Mike’s Top 100 Films of the Decade (10-1)

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:

10. Django Unchained

It’s funny. I have this here and yet this is the only film in my top ten for the decade where I think, “Is it really, though?” And I look at everything in the 11-20 and go, “I wouldn’t put that there, so I guess so.” And I don’t know why. It was my #1 for its year, it’s Quentin, I’ve watched it a bunch since it came out, I love it. I think maybe it’s because of a film that’s to come up later on this list and the fact that I haven’t watched it recently enough. Still though, what an awesome movie. I mean, Quentin of course makes these great films and pretty much all his films contend for top ten of the decade for me. That’s just who he is as a filmmaker. So it’s not really that surprising a choice. I knew I was gonna love this one from the script. I wasn’t as openly excited about it as I was with Inglourious Basterds, but that’s just because that movie was something extra special as opposed to regular special. This one’s got everything you’d want from Quentin, and he’s someone who just never disappoints.

9. The Social Network

I feel like the majority of lists of the top ten films of the decade will include this one on it in some form. We all generally agree on this one. And somehow the film’s only gotten more timely over the course of the decade, to the point where they could make a whole sequel to this dealing with all the shit Facebook’s gotten into since the movie came out. But as for this — it’s quite possibly David Fincher’s finest hour, Aaron Sorkin writes a hell of a script, Jesse Eisenberg gets the role of a lifetime, Andrew Garfield gets a star-making performance. It’s a perfect film. And we all know and acknowledge this. I’m thinking about what the most likely list of top ten films of the decade would be, and I feel like this is the one of all my ten that would be on the most lists.

8. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

This was the first #1 film in the history of this site. 2010 was a stacked year for great movies, as evidenced by the fact that it’s the only year with three films in this article. That is to say, three of my ten favorite films of the decade came from 2010 (and while we’re here — we do manage to get 8 of the 10 years represented in this list, with 2013 and 2018 as the lone holdouts. Both managed to have films in the top 20, though, so we’re well-represented across the decade). This film is, to me, the best that Edgar Wright has made. And I know empirically that’s probably not true. Shaun of the Dead is so pure and perfect in its own way and Baby Driver is an incredible piece of direction. But this is my favorite of his films, and it continues to reward me every time I watch it. I know that The Social Network is, overall, a better film than this, but I just like this one more. It’s fun. It makes me smile. And I just love it. So here we are, in my ten favorite films of the decade. It still holds up for me.

7. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Our most recent entry on this list. Which is hilarious to me, since I had such worries about this film from the minute they announced it. And I don’t know why. I knew it was gonna be great and I knew it was basically guaranteed to be one of my ten favorite films of its year, because that’s Quentin. His movies are always incredible. But I really wasn’t ready for just how much I was gonna love this. I saw it at the first public screening they had in Los Angeles, at the Cinerama Dome, which is in the movie, and I must have seen this about four times since then just because it’s such an easy and great movie to watch. And, while I haven’t had the time to sit with this one like I have his other films… I think this might be Quentin’s best film. I know Pulp Fiction is what it is, but this feels like the perfect distillation of Quentin as a filmmaker, and this is probably my second favorite film of his (only owing to the fact that I’ve had… not 25 years, since I didn’t watch Pulp Fiction when I was 6 and it came out, but a significant amount of time with it). I think it’s perfect, and I love this movie. Honestly, give me a few more years and if I were to actually make this list again with complete rankings (which I won’t do, it’ll just be list of ten), I’d probably have this even higher than 7. Solid chance it would spiritually be in my top 5. That’s how much I love this movie.

6. La La Land

A lot of this top ten is based around films that are entirely built for me. They’re genres I love dearly, they show a love of movies and they’re just joyous expressions of filmmaking. And this is one of those movies. I know people tried to have problems with this because it came out with Moonlight and when publicity and awards are concerned, people draw battle lines. But now that we’re beyond all that shit, we’re just left with this wonderful musical. The opening sequence remains one of the most bold and brilliant pieces of cinema put together this year. And all the songs in this movie are incredible and it’s just a wonderful expression of music and dance on the screen, the likes of which we never see anymore (at least properly). You don’t get a movie that not only has Fred Astaire and Jacques Demy as its influences but also feels like those are its influences. This movie is just exactly my kinda movie, and I love it.

5. The Artist

Continuing with the theme of movies that were made purely for me and my tastes — I was thrilled about this when I heard about it almost ten years ago. I had just moved to LA and was having dinner with a relative and friend and I heard this movie was coming down the pipeline (it had played Cannes and was getting festival buzz). And I thought, “Oh hell yeah.” Because no one makes silent movies anymore. At least not properly. The closest we got was Mel Brooks in 1976, and even that was in color. This is a pure silent film that also has something to say about silent cinema and Hollywood. The story is wonderful. I adore the history of Hollywood, so the idea of something delving into those people who struggled to find places in the advent of sound… that’s entirely my alley. Plus they shoot it like a traditional silent film and for the most part, it feels like a silent film. It’s everything I want out of a movie. And I know not everyone fully ‘got’ that experience or felt the same way, but there’s no way I can have a list of top ten of the decade without this on it. This movie means so much to me.

4. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

I’m surprised this made #4, but I also don’t really care about the specific rankings past ‘it’s on the list’. And this is definitely on the list. I remember leaving the theater for this one — because it came out early. Like October — and I thought, “I just witnessed something great.” Because I knew the story, I knew the cast, I knew the director, and I knew they were gonna shoot it like it was all one single take. But I wasn’t expecting everything to come together the way it did. It was just amazing to watch. And this is another one where I know some people will have/have had varying reactions to it and didn’t like it for various reasons. But it’s entirely the kind of movie that I love, and remains one of those that I just keep going back to because it makes me happy when I see it.

3. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

This was the only #1 film of the decade for me that most people either didn’t see or for sure wouldn’t have anywhere near their own personal top ten. And I saw it coming. I remember seeing it in theaters (I saw it as part of a double feature with Jurassic World, of all movies) and coming out just over the moon in love with it. And I watched it like five-to-ten times the rest of that year because I loved it so much. And I knew I was gonna put it as my #1 for the year and, because it wasn’t such an obvious choice (and 2015 was a stacked year — Spotlight, Big Short, Revenant, Room, Brooklyn, Sicario, Hateful Eight, Inside Out, The Martian, Steve Jobs, FURY ROAD) I went back again and again to make sure I was sure about it. And I was. And I still am. I have no qualms about making this my #3 for the decade. That’s how much I love this movie. I almost said that this was the only movie in my top 25 I needed to describe to people what it’s about, but it’s pretty much in the title, so I think we’re good. But I really love this movie so, so much, and I sincerely hope that its placement on this list helps people who stumble on this site and see it to either go out and see it or go back and revisit it. Because I do think this is worthy of being considered among the best films of the decade.

2. True Grit

I knew I loved the film when I first saw it in theaters. It’s hard for me not to love a Coen brothers movie. Most of their films wind up in my top ten. So this being highly thought of was not the surprise. But I saw this coming over the course of the decade. I kept going back to rewatch this because I loved it, and I saw myself, about five or so years ago when I went back to revisit my Oscar opinions, gravitating toward this as a film I’d vote for even when that year was about Social Network vs. King’s Speech. And I just kept going back to watch this, and I realized that this was among my three or five favorite Coen brothers films they’ve ever made. Which is nuts, considering the films they’ve made. But that’s how I feel. So getting to this list, I’m not remotely surprised this got all the way to #2. When looking at this list as it pertained to the very top, especially top five, I considered which films were most likely to crack my all time top 100 favorite films (a list I do go back and revisit and try to update every year or two). And when I looked at all the films, this was the only one (aside from #1, of course) that was close enough for me that I’d put it on. I currently don’t have it there, but it’s close enough to where I wouldn’t be surprised if it eventually did make it on. And that’s so funny to me, since this is a movie that’s been made before. Granted, the John Wayne movie is more about John Wayne and this is adapted from the book. But still. It felt at the time like a remake of sorts. And yet, now… doesn’t matter. None of it matters. Because I love the film, I love Jeff Bridges in the film, I love Hailee Steinfeld in the film, I love Matt Damon in the film, I love Roger Deakins’ cinematography, and I love every choice the Coens made in this. It’s a perfect film to me and is the only film other than my #1 that I’d truly put at the very top of this list.

1. Phantom Thread

This was a no-brainer for me. It’s the only film from this decade that has managed a spot within my 100 favorite films of all time. It made it on within a year of coming out, that’s how confident I was in it. The year it came out, I had only seen it once before the end of the year, yet had it as my #2 because of how much I’d loved it. And within a year of that, it had very quickly made its way to #1 (mostly because the original #1 for that year I’d watched a few more times than this before I made the list, and I’d ended up seeing this at least twice more in theaters since then and really formulating my opinion on it in those rewatches). I think this movie is an absolute masterpiece, and along with There Will Be Blood (which would’ve been in my top 5 of last decade, if I’d been making these lists back then) remains one of the two crowning achievements of Paul Thomas Anderson’s career (which is full of crowning achievements). Everything about this movie is perfect. Daniel Day-Lewis gives an incredible performance. Vicky Krieps matches him every step of the way. Lesley Manville is superb as Day-Lewis’ sister. Anderson shoots the hell out of it (because he was his own cinematographer on this one). The costumes are stunning. The production design is stunning. Truly, every single thing about this movie is perfect. And it’s funny. That’s the best part. Each time I went to see this in theaters with people, it got funnier and funnier to me. Plus, it’s also a great metaphor for creative people on top of being this great love story. This movie, to me, has it all. And it’s not even a question that it’s the best film of the decade for me.

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