From spine chilling psychological thrillers to heartbreaking dramas, here’s the best that Hollywood has offered so far.
Though 21st century has crammed us with multitudes of genres and plots, Hollywood has never ceased to amaze its viewers. Here’s a pick of top ten best movies that Hollywood has delivered to us.
10500 Days of Summer (2009) – Romance/Drama
“Coincidence, that’s all anything ever is. Nothing more than coincidence.” – Narrator, 500 Days of Summer.
Released in 2009, the film was directed by Marc Webb and stars Joseph Gordon- Levitt and Zooey Deschanel as the lead roles. The film won sixteen awards including Las Vegas Film Critics Society Award for Best Screenplay (2009), Independent Spirit Award for Best Screenplay (2010) and Hollywood Film Awards for Screenwriter of the Year (2009).
Contrary to the series of everlasting love that the cinema universe has showered upon us, this film perfectly captures the ‘uncertain’ aspect of a relationship. However magical love seems at the initial stages, irrespective of the promises that are made, not every love gets to have a happy ending. ‘500 Days of Summer’ entices the viewers to experience the exciting, yet agonizing journey of unrequited love. Rather than labeling the film as a love story, it is more apt to say that it is a story about love. Though the film showcases the unpredictability of relationships, it also ensures us that there is always a soothing autumn after a dreadful summer. Life is nothing but an endless unfolding of love in different forms.
The screenwriter of ‘500 Days of Summer’, Scott Neustadter, has revealed on a DVD commentary that this movie is 75% based on a relationship that he had in his past.
500 Days of Summer is available on YouTube.
9The Social Network (2010) – Drama/ History
Another David Fincher’s must watch is ‘The Social Network’, an American biographical drama film written by Aaron Sorkin starring Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake, Armie Hammer and Tyler Winklevoss. The movie depicts the founding of the social networking website Facebook and the resulting lawsuits, based on Ben Mezrich’s 2009 book ‘The Accidental Billionaires’.
The Social Network is one of the sharpest films, and it’s shot and cut like a daylight horror film, with the accuracy of a metronome. The Social Network excelling in its genre leaves the viewers with an insightful experience. The movie acquired Best Screenplay, Score and Editing, unfortunately missing out on the Best Picture which it deserved. The film portrays how a man who doesn’t care much about money becomes the world’s youngest billionaire while losing his one true friend. The Social Network may bolster the arguments of social networking skeptics who argue that what sites like Facebook and others do is create a false sense of community, a world that isn’t founded on reality or humanity.
Aaron Sorkin was supposed to direct ‘The Social Network’ as his debut direct, having written the screenplay. Producer Scott Rudin, on the other hand, decided to check whether David Fincher was interested in taking the reins behind the camera. Fincher agreed to direct but only if Sorkin agreed upon the idea, which he did. The rest is history
The Social Network is available on Netflix.
8Night Crawler (2014) – Thriller/ Crime
Nightcrawler is a Neo-noir film released in 2014, directed by Dan Gilroy, starring Jake Gyllenhaal in the lead and Rene Russo, Riz Ahmed and Bill Paxton in the supporting roles. The film won twenty-nine various awards including Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature, Independent Spirit Award for Best Screenplay and Satellite Award for Best Screenplay, Original.
“My motto I, if you want to win the lottery, you have to make the money to buy the ticket.”- Nightcrawler, 2014.
It is hard to believe that this is the first feature film of Dan Gilroy, the director. The film follows the story of an amateur cameraman named Louis Bloom, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, who goes to extreme measures to get photographs of crime scenes as it would help him make money. The movie takes a turn when he starts committing crimes himself to earn more. The protagonist is depicted as a psychopath who projects himself as an intelligent man. His gaze is unsettling and his personality is equally chilling. Gyllenhaal’s performance was powerful, but Rick, played by Riz Ahamed, was equally captivating. This can be blindly classified as a classic film because each scene drags the viewer into a state of trance and the tone is brutally meticulous. The entire film is an attempt, among other things, to approach certain American myths, within the setting of a reasonably realistic drama, in order to bring them to a bitter finish. It’s not a particularly “pleasant” film, and the pacing is slow, but the tension between Louis and his surroundings builds to the point that you’re glued to your seat.
The scene where Jake Gyllenhaal breaks the mirror, while yelling at himself, was improvised by him. He ended up actually cutting his hand and was taken to the hospital after the shot.
Nightcrawler is available on Netflix.
7Manchester by the Sea (2016) – Drama
Directed by Kenneth Lonergan, the movie starring Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler, and Lucas Hedges, was released in 2016. The movie has won seventy-six various awards and was nominated for Academy Awards’ best picture, best actor, best supporting actor, best supporting actress, best original screenplay and best director. Casey Affleck with his powerful performance as the protagonist won an Oscar- Best Actor for this movie.
A movie that will leave a scar. The simple yet complex story line captures the multitude of emotions that flows through us when we watch this movie. ‘Manchester by the Sea’ a heartbreaking but beautiful elegy that deals with loss and suffering. It depicts loss from various angles, demonstrating how similar and diverse grief could be and how difficult it can be to deal with. The film is not just about grief, it is about forgiveness- forgiving oneself as well as others. After the sudden of his brother, the protagonist, Lee Chandler is named as the legal guardian of his 16-year-old nephew, Patrick. Lee is forced to return to his hometown which encapsulates his past life crammed with grief and loss and a place where he is pushed to confront his suppressed emotions.
The movie began its shooting in the town ‘Manchester-by-the-sea’ (known as Manchester) which actually exists in the north shore of Massachusetts.
Manchester by the Sea is available on YouTube.
6The Help (2011) – Drama/ Romance
Released in 2011, ‘The Help’ is a period drama written and directed by Tate Taylor based on the 2009 novel of the same name by Kathryn Stockett. Few of the notable cast members of the film are Octavia Spencer, Emma Stone, Jessica Chastain and Viola Davis. The film won around fifty-five awards including an Oscar for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role (Octavia Spencer), NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Motion Picture (2012), Satellite Award for Best Ensemble: Motion Picture (2011).
The plot follows the life of an aspiring author, during the civil rights movement of the 1960s, who decides to write a book detailing the life of African American maids- the white families for which they work and the suffering they undergo on a daily basis. The two and a half hours runtime pass by in a blink because of the phenomenal narrative. Though the storyline is serious, the movie has plenty of witty comic moments. The film depicts the individual’s experience and the larger social and political context in which they exist. The racial discrimination that was prevalent during the 60s in America is also established in the drama although the sole focus is not shed upon it.
The director Tate Taylor, the author of the book Kathryn Stockett and the producer Brunson Green have been friends for a long time even before the onset of this movie and their mothers’ have made appearances in this film.
The Help is available for rent on Google Play, Vudu and Amazon instant Video.
5Spotlight (2015)- Drama/ History
Spotlight is an American biographical drama film, written and directed by Tom McCarthy, which released in the year 2015. The film stars Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachael McAdams, John Slattery and Stanley Tucci in the lead roles and Brian d’Arcy James, Liev Schreiber and Billy Crudup in supporting roles. Spotlight won two Oscars- Academy Award for Best Picture and Academy Award for Writing (Original Screenplay) and around sixty various awards.
The film depicts The Boston Globe’s Spotlight team, one of the oldest running newspapers investigate team, that investigated the widespread and systemic child sex abuse in the Boston area by multiple Roman Catholic priests. The movie is based on a series of Spotlight stories based on a series of Spotlight stories that made The Boston Globe win the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in 2003. Given the film’s theme, there is no attempt to influence your emotions. The film avoids all euphemisms and instead focuses on sex abuse in all of its heinous, gruesome brutality. ‘Spotlight’ also reveals a deeper truth: the psychological anguish caused by abuse. “Faith” is taken seriously in Spotlight. Spotlight is a brilliant examination of the consequences of mindless obedience to authority or faith- an issue that is universal.
Most of the Boston Globe reporters who exposed the scandal, according to Mark Ruffalo, were Roman Catholics.
Spotlight is available on YouTube.
4Memento (2000)- Mystery/ Thriller
Written and directed by Christopher Nolan, ‘Memento’ is a Neo-noir psychological thriller film released in the year 2000. Critics lauded it for its nonlinear narrative structure and themes implied among other things. Memento was nominated for Oscars in the categories of Best Original Screenplay and Best Film Editing. The film is now largely acknowledged as one of Nolan’s most influential works, as well as one of the best films of the decade.
Leonard (Guy Pearce) is a man who suffers from anterograde amnesia (the inability to acquire new memories) and short-term memory loss every fifteen minutes as a result of an injury. He’s looking for the people who attacked him and killed his wife, and by using a complex system of Polaroid photos and tattoos to seek out information that he cannot recall. The film is presented in two different sequences of scenes that are interspersed throughout the picture: a black-and-white series that is exhibited chronologically, and a color sequence that is displayed in reverse order. At the conclusion of the film, the two sequences come together to form a single, unified story. The film does not follow the traditional thriller pattern, but it’s uncanny at conjuring up a mood. Perhaps relaying the story backwards is Nolan’s way of compelling us to empathize with the protagonist.
The entire shooting for this movie was completed in 25 days and the scenes of Carrie-Ann Moss was shot in just 8 days.
Memento is available on Hoopla.
3Whiplash (2014) – Drama
“There are no two words in the English language more harmful than “good job”” – Terrence Fletcher, Whiplash.
Directed by Damien Chazelle, ‘Whiplash’ is a psychological drama film released in the year 2014. The film stars Miles Teller and J. K. Simmons in the lead and Paul Reiser and Melissa Benoist as co-stars. This film was featured in 2014 Sundance Film Festival as the opening film. Whiplash was nominated for fourteen Academy Awards (record-tying) and won six.
The film illustrates the relationship between a perfectionist jazz teacher (J. K. Simmons) and an aspiring drummer (Miles Teller). The musical drama is both intensely intimate and zealously zoetic with an undertone of social commentary about what it takes to succeed in today’s competitive and grim world. The fact that Chazelle manages to turn an impromptu drum solo into an edgy and intriguing dramatic set piece that speeds up our heartbeat is one of astonishing feats. The drama maintains a splashy, impressionist stamina that keeps us sealed within its persistent rhythm.
The whole movie was filmed in just 19 days.
Whiplash is available on Amazon Prime Video.
2Se7en/ Seven (1995) – Crime/Drama
“What’s in the box?” – David Mills, Seven.
Released in 1995, the film Seven (Se7en) is directed by one of the renowned directors in Hollywood, David Fincher and written by Andrew Kevin Walker. The Neo-noir psychological crime thriller film stars Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, Gwyneth Paltrow, John McGinley, Lee Ermey and Kevin Spacey. Seven became the year’s seventh-highest-grossing film of 1995.
The film follows David Mills (Brad Pitt), a detective who teams up with William Somerset (Freeman), a retired cop, to track down a serial killer who, using the seven deadly sins as a pattern, carries out the murders. The notion that a person could commit such atrocities in the name of God is both repulsive and frighteningly undeniable. Despite the fact that the film revolves around two detectives, the plot isn’t truly a detective story. It’s pretty conventional, but the sheer depravity of the crimes and settings keeps the spectator interested. Spacey’s portrayal is the personification of evil, almost the devil in human form. This movie stands as a testament to David Fincher’s prowess as a director.
Despite the fact that the film ends somewhat openly, with Mills left to contemplate John Doe’s fate, none of those involved wanted to revisit the tale. Mills was supposedly consigned to a mental facility in a purported sequel, but Brad Pitt had no interest of repeating his character.
Seven is available on Netflix.
1Schindler’s List (1993)- War/ Drama
“Power is when we have every justification to kill, and we don’t” – Oskar Schindler, Schindler’s List.
The 1993 epic historical drama was written by Steven Zaillian and directed by Steven Spielberg. It is based on Australian novelist Thomas Keneally’s 1982 historical fiction novel ‘Schindler’s Ark.’ The film stars Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes and Ben Kingsley. “Schindler’s List’ won the Academy Awards for: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Writing, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Film Editing, Best Music (Original Score) and was nominated for various other Academy awards.
The plot follows Oskar Schindler, a German businessman, who employed over a thousand predominantly Polish-Jewish immigrants during World War II, who were spared from the Holocaust by working in his factories. The film lends itself to two-character studies: a con artist and a psychopath. Oskar Schindler and Amon Goeth are both characters born by war’s circumstances. In his serious films, Spielberg has a unique capacity to combine artistry and popularity, saying what he wishes to say in a way that people want to hear. The strength of Spielberg’s picture lies not in its explanation of evil, but in its insistence that humanity can be good in the face of it, and that good will triumph without succumbing to evil.
Spielberg refused to receive salary for this movie. Instead, he donated the film’s profits to the to the USC Shoah Foundation, which was founded in 1994 to honour and remember Holocaust survivors.
Schindler’s List is available on Netflix.