The Man in the Rain (1988)
Barry Levinson’s 1988 drama The Journey cleaned up at the Academy Awards when it was released, winning Best Film, Director, Original Screenplay, and Best Actor for Dustin Hoffman. It’s often seen as creating the stereotype of “autism”, but this drama in which selfish fools Charlie (Tom Cruise) travels across America with Raymond (Hoffman), a brother he doesn’t know but now unexpectedly is the only heir to his father’s fortune. It still stands as a heart-rending personal piece. At the very least, it’s a cultural phenomenon that the actors at the top of the game can greatly cite and display.
Training Day (2001)
Here’s a movie that’s so good that its influence is still rooted in pop culture to this day, even if no one fully remembers why Denzel Washington said King Kong wasn’t influenced by her. In 2001, Washington jumped to a second Academy Award, this time in the main character category thanks to the role of Alonzo, a quirky cop who takes a rookie Jake (Ethan Hawke) under his wing and (apparently) into a vice. It’s a thrilling crime story based on two powerful performances, including Washington at its best. In fact, he’s so good at raising the bar for this movie that it sometimes seems like director Antoine Fuqua and screenwriter David Ayer have tried unsuccessfully to replicate it since.
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