Welcome back to the countdown! If you’re reeling from the frustration of the Oscars’ apparent refusal to acknowledge the racial climate just as much as I am, then stroll back through memory lane with me and remember all of the voices the Oscars chose to forget this year.
100. Love is Strange (2014) — Ira Sachs
While twee and focuses too much on the unlikable family members for my taste, the film is a genuine love story of two older men who are torn apart by homophobia, age and the shitshow that is finding a decently priced apartment in New York.
99.The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 (2014) — Francis Lawrence, Danny Strong and Peter Craig
The Hunger Games gets even darker, pitting Katniss against PTSD, a media circus for a different government, and a Peeta who does Capitol TV interviews. While I’m still skeptical of the need to split Mockingjay into two parts, I can’t say I didn’t love the imagery in the final shot.
98. Beginners (2010) — Mike Mills
A cutesy but raw portrait of an artist chronicling the deaths of his parents. Mills’ strength is in letting the audience know exactly in what space and time the story takes place, and it oozes out of this tale of Christopher Plummer’s character exploring his homosexuality in the late stages of his life.
97. Sweetie (1989) — Jane Campion
A beautifully shot film about the secrets we hide to protect our loved ones, because one little revelation just might make someone take their top off in front of a nine-year old boy.
96. Another Earth (2011) — Mike Cahill and Brit Marling
Proof that sci-fi can be done on any budget, as long as there’s strong characters and a musical saw.
95. The Grifters (1990) — Stephen Frears
One of the best-written endings in the suspense genre. Angelica Huston was so invested in her scene that she ran from set in tears.
94. Veronica Voss (1982) — Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Fassbinder’s critique of postwar Germany through the lens of a fading UFA star. Is torturing former Nazi sympathizers justifiable retribution?
93. Shoot The Piano Player (1960) — Francois Truffaut
A gangster flick more about an artist’s angst and wondering why she doesn’t love you than about running away from gangsters. Can’t say there’s anything wrong with that.
92. Wandelgeist (2014) — Dylan Freehauf
Life ain’t easy post-grad. But there might be something past that horizon.
91. The Newton Boys (1998) — Richard Linklater
It’s a straight period gangster piece, which might not groove with people who like Linklater’s usual experiments with narrative, but it’s packed with a strong script, bucketloads of charm and an Ethan Hawke mustache, which is more than enough for me.
90. Chaplin (1992) — Richard Attenbourgh
Caught in the sentimental trappings of the biopic, but I forgive the overemphasis on Chapin’s romantic life for any scene where Chaplin gets to stick it to the man (especially when the man in question is J. Edgar Hoover).
89. MASH (1970) — Robert Altman
A macabre satire about the horror of male army machismo that maybe goes too far, which is fine, because it’s hilarious.
88. Nightcrawler (2014) — Dan Gilroy
Who runs the world? Sociopaths. A scathing examination at media manipulation and what passes for success in this country.
87. Sandy Stories (2013) — NYU Divest: Go Fossil Free!
The movie that showed me that mobilizing to fight climate change isn’t a pipe dream.
86. Warsaw 44 (2014) — Jan Komasa
Some of the coolest and funnest action scenes I’ve seen this year. Dubstep shouldn’t ordinarily work in a film about the Polish resistance in WWII, but it does here.
85. Dear White People (2014) — Justin Simien
An Altman-esque examination at how racial mores pervade our consciousness in our hashtag millennial culture. Not as funny as the trailer led me to believe, but just as compelling.
84. Million Dollar Arm (2014) — Thomas McCarthy and Craig Gillespie
Jon Hamm in India? Yes please. A sharp script that accurately describes the clash between American and Indian culture and what the phrase “bypassing the system” means in both.
83. The Double (2013) — Richard Ayoade and Avi Korine
A super mind-bending thriller with a plot that sort of makes sense and characters who are just as confused as you are. Not as accessible as Ayoade’s debut Submarine, but retains his ability to turn an otherwise drab location into a cinematic landscape.
82. Persona (1966) — Ingmar Bergman
A masterclass in editing, lighting, acting, everything that has to do with telling a story in film. If a woman rids herself of motherhood, who is she? Is she even allowed a voice?
81. The Square (2013) — Jehane Noujaim
An instruction manual on how to partake in a revolution with today’s technology. Hopeful for change even in the face of unrelenting authoritarianism.
80. Tiny Furniture (2010) — Lena Dunham
Even though Lena Dunham might not have known the intricacies of digital versus film while making this, she made a movie that fits the aesthetic of low-budget digital perfectly. You use whatever you got to make something, even if you’ve only got a rocking horse and Nietzsche quotes.
79. Kramer v. Kramer (1979) — Robert Benson
Like a novel in how free the characters are to explore their relationships with each other instead of strictly engaging in conflict. What Mad Men would be if Don Draper spent more time with his children than his girlfriend of the season.
78. Adieu Au Langage (2014) — Jean-Luc Godard
Also in competition for the weirdest. A jarring but provocative look at how communication is changing due to technology. When wars are fought by machines, movies talk more than lovers do and people look at their phones during most conversations, perhaps the only ones who remember how to show affection are puppies.
77. Walking and Talking (1997) — Nicole Holofcener
The template feels familiar now, but this tale of two New York women struggling with the potential end of their friendship stayed with me. It might be because of the fantastic ending, or it might be because this is essentially an episode of Girls minus an explicit sex scene.
76. Tape (2001) — Richard Linklater
Earns its stageplay conventions with the freedom of the camera and the actors’ great ability to lie through their teeth. Even when there’s a taped confession, there’s still no way of knowing the truth.
Come back next time for next 25!