If January and February are months that never get respect, March is one that’s caught in no man’s land. While not presumed to be a dumping ground, it doesn’t have the cache that the spring and summer months possess. Still, March has had more than its fair share of cinematic offerings. In fact, for many of you, one of your favorite films of all-time is a March release.
Today, we’re going to be looking at ten of the best March releases ever. It may not include under-the-radar picks like the January list and February list did, but there are some real masterpieces to be found within. Once again, we even have some Academy Award winners in the mix. Perhaps future lists like this will include this year’s impending titles “Captain Marvel” and “Us,” but for now, the ten below are pretty hard to argue with.
Arguably Spike Lee’s most purely entertaining film, the March release date belies how much this feels like a blockbuster. Lee uses his entire filmmaking repertoire to tell a kick-ass heist story. Jodie Foster, Clive Owen, and Denzel Washington ably support his vision. None of this feels like an early year release, to be sure. All the same, we were lucky to get it as a surprise in the first quarter of 2006. When Lee aims to be a crowdpleaser, he has a handle on cinema like few other directors.
Movies about political campaigns rarely remembers to be fun. “Primary Colors” is plenty dark, satirizing the Bill Clinton Presidential campaign, but it also finds time to laugh as well. Part of that is due to Mike Nichols being the director while supporting players like Kathy Bates elevate the material. These days, John Travolta would be lucky to score a March release date. Back then, this was an odd time to put out prestige fare. Still, it clearly worked. Go back and watch it now. It still very much holds up.
One of the best superhero tales of all time hit in the month of March. The release date would have been fine if this was just a regular sequel to “The Wolverine.” However, “Logan” is utter brilliance, bringing Hugh Jackman and his interpretation of the character to new levels. The fact that this comic book film got a Best Adapted Screenplay nomination at the Oscars should say something. In a very real way, you can argue that this Academy Award moment paved the way for “Black Panther” to be the force it just was last month.
Considered one of David Fincher‘s best works, you’d be forgiven for mistaking this for a prestige winter release. The studio clearly did not know what to do with “Zodiac,” condemning it to a disappointing lack of box office and Oscar citations. The years have been kind to it though, moving it towards the top of Fincher’s oeuvre. A film about obsession that’s well worth obsessing over!
The Coen Brothers have a number of classics under their belt, including this one. “Fargo” mixes their quirk and distinctive point of view with a truly compelling procedural aspect. Frances McDormand is stunning, while the black comedy and violence find a perfect balance with each other. This could have been lost in the shuffle, considering its release date. Luckily for all involved, that was not the case.
These days, Christopher Nolan opens his films in the summer or winter, not March. However, back when he was first getting started, he had to break through just like any other director. This narratively unique mystery stunned audiences accustomed to not being challenged this early in the season. Nolan’s style was still being developed, but if you go watch “Memento” now, it’s easy to see the master already emerging.
One of the funniest films of all time, this comedy is also one of the rare titles to get Oscar recognition. That it went from a March release date all the way to the Academy Awards is even more impressive. Marisa Tomei‘s Best Supporting Actress win stands as one of the Academy’s most inspired selections. Her back and forth scenes with Joe Pesci are comedic gold. Odds are, if you turn on your television right now, a cable channel is playing “My Cousin Vinny.” It has become cinematic comfort food. When so many early year releases are dismissed and forgotten, this one only gets better with age.
March usually isn’t when you re-write the rules of cinema. The Wachowski’s were taking a big risk bringing their vision to the screen, however, so the powers that be hedged their bets. Had “The Matrix” not worked, it could have killed a number of careers. Instead, it announced a filmmaking team to watch out for, made Keanu Reeves an even bigger star, and changed the way action films are made. Not bad, huh?
Yes, believe it. Arguably the greatest film of all time, one of the highest regarded Best Picture winners ever, is a March release. Francis Ford Coppola created a franchise, a pop culture sensation, and a classic, all in one fell swoop. Marlon Brando took home an Academy Award for a now iconic performance, and the movie itself is considered a masterclass. Not many titles, in general, are shown in schools. Even fewer are March ones. Then again, almost nothing can touch “The Godfather” on any level.
This modern classic would have blown audiences away whenever it came out. That being said, it’s only more impressive that Charlie Kaufman won an Oscar for this and Kate Winslet was nominated when it hit right as the previous year’s ceremony was occurring. Between Kaufman’s writing, the chemistry between Winslet and Jim Carrey, Michel Gondry‘s direction, and the production design, it’s a miracle of a movie. Already considered a masterpiece, it will stand the test of time. Not only is “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” a great March release, it’s a great bit of cinema in general.