In alphabetical order, here are my favorites from the cinema past.
Blue (Krzysztof Kieslowski, France, 1993)
Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (Sam Peckinpah, USA/Mexico, 1974)
Chuck & Buck (Miguel Arteta, USA, 2000) - If you ever feel like you are missing a chapter in American independent cinema, this might be the film you need to see. This movie was made for one reason - Mike White had something he needed to say. In today's flooded indie market, I wish more films would channel such purpose.
Identification of a Woman (Michelangelo Antonioni, Italy, 1982) - As anyone who knows me will tell you, Antonioni is my guy. He is in top form with this film.
Juvenile Court (Frederick Wiseman, USA, 1973) - "If you love me, you'll come and get me."
Make Way for Tomorrow (Leo McCarey, USA, 1937) - I first read about this movie in my film history textbook in college. Ozu's Tokyo Story is said to be based on this film. It was not available on any format at that time. I later saw it on Jonathan Rosenbaum's alternative Top 100 Best American Films list, which he created in response to the AFI Top 100 films list. I've been waiting nearly a decade to see this film and thanks to the Criterion Collection, we all can now. It is every bit as good as the history books say.
Possession (Andrzej Zulawski, Poland/Germany, 1981) See my previous blog post.
The Reenactment (Lucian Pintilie, Romania, 1968) - Billed as the greatest Romanian film of all time (like USA's Citizen Kane or France's The Rules of the Game), it's the story of two young men who are sentenced by the government to recreate the drunken brawl for which they were arrested. The recreation is filmed and will be released as a PSA to promote sobriety. It takes place over the course of one day at one location. Write your Congressman, or better yet, write Criterion and have them rush this movie to the presses. It is brilliant.
Rocky (John G. Avildsen, USA, 1976)
Under the Sun of Satan (Maurice Pialat, France, 1987)
Honorable Mention: Ryan's Daughter, Little Fugitive, Les Anges du Peche, Drive, Blonde Venus, Videodrome.