Honorable Mentions: Columbus (2017), Frances Ha (2012), Under the Skin (2013), Inside Out (2015), The Diary of a Teenage Girl (2015), Hugo (2011), Personal Shopper (2016), Carol (2015), Mommy (2014), Clouds of Sils Maria (2014), Call Me by Your Name (2017)
There have been plenty of films depicting the journey of achieving one’s dreams, but there are only a few of them that dare us to witness the part of letting all those go just because life keeps going. And one of them is Mia Hansen-Løve’s Eden, a euphoric yet mature tale of a young DJ who’s got lost in the rhythm of his own dreams. Hansen-Løve observes this heartbreaking journey with so much attentiveness and care. So, instead of resorting to melodrama, she offers us a raw and accurate illustration of the pain that one has to endure when they’re forced to let go of their dreams.
Maren Ade’s hilarious yet strangely moving Toni Erdmann is a slice-of-life character study that provides us a relatable portrait of the relationship between a grown-up daughter and her father, exploring the inevitable feelings of love, hate, and embarrassment that any child has for their parents. While the humour and Sandra Hüller’s performance remains powerful throughout, what eventually gives the film much more depth is how it manages to dig deep into an issue of everyday sexism as well as the way human beings like to obscure their true selves using facades.
8. L’Avenir (2016) – Mia Hansen-Løve
In her best film to date, Mia Hansen-Løve deliberately crafted a sharp and engrossing character study about a middle-aged woman age who loses all of her liberty and defining moment of her carefully-built life. At the heart of it all, the passage of time is what’s the movie about; it is a constant reminder of how life will always goes on no matter what. There is something intimate and authentic from both Hansen-Løve’s direction and Isabelle Huppert‘s raw yet very tender performance as the woman in question. Simply put, it’s the most cerebral and philosophical movie of the decade, with a strong acting showcase from the best working actress today.
No matter how much one tries to keep it civil, divorce will always get ugly. That’s the hard truth, and that’s also what Asghar Farhadi illustrates honestly in his magnum opus A Separation, a complex and heart-shattering picture showing the process of dissolving a marriage. The film juxtaposes two broken families navigating the intricacies of Iranian law, culture, and religion to drill home Farhadi’s concern of how messy the impact that unsolved, little problems and a divorce can have on those involved. It’s a masterclass of screenwriting, direction and performance, with real life reflection underneath them.
6. Phantom Thread (2017) – Paul Thomas Anderson
I’m not a love aficionado, but I know for sure that there are things that we justify when it comes to love. We just can’t help who we love. We just know that we want to meet them in the middle even when we start in different states. Phantom Thread understands that and uses it to open more questions about what is eventually the definition of love while challenging us to see it in less binary way. Not many romance movies have the audacity to do what PTA did here and that is why it’s one of the best films of the decade.
5. Margaret (2011) – Kenneth Lonergan
Kenneth Lonergan sketches a harrowing opera about the messiness of life in his unsung masterpiece and second feature, Margaret, a heartbreaking and gripping study on guilt, PTSD, and grief, which examines how human beings tend to use their and others pain as a personal, moral gymnasium that challenges them to understand themselves and how the world operates. Though the film mostly presents itself as a coming-of-age story about a girl slowly discovering that she’s not the centre of the world, Margaret also works best as a metaphor on the way America handled 9/11.
While depicting the technical messiness of a divorce, Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story, never dismisses the humane part of it. In fact, the film brilliantly showcases how one’s intentions on keeping things as friendly as possible can be eroded once a legal process enters the picture. The film simply demonstrates the way a divorce system may be fully designed to make people who were once in love further grow to resent and detest each other, weaponizing their counterparts’ minor flaws then make a big deal out of it for the sake of benefiting their case. Marriage Story is not only Baumbach’s best movie to date, but also one of the best of the decade.
3. Boyhood (2014) – Richard Linklater
We live in this world with the mentality that if we don’t seize the moment, life will pass us by. “Carpe diem” makes our life special by achieving one goal and another. But what happens when all of those have been reached? Most of the time, we put a lot of energy into thinking about the past and the future that we don’t realise just how quickly the present moment flies by. Boyhood reminds us that it’s important to not always be running from the depression of the past or worrying about the anxiety of the future, but live to be present in the moment and letting it seize us instead of the other way around.
Just like Mia Hansen-Løve’s Eden, the Coen brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis is also a rare film that challenges us to look deep into how we often times get lost in the journey of achieving our dreams that we forget life just keeps passing by. Llewyn Davis is a person who refuses the idea of being a careerist but is struggling to be the pure idealist that he’s always wanted. And once he realizes that he’s been stuck in a rut for a very long time while those around him have moved forward with reality, he is confronted with the pain of letting go of his dreams.
Certified Copy is a complex and subversive film that studies the dichotomy of existing and living; original and copy, profoundly examining the philosophy and the value of life both as an object and an experience while inviting us to actively engage in its exploration on the way human beings perceive life differently. Abbas Kiarostami drew this line of questions by carefully creating an illusion of narrative as he challenges his characters with the flaws of their own theory of life, asking them to reconsider their definition of personal freedom and present it in an intriguing way. And in doing so, he fills the film with enough tenderness and enigmatic force that’s perfectly delivered by William Shimell‘s and Juliette Binoche’s engaging performances. That said, to miss this movie is to miss a remarkable achievement of cinema.
The Best of the Decade a separation abbas kiarostami asghar farhadi before midnight best of the decade boyhood call me by your name carol celine sciamma certified copy clouds of sils maria coen brothers columbus david fincher eden ethan coen first reformed frances ha george miller hirokazu koreeda inside llweyn davis inside out isabelle huppert joel coen kenneth lonergan mad max: fury road manchester by the sea maren ade margaret marriage story martin scorsese mia hansen-love mommy noah baumbach olivier assayas paddington 2 paddy considine paul king paul schrader paul thomas anderson personal shopper phantom thread portrait of a lady on fire richard linklater sandra huller sean baker shoplifters silence sofia coppola something in the air somewhere terrence malick the diary of a teenage girl the flordia project the master the social network the tree of life toni erdmann tyrannosaur under the skin
Reyzando Nawara is a passionate Indonesian based film and TV enthusiast who enjoys to write and discuss about cinema or anything TV-related. Big fan of Mia Hansen-Løve, Alex Ross Perry, and Noah Baumbach.