5 Incredibly Ambitious Films

5. The Fountain (2006) Directed by Darren Aronofsky, rated PG-13, 96 minutes
The Fountain is a visually stunning and challenging sci-fi fantasy film about three parallel stories of romance spanning a thousand years, with the focus of the film on existence and death. Hugh Jackman gives a shockingly moving performance, but the film's visual effects are the most remarkable thing about The Fountain. The film can be hard to follow and is quite existential, but the human emotions of the story are unmistakable. The Fountain is a profound and truly fantastic film that you won't forget. You'll like it if: You like fantasy movies, movies about philosophy, Pi or The New World.

Brazil (1985) Directed by Terry Gilliam, rated R, 132 minutes
Brazil is a visually arresting and wonderfully creative sci-fi comedy about a bureaucrat in an bizarre 1984-esque dystopia, who tries to correct an administrative mistake and accidentally becomes an enemy of the state. The film is filled with well written and hilarious characters, especially Jonathan Pryce in the lead, who's hopelessly lovable, and Robert De Niro as a terrorist, who's hysterically funny. The film's future is wildly imaginative and endlessly entertaining, and the story is really a wild ride. Brazil is a fun film that is truly original -- it's visionary director Terry Gilliam's masterpiece. You'll like it if: You like dystopian movies, sci-fi movies or Twelve Monkeys.

Synecdoche, New York (2008) Directed by Charlie Kaufman, rated R, 124 minutes
Synecdoche is an oddly humorous, very dark and hopelessly surreal reality-bending film about a theatre director with a life full of struggles who attempts to craft the ultimate play, in a warehouse where he's making a life size replica of New York. Philip Seymour Hoffman is perfect as always, offering a sad, funny, hopeless and inspiring performance all at once. The story is emotionally draining and can be hard to follow with it's frequent absurd moments, but the film is so beautifully made you won't even care. Synecdoche, New York is a profound and unsettling film that covers an impossible scope of ideas and time. You'll like it if: You like surreal movies, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Being John Malkovich or Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) Directed by Stanley Kubrick, rated G, 141 minutes
2001: A Space Odyssey is the ultimate sci-fi film, a remarkable and stunning film that can't help but amaze you. The film is about a group of astronauts on a mission to Jupiter to find a monolith that seems to be communicating with a similar monolith on the moon. The film could be described as slow, but every moment is packed with beauty and meaning. Each scene is a small work of art, and the story is complex but entertaining. 2001 is a massively influential and jaw-droppingly incredible film -- it's a unique and masterful journey into space. You'll like it if: You like movies set in space, Stanley Kubrick's films, Alien or Sunshine.

Aguirre: The Wrath of God (1972) Directed by Werner Herzog, not rated, 93 minutes
Aguirre: The Wrath of God is a flooring and absolutely beautiful German film about an insane conquistador who leads his men through the jungle to find El Dorado. Klaus Kinski plays the insane leader, and does it perfectly, capturing the complete madness of the character. Every scene of the film looks incredible as it was really shot on the Amazon river, and director Werner Herzog crafts innumerable memorable visuals. The story follows the group's descent into madness, and the film couldn't be more powerful and rattling. Aguirre: The Wrath of God is immensely engrossing and haunting film that will last with you forever. You'll like it if: You like independent movies, foreign movies, Apocalypse Now or 2001: A Space Odyssey.

"...His enemies gave him hope."

American History X (1998)
Directed by Tony Kaye, rated R, 119 minutes

American History X
is a powerful and desolate film about a neo-Nazi who, after getting out of jail for murdering two black men who tried to steal his car, returns home to stop his younger brother from following the wrong path he did. Edward Norton and Edward Furlong are incredible as the brothers, delivering sympathetic but utterly depressing performances. The story is emotionally involving and a profoundly realistic denouncement of racism. American History X is compelling and graphic film that deliver its message in a moving yet haunting way. You'll like it if: You like movies about racism, 90's cinema, Edward norton, Do the Right Thing or This is England.

A Dark Comedy about Family

Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
Directed by Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris, rated R, 101 minutes

Little Miss Sunshine is a smart and highly funny indie comedy about a family that takes a cross-country road trip in a VW bus to get their young daughter to a beauty pageant. The incredible cast, including Abigail Breslin, Alan Arkin, Steve Carell, Paul Dano and Greg Kinnear, has great chemistry and seem like a real dysfunctional family. The writing is brilliant, mixing dark humor,with some drama to make a laugh out loud dramedy. Little Miss Sunshine most importantly is a lot of fun to watch, and the end is both hilarious and heartwarming. You'll like it if: You like movies about dysfunctional families, indie comedies, Steve Carell, Juno or Thank You for Smoking.

"Schmidt Happens"

About Schmidt (2002)
Directed by Alexander Payne, rated R, 125 minutes

About Schmidt
is a melancholy and dryly humorous film about an aging man whose life falls apart after retiring, so he decides to travel to all the important places from his life on a trip to see his daughter's wedding. Jack Nicholson creates a bitterly sad, and yet comical portrayal of a depressed old man, and Kathy Bates is wonderfully cooky. The humor is very subtle, but the film has many funny moments, and though the story is dismal, the end is truly inspiring. About Schmidt is a realistic and enriching character study with smart humor and a great story. You'll like it if: You like character studies, movies about getting old, Jack Nicholson, American Beauty, Sideways or Election.

A Sordid Tale about Hollywood

Sunset Blvd. (1950)
Directed by Billy Wilder, not rated, 110 minutes

Sunset Blvd. is a timelessly brilliant and gloomy film noir about a hack screenwriter who becomes dependent on an aging silent film star who now lives in her own fantasy world, and writes a script for her comeback. The acting is flawless, William Holden and Gloria Swanson both deliver, and the beautiful black and white cinematography is perfect. The bleak story is unbelievably well written with its quick dialogue and wretched characters: an honest look at Hollywood. Sunset Blvd. is really what film noir is all about with fantastic visuals, an unsettling story and incredible characters. You'll like it if: You like movies about Hollywood, film noir, dark comedies, Double Indemnity or What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

A Stunning and Unique Coming of Age Story

Persepolis (2007)
Directed by Vincent Parronnaud and Marjane Satrapi, rated PG-13, 96 minutes

Persepolis is a beautiful and poignant Iranian animated film about an intelligent young girl who grows up in Iran during the Islamic revolution. The animated style is unique and superbly done, allowing many creative scenes. The film transplants you to a very different time, but the story is universal and anyone can relate to the feelings of this young girl. Persepolis is a fantastic and original film about the complexities of growing up, and its honest and thoughtful story will last with you. You'll like it if: You like coming of age stories, female protagonists, foreign movies, animated movies, The Kite Runner or Slumdog Millionaire.

A Stylish and Screwy Comedy

The Hudsucker Proxy (1994)
Directed by Joel Coen, rated PG, 111 minutes

The Hudsucker Proxy
is a charming and stylish fantasy-comedy homage to screwball comedies, about a naive young business graduate with plans of making it big with his toy invention, who is made president of a manufacturing company in a stock scam. The acting is purposefully over the top but it captures the feeling of an old comedy, and the whole cast, including Tim Robbins, Paul Newman, Bruce Campbell and Jennifer Jason Leigh, is spot-on. The lightning fast dialogue is terrifically hilarious, and the Coen brothers (the writer-directors) always include a bunch of funny and odd characters. The Hudsucker Proxy has a delightful fairy tale feel and a story that couldn't be more fun to watch play out. You'll like it if: You like screwball comedies, the Coen Brothers' films, The Big Lebowski or Ed Wood.

5 Stirring Dramas about Dysfunctional Families

5. Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) Directed by Robert Benton, rated PG, 105 minutes
Kramer vs. Kramer is a moving and inspiring courtroom drama about a father who must learn to take care of his son after his wife leaves him. But, when his wife comes back, the father must fight to retain custody of his son. Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep play the father and mother, and they couldn't be better. The courtroom scenes are powerful mainly because of the deep characters and fantastic acting. Kramer vs. Kramer is an intelligent film that takes a fair look at both sides of a divorce. You'll like it if: You like 70's cinema, Meryl Streep or To Kill a Mocking Bird.

4. Rachel Getting Married (2008) Directed by Jonathan Demme, rated R, 113 minutes
Rachel Getting Married is a compelling and smart indie film about a young woman who comes home, after going in and out of rehab for ten years, to celebrate her sister's wedding. Anne Hathaway delivers an honest and accurate performance as the guilty sister in rehab trying to to be happy at her sister's wedding. The story is a little tedious, but the poignant and powerful scenes outweigh the bad. Rachel Getting Married is a painfully honest film with a melancholy and exuberant mood. You'll like it if: You like indie dramas, Anne Hathaway or Happy-Go-Lucky.

3. What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993) Directed by Lasse Hallstrom, rated PG-13, 118 minutes
What's Eating Gilbert Grape is deep and beautiful film about a grocery store employee who falls in love with a young woman coming through town, while taking care of his mentally handicapped brother and his morbidly obese mother. Johnny Depp gives a moving and desperate performance, and Leoardo DiCaprio gives an uncommonly accurate portrayal as the mentally handicapped brother. The film honestly looks at family that has so many things going against it, but the film never takes away their dignity. What's Eating Gilbert Grape is a touching film that takes place in a depressing and bleak world. You'll like it if: You like movies about small towns, Johnny Depp or The Basketball Diaries.

2. American Beauty (1999) Directed by Sam Mendes, rated R, 122 minutes
American Beauty is a complex and sad yet humorous drama about a depressed and bored suburban father who during his mid-life crisis develops feelings for one of his teenage daughter's friends. The whole cast is great, especially Kevin Spacey who perfectly embodies the frustration and passion of his character. Director Sam Mendes produces a visually masterful film with an original style, and the writing is both entertaining and challenging. American Beauty is a beautiful and original film that offers an interesting portrayal of the American family, that will last with you for a long time. You'll like it if: You like 90's cinema, Revolutionary Road or The Usual Suspects.

1. The Squid and the Whale (2005) Directed by Noah Baumbach, rated R, 81 minutes
The Squid and the Whale is a bitterly funny and sadly shocking film about two brothers difficult time dealing with their parents' divorce in 1980's Brooklyn. Jeff Daniels and Laura Linney are perfect as the parents as they're both likable but far from perfect. And, the kids couldn't be better. The story is based on writer-director Noah Baumbach's childhood, and the personal nature of the film really shows. The film perfectly mixes some dark humor in with an honest and depressing story of a family torn apart. The Squid and the Whale is an uncompromising and heartbreaking film that feels more like real life than a movie. You'll like it if: You like indie dramas, Little Miss Sunshine or The Savages.

A Memorable Crime-Comedy

Jackie Brown (1997)
Directed by Quentin Tarantino, rated R, 154 minutes

Jackie Brown is a brutally funny and flawlessly written homage to blaxploitation movies about a flight attendant that smuggles money for a gun runner, who tries to play the cops and the criminals to get $500,000 of the gun runner's money. Pam Grier, the star of many old blaxploitation classics, does a surprisingly good job. Samuel Jackson and Robert Forester also deliver, but it's Robert De Niro who gives an unforgettable and hilarious performance. The film cleverly mixes laugh out loud dialogue, interesting characters and an entertaining crime story that really comes together in the end. Jackie Brown is a fun and exciting crime-comedy with an incredible cast and fantastic writing and directing by Quentin Tarantino. You'll like it if: You like crime-comedies, epic crime movies, blaxploitation movies, Snatch., Training Day or Pulp Fiction.