10. "25th Hour"
Release date: Dec. 19, 2002; Director: Spike Lee; Cast: Edward Norton, Barry Pepper, Philip Seymour Hoffman
One of the first (and still one of the best) movies to deal with life in post-9/11 America, “25th Hour” is an urgent examination of what it’s like to feel like life is slipping away. For Monty Brogan (a terrific Norton), time is very short, in fact, as he enjoys a night out with his pals (Pepper, Hoffman) and girlfriend (Rosario Dawson) before facing a seven-year jail sentence. Adapted from his novel, David Benioff’s script confronts racial perceptions and fears in America without overdoing it, while incorporating 9/11 as a backdrop but not necessarily a main focus. Rather, Lee’s electric film zeroes in on the choices and regrets that sometimes don’t hit home until we’re faced with big opportunities or bigger consequences—or the sudden sense that what seemed like it would last forever isn’t so unshakeable after all. —MP