James Cagney plays George M. Cohan in the musical directed by Michael Curtiz

‘Yankee Doodle Dandy’ – James Cagney is George M. Cohan in FilmStruck

Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) – James Cagney won his only Academy Award playing George M. Cohan in the rousing bio-pic directed by Michael Curtiz, who was the top director at Warner Bros. and arguably the studio’s most versatile filmmaker at the time. Cagney was a song-and-dance man before he found fame as a movie tough […]

Anthony Quinn, Peter O'Toole, and Omar Sharif star in the Oscar-winning epic from director David Lean

David Lean’s masterpiece ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ on Hulu

Lawrence of Arabia (1962), David Lean’s epic adventure based on the true-life story of T.E. Lawrence (played by Peter O’Toole in a compelling, complex performance), is the most beautiful big screen film ever made, which means it’s grandest attributes suffer on video no matter how big your screen is. It’s also a fiercely intelligent drama […]

Lambert Wilson as Jacques Cousteau in the film by Jérôme Salle

‘The Odyssey’ of Jacques Cousteau on Netflix

The Odyssey (France, 2016) is not Homer’s mythic quest but the epic voyage that Jacques Cousteau took around the world for years of TV documentaries on the exploration for marine life. Lambert Wilson is Jacques-Yves Cousteau in a biographical drama that presents a portrait of a man cultivating an on-screen image very different from the […]

Rebecca Hall, Luke Evans, and Bella Heathcote star in the film by Angela Robinson

‘Professor Marston and the Wonder Women’ on Hulu

Professor Marston and the Wonder Women (2017) is not your usual comic superhero origin story. It turns out that the majestic Amazon princess from a mythic island of female warriors was born of a Harvard psychologist and outspoken feminist who had a polyamorous relationship with two women who inspired the character and a passion for […]

Steven Spielberg makes compelling drama from the statesmanship it took to pass the 13th Amendment to the American Constitution

Daniel Day-Lewis is ‘Lincoln’ on Netflix

Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln (2012) is a remarkable historical drama. Scripted by Tony Kushner, guided by Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book A Team of Rivals, Lincoln casts a spotlight on one of the most important political actions in American history: passing the 13th Amendment to the American Constitution, which abolished slavery. In compelling detail, this film shows […]

Vincent Pastore and Michael Rispoli star in the film by Raymond De Felitta

‘Two Family House’ on Amazon Prime and Hulu

Raymond De Felitta’s Sundance Film Festival Audience Winner Two Family House (2000) is a sweet little romantic drama set in the insular Italian and Irish neighborhoods of 1956 Staten Island. Narrated with the conversational ease of a bar story, it stars characters actor Michael Rispoli as Buddy, a blue collar Italian American with big dreams, […]

Matthew McConaughey won an Academy Award for playing Ron Woodroof in the film directed by Jean-Marc Vallée

Oscar-winning ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ on Netflix

Matthew McConaughey is so good in Dallas Buyers Club (2013) that he shows up the limitations of this drama based on true events. McConaughey lost a lot weight to play Ron Woodroof, a Texas electrician and rodeo rider in the late 1980s whose reckless lifestyle leaves him with AIDS, a diagnosis this redneck homophobe denies […]

Aaron Staton, Hattie Morahan, and Owen McDonnell in the BBC homefront drama

‘My Mother & Other Strangers’ – Growing up in wartime on Amazon Prime

Set in a rural Irish town during World War II, My Mother & Other Strangers (2017) is another British TV homefront drama, this one viewed through the memories of an adolescent boy. Francis Coyne (Michael Nevin) is the son of Rose (Hattie Morahan), who is London born and bred and treated like an outsider by […]

Benicio Del Toro is Ernesto Che Guevara in Steven Soderbergh's biographical drama

Last chance: Benicio Del Toro is ‘Che’ on Netflix

Steven Soderbergh’s two-part Che (2008), starring Benicio Del Toro as the revolutionary leader turned martyred legend and idealized cultural icon, is not a tradition bio-pic. Spanning four-and-a-half hours over two films—Part One on the triumph in Cuba, Part Two on the failure in Bolivia—it’s both two films and a single, unified work that focuses on […]