The 20 Best Neo-Noir Movies of the Past 5 Years

7. In the Shadow (2012)

In the Shadow (2012)

In the Shadow is a Czechoslovakian detective film set during the 1950s. A couple of burglars steal jewelry and police Captain Hakl is brought in to investigate. Hakl immediately determines that the case is more than just the stolen jewelry. A German police officer is brought in to help with the investigation and the Jews are determined as the thieves. Hakl watches as the Jewish suspects are treated unfairly and feels helpless to do anything about it.

This film has many aspects of classic film noir with its use of lighting to create ominous shadows, dark cinematography, and style. The characters in the film are dressed up as classic gangsters with their suits and fedoras and bring forth that menacing air that distinguishes the good guys from the bad ones.


6. Lost River (2014)

Lost River

After starring in several neo-noir films, Ryan Gosling decided to try his hand with the genre for his 2014 movie Lost River. This movie is equal parts noir and fantasy as it follows Bones (Iain De Caestecker) a young man living with his mother Billy (Christina Hendricks) and younger brother Franky in the slums of Detroit. Bones spends his time stealing copper in order to help provide for his family, while Billy gets a job offer from a sleazy bank employee. The house the family lives in is scheduled to be torn down if the payment is not made to the bank, so Billy is desperate to keep her home.

Bones runs afoul of local hood Bully who believes that all the copper in town is his. Bones becomes friends with his next door neighbor Rat who lives with her grieving grandmother. The two become close and Rat tells Bones about a curse on the nearby river that can be broken by bringing the beast who lives there to the surface.

Meanwhile, Billy goes to a burlesque show and meets Cat (Eva Mendes) who is one of the dancers. The show is both gory and erotic and Cat tells Billy about the lower floor where the real money’s at. Women are held in plastic containers while customers do what they want in front of them.

Things take a drastic turn as Bully and his henchmen start terrorizing Rat. They burn down her house. Bones becomes frustrated by his inability to help his mom pay off the house and decides to go into the river to break the curse.

Lost River is an exciting and visually stunning movie that works on many levels. The performances by the actors is moving and you feel for their plight. 


5. Glass Chin (2014)

Glass Chin (2014)

Glass Chin stars Corey Stoll as Bud Gordon, a former boxer who lost his chance to glory when his career ended in a devastating defeat. Bud now works as a coach to young up and comer Kid Sunshine. Bud sees great things for Kid Sunshine and hopes to regain some sort of redemption for his now hard life.

Bud also works for J.J. (Billy Crudup) a gangster who has a deal to help restore Bud’s life after Bud’s friend kills someone. J.J. tells Bud that Kid Sunshine either takes a fall during his fight or he will release a tape of Bud coming out of the dead victim’s apartment to the police. Bud is left to decide what road to take.

Glass Chin is great at showing what a person would do to redeem themselves. The price of living up to the person you want to be can be difficult but may prove to be rewarding in the end.


4. Broken City (2013)

Broken City (2013)

Broken City is a neo-noir film that deals with corruption and blackmail in the political sector. Billy Taggart (Mark Wahlberg) is a tough New York cop who is accused of killing a rapist and murderer. Taggart is cleared of the charges after he meets with Mayor Nicholas Hostetler (Russell Crowe), but has to resign from the police department.

Years later, Taggart becomes a private detective and is hired by Hostetler to tail his wife who he suspects is cheating on him. Taggart begins to follow her and discovers that she is seeing a campaign manager for Hostetler’s rival for the mayoral position. Hostetler’s wife confronts Taggart and tells him not to trust her husband. However, Taggart gives Mayor Hostetler photos of his wife and the other man.

Things start to heat up when the campaign manager is found murdered. Taggart starts to do some digging into the murder, but Hostetler is not going to allow the truth to come forth.

Mark Wahlberg delivers a great performance as a good cop who is being used by a bad man for his own gain. He is trying to keep afloat, but is constantly manipulated by Mayor Taggart.


3. Black Coal, Thin Ice (2014)

Black Coal, Thin Ice (2014)

Black Coal, Thin Ice is a Chinese thriller that shows how much it was inspired by hardboiled fiction writers Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett. The film is about Detectives Zhang (Liao Fan) and Wang (Yu Ailei) who are investigating a murder at a factory in 1999. During an interview with the suspect things go haywire when the suspect shoots two of Zhang’s fellow police officers. Zhang kills the suspect and is shot by the suspects brother.

Years later, Zhang is now working as a security guard and spends a majority of his time getting drunk. One day Zhang runs into Wang and learns that there have been a series of murders that are similar to the crime they investigated. Zhang is interested in the case and begins to look into it. He quickly discovers that the victims all were tied to a mysterious woman named Wu. When Wang is killed, Zhang is determined to put a stop to these crimes once and for all.

Black Coal, Thin Ice is a visually stunning film that shows the bleak winter landscape of China that further enhances the mood of the movie. The detectives are both driven to solve this case that has changed their lives, but have to do battle with a cold femme fatale.


2. The Nice Guys (2016)

The Nice Guys

Director Shane Black made his return to his beloved genre with The Nice Guys. This movie is equal parts black comedy and murder mystery. It also has Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe playing a pair of unlikely heroes that team up to solve a case. The film is set in 1970 and revolves around the death of a pornstar named Misty Mountains.

Holland March (Gosling) is hired by the dead girl’s grandmother who believes that her granddaughter is still alive. However, a missing girl named Amelia is tied to the case and doesn’t want to be found, so she hires Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) to put a stop to March’s investigation.

When Healy is attacked at his home by a couple of goons that are looking for Amelia, he teams up with March to find her. The two bumble their way into the party of a porn producer and discover a dead body and spot Amelia. The duo are thrown into a dangerous situation including a shoot out and being questioned by an angry United States Department of Justice official.

The Nice Guys is a fun and hilarious movie that has the duo of Gosling and Crowe trading funny lines with one another. Crowe who is usually in more serious films delivers some of the most humorous lines of the film. The movie ends on an interesting note that ties into the film’s title.


1. Nightcrawler (2014)


Jake Gyllenhaal delivers one of the best performances of his career in the 2014 film Nightcrawler. Gyllenhaal stars as Louis Bloom who is a creepy and unhinged con man that finds himself as a photojournalist for a news network. He enlists the help of Rick who is unemployed and desperately needs money. As Louis’ footage of murders and terrible accidents does well for the news network, he begins to tamper with crime scenes.

The movie’s ending shows just how much Louis has become fascinated with crime and how he can be the orchestrator of it happening. He no longer cares about others, but only of how the recorded footage would do exceptionally well for the news network and their ratings.

Gyllenhaal is beyond disturbing in this film as he plays a man who wants to profit off of the death and destruction of others. He races to each crime scene in the hope of being the first one there and to help improve the footage by designing how it looks himself. Nightcrawler is a nihilistic film that shows the depths that the media would go to tell a story.

Author Bio: Zane Castillo is a writer who enjoys writing about movies. He is a film noir buff and sci-fi enthusiast.