Mike’s Top Films of the Decade (390-381)

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:

390. The Double

The other half of the ‘doppelganger’ double feature from the decade. Enemy is the more ‘prestigious’ of the two, with Denis Villeneuve behind it, but I’ve always enjoyed this one (from Richard Ayoade) more. It just has a more twisted sense of humor, going full Kafka in its weirdness. It’s got Jesse Eisenberg as an average dude with a crush on his coworker but afraid to do anything about it who oe day discovers an exact doppelganger show up at his office. And of course the doppelganger is everything he isn’t (and the joke is that no one else sees the resemblance), and it just becomes this weird story where the doppelganger seems to be overtaking his life, getting credit for all the work he’s doing and basically taking everything he wants away from him. It’s great. It’s weird in the best possible way.

389. The One I Love

A great little indie that feels like an extended Twilight Zone episode. That’s how good the premise is. It’s about a coupe whose marriage is on the brink of ending (Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss) who, on the advice of their marriage counselor (Ted Danson), go to his getaway cottage for a weekend, just to see if they can salvage it. Though when they get there, they discover this weird phenomenon where exact versions of themselves exist there. At first it’s separate — one storms into the guest house after a fight and finds the other version there, the one who seems much more forgiving and like the partner they wish they saw more of — and then eventually everything begins to bleed over in a fun and interesting way. I really like this one. It’s not showy or flashy, but it’s really fascinating and — to use the dreaded phrase — ‘make you think’. Which is ridiculous, because everything should make you think in some form. But this one brings up all those questions about what one actually wants in a partner and expectations in marriage and relationship and just the nature of the self. There’s a lot of great stuff going on here that, like the best Twilight Zone episodes, does it in a really grounded kind of way where it saves all the interesting considerations for after everything’s over.

388. Buried

Simple movie, simple premise — dude wakes up in a coffin with a limited air supply and a cell phone, is told to get a ransom fee and only then will he be released. Otherwise, he’s gonna be left there to die. So the film is him frantically trying to get out of there before air runs out and he dies. It’s a taut little thriller with a great Ryan Reynolds performance and one of those unique kind of movies that’s good because you don’t see anything else like it get made. I’m not gonna say it’s like Hitchcock, because it’s not, but he was one of those guys who gave you interesting films like that — a film that takes place entirely in a single lifeboat, or one that takes place in a guy’s apartment as he looks through other apartment windows. This is in that vein — it’s interesting because it tells a story in a confined space that works.

387. Blue Is the Warmest Color

One of the more acclaimed foreign films of the decade — it’s a three-hour film about a same-sex romance. And honestly, I couldn’t tell you why I’d have found this interesting, but it is. It’s really interesting. You care about Adele Exarchopoulos’ character and the journey feels worthwhile even if it’s an insanely long movie by time standards. There’s also some really graphic sex scenes in the movie which I’m normally opposed to (because at a certain point, or really, at most points, sex scenes feel unnecessary and are gratuitous), but even here I wasn’t so opposed to them. It felt (at the time, at least) that they were there to break down the barriers for the audience who generally aren’t used to being confronted with same-sex relationships in such a casual way and it felt like a way to just throw it at you and say, “Here, take it or leave it.” Now, it seems a bit off-putting, because you hear about the awful shit the director did to the actors, but still, it’s a very good movie.

386. Beasts of No Nation

This was Netflix’s first original film, and for a while was their crown jewel. They didn’t really get another film of this quality for a while. It’s Cary Fukunaga’s first film post-True Detective, which earned him all sorts of acclaim and ‘auteur’ status. It’s a film about a child soldier in Africa under a Kony-like commander played by Idris Elba. And it’s really good. There’s not really much else to say. It’s a really good movie. I think slightly overrated at the time just because of the issue and Fukunaga’s name and because Netflix was pushing it super hard, but even after that all fades the movie’s still incredibly worthwhile.

385. Army of One

Nicolas Cage. I talk about this movie any time I can, and with good reason. Because it’s a movie from Larry Charles, director of Borat and a bunch of Curb and Seinfeld episodes, starring Nicolas Cage as a real dude (seriously, it’s based on a real guy. I’ve posted the video of him on Letterman like a dozen times by this point) who said that God told him to go to Afghanistan to kill Osama bin Laden. Naturally it’s a comedy, and this is one of the ones where Cage goes all out on the character. It’s amazing. If you like Cage at his weirdest and most out there, this is one for you. It’s hilarious.

384. Joker

It’s Joker. We all know it, we all probably saw it, and we all have feelings about it. I’m gonna hold back my feelings about this on a social level, because I still think apart from that it’s a very nice character study that at the very least separates itself from the usual D.C. bullshit and crap films. Joaquin’s really good and Todd Phillips does a great job of making it feel like 70s New York (cinematically, I know it takes place in the 80s. Oh fucking trust me, do I know. That goddamn stair dance song alone…), and the film looks amazing. Can’t really say I like it as anything more than that, since all I can see are its cinematic references whose plots it’s taking from. But it’s still a solid movie. If this were a standalone film, no one would care. But because it took something that’s been terrible recently, treated it as serious and actually made a pretty good movie out of it, that’s why people felt the way they did about it.

383. Young Adult

Jason Reitman’s first film that people weren’t fully on board with. After Thank You for Smoking and Juno and Up in the Air, he was on a hot streak most people could dream of. So he went back with Diablo Cody with what seemed like a sure thing. And then he gave us this big ‘fuck you’ of a movie that I still marvel at. This is a really acerbic movie, and I’m not sure audiences were ready for it at the time. And I think people just sort of shunned it because it wasn’t a wisecracking teenager learning life lessons. But I think this movie’s awesome. Charlize is so great in it and there are some really fucked up laughs in it, which I love. Reitman has a pretty strong filmography overall and this one feels like it’s gonna be one of those middling gems that no one properly appreciates. But honestly, that’s fine, because the top half of his filmography is really good and I’d rather it be a good one that people can discover than one that wasn’t so good and just feels like a giant misstep.

382. 21 Jump Street

I thought the idea was stupid when they announced it. I’m pretty sure most of us did. Jonah Hill was always second banana in all the comedies and Channing Tatum was the guy from the dance movies before this. Anyone who says they knew this would be what it became is lying. But then you saw the trailer and went — okay, kinda funny. And then the movie — really funny. Really smart and clever and a nice twist on the source material (which in a weird way they’re almost elevating by not taking it seriously). It’s just a legitimately funny movie and one of the better comedies of the decade. Even the sequel manages to be more funny than not, which is rarely something you can say about a studio comedy.

381. Uncut Gems

Not much needing to be said here. I think everyone’s on board with this one as a film. There are certainly enough memes out there to make me think people have seen it. It’s a terrific movie. I can’t love it as much as some others do because I had the benefit of seeing Good Time first, which is largely the same movie in that it’s a 2-hour long panic attack of a dude in a bad situation making atrocious decisions and making you the audience feel stressed for him. Same visual style as this, same really good movie as this. But either way, this one’s great. Sandler delivers his best performance in over a decade if not almost two (Punch Drunk Love is the furthest we go back. Maybe you can say Reign Over Me if you want). It’s just a terrific movie that does hold up on repeat viewings. I’m curious to see what the Safdie brothers give us next.

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