Male friendships have some elements to them that kind of distance them from female friendships. Often things go unspoken and affection is underplayed. Often enough this dynamic can make for very interesting films.
Though male friendship and love (in a non-sexual way) isn’t depicted too often in a way that rings true and honest, when it is and when a director truly understands the subtleties in the pride and care often displayed it makes for relationships between characters, that can’t be described better in any medium but film.
The genres of these films vary from comedies to drama to action films, yet what they share are glances, body language and subtext that subtly show us what these characters aren’t saying. If that isn’t cinematic, then what is?
20. The World’s End (2013, Edgar Wright)
When compiling this list, it was hard to only go with one film from Edgar Wright’s “Cornetto Trilogy”. All three films have a strong theme of friendship running through them, but while the first two films have a wonderful bond between Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, they seeming a way to be a sweetly naive and innocent portrayal of what friendship is like.
“The World’s End” on the other hand, though still being a comedy, has a much sadder look at friendship, especially on meeting old friends again after a period of estrangement. Pegg plays a man stuck in the past, while Frost’s character doesn’t want anything more than to forget his past.
That already makes for a very interesting chemistry, but throw in there group of friends (all played by wonderful actors) and you get a group dynamic that truly feels real. These relationships help a film that fully plunges into it’s genre to still stay rooted, and really makes it the main focus, turning a film, that is already wonderfully funny into something bittersweet.
19. Django Unchained (2013, Quentin Tarantino)
Usually Quentin Tarantino’s films are about men’s pride and their reputation. The characters often tae most pride in the picture they’ve made other people have of them and so it’s rather rare to see a friendship like the one between Dr. King Schult and Django in his films.
The friendship starts out rather unevenly with Schultz freeing Django, who is a slave. But soon the dynamic of their relationship changes and although Schultz is a mentor to Django he soon catches up and impresses the bounty hunter. The two grow very close and take on Calvin Candie, a scrupulous slave owner.
Tarantino has some scenes that test their friendship and seeing the two of them interact, even in scenes of slight conflict is a marvel. The chemistry between Jamie Foxx and Christoph Waltz is spot on, as the bring Tarantino’s wonderful dialogue to life and those two alone already make the film a joy to watch.
18. The Shawshank Redemption (1994, Frank Darabont)
Often films about prisons are about friendship. Men bond over few words and sometimes have to trust each other with their freedom when planning an escape together.
“The Shawshank Redemption” is a bit of a different best though. Yes the two main characters also slowly get to know each other and respect each other, but neither of them is cool or doesn’t say much.
Instead we observe a truly warm bond of friendship and this friendship fills the characters with hope. In a dark place like that hope is what keeps them driving and so in a way they both drive each other, striving for a better life outside the prison walls. And in the end the film rewards us with one of the most heartwarming endings ever seen in cinema.
17. Trainspotting (1996, Danny Boyle)
Has Danny Boyle ever mad a better film than “Trainspotting”? After 20 years it’s no big surprise he is returning to the world to make a sequel and the news is very exciting, still one has to wonder what it has to add to the first film. One thing is quite sure though: they better not try to recapture the feeling of pure life that “Trainspotting” has.
The plot of the film is quite a loose one, and it really is more about capturing a certain feeling and scene. We follow a group of drug addicts in Edinburgh as they live through their daily misadventures, drug trips and eventually also experience some tragedy and crime.
Some scenes, like the opening, have already deservedly taken their place in pop culture and the film also introduced the world to the talent of Ewan McGregor. It’s a cult film that really deserves to be watched, and if you’Ve already seen it . why not give it another shot these days?
16. Mystic River (2003, Clint Eastwood)
Clint Eastwood has had an incredible directing career, which nowadays is quite underrated. Even though his last couple of films have been rather disappointing, the man has had solid films in every decade since the 1970s.
After late Oscar fame for “Unforgiven” one could’ve thought he’D run out of steam, but this 2003 film proved the contrary. It helps that Eastwood cast the likes of Sean Penn, Tim Robbins and Kevin Bacon as three childhood friends with a disturbing event in the past.
This film is more about a past friendship though and the three men don’t treat each other too warmly and also don’t trust each other. Of course the whole things leads to a tragedy, and Eastwood really shows us just how good of a director he is, by engaging us, tricking us and making us feel each twist and turn of the story.
15. Easy Rider (1969, Dennis Hopper)
“Easy Rider” is by nowadays more a legend than a film. Known for being one of the films that help kick off New Hollywood, it’s also the film that is probably most connected to the hippie era.
The story revolves around two bikers: Wyatt and Billy, who sell some cocaine and decide to go on a road trip with the money they received. They encounter many different people embracing the hippie lifestyle of free love and drugs, but also more hostile Americans, who don’t agree with their lifestyle. The bikers also befriend a lawyer named George, who they introduce into their lifestyle and marijuana.
Though they try to live in their utopia of freedom, they soon have to learn that many people harshly disagree and feel threatened by their lifestyle. Tragedy strikes and we painfully need to watch these idealists lose all illusions about their country.