1. Jaws (1975) – Directed by Steven Spielberg, Starring Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, and Richard Dreyfuss – Buy it here.
It’s fitting that the first entry into The Kryptonian Collection happens to be the film most responsible for creating modern Hollywood. Spielberg’s tale of a man-eating shark terrorizing an Island community changed the world as we know it. It provided a blueprint for the modern blockbuster, introduced one of the most iconic theme songs of all time, and kept a whole lot of people from visiting the beach that summer. More than all of that, though, Jaws is an example of a deceptively simple and entertaining thrill ride. Spielberg manages to give the film his trademark adventurous charm while at the same time channeling Hitchcockian suspense to create a movie that expertly navigates character and emotional beats. To call Jaws a classic is underselling its importance. It is essential. Listen to the episode. – James Gentry (@wenchtweet)
2. Raising Arizona (1987) – Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, Starring Nicolas Cage and Holly Hunter – Buy it here.
A delightfully surprising entry into the collection, Raising Arizona shows The Coen Brother’s doing what they do best: crafting an absurd story featuring some truly outlandish characters. The film is dreamlike and frequently hilarious, but Nicholas Cage’s H.I. McDunnough provides a through-line of emotional resonance that carries you through the story. This might not be the Coen brother’s most well known and critically acclaimed work, but it lays the groundwork for what Coen films will come to be known as. And the fact remains that there is no Fargo without Raising Arizona. Listen to the episode. – Adrian Torres (@YoAdrianTorres)
3. The Silence of the Lambs (1991) – Directed by Jonathan Demme, Starring Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins – Buy it here.
There are three movies that have won the “Big 5” (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Screenplay) Academy Awards: Frank Capra’s It Happened One Night, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and the newest entry to the Kryptonian Collection: The Silence of the Lambs. Awards aren’t everything of course, but this is one of the rare moments where Oscar got it right. The 1991 thriller directed by Jonathan Demme is a combination of everything that makes cinema great: Entrancing and effective camera work, eerie music and sound work, and of course amazing performances. Anthony Hopkin’s Hannibal will go down as one of the most haunting characters ever put to film. So it should come as no surprise that we felt that The Silence of the Lambs belonged in one more, equally exclusive list. Listen to the episode. – Chad Acevedo (@cacevedo1982)
4. Speed Racer (2008) – Directed by Lana & Lilly Wachowski, Starring Emile Hirsch, Matthew Fox, and John Goodman – Buy it here.
In 1999, the Wachowski siblings exploded onto the film scene with The Matrix, a movie that defined a genre and action style for years to come. Almost 10 years later they triumphantly released Speed Racer, a beautiful and poignant examination of art and the act of creation masquerading as a fun kids racing movie. While Speed Racer wasn’t, nor ever would be the critical or commercial success of the Wachowski’s previous work, it showed the sisters’ true mastery of the cinematic art. Speed Racer is a miracle of a film. There are a thousand different ways that it shouldn’t work and yet it continually defies conventions and expectations to become an incredible thrill ride and a fitting entry into The Kryptonian Collection. Listen to the episode. – Scott Daly (@scottdaly85)
5. Videodrome (1983) – Directed by David Cronenberg, Starring James Woods & Debbie Harry – Buy it here.
Up until 1983, David Cronenberg’s feature films could be slotted into traditional genres if you tried (science fiction, horror, thriller), but Videodrome is all of those things and something else entirely. Its story of amoral TV executive Max Renn searching for the source of a pirate snuff broadcast — for business reasons, obviously — shows Cronenberg being introspective about his own role as a creator of “extreme” and “prurient” content. As Max’s perception starts to distort and Videodrome becomes more surreal, the film delves deeper into the nature of reality, the video image, human interaction, violence, and sexuality. It’s a very strange, disturbing and elegantly crafted film, anchored by a charmingly slimy performance by James Woods. Thriller? Horror? Cyberpunk without the mirror shades? Yes, it’s all of that, but also something uniquely Videodrome and uniquely Cronenberg. Listen to the episode. – Shannon Hubbel (@brundlefly)
6. Audition (1999) – Directed by Takashi Miike, Starring Ryo Ishibashi & Eihi Shiina – Buy it here.
Audition stands as one of director Takashi Miike’s most enduring works. What initially looks like a simple story about a widower who schemes to use auditions for a film to find the perfect wife slowly but surely becomes something much more harrowing.
Although Audition is beautifully shot and well-acted, it will always be remembered for its climax, one of the greatest gut-punches in cinema. The big finale wouldn’t work so well if we didn’t care about the characters. But the film takes it times in developing the protagonist, his relationships with others, and especially the budding romance between him and the unfathomably damaged woman brought into his life by the audition.
7. Mean Streets (1973) – Directed by Martin Scorsese, Starring Harvey Keitel & Robert DeNiro – Buy it here.