Drive (2011)

drive

A mysterious Hollywood stuntman and mechanic moonlights as a getaway driver and finds himself in trouble when he helps out his neighbor. (IMDb)
Smoothly moves without leaving a character behind or strings untied from a subtly spun protagonist set-up (the quiet Driver is ever intriguing) with budding romance to a bloody crime/revenge drama spiked with shocking violence. Add to that an equally cohesive aesthetic of a moody city setting slickly portrayed (see the crossfade transitions, scrumptious slow motion shots under a gorgeous synth soundtrack) and unique scene edits (see the final confrontation) and the film packs quite the punch.
9/10 (Amazing)

Ex Machina (2015)

A young programmer is selected to participate in a ground-breaking experiment in artificial intelligence by evaluating the human qualities of a breath-taking female A.I. (IMDb)

The gorgeous and isolated setting here is mesmerizing, and the contrast between the largely windowless indoors and lush outdoors offers a cool visual aid to the human vs. machine theme that runs throughout. Isaac and the other leads are excellent, and the eerie soundtrack works well with a tight story that gets darker with each scene to create a fantastic sense of growing uneasiness that does falter a bit in a slightly muddled climax. All told, however, this is a great, haunting sci-fi thriller.

8.4/10