25- Mulholland Dr. (2001)
Directed by David Lynch
Genre: Thriller / Mystery
David Lynch delivers yet again with this brilliant, biting, hysterical, and haunting ode to Hollywood. A movie in which the pieces add up to much more than the whole and the solution to the mystery, once realized, is remarkably rewarding. Mulholland Dr. split audiences and critics into two vocal factions: those who think it’s challenging, surreal cinema, and those who consider it to be self-indulgent and pretentious.
24- Zodiac (2007/I)
Directed by David Fincher
Genre: Thriller / Crime
An intriguing and methodical depiction of police work which avoids any clichéd action shootouts, chase sequences, and false climaxes. David Fincher manages to build gut-wrenching anxiety scene after scene in this mostly quiet, dialogue driven atmospheric thriller. The meticulous attention to period detail by cinematographer Harry Savides helps create a somber tone and a documentary-like aesthetic at times. Couple that with the ingenious score by David Shire, remarkable set pieces and a solid cast and Zodiac remains David Fincher`s best work.
23- The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007)
Directed by Julian Schnabel
Julian Schnabel has made a career out of defying expectations and pushing boundaries and with The Diving Bell and the Butterly he defies dozens of moviemaking conventions to tell the remarkable true story of Jean-Dominique Bauby, the world-renowned editor of French ELLE magazine, who suffered a stroke and was paralyzed by the inexplicable “locked in” syndrome at the age of 43. Here Schnablel uses a stunning visual sense that blurs the line between experience and memory to shoot most of the film through Bauby’s point of view. Diving Bell showcase cinematic poetry at it’s very best. The camera is the filmmaker’s pen and you won’t want to blink and miss a second of this extraordinary film.
22- Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Directed by Michel Gondry
Genre: Romance / Drama
Two mad geniuses come together and intertwine their brilliant ideas to create one of the greatest romance stories ever put to film. Kaufman’s script dissects the human brain’s complex and twisted pleasant and painful memories, acutely depicting how each moment in our life helps us construct who we are. Gondry`s tells his unconventional romance in an abstract, inventive, and touching style with equally stunning visuals and brilliant editing tricks. Heartfelt and ultimately heartbreaking, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind is a shimmering work of sheer brilliance and an honest portrayal of a modern relationship.
21- Hunger (2008)
Directed by Steve McQueen
Renowned English video artist Steve McQueen’s feature film debut Hunger, is an alternately harrowing and poetic take on the fatal 1982 hunger strike of Irish Republican Army prisoner Bobby Sands. There are long stretches without dialogue in McQueen’s visually stunning wide-screen movie where the camera is always-in-motion. However the best scene in Hunger comes when McQueen sets aside his artistic eye for a 20-minute long steady take turning it into a two-person character piece. Michael Fassbender’s physical commitment to the role is frightning and outdoes even Christian Bale in The Machinist (in terms of weight loss) and ultimately Hunger is a cinematic punch to the gut. Haunting, brutal, heartbreaking, poignant, and captivating.
20- Broke back Mountain (2005)
Directed by Ang Lee
Genre: Romance / Drama
Great films change the way we think about cinema. A masterpiece can alter our perception of things. Brokeback Mountain is one of these rare movies. A truly epic romance story that deserved best picture at the Academy Awards and not Crash which took home the Oscar.
19- Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
Directed by Guillermo del Toro
Genre: Fantasy / Mystery / War
This astonishingly inventive and eerily beautiful modern fairy tale catapults del Toro to the top ranks of international filmmakers. A visual feast that also carries surprising emotional weight.
18- I’m Not There (2007)
Directed by Todd Haynes
It is almost impossible to pin down the life of singer/songwriter Bob Dylan so director Todd Haynes chose to cast six different actors to portray several incarnations of the artist. The result is a dreamlike and poetic experience that, in the end, is a lot like Dylan’s music itself.
Directed by Cristian Mungiu
4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days is an abortion movie with a different point of view from almost every other film dealing with the topic. This production neither moralizes nor takes a side in the pro-life/pro-choice debate. The film also does an excellent job in painting a bleak picture of Romanian life in the late ’80s. The film went on to win the Palme D’Or at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival and was later nominated by the Golden Globes in the Best Foreign Film category. Inexplicably, it was overlooked by the Academy, which is yet another reason to question their process of determining the final roster of nominees.
16- Memories of Murder (2003)
Directed by Joon-ho Bong
Genre: Thriller / Crime / Mystery
Memories of Murder is another in the growing list of great Korean films. Based on an actual series of murders in South Korea between 1986 and 1991, Bong Joon-ho’s Memories of Murder is a well performed, thought-provoking film about the investigation into Korea’s first serial killings. It’s an unusual, if engrossing, film that brings a welcome touch of realism to the private eye/serial killer sub-genre. Fans of such films as Seven and The Chaser will love it.
15- Milk (2008)
Directed by Gus Van Sant
Sean Penn and director Gus Van Sant have created a moving and absorbing biography in Milk that manages to evade many of the traps and compromises of the period biopic.
A fascinating, multi-layered tale of love, death, politics and sex that never loses sight of the intimate particulars of its story. The screenplay by Dustin Lance Black (based solely on his own research and interviews) is richly flavored with intermittent details of people and events. Director Gus Van Sant mixes archival footage with the stunning original work by cinematographer Harry Savides, helping to bring ’70s San Francisco to vivid life. Sean Penn gives a meticulously detailed and unforgettable performance, and James Franco proves his natural talent. A great film to look at civil rights from the perspective of the gay movement and a touching film that left many moviegoers walking out in tears.
14- Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001)
Directed by John Cameron Mitchell
The story of a tortured rock star who was born a man but who performs as a woman after a botched sex-change operation, this dark, funny, dramatic, and curiously poignant self-described |post-punk neo-glam musical” features some of the best rock songs ever written for the theatrical stage. Hedwig takes a lot of chances, but hits the mark perfectly.
13- Taxidermia (2006)
Directed by György Pálfi
Genre: Drama / Horror
Broken up into three segments spanning Hungarian history before, during and after communist rule, this cross-generational saga about an extremely bizarre family is undoubtedly its own creature. It’s the type of film you need to see to believe. Visually striking and provocative, Taxidermia is a tough watch, but director Palfi has assured its cult status thanks to its disturbing scenes of sex, violence and body horror.
12- The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
Directed by Peter Jackson
Genre: Fantasy / Adventure
For sheer scale and ambition, The Fellowship of the Ring deserves to be called a triumph. New Line Cinema made history by shooting all three films consecutively during one massive production and post-production schedule. The Fellowship of the Ring succeeds where many other science fiction and fantasy epics have failed because it uses its astonishing special effects and extensive computer generated imagery in service of the story and its themes, rather than the other way around,
11- The Dark Knight (2008)
Directed by Christopher Nolan
Genre: Sci-fi / Crime
Hollywood hasn’t been this good in decades when delivering a summer blockbuster. What more can be said about The Dark Knight that I didn’t already say in our one hour review of the film back on Episode 48? Simply brilliant. It had me return to the box office three times in one week.