1. Ran Directed by Akira Kurosawa Written by Kurosawa, Hideo Oguni, and Masato Ide
The story of King Lear predates the Bard, so it shouldn't seem odd that the best movie it inspired doesn't include a single line of Shakespeare.
2. Brazil Directed by Terry Gilliam Written by Gilliam, Tom Stoppard, and Charles McKeown
They could have called it Monty Python's 1984.
3. Louie Bluie Directed by Terry Zwigoff
Zwigoff's first film is a charming documentary about the bluesman, artist, and porn aficionado Howard Armstrong. It's also utterly fake: The living room it's filmed in is an artificial set, some of the people reminiscing with Armstrong barely know him, and the director had to persuade his subjects to play the early string-band songs he loved rather than the more complex music they preferred. You can decide for yourself whether all that artifice is a flaw or an enhancement.
4. Vagabond Written and directed by Agnes Varda
Not a simple celebration of a free spirit, and not a disdainful condemnation of a marginal life either. Like a hobo Citizen Kane, it circles its title character but never touches her directly; instead it views her through other people's eyes, and never claims to have solved all the riddles she poses.
5. After Hours Directed by Martin Scorsese Written by Joseph Minion
Better critics can weigh this picture's place in Scorsese's filmography. I'll just point out that it's the best movie Cheech and Chong were ever involved with.
6. Static Directed by Mark Romanek Written by Romanek and Keith Gordon
Before he was shooting videos for Bowie, Beck, and Johnny Cash, Romanek made this terrific indie flick about a man who believes he's built a machine that'll let you peek into heaven. Why doesn't this have a bigger cult following?
7. Prizzi's Honor Directed by John Huston Written by Richard Condon and Janet Roach, from Condon's novel
The godfather of mafia comedies.
8. Fluke Directed by Emily Breer
An animated collage.
9. Chain Letters Written and directed by Mark Rappaport
In most conspiracy movies, the plot -- funny word, that -- reveals a hidden order lurking behind our seemingly chaotic world. This one's about the order we invent to make sense of the world's genuine chaos.
10. The Purple Rose of Cairo Written and directed by Woody Allen
A different sort of cinephilia: Mia Farrow's character falls in love with a movie character, and vice versa. Those of you who prefer Allen's onscreen persona to his offscreen life will appreciate the ending.