While browsing elsewhere on the interwebs (reddit, perhaps?), I came across David Ehrlich’s picks for the best films of 2015. For the past five years, he’s compiled his annual list of favorites into a short (roughly ten-minute) videos that highlights why he loves these movies.

Because the Oscars will be announced today, I think it’d be fun to share all of Ehrlich’s picks for the past five years in one place. For a few of the movies, I’ve included my own comments.

More than anything, the following lists are a resource to help me find movies to watch. I hope you find them useful and interesting too.

So, here they are, the best movies from the past five years (from 2015 to 2011 in reverse chronological order). Titles in bold are films I’ve seen.

The Best Films of 2015

25. Girlhood
24. Tangerine
23. Mustang
22. Junun
21. The Forbidden Room
20. James White
19. The Mend
18. The Hateful Eight
17. Heaven Knows What
16. Black Coal, Thin Ice
15. Listen to Me Marlon
14. Anomalisa
13. Tokyo Tribe
12. Magic Mike XXL – So, Kim and I saw this in South Dakota. I was dreading it. I mean really dreading it. Turns out, I thought it was damn good, a celebration of female sexuality rather than something exploitive.
11. Clouds of Sils Maria
10. Mad Max: Fury Road – The reason I saw Magic Mike in South Dakota? This film. Everyone loves it, I know, but Kim and I thought it was awful. After I dragged her to see it (I’m a fan of the Mad Max series), she made me promise I’d see three chick flicks with her. Magic Mike was part of that payment. I’ve since re-watched Fury Road and I still don’t like it.
9. Mistress America
8. Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter
7. Eden
6. The Duke of Burgundy
5. A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence
4. The Look of Silence
3. Phoenix
2. World of Tomorrow
1. Carol

The Best Films of 2014

25. Lucy
24. We are the Best!
23. Timbuktu
22. Selma
21. Love is Strange
20. Listen Up Philip
19. Godzilla
18. Starred Up
17. Why Don’t You Play in Hell?
16. Mommy
15. The Babadook – Kim and I watched this on Halloween. Creepy.
14. Palo Alto
13. Ida
12. Goodbye to Language
11. Boyhood – Love all of Richard Linklater’s work, including this. So ambitious!
10. The Tale of the Princess Kaguya
9. Force Majeure
8. God Help the Girl
7. The Double
6. Only Lovers Left Alive
5. Gone Girl – I like David Fincher’s stuff and this was okay, but hasn’t stuck with me.
4. Nymphomaniac
3. Under the Skin
2. Inherent Vice
1. The Grand Budapest Hotel – Stylish and fun, but best of the year?

The Best Films of 2013

25. Frances Ha
24. The World’s End
23. The Broken Circle Breakdown
22. The Bling Ring
21. Pain & Gain
20. The Great Beauty
19. Blue Jasmine
18. Nebraska – Another great film from Alexander Payne.
17. Beyond the Hills
16. The Great Gatsby – I liked elements of this but thought much of it was just too gaudy, but that’s surely intentional based on the source material.
15. Stoker
14. The Act of Killing
13. Laurence Anyways
12. The Wolf of Wall Street
11. Upstream Color
10. Post Tenebras Lux
9. Leviathan
8. A Touch of Sin
7. At Berkeley
6. Spring Breakers
5. The Grandmaster
4. 12 Years a Slave – This film wasn’t bad but I didn’t think it was great either.
3. Inside Llewyn Davis
2. The Wind Rises – Although I love Hayao Miyazaki’s work and own this film, I still haven’t seen it.
1. Before Midnight – This series — Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, Before Midnight — is amazing. This installment is heartbreaking. I can relate to it so much…

The Best Films of 2012

25. Sound of Noise
24. Cosmopolis
23. Policeman
22 The Avengers – This film combines two things I hate: Joss Whedon and over-the-top CGI. I didn’t like it.
21. Shut Up and Play the Hits
20. Moonrise Kingdom – I’m a fan of Wes Anderson, but I haven’t seen this yet.
19. Oslo, August 31st
17. The Deep Blue Sea
15. Cloud Atlas – One of my favorite books but I’m reluctant to see this.
14. The Cabin in the Woods – Did I mention I don’t like Joss Whedon? Kim and I started watching this on Halloween but didn’t finish.
13. Goodbye First Love
12. Wuthering Heights
11. Alps
10. Girl Walk All Day
9. Anna Karenina
8. The Comedy
7. Something in the Air
6. The Master
5. Django Unchained – I didn’t expect to like this nearly as much as I did.
4. Zero Dark Thirty
3. Amour – Kim and I watched this after it was on many “best of lists”. It was interesting but ultimately pretty forgettable.
2. Like Someone in Love
1. Holy Motors

The Best Films of 2011

25. The Descendants – Love Alexander Payne, and I love this movie.
24. Buddha Mountain
23. The Trip
22. The Time That Remains
21. Drive
19. Pina
19. We Need to Talk About Kevin
18. Once Upon a Time in Anatolia
17. Shame
16. How to Die in Oregon
15. Footnote
14. The Interrupters
13. A Separation
12. The Turin Horse
11. The Adventures of Tintin – Are you kidding me? Look, I’ve loved Tintin since discovering him in the fourth grade. I’ve read all of his adventures and used to be a serious collector. This movie sucks. It’s a lousy adaptation that utterly fails to capture the spirit of the Tintin stories.
10. The Girls with the Dragon Tattoo – Excellent.
9. The Skin I Live In
8. Miss Bala
7. The Loneliest Planet
6. Hugo – A lot of fun.
5. Melancholia
4. The Arbor
3. Kill List
2. The Tree of Life – I enjoy Malick’s films and their thoughtful pacing, but I haven’t seen this yet.
1. This is Not a Film

As a footnote, my favorite movie from 2015 was Ex Machina, Alex Garland’s exploration of what it means to be human. Ostensibly, it’s science fiction. In reality, it’s more about psychology and philosophy. I really enjoyed it, and would love to see a sequel.

I liked the new Star Wars too, of course. How could I not? I’m a nerd, and this was a return to the vibe of the first movie, which wrapped me in its arms when I was but a wee lad…

One Reply to “The Best Films of the Past Five Years”

  1. ESI says:

    Seems like there’s little correlation between “best” and “best-selling”. 🙂

    I LOVED Gatsby and LDC in it. Also saw/heard of most of the ones you note.

    The vast majority of them I’ve never heard of.

    Then again, I’m an Avengers fan so that show’s the depth of my interests.

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