The 100 Greatest Movies Of The Last 15 Years
By Tyler Smyth
FAM, in all their infinite wisdom, has asked me to create a list of the best movies of the last 15 years for our readers. The films that will populate this list were not chosen simply because they are my favorites, they were chosen based on their cinematic merits. The fact that they happen to also be my personal favorites should only serve to further bolster my reputation as FAM’s de facto “critico cinematografico esperto”.
Let’s face it, most people have horrible taste in movies, and if you are unsure if you fall into this category, just swing by our message boards and tell me your favorite movies and I’ll tell you how bad they are. I don’t blame you though, it’s really not your fault. It has more to do with the fact that you don’t know about some of the greatest films ever made than it does with you actually thinking the fifth installment of The Avengers is a cinematic masterpiece.
I will countdown five movies at a time until we reach my number one film of the past 15 years. My guess is you’ve never heard of it.
If you need to catch up, you can. Right here:
Now, on to our main event…
- The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
US director Wes Anderson
I feel like this is Anderson’s true masterpiece, his best film since Rushmore and in my opinion the film that he’s always been striving to make. It has all the characteristics we’ve come to expect in Anderson’s films: stop-motion animation, quirky characters, elaborate landscapes and color, and familiar faces. If you take issue with that, it’s a “you” problem not a Wes Anderson problem and you will be missing out on one of the best films of the decade. The film takes place in the 1930’s at the Grand Budapest Hotel, a beautiful ski resort that caters to the rich and famous. Gustave H, the hotel conceirge, is played brilliantly by Ralph Fiennes. Gustave prides himself on the service he provides, including sexually servicing the elderly female guests. Zero, played by up and coming actor Tony Revolori, is a lobby boy, who becomes Gustave’s protégé and ultimately his best friend. One of Gustave’s lover’s dies, and leaves Gustave a priceless painting in her will. Gustave then becomes the suspect in her murder, igniting all the action that goes in a hundred different directions from there. If you can’t appreciate this film even if you aren’t a Wes Anderson fan, then you won’t ever understand what he is trying to create.
- Memories of Murder (2003)
Kor Director Bong Joon-ho
“Memories of Murder” is based on true events of what was considered to be South Korea’s first serial killer. The events took place from 1986-1991, an unsolved case still to this day. Bong has the ability to give us a little bit of everything in his films from dark humor, suspense, horror, and always captivating characters. The killings take place in a small country town, with small town country cops. Detective Park is leading the investigation and although he can be hilariously incompetent at times, by the end of the movie you realize his heart is in the right place. A big city detective named Seo is sent in to assist with the case, but their methods couldn’t be more polar opposite and they bang heads repeatedly, but their chemistry is what helps make the film work. Despite being based on real events, Bong’s film is a work of fiction, and I think he uses the story to show us what life in South Korea was actually like at that time. The detectives keep getting closer and closer, figuring out what the killer is looking for in his victims and when he attacks. It builds and they get so close they can taste it but, you end up feeling as frustrated as the detectives themselves. Bong ultimately gives us a perfect ending to what is one of the best crime thrillers of this century. A must watch.
- Cache’ (2005)
Fra. Director Michael Haneke
When you combine arguably the best director making movies right now in Michael Haneke, and arguably the best actress of our time in Juliette Binoche, there’s a pretty good chance you are going to end up with a fairly decent movie. The movie starts with a video of the front of an upscale home in Paris which is being watched by Anne and Georges, a well off married couple. The video is of their home and whats left on their doorstep, but they don’t know anything other than they are being watched and whoever is doing it wants them to know. They then begin to receive drawings of violent, bloody acts and it becomes apparent that Georges knows more than he is letting on and Anne is worried about their teenage son’s safety. Finally Georges comes forward and says he believes that the person behind the tapes is an Algerian man named Majid, who Georges terribly wronged when they were young boys. This is the type of thriller that keeps you guessing until the end. Haneke isn’t willing to give you the answers, just leave you with more questions. The director does provide you with clues, but the last scene might be trying to show us something more than what is on the surface.
- In the Bedroom (2001)
Director Todd Field
I know that I probably like this movie more than most, but I thought Todd Field’s directorial debut was an absolute masterpiece. It’s as well acted a movie as you will ever see. Tom Wilkinson plays the father does what he does best, giving a flawless, powerful performance that will never get the recognizing it deserves. Sissy Spacek’s performance reminded me of Mary Tyler Moore’s in “Ordinary People”, although we never question Spacek’s love for her son in this film. Marisa Tomei made me realize how great of an actress she truly can be, and showed depth she has never shown previously. Matt Ruth (Wilkinson) is the local doctor in a small Maine town, he wife Ruth (Spacek) is the school music teacher. Their son Frank (Nick Stahl) is to start graduate school to be an architect but over the summer he has fallen for Natalie (Tomei) who is older, with kids, and separated from her estranged husband. Frank wants to put off grad school to be with her, but his parents (particularly his mother) don’t approve. Natalie, whose hot headed, abusive ex isn’t ready to be forced out of the picture yet, has a couple of run-ins with Frank until tragedy strikes. I won’t ruin it for readers who haven’t seen the film, but this tragedy splinters Matt and Ruth’s relationship. Revenge seems to be the cure at least in Matt’s eyes, but can he go through with it? It’s a film that goes from love story, to thriller, to revenge film and at no point does it seem forced. This is the type of film that I wish we got more of, but superheroes sell tickets, not great acting and writing.
- Ida (2013)
Pol. Director Pawel Pawlikowski
I sometimes wonder if American film will ever learn the power silence as it seems American film makers are afraid of what might happen if someone isn’t talking. I’m looking at you, Tarantino. Pawlikoski is able to satisfy his viewers without having his characters verbalize what they are seeing and thinking. Despite shooting the film in black and white, it is not a silent film, just an extremely powerful one. “Ida” is about an 18 year old orphaned woman named Anna who was raised in a convent and is about to take her vows. Before she does, she’s told to visit her Aunt Wanda, who is her only known living relative. Wanda is a former communist prosecutor, she is the Yin to Anna’s Yang. She drinks, smokes, fucks and has obviously seen things that have created a world view in complete contrast to Anna’s. Wanda is played by Agata Kulesza in what I consider one of my favorite all-time performances. Wanda reveals to Anna that her real name is Ida Lebenstein and that this soon to be Catholic nun is actually Jewish. She also reveals to Anna that her parents were killed. They take what could be referred to as a road trip back to her parent’s village to uncover how her parents died and where they were buried. The journey revels much about both women and that there is more to each than what you see on the surface, and Pawlikowki brilliantly allows the viewers to peel back the onion themselves and uncover what molded these two women into what we see today. He is able to accomplish this without coming out and actually telling us. Sometimes the best way to tell a story is to let it tell itself.
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