Movie recommendation lists are never easy to make, as famous movies don’t need introductions, particularly on a website like Taste of Cinema. Obscure movies sound more appealing, but sometimes you just can’t take the risk of watching a movie you have never even heard of before.
So the best way to do it is to recommend lesser-known movies that have already gained trustworthy statuses in the world of movie nerds, but still haven’t received enough attention from a wider audience. With that in mind, here are 15 21st century movies, handpicked by the author, that should give you some suggestions for your next movie night.
1. Paradise trilogy
We pick the whole controversial ‘Paradise’ trilogy by Austrian filmmaker Ulrich Seidl as one entry, because: 1.) They are all official selections of the big three European film festivals (Cannes, Berlin and Venice), and 2.) Together they offer a better look at Seidl’s mad genius.
Pushing the boundaries of what can be discussed and shown on screen, the trilogy dives to the lowest depths of love, faith and hope. What’s appalling is that all three movies are told in bright colors and almost forced symmetrical composition, making the filmgoing experience even more uncomfortable.
One of the greatest films coming from the New Taiwan Cinema movement, ”YiYi” is an epic drama about life in 173 minutes. Beginning with a wedding and ending with a funeral, the film doesn’t waste a single minute to tell the truth of human life at different stages.
“I can only see what’s in front, not what’s behind. So I can only know half of the truth, right?” Try to taste this line from the movie and you will get a glimpse of the philosophical wisdom of this profound film.
3. Mad Detective
Hong Kong cinema is responsible for some of the best crime movies ever made, and ”Mad Detective” from Johnnie To’s Milky Way Image Company is probably the best detective movie you’ve never seen.
It stars Lau Ching Wan as the titular detective who can see the different personalities of any criminals; this ability also gives him troubles as he clearly has illusions of his dead wife. The clever script makes it a unique crime movie and a must-see.
4. An Inspector Calls
There are many classic movies set mostly in one room, and ”An Inspector Calls” is one of those that doesn’t get the recognition it fully deserves.
A movie made for television, this 2015 version, starring the marvelous David Thewlis (there is also a 1954 version which is also superb), is a dark drama that plays like a mini version of Robert Altman’s “Gosford Park”. It will keep you on the edge of your seat during its 87-minute runtime, and the final plot twist is just the cherry on top of the cake.
One of the many things that made Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Godfather” such a masterpiece is its masterclass storytelling that manages to hold all these characters together and make them unforgettable.
If there is one movie from the 21st century that could be the answer to this classic, it should be Johnnie To’s two-part gangster epic “Election”. It’s one of the greatest Asian genre filmmakers at the top of his game, and it will be no surprise that you marvel at its greatness after watching it – it’s that good.
One of the best home invasion movies that will certainly remind you of Pier Paolo Pasolini’s classic film “Theorem”, ”Borgman” tells an allegorical story of a man who can corrupt the minds of other people, and how he and his teammates destroy the life of an upper-class family by turning them against each other. It’s a weird and slow-paced movie that will reward those who have the patience to sit to the end.
7. The Yellow Sea
If you are a fan of South Korean cinema, you probably already know that the name Na Hong-jin equals top quality thrillers. The three movies he has made so far are all great to watch, but “The Yellow Sea” is his true masterpiece that every thriller fan should see.
It’s dark and gritty, and filled with relentless action scenes and great suspense. It should be up there with “Oldboy” and “I Saw the Devil” as one of the must-see South Korean movies.