Movies Of The Decade (So Far)
Two years away from a new decade starting up and I think it’s time I drop some of my favorites of the 2010s. This list was harder than I thought it would be.
Spoiler alert. Don’t say I didn’t warn you about giving away the plot for some of these choices
The new standard for how comic movies should be measured against and quite frankly I still don’t understand how we’ve gotten to this point. What I mean by this is that Captain America in no way shape or form should be holding the superhero film crown because he’s a mid card Marvel character. Ever since Winter Soldier dropped, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been on an unprecedented run both commercially and critically and we can thank the Russo brothers and Kevin Feige for their contributions. Our hero Steve Rogers is pitted against his employer S.H.I.E.L.D., a government agency that has been compromised. Not only this, but he is up against his best friend Bucky who has emerged as “The Winter Soldier” and doesn’t remember his past. It has all the elements of our favorite espionage thriller with a Marvel twist. The best thing about the movie is anyone can watch it without any prior knowledge about the gigantic Marvel universe. If you want to be part of the biggest blockbuster event going, this is the movie to start with.
Comes as no surprise Wolf has made the list. Martin Scorsese is possibly the greatest director of all time, as he has at least one movie in every decade since the 1970s that can be considered an all timer. Teaming up with frequent collaborator Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill, Martin recounts the rise and fall of Stratton Oakmont’s stockbroker Jordan Belfort in a three hour roller coaster ride that flies by when watching. It has all the typical Scorsese fare we have been accustomed to by now: engaging storyline, long tracking shots, and unflinching graphic scenes. What separates this one from his many other films is that it contains many memorable comedic moments and that can be attributed to Jonah Hill’s role as Donnie Azoff, Jordan’s business partner. Margot Robbie became a prime time bombshell due to Wolf of Wall Street. Is this Scorsese’s best? Not at all. It’s not even the best DiCaprio/Scorsese movie. It is a very entertaining one that deserves its praise.
In only his second film, Barry Jenkins has etched his name in history with Moonlight. Those who are reading this know the story behind it already so I won’t get into it. But I want to tell you why this one left a lasting impression on me. Jenkins is great at creating moods using colors and details. The colors in particular pop out in many scenes, and he credits Wong Kar Wai for his directing style. After learning about his influences, I went back to discover movies like Chungking Express and Fallen Angels. I now have a better appreciation of Moonlight and in the process became a fan of Wong Kar Wai.
Let’s say for instance you know of someone that has never stepped foot in Los Angeles and this person says to you “show me a movie that encompasses everything that this city is about.” For me, Nightcrawler would be my choice selection in this matter. The movie industry has given the country this perception that the entire Los Angeles landscape looks like the west side of town and that is further from the case. Much of the city is gritty. The streets are dirty and unforgiving to those who are unaware, inhabited by citizens living on the edge and are unnerving. It helps that Dan Gilroy is a native whom wrote and directed this film, so there is a certain authenticity that comes with it. Jake Gyllenhaal has one of my favorite performances in recent memory as Lou Bloom, a reporter driven to succeed in L.A.’s cutthroat crime journalism. When I tell you this is a fantastic showing of Jake, just know that it’s the only movie on this list where you will have both the feeling of rooting and wanting Lou to fail miserably. Nightcrawler blurs the line of what and what isn’t ethical and mirrors our sensationalized news culture.
Tom Ford’s (yes, THAT Tom Ford) neo-noir thriller is another win for Jake Gyllenhaal as a novelist by the name of Edward, who pens a novel that is nicknamed after his ex, Susan and he wants her to read it. The interesting aspect of the movie is that the story for Edward’s book is a metaphor for how his relationship went down with Susan. This movie is wild to me because the first act had some real tense pressure moments that threw me off completely what Nocturnal Animals ultimately was about and I think that was the beauty of this film. It’s a lot to unpack on the first viewing. The bigger question I have after watching this is when is Ford’s next movie? Because I had no clue he can gets busy behind the lens.
A star studded cast make up this biographical drama that takes place during the U.S. housing bubble just a decade ago. For me, The Big Short taught me more about the financial crisis than any of my college professors did and that should be applauded. It boggles my mind how in two hours, I now have a general grasp about why banks were selling wrongly rated CDOs to home buyers while investing in credit default swaps and how they were doing this knowing the housing bubble was about to pop. Don’t ask me to give you any more than that though because that’s all I got on this very hard to comprehend topic. I’m here to shower Big Short with praise for breaking all this down in the simplest of terms. This is another one that operates in a grey area and there is no real wrong answer on who is to blame for the economy’s collapse.
In my opinion, making an emotionally moving sci fi piece is one of the hardest things to do in cinema. Many classics in the genre either capture the philosophical or the science themes that are commonplace. Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar manages to get all three into this movie and is as gripping of a movie as you will find. His mastery of mood and tension building is still among the best and it’s on full display here, with Hans Zimmer providing the score as the backdrop. I have this as top 3 in Nolan’s filmography and that’s saying something, considering he has movies like Prestige, The Dark Knight, and Inception under his belt. Nolan brought in NASA scientists during the process of making Interstellar so its topics such as the theory of relativity checks out for the most part. Of course, it can’t be all about science. That’s not why we go to watch movies. Otherwise, this wouldn’t be on my list. Fuck Matt Damon.
If there is one foreign movie that you must see, make it this one. Korean movies have been giving game to our Hollywood studios for years. If there’s a fan favorite film, Korea probably has done it before (Infernal Affairs = The Departed for instance). Park Chan-Wook continues to be one of the best living directors with this period piece set in Korea. It is told in three parts about a conman who plans to marry a Japanese woman of wealth by the name of Lady Hideko to steal her inheritance. In order to do that, he employs another woman by the name of Sookhee and hires her to be the Hideko’s handmaiden. Deception is the name of the game and it will keep you guessing. If you like HULU’s show The Handmaid’s Tale, imagine that but where the stakes are higher and all bets are off.
“Oh, the movie about Facebook.” Yeah, this one makes the list and it’s deeper than rap. This is probably the most important selection on this list because it defines the Millennial Generation more than any other movie and probably ever will. The biopic of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg isn’t fairly accurate and it’s been reported as such by all parties involved. But that’s not what this is about. It is Greek tragedy theater updated for modern times and involves timeless themes such as greed, longing for acceptance, and friendship. I watched this again recently and it still holds up rather well for a movie that technologically speaking took place in the early 2000s. One example is in the beginning of the film where Zuckerberg creates Facemash in which users either swipe left to like one girl or swipe right to like another girl. Sounds like Tinder right? One of my personal favorite scenes is the very last scene where Mark keeps refreshing his ex girlfriend’s page after sending a friend request in hopes to see her accept him. That is some millennial ass shit and I love it.
I already wrote my piece about this movie here on OPUS and I suggest you read up on it. I’ll just say that this should have been nominated for Best Picture if Dunkirk got nominated.
These movies just missed the cut but I felt should be mentioned:
The Dark Knight Rises
Edge of Tomorrow
Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
The Last Jedi