As we draw closer to number in this list of 150 Favorite Films of 2000-2015 (that isn’t Lost in Translation), we come to the numbers 60-31.
60. Waltz with Bashir
War is still a subject that isn’t easily told as Ari Folman makes a film that doesn’t just play into his own experiences serving as an Israeli infantry soldier during the conflict with Lebanon back in 1982. The film would be presented as an animated film as it would include a lot of surreal images and stories about the chaos of war. Most notably as it revolves around the horrors of war as well as a man’s attempt to recollect those memories as it is this unusual mix of documentary and animation making this one of the finest animated films ever made.
59. Before Midnight
The third and (maybe) final film of the Before series doesn’t just pick up 9 years where last film left off but show Celine and Jesse as a couple with twin daughters where they’re both at a crossroads. Despite the success Jesse has gained as a novelist, he still feels like he has failed his eldest son who is about to go to high school as Jesse wants to be there for him. For Celine, she wants to take a job that actually means something to her as Richard Linklater creates something that feels very real in the way relationships work and falters. Most notably as it plays to people in their 40s trying to do what is best not just for themselves but their own family.
Pete Docter’s adventure story isn’t just one of Pixar’s finest films but it would feature one of the most devastating sequences in cinema. In a montage where a man meets and falls in love with a woman only to lose her at an old age, it is one of the most inventive portions that would set up a film where an old man and a little boy travel to South America in a house with a million balloons. It’s a film about loss but also an old man trying to find something new with this loss with help of this little boy who is a determined boy scout as they would also get help from a dog named Dug.
Bong Joon-Ho’s tale of a mother trying to protect his son after he is accused of murder isn’t just one of the most intriguing thrillers of the 2000s but it is also one of the most fascinating character studies ever. Most notably in Kim Hye-ja’s performance as this old woman trying to protect her mentally-challenged son as she would be forced to investigate the murders herself. It’s a film that has many of Joon-Ho’s entrancing visuals and study of family as well as some dark elements that gives the film an edge as it would be a crowning achievement for the South Korean filmmaker.
56. No Country for Old Men
In this adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s novel is a film that plays into the idea of a new world and new rules where the old have no idea how to comprehend this new world of violence and nihilism. Featuring a chilling performance from Javier Bardem as Anton Chigurh who is one of the greatest villains in cinema, the film is a study into a world where Tommy Lee Jones’ Sheriff Ed Tom Bell character tries to do good only to realize that he doesn’t have it anymore. Even as Chigurh is going after Josh Brolin’s Llewelyn Moss character who had stolen money that belongs to Chigurh as it is this very eerie study of violence and terror in the American West.
55. Mad Max: Fury Road
For anyone that thought Mad Max would never return to the big screen not only rejoiced for his return but would be seen in a new adventure that would truly re-shape the idea of what a blockbuster film would be. With Tom Hardy in the role of Max, the film would have its creator George Miller return with a bang as he brings the world of action-cinema back down to Earth with high-octane stunts, realistic special effects, and much more. Most notably, the film would be a feminist film as Charlize Theron would play the role of Max’s new partner Imperator Furiousa who tries to help five women gain freedom from an evil warlord. The result isn’t just a film that goes all-out but has so much more to offer as it is cinema at its most uncompromising and at its most adventurous.
Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s whimsical tale of a young woman trying to help others in Paris is among one of France’s greatest films of the 2000s. Starring Audrey Tautou in her breakthrough performance as the titular character, the film is an offbeat comedy that plays into many things that happens in Paris while Jeunet strays from convention by shooting the film awash in sepia with the aid of cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel. The film also studies the titular character’s own sense of shyness as she struggles to find someone to love as the result is one of the most gorgeous and exhilarating films of the 2000s.
53. The Master
In an age where cinema goes digital, Paul Thomas Anderson says no to the changing times as he would shoot his fifth feature film in 65mm film. In his first collaboration with Joaquin Phoenix and final collaboration with the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, the film would explore the world of cults as Anderson follows Phoenix’s troubled Freddie Quell who looks for salvation following World War II as he meets the charismatic Lancaster Dodd who is played by Hoffman. While the film is based on Scientology and its leader L. Ron Hubbard, it is an intriguing story of finding a role in the world and the need to bring hope to people in those troubled times.
52. Y Tu Mama Tambien
Alfonso Cuaron’s 2001 film isn’t just a key film of the New Mexican Cinema of the 1990s and 2000s but it is also one of the finest tales of growing up, sex, and craziness on the road between two young men and an older Spanish woman. Not afraid of being raunchy nor dramatic, the film would feature not just incredible performances from Gael Garcia Bernal, Diego Luna, and Maribel Verdu. It would feature a moment in time where Mexico was in a state of change as it is captured with such realism and beauty by its cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki.
51. The Squid & the Whale
Joint custody blows as Noah Baumbach’s 2005 film about two young boys coping with the divorce of their parents in the mid-1980s is one of the finest coming-of-age films ever made. Based on Baumbach’s own personal experiences, the film is a raw yet comical take on the world of divorce as Jeff Daniels plays the most pretentious and awful dads ever while Jesse Eisenberg plays his eldest son who tries to be like his father only to alienate his mother. Add Owen Kline’s chilling performance as the youngest son who copes with the divorce by drinking and masturbating in public places comes one of the strangest but engaging films about the fallacy of divorce.
Jonathan Caouette’s own documentary film about his life and his troubled relationship with his mentally-ill mother is one of the most creative yet harrowing documentary films of the 2000s. Shot largely on Super 8 footage, video, and other low-grade footage from his childhood to being a young adult, Caouette’s documentary is really unlike anything that is out there as it acts as something confessional. Most notably as it is not afraid to be very tough or make people very uncomfortable as it does manage to showcase what a documentary film could do.
From Marjane Satrapi’s autobiographical graphic novel comes an animated film that really told the story of a young Iranian woman and her experience living in Iran during the 1979 revolution and the years that followed. Co-directed with Vincent Paronnaud, the film plays into Satrapi’s life as a child living during the Iranian revolution following the Shah’s forced-exile to becoming an adult in trying to find her identity. The film is a landmark for not just Iranian cinema but also for animated films in allowing stories like Satrapi to be told in a universal fashion.
48. Hedwig and the Angry Inch
John Cameron Mitchell would arrive with a bang by making a film version of his own off-Broadway play about a transgender singer with a botched sex-change who rallies against the protégé who copied his act and became successful. Whereas many musicals are presented with elements of pop or as show tunes, Mitchell just goes for straight-ahead glam rock inspired by David Bowie and Lou Reed while giving a performance that is just full of fire. It is a musical that has a sense of danger but also one that is filled with some humor and drama plus some catchy songs.
47. Before Sunset
The sequel to 1995’s Before Sunrise and the second part of the Before series was sort of unexpected as no one thought a sequel would be made. Yet, it plays into an unexpected reunion between Jesse and Celine as the former is visiting Paris on a book tour where the latter lives as they reconnect for an entire day. Shot in real time, the film plays into the two talking about what happened and see if there’s still a spark which would lead to one of the greatest endings ever in cinema.
46. Fish Tank
Following the tradition of such great British filmmakers like Ken Loach, Andrea Arnold would play into the sense of realism and despair with her sophomore feature that explores a young girl trying to find a better future through street dancing. Featuring a fiery performance from Katie Jarvis, the film plays into a girl looking for a figure to guide and encourage her as she would in her mother’s boyfriend played by Michael Fassbender as it is a harsh yet engaging coming-of-age film. Most notably as Arnold goes for something more old-school in the aspect ratio by shooting it in an Academy 1:33:1 aspect ratio and shoot it on location near Britain’s own version of the projects.
45. School of Rock
Family films don’t get as exciting as this one where Richard Linklater and screenwriter Mike White not only made a film about a musician pretending to be a substitute teacher and teach them the power of rock. It’s a film that showcases the importance of music in a child’s education and development while giving them a chance to have fun Featuring Jack Black in an awesome performance, it’s a film that crosses the board from everyone to the rockers to the parents and their children as it gives them a chance to do windmill guitars and such.
44. Kill Bill
Revenge never tasted any sweeter or any cooler than Quentin Tarantino’s two-part film series about a bride who goes after the four assassins who tried to kill her and the man who put a bullet in her head. Though it was meant to be one film, the result as a whole is just as exciting where Tarantino gives Uma Thurman the performance of a lifetime as she kills everyone in sight and more. At the same time, it’s a love story of sorts between the Bride and a man named Bill as it mixes samurai films, the western, and all sorts of crazy shit.
The second part of Lars von Trier’s Depression trilogy comes what is probably one of the most accurate portrayals of depression ever in cinema. The film revolves around a big planet that is to collide with Earth and destroy it for good as two sisters each have different reactions towards the event. Featuring Kirsten Dunst in probably her best performance to date as one of two sisters whose state of depression has her reacting to this event in an apathetic way. The film also stars Charlotte Gainsbourg as the older sister who is filled with worry as it’s a mixture of sci-fi and drama with a dose of realism as it would end up being one of von Trier’s most accessible films.
42. Exit Through the Gift Shop
A documentary about the world of street art that started off as a project made by wannabe filmmaker Thierry Guetta. The film wouldn’t just become a documentary about Guetta himself but also about the famed artist Banksy who would eventually become the director of this project. Whether it was a hoax or something real, the film manages to be so much more as Banksy would capture Guetta’s own rise into the world of street art as it adds to this idea of fiction vs. reality. Nevertheless, the results would end up being one of the finest documentary films ever made.
Brad Bird’s story about a rat who dreams about being a chef isn’t just one of Pixar’s most charming and entertaining foods. It’s also a study into the world of capitalism and criticism where the latter features a brilliant voice performance Peter O’Toole as the notorious food critic Anton Ego. The film plays into a rat who uses a young janitor as his puppet to create great food as the young man is rumored to be the long-lost son of a famous chef. It’s a film that also features dishes that look so good to eat as Brad Bird and Pixar creates something is like the fantasy version of food porn that is accessible to everyone.
40. Blue is the Warmest Color
Abdellatif Kechiche’s adaptation of Julie Maroh’s graphic novel is a mesmerizing yet coming-of-age love story between a young girl and a lesbian art student as it would play into a girl’s young life and exploration of love. Starring Adele Exarchopoulos in her break-out performance as the high school student Adele and Lea Seydoux as the art student Emma. The film isn’t just a very raw and intense depiction of love but also one that wasn’t afraid to be controversial due to its sex scenes as it plays to how real love is no matter if it’s straight or gay.
39. A Separation
Asghar Farhadi would score an international breakthrough in a film that explores a couple divorcing in Iran as a husband struggles to raise his daughter and care for his ailing father. What would happen would spark an incident where his father’s caretaker would lose a child and things go wrong prompting his estranged wife to help him while they deal with their own separation. The film isn’t just a fascinating exploration into dissolution but would also include one of the best endings in film.
38. Spirited Away
Hayao Miyazaki would create not just one of Studio Ghibli’s great films but also one of the finest animated films ever made. The simple story of a young girl who enters a strange fantasy world where her parents turn into pigs as she goes on a journey to get the back as they are. It’s a film with lots of imagination and rich hand-drawn animation as it proves that animators don’t need computers to help tell stories. Especially as it has a lot more to offer to children and adults as well as go beyond the expectations of an animated film.
Steven Soderbergh’s four-and-a-half hour and two-part bio-pic on Che Guevara is a film that not many filmmakers were willing to do. Especially in the narrative strategy that Sodebergh and his screenwriters decided to do based as it would play into a rise and fall scenario. With Benicio del Toro in the role of the Argentine-born revolutionary, its first part would play into Guevara’s rise as he aided Fidel Castro in the Cuban Revolution in the late 1950s while speaking to the United Nations in New York City in 1964. Its second part would play into Guevara’s fall in Bolivia as he attempts to start a revolution in South America. Shooting largely on Red 4 digital, the film serves as a turning point for the use of digital as a new medium to make films and this film was that moment.
36. Frances Ha
Part of Noah Baumbach’s oeuvre as a filmmaker is about people growing up and dealing with change as his 2012 film isn’t just an ode to the French New Wave but also a film that explores a young woman emerging into adulthood. Starring Greta Gerwig, the film plays into a young dancer dealing with changes around her life as she would do misguided things as well as cope with trying to find herself. Shot in black-and-white, the film does look and feel like a French New Wave film shot in New York City but it has the energy of something more that includes a great homage to Leos Carax’s Mauvais Sang.
35. The Wolf of Wall Street
If anyone thought Martin Scorsese wasn’t going to top some of the craziness of his past great films wouldn’t just realize how wrong they were but were in for a ride that is totally out of control. In this story of notorious stock broker Jordan Belfort, Scorsese casts Leonardo diCaprio in the role of a lifetime as diCaprio goes to 11 in terms of making the man not just more un-likeable than he already is but make him the fucking party. Add some Quaaludes, a shitload of money, naked women, cocaine, and all sorts of crazy shit including an unforgettable sequence that has diCaprio crawling around to get to his car. What Martin Scorsese bring is the rollercoaster ride of the century.
34. Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession
Xan Cassavetes’ documentary about one of the early pay-cable channels to emerge in television isn’t just about a channel that played all sorts of films. It’s about the man who would be its programming director in its hey day from the late 1970s to the late 1980s in Jerry Harvey. A film about a man’s obsession to bring the kind of films to the people in Southern California that they wouldn’t necessarily see anywhere else. It is truly a film that any film buffs would see as it shows the kind of films Harvey would bring from softcore porn films, art-house documentaries, classic European cinema, westerns, New Hollywood, and films that got a bad rap in their initial releases only to be revived through the channel by Harvey.
33. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Julian Schnabel’s adaptation of Jean-Dominique Bauby’s biography is a film like no other as it is partially shot from Bauby’s perspective when he is paralyzed with only his left eye to do any kind of movement. With Mathieu Almaric in the role of Bauby, the film is filled with dazzling visuals thanks to the work of cinematographer Janusz Kaminski. Most notably as it plays into a man reflecting on his life following a moment that could’ve killed him as he tries to make amends and such in what would be his final days.
32. Brokeback Mountain
In this adaptation of Annie Proulx’s short story comes one of the greatest love stories ever that is based on two cowboys who meet as they work herding sheep as they fall in love yet hide their relationship from everyone. Helmed by Ang Lee from a script by Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana, the film is an evocative tale that spans nearly 20 years from the early 1960s to the early 1980s at a time when homosexuality was taboo. Featuring great lead performances from Jake Gyllenhaal and the late Heath Ledger, the film isn’t just a landmark film for gay cinema but it is a film that is definitely a film that shows how powerful love is.
31. City of God
For anyone that thought they had seen it all in the world of drugs and crime would think again in this wild adaptation of Paulo Lins’ novel about the world of Brazilian organized crime. Helmed by Fernando Meirelles, the film is truly unlike anything as it is a landmark for films in Latin America that plays into the lives of young boys going into different directions in the slums of Rio de Janeiro. Most notably as one of them becomes one of the baddest bosses in the slum as it is filled with lots of violence and moments that definitely pushes the buttons into what happens in these slums. The result is a film that is high-octane brutality with its stylish images and editing that isn’t afraid to showcase a world that is dark but also very exciting.
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