Year: 2002
Director: Curtis Hanson
Cast: Eminem, Mekhi Phifer, Brittany Murphy, Michael Shannon, Kim Basinger
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Eminem’s early days (particularly the dues he paid on the underground circuit) have long been a focal point of his music, as well a source of inspiration. Based on his humble beginnings in the Detroit area, 8 Mile provided a slightly less twisted look into how he balanced a frustrating working class lifestyle with a gift that burned inside of him.

Set in 1995, 8 Mile captured the gloom that existed in Detroit, long before the city fell apart financially. Eminem’s Jimmy “B-Rabbit" Smith, Jr. is constantly being humbled by life. His home situation (moving back in with his mom, who’s dating a dude he went to high school with) is demoralizing, and though he’s a gifted lyricist, stage fright prevents him from shining in local battles. His problems are worsened by the beef between his group of friendly bullshitters and their brash rivals, the Leaders of the Free World.

8 Mile perfectly frames a time when a white dude was far more likely to get ridiculed for even daring to take part in a battle. The battles, which feature rhymes written by the Juice Crew’s Craig G, are the film’s strongest moments. Some have dubbed 8 Mile hip-hop’s Purple Rain, and while it’s a slightly better film, the soundtrack isn’t quite as legendary. That’s not a slight, though: Eminem became the first hip-hop artist to win an Oscar, winning Best Original Song for “Lose Yourself.”