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…
50. City of God (2002)
Bra. Directors Fernando Meirelles, Katia Lund.
I know this will start a whirlwind of people saying that there is no way there were 49 better movies made this century than “City of God”,but in all honesty there are more than that. It is a great film, I thoroughly enjoyed it and it is the one foreign language film of this century that most people have seen but because of that it is also extremely overrated. It lacks character development and direction, so much so that we really don’t even get to know about who the central character and narrator really is.
Rocket (Alexandre Rodrigues) who is the one kid from the slums that actually managed to avoid falling into the gang war all of his peers choose to join, is an afterthought to the pandering to ultra-violence. That said, a film that opened the masses up to the idea that movies with subtitles can actually be an amazing movie experience deserves a spot on my list. There is a lot to like about the film, but being a cheesier Brazilian version of “Goodfellas”, isn’t going to get you in the top 25.
49. Zodiac (2007)
US. Director David Fincher.
Fincher is more famous for “Seven“, a psychological thriller about a serial killer with a vision and a plan, but “Zodiac” (which he produced 12 years later) has much more depth and is the best piece of work he has produced to date. The film is based on the book written by Robert Graysmith about the real life manhunt in San Francisco in the 60’s and 70’s for the serial killer known as the Zodiac.
The film begins by showing us the violent murder of a young couple but make no mistake: this movie is not about the murders themselves, which is why Fincher gets the killings out of the way at the start of the film. It is about the obsessive work done by those trying to track down the killer. The beauty of this film is the just how detailed Fincher gets into the process, it’s amazing how meticulous he is in showing us every piece of evidence and where that takes those working the case. In fact, the first time I watched the film I thought it was good but not great, but every time I’ve watched it since I’ve been more and more impressed with Fincher’s vision and attention to detail in this film.
48. The Hunt (2012)
Den. Director Thomas Vinterberg.
The director tells the story of a modern day witch hunt in a small community in Denmark after a man is wrongly accused of child molestation. We know from the beginning that he is innocent, we are never unsure of this and that’s what makes this story different.
Lucas is played by one of my absolute favorite actors Mads Mikkelsen, who is a school teacher working temporarily at a nursery school due to losing his teaching job to financial cutbacks. His best friend’s daughter attends there and has an innocent crush on him but gets confused and says something that leads another teacher to believe that Lucas exposed himself to her. This leads to a child psychologist coming in and talking to the girl and other parents who are now convinced he has molested their kids as well, apparently in a basement at his house (Lucas’s house doesn’t even have a basement). The evidence is so flimsy that the police refuse to prosecute but that doesn’t matter, he is guilty in the small community’s eyes already.
We know of Lucas’s innocence but it’s hard to really fault the community either, it’s what makes this story seem so plausible in today’s world. The film comes to a head on Christmas Eve at the town church, where Lucas confronts the entire community who has made him a pariah. The very final hunting scene is very much up to interpretation and I will leave that to you to decipher for yourself.
47. Infernal Affairs (2002)
Chi. Directors Andrew Lau and Alan Mak.
Even if you haven’t viewed this film, you have most likely seen this story before and that’s because “Infernal Affairs” was remade in the United States by Martin Scorsese in his film “The Departed”. The stories vary a little, for instance the mob boss Hon Sam in “Infernal Affairs” is played brilliantly by Eric Tsang instead of the comically over the top performance that was mailed in by Jack Nicholson. I’ll stop there though with the comparisons, I could easily pick apart “The Departed” compared to the superior original but that is for another day.
“Infernal Affairs” is the type of action film that we used to see in the States with films like “The French Connection”, but Hollywood is so far removed from those types of films that the best they can do is make remakes that pay homage to the people still getting it right. The always brilliant Tony Leung plays the undercover cop who infiltrated the gang and Andy Lau in a spectacular performance plays the mole on the police force working for Hon Sam. This film has the type of ending you rarely see in action films and it is part of what made this movie so special.
46. The Kid with a Bike (2001)
Bel. Directors Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne.
The Dardenne brothers are able to tell real, emotionally raw stories without the use of any sensationalism, they have no use for it. They don’t try to wrap their stories up in neat little bows and let leave us without any questions about what will become of their characters next, because that isn’t how life works.
“The Kid with a Bike”, is a story about a kid and his bike, seems pretty straightforward, right? Cyril, played perfectly by Thomas Doret, is a 10 year old boy who is abandoned at a children’s home by his young father played by Dardenne favorite Jeremie Renier. The boy ignores all the clues that his father has moved on, he just isn’t willing to accept that. He ignores the clues that his father sold his precious bike for cash and honestly a 10 year old should not have to come to grips with the fact that his father doesn’t love him. Then by chance, someone that could give him the love his father refuses to provide and he so desperately seeks enters his life. Samantha, a local hair dresser played by Cecile De France in an inspiring performance, feels for the boy and agrees to take him in on the weekends. Cyril isn’t an easy boy to care for and Samantha is forced more than once to make choices that would change her life forever over a boy that she really doesn’t know. When I look back on this list one day, I may end up regretting not having this film ranked higher.
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