Director: Spike Lee
Year Released: 2006
Stone-faced bank robber Clive Owen breaks into a Manhattan bank with a small crew, takes hostages and leaves detective Denzel Washington and assistants Chiwetel Ejiofor and Willem Dafoe looking like idiots; it isn't until Washington starts probing that he finds the back story involving the chairman of the bank (Christopher Plummer, usually the bad guy). What's so great about Lee is that, even in films of his that most of the populace hates - She Hate Me and Bamboozled - he's always trying to say something and be relevant, which isn't something other filmmakers try to do (so many like to just 'show'). He's big on messages: white-collar corruption, video-game violence (Owen disapproves of a young lad's PSP game) and racism in all forms gets covered at one point or another, and even though he's still prone to visual flash and elaborate camera movements, you can't, no matter how old the man gets, take the Tisch School out of him. In a year of big-budget failures, this makes a pleasant exception.