Worldwide icon-chevron-right North America icon-chevron-right United States icon-chevron-right New York State icon-chevron-right New York icon-chevron-right The five 9/11 films that get it right
25th Hour (2002) An early stab at the subject turns out to be one of the most complex: Spike Lee's gritty tale of a drug dealer's final day of freedom was backgrounded with an intentional wealth of post-9/11 detail, linking personal catastrophe to global reckoning. The Tribute in Light introduces a city on edge, followed by a bruised mood throughout—and even a scene before Ground Zero: an argument between guilty friends wishing they'd done more.—Joshua Rothkopf  Watch now on iTunes    Watch now at Amazon Instant Video
Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004) Michael Moore's pop-doc diatribe against George W. Bush traces the tragedy's political fallout, but it's Moore's uncharacteristic restraint regarding the attack itself that sticks with you: sounds of disorder playing over a black screen. His refusal to reduce the event to news footage seen ad nauseam around the world somehow restores the moment's unimaginable sense of horror.—David Fear  Watch now at Amazon Instant Video
United 93 (2006) Premiering to tears and thunderous applause at the Tribeca Film Festival (itself founded in the wake of 9/11), Paul Greengrass's shattering re-creation of the doomed flight avoided jingoism—it even introduced a realistic bit of motivation for the iconic "Let's roll" line. The movie's script was a collaboration between the director and improvising actors, informed by hours of interviews with the victims' families.—Joshua Rothkopf  Watch now on iTunes    Watch now at Amazon Instant Video
Man on Wire (2008) Tightrope-walker Philippe Petit's 1974 high-wire stroll between the two towers obviously predates 9/11 by many years, yet it's hard not to view James Marsh's extraordinary documentary about the feat as a ghost story. You're constantly reminded of the human achievement that went into building those skyscrapers—and that Petit's stunt is now impossible to repeat.—David Fear  Watch now on iTunes    Watch now at Amazon Instant Video
Margaret (2011) Though there are no images directly related to the events at Ground Zero, the devastation nonetheless looms large in Kenneth Lonergan's masterful portrait of a privileged NYC teen who witnesses a horrifying bus accident. Her emotional fallout—at home, with friends, in the classroom (where 9/11 is heatedly discussed)—shows how the raw feelings of that petrifying day lingered long past the event itself.—Keith Uhlich  Watch now at Amazon Instant Video

The five 9/11 films that get it right

This week's Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close has us remembering the movies that best address a terrible day—and its aftermath.

By David Fear, Joshua Rothkopf and Keith Uhlich

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