The BSR Top 100 (30-21)
Black Sheep Reviews will be ending its 10-year run before this year is out. As a way of honouring that time 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.
This series will run every weekend, showcasing 10 films at a time. It will finish in December, just a couple of weeks before Black Sheep Reviews will run its final review. I hope some of these films mean as much to you as they do to me.
# 30 A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE (2005)
I was never a big fan of David Cronenberg’s work, until I saw A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE, that is. Some would argue that I only took notice of the director once he took a more conventional approach to his filmmaking, and they may very well be right, but the truth is that none of his prior works spoke to me as clearly as this film did. Violence begets more violence and the audience is invited to criticize the practice while revelling in it at the same time. Ten years after its release, violence still polarizes.
Mouton d’Or Award nominations: Supporting Actress (Maria Bello), Screenplay, Best Director, Best Picture
# 29 DRIVE (2011)
Speaking of violence, DRIVE is undeniably one of the most violent films on this list. Nicolas Winding Refn’s underrated cult film is style incarnate. It is quiet and calculated and exudes a steady, hypnotic pace that is peppered with random bursts of extreme violence that both jar and exhilarate the viewer. I often recommended this Mouton d’Or Award winner for Best Picture to people and they were often not as impressed as I was but I maintain it was the best film I saw that year and the spell it cast over me remains one of the most memorable from the last ten years.
Mouton d’Or Award nominations: Readers Choice Award, Original Score, Supporting Actor (Albert Brooks), Adapted Screenplay, Best Director, Best Picture
Mouton d’Or Award wins: Best Picture
# 28 THE KING’S SPEECH (2010)
The moment I finished watching THE KING’S SPEECH at TIFF, I knew it would likely go on to win the coveted People’s Choice Award. I had no idea it would then go on to win most everything during award season. The truth of it is that this film is a winning one that charms all who see it (or most anyway) with its wit and unexpected humour, led by an undeniable turn by Colin Firth. I was none too pleased when it went on to win the Oscar for Best Picture (my money was on another pony) but I was also not the least bit surprised.
Mouton d’Or Award nominations: Supporting Actor (Geoffrey Rush), Supporting Actress (Helena Bonham Carter), Original Screenplay, Actor (Colin Firth), Best Director, Best Picture
Mouton d’Or Award wins: Original Screenplay
# 27 HUNGER (2008)
I caught Steve McQueen’s debut feature, HUNGER, too late to consider it for year end lists and Mouton d’Or awards but if I had seen it in time, it would surely have gone on to win Best First Feature as this debut is one of the most assured on record. McQueen is relentless and never allows the viewer to recoil in horror at what they’re seeing. He forces us to face the injustices suffered by the political prisoners portrayed on screen and somehow transforms the ugliness on screen into something beautiful. McQueen also shows us the real potential of one Michael Fassbender here and we all know by now what a blessing that is.
# 26 LITTLE CHILDREN (2006)
I remember very distinctly seeing LITTLE CHILDREN in New York City and being completely bewildered by it by the time it was done. It was insightful, witty, sensual, disturbing and honest all at the same time. I didn’t know quite what to make of it other than that I knew I loved it. It takes a gifted hand to make criticizing the passive nature of the suburban existence feel fresh again and actor turned director, Todd Field, does just that. This is a dark one but it is delicious as well.
Mouton d’Or Award nominations: Best Little Movie, Supporting Actor (Jackie Earle Haley), Adapted Screenplay, Actress (Kate Winslet), Best Picture
Mouton d’Or Award wins: Best little movie, Supporting Actor (Jackie Earle Haley), Adapted Screenplay
# 25 RATATOUILLE (2007)
Speaking of delicious … Ok, most people find the idea of rats in a kitchen to be pretty disgusting but when you have a palette as sophisticated as Remy in RATATOUILLE, who are we to deny ourselves of what he could serve us up? Remy’s journey is not so dissimilar to that of the film itself. No one really expected this film from Brad Bird to work but it does on so many unexpected levels, proving that we shouldn’t dismiss an idea just because it seems odd. We might miss out on one of the best meals of our lives if we do.
Mouton d’Or Award nominations: Best Big Movie, Animated Feature, Original Score, Original Screenplay, Best Picture
Mouton d’Or Award wins: Best Big Movie, Animated Feature
# 24 THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL (2014)
This is certainly Wes Anderson at his most grand. THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL is so beautiful, so charming, so constantly creative and unexpected, that it delights film watchers both ardent and less involved. Everyone I know who has seen it just falls in love with it and most want to watch it again as soon as they’re done with it. Even my mother loves this movie and, well, let’s just say I don’t get my taste in film from her.
Mouton d’Or Award nominations: Best Big Movie, Readers Choice Award, Best Looking Movie, Original Score, Best Ensemble, Original Screenplay, Best Director, Best Picture
Mouton d’Or Award wins: Best Big Movie
# 23 MATCH POINT (2005)
As I wrote in my review of MATCH POINT, I was eavesdropping on a conversation between two women before watching the film. Both were shocked that the film was directed by Woody Allen from what they had seen in the trailer. I too was surprised as it didn’t look like anything he had ever done but that couldn’t prepare me for just how surprised I was after seeing the film and realizing that it was easily one of Allen’s best films ever. There are some very familiar Allen themes woven throughout the film but it was also clear that he was taking risks and those risks paid off big time.
Mouton d’Or Award nominations: Supporting Actress (Scarlet Johansson), Screenplay, Best Picture
# 22 BOYHOOD (2014)
Speaking of risks … Who thinks to shoot a film over the course of 12 years to chart the journey of one boy’s journey into adulthood in order to show that journey as organically as possible? Richard Linklater, that’s who. I realize that the lustre of this bold approach has worn away for some but BOYHOOD is a singularly unique experience that will resonate with viewers for years to come. At any point in time during its lengthy production, it could have been completely derailed so the fact that it exists is a minor miracle unto itself.
Mouton d’Or Award nominations: Best Little Movie, Readers Choice Award, Supporting Actor (Ethan Hawke), Supporting Actress (Patricia Arquette), Best Ensemble, Original Screenplay, Best Director, Best Picture
Mouton d’Or Award wins: Best Little Movie, Supporting Actress (Patricia Arquette), Best Director
# 21 A SINGLE MAN (2009)
I saw A SINGLE MAN for the first time on a magical night at TIFF that I will never forget. Atom Egoyan passed me while I waited in line; Patricia Clarkson was seated a few rows behind me; and, as I was right up front, I was just a few feet away when director Tom Ford and stars Colin Firth and Julianne Moore. The audience loved the film and you could feel the admiration in the room. I was deeply moved by the film and totally enamoured with how beautiful it was. When I broke up with my boyfriend a few months later, this is the first film I watched.
Mouton d’Or Award nominations: Supporting Actress (Julianne Moore), Adapted Screenplay, Actor (Colin Firth)
Mouton d’Or Award wins: Actor (Colin Firth)
Thus concludes the eighth instalment in our BSR Top 100 series. We will be back next weekend with ten more films, including films about bats, swans, whales and other assorted creatures.
In case you missed numbers 100-91, check them out here!
And here are numbers 90 through 81!
And here are numbers 80 through 71!
And here are numbers 70 through 61!
And here are numbers 60 through 51!
And here are numbers 50 through 41!
And here are numbers 40 through 31!