Posted by: ckckred | August 8, 2016

The 10 Best Movies of the Past 5 Years


To celebrate Cinematic’s 5th Anniversary, I’ve put together my 10 favorite films of the past five years, between August 4th, 2011 and August 4th, 2016. During this time we’ve seen some veterans like Michael Haneke and the Coen brothers continue to hit home runs as well as newcomers like Jeremy Saulnier and Damien Chazelle make some of the most startling original work in recent years.  There are certainly many great films that just barely missed the list (Zero Dark ThirtySon of Saul, and Boyhood are some of the few I regretted cutting out), and hopefully the next five years will be just as good.

  1. Gone Girl (David Fincher, 2014)

David Fincher’s latest feature immediately became renown for its midway twist, but what stood out to me in Gone Girl was Fincher’s eye for Kubrickian craftsmanship. The detail and order is so finely tuned that only makes the film all the more powerful. Gone Girl is Fincher’s most intriguing and compelling work since his magnum opus Zodiac and a continued demonstration of the filmmaker’s prowess.

  1. Inside Llewyn Davis (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2013)

The Coen brothers’ tale of a failed folk singer stars Oscar Isaac as the eponymous protagonist who unwillingly stumbles from misfortune to misfortune. Though its gloominess offset more casual fans, Inside Llewyn Davis is a sharp and clever feature that’s one of the duo’s most poignant pictures yet.

  1. Whiplash (Damien Chazelle, 2014)

Imagine if Full Metal Jacket had been set in a jazz band classroom and you would have gotten Whiplash, a frantic and wild tale about the limits of devotion. Featuring a powerhouse performance by J. K. Simmons, Whiplash is an excellent ode to jazz as well to the lengths of what it takes to become a legend.

  1. A Separation (Asghar Farhadi, 2011)

The recent death of Abbas Kiarostami has had the world search for an heir to the great humanist’s throne. In this writer’s opinion, no one stands as a better successor than Aghar Farhadi, and A Separation may be the best example to why the director carries on Kiarostami’s legacy. Farhadi has the unique ability of constructing films that feature no villain or definitive obstacle; though his characters are always in conflict, they are never malicious or unjust in their intent and instead find themselves in a situation they cannot avoid. A Separation is one of the most fascinating and strongest human dramas of this decade thus far and a movie that reflects both the best and worst of society.

  1. Holy Motors (Leos Carax, 2012)

In my review for Leos Carax’s Holy Motors, I deemed the picture as the collaboration between David Lynch and Terry Gilliam that never happened. Containing the frantic energy of Looney Tunes to avant-garde cinema, Holy Motors is a celebration of showmanship, a movie that can alternate between laughs and horror within a blink of an eye.

  1. Green Room (Jeremy Saulnier, 2016)

The most recent film on this list, Green Room is a violent, terrifying thriller that’s as provocative as Haneke and as sly as Carpenter. Saulnier captures both the ethos and authenticity of hardcore to create one of the most maddeningly fascinating and brutal pictures in recent years.

  1. The Hateful Eight (Quentin Tarantino, 2015)

Quentin Tarantino’s ninth film has earned accusations from critics for being overly bombastic and self-indulgent. Those people are correct in their assessment, but that’s the beauty of The Hateful Eight, taking upon Tarantino-staples of violence and snappy dialogue to their fullest extent. Projected in gorgeous 70mm footage and featuring a magnificent score by Ennio Morricone himself, The Hateful Eight is a wild roller coaster of a film that exhibits Tarantino at the peak of his form.

  1. Amour (Michael Haneke, 2012)

It may be surprising that Michael Haneke, who has established a career based on sadism and human viciousness in films like Funny Games and Time of the Wolf, would make a movie called Amour. Though Amour at times is difficult to watch due to its realistic portrayal of assisted suicide, it is the first Haneke picture that puts morality into play front and center as its characters struggle to do the right thing. A new turn for the director, Amour is amongst Cache, Code Unknown, and The White Ribbon as Haneke’s strongest work.

  1. The Master (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2012)

In his review for The Master, J. Hoberman declared that the film “confirms Paul Thomas Anderson as the only American filmmaker of his generation who could be mistaken for a junior member of Hollywood’s golden age.” Indeed, Anderson exhibits the power and Americana that defined directors such as Coppola, Scorsese, and Altman through The Master, an epic as sprawling as The Godfather, as emotional as Mean Streets, and as deep as The Long Goodbye. The Master is a beautifully surreal and dreamy piece on religion, sexuality, and the human psyche, and a film I suspect scholars will be debating over for a long time.

  1. her (Spike Jonze, 2013)

While we’ve certainly have had a platitude of great films within the past several years, no film has quite resonated with me quite like Spike Jonze’s her. Continuing along Jonze’s line of sadsack protagonists, Joaquin Phoenix stars as a lonely writer who finds solace and romance with an A.I. program voiced by Scarlett Johansson. Cleverly satiric and emotionally devastating, her is the most unique spin on the sci-fi genre in decades, and like Being John Malkovich and Adaptation achieves a poeticsense of wonder and fantasy.


  1. Wow what a great crop of titles here. I absolutely love the #1 pick, as Her continues to be one of my all-time favorites, such a fascinating and strange film with a great melancholic mood. Also really cool to see Holy Motors, Green Room, The Hateful Eight and A Separation on here. I think I’ve only seen Farhadi’s About Elle so far but I have to say I was blown away by it. Must see more of his stuff.

    • Thanks Tom. I definitely recommend checking out Farhadi’s The Past. It is very much in the form of A Separation and it’s just as good.

  2. I dont think Gone Girl is going to hold up too well over time. As for Hateful Eight, I agree with those people who argue its too self-indulgent, but unlike you I dont think that adds to the beauty of the film. I think it would have worked better if he scaled back on that stuff a bit (mostly the violence).

    • The first time I saw Gone Girl I enjoyed it but was a little mixed on Neil Patrick Harris’ performance. But after reflecting on it and watching it again, I’m convinced it’s one of Fincher’s more fulfilling films.

      I thought that unlike Django, which went on too long in its final act, The Hateful Eight earned its conclusion (and by extent the violence) through the slow deliberation beforehand. It’s neck and neck with Kill Bill for me as Tarantino’s best PF work.

      • Oh its certainly better than Django.

  3. Nice top 10 and great choices. I’d have to give some careful thought to adding any to this list but Whiplash stands out as one I’d definitely agree with. Thought it was a terrific film. Her was excellent too but it might not make my top 10.

    I think I’d have to find a place for director Denis Villeneuve as he’s been a stand out for me in the last five years. So I’d have to pick one from Prisoners, Enemy and Sicario. I think I concur with your call on Paul Thomas Anderson even though I really like Inherent Vice.

    A Separation and Amour – great calls. Need to see Holy Motors and Green Room.

    • Thanks! Whiplash was a great movie and the fact that it’s only at number eight shows how many good movies we’ve gotten in the past couple of years.

      Have not gotten a chance to see any of Villeneuve’s stuff yet, though I do want to see Sicario. Loved Inherent Vice as well, and I think I’d put it as a honorable mention.

      Check our Green Room and Holy Motors right away. Both of them will blow your mind.

  4. Bless your soul for being able to sit through The Master. I found it incredibly dull.

    • I know a lot of people found The Master off-putting but that movie captivated me in every second. No one makes more fascinating films now than PTA.

  5. Congratulations and some interesting choices. Not all movie I love, but where I understand why you like them…well, except Holy Motors 😉

    • Thanks! I know Holy Motors wasn’t a lot of people’s thing, but I felt it was an excellent picture.

  6. Fantastic list of movies, Amour is one of my favourite movies. Really good read!

    • Thanks! I’m a huge Haneke fan (Cache is one of my favorite movies) and Amour is amongst his best.

  7. Great list man. I’ve surprisingly seen all the movies on it.
    Love; The Master, Green Room, The Hateful Eight, Whiplash, Gone Girl, A Separation.
    Her and Inside Llewyn Davis kinda fall on the middle end of the spectrum for me. I like them a great deal, but I wouldn’t say I love them or found them particularly memorable.
    Amour and Holy Motors however, I am not the biggest fan of. Especially Holy Motors which was a little too strange for me.

    A few films that would make my list if I had one:
    Birdman, Drive, Oslo, August 31st, The Wolf of Wall Street and Mad Max: Fury Road

    • Thanks! I was debating for the longest time whether to choose The Master or her as my number one pick, but ended up giving her a slight edge. I know Holy Motors wasn’t a lot of people’s thing but I thought it was an amazing movie.

      I really liked Wolf, Mad Max, and Drive, though I was not a fan of Birman (though I do realize I am in the minority when it comes to my assessment of that picture).

      • Dude Birdman pissed me off the more I watched it. It just felt so happy with itself, but apart from Keaton and the fancy cinematography, there isn’t much.

      • Good to see someone agrees with me. I hated Birdman, there was absolutely no subtlety or nuance to that picture and the way how it portrayed critics was just really stupid.

      • I had the same problem with the portrayal of critics too. It really was dumb, and like you said, NO subtlety – for the entire film. God, the first line is like “this room smells like balls” haha.. ha… right. I really dislike that film man heh, not as much as The Revenant which I didn’t like but Birdman actively pisses me off hahaha

      • I remember watching that scene and rolling my eyes. The characterization of critics as a whole of just mean-spirited trolls is just a lame jab by Iñárritu. And the crass way Naomi Watts’ character was treated just really disgusted me, not to mention the lame one-liners.

        Birdman’s actually the reason why I haven’t watched The Revenant yet. Iñárritu to me just seems incapable of any subtlety.

      • If it is his lack of subtly that annoys you, stay far away from The Revanent. Nothing about that freaking movie is subtle at all, I still can’t fathom the love for it

      • I hated Babel as well for all the same reasons. The guy to me is just incapable of any subtlety whatsoever and his movies are all style and no substance.

      • that last phrase sums up The Revenant perfectly. I’d definitely skip that one if those are your thoughts on the guy, cos its exactly that. All style, no substance. And its three goddamn hours long too.

      • I’m glad someone else thinks Iñárritu is a fraud. On lighter news, I saw this earlier and it had me smiling all day:

  8. “I deemed the picture as the collaboration between David Lynch and Terry Gilliam that never happened”

    How have I not seen this film?!?!?!

    A Separation sounds really good too. Glad you put Whiplash and Inside Llewlyn Davis in there. But no Son of Saul! 😦 Hehe I guess you have to leave out a bunch if you are picking the best ten from five years.

    And its crazy how divisive The Hateful Eight was. I thought it was one of his worst, and thought the same thing after re-watching it. But hey that’s just me 🙂

    • You’ve got to watch Holy Motors dude. It’s like Terry Gilliam on steroids. A Separation’s pretty solid too, Farhadi’s been making some of the best movies in recent years.

      I did feel very bad about leaving Son of Saul off, but there were a lot of great movies from the past five years.

      I spent the last couple of months rewatching some of Tarantino’s past work and I think The Hateful Eight is neck and neck with Kill Bill as his best Pulp Fiction picture.

      • I’ll have to give The Hateful Eight another try I think.

        Terry Gilliam on steroids. Goddamn man, I gotta get this. I think I saw it in a store the other day, if not I’ll get it off ebay. I love physical copies of the blu-rays, I dread the day they simply disappear, which seems inevitable eh?

  9. Ooooh I LOVE your #1 pick. I absolutely loved ‘Her’… it was such an emotional experience for me watching it on the big screen!

    A Separation is one I still need to watch soon. Interesting you only had one film from 2016, which I haven’t seen yet. I just posted my top 10 from the first half of the year and I could see a couple of them make my BEST list from the past 5 years.

    • Her has resonated with me very well. It was a very close call between it and The Master but I ended up edging out the former.

      Definitely check out A Separation. Farhadi’s one of the best and most interesting filmmakers working today.

      2016 is actually pretty solid this year. Though I haven’t seen any memorable films this summer, I loved Green Room, Knight of Cups, and Weiner, and really enjoyed Hail Caesar, The Lobster, Everybody Wants Some, and Keanu.

  10. Very interesting list. I did a similar top 50 of the last five years a while back. Happy saying Amour and A Separation had prominent places on my lists as well. I think the only film you mentioned that I had major problems with was Holy Motors. It drove me nuts. Wasn’t crazy about Her, Hateful Eight, or The Master but found things to like in each.

    Fun, fun, list.

    • Thanks man. Amour and A Separation were both great movies. I know you weren’t big on Holy Motors, but that film was so hypnotically fascinating for myself that I couldn’t leave it off the list.

      • The one scene in Holy Motors that I adored was the accordion jam in the church. I bet I’ve watched that scene 50 times on YouTube.

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