74. In the Heat of the Night - 1967
Directed by Norman Jewison, a film set in Sparta Mississippi, were segregation is very prominent in time. Virgil Tibb’s (played by Sidney Poitier) a homicide Detective from Philadelphia was visiting his mom and gets arrested for a murder simply because he is a black man. When Sheriff Gillespie finds out that Tibbs is a part of the law, the tables turn and they end up having to work together to solve the murder in Sparta.
This is one of the most powerful films that involves segregation in film history. The most impactful scenes is when Poitor gets slapped by a white man and he slaps him back. They don’t call him Mr. Tibb’s for nothing! It was so impactful that it showed that regardless no one is above the law. During the film, it is interesting to see the evolution of Sherriff Gillespie who is a hot head, loud mouth bigot. The movie progresses from Tibb’s and Gillespie hating each other to become the ultimate odd couple. In the Heat of the Night not only made an impact on film history, but in the 60’s, when segregation was a major issue in America.
73. The Insider - 1999
Directed by Michael Mann, ‘The Insider’ is a film about a chemist (played by Russell Crowe) who puts his own career, his family, and his life at risk to testify against the very tobacco which includes the tobacco company he worked for. He ends up going to Lowell Bergman (played by Al Pacino) who is a 60 Minutes producer for help to get the information about Tobacco out to the public. However, going to war against big tobacco isn’t as easy as Lowell Bergman thought. It shows how intense and psychological corporate America is when there product and power is threatened.
Michael Mann is one of the most underrated storytellers of our time. His use of cinematic beauty with light and landscape with the intense surroundings implicate this corporate thriller. The Insider brings the reality and fear of going against the corporate power that runs society. It takes a truth that is so obvious to us today and how power and corruption can definitely manipulate truths to be covered up at whatever the cost. The powerhouse team of Pacino and Crowe made amplified the film tenfold.
72. Mad Max - 1979
Directed by George Miller, Mad Max is based post-apocalyptic in Australia. The police squad are at battle with a gang that pillages, rapes, and plunder villages. Max Rockatansky is a cop who is one of the best police officers kills one of the famous gang members in a policy chase. The rest of the gang seeks vengeance on Max at whatever cost. While Max decides to go on holiday with his wife and child, the plot thickens and the film becomes a cat and mouse game.
George Miller brought detail to the screen that made Mad Max more realistic. The editing with all the detailed shots told this film better that a top quality film in the late 70’s. It was a low budget film and ended up being the highest grossing film till Blair Witch Project was released in 1999. Miller took special effects to a new level in the discreet detail. Mel Gibson who plays Mad Max brought hero in a crazy, crazy world, and shows how a hero can become when evil consumes everything of our hero. The movie Mad Max influence the independent channel to explore more the realm of creative juices and bolder films.
71. Saving Private Ryan - 1998
When the US Military landed in Normandy on D-Day, the Ryan family had three of the four sons were killed in action, and the fourth son is with some military unit somewhere in Europe. The military sends a special military squad led by Captain Miller (played by Tom Hanks) to find Private Ryan behind enemy lines and bring him home. The story follows Captain Miller and his squad while they search for Private Ryan while running into many obstacles and issues along the way.
Director Steven Spielberg brought the utter and shier reality of D-Day to the big screen. In fact it was too real for some Veterans. Saving Private Ryan cumulates the battles that war conflicts, like the value of life versus accepting another casualty of war. This epic war film empowers hope and sacrifice for the moral cause versus accepting the horror of death and destruction. The movie also allows men who were ‘regular men’ back into America leave behind their past lives and become mortal heroes.
70. Deer Hunter - 1978
A group of lifelong friends who grew up together celebrate through a friends wedding and a hunting trip before they head off to Vietnam. Through the horror of Vietnam three friends who went are captured and detained by the enemy. They were forced to play Russian roulette against each other as form of torture till Michael (played by Robert De Niro) figured how to escape…with a betting chance. The movie doesn’t end there, but illustrates the effects of war and how the experiences changed each of the three friend’s lives. Michael continues to search and save Nick (played by Christopher Walken) as he goes into a dark places that causes him to cope with his traumatic experience. At the same time, Michaels friends, who didn’t serve have a hard time understanding the effects war had on Michael, Nick and Steven.
Deer Hunter shows the powerful effects the war in Vietnam caused mentally and physically on the soldiers. The confusion and the horrid realities alters the lives of these blue collar friends which shows a cause of alienating people they love back home. The emotional effects established how doctors and the public only worried about the physical scars from the war, but didn’t notice or understand the mental scars of war. It is amazing to see how Deer Hunter relays a message of Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome in Vets before anyone knew what it was. Deer Hunter was ahead of its time.