5 Best Movies to Watch by Ritchie Montgomery

Staff & contributors

Like so many pictures about the pictures, The Player is a biting satire of the biz. Tim Robbins plays Griffin Mill, a Hollywood executive who gives dinner speeches about movies being art but works at a studio where endings are unceremoniously tweaked for maximum audience approval ratings — and therefore maximum profits. The greedy corporate Tinseltown of The Player feels very close to the franchise-pumping Tinseltown of today, but there’s enough wit and irony here to keep it from feeling too depressing.

Legendary New Hollywood director Robert Altman packages his critique in familiar clothing: that of a film noir. After receiving threatening postcards from a disgruntled writer he never called back, Griffin takes matters into his own hands and soon finds himself living out the plot of a taut thriller. The Player gets even more deliciously meta than this: nearly every scene contains a winking reference to the movies, and it’d probably be easier to count which stars of past and present don’t show up for a cameo here. What’s more, Altman gives The Player the kind of “happy ending” that Griffin’s studio is always demanding from writers — only here, it’s spun into a bitter commentary on the whole industry. Simply masterful.

Genre: Comedy, Crime, Drama, Mystery

Actor: Adam Simon, Alan Rudolph, Alexandra Powers, Althea Gibson, Andie MacDowell, Angela Hall, Anjelica Huston, Annie Ross, Bert Remsen, Brad Davis, Brian Brophy, Brian Tochi, Brion James, Bruce Willis, Buck Henry, Burt Reynolds, Cathy Lee Crosby, Charles Champlin, Cher, Cynthia Stevenson, David Alan Grier, Dean Stockwell, Dennis Franz, Derek Raser, Dina Merrill, Elliott Gould, Felicia Farr, Frank Barhydt, Fred Ward, Gary Busey, Gina Gershon, Greta Scacchi, Harry Belafonte, Jack Jason, Jack Kney, Jack Lemmon, Jack Riley, James Coburn, Jayne Meadows, Jeff Celentano, Jeff Goldblum, Jeremy Piven, Jill St. John, Joan Tewkesbury, Joel Grey, John Cusack, Julia Roberts, Karen Black, Katarzyna Figura, Kathy Ireland, Kevin Scannell, Leah Ayres, Leeza Gibbons, Lily Tomlin, Louise Fletcher, Lyle Lovett, Malcolm McDowell, Marina Zenovich, Marlee Matlin, Martin Mull, Michael Bowen, Michael Tolkin, Mike Kaplan, Mimi Rogers, Natalie Strong, Ned Bellamy, Nick Nolte, Pamela Bowen, Patricia Resnick, Patrick Swayze, Paul Dooley, Paul Hewitt, Peter Falk, Peter Gallagher, Peter Koch, Randall Batinkoff, Ray Walston, Rene Auberjonois, Richard Anderson, Richard E. Grant, Ritchie Montgomery, Robert Carradine, Robert Wagner, Rod Steiger, Sally Kellerman, Sally Kirkland, Scott Glenn, Scott Shaw, Shari Belafonte, Stephen Tolkin, Steve Allen, Steve James, Susan Emshwiller, Susan Sarandon, Sydney Pollack, Ted Hartley, Teri Garr, Tim Robbins, Vincent D'Onofrio, Whoopi Goldberg

Director: Robert Altman

Hit Man is many things—a romance, neo-noir, comedy, and thriller. And though it sometimes feels like it doesn’t quite reach its full potential in all those areas, it’s hard not to be blown away by Powell’s Rolodex of characters and his palpable chemistry with Arjona. The story itself isn’t as sturdy as I hoped it would be, but it’s supported by a strong, funny script co-written by the ever-reliable Linklater (who I suspect is behind the deep existential ruminations) and Powell (who must’ve supplied the cache of modern jokes), ultimately making Hit Man a smart, funny, and deeply pleasurable watch.

Genre: Comedy, Crime, Romance

Actor: Adria Arjona, Anthony Michael Frederick, Austin Amelio, Bryant Carroll, Eleanor Threatt, Evan Holtzman, Glen Powell, Gralen Bryant Banks, Jo-Ann Robinson, Jordan Salloum, Julia Holt, Kate Adair, Kim Baptiste, Mike Markoff, Molly Bernard, Morgana Shaw, Retta, Richard Robichaux, Ritchie Montgomery, Roxy Rivera, Sanjay Rao, Sara Osi Scott, Stephanie Hong

Director: Richard Linklater

Rating: R

Dakota Johnson and Casey Affleck star in this comedy-drama as a small-town couple, one of whom gets diagnosed with a terminal illness. Their best friend (Jason Segel) puts his life on hold and moves in with them, picking up the husband when he faints at the hospital, shaving his head in solidarity with the wife, and even taking care of the dog who also gets sick.

It might seem like just another terminal illness drama, but Our Friend is based on a true story, and it’s as much about the illness as it is about how to be there for people, and reversely, the power of people being there for you.

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance

Actor: Ahna O'Reilly, Azita Ghanizada, Casey Affleck, Chandler Head, Cherry Jones, Dakota Johnson, Denée Benton, Gerald Brodin, Gwendoline Christie, Hali Everette, Isabella Kai, Jacinte Blankenship, Jake Owen, Jason Bayle, Jason Segel, Jennifer Pierce Mathus, Jeronimo Spinx, John McConnell, Lindsey Reimann, Marielle Scott, Mark Costello, Michael Papajohn, Mike Lutz, Paige King, Reed Diamond, Richard Speight Jr., Ritchie Montgomery, Sampley Barinaga, Susan Williams, T.C. Matherne, Violet McGraw

Director: Gabriela Cowperthwaite

Christine is about Christine Chubbuck, an awkward and complex reporter who was the first person ever to commit suicide on live TV.

Rebecca Hall is terrific as Chubbuck and goes to great lengths to communicate the personality of her subject matter. The movie might seem slow at times, and her acting off, but it’ll all make sense once she immerses you in the complex reality of the character.

An interesting story and an incredible performance.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Alexandra Paul, Allan Cox, Angela Ray, Anissa Matlock, Anthony Triceri, Antonio Campos, Carl Palmer, David Alexander, Hannah Black, Ian Covell, J. Smith-Cameron, James Rackley, Jayson Warner Smith, John Cullum, John Newberg, John Stockwell, Keith Gordon, Kim Shaw, Kimberley Drummond, Lindsay Ayliffe, Maria Dizzia, Masey McLain, Meghan Strange, Michael C. Hall, Morgan Spector, Rachel Hendrix, Rebecca Hall, Rebecca Koon, Ritchie Montgomery, Robert Prosky, Stacy Hall, Susan Pourfar, Susie Spear Purcell, Timothy Simons, Tracy Letts, Wayne Hughes

Director: Antonio Campos, John Carpenter

Rating: R

Written by Diablo Cody (Jennifer’s Body) and directed by Zelda Williams (daughter of the late Robin Williams), Lisa Frankenstein is a playful, funny, and stylish take on ‘80s horror and coming-of-age romcoms. Unfortunately, those traits alone are not enough to give the film the weight it needs to stand the test of time. There’s a clumsiness to the direction that, ironically enough, makes the film seem like parts lousily stitched together, instead of a coherent whole. There are pauses that are too long, transitions that feel off, and questions left unanswered. Why does it feel natural for Lisa to kill people? Was she close to her mom? What does her relationship with The Creature indicate, apart from the trite and obvious “outcasts must stick together”? Lisa Frankenstein doesn’t have to answer all these to be a good film, but when things are shallowly rendered, they become hard to ignore. It prioritizes pulpy gimmicks and visual gags that are admittedly fun to watch, but leaves behind equally important matters that flesh out Lisa as a person.

Genre: Comedy, Horror, Romance

Actor: Ashton Leigh, Bryce Romero, Carla Gugino, Charlie Talbert, Cole Sprouse, Donna DuPlantier, Geraldine Singer, Henry Eikenberry, Jenna Davis, Jennifer Pierce Mathus, Joe Chrest, Joey Harris, Joshua Montes, Kathryn Newton, Liza Soberano, Luke Sexton, Paola Andino, Ray Gaspard, Ritchie Montgomery, Shane Partlow, Summer Selby, Sylvia Grace Crim, Trina LaFargue, Walker Babington, Wendy Miklovic

Director: Zelda Williams

Rating: PG-13