80. Silent heart (2014)
Brutally honest, emotional and real, this movie hits like a punch to the gut. A contained drama that works in all the right ways. I question those who finish the film with dry eyes! – William Caruana
79. BLINDSPOTTING (2018)
Owing much to its impassioned artistry and racially charged themes, the indie dark comedy Blindspotting comes out swinging. Whatever your expectations are for this film, it exceeds them in every way possible. Its anger is offset with a clearer understanding, and the shrewd balance of organic humor with agonizing intensity left me rattled, shaking, and close to tears.
Longtime friends Diggs and Casal co-wrote the film and when paired with first-time feature director Carlos López Estrada, they make a dynamite team. Everything about this project is exciting, from its jolting energy to stylish cinematography. There are Oscar-caliber performances all around, and the spirited screenplay is filled with great humanity and humor. There’s something truly magical going on here because the film is a textbook example of the creative use of art as a social tool.
Heavy themes are definitely at play too, with hot button issues like racism, identity, police brutality, class, and stereotypes presented with a raw and brutal honesty. The film offers a challenging look at the power of race through a blistering critique of white privilege and the turbulent relationship between lifelong residents and culture clashes with the new hipsters taking over “their” city. The realism is unparalleled in a fresh and relevant way, and the film could prove to be a visual 2018 time capsule for viewers in the future. It’s timely, poignant, and uses incendiary humor to forcefully instigate a conversation that many would rather avoid having because there’s no easy answer.
And that’s where the film’s brilliance really shines. If you’ve ever wondered what it was like to experience real life from the point of view of those who are different from you and are struggling to get by, especially if you don’t live your life in the minority, then the mission is fully accomplished here. Things always look different depending on your perspective and by challenging all kinds of stereotypes, the film becomes an even more exceptional (and provocative) piece.
There are uncomfortable moments of discord that manifest in the form of disturbing nightmares or in jarring spurts of brutal violence. Collin and Miles often express their frustrations and fears by launching into spoken-word rap riffs that flow like urban poetry. The passionate creativity reaches new heights here, and nearly everything about the film works on an elevated level without ever feeling gimmicky or forced. It’s a film filled with big ideas, but none are overshadowed by the heart of the story: the intimate friendship and deep level of understanding between the two men. Blindspotting is an emotionally charged work of art that will continue to disturb and challenge me in ways that I’ll never forget. I feel it will prove to be one of the greatest cinematic expressions of racial tension and tumultuous unrest for generations. – Louisa Moore
78. 50/50 (2011)
When I first saw this movie, I thought it was just gonna be another Apatow-style raunchy dramedy. While 50/50 kind of is exactly that, I actually ended up connecting a lot more with this film, seeing as I went through a situation similar to what the main character goes through. The intense feelings of confusion, hopelessness and exhaustion that come from dealing with a chronic illness are conveyed incredibly well through Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s performance. He does a great job in the role and I feel like people don’t talk about this movie enough. I guess I just watched this movie at a point in my life where it really hit close to home and it ended up being a really cathartic watch for me. – Christian McCabe
77. Steve jobs (2015)
A masterfully acted and written film that was quite unfairly overlooked. The main cast all carry the film to the best of their ability: Michael Fassbender makes a textbook case for ‘ability over appearance’. His lack of resemblance to the real Jobs proves meaningless thanks to his tour-de-force performance, playing Jobs more as a character (an egotistical control freak) rather than trying to impersonate the man himself, and it works incredibly well.
Kate Winslet gives an engaging turn as Job’s assistant, Joanna Hoffman. With the spot-on accent as a bonus, she plays the oft cast aside, yet always resilient voice of reason opposite Jobs. Alongside them are Seth Rogen, in a complete departure from his usual fare, proves surprisingly effective in a dramatic performance as Steve Wozniak, and Jeff Daniels’ John Sculley, the semi-father figure/semi-backstabbing boss to Fassbender’s Jobs. Then there’s the script by Aaron Sorkin. Once again, Sorkin exhibits a remarkable ability to keep the audience’s undivided attention for the entirety of the film. Danny Boyle’s direction and style, taking an approach unlike the average biopic. It manages to nicely fit the film and it’s subject matter. All these factors make for a skillfully crafted gem of a film that deserves Steve Jobs (2015) to be watched and loved forever! –Jeffrey Patrick
76. Can you ever forgive me? (2018)
There is something truly palpable in the sense of dread that comes from Lee Israel, played with enough spite and heart by Melissa McCarthy, as she tries to break away from writer’s block, not knowing where her future as a writer will go. Through sheer luck, she stumbles a correspondence letter of a famous person. This gives her an idea of writing false accounts from various writers and celebrities. This crafts an irony of sorts, as Lee starts to write her best work through the “souls” of others, knowing how to build various emotions on the page, while she herself is not able to express her own outside of rage and annoyance. Melissa McCarthy takes all her acting ideas but making an probing introspection of what it means to be an introvert.
In her “journey”, she is joined by Jack Hock, a drug dealer with a similar mindset as Lee. What a wonderful way of showcasing Richard E. Grant, an actor whose way of theatricality and physicality gives a fun aspect to a character that could have easily not worked. Both McCarthy and Grant get that these people are outsiders in any way, both in the artistic world and in general. They are the ones who go on there own way, not knowing how to connect to anyone except the space they have constructed, which makes their pairing that much more entertaining. Director-Writer Marielle Heller gives this story an added weight, while not taking away the comedic strength of the actors with witty dialogue and solid pacing that makes us connect to our two lively characters. In the end, we are given a movie about writing and how we can connect to it or too others. – R2N2
75. Uncut gems (2019)
Giving immediate reactions to this film is hard. Uncut Gems is, ironically, not much of a good time. What it is, is a deeply felt, cathartic experience of a film, in the way that I always look for in my favorite films. It reminds me of the films of Dario Argento, Gaspar Noe, and Stanley Kubrick just in how much this is a visceral, by the seat of your pants experience. I genuinely can’t remember the last time I felt this tense in a film. It’s not tense in the way I am watching a thriller like Tenebrae, or even something more modern like Casino Royale. There’s little to no joy in the cinematic thrill of a well put together chase or being totally involved in an action scene. What you experience is more akin to watching a great football match where it’s totally open, and the team you support are clearly the less talented team, and they’re constantly a goal behind no matter how many goals they score somehow, they can’t quite get ahead of the other team the whole time, right up until the knuckle whitening final moments. I’ve seen some matches like that and they’re some of my favorites I’ve ever seen. You are trapped in Uncut Gems the same way the main character is trapped in it.
So many characters are heard first or universally as disembodied voices over the phone competing for audio bandwidth with Sandler’s yammering. So many scenes seem to have been filmed in multiple long shots, each take taking a different path for the camera, and then randomly stitched together in the editing room. You’re never sure from which angle you’re going to be looking at a character next or where you’re going to be thrust from there. The music is reminiscent of Vangelis or Wendy Carlos but unlike their gliding, serene if foreboding tones; it’s almost like a synth version of the The Dark Knight score, constantly escalating, constantly unpredictable, constantly shooting off in wild directions, like the film’s main character. The film is primarily an experiential piece but it also engages intellectually too as a pretty explicit indictment of Capitalism. There’s a speech sort of an hour 50-ish into the movie from Sandler, (in a career best performance, yes, even better than Punch-Drunk Love), that pretty solidly cements that theme, without ever slipping into just exposition. None of the characters are good or bad. They’re all very deeply flawed but all fascinating.
Good Time did many of the things right that Uncut Gems does; and what both of these films lead up to is the idea that you have a manic character, and the film itself is manic. This is where the strange combination of Cassavetes style realism meets hyper stylisation in every other aspect. The handheld, social realist camera work, with the frenetic editing, grounded if manic performances, and quite literally insane score all come together for the form to perfectly match the content. The film is a unified vision of mania, in both it’s form, medium, and subtext. Uncut Gems is a pretty towering achievement of cinema, and it’s going to be a long time until anyone produces a film to match it. – Saoirse Selway
74. The Lighthouse (2019)
The Lighthouse is incredibly immersive, terrifying and beautiful all at the same time. For a director navigating his sophomore effort, Eggers displays a mind-boggling understanding of building atmosphere and tension. Dafoe and Pattinson deliver exemplary performances as two confined seamen spiraling into madness. By the time the film concludes, the viewer is left shaken by the exceedingly poetic and terrifying images. A truly ambitious film! – Luis Garza
73. Shadow (2018)
I can’t explain what it is about Wuxia films that enchant me. Maybe it’s the glossy and grandiose visuals? The romanticism in every action? The overblown emotional head-space perhaps. Whatever it is, Yimou has reclaimed it. He’s in full form again, and has directed easily one of his best films in Shadow. It contains some of the most bizarrely creative set-pieces this century, however grounded by the intriguing and twisty palace drama we’ve come to expect. It’s sexy, and tense, and often comedic, until the bottom drops out. Yimou is clearly interested in the stunted masculinity of his characters, the broken patriotism, that by the end you’re left senseless. -Evelyn Williams
72. First Man (2018)
First Man is a perfectly crafted masterpiece that offers the ultimate cinematic experience. The film does an excellent job at portraying the perils and exhilaration of spaceflight. First Man accounts the space race of the 60’s in the eyes of the emotionally damaged hero, Neil Armstrong. The film does an exceptional job of laying out the real costs of making it to the moon. Chazelle has an obsession with men who are obsessed. He loves to dissect what makes greatness and the sacrifices that people make to achieve that greatness, which is something that really shines through in this emotionally out of this world film. – James Titchmarsh
71. Knife + Heart (2018)
Sleazy, sensual, and wonderfully macabre; Knife + Heart quite literally bears its name through exploring the darker realms of desire and sexual repression inside a murder mystery set among the late-70’s gay porn industry. Sliding between erotic-thriller and violent-comedy, building tension is not writer-director Yann Gonzalez’s main objective here, but rather creating atmosphere and mood. By using his 35mm film to its full potential, Gonzalez ramps up the vibrancy through a broad spectrum of colors to a hallucinogenic effect, infusing the images with a synthetic-pop soundtrack produced by M83, unfolding the story like a blood-drenched fever dream.
The film is a clear homage to the Giallo movement, yet, beneath all its surface-level beauty and madness, Gonzalez’s commentary on queer-culture is just as understated as it is refreshing. At time in history where a majority of queer cinema has a tendency to enforce political undertones, Gonzalez rather celebrates the culture’s frivolous nature, while still maintaining a contemporary relevance by giving an artful stab at exploring the tragic repercussions of homophobia. Whenever it begins to meander, Knife + Heart is salvaged by it’s visually poetic presentation; between characters breaking into melodramatic monologues declaring their internal passion and despair, cartoonish murder sequences and unconventional narrative choices, there is an admirable cheesiness oozing from this gruesome, mystical hybrid that I just can’t resist. – Marc Ricov
70. beyond the black rainbow (2010)
Many may know Panos from his eclectic grind-house nightmare Mandy, which smashed the box office last year; but his debut that released nearly a decade ago is an even stronger and vastly underrated masterpiece of psychotronia. It’s a neon drenched kaleidoscope into social control, the artifices put in place to make us believe we have any power, and the breadth of the universe compared to our insignificance. There also might be something in there about women being more powerful than men would ever comprehend, but I’d definitely recommend a watch just for the black and white surreal sequence where our antagonist gets high on drugs and sees screaming melting demons. -Evelyn Williams
69. bURNING (2018)
I’ve been a huge fan of film-making since childhood years. I also love stories which are based on metaphors and which leaves the content based on the viewers perspective. Lee Chang-dong does this perfectly with Burning! I love this film 🔥 -Megh Mandi
68. A Ghost story (2017)
No film of the last decade tackles the immense themes of love, loss, and regret with the delicate artistry of David Lowery’s A Ghost Story. It’s a haunting portrait of our frail humanity; a strident affirmation that our existence in this Universe is defined by fleeting moments of indescribable beauty and soul-crushing pain. Quiet, contemplative, and utterly devastating, A Ghost Story celebrates the ghosts that define us and the interconnected loneliness that binds us together. – J.R. Kinnard
67. hEREDITARY (2018)
Hereditary… Jesus, this movie had me feeling a sense of dread that I haven’t felt from a horror film in a long time. What a great directorial debut! What a great film period! There were moments during the film where I actually thought I was going to have a panic attack and had to leave the theater. The film has a lot of genuine scares and a lot of imagery that’ll be etched into my brain for a long time to come. If I’m being honest though, I think that the family dynamic was a lot more unsettling and squirm-inducing than any of the actual supernatural horror elements of the film or anything that was actually being shown on screen. Although the supernatural horror stuff was definitely done exceptionally well. I think it also goes without saying that Toni Collette knocks it out of the park and Alex Wolfe also gives a subtle yet fantastic performance. Hereditary is a horror masterpiece! – Christian McCabe
66. The Witch (2015)
Movies about witchcraft started with Benjamin Christensen’s Haxan and ended with Robert Eggers’ (first?) masterpiece. And yet Eggers offered up something so visceral, so primal, so exhilarating, that we are now in a new era of occult film. Among the many great feature debuts in this decade, from Ducournau’s Raw to Jordan Peele’s Get Out, The Witch simply remains the best. Robert Eggers’ meticulously researched puritan drama and folk horror still feels as fresh and genre-invigorating as it was when it was released at the Sundance Film Festival in 2015.Following a puritan family struggling to survive at the outskirts of the New England woods after being banished from their plantation, they cling to their faith after tragedy befall on them. The eldest daughter Thomasin (a tremendous performance by Anya Taylor-Joy) increasingly becomes more and more detached from her kin, until she is eventually accused of witchcraft.
Of all the ways The Witch can be read as a feminist mythic tale, as a Christian warning against straying from the Holy word, as a condemnation of religious fundamentalism; what is truly at the core of Eggers’ debut is his dedication to authenticity. The Witch feels like you are watching something pure and something terrible, something which no mortal should see and live through. The tale of Thomasin and the fate that befalls her family goes further than the brutal and bloody Grimm Brothers tales before they were Disneyfied, The Witch resembles the folktales told back in the 16th century by grandmothers trying to keep children from entering the woods, with all the blasphemy, matricide and baby-slaughtering that entails. The woods are encircled with Christian iconography, pagan myth and the grimmest of fairy tales, resulting in an amalgamation of something primal, something prehistoric and yet firmly rooted in thoroughly-researched history. The wonderful dialogue, much of which was pulled by Eggers from period sources such as diary entries and letters, ensures the viewer is draw into the world of religious paranoia within the first ten minutes, something which it can only escape after the liberating and glorious conclusion. – Jons Klaessens
65. Embrace of the serpent (2015)
Embrace of the Serpent follows an Amazonian shaman, who when we first meet him, has this air of damaged nobility, which really set my hackles raising that we might be seeing a ‘noble savage’ type cliche. But the film cleverly subverts this obstacle in the events we see him interact with, and things we learn about him. The more we see him, the more he often seems like boorish child at points, but we also learn he saw his whole clan massacred at a young age. He ridicules the kind of longing and loneliness in his German travelling partner, that he clearly feels deeply in himself. We also see him at a much later age, interweaving with the A plot of the younger self, and the way these timelines bleed into each other is the first hint that this film might not just be about colonialism, but about something verging much more into the metaphysical; a thread that gets more insidious and nested in the very fabric of the film the more it goes on.
This is a film that isn’t just about colonialism, but explores said themes through the lens of dreams, memory, the collective subconscious. The ways in which the timelines blend into each-other like the consciousnesses of the characters hints at a kind of pantheistic, eco-religious idea that transcends colonialism to be more of a coherent statement about the universe and everything in it, in much the same way as 2001. Embrace of the Serpent is a metaphysical marvel! – Saoirse Selway
64. The Irishman (2019)
I could go on and on and on about how tightly wound and conveyed the first three hours of Scorsese’s latest epic, The Irishman is; but it’s the final thirty minutes that is truly the standout. Not only do they serve as the best thing Scorsese has ever done but it’s also a testament to his long and legend defining career. From Goodfellas to Casino to The Wolf Of Wall Street, we’ve seen Scorsese heavily focus on not-so-good people doing not-so-good things. Just when you think it’s teetering onto borderline glorification of such, Scorsese pulls the rug from underneath these characters and deals them with the relentless and rightfully consequences of their actions.
It’s not only until the last thirty minutes of The Irishman where Scorsese perfects this method. As he slowly and brutally strips away characters flesh by flesh, that had indulged in the three hours of run-time beforehand in committing heinous crimes throughout, Scorsese reaches a degree of certain profoundness that he’s never reached before. In the deconstruction of his characters, we find Scorsese doing it so at his most vulnerable and tender as if he shares memories with a similar pain as Frank Sheeran, whose committed obligations damaged and destroyed intimate (or what were supposed to be), relationships. It then becomes a shared experience with the audience, making us think within the same frequency, wondering what we did wrong in the past and what we could do to avoid it in the future; it’s a haunting experience either way. – Nora T
63. Annihilation (2018)
Annihilation is one of the most bonkers yet truly inspiring adaptations from a source material you’ll ever seen. Like The Shimmer, this film morphs and changes into a beast completely alien to its original book, and IT IS INCREDIBLE. Maybe Annihilation is the only direct horror film that genuinely spooked me for days, with sequences that’ll never leave your mind, because how could they? Such a shame this film was distributed by cowards like Paramount who actively sabotaged it from finding its audience, but at least gaining a cult following. – Will Polnaszek
62. Looper (2012)
Looper is far and away my favorite time travel film of all time. It mixes incredible world-building, gut-wrenching performances (from even Bruce Willis, which I’m sure is no small feat), and subtly brilliant characters. It’s also absolutely stunning in every sense. Beautifully crafted by a modern master, Looper takes a concept that could’ve been little more than a late 90s Schwarzenegger film you’d see on TNT, and turns into some of the best hard sci-fi you’ll ever see on film. – Morgan DeAtley
61. Dunkirk (2017)
Dunkirk feels almost introspective for Nolan as a filmmaker, where he’s amplifying his strengths and reducing his weaknesses. Ditching most of the conventions of war movies, Nolan has crafted such a visually driven subjective experience, immersing you into the shoes of its characters that you empathize with, on a level character development and backstory can’t. Its constant suffocating tension and dread inducing atmosphere makes it a strong case for being pretty much horror. In a world where TV can match cinema, almost like films in the vein of Lawrence of Arabia, Dunkirk fully utilizes everything cinema can do and TV can’t. I’m glad a film like this exists. – Liam Norval
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