1. Mommy, 2014
Antoine-Olivier Pilon portrays Steve, a violent ADHD adolescent who recently left a juvenile care facility after setting fire to the school cafeteria and injuring a fellow student. One critic aptly dubbed him “Rupert Grint on speed.” Similar to Lorelai Gilmore on speed, his mother Diane, played by Anne Dorval, is a type of her. It would be an understatement to say that when they cross paths, sparks fly.
But assistance does arrive from unexpected quarters: “Die” befriends the anxious teacher who lives across the street, Kyla, who later becomes enmeshed in this crazy, raging mess.
French-Canadian don’t call him a hipster director Xavier Dolan’s fifth full-length film, Mommy, won the Cannes Jury Prize for originality. The format is 1:1 “portrait,” but occasionally a burst of excitement will crack open the frame. The soundtrack, which features artists like the Counting Crows, Celine Dion, and Eiffel 65’s Blue (Da Ba Dee), sugarcoats the violence on screen.
2. 2017 On Body and Soul
The flawlessly crafted On Body and Soul won the 2017 Berlin Film Festival and is a Best Foreign Language Film nominee for the Academy Awards. Can two people have the same dream at the same time? and cross paths in the same dream?
Ildikó Enyedi, a Hungarian director, explores this possibility in a unique drama set against the unlikely setting of a slaughterhouse. Endre (Géza Morcsányi), a middle-aged, unassuming manager, can’t help but notice Maria (Alexandra Borbély), the new hygiene manager for the abattoir, when she first starts working there.
They fall in love in their dreams—as two deer in a mysterious, snow-covered forest—not as you might expect, during a fateful mandatory hygiene inspection. It was probably necessary for the Hungarian director to take an 18-year break from filmmaking before creating something as striking and outlandish as On Body and Soul.
3. 2017 God Own Country
We believe Francis Lee’s spellbinding debut is a better film as a result of being less privileged and pretentious than Call me by Your Name. In God’s Own Country, Josh O’Connor plays farmer’s son Johnny Saxby, who is confined to working on the family farm.
Johnny dulls his frustration and misery by bingeing at the bar and engaging in aggressive sex with strange men; his true desire is more subdued by his family’s emotional callousness than by the prevalent homophobia in this society. Things only get worse for him when his cold, strict father has a stroke.
Then, during lambing season, assistance shows up in the form of Gheorghe (Alec Secareanu), a watchful, radiant, and stunningly handsome Romanian seasonal worker. At first, Johnny feels threatened by Gheorghe’s warmth of character and professional competence. However, as Gheorghe helps Johnny feel, love, and see the beauty in the landscape around him, Johnny’s aggression gives way to passion as they retreat to the hills to fix a stone wall. God’s own nation. A lovely, emotional, and passionate debut!
4. Following the Storm, 2016–2017
A Good Movie to Watch features many films by the renowned Japanese auteur director Hirokazu Koreeda. Why? Because, like all the films we present here, his work is frequently obscure but astoundingly good. The same applies to After the Storm. It deals with the subject of family dynamics, regret, and disappointment, much like his other works, particularly Like Father, Like Son, Shoplifters, and Nobody Knows.
His films are delicate, understated dioramas rather than dramatic downers, though. Ryota (Hiroshi Abe), a former successful author, is now a private detective who gambles away his meagre earnings rather than providing for his children. His actions have made his ex-wife and son more and more hostile, and one day, during a storm, they are all trapped in Ryota’s childhood home. Koreeda’s works, which subtly explore ideas of generational bonding and conflict, are hypnotic and stay with you long after you’ve finished watching.
11. 2018 Phantom Thread
Daniel Day-Lewis plays the lead in this poignant love story. He portrays a prosperous dressmaker in post-World War II London who develops feelings for a waitress while out in the country. It’s challenging to describe the plot of this film without giving it away, but I can tell you how it made me feel:
it kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. Day-Lewis’ portrayal of the character is so expertly done that I had the impression that every move and word he made was deliberate. Expect gorgeous costumes, lovely country scenes, and an overall stunning aesthetic experience.
12. It’s Just the End of the World, 2016-2019
It’s Only the End of the World, which is based on a play and takes place over the course of one afternoon, tells the story of a successful writer who returns to his small-town in rural Canada with shocking news. But before he can say anything, he is confronted by the remnants of his life before moving out and the eccentric but likeable personalities of his family. Canadian director Xavier Dolan, one of the most intriguing filmmakers working today, is the creator of this film.
It’s Only the End of the World has a much more significant story unfolding than his plot-heavy Mommy, which won him the Cannes Jury Prize at age 25. It examines relationships between brothers, between sons and mothers, between sisters, etc.
Don’t go into it anticipating what will happen or waiting for the outcome. The point of this movie, however, lies in how director Xavier Dolan handles his recurring themes of family through a cast that includes actors like Mario Cotillard, Vincent Cassel, and Léa Seydoux, among many others.