100 Greatest Films 2010-2019 Part 5

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20. One More Time with Feeling (2016) Dir. Andrew Dominik, 112 mins.

It documents the recording of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ sixteenth studio album, Skeleton Tree, in the aftermath of the death of Cave’s 15-year-old son Arthur.

19. Boyhood (2014) Dir. Richard Linklater, 163 mins.

Filmed from 2002 to 2013, Boyhood depicts the childhood and adolescence of Mason Evans Jr. (Coltrane) from ages six to eighteen as he grows up in Texas with divorced parents (Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke).

18. ‘Til Madness Do Us Part (2013) Dir. Wang Bing, 228 mins.

It observes the daily activity on one floor of a Chinese mental institution in Yunnan, Southwest of China.

17. Winter Sleep (2014) Dir. Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 196 mins.

Adapted from the short story, “The Wife” by Anton Chekhov and one subplot of The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, the story is set in Anatolia and examines the significant divide between the rich and the poor as well as the powerful and the powerless in Turkey. Watch

16. For Sama (2019) Dir. Waad Al-Kateab, Edward Watts, 100 mins.

The film focuses on Waad Al-Kateab’s journey as a journalist and rebel in the Syrian uprising. Her husband is Hamza Al-Kateab, one of the few doctors left in Aleppo, and they raise their daughter Sama Al-Kateab during the Syrian Civil War.

15. Dead Souls (2018) Dir. Wang Bing, 495 mins.

Documents the testimony of survivors of the hard-labor camp in the Gobi Desert in Gansu, China.

14.The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) Dir. Wes Anderson, 99 mins.

Featuring an ensemble cast, Anderson’s marvellously entertaining comedy stars Ralph Fiennes as a concierge who teams up with one of his employees, the lobby boy Zero (Tony Revolori), to prove his innocence after he is framed for murder. Fiennes, with his perfect delivery of the witty rapid fire dialogue, is a revelation.

13. The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (2013) Dir. Isao Takahata, 137 mins.

Found inside a shining stalk of bamboo by an old bamboo cutter (James Caan) and his wife (Mary Steenburgen), a tiny girl grows rapidly into an exquisite young lady (Chloë Grace Moretz). The mysterious young princess enthrals all who encounter her, but ultimately she must confront her fate, the punishment for her crime. Buy

12. An Elephant Sitting Still (2018) Dir. Hu Bo, 234 minutes.

The first and only film by the novelist-turned-director Hu, who committed suicide soon after finishing the movie, is set in the Chinese city of Manzhouli, and follows four people through a complicated day as their lives intersect.

11. Paths of the Soul (2015) Dir. Zhang Yang, 115 mins.

It tells of a journey taken by Tibetan villagers on a 1,200 kilometer pilgrimage to Lhasa.

10. Nostalgia for the Light (2010) Dir. Patricio Guzmán, 90 mins.

Guzmán’s documentary addresses the lasting impacts of Augusto Pinochet’s time in power by focusing on the similarities between astronomers researching humanity’s past, in an astronomical sense, and the struggle of many Chilean women who still search, after decades, for the remains of their relatives executed during the dictatorship.

9. Moonlight (2016) Dir. Barry Jenkins, 110 mins.

The film presents three stages in the life of the main character, his youth, adolescence and early adult life. It explores the difficulties he faces with his sexuality and identity, including the physical and emotional abuse he endures growing up.

8. The Tree of Life (2011) Dir. Terrence Malick, 138 mins.

The first American film to win the Palme d’Or since 2004, Malick’s ambitious experimental epic chronicles the origins and meaning of life by way of a middle-aged man (Sean Penn) and his childhood memories of his family living in 1950s Texas, particularly his often difficult relationship with his father (Brad Pitt). The family drama is interspersed with imagery of the origins of the known universe and the inception of life on Earth. The film polarised critics with some considering such a philosophical work to be incomprehensible and pretentious, particularly the depiction of evolution, but when the film focuses on the drama of small town domestic life, Malick finds an emotional core, which is helped along by some fine performances and beautiful cinematography. More…

7. Incendies (2010) Dir. Denis Villeneuve, 130 mins.

The story concerns Canadian twins who travel to their mother’s native country in the Middle East to uncover her hidden past amidst a bloody civil war.

6. The Act of Killing (2012) Dir. Joshua Oppenheimer, Christine Cynn, 115 mins.

The Act of Killing is a documentary about individuals who participated in the Indonesian mass killings of 1965–66. Watch

5. It’s Such a Beautiful Day (2012) Dir. Don Hertzfeldt, 62 mins.

The film is divided into three chapters and follows the story of a stick-figure man named Bill, who struggles with his failing memory and absurdist visions, among other symptoms of an unknown neurological illness, implied to be brain cancer.

4. A Separation (2011) Dir. Asghar Farhadi, 123 mins.

It focuses on an Iranian middle-class couple who separate, the disappointment and desperation suffered by their daughter due to the egotistical disputes and separation of her parents, and the conflicts that arise when the husband hires a lower-class caregiver for his elderly father, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease.

3. The Turin Horse (2011) Dir. Bela Tarr, Agnes Hranitzky, 146 mins.

It recalls the whipping of a horse in the Italian city of Turin which is rumoured to have caused the mental breakdown of philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche.

2. Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019) Dir. Céline Sciamma, 120 mins.

Set in France in the late 18th century, the film tells the story of a forbidden affair between an aristocrat and a painter commissioned to paint her portrait.

1. Parasite (2019) Dir. Bong Joon-ho, 132 mins.

The first non-English language film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture, it follows the members of a poor family who scheme to become employed by a wealthy family by infiltrating their household and posing as unrelated, highly qualified individuals.

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100 Greatest Films 2010-2019 Part 4

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40. Shoplifters (2018) Dir. Hirokazu Kore-eda, 121 mins.

It is about a non-biological family that relies on shoplifting to cope with a life of poverty.

39. World of Tomorrow (2015) Dir. Don Hertzfeldt, 17 mins.

A little girl is taken on a mind-bending tour of her distant future.

38. Let the Fire Burn (2013) Dir. Jason Osder, 95 mins.

The film is about the events leading up to and surrounding a 1985 stand-off between the black liberation group MOVE and the Philadelphia Police Department.

37. Inception (2010) Dir. Christopher Nolan, 148 mins.

The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio as a professional thief who steals information by infiltrating the subconscious and is offered a chance to have his criminal history erased as payment for the implantation of another person’s idea into a target’s subconscious. DiCaprio holds the piece together even if Nolan does get frustratingly repetitive with the effects in his dream structures. Watch

36. A Bread Factory, Part One (2018) Dir. Patrick Wang, 122 mins.

A small theater in a small town turns out to be a great setting for thinking about many big themes: art, globalization, gentrification, changing social institutions and new technology.

35. Ernest & Celestine (2012) Dir. Stéphane Aubier, Vincent Patar, Benjamin Renner, 80 mins.

This hand-drawn comedy follows the unlikely, and forbidden, friendship between a young mouse named Celestine and a lovable bear named Ernest.

34. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) Dir. George Miller, 120 mins.

The film is set in a post apocalyptic desert wasteland where gasoline and water are scarce commodities. It follows Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy), who joins forces with Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) to flee from cult leader Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne) and his army in an armoured tanker truck, which leads to a lengthy road battle. Watch

33. Roma (2018) Dir. Alfonso Cuarón, 135 mins.

Set in 1970 and 1971, Roma, which is a semi-autobiographical take on Cuarón’s upbringing in the Colonia Roma neighborhood of Mexico City, stars Yalitza Aparicio and Marina de Tavira and follows the life of a live-in housekeeper of a middle-class family.

32. Happy Hour (2015) Dir. Ryūsuke Hamaguchi, 317 mins.

The film follows the lives and loves of four middle-class women in their thirties who are friends and who live in Kobe. When one reveals she is undergoing divorce proceedings, the others begin to rethink their relationships.

31. One Cut of the Dead (2017) Dir. Shin’ichirô Ueda, 97 mins.

Things go badly for a hack director and film crew shooting a low budget zombie film in an abandoned WWII Japanese facility when they are attacked by real zombies.

30. The Florida Project (2017) Dir. Sean Baker, 111 mins.

The plot follows a six-year-old girl living with her rebellious mother in a motel in Kissimmee, Florida as they try to stay out of trouble and make ends meet, so they may keep one step ahead of impending homelessness. Watch

29. Senna (2010) Dir. Asif Kapadia, 106 mins.

The film’s narrative focuses on Senna’s racing career in Formula One, from his debut in the 1984 Brazilian Grand Prix to his death in an accident at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix, with particular emphasis on his rivalry with fellow driver Alain Prost.

28. Dawson City: Frozen Time (2016) Dir. Bill Morrison, 120 mins.

First screened in the Orizzonti competition section at the 73rd Venice International Film Festival, the film details the history of remote Yukon town Dawson City, from the Klondike Gold Rush to the 1978 Dawson Film Find, a discovery of 533 nitrate reels containing numerous lost films.

27. Drive (2011) Dir. Nicolas Winding Refn, 95 mins.

The film stars Ryan Gosling as an unnamed Hollywood stunt driver moonlighting as a getaway driver. He quickly grows fond of his neighbour, Irene (Carey Mulligan) and her young son, Benicio. Her debt-ridden husband, Standard (Oscar Isaac), is released from prison, and hires him to take part in what turns out to be a botched million-dollar heist that endangers their lives.

26. The Wolf House (2018) Dir. Joaquin Cociña, Cristóbal León, 75 mins.

A young woman takes refuge in a strange house in the woods after escaping from a German colony in southern Chile.

25. Embrace of the Serpent (2015) Embrace of the Serpent (2015) Dir. Ciro Guerra, 125 mins.

Embrace of the Serpent features the encounter, apparent betrayal and finally life-affirming friendship between an Amazonian shaman (the last survivor of his people) and two foreign scientists. Strikingly original, Guerra’s gripping film is a brilliantly poetic fable that’s often breathtaking to behold. Watch

24. Burning (2018) Dir. Lee Chang-dong, 148 mins.

The movie depicts a young deliveryman, Jong-su (Yoo Ah-in), who runs into his childhood friend, Hae-mi (Jeon Jong-seo). She asks if he would look after her cat while she is away on a trip to Africa. On her return, she introduces to Jong-su an enigmatic young man named Ben (Steven Yeun), who she met during her trip. One day, Ben tells Jong-su about an unusual hobby of his.

23. The Hunt (2012) Dir. Thomas Vinterberg, 106 mins.

The story is set in a small Danish village around Christmas, and follows a man who becomes the target of mass hysteria after being wrongly accused of sexually abusing a child in his kindergarten class.

22. Pain and Glory (2019) Dir. Pedro Almodóvar, 113 mins.

A film director reflects on the choices he’s made in life as the past and present come crashing down around him.

21. Ida (2013) Dir. Paweł Pawlikowski, 82 mins.

Set in Poland in 1962, the film is about a young woman who was orphaned as an infant during the German occupation of World War II. On the verge of taking vows as a Catholic nun, she must first meet her aunt. The former Communist state prosecutor and only surviving relative tells her that her parents were Jewish and the two women embark on a road trip into the Polish countryside to learn the fate of their family. Watch

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100 Greatest Films 2010-2019 Part 3

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60. Amour (2012) Dir. Michael Haneke, 127 mins.

The narrative focuses on an elderly couple, Anne and Georges, who are retired music teachers with a daughter who lives abroad. Anne suffers a stroke which paralyses her on the right side of her body.

59. Leviathan (2014) Dir. Andrey Zvyagintsev, 140 mins.

Kolya (Alexeï Serebriakov) lives in a small fishing town near the stunning Barents Sea in Northern Russia. He owns an auto-repair shop that stands right next to the house where he lives with his young wife Lilya (Elena Liadova) and his son Roma (Sergueï Pokhodaev) from a previous marriage. However, this existence is threatened by the town’s crooked Mayor Vadim (Roman Madyanov) who has undertaken a legal plot to expropriate the land on which Kolya’s house is built.

58. Her (2013) Dir. Spike Jonze, 126 mins.

The film follows Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix), a man who develops a relationship with Samantha (Scarlett Johansson), an intelligent computer operating system personified through a female voice.

57. Dunkirk (2017) Dir. Christopher Nolan, 107 mins.

Dunkirk portrays the evacuation from three perspectives: land, sea, and air. Although a visually powerful film, the narrative structure will annoy some and as often goes with Nolan films it’s a little weak on the human drama.

56. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014) Dir. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, 119 mins.

The story follows Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton), a faded Hollywood actor best known for playing the superhero “Birdman”, as he struggles to mount a Broadway adaptation of a short story by Raymond Carver.

55. Interstellar (2014) Dir. Christopher Nolan, 169 mins.

Set in a dystopian future where humanity is struggling to survive, the film follows a group of astronauts who travel through a wormhole in search of a new home.

54. Blade Runner 2049 (2017) Dir. Denis Villeneuve, 163 mins.

Set thirty years after the first film, K (Ryan Gosling), a blade runner, uncovers a secret that threatens to instigate a war between humans and replicants. While it lacks the strong dialogue and iconic supporting characters of the original, the film works thanks to an excellent lead performance from Gosling and stunning visual work from British cinematographer Roger Deakins who finally won an Oscar after thirteen previous nominations.

53. Django Unchained (2012) Dir. Quentin Tarantino, 165 mins.

Set in the South two years before the Civil War, Django Unchained stars Jamie Foxx as Django, a slave whose brutal history with his former owners lands him face-to-face with German-born bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz). Schultz is on the trail of the murderous Brittle brothers, and only Django can lead him to his bounty. Honing vital hunting skills, Django remains focused on one goal, finding and rescuing Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), the wife he lost to the slave trade long ago.

52. Toy Story 3 (2010) Dir. Lee Unkrich, 102 mins.

The plot focuses on the toys Woody, Buzz Lightyear, and their friends dealing with an uncertain future as their owner, Andy, prepares to leave for college.

51. Whiplash (2014) Dir. Damien Chazelle, 106 mins.

It depicts the relationship between an ambitious jazz student (Miles Teller) and an abusive instructor (J. K. Simmons).

50. Shame (2011) Dir. Steve McQueen, 99 mins.

An intelligent examination of sex addiction with an outstanding lead performance from Michael Fassbender.

49. 12 Years a Slave (2013) Dir. Steve McQueen, 133 mins.

An adaptation of the 1853 slave memoir Twelve Years a Slave, the film follows the book’s author Solomon Northup, a New York State-born free African-American man, who was kidnapped in Washington, D.C. by two conmen in 1841 and sold into slavery where he is put to work on plantations in the state of Louisiana for 12 years before being released.

48. Horse Money (2014) Dir. Pedro Costa, 103 mins.

A mesmerising odyssey into the real, imagined and nightmarish memories of the an elderly Cape Verdean immigrant living in Lisbon.

47. Behemoth (2015) Dir. Zhao Liang, 91 mins.

Loosely based on Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy, Liang’s documentary is about the environmental, sociological, and public health effects of coal-mining in China and Inner Mongolia.

46. Kaili Blues (2015) Dir. Bi Gan, 113 mins.

In the mystical province of Guizhou, there is a small county clinic surrounded by fog. At the Kaili clinic, there are two doctors who live quiet, lonely lives. One of the doctors, Chen Sheng, embarks on a journey by train to find his nephew, who had been abandoned by his brother.

45. Oslo, August 31st (2011) Dir. Joachim Trier, 95 mins.

Thirty-four-year-old Anders (Anders Danielsen Lie) is a fortunate, but deeply troubled man battling drug addiction. As part of his rehabilitation program, he is allowed to go into the city for a job interview, but instead uses the opportunity as a way to drift around and revisit old friends. The day grows increasingly difficult as he struggles to overcome personal demons and past ghosts for the chance at love and a new life.

44. Call Me by Your Name (2017) Dir. Luca Guadagnino, 132 mins.

Set in northern Italy in 1983, Call Me by Your Name chronicles a romantic relationship between 17-year-old Elio Perlman (Timothée Chalamet) and his professor father’s 24-year-old graduate-student assistant Oliver (Armie Hammer).

43. Vitalina Varela (2019) Dir. Pedro Costa, 124 mins.

Winner of the Golden Leopard at the 2019 Locarno Film Festival, the film follows Vitalina Varela, a 55-year-old woman from Cape Verde, who arrives in Lisbon three days after her husband’s funeral. She’s been waiting for her plane ticket for more than 25 years.

42. The Missing Picture (2013) Dir. Rithy Panh, 92 mins.

Approximately half the film uses clay figurines to dramatise what happened in Cambodia when Pol Pot came to power, while the other half is made up of news and documentary footage.

41. Poetry (2010) Dir. Lee Chang-dong, 139 mins.

It tells the story of a suburban woman in her 60s who begins to develop an interest in poetry while struggling with Alzheimer’s disease and her irresponsible grandson.

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100 Greatest Films 2010-2019 Part 2

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80. Short Term 12 (2013) Dir. Destin Daniel Cretton, 96 mins.

The film stars the excellent Brie Larson (in her first leading performance) as Grace Howard, a young supervisor of a group home for troubled teenagers. Director/writer Cretton based Short Term 12 on his own experience working in a group facility. Watch

79. Blue Is the Warmest Colour (2013) Dir. Abdellatif Kechiche, 179 mins.

The film follows Adèle (Adèle Exarchopoulos), a French teenager who discovers desire and freedom when an aspiring painter (Lea Seydoux) enters her life. The film charts their relationship from Adele’s high school years to her early adult life and career as a school teacher. Watch

78. Lady Bird (2017) Dir. Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman, 117 mins.

In Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Miles Morales becomes one of many Spider-Men as they team up to save New York City from Kingpin.

77. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) Dir. Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman, 117 mins.

In Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Miles Morales becomes one of many Spider-Men as they team up to save New York City from Kingpin.

76. Spotlight (2015) Dir. Thomas McCarthy, 128 mins.

The film follows The Boston Globe’s “Spotlight” team, the oldest continuously operating newspaper investigative journalist unit in the United States, and its investigation into cases of widespread and systemic child sex abuse in the Boston area by numerous Roman Catholic priests.

75. Hard to Be a God (2013) Dir. Aleksei German, 177 mins.

Based on the 1964 novel of the same name by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, the final film from Russian master, German, follows a scientist from Earth who is sent to a planet that has striking similarities to our own during the middle ages. The natives of this chaotic and cruel society treat the scientist as a sort of god, but he is not allowed to interfere with their development and left impotent in the face of the brutality he witnesses.

74. Uncut Gems (2019) Dir. Josh Safdie, Benny Safdie, 135 mins.

The film stars Adam Sandler as Howard Ratner, a Jewish-American jeweler and gambling addict in New York City’s Diamond District, who must retrieve an expensive gem he purchased to pay off his debts.

73. Melancholia (2011) Dir. Lars von Trier, 135 mins.

The film’s story revolves around two sisters, one of whom is preparing to marry just before a rogue planet is about to collide with Earth.

72. Jodorowsky’s Dune (2013) Dir. Frank Pavich, 90 mins.

The film explores cult film director Alejandro Jodorowsky’s unsuccessful attempt to adapt and film Frank Herbert’s 1965 science fiction novel Dune in the mid-1970s.

71. Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010) Dir. Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 114 mins.

The winner of the much coveted Grand Jury prize at Cannes, the film follows Uncle Boonmee (Thanapat Saisaymar), who, afflicted by acute kidney failure and convinced he will soon die, chooses to spend his final days surrounded by his loved ones in the countryside. Surprisingly, the ghost of his deceased wife appears and brings him guidance, and his estranged son returns home in a non-human form. Contemplating the reasons for his illness, Boonmee treks through the jungle with his family to a mysterious hilltop cave. Writer, producer and director Weerasethakul delivers an oddly unique dose of often profound magical realism that removes the boundaries between life and death and which has been recognised as one of the best films of the 2000s in several polls. More…

70. Ad Astra (2019) Dir. James Gray, 124 mins.

it follows an astronaut (Brad Pitt) who ventures into space in search of his lost father, whose experiment threatens the solar system.

69. First Man (2018) Dir. Damien Chazelle, 141 mins.

Based on the book First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong by James R. Hansen, the film stars Ryan Gosling as Armstrong, alongside Claire Foy as his wife and follows the years leading up to the Apollo 11 mission to the Moon in 1969. The film’s emotional core comes just as much from Armstrong dealing with the loss of a child (7 years before the lunar landing), as it does his remarkable achievement as an astronaut. The film features some brilliant direction, outstanding performances from Gosling and Foy, a haunting musical score and an extraordinarily powerful Moon landing sequence. However, the film was not without detractors and its choice to not depict the planting of the American flag on the lunar surface led critics and politicians from both political parties to debate the film’s stance on patriotism.

68. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011) Dir. Tomas Alfredson, 127 mins.

Based on the classic 1974 novel of the same name, Alfredson’s visually stylish espionage thriller is set in London in the early 1970s and follows the hunt for a Soviet double agent at the top of the British secret service. The outstanding Gary Oldman leads a high quality ensemble cast as John Le Carre’s British spy George Smiley, formerly disgraced, but brought back by MI-6 to lead the hunt. While some will dislike the slow pace and find the narrative structure difficult to follow, the film displays a brilliant sense of time and place that combined with the atmosphere of Cold War paranoia builds to a satisfying and compelling finale.

67. The Irishman (2019) Dir. Martin Scorsese, 209 mins.

The film follows Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro), a truck driver who becomes a hitman involved with mobster Russell Bufalino (Pesci) and his crime family, including his time working for the powerful Teamster Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino).

66. The Great Beauty (2013) Dir. Paolo Sorrentino, 142 mins.

Journalist and ageing socialite Jep Gambardella (the marvellous Toni Servillo) has charmed and seduced his way through the lavish nightlife of Rome for decades. Since the legendary success of his one and only novel, he has been a permanent fixture in the city’s literary and social circles, but when his sixty-fifth birthday coincides with a shock from the past, Jep finds himself unexpectedly reflecting on his life. Sorrentino’s art film plays homage to the likes of Fellini and Antonioni and is poignant, sad and beautiful to behold. Was listed among the BBC’s 100 greatest films since 2000Watch

65. Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (2011) Dir. Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 150 mins.

Turkish drama film, co-written and directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan based on the true experience of one of the film’s writers, telling the story of a group of men who search for a dead body on the Anatolian steppe.

64. The Revenant (2015) Dir. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, 156 mins.

The screenplay by Mark L. Smith and Iñárritu is based in part on Michael Punke’s 2002 novel of the same name, describing frontiersman Hugh Glass’s experiences in 1823.

63. Son of Saul (2015) Dir. Laszlo Nemes, 107 mins.

Set in the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II, Son of Saul follows a day-and-a-half in the life of Saul Ausländer (Géza Röhrig), a Hungarian member of the Sonderkommando (a work unit made up of death camp prisoners). Numbed by his harrowing experiences cleaning up the gas chambers, Saul regains some humanity when he takes it upon himself to arrange a burial for one of the victims. Winner of Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards, the film is probably the most intense and devastating look at the horrors of World War 2 since Klimov’s Come And See made 30 years earlier.

62. Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012) Dir. Benh Zeitlin, 91 mins.

A pulsating and atmospheric fable set in a forgotten but defiant bayou community, cut off from the rest of the world by the sprawling Louisiana levee, that follows a big hearted six-year-old girl (the enchanting Quvenzhane Wallis) and her relationship with her no-nonsense father (Dwight Henry). Buoyed by her childish optimism and extraordinary imagination, she believes that the natural world is in balance with the universe until a fierce storm changes her reality. First time director Benh Zeitlin delivers an impressive and visually engaging mix of magical fantasy and biting realism despite a small budget.

61. Carol (2015) Dir. Todd Haynes, 118 mins.

Set in New York City during the early 1950s, Carol tells the story of a forbidden affair between an aspiring female photographer (Rooney Mara) and a glamorous older woman (Cate Blanchett) going through a difficult divorce. An elegantly restrained melodrama with lush visuals that features superb performances from Blanchett and Mara.

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100 Greatest Films 2010-2019 Part 1

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100. The Hateful Eight (2015) Dir. Quentin Tarantino, 176 mins.

Set some years after the American Civil War, the film follows eight travellers who seek refuge from a blizzard in a stagecoach stopover but are greeted by four strangers and realise that they may not reach their destination of Red Rock, Wyoming. Due to some uneven parts it’s perhaps a lesser work from Tarantino, but there is still much to admire about its aesthetic and narrative.

99. Arrival (2016) Dir. Denis Villeneuve, 116 mins.

There were few doubts that Villeneuve was the right man to helm the sequel to Blade Runner thanks to the success of his previous sci-fi effort. Some may find Arrival slow and lacking in action but others will find it intelligent, sophisticated and by the end emotionally affecting. Amy Adams delivers maybe her best performance yet as the linguist trying to communicate with aliens. Watch

98. Black Swan (2010) Dir. Darren Aronofsky, 103 mins.

Psychological horror film that revolves around a production of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake by a prestigious New York City ballet company. Natalie Portman plays the ballerina who is consumed by a love of dance but loses her grip on reality when she faces competition for the main part from a new arrival. Overly melodramatic but gripping none the less, Black Swan is a technical marvel and has some wonderful performances. Watch

97. The Master (2012) Dir. Paul Thomas Anderson, 144 mins.

It tells the story of Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix), a World War II veteran struggling to adjust to a post-war society, who meets Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman), a leader of a religious movement known as “The Cause”. Dodd sees something in Quell and accepts him into the movement. Freddie takes a liking to “The Cause” and begins travelling with Dodd along the East Coast to spread the teachings. Some terrific performances from the two leads but it’s arguable that the end of the film doesn’t match up to the fascinating build up.

96. Mustang (2015) Dir. Deniz Gamze Ergüven, 97 mins.

The film is set in a remote Turkish village and depicts the lives of five young orphaned sisters and challenges they face growing up as girls in a conservative society.

95. Mysteries of Lisbon (2010) Dir. Raúl Ruiz, 272 mins.

It follows a jealous countess, a wealthy businessman, and a young orphaned boy across Portugal, France, Italy and Brazil where they connect with a variety of mysterious individuals.

94. Inside Llewyn Davis (2013) Dir. Joel & Ethan Coen, 105 mins.

Set in 1961, the film follows one week in the life of Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac in his breakthrough role), a folk singer struggling to achieve musical success while keeping his life in order.

93. The Wind Rises (2013) Dir. Hayao Miyazaki, 126 mins.

The Wind Rises is a fictionalised biopic of Jiro Horikoshi (1903–1982), designer of the Mitsubishi A5M fighter aircraft and its successor, the Mitsubishi A6M Zero, used by the Empire of Japan during World War II. Buy

92. Manchester by the Sea (2016) Dir. Kenneth Lonergan, 135 mins.

The film’s plot follows a man’s relationship with his teenage nephew as he cares for him after his brother, the boy’s father, dies.

91. La La Land (2016) Dir. Damien Chazelle, 128 mins.

Famously losing out to Moonlight for the Best Picture Oscar, La La Land stars Ryan Gosling as a jazz pianist and Emma Stone as an aspiring actress, who meet and fall in love in Los Angeles while pursuing their dreams. Watch

90. The Social Network (2010) Dir. David Fincher, 120 mins.

Adapted from Ben Mezrich’s 2009 book The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook, a Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal, the film portrays the founding of social networking website Facebook and the resulting lawsuits.

89. The Artist (2011) Dir. Michel Hazanavicius, 100 mins.

The story takes place in Hollywood, between 1927 and 1932, and focuses on the relationship of an older silent film star and a rising young actress as silent cinema falls out of fashion and is replaced by the “talkies”.

88. A Hidden Life (2019) Dir. Terrence Malick, 174 mins.

The film depicts the life of Franz Jägerstätter, an Austrian farmer and devout Catholic who refused to fight for the Nazis in World War II.

87. The Favourite (2018) Dir. Yorgos Lanthimos, 120 mins.

Set in the early 18th century, the story examines the relationship between two cousins vying to be court favourites of British monarch, Queen Anne.

86. Joker (2019) Dir. Todd Phillips, 122 mins.

The film, based on DC Comics characters, stars Joaquin Phoenix as the Joker and provides an alternative origin story for the character. Set in 1981, it follows Arthur Fleck, a failed clown and stand-up comedian whose descent into insanity and nihilism inspires a violent counter-cultural revolution against the wealthy in a decaying Gotham City.

85. The King’s Speech (2010) Dir. Tom Hooper, 118 mins.

Colin Firth plays the future King George VI who, to cope with a stammer, sees Lionel Logue, an Australian speech and language therapist played by Geoffrey Rush. The men become friends as they work together, and after his brother abdicates the throne, the new king relies on Logue to help him make his first wartime radio broadcast on Britain’s declaration of war on Germany in 1939. Watch

84. Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood (2019) Dir. Quentin Tarantino, 161 mins.

Set in 1969 Los Angeles, the film follows a fading character actor and his stunt double as they navigate the rapidly changing film industry, with the looming threat of the Tate-LaBianca Murders hanging overhead.

83. 13 Assassins (2010) Dir. Takashi Miike, 126 mins.

Loosely based on historical events, the film is set in 1844 toward the end of the medieval Edo period. In the story, a group of thirteen assassins, composed of twelve samurai and a hunter, secretly plot to assassinate the savage leader of the Akashi clan, Lord Matsudaira Naritsugu, before his appointment to the powerful Shogunate Council.

82. Before Midnight (2013) Dir. Richard Linklater, 108 mins.

Co-written by Linklater and lead actors Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, the film is the third of the director’s trilogy featuring their two characters. It picks up the story nine years after the events of the second film Before Sunset, where Jesse (Hawke) and Céline (Delpy) spend a summer vacation together in Greece.

81. The Dark Knight Rises (2012) Dir. Christopher Nolan, 164 mins.

Eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, merciless revolutionary Bane (Tom Hardy) forces an older Bruce Wayne to resume his role as Batman and save Gotham City from nuclear destruction. A disappointingly uneven effort when compared with the heights reached in the previous film, but there’s still some great action and compelling performances.

100-81   80-61   60-41   40-21   20-1

Playa’s Ball (2003) – 2.5/5

Director: Jennifer Harper Cinematographer: Robert Morris

If there’s one thing about America that excites me more than anything, then it’s the NBA. I’ve long admired the remarkable skill of god-like giant basketball stars like Michael Jordan and Shaquille O’Neil and been fascinated by the level of superstardom they seemingly enjoy. Although, after watching the film Playa’s Ball, (a drama/comedy made in the first half of the noughties and set for a new release on On Demand platforms), I’m reminded of the huge level of scrutiny that comes with being a top level professional athlete.

  • Watch Trailer

The film’s title refers to the party held during NBA All-Star week that attracts many stars of professional sports and hip-hop music. It follows, primarily, professional basketball player Cedric Tinsley (Allen Payne, pictured below), who is living in an unhealthy celebrity bubble where money is on tap and everyone he meets (attractive women, fellow players and fans) are constantly stroking his ever growing ego. However, while on the verge of signing a multi-million dollar endorsement deal and proposing to his model girlfriend, he’s hit with a paternity suit  from a woman (Jordana Spiro) he declares he’s never met. Add to this a family tragedy, and Tinsley finds his personal and professional life veering out of control as he battles to clear his name.

It’s a well known tale, a top sport’s star has his reputation ruined by claims of sexual impropriety. It was certainly an issue for the late NBA star Kobe Bryant, who in 2003 was facing a charge of sexual assault, and was reportedly the inspiration for Allen Payne’s fictitious character even before the real life case emerged. Bryant suffered a massive decline in terms of his reputation and public perception and had several huge endorsement contracts terminated.

So was the film’s producer and financier, Dale Davis (at the time an NBA player himself), attempting to cash in on Bryant’s fall from grace? It appears both he and the production’s writer and first-time director, Jennifer Harper certainly recognized that the timing couldn’t have worked better as the film had just recently finished pre-production when Bryant was arrested. However, Davis stated at the time that he was not looking to gain publicity out of Bryant’s situation.


  • Allen Payne as Cedric Tinsley, a ball player trying to go from rags to riches
  • Elise Neal as Summer Twitty, Cedric’s publicist
  • Anthony ‘Treach’ Criss as Ricardo Perez, Summer’s boyfriend
  • Chelsi Smith as Jill Hamlin, Cedric’s girlfriend
  • Jordana Spiro as Tonya Jenkins, mother of Cedric’s purported child
  • Antony C. Hall as Lloyd Harrison, Cedric’s best friend
  • Tasha Smith as Vonda, Cedric’s sister
  • Tracey Cherelle Jones as Natasha, Summer’s cousin
  • MC Lyte as Laquinta, Natasha’s best friend
  • Gary “G-Thang” Johnson as Hakim, a chef at Cedric’s favorite restaurant
  • Jackie Long as Georgie, another chef at Cedric’s favorite restaurant
  • David Brown as Mookie, Cedric’s second best friend
  • Matthew Hatchette as Nick, Cedric’s third best friend
  • Pamella D’Pella as Kennedy, the bartender
  • Judge Joe Brown as himself
  • Malik Yoba as himself
  • Paula Jai Parker as herself
  • Derek Anderson as himself
  • Scottie Pippen as himself
  • Dale Davis as himself

Where fiction and reality really start to mirror each other, is when the hero of Davis’s production also faces potential rape charges. Although, unlike Bryant, Tinsley is faced with a positive DNA test and he’s in real trouble unless he agrees to a large out of court settlement. Bryant, who even gets an amusing mention in the film, also went onto settle his legal matters privately. Looking for further authenticity the filmmakers include some all-star camoes in the shape of basketball heroes Scottie Pippen and Derek Anderson.

Overall, the film struggles to escape the constraints of a low budget and the inexperienced director, but for basketball fans it remains a watchable affair with a believable central performance from Payne (who had previous experience in films such as New Jack City and The Perfect Storm). The narrative even includes a surprise, if slightly bizarre, twist, although the love triangle at the forefront of the drama (which does include some reasonable chemistry) is predictable enough that most viewers will quickly work out which characters are on route to a happy ending. Hidden away between the posturing, misogyny and musical interludes there may even be a well-intentioned message about the exploitation of elite athletes, but surprisingly it’s the amusing humour, bordering on satire, that makes the biggest impression.

TriCoast Entertainment will digitally release ‘Playa’s Ball’ on VOD platforms on the 8th December 2020 (Amazon, Fandango, FlixFling, Vimeo on Demand & Vudu).

Directed by Jennifer Harper
Produced by Dale Davis, Jeff Clanagan, Kimberly Ogletree
Screenplay by Jennifer Harper, Dale Davis
Music by Eddie “Debongo” Ricketts, Bruce Sterling
Cinematography Robert Morris
Edited by David Flores, Debra Moore
Running time 88 minutes
Country United States
Language English