BBC recently developed their list of the top 100 films of the century. While I agreed with many of them, there were other films that I noticed were missing but were worthy of the list. Among those films were Drive (2011), Ex Machina (2015), and American Psycho (2000), some of the most beautiful, unique, and definitive films of my lifetime (I’m only 21, but this is still a big deal to me).
The first time I saw the film I knew it was special. It felt different than any movie I had seen previously, although it used similar plot themes. Director Nicolas Winding Refn effortlessly mixes the tropes of both classic film noir and car films, adds a modern, dreamlike atmosphere, resulting in a beautifully violent American neo-noir. The film manages to include elements of overdone plots in a way that feels new and unique.
Drive is incredibly stylish, including everything from the scorpion jacket worn by Ryan Gosling to the beautifully crafted cinematography. Although it’s a driving film, it’s full of sophistication and sincere emotion. Realistic rather than fantastic, you care about the storyline instead of mindless chase sequences and violent fights. Through the believable performances by actors such as Ryan Gosling, Bryan Cranston, and Cary Mulligan, the film is a one of a kind movie that should have been not only on the list, but fairly high up.
EX MACHINA (2015)
Ex Machina is my absolute favorite film. It is a brilliant, thought-inducing film that touches on both modern technology and gender roles. Alex Garland wrote and directed the sci-fi drama, which revolves around the idea of humanity. This sort-of twist on Frankenstein switches genders and updates the story to modern day. The film is narratively clever and aesthetically beautiful, although the plot itself is twisted, resulting in a grotesquely intriguing film.
The lighting of the film is exquisite, echoing the techniques of German expressionism. Full of shadows and distorting angles, the cinematography adds to the viewers growing feelings of discomfort as they watch the story unfold. The tension in the film builds slowly and naturally. The special effects are mesmerizing, convincing you that what is on the screen is real rather than being laughably fake. Sleek, ambiguous, and erotic, this commentary on male dominance and personal identity exudes originality. It deserves to be recognized as one of the best films of the century so far.
AMERICAN PSYCHO (2000)
This film barely even fits in the timeline of the 21st century, but BBC counted films from 2000 so I will too. Although I don’t think American Psycho is as deserving as Ex Machina or Drive, I do think it should be on the list. Dark, satirical, and haunting, American Psycho is a film that is memorable. The quick-witted film is a gruesome commentary on materialism and narcissism. The characters represent the indifference that Americans possess in regards to other people and the ways in which society has become too self-involved. It takes mundane, every day conversations and forces you to realize the mechanical ways in which people interact.
Christian Bale plays Patrick Bateman as socially inept, and so blunt it is laughable, evoking a dark humor in the audience. We laugh at his mannerisms, particularly in the scene where he kills a colleague with an ax while dancing to Huey Lewis and the News. The contrast between the two actions is a theme that continues throughout the whole film, which is what makes the audience feel so off-kilter. You laugh uncomfortably during the film and when it is finished you feel completely disoriented. The darkness of the plot mixed with elegant cinematography results in an unnerving beauty that viewers will not forget, which is why I think it’s one of the best films of the century.