10 Best Modern Film Noir Films
The 10 best modern noir films do the genre proud by pilling on the tragic endings, violent confrontations, extreme pessimism and sexual tension that made the original noir flicks of the old days popular. They aren’t for the faint at heart, but they’re great indisputably great movies.
“Blade Runner” – Ripley Scott’s sci-fi classic presents a future world filled with touches of previous eras. The film depicts a galaxy filled with organically made robots, some of which have escaped and are headed for earth. Retired cop Harrison Ford is charged with tracking them down. “Blade Runner” was essentially the inception of the neo-noir genre and is one of the ten best modern noir films.
“Miller’s Crossing” – The Coen Brothers are aficionados of noir and have made a number of films filled with choice elements of noir both classic and modern. Nowhere is this more evident or perfectly realized that in “Miller’s Crossing,” their adaptation of Dashiell Hammet’s classic noir novel “Red Harvest.” It is one of the ten best modern noir films.
“Se7en” – David Fincher’s “Se7en” ushered in a new wave of noir-tinged horror in the late 90’s and early 00’s, though not a single one of the film’s many followers were able to match the ambiance and menace of the original. It’s a gruesome, groundbreaking movie and one of the ten best modern noir films.
“LA Confidential” – This lurid, violent, darkly comedic film is the most old fashioned of all the neo-noir pictures, and also one of the best by far. Set in the mythically corrupt Los Angeles of times past, the film features sex, scandal and a series of killer plot twists. It is one of the ten best modern noir films.
“The Usual Suspects” – Director Bryan Singer expertly balanced the red herrings and plot intricacies of Christopher McQuarrie's Oscar-winning screenplay in one of the ten best modern noir movies. Strong performances from Benicio Del Toro and Kevin Spacey go great lengths to involving the audience in the film’s action. This is a deftly made film and one surely worth watching.
“Out of Sight” – Leave it to Steven Soderbergh to imbue the violence and despair of the noir genre with old Hollywood charm, MTV-era superstars, simmering sexual tension and a sly sense of humor. Based on one of Elmore Leonard’s many great noir novels, “Out of Sight” is a fantastic movie that, despite stellar reviews, bombed on release.
“After Dark, My Sweet” – This largely forgotten film is one of the more uncompromising examples of modern noir in its refusal to give in to sentiment or optimism. A brutal and dark film, “After Dark, My Sweet” stars Jason Patric and Rachel Ward in a tale of desperation, kidnapping, violence and betrayal. It’s all very dark, and also very good.
“The Grifters” – “The Grifters” is the rare noir film that is as funny as it is brutal. The movie draws audiences in with the charm and familiarity of actors John Cusack and Annette Benning, who play a pair of young con artists, only to sucker punch viewers with unexpected bursts of violence and pessimism.
“Basic Instinct” – Femme fatale? Check. Extreme paranoia? Check. Intimations of fascism? Check. Direct connections drawn between sexual arousal and the need to control others? Check. “Basic Instinct” is an operatically violently, unbelievably twisty, sexually graphic neo noir that is also about control, power, sexual exploitation and violence, and the thin line between control and domination.
“Minority Report” – Steven Spielberg’s films have gotten darker and darker, and his directorial skills have become progressively more interesting. “Minority Report” presents the future as an era when violently crime has been virtually eliminated, at the expense of personal liberties. The film tells a gripping yarn filled with gruesome details and an expertly crafted noir ambience.