6. Shit Year (2010), directed by Cam Archer
The first feature film from writer and director Cam Archer is one of the most underrated movies from this decade. With experimental traces all over the film, “Shit Year” is definitely a piece of work that should be seen by any cinephile.
Following the story of Colleen West, an actress who struggles with her current situation after she quits performing, “Shit Year” shows us a narrative that slowly structures itself in a timeline, even though it seems not to have a specific one in the beginning of its running time.
With a great performance from Ellen Barkin in the leading role and amazing moments of dialogue, this film is definitely worth far more than its 38 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes, or its 5.6 rating on IMDb.
The great cinematography designed by Aaron Plat, the great value given to silence, and the unusual narrative chosen to approach the story of this great actress who slowly notices her life, came together to create a big act that makes “Shit Year” a film definitely worth seeing.
7. Magical Girl (2014), directed by Carlos Vermut
Being called by Pedro Almodóvar “the latest big revelation of Spanish cinema,” Carlos Vermut’s “Magical Girl” follows the story of an unemployed literature teacher who, in order to fulfill his daughter’s final wish to own an expensive official costume of an anime series, turns into a criminal by blackmailing a woman.
This “deeply disturbing tale full of mystery,” as Almodóvar described it, features amazing directing and writing by Vermut, as many of the important elements of this narrative are not told. Lots of disturbing scenes are left to our imagination – and very few things are more terrifying than the power of a human mind to picture such dreadful situations.
Also, the lack of sense by the leading character – played by José Sacristán – that simply seems to ignore the horror he causes this woman gives this thriller certain horror film elements that make it as more interesting, as it makes the film shocking to watch.
8. The Solitude of Prime Numbers (2010), directed by Saverio Costanzo
Prime numbers are only divisible by the number 1 and by themselves. In Saverio Costanzo’s third feature film, we follow Alice and Mattia during distinct moments in their lives. From childhood to adulthood, we are able to look at these two personalities that have more in common with each other than they might imagine.
Silence might seem like a lost art these days, but “The Solitude of Prime Numbers” uses it in such a remarkable way to show these two traumatized characters who seek peace in isolation. Jumping back and forth in the years 1984, 1991, 2001 and 2009, the film shows us how connected Alice and Mattia are, though they are unable to express it to each other.
Although meeting and becoming friends in their teenage years, silence always seems to reign. The way Costanzo deals with quiet moments in this narrative is outstanding, and how the performances are conducted are also singular in a story where the reactions of the lead characters are as meaningful as their actions.
“The Solitude of Prime Numbers” was nominated at the 67th Venice International Film Festival for the Golden Lion, but even though it did not win the award, it was surely one of the most interesting films in that year’s competition.
9. After Lucia (2012), directed by Michel Franco
“After Lucia” follows the story of Alejandra, a teenager who moved to a new city with her father Roberto after the death of her mother. When she goes out with a guy at a party and he films it, her life is transformed into a living hell.
This tale about bullying and violence is definitely among the most interesting films made in Mexico this century. Leaving the audience dreadfully absent while facing all of this cruelty toward the leading character played by Tessa Ia, “After Lucia” is a very relevant tale about how cruel teenage life can be.
The second feature film in Michel Franco’s career competed in the Un Certain Regard section at the Cannes Film Festival in 2012 and won the Prize Un Certain Regard, the top prize in that section of the festival.
10. A Wolf at the Door (2013), directed by Fernando Coimbra
Based on a true story where a woman kidnapped a 4 year-old child after having an affair with the girl’s father, “A Wolf at the Door” is already praised as one of the greatest Brazilian films of this century.
Directed by Fernando Coimbra, who went on to direct movies like “Sand Castle” (2017) and episodes of the Netflix TV show “Narcos” (2015 – present), “A Wolf at the Door” is a tale of mystery, jealousy, and betrayal where three people, Sylvia (Fabiula Nascimento), the mother; Bernardo (Milhem Cortaz), the father; and Rosa (Leandra Leal), the lover, give contradictory evidence to solve the kidnapping of a young child.
In this crime thriller, we start to revisit the beginning of Rosa and Bernardo’s affair and the situations that end with the kidnapping of the child, alternating with the statements the three characters give in the police station.
“A Wolf at the Door” is already considered by the Brazilian Film Critics Association (Abraccine) in number 60 spot on their list of the Top 100 Brazilian Films, and is definitely worth seeing by every film fan.
Author bio: Vítor Guima is a filmmaker, writer and musician from São Paulo, Brazil. Every day he watches a movie, reads a few pages from a book, listens to an album and freaks out with the feeling of not having enough time to see everything. You can follow him on Instagram on @ovitorguima .