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…
45. Brooklyn (2015)
US Director John Crowley
An Irish girl named Ellis immigrates to Brooklyn, New York to escape the limits of her small hometown. There just isn’t any opportunity for her there so with the help of a priest she leaves her mother and sister behind to create a life for herself.
Ellis is played by Saoirse Ronan, you may remember her as the bleached blonde young assassin in the underrated film “Hanna”. The reason that this film works is because of Ronan, she is one of those rare actresses that has the ability to tell us everything, without actually saying anything at all. She ends up making a life for herself in Brooklyn and falling in love with an Italian boy, but when her sister unexpectedly passes away she goes back to Ireland to help her mother. When she gets there the pull to stay is great, and the more time she stays the pull back to her life in Brooklyn weakens. She is now stuck with a decision of what she created and staying for a life that wasn’t available when she left.
44. Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011)
US Director Sean Durkin
Sean Durkin’s debut film is one I didn’t hear about until a couple years after its release, I had it on the back burner to watch and upon viewing, regretted not making it a priority. The movie is carried on the backs of the performances of John Hawkes and Elizabeth Olsen, Olsen is in fact a sister to the Olsen twins, except she’s actually an extremely talented actress.
Olsen plays Martha which is her given name until she joins a cult on an upstate New York farm where the leader tells her she looks more like a “Marcy May”. The name “Marlene” is one which all the women on the farm answer the phone as. Hawkes plays the leader of the cult Patrick, he knocks his role out of the park. Hawkes is the type of actor who doesn’t need to overact in order to make the greatest impact in a scene, a trap some of the best actors working still tend to make.
The movie starts with Martha calling her married sister Lucy, who is staying in a beautiful rented lake house with her husband. The film then goes back and forth between the two years on the farm and the present, sometimes the lines of times become faded but not so much so that I ever felt confused. Martha felt she had to leave but it’s clear she brought with her some of the ideals of the farm and isn’t comfortable while actually looking down upon her sister’s lifestyle. It’s a fascinating film, with powerhouse performances on a very unique subject matter.
43. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007)
Fra. Director Julian Schnabel
Schnabel brings us the true story of Elle editor Jean-Dominique Bauby, who suffered a massive stroke and suffered from “locked-in syndrome” and could only communicate using his one eye. Essentially his mind, vision (in one eye) and hearing all worked fine but his body was completely paralyzed.
In one of most visually original scenes I’ve ever witnessed, you watch through his eye as it is sewn shut due to an infection and we hear what is going through his mind as it happens. Bauby discovers a way to communicate using the alphabet through blinks and begins to write a book about what he is going through. There are some amazing performances by Mathieu Amalric who plays Bauby and an absolutely scene stealer by the great Max von Sydow as Bauby’s father. What Schnabel manages to create is a story of accomplishment and love, not of pity and given the subject matter that was not an easy task to pull off, but he does it beautifully.
42. Amores Perros (2000)
Mex. Director Alejandro G. Inarritu
“Amores Perros” was my introduction to director Alejandro Inarritu, well before back to back Best Director Oscars made him a household name, this film showed me how special of a filmmaker he would become.
The title of the film which translates to “Love’s a Bitch”, is 3 separate stories linked by a single car crash. It jumps back and forth in time, much like Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction”, but its stories maintain their central connection and frankly it’s just a much better written film than “Pulp Fiction”. This film is the first installment of Inarritu’s “Trilogy of Death”, followed by “21 Grams” and “Babel”. I think that the first installment is the most well done and by far the least depressing. The film is 2 ½ hours long, but is clearly the most fun and action packed of Inarritu’s trilogy, and it keeps you entertained the entire time.
41. Oldboy (2003)
S. Kor. Director Park Chan-wook
Did I mention how much I like revenge flicks in this countdown yet?
Park Chan-wook’s “Oldboy” is the second installment of “The Vengeance Trilogy”, the first being “Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance” and the finale being “Sympathy for Lady Vengeance”. I don’t think anyone has done it better, he makes films with a type of violence that would never fly in American theaters, but he doesn’t do it for shock value like an American horror film would, he does it because it adds to the viewing experience.
In what is becoming a painful trend, this movie was remade by an American filmmaker, in this case Spike Lee, that frankly sucks, so please don’t get confused and watch that aberration. I picked “Oldboy” for the countdown because it’s my favorite of the trilogy, but all 3 of the films are great and must be viewed.
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