May 11, 2018

The 50 best films of the past five years

By Jack Rear

There’s no denying that the ground beneath film fans’ feet is shifting.

With streaming services like Netflix and Amazon bringing more films from more perspectives than ever to audiences, there’s arguably never been more diversity of stars and subjects on film than ever before.

Many would argue that we’re living in a golden age of film at the moment, such is the variety.

Still, a few films stand out above the rest as some of the most powerful and significant films of this modern age. And some are popular just because they’re a tonne of fun. So, from hard-hitting documentaries to superhero shenanigans, Verdict have put together a list of the best films of the past five years.

We’ve looked at scores from both audiences and critics on review sites such as Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic, and IMDB to compile a final ranking. In addition, we’ve focused on films from the major distributors and studios just to make sure it’s easy for film fans to find and watch the movies listed.

As the competition for the top spots is quite fierce there were more than a few draws. Those are marked with a dash.

And, of course, if you’ve already seen all these films and you’re a glutton for punishment, be sure to check out Verdict’s rankings of the worst 50 films of the past five years.

So, with all that said, kick back, relax, and let us show you the best films of the past five years.

1. Virunga (2014)

Genre:

Documentary

Released by:

Netflix

What’s it about?

This documentary is a must for nature lovers. It follows the work of park rangers in the Congo’s Virunga national park during the violent M23 Rebellion in 2012. It also looks into the dealings of British Oil Company Soco International which hopes to begin oil prospecting in the confines of the national park.

-2. Inside Out (2015)

Genre:

Family Psychological Drama

Released by:

Disney

What’s it about?

When a young girl moves to a new city with her parents it causes chaos for the emotions that control her mind. Joy, Sadness, Anger, Envy, and Fear must fight to keep control of Riley during the movie, but when Joy and Sadness get lost on a wild adventure, it looks like the little girl may never be the same.

 -2. Whiplash (2014)

Genre:

Drama

Released by:

Sony

What’s it about?

The dramatic story about the potential price of success. Andrew is a talented drummer who hopes to take the next step in his career. He receives a place in a band headed by a prestigious conductor. The conductor is cruel and belittles Andrew at every turn. Andrew must do whatever it takes to maintain his position as he uncovers more about the conductor’s treatment of other students and what it takes to be a success in the music industry.

4. Cuba and the Cameraman (2017)

Genre:

Documentary

Released by:

Netflix

What’s it about?

A documentary spanning 45 years about the growth of Cuba and life in the country.

 -5. Coco (2017)

Genre:

Family Musical Drama

Released by:

Disney

What’s it about?

Another animated classic from Pixar. A young boy lives in a town which has banned music, but he dreams of becoming a musician. When he finds himself in the land of the dead, the young boy must find a way home before time is up or he’ll be trapped there forever. Assisted by a colourful cast of delightful characters, the boy goes on a quest to get home and restore music to the lives of his beloved family.

-5. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

Genre:

Apocalyptic Action Drama

Released by:

Warner Bros.

What’s it about?

In a post-apocalyptic wasteland, warriors roam the desert in hulking armoured cars. The Mad Max of the title is captured by a sadistic overlord and held in his castle. Meanwhile, one of the overlord’s senior lieutenants makes off with his five ‘wives’, women who he has selected for breeding. The overlord sends his whole army to reclaim them with Max in tow. He eventually escapes and agrees to help the women escape to an idyllic land, out of the clutches of the cruel warrior.

7. 13th (2016)

Genre:

Documentary

Released by:

Netflix

What’s it about?

A documentary by the well-known and critically-acclaimed filmmaker Ava DuVernay exploring the “intersection of race, justice, and mass incarceration in the United States.”

8. Barbra: The Music … The Mem’ries … The Magic! (2017)

Genre:

Documentary

Released by:

Netflix

What’s it about?

A documentary about the great Barbra Streisand, of course.

9. Paddington 2 (2018)

Genre:

Family Comedy Drama

Released by:

Warner Bros.

What’s it about?

Paddington Bear has settled into his new life in London with the Brown family. Hoping to raise enough money to send his beloved Aunt Lucy a gift, he takes up a part-time job. Unfortunately, when the gift he’d planned to send is stolen, Paddington is blamed for the crime and sent to jail. He must escape and track down the real thief to clear his name.

-10. Layla M. (2016)

Genre:

Documentary

Released by:

Netflix

What’s it about?

A Dutch drama about a woman who marries a Jihadist after facing Islamophobia in Amsterdam. They relocate to Jordan but she finds radicalism is very different to what she imagined as she struggles to come to terms with living in a violent, patriarchal society.

-10. Team Foxcatcher (2016)

Genre:

Documentary

Released by:

Netflix

What’s it about?

A documentary about the goings on of John E. du Pont, a philanthropist who helped train Olympic wrestlers. However, he eventually shot and killed wrestling trainer and former Olympian Dave Schultz as a result of his paranoid schizophrenia. This documentary explores what life was like for the wrestlers who trained at DuPont’s facility and the events that led up the shooting.

12. Before Midnight (2013)

Genre:

Romance

Released by:

Sony

What’s it about?

The third in a trilogy of romance films about a couple named Jesse and Céline. The two met years earlier but have since married and settled down with kids. Unfortunately, married life is troublesome for the pair and they struggle to deal with a major crossroads in life and discuss love and what it means to each of them.

-13. Zootopia (2016)

Genre:

Family Comedy Drama

Released by:

Disney

What’s it about?

A child-friendly parable about race relations and stereotyping in the modern world. In a world without humans, animals rule the roost. Judy Hops becomes the first ever rabbit to make it onto the police force. She must team up with a snarky fox to solve a crime that threatens the whole of Zootopia to prove that rabbits can be police officers just like the predatory animals.

-13. The Salt of the Earth (2014)

Genre:

Documentary

Released by:

Sony

What’s it about?

The film follows works of the Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado in depicting the impact of humans on natural environments. The film explores Salgado’s transformation from an economist to an artist.

15. Gleason (2016)

Genre:

Documentary

Released by:

Amazon

What’s it about?

The film follows five years in the life of former New Orleans Saints football player Steve Gleason as he gradually succumbs to ALS. A powerful look at the lives of those suffering with ALS and an interesting insight into the way the sporting community is affected by illnesses like it.

16. Her (2013)

Genre:

Science-fiction Romance

Released by:

Warner Bros.

What’s it about?

A sad lonely divorcee falls in love with an artificial intelligence in this gripping, emotional romance. He finds more meaning in his relationship with an operating system than he ever did with humans, leading him to question the meaning of love.

-17. Hell or High Water (2016)

Genre:

Crime Thriller

Released by:

Netflix

What’s it about?

Two brothers must commit a series of dramatic robberies in order to raise the funds to save their ranch. However, they may not be able to save themselves with two Texas rangers on their trail.

-17. Dunkirk (2017)

Genre:

War Drama

Released by:

Warner Bros.

What’s it about?

With thousands of soldiers waiting on the beaches of Normandy, the UK mounts a desperate rescue operation to save them in this gripping WWII drama. The film is told in three parts dealing with the forces on land, at sea, and in the air.

-19. Dallas Buyers Club (2013)

Genre:

Biographical Drama

Released by:

Universal

What’s it about?

Back in the mid-1980s, HIV and AIDS were misunderstood and frequently stigmatised. After being diagnosed with AIDS, patient Ron Woodroof smuggled unauthorised medication into Texas to treat himself. He began to distribute the medication to fellow people with AIDS. Meanwhile, the US Food And Drug Administration attempted to stop him.

-19. Jodorowsky’s Dune (2014)

Genre:

Documentary

Released by:

Sony

What’s it about?

In 1975 director Alejandro Jodorowsky set out to create a film version of Frank Herbert’s classic science-fiction novel Dune. He spent years on the project which was to be a 14-hour film in total. The finished product never came to fruition. This documentary explores the creation of the failed film and the reasons why it never got to completion.

-19. Wild Tales (2015)

Genre:

Black Comedy Anthology

Released by:

Sony

What’s it about?

A sextuplet of short films combined into one feature release. The films are linked by a common theme of vengeance and violence, but there’s a darkly comic strand that runs through them all. Some have more upbeat endings than others but all are incredibly entertaining.

-19. Call Me by Your Name (2017)

Genre:

Romance

Released by:

Sony

What’s it about?

Elio is a precociously talented Italian-American 17-year-old living at his family’s grand mansion in the Northern Italian countryside. When his father gets an assistant, American post-graduate student Oliver, Elio feels a tender love beginning to blossom for their new house guest. The film follows Elio’s attempts to grapple with his feelings as he learns how hard it can be to fall in love.

-19. The Rider (2018)

Genre:

Neo-Western Drama

Released by:

Sony

What’s it about?

After a riding accident causes him to need surgery, a young rodeo cowboy must look to find a new purpose in life. He wants to get back on the horse and commit to his dreams but on the other hand he’s scared to do so.

-24. Manchester by the Sea (2016)

Genre:

Drama

Released by:

Amazon

What’s it about?

When his brother dies and he is named guardian of his teenage nephew, Lee must reluctantly return to his hometown of Manchester By The Sea in Massachusetts. The town is haunted by memories of his past life there and Lee is a social pariah. Eventually he grows to enjoy the company of his nephew and things look like they might change.

-24. One of Us (2017)

Genre:

Documentary

Released by:

Netflix

What’s it about?

A documentary following the lives of three ex-members of Brooklyn’s Hasidic Jewish community. Each has been ostracised by their former friends and relatives. The film follows them as they try to make a new life for themselves and observes some of the reasons they left the group.

-24. Gravity (2013)

Genre:

Science-fiction

Released by:

Warner Bros.

What’s it about?

After a flurry of space debris destroys a NASA satellite outpost, two astronauts are stranded in space with just 90 minutes to live. While they plan an escape home, they discuss their lives on the planet below and form a daring plan to get them back to Earth safely. Sadly, only one of them can make the journey home.

-27. Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)

Genre:

Family Fantasy

Released by:

Universal

What’s it about?

When he was born, destiny said that Kubo would be the one to kill his grandfather, the Moon King. To keep him safe, Kubo’s mother took brought him down from the heavens to Earth. Her sisters are evil spirits who constantly try to capture him. Kubo must go on a quest to find the magical armour of a great warrior to defeat the moon king and save himself. Told through sumptuous stop-motion, Kubo And The Two Strings is incredibly emotive and stirring.

-27. My Happy Family (2017)

Genre:

International Drama

Released by:

Netflix

What’s it about?

One day a 50-year-old woman decides to leave her husband, children and parents and strike out on her own. The film’s central mystery is why she did this. Along the way, we see how she survives as a feminist in her highly patriarchal and religious society.

-27. The Lego Movie (2014)

Genre:

Family Comedy Action

Released by:

Warner Bros.

What’s it about?

Emmett Brickowski is just one of many Lego figures living in Lego City. His life is very routine and dull, despite his irrepressible positivity. Unfortunately, after he gets mistaken for a master builder, Emmett finds himself on a quest to save the world and must build his way through hundreds of Lego realms to defeat the evil Lord Business.

30. Kingdom of Us (2017)

Genre:

Documentary

Released by:

Netflix

What’s it about?

A gripping documentary about Vikie Shanks and her seven children, six of whom are on the autism spectrum, as they attempt to grapple with the realities of losing their husband and father to suicide. The film is beautifully and breathtakingly honest and strikes a hopeful tone in the face of terrible adversity.

31. Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond – Featuring a Very Special, Contractually Obligated Mention of Tony Clifton (2017)

Genre:

Documentary

Released by:

Netflix

What’s it about?

A documentary about Jim Carrey’s method-acting as Andy Kaufman during the filming of The Man On The Moon in 1999. During filming, Carrey transformed into Kaufman for all intents and purposes. The actor looks back at his performance and the finished film.

32. Logan (2017)

Genre:

Science-fiction Drama

Released by:

20th Century Fox

What’s it about?

Set decades after the other X-Men films, Logan sees Wolverine living in a near-apocalypse. All the other mutants aside from a couple of others are dead and no new mutants have been born. Wolverine now takes care of an aging and dying Professor X. When he is charged with taking a young girl to safety across the border, Wolverine must battle an evil clone of himself to get the child to safety.

-33. Captain Phillips (2013)

Genre:

Biographical Thriller

Released by:

Sony

What’s it about?

Based on the true story of Richard Phillips who successful defended his cargo ship from an attack by pirates in 2009 off the coast of Yemen. He was kidnapped by the pirates and had to fight for the his own survival and that of his crew.

-33. Pad Man (2018)

Genre:

Biographical Comedy Drama

Released by:

Sony

What’s it about?

The inspiring story of an Indian man, Laxmikant Chauhan, who fought against the stigma around menstruation, is based on a true story. The film follows Laxmi as he attempts to find a cheap and effective way of creating a sanitary pad for rural Indian women. While locals mock and belittle his project, Laxmi keeps at it, despite the personal consequences.

35. Beasts of No Nation (2015)

Genre:

War Drama

Released by:

Netflix

What’s it about?

A film based on the horrific experiences of a child soldier in Ghana. When rebel forces topple the government, Agu’s family is divided as they flee to safety. When government forces take back their village they decide that Agu and his family are rebel-aligned and kill his father and brother. Agu is then conscripted as a child soldier and the film follows him through the war. He does and witnesses terrible things that threaten to destroy who he was forever.

-36. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Genre:

Science-fiction Comedy

Released by:

Disney

What’s it about?

A disparate group of space-faring bounty-hunters find themselves embroiled in a cosmic quest for a mysterious power source which will give its bearer the chance to destroy the universe as we know it. They must team-up and form an uneasy alliance to save the day and become guardians of the galaxy.

-36. Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

Genre:

Science-fiction Drama

Released by:

Disney

What’s it about?

Every superhero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe teams up to battle the ultimate threat to the universe in the battle that the film universe has been building up to for the last ten years. Sure, there’s not much in the way of character development, but seeing all your favourite superheroes teaming up after so long is quite something.

-36. The Martian (2015)

Genre:

Science-fiction Drama

Released by:

20th Century Fox

What’s it about?

After a dramatic dust storm leaves astronaut Mark Watney stranded on Mars, he must figure out a way to survive on the red planet, grow food, breath oxygen, and ultimately get back to Earth. Meanwhile, scientists on Earth are doing everything they can to rescue Watney and bring him home.

-36. The Past (2013)

Genre:

Drama

Released by:

Sony

What’s it about?

When an Iranian man goes to France to finalise his divorce, he stumbles on a huge mystery. His former wife is pregnant with another man’s child, but the other man also has a wife who is in a coma from a suicide attempt. As he attempts to uncover what happened to her, he learns about the secrets and mysteries which implicate all the people he loves.

-36. Loveless (2018)

Genre:

Tragedy

Released by:

Sony

What’s it about?

In the midst of their bitter divorce, a middle-age couple realise their young child has vanished. As they desperately search for him, the couple must reckon with their relationship and how the fallout of their break-up has affected their son.

-36. A Quiet Place (2018)

Genre:

Horror

Released by:

Paramount

What’s it about?

A race of aliens have taken over planet Earth. They are hyper-sensitive to sound and will attack and kill anything that makes a noise. Lee, Evelyn and their young children are surviving the in the wilderness, hoping to fend off attacks from the beasts. Unfortunately, Lee already lost one child to the creatures and is desperately trying to keep his family safe as Evelyn is pregnant with another one.

-36. Creed (2015)

Genre:

Sports Drama

Released by:

Warner Bros.

What’s it about?

The seventh installment in the Rocky franchise, this one is another boxing tour-de-force from director Ryan Coogler. The film follows the illegitimate son of Apollo Creed, Rocky’s friend and rival, as he attempts to build a boxing career. Unfortunately, his father has died, so the younger Creed turns to Rocky for guidance as he takes his first steps into the world of boxing.

-43. Love, Simon (2018)

Genre:

Teen Romance

Released by:

20th Century Fox

What’s it about?

Simon is just like every other teen trying to get through high school. The only thing is that he’s secretly gay. When another schoolmate anonymously confesses that he shares Simon’s secret, the two strike up an email exchange, still anonymous. However, when a jealous classmate outs Simon to the whole school, his world looks like it will crumble apart before his eyes.

-43. Lady Bird (2017)

Genre:

Drama

Released by:

Universal

What’s it about?

Christine ‘Lady Bird’ McPherson lives in Sacramento, California, the most boring place in the world, in her eyes. She dreams of going to university at one of the big schools on the East Coast but her mother isn’t convinced she can make it. The film follows Lady Bird through her final year of high school and examines issues such as wealth, ambition, young love, and friendship. The story is tied together by the relationship between the central mother-daughter relationship, occasionally antagonistic but always loving.

-43. Chasing Coral (2017)

Genre:

Documentary

Released by:

Netflix

What’s it about?

A stunning and heartbreaking documentary about the disappearance of coral reefs around the world due to the actions of humans.

-46. Moana (2016)

Genre:

Family Drama

Released by:

Disney

What’s it about?

When a beloved sea goddess has her heart taken by a demi-god hero, the ocean-faring people fall into disaster. The young girl Moana is given a destiny to restore the sea goddess’ heart and must go on a perilous journye to find the demi-god who stole it in the first place and work with him to put it back.

-46. X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)

Genre:

Science-fiction Drama

Released by:

20th Century Fox

What’s it about?

In a time-travelling take on the X-Men cinematic universe, both the modern and past incarnations of the X-Men must team-up to save the world from the ultimate threat. Actions in the past can have drastic changes in the future in this borderline-incomprehensible romp through the decades. The film is absolutely wild but its a thrill-ride all the way through.

-46. Jurassic Park (3-D re-release) (2013)

Genre:

Science-fiction Drama

Released by:

Universal

What’s it about?

Alan Grant and Ellie Sattler are paleontologists working on a dig when they’re scooped up by billionaire philanthropist John Hammond. Hammond has created a dinosaur theme park on an island off the coast of Costa Rica and needs Grant and Sattler to endorse the project. Unfortunately, when a freak hurricane and a nefarious rival business interfere with the park’s security systems, dinosaurs are unleashed on the unsuspecting visitors. What started as a luxury holiday becomes a desperate fight for survival.

-46. The Battered Bastards of Baseball (2014)

Genre:

Documentary

Released by:

Netflix

What’s it about?

A documentary about a minor (and now defunct) baseball team, owned by actor Russell Bing, the Portland Mavericks. A charming anti-establishment romp told through the eyes of the baseball fans who followed the Mavericks’ trials and tribulations.

-46. Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids (2016)

Genre:

Concert Documentary

Released by:

Netflix

What’s it about?

Justin Timberlake’s 20/20 Experience tour was one of the most spectacular concert series in pop music. This film records the final date of the tour in Tennessee and explores all the behind-the-scenes work which was done to make it happen.

Verdict deals analysis methodology

This analysis considers only announced and completed cross border deals from the GlobalData financial deals database and excludes all terminated and rumoured deals. Country and industry are defined according to the headquarters and dominant industry of the target firm. The term ‘acquisition’ refers to both completed deals and those in the bidding stage.

GlobalData tracks real-time data concerning all merger and acquisition, private equity/venture capital and asset transaction activity around the world from thousands of company websites and other reliable sources.

More in-depth reports and analysis on all reported deals are available for subscribers to GlobalData’s deals database.

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