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Staff & contributors
Do today's political talk shows often feel like meek, scripted, and predictable affairs to you? Would you rather have that euphoric feeling you get when watching someone smart and eloquent talk about important ideas? Multiply that by two and you get Best of Enemies. In 1968, ABC covered the Republican National Convention in Miami Beach and the historic Democratic National Convention in Chicago by airing a 10-part series of nationally televised debates between two ideologically opposed and sharp-minded public intellectuals: Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley. The former was an ardent and openly bisexual liberal and progressive. The latter an elitist cultural conservative, whose magazine, National Review, vowed to always support the most far-right candidate viable for office. This confrontational set-up is not only credited with ushering in an era of pundit politics, but also with producing some of the most entertaining intellectual debate ever to be seen on TV. When's the last time you saw anybody unironically being called a “crypto-Nazi” on national television?

Genre: Documentary, History

Actor: Christopher Hitchens, Dick Cavett, Gore Vidal, John Lithgow, Kelsey Grammer, Noam Chomsky, William F. Buckley, William F. Buckley Jr.

Director: Morgan Neville, Robert Gordon

Rating: R

You don’t need to know a lot about baseball to appreciate The Saint of Second Chances. It has enough going on to keep you hooked from start to end, beginning with Jeff Daniels’ inimitable voice as the narrator and Charlie Day’s inspired casting as the younger Veeck, all the way down to the Veecks’ fascinating ties with American sports history and Mike’s inspiring and heartwarming second-chance philosophy. It all gets a bit too much at times, as if the filmmakers themselves were overwhelmed with their abundant material and creative decisions, but it’s executed with so much care and love that it seems as if this is the only way it could’ve come out: a wonderful mess. 

Genre: Documentary

Actor: Agnes Albright, Bill Veeck, Charley Rossman, Charlie Day, Dan Barreiro, Darryl Strawberry, Don Wardlow, Gary Private, Howard M. Lockie, Ila Borders, Jeff Daniels, Joel Spence, Kalup Allen, Lamar Johnson, Lee Adams, Max Kassidy, Oscar Jordan, Stewart Skelton, Tom Billett, Tony LaRussa

Director: Jeff Malmberg, Morgan Neville

Rating: PG-13

It’s bold to make a film about a legendary icon of cinema, but it’s even bolder to make one about Orson Welles. Best known for making Citizen Kane (universally agreed upon as one of the best movies ever made), Orson Welles is the renegade filmmaker whose works and techniques form the foundation of modern narrative filmmaking today. In his eyes, he asserts that the best films are made by accident. However, armed with archival footage and interviews with those closest to Welles, director Morgan Neville dares to question one of cinema’s biggest geniuses by examining the production of his last unfinished film, the Hollywood satire The Other Side of the Wind. While Welles was undeniably genius - able to inscrutably visualize a film without scripts - it’s easy to see how his tendency to stoke conflict for art could be so self-destructive. This film presents Welles as he is - both a cinema maverick and also an overly demanding artistic tyrant.

Genre: Documentary, Drama

Actor: Alan Cumming, Andrés Vicente Gómez, Cameron Mitchell, Cybill Shepherd, Danny Huston, Dennis Hopper, Frank Marshall, Gary Graver, George Stevens Jr., Henry Jaglom, Jeanne Moreau, John Huston, Joseph Cotten, Joseph McBride, Keith Baxter, Michael Fitzgerald, Neil Canton, Norman Foster, Oja Kodar, Orson Welles, Peter Bogdanovich, Peter Jason, Rich Little, Robert Random, Simon Callow

Director: Morgan Neville

Rating: TV-MA

If you grew up watching Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, you may find yourself now humming along: It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood, a beautiful day for a neighbor, would you be mine? Could you be mine? 

If you did not grow up watching this iconic children’s television program, you may still be familiar with its host, the late Fred Rogers. Rogers was an advocate for empathy and extending kindness toward people of all races, religions, and ages. He never talked down to the neighbors who paid him visits on the show, which aired from 1968 to 2001, even while tackling heavier subjects like grief, divorce, and loneliness.

Morgan Neville’s Won’t You Be My Neighbor best captures Rogers’ ability to build communities and make you, the viewer, feel less alone. Through interviews and archival footage, a clear portrait emerges of Rogers’ legacy and singular force of goodwill. Both the documentary and Fred Rogers’ spirit serve as reminders that each of us are worthy of love, exactly as we are.

Genre: Documentary, Drama

Actor: Al Gore, Ayden Soria, Betty Aberlin, Bill Clinton, Bill Isler, Brian Kilmeade, Christa McAuliffe, David Bianculli, David Letterman, David Newell, Eddie Murphy, Eleanor Way, François Clemmons, Fred Rogers, George Wirth, Hedda Sharapan, Hillary Clinton, Jim Rogers, Joanne Rogers, Joe Negri, Johnny Carson, Josie Carey, Junlei Li, Koko, Lorin Hollander, Lynden Liu, Lyndon B. Johnson, Major Hawbaker Manask, Max King, McColm Cephas Jr., McColm Kona Cephas Jr., Nick Tallo, Robert F. Kennedy, Susan Stamberg, Tom Junod, Tom Snyder, Yo-Yo Ma

Director: Morgan Neville

For the background singers featured in 20 Feet from Stardom, music is a vocation. It is not merely an occupation or a pastime; it is a way of life, a “higher calling,” as the legendary Lisa Fischer would say. For 90 minutes, director Morgan Neville superbly maps out the development of back-up singing in the US throughout the decades, exploring its deep connection with African-American culture and women’s history. It’s fun to finally put names and faces on the oohs and aahs we hear on records aplenty, but the film always finds its grounding on the singers’ own unique voices, where its true soul lies.

Genre: Documentary, Drama, Music

Actor: Bette Midler, Bruce Springsteen, Chris Botti, Claudia Lennear, Darlene Love, Judith Hill, Lisa Fischer, Lou Adler, Lynn Mabry, Merry Clayton, Mick Jagger, Patti Austin, Sheryl Crow, Stevie Wonder, Stevvi Alexander, Sting, Tata Vega, Ula Hedwig

Director: Morgan Neville

20 Feet From Stardom, Won’t You Be My Neighbor), Steve! is an appropriately fun and artistic documentary capturing its subject matter’s fun and artistic spirit. It’s a delight to see Martin's other personas, such as his early magician self, his philosophy major self, and his quietly humorous cartoonist self. We're so used to seeing his fast-paced zaniness that these parts of the documentary are almost shocking to see. But maybe the most illuminating role Martin plays is that of his current self. In equal measure, he cracks jokes and offers wise words about aging which, at 75, he takes in enviously great stride.

Genre: Documentary

Actor: Steve Martin

Rating: TV-MA