For Movies About American Culture, there are many creators talking about this feeling. Here are 13 of our favorites.
From Quentin Tarantino, starring John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Samuel L. Jackson, Bruce Willis
Pulp Fiction is a neo-noir crime classic directed by Quentin Tarantino that follows two hit-men, Vincent Vega (John Travolta) and Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson), who are on a mission to retrieve a briefcase of mysterious contents for their boss, Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames). Along the way, they encounter a variety of surreal and violent events including a botched robbery, a drug deal gone wrong, and a shoot-out in a diner. Meanwhile, Wallace's wife, Mia (Uma Thurman), becomes increasingly involved in the other characters' lives as the story progresses. Through a series of interconnected stories, Pulp Fiction offers audiences a fascinating and thrilling exploration of the criminal underworld.
From Tony Kaye, starring Edward Norton, Edward Furlong, Beverly D'Angelo, Jennifer Lien
American History X is a 1998 drama film directed by Tony Kaye. It stars Edward Norton as Derek Vinyard, a former neo-Nazi skinhead who is released from prison and attempts to prevent his younger brother from going down the same path of violence and hate. The film follows Derek as he grapples with the consequences of his actions, coming to terms with his past and emerging as a changed man. In the process, he comes to understand the destructive power of hate and bigotry, and how it can devastate lives. The movie was well-received, earning an Academy Award nomination for Best Editing and winning several awards, including a Satellite Award for Best Actor (Norton).
From Sam Mendes, starring Kevin Spacey, Annette Bening, Thora Birch, Wes Bentley
American Beauty is a 1999 drama film directed by Sam Mendes and written by Alan Ball. The film stars Kevin Spacey as Lester Burnham, a middle-aged advertising executive who has a midlife crisis when he becomes infatuated with his teenage daughter's best friend, Angela (Mena Suvari). The film also stars Annette Bening as his materialistic wife Carolyn, and Thora Birch as their insecure daughter Jane. The film follows Lester's transformation as he becomes more accepting of his suppressed homosexuality and begins to enjoy life to the fullest. The family's lives are disrupted when Carolyn's ex-lover (Peter Gallagher) moves in across the street and starts to interfere in their lives. American Beauty was met with critical acclaim and won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor for Spacey, Best Original Screenplay for Ball, and Best Cinematography for Conrad L. Hall. It was also nominated for two Golden Globe Awards: Best Motion Picture – Drama and Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama for Spacey. It remains a highly influential film, and is often cited as one of the best films of the 1990s.
From Robert Mulligan, starring Gregory Peck, John Megna, Frank Overton, Rosemary Murphy
To Kill a Mockingbird is a classic 1962 drama film directed by Robert Mulligan and based on Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name. The film follows the lives of Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck), a white lawyer in the segregated town of Maycomb, Alabama and his two children, Scout (Mary Badham) and Jem (Phillip Alford). Atticus is appointed to defend a black man named Tom Robinson (Brock Peters), who has been falsely accused of raping Mayella Ewell (Collin Wilcox-Paxton), the daughter of a white landowner. Through its depiction of racial injustice and Atticus’ unwavering courage and integrity, the film examines issues of racism, courage, and morality in the American South during the early 1930s. Along the way, Scout and Jem learn valuable lessons about themselves, as well as the importance of standing up for what is right. The film won three Academy Awards, including Best Actor for Peck, Best Art Direction, and Best Adapted Screenplay.
From Clint Eastwood, starring Clint Eastwood, Bee Vang, Christopher Carley, Ahney Her
Gran Torino is a drama-comedy film directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Clint Eastwood as Walt Kowalski, an aging Korean War veteran who lives alone in a changing neighborhood in Detroit, Michigan. Kowalski is a racist and a loner who is not happy with the changes in his neighborhood. But when a young Hmong teenager, Thao, tries to steal his prized Gran Torino car, Kowalski is unexpectedly drawn into a relationship with Thao and his family. As Kowalski grows closer to their family, he begins to realize that his prejudices are unfounded, and that his neighbors are more like him than he thought. In the end, Kowalski helps Thao protect his family from a local gang, and learns to appreciate the value of family and community.
Ethan Coen, starring Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Julianne Moore, Steve Buscemi
The Big Lebowski is a 1998 American comedy film written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. The film stars Jeff Bridges as Jeffrey "The Dude" Lebowski, a Los Angeles slacker and avid bowler. When The Dude is mistaken for Jeffrey Lebowski, a wheelchair-bound millionaire, he seeks restitution for his ruined rug and enlists his bowling buddies, Walter Sobchak (John Goodman) and The Stranger (Sam Elliott), to help gain recompense. The trio finds themselves entangled in a kidnapping plot involving a millionaire's wife, Bunny Lebowski (Tara Reid) and their seedy accomplices. Along their misadventures, The Dude encounters a host of eccentric characters, including a nihilist cab driver (Steve Buscemi), a dysfunctional family of German nihilists, and a performance artist (John Turturro). The Big Lebowski is a cult classic which has achieved critical acclaim for its offbeat characters, deadpan humor, and witty dialogue. It has since become a pop culture touchstone, inspiring the creation of an annual festival, the "Lebowski Fest" and a religion, Dudeism.
From Rob Reiner, starring Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, Jerry O'Connell
Stand by Me is a coming of age adventure film directed by Rob Reiner, released in 1986. Based on the novella The Body by Stephen King, the story follows four pre-teen boys who set out on a two-day journey to find the body of a missing boy. Set in a small town in Oregon in 1959, the boys, Gordie (Wil Wheaton), Chris (River Phoenix), Teddy (Corey Feldman), and Vern (Jerry O'Connell), face several obstacles on their quest, including a gang of older boys, a treacherous cave and a railway bridge. Along the way they share stories, form deeper friendships, and learn important lessons about life. Ultimately, they learn the true meaning of friendship and loyalty.
From Frank Capra, starring James Stewart, Jean Arthur, Claude Rains, Edward Arnold
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is a classic American political drama directed by Frank Capra. It follows Jefferson Smith (James Stewart), a naïve, idealistic, and enthusiastic young man from rural America, who is appointed to fill a vacant seat in the U.S. Senate on a whim by his state's corrupt political boss. When Smith arrives in Washington, he discovers that he is ill-equipped to participate in the cutthroat game of political maneuvering and is quickly outmaneuvered by more experienced politicians. Determined to make a difference, Smith begins to fight for the rights of the people, despite opposition from the political machine. Through a series of twists and turns, Smith is eventually able to expose the corruption in his state and pass a bill he strongly believes in. In the end, Smith's unwavering faith in the system and his commitment to the people of his state are rewarded.
From Paul Thomas Anderson, starring Tom Cruise, Jason Robards, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman
Magnolia is a 1999 drama film written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, set in the San Fernando Valley of California. It follows the intertwining lives of several characters who are all connected in some way. The movie begins with a young boy playing a trivia game on a television show, followed by a series of vignettes which explore the lives of nine major characters. All of them face personal crises, with relationships crumbling and unexpected events occurring. As the storylines progress, events begin to unfold that mysteriously link all of these characters together, leading to a climactic ending. The film is known for its unique and complex narrative structure, as well as its ensemble cast, featuring actors such as Tom Cruise, Julianne Moore, John C. Reilly, William H. Macy, and Philip Seymour Hoffman.
From Kevin Smith, starring Brian O'Halloran, Jeff Anderson, Marilyn Ghigliotti, Lisa Spoonauer
Clerks is a 1994 independent black and white comedy film written, directed, and co-produced by Kevin Smith. It stars Brian O'Halloran and Jeff Anderson as two slacker store clerks in Leonardo, New Jersey, who spend their entire shift making conversation and dealing with customers. The film follows the clerks as they discuss topics ranging from relationships, love life, and the hierarchy of relationships, to death, religion, sex, and pop culture. Through their conversations, the clerks come to terms with the mundaneness of their lives and the choices they have made. Clerks also features a variety of eccentric customers, including Jay and Silent Bob, two teenage stoners who are always getting into trouble. The film has a light-hearted tone, with the characters discussing their views on life with a frankness rarely found in mainstream comedies. The film was a critical and commercial success, and marks the start of Smith's filmmaking career.
From Ang Lee, starring Kevin Kline, Joan Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Henry Czerny
From Oliver Stone, starring Woody Harrelson, Juliette Lewis, Tom Sizemore, Rodney Dangerfield
From Kevin Smith, starring Shannen Doherty, Jeremy London, Jason Lee, Claire Forlani
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