M*A*S*H (Robert Altman, 1970)

The year is 1951. Six years have passed since the conclusion of the Second World War, and another conflict has broken out – this time in the Korean Peninsula. North Korea, with the support of China and the Soviet Union, fights against South Korea, whose citizens are backed up by the United States and her allies. Just like in the Second World War, the army has made extensive use of the Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) – a fully functional medical unit deployed in the combat zone. The 4077th of these units is about to shaken up when its two newest surgeons, “Hawkeye” Pierce and “Duke” Forrest arrive in a stolen Army Jeep.

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If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins, 2018)

Fonny and Tish are two African-Americans deeply in love with each other. Their relationship begins with optimism and hope, but reality rears its ugly head when Fonny is falsely accused of rape. To make matters worse, Tish learns shortly after her lover’s incarceration that she is pregnant with his child. What should have been a moment of celebration and joy is instead a source of great tension shared between both families. Tish’s family soon hires a lawyer to defend Fonny in court, hoping that in doing so, they can find enough evidence to acquit him before the baby is born.

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Bumblebee (Travis Knight, 2018)

The distant planet of Cybertron is populated by robotic beings. It is currently in the middle of a violent civil war. The Decepticons, led by Soundwave, Shockwave, and Starscream, will stop at nothing to conquer the galaxy. In response, the Autobots, led by Optimus Prime, have formed a resistance to stop them. Unfortunately, the Decepticons have pushed the Autobots into a corner, and the latter faction must evacuate the planet. In a desperate gambit, Optimus Prime sends his friend, B-127, to Earth to set up a base of operations where the Autobots can regroup.

Shortly after landing there, B-127 is attacked by the Decepticon Blitzwing. B-127 is able to vanquish his enemy, but not before the Decepticon tears out his voicebox and damages his memory core. Before his vision fades, B-127 scans a nearby 1967 Volkswagen Beetle. Meanwhile, a teenage girl named Charlie Watson notices a similar vehicle in her uncle’s scrapyard.

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The Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton, 1955)

This story takes place in West Virginia during the Great Depression. Serial killer Reverend Harry Powell, a self-anointed preacher, flees the scene of his last murder. He rationalizes his murders by believing he is punishing sinful women and using their money to preach God’s word. To this end, he has the letters “L-O-V-E” tattooed on the fingers of his right hand and “H-A-T-E” on those of the opposite. His luck seemingly runs out when he is arrested for driving a stolen car. However, he soon finds himself sharing a cell with Ben Harper, a criminal who, in a bank robbery, killed two people. Ben is sentenced to death shortly thereafter while Powell makes his way to the Harper household. The executed criminal apparently got his kids to promise not to tell the authorities where he hid the stolen money.

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Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, & Rodney Rothman, 2018)

Miles Morales is a teenager from Brooklyn who is struggling to adjust to the elite boarding school in which his parents have enrolled him. His father, Jefferson Davis-Morales, is a police officer with all of the sense and duty such a responsibility entails. He also frequently expresses annoyance over the efforts of a masked vigilante the public knows as Spider-Man. Feeling he has no one to speak to, he frequently seeks out his uncle, Aaron Davis, for advice. Aaron encourages Miles’s passion for graffiti, leading him to an abandoned subway station where he his nephew is free to draw to his heart’s content. Things take an interesting turn when a radioactive spider bites his hand.

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Rushmore (Wes Anderson, 1998)

Max Fischer is a prodigy, for he is able to solve an equation that left his geometry teacher’s mentor utterly stumped. As promised, he never has to crack open a textbook for the rest of his tenure at Rushmore Academy – or so he believes. Unfortunately for him, reality comes knocking at the door, waking him up from his dream. In reality, Max Fischer is an eccentric 15-year-old scholarship student. He’s quite the paradoxical individual, for he participates in an astounding number of extracurricular activities, yet Dr. Guggenheim, the school’s headmaster, considers him the school’s worst student; his grades do nothing to assuage this assessment.  At one school assembly, Max meets the disillusioned Herman Blume, and the two of them strike up an unlikely friendship. Meanwhile, Max develops an obsession with Rosemary Cross, a widowed teacher who has recently arrived at the school. The next few months will stretch both relationships to their absolute limits.

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Widows (Steve McQueen, 2018)

Harry Rawlings, a highly skilled thief, has planned a heist against the Chicago crime boss Jamal Manning. Helping him are three partners: Carlos, Florek, and Jimmy. Things take an unfortunate turn when the four of them perish in an explosion during a shootout with the police. Veronica Rawlings, the widow of Harry, is now being threatened by Jamal. As the wife of Harry, she must repay him the two-million dollars lost in the botched heist. As it turns out, Jamal needs this money to finance an electoral campaign for alderman of a South Side precinct. His opponent is Jack Mulligan, the son of the incumbent alderman, Tom Mulligan. As luck would have it, Veronica has found the notebook of her deceased husband, Harry. It contains a detailed plan of what was to be his next heist. Realizing she is running out of time, Veronica bands together with the other recently-widowed woman, determined to appease the powerful crime boss.

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The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (Ethan Coen & Joel Coen, 2018)

A happy-go-lucky cowboy with a penchant for singing is offended when the wanted poster bearing his face calls him a misanthrope. Another cowboy enters a small bank with the intent to rob it. An old impresario travels the Wild West alongside a young man with no arms or legs. An old prospector arrives in a pristine mountain valley hoping to strike the mother lode. A woman named Alice Longabaugh travels with a caravan to Oregon for hopeful new opportunities. Five people travel by stagecoach as the sun sets. There are countless stories inspired by the United States’ westward expansion in the nineteenth century, and the Coen brothers’ The Ballad of Buster Scruggs compiles six of them.

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The Witch (Robert Eggers, 2015)

In 1630s New England, William and his family have been banished from a Puritan plantation having expressed heretical beliefs. They have built a farm in a secluded forest, where they live a solitary life. William’s wife, Katherine, has given birth to their latest child, Samuel. One day, their daughter, Thomasin plays peekaboo with the baby only for him to disappear without a trace. Unbeknownst to the family, a figure clad in red has kidnapped the unbaptized infant and kills him, using his blood and fat to make an ointment. Though William insists a wolf stole the baby, his wife and children suspect evil forces may be at work.

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On the Waterfront (Elia Kazan, 1954)

After having made the critically acclaimed A Streetcar Named Desire film adaptation in 1951, director Elia Kazan teamed up with Marlon Brando once again. This resulted in another beloved classic in the form of On the Waterfront in 1954.

Johnny Friendly is a Mob-connected union boss who prides himself over his iron-fisted rule of the waterfront in Hoboken, New Jersey. The police know that he is behind numerous murders, but because witnesses play “D and D”, which is to say “deaf and dumb”, they are wholly unable to mount a case against him. The people choose accept their subservient position rather than risk their lives to inform the authorities of Friendly’s rampant corruption. Terry Malloy, the younger brother of Friendly’s right-hand many, Charley the Gent, makes his living as a dockworker. He is used to coax Joey Doyle, who is slated to testify in court against Friendly into an ambush. Terry assumed Friendly’s enforces were going to coerce Joey into staying silent, but to his shock, they throw him off a roof instead. Now, with Joey’s sister, Edie, vowing to uncover anything she can about Joey’s murder, Terry finds himself in a precarious position when he begins developing feelings for her.

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