I don’t really write about movies on this blog (lately I haven’t written much of anything), but with the decade coming to a close, I figure why not take a look back at a few cinematic standouts? There may be omissions (Marvel and Star Wars fans need read no further). Plus, I have yet to see some of the 2019 releases, such as Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and Jojo Rabbit, which I most eagerly anticipate. But Top 10 lists are nothing if not arbitrary. And why should I be the only one on the internet to wait until I have all the facts before hitting “Publish”?
With that, I present my timeless picks (alphabetized as always) for the 10 best films of the years 2010-2019:
Another Earth (2011)
Written by Mike Cahill and Brit Marling
Directed by Mike Cahill
A teenage girl with a promising future drunkenly causes a fatal car accident. At the same time, a heretofore unknown twin Earth is discovered orbiting the Sun. This sci-fi drama explores the protagonist’s guilt and regret in the years that follow, and ruminates on the cosmic possibility of a second chance.
The Cabin in the Woods (2011)
Written by Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard
Directed by Drew Goddard
I’m not sure who would get more of a kick out of this — those who love horror movies or those who hate them. (Personally, I’m right down the middle.) In any case, this satire about sexy college kids attacked by hillbilly zombies deconstructs horror tropes by having the action manipulated by technicians in an underground bunker. Lovecraftian chaos ensues.
The Double (2013)
Written by Richard Ayoade and Avi Korine
Directed by Richard Ayoade
Adapted from the novella by Fyodor Dostoevsky, this stylishly dark absurdist comedy pits one man against his much more confident and successful doppelganger.
Get Out (2017)
Written and directed by Jordan Peele
No Top 10 list is complete without this one. A black man is invited by his white girlfriend to meet her family. That’s where the horror begins. What follows is an unsettling allegory that examines racial injustice with Kubrickian attention to detail.
Leave No Trace (2018)
Written by Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini
Directed by Debra Granik
After living off the grid for years, a father and daughter are forced into an alienating world of social services. Every word in this understated drama speaks volumes. Elegant symbolism abounds.
Written and directed by Lars von Trier
In this visually stunning downer, a woman’s severe depression, compounded by other people’s lack of empathy, ruins her wedding reception and sabotages her new marriage. Meanwhile, a gigantic rogue planet enters the solar system, threatening to destroy the Earth and everything on it … because metaphors! It is worth noting that the filmmaker has a history of highly problematic statements and behaviours, all of which need to be addressed.
Written and directed by Darren Aronofsky
Though it polarized both critics and audiences, this surreal biblical allegory about a poet and his wife living alone in a great big house is wonderfully acted and explores important environmental themes. This was kind of marketed as a horror movie, but don’t be fooled — it’s so much weirder than that.
Ruby Sparks (2012)
Written by Zoe Kazan
Directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris
A young writer falls in love with a character he created, then is shocked to find her alive and present in his home. Part rom-com, part fantasy, this variation on the Pygmalion myth injects a feminist ethos into its story and gently critiques the lazy misogyny of male writers.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)
Written and directed by Martin McDonagh
Following the unsolved rape and murder of her daughter, a mother erects a trio of billboards to put pressure on the town’s police chief. A master class is pacing, this movie is unexpectedly funny, albeit uncomfortably so.
Wild Tales (2014)
Written and directed by Damián Szifron
This Argentine anthology film is composed of six distinct shorts, each one presenting violent revenge in a darkly comic fashion. Highlights include homicide by plane crash, a Jewish wedding gone awry, and defecation on a windshield.
Honourable mentions: All About Nina (2018), Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014), Incendies (2010), Inside Llewyn Davis (2013), This Is the End (2013), Upstream Color (2013), What We Do in the Shadows (2014)