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…
30. Tsotsi (2005)
South Africa Director Gavin Hood
Director Gavin Hood takes us to the shanty towns of South Africa in this gritty drama about a young criminal called Tsotsi, which literally translates to “gangster” in South African. Tsotsi is a killer, he’s violent, he steals and he shows no remorse for what he does. Then one night while carjacking a wealthy woman he ends up shooting her, only to find that after he drives away that there is a baby in the backseat. At first it is almost shocking how little he knows about how to care for a baby or why he decides to keep the child, but the more you think about it the more it kind of makes sense. How would someone who has never been cared for themselves, know how to care for someone else?
Tsotsi uses newspapers as diapers, he carries the baby in a bag, and leaves it under his bed like a pair of old shoes. He eventually finds help from a neighbor, a young widowed mother who he initially makes breast feed the baby in front of him at gunpoint. Hood doesn’t make the mistake of making Tsotsi the sympathetic character, we are constantly reminded that the reason he is in this predicament is because he shot the child’s mother without batting an eye. He does allow us to see a transformation in his main character, the ultra violent ways seem to subside at least for the time being. I always felt that this film did what the acclaimed “City of God” failed to do. It showed us the violence caused by the poverty and hopelessness through the development of actual characters that we care about, as well as showing us that there are people in these communities that do the right thing and are compassionate.
29. Memento (2000)
US. Director Christopher Nolan
Memento was Nolan’s second feature film and by far his best work, he has taken to blockbusters now and a part of me is hoping he will go back to his roots and make another great film. “I can’t make new memories”, that is the line that Leonard played brilliantly by Guy Pearce is constantly telling everyone. He is suffering form short-term memory loss. An affliction caused from an injury sustained during the murder of his wife. He remembers everything about his life before the attack but nothing after, this makes the loss of his wife just as fresh and raw as it was the day before because for him no time has passed. He carries around Polaroids of people with notes written on them and when it’s a piece of information he is sure of, he actually has it tattooed on his body so he doesn’t forget.
The movie starts with a killing and a Polaroid of the body and then runs backwards for the most part from there. It is one of the those movies where you aren’t meant to figure things out or be able to guess what happens next, confusion is part of the experience that Nolan is going for. Momento is definitely one of those movies that is best the first time you watch, it doesn’t have some of the rewatchability, yes I made that word up, as some of the other films on this list but the first viewing is certainly one of the more original and unique movie experiences you will have.
(Editors note: some DVD versions allow you to watch the film backwards, which is actually forward on the timeline.)
28. Omar (2013)
Palestine Director Hany Abu-Assad
“Omar” is about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and Abu-Assad does an amazing job of showing us what life is like for Palestinians in the Israeli occupied West Bank. The fact that he is able to do this through a story of love, loyalty, and betrayal is what makes this film so compelling.
Omar is a young handsome man who is trying to prove himself as a Palestinian freedom fighter, while at the same time winning the heart and hand of Nadia, who also happens to be the sister of Tarek, the resistance leader. Omar, Tarek, and Amjad set a plan to attack an Israeli military outpost. The attack results in the death of a soldier with Amjad acting as the trigger man. The next day following the attack the men are raided in a coffee shop and Omar is captured. Here we meet Rami played by the brilliant Waleed Zuaiter, who gives us the performance of the film as the Israeli officer who tricks Omar into what is close enough to a confession in their world. Rami plays with Omar’s heart by giving him the option to cooperate or never see his love Nadia again. Omar is trying to play both sides so that he is able to be with Nadia but still remain loyal to the resistance. There are quite a few unexpected twists, which all culminates to the shocking and brilliant ending that leaves your mouth on the floor.
27. Blue is the Warmest Color (2013)
Fra. Director Abdellatif Kechiche
It truly is a shame that people can’t seem to look past the sex scenes and NC-17 rating for this film to see what a truly remarkable story about love and loss it is. The film is a about a high school student Adele, she’s pretty and smart and discovering herself sexually like most girls her age. She sees a boy in her class but there is no spark or electricity there, she is fixated on a blue haired girl that she passed in the city by chance. Adele finds the blue haired girl Emma in a lesbian bar, Emma is an art student a few years older, and they begin spending time together talking about life.
It isn’t long until they become lovers and we first see the infamous sex scenes that Kechiche shoots. If you can’t get past them, you will miss out on what is an absolute tour-de-force performance by Lea Seydoux who plays Adele. It is a performance that reminded me of how I felt the first time I saw “Breaking the Waves” and another little known young actress at the time named Emily Watson blew my socks off. She loves and hurts on the screen in a way that you just don’t see often, her ability to tell us everything she’s feeling with a smile, a look, a tear is truly amazing. I went into the movie hearing the rumors that it is just soft-core porn, it’s all about shock value not substance and those rumors couldn’t have been further from the truth. The movie isn’t about the sex scenes, although I wouldn’t personally change them, it’s about Adele, and it’s about how strong someone can love and how quickly we can lose it.
26. The Broken Circle Breakdown (2012)
Bel. Director Felix Van Groeningen
I remember once it got nominated for the Best Foreign Film Oscar in 2013 that I watched the trailer and immediately could tell it was my kind of movie. It took me almost another year to be able to track down a place where I could watch the film and when I did I wasn’t disappointed at all, in fact it ended up being my favorite movie of the year.
It’s the story of Didier, played by Johan Heldenbergh who also wrote the film and Elise, played by Veerle Baetens who meet and fall in love instantly despite their differences. Heldenbergh and Baetens give world class performances in this film, both actors doing their own singing for the music in the movie. They start a family and when tragedy strikes, their differences come to the surface and it starts to tear them apart. We get to watch the relationship grow and evolve from beginning to end over a 7 year period. This isn’t a feel good movie by any means, in fact it’s quite depressing at times, but it’s a great love story and the music is absolutely brilliant, if you aren’t already it will probably turn you into a bluegrass fan.
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