Sure, it has its critics, some who feel that because it focuses on a straight man (who in real life may not have been so straight), Dallas Buyers Club de-gayed the early years of the AIDS epidemic—when the concept of “living with HIV” was nonexistent—as well as the impact of gay men who fought the makers of AZT, set up buyers’ clubs, and died of the disease. But you’d be hard-pressed to convince me that Dallas Buyers Club is anything but an amazing film. This 2013 release is based on the true story of Ron Woodroof, a hard-drinking and drugging rodeo cowboy who tests positive for HIV and must battle the specter of death, a scientific community dragging its feet, and his redneck buddies who, like him, are homophobic. He must learn to navigate a world of gay and transgender people, those who he begrudgingly befriends and finds support from when he begins importing medications from Mexico that he thinks will treat HIV better than AZT. As Woodroof, Matthew McConaughey is pure revelation, so immersed in the role that the Kaposi’s sarcoma lesions, the sweat, and the emaciation (he lost 60 pounds for the role) seem as real on him as they were on my friends who were dying all around me in 1989. Jared Leto, as a transgender woman who serves as the heart and soul of the film, is similarly captivating. Both men completely fade into the roles in a way that makes other cinematic portrayals (like Tom Hanks’s performance in Philadelphia) seem tame by comparison, and the film stands as a time capsule of those early days as well as an emotional treatise on living and dying fearlessly. —D.A.M.