8. Love Exposure
There are some movies where the storytelling is so compelling that you actually want more even after several hours of their running time, and “Love Exposure” is a prime example of such movies in the 21st century.
It’s a story about love, youth, family, religion, cult, and the art of upskirt photography. The movie is cheesy in the best way possible, so don’t let the 4-hour running time stop you from watching such a crazy film.
A early gem from the Palme d’Or-winning Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan, “Uzak” is a semi-autobiographical movie about a small-town young man who goes to Istanbul to find a job, and clashes with his cousin there because of their very different personalities.
This is probably the most visually stunning film made by a director who used to be a photographer. Ceylan’s later films may be more complex in themes, but this is the peak of his visual style.
10. 13 Assassins
Probably the best samurai movie of the 21st century, “13 Assassins” is definitely the action-packed cult movie you would expect from Takashi Miike. It has very simple plot and stereotyped characters, but one should enjoy the movie nevertheless because of the extensive action scenes and its presentation of Bushido.
The candlelight scenes are brilliant because it just showed the director’s meticulous attention to details and what a samurai movie would look like if it’s shot in color for those old-school samurai fans.
The inclusion of “Silence” may look like an odd choice here, since its director, Martin Scorsese, is one of the most prestigious names in the filmmaking world. But the fact is that this passion project from Marty only received one Oscar nomination, and the mixed reviews couldn’t have helped.
Truth be told, if you haven’t seen this, you might have missed one of Scorsese’s best movies in years. It’s definitely one of the best movies about religion ever made, and for those who aren’t really interested in the subject, it doesn’t matter, as it’s still very profound and deeply moving.
12. Three Times
Ranked 17th on the latest “The 25 Best Films of the 21st Century So Far” list, curated by critics from The New York Times, ”Three Times” is a beautifully shot and incredibly moody film made by Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-Hsien, who’s so often ignored by Western audiences.
It’s an anthology movie that consists of three romances from three different periods of time, with the central couple all played by director’s recurring actor team Shu Qi and Chang Chen. The first segment is the standout part, but the other two are just brilliant in their own way. If you like the films of Wong Kar-wai, this film might give you the same feelings.
The director-actor team Steve McQueen and Michael Fassbender has been a tour de force in the 21st century, making masterpieces like “Shame” and “12 Years a Slave”. Their first collaboration, a movie about the 1981 hunger strikes by Republican prisoners in Northern Ireland, put both on the map of international cinema.
McQueen’s debut feature is both a bold experiment and deeply spiritual experience, and Fassbender’s performance is a fearless one that is reminiscent of Christian Bale’s transformation in “The Machinist”.
Often overshadowed by the Oscar-winning movie “The Great Beauty”, Italian director Paolo Sorrentino’s second English language film is nothing short of a masterpiece. It’s insanely well acted (with one of the best ensemble casts in recent years), with an incredible score, great writing, beautiful cinematography, and a director firing on all cylinders.
Unlike all the coming-of-age movies about youth and other things, this movie finds a new way to explore the theme of how older people can find youth by finding freedom. It’s a deeply profound and moving film everyone should see, on the biggest screen possible.
15. In The House
While Henri Georges Clouzot often holds the title of the “French Hitchcock”, another French director, Francois Ozon, also paid homage to the master of suspense several times in his filmmaking career. One of the prime examples would also be his magnum opus, the “Rear Window”-inspired movie ”In The House”.
In a typical Ozon way, it explores voyeurism with an emphasis on twisted sexuality. With the brilliant interchange of literature and image, the film constantly blurs the line between fiction and reality, pulling you on a dark journey along with the young protagonist.