5. SCHINDLER'S LIST (1993) SUBJECT: Oskar Schindler
A German war profiteer savvy enough to realize Jewish labor would come dirt cheap during WWII, Schindler (Liam Neeson) only gradually realizes that he simply must use his pull with high placed Nazi officers to save those workers from the death camps and gas chambers of the Holocaust. Shot in stark black-and-white, and staged with haunting verisimilitude, director Steven Spielberg’s Oscar-winner uses this one man’s uplifting tale to make terribly plain the uncompromising brutality of this period in history. —Adam B. Vary
TOY STORY (1995)
It sounds like a cliché now, but Toy Story really did take animation to infinity and beyond. The first-ever computer animated film, it introduced the company’s two flagship characters: Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks) and Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen). Their rivalry-turned-friendship took them face-to-face with one of Pixar’s most menacing villains: Syd, the punk teen toy mutilator.
16. Titanic (1997)
It’s easy to dismiss James Cameron’s Oscar-hogging tragedy as a one-trick pony, the sort of bombastic love story that made a gazillion dollars precisely because it hewed so closely to the Gone With the Wind formula. But because it did just that, the timeless love story at its core (good-but-rebellious rich girl meets scruffy-but-lovable poor boy) plays out so uncynically that it’s hard not to blubber when, following the ship’s awesome collapse and nearly three hours of adventure, betrayal, and window-fogging passion, we finally reach the…
KLEENEX MOMENT Slowly freezing to death, Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) professes his love to Rose (Kate Winslet). She lets go of his hand, and he slips into the dark, unyielding sea.