The decade is a little over half way gone so I thought it would be fun to look back at the first five years and see what movies have stood out the most. It is also a good chance to see how the films stand up against each other as well as how they have stood up with the passing of time. Today we are starting off with #50 – #41. Let’s get going…
#50 – “Frances Ha” (2013)
The one film that perfectly encapsulates all that makes a Noah Baumbach movie special can be found in “Frances Ha”. Deliciously quirky and slyly intelligent, “Frances Ha” features Baumbach’s muse Greta Gerwig at her absolute best. Stylish black and white cinematography is an added treat.
#49 – “Contagion” (2011)
I’m a bit of a sucker for medical/virus thrillers and “Contagion” is one of my favorites. Dismissed by many as flimsy, I immediately was swept away by director Steven Soderbergh’s nervous, paranoid take on a worldwide viral outbreak. A great ensemble cast and truly intense pacing. “Contagion” is an underappreciated film.
#48 – “Calvary” (2014)
There is such an intensity boiling under the surface of every single scene of “Calvary”. John Michael McDonagh writes and directs this story of a troubled priest (played perfectly by the always magnificent Brendan Gleeson) and the dark situation he finds himself in. A wonderful supporting cast flesh out an assortment of despicable characters at the core of this uncomfortable but hypnotic picture.
#47 – “127 Hours” (2010)
The incredible true story of Aron Ralston was ripe for a movie adaptation but only with the right people involved. Danny Boyle and James Franco proved to be the right people. Franco gives a truly eye-opening performance and Boyle’s energetic visual style is a perfect fit. Also features a wonderful soundtrack.
#46 – “Alamar” (2010)
With its small 73 minute package, “Alamar (To the Sea)” says more about a father/son relationship than most ‘bigger’ films ever accomplish. That relationship mixed with the fascinating depiction of life on the Banco Chinchorro coral reef makes for a truly beautiful experience. “Alamar” didn’t get much attention but it still deserves an audience.
#45 – “The Avengers” (2012)
Speaking of bigger movies, there were so many ways “The Avengers” could have failed. It was the project that the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe was heading towards. With so many links to other films and so many characters to juggle, this could have been a disaster. Instead Joss Whedon created an incredibly fun superhero concoction that was better than most people ever expected.
#44 – “The Kid with a Bike” (2012)
Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne have established themselves as naturalistic filmmakers who examine the human experience from the most honest of perspectives. “The Kid with a Bike” is a brilliant example. It’s a story of a troubled 12-year old boy who is let down by the most important people in his life. But grace comes from an unexpected source. It’s a heartbreaking yet beautiful drama.
#43 – “Phoenix” (2015)
While watching “Phoenix” you can’t help but notice the absurdity of what you’re seeing. Yet at the same time the story is so keenly written and heart-shattering that you can’t help but invest in it. This stinging German drama features three characters brought to life through three superb performances. And then there is the crushing ending – one of the most powerful I have seen in years.
#42 – “Skyfall” (2012)
Daniel Craig brought me into the James Bond franchise. 007’s adventures became important to me starting with “Casino Royale”, but “Skyfall” may be his very best so far. Everything about it hit its mark. Great action, fun villain, and a delightful use of its many entertaining side characters. This was Bond done right.
#41 – “Beasts of No Nation” (2015)
Great movies aren’t always easy to watch especially when dealing with disturbing subject matter. Such is the case with Cary Fukunaga’s intense “Beasts of No Nation”. It is a sometimes brutal exploration of child soldiering that visualizes it through the eyes of a young boy. Idris Elba gives the best performance of his career and young Abraham Attah is something to behold.
That’s it for now. Follow along and look for #40-#31 tomorrow. And be sure to share your thoughts in the comments section below.