- Thrillers & Action Adventure
- Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Jon Favreau may be best known for Swingers and his directorial efforts behind Iron Man, but the “back-to-the-basics” Chef is still poised to remain one of his most endearing films of all time. It revolves around failed restaurateur Carl Casper (Favreau), who decides to ditch Los Angeles and open a food truck in Miami near his ex-wife and son before toting it across the country. It’s quirky and bitingly realistic at times — some say the new, quintesstntial date movie — with a stellar supporting cast that includes Robert Downey, Jr., Scarlett Johannson, and others.
Almost Famous is essentially the story of director Cameron Crowe’s early years. It chronicles William Miller (Patrick Fugit) as he sets out to cover the fictional band Stillwater in an effort to produce his first cover story for Rolling Stone — much like Crowe did while touring with the likes of Poco and Led Zeppelin during their heyday. Sure, it bombed at the box office, but it’s excellent casting and honest, offbeat scenes make it more than a movie about friendship and unbridled love.
Believe it or not, Matthew Broderick shined in more than just one film. Election is a prime example, encompassing a high-school election in which he — a popular history professor — attempts to bolster a football player’s chances of winning the student council presidency against sociopath Tracy Flick (Reese Witherspoon). The smart film is a bitter satire of the American electoral process and high school in general, with standout performances from everyone involved. Still, as Tammy Metzler (Jessica Campbell) might say, “Who cares about this stupid election?” Good point.
There’s no finer take on high school social cliques than Tina Fey’s Mean Girls. The cult classic stars Lindsey Lohan as Cady Heron, a 16-year-old girl who is forced to attend public school once her family returns from a decade-long research trip in Africa. Lohan joins the school’s most exclusive outfit, but soon finds herself grappling with psychological status warfare when she falls in love with Aaron Samuels. It showcase girl-on-girl cattiness at its best (and most maniacal).
Any self-respecting movie buff has seen this movie more times than they can count, but we just couldn’t leave it off the list. The plot follows protagonist Ferris Bueller, who convinces his entire school that death is knocking at his door, then hits the streets of Chicago with his girlfriend and best friend for a day of complete and utter debauchery. It’s a warm-hearted comedy about innocence and growing up, chock full of Chicago landmarks and unforgettable scenes. Oh, yeaaaaah.
While you could read Amanda Brown’s novel on which Legally Blonde is based, or the mediocre musical for that matter, MGM’s sleeper hit of 2013 is far more entertaining. The featherweight comedy stars Reese Witherspoon as a ditzy, former sorority girl who attempts to win back her ex-boyfriend (Matthew Davis) with a law degree from Harvard. Witherspoon is more animated and witty in the film than she’s ever been since, especially alongside co-stars like Luke Wilson and Selma Blair, offering up plenty of fashion advice, spa-centric one liners, and sound defense during the film’s pivotal trial scene at the end. Sadly, the sequel doesn’t exactly carry the same weight.
High Fidelity is, arguably, one of the few films on this list that’s better than the book on which it’s based. It still manages to brilliantly capture Nick Hornby’s novel of the same name, though, which follows a record store owner (John Cusack) who gets dumped by his girlfriend and subsequently revisits his five worst breakups of all time in attempt to figure out what went wrong. The timid Todd Louiso and an enthusiastic Jack Black provide the comic relief, Cusack the easygoing sense of self doubt and discovery, and Howard Shore one of the finest soundtrack compilations ever assembled by man.
Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Christine Taylor, Will Ferrell, and Jerry Stiller all start in the star-studded film about a dimwitted male model who finds a iconic fashion mogul to be behind an assassination plot to kill the Prime Minister of Malaysia. The film is saturated with notable cameos from everyone from David Bowie to Donald Trump, with memorable one liners — i.e. “Hansel, so hot right now” — that perfectly compliment the cast and the film’s take on fashion.
How to Steal a Million
Honestly, can you name one other movie than How to Steal a Million that holds a 100-percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes? The movie was a commercial and critical success upon its debut in 1966, likely owing to Audrey Hepburn and Peter O’Toole’s sterling performances. It’s a romantic crime caper set in France — Hepburn’s designer wardrobe could tell you that much — revolving around forged pieces of art and haphazard heist from one of the most prominent museums in the country. The film can move sluggish at times, particularly the first 45 minutes or so, but the witty dialogue and outstanding repartee between the two leads keeps it afloat through the final robbery sequence.
Hot Fuzz is basically actor-writer Simon Pegg’s shot at the buddy cop genre, though, one spliced with same comedic elements that made Shaun of the Dead so amusing in the first place. Pegg stars as a former London constable in the film, who’s assigned to investigate the sleepy town of Sanford alongside the dimwitted Butterman (Nick Frost). However, things start to become interesting following a string of so-called “accidents” plaguing various members of the town. The biting, British film is the second in director Edgar Wright’s Cornetto trilogy, which ultimately culminates with The World’s End and capitalizes on the fantastic interplay between Pegg and Frost.
What can be said about the Coen brother’s classic that hasn’t been said already? It’s become a cult favorite despite lackluster reviews and a mediocre run at the box office, primarily due to its Jeff Bridge’s sterling portrayal as Jeff “The Dude” Lebowski, along with standout appearances by John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, and others. It’s a movie anchored in a case of mistaken identity that brims with memorable dream sequences and unorthodox dialogue, much of which stands testament to the Coens’ trademark styling and their innate ability to craft characters that are as entertaining as they are peculiar. It may be an abstract take on Americana, but one most of us can surely abide by.
Another cult classic in the Mean Girls vein, Clueless adapts Jane Austin’s 1815 novel, Emma, and turns it on its head with a modern twist. It follows the wealthy and winsome Cher (Alicia Silverstone), a Beverly Hills high school student who sets out to unite two teachers and then popularize new student, Tai Frasier (Brittany Murphy). The lighthearted film spurred a book series, but much like the TV series of the same name, it wasn’t quite the sleeper hit the original film was.
David Wain’s Wet Hot American Summer was, by all accounts, a complete flop when it hit theaters in 2001. It’s garnered a commendable cult following in the years since, though, and even recently received additional backing from Netflix in the form of an eight-episode prequel debuting sometime this year. The raucous, satirical comedy chronicles the final day at the fictional Camp Firewood, one filled with lust, loose lips, and one of the most ludicrous talent shows to ever hit the state of Maine. It also stars a who’s who cast of actors and actresses — Bradley Cooper, Amy Poehler, Paul Rudd, Michael Ian Black, Elizabeth Banks, Ken Marino etc. — many of which went on to topple television ratings and the modern standup circuit as we know it.
Ripe with dark humor and showcasing Colin Farrell in what might be his only film worth watching, In Bruges remains a British-American drama of the highest caliber. Though the oddball film features a gloomy premise that revolves around two hit men who must lay low at a bed-and-breakfast in Belgium until their boss contacts them, it finds an incredible amount of humor in its witty and sharply-written script. Farrell is stupendous, too, whether portraying an offhanded killer or a fumbling lover that’s as nervous as a 13-year-old boy fresh out of middle school.