50. True Grit– The 2010 Coen Brothers movie is based on a great American novel by the Arkansas writer, Charles Portis. It is a superior remake of the John Wayne original, which looks pretty bad now by comparison. It was nominated for 10 Oscars and starred the great Jeff Bridges as Rooster Cogburn.
49. The Grand Budapest Hotel – Zero Moustafa (F. Murray Abraham) is a mysterious ex-millionaire, living in the decaying resort of the Grand Budapest Hotel in the now-communist Republic of Zubrowka. He decides to relate his story to The Author (Jude Law), specifically of his youth in a more glorious Weimar area Budapest Hotel.
48. Looper –Set in 2074, time travel is used for implementing assassinations.
47. Black Kklansman -This movie screams for you to learn your history. This film may not be as necessary as McQueen’s Twelve Years a Slave, but its one of Spike Lees all time best (easily his best since 25th Hour) and a study worth seeing.
46. Captain America: The Winter Soldier -A well paced spy thriller, equal parts James Bond and Jason Bourne, that juggles a relatively large roster of superheroes and super-villains well. The first sequel to really handle multiple super-villains well. (Goat chimes in: “A blockbuster for blockheads”)
45. Boyhood Not only did Linklater produce a masterpiece with one brilliant child star performance, he did it with TWO, and over the amazing period of twelve years. More amazingly, both actors actually made it through the 12 year period without dying, quitting, acquiring a terminal case of the dumb-ass, or a crippling case of continuously erupting acne. Instead they thrived and both turned in Oscar-worthy performances and one of the kids was Linklater’s daughter! –Goat
44. The Babadook Woman is haunted by a nightmarish children’s book, and the creature therein. TYPE: Evil spirit. Scariness: 8/10. Gore: 3/10. Essie Davis does for mothers what Jack Nicholson did for dads in The Shining.
43. Captain Philips -Capitalism makes dogs of us all. Captain Phillips (Tom Hanks) has orders to skip the protected convoy lanes in order to save fuel on the voyage of the MS Maersk Alabama. ‘Captain’ Muse (Barkhad Abdi) has to go out and deliver another ransomed ship to his warlord, this week, or his village gets massacred. And Captain Frank Castellano of the USS Bainbridge (Yul Vasquez) gets his orders directly from the White House: don’t let the pirates get their hostage to Somalia. One of these men has to crumble. And it’s not going to be the one with the Navy SEAL team on his decks.
42. Dogtooth –This is yet another great film from Yorgos Lanthimos. If you liked The Lobster and The Killing of the Sacred Deer, you may dig this one.
41. Arrival Well, the Goat did not think very much of this great film, but what does he know? A linguist works with the military to solve the mystery of alien landings at 12 spots on the Earth.
40. The Avengers You know how in boxing they have weight classes, but then also “pound for pound” rankings in an attempt to sort out who is the best quality fighter, regardless of size advantages? On a pound for pound basis, I would say The Avengers is quite good. In the heavyweight division, I would say it is a deserving champion, perhaps warranting a place in the pantheon of greats. I don’t want to get into boxing too much, but the analogy holds a lot of water here. –Plexico Gingrich
39. It Follows A sexually transmitted sexual curse is a great metaphor for the anxieties and consequences of having sex, even if it barely qualifies as a metaphor. But that’s not the only flourish that makes this film work. It’s often been argued that horror is an innately rural genre, that you can’t really do urban horror, owing to factors such as population. But It Follows succeeds in being a suburban/urban horror film by a few key inversions of horror movie tropes
38. Under the Skin While accurate, to dismiss Jonathan Glazer’s unorthodox alien sci-fi as enigmatic is a simplistic exercise in reductionism, but it is also the easiest to do. Though tangential, comparisons to 2001: A Space Odyssey were inevitable, they would prove only insofar as creative intent. What Kubrick sought to ask would ultimately eclipse what his epic attempted to answer. –Francis Co
37. Interstellar Cooper’s tracking of a magnetic anomaly leads him onto the discovery of an area-51 type secret NASA base, under the leadership of Professor Brand (Michael Caine). Of course, our corn-fed everyman is going to be recruited for a dangerous mission despite being a disaffected washout. There’s a worm-hole near Saturn that may be an attempt at contact by an alien civilization. Or possibly it will lead to habitable planets that humanity can flee to. Anyways, it’s up to McConaughey, Collette (Anne Hathaway), Doyle (Wes Bentley), and Romily (David Gyasi)to check it out.
36. Django Unchained Not too long ago (geologically speaking), white colored people started marauding around this continent on a genocidal rampage against the natives for not having the common decency to open up any burger chains. Turning a vast continent into a homogenized din of commerce and pollution takes a lot of work, so they imported some black colored people to do it for them. –Ron Mexico
35. Mud A characteristic of mine is the ability to perceive the better within the good. In this film I witness the Twain between the reeds, although this is not the story that Twain could tell of the Mississippi river. But it’s still a good story, and a good choice for the patient cinevore, one who’d prefer an amble to a sprint.
34. The Witch The Witch is primarily a slice of life from another time, which is one of my favorite things. The dialog is closely modeled on, and in some cases, lifted directly from writings from people at the time. But setting that aside, its basically a tragic episode of The Honeymooners in a much darker setting. –Plexico Gingrich
33. Kaze no Tachinu Miyazaki’s film is the biopic of Jiro Horikoshi, one of the lead designers for the Mitsubishi corporation. His most famous airplane design was the A6M “Zero”, the most heavily produced fighter plane used by Japan during WW2. The A6M Zero was a rapture of engineering, a machine of grace and delicacy. For about a year, the Zero gave the Japanese complete air superiority despite Japan’s shortcomings in metallurgy and engine design.
32. Ex Machina Caleb (Domnhall Wilson) is selected by tech mogul Nathan (Oscar Isaac) to be his beta tester for Eva (Alicia Vikander), the latest model of artificial life. She’s a clockwork girl of softly whirring gears and transparent casings, a Hajime Soroyama character with a human face. Caleb is very intelligent, but as a cubicle mole he’s hardly immune to runexe://femininewiles. Then there’s the complicating factor that Jay will likely brick Ava and recycle her for parts, should she fail in the testing.
30. The Lego Movie An ordinary LEGO construction worker, thought to be the prophesied as “special”, is recruited to join a quest to stop an evil tyrant from gluing the LEGO universe into eternal stasis. –IMDB
31. Baby Driver (Kevin disagrees): Is Baby Driver a good movie? Yes, it is. Is it a great movie? No, it is not. The heaping piles of praise created a level of expectations that make it impossible not to be somewhat disappointed by the end of the film. And yes, both my friend and I were disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, we liked the movie, but our mutual reaction was simply “huh.” –Kevin
29. Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse I reluctantly took my son to see this movie. After sitting through it, I can say that either it was a really good film or I am secretly a comic book nerd. Fun fact: I have never purchased a comic book in my life. –Kevin
28. John Wick Here it is, folks: The best movie of 2014. Sure, the Academy released their list recently, but apparently they didn’t feel that this film was worthy of inclusion. I don’t know why. Birdman was amazing, but did they really find four films better than John Wick, Inherent Vice, Nightcrawler, and The Interview? Why are there 8 nominations instead of 5 or 10? Why do we still listen to these people? I mean, American Sniper? Fuck you. –Vandel (whereabouts unknown)
27. Inglourious Basterds At last, after wading through a manic grab bag of early promise, cultural transformation (not the good kind), rambling self-indulgence, and, with 2007’s Death Proof, off-the-rails irrelevance, Quentin Tarantino has brought the whole of his career to a brilliantly realized summation. Though not quite the masterpiece implied by the film’s cheeky closing line, it can be said that, despite moments of frustration, diversion, and cloying self-regard, no film of recent memory has so fully realized the blissful intoxication of the cinema: our lusts, our dreams, that dangerous dance with our unreal, unnatural selves. Firmly put, Inglourious Basterds, despite daring me to tick off its numerous flaws over a superhuman running time, just may stand as the medium’s most balls-out defense of the notion that the silver screen is the very essence of life itself. –Matt
26. Sicario Sicario is everything you always hoped a good, thorough crime thriller-procedural could be. No low budget shortcuts. No tidy emotional bows wrapping up the conflict with a Happily Ever After followed by a tag promising a stupid sequel. Ace cinematography by Roger Deakins. A superb score. –Team Ruthless
25. What We Do in the Shadows This Film is Perfect For: Nerds, LARPers, Cosplayers, Goths, Twihards, and person that like Christoper Guest style mockumentaries. A must see for vampire enthusiasts. This film is Spinal Tap with vampires as delivered by Kiwis
23. Sorry to Bother You In an alternate present-day version of Oakland, telemarketer Cassius Green discovers a magical key to professional success, propelling him into a universe of greed. -IMDB
24. US falls into the cabin-in-the-woods genre of horror flicks. Adelaide Wilson (Lupita Nyong’o), her husband Gabe (Winston Duke), and their two children Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph) and Jason (Evan Alex) are vacationing at cabin near the California coast. They are accosted and terrorized by a family of four dressed in red and try to avoid being murdered by the red family. But, this is not your ordinary cabin-in-the-woods flick. Like Joss Whedon’s Cabin in the Woods, director/writer Jordan Peele spices it up with a perfect blend of comedic relief and new takes on old tropes. –Kevin
22. Logan Like science fiction movies, I will always cut a Wolverine movie some slack. I’m not sure that Logan is better than The Wolverine, but I’m sure its not worse. And if this really is Hugh Jackman’s last turn as Wolverine, I will be sad because Jackman never disappointed, but this is a good movie to end his run on, even if its not even close to a best picture nominee. Truth be told, it never needed to be because it’s freaking Wolverine. –Kevin
21. Green Room -I failed to respect Green Room in 2016. I thought it was merely an unusually tight and well paced thriller, but it was an augury for the storms of the Alt Right and white supremacism that now are blowing across the world. A punk rock band gets in over their heads at what turns out to be a neo-nazi run nightclub, and the roller coaster doesn’t let up once. Patrick Stewart was incredible as usual- sadly, this film was the last work of Anton Yelchin, who gave a raw and searing performance. He is missed.
20. Pacific Rim – Guillermo Del Toro’s robots vs. monsters blockbuster was a weird and fun affair, a fresh new franchise made great by Charlie Day, Burn Gorman, and a show-stealing speech by Idris Elba. It’s stupid fun, fulfilling on an atavistic level.
19. Birdman – An unrelenting theater of ego and immersion, Alejandro Inarritu’s exploration of a washed up movie star’s attempt at Broadway credibility was a tour de force for Michael Keaton, bouncing off of Edward Norton, Zach Gallifinakis, Emma Stone, and his own super-hero costumed alter ego. Simply one of the best examples of the drama that cinema can deliver. –Goat
18. Shin Godzilla– Hideaki Anno’s ensemble film brings Godzilla back to the genre of horror. Gone is the WWE monster-wrestling, and returned is the ineffable- a mutating, unstoppable titan from unknown oceans, and a Japanese government scrambling to offer some solution. Written as a metaphor for Japan’s botched handling of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Anno makes Godzilla back into a primal and apocalyptic force. The best Godzilla film outside of the 1956 original.
17. The Master– Paul Thomas Anderson’s story of the growth a not-quite but pretty obviously Scientology is 180 minutes of two of the best actors (Joaquin Phoenix and Phillip Seymour Hoffman) going at it. Phoenix is magnetic and powerful as a lost soul who wrestles his way into being a believer and enforcer for a man that’s willing to try a slight amount of patience and empathy. An amazing battle of wills.
16. The Act of Killing– An amazing coup of investigative journalism, The Act of Killing is one of the best documentaries on how genocides are carried out. Joshua Oppenheimer is able to get a lot out of the 1960s Indonesian purges after Sukarno’s overthrow, simply by appealing to the egos of the men who carried out the massacres. At the same time, it’s weirdly beautiful, capturing the beauty in the madness of one of the darkest episodes of the 1960s.
15. Dunkirk– Rashomon as a war movie is such a great concept, it’s amazing that no one ever did it before. Christopher Nolan puts together an ensemble film, and manages to make hundreds of men standing in line waiting on a beach into a tense, suspenseful affair. The best war movie of this decade.
14. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood– Much of Quentin Tarantino’s swan song, an homage to the period right before the Golden Age of Hollywood, is just hanging out with the aging star Rick Dalton (Leonardo di Caprio) and his gofer Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt). It’s a film that’s willing to just spend ambient time with the characters, while slowly building to a payoff. It’s a film where you can feel the nicotine stains and smell the ozone.
13. Moonlight– Moonlight is a new and beautiful coming-of-age/coming out film, a triptych threading through masculinity, blackness, homosexuality, and self definition. Chiron goes through trauma and becomes Black, an ex-con drug dealer, still pining for Kevin, his first love, who betrayed and abused him.
12. Scott Pilgrim Versus the World– Edgar Wright’s rock comedy really ought to be a romantic comedy classic of the Millenial generation. It’s a pity more people don’t know about it. It’s a cartoonish and snarky look at a young hipster who interprets the world through the lends of video games. Full of great lines, sprightly, and fun, Scott Pilgrim is one of my fall-back popcorn films. Not profound, but profoundly enjoyable.
11. Her– A bracing commentary on social isolation and where AI may be going, Spike Jonze’s Her was a twee hipster dystopia, a world where all aspects of human interaction have been commoditized, outsourced, and automated. It’s challenging, cold, and original, and feels ever more prescient.
10. Drive– One of the most stylish and cool films of the decade, a Heat for the freeways, Nicolas Winding Refn’s heist/crime film features Oscar worthy turns by Bryan Cranston and Albert Brooks. It’s one of the most watchable films, one that I’ve gone back to multiple times.
9. Blade Runner 2049– This was the decade where humanity decided that the survival of civilization wasn’t worth it. Now the environmental action debate revolves around whether we shall bequeath the future to the rats, the cockroaches, or the tardigrades. Denis Villeneuve extended and expanded the original definitive film of the cyberpunk genre, adding in Ballard-esque scenescapes of environmental devastation- a Central Valley wrapped in plastic, San Diego as a vast scrapyard. Impeccable performances by everyone in the cast. A film within the film about Nabokov’s Pale Fire. I am so profoundly grateful that this film exists. It’s everything that I ever wanted to see in a movie theater.
One of the greatest movies ever made –Goat
8. Mad Max: Fury Road– Simply one of the best action films of all time, at a level comparable to Die Hard and Conan the Barbarian. Simple, lean, yet rich with incredible practical effects works and gorgeous visuals, Fury Road is never dull. It’s a master class in visual exposition, while being a film about the pageantry that patriarchy needs to flourish in order to assert their authority. It’s also a passing of the torch from one legend to another. Max returns to the wastelands, again. All hail Furiosa!
7. Get Out– Horror films as a metaphor for race relations is at least as old as Night of the Living Dead, or even as old as Nosferatu (if you want to take it as a coded anti-Semitic film). It’s ultimately a film about how the white upper class exploits black bodies for increased life and health, but it takes many twists before that, going from a Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner scenario to The Stepford Wives and The Wicker Man. Most of all, it’s a film about how racism camouflages itself, of what a surface language has been adopted to conceal a sinister agenda that has carried on to the present day. Riveting.
6. Four Lions– The best comedy of the decade is taking the piss out of Islamic terrorism, the great boogeyman of the previous decade. And it’s both dark and sharp, showing how the war on terror feeds on the terrorists and how radicalization takes place with British youth alienated from London society.
5. 12 Years a Slave– This is the movie that America deserves. I want to force my entire nation to watch this, Clockwork Orange Ludovico Treatment style. All the Daughters of the Confederacy, all the Good Old Boys, all the drivers of pickups with Blue Lives Matter. I want to funnel this movie down their throats until they puke. Slavery was an economy of genocide and criminality. It’s an epic of degradation, a study of how erasure takes place, and of how men will abuse power. If you want to understand the United States of America, watch this film.
4. Inside Out– Pixar’s madcap portrayal of the life of the mind is perhaps one of the best films for children, because it is a film that teaches about emotional literacy, and about the role and utility of every emotion. On top of that, it’s a rich odyssey through the corridors of cognition, with scenes illustrating memory, dreams, and the process of forgetting. If Bing Bong doesn’t make you cry, then I don’t want to know you. This is the must-show film if you have kids.
3. The Congress– Ari Folman’s adaptation of a Stanislaw Lem novel is one of the best films about virtual and augmented reality ever made. Looming in and out of a depressed Los Angeles and a cartoonish virtual Disneyland, The Congress follows Robin Wright as she attempts to navigate a way to look after her family in a future where anyone can become anyone, provided they can afford the formula to remake themselves as their favorite celebrity.
2. Holy Motors- The strange, polymorphic travails of Monsieur Oscar (Dennis Lavant) across a day in a futuristic Paris are a meditation upon the Entertainment Industry, and the Gig Economy. Leos Carax’s film is a fascinating exploration of artifice and identity, and it’s a black mirror of what acting may come to be in world cannibalized by the gig economy.
NUMBER ONE Tree of Life– Terence Malick’s opus, a meditation on a troubled and tragic childhood in a Texas suburb, is at once vast and intimate, epic and prosaic. It is a film that scales the personal with the profound, it’s a film eschews narrative linearity for a dreamlike alternation between past and present, a portrait of how the child is a father of the man. If you ever have an opportunity to see this film shown on a big screen, take it. It’s a spiritual event.