5. Anomalisa (2015), directed by Duke Johnson & Charlie Kaufman
Another great work by writer Charlie Kaufman, and co-directed with Duke Johnson, “Anomalisa” is a great dramatic comedy animation with a bit of somber fantasy traces in it.
In “Anomalisa”, a famous business author that has problems in relating to other people goes on a trip to give a lecture about customer service. On the night before this lecture, he meets a stranger and begins to think she might be the solution to his problems.
This animation explores themes like solitude, fantasies, and especially our expectations toward life. The voicework where David Thewlis plays Michael Stone, Jennifer Jason Leigh plays Lisa Hesselman, and Tom Noonan plays everybody else – which makes perfect sense with the occurrences of the story – is really amazing as well.
This somber romantic film with existential traces – as most of Kaufman’s stories have – should definitely be considered on this list and also among the greatest animations to arrive in theaters in the second decade of the 21st century.
4. Harold and Maude (1971), directed by Hal Ashby
In this movie about love and death – probably the simplest way to describe it – directed by Hal Ashby and written by Colin Higgins, we are able to watch a beautiful romantic drama in what is probably the best film in Ashby’s career.
The film follows the story of Harold Chasen (Bud Cort), a young man obsessed with death who attends funerals and has no friends by personal choice. At a funeral he meets Maude (Ruth Gordon), a nearly 80-year-old woman who is completely in love with life. They end up developing a relationship and Maude teaches Harold to look at the beauty of life.
This sensitive dramatic comedy with touches of romance has beautiful performances by Ruth Gordon and Bud Cort and is an unusual rom-com from the 70s that every film fan should watch, as it approaches such humanistic themes of our existence and our relationship with love and life.
3. Punch-Drunk Love (2002), directed by Paul Thomas Anderson
Paul Thomas Anderson is truly a master. Exploring ambition and working with actors who delivered some of the best performances in contemporary cinema, this writer and director really deserves his name among the greatest.
Starring Adam Sandler in the best performance of his career, Emily Watson and Philip Seymour Hoffman, “Punch-Drunk Love” follows the story of a troubled novelty supplier who is extorted by the phone-sex line of a dishonest salesman while he begins a romance with an English woman.
With an amazing performance by Sandler and an intricate use of sound and camera movements, “Punch-Drunk Love” assaults the senses of the audience while telling this unusual love story.
This is really an underrated Anderson film – probably because he has at least four other masterpieces in his career – and has a very unique and somber humor that makes it worth watching by any cinephile.
2. Stalker (1979), directed by Andrei Tarkovsky
Probably one of the most complex movies ever made, “Stalker” is science-fiction drama directed by Andrei Tarkovsky and based on the book “Roadside Picnic”, written by Arkady Strugatsky and Boris Strugatsky, who are also responsible for the screenplay of the film.
The movie follows a professor searching for scientific discoveries and a depressive writer who asks for a Stalker – a professional guide – to take them to a restricted area called The Zone. In this mysterious place, there is a room that grants a person’s most intimate wishes.
With many philosophical and even religious takeaways allied with the stunning cinematography of Alexander Nezhinsky, “Stalker” should always be remembered as one of the greatest films ever made.
Its approach on life, mysticism, dreams and hopes makes its compositions very unique in the hands of Tarkovsky. Considered by Sight & Sound as the 29th on its list of the Top 50 Greatest Films of All Time, “Stalker” is a sci-fi masterpiece that should definitely be watched by any cinephile at least once.
1. Blade Runner (1982), directed by Ridley Scott
In this iconic 80’s film adapted from a novel by Philip K. Dick called “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Harrison Ford, we see a very complex and existential approach on this question: What makes us human?
In “Blade Runner”, in the year 2019, the city of Los Angeles became a dark metropolis. In this city, Rick Deckard (Ford), an ex-cop, is a man whose job is to hunt and kill the replicants, androids that look exactly like humans do. One day, four replicants commit murders on a colony and Deckard needs to find and kill them, but during this hunt, Deckard will question their humanity and also his own.
Not being a hit at the time of its release but becoming an indisputable classic in the years that came, “Blade Runner” is one of the greatest films from the 1980s and disputes with “Alien” (1979) as the title of best in Scott’s career – and probably wins.
With so many layers in it, “Blade Runner” is an existential and philosophical dystopian film with great directing and an unique atmosphere that makes it a mandatory film for anyone not only interested in film, but interested in our own existence.
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.