From its first shots, a creepy killer point of view sequence of the beginning of the murder of an entire family, Michael Mann's visually dynamic film will haunt you. It's a revolutionary movie that features the first foray into the now boringly familiar plot of a shamanistic cop who tracks a serial killer by getting inside his head. And even though it's spawned a thousand copycats, it's still the best and it feels neither tired or old. In fact it's dated qualities: Shriekback heavy soundtrack, Miami Vice primary colored neon lighting, and Hannibal Lecter (a once chilling character later turned into a laughable caricature) all somehow manage to seem new again–it's a more exciting and stimulating serial killer film than nearly any one that has come after it.
It was released in a special two disc set last year for its twentieth anniversary due to its much deserved popularity as a cult classic. William Peterson stars in the role he was apparently born to play (and seems to want to continue to play for the rest of his life; see CSI), and Brian Cox plays Hannibal Lecter with noble, sinister restraint. This film was recently poorly remade under the name of its source material, (Thomas Harris' Red Dragon, the first of the Hannibal Lector Tetralogy) seemingly only due to the fact that Anthony Hopkins was not cast in the original. There are plot elements from the novel that are missing from this adaptation, but it stands on its own as an expert piece of tense, enthralling film making.
Bonus Pick:80 Block From Tiffany's (1979) The future is now. Thanks to youtube and boingboing, this unreleased and forgotten about documentary is making the rounds and thousands of people are seeing it who would never have had the opportunity. It's a worthwhile and interesting look at gangs in the South Bronx back in 1979.