Boys Don’t Cry

Birth of a star.

Hilary Swank had already top-lined The Next Karate Kid when she landed the lead in this heart-rending true-crime tale, but this was the first time the former Washington state resident had a chance to really show off her skills.

Playing Brandon Teena, a trans man fighting to survive in a world stacked against him, Swank is extraordinary.

She’s matched by Chloë Sevigny, as a young woman trapped between love and fear, and Peter Sarsgaard, channeling blank-faced evil.

It’s not an easy movie to watch, but it remains an important one, especially in our current environment.

Insomnia (2002)

Remakes are generally for people with no creative imagination.

That said, this Christopher Nolan-helmed redo on a superb Norwegian thriller pays homage to the original, while adding new stylistic touches.

Foremost is Robin Williams, shedding his manic funny guy image, sinking into the role of a devious killer.

Big-city cop Al Pacino, facing an internal investigation back home, arrives on a remote patch of frozen tundra already worn down.

Toss in a fatal shooting early into his new case, an inability to sleep, and Williams taunting, and things are headed downhill fast.

Proof positive remake isn’t always a bad word.

Million Dollar Baby

Worth every penny.

Clint Eastwood nabbed his second Best Director Oscar for this emotion-packed tale of life and death in the boxing ring.

And, like most of his work, there is not an ounce on fat on it.

Famous for working quickly and politely, the man who would be viewed as one of our best directors if the whole “last of the true movie stars” thing didn’t always come up first, he gets in, gets out, and lets the story carry the day.

Guiding Hilary Swank and Morgan Freeman to Oscars of their own, Eastwood is a master at work.