20. Hidden [Caché] (2005, Michael Haneke)
Michael Haneke is the king of the cinema of unease. He likes making the audience feel pain and he enjoys leading them down uncertain and often unresolved paths of mystery. His finest work is a tense psychological drama where an intellectual Parisian couple get stalked and are sent videotapes of their lives. Haneke offers no resolution to audiences but it is a brilliant meditation on guilt as well as the need for surveillance in society.
19. Sideways (2004, Alexander Payne)
Alexander Payne is the king of middle class, intellectual comedy and trumps Noah Baumbach or Wes Anderson any day of the week. He is a genius. Sideways is the ultimate road trip movie, as two friends (Miles and Jack) go on a winery tour before Jack goes to get married.
This is a road trip, however, where the two males learn nothing, and by the end they are still the same lying, narcissistic losers they were when they left. We don’t sympathize with them even for a second, despite enjoying their company for a brilliantly written, acted and consistently hilarious couple of hours.
18. A History of Violence (2005, David Cronenberg)
Cronenberg’s drama comes late in a career of mostly body horror films, but his adaptation of the graphic novel of the same name produces his finest movie yet. Viggo Mortensen is terrific in the central role as a man struggling to come to terms with his identity when mistaken for a mobster by a group of hideous men, led by a creepy Ed Harris. Running at a short 90 minutes, it may lose something in its final act but the rest of the film is unadulterated Cronenberg.
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