At the time of its release, Jonathan Demme's Philadelphia was the first big-budget Hollywood film to tackle the medical, political, and social issues of AIDS. Tom Hanks, in his first Academy Award-winning performance, plays Andrew Beckett, a talented lawyer at a stodgy Philadelphia law firm. The homosexual Andrew has contracted AIDS but fears informing his firm about the disease. The firm's senior partner, Charles Wheeler (Jason Robards), assigns Andrew a case involving their most important client. Andrew begins diligently working on the case, but soon the lesions associated with AIDS are visible on his face. Wheeler abruptly removes Andrew from the case and fires him from the firm. Andrew believes he has been fired because of his illness and plans to fight the firm in court. But because of the firm's reputation, no lawyer in Philadelphia will risk handling his case. In desperation, Andrew hires Joe Miller (Denzel Washington), a black lawyer who advertises on television, mainly handling personal injury cases. Miller dislikes homosexuals but agrees to take the case for the money and exposure.
Steven Spielberg directed this powerful, realistic re-creation of WWII's D-day invasion and the immediate aftermath. The story opens with a prologue in which a veteran brings his family to the American cemetery at Normandy, and a flashback then joins Capt. John Miller (Tom Hanks) and GIs in a landing craft making the June 6, 1944, approach to Omaha Beach to face devastating German artillery fire. This mass slaughter of American soldiers is depicted in a compelling, unforgettable 24-minute sequence. Miller's men slowly move forward to finally take a concrete pillbox. On the beach littered with bodies is one with the name "Ryan" stenciled on his backpack. Army Chief of Staff Gen. George C. Marshall (Harve Presnell), learning that three Ryan brothers from the same family have all been killed in a single week, requests that the surviving brother, Pvt. James Ryan (Matt Damon), be located and brought back to the United States.
One of the best-loved films from the idiosyncratic British film studio Ealing Pictures gets an update from the equally idiosyncratic filmmaking team of Joel and Ethan Coen in this offbeat comedy. Marva Munson (Irma P. Hall) is a spry, elderly woman who attends church regularly, doesn't care for loud noises or harsh language, and is looking for a tenant for the spare room in her house. Enter Goldthwait Higginson Dorr (Tom Hanks), a silver-tongued college professor who moves in and gains Munson's permission to use the basement for rehearsals with his "medieval music ensemble." What Munson doesn't know is that Dorr's latest project is not academic, but criminal. Dorr is masterminding the robbery of a riverboat casino, and the fellow musicians in his ensemble are actually the crew he's assembled to pull off the job: foul-mouthed "inside man" Gawain (Marlon Wayans), clumsy demolitions expert Pancake (J.K. Simmons), quiet strong-arm man Lump (Ryan Hurst), and logistical expert The General (Tzi Ma).
Originally broadcast in April and May of 1998, hosted by executive producer Tom Hanks, the miniseries tackles the daunting challenge of chronicling the entire history of NASA's Apollo space program from 1961 to 1972. For the most part, it's a rousing success. Some passages are flatly chronological, awkwardly wedging an abundance of factual detail into a routine dramatic structure. But each episode is devoted to a crucial aspect of the Apollo program. The cumulative effect is a deep and thorough appreciation of NASA's monumental achievement. With the help of a superlative cast, consistent writing, and a stable of talented directors, Hanks has shared his infectious enthusiasm for space exploration and the inspiring power of conquering the final frontier.