I love “the classics”. You know what movies I’m talking about.
LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, THE GODFATHER, STAR WARS, JAWS, TAXI DRIVER, THE THIRD MAN… This list could go on and on. Many movies come out and are forgotten. Others come out and enjoy a moment in the sun before being relegated to “that movie was pretty good!”
And then there are “the classics.”
These are the films that stick with us. You can put one on at anytime and whatever you were planning on doing during those two and a half hours melts away. These movies have everything you could possibly want from cinema. They are the movies you want to show your new girlfriend or boyfriend. The movies you can’t wait to show your kids. The movie that is just waiting for a rainy afternoon so that you can put one on and experience it all over again.
It usually takes decades for us to suss out what a “classic” film is. That’s fair. When a movie comes out it’s hard to tell what it will mean for you ten years down the line. I was certain ten years ago that I would be watching LUCKY NUMBER SLEVIN for the rest of my life. I haven’t seen it since and I’m okay with that.
There have been, however, several films that have come out in the last decade that are going to be classics. You can mark my words.
These are going to be all-timers.
OBVIOUS CHILD – 2014
(dir. Gillian Robespierre)
This is what a modern romantic comedy should be: Funny, relatable, sweet, dirty, confusing, and above all else… honest. It’s not a complicated movie, but Jenny Slate’s Donna Stern is a unique and wonderful voice for the modern twentysomething. It’s also one of the funniest movies I’ve seen in a very long time. The movie does feature an unwanted pregnancy, and I love that the main character chooses and abortion and that is that, but it isn’t all about that pregnancy. It’s about figuring out your own patterns, the mistakes you keep making, and trying to find a way to get out of that cycle.
THE HUNT – 2012
(dir. Thomas Vinterberg)
THE HUNT is one of the best movies that I have ever seen. It’s a frustrating story about a young girl who says, without merit, that a teaching assistant at her school sexually abused her. From there the entire town turns on this good man, which begins to plant dark seeds in him that will sprout into anger and violence. Mads Mikkelsen, who has played excellent villains in CASINO ROYALE and HANNIBAL, is a revelation as Lucas, the good man in question. You know that he didn’t do anything and you begin to root for him to retaliate and bring himself justice as the movies continues. There is also a poignant subplot with his son, who comes to visit, and his best friend, who happens to be the father of the young girl. I can’t even write about the movie without getting angry and wanting to watch it immediately in equal measure.
BLACK SWAN – 2010
(dir. Darren Aronofsky)
A horror movie about what it takes to create something truly great is a scary thing for other artists. Sometimes you don’t want to think that you must give everything you are to do something amazing. BLACK SWAN tells you that it takes absolutely everything that you have and are to be great. In his most Cronenbergian film yet, Aronofsky paints an elegant picture of an artist’s slipping reality in the face of greatness. Natalie Portman has never been better than her turn as Nina Sayers, a naive young ballerina who goes through a harrowing metamorphosis to become the Black Swan. There are also astonishing turns by Barbara Hershey, Vincent Cassel, Mila Kunis, and Winona Ryder. This is a dark, tortured film that inspires you to push yourself harder to be better. That’s a rare and beautiful thing.
ZODIAC – 2007
(dir. David Fincher)
There has already been one David Fincher film in The New Classics and I guarantee you that there will be another later on. The reason is that David Fincher makes incredible, expertly crafted, watchable movies. There also may not be a better movie in his filmography than ZODIAC. This epic crime procedural takes place over the course of fourteen years and deals with the serial killings of the Zodiac. It has an all-star cast with Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey Jr., Chloe Sevigny, Anthony Edwards, Brian Cox, John Carroll Lynch, Phillip Baker Hall, Elias Koteas, and a ton of others. The story follows three men who are wrapped up in the investigation of the Zodiac and tells the story of how this investigation causes them to lose everything. Even the investigation itself. The film draws you into it’s obsession with the Zodiac killer and makes you as invested in it’s conclusion as it’s leads. This is David Fincher’s best serial killer movie.
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY – 2014
(dir. James Gunn)
You could add several of the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies to this list, but it is GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY that takes the cake. Despite the introduction of the infinity stones that will come into play later in the MCU, it’s the most stand-alone piece of work that they’ve done thus far. It could easily not take place in the same universe. James Gunn has given us a gleeful modern action epic that could stand alongside your all-time sci-fi favorites. The writing is astonishing, each and every joke is set up expertly and paid off perfectly, and the visuals are refreshingly colorful and exciting. Above all else, however, it is a wonderful character piece. I can’t think of another summer blockbuster that has something as emotional as drunk Rocket contemplating his existence while considering shooting everyone to death in an alien casino. It also introduced us to Groot, Drax, Gamora, Peter Quill, Yondu, and a host of other characters that I’m beyond excited to reunite with when the sequel comes out in a couple of years. It’ll be like getting back together with family. A quippy, violent, complicated family.