Director Jennifer Kent
Cast Essie Davis, Noah Wiseman
One of the most interesting horrors of the past decade, first-time Aussie director Jennifer Kent’s debut is a clammy, unsettling account of a single mother’s struggles with her grief, her troubled son and the unquiet spirit that seems to have attached itself to their suburban home.
Watch it if you liked... ‘The Exorcist’
Director Robert Mulligan
Cast Gregory Peck, Mary Badham, Brock Peters
In the wake of her belated sequel-prequel-precursor ‘Go Set a Watchman’, there’s no better time to (re)watch this fiery adaptation of Harper Lee’s timeless novel. The story of racial injustice in the small-town South, it features a career-defining performance from Peck as the crusading lawyer Atticus Finch, a paragon of American manhood.
Watch it if you liked... ’12 Years a Slave’
Director Sidney Lumet
Cast Henry Fonda, Martin Balsam, Jack Warden
One of the great guys-yelling-in-a-room movies, this sweaty study of the deliberations by an all-male jury in a murder trial is relentlessly gripping, toying with the audience’s prejudices and sympathies. Henry Fonda was never better – his crusading Juror No. 8 is the upstanding star of the show.
Watch it if you liked... ‘A Few Good Men’
Director Gore Verbinski
Cast Nathan Lane, Lee Evans
‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ director Gore Verbinski made his name with this madcap comedy inspired by the old Looney Tunes cartoons. The plot is barely worth mentioning – a pair of bickering brothers move into a rickety old house, and try to rid themselves of a resourceful rodent – but the sight gags are gleefully inventive and the pace rarely flags.
Watch it if you liked... ‘Ratatouille’
Director Dennis Hopper
Cast Robert Duvall, Sean Penn
Okay, so modern audiences would never go for an LA gang movie centred on two white cops. But that aside, Dennis Hopper’s drama is solidly made and superbly acted, a fascinating time capsule of the city before ‘Boyz n the Hood’, increase the peace and gangsta-rap chic.
Watch it if you liked... ‘Straight Outta Compton’
Director Kevin Costner
Cast Kevin Costner, Robert Duvall, Annette Bening
Following the dystopian disaster of ‘The Postman’, Kevin Costner retreated to familiar territory with his best (and, to date, last) movie as a director, an unashamedly old-fashioned western. The period detail is stunning, the shootouts roar like thunder and the sunset romance between Costner and Bening is genuinely moving.
Watch it if you liked... ‘Unforgiven’
Director Walter Hill
Cast David Carradine, Stacy Keach, Dennis Quaid
Another classic western. ‘The Warriors’ director Walter Hill’s gimmick was a clever one, casting four sets of brothers – the Carradines, the Keaches, the Quaids and the Guests – to play Frank and Jesse James and their fraternal gang, plus the Ford boys who brought them down. The result is pure, wistful Americana.
Watch it if you liked... ‘The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford’
Director Stephen Chow
Cast Stephen Chow, Wei Zhao
Reckon David Beckham curving his ball slightly is the cutting edge of footie skill? Check out this berserk Hong Kong action comedy about a Shaolin kung-fu teacher who forms a soccer team comprised entirely of high-flying, hard-kicking chopsocky masters. The on and off-pitch action is breathtaking, but what really makes it all work is the whacked-out humour.
Watch it if you liked... ‘Dodgeball’
Director Jeffrey Blitz
Is it a chance for smart kids to prove their excellence, or just a subtle form of abuse? This fascinating documentary following the participants in an all-American spelling bee is both a gripping, uplifting sports movie and a stark investigation into the relationships between kids and parents.
Watch it if you liked... ‘Jesus Camp’
Director John Carpenter
Cast Jeff Bridges, Karen Allen
Jeff Bridges delivers one of his sweetest, most unpredictable performances in ‘Halloween’ director John Carpenter’s goofy, good-hearted sci-fi road movie. There’s a distinctly Spielbergian edge to this tale of a stranded alien, but Carpenter’s eye on his central romance – and the American cultural landscape through which these characters move – is less affectionate, and more unsparing.
Watch it if you liked... ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’