9. Swimming With Sharks (Directed by George Huang, 1994)
The film may not have actually coined the term, “Swimming With Sharks,” but it certainly popularized it, until it became the perfect catch-all description of working in Hollywood: exciting but dangerous, and potentially fatal. It is a classic “kidnapping gone wrong” movie of the kind beloved by the Coen Brothers (as they admit themselves, so many of their films, from Raising Arizona to Fargo to The Big Lebowski are “kidnappings gone wrong”), but in this instance there is a Hollywood setting, as a young assistant, played by Frank Whaley, ends up kidnapping and torturing his abusive boss, Kevin Spacey (in arguably his greatest screen performance not to win an Oscar), in order to teach him a lesson about humility. It is a wonderfully dark and cynical movie, no more so than in its stunning, surprising ending, where the audience learn the true meaning of the movie’s title: it is possible to swim with sharks, but it is much easier if you become one yourself.