Wednesday, 2 November 2016

27 Favorite «Modern» Films

Besides being Burt Lancaster's 103th birthday, November 2, 2016 also marks my 27th birthday. To celebrate the occasion, I thought it would be fun and interesting to share with you 27 of my favorite «modern» films. And by «modern» I mean films that have been released after 1980. Emily of The Flapper Dame has done a similar thing for her own birthday back in August and I, very shamefully, stole her idea. I hope you don't mind, Emily. Without further ado, here they are. I am not very good at ranking things, so I organized this list in chronological order, by the films' years of release.

#1: The Breakfast Club (1985)
Directed by John Hughes | With Molly Ringwald (Claire Standish), Judd Nelson (John Bender), Anthony Michael Hall (Brian Johnson), Ally Sheedy (Allison Reynolds) and Emilio Estevez (Andrew Clark) | Universal Pictures | 97 minutes

John Bender: Screws fall out all the time, the world is an imperfect place.

The Breakfast Club has got to be one of my top five favorite films of all time. In fact, I loved it so much the first time I watched it that I had to see it again the following day. But how could I not love it? First of all, the storyline is absolutely brilliant and John Hughes has written the most amazing screenplay. I can quote several bits from it by now. And second, the entire cast is just phenomenal. I love them all, but my favorite of the bunch is definitely Judd Nelson. I saw the film for the first time about six years ago, but I still have such a humongous crush on him. I have seen him in a few other films since then — including the Brat Pack-related St. Elmo's Fire (1985) and Blue City (1986), which I also really enjoyed — but The Breakfast Club is without a doubt his best work. He was born to play John Bender, who, by the way, happens to be my favorite movie character of all time.

Judd Nelson, Emilio Estevez, Ally Sheedy, Molly Ringwald and Anthony Michael Hall

#2: Top Gun (1986)
Directed by Tony Scott | With Tom Cruise (LT Pete «Maverick» Mitchell), Kelly McGillis (Charlotte «Charlie» Blackwood), Anthony Edwards (LTJG Nick «Goose» Bradshaw) and Val Kilmer (LT Tom «Iceman» Kazansky) | Paramount Pictures | 110 minutes

Lieutenant Pete «Maverick» Mitchell: I feel the need the need for speed.

After seeing Risky Business (1983) for the first time about two or three years ago, I developed a huge crush on Tom Cruise (judge me, if you want). Naturally, I then had to watch as many of his films as I possibly could. One of them was Top Gun, which I absolutely love. Granted, it is somewhat clichéd at times, but it is a thoroughly enjoyable film and I always find myself watching it every time it is on television. I have seen it probably about five times by now and I never get tired of it. I love the pairing of Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis — I think she might be one of my favorite of his leading ladies — and Anthony Edwards' wisecracks are a very nice addition to the overall product.

Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis as Maverick and Charlie in Top Gun

#3: Some Kind of Wonderful (1987)
Directed by Howard Deutch | With Eric Soltz (Keith Nelson), Mary Stuart Masterson (Watts), Lea Thompson (Amanda Jones), Craig Sheffer (Hardy Jenns), John Ashton (Cliff Nelson) and Elias Koteas (Duncan) | Paramount Pictures | 95 minutes

Keith Nelson: You look good wearing my future.

I love this film so much! Like The Breakfast Club, it was magnificently written by the genius that was John Hughes and the cast is absolutely flawless, especially Mary Stuart Masterson and Eric Soltz. Needless to say, I had a huge crush on him for weeks after watching Some Kind of Wonderful. He is just so cute and ginger and I love his voice. I know, I'm weird like that. Anyway, back to the film. I think you should definitely see Some Kind of Wonderful if you haven't already. It has a little bit of everything: comedy, drama, romance and the just the right amount of '80s-ness, if that makes any sense at all. In short, Some Kind of Wonderful really is some kind of a wonderful film.

Eric Stoltz and Mary Stuart Masterson in Some Kind of Wonderful

#4: Singles (1992)
Directed by Cameron Crowe | With Matt Dillon (Cliff Poncier), Bridget Fonda (Janet Livermore), Campbell Scott (Steve Dunne), Kyra Sedgwick (Linda Powell), Sheila Kelly (Debbie Hunt) and Bill Pullman (Dr. Jeffrey Jamison) | Warner Bros. | 99 minutes

Janet Livermore: Somewhere around 25, bizarre becomes immature.

I watched this film for the first time about six years ago, when I was a freshman at university. At the time, I was really into grunge music and one day, I found out that Eddie Vedder, Jeff Ament and Stone Gossard of Pearl Jam — one of my favorite bands — all had small roles in a film called Singles. I had never heard of such a film (even though I had seen a few other Cameron Crowe movies), but after reading the synopsis, I became really interested in seeing it. So I did and I absolutely loved it. Honestly, it is such a brilliant film and it encapsulates everything that I love about the grunge music scene and the whole Generation X era. I also really liked seeing Eddie, Jeff and Stone in the film, especially because they were not there as Pearl Jam members, but as actual actors playing Matt Dillon's bandmates. Eric Stoltz also makes a brief appearance as a mime — yes, a mime — which I thought was quite cool.

Bridget Fonda and Matt Dillon as Janet and Cliff in Singles

#5: Schindler's List (1993)
Directed by Steven Spielberg | With Liam Neeson (Oskar Schindler), Ralph Fiennes (Amon Göth), Ben Kingsley (Itzhak Stern), Embeth Davidtz (Helen Hirsch), Caroline Goodall (Emilie Schindler) and Jonathan Sagall (Poldek Pfefferberg) | Universal Pictures | 195 minutes

Itzhak Stern: This list is an absolute good. The list... is life.

History was always one of my favorite subjects at school. When I was in the 9th grade, we studied World War II and I became intensely fascinated by it. I watched every WWII-related film that I could find, every documentary... But for some reason, it took me 12 years to watch Schindler's List. I honestly don't know why that was. Maybe I was just waiting for the right moment when I had enough maturity to understand the film's subject matter and reflect on it properly. Either way, this is a film that I recommend everyone to watch. It will tear you to pieces and make you incredibly angry at mankind, but I promise it will be one of the finest films you will ever see in your life.
By the way, can we please just take a moment to appreciate the genius that is Ralph Fiennes? I had never realized how brilliant an actor he is until I saw him in Schindler's List. His character is so disgusting and venomous and evil that you are actually terrified by him. If an actor, who is otherwise a very nice person, can make you scared of him just by acting, then I'd say he is a rather talented actor. I have never seen The Fugitive (1993) — and I don't really intend to, to be honest — but I'm dead sure that Tommy Lee Jones robbed Ralph Fiennes of the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in 1994.

Ralph Fiennes and Liam Neeson in Schindler's List

#6: Forrest Gump (1994)
Directed by Robert Zemeckis | With Tom Hanks (Forrest Gump), Sally Fields (Mrs. Gump), Robin Wright (Jenny Curran), Gary Sinise (Lieutenant Dan Taylor) and Mykelti  Williamson (Benjamin Buford «Bubba» Blue) | Paramount Pictures | 142 minutes

Forrest Gump: My momma always said, «Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.»

What to say of Forrest Gump? There are not enough words in the world to describe how exceptionally beautiful this film is. Tom Hanks is just so incredibly talented and versatile. Honestly, the man can do everything! Fun fact: by winning Academy Awards for Best Actor for both Philadelphia (1993) and Forrest Gump, Tom Hanks become the second male actor in history to win the statuette in two consecutive years. The first actor to do so was Spencer Tracy, who won for Captains Corageous (1937) and Boys Town (1938), the latter of which I haven't seen yet.

Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump

#7: Jerry Maguire (1996)
Directed by Cameron Crowe | With Tom Cruise (Gerald «Jerry» Maguire), Renée Zellweger (Dorothy Boyd), Cuba Gooding Jr. (Rodney «Rod» Tidwell), Jonathan Lipnicki (Raymond «Ray» Boyd) and Regina King (Marcee Tidwell) | TriStar Pictures | 138 minutes

Jerry Maguire: I love you. You... you complete me.

Jerry Maguire was another film that I watched during my Tom Cruise marathon and I think it might actually be my personal favorite of his films, at least of the ones that I have seen so far. Say what you will about Tom Cruise, but the man is a great actor. Give him the right role — like Jerry Maguire, or Ron Kovic in Born on the Fourth of July (1989), or even Charlie Babbitt in Rain Man (1988) — and he can do magic. I think the character of Jerry Maguire fits him like a glove and I love his interaction with Renée Zellweger and the little kid who plays her son. Besides, that scene with him singing «Free Fallin'» by Tom Petty is amazing. You know, now that I think of it, he always seems to sing in some way or the other in his films. He sang in Jerry Maguire, he sang in Top Gun, he sang in Cocktail (1988)... Oh, and I almost forgot, he made the musical Rock of Ages (2012)! And he sang in that, too. Quite well, if you don't mind my adding. It's undeniable — I am a Tom Cruise fan.

Tom Cruise and Renée Zellweger as Jerry and Dorothy in Jerry Maguire

#8: Life is Beautiful [La vita è bella] (1997)
Directed by Roberto Benigni | With Roberto Benigni (Guido Orefice), Nicoletta Braschi (Dora), Giorgio Cantarini (Giosuè), Giustino Durano (Uncle Eliseo Orefice) and Horst Buchholz (Doctor Lessing) | Miramax Films | 116 minutes

Eliseo Orefice: Nothing is more necessary than the unnecessary.

Just like Schindler's List, Life is Beautiful is, in my opinion, one those «must-see-before-you-die» films. It will warm your heart and shatter it to pieces at the same time. Roberto Benigni did not just make a film; he made a piece of art that should be treasured for always. It could have all gone terribly wrong — using such a controversial and delicate subject matter like the Holocaust for comedic purposes — but it is so incredibly well made that the film comes across as a genuinely poignant, sincere and emotional story. Life is Beautiful was actually partially inspired by the life story of Benigni's own father, a soldier in the Italian Army who was sent to a Nazi labour camp when Italy switched to the Allied side in 1943. To avoid scaring his children, Mr. Benigni recounted his experiences humorously, finding that this helped him cope with the horrors he had gone through during the war.

Roberto Benigni, Giorgia Cantarini and Nicoletta Braschi in Life is Beautiful
#9: Almost Famous (2000)
Directed by Cameron Crowe | With Patrick Fugit (William Miller), Billy Crudup (Russell Hammond), Kate Hudson (Penny Lane), Frances McDormand (Elaine Miller), Philip Seymour Hoffmann (Lester Bangs) and Jason Lee (Jeff Bebe) | DreamWorks Pictures | 122 minutes

William Miller: So Russell... what do you love about music?
Russell Hammond: To begin with, everything.

I am aware that this is the third Cameron Crowe picture on this list, but he is one of my favorite filmmakers. Almost Famous is my favorite of his films, one that I always have to watch whenever it is on television. Cameron Crowe not only directed it, but also wrote it based on his own experiences as a teenage rock journalist touring with rock bands such as Led Zeppelin and the Eagles. Also, he could not have picked a better cast to work with. Everyone is outstanding, but I have to highlight Patrick Fugit, Kate Hudson and Billy Crudup. My favorite scene? Definitely the one when they all sing «Tiny Dancer» by Elton John. I dare say that it is one of the greatest scenes in cinema history.

Kate Hudson and Patrick Fugit in Almost Famous

#10: American Psycho (2000)
Directed by Mary Harron | With Christian Bale (Patrick Bateman), William Dafoe (Detective Donald Kimball), Chloe Sëvigny (Jean), Reese Whiterspoon (Evelyn Williams) and Jared Leto (Paul Allen) | Lionsgate Films | 101 minutes

Patrick Bateman: I like to dissect girls. Did you know I'm utterly insane?

American Psycho was the second Christian Bale film I ever saw — the first was Empire of the Sun (1987) — and I think it is my favorite. I'm not a particularly big fan of horror films, but this one is just brilliant and Christian Bale (my favorite actor of all time) is flawless as the cuckoo-crazy psychopath Patrick Bateman. My favorite scene in the film actually involves one of his murders. After getting his co-worker Paul Allen (played by Jared Leto), whom he absolutely despises, drunk at a Christmas party, Patrick lures him back to his apartment. He plays «Hip to Be Square» by Huey Lewis and the News on the stereo, puts his rain coat on and then prances around explaining to Paul his opinion and interpretation of the song. He picks up an axe, says «Hey, Paul,» Paul turns around and Patrick hacks him down. Or does he? You'll understand what I mean once you watch the film.

Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman in American Psycho

#11: Pearl Harbor (2001)
Directed by Michael Bay | With Ben Affleck (Capt. Rafe McCawley), Kate Beckinsale  (Lt. Evelyn Johnson), Josh Hartnett (Capt. Daniel «Danny» Walker), Alec Baldwin (Maj. Jimmy Doolittle) and Cuba Gooding Jr. (Petty Officer 2nd Class Dorie Miller) | Buena Vista Pictures | 183 minutes

Rafe McCawley: Not anxious to die, sir. Just anxious to matter.

This may come as a surprise to many of you, but Pearl Harbor might actually be my number-one favorite film of all time. Is it clichéd? Sure. Is it historically inaccurate? Absolutely. But I love it in spite of all of that. I watched it several times throughout my teenage years and I continue to watch it now. It's one of those films that I can watch over and over and over again and never get tired of it. I know exactly what is going to happen at every twist and turn and still, every time I watch it, I find myself praying that Danny doesn't die at end (oops, spoilers! Sorry...). Personally, I am a Rafe/Evelyn shipper, but I love Danny. That bit when Rafe says, «You can't die, Danny. You know why? Because you're going to be a father,» and Danny responds, «No, Rafe, you are,» gets me every time.

Josh Hartnett, Alec Baldwin and Ben Affleck in Pearl Harbor

#12: Love Me  If You Dare [Jeux d'enfants] (2003)
Directed by Yann Samuell | With Guillaume Canet (Julian Janvier) and Marion Cotillard (Sophie Kowalsky) | Mars Distribution | 92 minutes

Julian Janvier: A stupid game? Maybe so. But it was our game.

I'm not entirely sure, but I think Love Me If You Dare was the first French film I ever saw. At the time, I had just started to explore the world of German cinema and I became curious to watch other European movies. Since I was already a fan of Marion Cotillard from her American films, particularly Inception (2010), I thought I would start by watching some of her French films. I chose Love Me If You Dare because I read that she and her co-star in the film, Guillaume Canet, were actually married in real life (although they were not a couple at the time they made the film) and I wanted to see what they were like together. I honestly could not have picked a better film to introduce me to French cinema. If you haven't seen Love Me If You Dare, I strongly recommend you do. It's unlike any other love story you've ever seen, but it's also one of the best love stories you will ever see.

Marion Cotillard and Guillaume Canet in Love Me If You Dare

#13: The Notebook (2004)
Directed by Nick Cassavetes | With Ryan Gosling (Noah Calhoun), Rachel MacAdams (Allison «Allie» Hamilton), James Garner (Old Noah Calhoun), Gena Rowlands (Old Allie Hamilton) and Joan Allen (Anne Hamilton) | New Line Cinema | 124 minutes

Noah Calhoun: If you're a bird, I'm a bird.

Speaking of love stories, The Notebook is another one of my favorites. I don't usually go for Nicholas Sparks films (I often find them too mushy for my taste), but this one is I think is actually quite perfect. There's a verse from a sonnet by William Shakespeare that goes, «Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds,» and I think that is the best way describe the story of Noah Calhoun and Allie Hamilton in The Notebook. Nick Cassavetes could not have picked two better actors to play those charactets. I am not a massive fan of Ryan Gosling and Rachel MacAdams as actors, but in this particular film they just light up the screen. Their chemistry is amazing and they play off each other really, really well.

Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling as Allie and Noah in The Notebook

#14: Lords of Dogtown (2005)
Directed by Catherine Hardwicke | With John Robinson (Stacy Peralta), Emile Hirsch (Jay Adams), Victor Razuk (Tony Alva), Heath Ledger (Skip Engblom) and Michael Angarano (Sid) | Columbia Pictures and TriStar Pictures | 107 minutes

Skip Engblom: You gotta approach every day as if it's your last!

I don't really remember how I ever came across this film, but I am so glad I did. Like a few films that I have already mentioned, I can watch Lords of Dogtown over and over again and never get tired of it. I was so fascinated by the film the first time I watched it that for about a month afterwards I was completely obsessed by everything related to Dogtown, the Z-Boys and 1970s Los Angeles. By the way, if you haven't seen the film and you have no idea what I'm talking about, the Z-Boys were a group of skateboarders and Dogtown was the area of Venice Beach where they lived. In fact, one of the real Z-Boys, Stacy Peralta, actually wrote the script of Lords of Dogtown, which is part of the reason why the film is so good. Honestly, you have to see it if you haven't already.

The cast of Lords of Dogtown

#15: Pride & Prejudice (2005)
Directed by Joe Wright | With Keira Knightley (Elizabeth «Lizzie» Bennett), Matthew Macfadyen (Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy), Rosamund Pyke (Jane Bennett), Judi Dench (Lady Catherine de Bourgh) | Working Title Films and Focus Features | 127 minutes

Elizabeth «Lizzie» Bennett: Only the deepest love will persuade me into matrimony, which is why I will end up an old maid.

What an amazing film this is. If I were to make a top 10 of my favorite films of all time, Pride & Prejudice would definitely be one of them. I love every single thing about it — most of all, that fine male specimen named Matthew Macfadyen. That man is something else. Not only is he incredibly talented and versatile, but he also has the most gorgeous smile and his voice... oh my goodness! I think he was made to play Mr. Darcy. The character did not exactly swept me off my feet in the book, but in the film, played by Matthew, I think he is just about the most amazingly charming man in the whole wide world. For as much as I love and admire Laurence Olivier (he played Mr. Darcy in the 1940 adaptation of the novel), Matthew Macfadyen wins at being Mr. Darcy.

Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen in Pride & Prejudice

#16: Across the Universe (2007)
Directed by Julie Taymor | With Jim Sturgess (Jude), Evan Rachel Wood (Lucy), Joe Anderson (Max), Dana Fuchs (Sadie), Martin Luther McCoy (JoJo), T.V. Carpio (Prudence) and Logan Marshall-Green (Paco) | Columbia Pictures | 133 minutes

JoJo: Music's the only thing that makes sense anymore, man. Play it loud enough, it keeps the demons at bay.

Across the Universe was the film that made me discover The Beatles and for that it will always hold a very special place in my heart. It is such a creative and visually stunning film and I love how the plot is completely centered on songs by The Beatles. Even the names of the characters were inspired by Beatles songs and lyrics. For instance, the two protagonists, Jude (Jim Sturgess) and Lucy (Evan Rachel Wood), were named after the songs «Hey Jude» and «Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,» both of which they perform in the film. I had never heard of Jim Sturgess before, but I immediately fell in love with him and his voice. And actually, he kind of looks like a Beatle himself. In case you are wondering, my favorite songs from the film are «I've Just Seen a Face,» «Strawberry Fields Forever», «Revolution,» «Across the Universe,» «Hey Jude» and «All You Need Is Love

Evan Rachel Green and Jim Sturgess as Lucy and Jude in Across the Universe

#17: Inglourious Basters (2009)
Directed by Quentin Tarantino | With Brad Pitt (Lt. Aldo Raine), Christoph Waltz (Col. Hans Landa), Melanie Laurent (Soshanna Dreyfus), Diane Kruger (Bridget von Hammersmark) and Daniel Brühl (Private First Class Fredrick Zoller) | Universal Pictures | 153 minutes

Lieutenant Aldo Raine: You probably heard we ain't in the prisoner-takin' business; we in the killin' Nazi business. And cousin, business is a-boomin'.

As far as I'm concerned, Inglourious Basterds is the best film of 2009. Quentin Tarantino is a genius every day of the week, but he was particularly inspired when he made this film. The characters he created are all incredible, especially Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) and Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt). I think the Academy messed up big time when they didn't nominate Brad Pitt for a Oscar for this film. The same goes for Melanie Laurent, who was amazing as Shosanna. I love the fact that Tarantino cast German actors to play the German characters and French actors to play the French characters. I think that made the film even better. Inglourious Basterds is a particularly special film to me because it introduced me to two actors that are now among my favorites: Michael Fassbender and Daniel Brühl. You see, I was a Michael Fassbender fan way before X-Men: First Class (2011) made him a star and everyone started talking about him. And I was calling him Fassy before calling him Fassy became a thing.

Daniel Brühl and Melanie Laurent in Inglourious Basterds

#18: Nowhere Boy (2009)
Directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson | With Aaron Taylor-Johnson (John Lennon), Kristin Scott Thomas (Mimi Smith), Anne-Marie Duff (Julia Lennon), Thomas Sangster (Paul McCartney) and Sam Bell (George Harrison) | Icon Entertainment International | 97 minutes

John Lennon: Why couldn't God make me Elvis?
Julia Lennon: 'Cause he was saving you for John Lennon!

A few months after watching Across the Universe for the first time, I read a book called SHOUT!: The True Story of the Beatles by Phillip Norman, which made me even more fascinated by the Fab Four. I watched every interview of them that I could find and then I came across a film called Nowhere Boy, which is about the early beginnings of The Beatles in general, but of John Lennon in particular. I had no idea who Aaron Johnson was at the time, but I was completely mesmerized by his portrayal of John Lennon. I think he really understood what Lennon stood for and it's clear when you watch the film that he put his entire heart and soul into the role. Even though it is not an entirely accurate depiction of what happened — the director admitted that herself — Nowhere Boy is still an excellent film.

Thomas Sangster and Aaron Taylor-Johnson in Nowhere Boy

#19: The Social Network (2010)
Directed by David Fincher | With Jesse Eisenberg (Mark Zuckerberg), Andrew Garfield (Eduardo Saverin), Justin Timberlake (Sean Parker), Armie Hammer (Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss) and Max Minghella (Divya Narendra) | Columbia Pictures | 120 minutes

Eduardo Saverin: I was your friend your only friend.

If Inglourious Basterds is the best of 2009, then The Social Network is the best film of 2010. You can always count on David Fincher to deliver a good movie, but this one genuinely exceeded my expectations. At first glance, The Social Network looks like a film about the creation of Facebook, just a bunch of college kids talking algorithms or some other computer language that you don't really understand. But actually, The Social Network is not a film about the creation of Facebook; Facebook is just a plot device, the background upon which the story is set. The Social Network is a film about two friends and how greed, ambition, money, power and betrayal ruined their friendship completely. I was over the moon when Jesse Eisenberg was nominated for an Oscar for this film, but terribly disappointed when Andrew Garfield was not. Another unforgivable snub by the Academy.

Andrew Garfield and Jesse Eisenberg in The Social Network

#20: Oh Boy! (2012)
Directed by Jan-Ole Gerster | With Tom Schilling (Niko Fischer), Marc Hosemann (Matze) and Friederike Kempter (Julika Hoffmann), Justus von Dohnányi (Karl Speckenbach) and Katharine Schüttler (Elli) | X Verleih AG | 83 minutes

Niko: Do you know what it's like... to have the feeling that all the people around you are honestly kind of weird? But when you think it over, then it becomes clear that the problem is with yourself.

I first came across Tom Schilling in a brilliant German World War II miniseries called Unsere Mütter, unsere Väter (2013), released internationally as Generation War. As I always do when I discover a new actor that I like, I immediately went and watch a few more of his works. One of them was Oh Boy! (also known as A Coffee in Berlin), which I have to say is one of the best films I have ever seen. There are no special effects, no fancy costumes, no gimmicks — just a simple story about a day in the life of a law school dropout who is yearning for a cup of coffee that the world seems to be determined not to give it to him. I know it doesn't sound like a very good premise for a film, but trust me, Oh Boy! is an excellent film. The fact that it was shot in black and white makes it even more special.

Tom Schilling as Niko Fischer in Oh Boy!

#21: Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
Directed by David O. Russell | With Bradley Cooper (Patrizio «Pat» Solitano Jr.), Jennifer Lawrence (Tiffany Maxwell), Robert de Niro (Patrizio «Pat» Solitano Sr.) and Jacki Weaver (Dolores Solitano) | The Weinstein Company | 122 minutes

Tiffany Maxwell: Humanity is just nasty and there's no silver lining.

David O. Russell hit the jackpot when he decided to pair Bradley Cooper and Jennifer in Lawrence in this film. They have the most amazing chemistry. I wouldn't mind one bit if he made films only with them. The three of them together equals pure gold.

Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook

#22: Free Fall [Freier Fall] (2013)
Directed by Stephen Lacant | With Hanno Koffler (Marc Borgmann), Max Riemelt (Kay Engel), Katharina Schüttler (Bettina Bischoff), Oliver Bröcker (Frank Richter) and Britta Hammelstein (Britt Rebmann) | Edition Salzgeber | 100 minutes

Kay Engel: What's your problem? Nothing but «me! me! me!» Huh? Me! But what about me, Marc? What about me? Don't you get it? I love you.

I saw Max Riemelt for the first time in a film called Before the Fall (2004), which I watched because it is set during World War II and Tom Schilling is in it. I thought Max was great in it, but apparently not enough to make me want to watch more of his films. But then I came across a Netflix show called Sense8 — which is phenomenal, by the way — and I realized that the actor playing Wolfgang (my favorite character on the show) was the blonde kid from Before the Fall. It was at that point that I decided to look for other films that he had done and I discovered Free Fall, which quickly became one of my top 10 favorite films of all time. Honestly, there are not enough words to describe how much I love this film. Great part of the reason why I love it so much is because of Max and Hanno Koffler, who are both brilliant actors and have amazing chemistry. The director of Free Fall has confirmed that there is going to be a sequel and I am already counting the days until it is released.

Hanno Koffler and Max Riemelt as Marc and Kay in Free Fall

#23: Her (2013)
Directed by Spike Jonze | With Joaquin Phoenix (Theodore Twombly), Scarlett Johansson (voice of Samantha), Amy Adams (Amy), Rooney Mara (Catherine Klausen) and Olivia Wilde (Blind Date) | Warner Bros. | 126 minutes

Amy: I think anybody who falls in love is a freak. It's a crazy thing to do. It's kind of a like a form of socially acceptable insanity.

This is another film that I just don't have words to describe how good it is. I have to admit that I never gave two cents about Joaquin Phoenix, but that all changed after I watched Her. I don't know if it's the glasses or the moustache, but I just fell completely in love with him while watching this film.

Joaquin Phoenix as Theodore in Her

#24: The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
Directed by Martin Scorsese | With Leonardo DiCaprio (Jordan Belfort), Margot Robbie (Naomi Lapaglia), Jonah Hill (Donnie Azoff), Kyle Chandler (Patrick Dehnam) and Matthew McConaughey (Mark Hanna) | Paramount Pictures | 180 minutes

Jordan Belfort: The only thing standing between you and your goal is the bullshit story you keep telling yourself as to why you can't achieve it.

You can never go wrong with Martin Scorsese — the same way that you can never go wrong with Leonardo DiCaprio. And when the two come together, then it's just magic. Add Margot Robbie and Jonah Hill into the mixture and you have an outstanding film. I praised the high Gods above when the Academy FINALLY gave Leo the Oscar, but if I'm completely honest, I think they gave him the Oscar for the wrong film. He should have won The Wolf of Wall Street and not for The Revenant (2015), even though he was phenomenal in The Revenant. Actually, he should have won years ago for The Aviator (2004), but that's a whole different story.

Leonardo Dicaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street

#25: The Normal Heart (2014)
Directed by Ryan Murphy | With Mark Ruffalo (Alexander «Ned» Weeks), Matt Bomer (Felix Turner), Taylor Kitsch (Bruce Niles),  Julia Roberts (Dr. Emma Brookner), Jim Parsons (Tommy Boatwright) and Jonathan Groff (Craig Donner) | HBO | 132 minutes

Felix Turner: Men do not naturally not love. They learn not to.
Mark Ruffalo has been one my favorite actors ever since I saw him in Just Like Heaven (2005); I've been in love with Matt Bomer ever since I saw him in White Collar (2009-2014); and I've been likewise in love with Jonathan Groff ever since I saw him in Taking Woodstock (2009). Naturally, I was extremely excited when I found that they all were going to be in same film together. And what I film! Honestly, The Normal Heart is just... I don't even have words to describe how amazing it is. You'll have to watch it for yourself, which I strongly recommend you do.

Matt Bomer and Mark Ruffalo in The Normal Heart

#26: The Theory of Everything (2014)
Directed by James Marsh | With Eddie Redmayne (Stephen Hawking), Felicity Jones (Jane Hawking), Charlie Cox (Jonathan Jones), David Thewlis (Dennis Sciama) and Emily Watson (Beryl Wilde) | Universal Pictures | 123 minutes

Stephen Hawking: While there's life, there is hope.

If Inglourious Basterds is the best film of 2009 and The Social Network the best films of 2010, then I dare say that The Theory of Everything is the best film of 2014.

Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything

#27: Brooklyn (2015)
Directed by John Crowley | With Saoirse Ronan (Eilis Lacey), Emory Cohen (Anthony «Tony» Fiorello), Domhnall Gleeson (Jim Farrell), Julie Walters (Madge Kehoe) and Jim Broadbent (Father Flood) | Lionsgate and 20th Century Fox | 112 minutes

Tony Fiorello: Home is home.

At the risk of sounding repetitive, I think Brooklyn is the best film of 2015.

Emory Cohen and Saoirse Ronan in Brooklyn

And there you have it — 27 of my favorite «modern» films. There were a thousand more films that I could have named, but these 27 are (as of now) my absolute favorites. Were you surprised by my choices? Did I name any of your favorites? Did I interest you in any of these films?

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