The BSR Top 100 (40-31)
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.
# 40 C.R.A.Z.Y. (2005)
Technically, Jean-Marc Vallée’s debut feature C.R.A.Z.Y. came out the summer before I launched Black Sheep Reviews. I couldn’t leave it off of this list though. The film still had a huge impact on me that year and showed me that Canadian film had incredible potential, something I apparently wasn’t fully aware of prior. I’ve had the chance to watch Vallée’s career grow over the last 10 years, and I’ve even had the chance to interview him twice. He’s a great guy and it has been a pleasure to see him achieve so much success. His debut is still a stunner.
# 39 I’M NOT THERE (2007)
I remember seeing Todd Haynes’s I’M NOT THERE with my friend Othalia. I loved every glorious second of it. Her reaction was a little more blunt; she didn’t get it and it made her head hurt. She’s a bright girl, most of the time, so it wasn’t that she was too dense to comprehend the film; it is that the film is not meant to be understood, but rather to be experienced and enjoyed. All attempts to understand it will in fact lead to head aches. Here’s a great line from my original review that pretty much sums it all up: “For me, both Todd Haynes and Bob Dylan are poets and this film is but a love poem from one man to the other.”
Mouton d”Or Award nominations: Best Little Movie, Supporting Actress (Cate Blanchett), Best Director
Mouton d’Or Award wins: Supporting Actress (Cate Blanchett)
# 38 FRANCES HA (2013)
I first caught Noah Baumbach’s FRANCES HA at the Toronto International Film Festival. It was my third film of the day and it started later in the evening. I was fairly beat and just expected to get through it and get home. Then something magical happened; the film was actually incredible. As a film critic, seeing surprises like this one are far and few between. Baumbach shares writing credit with the film’s star, Greta Gerwig, and the result is a reinvigorated filmmaker and a film that feels electric and alive.
Mouton d’Or Award nominations: Best Little Movie, Readers Choice Award, Original Screenplay
# 37 TOY STORY 3 (2010)
Thus marks the second of four appearances on this list of a Pixar picture. Nobody saw this one coming, even with Pixar’s proven track record. TOY STORY 3 was highly seen as a cash grab that was beneath the production powerhouse but in the end it was anything but that (even though it went on to gross more than $1 billion worldwide). Growing up isn’t an easy feat, not to mention one that can take one’s entire life to accomplish. Pixar nourishes the child within, in turn making that growth a smoother ride. This one had me crying almost as much as it had me roaring with laughter and it asserts beyond any doubt that Pixar understands the minds of children and adults alike.
Mouton d’Or Award nominations: Best Big Movie, Readers Choice Award, Animated Feature, Adapted Screenplay, Best Picture
Mouton d’Or Award wins: Best Big Movie, Animated Feature
#36 DISTRICT 9 (2009)
Neill Blomkamp may have squandered most of the potential he exploded on to the scene with but DISTRICT 9 will always remain a benchmark for the science fiction genre. Blomkamp seamlessly integrates an immense alien culture into our world and makes pointed commentary on racism and fear driven culture at the same time. The fact that he does so while also crafting one hell of an entertaining film is what makes this film such a hard one for him to live up to.
Mouton d’Or Award nominations: Best Big Movie, Readers Choice Award, Best Looking Movie, Adapted Screenplay, Best Picture
Mouton d’Or Award wins: Best Big Movie
# 35 SHAME (2011)
I concluded my review of SHAME with a pretty corny line. I essentially said that it would be a real shame if people didn’t end up seeing this film. My questionable writing choices aside, this hypothetical shame is now sadly a reality. Steve McQueen’s second film, and second to feature on this list, was widely ignored by audiences. Even star Michael Fassbender (whom I interviewed at the time) failed to pick up an Oscar nod for what many critics, including this one, considered to be the best performance of the year. Fortunately, film is eternal and there is always time to discover this insightful exploration of a problem that is increasingly more prominent in our society, sex addiction. Also, it features Fassbender fully naked; what more do you need?
Mouton d’Or Award nominations: Supporting Actress (Carey Mulligan), Actor (Michael Fassbender), Original Screenplay, Best Director, Best Picture
Mouton d’Or Award wins: Actor (Michael Fassbender)
# 34 PRECIOUS: BASED ON THE NOVEL “PUSH” BY SAPPHIRE (2009)
You may not know this unless you know me personally but I’m kinda a big Mariah Carey fan. I have been since I was 12 years old, which says a lot about how long her career has endured, and just how old I am. Naturally, I am drawn to all projects she’s involved with and I’m sure we can both agree that often times, those projects are big embarrassments. Fortunately, her work in PRECIOUS is the best she’s ever done in film. More importantly, her performance is just a tiny part of what is a much bigger film, one that is as heartbreaking as it is honest. Director Lee Daniels delivers a bold film that dares to be dirty but finds beauty in truth.
Mouton d’Or Award nominations: Supporting Actress (Mo’nique), Actress (Gabourey Sidibe), Best Director, Best Picture
Mouton d’Or Award wins: Supporting Actress (Mo’nique), Actress (Gabourey Sidibe)
# 33 THE WRESTLER (2008)
Director Darren Aronofksy makes his first appearance on this list with one of his most broken down works about a very broken down man. THE WRESTLER works first and foremost because it is great storytelling told by a great storyteller who left all of his visual trickery behind him so that he could focus on the story at hand. It works on another level because its tale of redemption made for a fitting role for its lead, Mickey Rourke, himself also looking for redemption in life. Moments like these only happen so often so they must be acknowledged and cherished as an example of how art, even commercial art, can still imitate life.
Mouton d’Or Award nominations: Best Little Movie, Supporting Actress (Marisa Tomei), Actor (Mickey Rourke), Original Screenplay, Best Director, Best Picture
Mouton d’Or Award wins: Best Little Movie
# 32 THE FIGHTER (2010)
David O. Russell put out three films during the Black Sheep era and all three of them factor into this list. Top prize goes to THE FIGHTER, by far his most accomplished work to date. Russell clearly has a way with actors and the ensemble here knocks this one out cold. Past that though, his intention is very clear and he plays this family drama as if he himself were in the ring. His punches are swift and efficient and you often don’t see them coming. Russell has a long career ahead of him, so long as he doesn’t keep berating all of his actors. And so long as he never makes another I HEART HUCKABEES sized disaster, I will continue to follow him wherever he goes.
Mouton d’Or Award nominations: Supporting Actor (Christian Bale), Supporting Actress (Amy Adams), Supporting Actress (Melissa Leo), Original Screenplay, Best Director, Best Picture
Mouton d’Or Award wins: Supporting Actor (Christian Bale), Supporting Actress (Melissa Leo)
# 31 UP IN THE AIR (2009)
And so we find our first of the ten Mouton d’Or Award Best Picture winners on our list. UP IN THE AIR was the last film I saw at TIFF the first year I had moved to Toronto. I had no job at the time – voluntarily; I wasn’t fired like the people in this film. It was rough though. I actually won a pair of tickets to this film, but already had a ticket for myself, and sold them for 200 bucks to some guy whose wife really wanted to see George Clooney in person. I was feeling a little lost at the time but capping my festival with this film gave a me a lot of hope for what was to come. The sky was the limit, if you will.
Mouton d’Or Award nominations: Readers Choice Award, Supporting Actress (Vera Farmiga), Supporting Actress (Anna Kendrick), Adapted Screenplay, Actor (George Clooney), Best Director, Best Picture
Mouton d’Or Award wins: Best Director, Best Picture
Thus concludes the seventh instalment in our BSR Top 100 series. We will be back next weekend with ten more films, including the one with all the rats, the one that took twelve years to make and another Mouton d’Or Award winner for Best Picture.
In case you missed numbers 100-91, check them out here!
And here’s numbers 90 through 81!
And here’s numbers 80 through 71!
And here’s numbers 70 through 61!
And here’s numbers 60 through 51!
And here’s numbers 50 through 41!