The decade is almost over and there is so much to look back on. One of them of course are movies. 2010s can be seen as the decade of the superheroes but really, it was another good decade for cinema. Looking at the last ten years, I still haven’t seen so many I still want to. And I’ve seen very little from this year so my list was actually made from the last 9 years.
If you want to share your list, please go by the release dates in your region. Foreign movies tend to take some time to come to the States and they usually spill over to the year after initial release. If you’re living in Europe or anywhere outside of the US, there is a chance many 2009 American movies qualify for you just as many 2009 International movies qualify for us here in the U.S. of A.
Here are my 10 favorite films of the decade. I try to think of the ones that not only stuck with me but ones I carry with me almost day to day. I did put them in order but just for fun really. I’m sure I could play with this list ‘til the end of time but anyways, this is a snapshot of how I see it today.
10. The Act of Killing (2012) by Joshua Oppenheimer, Anonymous
This is the only “important” movie that’s on the list and my god, it is a stunner. The movie’s about some of the individual members of the death-squad that executed mass-killings in Indonesia in the 60’s. What separates it from other heavy documentaries is the gimmick of the film, which gets these ppl to reenact some of their stories in cinematic fashion. There is just nothing like seeing mass-murders dressed up like characters from some of their favorite movies and genres while proudly recalling the horrible things they did.
09. The Rider (2017) by Chloe Zhao
A movie directed by an Asian woman that takes place in the MidWest of America about a young man who has to let go of his dreams and learn to live and find meaning in life passed it. The story is heavily based on the main actors that played the roles which makes the narrative often feel like it’s bleeding into reality. It’s not a documentary but it gets really hard to tell what’s real and what’s made up. In the end, it doesn’t really matter ‘cause it feels warm, kind, and truthful. Zhao reminds of early Terrence Malick. The more grounded good Malick who made beautiful movies people could make sense of. The Malick we hope to see again but assume is long gone. At least we got Chloe to hopefully fill some of that void.
Zhao is coming up in the world. Some powerful people took notice of her talent and now she’s directing The Eternals.
08. Right Now, Wrong Then (2015) by Hong Sang-soo
If you’re not into “boring” movies but open minded enough to try, please check out this movie and tell me boring movies are boring. :D To be honest, I only got into Hong Sang-soo’s work in the last several years but ever since, I’ve seen a bunch of his films. If I could achieve my potential or actually, surpass it, I think he’d be the director I’d become. Not saying I’m anywhere near as talented or smart. It’s just, the rhythm and tone of his movies and the words that come out the characters mouths fit my sensibilities so perfectly.
The movie is sort of a diptych, telling the same story twice with new wrinkles the 2nd time out, playing with our expectations and spontaneity of the first half. It’s a very clever movie that seems so disarmingly simple yet impossible not to marvel at the genius of it.
07. A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence (2014) by Roy Andersson
This one absolutely floored me when I saw it. I love long takes, especially long takes that’s on sticks and Roy Andersson is an absolute master at it. Literally every shot looked good enough to be framed and put on a wall. Every scene so precisely choreographed and performed. Every moment so bizarrely funny and warm.
With how long movies have been around and how many are out there, I tthink I have yet to see tons of movies that’ll become some of my favorites but I still came out of this one kinda embarrassed I didn’t know about Andersson or his work. Maybe I wouldn’t be so quick to put this one in this list if I had. As of this writing, I still haven’t seen any of his other stuff and I have no idea why. I think part of the reason is because this is the type of movie that simultaneously makes you want to make movies and at the same time, makes you feel like you have no right to.
06. Blue is the Warmest Color (2013) by Abdellatif Kechiche
Before Lea Seydoux played Fragile in Death Stranding, before she became a Bond girl, she gave of the most powerful performances I’ve seen in Blue is the Warmest Color alongside Adele Exarchopoulos. Maybe I haven’t seen enough romantic dramas, maybe I’m just a softie, or maybe this movie is just that good. This movie hit me so hard, my heart ached for literally weeks after seeing it. It’s the only gay drama where I totally forgot about that aspect of it. The only knock against it is that there is a ridiculously pornographic 5 mins long sex scene that just doesn’t belong in this particular movie.
05. Dogtooth (2009, US 2010) by Yorgos Lanthimos
The Lobster and The Favourite are both great but Dogtooth is probably still the one to top for me. I usually describe it to people as The Village if The Village was good. A family decides to blockade themselves from society and in typical Yorgos fashion, it gets weird.
It’s the movie that turned me on to Lanthimos and if you’re into him, then you’ve probably seen it already but if you haven’t, you’re in for a treat. Do it!
04. Inception (2010) by Christopher Nolan
One of my favorites of the decade is, imo, the only good movie Nolan’s made this decade. Damn Chris, I like all your movies from the 2000s, what the hell happened? Regardless, there is just nothing like it when Hollywood blockbuster budgets meets arthouse sensibilities and everything fell into the right places with Inception. Everyone knows it, most ppl love it, so there is not much I have to or need to say.
03. Holy Motors (2012) by Leos Carax
This movie has it all. One actor playing all kinds of characters, genre blending, philosophy, Kylie Minogue. If you’re not satisfied with this, you’re not satisfied with movies, I can’t help you! I don’t know what to say about this movie. It’s just one of those movies, no I don’t understand it all or most likely, any. I think it has something to do with being actors in life, how we’re all playing roles, and how we can play different people depending on the time, situation, or moment. Anyways, it’s such a beautiful thing, ppl should see it for themselves. Idk if you’ll like it but I promise you, you won’t regret it.
02. The Florida Project (2017) by Sean Baker
This one probably spoke to me more than any movie this decade, perhaps ever. It’s the ultimate latchkey kid movie and as a former latchkey kid, I connected with every second of it. When kids give good performances, it's really hard to compete and Brooklynn Prince tore. it. down.
I also really love seeing Willem DaFoe play a normal guy and I wish he got to more.
01. The Master (2012) by Paul Thomas Anderson
I’m a total PTA fanboy so it was just a matter of which of his movies I was gonna put at the top. The Master is the easy pick ‘cuz it looks so gorgeous having been shot in 70mm and it has 2 of the greatest actors of our time going head to head in one of the most powerful friendships captured, certainly this decade.
I basically love everything about this movie and the subject matter is just perfect.
Actually, Philip Seymour Hoffman was from very close to where I grew up and it was heartbreaking when he passed away. He was the type of talent that made people proud to be where you’re from, so I’m happy to recognize his work whenever appropriate.
Top 10 Movies of the Decade (B-Side):
Here are some movies I really wanted to put in the actual list I just didn’t for one reason or another. These are all amazing movies and I truly dig them but as I said at the top, I wanted to pick the ones that I carry with me most on a daily basis. Even this list I had to make cuts… Anyways, this one isn’t ordered but it’s 10 other movies that totally could/should be in a movies of the decade list!
1. Blue Valentine (2010) by Derek Cianfrance - Definitely one of the best romantic dramas I’ve seen. Michelle Williams, Ryan Gosling, can’t go wrong. A heartbreaker.
2. Under the Skin (2013) by Johnathan Glazer - I wish Scarlett Johansson focused on doing interest projects with all the money she probably has.
3. Wild Tales (2014) by Damian Szifron - 6 short films all about vengeance. This dark comedy is a real treat and you’ll never get bored.
4. Drive (2011) by Nicolas Winding Refn - Drive is a great movie but maybe it’s like a great song that becomes popular. People get sick of it and they forget that it’s good.
5. Love Exposure (2008, US 2011) by Sion Sono - Sono’s 4 hour epic about family, religion, and upskirt photo gang is one of his ultimate films. If you liked his Why Don’t You Play in Hell? which to be honest is one of his mid-tier movies, maybe see the true depth of the fella with this one.
6. Shame (2011) by Steve McQueen - This was just pure and raw.
7. The Hunt (2012) by Thomas Vinterberg - Just like I like normal Willem, I also like normal Mads. This is like a perfect movie. I can’t find a flaw in it.
8. Leviathan (2014) by Andrey Zvyagintsev - I guess beached whales are popular these days. This one has them plus seriously powerful family drama and surprising humor.
9. Fish Tank (2009, US 2010) by Andrea Arnold - It’s just one of those indie dramas that has heart for days.
10. Side Effects (2013) - Steven Soderbergh - Seems like it’s impossible for Soderbergh to do bad work but this is my favorite of his this decade. It’s like a BOGO of a movie. I fancy the direction very much. This one definitely needs more love.