If you missed the first half of my countdown then head back to Page 1.
5. Capernaum (2018)
A stunning Lebanese film about a 12 year old slum-dog in Beirut who sues his parents for allowing him to be born into such an uncaring and unforgiving world. The child lead, a Syrian refugee himself, is wonderful and it is hard to believe that it is his first film (though his performance in Capernaum has brought him great acclaim and we will see him next in the MCU blockbuster The Eternals). More than any of the documentaries I have seen on the issues of this region, I don’t think I have ever felt the despair of a character so strongly.
4. Victoria (2016)
When Spanish immigrant Victoria meets four young men leaving a night club at around 4am, a sequence of events is triggered that takes her on a thrill ride of emotions and excitement.Technically astounding and artistically exciting, Victoria tells a believable and beautiful story in a unique way. It is a 130 minute single take heist move set in Berlin and unlike many ‘single take’ films that use cuts and stitch together reshoots, Victoria uses a single camera and was fully recorded in one continuous take.
3. The Florida Project (2017)
Feeling like a window into the lives of real people, this beautifully voyeuristic film looks at the life of six year old Moonee and her dysfunctional mother in the Florida equivalent of the urban projects – a run down motel outside Disney World. Willem Defoe is simply magnificent as the manager of the manager of the Magic Castle motel and is surrounded by a cast made up mostly of newcomers. Fantastically juxtaposing the squalor of Kissimmee and the opulence of the nearby theme parks, the films closing scene was shot at The Magic Kingdom in secret using an iPhone without Disney’s permission.
2. Her (2013)
Written and directed by Being John Malkovich director and Jackass creator Spike Jonze, Her is a love story between a lonely, introverted man and an artificially intelligent virtual assistant operating system. Despite sounding quite ludicrous, it is a brightly coloured and believable view of a near future that you would not be surprised to see come to pass. Despite its slightly arty feel making it seem a little less accessible, once you start to believe in the relationship between Theodore and Samantha the film shines, as does Joaquin Phoenix. This was Jonze’s first solo script and it deservedly won him an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. A beautiful dystopian/utopian dream.
1. Drive (2011)
Nicolas Winding Refyn‘s breakout shows all the hallmarks of his trademark style; neon, night-time, electronica and ultra-violence. Ryan Gosling is at the tp of his game as an unnamed Hollywood stunt man and part time getaway driver who falls in love with the wife of a criminal and Brian Cranston is brilliant as the fixer Shannon. As a robbery goes wrong, double crosses are revealed and mob links discovered, the spiralling plot sees ‘the driver’ lose control of his meticulous life in feast of gratuitous glory. From the opening scene of Gosling driving through night time LA I was hooked on the aesthetic of the film, but with a great script, amazing cast, perfect score and a cinematic beauty to the violence, Drive is a true masterpiece of modern cinema and far more than a flashy show pony. This is the film that made Refyn one of my favourite directors and I still get excited when I hear he has a new project.
My film of the decade is Drive.