A History of Violence
A Separation Adaptation
All Is Lost Almost Famous
Best in Show
Birdman Black Swan
Burn After Reading
Catch Me If You Can
Children of Men City of God
Eastern Promises Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Fantastic Mr. Fox
Gone Baby Gone Gravity Her
High Fidelity In Bruges Inception Inglourious Basterds
Inherent Vice Inside Llewyn Davis
Little Miss Sunshine
Looper Lost in Translation
Love & Mercy Mad Max: Fury Road
Midnight in Paris
Moon Mulholland Drive No Country for Old Men
O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Requiem for a Dream
Superbad Synecdoche, New York
The 40-Year-Old Virgin
The Cabin in the Woods
The Dark Knight
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Hurt Locker
The Kids Are All Right
The Lord of the Rings (Trilogy) The Master
The Pianist The Royal Tenenbaums The Social Network The Tree of Life
The Wolf of Wall Street
The Wrestler There Will Be Blood
This Is the End
Up in the Air
Wet Hot American Summer Whiplash
Y Tu Mama Tambien Zodiac
Though this trio of films received a combined zero nominations from the Academy, all three are award-worthy and worth a watch.
The End of the Tour
Synopsis: The story of the five-day interview between Rolling Stone reporter David Lipsky and acclaimed novelist David Foster Wallace, which took place right after the 1996 publication of Wallace’s groundbreaking epic novel, ‘Infinite Jest.’
This movie is not for everybody. It’s a simple character study about two literary intellectuals discussing the merits of art and fame. Jason Segel does an excellent job disappearing into his role and provides the film with a low-key depth.
Love & Mercy
Synopsis: In the 1960s, Beach Boys leader Brian Wilson struggles with emerging psychosis as he attempts to craft his avant-garde pop masterpiece. In the 1980s, he is a broken, confused man under the 24-hour watch of shady therapist Dr. Eugene Landy.
A fascinating look at the life of a musical genius. This is a film for not only fans of the Beach Boys, but for anyone who’s intrigued by the intersection of creativity and mental illness. The use of sound throughout is especially remarkable.
Synopsis: A working girl tears through Tinseltown on Christmas Eve searching for the pimp who broke her heart.
Another flick that’s probably not for everyone. Shot entirely on iPhones, this tragicomedy follows a group of underrepresented characters through the seediest parts of L.A. on a kinetic and colorful journey. It’s a small story but one that deserved to be told.
Inspired by a true story, a comedy centered on a 27-year-old guy who learns of his cancer diagnosis, and his subsequent struggle to beat the disease.
A Separation (2011)
A married couple are faced with a difficult decision – to improve the life of their child by moving to another country or to stay in Iran and look after a deteriorating parent who has Alzheimer’s disease.
A washed-up actor, who once played an iconic superhero, battles his ego and attempts to recover his family, his career and himself in the days leading up to the opening of his Broadway play.
Black Swan (2010)
A ballet dancer wins the lead in “Swan Lake” and is perfect for the role of the delicate White Swan – Princess Odette – but slowly loses her mind as she becomes more and more like Odile, the Black Swan.
A mysterious Hollywood stuntman, mechanic and getaway driver lands himself in trouble when he helps out his neighbor.
“When you listen to Pet Sounds, use earphones in the dark, and you can hear everything.”
Though I’ve long known that Pet Sounds is considered one of the greatest albums ever recorded, it was not until I watched a film called Love & Mercy that I ever gave the record a proper listen.
The movie depicts two eras in the life of the Beach Boys’ musical genie Brian Wilson. The mid-60s version, played by Paul Dano, is a young man overflowing with sonic inspiration, and hints at the shadow that will eventually swallow Wilson for a while. John Cusack plays the man in the 1980s, when he has become zombified by a mad doctor who badly mistreats Wilson’s mental disease.
While both eras of the picture are compelling, it was the sections that focused on the Pet Sounds sessions that intrigued me the most and made me seek out these songs. I now listen to the album on repeat on my long walk to work, letting it’s whimsical melancholy wash over me like a harmonic ocean.
The movie is worth seeing if only to give you a chance to hear life with new ears.
Four recent Netflix picks you might not have seen…
A self-absorbed young American traveling in Chile plans a journey with his pals to find a legendary hallucinogenic cactus. But when he invites the free-spirited Crystal Fairy along, they find themselves locked in a battle of wills.
Workmates at a small Chicago brewery, Luke and Kate are romantically involved with others but also the best of friends — on and off the clock. Things get complicated, however, when the couples spend a weekend together at a lakeside retreat.
Determined to make it as a modern dancer in New York, Frances pursues her unlikely goal with more enthusiasm than natural talent. The rest of the time, she and her sardonic best friend, Sophie, put off growing up for as long as they can.
While repainting traffic lines along a burnt-out stretch of rural highway, a mismatched pair — straightlaced Alvin and his girlfriend’s harebrained brother, Lance — form an unlikely bond that builds upon their differences.
Aging hipster Swanson is inured to his life of privilege in New York, where he will inherit his father’s wealth. Instead of doing anything meaningful with his time, Swanson engages in meaningless games of casual cruelty with his equally numb friends.
Despite the title, this is not really a funny movie. While there are some humorous scenes, the tone is actually pretty melancholy. Deep down, it’s about the inherent emptiness that accompanies a life lived bathed in irony. Most people will probably not enjoy this film, but for those who can relate to its too-cool-for-school ethos, it provides a valuable depiction of what it means not to take the world seriously.
Edit: Just a heads up – the opening scene involves sweaty men with beer guts wrestling in their underwear. It’s pretty disturbing.