My Top Ten Films of the last decade
The best movies of the 2010s from where I'm watching
While the year is still young, I thought I'd share my top ten films of the last decade. I've had some brilliant experiences in the cinema in this time and whereas many of these may be popular choices, I hope some will inspire readers to go and watch something they haven't seen before. Also a heads up to anyone else new to Vocal, this is the second time I'm writing this as I got to number 3 the first time after forgetting to save changes and lost it. So, yeah, ehm, don't do that. To be fair I'm probably the only one stupid enough to do that. Anyway:
10. The Force Awakens (2015)
Quite unexpectedly, thanks to Disney's takeover of Lucasfilm in 2012, we've had quite a few 'Star Wars' movies this decade. And, along with that, we've also had quite a furore surrounding the release of two of them. I'm sure nobody reading needs me to inform them of the divisions between "fans" and critics surrounding 'The Last Jedi' and 'The Rise of Skywalker.' I'm not sure anything has been quite so divisive in movie history. I, perhaps controversially, have enjoyed all the 'Star Wars' entries of the last decade. I particularly enjoyed the spin-offs, 'Rogue One' and 'Solo,' but the one that makes the cut is going to have to be the original ... where original means ...of the third trilogy not counting spin-offs.
JJ Abrams did recieve some backlash for his approach of blending novelty with nostalgia. But I think most of us, and definitely me, think he did it right. By crafting a plot similar to the first film, but weaving in brilliant new characters like Rey, Finn and Kylo Ren, who gelled very well with the orginal's Han, Leia and Chewie, Abrams appealed to everyone. One of the highlights of my moviegoing experiences of recent years was seeing Han and Chewie opening the doors on the Millenium Falcon.
So, in conclusion, I think it is fair to say it started off best, when everyone was on the same page. Oh, and it's the film where we met BB-8.
9. 12 Years a Slave (2013)
This film shook me exactly how a film should when tackling such a horrific subject matter that, as director Steve McQueen pointed out in his BAFTA acceptance speech, is still very much alive today. By following the true-life story of Solomon Northup, a free man kidnapped and sold into slavery, we see slavery from the perspective of an outsider. And I think this makes it all the more harrowing. It's an interesting perspective when, for example, Northup feels sympathy for his first owner, William Ford, a deeply religious man who saves his life. It takes a career-defining performance from Lupita Nyong'o as Patsey to show him there is nothing sympathetic about the slave trade. And Northup learns that for himself when he is introduced to Edwin Epps. Michael Fassbender depicts sheer evil as never quite seen before as this ruthless slaver, and it is every bit as horrific as you might imagine and then some. Northup's story might have a happy ending, but the film's purpose, in depicting the horror of those 12 years, definitely does its job, and for most that horror lasted, and will last, a lot longer.
8. Arrival (2016)
I enjoyed Dennis Villeneuve's 'Prisoners' which nearly made the list, didn't enjoy 'Sicario' which I guess I just didn't "get," but his third international film, 'Arrival,' I have a lot of time for. I read a review which described it as a political Sci-fi film centred on linguistics. As a lingustics student with an interest in politics and Sci-fi, I was intrigued. So, I went to see it one night before work and I didn't think much of it. Much like 'Sicario.' However, my shift was a slow overnight one and I had plenty of time to think, and I realised I'd just watched a masterpiece. The plot centres on a linguist played by Amy Adams, who must try and communicate with aliens who have come to Earth in a 'The Day the Earth stood still' fashion. Miscommunication quickly becomes a theme, with many nations quickly wanting to take up arms agains the aliens, and it's up to Adams alone to convince them otherwise. I won't say how it ends, but this is a poignant film about the sheer importance of good communication and what it can do for mankind. Released in 2016, amidst Trump and Brexit and a significant lack of commmunication and political divide worldwide, it did what great art is supposed to do, try and tell an important truth.
7. Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)
Speaking of art as a conveyor of truth, trust only the Coen brothers to come up with a work of art that depicts art as truth and the importance of this. If you aren't going to watch this film, please at least listen to the brilliant soundtrack. But if you do watch it, I would hope that you'd find it deeply moving and profound. It doesn't have much of a plot, as the Coen brothers have admitted I think, stating that's why they threw the cat in. But the film isn't called "A Day in the Life of Llewyn Davis," it's called 'Inside Llewyn Davis.' And what we see here is the struggle of a true artist. At first, Llewyn seems like a bit of a dick, but the more we examine who he is we realise there is more that meets the eye. And if that isn't meaningful enough, we realise why he refuses to compromise his art. Because it is his truth.
6. Hugo (2011)
Martin Scorsese has made some great films in the last decade. Well, Martin Scorsese has made some great films throughout his whole career. But it isn't 'The Wolf of Wall Street,' 'Shutter Island,' 'Silence' or even 'The Irishman' that makes my cut. It's this 2011 entry, a family adventure film that is essentially a love letter to cinema. 'Hugo' is beautifully shot, and, although fictional, brings to life the life and works of Georges Melies as an essential part of the plot. Scorsese picked the right genre for this film, because it is only through childlike wonder that one can truly depict the wonder of what cinema does for us. I'm disappointed I never got to see this in the cinema, which I believe would have been the appropriate place to see it. And I believe a lot of Scorsese's films, like 'Taxi Driver' are often re-released in cinemas. But it is this that I want to see re-released most of all.
5. Captain America: Civil War (2016)
Contrary to the opinions of the director of my number 6 entry, I am a MCU fan. And they've made some brilliant movies in this time. But I've decided only one can make the cut. And it's been a tough decision. I loved the quirky irreverance of 'Guardians of the Galaxy' and 'Thor: Ragnarok,' I have a soft spot for 'Ant-man' and I absolutely loved the action-packed 'Avengers: Infinity War' (way better than 'Endgame' I'm sorry). But it's going to have to be 'Civil War.' I mean, it's basically an Avengers film anyway. And it's got the humour. And the action. But what is also has is a great story. The battle of principles between Tony Stark and Steve Rogers is, I think, the best story the MCU has offered so far. Oh, and it also features Tom Holland's Spider-man. Although those 'Spider-man' films are also great, they aren't quite Avengers-scale, but Tom Holland just makes a very welcome addition to this already brilliant movie.
4. Get Out (2017)
I still find it weird that Daniel Kaluuya is a worldwide star, as to me he will always be Parking Pataweyo from 'Harry and Paul.' But his fame is entirely justified, as he's an incredible actor. And this is an excellent, orginal and relevant film. First of all, it's a gripping horror/thriller. Secondly, it's hilarious when it wants to be, but thirdly, and most importantly, it's a scathing satire of race relations In America. Taking aim at the modern white middle class attitudes to race. I think a lot of people who told their friends at dinner parties that they enjoyed it, were actually the type of people it was targeting without them realising. And that just sums them up. Jordan Peele pointed out, quite rightly, that just because we are a far cry from '12 Years a Slave,' racism is very much alive in the US today. And he isn't talking about rednecks.
3. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)
This next entry is another film that I found very relevant to these times. Another dark comedy, it centres on the mother of a raped and murdered girl seeking justice in a corrupt town. The performances and the dialogue are what make this film. Director Martin McDonagh has a knack for creating intriguing, yet flawed characters. They're real. Because people are flawed. There is no real good vs. evil to this film. There's just people going through a hard time. And McDormand and Rockwell were rightly awarded Oscars for the way they depicted two of the central characters. It's a film, I think, that promotes understanding and the capacity of people to change for the better. Even though nobody's perfect. You have to watch it to really understand how good it is, though.
2. Once upon a time in Hollywood (2019)
Tarantino's made some great films too in this time. 'Django unchained' and 'The Hateful 8' were great, I thought. But I'm a fan of Westerns. I'm a bigger fan of movies in general, however, and that is probably why I loved this sooo much. I studied the end of the studio era and the beginning of New Hollywood at uni, so I had some investment in the plot. But I can only hand it to Tarantino for creating the most perfect love letter to an era of cinema that he clearly feels very indebted to. The sets, the soundtrack, the dialogue, the brilliantly crafted fictional characters alongside great portrayals of people like Sharon Tate ( I don't think Margot Robbie put a foot wrong - no that's not a Tarantino joke); it's perfect. And I think the Tarantino-esque take on the Manson story as an important plot point works 100%. It divided a lot of people. I for one think it's a masterpiece. Already seen it twice. Look forward to seeing it again. And again.
1. Calvary (2014)
Martin McDonagh made it to number 3, but he has been beaten to my number 1 spot by his brother John, who directed 'Calvary.' It was hailed by many as a masterpiece when it came out, destined to be a classic, yet not enough people have seen or heard of it. The film tackles the difficult subject matter of the Catholic sex abuse scandals, but from the perspective of a good priest. An unnamed parishioner confesses to Father James one day that in one week's time, he will kill him. He's a victim of abuse by another priest, but he feels that killing a good priest is the shock that the system needs. The film then plays out a bit like 'High Noon,' one of my all-time favourite films, as we count down the days of the week and see Father James' relationship with his parishioners, his family and himself. As a Catholic I may be biased, but I think McDonagh captures the importance of the priesthood without ignoring the horror of its crimes. And whilst darkly comic, this is one of the most harrowing films I've ever seen. It was quite an experience to watch it in the cinema. In one scene, the whole cinema sat silently shocked but one woman in front of me screamed. I've never seen anything quite like it. It will shake you to the core.
Also it's always on telly get it watched.