2 Best Movies to Watch by Tony Bennett

Staff & contributors

, 2014

The award-winning third feature by director Ava DuVernay, Selma, was released around the 50th anniversary of the historically significant marches (Selma to Montgomery) that aided the civil rights movement's efforts to assure African-American citizens can exercise their constitutional right to vote, harassment-free. The film has been celebrated not only as an artwork, but also as a historiographically accurate one. While it features the role Martin Luther King Jr. played in the marches, it does not reduce the activists' effort and struggle to make it come to fruition. With her uncompromising directorial approach, DuVernay crafts a thrilling period film that has all the markers of a well-done genre feature, but uses its mechanisms to tell an emotionally potent story about both the peaceful marches and the nation-wide outcry resulting from the violence they were met with.

Genre: Drama, History

Actor: Alessandro Nivola, Andre Holland, Carmen Ejogo, Charity Jordan, Charles Black, Colman Domingo, Common, Corey Reynolds, Cuba Gooding Jr., David Dwyer, David Oyelowo, Dylan Baker, E. Roger Mitchell, Giovanni Ribisi, Greg Maness, Harry Belafonte, Haviland Stillwell, Henry G. Sanders, Jeremy Strong, Jim France, Jody Thompson, John Lavelle, Kent Faulcon, Lakeith Stanfield, Ledisi, Lorraine Toussaint, Martin Sheen, Michael Papajohn, Montrel Miller, Niecy Nash, Nigel Thatch, Omar J. Dorsey, Oprah Winfrey, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Sammy Davis Jr., Stan Houston, Stephan James, Stephen Root, Tara Ochs, Tessa Thompson, Tim Roth, Tom Wilkinson, Tony Bennett, Trai Byers, Wendell Pierce

Director: Ava DuVernay

Rating: PG-13

, 2015

In Amy, Kapadia eschews talking heads for something more intimate: home videos, photographs, and phone messages from Winehouse’s earliest and closest friends, which he stitches together to reintroduce a version of the singer that has, up till this point, been ignored by the public. It’s an attempt to reverse Winehouse’s vilified public persona, not by denying her struggles with drug and alcohol abuse, but by showing as many parts of her as possible. The musical prodigy, jazz fanatic, and sweet friend, as well as the troubled soul, hurt child, and obsessive lover. She’s far from perfect, but she is human, not some punching bag caricature the media has made her out to be. Though Kapadia’s methods sometimes get a little too close for comfort (using phone messages intended for her friends and private clips of her being high feels borderline voyeuristic), they also feel necessary in reclaiming an identity that’s closer to her true self. During these questionable moments, Amy feels not just hard but wrong to watch, but that discomfort is also the point. It should be unsettling to get to know a real person.

Genre: Documentary, Music

Actor: Amy Winehouse, Blake Fielder, Frankie Boyle, Jay Leno, Juliette Ashby, Mark Ronson, Mitch Winehouse, Pete Doherty, Russell Brand, Salaam Remi, Tom Myers, Tony Bennett, Tyler James, Yasiin Bey

Director: Asif Kapadia

Rating: R