70. Edge of Tomorrow (2014) – More or less a sci-fi/action version of Groundhog Day, Doug Liman and co-writer Christopher McQuarrie adapt an Americanized take on the beloved Japanese manga, which has earned a cult following.. This D-Day allegory has a ton of thrills and laughs, with Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt both kicking some alien ass and the late Bill Paxton showing his inner R. Lee Ermey. I’m so glad there is going to be a sequel in the coming years.
69. Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018)/Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011) – I have a feeling this action series has gotten better after Mission: Impossible III. It’s impossible to choose which one of these is better than the other. They are both fantastic movies on their own right. For Brad Bird’s live-action debut, Ghost Protocol is an absolute thrill-ride from beginning to end, and the sequence at the Burj Khalifa is one of the most stunning action set pieces in recent memory. With Fallout, Christopher McQuarrie ups the ante after directing Rogue Nation with a narrative that makes people think, as well as having audiences on the edge of their seats (a rarity for summer blockbusters). On the verge of 60, Tom Cruise can do no wrong when it comes to performing his own death-defying stunts.
68. Green Book (2018) – Despite the controversy leading up to its Best Picture win, Green Book might have a similar plot to another Best Picture winner Driving Miss Daisy. However, this is a timeless story we hardly see in the mainstream anymore. Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali have terrific chemistry as “Tony Lip” Vallelonga and Dr. Don Shirley, who encounter racial tension in the Deep South during the 1960s. Tony reluctantly agrees to become a chauffeur for Don, a black pianist. Quickly, they both learn of their differences and become great friends in Peter Farrelly’s first solo feature with plenty of humor and heart. The moral of the story: Do not mess with the “bullshit artist”.
67. Hacksaw Ridge (2016) – There have been so many great movies set in World War II. Mel Gibson’s return to the director’s chair is no exception. It tells the unbelievable true story of Desmond Doss (a fantastic Andrew Garfield), a Seventh-Day Adventist who, despite his religious beliefs, goes to an Army boot camp to be a combat medic. They come to the test with Sgt. Howell (Vince Vaughn, providing some good laughs) and Capt. Glover (Sam Worthington) before eventually going to Okinawa. This movie would have easily been too manipulative, but Gibson and his team all hit the right notes with a great old-fashioned drama and a hard-hitting war movie. The Battle of Okinawa is the most graphic war sequence since the landing on Omaha Beach in Saving Private Ryan.
66. The Rider (2018) – While working on her film debut Songs My Brothers Taught Me, writer-director Chloe Zhao met rodeo-clown Brady Jandreau in South Dakota. He taught her many things living on a farm in the Midwest including how to ride a horse. She based her film, The Rider, on Jandreau after suffering those severe head injuries. It’s a beautiful, insightful outlook on life. The performances by non-professionals feel like real people.
65. The Town (2010) – Ben Affleck’s second directing feat (three years after the marvelous Gone Baby Gone) is another wonderful homage to his native Boston. Affleck and Jeremy Renner both give complex performances as two friends with a life in crime. Their thick Boston accents give the movie a lot of personality. From the opening bank heist to the thrilling chase through North End, the action is brutal as it is unflinching. The cast including Blake Lively, Rebecca Hall, Jon Hamm, and Pete Postlethwaite (playing one of his last roles before passing away from pancreatic cancer in early 2011) give enough realism to make The Town an engaging and tough crime thriller.
64. Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016) – Taika Waititi’s indie comedy from his native New Zealand mixes the beauty and humor to a T. The jokes never let up. It contains some hilarious references to films such as The Lord of the Rings and Terminator 2 and a gag involving a warthog. Behind all the deadpan wackiness, it has a big heart involving caring for and being there for loved ones. Julian Dennison is a hoot as Ricky, a juvenile delinquent escaping from welfare services with his new stepfather (Sam Neill, who keeps a straight face throughout the whole film) through the forest.
63. The Babadook (2014) – This Australian fright flick takes a more subtle approach when it comes to scaring its viewers. Essie Davis (of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries fame) gives a distressing performance as a suburban mother whose life is turned upside-down when she reads her young son a scary storybook about a monster who preys on its victims when they believe the monster’s existence. The titular monster becomes a metaphor for grief. I have never seen a horror movie so startling yet so captivating. Definitely a must-see for horror fans.
62. Roma (2018) – Alfonso Cuarón is the only Mexican director to win two Oscars for directing–Gravity and this movie. This black-and-white Netflix original is a one-of-a-kind experience of grand proportions. Inspired by Cuarón’s early life in Mexico City, every single shot is nothing short of breathtaking. It’s clear he learned a thing or two from his collaborator Emmanuel Lubezki; there are some amazing long tracking shots. The actors are all great, particularly Yalitza Aparicio as the protagonist Cleo, a maid who gets pregnant during the city’s political uprising. It’s shocking as it is fantastic. I’m so glad the Criterion Collection is releasing Roma on home video soon.
61. The Lighthouse (2019) – Robert Eggers’ follow-up to The Witch might be filmed in Nova Scotia, but The Lighthouse captures its Maine setting to a T. There are plenty of disturbing images to keep everyone awake at night, and the black-and-white cinematography with its 1:19.1 aspect ratio is enough to feel anxious. Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe are terrific as two lighthouse keepers who get on each other’s nerves once a massive storm rolls in. Sprinkled with dark comedy and shocking mysteries with its characters, this is psychological horror at its finest.