50 – A Serious Man (2009, Joel & Ethan Cohen)
I’m back and kicking off this countdown at number 50 is, in my controversial opinion, the best Coen Brothers film, A Serious Man. The film follows Larry Gopnik, a physics professor whose life suddenly falls apart around him all at once. A devoted member of the Jewish community, Larry seeks council, answers and meaning to his increasingly deteriorating situation. The film effectively maintains an air of frustration and sympathy for Larry as he gradually loses control of his life, so much so it becomes laughable, as the Coen’s craft one of their best black comedies to date. Anchored by an incredibly strong performance from the painfully underrated Michael Stuhlbarg, A Serious Man finds the Coen’s at their most emotionally resonant. In my opinion, this film finds the Coen’s mastering their personal brand of down-on-his luck character driven storyline and therefore, A Serious Man makes the list at number 50.
49 – Lady Bird (2017, Greta Gerwig)
At 49 is the film that was the best reviewed film of all time… Until Paddington 2 came out a couple weeks later that is. Marking the solo directorial debut of actor turned writer/director, Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird documents the senior year of high school of Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson, a middle class teenage girl from Sacramento California. The film reached levels of relatability unreached by any film previous, leaving all those who watched it saying “I’ve done that.” The film put Gerwig on the map as a real film making force to be reckoned with, as she became the fifth woman ever to earn a best director Oscar nomination. It’s funny, quirky, relatable to a fault and punctuated by strong performances from Beanie Feldstein and Soasire Ronan. Lady Bird is an absolute delight and number 49 on this list.
48 – Wild Tales (2014, Damian Szifron)
Coming in at number 48 is perhaps the most obscure film on this list, and I’m a wanky film critic so that’s saying something. Wild Tales is a black comedy anthology film comprising of 6 short films all written and directed by Argentinian filmmaker Damian Szifron. Wild Tales is exactly what the title suggests. Each story explores different extremities of human behaviours in distressing situations in an anthology film filled with 6 exceptional shorts. Granted, some stories are better than others, however each one stands out in their own unique way and overall there isn’t a bad short between them. Also produced by the previously mentioned Pain & Glory filmmaker, Pedro Almodovar, Wild Tales is a gripping anthology film that stays true to its crazy theme in the best way possible, making it my number 48th best film of the century thus far.
47 – The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014, Wes Anderson)
At 47 is the return of Wes Anderson to this list with the typically brightly coloured powerhouse of a film that is The Grand Budapest Hotel. The film is the story of a story, as a writer, played by Jude Law, encounters Mr Zero Moustafa, played by F. Murray Abraham, the owner of a high class hotel known as The Grand Budapest Hotel. Moustafa tells the writer of his time he served as a lobby boy at the hotel under the wing of the outstanding concierge, Gustave H, played by Ralph Fiennes. The film finds Anderson with perhaps his biggest budget to date and he puts it to perfectly Wes Anderson-y use. The symmetrical filmmaker is as beautifully precise and quirky as ever, telling a funny, entertaining, and surprisingly heartfelt story at the peak of his prestige and ability. This is Anderson’s second appearance on this list; however I’ll fill you in on a secret… It’s not the last we’ll be seeing of him.
46 – Saw (2004, James Wan)
My 46th film on this list spawned the highest grossing horror film franchise ever and dominated the entire mainstream horror scene for the best part of 5 years. The original Saw film was written by Leigh Whannell and directed by James Wan and tells the story of the latest victims of the Jigsaw killer, Adam Faulkner-Stanheight and Dr Lawrence Gordon. The two men wake up chained at opposite ends of a bathroom with a dead body between them and strict instructions to kill the other before an ominous timer runs out. Saw is not what the subsequent sequels would lead you to believe it is. The film is a psychological thriller that is surprisingly sparse on blood and guts, but rich with a grotesque and nihilistic sense of dread that would shape the future of horror films as we know it. Although its writer and director would spend the remainder of their careers trying to distance themselves from the gratuitous franchise and what it represents, the original Saw is still a phenomenon that’s surprisingly different to what you would expect.
45 – Gone Baby Gone (2007, Ben Affleck)
At the halfway point in this 10 is Ben Affleck’s directorial debut, Gone Baby Gone. When a 4 year old goes missing, two Boston Detectives, played by Casey Affleck and Michelle Monaghan, investigate the missing person’s case; however, nothing can prepare them, both professionally and personally, for what they are about to uncover. With a fittingly outstanding ensemble cast for a seasoned actor’s directorial debut, Gone Baby Gone is an intriguing mystery that makes this list for its unforgettable ending. I won’t divulge into spoilers, however I will say that it is 100% worth the 2 and a bit hour investment. Affleck would continue to prove to be one of the best actor turned directors there is with his sophomore effort, The Town and the best picture winner Argo. Nonetheless, it is this critic’s opinion that his debut is still his best work and so it makes my list at number 45.
44 – Elephant (2003, Gus Van Sant)
At 44 is a film that won the Palme D’Or at Cannes Film Festival in 2003. Gus Van Sant’s Elephant documents several high school students going about their day as normal, however two students have a far more sinister plan for the day. What is most profound about Elephant isn’t the unfolding of the two student’s sinister plan, but the graceful direction Van Sant maintains throughout. Van Sant crafts the best film of his career with this incredibly unconventional and profound slice of American life. Elephant won’t be to everyone’s taste, but nonetheless, it is a harrowing, profound and scarily just as relevant today as it was back in 2003.
43 – The Intouchables (2011, Oliver Nakache & Eric Toledano)
Coming in at number 43 is one of my favourite foreign Language film of all time, The Intouchables. The film tells the story of Driss, played by Omar Sy, an immigrant from the French projects who is unexpectedly hired as the caregiver for the rich aristocrat and paraplegic, Phillipe, played by Francois Cluzet. If this premise sounds familiar it’s perhaps because it was remade recently as The Upside with Bryan Cranston and Kevin Hart starring, however I implore you to see Oliver Nakache and Eric Toledano’s original instead. The Inctouchables is an incredibly wholesome story of an unlikely friendship that is so good that it simply didn’t need remaking.
42 – Get Out (2017, Jordan Peele)
As I have said before, I love horror movies and so at number 42 comes the most talked about horror film of the 21st century. Jordan Peele’s Get Out made waves when it debuted in early 2017, launching its writer, director Jordan Peele and star Daniel Kaluuya into star status. The film tells the story of Chris, a black man who agrees to visit his white girlfriend’s parents for the weekend; however, nothing can prepare him for what they have planned. Featuring one of the best performances of the century from its star Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out simply is the masterpiece critics claimed it to be, however it does take a couple viewings to get there. Nonetheless, Jordan Peele deservedly won a Best Original Screenplay Oscar for this film that perfectly balanced comedy and horror to make this incredibly relevant social commentary. Get Out is simply a horror masterpiece that defies the genre and it makes it in at number 42 on my list.
41 – A Star Is Born (2018, Bradley Cooper)
Finishing off this 10 countdown is a film that proved that some stories truly are timeless. Bradley Cooper’s adaptation of A Star Is Born is my 41st pick and is the 4th remake of the classic 1937 film of the same name. This version tells the story of Jackson Maine, played by Bradley Cooper, an alcoholic rock star who has a chance encounter with a young fresh faced singer named Ally, played by Lady Gaga. What then transpires is the legendary A Star Is Born love story between a fresh up and comer and a withering has been. What put this remake so high on this list is the triple threat talents of Bradley Cooper. Cooper co-writes, directs and stars in a powerfully authentic retelling that is brimming with emotional resonance. There are few films that I have seen that has such a strong emotional pull than A Star Is Born and that is, at the end of the day, why I love and watch films.
Thank you for your patience as I took a little break, but I’m back with another 10 film countdown. I hope, as always, that you enjoyed reading and that you have thoughts of your own as to what I have written. Let me know if you agree, disagree, or just haven’t heard of a film I mentioned. If not, check it out, I have impeccable taste as you can already tell. Thank you again for reading and ex