Joshua Oppenheimer's unique and horrifying documentary gives camera equipment to the perpetrators of the Indonesian genocide, and invites them to make a movie about the hundreds of thousands (or more) people they killed, by hand. The way they choose to present their unthinkable actions speaks volumes about the depths of human depravity, and the disturbing things that human beings can do when they are given permission by the government, society and themselves.
Christopher Plummer won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Beginners, a sensitive comedy-drama in which he plays a man who finally comes out of the closet in his seventies.
Richard Linklater's ambitious Oscar-winning drama was filmed over the course of 12 years, so that his young cast and the adults around them could age naturally over the course of the film. Boyhood would have been a brilliant coming of age story anyway, but the visual effect of watching the actors grow older in front of your eyes makes it absolutely hypnotic.
The blockbuster Oscar-nominee that changed the way Hollywood looked at female ensemble films screened early at SXSW, where it become one of many big studio comedies to try their luck with the crowd in Austin, TX. (Other noteworthy comedies to debut at SXSW include I Love You Man, 21 Jump Street and Trainwreck.)
Drew Goddard's brilliant comedy, co-written by Joss Whedon, flipped the script on the whole horror genre, and changed the way every other "cabin in the woods" thriller will be looked at until the end of time.
Jon Favreau took a break from blockbusters by writing, directing and starring in this cult hit indie about a successful chef who goes back to basics and gets himself a food truck. The metaphor - eschewing an industrial complex and going back what you loved about the art form in the first place - is particularly poignant against the backdrop of the independent film festival.
This disturbing drama from Yorgos Lanthimos, about children raised in isolation and instilled with strange ideas about the outside world, earned rave reviews and an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Film.
Alex Garland's damning sci-fi drama about artificial intelligence and the dangers of misogyny stars Oscar Isaac and Domhnall Gleeson as men who are trying to figure out what's going on inside the brain of a female robot, played by Alicia Vikander. Intelligent, vicious, Oscar-winning filmmaking.
Kathryn Bigelow's suspenseful drama about a bomb disposal unit in the Iraq war eventually won the Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay, and turned Jeremy Renner into a major movie star.
Karyn Kusama directs one of the most acclaimed horror movies in years, a subtle thriller about a man invited to his ex-wife's house for dinner, who begins to suspect that something is going very, very wrong. He can't quite put his finger on it, and neither can you. Dread rarely feels this dreadfully exciting.
Audiences are still waiting for a great film based on a video game, but The King of Kong proves that great movies can at least be made about them. Seth Gordon's documentary looks at people who have dedicated their lives to beating the high score at Donkey Kong. By the end of the film you'll care about their quest almost as much as they do.
Duncan Jones made a huge splash at SXSW with Moon, an ambitious low-budget sci-fi film starring Sam Rockwell as the only man stationed on the moon's surface, falling prey to loneliness until an unexpected discovery makes him question everything about his existence. Funny, emotional, brilliant.
One of the most propulsive action movies ever made, The Raid is the story of a SWAT team trapped in a high-rise full of criminals who want to kill them. It's a non-stop, expertly choreographed action thriller that raised the bar for just about every fight movie that followed.
One of the most acclaimed dramas of 2013 stars Brie Larson as a woman helping teenagers at group home. The film won multiple prizes and shot Brie Larson to upper echelons of talented young actors in Hollywood.
Harmony Korine's sexy, sleazy, seductive, disgusting, celebratory and finger-wagging drama about college girls who go to Mexico for spring break and decide to never leave is one of the most distinctive and lauded films of the decade. James Franco gives the performance of a lifetime as their boyfriend, drug dealer and surreal gang leader, Alien.