The 21st Century's Most Acclaimed Films (250-151)

Beginning on this page is TSPDT's detailed look at the 21st Century's Most Acclaimed 250 Films. Each film's current ranking and previous ranking is provided with each entry, along with cast lists, review quotes (with external links to full review), links to IMDB and Amazon, and a sampling of five critics/filmmakers who voted, at one time or another, for the film in question.
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Silver Linings Playbook

Silver Linings Playbook

2012 / USA / 122m / Col / Comedy Drama, Romantic Comedy
Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver, Chris Tucker, Anupam Kher, John Ortiz, Shea Whigham, Julia Stiles, Paul Herman
"Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence are superb as unstable people thrown together by chance and linked through their obsessions, with director David O. Russell nimbly making the uneasy alliance work. Silver Linings Playbook is rich in life's complications. It will make you laugh, but don't expect it to fit in any snug genre pigeonhole. Dramatic, emotional, even heartbreaking, as well as wickedly funny, it has the gift of going its own way, a complete success from a singular talent... That would be the gifted writer-director David O. Russell, whose triumph with The Fighter two years ago marked a return to form after a spate of lean years." - Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
Selected by Kevin B. Lee, Manohla Dargis, Owen Gleiberman, Peter Bradshaw, Dana Stevens.
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Happy-Go-Lucky

Happy-Go-Lucky

2008 / UK-USA / 118m / Col / Comedy, Slice of Life
Sally Hawkins, Eddie Marsan, Alexis Zegerman, Sylvestra Le Touzel, Stanley Townsend, Kate O'Flynn, Caroline Martin, Oliver Maltman, Sarah Niles, Samuel Roukin
"The funny-sad Happy-Go-Lucky is not quite on a level with Leigh's best – which, for me, would be Life is Sweet and the Gilbert and Sullivan drama Topsy-Turvy – but it's a small, radiant gem… You leave the theater feeling both clearheaded and buoyant. Sally Hawkins, in a performance without a single false note, plays Poppy, a 30-year-old schoolteacher who shares a flat with a fellow instructor, the wisecracking Zoe (Zegerman), and loves to whiz through the streets of central London on her bicycle… The personal triumphs in Happy-Go-Lucky may be small-scale but its embrace is all-encompassing. It's a wonderfully humane movie." - Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor
Selected by Armond White, Amy Taubin, John Anderson, Peter Keough, Phillip Lopate.
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Erin Brockovich

Erin Brockovich

2000 / USA / 130m / Col / Docudrama, Courtroom Drama
Julia Roberts, Albert Finney, Aaron Eckhart, Marg Helgenberger, Cherry Jones, Peter Coyote, Veanne Cox, Conchata Ferrell, Scotty Leavenworth, Tracey Walter
"It would be easy to kick the gas out of this showstopping star vehicle by raising pesky moral questions about exploiting real-life tragedy for fun and profit. But, hey, that's Hollywood. For a true story about water pollution, cancer and mountains of legal briefs, Erin Brockovich is outrageously, even shamelessly, entertaining.,, The movie is a winner because Soderbergh, with an uncredited script assist from Richard LaGravanese (The Fisher King), tempers the flash with substance." - Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
Selected by Peter Kosminsky, Frank Darabont, David Ansen, Gavin Smith, Kenneth Turan.
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Only Lovers Left Alive

Only Lovers Left Alive

2013 / UK-Germany-France-Greece-Cyprus / 123m / Col / Horror, Romantic Drama
Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston, Anton Yelchin, Mia Wasikowska, John Hurt, Jeffrey Wright, Slimane Dazi, Carter Logan, Aurelie Thepaut, Ali Amine
"You thought there was nothing new to add to the vampire genre? So, apparently, did Jarmusch, which is why Only Lovers Left Alive luxuriates in a curious end-of-an-era melancholy, as if he'd set out at once to make the last ever vampire movie and cinema's last ever love story. The lovers in question are reclusive rock musician Adam (Tom Hiddleston, exuding fastidiously weary cool) and Eve (Tilda Swinton, pallid and otherworldly – I swear, you'd barely recognise her)… Bound to appeal to the more discerning, literary-minded strain of young goth, Only Lovers is a droll, classy piece of cinematic dandyism that makes the Twilight cycle redundant in one exquisitely languid stroke." - Jonathan Romney, The Observer
Selected by David Ansen, David Sterritt, Nick Schager, Stephen Holden, Dennis Dermody.
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The Wrestler

The Wrestler

2008 / USA / 109m / Col / Drama, Psychological Drama
Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood, Mark Margolis, Todd Barry, Wass Stevens, Judah Friedlander, Ernest Miller, Dylan Keith Summers, Tommy Farra
"Darren Aronofsky gives this bruiser of a movie exactly the kind of no-bull honesty it needs… Working from a script by Robert Siegel, Aronofsky transcends what could have been a formula story in lesser hands. Ram (Rourke) wants to get back in the top venues, but steroids, a fake tan and long, bottle-blond hair don't cut it in the new wrestling world, where gimmicks range from alien costumes to staple guns… Rourke doesn't make a single false move in this movie… You watch The Wrestler (with a superb title song from Bruce Springsteen) in a state of pure exhilaration. A great actor in a great movie will do that to you." - Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
Selected by James Franco, Cheryl Eddy, David Sterritt, Michael Atkinson, Glenn Kenny.
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Dogtooth

Dogtooth

Kynodontas (original title)
2009 / Greece / 97m / Col / Psychological Drama, Family Drama
Christos Stergioglou, Michele Valley, Aggeliki Papoulia, Christos Passalis, Mary Tsoni, Anna Kalaitzidou, Alexander Voulgaris
"The film’s provocative conceit and the cold-blooded precision of its violence recall Michael Haneke, particularly Funny Games and Time Of The Wolf, but Lanthimos has a prankish sense of humor, and favors an offhand absurdity that aligns him closer to Luis Buñuel. As Dogtooth’s carefully cultivated fictional world begins to unravel, the fallout accelerates too fast for anyone on screen to cope. The truth goes hand-in-glove with a feeling of blind panic. It’s an exhilaratingly unpredictable experience, and not an easy one to shake." - Scott Tobias, A.V. Club
Selected by Christine Dollhofer, Paul Whitington, Peter Bradshaw, Anthony Lane, Michael Atkinson.
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Notre musique

Notre musique

Our Music (English title)
2004 / France-Switzerland / 80m / Col / Avant-garde-Experimental, Essay Film
Sarah Adler, Nade Dieu, Rony Kramer, Simon Eine, Jean-Christophe Bouvet, George Aguilar, Ferlyn Brass, Leticia Gutierrez, Jean-Luc Godard, Elma Dzanic
"Jean-Luc Godard isn’t being as hard on his audience this time around, and it seems to have paid off… Set in Sarajevo and structured in three parts after Dante’s Divine Comedy, this beautiful film centers on a young French-Jewish journalist based in Israel who’s attending the same literary conference as Godard. The wars it contemplates through a montage of documentary and archival footage include those waged in Algeria, Vietnam, Bosnia, and the Middle East; Native American victims also make an appearance in Sarajevo, alongside certain others." - Jonathan Rosenbaum
Selected by Sheila Schvarzman, Ricardo Adaliá Martin, Shinji Aoyama, Peter von Bagh, Kiyoshi Kurosawa.
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Inside Job

Inside Job

2010 / USA / 109m / Col / Documentary, Finance & Investing
Matt Damon, William Ackman, Daniel Alpert, Jonathan Alpert, Sigridur Benediktsdottir, Willem Buiter, John Campbell, Christine Lagarde, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Kristin Davis
"Charles Ferguson's exemplary documentary about the USA's recent banking crisis is intelligent and jaw-dropping… The title suggests a crime film, and Inside Job is as gripping as a thriller… There are no visual gimmicks, no populist showboating in the Michael Moore manner, no satirical items slipped in to grab the attention. There's just an unseen Ferguson interviewing people, establishing shots, archive and newsreel material, and a sober, lucid commentary spoken by Matt Damon. - Philip French, The Observer
Selected by Silvio Tendler, Todd McCarthy, Tor Fosse, Wendy Ide, Leonard Maltin.
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The Best of Youth

The Best of Youth

La Meglio gioventù (original title)
2003 / Italy / 373m / Col / Period Film, Family Drama
Luigi Lo Cascio, Alessio Boni, Adriana Asti, Sonia Bergamasco, Fabrizio Gifuni, Maya Sansa, Valentina Carnelutti, Jasmine Trinca, Andrea Tidona, Lidia Vitale
"The annotated family album as social history, or vice versa, The Best of Youth is another thick spine on the top shelf of Italian cine-novels. Covering nearly 40 years in a remarkably compact six hours, Marco Tullio Giordana's fleet-footed marathon seeks a country's whole equation among the intellectual middle-class Caratis of Rome while keeping to the tempos of family routine and reunion… The movie has the addictive episodic intimacy of great TV." - Jessica Winter, The Village Voice
Selected by Gary Meyer, Kenneth Turan, Richard Schickel, Vivian Sobchack, David Ansen.
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Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India

Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India

2001 / India / 224m / Col / Musical, Romantic Drama
Aamir Khan, Gracy Singh, Rachel Shelley, Paul Blackthorne, Suhasini Mulay, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Raghuvir Yadav, Rajendra Gupta, Rajesh Vivek, Shri Vallabh Vyas
"Nearly four hours long -- about standard length for a Hindi film -- and filled with extravagant production numbers, impossibly attractive performers and a generous selection of classic melodramatic devices, Lagaan may look naive; it is anything but. This is a movie that knows its business -- pleasing a broad, popular audience -- and goes about it with savvy professionalism and genuine flair. Lagaan is set during British rule in India, but the film has none of the nostalgia for the lost empire that typically informs both English and American films on the subject." - Dave Kehr, The New York Times
Selected by Shoma A. Chatterji, Anupama Chopra, Naman Ramachandran, Karan Johar, Rachel Dwyer.
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Two Lovers

Two Lovers

2008 / USA-France / 110m / Col / Drama, Romantic Drama
Joaquin Phoenix, Gwyneth Paltrow, Vinessa Shaw, Isabella Rossellini, Elias Koteas, Moni Moshonov, Anne Joyce, Elliot Villar, Craig Walker, Carmen M. Herlihy
"Bravely wearing his heart on his sleeve, James Gray directs the tender and terrific Two Lovers as an antidote to the virus of hip. Forget the setting in modern Brooklyn. You watch Joaquin Phoenix yearn for Gwyneth Paltrow, the blond goddess-next-door, and it could be Marlon Brando putting his first tentative moves on Eva Marie Saint in 1954's On the Waterfront. This is delicate business, the kind of lost art that usually gets crushed under the jackboots of the trendy... The film's secrets unfold slowly, allowing Phoenix and Paltrow — a luminous fusion of grace and grit — to build a relationship in full… It'll get to you." - Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
Selected by Roberto Manassero, Alejandro G. Calvo, Tom Charity, Matt Singer, Betsy Sharkey.
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Frances Ha

Frances Ha

2012 / USA / 86m / BW / Comedy Drama, Slice of Life
Greta Gerwig, Mickey Sumner, Michael Esper, Adam Driver, Michael Zegen, Charlotte d'Amboise, Grace Gummer, Daiva Deupree, Isabelle McNally, Justine Lupe
"Greta Gerwig is radiant as Frances, a woman in her late twenties in contemporary New York trying to sort out her ambitions, her finances, and, above all, her intimate but shifting bond with her best friend, Sophie (Sumner). Meticulously directed by Noah Baumbach with a free-and-easy vibe reminiscent of the French New Wave’s most spirited films, and written by Baumbach and Gerwig with an effortless combination of sweetness and wit, Frances Ha gets at both the frustrations and the joys of being young and unsure of where to go next. This wry and sparkling city romance is a testament to the ongoing vitality of independent American cinema." - The Criterion Collection
Selected by Phillip Lopate, Genevieve Koski, Mike D'Angelo, Noel Murray, Keith Phipps.
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Mysteries of Lisbon

Mysteries of Lisbon

Mistérios de Lisboa (original title)
2010 / Portugal-France / 272m / Col / Melodrama, Period Film
Adriano Luz, Maria Joao Bastos, Ricardo Pereira, Clotilde Hesme, Jose Afonso Pimentel, Joao Arrais, Albano Jeronimo, Joao Baptista, Martin Loizillon, Julien Alluguette
"A masterly tale about lives and stories and the art of their telling, Mysteries of Lisbon is also an elegiac meditation on love lost and rediscovered through misted memory. Directed by the Chilean filmmaker Raúl Ruiz and set mainly in Portugal, with detours to other European corners, it is a period picture based on a work by the prolific Camilo Castelo Branco (1825-90)… Made for European television and originally divided into six one-hour episodes, the movie now runs an absorbing, astonishingly fast four and a quarter hours." - Manohla Dargis, The New York Times
Selected by Nandini Ramnath, Jesús Piquero, Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, Javier Rebollo, J. Hoberman.
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Morvern Callar

Morvern Callar

2002 / UK-Canada / 97m / Col / Psychological Drama, Road Movie
Samantha Morton, Kathleen McDermott, Jim Wilson, Raife Patrick Burchell, Dan Cadan, Carolyn Calder, Steven Cardwell, Bryan Dick, Andrew Flannigan, Dolly Wells
"This is a mesmeric, startling and sometimes baffling movie from Lynne Ramsay, the follow-up to her magnificent debut Ratcatcher; and while it may not have the closed perfection of that film, it undoubtedly announces Ramsay as one of the most distinctive talents in British cinema... Ramsay's movie is so gorgeously serene in its strangeness that it can afford to rise above worries of this kind. Alwin Kuchler's beautiful cinematography, and perhaps especially Paul Davies' outstanding sound design, are all of the very highest calibre, and an inspired fit with the fierce seriousness of Ramsay's vision and Morton's terrific performance." - Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
Selected by Jasper Sharp, Emma Gray Munthe, Samuel Wigley, Tom Charity, David Thomson.
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Slumdog Millionaire

Slumdog Millionaire

2008 / UK / 120m / Col / Urban Drama, Inspirational Drama
Dev Patel, Anil Kapoor, Saurabh Shukla, Rajendranath Zutshi, Jeneva Talwar, Freida Pinto, Irfan Khan, Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail, Ayush Mahesh Khedekar, Sunil Kumar Agrawal
"Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire hits the ground running. This is a breathless, exciting story, heartbreaking and exhilarating at the same time, about a Mumbai orphan who rises from rags to riches on the strength of his lively intelligence. The film's universal appeal will present the real India to millions of moviegoers for the first time. The real India, supercharged with a plot as reliable and eternal as the hills. The film's surface is so dazzling that you hardly realize how traditional it is underneath. But it's the buried structure that pulls us through the story like a big engine on a short train." - Roger Ebert, Roger Ebert.com
Selected by Michael Pitiot, Raymond Lee, Feng Xiaoning, Ding Sheng, Ching Siu-Tung.
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Trouble Every Day

Trouble Every Day

2001 / France-Germany-Japan / 101m / Col / Horror, Sex Horror
Vincent Gallo, Tricia Vessey, Beatrice Dalle, Alex Descas, Florence Loiret Caille, Nicolas Duvauchelle, Raphael Neal, Jose Garcia, Helene Lapiower, Marilu Marini
"While Trouble Every Day operates, superbly, as a biological-themed horror film, it would cheapen director Claire Denis's achievement to say that she merely literalizes the violent implications of sex, even when manifested as traditional "romantic" lovemaking. Films have been linking sex with violence since their inception and, frankly, it's not a particularly surprising conclusion with which to arrive. Denis, however, expounds on the notion of sex-as-violence with an unnerving clarity that appears to explain why acts of theoretical love and brutality assume such disconcertingly similar outward appearances, as both involve attempts to foster illusions of control where there aren't any.“ - Chuck Bowen, Slant Magazine
Selected by Isabelle Stever, Ricardo Calil, Vinícius Reis, Surbhi Goel, José Sarmiento Hinojosa.
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Police, Adjective

Police, Adjective

Politist, adj. (original title)
2009 / Romania / 115m / Col / Crime, Police Drama
Dragos Bucur, Vlad Ivanov, Irina Saulescu, Ion Stoica, Marian Ghenea, Cosmin Selesi, George Remes, Dan Cogalniceanu, Serban Georgevici, Costi Dita
"Police, Adjective tells a small story well. At the level of plot, it is consistently engaging, and the psychology of the ambivalent detective, a staple of film noir, is given a new twist in the character of Cristi. But the more closely you look, the more you see: a movie about a marriage, about a career in crisis, about a society riven by unstated class antagonisms and hobbled by ancient authoritarian habits. So much in this meticulous and moving film is between the lines, and almost nothing is by the book." - A.O. Scott, The New York Times
Selected by Mark Cousins, Scott Foundas, James Quandt, Berenice Reynaud, J. Hoberman.
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White Material

White Material

2009 / France-Cameroon / 100m / Col / Drama, Political Drama
Isabelle Huppert, Christopher Lambert, Nicolas Duvauchelle, Isaach De Bankole, William Nadylam, Adele Ado, Ali Barkai, Daniel Tchangang, Michel Subor, David Gozlan
"In White Material, the great contemporary French filmmaker Claire Denis, known for her restless, intimate dramas, introduces an unforgettably crazed character. Played by a ferocious Isabelle Huppert, Maria is an entitled white woman living in Africa, desperately unwilling to give up her family’s crumbling coffee plantation despite the civil war closing in on her. Created with Denis’ signature full-throttle visual style, which places the viewer at the center of the maelstrom, White Material is a gripping evocation of the death throes of European colonialism and a fascinating look at a woman lost in her own mind" - The Criterion Collection
Selected by Guy Lodge, Charles Whitehouse, Sara Driver, Clio Barnard, Amy Taubin.
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Blue is the Warmest Colour

Blue is the Warmest Colour

La Vie d'Adèle (original title)
2013 / France-Belgium-Spain / 179m / Col / Drama, Coming-of-Age
Lea Seydoux, Adele Exarchopoulos, Salim Kechiouche, Aurelien Recoing, Catherine Salee, Benjamin Siksou, Mona Walravens, Alma Jodorowsky, Jeremie Laheurte, Anne Loiret
"The colorful, electrifying romance that took the Cannes Film Festival by storm courageously dives into a young woman’s experiences of first love and sexual awakening. Blue Is the Warmest Color stars the remarkable newcomer Adèle Exarchopoulos as a high schooler who, much to her own surprise, plunges into a thrilling relationship with a female twentysomething art student, played by Léa Seydoux. Directed by Abdellatif Kechiche, this finely detailed, intimate epic sensitively renders the erotic abandon of youth. It has captivated international audiences and been widely embraced as a defining love story for the new century." - The Criterion Collection
Selected by Antonio Termenini, Peter Bradshaw, Tim Grierson, Richard Brody, David Edelstein.
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Le Havre

Le Havre

2011 / Finland-France-Germany / 93m / Col / Comedy Drama, Romantic Drama
Andre Wilms, Kati Outinen, Jean-Pierre Darroussin, Blondin Miguel, Elina Salo, Evelyne Didi, Quoc Dung Nguyen, Laika, Francois Monnie, Little Bob
"In this warmhearted comic yarn from Aki Kaurismäki, fate throws the young African refugee Idrissa (Miguel) into the path of Marcel Marx (Wilms), a kindly old bohemian who shines shoes for a living in the French harbor city Le Havre. With inborn optimism and the support of his tight-knit community, Marcel stands up to the officials doggedly pursuing the boy for deportation. A political fairy tale that exists somewhere between the reality of contemporary France and the classic French cinema of the past, Le Havre is a charming, deadpan delight and one of the Finnish director’s finest films." - The Criterion Collection
Selected by David Robinson, Lisandro Alonso, Mariann Lewinsky, Eulàlia Iglesias Huix, Andrea Segre.
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Ida

Ida

2013 / Poland-Denmark / 80m / Col / Coming-of-Age, Psychological Drama
Agata Kulesza, Agata Trzebuchowska, Dawid Ogrodnik, Jerzy Trela, Adam Szyszkowski, Halina Skoczynska, Joanna Kulig, Dorota Kuduk, Natalia Lagiewczyk, Afrodyta Weselak
"We are so used to constant movement and compulsive cutting in American movies that the stillness of the great new Polish film Ida comes as something of a shock. I can’t recall a movie that makes such expressive use of silence and portraiture; from the beginning, I was thrown into a state of awe by the movie’s fervent austerity. Friends have reported similar reactions: if not awe, then at least extreme concentration and satisfaction. This compact masterpiece has the curt definition and the finality of a reckoning—a reckoning in which anger and mourning blend together.” - David Denby, The New Yorker
Selected by Michael Brooke, Paul Whitington, Peter Bradshaw, Samuel Wigley, A.O. Scott.
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Good Night, and Good Luck

Good Night, and Good Luck

2005 / USA-France-UK-Japan / 93m / BW / Political Drama, Period Film
David Strathairn, Patricia Clarkson, George Clooney, Robert Downey Jr., Ray Wise, Frank Langella, Jeff Daniels, Tate Donovan, Robert Burke, Reed Diamond
"Most of the high-profile biopics of recent years -- Ray, Kinsey, Alexander, The Aviator, A Beautiful Mind -- have gone all out for a big scale, in terms of the time and territory covered, depth of characterization and visual opulence. But George Clooney's inspiring biography of newsman Edward R. Murrow, Good Night, and Good Luck, goes the other way. Its production values are toned down to a minimalist level and its subject's distinguished career captured for one moment of moral courage." - William Arnold, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Selected by Nanni Moretti, Ty Burr, Peter Keough, David Ansen, Phillip Lopate.
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Half Nelson

Half Nelson

2006 / USA / 107m / Col / Social Problem Film, Urban Drama
Ryan Gosling, Shareeka Epps, Anthony Mackie, Jeff Lima, Nathan Corbett, Tyra Kwao-Vovo, Rosemary Ledee, Tristan Wilds, Bryce Silver, Monique Gabriela Curnen
"The audacity of making an inner-city drama in which the white-male authority figure is the crackhead finds its equal in Gosling's already legendary performance, a high-wire act that's gutsiest for its unconscionable charm… Half Nelson builds to an image of solidarity forged across the lines of race, class, age, and gender, but its path to that cautiously hopeful conclusion remains both tough-minded and regularly surprising. Fleck and Anna Boden guard well against the intrusion of anything that feels like Hollywood, shooting in the fly-on-the-wall style of a vérité doc and sprinkling milky archival footage atop the students' classroom presentations—the classic show-and-tell." - Rob Nelson, The Village Voice
Selected by Jason Wood, David Ansen, Jonathan Rosenbaum, Kenneth Turan, Andrew O'Hehir.
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Margaret

Margaret

2011 / USA / 150m / Col / Drama, Psychological Drama
Anna Paquin, J. Smith Cameron, Mark Ruffalo, Jeannie Berlin, Jean Reno, Sarah Steele, John Gallagher Jr., Cyrus Hernstadt, Allison Janney, Kieran Culkin
"This is a glorious mess! … The writer-director’s [Lonergan] sprawling look at the effect a gruesome accident has on Manhattan teen Lisa Cohen (Paquin) bursts with ambition and specificity in its novelistic, social-drama narrative… Paquin deserves the highest accolades for her ferociously committed performance, turning what could have been a privileged prep-school archetype into a scorching depiction of adolescent grief. And though not all of Lonergan’s conceits work on a scene-by-scene basis, the film has a cumulative power – solidified by a devastating opera-house finale – that’s staggering. This is frayed-edges filmmaking at its finest." - Keith Uhlich, Time Out New York
Selected by Emily Wardill, Kevin B. Lee, Peter Bradshaw, Richard Brody, Glenn Kenny.
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Paranoid Park

Paranoid Park

2007 / France-USA / 85m / Col / Psychological Drama, Coming-of-Age
Gabe Nevins, Taylor Momsen, Jake Miller, Dan Liu, Lauren McKinney, Scott Green, John 'Mike' Burrowes, Grace Carter, Jay 'Smay' Williamson, Christopher Doyle
"Paranoid Park is a swooping skateboarding free zone where young men learn to fly. It’s also the title of Gus Van Sant’s most recent film, a haunting, voluptuously beautiful portrait of a teenage boy who, after being suddenly caught in midflight, falls to earth. Like most of Mr. Van Sant’s films Paranoid Park is about bodies at rest and in motion, and about longing, beauty, youth and death, and as such as much about the artist as his subject. It is a modestly scaled triumph without a false or wasted moment." - Manohla Dargis, The New York Times
Selected by Dennis Lim, Amy Taubin, Tom Charity, Peter Keough, David Ehrenstein.
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Exit Through the Gift Shop

Exit Through the Gift Shop

2010 / UK / 87m / Col / Visual Arts, Documentary
Banksy, Mr. Brainwash, Debora Guetta, Space Invader, Monsieur Andre, Zeus, Shepard Fairey, Ron English, Caledonia Curry, Borf
"A genuinely hip, thought-provoking work of art disguised as a doomed documentary resurrected, Exit Through the Gift Shop is not just the definitive portrait of street-art counterculture, but also a hilarious exposé on the gullibility of the masses who embrace manufactured creative personas. Though it's credited as a Banksy picture—as in the ever-elusive U.K. graffiti ninja whose puckish, anti-capitalist and anti-authoritarian stencils have appeared everywhere from metropolitan billboards worldwide to the West Bank barrier wall—the film ostensibly began with him tapped as its on-camera subject." - Aaron Hillis, The Village Voice
Selected by Stefan Popescu, Robbie Collin, Frédéric Boyer, Ty Burr, Owen Gleiberman.
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Three Times

Three Times

Zui hao de shi guang (original title)
2005 / France-Taiwan / 135m / Col / Romance, Drama
Qi Shu, Chen Chang, Fang Mei, Mei Di, Su-jen Liao, Chen Shi-Zheng, Lee Pei-hsuan, Huang Ruo-shi, Liao Ling-tzu, Ko Yu-Lun
"Hou Hsiao-hsien’s Three Times is split into three episodes set in Taiwan, each running about 40 minutes and featuring Chang Chen and Shu Qi; all three reflect Hou’s overriding concern with the way one’s sense of freedom, desire, and life possibilities is inflected by the age one lives in… Seen in isolation, the first episode has the most satisfying plot and the last the least. But the film’s achievement lies mostly in the beautifully articulated similarities and differences among the three—in their compositions and themes, in the way space is defined and camera pans connect characters, in their use of music and other means of personal." - Jonathan Rosenbaum
Selected by Zeina Durra, Adrian Martin, Michael Glover Smith, Michael Berry, James Quandt.
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The Sun

The Sun

Solntse (original title)
2005 / Russia-Italy-France-Switzerland / 115m / Col / Biopic, War Drama
Issei Ogata, Robert Dawson, Kaori Momoi, Shiro Sano, Shinmei Tsuji, Taijiro Tamura, Georgi Pitskhelauri, Hiroya Morita, Toshiaki Nishizawa, Naomasa Musaka
"The most perverse installment of Aleksandr Sokurov's dictator cycle, The Sun follows the Russian director's meditations on Hitler (Moloch, 1999) and Lenin (Taurus, 2000) with a curiously upbeat portrait of Japan's last divine emperor, Hirohito, in the immediate aftermath of World War II... Though he successfully humanizes Hirohito, who is shown happily shedding his divinity, Sokurov doesn't entirely exonerate him. He contrives a shock ending that, as measured as everything else in this engrossing, supremely assured movie, acknowledges one last blood sacrifice on the emperor's altar." - J. Hoberman, The Village Voice
Selected by Ian Christie, Sitora Alieva, Philippe Grandrieux, Maya Turovskaya, Jean-Michel Frodon.
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Take Shelter

Take Shelter

2011 / USA / 120m / Col / Family Drama, Psychological Drama
Michael Shannon, Jessica Chastain, Tova Stewart, Shea Whigham, Katy Mixon, Natasha Randall, Ron Kennard, Scott Knisley, Robert Longstreet, Heather Caldwell
"It’s hard to recall a film which presses its finger quite so firmly on the pulse of middle-class, middle-American desperation as this striking second feature from Jeff Nichols… The result is an undeniably major work: a flawed, dizzying, wildly ambitious attempt to cram all of America’s problems into one splitting basket. A repository for (and reflection of) modern man’s deepest fears, Curtis (Shannon) is an embattled hero for our times, and the darkening world he inhabits is one we can all recognise. When future film historians look back at the cultural fallout from America’s financial collapse, Take Shelter will be a key text." - Tom Huddleston, Time Out
Selected by Tim Grierson, Roger Ebert, Andrew O'Hehir, Glenn Kenny, Christy Lemire.
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Django Unchained

Django Unchained

2012 / USA / 165m / Col / Western, Hybrid Western
Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, Walton Goggins, Dennis Christopher, James Remar, David Steen, Dana Michelle Gourrier
"Quentin Tarantino has once again found an appropriate channel for his aggression. In Inglourious Basterds, he took his bloodlust out on Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany, who couldn't have deserved it more, and now in Django Unchained he takes care of that whole slavery thing going on in the South 150 years ago… Django Unchained is the most consistently entertaining movie of 2012. It's 165 minutes long and shouldn't be a minute shorter, a film of surprises, both in story and in casting, and of moments of agonizing, teased-out tension. The dialogue is dazzling." - Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle
Selected by Peter Bradshaw, A.O. Scott, Scott Foundas, Todd McCarthy, Ty Burr.
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24 Hour Party People

24 Hour Party People

2001 / UK / 115m / Col / Comedy Drama, Biography
Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon, Ron Cook, Keith Allen, Chris Coghill, Paddy Considine, Dave Gorman, Sean Harris, Shirley Henderson, Andy Serkis
"Here's the real deal in a rock movie. It's a fractured fever dream that looks at the British music scene through the drug-glazed eyes of Tony Wilson, played with hurricane force and bruising wit by Steve Coogan… Shot on digital video by brilliant cinematographer Robby Muller, the movie really is a blast, mixing newsreel footage with the made-up stuff, throwing in celebrity cameos (including one by Wilson himself), and skewering whatever bull gets in its way. Like the music, the film is outspoken, roaringly funny, defiantly sexual and relentlessly in your face. I couldn't have liked it more." - Peter Travers, Rolling Stonei
Selected by Dávid Klág, Tom Charity, Kevin Thomas, David Sterritt, Gerald Peary.
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Tarnation

Tarnation

2003 / USA / 88m / Col-BW / Interpersonal Relationships, Documentary
Renee Leblanc, Jonathan Caouette, Adolph Davis, Rosemary Davis, David Sanin Paz, Michael Cox, Dagon James, Joshua Williams, David LeBlanc, Stacey Mowery
"Mr. Caouette's amazing debut, made for $218 and edited on a laptop, is hard film to classify. It is obviously a documentary, but it also demands to be described in terms we dont ordinarily apply to movies — as a memoir, as a diary, and as a private, poetic record of emerging consciousness. Starting out when he was a child, Mr. Caouette, now in his early 30's, recorded himself and his family with a camera, producing a record of unhappiness that now emerges, against all odds, as a testament of love and resilience." - A.O. Scott, The New York Times
Selected by Horacio Bernades, Pamela Cohn, Oli Harbottle, John Akomfrah, Charles Gant.
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233
Fat Girl

Fat Girl

À ma soeur! (original title); For My Sister (alternative title)
2001 / France-Italy / 86m / Col / Psychological Drama, Coming-of-Age
Anais Reboux, Roxane Mesquida, Libero De Rienzo, Arsinee Khanjian, Romain Goupil, Laura Betti, Albert Goldberg, Odette Barriere, Anne Matthijsse, Pierre Renverseau
"Twelve-year-old Anaïs is fat. Her sister, fifteen-year-old Elena, is a beauty. While the girls are on vacation with their parents, Anaïs tags along as Elena explores the dreary seaside town. Elena meets Fernando, an Italian law student; he seduces her with promises of love, and the ever watchful Anaïs bears witness to the corruption of her sister’s innocence. Fat Girl is not only a portrayal of female adolescent sexuality and the complicated bond between siblings but also a shocking assertion by the always controversial Catherine Breillat that violent oppression exists at the core of male-female relations." - The Criterion Collection
Selected by Sarah Nichols, Dan Sallitt, Andrew Bujalski, Amy Taubin, Jean-Luc Douin.
217
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Gravity

Gravity

2013 / USA-UK / 91m / Col / Science Fiction, Psychological Sci-Fi
Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, Ed Harris, Orto Ignatiussen, Phaldut Sharma, Amy Warren, Basher Savage, Janis Ahern
"Alfonso Cuarón's Gravity, about astronauts coping with disaster, is a huge and technically dazzling film. Watching Sandra Bullock and George Clooney's spacefarers go about their business, you may feel—for the first time since The Right Stuff, perhaps—that a Hollywood blockbuster grasps the essence of a job that many can't imagine without feeling dizzy. The panoramas of astronauts tumbling against starfields and floating through space stations are both informative and lovely." - Matt Zoller Seitz, Roger Ebert.com
Selected by Paul Whitington, David Ansen, James Verniere, Jay Stone, Mick LaSalle.
216
205
Carlos

Carlos

2010 / France-Germany-Belgium / 333m / Col / Biopic, Crime Drama
Edgar Ramirez, Alexander Scheer, Alejandro Arroyo, Fadi Abi Samra, Ahmad Kaabour, Talal El-Jordi, Juana Acosta, Nora von Waldstatten, Christoph Bach, Rodney El Haddad
"Carlos, directed by Olivier Assayas, is an epic, intensely detailed account of the life of the infamous international terrorist Ilich Ramírez Sánchez—also known as Carlos the Jackal. One of the twentieth century’s most wanted fugitives, Carlos was committed to violent left-wing activism throughout the seventies and eighties, orchestrating bombings, kidnappings, and hijackings in Europe and the Middle East. Assayas portrays him not as a criminal mastermind but as a symbol of seismic political shifts around the world, while the magnetic Édgar Ramírez brilliantly embodies him as a swaggering global gangster." - The Criterion Collection
Selected by Edvinas Puksta, Leonard Maltin, Todd McCarthy, A.O. Scott, David Ansen.
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Whiplash

Whiplash

2014 / USA / 107m / Col / Musical Drama, Psychological Drama
Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons, Paul Reiser, Melissa Benoist, Austin Stowell, Nate Lang, Chris Mulkey, Damon Gupton, Suanne Spoke, Max Kasch
"You don’t think of jazz drumming as a rigorous academic discipline - but that is how it is portrayed in writer-director Damien Chazelle’s riveting Oedipal drama Whiplash. There is barely a whiff of cigarette smoke here and sex, drink and drugs - staples of most jazz based movies - seem off limits too. Instead, the drama largely plays out in rehearsal rooms in the basement of a prestigious conservatory. Chazelle’s achievement is to bring a ferocious, barbed intensity to a film that could easily have seemed a claustrophobic and austere chamber piece." - Geoffrey Macnab, The Independent
Selected by Edgar Wright, Gerald Peary, David Ansen, A.A. Dowd, Ignatiy Vishnevetsky.
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Divine Intervention

Divine Intervention

Yadon ilaheyya (original title)
2002 / France-Morocco-Germany-Palestine / 93m / Col / Comedy Drama, Black Comedy
Elia Suleiman, Manal Khader, George Ibrahim, Amer Daher, Jamel Daher, Lufuf Nuweiser, Read Masarweh, Bassem Loulou, Salvia Nakkara, Naaman Jarjoura
"In this mordantly funny collage of middle-class Palestinian life, Elia Suleiman, with a mournful, deadpan countenance, plays a character named E.S. E.S. visits his father in the hospital and meets his lover in a parking lot near an Israeli checkpoint, while his alter ego, the director, excavates the absurdities of occupation and social relations in Nazareth, Jerusalem and Ramallah. The film is a series of elegant visual jokes, interrupted by two elaborate fantasies of vengeance and defiance, and organized around the idea that the modern Middle East is, in unexpected and petty ways as well as the large ones we all know about, a land of bad neighbors." - A.O. Scott, The New York Times
Selected by Guy Westwell, Agnès Devictor, Kleber Mendonça Filho, Francisco César Filho, Richard Corliss.
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The Ghost Writer

The Ghost Writer

The Ghost (alternative title)
2010 / France-Germany-UK / 128m / Col / Political Thriller, Psychological Thriller
Ewan McGregor, Pierce Brosnan, Kim Cattrall, James Belushi, Olivia Williams, Timothy Hutton, Tom Wilkinson, Eli Wallach, Robert Pugh, David Rintoul
"Completed when the filmmaker was 76, The Ghost Writer shows no decline in Polanski's powers, no softening of his vision, no turning away from the big canvas in favor of delicate miniatures. Indeed, The Ghost Writer is one of Polanski's better films, the work of a director in complete control and at the height of his powers. Every moment is invested with meaning. All angles, compositions and shots work in the service of a mood and an idea." - Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle
Selected by Leonard Maltin, Roger Ebert, David Denby, Owen Gleiberman, Philip French.
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280
Oasis

Oasis

2002 / South Korea / 133m / Col / Psychological Drama, Romantic Drama
Kyung-gu Sol, So-Ri Moon, Nae-sang Ahn, Seung-wan Ryoo, Kwi-Jung Chu, Jin-gu Kim, Byung-ho Son, Ga-hyun Yun, Myeong-shin Park, Kyung-geun Park
"Lee Chang-dong's Oasis is, at first blush, one of those occasional miracles that approach leapingly scandalous material with a superhuman charity and somehow dodge charges of tastelessness. In the end, it's a daring heartbreaker… Oasis is utterly beguiling because Lee, like many other percipient Asian filmmakers, is simply more attentive to his characters' emotional tumult than the audience's. No movie in recent memory has translated so clearly the secret language of lovers normally lost on the rest of the world." - Michael Atkinson, The Village Voice
Selected by Ik-June Yang, Sean Baker, Alice Rohrwacher, Jerry Schatzberg, Julian Ross.
211
186
Fahrenheit 9/11

Fahrenheit 9/11

2004 / USA / 122m / Col / Politics & Government, Documentary
Michael Moore, George W. Bush, Craig Unger, Jack Cloonan, James Moore, Dan Briody, Rosemary Dillard, Martha Brill Olcott, Jim McDermott, Roy Gladding
"Assessing the merits of a political film is a tricky business. Obviously, its quality is partly a function of its power to persuade, but its persuasiveness is in the eye of the beholder. Yet there are other things to consider: The movie's passion. Its serious purpose. Its tone. Its mix of words and images, and the way both linger in the mind. There's the way the movie fashions its arguments, and the cumulative effect the experience provides -- what you feel walking out, what you think about the next day. By all these measures, Fahrenheit 9/11 is Michael Moore's best film." - Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle
Selected by Peter Davis, Peter Bradshaw, John Corner, Gordon Quinn, Douglas Kellner.
210
204
Kill Bill Vol. 2

Kill Bill Vol. 2

2004 / USA-China / 136m / Col-BW / Action Thriller, Martial Arts
Uma Thurman, David Carradine, Daryl Hannah, Michael Madsen, Chia Hui Liu, Michael Parks, Larry Bishop, Sid Haig, Samuel L. Jackson, Jeannie Epper
"In this deliciously perverse picture, everything is operatic, including the despair and the pauses. Uma Thurman, whose speaking voice has a lyric, teasing quality, is just the performer to get the mordant slyness across. Mr. Tarantino's movies are also about loss and betrayal, and Vol. 2 is a double-burger helping of those motifs. It is rich, substantial and sustained, yet also greasy kids' stuff, a wrapper filled with an extra large order of chili fries, stained with ketchup, salt and cheese." - Elvis Mitchell, The New York Times
Selected by Xavier Pérez, Sergio Arecco, Gerard Alonso Cassadó, Desirée de Fez, Jerome Bimbenet.
209
191
Infernal Affairs

Infernal Affairs

Wu jian dao (original title)
2002 / Hong Kong / 100m / Col / Crime, Police Drama
Andy Lau, Tony Leung, Anthony Wong Chau-Sang, Eric Tsang, Chapman To, Ka Tung Lam, Ting Yip Ng, Chi Keung Wan, Sammi Cheng, Kelly Chen
"This blistering thriller packs an almighty punch. It combines exhilarating action with liquid-nitrogen existential cool, gleaming and shimmering with the city's glass and steel. When going to the movies can seem like a pretty earnest business, it's good to have one that gets you hugging yourself with excitement. Infernal Affairs hangs on the operatic confrontation of cop and villain that feels a little like the great De Niro-Pacino face-off in Michael Mann's Heat. But for my money, it's got something more elusive and complex than Mann ever achieved." - Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
Selected by Sean Cubitt, Sakura Yang, Alexandra Seitz, Anupama Chopra, Ann Hui.
208
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The Aviator

The Aviator

2004 / USA-Germany / 170m / Col-BW / Drama, Biography
Leonardo DiCaprio, Cate Blanchett, Kate Beckinsale, John C. Reilly, Alec Baldwin, Alan Alda, Ian Holm, Danny Huston, Gwen Stefani, Jude Law
"What's required for enjoying The Aviator is an interest in Howard Hughes, or aviation, or classic Hollywood or any combination of those three. Bring that, and director Martin Scorsese takes care of the rest. His actors are well cast, and their performances are flashy in the best way. The period detail is sumptuous. Scorsese places us in the world of 1930s Hollywood as though settling us into a stuffed chair, and then keeps attending to us, playing songs from the era in the correct style, bringing out cigarette girls with the right haircuts and depicting, with the ideal combination of faithfulness and imagination, characters out of history." - Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle
Selected by Jeanine Basinger, Roger Ebert, Michael Wilmington, Carrie Rickey, Stephanie Zacharek.
207
190
King's Speech

The King's Speech

2010 / UK-Australia-USA / 118m / Col / Drama, Period Film
Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, Derek Jacobi, Robert Portal, Richard Dixon, Guy Pearce, Timothy Spall, Jennifer Ehle, Michael Gambon
"Tom Hooper's richly enjoyable and handsomely produced movie about George VI's struggle to cure his stammer is a massively confident crowd-pleaser. What looks at first like an conventional Brit period drama about royals is actually a witty and elegant new perspective on the abdication crisis and on the dysfunctional quiver at the heart of the Windsors and of prewar Britain. It suggests there was a time when a member of the royal household experimented with psychoanalysis – disguised as speech therapy." - Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
Selected by Irina-Margareta Nistor, Barry Norman, Leonard Maltin, Roger Ebert, David Ansen.
206
202
Pasted Graphic

Persepolis

2007 / France-USA / 96m / Col-BW / Coming-of-Age, Animation
Chiara Mastroianni, Catherine Deneuve, Danielle Darrieux, Simon Abkarian, Gabrielle Lopes, Francois Jerosme, Sophie Arthuys, Jean-Francois Gallotte, Arie Elmaleh, Mathias Mlekuz
"Persepolis is a small landmark in feature animation. Not because of technical innovation, but because it translates a sensitive, introspective, true-to-life, "adult" comic story into moving pictures. While Robert Crumb only achieved the big screen as a porno-groovy shadow of himself and Daniel Clowes decamped to live- action, Marjane Satrapi's made the crossing; with the aide of French comic-book artist Vincent "Winshluss" Paronnaud (both making their first feature here), Satrapi's four autobiographical Persepolis volumes have been smartly streamlined and storyboarded into 95 minutes of screen time." - Nick Pinkerton, The Village Voice
Selected by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, Sara Driver, Fernando Trueba, Nag Vladermersky, Dave Calhoun.
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Unknown Pleasures

Unknown Pleasures

Ren xiao yao (original title)
2002 / China-Japan-South Korea-France / 112m / Col / Drama, Urban Drama
Wei Wei Zhao, Qiong Wu, Qing Feng Zhou, Hong Wei Wang, Ru Bai, Xi An Liu, Shou Lin Xu, Ren Ai Jun, Dao Xiao, Zi Ying
"Generically, Unknown Pleasures is a youth film. Two unemployed boys, Bin Bin (Zhao Wei Wei) and Xiao Ji (Wu Qiong), vegetate in the ugly provincial city of Datong… Shot in digital video, Unknown Pleasures teems with visual interest. Jia uses the format to film all manner of public places. Yu's camera hunkers down in restaurant booths and sidles into automobile backseats, frequently observing the characters in real time. Drawing on Jia's influences Robert Bresson and Hou Hsiao-hsien, Unknown Pleasures suggests a coolly formalist reinvention of neorealism. The film is both distanced and immediate—a fiction with the force of documentary." - J. Hoberman, The Village Voice
Selected by Paolo Bertolin, Michael Berry, Chuck Stephens, Dennis Lim, Robert Koehler.
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The Return

The Return

Vozvrashchenie (original title)
2003 / Russia / 110m / Col / Psychological Drama, Coming-of-Age
Vladimir Garin, Ivan Dobronravov, Konstantin Lavronenko, Natalia Vdovina, Gailina Popova, Alexej Suknovalov, Lazarj Dubovik, Elizaveta Alexandrova, Ljubovj Kasakova, Andrej Sumin
"Andrey Zvyagintsev's The Return is… suggestive of a lost era—the highly crafted allegorical Eastern European art films of the '60s and '70s… The Return begins as a mysterious quest, shades into a discomfiting thriller, then a survival story, and finally a tragic parable. Primordial and laconic, this remarkably assured debut feature has the elegant simplicity of its title. The mode is sustained, the structure overt. Some may be put off by the movie's cool technique and boldly closed form, but it clearly announces Zvyagintsev as a director to watch." - J. Hoberman, The Village Voice
Selected by John Wrathall, Hind Mezaina, Jamie Thraves, Hu Xudong, Ali Ulvi Uyanik.
203
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The Descendants

The Descendants

2011 / USA / 115m / Col / Comedy Drama, Family Drama
George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Amara Miller, Nick Krause, Patricia Hastie, Grace A. Cruz, Judy Greer, Beau Bridges, Matthew Lillard, Robert Forster
"Mr. Payne, with a light touch and a keen sense of place — this Hawaii is as real and peculiar as the Nebraska of About Schmidt or the California wine country of Sideways — has made a movie that, for all its modesty, is as big as life. Its heart is occupied by grief, pain and the haunting silence of Elizabeth, whose version of events is the only one we never hear. And yet it is also full of warmth, humor and the kind of grace that can result from our clumsy attempts to make things better." - A.O. Scott, The New York Times
Selected by David Denby, Marshall Fine, Owen Gleiberman, Todd McCarthy, David Edelstein.
202
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Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

2003 / USA / 138m / Col / Adventure Drama, Sea Adventure
Russell Crowe, Paul Bettany, Billy Boyd, James D'Arcy, Chris Larkin, Lee Ingleby, George Innes, Mark Lewis Jones, Richard McCabe, Robert Pugh
"This stupendously entertaining movie, adapted from two of the novels in Patrick O'Brian's 20-volume maritime adventure series, celebrates an idea of England that might have seemed a bit corny even in 1805, when the action takes place, but that is brought to vibrant life thanks to Russell Crowe's commanding performance and Peter Weir's thoroughgoing mastery… The combat scenes are shot with economy and vigor, but the most thrilling parts of the movie take place between skirmishes, when the complex system of authority and deference that runs the Surprise — and the personality traits needed to keep it running — is at the center of attention." - A.O. Scott, The New York Times
Selected by David Parkinson, Ty Burr, David Sterritt, Michael Wilmington, Roger Ebert.
201 Up Arrow
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Bad Education

Bad Education

Mala educación, La (original title)
2004 / Spain / 105m / Col / Drama, Mystery
Gael Garcia Bernal, Fele Martinez, Daniel Gimenez Cacho, Lluis Homar, Francisco Maestre, Francisco Boira, Raul Garcia Forneiro, Nacho Perez, Javier Camara, Alberto Ferreiro
"The great Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar's newest film is a delirious, headlong immersion and re-invention of film noir, a style that has lured countless film makers onto its treacherous shoals… Bad Education contemplates the wonder of storytelling itself and the human instinct to embroider reality to make the tales we tell more real and conclusive, if less strictly factual. It insists that stories, the stories within stories, and the fantasies they crystallize, are the best (and maybe the only) tools at our disposal for making sense of it all." - Stephen Holden, The New York Times
Selected by R. Kurt Osenlund, Claudia Siefen, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Gilbert Adair, Richard Peña.
200
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This is Not a Film

This is Not a Film

2011 / Iran / 75m / Col / Culture & Society, Documentary
Jafar Panahi
"In December 2010, the film-makers and pro-democracy activists Jafar Panahi and Mohammad Rasoulof were sentenced to six years in prison for alleged crimes against national security… While pursuing his appeal, and confined to his apartment under effective house arrest, Panahi managed to make this gripping, zero-budget film about a day in his life, shot entirely within his flat… This Is Not a Film is a compelling personal document, a quietly passionate statement of artistic intent, and an uncompromising testament to his belief in cinema. The government is trying to cut off the oxygen to his livelihood and life. But this film-maker is hitting back." - Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
Selected by Richard Combs, Lou Ye, Kevin B. Lee, Peter Bradshaw, Marc Isaacs.
199
192
Gosford Park

Gosford Park

2001 / UK-USA-Italy / 137m / Col / Comedy Drama, Mystery
Eileen Atkins, Bob Balaban, Alan Bates, Michael Gambon, Charles Dance, Tom Hollander, Stephen Fry, Richard E. Grant, Derek Jacobi, Kelly Macdonald
"Robert Altman, near the peak of his directorial game at 76, melds the staid worlds of Upstairs Downstairs and Agatha Christie-style mystery into an acutely observed period whodunit, set in 1932 on a posh country estate. Michael Gambon is the rich "randy old sod" with many enemies who gives a weekend shooting party. Kristin Scott Thomas is the lady of the house. The guests include an American film producer (Balaban) and the matinee idol Ivor Novello (Northam). Greed and snobbery reign, and upstairs meets downstairs on the back stairs. The ensemble acting is sublime." - Stephen Holden, The New York Times
Selected by Daniel Lindvall, Geoff Andrew, Joseph McBride, A.O. Scott, Andrew Sarris..
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210
Drive

Drive

2011 / USA / 100m / Col / Crime, Thriller
Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Albert Brooks, Oscar Isaac, Christina Hendricks, Ron Perlman, Kaden Leos, Jeff Wolfe, James Biberi
"At a time when action films routinely pass off freneticness as excitement, Drive is a reminder of how powerful the genre can be when every shot and every line of dialogue has a purpose, deployed for maximum impact. Owing a debt to the Zen-like simplicity and nocturnal L.A. ambience of Walter Hill’s The Driver—which, in turn, took a page from Jean-Pierre Melville’s Le Samouraï—the film is little more than an exercise in style, but it’s dazzling and mythic, a testament to the fundamental appeal of fast cars, dangerous men, and tension that squeezes like a hand to the throat." - Scott Tobias, A.V. Club
Selected by Marshall Fine, Roger Ebert, Ty Burr, Andrew O'Hehir, Stephanie Zacharek.
See also 1,000 Noir Films
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25th Hour

25th Hour

2002 / USA / 134m / Col / Urban Drama, Crime Drama
Edward Norton, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Barry Pepper, Rosario Dawson, Anna Paquin, Brian Cox, Tony Siragusa, Levani, Misha Kuznetsov, Isiah Whitlock Jr.
"In 25th Hour Spike Lee takes the story of a convicted drug dealer's last day of freedom and expands it into a meditation on New York and America in the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001… From the opening credits sequence, showing two beams of blue light where the World Trade Center once stood, to the closing moments, which evoke the dream of the wide-open road, Lee takes the spiritual moment and crystallizes it into art. The result is a film of sadness and power, the first great 21st century movie about a 21st century subject." - Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle
Selected by Paola Brunetta, Glenn Kenny, Nanni Moretti, Joshua Rothkopf, Roger Ebert.
196
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Before Midnight

Before Midnight

2013 / USA / 109m / Col / Comedy Drama, Marriage Drama
Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy, Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick, Jennifer Prior, Charlotte Prior, Xenia Kalogeropoulou, Walter Lassally, Ariane Labed, Yiannis Papadopoulos, Athina Rachel Tsangari
"Before Midnight is intimate and intelligent, and also undemanding in the best possible way, acted with charm and lack of ego, especially by Delpy: the story of people who have all the cares of middle age but somehow retain the idealism and curiosity of their youth. It's a secular, happier – if shallower – version of Rossellini's Journey to Italy, to which it explicitly alludes, having given cinephiles time to notice the resemblance for themselves... This is a great end to the trilogy – if it is the end. As an organic experiment in collaboration between actors and director, it is a triumph, co-created and co-owned by Delpy, Linklater and Hawke." - Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
Selected by Paul Whitington, Tim Grierson, David Ansen, Phillip Lopate, Dana Stevens.
195
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Munich

Munich

2005 / USA-Canada / 160m / Col / Docudrama, Political Thriller
Eric Bana, Daniel Craig, Geoffrey Rush, Ciaran Hinds, Mathieu Kassovitz, Hanns Zischler, Ayelet Zorer, Gila Almagor, Michel Lonsdale, Mathieu Amalric
"With Munich, Steven Spielberg forgoes the emotional bullying and pop thrills that come so easily to him to tell the story of a campaign of vengeance that Israel purportedly brought against Palestinian terrorists in the wake of the 1972 Olympics. An unsparingly brutal look at two peoples all but drowning in a sea of their own blood, Munich is by far the toughest film of the director's career and the most anguished. Mr. Spielberg has been pummeling audiences with his virtuosity for nearly as long as he has been making movies; now, he tenders an invitation to a discussion." - Manohla Dargis, The New York Times
Selected by Nacho Ruiz Capillas, Armond White, Owen Gleiberman, Ty Burr, Roger Ebert.
194
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Waiting for Happiness

Waiting for Happiness

Heremakono (original title)
2002 / France-Mauritania / 90m / Col / Comedy Drama, Slice of Life
Khatra Ould Abder Kader, Maata Ould Mohamed Abeid, Mohamed Mahmoud Ould Mohamed, Nana Diakite, Fatimetou Mint Ahmeda, Makanfing Dabo, Santha Leng
"This lovely first feature from one of African cinema's brightest rising stars offers a wondrously subtle account of themes - communication breakdown, the importance of tradition, the perils of exile - which in most other hands might have ended up as a heavy-handed sermon. Sissako wisely prefers to make points through visual and aural poetry, narrative ellipsis and a good deal of deadpan humour. On the whole, dialogue is less revealing than faces, space, pace, light, colour and music, much of it superb." - Geoff Andrew, Time Out
Selected by Rasha Salti, Lindiwe Dovey, June Givanni, Mark Cousins, Keith Shiri.
193 Up Arrow
213
Shaun of the Dead

Shaun of the Dead

2004 / UK-USA-France / 99m / Col / Comedy, Horror
Simon Pegg, Kate Ashfield, Lucy Davis, Nick Frost, Dylan Moran, Bill Nighy, Penelope Wilton, Jessica Stevenson, Peter Serafinowicz, Rafe Spall
"This cheerful horror comedy, starring and co-written by Simon Pegg of Channel 4's Spaced, is as smart as paint. It's pacily directed, nicely acted and boasts a script crammed with real gags… The spoof genre is usually so tricky but this brings it off: it's spirited, good-natured, likable and funny, with great support from Penelope Wilton and Bill Nighy as Shaun's mum and stepdad. If it sometimes looks like a feature-length episode of Spaced, well that's a good thing." - Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
Selected by Norm Wilner, Anne Billson, Quentin Tarantino, Nick James, Peter Bradshaw.
192 Up Arrow
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The Hours

The Hours

2002 / USA-UK / 114m / Col / Drama, Period Film
Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore, Meryl Streep, Stephen Dillane, Miranda Richardson, George Loftus, John C. Reilly, Ed Harris, Jack Rovello, Allison Janney
"This remarkably faithful and moving screen adaptation of Michael Cunningham's Pulitzer Prize-winning theme and variations on Virginia Woolf's novel Mrs. Dalloway stars Nicole Kidman as the English author who committed suicide in 1941… Ms. Kidman's Woolf is one of the most disturbing portraits of mental imbalance ever brought to the screen… David Hare's lean, incisive screenplay and Philip Glass's churning minimalist score fold stories that take place in different eras into a single timeless plane. Ed Harris gives a furious, anguished portrayal of an eminent poet dying of AIDS." - Stephen Holden, The New York Times
Selected by Mohamed Al-Daradji, Ali Ulvi Uyanik, David Wain, Kathleen Murphy, Xavier Dolan.
191 Up Arrow
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Spellbound

Spellbound

2002 / USA / 96m / Col / Culture & Society, Documentary
Angela Arenivar, Nupur Lala, Ted Brigham, Emily Stagg, Ashley White, Neil Kadakia, April DeGideo, Harry Altman, Paige Kimble, Dr. Alex J. Cameron
"One can't help but be spellbound by the high drama in the simply photographed and straightforward documentary Spellbound. Who would have thought that following eight kids as they prepare for and compete in a national spelling bee could be so riveting? Director Jeffrey Blitz did. His saga of hardworking and ambitious middle-schoolers captivates and touches its audience as it draws parallels among the boys and girls whose backgrounds couldn't be more different… Not only does the movie offer a glimpse of a rarified world and some fresh visions of the American dream, but also it allows audiences to get to know these exceptional kids and their families. Spellbound casts a potent spell." - Claudia Puig, USA Today
Selected by Nick Kroll, Doug Jones, Andy Glynne, Leonard Maltin, A.O. Scott.
190
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Regular Lovers

Regular Lovers

Les Amants réguliers (original title)
2005 / France / 183m / BW / Drama, Coming-of-Age
Louis Garrel, Clotilde Hesme, Julien Lucas, Nicolas Bridet, Mathieu Genet, Raissa Mariotti, Caroline Deruas-Garrel, Rebecca Convenant, Marie Girardin, Maurice Garrel
"This tender portrait of late-1960s French youth stars Louis Garrel as François, a 20-year-old Parisian struggling through the fires of revolutionary promise and its smoldering remains… The beauty of the film - the shimmering black-and-white tones and the purity of the compositions, at once austere and harmonious - suggests that the director sees this layover less as a retreat into narcissism than as a necessary journey into the self… While the film’s desperately sad finale indicates that Philippe Garrel knows the truth of ’68 better than most and might have suffered a crisis in faith in the years since, this magnificent film is itself proof that all was not lost." - Manohla Dargis, The New York Times
Selected by Boris Nelepo, Khalil Joreige, Quim Casas, David Ehrenstein, Michael Atkinson.
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Vera Drake

Vera Drake

2004 / UK-France / 125m / Col / Drama, Social Problem Film
Imelda Staunton, Philip Davis, Peter Wright, Eddie Marsan, Alex Kelly, Daniel Mays, Sally Hawkins, Adrian Scarborough, Heather Craney, Ruth Sheen
"Staunton plays a middle-aged cleaning woman in 1950s London who performs illegal abortions in her spare time, motivated not by money or ideology but by an intuitive conviction that she's providing a desperately needed service for desperately needy women. The acting is brilliant and Leigh's screenplay - developed through his usual process of improvisation and rehearsal - is very long on compassion, very short on preaching and politics." - David Sterritt, The Christian Science Monitor
Selected by Michael Brooke, Dan Sallitt, Peter Bradshaw, Andrew Bujalski, Sukhdev Sandu.
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Argo

Argo

2012 / USA / 120m / Col / Docudrama, Political Thriller
Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, John Goodman, Victor Garber, Tate Donovan, Clea Duvall, Scoot McNairy, Rory Cochrane, Christopher Denham
"It’s rare as a pink giraffe, but every once in a blue moon a movie comes along in which each piece fits seamlessly and every detail works. Argo is one of them. I have come to regard Ben Affleck as better, stronger and more self-assured behind a camera than he is in front of one, but in this exemplary, meticulously detailed thriller about a fake movie that saved real lives, he wears both hats magnificently… Argo is a triumph. It has tension, sincerity, mystery, artistic responsibility, entertainment value, technical expertise, a narrative arc and a thrilling respect for the tradition of how to tell a story with minimum frills and maximum impact. " - Rex Reed, The New York Observer
Selected by Owen Gleiberman, Peter Bradshaw, Philip French, Roger Ebert, Ty Burr.
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Brooklyn

Brooklyn

2015 / Ireland-UK-Canada / 111m / Col / Period Film, Romantic Drama
Saoirse Ronan, Domhnall Gleeson, Emory Cohen, Brid Brennan, Jim Broadbent, Fiona Glascott, Jane Brennan, Eva Birthistle, Julie Walters, Eve Macklin
"The persistent feeling that this movie so beautifully creates is that even when the world is bestowing blessings upon us, it’s still at the bottom a sad place, and the key to an emotionally healthy existence involves some rooted acceptance of that. The movie ends with Eilis (Ronan) having made some substantial steps to that accepting place, and also determined to move purposefully forward. People have spoken about how understated and old-fashioned Brooklyn is, to the extent that it might come across as a pleasant innocuous entertainment. Don’t be fooled. Brooklyn is not toothless. But it is big-hearted, romantic and beautiful." - Glenn Kenny, Roger Ebert.com
Selected by Glenn Kenny, Todd McCarthy, Nick Schager, Noel Murray, Peter Rainer.
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Spotlight

Spotlight

2015 / USA-Canada / 128m / Col / Docudrama, Political Drama
Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery, Brian d'Arcy James, Stanley Tucci, Elena Wohl, Gene Amoroso, Doug Murray
"Writer-director Tom McCarthy honours the meticulous work of breaking a scandal in this engrossing dramatisation of the Boston Globe’s investigation of sex abuse in the Catholic Church… While McCarthy’s crisp, unfussy treatment allows few visual flourishes, it’s an approach – bolstered by cinematographer Masanobu Takayanagi’s precise framing and fluent tracking shots through the Globe’s boxy offices – that pays dividends with the intricate narrative… The uniformly strong ensemble cast largely avoids any grandstanding moments, and manufactured drama is swerved, while Howard Shore’s sober score is applied with restraint.” - Matthew Taylor, Sight & Sound
Selected by A.O. Scott, Richard Roeper, J.R. Jones, Rex Reed, Michael Phillips.
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Stories We Tell

Stories We Tell

2012 / Canada / 108m / Col / Biography, Documentary
Michael Polley, Harry Gulkin, Susy Buchan, John Buchan, Mark Polley, Joanna Polley, Cathy Gulkin, Marie Murphy, Robert MacMillan, Anne Tait
"As if adapting a family photo album into a humane Rashomon-esque documentary, Sarah Polley's multi-faceted and confrontational Stories We Tell lays out the complex history of her family makeup and investigates the seeds of her own existence. Inward-looking, and yet eschewing narcissism, Polley constructs the mostly Toronto-based narrative via inherently nostalgic Super 8 footage… The film's greatest success is the way it captures the essence of what it means to be a family, despite the fissures in the cracks of its foundation—that sly ethos from which we appreciate, become annoyed, feel guilty, and ultimately understand our relations both socially and genetically.” - Nick McCarthy, Slant Magazine
Selected by Cameron Bailey, Deepa Mehta, Guy Maddin, J. Hoberman, José Teodoro.
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In Praise of Love

In Praise of Love

Éloge de l'amour (original title)
2001 / France / 97m / Col-BW / Drama, Showbiz Drama
Bruno Putzulu, Cecile Camp, Claude Baignieres, Jean Davy, Francoise Verny, Audrey Klebaner, Jeremie Lippman, Remo Forlani, Mark Hunter, Philippe Loyrette
"Jean-Luc Godard’s best feature since Nouvelle Vague is in some respects as difficult as that film, though visually it’s stunning and unique even among Godard’s work. The first part, set in contemporary Paris, was shot in black-and-white 35-millimeter, while the second, set in Brittany two years earlier, is in floridly oversaturated color… As in his magnum opus, Histoire(s) du Cinema, Godard is centrally concerned with the ethics of true and false representation and with the lost promise of cinema, which leads to some anti-American reflections ranging from reasonable to over-the-top. This is a twilight film, dark and full of sorrow, yet lyrical and beautiful as well." - Jonathan Rosenbaum
Selected by Paul Buck, Dennis Grunes, Lorena Cancela, Ricardo Adaliá Martin, Frederic Gimello.
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Traffic

Traffic

2000 / USA-Germany / 147m / Col / Crime Drama, Social Problem Film
Michael Douglas, Don Cheadle, Benicio Del Toro, Luis Guzman, Dennis Quaid, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Steven Bauer, Erika Christensen, Amy Irving, Tomas Milian
"Traffic examines the question of drugs as politics, business, and lifestyle. With an innovative color-coded cinematic treatment to distinguish his interwoven stories, Steven Soderbergh embroils viewers in the lives of a newly appointed drug czar and his family, a West Coast kingpin’s wife, a key informant, and police officers on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. The film, which delivers a complex and nuanced take on an issue of international importance without sacrificing any energy or suspense, is a contemporary classic, and the winner of four Oscars, for best director, best screenplay, best editing, and best supporting actor for Benicio del Toro." - The Criterion Collection
Selected by David Wain, Cameron Crowe, Roger Ebert, Manohla Dargis, A.O. Scott.
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Together

Together

Tillsammans (original title)
2000 / Sweden-Denmark-Italy / 106m / Col / Comedy Drama, Ensemble Film
Lisa Lindgren, Gustaf Hammarsten, Michael Nyqvist, Emma Samuelsson, Sam Kessel, Anja Lundqvist, Jessica Liedberg, Ola Norell, Axel Zuber, Shanti Roney
"Lukas Moodysson's first feature, Show Me Love, won lots of hearts with its comic yet swooningly fervent study of a smalltown girl-on-girl love affair. His new feature is a brilliant expansion of film-making scope, despite being conceived on the same domestic, suburban lines. It is an almost perfect light comedy: funny, original, touchingly tender, with superbly managed modulations of tone between laughs and tears. Together is about a commune in Sweden in 1975, occupied by a bunch of hippies who give their children names like Tet, after the Tet Offensive." - Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
Selected by James Gunn, David Wain, Armond White, David Ansen, Sukhdev Sandhu.
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Darwin's Nightmare

Darwin's Nightmare

2004 / Austria-Belgium-France-Germany / 111m / Col / Environmental Science, Documentary
Elizabeth 'Eliza' Maganga Nsese, Raphael Tukiko Wagara, Dimond Remtulia, Marcus Nyoni, Sergey Samarets, Jonathan Nathanael, Msafiri 'Safiri' Habat, Dima Rogonov, Vladimir Tarasenko, Jura Biriuchev
"The Nile perch was introduced to Lake Victoria some 40 to 50 years ago, an apparent attempt to replenish the overfished waters that led to the extinction of hundreds of indigenous species… Quietly outraged and actively upsetting, Darwin's Nightmare spirals out from a case study of one cannibalistic killer to a far bigger and more rapacious fish. The ruthless supremacy of the Nile perch and its devastating effect on the lake's ecosystem constitute a gruesomely resonant metaphor for the impact of global capitalism on local industry… Darwin's Nightmare strings together cruel ironies into a work of harrowing lucidity.” - Dennis Lim, The Village Voice
Selected by B. Ruby Rich, Isabel Stevens, Brian Hill, Claas Danielsen, Dick Fontaine.
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The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Le Scaphandre et le papillon (original title)
2007 / France-USA / 112m / Col / Drama, Medical Drama
Mathieu Amalric, Emmanuelle Seigner, Marie-Josee Croze, Anne Consigny, Patrick Chesnais, Niels Arestrup, Olatz Lopez Garmendia, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Marina Hands, Max von Sydow
"In the year between the stroke that left him paralyzed and the death from pneumonia that came two days after his memoir, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, was published, Jean-Dominique Bauby told his ex-wife (via the fluttering lash of one eye) that he wanted to see his story on the screen. I think—I know—he’d be over the moon about Julian Schnabel’s movie... Whatever Schnabel’s posturings as a painter, he’s a major film director, alive not only to light and texture but to characters’ emotions—which twist the light and warp the textures and permeate the canvas." - David Edelstein, New York Magazine
Selected by Anna Smith, Patricia Rozema, Malu De Martino, Pierre Lam, Cyrus Frisch.
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Cafe Lumiere

Café Lumière

Kôhî jikô (original title)
2003 / Japan-Taiwan / 108m / Col / Drama, Family Drama
Yo Hitoto, Tadanobu Asano, Masato Hagiwara, Kimiko Yo, Nenji Kobayashi
"The director, Hou Hsiao-Hsien, is famous for his peerlessly beautiful cinema - and infamous for the complexity of his narratives. That reputation was earned in dense masterworks like The Puppetmaster, but Cafe Lumiere is as simple as the sun, as guileless as a glass of water. Conceived in tribute to Ozu, the plot resembles one of the master's domestic melodramas, attenuated to a vanishing point. Were you to blow on Cafe Lumiere, it would surely float right off the screen. Little danger of that: Its skill will take your breath away… A master in thrall to the everyday sublime, Mr. Hou joins Ozu as one of the great shapers of the celluloid art." - Nathan Lee, The New York Sun
Selected by Marcelo Panozzo, Brad Stevens, Lin Wenqi, Siu Heng, Lorena Cancela.
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Shrek

Shrek

2001 / USA / 90m / Col / Fantasy Comedy, Animation
Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, John Lithgow, Vincent Cassel, Peter Dennis, Clive Pearse, Jim Cummings, Bobby Block, Michael Galasso
"My goodness, they have discovered something new in Shrek. It's wondrous, it's fabulous, it's – by the standards of these times – all but unprecedented. Computer-generated imagery? Nah. Old hat. Who cares? I'm talking about… story. For the movie, despite all its high-tech weirdness, is really that most perdurable of human constructions, a tale told well and true, one that carries you along and prods you to laugh and squeal and jump and dance, all of which fit under the general category of Making You Care." - Stephen Hunter, The Washington Post
Selected by Jan Ruysbergh, Josef Schnelle, Michael Brooke, Andrew Osmond, A.O. Scott.
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In the City of Sylvia

In the City of Sylvia

En la ciudad de Sylvia (original title)
2007 / Spain-France / 84m / Col / Drama, Romantic Drama
Pilar Lopez de Ayala, Xavier Lafitte, Michael Balerdi, Laurence Cordier, Tanja Czichy, Gladys Deussner, Eric Dietrich, Charlotte Dupont, Philippe Ohrel
"The foolhardy attempts of a bookish lothario to stoke the fires of his fading memory are captured with mad invention in this unusual film from Catalan iconoclast José Luis Guerín. The serene plazas and back alleys of Strasbourg are the hunting ground for Xavier Lafitte’s Él, a young artist who has taken to trailing beautiful women around the city in the hope of locating an old flame called Sylvia. What at first feels like a fractured, experimental and slightly seedy mood piece on male perspective and fantasy blossoms into a meditation on desire and becomes something both profound and logical. That it works is in no small part due to Guerín’s sterling work behind the camera." - David Jenkins, Time Out
Selected by Tom Charity, Vadim Rizov, Pimpaka Towira, J. Hoberman, Dennis Lim.
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Saraband

Saraband

2003 / Sweden-Denmark-Norway-Italy-Finland-Germany-Austria / 120m / Col / Drama, Family Drama
Liv Ullmann, Erland Josephson, Borje Ahlstedt, Julia Dufvenius, Gunnel Fred
"Saraband touches on all the director's abiding themes and echoes a dozen or more of his pictures. There is also a recurrent shade of red in clothes and walls that in Bergman films and stage sets is associated with the interior life. Devastating in its honesty and lack of sentimentality, the film takes place in the idyllic countryside of Dalarna in central Sweden. This entrancing province, however, is only seen through windows and the magical summer light is not exploited for lyrical effect as has been the custom in Swedish cinema for a century… Saraband is a stylistically simple, morally complex movie of Strindbergian intensity, flawlessly performed." - Philip French, The Observer
Selected by Jose Enrique Monterde, Newton Aduaka, Ángeles González-Sinde, Philippe d'Hugues, Leonard Keigel.
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Leviathan

Leviathan

2012 / France-UK-USA / 87m / Col / Natural Environments, Documentary
Sally Hawkins, Eddie Marsan, Alexis Zegerman, Sylvestra Le Touzel, Stanley Townsend, Kate O'Flynn, Caroline Martin, Oliver Maltman, Sarah Niles, Samuel Roukin
"Documentary filmmaking is often derided for being stuffy; Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Verena Paravel won’t be accused of that. Their documentary about commercial fishing has mere scraps of incidental dialogue, a deafening boat engine on much of the soundtrack, only a handful of scenes that show human faces and, for the first 10 minutes (at least) of weaving nighttime digital camerawork, you frequently have no idea what the heck you are looking at… But the imagination here is arresting; ropes and nets look like undulating monsters, flocks of gulls are shot from dizzying upside-down angles.“ - Farran Smith Nehme, New York Post
Selected by Tim Grierson, Kevin B. Lee, Maria Campaña Ramia, David Jenkins, David Wilson.
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The Intruder

The Intruder

L'Intrus (original title)
2004 / France-South Korea / 130m / Col / Drama, Psychological Drama
Michel Subor, Gregoire Colin, Yekaterina Golubeva, Bambou, Florence Loiret, Lolita Chammah, Alex Descas, Dong-ho Kim, Se-tak Chang, Hong-suk Park
"It's clear enough that The Intruder is a dying man's long goodbye; whether it's a final accounting of a guilty conscience, a premonition of the hereafter, or a little of both is harder to say. There's a fair chance at least half the movie takes place in the protagonist's head. But Denis declines to distinguish between planes of reality: Fluidly merging an interior and an exterior journey, the film establishes a dreamy parity between memory and anticipation, fact and hallucination... This mysterious object may be Denis's most gorgeous film, but more than that, it's a fearless filmmaker's boldest experiment yet, a direct line from her unconscious to yours." - Dennis Lim, The Village Voice
Selected by Tim Wong, Michael Omasta, Daniel Frampton, Dana Linssen, Dominik Graf.
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Inside Out

Inside Out

2015 / USA / 94m / Col / Fantasy Comedy, Animation
Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Richard Kind, Bill Hader, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling, Kaitlyn Dias, Diane Lane, Kyle MacLachlan, Paula Poundstone
"Inside Out, a comedy-adventure set inside the mind of an 11-year old girl, is the kind of classic that lingers in the mind after you've seen it, sparking personal associations. And if it's as successful as I suspect it will be, it could shake American studio animation out of the doldrums it's been mired in for years. It avoids a lot of the cliched visuals and storytelling beats that make even the best Pixar movies, and a lot of movies by Pixar's competitors, feel too familiar. The best parts of it feel truly new, even as they channel previous animated classics (including the works of Hayao Miyazaki) and explore situations and feelings that everyone has experienced to some degree." - Matt Zoller Seitz, Roger Ebert.com
Selected by Nick Kroll, A.O. Scott, Owen Gleiberman, Peter Bradshaw, Joe Morgenstern.
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Certified Copy

Certified Copy

Copie conforme (original title)
2010 / France-Italy-Belgium-Iran / 106m / Col / Drama, Slice of Life
Juliette Binoche, William Shimell, Jean-Claude Carriere, Agathe Natanson, Gianna Giachetti, Adrian Moore, Angelo Barbagallo, Andrea Laurenzi, Filippo Troiano, Manuela Balsimelli
"The great Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami travels to Tuscany for a luminous and provocative romance in which nothing is as it appears. What seems at first to be a straightforward tale of two people—played by Oscar-winning actress Juliette Binoche and opera singer William Shimell—getting to know each other over the course of an afternoon gradually reveals itself as something richer, stranger, and trickier: a mind-bending reflection on authenticity, in art as well as in relationships. Both cerebrally and emotionally engaging, Certified Copy reminds us that love itself is an enigma." - The Criterion Collection
Selected by Stojan Pelko, Keith Uhlich, Adrian Martin, Kevin B. Lee, Richard Brody.
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Lincoln

Lincoln

2012 / USA / 150m / Col / Biopic, War Drama
Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, David Strathairn, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, James Spader, Hal Holbrook, Tommy Lee Jones, John Hawkes, Jackie Earle Haley, Bruce McGill
"Lincoln looks like a big historical drama on an epic scale, but it’s one of those movies too, a tightly focused and morally ambiguous study of character, principle and politics. It’s frankly nostalgic about both cinema and history, recalling an era when Hollywood constructed mainstream entertainments that were also meant to edify and inspire. But it does not flee from the tragedy or the contradictions of its subject, and this time around Spielberg has collaborators who rise to that ambition and make the film seem both an enduring classic and a contemporary lesson in the ways history keeps on detonating." - Andrew O'Hehir, Salon
Selected by Paul Whitington, Ty Burr, Roger Ebert, Owen Gleiberman, A.O. Scott.
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Time Out

Time Out

L'Emploi du temps (original title)
2001 / France / 134m / Col / Psychological Drama, Family Drama
Aurelien Recoing, Karin Viard, Serge Livrozet, Jean-Pierre Mangeot, Monique Mangeot, Nicholas Kalsch, Marie Cantet, Felix Cantet, Olivier Le Joubioux, Maxime Sassier
"Time Out is as timely and wrenching a film as you'll find anywhere in these dog days of corporate downsizing. Vincent (the superbly subtle French stage actor Aurelien Recoing, in his first major film role) is deemed unnecessary after eleven years as a company drone. It's a common story. What's uncommon in this psychological spellbinder from writer-director Laurent Cantet (Human Resources) is that Vincent doesn't tell anyone — not his wife, Muriel (an outstanding Karen Viard), his parents, his three children or his friends... It's a great movie." - Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
Selected by Marc Munden, Kenneth Turan, Scott Foundas, John Powers, Manohla Dargis.
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Los Angeles Plays Itself

Los Angeles Plays Itself

2003 / USA / 169m / Col-BW / Essay Film, Film & Television History
Encke King
"Most movies are intended to transform documentary into fiction; Thom Andersen's heady and provocative Los Angeles Plays Itself has the opposite agenda. This nearly three-hour "city symphony in reverse" analyzes the way that Los Angeles has been represented in the movies... A manifesto as well as a monument, Los Angeles Plays Itself has its origins in a clip lecture that Andersen originally "intended for locals only," but as finished, it is an essay in film form with near-universal interest and a remarkable degree of synthesis." - J. Hoberman, The Village Voice
Selected by Joao Rui Guerra da Mata, James Bell, Calum Marsh, Ry Russo-Young, John A. Riley.
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A Prophet

A Prophet

Un Prophète (original title)
2009 / France-Italy / 155m / Col / Crime Drama, Prison Film
Tahar Rahim, Niels Arestrup, Adel Bencherif, Hichem Yacoubi, Reda Kateb, Jean-Philippe Ricci, Gilles Cohen, Antoine Basler, Pierre Leccia, Foued Nassah
"A Prophet is a prison film like The Godfather is a gangster film. Meaning this knockout punch of a thriller surpasses its trappings to speak in a universal language about the ways power corrupts the human condition. Newcomer Tahar Rahim is astounding as Malik, 19, an illiterate Arab who begins serving six years by bootlicking César (Arestrup), an imprisoned Corsican crime boss…. Director Jacques Audiard (The Beat That My Heart Skipped) scores a triumph of the highest order with the defiant poetry of his vision. A Prophet is a new crime classic." - Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
Selected by Tim Robey, Pam Cook, Jean-Marc Vallée, Izibene Oñederra, Kenneth Turan.
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House of Flying Daggers

House of Flying Daggers

Shi mian mai fu (original title)
2004 / Hong Kong-China / 111m / Col / Action, Martial Arts
Takeshi Kaneshiro, Zhang Ziyi, Andy Lau, Song Dandan, Wang Yabin, Zheng Lu, Wu Weifeng, Yan Yan, Zheng Jie, Zhao Hongfei
"Zhang Yimou's House of Flying Daggers, like his Hero (2004) and Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) combines excitement, romance and astonishing physical beauty; to Pauline Kael's formula of "kiss kiss bang bang," we can now add "pretty pretty." Forget about the plot, the characters, the intrigue, which are all splendid in House of Flying Daggers, and focus just on the visuals. There are interiors of ornate elaborate richness, costumes of bizarre beauty, landscapes of mountain ranges and meadows, fields of snow, banks of autumn leaves and a bamboo grove that functions like a kinetic art installation." - Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
Selected by Monte Hellman, Paul Wells, Josef Schnelle, Briony Hanson, Michael Wilmington.
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The House of Mirth

The House of Mirth

2000 / UK-USA / 140m / Col / Period Film, Romantic Drama
Gillian Anderson, Eric Stoltz, Dan Aykroyd, Eleanor Bron, Terry Kinney, Anthony LaPaglia, Laura Linney, Jodhi May, Elizabeth McGovern, Penny Downie
"Davies has brought an unexpected intensity, a genuine passion, to his adaptation of Wharton's novel of love, cruelty and guile in America's high society of the early 20th century… This outstanding film shows how masterly is Davies's visual sense and what a light, adroit touch he has turned out to have with "period" furniture and detail. It is a revelation to see how he has transformed the novelistic conventions of place and character with such tact, and the kind of sobriety and discretion that allows the cast to give vivid, attractive performances." - Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
Selected by Geoff Andrew, Jonathan Romney, Philip Kemp, Bertrand Tavernier, Cameron Crowe.
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I'm Not There

I'm Not There

2007 / USA-Germany-Canada / 135m / Col-BW / Musical Drama, Biography
Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Marcus Carl Franklin, Ben Whishaw, Richard Gere, Heath Ledger, Charlotte Gainsbourg, David Cross, Bruce Greenwood, Julianne Moore
"Just about every inspired film emerges out of some kind of obsession. The singular haunting beauty of I'm Not There, Todd Haynes' thrilling deep-vision meditation on the music and many lives of Bob Dylan, is that obsession isn't just its fuel — it's the movie's spirit and subject, its driving force… Haynes splits Dylan into six different actors, leaping around key periods in his life from the late '50s through the early '80s, and he treats the songs as a heavenly chorus… I'm Not There is a fantasia, a tell-all, a biopic that's all high points, a folk-rock essay, and a dream, all wrapped into one. It plays like the headiest musical ever made." - Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly
Selected by David Ehrenstein, J. Hoberman, Ty Burr, Jonathan Rosenbaum, Graham Fuller.
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Wendy and Lucy

Wendy and Lucy

2008 / USA / 80m / Col / Psychological Drama, Road Movie
Michelle Williams, Walter Dalton, Larry Fessenden, Will Oldham, John Robinson, Will Patton, Lucy the Dog, David Koppell, Max Clement, Sid Shanley
"Based, like Reichardt’s Old Joy, on a short story by Jon Raymond, Wendy is as simple as a real catastrophe: a young homeless woman loses her dog. And the film’s genuine power comes not from transcending or expanding that piddling premise, but making the situation burn on your eyes like sulfur… Like its heroine, Reichardt’s movie is a vulnerable, small-boned, fragile thing in a world where digital hyper-editing and bullet-time violence command attention. By today’s standards, it’s virtually an anti-movie, a glimpse of a snapshot of a minor occurrence. But it’s far closer in its way to what movies are fundamentally about than 10,000 Wolverine's and Hannah Montana's." - Michael Atkinson, IFC
Selected by Emily Richardson, Michael Atkinson, Amy Taubin, Dave Kehr, Dennis Lim.
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The Artist

The Artist

2011 / France-Belgium / 100m / BW / Romantic Drama, Showbiz Comedy
Jean Dujardin, Berenice Bejo, John Goodman, James Cromwell, Penelope Ann Miller, Missi Pyle, Beth Grant, Ed Lauter, Joel Murray, Bitsie Tulloch
"A movie set in Hollywood’s silent era that is virtually wordless: a gimmick? No: sustained cinematic inspiration, deserving of every prize it received, including the Academy Award for Best Picture. This delightfully inventive comedy, about a swashbuckling star (supreme Gallic charmer Jean Dujardin) and the peppy waif (Bejo) he befriends, echoes true-life Hollywood stories of the 1920s and ’30s — sort of, if Douglas Fairbanks had suffered John Gilbert’s career dip in early talkies while Ginger Rogers was on the rise. Another way to put it: the movie is Singin’ in the Rain, reveling in the same acumen and effervescence, but silent and in black and white." - Richard Corliss, TIME
Selected by Josephine Botting, Richard Corliss, Ty Burr, Roger Ebert, Peter Bradshaw.
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Beasts of the Southern Wild

Beasts of the Southern Wild

2012 / USA / 93m / Col / Drama, Fantasy
Quvenzhane Wallis, Dwight Henry, Levy Easterly, Lowell Landes, Pamela Harper, Gina Montana, Amber Henry, Jonshel Alexander, Nicholas Clark, Joseph Brown
"This Malick-inspired response to Hurricane Katrina, about a six-year-old bayou-dweller and her father, has ambition and poetry to burn. Benh Zeitlin's debut feature is part film, part hallucination: a ripe and gamey piece of what you might call Apocalyptic Southern Gothic, ambitious and flawed but sprinting with energy. It's set at the time of the Katrina catastrophe – though it could as well be happening hundreds of years in the future, when much-prophecied climate calamities have come to pass… Beasts of the Southern Wild is a vividly poetic and maybe even therapeutic response to one of the most painful and mortifying episodes in modern American history." - Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
Selected by Amy Taubin, Ty Burr, Todd McCarthy, Roger Ebert, Peter Bradshaw.
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A Christmas Tale

A Christmas Tale

Un conte de Noël (original title)
2008 / France / 153m / Col / Ensemble Film, Family Drama
Catherine Deneuve, Jean-Paul Roussillon, Anne Consigny, Mathieu Amalric, Melvil Poupaud, Hippolyte Girardot, Emmanuelle Devos, Chiara Mastroianni, Laurent Capelluto, Emile Berling
"In Arnaud Desplechin’s beguiling A Christmas Tale, Catherine Deneuve brings her legendary poise to the role of Junon, matriarch of the troubled Vuillard family, who come together at Christmas after she learns she needs a bone marrow transplant from a blood relative. That simple family reunion setup, however, can’t begin to describe the unpredictable, emotionally volatile experience of this film, an inventive, magical drama that’s equal parts merriment and melancholy. Unrequited childhood loves and blinding grudges, brutal outbursts and sudden slapstick, music, movies, and poetry, A Christmas Tale ties it all together in a marvelously messy package." - The Criterion Collection
Selected by Roger Ebert, Philip French, Martin Scorsese, Kent Jones, Stig Bjorkman.
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The Triplets of Belleville

The Triplets of Belleville

Les Triplettes de Belleville (original title); Belleville Rendez-Vous (alternative title)
2003 / France-Canada-Belgium-UK / 80m / Col / Comedy, Animation
Jean-Claude Donda, Dirk Denoyelle, Monica Viegas, Michele Caucheteaux, Michel Robin, Graziela de Vila, Noel Baye, Suzy Falk, Nicole Shirer, Germaine Charest
"Sylvain Chomet's ravishingly weird animated feature unfolds in a universe of sheer impossibility, where size, proportion and balance are ruled by the whims of the director's perverse pen and his peculiar imagination. Although that imagination has evidently been fed by sources as various as Betty Boop, Jacques Tati and European comic books, its products are too strange to be assimilated into any known tradition… It is surely the oddest movie of the year — by turns sweet and sinister, insouciant and grotesque, invitingly funny and forbiddingly dark. It may also, by dint of Mr. Chomet's sheer inventiveness, be one of the best." - A.O. Scott, The New York Times
Selected by Andy Serkis, Jenny McCartney, Shaun Tan, Keith Uhlich, Henry Selick.
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Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter...and Spring

Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter...and Spring

Bom yeoreum gaeul gyeoul geurigo bom (original title)
2003 / South Korea-Germany / 102m / Col / Drama, Religious Drama
Oh Young-Su, Kim Ki-duk, Kim Young-Min, Seo Jae-Kyung, Ha Yeo-Jin, Kim Jong-Ho, Kim Jung-Young, Ji Dae-Han, Choi Min, Park Ji-A
"Spring, Summer… is decadently gorgeous, and its cyclical construction is fearsomely neat. But Kim's tone has an ancient simplicity, something like the fundamental eloquence of a silent film or an enduring children's book. And his images have a surrealist integrity: the swimming frog dragging a stone, the monk painting sutras with a mewling cat's tail, the prodigal monk chopping through a frozen waterfall, the Magritte-like woman masked by a scarf arriving to abandon a baby, that same infant crawling across the ice searching for his mother. Far from a maxim-expounding sermon, the film is a fresh spring of irrational visual pleasure." - Michael Atkinson, The Village Voice
Selected by Gulnara Abikeyeva, Andrea Chimento, Anton Bitel, Tiina Lokk, Angelina Nikonova.
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The Five Obstructions

The Five Obstructions

2003 / Denmark-Belgium-Switzerland-France-Sweden-Finland-UK-Norway / 90m / Col-BW / Documentary
Jørgen Leth, Lars von Trier, Daniel Hernandez Rodriguez, Jacqueline Arenal, Vivian Rosa, Alexandra Vandernoot, Patrick Bauchau, Marie Dejaer, Meschell Perez
"Von Trier's playful side comes through in The Five Obstructions, a cinematic game in documentary form. Von Trier calls up Jørgen Leth and invites him to remake his 1967 short The Perfect Human… It's fascinating to peek at the natural camaraderie of two artists bickering over the need for creative limitations… The Five Obstructions provides a challenging study of how a filmmaker works around the conditions of the day, and his own nature, to record some kind of truth. The film is also valuable for raising awareness about Leth, whose work hasn't been as widely recognized as that of his European contemporaries, but who now makes an impressive case for his skills, five times over." - Noel Murray, A.V. Club
Selected by Eduardo Escorel, João Moreira Salles, Ally Derks, Amanda Boyle, Kenneth Turan.
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Almost Famous

Almost Famous

2000 / USA / 122m / Col / Comedy Drama, Coming-of-Age
Billy Crudup, Frances McDormand, Kate Hudson, Jason Lee, Patrick Fugit, Zooey Deschanel, Michael Angarano, Anna Paquin, Fairuza Balk, Philip Seymour Hoffman
"Cameron Crowe's loose, affectionate look back on his earlier career as a teenage rock journalist overflows with wonderful performances and memorable moments. Patrick Fugit brings the perfect balance of intelligence and innocence to the role of William Miller, a San Diego teenager who takes to the road with a scruffy band called Stillwater, on assignment for Rolling Stone. Almost Famous isn't perfect -- it lacks a necessary dimension of demonic sleaze -- but Mr. Crowe's smart, compassionate writing and performances by Billy Crudup, Kate Hudson, Jason Lee and Frances McDormand (among many others) make it hum." - A.O. Scott, The New York Times
Selected by Todd Gilchrist, Noel Murray, Frank Darabont, Roger Ebert, Kenneth Turan.
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What Time is it There?

What Time is it There?

Ni na bian ji dian (original title)
2001 / Taiwan-France / 116m / Col / Drama, Psychological Drama
Kang-Sheng Lee, Shiang-chyi Chen, Yi-Ching Lu, Tien Miao, Cecilia Yip, Chao-Jung Chen, Guei Tsai, Arthur Nauzyciel, David Ganansia, Jean-Pierre Leaud
"The Taipei director Tsai Ming-liang has managed to create an underplayed melodrama about family dynamics and dysfunction that harks back to the spare, unchecked heartache of Yasujiro Ozu. Mr. Tsai has devised a storytelling style here that's both a natural evolution of his previous filmmaking and his most fully realized directing to date, with scenes that also combine the seemingly disparate methods of Ozu, Robert Bresson and Jacques Tati. In finding his own way, Mr. Tsai sets loose shock waves of comedy, which both unleash a wave of euphoria in the audience and communicate the pleasure he gets from filmmaking." - Elvis Mitchell, The New York Times
Selected by Michelangelo Frammartino, Hong Guojun, Jan Philippe V. Carpio, James Quandt, Shelly Kraicer.
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The Holy Girl

The Holy Girl

La Niña santa (original title)
2004 / Argentina-Spain-Italy-Netherlands-Switzerland / 103m / Col / Drama, Coming-of-Age
Mercedes Moran, Carlos Belloso, Alejandro Urdapilleta, Maria Alche, Julieta Zylberberg, Mia Maestro, Marta Lubos, Arturo Goetz, Alejo Mango, Monica Villa
"Lucrecia Martel's elusive, feverish and altogether amazing second feature takes place at a provincial Argentine hotel during a conference of otolaryngologists. Amalia (Alché), a moody teenager whose divorced mother and sad-sack uncle both work at the hotel, is in the throes of adolescent self-discovery. In Amalia's mind and body, spiritual and sexual impulses seem to mingle like molecules forming a volatile compound… The Holy Girl may occasionally frustrate your desire for clarity and order, but in the end it will reward your patience, and you leave the theater in a state of quiet awe. It is a film that defies categorization, but I'm tempted to call it a miracle." - A.O. Scott, The New York Times
Selected by Paul Julian Smith, Andrew Haigh, Félix Sabroso, Raymond Bellour, Jonathan Romney.
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George Washington

George Washington

2000 / USA / 89m / Col / Drama, Coming-of-Age
Candice Evanofski, Donald Holden, Damian Jewan Lee, Curtis Cotton III, Rachael Handy, Paul Schneider, Eddie Rouse, Janet Taylor, Derricka Rolle, Ebony Jones
"Green's movie is about black and white kids whiling away a long, hot summer in North Carolina… It is superbly photographed and its tremendous compositional sense shows the rigour of a young master… This is also a movie which shows poor white and young black people without aggression, without cynicism, without attitude, without Tupac or Eminem on the soundtrack… George Washington is an almost awe-inspiringly accomplished movie with an absolute faith in its own aesthetic sense, and an unapologetic preoccupation with finding beauty in the look of ordinary places, people and things." - Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
Selected by Aditya Assarat, Andrew Droz Palermo, Chris Butler & Sam Fell, Jason Wood, Jeanine Basinger.
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Kings & Queen

Kings & Queen

Rois et reine (original title)
2004 / France / 152m / Col / Comedy Drama, Family Drama
Emmanuelle Devos, Mathieu Amalric, Catherine Deneuve, Maurice Garrel, Natalie Boutefu, Jean-Paul Roussillon, Magali Woch, Hippolyte Girardot, Noemie Lvovsky, Elsa Wolliaston
"Rich and strange, Arnaud Desplechin's Kings & Queen is a movie of large gestures and outsize performances. This extravagant family melodrama runs two and a half hours and never lags, so moment-to-moment enthralling are Desplechin's narrative gambits, as well as his reckless eccentricity… Kings & Queen does not lack for conventional histrionics. As a single mother lumbered by a complicated past, as well as her weathered stick of a father (Garrel), Emmanuelle Devos gets to express every emotion; her all-out performance in the role of Nora does everything but upstage co-star Mathieu Amalric's manic turn as her flamboyant ex-husband." - J. Hoberman, The Village Voice
Selected by Gerhard Midding, Chris Chang, Gavin Smith, Stuart Klawans, Manohla Dargis.
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Bowling for Columbine

Bowling for Columbine

2002 / USA / 120m / Col / Law & Crime, Documentary
Michael Moore, Denise Ames, Arthur A. Busch, Barry Glassner, Charlton Heston, Marilyn Manson, James Nichols, Matt Stone, Dick Clark, Seth Collins
"This is a phenomenal movie. One thing that Michael Moore is unafraid to do — and which really resonates with an enormous audience — is tell the truth. His take is very populist. It's the take of the American working people who are not represented by our leaders. And the politics are delivered with such warmth and humor. It's entertaining at the same time that it's cutting, and that's a tribute to him as a filmmaker." - Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
Selected by Carolee Schneemann, Amy Berg, Peter Davis, Kay Hoffmann, John Krish.
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Once Upon a Time in Anatolia

Once Upon a Time in Anatolia

Bir zamanlar Anadolu'da (original title)
2011 / Turkey-Bosnia and Herzergovina / 150m / Col / Crime Drama, Psychological Drama
Muhammet Uzuner, Yilmaz Erdogan, Taner Birsel, Ahmet Mumtaz Taylan, Firat Tanis, Ercan Kesal, Ugur Aslanoglu, Murat Kilic, Safak Karali, Emre Sen
"Few films are about simply waiting and talking, but this is one; a film in which, for most of the time, nothing appears to be happening – but, in fact, everything is. Nuri Bilge Ceylan's new film is long and difficult, and perhaps not for everyone, but I can only say it is a kind of masterpiece: audacious, uncompromising and possessed of a mysterious grandeur in its wintry pessimism... Ceylan displays pure, exhilarating mastery in this film: it is made with such confidence and flair... With his two early features, Distant (2002) and Climates (2006), Ceylan has showed himself a superb film-maker. This is his greatest so far." - Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
Selected by Rasha Salti, Dan Fainaru, Pawel Pawlikowski, Paul Whitington, Marc Munden.