We are only a couple of weeks away from saying goodbye to Black Sheep Reviews. As a way of honouring the last ten years and all the incredible experiences that came out of it, as creator, editor and chief film critic at BSR, I give you my favourite 100 films from what I am lovingly calling The Black Sheep Era, which is a fancy way of saying films released between 2005 and 2015.
Thus far, we have honoured 80 films and there are only 20 left. Have you figured out what film will come out on top? Here’s a hint … It isn’t STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS!
Anyway, I hope some of these films mean as much to you as they do to me.
# 20 THE TREE OF LIFE (2011)
Ah, THE TREE OF LIFE. You are a film that has confounded many, myself as well, at least initially. I knew that I didn’t grasp it all after seeing the Terrence Malick film for the first time. It wasn’t until a heated argument on the subject that I realized I was watching it all wrong. THE TREE OF LIFE, like life itself, is not meant to be understood, but rather to be admired for its beauty, which allows meaning to be derived in moments instead of all at once. It must be surrendered to, to be enjoyed. Of all the films on this list, this is the film that most resembles poetry.
Mouton d’Or Award nominations: Readers Choice Award, Best Looking Movie, Music, Supporting Actor (Brad Pitt), Supporting Actress (Jessica Chastain), Best Picture
Mouton d’Or Award wins: Readers Choice Award, Best Looking Movie, Supporting Actress (Jessica Chastain)
# 19 UNITED 93 (2006)
I often credit UNITED 93 with cementing my commitment to Black Sheep Reviews. When I saw it, the site had only been in existence for about six months and the winter doldrums had left me uninspired and unsure if I really wanted to continue. Then I saw this Paul Greengrass film and found the drive I needed to push on and I haven’t stopped writing since. Something about how honest and brave this film was reminded me how exciting and powerful filmmaking could be. As long as the movies stayed as strong as this one, I would always have something to say about them.
Mouton d’Or Award nominations: Original Screenplay, Best Director, Best Picture
Mouton d’Or Award wins: Best Picture
# 18 WALL•E (2008)
This is it, the highest ranking animated film on the list. WALL•E is just wonderful. Sure, the film falls a little off track in the second half but the first if so breathtaking and so endearing that it is easy to forgive its faults. I am still in awe of how one little animated robot reminded me of how simple and powerful love can be if we allow it the space to grow. The love that emanates from this Pixar picture is more palpable than most other movies that feature actual humans in them. The fact that director Andrew Stanton was able to convey this in an animated feature that is more or less silent is even more impressive.
Mouton d’Or Award nominations: Best Big Movie, Readers Choice Award, Music, Original Screenplay, Animated Feature, Best Picture
Mouton d’Or Award wins: Original Screenplay, Animated Feature
# 17 ONCE (2007)
From robot love to love through song … ONCE is an incredibly small movie that made a huge impact on me. Not only does it reinvigorate the modern movie musical by making it so the actors find their feelings for each other as they learn to harmonize together, but it also serves as a reminder that love doesn’t need to be acted upon in order to be great. Sometimes it is just about that one moment in time and how two people can change each other’s lives for the better without ever crossing that line. The fact that the main actors, Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, were actually falling in love before our eyes underneath the story itself only further solidifies the power of music.
Mouton d’Or Award nominations: Best Little Movie, Music
Mouton d’Or Award wins: Best Little Movie, Music
# 16 THE DARK KNIGHT (2008)
This is the highest superhero movie on the list; actually THE DARK KNIGHT is only one of two superhero movies on this list. I’ve got nothing against these films but they generally don’t resonate with me much later after seeing them. This Christopher Nolan picture is very different though. Nolan pushes himself and the picture as hard as he can, both stylistically and story wise. Every character has conflict; every character has choices to make; and every character is being played by one of the most iconic villain performances in film history, let alone the last ten years. When I watch this movie now, I can’t help but wonder what more we could have seen from Heath Ledger had death not taken him so soon.
Mouton d’Or Award nominations: Best Big Movie, Readers Choice Awards, Best Looking Movie, Music, Supporting Actor (Heath Ledger), Best Director, Best Picture
Mouton d’Or Award wins: Best Big Movie, Best Looking Movie, Supporting Actor (Heath Ledger)
# 15 INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS (2013)
I don’t have a lot of regrets from the last ten years and even this one is pretty minimal but it weighs on me still. I regret not nominating INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS for Best Picture at the Mouton d’Or Awards that year. There are only five slots and I seriously debated it and decided on another film finally. After watching them both again later, it was clear to me that the Coen brothers film was far superior in every sense. This is easily one of their most underrated films and also easily one of their finest. Oscar Isaac embodies the title character brilliantly and the music is as good as anything actually made at that time. I hope people find this film and then find it as fantastic as I do.
Mouton d’Or Award nominations: Best Little Movie, Readers Choice Award, Best Looking Movie, Music, Best Ensemble, Original Screenplay, Best Director
Mouton d’Or Award wins: Best Little Movie, Music
# 14 BLACK SWAN (2010)
I still remember waiting in line to see a press screening of BLACK SWAN at TIFF the year it premiered. There were two lines, a priority press line and the line I was in. It was early in the morning and if I didn’t see the movie that morning, I might not be able to catch it during the festival at all. At the time, I still cared about that sort of thing; now I’m more of the mindset that I’ll see it when I see it but man, was I desperate to get in to that theatre. It all worked out and I was as amazed by the Darren Aronofsky film as I had hoped to be. In the months that followed, I dragged everyone I could to see it with me. It is dark and dirty and just plain devilish.
Mouton d’Or Award nominations: Readers Choice Award, Best Looking Movie, Music, Original Screenplay, Best Actress (Natalie Portman), Best Director, Best Picture
Mouton d’Or Award wins: Best Actress (Natalie Portman)
# 13 THE SQUID AND THE WHALE (2005)
As we get closer to the end of this list, the movies start taking on much bigger meanings for me and represent much bigger moments in my life. I saw Noah Baumbach’s THE SQUID AND THE WHALE early on in my career as a film critic and was so taken with it. It is honest and quirky and is truly one of the most accurate accounts of what can happen to a family when it falls apart. Jeff Daniels is superb in it and this is the film that put Jesse Eisenberg on everyone’s radar. When I eventually hit up the Natural History Museum in New York, I stood right where Eisenberg is standing in the photo above and had myself a moment of reflection of my own.
Mouton d’Or Award nominations: Best Little Movie, Best Actor (Jeff Daniels), Screenplay, Best Picture
Mouton d’Or Award wins: Screenplay
# 12 LIFE OF PI (2012)
Speaking of reflection, Yann Martel’s Life of Pi helped me through one of the hardest times in my life. I couldn’t get past the whirlwind of emotions circling my mind until I picked up this book and was not only able to escape the chaos but find peace. Naturally, when I heard they were making it into a movie, I was very worried. I was less worried when they announced Ang Lee would be directing LIFE OF PI but I was still very hesitant. Much was cut out but what made it in was magical, the kind of magic that only movies can make. Lee took Martel’s material and made it larger than life, which is what the parable needed to remind us that there are much bigger things happening in the world than what is happening in ours.
Mouton d’Or Award nominations: Readers Choice Award, Best Looking Movie, Music, Adapted Screenplay, Best Director, Best Picture
Mouton d’Or Award wins: Best Looking Movie, Best Director
# 11 THE MASTER (2012)
THE MASTER is a film that left me a little cold after my first viewing. Admittedly, I was tired when I saw it. Who schedules a press screening on the first Monday morning after TIFF anyway? Regardless, once I saw it a second and third time, I was totally transfixed. As fantastic as Joaquin Phoenix, Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams are in this film, it is Paul Thomas Anderson who is the true master here. His direction is so focused and calculated and unwavering that he ends up making a technically perfect film.
Mouton d’Or Award nominations: Best Looking Movie, Music, Supporting Actor (Philip Seymour Hoffman), Supporting Actress (Amy Adams), Actor (Joaquin Phoenix), Original Screenplay, Best Director, Best Picture
Mouton d’Or Award wins: Supporting Actor (Philip Seymour Hoffman), Actor (Joaquin Phoenix), Best Picture
Thus concludes the ninth instalment in our BSR Top 100 series. We will be back next weekend with the final ten films. In the meantime, don’t forget to vote for your favourite Mouton d’Or Award winner for Best Picture below!