OCEAN’S ELEVEN (2001)
OCEAN’S ELEVEN, directed and shot by Steven Soderbergh, is a remake of the 1960 Rat Pack heist film of the same name, and is the first installment of the Ocean’s franchise. The film features an ensemble cast and follows the heist plan of friends Danny Ocean (George Clooney) and Rusty Ryan (Brad Pitt) to steal $160 million from casino owner Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia). It extensively uses montage sequences paired with narration to compress action and story into short sections of screen time. Aside from being a critical and box office success, it became the fifth highest grossing film of 2001. Following its success, Soderbergh directed the two sequels Ocean’s Twelve and Ocean’s Thirteen. The spin-off film Ocean’s 8 with an all-female cast was released in 2018.
THE LAST EMPEROR (1987)
THE LAST EMPEROR is a biographical drama film about the life of Puyi (John Lone), the last Emperor of China. It was directed by Bernardo Bertolucci and the film’s screenplay, written by Bertolucci and Mark Peploe, is based on Puyi’s 1964 autobiography. The film follows the story of Puyi’s life from becoming the Emperor as a toddler, to his imprisonment and political rehabilitation by the Communist Party of China. It is notable for winning nine Academy Awards in 1988: including Best Picture and Best Director. Additionally, Bertolucci was given complete freedom for shooting in the Forbidden City in Beijing, making it the first Western feature to receive this authorization by the People’s Republic of China.
MIDNIGHT SPECIAL (2016)
MIDNIGHT SPECIAL is director Jeff Nichols’ fourth full length film and his first studio production. In this science fiction film, Michael Shannon plays a father with his son on the run from both the government and an insidious cult after the discovery of his son’s supernatural powers. The film competed for the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2016, and it received praise for its use of visual effects, strong performances, and insightful themes about parental devotion. The idea for the film was sparked for Nichols after he had to rush his 1-year-old son to the hospital due to a sudden febrile seizure. The moment made him realize anything could happen to his son, and that it would be out of his control.
COLLATERAL is a neo-noir crime thriller film starring Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx. Foxx play Max, a Los Angeles cab driver who is offered $600 by his customer Vincent (Cruise), to drive him to multiple locations that night. After being persuaded by Vincent to accept, Max soon discovers Vincent is a hitman on a contract killing spree and Vincent forces him to drive him to each of his hits. Max continuously tries to convince Vincent to spare each of the hits, to no avail. The film was directed by Michael Mann and shot by Paul Cameron and Dion Beebe. Beebe replaced Cameron after Cameron left the project due to creative differences. It was shot in Los Angeles and was the first feature film shot with a Viper FilmStream High-Definition Camera, while the nightclub sequences were shot on 35mm. Critics praised the main leads’ performances, Mann’s direction, and editing. It received a Best Film Editing nomination and Foxx received a Best Supporting Actor nomination at the 77th Annual Academy Awards.
ALL ABOUT MY MOTHER (1999)
The comedy drama ALL ABOUT MY MOTHER stars Cecilia Roth as an Argentine nurse and single mother who oversees donor organ transplants at Ramon y Cajal Hospital in Madrid. After her son Esteban is killed in a road accident, Manuela agrees with her colleagues to have her sons heart donated. She then quits her job and travels to Barcelona where she hopes to find Esteban’s father, Lola, a transgender woman. Manuela never told Lola or Esteban about the existence of each other. The themes of the film deal with complex issues such as AIDS, homosexuality, faith, and existentialism. The film gained success internationally, winning the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film, and the BAFTA Award for Best Film Not in the English Language and Best Direction for Pedro Almodovar, among many more.
GOOD WILL HUNTING (1997)
GOOD WILL HUNTING was written by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon and directed by Gus Van Sant. Damon plays Will Hunting, an MIT janitor who is an unrecognized genius. After getting arrested one night for attacking a police officer during a fight, he avoids jail time by agreeing to a deferred persecution agreement where he becomes a patient of a therapist (Robin Williams), and studies advanced mathematics with a renowned professor (Stellan Skarsgard). Through the therapy sessions he re-evaluates his relationships with those closest to him, and himself. The film was a major box office success and received nine nominations at the 70th Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. It won two of the nominations, Best Supporting Actor for Williams and Best Original Screenplay.
AMOUR is a French romantic drama written and directed by Michael Haneke and shot by Darius Khondji. The film stars Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva as married couple and retired music teachers Georges and Anne Laurent. The film’s main theme revolves around dealing with the suffering of a loved one, as in the film Anne suffers a stroke that leaves the right side of her body paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair. Georges promises Anne to not send her to the hospital or a nursing home. He becomes her dutiful, but irritated, caregiver even after she attempts to commit suicide, and her condition worsens from a second stroke. Amour screened at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival and went on to win the Palme d’Or. At the 85th Academy Awards it was nominated for Best Picture, Best Actress in a Leading Role (the oldest nominee for the category), Best original Screenplay, Best Director, and Best Foreign Language Film, winning the latter. It received multiple nominations for Best Director, Best Leading Actor or Actress, and Best Film nominations at the 38th Cesar Awards, 66th British Academy Film Awards, and the 47th National Society of Film Critic Awards.
CADILLAC RECORDS (2008)
CADILLAC RECORDS is a biographical drama film that follows the life of the Chicago-based record company executive Leonard Chess. The film explores the musical era of the early 1940’s to late 1960’s, and the lives of some of the musicians who recorded for Chess Records. It stars Adrien Brody as Leonard Chess, and an ensemble cast that includes Jeffrey Wright, Beyoncé Knowles, Cedric the Entertainer, and Gabrielle Union as notable stars of the era. It was written and directed by Darnell Martin and shot by Anastas Michos. The film received critical acclaim for its music soundtrack and cast performances, resulting in seven NAACP Image Awards nomination, a Golden Globe nomination for Best Original Song, and a Satellite Award nomination for Knowles for her portrayal of Etta James.
WITNESS is a neo-noir crime drama starring Harrison Ford as a detective protecting a young Amish boy who becomes a target after witnessing a murder. The young boy Samuel (Lukas Haas) travels with his mother from Lancaster, Pennsylvania to Philadelphia after the funeral of his father. While waiting for a connecting train, Samuel witnesses the murder of an undercover police officer in a men’s restroom. To avoid being caught by the murderers, he hides in one of the stalls. After Detective John Book (Ford) and his partner are assigned to the case, Book finds himself having to protect the boy. The screenplay was written by Earl W. Wallace and William Kelley and directed by Peter Weir. It received eight Academy Awards nominations, including Best Picture and Best Actor, ultimately winning Best Original Screenplay and Best Film Editing. Its other accolades include seven BAFTA Awards, six Golden Globe Awards, and the Writers Guild of America Award for Best original Screenplay and the 1986 Edgar Award for Best Motion Picture Screenplay for Kelley and Wallace.
THE FOUNDER (2016)
THE FOUNDER is a biographical drama that tells the story of Ray Kroc and how he created the McDonald’s fast-food chain along with McDonalds’ founders Richard and Maurice McDonald. It stars Michael Keaton as Kroc, as well as Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch as the McDonald brothers. Directed by John Lee Hancock, written by Robert Siegel based partly on Ray Kroc’s’ autobiography, and shot by John Schwartzman, the film received critical acclaim for its storytelling and Keaton’s performance. Production designer Michael Corenblith, whose work includes Apollo 13, Saving Mr. Banks, and The Blind Side, was brought on to the film as attention to historic detail was crucial. He worked from archival photos, training films, materials provided by the McDonald family, blueprints from eBay, and research at the oldest McDonald’s restaurant in Downey, California. The McDonald’s original octagonal San Bernardino restaurant replica was built in the lot of the Coweta County Administration building in Newnan, Georgia for filming.