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Not a single person could have predicted the smash-hit film that 8 Mile would become.
An Oscar winner for Best Original Song and meme-worthy drama for the ages, this loose autobiographical flick for star Eminem finds him in familiar territory.
He plays Rabbit, a young rapper trying desperately to make it and escape the Detroit slums.
As he attempts to break out, become a provider for his daughter and escape the trappings of his trailer-park existence, he pushes to become a rap icon and gain respect.
Directed by Oscar winner Curtis Hanson, the pedigree of this film is far better than you'd expect.
Eminem shows he's multi-talented with a layered performance and authenticity that lends itself well to the role. He's joined by Brittany Murphy, Mekhi Phifer and standout turns from Kim Basinger, Michael Shannon and a very young Anthony Mackie.
It will take you by complete surprise, and is one of my favourite movies of the 2000s.
Sometimes you just need a taut, well-paced actioner to cleanse the palate.
After weeks watching stuffy Oscar films to prepare for the ceremony, it was nice to sit down with a good old-fashioned action flick.
The Kingdom follows a U.S. Government agent team who head to the Middle East to investigate the bombing of an American facility there.
Directed by Peter Berg – known for Friday Night Lights, Deepwater Horizon, and Lone Survivor – it's a flick with beautiful cinematography and a stark, dark tone.
The cast can make or break a film like this, and with Jamie Foxx, Chris Cooper and Jennifer Garner leading, it's a great trio. But Berg also manages to nab Jason Bateman, Jeremy Piven, Richard Jenkins, Kyle Chandler, Danny Huston and Tim McGraw, making it a really fun exercise to watch the flick 15 years since its release.
Lucky Number Slevin
One of my absolute favourite thrillers, Lucky Number Slevin was a film that managed to surprise just about everyone.
The 2006 flick follows Slevin, whose day just keeps getting worse when he's mistaken for a man involved in plenty of shady deeds.
He ends up in a huge war between two crime bosses with a detective and assassin hot on his trail.
Josh Hartnett proves with Slevin that he's a force to be watched, and he's in good company. The immensely talented Lucy Liu, Ben Kingsley, Morgan Freeman and Bruce Willis are also along for the ride.
Emmy-winning director Paul McGuigan has never made anything even close to as good as this since, but it sure is a great crowning achievement.
Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Lost in the shuffle during the start of the 2020 pandemic, I really wish Never Rarely Sometimes Always had found a bigger audience.
It follows two teenage girls who head from their small Pennsylvania town to New York City. Their trip is far from pleasant – One of them is seeking more anonymous medical help than they'd receive in their town while they deal with an unintended pregnancy.
Sidney Flanigan and Talia Ryder are both truly amazing, and deserved more kudos than they got for their work.
Writer-director Eliza Hittman creates a beautiful, disquieting picture that neither shies away from a difficult subject, nor takes a bold stance.
The Miracle Season
Some movies are just meant to give you an escape and make you feel something, and The Miracle Season does what it's intended to.
It follows a volleyball team of high schoolers who find a way to recover their season following the death of their star Caroline.
With their hardened coach behind them, they try to win the state championship for their fallen teammate.
This isn't a film with a huge pedigree, but strong performances from the ensemble – including Helen Hunt, William Hurt, and Erin Moriarty – allow you to connect with the characters.
Tears will definitely be shed, and it's a great film for families with kids 10 and up. It's perfect entertainment for a rainy, spring afternoon.
Jordan Parker's weekly film reviews can be found on his blog, Parker & The Picture Shows.