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The best Russian movies of XXI century

The best Russian movies of XXI century

Nowadays post-Soviet naturalism is a dominant tendency in Russian movie industry. New generation of directors is not afraid to deal with topics concerning old scores, moral devastation after the years of totalitarian system, picturing current political system and social relations. Thanks to the directors such as Andrey Zvyagintsev or Aleksei Balabanov we can gain more insight into Russian reality. We recommend the best Russian movies directed after 2000. Take a look at our rank!

The Return (directed by A. Zvyagintsev, 2003)

the return russian moviesZvyagintsev’s debut won immediate fame and is still considered as his best movie and one of the best Russian movies of XXI century. After twelve years of absence a father returns home and willing to rebuild family relations takes his two sons for a trip on a deserted island. Rough methods of education cause conflicts between characters. By using “the veil of ignorance” the viewers cannot fully understand main character and events provoked by him. The movie was awarded with The Golden Lion in Venice and critics enthusiastically announced the revival of Russian cinematography. Audience started to compare Zvyagintsev with Tarkovsky, but the following movies by him revised such point of view – his attitude to religion and usage of biblical symbols are not as unequivocal as Tarkovsky’s. Our rate: 4,5/5
Check out on IMDb

The 9th Company (directed by F. Bondarchuk, 2005)

nint company russian moviesWhether we like it or not that movie made the history of Russian cinematography. After its release the biggest controversy arose around the scenario which is based on real events (military operation Magistral in Afganistan). From thirty nine soldiers of the 9th company the director “killed” thirty eight, while actually only six were killed. However Bondarchuk mispresent the fact not in order to emphasize the heroism of survived soldier or Soviet army; he focuses on the tragedy of the forgotten division of young recruits who were dying for the country that will cease to exist. Taking under consideration that movie was directed ten years ago it stands out from the other war movies with great implementation of military naturalism. Bondarchuk returned to the mainstream critics’ discussion in 2013 with the blockbuster „Stalingrad” which treats the history with the same light approach foregrounding impressive battle scenes. Our rate: 3/5
Check out on Rotten Tomatoes

The Banishment (directed by A. Zvyagintsev, 2007)

the banishment russian moviesEvents take place in a small Russian provincial town where married couple moves with their two children in order to save decaying relationship. The series of misunderstandings result in family tragedy. Long static shots and penetrating silence reflex emotional exhaustion of main characters, Alexander and Vera. Religious symbolism is Zvyagintsev’s the most favourite artistic device which he uses here showing Vera wearing blue dress as a reminiscent of Mary, mother of Jesus. Unfortunately unlike in previous movies of Russian director “The Banishment” is overloaded with biblical motives and the initial audience’s reflexive mood is gradually replaced with a dullness. Although a little bit longish, it’s still great Russian movie. Our rate: 3,5/5
Check out on IMDb

Cargo 200 (directed by S. Balabanov, 2007)

kino rosyjskie: ładunek 200It is one of that movies after which you feel emotionally wasted. It is 1984 and the director is sending us to the Soviet province. Artemy and Angelika meet in the barn of local farmer and moonshiner. Artemy is a professor of scientific atheism and Angelika is a daughter of senior communist official Zhurov, the demonic police captain. Alcoholic libation and its consequences reveal mental breakdown of humanity and society of the USSR. However Balabanov is shocking the audience from the very beginning, the most gruesome culmination is left for the end. Angelika dies soon and the investigation takes none other than captain Zhurov. It is definitely one of the best Russian movies. It was nominated at many international movie festivals and received the highest award in Rotterdam. Our rate: 5/5
Check out on Rotten Tomatoes

Morphine (directed by A. Balabanov, 2008)

kino rosyjskie: morfinaA young doctor arrives to the Russian province to start his job. However at the beginning he is very enthusiastic his desire is weakened by lack of medicines and governmental support. He is falling into morphine addiction. Events take place in 1917 and critics unanimously emphasize precision in moving to silver screen reality of early 20th century Russia. Thus the movie tells us not only about psychological, moral and physical decay of the character but  generally about Russian life one hundred years ago. Movie is based on the autobiographical stories “A Country Doctor’s Notebook” by Mikhail Bulgakov. American adaptation with starring Daniel Radcliffe under the same title has appeared recently. Our rate: 4/5
Check out on IMDb

How I Ended This Summer (directed by A. Popogrebski, 2010)

how i ended this summer russian moviesMeteorological station at the Arctic Sea and two people inside – Sergei, an elderly man finishing his contract in that secluded place and Pawel, a young trainee. Harsh arctic life and need for responsibility collide with youth and carefree. What is going to happen? On the one hand long shots of Arctic landscapes, on the other hand inevitable conflicts between characters. Unlike movies of Zvyagintsev here is no reference to religion, but the key for movie’s interpretation is vastness and severity of Russian tundra. It needs to be mentioned that director won a reward for the best pictures at movie festival in Berlin, so it has already took a place on the shelf with best Russian movies. Our rate: 4/5
Check out on Rotten Tomatoes

My joy (directed by S. Loznitsa, 2010)

my joy russian moviesOn the one hand the movie is Ukrainian, German and Holland coproduction, on contrary all events take place in Russia, actors speak only Russian (though one of them is Romanian Vladimir Ivanov, who is dubbed). Andrei Zvyagintsev called the movie as the best Russian-speaking movie of last decade. By the way Sergei Loznitsa gained experience by directing documentaries which were mostly set in Russia. Therefore we can assume that his vision of Soviet Union is close to reality. “My joy” is a story about truck driver Georgy who by travelling through Russia discovers how the society was destroyed by the times of communism. Because of the plot the movie was compared to “Cargo 200” and got equally positive references. Our rate: 4/5
Check out on Rotten Tomatoes

Elena (directed by A. Zvyagintsev, 2011)

kino rosyjskie: ElenaIt’s an original story of ambiguous relationship of an elderly couple. Elena works as a nurse in hospital and falls in love with one of her patients. From the very beginning the director shows us that their relationship is pure coincidence of interests. From one side Elena, who works hard to help her son’s family, from other side lonely and rich, but sick businessman. Elena lives and takes care of him and gets financial support in turn. Once she asks to pay for studies of her grandson the avalanche of problems starts and lead to the tragic end. Contrast between static scenes and suspenseful music puts the audience under hypnosis. In my opinion it is the best movie of Zvyagintsev and a visiting card of modern Russian cinematography. Our rate: 5/5
Check out on Rotten Tomatoes

Leviathan (directed by A. Zvyagintsev, 2014)

leviathan russian moviesRussian nominee for Oscar is absolutely the most tailor-made Hollywood movie by Russian director. Swift action (as for Zvyagintsev), division into good and bad (in particular focused on corruption of the officials and clergy). In addition dynamic setup of “Leviathan” creates atmosphere which is rather different from the previous pieces of famous director. Kolya, who is main character, works as a mechanic, lives with his family in the provincial town. The core of the movie is the conflict between him and local official who wants to take away Kolya’s property for his own investments. Kolya tries to fight for himself, but Zvyagintsev with the titled Leviathan don’t give him a chance. Russian director stays loyal to religious references, in this case comparing Kolya’s life with the fate of biblical Job. Russian cinema is still on the rising wave! Our rate: 4,5/5
Check out on Rotten Tomatoes

Text about the best Russian movies was translated by Alyona Kononeneko

Do you like Russian movies and want to see more? Click on poster to see the trailer!

The list of the best movies is my personal opinion which doesn’t mean that only this movies are worth seeing. In 2006 at Warsaw Film Festival “Euphoria”, the story of one passionate romance, was warmly welcomed. In the same time “The Island” gain a lot of awards – the movie highlights the topic concerning the repentance of sins. In turn “Twelve” is new Russian interpretation of the popular American court drama from 1957. For the French “Amelie” Russians answered with “Mermaid”. The biggest blockbuster of last years was „Stalingrad” – Russian version of “Saving Private Ryan”. If you like Erast Fandorin (kind of Russian Sherlock Holmes), then check out “The Turkish Gambit”. If you watched other worth-seeing Russian movies, let us know in the comments below!

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