30 Brilliant Contemporary Black And White Movies

Monochrome marvels from the past 20 years

Pleasantville (1998)

The Black & White Movie: Gary Ross' comedy drama, which casts a nostalgic backward glance at black-and-white TV shows of the 1950s.

Tobey Maguire and Reese Witherspoon are the modern day siblings who get trapped in monochrome sitcom Pleasantville

How Black & White Makes It Better: The recreation of the 1950s is bang on, from the fashion to the set decoration.

It also gives extra whack to Pleasantville 's gradual slip into Technicolor. This is gorgeous visual storytelling.

Note: Here, 'contemporary' refers to films from the past 20 years, so there'll be no Raging Bull or Elephant Man . Soz.

Memento (2001)

The Black & White Movie: Chris Nolan's mindfuck psychological thriller isn't entirely in black and white (unlike his equally brilliant Following ), but that doesn't stop it from packing a monochrome punch.

Guy Pearce is the amnesia-suffering Leonard, who's out for revenge - if only he could remember why.

How Black & White Makes It Better: The black and white helps to distinguish the film's two separate strands - the monochrome scenes run sequentially, while the colour sequences are jumbled.

When the two colour grades finally collide at the film's climax, it's thrilling stuff.

Antichrist (2009)

The Black & White Movie: Alright, it's just the opening scene of Lars von Trier's jolting drama that's in black and white, but it's so powerful it had to be included here.

During Antichrist 's harrowing first few minutes, 'Lascia ch'io pianga' from Handel's Rinaldo plays as He (Willem Dafoe) and She (Charlotte Gainsbourg) make love - and their son falls to his death from the apartment window.

How Black & White Makes It Better: It gives the opening a nightmarish quality that really gets under your skin.

Kisses (2008)

The Black & White Movie: Though it contains an extended segment in Dublin that's full Technicolor, the black-and-white in Lance Daly's micro-budget Irish drama is used brilliantly.

We open (in monochrome) in a rundown suburb, home to Dylan (Shane Curry) and Kylie (Kelly O'Neill), who decide to run away to Dublin to escape their miserable lives.

How Black & White Makes It Better: When Dublin surrenders unexpected wonders, colour slowly seeps into the screen until we're in a full-blown Technicolor wonderland.

Black and white is used as an impactful contrast - when Dylan and Kylie return home at the end of the film, the return to black and white wields serious emotional heft.

24 7: Twenty-Four Seven (1997)

The Black & White Movie: Shane Meadows hangs out in a working-class town where aimless youngsters are given a kick up the backside by Bob Hoskins' Mr Motivator.

His plan? Get them into boxing.

How Black & White Makes It Better: It feels like Meadows picked up a cheap camera and just started shooting his mates.

This is kitchen sink without the sink. Or the kitchen.

Go Fish (1994)

The Black & White Movie: Girlfriends-at-the-time Rose Troche and Guinevere Turner write and produce this indie drama, which follows a group of lesbians in Chicago.

Just one entry in the mid-90s 'gay flick' boom, Go Fish deals in dreamy montage, fourth-wall-breaking antics and a propensity of LGBT issues. "Wow, you have a lot of tea…"

How Black & White Makes It Better: It gives the film a boho-indie chic, especially in the shadowy montage sequences.

A Midwinter's Tale (1995)

The Black & White Movie: Kenneth Branagh's delightful monochrome romantic comedy.

Jobless actor Joe (Michael Maloney) agrees to help a local church put on a production of Hamlet , but can he really make it work with the 'actors' he's lumbered with?

How Black & White Makes It Better: It's all part of the satire. Black and white films are meant to be arty and introspective, aren't they?

Well, nobody told these wannabe actors, who ham it up something hysterical.

Dead Man (1995)

The Black & White Movie: A "psychedelic Western" according to director Jim Jarmusch, who points his camera at William Blake (Johnny Depp).

Blake's just killed a man when he encounters an Indian spirit guide called Nobody (Gary Farmer).

How Black & White Makes It Better: The story itself is pretty damn whimsical, and the visuals match that tone perfectly.

The Good German (2006)

The Black & White Movie: An adaptation of Joseph Kanon's novel, directed by Steven Soderbergh.

Set in a post-war Berlin, Jake Geismer (George Clooney) attends the Potsdam conference before searching for ex-lover Lena (Cate Blanchett).

How Black & White Makes It Better: Soderbergh designed the film to look just like a 1940s noir, and he accomplishes that brilliantly - even bringing the classic noir up to date by including sex scenes and the odd F-bomb.

The Addiction (1995)

The Black & White Movie: Abel Ferrara explores vampirism with a little help from Christopher Walken and Lili Taylor.

How Black & White Makes It Better: It takes the focus away from the red of blood, allowing the drug addiction allegory to really shine.

Plus black and white just works better when your film's dealing in heavy themes and references the likes of Nietzsche, Feuerbach and Husserl, right?

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