Phoenix (2014, FilmStruck)
Christian Petzold’s 2014 drama Phoenix is a near masterpiece. It follows the story of Nelly Lenz (Nina Hoss), a Jewish nightclub singer who survived the horrors of Auschwitz. Left horribly disfigured from a bullet wound, she undergoes a series of facial reconstruction surgeries. Nelly returns to Berlin in search of her husband Johnny (Ronald Zehrfeld); however, the surgeries have left her unrecognizable. The tale of deceit that follows is reminiscent of Hitchcock, and the ending leaves an unforgettable mark on the viewer.
The Square (2017, Hulu)
Written and directed by Ruben Ostlund, The Square is a biting satirical look at art, sex, and morality. After having his phone stolen, Christian (Claes Bang), a well-respected museum curator, decides to seek justice by his own terms. Using a tracking app, he and a coworker discover Christian’s phone is located in a nearby apartment building, so they go door by door, leaving a note with the demand that his property be returned. While the premise is simple, the Ostlund’s dialogue sense for the absurd make this film one worth seeing.
Inside Llewyn Davis (2013, Amazon Prime)
The Coen brothers have defined the art of a black comedy, and Inside Llewyn Davis is another masterful entry in their long filmography. The film follows the story of Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac), a struggling folk musician in 1961 Greenwich Village. After the loss of his singing partner, Davis’ career and life falls apart. Moving, funny, and punctuated with a great soundtrack, Inside Llewyn Davis is one of the best Coen films to date.