I’ll never tire of movies that shine a light on strange-but-true crimes I wouldn’t have known about otherwise. Here 4 that tell exceptionally twisted tales, including one that is currently up for 3 Academy Awards.
Foxcatcher – Speaking of Academy Awards, this bizarre story that culminates in a tragic murder racked up 5 nominations in 2015. It reveals how multimillionaire John du Pont (Steve Carell) was able to manipulate and control a pair of Olympic gold-medal winning wrestlers who happened to be brothers —Mark (Channing Tatum) and Dave (Mark Ruffalo) Schultz — over the course of several years. I can’t lie and say it’s not depressing, but the lead trio’s stellar performances are not to be missed. You’ll come away wondering why not a single person was able to say “no” to a clearly delusional du Pont.
American Gangster – Mob movies always give audiences a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the criminal underground. While some aspects of this particular story were fictionalized, it’s still based on real-life Harlem crime lord Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington), who rises to power by smuggling heroin from Thailand and into the US through secret compartments in the coffins of Vietnam vets. But an outcast NYC cop, Richie Roberts (Russell Crowe), sets his sights on bringing Lucas down after his partner dies from a heroin overdose. (Spoiler alert: in researching for this post I was surprised to learn that both Lucas and Roberts are still alive and in their 80s!)
Molly’s Game – We’re staying in the criminal underworld for this biopic about Molly Bloom (Jessica Chastain), a formal Olympic skiing hopeful turned leader of a secret poker empire for Hollywood celebrities, athletes, businessmen and the Russian mob. (A quick online search will reveal who some of her most famous clients were…) But operations like Molly’s tend to attract the likes of the FBI, and she soon finds the walls closing in.
Can You Ever Forgive Me? – And now we come to the current Academy Award contender, which tells the story of washed-up biographer Lee Israel (Melissa McCarthy), who — desperate for cash — discovers she has a particular talent for forging long-gone celebrities’ signatures. As Israel grows increasingly bold in her work, she enlists the help of her one and only friend — drug-dealer Jack Hock (Richard E. Grant) — to help her sell the forgeries to unsuspecting buyers. It’s hard to think of a recent movie with such miserably wicked characters, so I dare say McCarthy and Grant earned their Oscar nominations.
What’s your favorite true-crime movie?