|The English Patient
|In the Mood for Love
|Wong Kar Wai
|The Lives of Others
|Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
|Do the Right Thing
The English Patient
Controversial to pick this one out of Minghella's many excellent works, but for me this is the one. Rich cinematography, gorgeous performances from Binoche, Andrews, Scott Thomas and an arguably career-best from Fiennes, and a tightly woven screenplay that deftly handles jumps in time, make The English Patient one of Minghella's best.
In the Mood for Love
Vibrant and bold photography and swimming in longing and sexual tension, it is a reminder of how well style and substance can merge and aid each other.
Revolutionary in its subversion and in its centering of a Black African woman, Sembène's first feature, is one of my favorites: I call it the original Get Out. And how wildly contemporary it still is, over 50 years later: African disillusionment in the west, and with race, class, gender, it is sadly evergreen.
Steve McQueen’s gripping feature took my breath away in its relentless, can’t-look-away pursuit of authenticity. Fassbender is explosive and tender as Bobby Sands and McQueen directs with boldness, assuredness and care.
The Lives of Others
This film pulses with all the mess of humanity: jealousy, paranoia, sex, longing. But it juxtaposes it so beautifully with the dull, sterile East Germany of 1984, rife with state surveillance that feels eerily similar to today. What happens to us when we are watched unknowingly? And knowingly? Such a sophisticated and well-executed narrative, it's hard to believe this was Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's first feature.
A deep character study folded gently into a tightly conceived legal thriller, with searing performances by Denis O'Hare, Tom Wilkinson, Tilda Swinton and led by George Clooney who is firing on all cylinders. It's got visual imagery and allegory, it is both compelling cinema AND utterly watchable, which is for me the gold standard. With this film Tony Gilroy cemented himself in my mind as someone whose work I will always watch.
Don’t @ me! This is a pitch perfect romantic comedy— the script is iron clad and it’s a stellar example of the thrills of adaptation. Just because it’s popular doesn’t mean it isn’t great. Amy Heckerling struck absolute gold with this iconic film.
This unapologetic romp, shot with verve by Rachel Morrison, is a true testament to ‘black boy joy.’ Another tight script, with a lovely rom com subplot, this film for me is an easy winner.
Do the Right Thing
Truly one of the greats, Spike Lee executed this film perfectly: ingenious cinematography that not only dazzled but actually heightened the story, a perfectly woven screenplay, and blockbusting performances from Lee, Bill Nunn, Samuel L Jackson, Giancarlo Esposito, Rosie Perez, and John Turturro (I know I basically just listed the whole cast but man, they were firing on all cylinders).
I love this film because it is both haunting and also hopeful. Gorgeous photography and a restrained use of effects and music make for a really sophisticated and impactful film. Mati Diop is part of an African new wave that inspires me both as a filmmaker and as a viewer.