9 Movies Like Once Upon a Time in America (1984)

Staff & contributors
Mary and Max is the tale of an overlooked 8-year-old girl from Australia starting an unlikely friendship via mail with a middle-aged Jewish man from New York. Shot completely in monocromatic claymotion, it is the first feature film by Australian stop-motion animation writer, Adam Elliot, and the first ever animated film to score the opening slot at Sundance Festival. In all its playful absurdity, Mary and Max is an emotional and wise gem of a film that examines the human condition through the eyes of a troubled child and an autistic American. In contrast to its clay-based animation, it deals with some pretty dark and adult themes, but succeeds in balancing those with happiness and absurd humor. Moreover, Elliott gathered an ensemble cast to do the voice-overs, which includes Philip Seymour Hoffman, Toni Collette, and Eric Bana. We recommend it 8 condensed milks out of 10.

Genre: Animation, Comedy, Drama

Actor: Adam Elliot, Barry Humphries, Bethany Whitmore, Carolyn Shakespeare-Allen, Christopher Massey, Eric Bana, Henry Karjalainen, Ian 'Molly' Meldrum, Ian Meldrum, John Flaus, Julie Forsyth, Michael Ienna, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Renée Geyer, Renée Geyer, Toni Collette

Director: Adam Elliot

Rating: Not Rated

Co-directed and narrated by legendary German director Wim Wenders in collaboration with Salgado's son, Juliano, this unique film tells Sebastião Salgado's life story from his childhood in Northern Brazil, his early career as an economist, and how he shifted towards photography to become a world-renowned photojournalist. Shot in stunning black and white by Juliano Salgado and Hugo Barbier, The Salt of the Earth is a mesmerizing exhibition of one man's lifelong dedication to capture the suffering of humanity and of nature. Most famously, the nightmarish images of the teeming workers of Serra Pelada, a Brazilian mountain gold mine. While creating these images raises some ethical questions that Salgado was confronted with throughout his career, it is an utterly enthralling experience, upsetting at times in its frank display of war, death, and devastation. Ultimately, however, Salgado's elegance and kindness pull us back in and what we see is truth, awareness, and beauty.

Genre: Documentary

Actor: Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, Lélia Wanick Salgado, Régis Muller, Sebastião Salgado, Wim Wenders

Director: Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, Wim Wenders

Rating: PG-13

This is the most practical romantic movie I have seen though many would disagree with its ending. It's a triangular love story that trades cashable means of storytelling with a much more sensible approach. After a failed relationship, Leonard Kraditor (Joaquin Phoenix) returns to live with his parents only to find himself torn again between an exciting neighbor and a woman his parents set him up with. Phoenix delivers an impeccable performance as it goes without saying but Gwyneth Paltrow and Vinessa Shaw really steal the show as the two love interests. They both deliver honest and very interesting portrayals. All in all, Two Lovers is a complex and very well-acted film that goes as far as examining the notion of love, and what we look for in people, through seemingly a simple story.

Genre: Drama, Romance

Actor: Alex Felix, Andrew Ginsburg, Anne Joyce, Anthony Ramos, Bianca Giancoli, Bob Ari, Brian Hopson, Carmen M. Herlihy, Craig Walker, David Cale, David Ross, Don Hewitt Jr., Elias Koteas, Elliot Villar, Franco Bulaon, Geronimo Frias, Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Isabella Rossellini, Jeanine Serralles, Joaquin Phoenix, Joel Horwitz, John Ortiz, Julie Budd, Mari Koda, Marion McCorry, Mark Vincent, Moni Moshonov, Nick Gillie, Renee Fishman, RJ Konner, Saidah Arrika Ekulona, Samantha Ivers, Shiran Nicholson, Uzimann, Vinessa Shaw

Director: James Gray

Rating: R

The film that catapulted Kevin Costner to fame, No Way Out, is based on a novel by Kenneth Fearing, "The Big Clock", and is also preceded by a film adaptation of it, around 40 years prior. Director Roger Donaldson found himself in charge of a film, haunted by the Cold War and spy thriller tropes, but already aligning itself with the late 80s erotic thriller. In a way, No Way Back is a symbol of this transitional period, but by retaining the classic noir vibe (deception, fleeing, yearning), it becomes a tribute to the past. In the film's own past, a love triangle is taking shape in a rather unconventional way: layered with all three of the aforementioned dispositions. Two men want the same women, but their relationship is further complicated by professional hierarchies and the quest to own the past they both shared with Susan. 

 

Genre: Thriller

Actor: Brad Pitt, Charles Walker, Chris D., David Armstrong, David Paymer, Dennis Burkley, Fred Thompson, Gene Hackman, George Dzundza, Howard Duff, Iman, Jason Bernard, John D'Aquino, Kevin Costner, Leo Geter, Leon Russom, Marshall Bell, Matthew Barry, Michael Shillo, Nicholas Worth, Peter Bell, Sean Young, Will Patton

Director: Roger Donaldson

Rating: R

In the years since Fan Girl's original release in the Philippines, its ultimate message and execution has become polarizing: is it enough that the film shows the corruption of a parasocial relationship into an abusive one, without offering much hope? Is its vision of justice actually constructive or disappointingly limited? No matter where you fall, it's exciting that a movie can stir up these kinds of questions through a bizarre dynamic between characters, in a place that's clearly set somewhere between reality and delusion. The narrative is circular and frustrating for a reason—a constant push and pull as the titular fan girl keeps getting drawn back into the celebrity's orbit—and the film only grows more disturbing with each repetition.

Genre: Drama, Thriller

Actor: Bea Alonzo, Camille Penaverde, Charlie Dizon, Gie Onida, Micko Laurente, Milo Elmido Jr., Mina Cruz, Paulo Avelino, Sheenly Gener

Director: Antoinette Jadaone

Rating: PG-13

A truly timely and difficult documentary, Deliver Us From Evil follows an interviewed confession of a Catholic pedophile. In addition, the film shows his victims, their coping strategies and lives as well as the extreme lengths the Catholic Church went to to cover up and enable the systemic rape of children. While often times hard to watch, this film shines a light into the dark corners of human behavior, forgiveness, sin and faith in a way that is both confronting and relatable.

Genre: Crime, Documentary

Actor: Adam, Oliver O'Grady, Pope Benedict XVI, Thomas Doyle

Director: Amy J. Berg

Rating: Not Rated

Let me just preface this by saying The Best of Youth is 6 hours long. Yes, that's 358 minutes of run time, and it puts off a lot of people. But if you're into unusual movie premises like me and up for the challenge - the reward is tremendous. The Best of Youth tells the story of four friends through a period of 30 years; what they go through how they develop their personalities, their worldviews, etc. And because it spans such an extended period of time, it acts as a highlight reel of moments from the characters' lives (so the long run-time actually feels short). It wouldn't be an understatement to say that you'll probably never know characters of any movie as well as you will in The Best of Youth. A perfect illustration of the genius of Italian cinema that gave us The Great Beauty and other amazing movies.

Genre: Drama, History, Romance

Actor: Adriana Asti, Alberto Pozzo, Alessio Boni, Andrea Tidona, Angelo Costabile, Antonello Puglisi, Camilla Filippi, Claudia Fiorentini, Claudio Gioè, Danilo Maria Valli, Dario Veca, Domenico Centamore, Enzo Marcelli, Fabio Camilli, Fabrizio Gifuni, Fausto Maria Sciarappa, Giorgio Crisafi, Giovanni Martorana, Giovanni Scifoni, Giuseppe Gandini, Jasmine Trinca, Juana Jimenez, Kristine M. Opheim, Krum De Nicola, Lidia Vitale, Luigi Lo Cascio, Marcello Prayer, Maria Grazia Bon, Mario Schiano, Massimiliano Petrucci, Maurizio Di Carmine, Maya Sansa, Michele Melega, Mimmo Mignemi, Nanni Tormen, Paolo Bonanni, Paolo De Vita, Patrizia Punzo, Riccardo Scamarcio, Roberto Accornero, Sonia Bergamasco, Stefano Abbati, Valentina Carnelutti

Director: Marco Tullio Giordana

Rating: R

This is right up your alley if you have a thing for gangster films. Actually, if you have a thing for stupendous acting and just Robert de Niro in general, then A Bronx Tale might do the job for you. The 1960’s was a tough time for Lorenzo (de Niro), father to conflicted Calogero (Lillo Brancato), who seems to have befriended Bronx’s big man, Sonny (Chazz Palminteri). Torn between his moral integrity and a few other factors in the mix, the young boy’s leap to the crazed world of mobsters doesn’t get any more real than this. Tragedy and fascination take human form through the eyes of De Niro’s directorial debut and Palminteri’s work of art, leaving you with a gripping feeling long after the credits have stopped rolling.

Genre: Crime, Drama

Actor: A.J. Ekoku, Alfred Sauchelli Jr., Chazz Palminteri, Clem Caserta, Dave Salerno, Derrick Simmons, Domenick Lombardozzi, Dominick Rocchio, Eddie Montanaro, Francis Capra, Frank Pietrangolare, Fred Fischer, Gianna Ranaudo, Joe Pesci, Joseph D'Onofrio, Katherine Narducci, Kathrine Narducci, Lillo Brancato, Louis Vanaria, Max Genovino, Mitch Kolpan, Nicky Blair, Nina von Arx, Patrick Borriello, Phil Foglia, Richard DeDomenico, Robert De Niro, Sobe Bailey, Taral Hicks

Director: Robert De Niro

Rating: R

As a documentary, The Darkness Within doesn't dig as deep as it probably could have. It doesn't offer a particularly specific account of how La Luz del Mundo has achieved its popularity and what exactly keeps it in power today. However, due to the fact that many church members seem to remain loyal to its corrupt, criminal leaders, a straightforward testimony is also exactly what this film needs to be. In direct, uncompromising detail—but always edited with a solemn respect for the survivors, who get to make their statements without the camera in their face—it lays out the mountain of damning personal experiences that too many La Luz del Mundo have suffered, as the rest of the church has turned a blind eye towards them.

Genre: Crime, Documentary

Director: Carlos Pérez Osorio