2 Best Movies to Watch by Michael O'Hagan

Staff & contributors

Named for all the connections that form a functioning society, Threads is a harrowing look at what might happen when those ties are rent apart by nuclear war. This British TV movie — released during the Cold War — so violently seized on the nuclear anxieties of the time that its premiere was dubbed “the night the country didn’t sleep.” Depressingly, it hasn’t lost that initial resonance, and so it remains a panic attack-inducing watch.

Threads begins in the kitchen-sink vein of a Ken Loach movie. In the northern industrial town of Sheffield, a young couple from different social classes (Reece Dinsdale and Karen Meagher) discover they’re about to be parents — but looming above their small-scale drama are the clouds of war, as televisions and radios blare out the details of escalating tensions between the US and the USSR. And then, it happens: the town is strategically bombed, and Threads unfurls into an unrelenting nightmare. In the documentary-like approach that follows, it spares no graphic or emotional detail, charting both the personal devastation caused by the bomb and the annihilating impact of the nuclear holocaust on all the vital infrastructure we take for granted. In short, one of the bleakest, most terrifying movies ever made.

Genre: Drama, Horror, Science Fiction, War

Actor: Ashley Barker, Brian Grellis, David Brierly, Dean Williamson, Ed Bishop, Harry Beety, Henry Moxon, Jane Hazlegrove, Joe Belcher, Karen Meagher, Lesley Judd, Maggie Ford, Michael O'Hagan, Nat Jackley, Patrick Allen, Peter Faulkner, Phil Rose, Reece Dinsdale, Richard Albrecht, Rita May, Ruth Holden, Steve Halliwell, Ted Beyer

Director: Mick Jackson

While many homophobic people like to think otherwise, there have been gay people all throughout history, some that have survived war and pandemics and persecution and even became widely renowned. Gods and Monsters is a more speculative than accurate biopic about Hollywood director James Whale, who was actually out during his career. That being said, it’s astounding how writer-director Bill Condon and lead Ian McKellen created such a bittersweet examination of the Lost Generation, not just of the loves that were lost but of the lives that could not be lived, the longing that could not be actualized. And the film takes a risky, but nuanced subversion in the way it examines the Hollywood system, subverting the roles Whale and Boone have placed on others and on themselves. It’s a daring portrayal of both homosexuality and of the film industry, one that’s emotionally poignant and ahead of its time.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Amir Aboulela, Arthur Dignam, Brendan Fraser, Celeste Lecesne, Cornelia Hayes O'Herlihy, Curtis Harrington, David Dukes, David Fabrizio, David Millbern, Ian McKellen, Jack Betts, Jack Plotnick, Jesse James, John Gatins, Judson Mills, Kent George, Kevin J. O'Connor, Lisa Darr, Lolita Davidovich, Lynn Redgrave, Mark Kiely, Martin Ferrero, Matt McKenzie, Michael O'Hagan, Owen Masterson, Pamela Salem, Rosalind Ayres, Sarah Ann Morris, Todd Babcock

Director: Bill Condon

Rating: R