The 100 Best Movies on Hulu

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tarzan.com.jpg 75. Tarzan
Year: 1999
Directors: Chris Buck, Kevin Lima
With music from Phil Collins (mercifully, Tarzan doesn’t do the singing) and a cast that includes Minnie Driver, Glenn Close and Tony Goldwyn as the titular Lord of the Jungle, Disney’s Tarzan does justice to the Edgar Rice Burroughs source material with its expected anthropomorphic twist. Rosie O’Donnell plays his gorilla buddy and Wayne Knight (best known as Jerry Seinfeld nemesis Newman) provides comic relief as a meek elephant. The plot is tight, the action is well-paced, and the movie is an easy pick to please kids of all ages. If there’s a superlative to be handed out, it’s for the animation team, who walked the fine line of making the gorillas seem both true to nature and relatable to humans. —Josh Jackson


36. honeymoon (Custom).jpg 74. Honeymoon
Year: 2014
Director: Leigh Janiak
The cool thing about horror is that if you just have the vision, you can make something like Honeymoon with no more resources than an empty cabin and a few weeks of spare time. The film only has four actors, and two of them barely appear, leaving everything on the shoulders of the two young stars, Rose Leslie (Ygritte from Game of Thrones) and Harry Treadway. This is the right decision to make: If you’ve got a few solid, young actors, why not let the film just become a statement of their talents? The story is extremely simple, with a newlywed couple going on their honeymoon in a remote cabin in the woods. When Bea, the wife, wanders away one night and has some kind of disturbing event in the woods, she comes back changed, and it begins to affect both her memory and sense of identity. The next hour or so is a slow-burning but well-acted and suspenseful journey for the two as the husband’s suspicions grow and the warning flags continue to mount. By the end, emotions and gross-out scares are both running high. —Jim Vorel


pina.jpg 73. Pina
Year: 2011
Director: Wim Wenders
Wenders’ film demonstrates how Pina Bausch’s attitude and vision toward dance and choreography transcended the theater, how she saw dance in everything, and everything as dance. Bausch once said that in order to dance, “Everyone must have the freedom, without inhibitions, to show everything.” Although the audience might not always understand the precise story behind her choreography, the emotions that lie beneath it are palpable and unwavering, whether boundlessly happy or intolerably sad. Ultimately, Bausch’s choreography is relatable because it draws from life, from day-to-day experiences and emotions with which we are all familiar. Seeing this art reintroduced back into the life it mimics and enhances is a breathtaking spectacle: Pina is an effusion of all the emotions, good and bad, that shape our daily lives and make us human, but most of all, it is a haunting and beautiful elegy to a woman who changed the world’s conception of dance. —Emily Kirkpatrick


my-left-foot.jpg 72. My Left Foot
Year: 1999
Director: Jim Sheridan
Outstanding performances and cinematography are the hallmarks of this biopic. Well known for his total-immersion method of character acting, Daniel Day-Lewis takes on the challenge of his career in the role of Christy Brown, an acclaimed Irish writer and artist with cerebral palsy who is only able to control his left foot. This true story is filmed on location, and is a visually compelling study of the slums of Dublin. Director James Sheridan wisely gives us a complete portrait of Brown, warts and all. Bitter, unlikeable and amazingly talented, Christy Brown succeeds in making us cheer for him even as we curse him. —Joan Radell


journey-to-west.jpg 71. Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons
Year: 2013
Director: Stephen Chow and Derek Kwok
No list like this would ever be complete without an entry care of Stephen Chow, and so while the Hong Kong director’s Western breakthrough, the bonkers Shaolin Soccer, is also available to stream, the even bonkers-ier Journey to the West is a better place to start. Monumentally popular in China, breaking all-time box office records (even beating out Transformers 4, so you know this shit means business), Journey is based on a Chinese literary classic of the same name, but saturated with Chow’s now infamous wit, slapstick, and barely-containable glee at the possibility of fantasy filmmaking. Every scene is an elaborate tour de force of stunts and battles and exaggerated athleticism—just like every scene in every film of his to come before—but Journey takes that extra step to imbue its traditional genre tropes with grotesquerie and phantasmagorical imagination, transforming a pretty basic story about one monk’s path to enlightenment into Terry Gilliam’s wet dream, replete with pig monsters and monkey spirits and steampunk and practically everything in between. So much more than a martial arts flick, this feels like a super-gifted filmmaker doing exactly what he was born to do. —Dom Sinacola


aint-them-bodies-saints-poster.jpg 70. Ain’t Them Bodies Saints
Year: 2013
Director: David Lowery
At the risk of sounding a bit melodramatic, it must be said that Ain’t Them Bodies Saints is not a movie; it’s a feeling. Director David Lowery took the rugged, Americana feel of a great western, the overwhelming sentimentality of a tragic romance, the thrill of a crime drama, and the sound and tempo of some kind of epic Southern odyssey, and he created a new feeling…Casey Affleck is the standout actor, and this is his saga. Down to his very jawline, Affleck captures the physicality and feeling of a sincerely romantic outlaw. —Shannon M. Houston


into-the-abyss.jpg 69. Into the Abyss
Year: 2011
Director: Werner Herzog 
Like all Herzog’s work, this film looks far beyond a single idea and, despite a transparent agenda, never sermonizes. Herzog merely puts his belief that capital punishment is wrong to the test, examining it from several angles. In typical Herzog fashion, he explores his subject through conversations between the filmmaker, whom we of course never see, and a plethora of related interviewees. Because it avoids didactic narration and biased statistics, this approach feels honest and reliable and, thus, humanistic. —David Roark


benjamin-button.jpg 68. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Year: 2008
Director: David Fincher 
Pitt got a little help by this storyline so rich in charm and conflict that you’d swear it’s almost cheating, but his performance as the backwards-aging main character who falls in love with a normal, beautiful dancer (Cate Blanchett) was enough to earn him his second Academy Award nomination. Perhaps some credit is due to the film’s impressive CGI effects, but Pitt was every bit as convincing as a young-minded 70-year-old as he was a young kid plagued by Alzheimer’s. —Benjamin Hurston


47-Netflix-Docs_2015-queen-versailles.jpg 67. The Queen of Versailles
Year: 2012
Director: Lauren Greenfield
Lauren Greenfield only meant to take a few pictures of a very wealthy family in the midst of all their opulence. Her subjects were the Siegels—the self-made billionaire, the trophy wife, the eight not-as-maladjusted-as-you-might-think children, the monochromatic menagerie of animals. But once the family began opening up about their lives, the woman behind the camera decided to stick around a little while longer, positing that there might be more to this story than just infinity symbols for account balances. Her perseverance resulted in an alternately hilarious and heart-wrenchingly cautionary tale about the excesses of the American dream. —Tyler Chase


goodbye-first-love.jpg 66. Goodbye First Love
Year: 2011
Director: Mia Hansen-Løve
Goodbye First Love is a small, sweet film that tells an old story with some new twists. While many films embrace the theme of young love, French filmmaker Mia Hansen-Løve takes an almost dispassionate approach; her characters are not especially precocious or quirky, or even exceptional. Instead, they really are “just” a couple of kids in love, making the story all the more relatable. With a gentle, hands-off approach, Hansen-Løve gives us a love story of modest (rather than epic) proportions. In the beginning of the film, Camille (Lola Créton) and Sullivan (Sebastian Urzendowsky) are heading for a break-up because they are teenagers and that’s what teenagers (and, to be fair, lots of adults) do. In terms of character, Camille is all of the wrong things, but appropriately so. She seldom wears a bra, but always wears a frown. She is angsty, but without the love for dead poets or punk rock. Instead, she has one, single interest: Sullivan, her boyfriend who has (naturally) many other interests. When Sullivan leaves to backpack across South America, Camille (after being severely depressed for a time) eventually becomes a real person with real interests. Her narrative deepens when she begins studying architecture, learning to construct buildings as she begins to construct her own sense of self. Camille’s independence is complicated with Sullivan’s return. One cannot help but root for him, as he is now up against a more independent Camille who is also in a serious relationship with her professor. With the help of cinematographer Stéphane Fontaine (A Prophet) and music consultant Pascal Mayer (Incendies), Hansen-Løve manages to evoke some true emotion in her third feature film. The mood and tone of Goodbye First Love is palpable—sharp, moving, and intense even where the actors are not. Camille and Sullivan are somewhat difficult to connect with, individually. The film is ultimately successful in its care for the small, lovely things. Goodbye First Love is “just” a love story, but in that, it is enough. —Shannon M. Houston


the-flat.jpg 65. The Flat
Year: 2012
Director: Arnon Goldfinger
When Arnon Goldfinger’s grandmother Gerda passes away, he’s left with the task of cleaning out her flat in Tel Aviv. A Jewish couple who moved from Berlin on the eve of the World War II for obvious reasons, Gerda Tuchler and her husband, Kurt, filled their apartment with enough German novels, furniture and knick-knacks to disorient any houseguest. It was a move of physical necessity, so they brought their physical environment with them and created a European oasis in their new locale. But as Goldfinger begins to go through the stashes of photographs, letters and assorted paper stowaways, he finds something even more disorienting: his grandparents’ closest friends, the von Mildensteins, contributed to the very circumstances from which the Tuchlers fled. While other family members play dress up in old furs and scoff at the antiquity of bookshelves lined with Nietzsche, Goldfinger patiently turns his eyes toward old newspapers and soon finds himself on a paper trail into a family history he didn’t know he had. An old clipping from a Nazi publication with the headline “A Nazi Goes to Palestine” stars none other than Leopold von Mildenstein, which gets Goldfinger wondering who his grandparents really were and why Nazis would be traveling to visit them after the war. Like many who take the time to research who and where they come from, Goldfinger finds that not everything is as linear as branches on the family tree, and the answers that he’s looking for aren’t always there. —Gabrielle Lipton


liberal-arts.jpg 64. Liberal Arts
Year: 2012
Director: Josh Radnor 
Best known for playing Ted on the hit sitcom How I Met Your Mother, Josh Radnor is establishing himself as a thoughtful writer-director of feature films dealing with young adults facing—and embracing—adulthood. An ode to his years at Kenyon College specifically and liberal arts education generally, Liberal Arts is at once a profound defense of academia for academia’s sake and a gentle critique of nostalgia: Live too much in the past (or in a book), and you’ll miss out on what’s in front of you. Jesse (Radnor), a college admissions counselor in New York City, is confronted with these realities when he’s invited to return to his Ohio alma mater to give a speech at a retirement party for his favorite English professor, Peter (Richard Jenkins). Newly single and weary of dealing with life in the big city (his laundry is stolen from the Laundromat in the opening scenes of the film), Jesse literally walks with a spring in his step when he gets back on campus. There he meets Zibby (a luminous Elizabeth Olsen), a sophomore with a passion for classical music, improv and trashy vampire novels. In a series of conversations about books, music and theater, they connect. As their relationship develops, however, their age difference and the perhaps unhealthy nostalgia behind their burgeoning romance start to weigh on Jesse. In his films, Radnor tends to present a thesis and then hammer away at it. In this case, it’s saying yes to whatever life puts in front of you.—Annlee Ellingson


step-doc-poster.jpg 63. Step
Year: 2017
Director: Amanda Lipitz
Following in the similarly crowd-pleasing Drumline and Stomp the Yard’s foot-stomps is dance documentary Step. This year, especially as the film is set against the backdrop of the Black Lives Matter movement and the death of Baltimore’s Freddie Gray, America seems miles away from something so unabashedly heartwarming, sometimes an uncomfortably innocuous offense in a harsh environment, like candy smuggled into prison. The film is a pleasant (if sweetly facile) reprieve from the real world, though the real world threatens this small joy. That threat comes care of the fact that the documentary isn’t just about stepping, but about the successes and struggles of those in the first class to attend the Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women, an all-girls high school with the express goal of having all of its graduating seniors accepted into college. The best parts, then, of this sometimes-sidetracked documentary are those capturing small moments between high schoolers. A hair-styling session buzzes after the question of “MLK Jr. or Malcolm X?” and a buffet date night sours when the boy’s immaturity evolves to selfishness. These moments build relationships with the subjects that render the film’s potentially saccharine story so gently and successfully. Step may stumble over its own hurried pace (cramming months of school into montage after montage), but such a method is almost forgivable once you realize that the film is speeding towards an effective finale that will have you cheering no matter what. —Jacob Oller


young-beautiful.jpg 62. Young & Beautiful
Year: 2013
Director: François Ozon
When we first meet Isabelle (Marine Vacth), she doesn’t seem much different than most 16-year-olds. Yes, she’s strikingly beautiful in a bikini, but the adolescent uncertainty and hormonal urges are quite recognizable and universal. Once this French girl loses her virginity to an older German guy, however, her behavior changes in ways that neither we nor anyone close to her could have imagined. Young & Beautiful tracks a year in the life of Isabelle, and filmmaker François Ozon’s strongest creative choice is to never answer precisely what’s going on inside that pretty head of hers. Liberated of her virginity, Isabelle is then seen a few months later, now 17 and entering a hotel room in an outfit only worn by respectable hookers: high heels, too short skirt, a business jacket in the hopes of not calling attention to what she’s really there to do. We’ll eventually get an inkling about how this unlikely transformation took place, but only an inkling, because Ozon and Vacth show but don’t tell in this character piece. It elevates what could be just another ballad-of-a-hooker drama into something far more mysterious. Even at the film’s finale, where the possibility of closure presents itself, Ozon gracefully sidesteps the easy resolution. With her stunning looks and inscrutable manner, Isabelle is the type of gal who will break a lot of hearts. For the audience, she also messes with our mind. —Tim Grierson


kiki-poster.jpg 61. Kiki
Year: 2017
Directors: Sara Jordenö
With the help of model/activist Twiggy Pucci Garçon (who gets co-screenwriting credit here, in addition to appearing prominently), Sara Jardenö returns to the voguing scene Jennie Livingston so memorably captured in the legendary 1990 documentary Paris is Burning. What she finds is perhaps less immediately revelatory than it was almost 30 years ago, when Livingston first brought the voguing scene to a wider audience through her film. Which is probably to be expected, because much has changed since then, with AIDS no longer the scourge it once was, and with trans people of color becoming more visible. But as Kiki poignantly demonstrates—and as the real world constantly reminds us now in the midst of the Age of Trump—much more work still needs to be done. Thus, Jardenö’s greater focus on personal stories here is welcome, showing us an array of figures, some of whom are in the stages of gender transition, some who are trying to help others in the community and keep the voguing scene a safe space for them to fully express themselves. Kiki may be more of an activist documentary than Paris is Burning was, but it is no less affecting for it. —Kenji Fujishima


adventureland.jpg 60. Adventureland
Year: 2009
Director: Greg Mottola
As far as films set in Pennsylvania are concerned, they can’t all be steel mill layoffs and dark political plots: Adventureland is a pitch-perfect coming-of-age story. In the summer of 1987, twenty-somethings James (Jesse Eisenberg), Em (Kristen Stewart) and Joel (Martin Starr, who steals the movie) find each other in the purgatory of the Adventureland Amusement Park (actually Pittsburgh’s historic Kennywood), passing their days operating rides and un-winnable games when they’d rather be anywhere else. Writer-director Mottola’s success lies in his resistance to romanticizing his characters—Eisenberg’s James, in particular, is just as annoying and self-absorbed as a real 22-year-old Oberlin grad, and gets called on it. Likewise, the Pittsburgh of Adventureland is real, an insider’s city, not a city of landmarks. The film explores the day-to-day Pittsburgh of neighborhoods, of patchy, unruly yards, of dive bars, of wood-paneled basements in old brick houses teetering on strenuous hills. To these characters, it’s also a dead-end town from which escape is the best option, lest they wind up like Ryan Reynolds’ maintenance man Connell, committing adultery in his mother’s basement and bragging endlessly about meeting Lou Reed. “Your life must be utter shit, or you wouldn’t be here,” Joel observes to James at the beginning of the film. But Adventureland’s fondness for its city and its flawed characters shines through such self-deprecation. —Maura McAndrew


eight-days-a-week.jpg 59. Eight Days a Week
Year: 2016
Director: Ron Howard 
The best documentaries, regardless of subject, give us something new. They teach us. They offer fresh perspective. That is really, really hard to do when you’re making a documentary about the Beatles. After more than 50 years, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone unfamiliar with the story of the Fab Four. Eight Days a Week, Ron Howard’s new Beatles documentary, focuses exclusively on the band’s touring years, from 1962-1966—and while it certainly doesn’t break any new ground, it’s a fun retelling of the band’s meteoric rise. What it does feature are new interviews with surviving members Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, as well as a generous amount of archival interviews with John Lennon and George Harrison. Previously unseen, fan-recorded concert footage and some revealing studio outtakes are littered throughout, and while the film hits all the major points you’d expect it to (Beatlemania was crazy!), it’s so enjoyable you’re reminded there’s a reason this well keeps getting re-tapped. Just like the Beatles’ records will continue to spin across the world, from generation to generation until the end of time, we’ll keep poring over footage of these lads and talking about how they changed music—and pop culture as a whole—forever. —Bonnie Stiernberg


crank-2-movie-poster.jpg 58. Crank 2: High Voltage
Year: 2009
Directors: Neveldine / Taylor
Beginning with cinema’s most obvious dick joke and ending on the immolation of its anti-hero (but maybe not his death?), the sequel to Crank is as much of a mindfuck as its predecessor, but beholden to absolutely nothing but the unfiltered expunging of Id on behalf of directors Mark Neveldine and Bryan Taylor, two unrepentant dude-bros who, considering the movies they made together, seem to have parted ways in the most obvious, expected development of their careers, perhaps on bad terms or perhaps because their last film together, Ghost Rider 2, will never be appreciated for the awesome shit-show it is. Two grown men who made Gamer and Ghost Rider 2 together will inevitably break up. Like any good follow-up, Crank 2 is everything that Crank was, but launched irretrievably down a hellish K-hole, amping up all the public sex, murder, violence, gratuitous nudity, nihilism and genre-bending fuck-all spirit that made the first such a potential point of cult fascination. Here, Jason Statham’s Chev Chelios has transformed into full-on superhero—minus the “hero” connotation—an invulnerable, inhuman cyborg who must regularly pump enough electricity into his body to kill a small third-world country just to keep his battery-powered heart beating as he chases after the Chinese mobsters who stole his original God-given ticker and (almost) the big ole monster between his legs. There is nothing subtle about Crank 2; there is only submission. —Dom Sinacola


i-am-love.jpg 57. I Am Love
Year: 2010
Director: Luca Guadagnino
The Recchi family, the powerful Italian clan at the core of Luca Guadagnino’s I Am Love, is exclusive. Its wealth is nearly immeasurable, if not incomprehensible, and even marrying into it doesn’t warrant an invitation to its inner circle. Although Emma (Tilda Swinton) gave up her life in Russia—with the exception of her Russian accent, which she just can’t keep from tainting her Italian—in order to become a Recchi, she orbits the rest of the family in the Recchi villa, where the sense of propriety is nearly as tangible and cloying as its thick tapestries. I Am Love is a beautiful film, and a lesson in storytelling. It unfolds at a leisurely but lovely pace, taking time to revel in the details of the setting but never shifting focus from its many rich, complex characters. Swinton becomes Emma, her every pore and follicle embodying passion, guilt and grief with equal conviction. Even in its most tense moments, I Am Love is like the many dishes Antonio shows off in the film—painstakingly created and never overdone. —Ani Vrabel


weiner.jpg 56. Weiner
Year: 2016
Directors: Josh Kriegman, Elyse Steinberg
“Why did you let me film this?” This simple question, posed at the end of Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg’s Weiner, is as baffling to the movie’s subject as it is to everyone else. Anthony Weiner gave a documentary crew incredible behind-the-scenes access to his 2013 New York mayoral campaign while his political career crumbled and his personal life turned to a shambles. He campaigned on (and the crew filmed on), refusing to acknowledge that he sunk himself by making the exact same mistake that sunk his career years earlier—maybe because he’s an egotist and couldn’t bear being out of the spotlight, or maybe because he’s an idealist, believing that people would see past his online indiscretions and vote based on his ideas. Or maybe he’s nothing more than a self-destructive glutton for punishment. Whatever the truth, the public will remember Weiner for his scandals, which fell from the sky like a host of divine gifts to late-night comedy. Directors Kriegman and Steinberg so superbly convey the sweeping excitement Weiner could generate that it makes things all the more depressing when he can’t even get five percent of the vote. The movie shifts from energetic editing, showing people’s love for the candidate, to a claustrophobic, drawn-out humiliation. If the filmmakers had an agenda besides studying Weiner’s character, they did a great job of hiding it. Weiner shows many facets of his personality: He can be charming and funny, but he can also be a petulant, entitled jerk. The veneer wears off as the stress mounts, making things increasingly uncomfortable—it’s excruciating to watch this man try to salvage respect from certain humiliation, but it makes for a devilishly intimate look into the madness of modern politics. —Jeremy Mathews


pilgrimage.jpg 55. Pilgrimage
Year: 2017
Director: Brendan Muldowney
Quest films are best when they understand that, like in the tales of King Arthur, the journeys they chronicle are often designed to destroy the questers through the very thing they seek. Glory, purity, power—there’s an ironic end to them all. In Brendan Muldowney’s Pilgrimage, when a band of Irish monks is recruited to escort an ancient holy relic across the post-Crusade island occupied by factions whose conquering lust has not yet been sated, we know this group was meant to be tested from the beginning. The main party is made up of rookie Brother Diarmuid (Tom Holland), a mute (Jon Bernthal), foreigner Brother Gerladus (Stanley Weber) and veteran Brother Ciaran (John Lynch). Pilgrimage draws its religious doubt from a cultural and historical well, rather than from the suffering and torture sprung from the clash between the two forces as they vie for superiority. Christianity is dominant here, which alters the typical religious narrative of the personal protection of and struggle with faith, transforming into a broader action epic in a world that, from the characters’ perspectives, depends on them. Meanwhile, Pagan religions—polytheistic myths of nymphs and spirits—flood the screen with supernatural hints while cinematographer Tom Comerford shoots the film with such wide-eyed awe of nature that it’s easy to buy into a mystical world beneath the island’s gray-green moss. Contrasted with this natural aesthetic are devout monks dressed in their light hewn robes, passively resisting the primal calls of war and barbarism. The film’s quest eventually absorbs, then loses, the kind of divine intervention that answers exactly what characters have asked without feeling sappy or campy, but truly mystical. The moment, the split second of divinity, between its appearance and removal is the moment the film was built for: a split second of utter belief. —Jacob Oller


lamour-fou.jpg 54. L’Amour Fou
Year: 2010
Director: Pierre Thoretton
At first, this exceedingly quiet film seems to offer little in the way of insight: through the laconic accounts of long-time partner Pierre Bergé, the story of fashion industry icon Yves Saint Laurent is laid out in strikingly economical detail. He gained notoriety, and with it critical respect, as he lost much of a perspective on the bounds of his wealth and the impenetrability of his depression. In fact, upon learning Laurent had only a few weeks to live due to brain cancer, Bergé elected to keep the information from his partner—and husband, married only a few days before Laurent’s death—because he knew the designer wouldn’t be able to functionally deal with the news. In these moments, L’amour fou plays out like a touching, though slight, testament to a great artist and the unyielding love some people felt for him. It’s probably no surprise that as his profile rose, Laurent began to pull away, both physically and mentally, from the person with whom he chose to spend his life. Yet, the film’s success lies in the way it thoughtfully dwells over every insignificant piece of rare art or expensive accoutrement amassed by the couple over their lifetimes, so much so that (especially with Laurent’s presence removed) Bergé’s home looks little more than a stuffy, poorly organized museum—fastidious and far from homely. And then, when Bergé endeavors to sell all of it on auction, the sense of loss grows to tenuous levels: Is he trying to find closure, or instead proving that everything they accumulated did nothing to make their lives any better, or any worse, when viewed in retrospect? Bergé, the inheritor of an astounding amount of money due to the auction (which Thoretton documents plainly, watching Bergé as he calmly hears one astronomical closing bid after another), finds nothing in the end but whatever security all that wealth provides … which, as we watch Bergé blankly stare out of a dreary window, Come Aguiar’s perfectly nuanced score accompanying his silence, feels like even more of nothing at all. —Dom Sinacola


across-the-universe-poster.jpg 53. Across the Universe
Year: 2007
Director: Julie Taymor
This isn’t your typical, upbeat musical. Julie Taymor’s Across The Universe depicts the fictional lives of 1960s teens facing issues from the Vietnam War to deportation. Thirty-four songs from The Beatles move the story from Liverpool to New York. Although parts of the movie might feel like a bad acid trip (like Bono playing a cowboy drug guru), Evan Rachel Wood and Jim Sturgess perfectly pin the timeless teenage struggles of love, impending adulthood, and the fight for what you believe in. —Sarah Bennett


their-finest.jpg 52. Their Finest
Year: 2017
Director: Lone Scherfig
War flicks and romantic comedies don’t have much by way of surface crossover, but The Finest casually argues that maybe there should be. Director Lone Scherfig, in adapting Lissa Evans’ 2009 novel Their Finest Hour and a Half, finds the common quality that links these two genres together, courage, perhaps better defined as “pluck” in the case of the rom-com, and as “grit” in the case of the war picture; maybe we watch these kinds of films for different reasons, but maybe stick-to-it-iveness and steely determination aren’t really all that different if you’re not the type to split hairs over vocabulary. Their Finest runs on both, and so leaves us no hairs to split. Scherfig could no more tell this story without its characters’ moxie than she could without its characters’ gut-deep bravery, which leaves her with something of a conundrum: How best to balance the breezy jubilance of the rom-com with the harrowing gravity of the war movie. To her great credit, she doesn’t bother balancing them, so much as she marries them, presenting these dueling details as two sides of the same coin, and in a film like Their Finest, how could they be anything else? It’s a rom-com wrapped up in a war picture, or perhaps the other way ‘round, depending on your perspective. The very idea of fitting the circumstantial dramas of the former within the marital dramas of the latter makes perfect sense for telling the tale of two seemingly mismatched people falling in love against the backdrop of the Blitz. Their Finest is a joy to watch, if not for Scherfig’s direction than for Gemma Arterton’s leading performance, a mixture of affronted gumption, feminine stoicism and vulnerability that adds up to towering portraiture. —Andy Crump


i saw the devil poster (Custom).jpg 51. I Saw the Devil
Year: 2010
Director: Kim Ji-woon
I Saw the Devil is a South Korean masterpiece of brutality by director Kim Ji-woon, who was also behind South Korea’s biggest horror film, A Tale of Two Sisters. It’s a truly shocking film, following a man out for revenge at any cost after the murder of his wife by a psychopath. We follow as the “protagonist” of the film makes sport of hunting said psychopath, embedding a tracker in the killer that allows him to repeatedly appear, beat him unconscious and then release him again for further torture. It’s a film about the nature of revenge and obsession, and whether there’s truly any value in repaying a terrible wrong. If you’re still on the fence, know that Choi Min-sik, the star of Park Chan-Wook’s original Oldboy, stars as the serial killer being hunted and turns in another stellar performance. This is not a traditional horror film, but it’s horrific in both imagery and emotional impact. —Jim Vorel

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