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.
# 60 ENEMY
What could possibly be better than one Jake Gyllenhaal? Clearly, the answer here is two Jake Gyllenhaal’s! I was very taken with ENEMY, a bewildering take on duality, set and shot in a Toronto that looks incredibly eerie and yet still natural at the same time. Under the direction of one of Canada’s finest directors, Denis Villeneuve, Gyllenhaal proves that he understands the subtle differences in behaviour that define people as he exploits them to create two very distinct versions of himself. (I even got to interview Villeneuve at the time; check that out here.)
Mouton d’Or Award nominations: Best Looking Movie, Best Little Movie, Score, Actor (Jake Gyllenhaal), Adapted Screenplay
Mouton d’Or Award wins: Adapted Screenplay
# 59 THE FANTASTIC MR. FOX (2009)
As you likely know, I’m a big fan of animation and I’m a big fan of Wes Anderson as well. Put the two together, with a screenplay co-written by another favourite, Noah Baumbach, and you have a 5-sheep film and winner of my favourite animated film that year. The stop motion animation is breathtaking and Anderson is a natural in the field of animation; his colourful vision and his playful tone make FANTASTIC MR. FOX fantastic fun.
Mouton d’Or Award nominations: Animated Feature, Score, Adapted Screenplay
Mouton d’Or Award wins: Animated Feature
# 58 I AM LOVE (2009)
There is no denying the passion and romance that exudes from Italian film, I AM LOVE. It may not have been a widely seen film but those who are fortunate to have seen it, usually fall hard for it. I for one most certainly was. And clearly many more were if this tiny film managed to find its way into our Readers Choice Award nominees as that many of our readers included it in their list of favourite films that year. When I saw that the film had made the cut, I knew our readers were above the cut and had exquisite taste. Even my mom loves this one …
Mouton d’Or Award nominations: Little Movie, Readers Choice Award, Score
Mouton d’Or Award wins: Little Movie
# 57 STORIES WE TELL (2012)
I remember walking into the sushi place across the street from my last apartment and seeing Sarah Polley sitting there enjoying her dinner and conversation. I had to wait a few minutes for my order and the entire time, I wanted to interrupt her dinner to tell her how much I loved STORIES WE TELL. She was so brave to explore her own past and she did so in such an innovative and fascinating fashion that she ended up making a film that wasn’t really about her story but rather story telling itself. In the end, I let her eat in peace.
Mouton d’Or Award nominations: Little Movie, Original Screenplay
# 56 BIUTIFUL (2010)
Those who have seen BIUTIFUL know what a harrowing experience it is. It is most certainly not for the faint at heart but if you can handle the dark and disturbing places it goes, you will be privy to a very intimate and incredible performance from lead actor, Javier Bardem. I was deeply moved by this film and I was also very fortunate to interview both Bardem and writer/director, Alejandro González Iñárritu, when they came through TIFF with this film. It was one of the first times I was covering TIFF in any official capacity and I had somehow snagged interviews with two Oscar winners (Iñárritu was only a nominee at the time but that has changed since.) You don’t forget that kind of thing. (You can read that interview here.)
Mouton d’Or Award nominations: Best Looking Movie, Actor (Javier Bardem)
Mouton d’Or Award wins: Actor (Javier Bardem)
# 55 12 YEARS A SLAVE (2013)
It may seem like an odd statement but, while I do love 12 YEARS A SLAVE, I find it to be the most accessible of director Steve McQueen’s works. It is at the very least his most conventional, which doesn’t make this horrifying and heroic journey any easier to sit through. Thanks to some inspired performances and McQueen’s refusal to look away from just how horrible slavery was, is what makes this film as powerful as it is. That said, McQueen’s other two films, both of which are featured higher up on this list, just resonated more with me.
Mouton d’Or Award nominations: Readers Choice Award, Supporting Actress (Lupita Nyong’o), Supporting Actor (Michael Fassbender), Actor (Chiwetel Ejiofor), Adapted Screenplay, Director, Best Picture
Mouton d’Or Award wins: Readers Choice Award, Supporting Actress (Lupita Nyong’o), Supporting Actor (Michael Fassbender), Actor (Chiwetel Ejiofor)
# 54 HER (2013)
I love Spike Jonze. He is such a free thinking artist and HER is one of his best works of art. It speaks to the romantic in me and the cynic in me at the same time, all the while making sure that the design geek inside me is thoroughly awed at all times. I commend Joaquin Phoenix for giving such a vulnerable performance. He has to convey so many emotions given his partner is just a voice and to do so, he really has to put himself out there. In doing so, he not only draws us in but also inspires us to do the same.
Mouton d’Or Award nominations: Readers Choice Award, Score, Original Screenplay, Director, Best Picture
Mouton d’Or Award wins: Original Screenplay
# 53 ZODIAC (2007)
ZODIAC is such an underrated gem of David Fincher’s. Perhaps it is too long for some or too violent for others. Perhaps the reason people really never connected with it is because it tells the story of an unsolved series of crimes and there is no genuine satisfaction for the audience. Not wrapping the story up in some pretty bow though is so much of what this film is really about. It forces you to focus on the journey and not the destination and as shot through the lens of the late Harris Savides, ZODIAC is a beautifully disturbing journey to take.
Mouton d’Or Award nominations: Best Looking Movie, Adapted Screenplay
# 52 THE WOLF OF WALL STREET (2013)
When you watch a 3-hour movie and don’t notice the time drag whatsoever, you know you’ve just seen one hell of a good movie. I always watch lengthy films to see if there is anything that can be cut and I have to say, I don’t feel that a single minute of Martin Scorsese’s THE WOLF OF WALL STREET could have been cut. In fact, that whole scene where Leonardo DiCaprio is blitzed out of his head at the country club could have been even longer, as far as I’m concerned. How anyone felt this film was glorifying their behaviour is still beyond me.
Mouton d’Or Award nominations: Readers Choice Award, Supporting Actor (Jonah Hill), Actor (Leonardo DiCaprio), Adapted Screenplay, Director, Best Picture
Mouton d’Or Award wins: Adapted Screenplay
# 51 GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK. (2005)
This one takes me back as this was one of the first reviews I ever wrote for the site. It was so easy to write about because it is a really smooth experience. GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK is George Clooney at his absolute finest. His storytelling abilities are brilliant here as he gives us a portrait of a man while simultaneously making a pertinent point about challenging the status quo. He does so with no trace of pomp or condescension too. I’m also a big sucker for black and white and it is so sumptuous here.
Mouton d’Or Award nominations: Best Little Movie, Actor (David Strathairn), Director
Thus concludes the fifth instalment in our BSR Top 100 series. We’re half way there! We will be back next weekend with ten more films, including more Jake, the most luxurious musing on depression I know and the one where I first fell in love with Ryan Gosling.