40. Good Time (2017) – I had a fantastic time with this crime drama from directors Josh and Benny Safdie. I have never seen a movie so gripping yet so engaging. I’m so glad Robert Pattinson has left his Twilight years far behind him. He has never been better as a New York robber who will stop at nothing to rescue his mentally disabled brother (Benny Safdie) after a bank robbery goes wrong. Good Time is one fast-paced, noirish thriller with vivid cinematography by Sean Price Williams, confident direction by the Safdies, and a gifted cast including Barkhad Abdi and Jennifer Jason Leigh in minor yet effective roles.
39. Thor: Ragnarok (2017) – After the disappointment of Thor: The Dark World, Taika Waititi decides to give a sequel we all deserve. A sequel that never takes itself too seriously and has an absolute blast with its material. Although the movie is visually stunning and action-packed, this movie showcases its true superpower: a sense of humor. Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Mark Ruffalo, Tessa Thompson, Jeff Goldblum among others have such great comedic timing and not ashamed to improvise. Did you know the line, where Thor refers to The Hulk after he makes his grand introduction, “We know each other! He’s a friend from work” was suggested by a kid from the Make-A-Wish Foundation?
38. Oslo, August 31st (2011) – Nothing but a perfect end-of-summer treat, this Scandinavian drama about Anders (Anders Danielsen Lie), a drug addict getting out of rehab to find a job and encounter old friends. This is a stunning, subtle, sympathetic film of redemption. Nothing more or less.
37. The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) – Wes Anderson has been an American indie cinema icon since the 1990s, after the failure of Bottle Rocket and the success of Rushmore. Heading into the 21st century, he has created some of the quirkiest and most unique films of all-time. The Grand Budapest Hotel became his first ever to receive a well-deserved Best Picture Oscar nomination. Ralph Fiennes plays one of the best characters in all of Wes’ films as M. Gustave, a smooth-talking, womanizing concierge at a European hotel who is falsely accused of killing his lover Madame Desgoffe und Taxis (Tilda Swinton, in a role originally going to be played by Angela Lansbury). With the help of his lobby boy Zero (Tony Revolori), he must break free from prison and prove his innocence.
36. Hell or High Water (2016) – David McKenzie’s neowestern contains as much grit as No Country for Old Men and as much wonder as Unforgiven. Hell or High Water contains one of the best screenplays of the past ten years, kudos to the great writing by Taylor Sheridan. It’s a shame Ben Foster and Chris Pine didn’t earn any Oscar recognition as two brothers pulling a series of bank heists in order to save their family ranch in Texas. They both balance tenderness with roughness to a T. Jeff Bridges provides plenty of laughs as the Texas Ranger trying to catch the brothers before their next robbery. The final scene between him and Chris Pine is something to behold. A perfect end-of-summer feat!
35. Inception (2010) – Christopher Nolan makes some of the most ambitious films ever made. Inception is one helluva trippy, spellbinding adventure into the subconscious. It’s one of those movies where you must watch from the very beginning, or else you will have no idea what is going on. Leonardo DiCaprio leads a stellar cast as Dom Cobb, a leader of an espionage team who steal other people’s dreams. Featuring mind-blowing action with barely a hint of CGI, brilliant cinematography by Wally Pfister, fantastic score by Hans Zimmer, and a narrative that makes you think to no end, Inception will stick with you for days.
34. Nebraska (2013) – Bruce Dern has been in movies for a long time. This is one of his finest performances of his entire career as Woody Grant, an elderly man who takes a road trip with his son David (Will Forte) from Billings, Montana, to Lincoln, Nebraska, to claim a million-dollar sweepstakes prize. On their way, they stop at his family’s house. Shot in gorgeous black-and-white, Alexander Payne’s story is a good slice of Americana with a dry sense of humor and a sense of realism. The acting is so superb they feel like real people going on their everyday lives. Although the movie is rated R, it’s a perfect movie for mature teenagers.
33. Sing Street (2016) – After his American debut of Begin Again, John Carney returns to his native Ireland for this musical set in 1985. This is a wonderful movie about chasing your dreams. With a talented cast of child actors, wonderful music (containing classic pop songs and toe-tapping original music numbers), and a feel-good narrative, Sing Street is guaranteed to leave a smile across your face long after the credits start to roll. I’m as shocked as everyone else this didn’t receive any Oscar recognition.
32. Philomena (2013) – Here’s a devastating movie that will make you feel good at the end. It follows the true story of British journalist Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan) helping an Irish woman named Philomena Lee (Judi Dench) find her son, who was given up for adoption when she lived in an orphanage years ago. Their journey takes them as far as Washington, DC. They begin to learn the shocking truth about Philomena’s son and each other.
31. Baby Driver (2017) – This is one of those movies where it gets better with each repeated viewing. Baby Driver is something only Edgar Wright can make. Years after getting it developed, it has never looked more thrilling. Ansel Elgort leads a stellar cast featuring Lily James, Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx, and Kevin Spacey in this darkly comedic and suspenseful car-ride with a kick-ass soundtrack. Seeing it at home will never be the same as seeing it in theaters, particularly the scene during a warehouse shootout where the gunshots go in sync with the music. Remember: “The moment you catch feelings is the moment you catch a bullet.”