10. Leon: the Professional (1994)
Written as a stop-gap while filming on The Fifth Element was delayed, writer/director Luc Besson delivered his best work to date with the Professional. Inspired by Besson’s character Victor the Cleaner in La Femme Nikita, the Professional tells the story of Leon (Jean Reno) a hitman who saves a neighbor girl from the corrupt Narcotics officers who slaughter her family. Leon and the girl, Mathilda (Natalie Portman) form a strong bond and Leon begins to teach Mathilda the ropes of being a Cleaner. Trouble brews when she tries to take revenge on the men responsible for her family’s murder (well, really just her little brother) and Leon has to risk everything to save her. Leon: the Professional is not just a terrific action movie but an excellent film in and of itself. The performances are wonderful from everyone involved and Portman knocks her first performance out of the park. Gary Oldman as main villain Stansfield is delightfully odd and evil and elevates every scene he is in. The shots are absolutely gorgeous and the action is very, very well choreographed. I am a fan of Besson in general but this is hands down his best film.