57. The Lives of Others (2006)
directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
Winner for Best Foreign Language Film at 2007’s Academy Awards, The Lives of Others is about the intersection of personal and national secrets. The late Ulrich Muhe plays an interrogation expert for the secret police, who begins surveillance on a writer. The film’s classic structure never feels forced, as he becomes obsessed and intrigued by their lives and views. His actions in the second half of the film come directly from the change in the character, not from any sense of plot necessity or contrivance. The film plays equally well as a character study and thriller, and it is a little-seen gem that will definitely leave a mark.