And here are the other 5 movies in my list – with other films good enough to be mentioned.
The day when I entered the campus as an undergraduate student in 2000 still feels like yesterday to me, but almost 15 years have passed now, and, as a guy who is about to become 32 with a Ph.D. degree, I notice faint wrinkles on my forehead whenever I look into my bathroom mirror in the morning. Time seemed far slower when I was young, but now I become more aware of its rapid one-way flow day by day. When I watched Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood”, I experienced a similar feeling as alternatively amused and touched by its vivid, realistic depiction of life through the passage of time. Consisting of the series of episodes observed from its young hero’s maturation process during 12 years, the movie did a remarkable job of showing how life is shaped and changed over the course of time, and its long life journey is a truly absorbing experience as we muse on how much its young hero and others around him have been changed compared to when they were introduced to us in the beginning. We consider all these years they went through, and we come to see many recognizable human elements from their life story, and then we look back on ourselves and our life. Things are always bound to be changed through time in our life, and, as powerfully presented in this intimate but epic coming-of-age drama, so are we human beings.
7. Phantom Thread
Precisely elegant and subtly intense, Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Phantom Thread” is a mesmerizing period chamber drama which draws our attention with its delicate and sumptuous moments at first and then unnerves us with dark psychological undercurrents beneath them. The movie is as tense as the works of Alfred Hitchcock while also being as sobering as the works of Ingmar Bergman, and it is a sheer pleasure to observe how it effortlessly glides along with its style and mood as firmed anchored by three fabulous performers at the center of the film.
8. A Separation
If I have to tell you only one reason why I love Asghar Farhadi’s “A Separation”, I will tell you that my empathy was pulled to every side while watching it. The four principle performers in the film, Peyman Moaadi, Leila Hatami, Sareh Bayat, and Shahab Hosseini, never miss a beat even in their most emotionally intensive moments, and Sarina Farhadi, Farhadi’s daughter, is excellent as a young girl who struggles through adolescent pain amplified by her parents’ separation and following complications. There is a crucial scene near the ending where she must answer a certain question. From her face, we know how hard it is for her to answer to that.
Christian Petzold’s “Phoenix”, a quiet but compelling period drama revolving around disguise and manipulation with a touch of film noir, is reticent about the dark period its heroine and others went through, but their inconvenient past becomes more palpable as we observe their gloomy post-war world barely recovering from it. After slowly and carefully building its narrative momentum during most of its running time, the movie finally arrives at the point where something seems to be bound to happen, and you will be captivated by what is presented on the screen. As the characters in this undeniably powerful scene will come to learn, truth always finds a way to get itself revealed in the end, no matter how much they let themselves blind and silent to it.
Bong Joon-ho’s latest film “Parasite’, which won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival early in this year while also incidentally distinguishing itself as the first South Korean film to receive the award, is a funny and enthralling genre piece packed with superb elements to be appreciated and admired. Although I must say that I was initially not sure about its greatness unlike some other local critics, I eventually came to conclude that this is indeed a masterwork to be cherished for legitimate reasons, and I can assure you that you will not regret once you watch it.
Runner-ups (in alphabetical order): “Amour”, “Carol”, “Cold War”, “Inception”, “Lady Bird”, “Leave No Trace”, “Shoplifters”, “Silence”, “Timbuktu”, and “Zero Dark Thirty”
Animation (in alphabetical order): “Inside Out”, “Rango”, “Shaun the Sheep Movie”, “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”, and “The Tale of the Princess Kaguya”
Documentary (in alphabetical order): “The Act of Killing”, “Faces Places”, “The Look of Silence”, “O.J.: Made in America”, and “63 Up”