Director: Jordan Peele
Cast: Lupita Nyong' o, Winston Duke, Shahadi Wright Joseph, Evan Alex
Box Office: $255,105,930
Synopsis: The Wilson family head to Santa Cruz for a holiday. Mother Adelaide struggles to revisit the place she experienced a traumatic event as a child. Mysterious doppelgängers begin to terrorise the Wilsons.
Memorable moment: Tim Heidecker – of Tim and Eric fame – teeters on the edge of hilarious and horrific as his character's doppelgänger.
Why it made the list: This film's controversy comes down to the twist at the end, so if you don't like spoilers, I'd skip ahead. In Us, every American is tethered to what, at first, seems like an "evil" replica of themselves called the Tethered. Throughout the film, you're rooting for Adelaide's family to survive and kill off their doppelgängers.
But as the movie comes to a close, we learn that when Adelaide was a child, Red (her doppelgänger) kidnapped her, forcing Adelaide to take Red's place in the desolate Tethered realm. So throughout the film, Adelaide is really Red, and Red is really Adelaide. It's understandable why Red would have been desperate to swap places with Adelaide: the doppelgängers' lives underground are mono-tonal, pleasure-less, cold.
Us is a metaphor for many things: capitalism, the prison industrial complex, and how we're complacent in each other's suffering. It removes the 'us' vs. 'them' dynamic that many horror films rely upon to create tension and creates a more nuanced reality, one that is closer to our own. "This movie is about all that we tuck down into the recesses of our society and fail to acknowledge; all of those that suffer on the other side of the privileges we have," director Jordan Peele told Essence. Pointing the finger back at the audience didn't sit well with lots of viewers.
9. Bad Boy Bubby (1993)
Director: Rolf de Heer
Cast: Nicholas Hope
Synopsis: The 35-year-old child-like, yet fatally dangerous Bubby has spent his entire life confined to a bunker, manipulated by his mother into thinking the outside air it is deathly toxic. After accidentally killing her, Bubby leaves his decrepit home for the first time and takes solace in the characters he meets on Melbourne's streets.
Memorable moment: Bubby showing his new friends his, um, very dead cat. The prop is a real feral cat, which was put down by a vet during the making of the film.
Why it made the list: The Australian cult film Bad Boy Bubby isn't an easy one to stomach. The first 20 minutes are genuinely upsetting to the point of being nauseating, leaving you feeling trapped in the grimy, darkened bunker with Bubby and his sexually abusive mother. Though initially banned in Australia on its release in 1993 for its controversial narrative, Rolf de Heer's black comedy went on to win the Grand Jury Prize at Venice Film Festival. At the Movies' David Stratton even championed it as a milestone in Australian cinema.
8. Lipstick Under My Burkha (2016)
Director: Alankrita Shrivastava
Cast: Aahana Kumra, Ratna Pathak Shah, Konkona Sen Sharma, Plabita Borthakur
Box Office: $12,657
Synopsis: In this foreign black comedy, four charming Indian women in different stages of life set out to assert their sexual freedom and personal independence.
Memorable moment: When 55-year-old Rosy has phone sex with a buff lifeguard.
Why it made the list: In Bollywood – maybe not unlike Hollywood – women desire rarely takes centre stage. So, this film was considered controversial because it saw women take charge of their pleasure. The film was initially denied certification by India's Censor Board for being "lady-oriented" and described it as a "fantasy".
Lipstick Under My Burka shows the double-lives lived by women that many want to snub out, pretending these private, colourful and sexual moments don't exist.
7. Do The Right Thing (1989)
Director: Spike Lee
Cast: Spike Lee, Samuel L. Jackson, Danny Aiello, Ossie Davis
Box Office: $37,313,222
Synopsis: This '80s film traces the lives of neighbors living on the Bedford-Stuyvesant block of Brooklyn on a scorching day.
Memorable moment: "If this hot weather continues, it's going to melt the polar ice caps and the whole wide world," says one of three African-American men shooting the breeze by the sidewalk in the film.
Why it made the list: Spike Lee's film candidly addressed racism against African-Americans, a subject which was met with intense criticism from reviewers who believed it would spark violence. The ending addresses police brutality against African American communities, a serious social issue that still exists today.
The film ends with two quotes: one from Martin Luther King saying that violence is never justified, and the second from Malcolm X, saying it's necessary for self-defence. Thirty years since the film was released, this controversial debate continues to rise.
6. American Psycho (2000)
Director: Mary Harron
Cast: Christian Bale
Box Office: $34,266,564
Synopsis: A Wall Street banking executive lives a double life as a psychopathic murderer and rapist.
Memorable moment: Bale's Patrick Bateman goes into a murderous rage when he discovers his colleague has a fancier business card than him.
Why it made the list: The film and the novel were seen as controversial at the time due to the antagonist's extreme misogyny and violent behaviour. After intense backlash from critics, director Mary Harron argued that it was "intended as a critique of male misogyny, not an endorsement of it." American Psycho was meant to satirise '80s-era yuppie culture.
5. I Spit On Your Grave (1978)
Director: Steven R. Monroe
Cast: Sarah Butler
Synopsis: In this revenge story, a young writer seeks to kill the men who gang-raped her.
Memorable moment: The second rape scene was so awful that a crew member quit before filming was complete.
Why it made the list: Due to its graphic material – which depicted unbearably long scenes of violent sexual torture – Australia, the UK, Canada and Ireland banned I Spit On Your Grave.
4. The Nightingale (2018)
Director: Jennifer Kent
Cast: Aisling Franciosi
Box Office: $722,109
Synopsis: The second film from Babadook director Jennifer Kent is set in Tasmania in 1825. Clare, a young Irish convict, track down a British officer with the help of Aboriginal man Billy.
Memorable moment: Well, likely almost all the moments from this film will be etched into your memory for a long time to come.
Why it made the list: The film's graphic rape and murder scenes caused audience members to walk out of two Sydney Film Festival screenings. "While The Nightingale contains historically accurate depictions of colonial violence and racism towards our Indigenous people, the film is not 'about' violence," Kent told the ABC.
"It's about the need for love, compassion and kindness in dark times. We've made this film in collaboration with Tasmanian Aboriginal elders, and they feel it's an honest and necessary depiction of their history and a story that needs to be told." An Italian film critic heckled Kent at a screening, shouting, "Shame on you, whore. You're disgusting."
3. Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983)
Director: Joe Dante, John Landis, George Miller, Steven Spielberg
Cast: Vic Morrow, Albert Brooks, Kai Wolf
Box Office: $29,450,919
Synopsis: Four directors retell different horror and science fiction stories from Rod Serling's famous anthology series.
Why it made the list: While adapting the popular TV show, actor Vic Morrow and two children died from a helicopter explosion. Landis was accused of putting them in danger, and it was uncovered that the children were hired illegally to bypass labour laws. This devastating event caused Spielberg to end his friendship with Landis and led to changes in safety laws on-set.
2. The Birth Of A Nation (1915)
Director: D.W. Griffith
Cast: Lillian Gish, Mae Marsh, Henry B. Walthall
Synopsis: Two families bond while fighting opposing armies in the Civil War. This same bond leads to the formation of the Ku Klux Clan.
Memorable moment: 1915's The Birth of a Nation is a distorted, racist take on history. Honestly, it's not worth committing any of its moments to memory.
Why it made the list: This three-hour silent epic Hollywood film glorified and revived the hateful, racist and blatantly murderous motives of the Ku Klux Klan. It was seen around American and even screened at the White House. African-American groups protested the film.
Today, it holds a 95 per cent rating on review website Rotten Tomatoes because of its "innovative film techniques" (that said, few – maybe even none – of the critic reviews for this movie on Rotten Tomatoes include commentary from African-American writers). One audience reviewer wrote, "just because the turd was new, doesn't make it any less a turd."
1. Triumph of the Will (1935)
Director: Leni Riefenstahl
Cast: Adolf Hitler, Hermann Göring, Max Amann
Synopsis: This infamous Nazi propaganda film showed the 1934 Nazi Party rally in Nuremberg, Germany.
Why it made the list: As mentioned, this horrible, horrible film was Nazi propaganda and commissioned by Adolf Hitler himself. It influenced scenes in Star Wars and was studied by directors like Peter Jackson, George Lucas and Ridley Scott. After the war, Triumph of the Will's director managed to weasel her way into a cushy life in filmmaking, claiming she had no idea about Hitler's genocidal intentions.
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