THE 100 WITHOUT A DOUBT BEST, MOST INTERESTING, FULLY ACCOMPLISHED AND OVERALL RAD MOVIES THAT HIT THE SCREEN OVER THE LAST TWENTY YEARS
Flatten The Curve - Watch More Rad Movies
When we compiled this list in early 2016, no one really thought that there will be a time when this countdown actually would ever be useful. Unfortunately, in light of recent events, it is. So here you go, our countdown of a few films that made quite an impact on us between the founding of Lodown in 1995 and the release of issue #100 in 2016. Enjoy. You and your loved ones stay safe & sound, alright!
THE 100 WITHOUT A DOUBT BEST, MOST INTERESTING, FULLY ACCOMPLISHED AND OVERALL RAD MOVIES THAT HIT THE SCREEN OVER THE LAST TWENTY YEARS.
Goddammit, that was an unexpected toughie. It became pretty evident earlier this year, that we’d skip the usual movie-related section of this particular issue in favor of a countdown that reflects on the innumerable decent movies we’ve seen since we published Lodown #1 in 1995. Compiling an epic list like this is already a bitch when you’re working on it yourself - then when a few editors are trying their best to figure things out it can easily turn into a nasty never-ending story where titles are traded with grinding teeth and elbows are ruthlessly used in order to get a personal fave into the game - especially after it has already been decided that a director can only pop up once with one of his/her titles. So, yeah, it might have taken forever to finish this list, but in the end it’s clearly love. A couple of things became surprisingly evident when we looked at the result from a distance: a) all 100 films are perfectly relevant, but their ranking on this list certainly isn’t, b) we definitely seem to have a soft spot for (very) dark material, c) there are a lot more European movies to find on this list than we’d ever expected ourselves, d) we surprisingly have a massive man-crush on Paddy Considine and Brad Pitt, even though we always thought it was Tom Hardy, and e) when we noticed that we totally forgot about the Coens we were already at the point where we were neither mentally nor physically able to change things anymore, so, fuck it. Anyway, here we go… hope you’ll enjoy to disagree
01 EX DRUMMER
by Koen Mortier (2007)
Forty: When a film’s opening sequence is played backwards as the main protagonists - three handicapped misfits that just formed a band and are now in desperate need of a drummer - are introduced while Lightning Bolt’s “2 Morro Land“ is played in the red and the opening credits are paving seemingly random spots of Ostend’s seafront, you already know that a) you’ve found a movie that will be held close to your heart for years to come, b) the director - besides being obviously insane - probably has a background in commercials and music videos, and c) many people will dismiss this stroke of genius simply as prestidigitation while it’s actually a rare example of style as substance. Koen Mortier’s debut feature “Ex Drummer“ is consciously polarizing, a dark, vulgar, energetic, raw, funny as hell and very explicit tale fuelled by the joy of assaulting any kind of carefully adopted political correctness. The reason why it resonates a lot longer than you first expect is based on the fact that it actually has much more to offer than shock value and showing fucked up people doing fucked up things to one another.
02 THE THIN RED LINE
by Terrence Malick (1998)
Souchak: The director’s first film in 20 years re-imagines the war in the Pacific during WW2 as a dreamy/nightmarish trip. Pioneering his now trademark concepts – using a huge cast, shooting elaborate footage that may not end up in the finished film; contrasting highly dramatic scenes with atmospheric ambient sequences – Malick’s meandering narrative sort of follows Private Witt (Jim Caviezel) through the Battle of Guadalcanal. A film both about personal redemption as well as the meaninglessness of war, “The Thin Red Line“ serves as a perfect antidote to any kind of gung-ho, “heroic“ nonsense.
03 THE FOG OF WAR
by Errol Morris (2003)
Souchak: In a body of work filled with mind-blowing, important documentaries, Morris’ Academy Award-winning film about Robert Strange McNamara towers firmly above the rest. Having worked for the US Airforce during WW2 (co-inventing the idea of fire-bombing Japan) and as Secretary of Defense under Kennedy and Johnson, RSM at first reluctantly but later surprisingly frank discusses his role and his perspectives on political and military issues both past and present, not shying away from his own personal mistakes and guilt. The honesty – and RSM’s rhetorical ability – will keep you gripped.
by Justin Kurzel (2011)
Forty: Before Australian director Kurzel successfully breathed new life into “Macbeth“ last year, he basically delivered the blueprint of an anti-dating picture with “Snowtown“ - a chilling and unforgettable drama about true evil vs. overcoming victimhood. The film is based on the true story of Australia’s #1 serial killer John Bunting (a knock-out performance by Daniel Henshall), who plays provider and protector to a broken family in order to bond with the three sons - and it doesn’t take long for all of them to get a devastating glimpse of what’s really brooding behind those beady eyes. Luckily Kurzel isn’t too interested in trying to come up with a psychogram that explains those unspeakable acts committed by Bunting, but in exploring the impact his world view and its related actions have on others instead.
05 UNDER THE SKIN
by Jonathan Glazer (2014)
Forty: A prime example of visionary filmmaking from British director Glazer after a break from the big screen for almost ten years, in which he throws an almost unrecognizable and de-glamourised Scarlett Johansson into the streets of Glasgow in order to address topics such as humanity, death, degradation and sexual identity in a rather abstract and challenging fashion. All hope is lost in “Under The Skin“, yet it isn’t only one of the most fully accomplished and overall radical movies in recent times, but a strangely touching one as well.
06 THE ACT OF KILLING
by Joshua Oppenheimer (2012)
Forty: The director challenges a handful of former Indonesian death squad leaders - 40 years after the country’s military coup in the mid 60s, which led to the murder of presumably over a million people as suspected communists - to reenact their real life killings in whichever cinematic genre they wish. The result is a once in a lifetime experience, as it does not only function as a powerful film which works as a medium for a truly mind-blowing historical reckoning, but showcases a new kind of multi-layered approach to non-fiction filmmaking that is both intellectually challenging and cathartic.
07 FIGHT CLUB
by David Fincher (1999)
Hesse: “Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need“. Written by Chuck Palahniuk, Fincher created blistering images for this satire about masculinity, consumerism and conformism in today’s society, pre-Facebook. 17 years ago, Fincher was still considered as one of the commercial filmmakers with no own agenda focusing solely on bold pictures. Considering his vast body of work ever since, it’s a mission impossible to pick only one of his movies for this list. He is one of mainstream Hollywood’s most imaginative and inventive voices around. Re-watch other classics like “Zodiac“ and “Se7en“ and you’ll agree.
by Gaspar Noé (2002)
Hesse: It’s a nihilistic masterpiece, a study of violence, fate and endurance. A story of a rape, told backwards by cinematic provocateur Gaspar Noé, featuring physically painful performances by Monica Bellucci and Vincent Cassell. A movie that could be labeled as a calculated controversy, its shock value etches itself permanently in your memory, causing more questions concerning sexual ferocity. Too bad, Noé’s current release is just pornographic, leaving all discussions to the shallow question why the MPAA is still afraid of showing a penis. This one here is way more complex.
09 THE COMEDY
by Rick Alverson (2012)
Forty: Bitter, bold and slightly transgressive, “The Comedy“ continues to tell an unpleasantly true-to-life story where Neil LaBute left us during his heydays with “In The Company of Men“ and “Your Friends & Neighbours“ fifteen years earlier. It’s a portrait of the man-child dilemma, which dissects the soul-crushing emptiness behind the mannerism of ageing hipsters with too much time and money on their hands, played to perfection via an unexpected deadpan performance by Tim Heidecker. Oh, and did I mention it’s actual damn funny as well?
10 THE PROPOSITION
by John Hillcoat (2005)
Souchak: Set in the Australian Outback of the late 19th century, this gritty, at times gory Western gives criminal Charlie Burns (Guy Pearce) nine days to deliver his older brother Arthur (Danny Huston) to the authorities in order to save their younger brother Mike from the gallows. What follows is an extended journey into the geographical as well as moral wasteland where there are hardly any rules and no good guys to be seen. Hillcoat adds trippy cinematic panache to this revenge story and the score by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis only heightens the unease.
11 UN PROPHETE
by Jacques Audiard (2009)
Souchak: The making of a crime boss as a grim, but always emotionally resonating story. In prison for a minor infraction, young Arab-French kid Malik (Tahir Rahim) gets forced into all sorts of murderous activities by the power inside, a group of Corsican gangsters led by seemingly friendly César (Niels Arestrup). While struggling at first, Malik soon gets the hang of prison life and organized crime, slowly but steadily rising from small-time henchman to criminal mastermind. Mixing disturbing, violent sequences with touching moments, you’ll like, but also fear Malik - a product of his environment.
12 THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD
by Andrew Dominik (2007)
Hesse: Obviously, this is one of the longest titles ever seen on a movie poster. Certainly, “TAoJJbtCRF“ is one of the best Western movies ever. Slow and precise, Andrew Dominik’s direction builds up tension, examining myth-building, the foundation of celebrity culture and the urge for social recognition, until Robert Ford finally assassinates Jesse James. Meanwhile we witness Casey Affleck’s stunning performance as part of an intimate chamber play in the woods. Actually, there is not a single mediocre performance. Killer cast. TAoJJbtCRF, evidently, does not work as an acronym.
by Steve McQueen (2008)
Souchak: Irish Republicans and British loyalists (and filmmakers) still struggle to come to terms with decades of terror and oppression in Northern Ireland. But McQueen, directing his first full-length feature here, succeeds to make the costs and the depression of that conflict almost tangible by not taking any ideological sides. Following IRA prisoner Bobby Sands (Michael Fassbender in a breakthrough performance) through his hunger strike, withering away day by day til the bitter end, McQueen shows the convictions and sacrifices of all involved.
14 THE USUAL SUSPECTS
by Bryan Singer (1995)
Souchak: Maybe the most important thriller of the 90s, Singer’s and writer Christopher McQuarrie’s cult movie still resonates as a complex, utterly enjoyable, inventive tale. Told in retrospect during a police interrogation, crippled small-time crook “Verbal“ Kint (Kevin Spacey in an Oscar-winning, breakthrough perf) sketches how he and a group of professional criminals got under the spell of notorious underworld mastermind Keyser Söze. Nothing’s as it seems here and filmmakers to this day try (and mostly fail) to top the film’s killer twist ending.
by Nicolas Winding Refn (2011)
Forty: “Drive“ marks a tonal change of direction in the oeuvre of the hotly-discussed Danish filmmaker - not only has he found a new visual language and a slick sense of cool, it was also the first material he brought to the big screen that wasn’t at least co-written by him. “Drive“ isn’t a thriller - maybe not even a genre movie at all - but pulp and iconic revisionist entertainment at its most elaborate. While other directors tend to deliver more of the same, Refn is much more interested in fucking around with our expectations. His own probably as well.
16 DER TOTMACHER
by Romuald Karmakar (1995)
Forty: Director Karmakar seems to feel mostly at home in the fields of documentary - so it isn’t too surprising that “Der Totmacher“ actually feels as if we’re watching one. The whole film takes place within one single room through various sessions of interrogation, as psychiatrist Ernst Schultze questions Germany’s most famous mass murderer Fritz Haarmann (played with grandeur by acting-heavyweight Götz George). What could’ve easily been a mundane portrait of a madman, is a heavily compelling chamber drama that has much more punch than the very majority of entries dealing with similar unpleasant topics.
17 REQUIEM FOR A DREAM
by Darren Aronofsky (2000)
Hesse: Every generation chooses its own drug, dealing with the different aspects of addiction. No universal approach, except for the devastating outcome. Darren Aronofsky teams up with Hubert Selby Jr. to bring Selby’s novel to the big screen. This adaption is a shocking portrayal of self-destruction and lost dreams with powerful presentations by the likes of Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto, Marlon Wayans and Jennifer Connelly. The staccato montage may jeopardize the narration. But in general, this pill is not easy to swallow.
by Larry Clark (1995)
Hesse: Genre defining? Certainly not. But within this Top-100-list “Kids“ surely made its impact for elevating 90s skateboarding to a wider audience due to Clark’s voyeurism, Korine’s deadpan script and its cast’s authenticity unparalleled by any future marketing stunt a beverage or shoe company could only dream of. Despite its dramatic HIV-related topic this movie holds many hilarious memories. How come there aren’t annual screenings in every skateboarding capital in the world? RIP Harold Hunter and Justin Pierce.
19 FANTASTIC MR. FOX
by Wes Anderson (2009)
Souchak: It was just a matter of time that Anderson, retro enthusiast and known for his highly stylized cinematic tableaus, would turn to animation. And, boy, what a swell movie came out of that: Produced in gloriously designed stop-motion, the film tells of smart, dapper Mr. Fox (voiced by George Clooney) trying to rip off the nearby farm, in order to score – and stick it to the farmer, a mean S.O.B. But he also has to deal with his supportive, but worrisome wife and teen-aged son Ash. So it’s a heist movie AND a family story, all rolled into one big, artful, enjoyable ride.
by Denis Villeneuve (2013)
Souchak: Following their creative partnership after the equally dark but way more accessible “Prisoners“, Villeneuve and Jake Gyllenhaal turned out this brooding psychological thriller. Adam (JG) is a shy, soft-spoken college professor in Toronto who stumbles across his doppelgänger, Anthony (JG), a small-time actor with a temper and a huge ego. With Adam trying to find out more about his Other, the lines between reality and madness become increasingly blurry. Shot in muted, shadowy greys and browns (and helped along by a great, dissonant score by Bensi & Jurriaans), “Enemy“ is an impressive head-trip about identity and male anxiety.
21 LA HAINE
by Mathieu Kassovitz (1995)
Hesse: This grainy black and white-drama straight from the Banlieues gave birth to a new generation in modern European cinema, using almost expressionistic ways of light/shadow. 20 years later, this excursion into violence is still up to date. Le monde est à nous.
22 OSLO, AUGUST 31st
by Joachim Trier (2011)
Forty: Driven by a heavy drug addiction even rehab wasn’t able to conquer and his very own sense of worthlessness, “Oslo’s“ protagonist Anders takes the audience by the hand as he spends his last hours of his existence in this quiet and subtle masterpiece. As depressing and weighty this may sound - and make no mistake: it definitely is exactly that - Trier somehow manages to turn his film into a love letter to Oslo and a farewell to summer simultaneously.
23 KILL LIST
by Ben Wheatley (2012)
Forty: Ben Wheatley’s breakthrough film shows that he actually knows a lot about genre films - which doesn’t imply though that he loves to stick to the related rulebooks. “Kill List“ is a pretty unsettling and overall nasty beast, part pitch-black hitman-thriller and part bow to Robin Hardy’s early work.
by Pete Docter & Bob Peterson (2009)
Souchak: A major high-point in Pixar history. Mourning his wife (as sketched in one of the most touching opening montages ever), grumpy senior Carl ends up in a weird fantasy land with a chubby kid. For all the colorful hijinx, this Academy Awards-winning animated adventure is all about melancholia and regret.
25 IM SCHATTEN
by Thomas Arslan (2010)
Hesse: Thomas Arslan prefers another angle on Berlin. In “Im Schatten“ he slowly depicts gangsters at work. Corrupt cops, lots of distrust. Really slowly, really subtlely. This could be Jean-Pierre Melville in Berlin. And, yes, this is one of Germany’s most underrated pictures.
26 BUFFALO SOLDIERS
by Gregor Jordan (2001)
Souchak: Shelved in the US for years after 9/11, this pitch-black comedy paints a rather unflattering picture of the US forces: There’s not a lot to do in the West German Army barracks in the late 80s except for having fun and making money – which is what arms and drugs dealing soldier Joaquin Phoenix is pretty good at.
27 PARADISE LOST
by Joe Berlinger & Bruce Sinofsky (1996)
Souchak: An utterly disturbing countryside true-crime story: When three children are found killed and mutilated the perpetrators seem obvious, but the already jailed trio of „satanist“ Metal fans looks more and more innocent as the film’s investigation progresses. Followed by two sequels.
28 POST TENEBRAS LUX
by Carlos Reygadas (2012)
Forty: The celebrated Mexican director marries autobiography and the sheer joy for experimentation to ambiguous and pretty psychedelic effect in his latest cinematic gem. It’s actually not too easy to figure out what “PTL“ is all about, really, if it’s a swansong to patriarchy or simply just a compilation of dream-like sequences - but who gives a fuck when things then result in something
29 UPSTREAM COLOR
by Shane Carruth (2013)
Forty: It’s directed, edited, shot and written by manic filmmaker Carruth. Oh, and he actually composes the score and stars in it as well. What sounds like a rather unlikeable prime example of egomania actually is a complex, sensual and very fascinating moebius-like mystery about identity and love... well, amongst so many other things.
by Craig Zobel (2012)
Seven: Based on a series of prank calls in the US throughout 2004, Zobel’s hotly-discussed and very shattering film makes for a perfect double-bill with Almereyda’s “Experimenter“ (also on this countdown), as it equally dissects people’s obedience to authority. Carefully watch your very own behavior the next time you pass the security check before you swear that this could never happen to you.
31 AMERICAN SPLENDOR
by Shari Springer & Robert Pulcini (2003)
Souchak: Portrait of the artist as an almost insufferable prick. Both a biopic about Indie comics writer Harvey Pekar (an awesome Paul Giamatti) as well as a pseudo-documentary – some key figures you’d take for movie exaggerations show up as themselves and are even more special/bizarre. All very meta, but also a shitload of fun.
32 SIN NOMBRE
by Cary Joji Fukunaga (2009)
Forty: Two different stories about the search for a safe haven to live in without fear got masterly woven into one during a very risky train ride through Mexico towards the US border. A few years later director Fukunaga realized the first season of HBO’s “True Detective“ - which will give you an idea about the level of intensity to expect from his debut.
33 ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND
by Michel Gondry (2004)
Hesse: Lovely, touching experience. Dreamlike and neurotic. Charlie Kaufman has written his vision of a romantic comedy, an alternative “Titanic“ playing with the idea of inevitable fate of love, the bitter sweet feeling of Herzschmerz in the Kindergarten sets of Gondry. A Meta-rom-com.
34 THE LIMEY
by Steven Soderbergh (1999)
Souchak: Grizzled Brit gangster Terence Stamp comes to California to punish those responsible for his daughter’s death, namely shady buinessman Peter Fonda. Like a dark sibling of “Out of Sight“ or a Soderbergh “Jackie Brown“ this is gripping stuff honoring old times and old-timers. Also noteworthy for being the first film to showcase the director’s non-chronological/non-synchronous editing and narrative techniques.
35 HARD TO BE A GOD
by Aleksey German (2013)
Forty: It took director German nearly 40 years to finish this pet project, and when he died in 2013 his son and wife put the finishing touches to this one-of-a-kind experience, which might take place in a distant future on Arkanar - a medieval hellhole of a planet - but feels very uncomfortably like a piece of non-fiction.
36 THE PLEDGE
by Sean Penn (2001)
Hesse: Dürrenmatt’s compelling character study of a years long manhunt. Luckily Sean Penn is directing, not conducting interviews, leading Jack Nicholson to a powerhouse performance that is impossible to forget. The first German adaptation was really intense, this one ruins your day.
by Mike Mills (2010)
Forty: A total triumph for Mills, who translates parts of his own biography into an honest and often funny film about the eternal battle between desire and damage. There’s a timeless, frank and deeply humanistic ring to “Beginners“ - something Mills already proved to have a knack for with his overlooked debut “Thumbsucker“.
by Johnnie To (2003)
Souchak: One night in Hong Kong: A group of uniformed cops try to get a colleague his stolen/lost service weapon back while there’s a gang war brewing. Milkyway Image filmmaking at its very finest, To gives you a sense of time and place while contrasting violence with darkly humorous moments.
by Zack Snyder (2009)
Souchak: Potentially the greatest superhero movie of the pre-Marvel age. By sticking to about every image and letter of it’s mind-blowing comic book source Snyder keeps in tune with Alan Moore’s indictment of superheroes and fascism while giving the retro 80s story a nice
by Lars Von Trier (2011)
Forty: After the controversy that surrounded his previous film “Antichrist“, the manic Danish filmmaker sunk his teeth into an iconoclastic drama about two estranged sisters battling depression and the end of the world. The film is a rather brilliant affair - and so was the press conference after its world premiere at Cannes.
41 SYMPATHY FOR MR. VENGEANCE
by Chan-Wook Park (2002)
Forty: After the hype surrounding Cantonese and Japanese cinema it was finally time for the Koreans to rise and shine. Before director Chan-Wook Park became the hottest ticket in town with “Oldboy“ he realized the first mosaic of his vengeance-saga, which still stands out as a grim and desperately unhappy piece of world cinema.
42 INGLORIOUS BASTERDS
by Quentin Tarantino (2009)
Souchak: QT shooting a sorta-remake of the schlocky “Quel maledetto treno blindato“ in Berlin’s Babelsberg Studios starring Brad Pitt? Yeah - referencing arthouse classics as well as B movie fodder and using a great cast to impressive effect, the film is filled to the brim with killer set-pieces and lots of sparkly dialogue. Above it all reigns Christoph Waltz’ SS colonel Landa, pure, silver-tongued evil in a crisp Nazi uniform.
43 28 DAYS LATER
by Danny Boyle (2002)
Hesse: Reanimation of the Zombo-Genre. Danny Boyle’s handheld, digitally shot rage-outbreak has all the killer performances you could ask for, including a smart script by Alex Garland. “28 days Later“ is the Patient Zero of the current zombie-tsunami.
by Pascal Laugier (2008)
Forty: What could have simply been an explicit vengeance movie turns into something entirely different and transgressive in the film’s final act. At that time, there were quite a few genre flicks that just loved to push the envelope in terms of graphic imagery - Laugier’s insanely intense and intelligent high-concept offering still remains an unrivalled experience though.
45 BEING JOHN MALKOVICH
by Spike Jonze (1999)
Hesse: How boring would cinema be without Jonze, Kaufman or Gondry? How less surreal? Blank, stupid and sad. Fortunately, movies like “Being John Malkovich“ exist, where a single strange idea opens up a whole universe of more strange ideas. Beautiful.
46 PANIQUE AU VILLAGE
by Stéphane Aubier & Vincent Patar (2009)
Forty: After a couple of celebrated short films, the adventures of Horse, Cowboy and Indian were getting the feature-length treatment, and the fondly yet consciously crude animated result definitely is as hilarious and sweet and absurd as you wished it would be. The perfect antidote to all the CGI that surrounds you these days.
47 ALL ABOUT LILY CHOU CHOU
by Shunji Iwai (2001)
Forty: One of the first and still strongest comments on Japan’s fucked-up youth in the digital age. Director Iwai isn’t too interested in delivering satisfying answers though, but much more in spinning a fascinating kaleidoscope of loose scenes that give the audience an idea about how things for a bright young student can go drastically south within just a few months.
48 GEGEN DIE WAND
by Fatih Akin (2004)
Hesse: Frances McDormand once said to director Fatih Akin “Your movie is Rock ‘n’ Roll.” That’s it, unplugged rock ‘n’ roll, an unconditional surrender to love, freedom, and the pure joy of life against the backdrop of alcoholism and dependencies, somewhere between Germany and Turkey.
49 25TH HOUR
by Spike Lee (2002)
Souchak: New York drug dealer Edward Norton tries to come to terms with his life and set (some) things right before going to prison for seven years. Norton and Lee - helped by a great supporting cast – make this all about soul searching and missed chances, with an extra layer of melancholia by being the first Hollywood film to openly (and touchingly) address 9/11, and how that left especially New Yorkers shell-shocked.
by David Cronenberg (1996)
Hesse: In this world of dark obsession “auto-erotic” gains a new meaning, where “the car crash is a fertilizing rather than destructive event”. Based on the J.G. Ballard novel, Cronenberg delves deep into an existential drama with lots of kinetic energy and sexual relief.
by Christian Petzold (2012)
Souchak: Already exiled to a small town on the Baltic Sea for non-socialist actions real or invented, Barbara (a dynamite perf by Nina Hoss) struggles with living in or fleeing from the 1980s GDR.
by Richard Linklater (2014)
Souchak: Shot over the course of 12 years, following a boy from childhood to adulthood, Linklater turns a film-making experiment into a multi-faceted, gripping family story.
53 HAPPY TOGETHER
by Wong Kar-Wai (1997)
Hesse: From Buenos Aires with Love. A touching story of solitude and dislocation, visually stunning due to Christopher Doyle’s photography.
by Paddy Considine (2011)
Forty: Working class miserablism and testosterone-filled anger lead to a very unusual and deeply touching kind of, well, love story, which makes clear from the very beginning that things will end in tears.
55 THE DARK KNIGHT
by Christopher Nolan (2012)
Souchak: The best of Nolan’s Batman movies sports an intriguing narrative, killer set-pieces - and a world-class performance by Heath Ledger.
by Harmony Korine (1997)
Hesse: Bleak first feature by Kids’ scribe Harmony Korine, saying hello to R.W. Fassbinder and WernerHerzog.
57 MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE
by Sean Durkin (2011)
Forty: Thanks to Elizabeth Olsen’s performance and a flawless script, this is a very menacing and pulsating experience, even though it would be foolish to call it a thriller or genre film.
58 LET THE RIGHT ONE IN
by Tomas Alfredson (2008)
Forty: A very unusual mix of coming-of-age drama and leftfield horror turns into an unexpected consensus movie so strong that even the mandatory American remake couldn’t fail.
59 KILLER JOE
by William Friedkin (2011)
Forty: Thanks to screenwriter Tracy Letts and fearless performances by basically everyone involved, the seasoned master of polarizing cinema delivers his strongest material since “Cruising“.
60 BUFFALO 66
by Vincent Gallo (1998)
Hesse: In Gallo’s narcissistic opinion his filmmaking debut is a masterpiece - and it actually gets pretty close to being one - and should be on top of this list. At least.
61 HOUSE OF SAND AND FOG
by Vadim Perelman (2003)
Souchak: Like a terrible car crash in slo-mo – depressed slacker Jennifer Connelly fights with Persian ex-pat patriarch Ben Kingsley over a house, but here, no one can win. One oft he saddest films I know.
by Lodge Kerrigan (2004)
Hesse: Haunting portrait of loss and anxiety by Homeland’s Damian Lewis. Ambiguous in its depiction of caring love, Lodge Kerrigan is torturing the viewer.
63 THE RED CHAPEL
by Mads Brügger (2009)
Forty: The master of civil disobedience and subversive pranksterism goes to North Korea disguised as the director of a weird Danish-Korean comedy duo.
64 LITTLE CHILDREN
by Todd Field (2006)
Forty: A strangely overlooked star-studded parable about a prejudice-driven suburbia that just loves to feed on our current culture of fear.
65 DONNIE DARKO
by Richard kelly (2001)
Souchak: This major head-trip has titular DD (Jake Gyllenhaal) follow cinema’s creepiest rabbit deep, deep down into the hole of madness.
66 LOST HIGHWAY
by David Lynch (1997)
Hesse: A transcendental autobahn-ride, switching identities, Rammstein, a curtain and someone saying “Dick Laurant is dead”. Classic Lynch.
by Michael Almereyda (2015)
Hesse: Examination of Milgram’s psychological experiments involving human obedience and behavior, in which Almereyda uses almost every subtle trick of storytelling.
68 CATCH ME DADDY
by Daniel Wolfe (2014)
Forty: Boldly merging kitchen-sink drama with thriller and even classic Western elements via a drama about an honor killing set in today’s Yorkshire makes for one hell of a strong debut.
69 NOTRE JOUR VIENDRA
by Romain Gavras (2010)
Forty: Far from being a flawless movie, but a very interesting, very weird and very violent parable with a killer score about a bored and pretty unstable shrink with a god-complex and too much time on his hands.
70 PRINCESS MONONOKE
by Hayao Miyazaki (1997)
Souchak: Miyazaki’s international breakthrough film effortlessly mixes ecology and humanism into a stunning looking fairy tale about a threatened village and a poisoned prince.
71 GRIZZLY MAN
by Werner Herzog (2005)
Hesse: Docudrama about the death of a self acclaimed Grizzly-activist, drawing comparisons to Herzog’s take on documentary filmmaking.
72 WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN
by Lynne Ramsay (2011)
Forty: An outstanding performance by Tilda Swinton dominates this unusual take on the “bad kid“ subgenre.
by Andy & Lana Wachowski (1996)
Souchak: It’s girls-against-guy as well as girl-on-girl action in this nifty piece of neo-noir, sporting one of cinema’s most aesthetically pleasing bad guy killings.
74 EN AVOIR (OU PAS)
by Laetitia Masson (1995)
Souchak: Let’s fall in love with Sandrine Kiberlain’s meek countryside factory worker who slowly, but steadily starts her life over.
by Tetsuya Nakashima (2010)
Forty: Not necessarily the most subtle psychological thriller, nevertheless a heavily entertaining and fairly twisted take on bullying and gritty paybacks.
by Fabrice Du Welz (2008)
Forty: The Belgium director sure knows how to turn an intimate drama about the impossibility to deal with loss into a feverish nightmare.
77 DOGTOWN & Z BOYS
by Stacy Peralta (2001)
Hesse: Maybe this helps to educate younger generations of skate rats about the counter cultural spirit of skateboarding. This is certainly an excellent documentary.
by Bennett Miller (2005)
Souchak: Starring a stellar Philip Seymour Hoffman, Miller’s film turns a true crime into a riveting, emotionally resonant psychological journey.
79 ANIMAL KINGDOM
by David Michôd (2010)
Forty: Some killer performances, a haunting score and the occasional über-violence - everything has been told in crimeland already so Michôd delivers a stunning mood piece instead.
by Kiyoshi Kurosawa (1997)
Forty: If unsettling, smart and slightly surreal high-concept murder mysteries are exactly your thing, you don’t have to look any further than this Japanese mind-bender.
81 BEYOND THE BLACK RAINBOW
by Panos Cosmatos (2010)
Forty: Trippy, dazzling and much more than just a compilation of recycled ideas of 70s leftfield adventures into sci-fi.
82 SYNECDOCHE, NEW YORK
by Charlie Kaufman (2008)
Hesse: “I hold the world but as the world. A stage where every man must play a part.” And Kaufman’s is a sad one.
83 DEAD MAN’S SHOES
by Shane Meadows (2004)
Forty: A chilling and very different kind of revenge thriller set in the Midlands which put Paddy Considine on the map once and for all.
84 EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP
by Banksy (2010)
Souchak: Don’t come looking for any facts about the elusive Mr. B. here – this quality pseudo-doc is just another excellent Banksy mind fuck.
85 THE YELLOW SEA
by Hang-Jin Na (2010)
Forty: What starts out as a grim character study about a guy that clearly ran out of luck a long time ago, slowly turns into a manic action thriller with jaw-dropping results.
86 21 GRAMS
by Alejandro González Inárritu (2003)
Souchak: An accident and a complex, cut-up narrative showcase how everything - and everyone - is connected.
by Steven Spielberg (2005)
Souchak: The aftermath of the 1972 attack on the Israeli Olympic team as an impressive journey into the grim world of government assassins, shady informants and moral ambiguity.
by Ulrich Seidl (2001)
Forty: Behind the manicured lawns and idyllic single-family home scenario of suburban Vienna, Seidl unfolds a fascinating tapestry of ugliness.
by Hélène Cattet & Bruno Forzani (2009)
Forty: A bow to the heydays of Giallo and a feast for the eyes that doesn’t need too much dialogue, really, to tell an abstract story about sexual longings and rude awakenings.
90 THE EAST
by Zal Batmanglij (2013)
Hesse: Effectively written and directed eco-activist thriller, including team building courses probably now conducted by corporations. Récupération à la Guy Debord.
91 CHASING AMY
by Kevin Smith (1997)
Souchak: While containing some hilarious moments, Smith’s arguably most serious film ponders how over-thinking and paranoia will sink every relationship.
by Gus Van Sant (2003)
Souchak: A breathtaking matter-of-fact account of one day at a high school that will end in a massacre.
93 DER BUNKER
by Nikias Chryssos (2015)
Forty: Clever, funny, fairly twisted and quintessential proof that Germany’s young auteurs clearly entered filmmaking to make a difference.
94 TAKE SHELTER
by Jeff Nichols (2011)
Hesse: Slow meditation on security and trust starring a superb Michael Shannon, daringly directed by Nichols - a filmmaker whose career you should watch.
95 A SEPARATION
by Asghar Farhadi (2011)
Forty: The world isn’t simply divided into black and white in this Iranian masterpiece, so when disaster strikes, it obviously won’t spare anyone as a result.
96 CHILDREN OF MEN
by Alfonso Cuaron (2006)
Souchak: Seriously underrated dystopian and surprisingly political film sees Clive Owen play bodyguard to the World’s last pregnant woman. (Souchak)
97 HUMAN ZOO
by Rie Rasmussen (2009)
Hesse: Its pure energy makes this tour de force through Europe’s recent history unforgettable – and Rie Rasmussen’s larger than life appearance.
98 THE WOMAN
by Lucky McKee (2011)
Forty: Father definitely doesn’t know best in this slow-burning, transgressive and rather feministic assault on the sanctity of the nuclear family and its connected value system.
99 THE VIRGIN SUICIDES
by Sofia Coppola (1999)
Hesse: Mesmerizing directorial debut as a suggestive journey through the maze of adolescence and Jeffrey Eugenides’ novel.
100 RED WHITE & BLUE
by Simon Rumley (2010)
Forty: When tragedy brings out the most ugly side of the three protagonists, things result in a bleak, brilliant and uncompromising piece of real life horror.