Director Ari Aster became the stand-out horror director this decade for his deeply unsettling Hereditary which found all the best ways to get under our skin. The film follows the tragic events of the Graham family after the passing of the grandmother and the dark secret of their heritage is soon revealed in an uncomfortable and surreal manner. Hereditary not only features that most twisted of horror scenes but mixes traumatic experiences and unorthodox reactions to how morbid life can be. Not only is the film just an exceptionally well made horror but boasts one of the finest performances of Toni Collette’s career.
Director Sebastian Schipper took a whack at that juicy one-shot take in a film about one crazy night in real time. The film follows the Spanish girl Victoria (Laia Costa) in Berlin during the late night hours where she asked by three guys to party with her. She ends up having a wild night with lots of fun but that craziness soon turns into a bank robbery and the picture takes on a much different tone. Loaded with neon visuals and blazing pace, Victoria is a film that refuses to relent in its dizzying series of events set between 4:30 AM to 7:00 AM.
Force Majeure (2014)
A family vacation to a ski resort proves to be anything but relaxing when an avalanche occurs. But the avalanche itself is not what hinders the vacation. Instead, the love of a family of four comes into question when the father leaves his family behind when the snow seems to engulf his family. They all survive but soon begin questioning how much they can stay together within the cold confines of a secluded setting. Brilliantly shot and with a somewhat indescribable sensation of yearning and loneliness, Force Majeure is a beautifully cathartic film that treads into odd and intoxicating areas of comedy with a wickedly uncomfortable edge amid its cozy cobbling.
A Star is Born (2018)
Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga light up the screen and dust off a familiar story with a whole new glaze of emotional and musical glory. Cooper plays Jack, a washed-up country musician that is stumbling out of the stage lights drunk. Gaga plays Ally, an aspiring singer who dreams of becoming a star. They both connect and a romance forms as one career ascends while the other flickers out, their relationship becoming all the tougher to maintain. The film is worth noting for Cooper as quad-threat of directing, co-writing, co-producing and starring in one of the finest films of the decade. His singing is also stunning considering how he stands firm next to a seasoned singing champ as Lady Gaga.
Lars von Trier delivers on his most epics of depressive pictures with an apocalyptic event. It’s the worst kind of wedding day for a family when the event happens on the day a rogue planet is due to slam into the Earth and wipe all of humanity. What follows is a dramatic and somber series of conversations about trying to come to terms with yourself when the world is literally ending. Though the film is considered the middle part of Trier’s depression trilogy, saddled between Antichrist and Nymphomaniac, the film stands on its own as one of Trier’s grandest and most revered for its mixture of science fiction and depression.
Christmas does not find two trans prostitutes spending the holiday at home but prowling the streets trying to find their elusive pimp who has been toying with their hearts. What follows is one wild day on the streets of manic questioning and awkward situations of finding the trail towards one man. Aside from Sean Baker’s effortless way to stage scenes that feel so natural, the additional aspect of shooting the entire film on iPhones creates a more relatable atmosphere of a mumblecore movie that seems so personal and real it could almost pass for a documentary.
The Guilty (2018)
Copenhagen police officer Asger Holm (Jakob Cedergren) finds himself answering a phone call from a kidnapped woman. She sounds terrified but the phone call gets disconnected. Thus begins Asger’s investigation of seeking the woman and her kidnapper in this intense crime thriller that makes great use of its limited budget when armed with a brilliant concept that just goes to show you don’t need a lot to make a film so engaging.
Blue Is the Warmest Colour (2013)
When it comes to film about lesbian romance, no film made more waves and approached the subject so bluntly as Blue Is the Warmest Colour. Based on the graphic novel by Julie Maroh, the intense erotic drama follows the relationship of French teen Adèle (Adèle Exarchopoulos) and the older Emma (Léa Seydoux) after their initial encounter at lesbian bar. As their bond increases, they learn to be more open and free with who they truly are in this unflinching romance.
As Alfonso Cuarón’s most acclaimed work, Roma holds unparalleled emotion and beauty, even for being entirely in black and white. Set in 1970s Mexico City, Cleo is a working class maid for the wealthy Antonio and Sofía, as well as their four children. She’s a warm sight within the home but her love can only go so far when she faces a pregnancy without her boyfriend and divorce where she can only provide so much comfort. Tragic and expertly shot, Roma was such a fantastically heartfelt picture that was notable enough to win Cuarón the Academy Award for Best Director.
Saoirse Ronan plays the vicious Hanna, a teenage assassin raised by her father (Eric Bana). Now ready for the field, she’s tasked by her father on a mission where she must traverse Europe and avoid the agents of Marissa (Cate Blanchett). But Marissa once worked with Hanna’s father and the further Hanna digs, the darker secrets are revealed that lead to her making a tough call about her very being. Though this kind of tale of an assassin doesn’t sound all that original, it’s expertly directed by Joe Wright and features an astonishing performance by a younger Saoirse Ronan.