Fat City (1972)
John Huston directed this late-career gem about an over-the-hill boxer (Stacy Keach) and his young pugilist ward (Jeff Bridges). It’s a bittersweet character study of resigned machismo.
Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974)
Sam Peckinpah’s wonderfully seedy south-of-the-border death trip stars Warren Oates as a down-and-out barroom pianist desperate to collect a bounty. He’s a doomed loser whose fate is sealed even if he succeeds.
Rolling Thunder (1977)
In this vise-tight revenge film, William Devane plays a POW who returns from Vietnam only to find all he loves taken from him. A shattering portrait of a man pushed to his primal limit looking for payback.
Near Dark (1987)
Kathryn Bigelow’s ultrastylish vampire flick is a seductively sick and sexy Western-inspired road movie about a band of bad-to-the-bone bloodsuckers prowling America’s lost highways.
The Vanishing (1988)
Hollywood’s 1993 remake doesn’t hold a candle to the Dutch original, a goosebump-inducing cat-and-mouse thriller about a kidnapper (Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu) and his victim’s boyfriend (Gene Bervoets).
Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990)
Mischief-maker Joe Dante followed his comedy-horror classic about little green meanies with a go-for-broke sequel that brilliantly channels the anarchic (and mordantly meta) spirit of classic Looney Tunes.
Love Jones (1997)
Two Chicago artists, Darius (Larenz Tate) and Nina (Nia Long), fall clumsily, beautifully in love after meeting in an upscale nightclub. Director Theodore Witcher’s feature-film debut is a pitch-perfect, all-too-rare look at contemporary African-American middle-class life.
Little Dieter Needs to Fly (1998)
Werner Herzog’s documentary tells the story of Dieter Dengler, a soft-spoken Vietnam vet who recounts his harrowing experiences in a Laotian prison camp and his astonishing fight for survival. The basis for Herzog’s equally great drama Rescue Dawn.
Barry Levinson’s loose screwball caper about hapless bank robbers (Bruce Willis and Billy Bob Thornton) and the bored housewife (Cate Blanchett at her most winning) who falls for them.
Big Fan (2009)
Patton Oswalt is sublime as a sad-sack superfan whose dedication to the New York Giants prevents him from pressing charges after he is assaulted by his favorite player.