25. Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (1985)
> Directed by: Paul Schrader
> Starring: Ken Ogata, Masayuki Shionoya, Hiroshi Mikami
> Genre: Biography, Drama
> Available on: Apple iTunes, Kanopy, Criterion Channel, Amazon Video
Paul Schrader (“American Gigolo”) directed and co-wrote the film with his brother Leonard and Leonard’s wife Chieko. The film is a fictionalized account of the life of noteworthy Japanese writer Yukio Mishima, as told in four chapters. The Critics Consensus on Rotten Tomatoes calls the film Schrader’s “directorial masterpiece” and “a classy and imaginative portrait enriched by a stunning score and impressive cinematography.”
24. Ball of Fire (1941)
> Directed by: Howard Hawks
> Starring: Gary Cooper, Barbara Stanwyck, Oskar Homolka
> Genre: Comedy, Romance
> Available on: Hoopla, Criterion Channel
This screwball rom-com from Howard Hawks is about a group of professors compiling a compendium of slang. They employ an exotic dancer fleeing her gangster boyfriend to help them interpret the jargon. Written by Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder, the film was lauded for its cast, with Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck in the lead, ably supported by familiar character actors Oskar Homolka, Henry Travers, and S.Z. Sakall. The movie holds a 100% Freshness rating among critics on Rotten Tomatoes and a 90% approval rating with audiences.
23. 3 Women (1977)
> Directed by: Robert Altman
> Starring: Shelley Duvall, Sissy Spacek, Janice Rule
> Genre: Drama, Mystery, Thriller
> Available on: Apple iTunes, Vudu, YouTube, Google Play Movies, Amazon Video, DIRECTV, FandangoNOW, Microsoft Store
Robert Altman, who made a series of critically acclaimed films in the 1970s (“M*A*S*H,” “Nashville”), directed this surreal, atmospheric movie about the lives of three women — Shelley Duvall, Sissy Spacek, Janice Rule — in a western town. Douglas Pratt of Hollywood Reporter called “3 Women” a “spectacular artistic success.” The film has a 94% Freshness rating among critics on Rotten Tomatoes, and 86% of audiences liked the film.
22. Twelve O’Clock High (1949)
> Directed by: Henry King
> Starring: Gregory Peck, Hugh Marlowe, Gary Merrill
> Genre: Drama, War
> Available on: Apple iTunes, Google Play Movies, Vudu, Amazon Video, YouTube, DIRECTV, Redbox, Microsoft Store, FandangoNOW
“Twelve O’Clock High” is a war film about Allied airmen and the toll the war takes on them. Gregory Peck stars as the no-nonsense commander tasked with boosting the morale of the flyers he leads. The strong cast includes Hugh Marlowe, Gary Merrill, and Dean Jagger. Critic Emanuel Levy said “Henry King’s WWII drama is one of Hollywood’s first and most honestly probing chronicles of the psychological anxieties and emotional pressures caused by high-command positions.” The film holds a 96% Freshness rating among critics on Rotten Tomatoes and an 87% approval rating among audiences.
21. Imitation of Life (1959)
> Directed by: Douglas Sirk
> Starring: Lana Turner, John Gavin, Sandra Dee
> Genre: Drama
> Available on: Apple iTunes, Google Play Movies, Vudu, YouTube, Amazon Video, DIRECTV, Microsoft Store, FandangoNOW
“Imitation of Life” is a remake of the 1934 film that was based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Fannie Hurst. Lana Turner plays an aspiring actor and single mother. She befriends an African American woman whose light-skinned daughter wants to pass herself as white, which causes tension between daughter and her mother. The original film was groundbreaking for portraying black and white women as peers, and this remake was released as the civil rights movement was gaining momentum in the U.S. “Imitation of Life” holds an 81% Freshness rating among critics on Rotten Tomatoes, and 91% of audiences liked the film.