‘Coming to America’ (Oct. 31)
Eddie Murphy was the biggest movie star on the planet in 1988, and he could’ve easily continued to crank out fast-talking turns in “Beverly Hills Cop” and “48 HRS.”-style action-comedies for eternity. Instead, he developed and starred in this (comparatively) gentle and funny romantic comedy, playing against type as the soft-spoken Prince Akeem of the fictional African nation of Zamunda, who flees his homeland on the eve of his arranged marriage in order to find a wife he actually loves. He looks in what sounds like the perfect spot: Queens. Murphy is charming, the supporting cast is stacked, and the director John Landis’s ingenious inclination to have Murphy and his co-star Arsenio Hall play multiple roles results in some of the funniest and most quotable scenes of Murphy’s career.
‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’ (Oct. 31)
When Matthew Broderick popped up as an overprotective parent in the summer comedy “No Hard Feelings,” older viewers couldn’t help but chuckle; this was exactly the kind of affable pushover that his most famous creation, the high school con artist Ferris Bueller, would have eaten for lunch. It remains his defining role, thanks to his affable personality, the straight-to-camera asides that make the viewer a co-conspirator and the wickedly smart dialogue of the writer and director John Hughes. But it’s not just Broderick’s show; Mia Sara charms as his girlfriend, Sloane; Jennifer Grey is a scream as his resentful sister; and best of all, the future “Succession” standout Alan Ruck is a basset hound of teenage ennui as Ferris’s best buddy, Cameron.
‘Girl, Interrupted’ (Oct. 31)
Angelina Jolie won the Academy Award for best supporting actress for her scorching turn in this adaptation of the best-selling memoir by Susanna Kaysen, and it was something less than a surprise; it’s the kind of role that’s written to steal the show, a ferocious yet charismatic troublemaker who gets an equal proportion of laugh lines and breakdowns. But there’s much more to recommend here: the sensitive and atmospheric direction by James Mangold (whose varied filmography went on to include “Logan,” “3:10 to Yuma” and “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny”); the heartbreaking supporting work by Brittany Murphy and Whoopi Goldberg; and the especially striking lead performance of Winona Ryder as Kaysen’s avatar, a suicidal neurotic whose time in a Massachusetts mental hospital is both harrowing and healing.
‘Pride & Prejudice’ (Oct. 31)
Viewers who know Matthew Macfadyen only as the ruthless social climber of “Succession” may be shocked by the humanity (and natural British accent) he brings to the role of Mr. Darcy in this delightfully energetic adaptation of the Jane Austen classic. The director Joe Wright (“Atonement”), in his feature film debut, stages it all with verve and wit, and Keira Knightley is marvelous as the plucky and gregarious Elizabeth Bennet. The jaw-dropping supporting cast includes Brenda Blethyn, Judi Dench, Tom Hollander, Jena Malone, Carey Mulligan, Rosamund Pike and Donald Sutherland.
‘Reservoir Dogs’ (Oct. 31)
Few films of the 1990s announced, with the piercing clarity of a schoolyard whistle, the arrival of a startling new talent like this 1992 feature debut of the writer and director Quentin Tarantino. Exploding at that year’s Sundance Film Festival like a stick of dynamite, “Dogs” shook up the previously artsy expectations of independent cinema, thanks to what would become the Tarantino trademarks of stylized violence, pop culture-infused dialogue, incongruent needle drops, scrambled chronology and tough talk from a stacked cast (including Steve Buscemi, Harvey Keitel, Michael Madsen, Chris Penn, Tim Roth and Tarantino himself). All would become clichés in the ensuing decade, but “Reservoir Dogs” still sparks with the electricity of a born filmmaker, already working with considerable confidence and skill.