Mike’s Top Films of the Decade (290-281)

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:

290. The Walk

Have you seen the (incredible) documentary Man on Wire? This is the feature version of that. Directed by Robert Zemeckis, which means a little too much unnecessary CGI and usually a ‘greatest hits’ soundtrack. Fortunately, it’s about French people, so he can’t throw out the classic rock like he normally would. The best review I read of this movie was by someone on Twitter who said that the last 45 minutes, once he goes out on the wire, is some of the most thrilling stuff you’ve ever seen on the screen. “The first half… lotta unicycles.” And that’s the film. You get this complicated backstory of the main guy before he starts planning this walk and before you see everything that made the documentary so amazing. Now, of course, once they get up there, you don’t care, because that’s worth the price of admission alone (even despite the obviously fake CGI NY skyline). So, it’s a flawed film, but one I really enjoyed just because the documentary it’s based on is so good.

289. Godzilla

This is one of those — movie’s not so great, but it looks amazing and it’s a lot of fun. Godzilla purists hate it because he’s barely on the screen, and the plot is so simplistic — it’s literally like Forrest Gump for bad shit. Everywhere Aaron Taylor-Johnson goes, kaiju are. But otherwise, I really enjoy the hell out of it. It’s big, it’s fun, the score is great, Gareth Evans directs the hell out of it, and it’s the first time I saw a Godzilla movie and went, “I really like that as a movie.” So I still think it’s great, even though I know there are holes a lot of people can (and do) pick with it.

288. The Babadook

One of the great horror movies of the decade, and it’s because, as I always say, I can read the monster as a metaphor for something else and not just as the monster. It’s about a single mother with a real asshole of a kid who gets this kid’s book one day about the titular character, and the book says — once you let him in, he never leaves. He stays in your basement and has to be fed or else bad things happen. And the film is ultimately that, but what it really is, is a metaphor for mental illness. And it’s a brilliant depiction of that through the lens of horror. It’s a really strong film and gave us one of our most memorable horror movie figures (and apparently gay rights icons) of the decade.

287. You’re Next

Another of the best horror films of the decade. I feel like I’ve talked about this one about five times already. But it’s worth it. It’s Adam Wingard (before his career went off the rails with that ill-advised Blair Witch reboot and Death Note) and it’s a movie that’s kind of like The Strangers, only the first act is entirely indie drama stuff. A family gather at a lake house and eventually start arguing amongst each other about inheritances and who hates who, and who hates who’s spouse, etc. And you forget — oh yeah, people are gonna get murdered here. And then the killing starts happening and you get that for a while. And then the movie becomes something else, because one of the victims decides she’s not gonna be a victim, and starts murdering the killers. And it’s fun as hell. It’s a nice subversion of the genre and a really terrific movie all around. I hate these kinds of movies most of the time, but this one’s quite awesome.

286. Arrietty

This is Ghibli, and is based on The Borrowers, which I’m sure we’ve all read or seen on the screen in some form at some time. Tiny family a few inches tall lives within the walls of a house, ‘borrowing’ little things they need to get by. Only, the family that moves in, the young boy sees the daughter of the family (which was always a ‘no no’ for them and always necessitated them having to leave for another home) and they become friends. It’s a really sweet film, and, as all Ghibli movies do, looks gorgeous. At this point, there’s no excuse not to see a Ghibli movie, so just go see it if you haven’t. They’re all wonderful.

285. Set It Up

The rom com as a genre pretty much died in 2005, when Judd Apatow movies started being a thing. Because he took that genre and raunchy comedy and melded them together, and that just became what studios thought worked in comedy, so we stopped getting fun romantic movies and stopped getting real comedies anymore. Comedies, at least, still occasionally came out, albeit in other forms. The rom com, however, basically died. It was relegated to Lifetime and Hallmark movies or straight romance movies where someone dies at the end (thanks for nothing, Nicholas Sparks). Netflix, however, when they started paying for movies, single-handedly brought the genre back, with a string of really good ones, with this being the big one. I know To All the Boys is the one that is sort of the flagship in a way, but this is the one that really brought the genre back in its truest form. It’s about two assistants on high-profile desks. Zoe Deutch works for Lucy Liu, a high-powered businesswoman, and Glen Powell works for Taye Diggs, a high-powered businessman. Both bosses are very demanding and both assistants are often working long hours and have to do shitty things all day. But then, after a classic meet cute, they decide, “What if we got our bosses together? Then we wouldn’t have to be doing so much work all the time?” And so they conspire to do just that. They make it so their bosses meet and start dating, and they both become so enamored with each other that the two of them barely have to do anything anymore. And of course, as you can imagine, they start falling for each other as well. It’s a really well-written movie and the chemistry between the two leads is fantastic as well. If you’re gonna track the lineage of the rom com as a genre, this is a very noteworthy notch on that timeline. It’s the best rom come to come out in a while.

284. Real Steel

Ah, yes. This one. When this was coming out, I, along with a lot of people I’m guessing, thought this was dumb. The ‘rock ’em sock ’em robots movie’. I just sort of dismissed it. But then I saw it… and it was good. Like, really good. It’s still kinda kiddie and family oriented, but there’s really some adult stuff here, the kind you saw in those 80s movies that were as much for adults as they were for kids. Hugh Jackman’s character is a real douchebag for 80% of this movie. He’s a drunk, washed-up boxer who lives with the fact that boxing has been outlawed and now robots do the fighting for you. He works little rodeos and state fairs just to earn enough to get to his next gig. But then he finds out he’s got a son he knew nothing about (and doesn’t want), and now has to be responsible, even as his schemes to get back ‘on top’ keep failing. Eventually the kid finds an old-school robot that’s quite good, and soon the two are moving up in the ranks again (and getting closer, even though Jackman’s pretty much all about himself the majority of the time, in a way that actually makes you go, “Oh wow,” because they’re not catering to children at all there). It’s more ‘Rocky with robots’ than anything else, and it’s a feel-good kinda movie. The greatest thing ever made? No. But it’s got a heart to it and it’s really fun, and I’ve always had a real soft spot for it.

283. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

The second film in the Fantastic Beasts saga, and the one that really solidified my original question — why are we focusing the story on this scientist guy when clearly the story you want to tell is about Dumbledore and Grindelwald? While the first one was a nice throwback with some good slapstick scenes and fun moments that remind you of the magic in that original franchise (but otherwise generally lacking it this time — kinda like The Hobbit vis-a-vis Lord of the Rings), this one world builds and really goes a different direction. The climax of the film is at an (essential) Nazi rally where Grindelwald recruits followers (before the actual violence starts), leading to some weird allegiance switching and things that happen. I assume there’s a plan for all this, and maybe this was just the bridge movie to get us from one storyline to another. But I’m not gonna know where this stands until I see the next one. For now, I’m just gonna say that I like it because I like this world and I’ll watch pretty much anything in it. That’s really the selling point for me in these anyway.

282. Wonder

A family movie that really, really surprised me at how good it is. It’s about a boy born with facial disfiguration who is a really bright and charming kid but is worried about the prospect of going to public school and not being home-schooled anymore, because he’s afraid the kids are gonna make fun of how he looks. And so the film is about his story and this journey. And it’s really sweet. I got worried because I saw Owen Wilson and Julia Roberts and thought, “Oh boy, I know how this goes,” and you expected some sort of half faith-based kinda narrative. But it’s none of that. It’s this really charming film that’s really for the whole family, and I remember going to a theater to see this, expecting to hate it, watching the first thirty minutes thinking, “This really isn’t so bad,” and then seeing the moment where they straight up shift narrative perspective and, instead of focusing on the boy, focus on his sister, just to show that they’re interested in how this boy affects everyone, including someone who was barely in the movie to begin with. That’s when I knew it was a really good movie and one worth telling people about. Because it’s this all around portrait of this story, and not just some singular type of ‘Mask’ ripoff or whatever. It’s really sweet and really well made, and I can’t imagine anyone seeing this and not leaving with a smile on their face.

281. Rubber

The ‘killer tire’ movie. Quentin Dupieux. This is one that people might know just because the premise is so bizarre. A tire becomes sentient and begins rolling around the desert and killing people (because it develops telekinetic powers, naturally). It’s completely surreal and absurdist, but it’s also wonderful because of that. It’s just a bizarre movie, and I love it. I love how insane and weird it is and how it doesn’t even care if you see it or care about it. I love weird shit like this I can bring up and recommend to people and because of that, it’s one of my favorite movies of the decade.

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