3. Drive (2011) Directed By: Nicolas Winding Refn
A sparse story that doesn’t work the mystery angle is a rare one. Even rarer is when it’s a good one. In Drive, Ryan Gosling plays the nameless Driver, a mechanic by day and getaway driver by night. He falls for his neighbor (Carey Mulligan), who is married to an ex-felon (Oscar Isaac). When Isaac’s character gets into trouble, Driver takes things into his own hands to protect them.
Drive is neo-noir at its finest. Director Nicholas Winding Refn’s distinct style creates a dark yet bright visual landscape, while also establishing fast and tense action and ultra-violent sequences. The performances are subtle yet great, and Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan have amazing chemistry.
However, one of the most striking things about Drive is the music. Cliff Martinez composes an electronic-pop score that fits into the style and tone of the film so well, making Drive feel much more unique than it already is. Let’s add bonus points for incorporating songs like Kavinsky’s “Nightcall,” Chromatics “Tick of the Clock,” and College’s “A Real Hero” impeccably into the film.
Watching Drive feels less like watching a movie, but more like an experience. It pulls you into Driver’s world and totally hypnotizes you. –Gaby
2. The Social Network (2010) Directed By: David Fincher
When I first picked up Aaron Sorkin’s script for The Social Network months before the film’s release, I was not prepared for a shrewd take on class, technology, and ethics. This is a story about Facebook of all things; who knew that its start was so Shakespearean, full of betrayals and triumphs? It’s hard to mess up a movie with such a cohesive and stunning script, and director David Fincher took it to the next level.
Fincher, at the time, was known for films like Fight Club, Zodiac, and Seven, all dark and menacing films. His transition to something different like The Social Network was interesting because Fincher doesn’t quite lose his malevolent edge in this film. There is a cunning darkness or meanness to Mark Zuckerberg laced throughout; it’s not so much that he’s made to be a villain, rather he’s an innovative hero who took someone’s idea, did something with it, and suffered a number of personal losses because of it. He’s an incredibly jaded character.
Whether or not The Social Network is a true portrayal of Zuckerberg’s character, it really doesn’t matter. Sorkin and Fincher turned Zuckerberg into a symbol of today’s modern youth, where relationships are so tangibly dependable on clicks of a few buttons, where ethics are constantly being reformed for convenience, and where the need for attention and response has become so obviously desperate and reassuring.
I sound pessimistic when talking about the themes of the film, but oddly enough, the movie itself isn’t that much of a downer. On a technical level, The Social Network is seriously entertaining, brilliantly written, exceptionally acted, and directed with careful precision. This film scores on every level and automatically became a classic once it hit theaters. – Gaby
1. Inception (2010) Directed By: Christopher Nolan
There’s something to be said about the timing of when a movie comes along. For the writers of this site, Inception came along just at the cusp of superhero domination, blockbuster reboot, sequel and misstep overhaul. Inception was one of the last intelligent, non-superhero, blockbusters that also understood the audiences want and need for escapism.
With an all star ensemble, some gravity defying set pieces (that hallway fight scene will go down as one of the single best fight scenes ever) and a heart at the center of the film, Inception had everything we want when we go and sit down in a dark theater, ready to be transplanted somewhere else. The visuals are still mind-blowing, with Christopher Nolan’s big, conceptual ideas paying off. Inception was creative, seemed daring for any other standard blockbuster paper cut out, and had performers who worked effortlessly with one another, creating a team we could actively root for.
Inception continues to impress because by the time the film ended, not only were we (relatively depending on your opinion) satisfied with the ending, we were also so attached and intrigued by the characters we’d met that we could have spent another two hours with them. Now, 2015, and about a thousand (for better or worse) superhero films to go, Inception is the the type of film we crave.