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…
60. The Counterfeiters (2007)
Aus. Director Stefan Ruzowitzky.
“The Counterfeiters” is the true story behind Operation Bernhard, what was and still is the largest counterfeiting scheme in history, perpetrated by the Nazis during WWII in order to keep funding their war efforts.
Karl Markovics plays Sally Sorowitsch, a forger who was living the high life until he was arrested and sent to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp to be in charge of a team assigned to make and print counterfeit British pounds and U.S. dollars. The situation creates quite the dilemma for the prisoners as they receive better treatment with clean clothes, beds, and daily meals but obviously their work would be helping fund the enemy in killing others. There are some who want to sabotage the efforts and others like Sally who feel they should be doing whatever necessary to survive, even if it means working with the very people who imprisoned you.
Markovics is the star of the film and gives us a great performance, the film ended up winning the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2008 Academy Awards.
59. Lust, Caution (2007)
Chi. Director Ang Lee.
Ang Lee does as well of a job capturing the period of his films as anyone, ever. And in “Lust, Caution” he takes on a plot set in Japanese-occupied China during the Second World War.
Tang Wei, in a star making performance, plays a girl named Wong Chia Chi whose father flees to Hong Kong to find refuge with his son in England, leaving Wong behind on her own. She joins a theatre group, who also are young radicals, and she gets chosen to help assassinate Mr. Yee, played by the always brilliant Tony Leung, by becoming his lover.
The sex scenes are intense, which is what earned the film it’s NC-17 rating, but Lee refused to remove any scenes to change the movie’s rating, it would have taken away from the film, as so much of what it is about revolves around the sex itself. Ang Lee gives us another visually stunning film with masterful performances by its two stars that have us questioning their feelings for each other.
58. Downfall (2004)
Ger. Director Oliver Hirschbiegel.
There were a lot of people that were outraged because they felt that Hirschbiegel’s film “Downfall” humanizes Hitler, almost making him a sympathetic character. I don’t think that was what he set out to do, I also don’t think that sympathy is what we should be feeling. It shows us how mad, evil and what kind of monster he truly was. I think it’s important to remember that he was actually human, he wasn’t something more than that, despite what he himself may have thought.
The film covers the last days of Hitler in his bunker, his German forces on the brink of defeat, with the Soviet Army about to take Berlin until his death at his own hand. Hitler is played by Bruno Ganz, who gives one of the best performances you will see, certainly the best portrayal of Hitler on film, and that alone makes it worth the watch.
57. Wild Tales (2014)
Arg. Director Damian Szifron.
This was probably one of my favorite films of this past Oscar season, the official nomination by Argentina for the Best Foreign Language Film, “Wild Tales” is six short separate stories about turmoil and revenge.
There have been other films like this, in most instances the individual short stories are written and directed by different people giving each a unique look and feel. The fact that Szifron wrote and directed all of these stories is what makes it work. They aren’t actually connected in any way outside of a common theme to the stories, but the fact that they are all coming from the same mind takes away any choppiness to the film. I enjoyed every one of the 6 stories, obviously some more than others but each tale is solid in and of itself. They are ridiculous and funny and yet they still don’t seem too farfetched.
This is one of the funniest and freshest films I saw the entire year and it has something for everyone, “Road to Hell” an outrageous escalating story of road rage and the Coup de gras “Til Death Do Us Part”, are as hilarious as they are brutal and were my favorite stories of the 6.
56. The Piano Teacher (2001)
Fra. Director Michael Haneke.
There is no other way to describe this film other than as “brilliantly disturbing”, and I don’t think that anyone can create that on screen quite like Michael Haneke. The first time I saw the film I remember trying to say something but couldn’t think of what to say. It is not one of those situations in movies where you aren’t sure what has taken place, there is no mystery, but at the same time you aren’t sure how to process it either. Haneke has a way of putting things on film that make us uncomfortable but certainly not enough for us to take our eyes off the screen, it’s why he is one of the best filmmakers not just now, but to ever do it.
Isabelle Huppert plays piano teacher Erika Kohut in one of the better performances you will see from an actress, who lives with her domineering mother and escapes this world through her unusual sexual habits. She takes on a young handsome student reluctantly who doesn’t hide his desire to be with her sexually, but it would have to be on her terms and her terms aren’t the normal backseat teenage romp he is used to. I don’t want to ruin the ending for those who haven’t seen it, but like I already hinted, it will leave you speechless.
Thanks for reading. Follow us on Twitter and check back soon for my next installment.