When I first got into film, I somehow decided I was adamantly against documentaries as a medium. Part of it’s an attention span thing — most of the time when I watch a documentary, I get what it’s trying to say within fifteen minutes and the rest of the time it just feels like I’m being beat over the head with the same themes over and over again. I also, for a time, felt like every documentary was the same. They were either about how badly the government and corporations were screwing us and how awful certain issues are, or they were looking back at the Holocaust for the millionth time. So, for a time, I avoided all documentaries unless I had to or if they seemed really interesting.
Though, over the decade, there’s definitely been a real uptick in how many documentaries I see. To the point where I now rank my favorite 15 documentaries at the end of each year. I still, of course, have a preference for certain subject matters over others and do tend to not care about docs others might deem important and essential, but I’m definitely not as dismissive as I used to be about them. So as I rank my favorite 100 documentaries of the decade, the message I’d like to impart is this — people grow. The fact that I’m even doing this list when, a decade ago I’d have scoffed at the notion of it — you don’t have to love everything in order to appreciate everything.
So here are my favorite documentaries of the past decade: (more…)
89. “Lost Stars,” from Begin Again
The forgotten John Carney film. Which is funny, because it’s not like Sing Street and Once are that much out there that people are gonna have widely known both of those. But for people who do know those films, they don’t really know this one. And that’s because this is his one big ‘Hollywood’ film. It’s got Keira and Mark Ruffalo and the Weinstein Company produced it (which I suspect is why no one ever saw it). While Once is very much this little indie musical, and Sing Street is more just about the kids making the band, this is very much a ‘plot’ movie. Mark Ruffalo is a down-on-his-luck music executive who finds Keira, a singer-songwriter, and decides he’s gonna help her become a success. Sort of the ‘this is my last shot’ kind of thing. Jerry Maguire… you’ve seen this movie before. But the one thing the movie does do very right (and it is quite a solid movie in its own right) is this song, which is just gorgeous. Adam Levine performs the ‘credits’ version, but the one that appears within the film is sung by Keira, and is the one that I much prefer. Because it just feels much more authentic and less… studio. It’s a really lovely song that was nominated for an Oscar, though very much overlooked by all the other nominees that year.
Also, fun fact: the guy who co-wrote this song is the same guy who wrote one of the essential songs of my childhood, The New Radicals’ “You Get What You Give.” So now you know that on top of having this wonderful song in your life.