Wow really sorry about that guys. I had finals. Anyway so let’s not waste time and just get it started as soon as possible.
20. What We Do in the Shadows
Directed by Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi
Written by Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi
What We Do in the Shadows is one of the funniest movies I’ve seen in a while. The sense of humor is very reminiscent of the Christopher Guest mockumentaries (This is Spinal Tap, Best in Show). It’s about a group of vampires of varying ages all living in a flat in New Zealand. Things get shaken up when a hot young vampire gets turned and moves in with them. I highly recommend it.
19. Kingsman: The Secret Service
Directed by Matthew Vaughn
Written by Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn
Kingsman: The Secret Service features the best use of the song “Free Bird” in the history of the song. I won’t tell you how, but it’s masterful. The movie is about a young street hooligan who is really good at freerunning so Colin Firth asks him to join a super secret branch of the British government. It’s a ridiculous, over-the-top, action comedy and it’s one of the best examples of the genre ever made.
18. Maps to the Stars
Directed by David Cronenberg
Written by Bruce Wagner
I have seen every David Cronenberg movie. He is easily one of my favorite directors ever. This movie is an excellent addition to his filmography. It follows multiple people living in Hollywood. Each story has its own level of almost apocalyptic cynicism, and that might not be too entertaining for some. I think it’s a great examination on the almost religious control Hollywood seems to have over people. It’s also a very dark comedy, so the whole philosophy of the movie is wrapped in a very cynical sense of humor.
17. Clouds of Sils Maria
Directed by Olivier Assayas
Written by Olivier Assayas
Think Birdman but without the highly-unique filmmaking, metaphysics, and humor. It’s a more toned-down, dramatic study of similar themes. It follows an aging actress and her agent as the actress grapples with the idea of starring in a theatrical production of a play involving a young woman and an older woman having an affair. She played the young woman in her youth, and now the director of the revival wants her to play the older woman. The movie is mostly discussion between her and her agent, but that doesn’t make it boring. It’s a fascinating study of movies and plays, current celebrity culture, and aging.
16. The Revenant
Directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu
Written by Mark L. Smith and Alejandro G. Iñárritu
What can I possibly say about The Revenant that hasn’t already been said? Leonardo DiCaprio deserved his first Oscar for this. It’s a visceral story of survival in an America that is totally unrecognizable now. The story of a savage man in a savage land. Savage is a good word for this movie actually. Savage or visceral. One of those would probably be the best adjective for The Revenant. They’re kind of synonyms but not exactly. Still, it would be redundant to use both. Which I’ve done. Oh well.
Directed by Lenny Abrahamson
Written by Emma Donoghue
Room, like The Revenant, has been written about time and time again by pretty much anyone who writes about movies (including me). It was probably the most stressful film I watched last year. It was an even more emotional story of survival than The Revenant, and it made one creepy man seem even more frightening than an angry mother grizzly bear (which is mostly because we’ve killed pretty much all the grizzlies and built over their land and so we’re not really running into them as often as pedophile kidnappers).
Directed by Denis Villeneuve
Written by Taylor Sheridan
Sicario is a tense, exciting movie about United States border policies, and the people who enforce them. It’s about how the drug war and illegal immigration affect each other, and the effect it has on the families of Mexicans, the criminals, and the government agents.
And by all of that I mean it’s about how fucked the whole system is. It’s an amazing movie with amazing performances. Emily Blunt and Benicio del Toro (especially del Toro) should have been nominated.
13. Son of Saul
Directed by László Nemes
Written by László Nemes and Clara Royer
Son of Saul is one of the most intense, yet subtle, Holocaust movies to date. It’s a relatively simple story. A man who finds a boy (who may or may not be his son) wants to find a rabbi to give him a proper funeral. That’s it. It’s not a very verbal movie. Instead, the bulk of the story is learned through a few phrases between characters, mostly because the Nazis didn’t really allow the prisoners to talk. It seems realistic (though I would not be a good judge of that) and it’s sometimes very painful to watch. But it’s a profound, realistic depiction of a simple man’s simple wish in an impossible situation. I’m not going to call it heartwarming or inspirational, because it isn’t. Very little dealing with these events is. But it is a heavy, important story, and I highly recommend it.
12. When Marnie Was There
Directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi
Written by Masashi Andō, Keiko Niwa, and Hiromasa Yonebayashi
Of all of the Studio Ghibli films released that weren’t directed by the now-retired master Hayao Miyazaki, this is the second best (behind the unparalleled Grave of the Fireflies). This is an animated movie, but don’t be fooled; it’s one of the saddest and most mature films of the year. Anyone of any age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, name an identifier will find something that resonates deeply with them. It’s the story of a girl who clearly has some social problems, but finds a friend who seems to fully understand her. It’s a movie that takes place in multiple times (it has a relatively realistic setting, but it has some definite fantasy elements, as most animated Japanese films do) and the whole movie flows together beautifully. This is a movie I recommend to anyone reading.
Directed by Todd Haynes
Written by Phyllis Nagy
Carol doesn’t need a man so the movie Carol doesn’t need men. There are really only four male characters in this movie. One of them is Carol’s soon-to-be-ex-husband, who she generally likes to ignore. There’s the sleazy private investigator. The guy who loved Therese who got kicked to the curb early on, and Therese’s friend, who understood her situation and kind of respected it I guess (confession: I don’t completely remember these movies because it’s been a while). Anyway you get the point. It’s a movie about two women in love and, for the most part, that’s all we get. Two women who love each other in a world where that wasn’t totally OK and definitely was not widely understood and/or accepted.
OK so that’s it for today and I promise I will write the Top 10 tomorrow. So get excited! My Top 10 was very carefully curated, way more carefully than the rest of this list, because basically what you have until the top 10 is a very loose order. Top 10 is definitely the top 10, in order. AND NOW, THE LIST OF LEGAL AVAILABILITY!
Clouds of Sils Maria – Netflix (Canada, UK, Ireland), Amazon Prime (with Showtime subscription), DVD, Blu Ray, VOD, probably Hulu soon because it will be released into the Criterion Collection
What we do in the Shadows – Netflix (UK, Ireland), DVD, Blu Ray, VOD
Kingsman: The Secret Service – Netflix (Canada), DVD, Blu Ray, VOD
Maps to the Stars – Netflix (Argentina, Colombia, Mexico), DVD, Blu Ray, VOD
The Revenant – DVD, Blu Ray, VOD
Room – DVD, Blu Ray, VOD
Sicario – DVD, Blu Ray, VOD
Son of Saul – DVD, Blu Ray, VOD
When Marnie was There – DVD, Blu Ray, VOD
Carol – DVD, Blu Ray, VOD