Every now and then, a movie uses antiquated techniques of filmmaking or draws from methods that are no longer the norm due to technological advances in the art. This is often done as an homage to filmmakers of the past, to give the movie more meaning, to add to the aesthetic, or just simply for the novelty of it.
When a black and white movie is released, there’s usually a reason behind the decision, and more often than not it pays off. But other times, it doesn’t always pan out the way the director expects and comes off as nothing more than a gimmick.
10 Best: The Lighthouse (2019) – 7.5
It might be one of the most polarising movies of the millennium, but The Lighthouse capped off the decade well and featured amazing performances from Willem Defoe and Robert Pattinson, further proving that the latter will make a great Batman.
The movie is a strange psychological drama and being shot in black and white only adds to its mystery and dark tones.
9 Worst: Sin City: A Dame To Kill For (2005) – 6.5
Sin City is one of the best black and white movies of the 2000s, and though there was a lick of color in a few frames here and there, the aesthetics of the movie had never been done before and it was massively influential.
However, the movie’s sequel, Sin City: A Dame To Kill For, is nowhere near as influential as its predecessor, and though it has just as much stylish violence, it lacked the same impact and it bombed at the box office.
8 Best: Cold War (2018) – 7.6
Shot in black and white to better reflect the times in which the movie is based, Cold War was one of the best-received movies upon release, and given that it’s a foreign language film, it surprisingly saw a strong positive reaction from general audiences too.
Thanks to the performances and the terrific cinematography, the romantic drama was not only beloved by moviegoers, but also nominated for several Academy Awards.
7 Worst: A Field In England (2013) – 6.3
Directed by Ben Wheatley, who is better known for his movies Sightseers and High Rise, A Field In England is a historical psychological horror movie that depicts life in the mid-17th century during the English Civil War.
Though the movie is considered one of the director’s best works, it has drawn a ton of criticism for being too absurd and avant-garde, making very little sense.
6 Best: Nebraska (2013) – 7.7
In one of Bruce Dern’s greatest performances in his decades-long career, the actor plays an old man who believes he has won a million dollars based on a spam letter he receives in the mail.
Humoring him, his son agrees to drive him cross-country, and the result is a beautiful drama that’s classically Alexander Payne. Interestingly enough, Nebraska was actually shot in color and converted to black and white in post-production.
5 Worst: The Eyes Of My Mother (2016) – 6.2
Despite being named one of the best horror movies of 2016 and receiving generally positive reviews from critics, The Eyes Of My Mother faired terribly with moviegoers and struggled to find an audience.
The movie is haunting, traumatic, features a hypnotic and eerie musical score, and was shot in black and white to add to the atmosphere of the film, but it seemed to completely miss the mark.
4 Best: Roma (2018) – 7.7
Much smaller in scale than his previous effort, Gravity, Alfonso Cuaron created this semi-autobiographical movie about a middle-class family in Mexico City.
Produced by Netflix, Roma marked many unprecedented achievements in the world of streaming, as it won three Academy Awards, including Best Director. It has become one of the best streaming movies of the decade and the very first Netflix movie to be added to The Criterion Collection.
3 Worst: Escape From Tomorrow (2013) – 5.1
Prior to the movie’s release, Escape From Tomorrow was one of the most talked-about movies of the year, as it was secretly shot in Disney World without permission.
This made many critics excited to see the result, but the unusual way of filming turned out to be just a novelty, and many felt the film was a hodgepodge of nonsensical scenes featuring one gimmick after another, its black and white style just one of those many gimmicks.
2 Best: The Artist (2011) – 7.9
Even though the movie received one of the most scathing reviews upon release, The Artist won Best Picture at The Academy Awards for a reason, as it is one big homage to Hollywood cinema of the 1930s.
Being a homage, The Artist is not only shot in black and white, it’s also a silent movie and even shot in the same aspect ratio of these older films, and yet it was still able to amaze audiences in 2011.
1 Worst: Human Centipede 2 (2011) – 3.8
Being one of the most controversial movies of all time, many felt that the first movie in the Human Centipede series was bad enough, and it followed a scientist who wanted to sew three living human beings together.
But the follow-up takes it a thousand steps further, as it is based around a fan of the original movie who is inspired to try it himself. The movie is full of grotesque scenes, and for no apparent reason, it’s shot in black and white.
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