Best movies, worst month
1. Before Sunrise (1995)
It's been 20 years since Richard Linklater directed this charmed chance encounter between Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) and launched modern cinema's most enduring love story. Unadorned by rom-com clichés, the pair's one-night romance is as alluring as it is honest.
2. Waiting for Guffman (1996)
Christopher Guest's high-energy satire is mockumentary at its best, thanks to largely improvised performances by Guest's go-to stars, such as Fred Willard and Catherine O'Hara. And don't forget those Off Off Off Off Broadway numbers.
3. 56 Up (2013)
A novel experiment in both sociology and documentary filmmaking, Michael Apted's Up series has visited the same 14 people (give or take) every seven years since 1964. The eighth installment finds the subjects well into middle age, and they have the wisdom and wrinkles to show for it.
4. The Son's Room (2002)
This Italian drama won the Cannes Palme d'Or for its heartrending portrayal of a family ravaged by their son's sudden death. Director Nanni Moretti elevates what could have been a sentimental sob story into a real meditation on the power of grief and the need for resolution.
5. Cloverfield (2008)
The creature feature, produced by J.J. Abrams, combines the found-footage feel of The Blair Witch Project with the city-smashing terror of Godzilla. Filmed with handheld cameras, this thriller is a frenetic viewing experience. And we're still talking about that ending.
6. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (2007)
Set in late-'80s Communist Romania, this stark, harrowing drama about a young woman (Anamaria Marinca) seeking an illegal abortion is more sickening than most horror movies. The events that unfold are hard to stomach, but the raw performances make it worthwhile.
7. Taxi to the Dark Side (2007)
Centering on the killing of an Afghan cabbie at a U.S. air base, Alex Gibney's Oscar-winning doc takes an unflinching look at the disturbing reality of U.S-levied torture in the war on terror. It's the kind of film that no Americans want to see, but can't forget once they do.
8. Notorious (2009)
This biopic isn't just a flashy account of rapper Notorious B.I.G.'s rise to East Coast hip-hop kinghood and his infamous murder. It's also the story of Christopher Wallace, the flawed, vulnerable man behind the larger-than-life persona, who grew up in the chaos of New York's crack epidemic.
9. Taken (2009)
Has it really been six years since Liam Neeson reinvented himself as a 21st-century action hero? As Taken 3 rules this January's box office, revisit the invigorating and fast-paced action thriller that launched a franchise, and makes a father's quest to find his kidnapped daughter just a little too fun to watch.
10. City of God (2003)
You won't see this Rio watching the World Cup. Fernando Meirelles' Oscar-nominated drama, based on real events, exposes the bloody guts of a Brazilian slum brutalized by child-populated drug gangs: a cinema verité Lord of the Flies. Unforgiving and unforgettable.