The 100 Best Movies on Hulu Right Now

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border-movie-poster.jpg 75. Border
Year: 2018
Director: Ali Abbasi
With Tom Alfredson’s Let the Right One In and now Border, it’s honestly astonishing and exciting that the work of Swedish writer John Ajvide Lindqvist is being adapted to create a space within queer cinema for stories of intersex and genderqueer people. Border is Right One’s mirror image: a film about the discovery of one’s own otherness, and one’s own power. Though she has struggled to assimilate into the rest of Swedish society, particularly as a Border Patrol agent, Tina’s (Eva Melander) developing relationship with another one of her own kind, Vore (Eero Milonoff), becomes more complicated as he forces her to reconcile with the crimes that humans have wrought upon their people. She’s caught in a liminal space of wanting to belong but having no relationship with her own kind. Its commitment to taking Tina’s erotic and personal journey seriously is striking, as is its dialogue with Let the Right One In and the question of what place the marginalized have in society that tosses to them to the margins in the first place. —Kyle Turner


independence-day-movie-poster.jpg 74. Independence Day
Year: 1996
Director: Roland Emmerich
They pretty much don’t make action movies like Independence Day anymore, although if you ask someone who caught Independence Day: Resurgence, they’ll tell you that’s probably a good thing. Regardless, there’s a certain sheen to this particular brand of FX-driven pre-2000s disaster blockbuster, an earnestness of conviction in terms of clear-cut characters like Jeff Goldblum’s “David Levinson”—call it a willingness to believe that the audience will be 100 percent on board with a protagonist from the very beginning, rather than questioning his methods. As for the rest of the cast, we get a who’s who of ’90s delights, whether it’s an ascendant, wisecracking Will Smith—one year before Men in Black would cement him as leading man material—or Bill Pullman as the flyboy American president ready to deliver one of cinema’s greatest jingoistic addresses. Independence Day doesn’t shy away from its inspirations as pulp (it might as well be a remake of Earth vs. The Flying Saucers as far as the alien motivations are concerned) but it dresses up its Saturday morning cartoon plot with undeniably ambitious spectacle, even when viewed 20-plus years later. That exploding White House, not to mention the effortless camaraderie of Goldblum and Smith in all their scenes together, cement Independence Day among the most rewatchable sci-fi action films of the past two decades. —Jim Vorel


tickled-movie-poster.jpg 73. Tickled
Year: 2016
Directors: David Farrier, Dylan Reeve
It’s safe to assume that most people have never heard of “competitive endurance tickling,” so when David Farrier, a New Zealand-based television reporter and actor, was sent a link to a bizarre video of young men tickling other men for “sport,” it was only natural that it piqued his curiosity. So, he did what any other reporter would have done: He sent a Facebook message to Jane O’Brien Media, the U.S.-based company that produced the aforementioned videos. While his inquiry was routine, the response he received from company representative Debbie Kuhn was anything but. In fact, it was jaw-droppingly hostile. She wrote, “To be brutally frank, association with a homosexual journalist is not something that we will embrace,” and then continued, assuring Farrier that Jane O’Brien Media would pursue legal action should he take his inquiry any further. So begins the fascinating documentary Tickled, directed by Farrier and Dylan Reeve, the latter largely remaining off-camera. What might have been a tongue-in-cheek examination of a subculture—a fluff piece of the kind on which Farrier’s built his career—quickly becomes a trek down the fetish rabbit hole, the filmmakers uncovering a larger, more nefarious operation. With hidden cameras, ambush interviews and Dateline-esque gotcha segments, the film segues into a bona fide thriller as they explore the dark, seamy corners of the internet, hunting for the Keyser Söze of the competitive tickling world. —Christine N. Ziemba


radiant-city.jpg 72. In the Radiant City
Year: 2017
Director: Rachel Lambert
n In the Radiant City, director Rachel Lambert and producer Jeff Nichols put Michael Abbott Jr.’s character Andrew before our gaze, create a sense of mystery around his past and his purpose for returning home, and then just let Abbott go to work. It’s a risky move, but their faith in Abbott is well-founded: his face is—seemingly against his will—a deep reservoir of emotion, capable of conveying how he’s pulled from all sides by the impossible situations his character faces. He reminds me of a young Matthew McConaughey, with a bit of John Hawkes thrown in. It’s always impressive when an actor can play the lead in a movie where nothing much happens in the plot, and turn in a performance you can’t look away from. Director Rachel Lambert has obviously learned well from her producer, the director Jeff Nichols, as she builds the film’s tension around untold mysteries and intense performances. —Michael Dunaway


their-finest.jpg 71. 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


burden.jpg 70. Burden
Year: 2017
Directors: Timothy Marrinan, Richard Dewey
In Los Angeles—the city where he lived much of his life until his death in 2015 at the age of 69—Chris Burden is closely identified with Urban Light, a majestic collection of light poles displayed outside the Los Angeles County Museum of Art that’s quickly becoming one of the metropolis’s most photographed locations. Many who visit Urban Light for selfies, engagement photos or a place to wow out-of-town guests have little idea that, just a few decades ago, Burden was among modern art’s most combative practitioners, eliciting visceral responses from violent avant-garde projects which featured, say, having a friend shoot him in the arm at close range. How Burden went from provocateur to beloved cultural institution is one of the compelling threads in a documentary that goes beyond greatest-hits regurgitation, seeking an emotional through-line for a remarkable life. Burden doesn’t reach the heights of definitive artist portraits like Crumb, but it’s frequently inquisitive and nuanced, showing us where the man faltered even when the work captivated. Making their feature-length debut, directors Timothy Marrinan and Richard Dewey do a superb job of suggesting what drove Burden to craft such combative works without trying to psychoanalyze the man. Marrinan and Dewey spent some time interviewing Burden in his later years as he lived in happy seclusion in the hills just north of Los Angeles. Without trying to explain why, the movie presents us with a Burden who softened with age—the indecipherable half-smile still evident, though. His recent installations, including 2008’s Urban Light, don’t provoke, but they’re equally engrossing, Burden as per norm encouraging the observer to feel connected to what he sees. That the same man could have made such different pieces is a riddle Burden has the good sense not to entangle. Better, as always, to let the work speak for itself. —Tim Grierson


pilgrimage.jpg 69. 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


the-oath-movie-poster.jpg 68. The Oath
Year: 2018
Director: Ike Barinholtz
The Oath is a cutting indictment of all sides, reserving the most resentment for itself—or at least for writer-director Ike Barinholtz, who makes a dark comedy about a news-obsessed upper-middle-class woke white man, an identity which many of us both claim and resent ourselves for claiming. Which is why, even if you don’t fulfill all of the preceding quantifiers, the film can feel so painfully, hilariously relatable: It’s about being angry all the time when you have no real reason to be—about seeing the world so cynically you make the lives of everyone around you, everyone you love, just that much more miserable. Chris isn’t a bad guy, either. Barinholtz plays him in The Oath as he did the dad in Blockers: a genuine person just trying to do what’s right for his family, bound every now and then to lose control, to make mistakes, but otherwise a decent adult human being. Chris witnesses the world around him fall into political madness, goes to protests every now and then and goes to his office job every day, addicted to his phone and cable news, wishing everything weren’t so wrong and unfair and generally flabbergasted when other people, especially his family members, don’t agree. Still, he’s got a loving wife (Tiffany Haddish, whose performance consistently grounds the movie’s hyperbole), a bright daughter (Priah Ferguson) and a beautiful suburban house big enough to host his family over Thanksgiving—a holiday which happens to fall on the day before the deadline for signing the so-called “Loyalty Oath,” declaring one’s fealty to the faceless President of the United States. Barinholtz seems to understand—especially in how quickly his naturalistic studio comedy devolves into bleak violence—that not only are many of us pretty much terrified of how closely disaster looms, but that such a contrived situation, overtly fascistic but hilariously couched as a way to get some easy tax benefits, would have five years ago seemed too ridiculous to ever happen. Today? Sure, why not. He directs the film with compassion and a trust in his actors that allows scene after scene to breathe, settling in for a peaceful moment or holding the cut for one extra uncomfortable beat to let an awkward encounter linger. More than anything, The Oath buzzes with fatigue, with the knowledge of one’s inevitable responsibility to do something, anything, to stem the tide of unpleasantness to come—and Barinholtz captures so well, with only his first film, that specific exhaustion of being alive in 2018. —Dom Sinacola


woman-at-war-movie-poster.jpg 67. Woman at War
Year: 2019
Director: Benedikt Erlingsson
Let Benedikt Erlingsson’s Woman at War teach his peers a valuable lesson: Movies need more Greek choruses. In Erlingsson’s case, that’d be an Icelandic chorus, shadowing choir conductor and amateur eco terrorist Halla (Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir) as she carries out her one-woman campaign against metal and mining corporation Rio Tinto. She’s a tenacious, clever foe, loosing arrows over power lines to cut electricity to the company’s aluminum plants, job producers to some, warts upon Iceland’s pristine landscapes to others, meaning mostly to Halla. The band following her as she goes about her business never comments on her actions in words, just in music. Maybe they’re on Halla’s side. Rio Tinto’s industrial impact on the gorgeous Icelandic expanse lovingly captured by Erlingsson’s cinematographer, Bergsteinn Björgúlfsson, is offensive to the eye. Maybe they’re appalled by Halla’s motivations, muddied by both her virtue and her selfishness. It’s possible that fighting for a greener world in Halla’s way, causing havoc for the ostensible greater good, incurs consequences that extend beyond Rio Tinto. Woman at War takes no firm position on matters of environmentalism, which is to the film’s benefit. Halla’s crusade against the rape of Iceland’s natural beauty is noble. “I know these people,” exclaims Baldvin (Jörundur Ragnarsson), Halla’s ministry man on the inside during one surreptitious meeting. “I’m surrounded by those psychopaths all day long.” Baldvin reminds Halla, and the audience, that Rio Tinto is run by bad people, and so she remains the hero. Yet, the chorus scores her plots and plans with encouragement as much as with judgment. Halla routinely evades the long arm of the law, but justice has to grab someone, and that someone, nearly without fail, is Juan Camillo (Juan Camillo Roman Estrada), a tourist with a knack for being in the wrong place (the site of one of Halla’s crimes) at the wrong time (the moment the police swoop in to arrest her). Making the repeat arrest of a minority into a successful recurring joke takes both a deft hand and wicked chutzpah. Erlingsson has both. Poor Juan. The joke is on him, but the moral imperative is on Halla. Every move she makes has a ripple effect. In turn, Erlingsson keeps Woman at War’s tone balanced between dark humor and cultural critique. The film directs a bitter, humorous eye at the complications between embracing activism and functioning in society, especially in an era of increased global commerce and tech surveillance. How much is activism worth when there are eyes in the sky everywhere and conglomerates at the ready to swoop in to undo your efforts? Erlingsson shrewdly withholds easy answers to the question, and the band plays on. —Andy Crump


planes-trains.jpg 66. Planes, Trains and Automobiles
Year: 1987
Director: John Hughes
Anyone who’s ever endured holiday traffic on their way home for Thanksgiving can relate to this John Hughes tale—although hopefully you’ve never had to endure the sheer number of transportation mishaps (not to mention some accidental spooning) Neal Page and Del Griffith go through. Planes, Trains and Automobiles pits a petulant Steve Martin (Neal) against the usually mirthful John Candy (Del) as they travel home for the holidays. Weather and time are stacked up against them, so they end up traveling together with some disastrous results. Of course, nothing goes according to plan as Thanksgiving gets closer and closer. —Bonnie Stiernberg and Pete Mercer


thelma-movie-poster.jpg 65. Thelma
Year: 2017
Director: Joachim Trier
Thelma (Eili Harboe) is a meek and quiet young woman who moves away from her strict Christian parents (Henrik Rafaelsen, Ellen Dorit Petersen) for the first time in her life in order to study Biology in a Norwegian university. Though she’s devoted to her faith and doesn’t indulge in alcohol, drugs or other earthly desires, all of that changes when she sits next to Anja (Kaya Wilkins), a warm-hearted and empathetic schoolmate, during a study session. The two don’t even know each other yet, but Thelma’s close proximity to a girl she feels an intense attraction toward is enough to trigger a violent seizure. This doesn’t stop Thelma from initiating a friendship with Anja, and the obvious burgeoning attraction between the two forces Thelma into further incontrollable convulsions that might be the result of her intense rejection of her feelings, spurned by her religion’s denunciation of homosexuality. Director Joachim Trier’s filmography is chock full of deft, honest, insightful examinations of common problems that young people face. His terrific Oslo, August 31st was a story told in real time, about a recovering drug addict struggling to put his demons behind him in order to move forward with an at least nominally happy existence. In many ways, Thelma treats her attraction toward Anja as an addiction she’d like to shake off, yet it predictably persists. With subtle yet internally passionate performances by the two leads, Thelma would have worked fine as a straight drama about the protagonist’s inner conflict and journey towards hopefully acknowledging her nature. What makes it special is in the way Trier and co-writer Eskil Vogt wrap this already palpable drama around a fairly downplayed supernatural horror premise with surgical precision. Trier’s patient and subdued unraveling of the story’s horror angle, which cleverly relies on building more mystery than it clears up as the narrative moves along at a fairly hypnotic pace, makes for a unique, genre-bending experience. —Oktay Ege Kozak


ingrid-goes-west.jpg 64. Ingrid Goes West
Year: 2017
Director: Matt Spicer
In her post-Parks and Rec career—wherein the crux of her performance was rolling her eyes—and relegated to typecasted roles like Life After Beth and Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, Aubrey Plaza has gone as far as she can with that kind of material. But in Ingrid Goes West she finds a seed of something so much more complicated, her talents are able to elevate the script to a new plane. Playing Ingrid, whose mental illness allows her social media activity to consume her life and the lives of those around her, Plaza unearths curious, complicated gradations in the character, one that could be easily written off as a weirdo freak. What Plaza senses in Ingrid, as the character desperately tries to become something else, hiding her vulnerability beneath layers of social (media) performance, is the ostensibly monstrous morphed into the deeply human. Plaza’s facial contortions alone, swooning with desperation and desire, lift her performance, and the film, to the ranks of the great queer personality-swap films like Ingmar Bergman’s Persona and David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive. —Kyle Turner


gospel-according-to-andre-movie-poster.jpg 63. The Gospel According to André
Year: 2017
Director: Kate Novack
Oh, to spend a day with legendary, luminously sincere fashion editor André Leon Talley. For most of us poor unfortunates, that day will never come. For Kate Novack, that day came in 2016, lasted the entire year, and provided the structure of her new film, The Gospel According to André, a portrait of Talley and his irresistible grandeur. Partway through, an acquaintance describes him as “a towering pine tree of a guy,” which doesn’t quite do justice to his folkloric image. The Gospel According to André is very much about Talley’s experiences, being his life, times and philosophies, and less about his experience, being his accomplishments as a journalist and fashion icon. Novack never shies away from opportunities to bask in his warm presence and the obvious joy he takes in his profession. He’s a man full of stories. At 68 years old, he’s practically made of them. And Novack could have focused the film on fashion alone. But late in the film she throws a gut punch in there, a hushed sequence from November 9th, as Talley watches the morning news in silence, then goes for a shave and a haircut. His eyes are liquid with words unspoken. He is cleaned up in keeping with his code, its own form of stoic defiance. We cut to him live-blogging the inauguration with Maureen Dowd, back to work but in somber context. Beauty and style retain meaning, and yet the film’s lingering message cares for neither. Talley rose above Jim Crow as a young man. Novack’s documentary leaves us with the sobering thought that decades later, still he must rise. —Andy Crump


beach-rats-movie-poster.jpg 62. Beach Rats
Year: 2018
Director: Eliza Hittman
Two consistent elements mark Eliza Hittman’s two features to date, It Felt Like Love and now Beach Rats. First is the highly sexual nature of the maturity both films chronicle, with prepubescent Lila (Gina Piersanti) in It Felt Like Love trying to basically force her way into her sexuality, while Frankie (Harris Dickinson) in Beach Rats struggles with his sexual identity, cruising for older men online while trying to maintain a heterosexual relationship with Simone (Madeline Weinstein). The other steady characteristic of Hittman’s films is her style: an intuitive approach that seemingly snatches moments of offhand beauty from the air. That roving eye for the ineffable can be seen not only in the way fireworks in Coney Island explode behind characters in the air, or vape smoke wafts into the ether in slow-motion, but in the way cinematographer Hélène Louvart, shooting in grittily textured 16mm, captures male bodies in motion. Beach Rats often recalls Claire Denis’s 1999 masterpiece Beau Travail in its overt homoeroticism, with Agnès Godard’s capturing of topless army men engaging in calisthenics finding an equivalent in Frankie and his three male friends walking down the Brooklyn streets or doing impromptu pull-ups on a subway train. Frankie is surrounded by machismo, which makes his struggle to come to terms with his homosexuality all the more understandable without Hittman turning the film into a heavy-handed “issues” movie. Dickinson, in his film debut, almost makes this familiar narrative feel fresh. Like Hittman’s filmmaking to some degree, the young actor manages to convey a lot about Frankie’s anguished inner life through purely physical means: the tense way he carries himself around his male friends, as if afraid he’ll betray hints of his inner homosexual desires, or the soft-spoken line readings which tremble with inarticulate internal tensions. There’s a sense of mystery about him that lends Beach Rats an aura of emotional impenetrability. —Kenji Fujishima


non-fiction-movie-poster.jpg 61. Non-Fiction
Year: 2019
Director: Olivier Assayas
What can’t writer-director Olivier Assayas do? Looking for a supernatural character study? Say hello to Personal Shopper. Want an enigmatic tale about art and identity? No problem, Clouds of Sils Maria is here for you. Epic biopic? Period generational portrait? Bittersweet family saga? He’s got you covered. Now comes Non-Fiction, a romantic roundelay that feels so frilly until you start to realize how sobering it is underneath. The story concerns a married couple—a TV actress (Juliette Binoche) and a book publisher (Guillaume Canet)—who are navigating their midlife crises by pursuing separate affairs. (She’s sleeping with one of his authors. He’s shacking up with a tech-savvy younger employee.) That setup lays the groundwork for one of Assayas’ funniest films—The Force Awakens becomes an unexpected running joke—but it’s also a swallow-hard commentary on a world that’s been radically transformed by the internet. Non-Fiction studies how everything from our personal lives to our creative spheres have been affected, rarely for the better, and yet the film is lighter than air, measuring these characters’ unhappiness while retaining a contented tone. Without breaking a sweat, Assayas tells us that modern life is rubbish—but, if you look at it just right, also still pretty darn wondrous. —Tim Grierson


transporter-movie-poster.jpg 60. The Transporter
Year: 2002
Director: Louis Leterrier
Before The Transporter, Jason Statham was, as far as most audiences knew, more cockney thug than lithe action beast, but after The Transporter came the frenetic shitstorm of Crank, followed by War, which pitted him against none other than Jet Li—so we can pretty much thank Louis Leterrier for believing in Statham’s martial arts prowess enough to give him both the right playground to inhabit and the license to take it apart. Imagine him a gruffer cousin to Jean-Claude Van Damme, just as given to finding himself shirtless, but more apt to preserve his mopey loner status—at least until some beautiful upstart maiden enters his life and throws herself at him. In that sense, Statham’s Frank Martin is the ideal distillation of Eastern martial arts archetypal heroes into the glossy neons of a Western action spectacle: Soundless, sexless and merciless, his physicality leaves no room for personality. Watch only the scene in which Frank tip-toes on bicycle pedals through an oil slick, roundhousing every dumb face in his impressive radius to propel body after body away on inky skids, to witness a lovable killing machine portrayed in as empirical—as perfect—a way as we can ever expect out of The Transporter’s more traditional Asian forebears. —Dom Sinacola


DestroyerPoster.jpg 59. Destroyer
Year: 2018
Director: Karyn Kusama
There’s a superb 90-minute movie woven through Destroyer’s two-hour run time, tight-knit and tense, free of excess flab and much, much meaner by consequence. We don’t have that movie. The movie we do have is a solid expression of Kusama’s talent (if not quite on the level of to her 2016 chiller, The Invitation). In Destroyer, Nicole Kidman plays Erin Bell, an LAPD detective whose undercover placement during her younger years on the force ended in disaster that’s defined not only her career but her personality nearly two decades later. In Destroyer’s present, Erin looks sandblasted and stretched thin, like leather left to tan for 20 years; she’s cracked and peeled on the outside, but her interior’s worse, crumbled and deprived of compassion since her undercover operation. The film sets her on the path to redemption and perhaps revenge, when Silas (Toby Kebbell), the ringleader of the gang she infiltrated with her partner-cum-lover (Sebastian Stan), emerges from hiding to taunt her anew. His return gives her purpose. Kidman’s performance gives her pathos. Destroyer raises questions of identity that Kusama doesn’t satisfy—is Erin really just the opposite side of the coin from Silas?—but Kidman’s work her holds the movie together. —Andy Crump


crime-punishment-doc-movie-poster.jpg 58. Crime + Punishment
Director: Stephen Maing
Which is the greater feat? Convincing a handful of NYPD officers, minorities all, to appear in a documentary film so that they may speak out about how the system pressures them (specifically, among all other officers) into making unlawful arrests to meet unspoken (and totally fucking illegal) quotas? Or being a minority officer of the NYPD, standing up to the very system on which your livelihood, dignity and selfhood hinge? Director Stephen Maing believes in the admirable, sensitive nature of the latter, though accomplishes the former, crafting Crime Punishment, one of 2018’s essential documentary films, as celluloid proof that the clock never runs out on covering racism perpetuated by the very institutions meant to, in theory, staunch its spread. Maing’s talent is undeniable, but it’s Crime Punishment’s grasp of the daring, the bravery, of its subjects in conveying their complicated realities which ultimately makes the film both address and transcend this moment—which makes it a document that will endure for years to come. —Andy Crump


superbad poster.png 57. Superbad
Year: 2007
Director: Greg Mottola
Every generation of teens has its generation of teen movies, and Greg Mottola’s Superbad is the epitome of mine. In Seth (Jonah Hill) and Evan (Michael Cera), my friends and I had a mirror for our own insecurity and awkwardness—they were our modern-day Anthony Michael Halls. In Fogell/McLovin (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), we had an icon of weird who somehow ended up a winner, a sort of photonegative of Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick). And in Superbad’s constant dick jokes (care of a script by namesakes Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg), we had an accurate representation of the way we all talked, maturity be damned. The film would join the pantheon of mid-2000s comedies—most notably Anchorman and Step Brothers—that created a white-adolescent-boy language made up entirely of lewd, absurd references. It’s a rom-com in many respects, but unlike its predecessors, Superbad is a romance between two buddies, a story wherein the ostensible sex drive is secondary to Platonic need. Most of John Hughes’ ’80s oeuvre centers on the cringe-worthy struggle of X character getting Y other character to notice their existence in order to have Y inevitably fall for X. No matter what else Sixteen Candles and Pretty in Pink have to say, their endgame remains Molly Ringwald getting with the correct Good Guy. Ditto Amy Heckerling’s iconic contributions to the genre, Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Clueless, and the literary reimaginings (Ten Things I Hate About You, et. al.) that followed in the latter’s wake. In Superbad, Seth and Evan’s versions of the Good Guy aren’t Jules (a precocious Emma Stone) and Becca (Martha MacIsaac): they’re each other. In the film’s denouement, with the two leads snuggled up close in sleeping bags, Seth literally says, “I just wanna go to the rooftops and scream, ‘I love my best friend, Evan.’” For teenage boys struggling with anxiety over the seeming hopelessness of losing their virginity, Superbad provides a welcome respite, an acknowledgement that focusing your entire life upon your dick is pointless when there’s fulfillment to be had by your side the entire time. —Zach Blumenfeld


goodbye-first-love.jpg 56. 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


young-beautiful.jpg 55. 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 54. 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


mother-movie-poster.jpg 53. mother!
Year: 2017
Director: Darren Aronofsky 
Try as you might to rationalize Darren Aronofsky’s mother!, mother! does not accept rationalization. There’s little reasonable ways to construct a single cohesive interpretation of what the movie tries to tell us. There is no evidence of Aronosfky’s intention beyond what we’ve intuited from watching his films since the ’90s—as well as how often Aronofsky loves to talk about his own work, which is usually worth avoiding, because Aronofsky likes thinking the movie is about everything. The most ironclad comment you can make about mother! is that it’s basically a matryoshka doll layered with batshit insanity. Unpack the first, and you’re met immediately by the next tier of crazy, and then the next, and so on, until you’ve unpacked the whole thing and seen it for what it is: A spiritual rumination on the divine ego, a plea for environmental stewardship, an indictment of entitled invasiveness, an apocalyptic vision of America in 2017, a demonstration of man’s tendency to leech everything from the women they love until they’re nothing but a carbonized husk, a very triggering reenactment of the worst house party you’ve ever thrown. mother! is a kitchen sink movie in the most literal sense: There’s an actual kitchen sink here, Aronofsky’s idea of a joke, perhaps, or just a necessarily transparent warning. mother!, though, is about everything. Maybe the end result is that it’s also about nothing. But it’s really about whatever you can yank out of it, its elasticity the most terrifying thing about it. —Andy Crump


eight-days-a-week.jpg 52. 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


weiner.jpg 51. 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

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