Here’s a list of movies of the last decade or so, if you’re looking for something you may not have heard of to put on your to-watch list.
Note that these films are listed in no order. But they’re all worth a watch! Feel free to add your own recommendations in the comments of films people may have missed.
1. Drinking Buddies
This delightful romantic comedy slipped through the cracks for big audiences, but Joe Swanberg’s take on relationships is worth your while. Olivia Wilde and Jake Johnson charm as two friends who may or may not have caught feelings for each other. Anna Kendrick and Ron Livingston show up in supporting roles, rounding up this cast to die for. Painfully relatable and full of laughs, Drinking Buddies should definitely be on your radar.
Any horror fans in? From the directors of Inside, Livid is a tense home-invasion thriller with a healthy dose of supernatural dread. As beautiful as it is sad, Livid doesn’t just offer cheap scares but something much more profound. Director Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury take a simple premise (teenagers doing some house robbing) and turn it upside down, crafting a relentless, but emotional nightmare for the characters and the audience alike.
3. For Ellen
Paul Dano is a renowned actor and director, but For Ellen hasn’t got the attention it deserves. Dano plays a young musician, in the midst of a messy divorce, attempting to reconnect with his young daughter, Ellen. Dano’s performance, once again, is raw and honest, warts-and-all approach to a difficult, painful subject matter. Director So Young Kim’s naturalistic approach paired with Dano’s awkward charm makes For Ellen a powerful cinematic experience.
4. In The Valley Of Violence
Ti West made a splash in the horror scene with his vintage horror films The House Of The Devil and The Innkeepers, but turned his directorial gaze towards the western with In The Valley Of Violence. Ethan Hawke plays a lone cowboy who gets into trouble with a local gang and things go oh, so very wrong. John Travolta also shows up in a fun and flashy role as the local Marshal. Expect plenty of shootouts, classic one-liners and a very cute dog.
5. My Life Directed By Nicolas Winding Refn
If you’re a fan of the controversial Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn, this documentary will tickle your cinematic taste buds. Directed by the director’s wife Liv Corfixen, the documentary observes Winding Refn as he prepares for the gruelling shoot of Only God Forgives. It’s a fascinating look into Winding Refn’s creative process and also works as a look into one of the most interesting minds in film business.
6. The Void
Like your films weird, bloody and a little campy? If yes, The Void is just the ticket. The film may not offer the viewer many answers, but there is a certain level of fun involved in a film this full of cults, tentacles and fake blood. Steven Kostanski and Jeremy Gillespie’s horror is an entertaining and weird trip down 80s-nostalgia lane but The Void will reward those who stick with its increasing weirdness. The practical effects and nods to H.P. Lovecraft make this a must-see for any horror fan.
7. The Transfiguration
Think vampires are old news? Try The Transfiguration! Eric Ruffin is dazzlingly good as the young, troubled man Milo, who is so enchanted with vampires, he desires to be one. He finds companionship with Sophie, also an outsider like Milo. Their relationship is complicated by sudden bursts of violence on Milo’s account. The Transfiguration is not much of a horror in the sense of effective scares, but Michael O’Shea’s film has a way of getting under your skin, and staying there.
Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson’s Spring has been hailed as the Before Sunrise of horror and not without merit. Spring builds to a horrific, but truly emotional conclusion and asks you to consider the nature of true love. Visually gorgeous and filled with fascinating mythology, Spring is a rare horror film which values emotion over gore, but make no mistake, Spring can and will show you its nasty side too.
9. Side By Side
Keanu Reeves in a documentary about the classic argument of film versus digital? Sold! Reeves interviews several well-known filmmakers in his quest to find the ultimate answer to the question everyone is talking about, is digital better than film or vice versa. Side By Side explores the nature of the argument with genuine curiosity, awarding plenty of time and consideration to both sides of the argument. Expect plenty of familiar faces and exciting and well-rounded arguments from top-filmmakers.
10. The Sessions
John Hawkes gives a career-best role in this film about a man stuck in an iron lung, but desperate to have sex for the very first time. The Sessions is a gentle and kind film, which finds humour in the most surprising places and always treats its real-life inspiration with nothing but dignity and admiration, making this an underrated gem. Helen Hunt stars as the sex therapist and William H. Macy pops up as a priest – what else could you want from a film?
11. Brigsby Bear
When most films ride on trauma, action and violence, films like Brigsby Bear are a rare breed. This is an innocent film about friends and finding our own truth in a world that is often a lot crueller than we thought. Brigsby Bear finds kindness in its characters and rightfully glorifies the gentle and honest nature of our main characters. Truly delightful with added Mark Hamill!
12. Lake Bodom
In the 60s, a particularly gruesome attack happened at a lake in Finland where an unknown attacker killed three teenagers and badly wounded a fourth one. To this day, no one knows what happened and the case has become one of the most infamous crime cases in Finland. Lake Bodom isn’t interested in recreating what really happened as much as it wants to examine our relationship with true crime. It’s also a rollicking good time for fans of the old-fashioned slasher.
13. The Silent House
Elisabeth Olsen starred in the US-remake of this Paraguayan horror. Set in one location and filmed to appear as one continuous take, the original is the bee’s knee’s as they say. While The Silent House may not offer any surprises in terms of narrative or genre, it’s a mean little horror with effective jump scares and impressive sound design. Director Gustavo Hernandez makes the most out of his one location and the titular house is creepy and scary, leaving the viewer terrified in their seat.
14. We Are What We Are
We Are What We Are is a rare American remake which improves on the original. Cannibalism is still very much a taboo in filmmaking and we’ve certainly had several tasteless, ultra-violent films exploring the taste for human flesh, but We Are What We Are explores it through the lens of the coming-of-age narrative and religion. Don’t expect much action or gore, but a tense and creepy vibe, much thanks to Bill Sage’s performance as the head of the flesh-eating family.
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