The pole position today unquestionably goes to Saving Private Ryan, Steven Spielberg’s ode to the Greatest Generation with a permanent spot on the short list of his absolute masterpieces. The bravura opening sequence remains one of the most harrowing depictions of combat ever put on film (emulated by fellow directors for decades), and the story that unfolds afterwards depicts the grunt’s eye view of World War II in a way that may never be topped. It earned Spielberg his second Best Director Oscar, and would have nabbed Best Picture too had Harvey Weinstein been less of an evil toad (and YES we’re taking that injustice to our graves). It opened today in 1998 and made cinema a more vibrant art form in the process.
I’m not sure anyone would legitimately call Wolfen the best of the amazing bumper crop of werewolf movies from 1981, but it’s certainly earned a spot in elite company: positing a pack of supernatural wolves thriving in the steel canyons of Manhattan. What is lacks in elegance it makes up for in originality of concept, and with Albert Finney’s dogged cop as our guide, it’s still worth popping in and taking a look.