5. The Lost City of Z (2016)
Outside of blockbuster franchises like Twilight and Batman, The Lost City of Z is arguably one of the more straightforward movies starring Robert Pattinson. It plays out like a classic adventure film instead of an experimental arthouse drama, and while that won’t appease people looking for something more daring, it should keep the general public pretty entertained. This is especially true considering the historical and biographical aspects.
Not only is this a fascinating adventure movie; it’s a fascinating adventure movie based on real events. The protagonist is Percy Fawcett, a real British geographer who disappeared following his efforts to uncover a mysterious lost city. His final days remain shrouded in mystery, which means that some of the scenes remain speculative. That being said, the historical background is generally riveting.
Obviously a good story can do a lot to enhance a movie, but The Lost City of Z is also just very well-made. Director James Gray has an eye for detail, and it helps that the accompanying screenplay is also pretty dense. Again, it doesn’t attempt to reinvent the wheel, but it does need to. There’s plenty here to keep viewers invested.
4. High Life (2018)
Claire Denis has never been interested in popcorn entertainment. Even when she’s given the opportunity to direct a sci-fi horror film, she chooses to create something that rests comfortably in-between confounding and gratifying. High Life is not as straightforward as Alien or The Martian. It doesn’t aspire to be that kind of movie. It’s a nonlinear maze that will force most viewers to deconstruct every aspect.
At its most basic, High Life focuses on a group of criminals who are sent on an intergalactic suicide mission. The most simplistic plot synopsis makes it sound like an average, run-of-the-mill science fiction drama. In reality, it’s a dense, thematically complex character study with distinctive characters and a mind bending story.
Denis has always been polarizing. If you haven’t gotten on board with her previous releases, this won’t change your mind. On the other hand, if you can handle a little complexity, you’ll probably enjoy High Life.
3. The Lighthouse (2019)
Robert Eggers knows how to defy expectations. His movies have never confined themselves to one specific genre, and The Lighthouse is no exception. If you go in expecting a horror movie, you will be surprised. If you go in expecting a psychological thriller, you will be surprised. Basically, The Lighthouse never goes where you want it to, and that’s what makes it such a masterpiece.
The premise is simple; two lighthouse keepers must remain sane while isolated in an eerie lighthouse on an isolated island. They only have each other, and it turns out that they don’t exactly care for one another. This toxic relationship is probably the most prevalent conflict, but the feelings of isolation prove to be another hurdle for the eccentric protagonists.
This brief description makes it sound like a basic psychological thriller, but it’s not that easy to label. The Lighthouse also injects pitch black comedy and folkloric horror into the mix. In the wrong hands, this mishmash of ideas could have been disastrous, but Eggers makes it work.
The Lighthouse is an experiment gone right. It’s a gleefully obtuse arthouse movie with intelligence to spare. On top of that, Dafoe and Pattinson deliver two of their best performances ever. As is the case with every Eggers movie, it isn’t as accessible as more mainstream offerings, but most viewers should be able to get on board with this particular brand of weirdness.
2. The Batman (2022)
The stakes were high for the first solo Batman movie in a decade. While everything seemed promising following the release of the first trailer, there’s no escaping the fact that this is a beloved property with decades upon decades of history. Director Matt Reeves had a lot to prove, and so did Pattinson. Following the mixed critical reception of the Batfleck era, the cast and crew had to try their hardest to earn back the goodwill of the general public.
Good news – they did. At the time of writing, The Batman sits at 86% on Rotten Tomatoes. Critics have praised the more methodical storytelling and darker tone. Audience reaction has been similarly positive. The film currently sits comfortably in the Letterboxd top 250. To put it simply, this is the Batman movie people have been asking for since Nolan’s trilogy concluded.
Although Pattinson’s casting initially received some pushback, his performance is excellent. More importantly, it’s unique. We’ve seen the same outgoing billionaire in every live action Batman movie. This time around, viewers are treated to a more psychologically tormented version of the famed vigilante. Bruce Wayne has skeletons in his closet, and Pattinson wants you to know that.
The Batman stands out because it feels so different compared to the comic book adaptations we’re used to. The MCU changed superhero movies, and even though Marvel tends to deliver, it’s refreshing to see something that’s so willing to go against the grain. The Batman is a thrillingly complex noir that just so happens to feature a man dressed up like a bat.
1. Good Time (2017)
The Safdie brothers have a knack for creating stupendous crime thrillers. Their films are characterized by manic editing, anxiety-inducing conflicts, and brilliant lead performances. In spite of their similarities, they have all distinctive qualities that make them worth watching.
2017’s Good Time absolutely features everything listed above. It’s a fast-paced thriller that never attempts to give its viewers time to breathe. To some, this might sound like a negative. In reality, most viewers will be too entranced to care about the world around them. You won’t need time to breathe because the Safdies will have you right in the palm of their hands.
From the neon-soaked visuals to the lightning-faced pacing, Good Time does everything it possibly can to set itself apart from the competition. Even when you look at the rest of the Safdie movies, there’s nothing else quite like Good Time. It’s a singular entity that remains impossible to replicate.
It also happens to feature the best Robert Pattinson performance, bar none. Pattinson commands the screen by being a lovable, and simultaneously detestable, criminal. There are countless layers to unpack as one scene transitions to the next. This is the movie to show someone who doesn’t have faith in Pattinson’s acting chops.
All in all, Good Time deserves the critical adoration it has received. If Pattinson’s presence isn’t enough to convince you, maybe the heaps of praise will.