Yojimbo (1961, Directed by Akira Kurosawa) Japanese 10

Starring Toshiro Mifune, Tatsuya Nakadai,  Yoko Tsukasa


Iconic. Grand. Flawless.

A nonchalant drifter (Mifune) arrives in a town beset by rival gangs. Without a name or any explicit motive, the drifter feigns support for both sides while secretly playing them against each other. Inspired by Dashiell Hammett’s novel, The Glass Key (great in its own right), Yojimbo is wildly entertaining, funny, cool, and, with its anachronistic soundtrack, the source of inspiration for Sergio Leone and Clint Eastwood’s A Fistful of Dollars (1964). Mifune is unforgettable as the mysterious and deceptive nameless rogue.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-


The Sixth Sense (1999, Directed by M. Night Shyamalan) English 10

Starring Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment, Toni Collette, Donnie Wahlberg, Olivia Williams

Image result for the sixth sense


Fresh. Engrossing. Unforgettable.

After a horrific episode with a former patient, child psychologist, Malcolm Crowe (Willis) seeks redemption in helping a young boy, Cole (Joel Osment) with dark secrets. Meanwhile, his work takes its toll on his marriage as he grows distant from his wife (Williams). Everything about this ghost story is perfectly calculated. The performances, from Willis to Collette to Joel Osment and down to Wahlberg are essential for this film to work. The twist ending, which you probably know by now, or should, works because it’s not necessary. The film would have been good without it, the final meeting between Malcolm and Cole supplied enough closure to leave the audience satisfied, so when the real ending hits, we’re shocked, and the movie becomes great.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-


The Great Escape (1963, Directed by John Sturges) English 10

Starring Steve McQueen, James Garner, Charles Bronson, Richard Attenborough, James Coburn, Donald Pleasance


Classic. Heroic. Thrilling.

During World War II, these allied prisoners of war have escaped from every camp that they’ve been held captive in. So the Nazis build a special camp made just for them. Thought to be impossible to escape out of, the POWs plan a massive prison break, revealed in elaborate detail from the planning to the exciting execution. Thrilling adventure film with real stakes and a cast of some of the coolest men ever (McQueen, Garner, Bronson, Coburn), each given their chance to shine. The tunnel sequence when the lights go out on Charles Bronson is an all-time great suspense scene. And, of course, the score is iconic.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-


The Lady Vanishes (1938, Directed by Alfred Hitchcock) English 10

Starring Margaret Lockwood, Michael Redgrave, Dame May Whitty, Paul Lukas


Efficient. Thrilling. Charming.

One of Hitchcock’s most entertaining films with many of his go-to plot devices; espionage and misunderstanding. A young woman, Iris (Lockwood), receives a blow to the head as she boards a train taking her back to England. An elderly woman, Miss Froy (Whitty), tends to her before she knocks out, but when Iris wakes up, Miss Froy is gone. Worse still, no one else on the train believes a Miss Froy even exists. Eventually, Iris, with the help of a talkative British gentleman (Redgrave), attempts to piece together a conspiracy. British comedy duo Charters and Caldicott offer dry comic relief.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-


12 Angry Men (1957, Directed by Sidney Lumet) English 10

Starring Henry Fonda, Martin Balsam, Lee J. Cobb, Edward Binns, Ed Begley, Jack Warden, Jack Klugman


Suspenseful. Powerful. Moving.

1950’s masculine society is compressed into this engaging, tightly spun drama about 11 jury members absolutely certain that a young ethnic kid is guilty, and the one juror (Fonda) that has a reasonable doubt. Integrity, mob mentality, racism, and prejudice are all examined as juror number 8 gradually brings the other men over to his side, and Sidney Lumet, directing his first film, paces the film superbly.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-


Sideways (2004, Directed by Alexander Payne) English 10

Starring Paul Giamatti, Thomas Haden Church, Virginia Madsen, Sandra Oh


Funny. Painful. Wonderful.

Two friends-Miles (Giamatti) and Jack (Haden Church)- go on a road trip through wine country the week before the latter is to be married. Jack is determined to have a fling before he ties the knot and meek, self-loathing Miles goes along with it, the two meeting Stephanie (Oh) and Maya (Madsen). A hallmark of Alexander Payne’s films is the attention to character detail. In the case of this film, that can often be painful to watch, but ultimately Sideways transcends even its own mire to become something wonderful. The four principals are fantastic and Miles, for all of his faults, is a deeply sympathetic character.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-


Howard’s End (1992, Directed by James Ivory) English 10

Starring Emma Thompson, Helena Bonham-Carter, Anthony Hopkins, Vanessa Redgrave


Stunning. Adept. Passionate.

Magnificent literary adaptation of E.M Forster’s best novel about the kind Schlegel sisters, the proud Wilcox’s, and the unfortunate Mr. Bast. Margaret Schlegel (Thompson) befriends Mrs. Wilcox (Redgrave), and then, following the latter’s death, marries Mr. Wilcox (Hopkins). Helen Schlegel (Bonham-Carter) has a tryst with one of the Wilcox’s sons, before falling for the lower class Mr. Bast. This film isn’t as apparent as the novel in how it demonstrates the disparity between the haves (personified in Mr. Wilcox) and the have-nots (Mr. Bast), but a general unfairness of fate permeates the story. Justly receiving 9 Oscar nominations, the production is glorious, and the leads are excellent. Thompson and Hopkins in particular.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-