Most Popular Film The Year You Were Born! (1972-2021)

From the Boomer through Generation Z, the greatest film the year YOU were born!
Odin Odin (62)
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Through the Cold War and the rise of incredible technology; through global warming and endless wars; through trips toward the farthest limits of the solar system and the deepest chasms of the human mind… from 1972 onward immense changes in the world provided a new and vibrant landscape for storytelling to unfold. The mainstream cinema, competing with television’s meteoric rise, turned out ever-greater spectacles, while indie producers and directors perfected new forms of visual commentary on the changing landscape of a brave new world and the infinite complexity of the human mind.

Before I set out to become a writer, I lived in the world of cinematography. I attended film history and theory classes and even worked on a few simple student films. A huge part of my life revolved around the film world, and I collected a massive library of favorites from across the decades, but soon found that I adored early films beyond most any others.

I’ve set out to capture the best films from 1931 to 2021 in these two massive articles, thereby chronicling life from the so-called “Silent Generation”, through the “Baby Boomers”, on to Generation X and the Millennials, and finally into the future of “iGen” and “Generation Alpha”. Cinema is a remarkable medium for exploring what mattered to people at a specific time, and for understanding the state of the world in an intimate, visceral way. It’s also an important vehicle for change, capable of enriching minds and shifting public discourse away from, or toward, vital topics not otherwise yet within the mainstream.

One thing you’ll notice is that I don’t always go with the big production hits now that we’re closer to the modern era. I hope to draw out some of the great films that you might not have thought of, or might never have seen before. Check this out, dive on in, watch some of these amazing films… and when you’re done, check out part one for all the greatest films between 1931 and 1971 as well.

Posted in these interests:
movies
h/movies13 guides
Pop Culture
h/popculture34 guides
Nostalgia casette
h/nostalgia21 guides
Cabaret
Cabaret

Best Film

  • Cabaret
  • Director: Bob Fosse
  • Featuring: Liza Minnelli, Michael York

Cabaret is a brilliant musical comedy drama that explores the decline of Germany post-WWI into fascism, while simultaneously investigates the life of people who trangress the norms of society simply by trying to live their lives.

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O Lucky Man!
O Lucky Man!

Best Film

  • O Lucky Man!
  • Director: Lindsay Anderson
  • Featuring: Malcolm McDowell, Helen Mirren

O Lucky Man! failed to make waves during its initial release, largely because of its surrealistic and darkly satirical approach, as well as its extremely self-reflexive quality (it is, in part, a film trying to explore the meaning of film). But, despite all of that, it’s a classic gem that gets too often looked over in favor of big hitters of the year. Strange, long, dark, and powerful in its way.

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Blazing Saddles
Blazing Saddles

Best Film

  • Blazing Saddles
  • Director: Mel Brooks
  • Featuring: Cleavon Little, Gene Wilder

Blazing Saddles was a madcap annihilation of the romanticized Western, a social commentary, and a modern slapstick work of genius. One of Brooks’ best films, this is a classic for the age.

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One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Best Film

  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
  • Director: Miloš Forman
  • Featuring: Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher, William Redfield

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is one of those films that made big waves for a reason: it’s a work of dark genius. Jack Nicholson is at his best in this twisted dramatic comedy; probably one of the best films ever made.

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All the President's Men
All the President's Men

Best Film

  • All the President's Men
  • Director: Alan J. Pakula
  • Featuring: Robert Redford, Dustin Hoffman

All the President's Men was a thrilling biographical political drama in an age when political scandal at the level of the President of the United States still actually seemed incredible to the public. Taking down the Watergate conspiracy changed American’s perceptions of politics forever, and as the eight Academy Awards for All the President's Men show, people needed to explore this story to understand what had occurred.

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Star Wars
Star Wars

Best Film

  • Star Wars
  • Director: George Lucas
  • Featuring: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Peter Cushing, Alec Guinness

Star Wars changed the world of cinema, the world of popular culture, and the landscape of stories to come forever after. An accidental masterwork that took the form of what mythology scholar Joseph Campbell would go on to call “a modern myth”, Star Wars set the stage for so much of what we take for granted in the film industry today. It also set the stage for less savory practices, like Disney’s media empire and the normalization of mega toy sales… but the legend that it created for entire generations of people the world over is unmatched by many religions, let alone other film franchises.

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Superman
Superman

Best Film

  • Superman
  • Director: Richard Donner
  • Featuring: Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman, Christopher Reeve

Superman came out long before superhero films were a normalized part of popular culture, but its acceptance by the public in the box office provided a fertile new landscape to explore. Forever my personal favorite Superman film, it’s a classic that touched on something vital in the American soul: the spirit of who Americans wanted to be, the best that they could be.

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Alien
Alien

Best Film

  • Alien
  • Director: Ridley Scott
  • Featuring: Sigourney Weaver

Alien gave the world a twisted experience of futuristic horror unlike anything seen before, as well as a modern female action hero icon in Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley that had a positive effect on all the generations since. Dark, violent, subtle, brilliant.

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Note: this year is tough for me because so many great films came out, from Star Trek: The Motion Picture, to Apocalypse Now. Alien was transformational for horror sci-fi, though.

Kagemusha
Kagemusha

Best Film

  • Kagemusha
  • Director: Akira Kurosawa
  • Featuring: Tatsuya Nakadai

Kagemusha was not Kurosawa’s first international hit, not by a long shot, but it one of his finest films, and the stepping stone for eternal greats like Ran. A blisteringly clever tale of Samurai, feuding families, and the shfiting landscape of war, Kagemusha is a brilliant piece of both Japanese history and film history wrapped into one.

Kurosawa’s range of 1950s and 1960s films were huge hits, but in the 1970s Kurosawa struggled and even tried to commit suicide, believing he would never be able to direct again. However, a number of American filmmakers, including George Lucas, were huge fans of Kurosawa’s work, and Lucas reached out to offer Kurosawa support in the creation of a new Samurai film. With Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas producing, Kurosawa’s career soared to hits greatest heights yet.

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Time Bandits
Time Bandits

Best Film

  • Time Bandits
  • Director: Terry Gilliam
  • Featuring: John Cleese, Sean Connery, Shelley Duvall, Ian Holm, Michael Palin

Time Bandits is one of Terry Gilliam’s genius works, one of his trilogy of the fantastic (including Brazil and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen). It’s a tale of escape, escape from a society of restricted norms and little imagination; it’s the tale of dreams become reality, and old men who learn to see as kids again. It’s bloody brilliant and you should check it out.

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E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

Best Film

  • E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
  • Director: Steven Spielberg
  • Featuring: Dee Wallace, Henry Thomas, Peter Coyote, Robert MacNaughton, Drew Barrymore

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial is one of the seminal films of the 20th century, a film for the kid in all of us and one of the most hopeful looks at the power of compassion, love, and trust to change the world for the better. Audiences felt this, too, even at the time of release, when E.T. went on to earn more than Star Wars to become the highest-grossing film until Jurassic Park. It is considered one of the greatest films of all time and has been selected by the Library of Congress for special preservation.

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Note: This one was tough for me on a personal level because Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan also came out this year… but E.T. is truly a universal genius film.

Videodrome
Videodrome

Best Film

  • Videodrome
  • Director: David Cronenberg
  • Featuring: James Woods, Sonja Smits

Videodrome is an overwhelming surrealist horror sci-fi, a musing on politics and technology that captures something inherently true and starkly deadly about our unthinking plunge into new forms of technology—and new forms of social manipulation. One of the best horror films ever made because, like all great horror, the point is not the terror or the scares: the point is to get viewers to think differently about the nature of their reality.

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This year we also god Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, and WarGames, two of my favorites, as well as brilliant classics like Strange Invaders.

Once Upon A Time in America
Once Upon A Time in America

Best Film

  • Once Upon A Time in America
  • Director: Sergio Leone
  • Featuring: Robert De Niro, James Woods, Elizabeth McGovern

Once Upon A Time in America is possibly the famous director Sergio Leone’s greatest film, a crime epic about two young men who forge an empire of greed and experience the self-destruction that such a life inherently brings. At four full hours, this is not an easy film to watch in one sitting, but it is absolutely worth it—just, whatever you do, don’t watch the North American slimmed down version.

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What a big year for film! Ghostbusters, Gremlins, Brother From Another Planet, The Terminator, and The Karate Kid! All in one year.

Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters
Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters

Best Film

  • Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters
  • Director: Paul Schrader
  • Featuring: Ken Ogata, Kenji Sawada

Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters wasn’t the biggest blockbuster in another year of great 1980s hits, but it told a story like no other. A dramatic biopic, the film is based on the life and work of Japanese writer Yukio Mishima who eventually led a failed coup against the Japanese government in 1970.

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Salvador
Salvador

Best Film

  • Salvador
  • Director: Oliver Stone
  • Featuring: James Woods, Jim Belushi

Salvador is one of Oliver Wood’s finest films, and though his film Platoon struck it big in the box office the same year, Salvador was swept under the radar. A gritty war drama in which the nature of war and the involvement of superpowers subsidizing conflicts in other lands.

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Good Morning, Vietnam
Good Morning, Vietnam

Best Film

  • Good Morning, Vietnam
  • Director: Barry Levinson
  • Featuring: Robin Williams, Forest Whitaker

Good Morning, Vietnam is one of Robin Williams’ greatest films, a political satire of America’s (up till then) least successful military effort. It’s a slapstick, zany, brilliant piece of comedy that everyone should see.

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Grave of Fireflies
Grave of Fireflies

Best Film

  • Grave of Fireflies
  • Director: Isao Takahata
  • Featuring: Tsutomu Tatsumi, Ayano Shiraishi

Grave of Fireflies isn’t as well-known outside fans of anime as it should be. Incredible and harrowing, Grave of Fireflies shredded the hearts of millions of viewers, with its terrifying and surreal look at the criminal destruction of war.

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Dead Poets Society
Dead Poets Society

Best Film

  • Dead Poets Society
  • Director: Peter Weir
  • Featuring: Robin Williams

Dead Poets Society is yet another brilliant Robin Williams-carried film that challenges the preconceptions of the meaning and worth of education and literature.

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Blind Fury is my personal favorite of this year, though (judging it by it’s original German release date).

Mountains Of The Moon
Mountains Of The Moon

Best Film

  • Mountains Of The Moon
  • Director: Bob Rafelson
  • Featuring: Patrick Bergin, Iain Glen

Mountains Of The Moon is the tale of Captain Burton and Lieutenant Speke’s colonial exploitation of central Africa, with a gorgeously expansive vistas and increase the sense of intensity that some might find surprising given the film’s length and subject matter. It’s a meditative and sorrowful film that doesn’t glorify as much as it introspects.

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The Fisher King
The Fisher King

Best Film

  • The Fisher King
  • Director: Terry Gilliam
  • Featuring: Robin Williams, Jeff Bridges

The Fisher King is a radio shock jock who destroys someone’s life, and he finds himself hoping for death. But then he meets a Knight, a knight on a quest, and he finds within himself the desire to live… by helping someone else. It’s a brilliant comedic drama about a modern landscape that can only be restored through a sense of the profound.

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Wayne's World
Wayne's World

Best Film

  • Wayne's World
  • Director: Penelope Spheeris
  • Featuring: Mike Myers, Dana Carvey, Tia Carrere, Rob Lowe

Wayne's World is a farcical sketch film about modern society, capitalism, and the nature of media. It’s self-reflexive in all the best ways, and a

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My favorite film of this year is probably Split Second, however, a brilliant horror sci-fi piece featuring my favorite actor: Rutger Hauer.

Jurassic Park
Jurassic Park

Best Film

  • Jurassic Park
  • Director: Steven Spielberg
  • Featuring: Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough

Shortparagraph changed the landscape of films forever, cementing Spielberg’s brilliance for generations ever after, and offering one of the most epic blockbusters of all time. It was fun, scary, and visually grand in a way that still isn’t matched even in age of high-end special effects. The performances by the lead cast was likewise excellent, and the script kept the pace zipping at a heart-shattering clip.

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Little Women
Little Women

Best Film

  • Little Women
  • Director: Gillian Armstrong
  • Featuring: Winona Ryder, Kirsten Dunst, Claire Danes, Samantha Mathis, Susan Sarandon, Christian Bale

Little Women is the tale of an unconventional family in an era of great change. A tale of the human desire to seek meaning in life as well as a tale of love, in all its forms, this is a wonderfully-acted and superbly-written film that stands up far better than the truly miserable 2019 travesty that bore the same name.

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This year was a great year for film, with Interview with the Vampire, The Lion King, Forrest Gump, and the Mask all bursting out of the silver screen. Why’d I choose this one? Partly because the modern remake is just so utterly terrible and partly because it is an excellent film.

Toy Story
Toy Story

Best Film

  • Toy Story
  • Director: John Lasseter
  • Featuring: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen

Toy Story made film history and would transform the imaginative landscape of an entire generation of kids, while at once capturing something essential about the nature of being a child that all can forever relate to. It was the film that showed that Pixar could create unparalleled art.

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Fly Away Home
Fly Away Home

Best Film

  • Fly Away Home
  • Director: Carroll Ballard
  • Featuring: Jeff Daniels, Anna Paquin

Fly Away Home is undoubtedly one of the finest family films ever made, a tale of loss and love, and the ability of individuals to change the world. Subversive, powerful, and a story that featured prescient themes of environmentalism, this is a film that you need to see.

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This year also features one of my favorite films: Independence Day.

The Fifth Element
The Fifth Element

Best Film

  • The Fifth Element
  • Director: Luc Besson
  • Featuring: Bruce Willis, Gary Oldman, Ian Holm, Chris Tucker, Milla Jovovich

The Fifth Element is one of the greatest science fiction tales ever made, a story of a darkness threatening to devour the universe, and the Fifth Element — a living source of incredible power (Milla Jovovich) who is the only hope at stopping it. Zany, wacky, intelligent, superb; this film is pure gold.

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This year we also get one of my favorite films of all time: Princess Mononoke

Pleasantville
Pleasantville

Best Film

  • Pleasantville
  • Director: Gary Ross
  • Featuring: Tobey Maguire, Reese Witherspoon, Jeff Daniels, Joan Allen, William H. Macy

Pleasantville is about the lines that divide us, the way strongmen can lead crowds, and how fear makes otherwise good people double down on terrible choices (a not otherwise unimportant point in the current clime). Through a comedic lens, this film examines our assumptions about society, and also offers some heart-wrenching moments of emotional clarity that few other films can manage to provide.

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This year had SO MANY great films, too many to list. But do some digging to find more great pieces. Pleasantville’s message is so important and profound, however, that it wins out.

The Matrix
The Matrix

Best Film

  • The Matrix
  • Director: The Wachowskis
  • Featuring: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving

The Matrix The Matrix transformed the world. It was one of those films that altered the way we saw cinema, and it offered a vibrant philosophic look at our modern reality (or, as philosopher Jean Buadrillard would say, our “hyper-reality”, our state of non-reality). It was action-packed but also incredibly clever, and its like has not been known since.

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The Mummy was comedy gold, Ghost Dog was poetic and profound, and American Beauty was twisted and dark. There was also a rather disappointing Star Wars film released this year (loved it as a kid, will still watch it, but it’s artistically inferior, sorry).

Almost Famous
Almost Famous

Best Film

  • Almost Famous
  • Director: Cameron Crowe
  • Featuring: Billy Crudup, Frances McDormand, Philip Seymour Hoffman

Almost Famous is about a kid writer in the 1970s who gets a shot at writing a major Rolling Stone magazine article, and it manages to be at once funny and disarmingly moving. There are some heavier moments, but the film stays away from the sort of dark grit that other takes on the 1970s Rock’n’Roll scene have taken on—much to its credit.

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There were some superb films this year, like Titan A.E., Shadow of the Vampire, and American Psycho.

The Lord of the Rings AND Amélie

Best Film for the first time ever… a TIE

I just couldn’t do it, folks! Two of my favorite movies of all time, both incomparable and utterly genius, both transformative, both works of uncontested artistic genius. So, I’m breaking with my own format to bring them both to you, here.

  • The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
  • Director: Peter Jackson
  • Featuring: Elijah Wood, Sean Astin (and a whole cast of brilliant actors too long for this section)

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring did something impossible. Just as, before Tolkien wrote Lord of the Rings, fantasy was often decried as not of interest to the general public (boy, did Tolkien prove those detractors wrong!), Peter Jackson’s brilliant and faithful reimagining of the classic tale finally shattered any doubt about whether or not fantasy could be something that the whole would could love. The epic tale of a dark power bent of the ruin of the mortal world, and the little people who rise to the occasion on the side of Good. It’s one of the most powerful films ever made and, along with it’s two sequels, is the only film version of Lord of the Rings any of us need.

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  • Amélie
  • Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
  • Featuring: Audrey Tautou, Mathieu Kassovitz

Amélie is a heartwarming tale so perfect, so real, so magical and brilliant that I could write positive adjectives about it all day. Amélie is tale of a young woman who feels something whimsical for the experience of life—even when the sadness of life is highlighted. It is the tale of her experience, her internal life; we see the world through Amélie’s eyes, and therefore we get to experience the grief and the sorrow, the belonging and the isolation. I could gush about this film forever, but you really just need to watch it.

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2001 was another hot year. Not only did we get Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Spirited Away, Shrek, Ocean’s Eleven, Hannibal, Atlantis: The Lost Empire, and the Planet of the Apes reboot… we also got Monsters, Inc., a Beautiful Mind, and Moulin Rouge!

Bowling for Columbine
Bowling for Columbine

Best Film

  • Bowling for Columbine
  • Director: Michael Moore
  • Featuring: Michael Moore

Bowling for Columbine is one of the most unnerving films of the decade, and whether or not you appreciate Moore’s later work, this is his masterpiece. A deconstruction of the reasons for the pervasive gun violence in the United States as seen through the lens of the horrific Columbine massacre. It is considered one of the greatest documentary films of all time.

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Whale Rider
Whale Rider

Best Film

  • Whale Rider
  • Director: Niki Caro
  • Featuring: Keisha Castle-Hughes

Whale Rider is considered one of the films everyone should see before they are fourteen by the British Film Institute, and it’s easy to see why. The tale of a young woman who is discovering herself in the middle of a patriarchal society, who must seek the spirit of the ocean and her own spirit as she enters the strange world of adulthood.

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Note: Okay, so it technically premiered in 2020 at the Toronto International Film Festival, but it’s commercial release was 2003

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Best Film

  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
  • Director: Michel Gondry
  • Featuring: Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Kirsten Dunst, Mark Ruffalo, Elijah Wood, Tom Wilkinson

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a tale about the power of memory and the things that make us human. It’s a dream about love and life, a musing on the nature of life and human connection. It’s a terrifying nightmare about loss and the isolation so many find themselves within… and about finding yourself when the world feels unreal. One of Jim Carry’s best performances.

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Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

Best Film

  • Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
  • Director: Shane Black
  • Featuring: Robert Downey Jr., Val Kilmer

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is a high-octane dark comedy filled with action, top-notch scripting, and plenty of fun. At a time when Robert Downy Junior was definitely not a household name (unless it was for his personal troubles being splashed over the tabloids), this was a real winner for his acting life. It’s a superb modern noir and a buddy-cop film rolled into one, and offers a thrilling ride from end to end.

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There are plenty of films that normally get this top spot, which is why I went a little sideways for this one.

Pan's Labyrinth
Pan's Labyrinth

Best Film

  • Pan's Labyrinth
  • Director: Guillermo del Toro
  • Featuring: Sergi López, Maribel Verdú

Pan's Labyrinth is a dark fairytale that makes the world of the fey come alive, utterly realistic alongside the darkness and horrors of a civil war, and the dying innocence of a young girl trying to survive. It is one of the greatest films of all time and an absolute masterpiece from that most incomparable of directors: Guillermo del Toro.

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Juno
Juno

Best Film

  • Juno
  • Director: Jason Reitman
  • Featuring: Elliot Page, Michael Cera

Juno stole the scene in 2007 against a line-up of increasingly dark and heavy dramas. Silly and earnest, and very funny in a charming way. It’s become a classic for good reason. Plus, its soundtrack is divine.

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The Fall
The Fall

Best Film

  • The Fall
  • Director: Tarsem Singh
  • Featuring: Lee Pace, Catinca Untaru, Justine Waddell

The Fall is a wildly imaginative epic in an age where films that incorporate elements of stage productions were less popular — it offered a tale of daring and epic fantasy, all told with a storyteller’s wit and grace. It’s colorful, unashamedly emotional, and wonderfully fun.

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Technically released in 2006, it only hit theaters in 2008.

Inglorious Bastards
Inglorious Bastards

Best Film

  • Inglorious Bastards
  • Director: Quentin Tarantino
  • Featuring: Brad Pitt, Christoph Waltz, Michael Fassbender, Eli Roth

Inglorious Bastards has been called a revenge flick like no other; it’s the dark wunderkind of Tarantino’s most violent and uninhibited imagination, and one of his darkest comedies to-date. With a brilliant cast, and a whole lot of gore, this is WWII the way it should have ended.

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The King's Speech
The King's Speech

Best Film

  • The King's Speech
  • Director: Tom Hooper
  • Featuring: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter

The King's Speech came out in a hot year for film but it wins on all fronts as a masterpiece of classic cinema, a film that refused to slide into gimmicks for the sake of sensation and, in an era of increasingly mumbled dialog, gave us some of the best speeches of the day.

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Hugo
Hugo

Best Film

  • Hugo
  • Director: Martin Scorsese
  • Featuring: Chloe Grace Moretz, Asa Butterfield, Ben Kingsley, Sacha Baron Cohen

Hugo tells a tale about the importance of film… through film. Only Martin Scorsese, with his gift for subtly and his love for the art of film, could have managed to create such a powerfully heartwarming film that manages to self-inspect without being overt. It’s magical, heartwarming, and fun.

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Cloud Atlas
Cloud Atlas

Best Film

  • Cloud Atlas
  • Director: The Wachowskis
  • Featuring: Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess

Cloud Atlas pulled the utterly genius literary work of David Mitchell onto the silver screen, offering a journey through space and time unlike any other — a glimpse into the past and into twisted futures, with an eye toward the threads that bind us all and, when tugged in any single spot, cause us all to change. Funny, dark, brilliant, courageous. It’s a winner.

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What a great year! Argo was superb, and so was Life of Pi. Beasts of the Southern Wild also broke the charts.

Only Lovers Left Alive
Only Lovers Left Alive

Best Film

  • Only Lovers Left Alive
  • Director: Jim Jarmusch
  • Featuring: Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston

Only Lovers Left Alive is a surreal vampire film beyond anything you’ve ever seen. Intimate in ways that films often struggle to be, with a soundtrack that transports you out of your mind, and with some of the best performances of all time by Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston. What does it mean to be alive?

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Under the Skin
Under the Skin

Best Film

  • Under the Skin
  • Director: Jonathan Glazer
  • Featuring: Scarlett Johansson

Under the Skin is so incredible because it refuses to handhold the audience, something increasingly rare in cinema these days. It manages to provide a strange and dark science fiction tale that refuses easy interpretation, a film that unsettles, a film that opens upon a visually stunning stage and blends eroticism with softness, power with pain. It’s an incredible movie that will leave you uncertain of everything in the end.

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Mad Max: Fury Road
Mad Max: Fury Road

Best Film

  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • Director: George Miller
  • Featuring: Charlize Theron, Tom Hardy

Mad Max: Fury Road took the classic premise and shattered all expectations, somehow bringing to life one of the most powerful feminist post-apocalyptic epics of all time. It took all the thrilling power of the Mad Max films, and opened it into a much larger and more vicious world, hyping up both the action and the underlying point about the nature of humanity. It’s a cautionary tale about the crazy people with their oil and patriarchal cults, and those who will oppose them at the end of the world.

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Captain Fantastic
Captain Fantastic

Best Film

  • Captain Fantastic
  • Director: Matt Ross
  • Featuring: Viggo Mortensen, Frank Langella, Kathryn Hahn, Steve Zahn

Captain Fantastic is one of the best films I’ve ever seen, an epic and powerful look at the damage caused by capitalist society, and the damage caused by swinging too far into the wilderness. It’s a film about finding a middle way, and a film about joy. It’s a film about growing up and being alive, a film about the violence of power structures, and a film about a way forward into a better life.

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The Shape of Water
The Shape of Water

Best Film

  • The Shape of Water
  • Director: Guillermo del Toro
  • Featuring: Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins

The Shape of Water carries on with Guillermo del Toro’s masterful ability to weave fairytale magic into the darkness of modern reality. One of the most unconventional love tales of all time, it’s heartbreaking, joyful, and beautiful.

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Isle of Dogs
Isle of Dogs

Best Film

  • Isle of Dogs
  • Director: Wes Anderson
  • Featuring: Bryan Cranston, Koyu Rankin, Edward Norton, Liev Schreiber, Bill Murray, (and a huge cast too big for this space)

Isle of Dogs is an animated masterpiece from genius director West Anderson, a man already responsible for a massive array of incredible films over the years. It’s a stirring and intelligent political tale buried deep within a tale of friendship, action, and love. One of this director’s finest, and featuring some of the best voice acting in years.

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Parasite
Parasite

Best Film

  • Parasite
  • Director: Bong Joon-ho
  • Featuring: Song Kang-ho, Lee Sun-kyun, Cho Yeo-jeong

Parasite is actually one of the darkest comedies I’ve ever seen, a film that ripples with violence in every funny scene — because the humor itself rests upon the violence and tension of stark class divides.

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Tenet
Tenet

Best Film

  • Tenet
  • Director: Christopher Nolan
  • Featuring: John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki

Tenet is a brilliantly twisting time-travel action film, as if James Bond were thrown into an inverted reality where space and time challenge the ideas of national defense. It’s smart, high-octane, with a witty script and gorgeous acting. It’s not an easy film to pick apart, and it’s not meant to be: like all Nolan’s films about time travel, this one’s a twister that’s there to make you think.

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The Green Knight
The Green Knight

Best Film SO FAR

  • The Green Knight
  • Director: David Lowery
  • Featuring: Dev Patel, Alicia Vikander, Ralph Ineson

The Green Knight is a powerful re-imagining of the classic Arthurian tale, heaped with twisted and conflicting Christian imagery set against a backdrop of a wider and more ancient pagan philosophy. The young knight Sir Gawain is eager to prove himself to his aging King, and so volunteers to give battle to the mysterious Green Man, a creature of some eldritch power who enters the castle on Christmas day. Only, in rising to face this foe, he finds himself locked in a game of far greater subtlety than his thirst for glory can understand.

It’s a visceral film, with its reliance on practical rather than digital effects, and this lends it a temporality and sureness that many modern films lack. The story stays incredibly close to the legend, save for those few places where it deviates wildly… then returns to the course, leaving the viewer to puzzle out the meaning behind the deviation.

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Conclusion
Conclusion

Well, that was quite this list! If you haven’t checked out the first half do so now!

There will be more great films in the latter half of 2021, I’m sure that some might even give my current favorite, The Green Knight, a run for its money. The Legend of Chang-Chi was a huge letdown, but Black Widow was reasonably solid, and it’s intriguing to see films like The Matrix 4 popping onto the big screen. Dune, likewise, could be a really great story—if they kept the power behind the original story (though, as with my favorite version of Dune, David Lynch’s 1984 creation, deviations aren’t always killers in the end).

Of course, Covid-19 has changed the world of cinema, and not for the better. Many films are opting to premiere straight to streaming, and that’s disastrous for local cinemas and small chains. It’s also disastrous for actors and for audiences, and it hands over an inordinate amount of power to shady corporate monopolies. Whenever possible, make sure to lobby your local cinema to enact safe policies of reduced capacity, masking, and vaccination checks, so that everyone can still enjoy films at the cinema responsibly! If we want to be able to enjoy the incredible experience of cinema in the future, we’re going to need to make sure they stay open—and local businesses are especially vulnerable.

What films are you most excited to see in cinemas in 2022? The new Jurassic Park?, the new Star Wars? Or, perhaps, a smaller film that will reach for the stars? Let us know in the comments, or tag me on social media!

The 1980s had some huge sci-fi blockbusters, and some great underrated hits as well!
Odin Odin (62)
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Once upon a time, Netflix’s DVD library hosted well over 100,000 titles and sent out roughly 12 million DVDs per week.