Mike’s Top Films of the Decade (430-421)
And here we are. The big list. Theoretically the one we’ve been building toward. But really anticlimactic when you get down to it. You think the list of my ‘favorite’ films of an entire decade would be the thing you want. But really it’s just me going back over a lot of the stuff I covered on the other lists and a broad regurgitation of my top ten lists from the ten years. So, rather than treat this like some big holy set of rankings, I’m just gonna do what I did with all the other lists – try to get you to see some of these you haven’t seen before and maybe introduce you to some cool movies.
It’s important to note, as it’s important to note with all my lists – the rankings don’t really matter. The number is only a function of the day I put it together. The only way to truly get a real ranking of my favorite films of the decade is for me to take the pool of films I used and make up this list from scratch at least ten different times and then use some sort of formula to figure out the average position of each movie and then create a ranking. And that’s not the goal here. I don’t care about the numbers. I care about talking up the films I like and trying to get people to see some of them.
So, if you feel like you want to get upset about where something is ranked, know that it’s a broad ranking. For the most part, films are in the general range of the 25-50 where I’d generally rate them next to everything else. Things will change as I revisit stuff and as time goes on. Like I said, this is really just about telling you what I enjoyed most in the hopes that it gets you to check out some of the stuff you either didn’t know about before or never bothered to see (or maybe saw and didn’t fully appreciate at the time). That’s it. It’s really just about celebrating movies. Don’t get so hung up on the numbers.
So, here are my 500 favorite films of 2010-2019:
Great film I’ve talked about quite a few times on these lists, and honestly, the more the better. It’s based around real events that have happened at various places throughout the country, probably most notably at McDonald’s. It’s about a manager at a fast food restaurant who gets a call from a man purporting to be a police officer who says one of the employees has stolen some money and tells the woman to bring the employee into her office and conduct a strip search. And, as you find out pretty early on in the film, the man is not a police officer, nor does he put forth any proof as to being such aside from a stern attitude. And the film is about what happens when people are faced with what appears to be authority, even in the face of pure logic. It’s a really strong film with a great central performance from Ann Dowd.
This is Quentin Dupieux, master of the weird. His most known film is Rubber, about the tire that becomes sentient and begins killing people with telekinetic powers. This is his followup to that, and it’s simply about a man who loses his dog. But, as you can imagine… there’s more going on there. It’s really surreal and bizarre and hilarious, but it’s not gonna be for everyone. I’d recommend watching a trailer and seeing if the sense of humor and tone is gonna be for you. I enjoyed the hell out of it, and I’d say that while some of Dupieux’s films can go a bit too weird for my taste, this one feels about as close to Rubber and the mainstream as his style is gonna get.
Denzel, August Wilson. That’s it. That’s the movie. Denzel directs and adapts (though without credit) August Wilson’s incredible play while also taking on its lead role, initially played by James Earl Jones on Broadway. He has Viola Davis come along to play his wife, as well as a terrific cast of other actors like Stephen McKinley Henderson, Russell Hornsby and Mykelti Williamson. It’s a faithful adaptation of the play and one of those films people should see. Very theatrical, as one can imagine. It’s basically the play on screen. But it’s a play worth seeing, so that’s totally fine. It’s a great piece of work.
The appeal for this one is so limited, but I’m so perfectly within this one’s wheelhouse. It’s a western, for one, and I think it’s very clear how much I love that genre. And second, it’s from the Zellner brothers, who made Kumiko the Treasure Hunter, which is amazing. Their humor is so offbeat and weird and perfect. So this is them taking western tropes and turning them on their heads. Robert Pattinson plays a very milquetoast city man who comes out west to marry his ‘sweetheart’. And the first half of the film is him traveling to her. And often the jokes are the fact that he’s this rich city guy who is not cut out for what we think of the old west, complete with him riding a little pony instead of a horse. And he meets all sorts of weirdos along the way. Then he gets there and finds her — and that’s when the film reveals what it’s really about, which is a lot of fun. And then the film explains to you just what its title means and really turns all the tropes you expect on their head and completes this fun, weird little journey. It’s the kind of movie you watch as a deconstruction of a genre and a weird comedy more than anything else. It’s awesome.
426. Brigsby Bear
This is a movie I expected to begrudgingly be okay with in the face of others overrating it but came out thinking it was extremely charming and very much worth telling people about. It’s about a man who was raised in this underground bunker, never being allowed to go outside. His only respite was this kid’s show called Brigsby Bear (like if Barney had Be Kind Rewind production values), which taught him all sorts of life lessons and is the only ‘friend’ he has. Then one day the police come and arrest his ‘parents’, who happen to be some people who kidnapped him as a child and hid him (which is why he was never allowed outside). So now he’s returned to his birth family and is struggling to fit in with the real world, especially after he finds out that Brigsby Bear, his favorite show, doesn’t really exist. So he sets out to try to film one final episode, as a way to end the series, end that chapter of his life and reach a form of catharsis. It’s a really sweet and beautiful film. I can’t say enough great things about it. It’s really wonderful.
425. Boy and the World
Portuguese animated film that features no dialogue (in a sort of Jacques Tati kinda way. All the dialogue in the film is Portuguese spoken backwards) and is about a boy whose father leaves to go find work, so the boy goes off to follow him. And it’s about his adventures traveling into the city and seeing the way modern technology works. The visual style is completely different from almost any other animated film you’ve seen and is stunning. It’s a really easy watch, too. Only 80 minutes, and quite literally one of those films you can just look at and won’t have to pay attention to a complicated story. It’s one of the best animated films of the decade.
424. What They Had
Terrific indie family drama. It’s set up like other films you’ve seen before, but the acting is just so good and it’s clearly based on someone’s real life, which adds a sense of authenticity to the whole thing. Here’s the set-up: Robert Forster and Blythe Danner have been married for something like half a century. She’s slipping into dementia, but he continues to lovingly care for her. But now he’s getting a bit too old to do it. Their son, Michael Shannon, who’s always lived locally to sort of help his parents, want Forster to put Danner into a home and fights with him constantly about it. Hilary Swank, their daughter and Shannon’s sister, lives out in LA with her husband and daughter. She flies in after an incident where Danner wanders into a blizzard on Christmas Eve, and now is back in her hometown and back into the discussion about whether or not to put her mother into a care facility. It’s a really strong drama. It’s got some of the tropes you’d expect, but the actors are so good in it, especially Forster, who delivers one of the best performances of his career in one of the final performances of his career.
423. Kingsman: The Secret Service
Everyone knows this one. It’s the Kick-Ass version of James Bond. Complete with Matthew Vaughn’s directorial style. It’s James Bond for the MTV generation who demands crazy action and stuff. It’s fun. I’m not as overly enamored with this as some are, but I enjoy it as one of those sleek, throwaway kind of action franchises. It’s fun stuff.
422. Frances Ha
I’m pretty on the record about not liking Noah Baumbach movies. I find his characters thoroughly unlikable and the movies striving to be Woody Allen films (and we all know my feeling on Woody Allen films, in general). Squid and the Whale, Margot at the Wedding, Greenberg — I was very anti-Baumbach movies for a long time. But then this one came out. And I surprisingly really liked it. And now that the decade is out, I realize why — Greta Gerwig. This one is all about her and her voice. Having seen her direct two films (and having seen all the other Baumbach movies of the decade, both with and without her involved in them), I realize she’s the main reason why I like this movie so much. She’s so goddamn charming. The film is meant to be a mumblecore type movie built around her and her character — this 20-something with a carefree attitude who bounces around various jobs, doesn’t seem to have a plan or goals, but is really excited about it and just enjoys living life. And it’s really fun. Gerwig leaps off the screen and honestly could have also been one of those A-list stars if she cared to do it (rather than one of the best filmmaking voices of her generation, which she was after one film and further cemented with the second). So, we’re left with the only Noah Baumbach movie I particularly like, so I’m just gonna embrace that aspect, because I honestly didn’t think I’d ever get there.
421. The Standoff at Sparrow Creek
Awesome movie. One of the few I’d feel comfortable dropping the term ‘Hitchcockian’ for. Because that’s the feel of this. It’s a contained mystery, the kind he’d have made. It’s about a group of local militia men who convene on their warehouse after a militia man shoots up a cop funeral nearby. They get there and soon realize… the gun that was used is missing from their locker. So now, the police are swarming around the state and will likely be bearing down on them any minute, and they have to figure out which one of them did it. So it becomes this really nice little thriller, where you need to figure out which one of them did it, with nice little reveals and moments of tension along the way. It’s a really terrific little movie. One of those you watch because you think, “What is this?” and come out going, “That was really good.” I love movies like this.
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