You know those dedicated moviegoers that just have to see every Best Picture Oscar nominee before the award show? Okay, maybe you’re one of them.
So what’s next if you’ve already checked out this year’s surprisingly solid list? Give these humble suggestions a try, and let us know what you think.
If you liked Babel
Try: Code Unknown (2000)
From the opening sequence in a classroom of deaf kids, Michael Haneke’s unsettling feature focuses on human miscommunication through a series of individual yet connected scenes-many consisting of just one uninterrupted shot. In the DVD’s liner notes, Haneke mentions the ‘Babylonian confusion of languages.’ Familiar, huh?
Try: Amores Perros (2000)
Alejandro González Iñárritu’s debut film is also the first in his loose trilogy (with 21 Grams and Babel). It’s an intense, epic-sized triptych of stories involving dogs, be they trained killers or helpless pets you know, just like humans. The film (its odd title translation is ‘Love’s a bitch’) also marks the breakthrough of Gael Garcia Bernal (The Motorcycle Diaries).
If you liked The Departed
Try: Deep Cover (1992)
The undercover cop genre can be dangerously tense when done right, as with this drama by Bill Duke (A Rage in Harlem). Laurence Fishburne plays an LA narc dropped into an impossible rabbit hole of an assignment: The deeper he gets into the game, the more successful he becomes as a smart, intimidating drug dealer. Written by Michael Tolkin (The Player) and Henry Bean (Internal Affairs).
Try: Mean Streets (1973)
Why not go back to the beginning? Scorsese’s obsession with criminal culture can be tracked to this tough, rough-edged ’70s classic. With a realist style, an evocative soundtrack and a 30-year-old Robert De Niro, Scorsese established a style and sense of collaboration we’d continue to appreciate for decades.
If you liked Letters from Iwo Jima
Try: Platoon (1986)
We’ve chosen Oliver Stone’s Oscar-winning chronicle for two reasons: Like Clint Eastwood’s Iwo Jima, it presents a rarely seen viewpoint of war; and, it’s filled with the fear and minutiae of battle. When Platoon first screened for Vietnam War veterans, many were overwhelmed by the memories of small details they’d long forgotten.
Try: A Midnight Clear (1992)
A group of frightened American soldiers holes up in an empty European home in December 1944, sitting, waiting, and wondering what the Germans across the field plan to do. It features a top cast including Peter Berg, Ethan Hawke, Kevin Dillon, and Gary Sinise, and it’s a critical favorite that became a small fan classic.
If you liked Little Miss Sunshine
Try: The Daytrippers (1997)
Their road trip isn’t as long as Olive’s. And they don’t drive a beat-up old VW bus. But in this punchy comedy, a comfortably dysfunctional Long Island family hustles to Manhattan so Hope Davis can confront her possibly philandering husband (Stanley Tucci). With Liev Schreiber, Anne Meara and ’90s indie mainstay Parker Posey.
Try: 13 Conversations About One Thing (2001)
Alan Arkin may be an Oscar nominee for Sunshine, but he should have snagged one for his role as Gene, an insurance claims manager who resents an absurdly optimistic guy on his staff – maybe enough to take him down. The film, an occasionally heavy montage of stories, also features Matthew McConaughey and John Turturro.
If you like The Queen
Try: Thirteen Days (2000)
Another true telling of political decision-making, Roger Donaldson’s (No Way Out) thriller gives an inside look at the Kennedy Administration’s Cuban Missile Crisis strategy, determined while the U.S. held its collective breath. Stars Bruce Greenwood as JFK, Steven Culp as RFK, and Kevin Costner as special assistant Ken O’Donnell.
Try: The Madness of King George (1994)
Helen Mirren received her first Oscar nomination for her portrayal of Queen Charlotte in this dark, strangely exhilarating adaptation of Alan Bennett’s play about King George III and his descent into insanity. Nigel Hawthorne delivers a crazy (sorry), no-holds-barred performance as the unhinged monarch.