Mike’s Top Films of the Decade (370-361)

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:

370. Ted

One of the great comedies of the decade. Fun premise — what if a child wished for a Teddy Bear to come to life and it did… and then we saw what happened thirty years later when the kid wasn’t a kid anymore. So now the bear is just a layabout stoner who hangs out with our guy, who’s in a state of extended childhood because he’s got this piece of his childhood tied to himself. It’s fun. Nice and raunchy in the right ways and has a lot of moments that legitimately make you laugh. Even the sequel largely works, even if it’s generally just a rehash of the first one again.

369. The Help

I always appreciate going back to movies like this years later. Because everyone’s forgotten about the insane hype for them and now they all realize — “Oh, well I guess this wasn’t the changing of cinema as we know it.” Not that this is a bad movie by any stretch, but people were insane about this one. And that’s all I remember all these years later. And yet — just good. Just a solid movie and not a whole lot more. That’s what this is — really solid, great performances, terrific cast, very rewatchable, but not the greatest thing since sliced bread. The ranking being where it is should show you the respect I have for it. But I’m still not gonna let it go that people went fucking crazy for this when they didn’t need to.

368. The Monster

I’ve talked about this one a few times now. It’s an incredible horror movie (and it takes a lot for me to like one of those) that works because it’s small, contained and the monster can be seen as a metaphor for other things. It’s from the director of The Strangers and is about a very awful mother who is an addict and abusive whose daughter says she wants to live with her father full time. So, while traveling there, the two are attacked by a monster on the side of the road in the woods. And the mother has to defend her daughter and herself before the monster gets them. And the monster, as you can imagine, can be seen as a metaphor for addiction and motherhood and all the worst parts of this woman’s personality that threaten to cause pain and suffering to her daughter for the rest of her life. It’s a really strong film with an amazing performance from Zoe Kazan. I really highly recommend this one.

367. Midsommar

Well, this’ll be easy. We all saw this one, or at least know about it. It’s a strong film. A bit overlong and indulgent, but still quite fun. Much more of an overt comedy than Hereditary is (though not as funny, in my opinion). Florence Pugh is terrific and it’s got some great visuals on top of some fun Wicker Man stuff next to some Swedish weird shit. It’s nice seeing a horror movie try to be artistic in the right ways, rather than just giving us the same old tired shit all the others give us.

366. Upstream Color

Great film from Shane Carruth, who gave is the mindfuck that is Primer. This one’s not as much of a mindfuck as much as it’s about really dense themes. It’s about a woman who gets kidnapped by a guy in a parking lot and fed some weird worm thing that causes her to become highly suggestible. He then goes back to her house and robs her over the course of several days, leaving no evidence of his robbery behind. A year or so later, the woman, having moved on and started her life over again, meets a man on the subway and begins a relationship with him. She slowly realizes that he’s also been the victim of a similar event, and the pair set out to try to trace the source of all of this. It’s not as straightforward as that, but it’s really terrific. It’s one of those movies where, even if you don’t fully understand it, you feel like you’re in good hands and can get a lot of the emotion out of it regardless. It’s a really terrific piece of work and I hope they eventually let Shane Carruth make more movies. Because his is a really unique and talented voice we can use on the screen.

365. I Kill Giants

Loved this. I say every time it comes up that this was the kind of film I’d have seen as a child and enjoyed the hell out of and then realized years later that absolutely no one else even knew it existed This is about a young outcast girl who has no friends, is generally thought of as weird, keeps to herself, and is convinced she is the one meant to kill giant monsters. And whether or not the monsters even exist is moot, because it’s clear there’s something going on with her, and the film is about those around her either dealing with her behavior or trying to do their best to help her. It’s really sweet and touching in a lot of ways and I just feel like this is a great film for all children around like 7-10 to just watch. It’s a really strong piece of work that unfortunately no one knows exists.

364. The Book Thief

A lovely film. A Holocaust film about a girl living with foster parents in Germany during World War II. She steals books but is unable to read. Eventually she learns to read from being taught by the Jewish man her foster parents are hiding in their basement. It’s very much one of those sanitized, less-depressing kinda Holocaust movies and not one of the Schindler’s List/Son of Saul type where it’s just horror upon horror. It’s a very likable movie in a lot of ways, just don’t expect it to be very hard-hitting.

363. The Other Side of the Wind

Orson Welles’ final masterpiece. Anyone who likes him as a filmmaker and appreciates his work needs to see this one. It’s terrific. It’s half the story of a filmmaker having a birthday party for himself after the completion of his most recent film and half the film itself. Really great, really different from anything that was being made back then (it was filmed in the 70s but only released this decade because Welles died before finishing his cut). Also should be seen with the documentary about the making of it/Welles’ career They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead.

362. Blue Ruin

Great little slow burn thriller from Jeremy Saulnier who’d follow this up with Green Book, another one just like it (though much more in the mainstream than this is). It’s about a guy living as a vagabond, estranged from his family and traumatized by the death of his parents some years earlier. He gets word that the man who killed his parents is about to be released from prison. So, he sets out to go murder that guy, which of course sets off a chain of events that bring about more violence. It’s really great. VERY grounded, which makes the whole thing even more effective than if it was one of those sleek action movies with huge body counts. Here, the violence counts. And it’s great. It’s a really great thriller.

361. Sully

After American Sniper, the second in Clint Eastwood’s ‘hero worship’ series (with The 15:17 to Paris and Richard Jewell following this), about the captain who landed the plane in the Hudson River after hitting some geese in the air. The film is very quick — only about 90 minutes — and it details the event itself, all the different aspects of it from the perspective of the pilots, the passengers, first responders, those in the tower, etc. And it also deals with the aftermath, the public response, the investigation. It’s well done. A really tight, entertaining film. I’m not crazy about the hero worship aspect of it, but as a pure film, it’s really well made and entertaining.

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