Network

“You’ve got to get mad!!”

Look, I like Rocky — it’s an entertaining flick, with more grit than you probably remember, but there is no way it should have beat this lacerating dark comedy for Best Picture at the Oscars.

I’m sure back in 1976 a lot of this film probably seemed outlandish, which makes it even sadder and stranger how many of its predictions came true.

The great Sidney Lumet puts a cast for the ages through their paces, burrowing deep to expose corruption and bile lingering below the surface in TV news.

In the end, you can’t look away.

 

The Verdict

The bottle or the law?

Bedeviled by his love of liquor, attorney Frank Galvin has fallen hard at the start of this story —  driven from the cushy law firm he called home, and hounded by rumors of jury tampering in his past.

Handed a medical malpractice suit he’s expected to quickly settle, something stirs in his gut, however.

Instead of taking the easy way out, and diving back into the abyss, Galvin shocks everyone by picking a fight with opponents who have the best defense money can buy.

Stark and uncompromising, The Verdict is Paul Newman at his best.

Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead

What a career.

Director Sidney Lumet opened in 1957 with 12 Angry Men, and closed in 2007 with this superb tale of family crumbling under the weight of crime and guilt.

In between he received five Oscar nominations, crafting a string of remarkable films like Dog Day Afternoon, Network, and The Verdict.

His swan song pits Ethan Hawke against Philip Seymour Hoffman as brothers marinating in greed, lust, and betrayal.

A botched robbery at the family jewelry store is the tinder which sets off a blaze which can’t be put out, and the resulting emotional inferno is something to behold.

Burn, baby, burn.

Serpico

Yes, they are out to get you.

Al Pacino is riddled with paranoia as a straight-arrow cop who sinks into the mire, ratting out fellow boys in blue while always expecting a bullet.

Based on real events, Sidney Lumet’s lacerating tale of good guys gone bad remains one of the seminal ’70s films, and for good reason.

As a man who refuses the offer to sell his soul, Pacino notched the second of his nine Oscar nominations.

That landed him in a Best Actor death cage match featuring Marlon Brando, Robert Redford, Jack Nicholson, and winner Jack Lemmon.

Hoo-ah, indeed.

12 Angry Men

One man against the world.

It sure feels that way for Henry Fonda, as the lone juror holding out for innocence as a young man is railroaded for murder in Sidney Lumet’s crackling verbal thriller.

The action goes down in the jury room, as a band of middle-aged dudes decide the fate of an (unseen) 18-year-old, accused of knifing his father.

The cast is jam-packed with name actors, and all get their moment to shine.

None more so than Lee J. Cobb and Ed Begley, Sr. as the “villains,” and Fonda, one righteous man standing firm for truth and justice.