AIDS is likely something many of us don't care to talk about, let alone spend a couple of hours watching on the big screen. However, reality tells us AIDS is a big problem, still, so these six films are some of the best at addressing one of society's deepest ills. Some focus on famous individuals, while others tell fictional accounts of friends and families facing a scary, at first unknown disease.
Denzel Washington and Tom Hanks (who owns the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance) star in this film about the impact of the AIDS epidemic. This 1993 film was one of the first mainstream Hollywood releases to acknowledge HIV/AIDS, as well as homosexuality and homophobia. The consistently excellent Jonathan Demme directed this movie. In addition to Hanks' acting award, Bruce Springsteen's "Streets of Philadelphia" won the Academy Award for Best Original Song.
"Angels in America"
This 2003 HBO miniseries was adapted from Tony Kushner's Pulitzer Prize winning play of the same name. Famed director, Mike Nichols, directed it. The story takes place in 1985, where two couples find their relationships falling apart smack dab in the middle of Reagan era politics. Despite its serious and depressing subject matter, "Angels in America" was the most watched made-for-cable movie of 2003. It also won many Golden Globes and Emmy Awards.
A movie which concentrates entirely on the horrific effects of AIDS on a group of middle-class gay men between 1981 to 1988, it puts a magnifying glass to the emergence of the AIDS epidemic. It stars Stephen Caffrey, Patric Cassidy, and Brian Cousins. Norman René directed this film created from Craig Lucas' script.
"And the Band Played On"
Roger Spottiswoode directed this 1993 TV film based on a 1987 non-fiction book, "And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic," written by Randy Shilts. It made its premier at the Montreal Film Festival, before HBO broadcast it in 1993. The film features a great cast, including Matthew Modine, Alan Alda and Ian McKellen, all playing doctors.
"Life and Death on the A-list"
This film is all about actor Tom McBride, perhaps most famous for his role as a jock in a wheelchair in "Friday The 13th: Part 2," as it illuminates his life, his battle with the horrible AIDS disease, and ultimately his death. AIDS is a disease that can strike anyone, from a poor homeless soul, or a an A-list actor like Tom McBride, and this film exposes this fact.
"Rent," the musical, is actually a modernization of the famous opera, "La Boheme." It centers around eight friends that live in Manhattan's Alphabet City section in 1989. In addition to facing AIDS, these buddies must also deal with poverty, drugs, evictions, and romantic breakups and reconciliations. In other words the toughest stuff of life. In the face of these struggles, however, these people all live the bohemian lifestyle so closely associated with the Lower East Side.