency that pairs nicely with its righteous fury. Our critic called it “powerful, infuriating and at times overwhelming.” (Documentary fans should also seek out “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” and “Paris Is Burning.”)

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Ryan Reynolds and Ben Mendelsohn in “Mississippi Grind.” Patti Perret/A24

‘Mississippi Grind’ (2015)

Before “Captain Marvel,” the directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck teamed with Ben Mendelsohn (and another superhero movie star, Ryan Reynolds) for this laid back, on-the-road gambling picture, featuring Mendelsohn and Reynolds as a pair of longtime losers reaching for that one big score that will make everything right. The supporting cast is rich — Alfre Woodard, Sienna Miller and Analeigh Tipton all shine — and like the 1970s cinema it so clearly draws from, “Mississippi Grind” has what our critic called “a loose, behind-the-beat rhythm.” (Card sharps will also want to add “Rounders” to their queues.)

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Brie Larson and Lakeith Stanfield in “Short Term 12.” Brett Pawlak/Cinedigm

‘Short Term 12’ (2013)

Set at a group home for troubled teens, this 2013 indie drama from director Destin Daniel Cretton casts aside the after school-special conventions typical of such stories and digs out the dramatic truths buried within. Cretton offsets the inherently downbeat subject matter with an exuberant directorial hand and coaxes gutsy performances from his ace cast, including “before they were stars” turns by Brie Larson, Lakeith Stanfield, Stephanie Beatriz and Rami Malek. Our critic noted, “Mr. Cretton manages to earn your tears honestly.”

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Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling in a scene from “Blue Valentine.” Weinstein Company

‘Blue Valentine’ (2010)

As the married couple Cindy and Dean, Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling are “exemplars of New Method sincerity,” according to A.O. Scott, “able to be fully and achingly present every moment on screen together.” Their director, Derek Cianfrance, tells this story in pieces as they come together and fall apart, in timelines separated by six years of hard, unsatisfying living (but shot with only a month between them, an astonishing feat of physical and psychological acting). Aching and heartfelt, the film is an often upsetting yet undeniably powerful account of how not all love stories end in “happily ever after.”

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Liam Neeson in “Schindler’s List.” David James/Universal Pictures

‘Schindler’s List’ (1993)

After almost 20 years of popcorn moviemaking, Steven Spielberg proved himself to be not only a serious dramatist but also one of our most gifted historical chroniclers with this 1993 film. In it, he tells the true story of Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson), a German businessman and member of the Nazi party who became the unlikely savior of more than 1,000 Jewish workers in his factories. Our critic wrote that Spielberg directed the film “with fury and immediacy.” (For more historical drama from Spielberg, queue up “Lincoln.”)

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Clockwise from top, Trula Hoosier, Barbara-O and Alva Rogers in “Daughters of the Dust.” Cohen Film Collection

‘Daughters of the Dust’ (1992)

This historical drama from writer-director Julie Dash proved something of a challenge for general audiences when it was originally released in 1991. But its reputation has grown in the years since (thanks, in no small part, to the explicit homage paid to it by Beyoncé’s “Lemonade”), elevating it to its proper place among the most important independent films of its era. Our critic called it “a film of spellbinding visual beauty.” (For more historical drama, queue up Merchant-Ivory’s “Howards End.”)

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From left, Greta Gerwig, Elle Fanning and Annette Bening in “20th Century Women.” Gunther Gampine/A24

‘20th Century Women’ (2016)

A young man’s coming of age becomes a group project when his single mother (Annette Bening) reaches out to their housemates and friends for help, resulting in a slightly more complicated education than she envisioned. This touching and personal dramedy from the writer-director Mike Mills (“Beginners”) deftly conveys the period without relying on caricature, and resists resorting to cheap villainy or soapboxing. Every character is brought to life with humor and sensitivity, and Bening’s work is among her very best. Manohla Dargis deemed it “a funny, emotionally piercing story.” (Love tender teen coming-of-age flicks? Queue up “The Edge of Seventeen.”)

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Mia Farrow in “Rosemary’s Baby.” Paramount Pictures

‘Rosemary’s Baby’ (1968)

It looks, at first glance, like the perfect New York City romance: a roomy apartment on the Upper West Side, a gorgeous wife and her handsome actor husband, a bouncing baby on the way. Look closer. Roman Polanski’s “mainstream masterpiece” is a chilling examination of the terror that lurks just beneath those shiny surfaces, beneath the wide-eyed good intentions of new friends and the cheerful opportunism of the young couple at its center. Mia Farrow does some of her finest acting as the increasingly sickly (and paranoid) mother-to-be.

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Maggie Gyllenhaal and Parker Sevak in “The Kindergarten Teacher.” Netflix

‘The Kindergarten Teacher’ (2018)

Maybe she’s just a really good teacher. But there also seems to be something outsized and intense about the interest Lisa (Maggie Gyllenhaal) takes in little Jimmy (Parker Sevak) and his gift for composing and reciting brilliant poetic verse, seemingly out of nowhere. There’s no simple explanation for her behavior, or for how it escalates, because this is not a simple movie. The writer-director Sara Colangelo (adapting the Israeli film by Nadav Lapid) follows the teacher’s impulses to an upsetting but unnervingly logical conclusion, and Gyllenhaal, our critic noted, “somehow makes us all her accomplices, imprisoning our sympathies even when Lisa’s inappropriate behavior escalates to inexcusable.”

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Gael García Bernal and Maribel Verdu in the film “Y Tu Mamá También.” Daniel Daza/IFC Films

‘Y Tu Mamá También’ (2002)

It sounds like the setup for an ’80s sex comedy: Two horny teenage boys take an impromptu road trip and talk a seductive older woman into coming along. But director Alfonso Cuarón (“Gravity,” “Children of Men”), “Y Tu Mamá También” frames their story partly through the unexpected but effective lens of class and political struggle, constructing a delicate film with much to say about masculinity, poverty and mortality. And then it’s sexy, on top of that. Our critic called it “fast, funny, unafraid of sexuality and finally devastating.” (For more adventurous foreign cinema, check out “Happy as Lazzaro.”)

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Robert De Niro in “Raging Bull.” United Artists

‘Raging Bull’ (1980)

Robert De Niro won his second Academy Award for his fiercely physical and psychologically punishing performance in this searing adaptation of the autobiography of the middleweight champion Jake LaMotta. It’s a relentlessly downbeat piece of work, but the force of De Niro’s performance and the energy of Martin Scorsese’s direction are hard to overstate, or to forget. Our critic called it Scorsese’s “most ambitious film as well as his finest.” (Scorsese and De Niro’s earlier collaboration “Mean Streets” is also on Netflix.)

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Isak Bakli Aglen, left, and Jonas Strand Gravli in “22 July.” Erik Aavatsmark/Netflix

‘22 July’ (2018)

The director Paul Greengrass returns to the documentary-style immediacy of his “United 93” and “Captain Phillips” with this dramatization of the 2011 Oslo terror attacks, in which the bombing of a government building was used to set the stage for a mass shooting at a teen summer camp. Those horrifying, gripping sequences are not for the faint of heart, but (unlike with “United 93”) the story doesn’t stop there; his portraiture of the tragedy’s aftermath is tough and complex, and the film doesn’t have to overstate the continuing presence of this kind of terror.

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A scene from “Mudbound.” Steve Dietl/Netflix

‘Mudbound’ (2017)

The fates of two families — one white and one black, connected by a plot of land one owns and the other sharecrops — are inextricably intertwined in this powerful adaptation by director Dee Rees of the novel by Hillary Jordan. Rees gracefully tells both stories (and the larger tale of postwar America) without veering into didacticism, and her ensemble cast brings every moment of text and subtext into sharp focus. Our critic called it a work of “disquieting, illuminating force.”

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Carl Weathers, left, and Sylvester Stallone in “Rocky.” MGM

‘Rocky’ (1976)

A struggling young actor named Sylvester Stallone became a worldwide superstar when he wrote himself the plum role of a C-list boxer who gets a shot at the championship. And it’s a star-making performance, with a vulnerability that the actor shed far too quickly. (This work is closer to Brando than Rambo.) John G. Avildsen directs in a modest, unaffected style that underlines the palooka’s solitude. The supporting cast is stunning, particularly Talia Shire, heartbreaking as the painfully shy object of Rocky’s affection. (For more boxing drama, queue up “The Fighter.”)

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Jennifer Lawrence in “Winter’s Bone.” Sebastian Mlynarski/Roadside Attractions

‘Winter’s Bone’ (2010)

A young sitcom actress named Jennifer Lawrence burst into the moviemaking mainstream with her tough, memorable performance in this 2010 indie drama from the director Debra Granik. Lawrence is startlingly good as a 17-year-old who’s in way over her head, trying desperately to save her family home and track down her father in the meth-ravaged rural Ozarks of Missouri. Our critic called it “straightforward and suspenseful but also surprising and subtle.” (Indie drama lovers may also enjoy “Burning Cane,” “Personal Shopper” and “I, Daniel Blake.”)

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Chloë Sevigny and Christian Bale in “American Psycho.” Kerry Hayes/Lionsgate Films

‘American Psycho’ (2000)

The director Mary Harron and her co-screenwriter Guinevere Turner transformed Bret Easton Ellis’s gory, divisive 1991 novel into a ruthless satire of the yuppie ethos, with Christian Bale in frighteningly good form as a Wall Street climber who moonlights as a serial killer. But Harron spends less time fetishizing his kills than his status symbols — business cards, skincare products, compact discs. Watching the result, our critic wrote, “is like witnessing a bravura sleight-of-hand feat.”

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The computer-generated Okja, left, and An Seo Hyun in “Okja.” Netflix

‘Okja’ (2017)

A marvelously absurd, stingingly satirical and unexpectedly moving story of a girl and her genetically engineered super-pig, this Netflix original from the director Bong Joon Ho is the kind of movie that goes in so many wild directions at once — urban mayhem one moment, character drama the next — it leaves you breathlessly off-balance. Bong coaxes game and unpredictable performances from his gloriously unhinged cast, with particularly juicy turns by Tilda Swinton and Jake Gyllenhaal. A.O. Scott raved, “Mr. Bong juggles delight and didacticism with exquisite grace.” (For more Bong, check out his previous film, “Snowpiercer.”)

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Haddock (voiced by Andy Serkis), left, and Tintin (Jamie Bell) in a scene from “The Adventures of Tintin.” WETA Digital/Paramount Pictures and Columbia Pictures

‘The Adventures of Tintin’ (2011)

Steven Spielberg adapts Tintin, the beloved cartoon creation of the Belgian cartoonist Georges Remi, for this charming family adventure. In doing so, Spielberg reconnects with the spirit of his Indiana Jones adventures, which were similarly globe-trotting and fun-loving in the manner of the old Saturday serials — though he adds a decidedly modern sheen in the form of motion-capture animation. The result is a cheerful intermingling of old and new, which our critic called “a marvel of gee-wizardry.” (For more seafaring family fun, stream Robert Altman’s “Popeye” on Netflix.)

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Sean Penn, center, in “Mystic River.” Merle Wallace/Warner Bros.

‘Mystic River’ (2003)

Sean Penn and Tim Robbins won Oscars for their work with Kevin Bacon as childhood friends whose paths sharply diverge after a horrifying trauma — and intersect again as the cycle of violence circles back. Clint Eastwood’s modest directorial style is ideal for this adaptation of the Dennis Lehane novel; he approaches these chilling events with an everyday resignation, and his actors underplay appropriately. Our critic called it “a film that consists almost entirely of haunting scenes.” (Love Oscar-winning literary adaptations? Try out Doctor Zhivago.”)

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Zhang Ziyi in “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.” Chan Kam Chuen/Sony Pictures Classics

‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ (2000)

Ang Lee received an Academy Award nomination for best director for this enthralling mixture of martial arts adventure and heartfelt romance. His narrative is a busy hive of deception, betrayal, loyalty and pride, and while the personal and emotional stakes are high, “Crouching Tiger” is most memorable for its awe-inspiring action sequences — bone-crunching and balletic, thrilling and lyrical, as heroes and villains alike transcend gravity itself. Our critic called it “a heady and delirious brew.” (Wuxia admirers will also want to stream “Shadow”; fans of high-intensity action should also queue up “Enter the Dragon” and “Train to Busan.”)

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Sean Penn, left, and Michael Douglas in “The Game.” Tony Friedkin/Polygram Films

‘The Game’ (1997)

David Fincher followed up the smash success of his breakthrough feature “Seven” with this puzzle movie, which begin as yet another sleek, Micheal Douglas-fronted valentine to yuppie extravagance before taking a hard turn in to the province of jittery conspiracy thrillers. Douglas is spot-on as Nicholas Van Orton, a grim investment banker whose ne’er-do-well brother (Sean Penn) gives him the birthday gift of a role-playing game that slowly, methodically strips away his money and power. Our critic wrote that Fincher shows “real finesse in playing to the paranoia of these times.”

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A scene from “Once Upon a Time in the West.” Paramount Pictures

‘Once Upon a Time in the West’ (1969)

Fresh off the success of his genre-bending “spaghetti westerns,” the director Sergio Leone brought his signature dusty landscapes, offbeat music, brutal violence and morally flexible protagonists to this Hollywood studio production. Henry Fonda is truly chilling as a ruthless villain, conveying a pure evil not even hinted at in his decades of good-guy turns, and the film’s heroine (Claudia Cardinale) and her tough-guy companions (Charles Bronson and Jason Robards) make an unlikely but effective team. Atmospheric, bracing and effortlessly cool, with an unforgettable closing confrontation. (For more classic adventure, queue up “The Dirty Dozen.”)

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Source: nytimes.com

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