Well, here we are… Ready to dig into the main event itself.
It may have something to do with more of the volume and quantity of the movies I watched, but even if the 2010s haven’t turned out to be pound-for-pound the greatest decade in filmmaking (a matter I consider up for debate), it happens to be the decade I’ve lived in where I’ve seen more movies re-examine facets of themselves and trying to break and reshape the medium. I think that more than anything is what energized me about the art over that time span and kept me an enthusiastic filmgoer (and someone who dreams one day of giving filmmaking another try with what these movies taught me). I think it’s that enthusiasm that made me so erratic in making this list that when I at first aimed for the much more reasonable Top 100, I found so many honorable mentions busting through my head that I eventually decided to expand my list range. Not to mention how much you’ll find me cheating and attaching sequels I love to their also lovely predecessors and fit in two entire trilogies in their own slots. AND STILL I found myself arranging and rearranging the order until this very moment.
No more. It’s set, it’s done, I also think the selections have a particularly nice shape to their order here, and since my tastes and responses to film as they always will be… I hope I encourage others to use whatever they like from this list as a launchpad for their own personal exploration of the medium.
Thank you all for going along with me on this retrospective journey for my most adventurous decade as a filmgoer yet.
Anyway, since any post in this series feels naked without a list attached, I’ll throw in below the movies that were disqualified from the list for a variety of reasons.
DISQUALIFIED ON ACCOUNT OF EXTREME AVANT-GARDERY:
- ★ (2017, Johann Lurf, Austria) – How does one quantify a movie that is basically an archiving of starry footage? There IS at least one movie made entirely out of pre-existing footage, but it’s also more conventional than this movie and also isn’t as frequently amended.
- Hommage à Éric Rohmer (2010, Jean-Luc Godard, France & Switzerland) – A way too dense 3 1/2 minutes that I still don’t think I’ve entirely grappled with.
- PROTOTYPE (2017, Blake Williams, Cananda) – Something about this movie makes it at once more and less accessible than Goodbye to Language, if that makes sense. It doesn’t, I know.
DISQUALIFIED ON ACCOUNT OF BEING BEING 2009 FILMS THAT CAME STATESIDE IN 2010:
- Amer (2009, Hélène Cattet & Bruno Forzani, Belgium & France) – Fortunately watched soon enough to catch on to Cattet & Forzani’s brand of genre pastiche. I’m all ’bout it now.
- Fish Tank (2009, Andrea Arnold, UK) – Got me on board with Arnold’s style of social observation.
- I Am Love (2009, Luca Guadagnino, Italy) – Introduced me to Guadagnino’s wonderful sense of lavish style.
- Last Train Home (2009, Lixin Fan, Canada) – Would have absolutely made the top 50.
- Mother (2009, Bong Joon-ho, South Korea) – I’d be willing to say this was the best Bong movie released stateside in the 2010s.
- A Prophet (2009, Jacques Audiard, France) – The single greatest movie in Audiard’s entire career and also personally one of the major instances I’ve encountered an Algerian protagonist in Western cinema.
- The Secret of Kells (2009, Tomm Moore, France Belgium & Ireland) – Introduced me to Cartoon Saloon’s style of shapes and lines.
- Sweetgrass (2009, Lucien Castaing-Taylor, USA) – Same as Last Train Home, would have been on the top 50 for sure.
- White Material (2009, Claire Denis, France) – Just to remind folks that Isabelle Huppert was always the dopest and Denis as well.
DISQUALIFIED ON ACCOUNT OF BEING LONG FUCKING DELAYED MOVIES RELEASED STATESIDE IN 2010:
- About Elly (2009, Asghar Farhadi, Iran) – An absolute shame that this movie had to wait on the acclaim of A Separation for people to finally get to see it 6 years later.
- The Other Side of the Wind (2018, Orson Welles, USA Iran & France) – Would probably be in my top five of the decade if it wasn’t the combined fact of its lack of time to it and the knowledge that we will never see a version of the film that Welles signed off on.
DISQUALIFIED ON ACCOUNT OF BEING A MUSIC VIDEO:
- “Alejandro” (2010, Steven Klein, USA) – Lady Gaga’s actual best movie of the past 10 years, eat it A Star Is Born.
DISQUALIFIED ON ACCOUNT OF NOT BEING A MOVIE – TV EDITION:
- Devilman Crybaby (2018, Yuasa Masaaki, Japan) – If Neon Genesis Evangelion doesn’t get considered a movie, neither does this.
- Over the Garden Wall (2014, Patrick McHale, USA) – Maybe the toughest one to disqualify but I stand by it. A miniseries that did not premiere at the cinema is television, not film, and if you put a knife to my throat and told me to denounce Scenes from a Marriage and Dekalog as cinema, I’d do that too. Still wonderful animation that I rewatch every Halloween season.
- Primal (2019, Genndy Tartakovsky, USA) – Nice try, Cartoon Network, submitting this to the Oscars. This was literally renewed for a second season before it was submit to the Academy. Anyway, it wipes the floor with Samurai Jack season 5 on a level of pure visceral violence and emotional storytelling from blocky visuals and Samurai Jack season 5 is still among my favorite things I’ve watched in the past 4 years.
- Sense8 (2015-’18, The Wachowskis & J Michael Straczynski et al., USA) – ‘Cause obviously I need to recognize the brilliantly pure work of two of my favorite storytellers and the extended family with which they created this.
- The Tatami Galaxy (2010, Yuasa Masaaki, Japan) – If a certain Yuasa movie is gonna show up on the list proper, it only makes sense to acknowledge
- Twin Peaks: The Return (2017, David Lynch, USA) – It’s a tv show, y’all. Accept it. It’s one of the best pieces of media released in the last 10 years (it would make my top 10 if I were so wrong-headed), but it’s a tv show.
DISQUALIFIED ON ACCOUNT NOT BEING A MOVIE – VIDEO GAME EDITION:
- Celeste (2018)
- Cuphead (2017)
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (2017)
- Mario Kart 8 (2018)
- Super Mario Odyssey (2017)
- Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (2018)
In which I out myself as basic bitch for Nintendo, but y’know what they have shown some eye-watering bright animation and storytelling on a level that I just respond too purely for.
FILMS I WISH I HAD SEEN IN TIME FOR THIS:
- Ace Attorney (2012, Miike Takashi, Japan) – Could this be the fabled first unconditionally good video game movie (if you’re a basic motherfucker who doesn’t like Resident Evil: Retribution)?
- Aniara (2019, Pella Kagerman & Hugo Lilja, Sweden & Denmark) – Hoped that this way more High Life than Ad Astra, but unfortunately the closest theater near me to play it did so at times I couldn’t go.
- The Arbor (2010, Clio Barnard, UK) – Seems dense in a very understated way. I’d like to be prepared for it.
- Doggiewoggiez, Poochiewoochiez!! (2012, Everything Is Terrible, USA) – I sound like an absolute monster when I say that I just couldn’t find time to watch this version of The Holy Mountain made up of dog videos. Maybe I can watch it with my dog – assuming none are hurt because I don’t expose my baby to that.
- High Flying Bird (2019, Steven Soderbergh, USA) – Soderbergh hurt me hard with Unsane and I need to prep myself for another shitty looking iPhone shot movie from a director I once trusted.
- Like Someone in Love (2012, Abbas Kiarostami, France & Japan) – The one Kiarostami feature of the decade I missed and given my affinity for tales of isolation in Japan, I don’t know how I missed this.
- Love 3D (2015, Gaspar Noé, France & Belgium) – I stand by the fact that Noé makes movies unlike anybody else, but y’know watching a dick ejaculate in your face in 3D is something you gotta be in the mood for and I just wasn’t when it played near me.
- Office 3D (2015, Johnnie To, Hong Kong & China) – My white whale 3D picture. I moved to Queens just after this movie played in the Metrograph and a 3D office-based Chinese musical by one of the 21st Century’s best names in action sounds like absolutely my jam. Hope I can encounter it in the wild someday.
- Mysteries of Lisbon (2010, Raúl Ruiz, Portugal) – Told that this is something to admire and I do love me a good costume drama and especially by experimental filmmakers.
- Le Quattro Volte (2010, Michelangelo Frammartino, Italy) – A weird ass spiritual movie that’s less than 90 minutes? How haven’t I seen this yet?!
- Under the Silver Lake (2018, David Robert Mitchell, USA) – More like movie I wish I had finished as I had started it but life got in the way. I’m not convinced it would have made the Top 150 but I’m sure it would have stuck deep in my head.
- Victoria (2015, Sebastian Schipper, Germany) – The trailer alone is one of the best visual things I’ve watched this past decade. I have deep hope the feature lives up to it, please.
DISQUALIFIED ON ACCOUNT OF MY LACK OF BIG BALLS:
- Cats (2019, Tom Hooper, USA) – I’m nothing but a coward.