Steven Spielberg’s long-rumored dream project—bring- ing the factual, Holocaust-set book Schindler’s Ark to the screen—finally arrived to great acclaim in 1993, culminating in Academy Awards for Best Director, Best Picture, and more. Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson) is a clever civilian businessman and a bit of a cad who achieves a fortune by manufactur- ing pots and pans for the German army during World War II. His secrets? World-class schmoozing and an unpaid legion of Jewish laborers. He has no love of the Nazis or their agenda, but as he bears witness to their escalating atrocities, he is reluctantly moved to become a champion of his ill-fated workforce. His steps are small at first, ultimately leading to the creation of a list of more than 1,000 names of people to be kept at his factory instead of sent to concentration camps or gas chambers. This decision winds up costing Schindler all of his vast wealth, but his selfless act made history. It’s a profound tale told with great passion and indelible images.
Four of the 10 Best Picture winners of the ’60s were musicals, but as Hollywood transitioned to a post–Easy Rider era, they had to make even song-and-dance extravaganzas more relevant. And so in 1972, Cabaret redefined what a movie musical could be.
Ang Lee’s adaptation of Yann Martel’s “unfilmable” book is a hypnotic rumination on the nature of religion as a source of strength and inspiration but also exploring faith’s common tendency toward allegory as the means to an end. We meet a very spiritual college professor named Pi whose past comes alive in a series of flashbacks as he tells his story to a novelist eager to write his next book. Pi was once shipwrecked and lost at sea for 227 days, already a sufficiently fascinating tale, but to make the ordeal even more extraordinary, he had to share his predicament with a fully grown Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. Their surprising relationship is masterfully dramatized in a series of indelible images, their odyssey recounted with an unending sense of wonder and a contagious love for the beauty of nature.
Half a century after the release of Dr. No, director Sam Mendes and a gifted team of screenwriters have managed to give audiences a James Bond film unlike any other. Skyfall is Daniel Craig’s third outing as 007, and yet the star is unafraid to show his advancing age, as we are reminded that the job of international secret agent apparently takes a heavy toll on all who dare to sign up for it.
I knew Jason Bourne. Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner), you’re no Jason Bourne.
The first Bourne movie not based on an actual Robert Ludlum novel, Legacy gets quite a lot wrong, frankly. The story brings us back to the era of 2007’s The Bourne Ultimatum, when extreme measures were being taken to maintain the secrecy of the covert, overly ambitious super-soldier program that created Jason. A whole new crop of men has become the subject of some risky new behavior/performance-enhancing experiments, and as one of these lethal lab rats, Aaron is desperate for answers—and the necessary meds to keep his edge—despite the nasty opponents pursuing him at every turn.