1. The United States Of Leland -
Â Anything with Ryan Gosling is going to be good. Personally he is one of my favourite actors of all time. He constantly gives amazing and memorable performances, while changing his characters from film to film. This movie is one of his earlier films and is very unique. The atmosphere is truly engaging. Like all of the movies on this list, it draws you in, taking you out of reality for the time you're watching and keeps you thinking long after. It is about a 15 year old named Leland (Ryan Gosling) who commits a chilling murder. He is then sent to Juvenile Hall where he talks to a teacher/writer named Pearl (Don Cheadle) about his motive and life. This may sound like many other films, but it has a much greater depth and sense of purpose than words can explain. If you enjoy thought provoking, engaging movies, then you must give this a watch. The only thing is you will end up watching more than once.
2. Dandelion -
Â Â This movie is perfect, and highly underrated. Â A story of young love and the hardships of life, with truly beautiful music and cinematography. Vincent Kartheiser and Taryn Manning play two teens living in a small town in America. They meet and fall in love amidst hard family lives, and a nowhere town. It is a truly beautiful film with music from Cat Power, Sparklehorse, and many other great artists. The scenery is amazing, and the performances are sincere. An excellent drama, worth many viewings.
3. Into The Wild -
Â Based on the true story of the life of Christopher McCandless, a young man who abandons his comfortable life to follow his dream of life on the road, Into The Wild is a very moving film. Emile Hirsch plays the part of Chris, giving an amzing performance. He ends up heading into the Alaskan wilderness facing the hardest obstacles of his life. The scenery is epic, the story is heartfelt, and the soundtrack by Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam) is haunting and beautiful. If you haven't heardof this film, or were unsure about watching it, check it out. It is something you will think about long after viewing.
4. The Salton Sea -
Â This movie is awesome! I have watched it over and over, and never get bored of it. Val Kilmer plays Danny Parker, a drug addict and low-life who snitches to the cops. But then again, there is more here than what you see. This film is a mystery, with twists and secrets. It has a beautiful story at it's core which takes time to see. A little offbeat, a bit film noir, and a great story. Even if you see the twists coming, it's just done so well that you enjoy every moment. This is Val Kilmer at his best, drawing you into a world of confusion that unravels throughout the film. Also starring Vincent D'Onofrio, Anthony La Paglia, and many other great actors. Directed by DJ Caruso, who went on to direct Disturbia and Eagle Eye, etc. If you like a mystery, give this film a go.
5. Lost Highway -
Â David Lynch.... enough said! If you are a fan of his work, watch this movie. Amazing. It stars Bill Pullman, Patricia Arquette, and Balthazar Getty, and more. It is hard to explain the story of this film, it's better just to watch it, then watch it again. It is different, awesome, random, yet so clear. If you enjoy having your mind messed with, this is for you.
6. Southland Tales -
Â You may know of this film. You may have heard negative reviews, or not cared for some of the actors and not given this film a chance. It is worth the viewing, many times over. I love the work of Richard Kelly. He rose to fame with his debut, Donnie Darko. It is a masterpiece. So is this movie. Most people don't seem to get what he was trying to say. I think he doesn't even fully understand all of what's in his movies, but that's what's great about them. They take risks and give us something new every time. This movie also had a prequel series released in books, that most people aren't aware of. If you can get those as well as the film, then it should provide a more flowing story. I personally think this movie stands on it's own just fine, the books are just a bonus to add to the whole. The soundtrack to this film is fantastic. The atmosphere perfect. Give it a chance, I think in another 20 - 25 years it will be a cult classic.
7. Primer -
Â This film isn't that well known. It's a shame because it is a genius work, although many people seem to find it slow or to misunderstand it. It is the first film from writer/director Shane Carruth. It is the story of a group of backyard scientists who "accidently" develop a time travel device while working in there garage. It is excellent in all ways, and does not try to dumb down the story. The audience may be confused at points, and with some of the dialog, but with a few viewings it becomes clearer. A great movie. If you like movies that get you thinking, this is a great choice.