8) The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
This mesmerising, fascinating work from director Andrew Dominik is a stark look at the last months in the life of one of the most revered icons of the American West.
For as long as there have been films, there have been films about Jesse James, and before there were films there were plays, books, magazines and memorials. The James/Younger gang occupy a special place in the American psyche, and the legend of the man himself has passed from history into the realms of mythology.
It is that passing that Dominik quite beautifully explores here. Dwelling on the nature of celebrity and the drive of others to attain it, this film portrays James as both devil and martyr, at once using his infamy for his own ends but ultimately, being destroyed by it. The casting of Brad Pitt is a work of inspired genius, with his every scene opposite Casey Affleck (as Ford) electrifying in its intensity.
Often has Jesse James been portrayed on screen, but rarely as sublimely or as stylishly as here.