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.
90. I’ve Loved You So Long (2008)
Fra. Director Philippe Claudel
I’ll be perfectly honest, the only reason this film is on this list is because of the performance by Kristin Scott Thomas, without her it wouldn’t be here. I remember feeling the same way as I did the first time I saw Emily Watson in “Breaking the Waves”, like the performance I had just witnessed was special. The fact that Thomas did not receive an Oscar nomination for the performance of her life was disappointing to say the least, I felt it was the best performance of that year and one of the best I had seen in quite some time. Then again we are talking about an organization that gave an Oscar to Halle Berry for Best Actress, so I shouldn’t really be surprised. The story is about Juliette, who comes home to her sister and her family after being away in prison for 15 years for the tragic death of her child. Thomas gives a rendering where it doesn’t seem like she’s acting, and those always make for the best performances.
89. Drive (2011)
US. Director Nicolas Winding Refn
I will be the first to admit that I am a huge Refn fan and have been since I saw his first feature film “Pusher”. In fact I considered bending the rules on this a little and just including the entire Pusher Trilogy as one entry but decided against it since the first installment doesn’t fall within the time frame I am using for this list. “Drive” is by far and away Refn’s best film made for American theaters, and he put together a great cast for it. The Driver as he is referred to in the film is played by Ryan Gosling who is good in this film but I think it’s the other characters that really carry the film. Bryan Cranston is perfect as the gimped loser pushing all his chips in on The Driver as a race car driver and Albert Brooks steals every single scene he’s in, in what is the best performance of the film. Refn made this film more “Hollywood” than any of his other films but he finds a way to make it work in an awesomely violent way.
88. The Fighter (2010)
- Director David O. Russell
This is a film more about family than it is about boxing, in fact even though Russell’s film is based on the true story of boxer Mickey Ward, his character takes a back seat to the people around him. Ward, played by Mark Wahlberg, is more times a spectator to the happenings of his own career, as his family and new girlfriend (Amy Adams) fight it out. There are just some knockout performances in this film, two of which resulted in Best Supporting Actor wins for Melissa Leo, who plays Ward’s mother, and Christian Bale, who plays his crackhead brother, respectively. I have to admit as a huge boxing fan, I was disappointed that they didn’t even touch on the 3 amazing fights with Arturo Gatti that really defined his career, but again this film was more about the dynamics of his family and how that shaped the direction of his career. The performances of Bale and Leo alone will carry this movie for you if you aren’t a boxing fan.
87. Sexy Beast (2000)
UK. Jonathan Glazer
Glazer’s “Sexy Beast” is about a retired thief named Gal, played by the underrated Ray Winstone, living the good life in a villa in Spain with his wife when he gets a call for one last job that changes everything. The call was from Don Logan, in what is without a doubt one of my favorite characters of all time, played superbly by Ben Kingsley. Kingsley is without question one of the greatest actors of our time, the fact that he can play Gandhi or a gangster sociopath in Don Logan, shows the type of range he has. He literally explodes off the screen in this performance, the first time I finished the movie I immediately went back and watched all of his scenes again and then once more. I admit when the movie transitions to London and the job, it has some holes, but it’s still has some great moments between the boss Teddy Bass, played by Ian McShane, and Gal. I won’t make a lot of promises with the movies on this list, but I’ll make an exception here, I promise that you will love Kingsley’s performance of Don Logan.
86. Hunger (2008)
UK. Director Steve McQueen
“Hunger” was the directorial debut for Steve McQueen, but the true story of Irish Republican Bobby Sands hunger strike in the Maze Prison in Northern Ireland won’t be the only appearance for the talented director on my list. Sands is played by Michael Fassbender, and the focus is not on how he got there, or what his political ideals are but rather the final weeks of his life before he died 66 days into his hunger strike. I think that is part of the brilliance of this movie, they don’t get into the right or wrong of the political side of things but instead just focus on life in the prison itself. The best scene in the film is a conversation between Sands and a priest played by Liam Cunningham, shot in one continuous take in profile, where they debate whether or not the hunger strike will bring about Sand’s desired outcome or not. The film is brilliantly acted all around, outside of Fassbender’s gutty performance I thought Stuart Graham who plays one of the prison guards, may have quietly had the best performance in the entire film.
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