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  • LAST TANGO IN PARIS (1972)
    "Go get the butter," says Marlon Brando purposefully, in a movie that premiered at the prestigious New York Film Festival. Cognoscenti were then treated to a lengthy scene of anal sex that many hailed as psychologically expressive, others as smut parading as art. The tumult only spread from there: Curious theatergoers were yelled at by protesters, while the doomy romance met with outright banning in Chile, Spain and even director Bernardo Bertolucci's native Italy, where his civil rights were revoked for five years. Fortunately, critical praise saved the day, with The New Yorker's Pauline Kael going out on a limb in the most famous review of her career: "This is a movie people will be arguing about, I think, for as long as there are movies," she wrote. Her invitation still stands.---Joshua Rothkopf

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  • WHEN WE WERE KINGS (1996)
    Leon Gast's definitive look at the Ali-Foreman "Rumble in the Jungle" is more than just a great-moments-in-sports doc. It's an insightful portrait of Ali as a 20th-century icon transformed into a symbol of tenacity for a beleaguered continent---and proof that the charismatic champ was indeed "the greatest."---David Fear

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  • FORBIDDEN GAMES (1952)
    This French heartbreaker popularized a storyline that would appear forever in war films: the strength of children to find a way through the muck. An orphaned five-year-old girl is befriended by a boy who helps her bury her dog. They tend to other dead animals in their small, makeshift cemetery, a poetic image that still wrecks.---JR

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  • MAN WITH A MOVIE CAMERA (1929)
    The modernizing Soviet Union swirled around filmmaker Dziga Vertov, who, working with his brilliant editor wife, Elizaveta, decided to capture chaotic urban life in Ukraine. There would be no script, no sound, so hostile was Vertov to narrative. Instead, he would turn his "kino eye" into a hungry maw, one that would cheerfully devour men and women at work, gnashing the image into innovative split-screen and double exposures, breaking the bonds of time and causality. His avant-garde movie, still a stunning piece of futurism, was the entire spirit of the revolution condensed to a single hour. It will inspire as long as there are eyes to watch.---JR

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  • THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST (1988)
    An explosive tour de force from one of our greatest filmmakers, Martin Scorsese's long-gestating passion project shares elements with several films on our list: sex, violence, Jesus Christ. But this reimagining of Nikos Kazantzakis' speculative novel about the Son of God's human fallibility easily ascends to the top of our countdown due to the sheer furor it inspired worldwide. Pundits denounced it. The Vatican and numerous Christians took vocal issue with the extended sequence in which Jesus imagines an alternate life for himself (sun-dappled sex scenes included) with the prostitute Mary Magdalene. One French fundamentalist group launched Molotov cocktails into a Paris theater, injuring several patrons. And some countries banned the film sight unseen (it still can't be shown in the Philippines or Singapore). Lost in all the commotion is the film itself: Beautifully performed (especially by Willem Dafoe as Jesus), impeccably shot and scored (Peter Gabriel's propulsive soundtrack is one for the ages), it's the work of a true believer in both movies and mankind.---Keith Uhlich

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  • THE OUTLAW (1943)
    Forget the billing order: The breakout star(s) of this tawdry Western was Jane Russell's bust. Obsessive producer-director Howard Hughes featured Russell's assets prominently in both the movie and its leering promotional material. The outcry over immorality delayed general release for three years---at which point this mammary-obsessed pet project became a mammoth hit.---DF

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  • BONNIE AND CLYDE (1967)
    Audiences were used to living vicariously through tommy-gun-wielding gangsters breaking the law with panache. What they weren't prepared for was seeing the bloody aftermath of their antiheroes' activities rendered in living color. This film's use of startlingly realistic violence---oddly coupled with jaunty banjos and jokey moments---caused a furor among those who thought it made murder seem sexy and frivolous. Bosley Crowther of The New York Times complained that the movie's "brutal killings [were] pointless and lacking in taste." But younger critics such as Pauline Kael came to the movie's defense, contextualizing its horrors within the civil unrest going on outside of theaters. Crowther eventually lost his job over the review, while Bonnie and Clyde precipitated a vital American New Wave---and opened the floodgates for countless slo-mo bullet ballets.---DF

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  • THE GLEANERS & I (2000)
    There's no better way to enter the whimsical world of New Wave legend Agns Varda than via this playful first-person exploration, a loving paean to human idiosyncrasy. Camcorder in hand, the director travels the French countryside in search of people who collect trash of all different sorts.---KU

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  • PEEPING TOM (1960)
    While British expat Alfred Hitchcock was making stateside waves with Psycho, his countryman Michael Powell was earning England's ire for this disturbing tale of a movie-obsessed murderer. The critical savaging destroyed Powell's career, but a cult developed. Martin Scorsese was instrumental in the film's rehabilitation, funding a rerelease in the late '70s.---KU

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  • THE EXORCIST (1973)
    So much rumor and urban myth swirl around what is widely considered the freakiest horror movie ever made, it demands a place on our list. Fires and injuries led director William Friedkin to have the set of his "cursed" film blessed by a priest. Alleged subliminal imagery supplied extra spookiness (it was just good editing). And Linda Blair required a bodyguard for months.---JR

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  • FULL METAL JACKET (1987)
    Stanley Kubrick's unnerving contribution to Vietnam war movies will gouge out your eyes and skull-fuck you (to quote a line). The first half of this opus, set at the Marines' Parris Island training facility, is widely lauded: Drill instructor R. Lee Ermey spouts every imaginable expletive (plus some new ones) while putting a group of new recruits through their paces. Yet the less-discussed second half---which follows Matthew Modine's Pvt. "Joker" and his fellow soldiers through the Tet Offensive---is a necessarily complement. This is where we see the end result of turning men into killing machines, and it's like gazing into the abyss.---KU

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  • RIDE WITH THE DEVIL (1999)
    You wouldn't expect anything less complex from director Ang Lee (The Ice Storm, Brokeback Mountain), whose oblique take on the Civil War---specifically guerrilla fighting in Missouri---thrilled critics and mystified crowds. A pre-Spidey Tobey Maguire anchors the movie in sympathy, while Jeffrey Wright electrifies as a liberated slave.---JR

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  • THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN ARM (1955)
    No stranger to breaking screen taboos (see No. 43), Otto Preminger went a step further with this drug-addiction drama, in which Frank Sinatra's strung-out musician shoots up. People were equal parts aghast at the film's daring depiction of a dope fiend and impressed by its realistic take on the subject. Legions of high-wire screen-junkie performances owe this groundbreaking film a debt.---DF

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  • THE THIN RED LINE (1998)
    After a 20-year absence from filmmaking, the reclusive Terrence Malick returned with this astounding adaptation of James Jones's novel about the Battle of Guadalcanal in WWII's Pacific theater. The overall tone is philosophical and introspective (as is the director's latest, The Tree of Life), though Malick proves himself a confident director of action sequences, too.---KU

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  • RESERVOIR DOGS (1992)
    A fearful cop gets stuck in the middle with a psycho crook and loses an ear. It's the tipping point in Quentin Tarantino's sanguine first feature, which sparked numerous violence-in-cinema think pieces and inspired many unnerved walkouts. Makeup genius Rick Baker, one of the fleeing viewers, told QT he should take his own early exit as a compliment.---KU

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  • CRUISING (1980)
    Controversy plagued William Friedkin's leather-bar murder mystery even before it screened for audiences. Gay activists were so offended by the film's purportedly fearmongering depictions of Manhattan's queer underground that they disrupted shooting. Once it was released, protests only intensified, though the film has since been viewed more favorably (by gay critics, in some cases) and regarded as a time capsule of a lost subculture.---KU

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  • BATTLEGROUND (1949)
    If war movies have become sophisticated, critical responses to the illusion of the gung-ho supersoldier, we have this Hollywood drama to thank. Taking WWII's pivotal Battle of the Bulge as its subject, director William Wellman's chronicle found room for then-bold notes of uncertainty and fear---even a hint of desertion.---JR

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  • "UN CHIEN ANDALOU" (1929)/L'AGE D'OR (1930)
    Luis Buuel didn't pull any punches with his first two shorts. The 16-minute "Un Chien Andalou" memorably features a woman's eyeball slit by a razor, while the 60-minute L'Age d'Or, a scathing attack on bourgeois society, so incensed its first audiences that the financiers pulled it from distribution.---KU

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  • MERRY CHRISTMAS, MR. LAWRENCE (1983)
    Can it be that between The Man Who Fell to Earth and this quietly powerful film, David Bowie is the most underrated actor of his generation? The art-pop star effortlessly embodies the guilty conscience of a WWII British prisoner of war, striking up a complex friendship with camp sergeant Ryuichi Sakamoto (also the composer of the movie's gorgeous score).---JR

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  • A CLOCKWORK ORANGE (1971)
    The faux-literary tag line for Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of Anthony Burgess's novel pretty much sums it up: "Being the adventures of a young man whose principal interests are rape, ultra-violence and Beethoven." Let's just say it wasn't the Beethoven that had half of Britain calling for Kubrick's head. A future-shock parable about free will, this vivid depiction of a charismatic gang leader gained instant notoriety for its extreme violence and prolonged scenes of sexual assault. Politicians debated whether the movie's nihilism outweighed any merits it possessed, newspaper columnists around the world called it everything from misogynistic to fascistic, and social critics fretted over whether the movie's cultish fans would become Clockwork copycats. After defending the movie for months, Kubrick himself prohibited the movie from being shown in England, where the controversy had reached a fever pitch. It wouldn't be publicly exhibited there for decades.---DF

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  • THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (1972)
    Wes Craven's still-nauseating tale of rape and revenge made many enemies on censor boards. The MPAA slapped it with an X several times (Craven eventually got an R by proxy). And U.K. watchdogs continued to demand cuts on all film and video versions until 2008---a long time to hold a grudge.---KU

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  • THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS (1991)
    Queer and feminist activists were vexed by Jonathan Demme's much-lauded chiller, due to its flamboyantly transsexual villain, Buffalo Bill, and his relish for skinning women. Protests were held at screenings, and a clearly shaken Demme tried to atone with his next fiction feature, the courthouse AIDS drama, Philadelphia.---KU

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  • ARMY OF SHADOWS (1969)
    Rediscovered in 2006 with the fanfare usually reserved for unearthing a lost classic (which was pretty much the case), Jean-Pierre Melville's cool-blue portrait of French Resistance fighters makes a beautiful case for honor among wanted men. Back-room beatings and drive-by shootings spark a mostly conversational film about the sacrifice of spies. Melville's reputation had previously rested on chilly, remote gangster pictures like Le Samoura (1967), but to see his canvas widened to national politics was a revelation. And the reason the movie had been ignored in the first place? Fashionable French critics had dismissed it as too pro-De Gaulle. What comes around...---JR

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  • PATTON (1970)
    Famously, this was Richard Nixon's favorite film, a potent counterbalance to the voices of the protesters and a manly peptalk of righteousness. (It wasn't enough to help the President with his problems.) George C. Scott is magnificent in the title role, railing iconically against "Hun bastards" in his opening monologue before a huge American flag.---JR

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  • DUCK, YOU SUCKER! (1971)
    Scuzzy outlaw Rod Steiger and mysterious explosives expert James Coburn reluctantly team up to rob a bank, only to be drawn into the bloody Mexican Revolution. This lesser-known gem from Fistful of Dollars--trilogy auteur Sergio Leone brilliantly shifts between broad comedy and sobering tragedy, and you'll be humming Ennio Morricone's incredible score for days.---KU

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  • DO THE RIGHT THING (1989)
    Many predicted Spike Lee's incendiary take on Bed-Stuy race relations would stir up riots. But the only trash cans hurled through pizzeria windows were verbal: Lee accused reviewers of blind prejudice, while heated editorials were plentiful. The film became a political football, and its provocative influence persists.---KU

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  • MAN ON WIRE (2008)
    On an early, gray morning in August 1974, tightrope-walker Philippe Petit stepped out into an impossible void, the space between the Twin Towers, and danced for an hour. No other film, fictional or otherwise, more fully restores---poetically, with antic humor---our city's loss as does James Marsh's stunner.---JR

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  • THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE (1951)
    The verdict is still out what could have been the full edit of this Civil War picture, which was drastically cut to under 70 minutes after poor test screenings. Given the talent of the director---John Huston, whose next film was The African Queen---we're inclined to believe he was onto something special with Stephen Crane's classic. Enough of Huston's noirish vision remains.---JR

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  • THE DIRTY DOZEN (1967)
    It's become one of the most beloved "dad movies" of all time---but maybe Father knows best. The murderous "dozen," conscripted for a suicide mission on the eve of D-Day, includes a shifty-eyed psychopath (John Cassavetes), a religious fanatic and woman-beater (Telly Savalas), and a slow-witted "General" (Donald Sutherland). They get the job done.---JR

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  • SHERMAN'S MARCH (1986)
    Ross McElwee wanted to make a feature retracing the destructive Civil War march of General William Tecumseh Sherman. But a traumatic breakup refocused things: He'd still follow the path, but would look for romantic attachment along the way. This strikingly perceptive doc is so intimate, it hurts.---KU

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  • POISON (1991)
    Todd Haynes's groundbreaking indie---a highly stylized and sexually explicit triptych based on the writings of Jean Genet---heralded the arrival of New Queer Cinema and drew the ruthless attentions of family-values pundits after it won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance. The chief antagonist was Reverend Donald Wildmon, who called for the firing of the chairman of the National Endowment of the Arts, which had given Haynes a $25,000 grant. Several other naysayers followed suit: "I've seen more artistically meritorious productions on America's Funniest Home Videos," said Baptist Church spokesman Jim Smith. The NEA chair did eventually resign under pressure, while Haynes continued to upend conventions in exceptional work like Safe and Velvet Goldmine.---KU

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  • BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE (2002)
    Only Michael Moore would make a gonzo movie about gun control that featured the director going into a bank for its free-giveaway rifle, or include a montage that blends high-school tragedy, 9/11 and Louis Armstrong. This was the movie that proved Moore was a peerless propagandist---and demonstrated that he was just warming up.---DF

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  • THE SUN (2005)
    In the final days of WWII, twitchy Japanese Emperor Hirohito (Issei Ogata in a spectacularly oddball performance) holes himself up in an underground bunker while Douglas MacArthur and his troops inch closer to the palace. Russian director Alexander Sokurov's haunting character study is a dreamy and disquieting look at an enigmatic man sliding from power.---KU

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  • THE BIRTH OF A NATION (1915)
    In one fell swoop, D.W. Griffith's Civil War epic gave the filmmaking world the basic grammar of modern cinema. But the same game-changing gesture also distorted history, recast reprehensibly racist attitudes as heroic and helped revitalize the Ku Klux Klan into the most powerful hatemongering organization of its day. No less than President Woodrow Wilson gave the film his blessing, while the NAACP and other groups decried it as being trumped-up propaganda. The more audiences across the country were exposed to white-sheeted good guys riding to the rescue of Lillian Gish, the louder the cries against prejudice grew. Riots erupted in major cities; in Boston, audience members threw eggs at the screen. Even these days, the silent film still sparks outrage: A proposed 2004 screening at Los Angeles's Silent Movie Theatre was canceled after arson threats. The film's formal influence is matched only by its ugliness.---DF

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  • TWELVE O'CLOCK HIGH (1949)
    Gregory Peck had already arrived as a magnetic onscreen presence by the time this minutely detailed WWII Air Force drama gave him his most ambitious role to date, as a stern disciplinarian whose leadership transforms a bomber unit into a well-oiled machine. The ultimate praise: The movie was required viewing at military-service academies for decades---JR

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  • HOOP DREAMS (1994)
    Steve James's chronicle of two inner-city Chicago kids obsessed with basketball balances a microscopic look at their lives with a macro-examination of the social forces around them. It's less about what happens on the court than how class, race and community affect everything off the blacktop.---DF

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  • ATTACK (1956)
    "Not every gun is pointed at the enemy!" read a title card in the trailer, and there was truth in advertising: Robert Aldrich's WWII psychodrama concerns the breakdown of order between a captain losing his nerve (Eddie Albert) and a mouthy lieutenant (Jack Palance) rising to the occasion. The military refused to cooperate with the production, yet the low-budget filmmakers prevailed.---JR

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  • TRIUMPH OF THE WILL (1934)
    To her dying day, director Leni Riefenstahl insisted she was not a Nazi; she merely made the single most famous piece of propaganda about them ever conceived. The fact that Riefenstahl's magnum opus captures Hitler in full fascistic bloom at the 1934 Nuremberg Rally is enough to qualify her content as repugnant. (Screenings are still forbidden in Germany.) But Riefenstahl's remarkable skill in stylizing the marching troops and the fhrer's screeds makes this film debate fodder to this day. "There were other documentaries about the Nazi rallies," Roger Ebert said. "But no one remembers [them]; they weren't as good." Triumph of the Will remains exhibit A in the argument about aesthetic beauty used in the service of ideological evil. Its indelible compositions and sense of space are undeniably brilliant; the result of its director's creative genius furthered a legacy of evil.---DF

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LAST TANGO IN PARIS (1972)
"Go get the butter," says Marlon Brando purposefully, in a movie that premiered at the prestigious New York Film Festival. Cognoscenti were then treated to a lengthy scene of anal sex that many hailed as psychologically expressive, others as smut parading as art. The tumult only spread from there: Curious theatergoers were yelled at by protesters, while the doomy romance met with outright banning in Chile, Spain and even director Bernardo Bertolucci's native Italy, where his civil rights were revoked for five years. Fortunately, critical praise saved the day, with The New Yorker's Pauline Kael going out on a limb in the most famous review of her career: "This is a movie people will be arguing about, I think, for as long as there are movies," she wrote. Her invitation still stands.---Joshua Rothkopf

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It's time to hunker down and ride this storm out. To keep you amused (as long as you have power), we've gone through some of our top 50 film lists to find out which are available to stream on Netflix. Above, you can browse through selections from our top 50 documentaries, war films and controversial movies (in no particular order).

Hit the jump for films from the top 50 movies of the 2000s, or check out our Film page for more topics. Stay safe, and we'll see you on the other side.

MAN PUSH CART (2005)
For director Ramin Bahrani, magic comes in neorealist mosaics that hover inches from the hopes and hurts of his characters. His breakthrough film was a stripped-down, steadfast study of an NYC food-cart operator, slogging through Manhattan's canyons at dawn. A celebration of the daily routine of perseverance, it's a movie fascinated with the little guy.—S. James Snyder

SILENT LIGHT (2007)
Carlos Reygadas's visual masterpiece is the antithesis of what fellow Mexican filmmakers like Alejandro Gonzlez Irritu (Babel) have elevated into a cloying brand: sprawling meta-meditations on globally interconnected anxiety. More interested in mood and texture than didactic lecture, this Mennonite riff on Carl Dreyer's Ordet spins a crisis of faith and fidelity into an unforgettable, nearly psychedelic experience.—Karina Longworth

HEAD-ON (2004)
German filmmaker Fatih Akin's fatalistic tale of two beautiful losers who enter into a marriage of convenience is the best chronicle of a punk-rock romance since Sid met Nancy. It's also a wonderful ode to the modern Teutonic-Turkish diaspora experience, adding sociological depth to what's already a supernova melodrama.—David Fear

4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS AND 2 DAYS (2007)
Young Gabita needs an abortion in 1980s Romania, where such things are illegal, and her roommate helps her scrap together cash to pay a man with questionable credentials. When things go terribly wrong in a hotel room, these women find a means to grit their teeth and survive. Cristian Mungiu's pressure cooker of a drama, widely praised upon its release, is an unflinching journey into the waking nightmare of an oppressed people.—S. James Snyder

BEFORE SUNSET (2004)
Nine years after their brief encounter, we return to Before Sunrise's Europass romantics—and how heartbreakingly fragile they seem. Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy turn in career-high work in this golden-hour Richard Linklater drama, the ultimate argument for sequels done right.—Joshua Rothkopf

OLDBOY (2003)
Park Chan-wook's deliriously divisive fable is an escalating series of outrages, perpetrated against (and by) a hapless salaryman-turned-avenger whose quest is as romantic as it is perversely unforgettable. Park's beyond-the-pale sensibilities triggered the usual pop-culture alarms: Did Oldboy empower the Virginia Tech killer? How could Steven Spielberg and Will Smith have considered doing a U.S. remake? Now take a deep breath and step back: The movie that sparks such discomfiting thoughts is the movie you need to see.—Maitland McDonagh

BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN (2005)
Ang Lee's epic tale of a love affair between two male ranchers with big sky in their eyes was glibly labeled "the gay cowboy movie." But beneath its sweeping vistas and breathless melodrama, the film brilliantly calls the bluff of the Western, that most American of film traditions, in order to excavate the universal loneliness and longing at the core of this country's bluster.—Lisa Rosman

FEMME FATALE (2002)
After double-crossing her partners in crime during a film festival heist, a jewel thief goes on the run to Paris. Her adventures unfold with a sensual dream logic that shows writer-director Brian De Palma operating at peak form. Rife with sleaze and showboating (split screens galore; a tantalizing third-act striptease), Femme Fatale is also a playful inquiry into one of the oldest noir archetypes (see the title).—Keith Uhlich

GOSFORD PARK (2001)
Set at an English country house, Robert Altman's last great film is both a scabrous class study and a whodunit that makes "Who am I?" a central question. Working from Julian Fellowes's consummately witty screenplay, the director revisits his fascination with hierarchies of power and rewrites the rules of the game.—Troy Patterson

PUNCH-DRUNK LOVE (2002)
Feted by Cannes but ignored by audiences and the Oscars, Paul Thomas Anderson's cracked ode to the transformative power of love in a world that actively mocks sensitivity is perhaps his most original work. Starring Adam Sandler as a tantrum-prone man-boy whose unlikely bond with a luminous Emily Watson gives him strength, it may be the only romance to fully skirt clich.—Karina Longworth

A CHRISTMAS TALE (2008)
Anybody can make a movie about how miserable holiday family get-togethers are; it takes a filmmaker like Arnaud Desplechin (Kings and Queen; see also No. 26), however, to turn this premise into a sprawling, free-form meditation on morality, mortality and unresolved matters of the heart. The Vuillard clan's matriarch (vive Catherine Deneuve!) has been diagnosed with leukemia, which killed her firstborn ages ago. The resident black-sheep son (Mathieu Amalric) is an eligible donor, though not even his good bone marrow can cure the bad blood between them. That's only one of several stories in Desplechin's novelistic take on the ties that bind and gag, which follows various siblings, grandchildren and cousins as they trade barbs and deal with age-old baggage. This French drama's subversion of the usual seasons-gratings conventions is enough to make it unique, but it's the graceful, organic way that the director lets these characters interact—and his refusal to pander with easy emotional resolutions—that make this movie such a rich, rewarding gift.—David Fear

ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND (2004)
If you'd had your heart broken, would you erase part of your consciousness? For Joel (Jim Carrey), the question's a no-brainer: He's so devastated over being dumped by his darling Clementine (Kate Winslet) that he'll have his remembrances of her wiped clean. Until, of course, Joel decides that a mind full of memories really is a terrible thing to waste. In the past, both director Michel Gondry's kindergarten arts-and-crafts aesthetic and Charlie Kaufman's Mbius-striptease scripts have come off as insufferably twee and gimmicky. So why does this existential meta-rom-com always leave us teary-eyed and genuinely moved? That fact that it isn't simply McSweeney's: The Movie is faint praise. Rather, the duo finally finds the right combination of high-concept and humanity here, taking the what-if idea of a company that lobotomizes the lovelorn into territory that's funny, painful, poetic and unsettlingly weird. (That midnight parade of elephants marching through midtown Manhattan!) Sunshine is the rare mind-fuck that never takes its eyes off that aching, wounded organ beating away in your chest. It's a work whose oddball, off-kilter romanticism and bruised ideas about beginning again make it feel both of its moment, and somehow, eternal.—David Fear

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