Saturday, January 04, 2020

Top Movies of the Decade

It's interesting to go back and look at my top ten lists for the past decade, and see where I would have changed things, shifted the order, even had a film drop out and another take its place. I've looked at the movies I've watched over the past decade and chosen the ones that stick with me the most after they've come and gone, and just like my yearly top tens, I suspect this is a fluid list, subject to change depending on my mood and the time of day.

1. A Separation

I remember walking out of the theatre wondering how this Iranian film would be topped. Clearly, the answer was it wouldn't. The dissolution of a family was portrayed with great intensity and intelligence in Baumbach's Marriage Story, but as good as that film was, this was the movie that set that bar at an unreachable height.

2. The Florida Project

In a lesser filmmaker's hands this would have been the cinematic version of poverty porn, but instead we are treated to moments of joy and love to very much equal the heartache and pain of the lives of the characters. And the ending, filmed surreptitiously with an iPhone, is a moment of transcendence.

3. Moonlight

A heartbreaking and heartfelt tale of a love and growth, this is the sort of film to make you realize you can understand and empathize with someone else, even if almost every aspect of that person's life is foreign to your own.

4. Roma

Gorgeous, a deliberate pace, offering up its revelations and answers bit by bit, and with some of the most glorious long shots I've seen in many years.

5. Shoplifters

A story of loveable and loving petty thieves, who know family is what you make it, and even more important, know when family is not working for others who need it.

6. Parasite

It strikes me as I see this side by side with my 5th choice that this and Shoplifters are of a piece, about family and doing whatever you can to survive. There is a different sort of tragedy here than in the Japanese film, permanent of a different nature and more shocking, accompanied by great humour.

7. Spotlight

One of those movies that, as my wife noted when it ended, feels like old times. A serious film about a serious subject, great tension even as we know how things in this true story pan out.

8. Mad Max: Fury Road

There was some good science fiction these past ten years and, speaking as a science fiction and fantasy author, some mediocre and shitty SF as well. This one stood head and shoulders and maybe even elbows above them all. Audacious and witty and thrilling and imaginative, a movie where the title character isn't even close to the main character.

9. Paterson

Almost nothing happens, the one time a gun fires it proves to be something else, Adam Driver's wife is a special kind of strange and you can see he adores her and wants her to be whoever she wants to be, even as he continues to drive a bus in order to write his poetry. Delightful.

10. You Were Never Really Here

Watching moments of violence play out via black and white security cameras in silence in the corner of the screen, seeing Joaquin Phoenix as a somewhat-overweight schlub who cares so very deeply,  and now we sit and wait and wonder when Lynne Ramsay will be allowed to make her next movie.

Also-rans: Boyhood, Arrival, The Irishman, Little Women, Tree of Life, The Way Way Back, The Last Black Man in San Francisco, Get Out.


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