The Best of the 2010s – Lee

Honourable Mentions in random order:

Gone Girl, The Favourite, Mad Max Fury Road, Tangerine, Paddington 2, Get Out, The Cabin in the Woods, Rango, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo , Prometheus, End of Watch , About Time, Ex Machina , Guardians of the Galaxy, The Love Witch , Mother!, The Square, Silence, Under the Silver Lake

The 25

25.) The Handmaiden (2016)

24.) Calvary (2014)

23.) 13 Assassins (2010)

22.) Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)

21.) The Raid (2011)

20.) The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

19.) La Grande Belleza (2013)

18.) Ad Astra (2019)

17.) I Saw the Devil (2010)

16.) Whiplash (2014)

15.) Clouds of Sils Maria (2014)

14.) Phantom Thread (2017)

13.) Black Swan (2010)

12) Prisoners (2013)

11.) American Honey (2016)

10.) Django Unchained (2012)

9.) The Lobster (2015)

8.) Nightcrawler (2014)

7.) Personal Shopper (2016)

6.) Blue Valentine (2010)

5.) Drive (2011)

My personal favourite of auteur colour-blind genius, Nicolas Winding Refn’s eclectic and deliciously luscious filmography. A simple yet artistically executed plot with a living, beating heart to its orgasmic cinematography and tone, that it leaves you with little to no arguments against Refn and even Ryan Gosling’s iconoclasm. Drive may be his most mainstream, but it’s a modern classic that further cements L.A.’s impact along the same roads of Michael Mann’s Thief and William Friedkin’s To Live and Die in L.A., and a film that built a scorpion coat wearing cult following almost instantaneously. This is a film that much like protagonist Gosling, just purely oozes vast levels of cool and panache, placing Refn’s envious eye for beauty, composition, and blocking on display for the world. While I’d argue that any Refn film can function just as well in black & white or completely silent, one of the most notable trademarks to this Danish icon, is each respective original music score. Drive’s neon nightscape arousing sound is one of the decades’s, and maybe even century’s best curated soundtrack/scores I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing. 

4.) Inception (2010)

Christopher Nolan’s second best film, and quite possible that which will be his longest lasting legacy. At the risk of a stretch, I reckon most people recall when and/or where they were when they first experienced the chord heard around the world, “BBBWWWAAANNN”. I was in Brasil, dealing with my grandfather’s death. Inception is a film I never got to see in theatres, and it might be the most regretful yet out of my control IMAX experiences I have missed. Nolan put together such a well crafted and incredibly talented cast (among which further thrusted Tom Hardy into mainstream fame), that their skills and roles all emulated with the almost meta-film crew narrative. A deliberately and masterfully crafted layered film with a myriad of quotable lines, practical effects and sequences, and a plot that keeps you thinking long after the spinning top has toppled. Nolan, much like Satoshi Kon and the obviously correlated Darren Aronofsky, all have unique perspectives to the intangible elements of our everyday human lives. A dream within a dream is such a perfect concept, and it only leaves me even more eager to see what he can do with time, (ala La Jatée one could say). Plus, I have to give credit to anyone who represents the most underrated and top five Bond film, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Unlikely to ever helm a Bond film, regardless of his perfect resume and eye to do so, Inception and the upcoming Tenet will be the closest we’ll get to that dream. 

3.) Certified Copy (2010)

Abbas Kiarostami’s first English film, and currently my favourite Juliette Binoche performance, which says a lot on its own merit. A late discovery on my part, seeing how I only just saw it earlier this year thanks to my mentor mensch, Kern. Certified Copy is a brilliantly composed philosophical disquisition on what it truly means to understand, appreciate, and love everything and everyone we engage with. Whether it be the appreciation of a painting on display at the Louvre, the emblazoned visage of a deity upon a hoodie, a tattoo of a Baby Yoda, or of the gorgeous and loving person sitting right in front of you. Kiarostami masterfully interlaced script and direction ensnares the entirety of perception. How we view things, how we place value on them, how we inflate and detract from them as we see, and just how effective maturity alters our mentality with passage of time. At face value, the film is a romantic drama with doses of authentic comedy throughout, but with one of the most masterfully subtle reveals I’ve ever come to realise, the film’s layered narrative extrapolates and blossoms into the equivalent of 15 years of marriage within two hours. Certified Copy delineates the contrast between men and women, the different patterns of logic between emotion and structure, then deconstructs relationships into their pure form. It reminds me of something that my ex told me, “inevitabilities are not facts”, and that’s it’s pivotal to never view them as being one and the same. Are there truly ever any originals, or is everything just a copy of something before it, whether by physical manipulation or mental, ritualistic, homage and legacy. The film doesn’t give you an answer, but it assures us that the only thing that truly matters in life is what you think and how that conceives your own original perception. “Without the existence of copies, we wouldn’t understand originals.”

2.) Shame (2011)

Michael Fassbender’s film carrying powerhouse best performance, Carey Mulligan singing Frank Sinatra, Steve McQueen’s best film by far, sex addiction, and full frontal nudity. And that’s just the appetising tip to this emotionally draining and utterly raw depiction of one man’s suffering. Shame is perfect on the technical scale, which allows Fassbender’s haunting lead performance to launch it beyond being just another “great” drama. Shame captures the essence of being surrounded by 19.5 million people, and still feeling desperately alone. Need I say more? 

1.) La La Land (2016)

Few films have the distinction of making me cry, and even less so on multiple repeat viewings. I’m not talking about a little tear welling up in your eye, only to be rolled down your cheek from a gentle blink. I’m talking about a heavy hitting gradual build-up of emotions that knock down each and every single one of your defensive walls and hit you to such a personal core that it almost feels as if you’re reliving the exact same moment depicted on screen. Ladies and gentlemen, I present my top film of the decade, my favourite musical, my favourite Damien Chazelle film, and the true best picture winner of 2016, La La Land. Further amplified by the gorgeous technicolor throwback style of so many musicals before it, a spectacular and incredibly memorable original score and soundtrack, and the two latest additions to the romcom couple’s hall of fame, Seb & Mia. While I cant compete with Carmen, who has seen the film 49 times, I can wholeheartedly declare that in my five viewings, I have yet to be let down, bored, distracted, nor make it through without fully ugly crying. A timeless romance, a devastating and extraordinarily realistic yet optimistic breakup, vivacious cinematography, impeccable music, a highlight tourism reel for L.A., and a cemented future all-time classic of cinematic history. Cliché or not, this is for, “the ones who dream, foolish as they may seem”. Despite always leaving me in shambles, I always go back to her, like the city it embodies, La La Land showcases the majestic yet nearly impossible fantasy that each and every one of us has once or still is dreaming of. And that absolutely applies to both those of us jaded romantics and to the fame seeking stars and starlets the sacrifice nearly everything for just a single shot at making it big in the city of stars.

The Best of the Decade

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Film Studies/History graduate, using my love and knowledge of the medium to pass as a critic. I’m typically known for longer write-ups, and my eclectic taste ranging from awards darlings, European filmé, indie spirits, cinematic universes, and most notably 80s cult films. Hope you’ve enjoyed your visit, and remember, watch whatever, whenever, with whomever.

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