No genre illustrates the evolution of cinema better than the crime film. As recently as the ’90s, Hollywood regularly released stories of cops-and-robber showdowns and mystery-thrillers based on best-selling novels — but as the middle class continues to disappear from Hollywood films, smart crime stories moved to television (see: “The Sopranos,” “The Wire,” “Breaking Bad,” “The Night Of,” et. al.).
Outside the studios, there is a longstanding tradition – from the B-movies to the Coen brothers – of new directors showcasing their filmmaking chops with dark, stylish, and intense crime sagas. A surge of new filmmakers in the ’90s brought fresh interpretations to the genre, from the pastiche of “Reservoir Dogs” to the unnerving realism in “Boyz n the Hood.”
These days, many of the best contemporary directors — including Martin Scorsese, David Fincher, Mann, the Coens, Park Chan-wook and Spike Lee – still love the genre, which has created some of their best work. This list surveys many of those recent highlights.