Mike’s Top 100 Films of the Decade (70-61)
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:
70. A Most Violent Year
This is the true portion of the list where the specific rankings don’t matter. Because this is all almost exclusively top ten films for me, so it’s really just cosmetic, placing them in specific spots. Mostly what this is gonna be is a lot of ‘of course this is great’, mixed with entries like this one, where I try to implore people to either give films another shot, or just see them for the first time, because they’re amazing and have not gotten their proper due. I’ll admit I was pretty surprised when this started getting mentions from the people who saw it as one of the best films of the year and then proceeded to not be seen by anyone else. It’s incredible. Especially coming a year after All Is Lost, which you’d think would have established J.C. Chandor as a major filmmaking to be reckoned with. But, we’re here. So now my goal is to get people to see this, because it’s really great. It takes place in the 80s, stars Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain, and is about an immigrant trying to keep and expand his business amidst the most violent year on record in New York City. It’s really terrific. The acting is incredible, Chandor pulls off something really difficult — an 80s period piece is not the easiest thing in the world, and yet he makes it feel legit — and it’s just a wonderfully made film.
One thing I’m finding each time I watch this is that the single shot thing doesn’t really matter past the first watch. It feels like a gimmick whenever it’s utilized, but here it actually feels like it’s underscoring the immediacy of the plot. To me what sticks with me is the idea that the plot isn’t some big ‘we just won the war’ thing. It’s not gonna turn the tide, it’s not gonna be some huge moment. It’s simply, “what you just did saved some people’s lives for maybe a few days, if we’re lucky.” I love that pessimism. And I love that the film doesn’t really waste time with extraneous stuff. Here’s the mission, go do it. And that’s the film. You could accuse it of being video-gamey; “Here’s the plane level,” “Here’s the level where you sneak through a town,” “Here’s a sniper.” I get it. But honestly, it’s the specificity of story and lack of attempt to branch it out, scope-wise, that I respond to here. No one’s happy. All we get is momentary relief. And that’s pretty much what that war was. It’s wonderful. And yes, the single shot is really great and the film looks beautiful. That only adds to it.
68. The King’s Speech
I had a lot of animosity toward this one, mostly because it won Best Picture back when I still actively gave a shit about what won and formed long-term feelings toward things based on that. Fortunately for me, that’s all over and now I just take each film as it is. And this one’s a great film. I knew it at the time and have always thought it was great. I just let the other stuff cloud my true judgment. And honestly… I watched this again within the past few months, and it’s really wonderful and holds up incredibly well. All the actors in it are terrific and the writing is note perfect. It’s just a great film, through and through and is also thoroughly rewatchable, which is key.
67. The Irishman
This might be too recent to say too much about. It’s long, naturally, but the thing with Scorsese’s movies is, they never feel long. This one especially. I sat through three-and-a-half hours in a theater for this and watched the film again in its entirety twice more. I don’t feel the length here because it’s all very watchable and engaging. I think the film needed to be as long as it is, especially in that last half hour, to make its point thematically. I know people have issues with the length and the CGI and whatever else, but it’s Marty. Marty’s films always seem to win out in the end. So I’m not worried about this one. I’m just gonna let time tell the story on it, because I know it will.
66. Hell or High Water
Because Taylor Sheridan wrote Sicario, more eyeballs were on this movie than may have been otherwise. And because of that, it’s now looked at as one of the best films of the decade rather than being this great hidden gem I have to try to convince people to take a look at. Which is nice. My job is made easier. I can just gush about the film. And it is great. Ben Foster and Chris Pine are both amazing, as is Jeff Bridges. David Mackenzie’s direction is understated yet enhancing, and the film features one of the greatest single scenes of the decade — “What don’t you want?” All around, the film’s just amazing. And that’s before we get into how timely a story it is and how it deals with subjects that most films wouldn’t even dream of approaching, let alone handling in a mature way that gets the point across without forcing it down the audience’s throat.
I love Spike Lee. I love that he’s always doing his own thing, and then every couple of years (always once or twice per decade) he comes out with this amazing film that everyone can get behind. This film is just so wonderful. He tells a true story, puts his own spin on it, and makes clear parallels to the present day in a way that feels timely and spot-on. He maintains this wonderful tone where it’s dramatic but there are constant laughs throughout, largely through the great characters he builds but also sometimes out of the sheer absurdity of it all — a black man infiltrating the KKK. When speaking of the pantheon of Spike Lee films, Do the Right Thing is one, and Malcolm X is there, but this has to be right there as well. It’s one of those films that best represents him as a filmmaker and everything he’s tried to get across in his films.
What I love about this film is how low key but incredible it is. It’s so watchable. I must have seen this about a dozen times since it’s come out, and, like its main characters, it’s dependably solid. The thing that makes the film as great as it is, is that it’s a love letter to journalism and really focuses on showing you what a journalist does and what good journalism is. Which is often holding back a bombshell story until you’re sure you have it. And spending all that time watching them piece the story together is so much more interesting than most other films about journalists, where there’s all these thriller aspects and unnecessary plot lines. This one’s about the story and the people working to uncover the story the right way. And the cast is amazing, the writing is incredible, and you just have pound for pound one of the best movies of the decade.
63. The Favourite
I’m so happy Yorgos crossed over. So happy. The bulk of his work has come in this decade. Dogtooth is ’09 but came out in the U.S. in 2010. And then Alps and then The Lobster and then Killing of a Sacred Deer and then this. The Lobster got some level of crossover, but that was really just to film people and those wanting to see something weird. This one really crossed over in a way that I just did not see coming. And honestly… totally worthy. It’s a wonderful film, which takes the staid period costume drama and spices it up in the right ways. It’s funny, and fucked up, and doesn’t shy away from being different. The dialogue isn’t boring and reserved. The film is openly anachronistic at times (that dance scene). Everything they did with it was the right choice and the perfect choice. They take a real historical event and turn it into the plot of a reality show. And I fucking love it. I love Olivia Colman, I love Rachel Weisz and I love Emma Stone. I love Yorgos. I think this film is absolutely wonderful.
62. Springsteen on Broadway
On top of it being an incredible show and Springsteen’s music being something I love dearly, I also have a really strong emotional attachment to this show that also helps in where I’ve ranked it. But I don’t even need that to rank it this high, because it’s an incredible achievement. The man’s been in music for 50 years, and he takes this autobiographical journey through all his music and basically bared his soul for audiences in this relatively small theater for, I don’t know, two-and-a-half years, or however long that show ran. It was fantastic that they filmed it for the rest of the world to see, because being able to see it live was truly one of the most special things I’ve been able to do. I don’t even know what you call this — it’s not really a concert film, but is a filmed stage show. I guess it’s easier to classify now that they’re doing it more, what with Hamilton and all. But still, whatever you want to call this, it’s one of the best things I’ve seen all decade.
61. Everybody Wants Some!!
What is it about Richard Linklater that nobody sees his movies except when he shoots them over multiple years? This movie is incredible! It’s a spiritual sequel to Dazed and Confused. Which means — Dazed and Confused is set in the 70s and is about football players. This is about baseball players and set in the 80s. It takes place during the few days before college classes start, and we follow a baseball prospect getting to campus, getting to know his teammates and acclimating to the college lifestyle. There’s not that much sports in the film and there’s zero classes in the film. It’s just people hanging out, just like Dazed and Confused. And it’s so great. Richard Linklater is such a genius at what he does. His films are always solid and always watchable. And yet they never get the audiences they deserve. This is truly one of the most entertaining movies of the year. It’s such an easy watch. And yet it feels like I constantly have to tell people this exists. Don’t be one of those people. Go see this one. It’s great.
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