30 Best Movies on The Criterion Channel Right Now

30 Best Movies on The Criterion Channel Right Now

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The Criterion Channel is great for watching old classics, but as a streaming platform, it’s also full of recent movies (that will hopefully one day become classics). This list is for the best movies you can stream on Criterion that are recent (mostly released in the 2010s with one or two 90s movies).

30. Asako I & II (2018)

best

8.0

Country

Japan

Director

Ryusuke Hamaguchi

Actors

Ariei Umefune, Atsushi Kaneshige, Daichi Watanabe, Erika Karata

Moods

Dramatic, Emotional, Romantic

Asako is in love with Baku—deeply and almost delusionally, in a way that can only manifest in young love. But when the freewheeling Baku ghosts Asako for good, she moves from Osaka all the way to Tokyo to start a new life. Years later, she’s startled to meet Baku’s doppelganger in Ryohei, an office man whose solid dependability and lack of artfulness, while endearing, could not place him any further from Baku. Confused and lonely, Asako tiptoes around her feelings for Ryohei and, in the process, raises thought-provoking questions about the meaning, ethics, and true purpose of love.

 

29. Summer Hours (2008)

best

8.0

Country

France

Director

Olivier Assayas

Actors

Alice de Lencquesaing, Charles Berling, Dominique Reymond, Edith Scob

Moods

Easy, Emotional, Lighthearted

Summer Hours centers on three siblings tasked with sorting the valuable pieces their mother left behind. Frédéric (Charles Berling), the eldest, has different ideas about inheritance than his overseas siblings. Will their beloved house stay or go? Will the art? The furniture? Can they afford to keep all these for sentimental reasons or would it be wiser to sell them? They go back and forth on these questions, rarely agreeing but always keeping in mind the life these seemingly inanimate objects occupy, as well as the memories they evoke, which are beyond priceless.  

Summer Hours resists melodrama, opting instead for the simple power of restraint—of unspoken words and charged glances. And the result is a quietly affecting movie that basks in the details to paint a wonderful, overall picture of home and family.

28. Days of Being Wild (1990)

best

8.1

Country

Hong Kong

Director

Kar-Wai Wong, Wong Kar-wai

Actors

Alicia Alonzo, Andy Lau, Anita Mui, Carina Lau

Moods

Dramatic, Emotional, Lovely

Forlorn longing envelops Days of Being Wild, where the act of dreaming is as valuable as its actual fulfillment. “You’ll see me tonight in your dreams,” Yuddy tells Su Li-zhen on their first meeting, and indeed, this line of dialogue sets the film’s main contradiction: would you rather trap yourself in the trance-like beauty of dreams or face the unpleasant possibilities of reality? Wong Kar-wai’s characters each have their own answers, with varying subplots intersecting through the consequences of their decisions. In the end, happiness comes in unexpected ways, granted only to those brave enough to wake up and dream again.

27. Run Lola Run (1998)

best

8.1

Country

Germany

Director

Tom Tykwer

Actors

Armin Rohde, Beate Finckh, Franka Potente, Hans Paetsch

Moods

Action-packed, Mind-blowing, Suspenseful

An offbeat film with a more than decent amount of suspense. To that it adds really good music and unexpected animation, to make for a very audacious, interesting and mostly fun film. It uses all this to show how life can change in a twist and how it can be influenced by weird connections of otherwise unrelated events.

26. La Haine (1995)

best

8.1

Country

France

Director

Mathieu Kassovitz

Actors

Abdel Ahmed Ghili, Andrée Damant, Benoit Magimel, Bernie Bonvoisin

Moods

Intense, Mind-blowing, Original

At the risk of being cliché, I’m going to state that only the French could have made a movie about racial issues and the troubles of youngsters in the suburbs and still make it elegant. I’ve tried looking for other adjectives, but I couldn’t find one that better describes those long takes shot in a moody black and white. But despite the elegance of the footage, the power of the narrative and the acting makes the violence and hate realistic as hell, dragging you into the story and empathizing with the characters until you want to raise your arm and fight for your rights. Aside from this unusual combination of fine art and explicit violence, the most shocking thing about La Haine is how much the issues it addresses still make sense right now, even though the movie was released 20 years ago.

25. Fish Tank (2009)

best

8.1

Country

Netherlands, UK, United Kingdom

Director

Andrea Arnold, Female director

Actors

Anthony Geary, Carrie-Ann Savill, Charlotte Collins, Grant Wild

Moods

Character-driven, Raw

A sincere portrayal of the gritty British working class life through the coming-of-age story of a girl who loves rap music and dancing to it. It features a stunning and powerful performance from newcomer Katie Jarvis who had no acting experience whatsoever, and who was cast in the street after she was spotted fighting. She plays Mia, a 15 year old teenager whose world changes drastically when her mother’s new boyfriend (played by Michael Fassbender) turns his eyes to her. Don’t watch this movie if you are looking for a no-brainer, definitely do watch it if you are interested in films that realistically portray others’ lives and let you into them.

24. Brazil (1985)

best

8.3

Country

United Kingdom, United States of America

Director

Terry Gilliam

Actors

Ann Way, Barbara Hicks, Bill Wallis, Bob Hoskins

Moods

Challenging, Dark, Mind-blowing

In the movie Brazil, our hero Sam Lowery (Jonathan Pryce) lives in a dystopian world that relies on the cold productivity grind of machines. He’s in a constant battle between the high-level dominating powers that be and the low-level beatdown scums of society. Saving him from complete misery is a recurring dream he has of a beautiful woman. There, nothing else matters but love, which fills his draining soul and makes his life seem worthwhile. 

The way director Terry Gilliam handles a serious matter in such a comedic way is fantastic, and the amount of thought and effort he puts into creating every single bit of existence in this film is mind-boggling. With Brazil, he succeeds in establishing his own style, making a mark for himself in an age when plenty of auteurs compete for mere recognition.

23. Babette’s Feast (1987)

best

8.3

Country

d, Denmark

Director

Gabriel Axel

Actors

Asta Esper Hagen Andersen, Axel Strøbye, Bendt Rothe, Bibi Andersson

Moods

Dramatic, Heart-warming, Lovely

Sisters Martine and Filippa, daughters of a founder of a religious sect, live a simple and quiet life in a remote coastal village in Denmark. Throughout the course of their lives, they reject possible romances and fame as part of their commitment to deny earthly attachments. This is upended by the sudden arrival of a French immigrant named Babette, who served as their house help to escape the civil war raging in her country.

Babette’s Feast is an inquiry into simplicity and kindness, and whether these would be sufficient to achieve a life of contentment. The religious undertones perfectly fit with the film’s parable-like structure, where bodily and spiritual appetites are satisfied through a sumptuous feast of love, forgiveness, and gratitude.

22. The Double Life of Véronique (1991)

best

8.4

Country

France, Norway, Poland

Director

Krzysztof Kieślowski

Actors

Alain Frérot, Aleksander Bardini, Bogusława Schubert, Chantal Neuwirth

Moods

Mind-blowing, Original

Krzysztof Kieślowski’s drama stars Irène Jacob as two identical women living separate lives, and the intricate and indelible ways in which they are bound together. While Weronika, a Polish singer, balances her familial duties and intimate romantic relationship, a French music teacher named Véronique senses that she is not alone.

The Double Life of Véronique’s hypnotic and entrancing qualities will wash over you like a tide crashing over a bed of sand. It is a tough film to capture in words, when so much of it is just beyond words—Kieślowski’s film is one to be seen, sensed, and experienced. 

21. Where Is the Friend’s House?

best

8.5

Country

Iran

Director

Abbas Kiarostami

Actors

Ahmed Ahmed Poor, Biman Mouafi, Mohamed Hocine Rouhi, Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh

Abbas Kiarostami delivers a tale of towering simplicity. A young boy mistakenly takes his friend’s notebook home and, knowing the friend faces expulsion without it, goes on a journey to bring it back. He visits the neighboring town but without a clue where his friend lives must rely on the kindness of strangers and overcome the stubbornness of adults who get in his way.

This adventure is both a loose moral parable as well as a striking portrait of life in rural Iran. More than this, it’s a testament to the capacity of children’s films to communicate depth when the filmmaker respects a child’s intelligence. The earnest young actors at its heart add an emotional immediacy that underscores Kiarostami’s empathetic direction.

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