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 5th installment of the Avengers is a cinematic masterpiece.
I will countdown 5 movies at a time until we reach my number 1 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…
85. Dallas Buyers Club (2013)
US. Director Jean-Marc Vallee.
The true story of a hard drinking, hard living, electrician/rodeo cowboy named Ron Woodroff played by Matthew McConaughey, who discovers he is HIV positive and is given only 30 days to live. Ron doesn’t want to accept his fate lying down and starts looking into alternative treatments for his disease, as he feels the ones he’s taking don’t work. I have to admit I wasn’t sure that McConaughey could pull this off, “Failure to Launch”, “Fool’s Gold”, “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past” being just a few of the reasons why not, but it turns out he can act, he just made some really shitty choices in what roles he took. Jared Leto also wins an Oscar for his portrayal of a transsexual who also has AIDS, and pairs up with Ron to help try and get the drugs needed to the now desperate AIDS community. The movie has its holes but they are covered up by the performances of Leto and McConaughey.
84. Good Night, and Good Luck (2005)
US. Director George Clooney.
George Clooney takes us inside CBS headquarters during Senator Joseph R. McCarthy’s anti-Communist crusade during the 1950’s. It gives us an inside look at how Ed Murrow, played beautifully by the underrated David Strathairn and his producer Fred W. Friendly (George Clooney), decided to take on the Junior Senator with their news magazine broadcast “See It Now. Clooney films the entire movie in black and white, and in reality it was the only medium that would have worked, especially when you take into consideration his brilliant use of actual news footage for all the scenes of McCarthy. Murrow carries this film along with another great performance by Frank Langella as William Paley, head of the Columbia Broadcasting Systems. There really aren’t a lot of subplots in this film, it takes place almost entirely in the studio, and it doesn’t come off its focus of Murrow vs McCarthy. I also want to add that I think this film breaks the record for most cigarettes smoked on camera in one film, if you are a former smoker, picking up a pack of nicotine gum when you watch this film might not be a bad idea.
83. The Class (2008)
Fra. Director Laurent Cantet.
“The Class” takes us into the classrooms of a Paris public school in an extremely tough neighborhood. Francois Begaudeau, who is an actual teacher and helped write the film, plays the forward thinking teacher who is trying to make a difference in the lives of his students. The students are all played by non-actors and that dynamic of having a real teacher in a room full of non-actors is what gives this film its realism, it actually at times feels more like a documentary than a film. The battles between teacher and student aren’t forced, and they don’t dumb down the students to paint a picture of the teacher being right and the students being wrong. In fact, in most cases there is no line of right and wrong between student and teacher, a lot of times they are both right. The film is smart, funny, and raw and it is probably the most real look at the teacher student dynamic of any film I have viewed.
82. Michael Clayton (2007)
US. Director Tony Gilroy.
Tony Gilroy was already an accomplished screen writer (Bourne Trilogy), when he made his directorial debut with “Michael Clayton”, a film he also wrote. Michael Clayton, played by George Clooney is a big time law firm’s fixer, he cleans up messes for the firm and their clients that others don’t want to deal with. The mess this time involves the firms all star partner Arthur Edens, played brilliantly by Tom Wilkinson, who is off his meds and coming unhinged. He also happens to be the head litigator for the defense of a conglomerate’s pesticide use. Tilda Swinton is the company in questions chief legal executive and gives a well deserved Oscar winning performance, she’s cold, calculated, and also in over her head, but she knocks it out of the park. It’s a well written script, but it’s the performances that make this movie so good. Wilkinson has got to be the best actor working to not win an Oscar, he’s almost so good that we take him for granted, he’s like Meryl Streep where this is what we come to expect from him, except without the same recognition. It’s a great film with great performances and you get two see two of the most talented actors at their peak in Wilkinson and Swinton.
81. Sin Nombre (2009)
Mex. Director Cary Fukunaga.
Cary Fukunaga writes and directs this debut film that intertwines the story of Sayra and Willy. Sayra is a young girl from Honduras on a journey through Mexico in an attempt to get to the United States and eventually to relatives in New Jersey. Willy is a Mexican gang member, who along with two others, are trying to rob the riders on top of the trains. Fukunaga chose to film this movie in 35mm film instead of using hi-def video and it really adds to the look and mood of the film. The film gives us a personal look at life of a gang member of the Mara Salvatrucha, one of the most violent real-life gangs in the world, as well as a look into the risks that immigrants take in order to reach the US and hopefully a better life. The film is beautifully shot and despite the extreme violence there are also moments of beauty and hope, Fukunaga, who also directed season 1 of “True Detective”, is one of America’s best up and coming directors and I look forward to his next project.
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