For those across the political spectrum who have grown alarmingly casual about how they toss around the words "Nazi" and "fascist," "Schindler's List." Spielberg's Holocaust masterpiece is difficult to watch but impossible to turn away from, in part because of the power of the narrative, in part because of the rich interplay between Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes.
For those who think all the world's problems would be solved if we were just nicer to one another, "Demolition Man": A zany reminder of how oppressive the society of the sweet can be. A delightfully over-the-top Wesley Snipes; don't overlook the "all restaurants are Taco Bell" scene.
For those who still doubt that a truly deep and profound love can come in many different forms, "Philadelphia." A well-deserved Oscar for Tom Hanks as a gay lawyer dying of AIDS, and don't forget Denzel Washington's remarkable turn as the lawyer's lawyer.
Next, just like last year, let’s add a small political collection, with the hope of helping those on either side of the ideological divide gain some further understanding of the other:
"Falling Down": A film conservatives should watch to understand how liberals think conservatives think. Middle-class white male gets angry, goes on rampage, but the triggering grievance is trivial. Worth seeing for the we've-all-been-there "That's not our policy" scene.
"Dave": A film conservatives should watch to understand how liberals think liberals think. The government could do so much good (guaranteed jobs for all!) if only kind progressive people who care about other people were running things. A bravura performance from Kevin Kline, and a deliciously evil Frank Langella.
"In the Line of Fire": A film liberals should watch to understand how conservatives think conservatives think. Clint Eastwood, as an aging Secret Service agent, is a stand-in for a generation determined to stick to the values it grew up with. ("The whole damn country was different.") Intricate cat-and-mouse between Eastwood and John Malkovich, who plans to assassinate the president.
"Needful Things": A film liberals should watch to understand how conservatives think liberals think. If somebody promises to give you what you want free, chances are you're not getting what you think. (Money quote: "Everybody is insane everywhere!")
Honorable mentions: “A Bronx Tale,” “Carlito’s Way,” “Farewell My Concubine,” “Free Willy,” “Life With Mikey,” “Mrs. Doubtfire,” “Sleepless in Seattle,” “The Age of Innocence,” “The Dark Half,” “The Firm,” “What’s Love Got to Do With It?”