The Evil Dead (1981); Trespass (1992); Carlito’s Way (1993); The Thin Blue Line (1988); The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974); In Bruges (2008); Once Upon a Time in America (1984); The Devil’s Rejects (2005); Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977); In the Name of the Father (1993); Interstellar (2014); The Verdict (1982); Nightcrawler (2014); Marathon Man (1976); Touch of Evil (1958); The Night of the Hunter (1955); Blue Ruin (2013); The King of Comedy (1983); Breathless (1960); Sixteen Candles (1984); Law-Abiding Citizen (2009); Battle Cry of Freedom (1988); Sabotage (2014); Sonatine (1993); The Searchers (1956); Sin Nombre (2009); Elite Squad: The Enemy Within (2010); The Ice Storm (1997); They Live (Deep Focus) by Jonathan Lethem (2010); High and Low (1963); Stand by Me (1986); Whiplash (2014); Foxcatcher (2014)
May revisit some of these if there’s time.
Out of this group the absolute standouts, not including 2014: Carlito’s Way, The Devil’s Rejects, The King of Comedy, High and Low. Most of the rest, really strong. Only a few didn’t click. Foxcatcher? Nada said it best (and incidentally, Lethem writing about They Live lives up to the considerable hype).
On the others:
A man struggling with a pinball machine, alone in a bar; the odd coincidence in production which forced the powerful staging of Thin Blue Line‘s final reveal; when after a half hour Leatherface kills someone in a few seconds and the door shuts and that’s it, and you couldn’t say for certain that you just saw what you just saw; Hieronymous Bosch and the reality of hell; sincere religious belief, and what it asks and demands of you and changes about you; Daniel Day-Lewis’ impossible versatility; Nolan making his own variety of blockbuster out of the hole Roy Neary leaves in Close Encounters; children fleeing a domestic nightmare for the comparative embrace of a collapsing society; a gangster film where the white-noise sound design and MIDI synths add up to the cinematic equivalent of Wilco’s “Less Than You Think”–even where Ice Storm‘s score singlehandedly coheres a somewhat formless story about suburban middle America into something bracing and haunting; a sequel flipping the conservatism of a first entry neatly on its head, and gaining even more popular acclaim for doing so; borderland films playing out on bridges and tracks and roads; four boys from a fictional 50s Oregon who correspond to four boys from a fictional 00s Baltimore, and a long book about how they both live in one real country.
I could go on, and I won’t. There was a lot to like.