Philadelphia
1993
In this heartfelt drama, Philadelphia attorney Andrew Beckett launches a wrongful termination suit against the hand that feeds him when his law firm finds out about his HIV-positive status -- and his homosexuality -- and fires him.

Scott Hardie: “It ruled.”

I somehow went this long without seeing one of the landmark movies of my high school class, and though its politics seem quaint today, it successfully captured the early-nineties mentality in a time capsule worth revisiting in decades to come. What I liked most about the film was that its villains weren’t the pompous, greedy, cigar-chomping, moustache-twirling robber-barons that Hollywood typically makes of characters like them; they were realistic men guilty only of making a bad but understandable decision in a moment of fear, a fear born of ignorance. Of course, Tom Hanks’s passionate monologue as he translates the opera was the standout moment that won him the Oscar (and its even more impressive that Hanks nailed it on the first take), but I’m equally fond of the scene’s silent epilogue, as Denzel Washington goes home to his sleeping wife and stares into the darkness as if he’s thinking of Michael Furey’s grave. It’s a transcendent moment in a solid production that should be remembered for its quality and humanity even as its cultural significance gradually wanes.

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