2006 / Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck > Every year, there are a few films that have nearly flawless executions. In 2006, The Lives of Others just might have led that pack. While I couldn’t find myself as emotionally attached to the story as those who are natives of Germany or have been in similar collectivist situations, interest in the film rarely waned once the plot started to roll. The story of the East German Stasi is not one I was previously familiar with, but the 1984-esque paranoia that rung around the film was thick, congestive and effective. Personally, I couldn’t agree with some of the character development and emotional manipulation that occurs as the show goes on, but overall, I also can’t be angry that this beat out Pan’s Labyrinth at the Oscars for Best Foreign Film. There’s much merit in its cold, calculated success.