We set ourselves the task of creating a list of the top five American films. With so many greats it proved too difficult to squeeze into a five point list.
So, instead, we present to you the top five films with America in the title. It’s only cheating a little bit. Turns out the list provides a great cross-section of the horror, laughter and downright watchability Hollywood has provided to us.
5. American Psycho
Was it really 12 years ago since Christian Bale made Huey Lewis and the News fashionable once more? Since 2000, Bale has earned roles in films such as Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and The Fighter, yet for most cinema enthusiasts, Patrick Bateman will always be the role Bale is associated with. Endlessly quotable and murderously enjoyable, American Psycho remains a cult classic to this day. While not overly ‘American’ the film can be interpreted as ‘the American dream gone wrong’. Bateman is a successful Wall Street broker whose sanity descends into madness as he discovers a murderous alter ego he finds impossible to satisfy.
4. American History X
Controversial on release, American History X has managed to keep its shocking impact 14 years later. The film that gave birth to the phrase ‘curb stomping’ saw Edward Norton in unfamiliar territory as a Neo-Nazi skinhead who tries to prevent his younger brother from making the same mistakes he has. Even for a talented actor such as Norton, to be able to pull off a Neo-Nazi skinhead to the same effect Russell Crowe did in Romper Stomper is some achievement. American History X is one of those rare films which despite their greatness, you find yourself unwilling to watch after first viewing, much like Requiem for a Dream or Paddy Considine‘s Tyrannosaur.
3. American Pie
On a lighter note, American Pie remains a shot of nostalgia for the 20-30’s audience who grew up mimicking the actions of Steve Stiffler. American Pie sees five friends in high school who are seeking to lose their virginity before graduating in this coming of age comedy. Endless sequels and spin-offs have seen the originals impact diminish slightly, but the 1999 effort remains the most fondly remembered instalment by some distance. Accompanied by crude and rude gags, a sing along high school soundtrack and outrageous characters we can all relate to, American Pie firmly cements its place in our hearts even today.
2. An American Werewolf in London
Allow us to set the scene. Two American back-packers in a strange land (London) find themselves stranded in the middle of nowhere with only unwelcoming locals and distant howling to keep them company. Simple yet effective. The 1980’s was the golden era of American horror cinema with other classics hitting the screens such as Nightmare on Elm Street, Child’s Play, Evil Dead and The Thing. The fact that An American Werewolf in London managed to stand out from the crowd is testament as to just how good the film actually is. Director John Landis would fail to build on the phenomenal success of Werewolf, despite valiant efforts in the form of Trading Places and Coming to America.
1. American Beauty
The plot of American Beauty is somewhat difficult to sum up in a matter of words. Lester Burnham, played by Academy Award winner Kevin Spacey is experiencing a mid-life crisis and decides to improve his life after becoming infatuated with a friend of his daughter’s. In what sounds like a mash up of Lolita and Biutiful, American Beauty features a stand-out performance from the ever impressive Kevin Spacey and delightful supporting turns from Annette Bening and Thora Birch. The film would also propel the relatively unknown director Sam Mendes to super-stardom with films such as Jarhead, Road to Perdition and Revolutionary Road to follow.