25. The Pianist
Image Source: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
Adrien Brody’s Oscar celebration was a moment unto itself (hello, Halle Berry), but it’s his performance as Wladyslaw Szpilman in Roman Polanski’s intimate epic that reverberates loudest all these years later. The Pianist tells the story of a Polish Jew who survived the Holocaust through stoicism and good luck. In telling this harrowing tale, adapted from Szpilman’s 1946 memoir, Polanski draws on his own childhood in Poland (he escaped the Krakow ghetto, though his mother died in a concentration camp). Present is his soul-deep faith in the tender mercies of art.