The original is absolutely worth seeing, an intricate head game from a master player. If one thing unites the 10 disparate choices on my list — which ranges from an old-fashioned French costume drama to an Afrofuturist science-fiction musical, with a couple of documentaries in the mix — it is that critical spirit. They seem to question not only the aspects of human experience they represent, but also their own methods and assumptions. They are pictures very much in motion, thinking out loud in the darkness. Amid endless agonizing over the State of Cinema, the actual releases proved a bounty for film lovers, whether fans of the art house or the multiplex.
Starring Dev Patel as Sir Gawain, it is an ambitious movie that takes real risks but rewards viewers with stunning visuals and the uneasy tension of a dream that straddles the line between good and bad. A “mockumentary” that purports to follow around “England’s loudest band,” This Is Spinal Tap is one of those movies that is funny the first time, and then gets funnier the second, and then even funnier after that. Mixing the best parts of Hollywood and Bollywood, Monsoon Wedding is an exuberant ensemble comedy about a Punjabi family preparing for a wedding and the influx of relatives from all over the world. Bright and energetic, the movie runs the full gamut from dramatic to touching to hilariously funny. There are almost too many Denzel Washington movies that could and should be on a list like this, but Devil in a Blue Dress is an underrated gem that deserves some time in the spotlight.
This mystery about corporate raiders who literally steal ideas from people’s dreams is twisted and bizarre. It’s also bolstered by some of the most imaginative visual effects ever devised—cities folding in on themselves, a zero-gravity fight scene inside a spinning hallway, etc. The fact that director Christopher Nolan dropped this in his downtime between epic Batman movies is astounding. Most movies on a Best Of list are standouts in their genre, or they changed the way movies were made or perceived, or they defined a generation.
That’s just the beginning of the ordeal writer/director Devereux Milburn has in store for his protagonists, who are joined at their dinner by a dazed-looking man with a bandaged head, and who soon discover that Karen has devious plans for them–some of it having to do with her daughter. Crafted with jarring edits and split screens for maximum disorientation, the ensuing mayhem is stunning, scary and considerably gross, heralding the arrival of a uniquely out-there horror voice. Credit for that resilience goes in large part to the insatiable appetite of American cinephiles, as well as the abundance of terrific features that, over the past twelve months, have graced screens both big and small. No matter where they premiered (or were seen), offerings from illustrious auteurs and promising newcomers were everywhere, led by the latest from Joel Coen, Joachim Trier, Roy Andersson, Paul Thomas Anderson and Ryusuke Hamaguchi, whose dramas comprise our top five. Emmett Till—the Chicago teen who was kidnapped, tortured, and lynched in 1955 while visiting family in Mississippi—is a name Americans know.
Each story is a self-contained vignette, and the mix of humor and melancholy wins you over each time. A past-his-prime actor (Bill Murray) in Tokyo to make quick cash doing commercials befriends the lonely girlfriend (Scarlett Johansson) of a photographer who leaves her to fend for herself while he’s off working. That’s the premise of Lost In Translation, a sweet, funny, and romantic movie about meeting your soulmate at the wrong time, and the magic of being completely out of one’s element in every conceivable way. Murray and Johansson are an unlikely but incredible onscreen couple. The late ’70s and early ’80s saw a lot of movies about the nightmare of urban living—New York, in particular, was usually the focal point of how crime-ridden and lawless cities were becoming, which led to movies like Escape from New York and Death Wish.
The Princess Bride feels like a movie that wants to make fun of sappy fairy tale romances—and does at times—but also can’t help getting caught up in it anyway. A wry and funny (but also genuinely romantic) adventure, it’s the kind of movie that the word “timeless” was made for. It’s also a treasure trove of quotable lines, from “As you wish,” to “Inconceivable! I don’t think it means what you think it means.” Always worth it, no matter how many times you’ve seen it. The story of a family in a working-class suburb of London, Life is Sweet is one of those movies that is more about characters than any kind of overarching plot. Sometimes unbearably sad and other times laugh out loud funny, it’s an underrated movie from a director known for his realistic takes on English life (Mike Leigh).
- Brought to life by Frances McDormand, Marge, the ultimate feminist hero, is sweet and honest (and heavily pregnant), but also a hell of a great cop.
- After more than 16 months of streaming at home, I went to a theater to watch Matt Damon sing the white-guy blues in “Stillwater.” The movie was poky and trite and irritating, and I reviewed it accordingly.
- A fast, surreal, rollicking comedy set to an amazing soundtrack, the movie manages to be a total blast despite never glossing over (and in some scenes, unblinkingly digging right into) the darker and more tragic elements of drug addiction.
- I created an important storytelling innovation and one that would inspire the term “Rashomon-like” for any of the hundreds of movies after it that borrowed the same technique.
The movie is stunning, but also worth watching just so you can recognize when other movies reference it. Never has there been a mainstream movie so tailored to straight women’s sexuality. If you only ever see one Marvel Cinematic Universe film, make it Black Panther. This movie changed the way superhero films were thought of for a generation of young viewers, and that’s something worth watching in itself. Anchored by Jennifer Lopez as the Tejano star, Selena Quintanilla, Selena manages to make a biopic that honors the music and musician while also shedding light on her rich family life and her tragic death. Hayao Miyazaki is often called “The Japanese Walt Disney,” but even that high accolade doesn’t quite do him justice.
Less known is Mamie Till, Emmett’s mother, a civil rights activist who spent nearly 15 years fighting to get justice for her only child. She is the focus of this heart-wrenching biopic from Chinonye Chukwu, in which Danielle Deadwyler (Station Eleven) delivers a masterclass in playing lived-in grief. We could go on and on about the shortcomings of our work here — not enough animation! Without further ado, here are what we consider the 50 best films of the 21st century so far. We invite you to find out how many films from the list you’ve seen on this poll. Leonardo DiCaprio stars as young conman, Frank Abignale Jr., who manages to live as a Panam pilot, a doctor, and a lawyer, all while FBI Agent Carl Hanratty (Tom Hanks) on his tail.
Night of the Living Dead was also incredibly groundbreaking at the time for having a heroic African-American lead, which makes the absolute gut-punch of an ending even more incredible for the social and political implications behind it. Some movies have to be seen because it’s unlikely anything like them will ever be made again. The making of Apocalypse Now was so bizarre and intense it inspired its own separate documentary (also worth seeing). Director Francis Ford Coppola took Joseph Conrad’s novella Heart of Darkness and transplanted it to the Vietnam War, creating a strange, unpredictable movie that feels less like a war film and more like the lucid nightmare of someone inside a war film. When a gigantic great white shark begins attacking people off the coast of Long Island, a local sheriff teams up with a marine biologist and a grizzled fisherman to hunt it down and kill it.
After more than 16 months of streaming at home, I went to a theater to watch Matt Damon sing the white-guy blues in “Stillwater.” The movie was poky and trite and irritating, and I reviewed it accordingly. And while I regretted it wasn’t better, I was still grateful because it sent me back to theaters, big screens and other moviegoers. Jamie Ballard (she/her) is a freelance writer and editor who covers news, lifestyle, and entertainment topics, including sex and relationships, TV, movies, books, health, pets, food and drinks, pop culture, shopping, and personal finance.
The movie is confounding, ridiculous, and absolutely heart-rending. On the surface, Boogie Nights is about the porn industry, and is loosely based on the life of real life performer John Holmes. Boogie Nights recreates such a specific time and place—in this case, the San Fernando Valley http://moviesnreviews.com/ at the tail end of the 1970s—so perfectly, it feels almost like it was made at that time, too. It also features an all star cast including Mark Wahlberg, Burt Reynolds, Julianne Moore, Don Cheadle, John C. Reilly, Heather Graham, William H. Macy, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and more.