My Favorite Theatrical Experiences of the 2010s

 

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I will speak frankly – I think most Americans will have to get used to the fact that we are just not going to be able to go to movie theaters for a long while if at any point before 2021 (for the rest of the world, it appears that a lot of you got your shit together and won’t have that particular displeasure). This is undoubtedly for the better as we need to take whatever measure necessary to control and combat COVID-19 (which means put your fucking mask on, redneck!). I think it’s just going to be a lot more healthy if we recognize and accept that and work to what we wanna do.

But of course, I do miss the cinema as a location. It’s absolutely not the same watching anything at home, no matter how good your home theater setup is, there is just the right quality in the scope and space set up specifically for theatrical presentation that you’re never going to be able to imitate like the glowing path from the projector to the screen as though the movie is transporting a ghost or the dwarfing perspective of sitting below that image rather than before it. More particularly, there is something really epic about the communal experience of going to see a movie – whether with a crowd or with a friend or a group of friends – where it seems there’s a quiet connection with every single person in that room and somehow their joy is your joy, their disgust is your disgust, and the trance all ends when the lights come out.

So with that said – and this post is mostly for myself so forgive the minimal description or explanation – I list out my favorite memories of going to the movies in the most explicit physical sense and leave it as something of a Peter Greenaway-esque map when I try to revisit the sort of journeys that eventually culminated in the massive lists of movies I’ve left as a final note to the 2010s as a decade for me as a moviegoer.

  • Toy Story 3 at the Regal Kendall Village – Miami, FL, June 2010 – In which my childhood biffle and I watched together before splitting apart for college.
  • The Big 4 Live from Sofia, Bulgaria at United Artists The Falls – Miami, FL, June 2010 – In which my very last day before returning to Algeria is spent watching a livestream of the Big 4 Thrash Metal bands with my high school biffle and laughing at the dude’s moshpitting in front of the screen before joining in (I’d later see the Big 4 in person the following year).
  • Inception at the Harkins Tempe Marketplace – Tempe, AZ, August 2010 – in which I go to a movie theater for the first time since spending the summer in Algeria with a brand new group of friends for college.
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. the World at the MadCap Theaters – Tempe, AZ, September 2010 – in which I encounter my first loud cult showing of a movie and feel like I discovered electricity.
  • Halloween/Night of the Living Dead at the MadCap Theaters – Tempe, AZ, October 2010 – in which my friends and I decide Halloween weekend ought to be spent watching horror movies late at night.
  • Evil Dead II at the MadCap Theaters – Tempe, AZ, November 2010 – in which I witness the film print’s attached trailers and pre-screening videos for Loews Theaters and it makes me feel like I’ve travelled through time. The Sesame Street “Don’t Forget to Watch the Movie” theater etiquette video particularly becomes a staple of when I’m having friends over to watch movies.
  • TRON: Legacy at the IMAX Arizona Mills – Phoenix, AZ, December 2010 – in which I really witness how big spectacle cinema can be when done exactly right.
  • The Tree of Life at the AMC Sunset Place – Miami, FL, June 2011 – in which I spend my birthday watching what could have been one of my new favorite movies at the time alone and enjoyably with time for myself to think.
  • Hugo at the Harkins Tempe Marketplace – Tempe, AZ, November 2011 – in which I decide that maybe 3D is good actually.
  • Beauty and the Beast 3D at the Harkins Tempe Marketplace – Tempe, AZ, January 2012 – for the most sentimental of reasons although part of it how I’ve seen the light regarding Disney’s accomplishments in animation.
  • Cloud Atlas at the Harkins Tempe Marketplace – Tempe, AZ, October 2012 – in which the scope and sweep of a modern epic brings more perspective to me than I expected.
  • Skyfall at the Harkins Tempe Marketplace – Tempe, AZ, November 2012 – in which my closest friend in college wisely surmises that maybe a big damn popcorn movie with an opening night crowd is what I needed… and I think he turned out to be right.
  • Holy Motors at the FilmBar – Phoenix, AZ, December 2012 – in which even despite discovering my discomfort with dine-in or bar theaters, I also discover there is a whole world of movies still beating out there and they are just as jazzed about it as we are… if not more.
  • Django Unchained at the AMC Southland Mall – Miami, FL, December 2012 – in which watching the movie with an all-black audience on Christmas Day made the entire experience more hype than the movie deserved.
  • Evil Dead (2013) at the Harkins Tempe Marketplace – Tempe, AZ, March 2013 – in which I discover my love for fake cinematic gore and my limits for it still as THE thing.
  • The Shining at Pollack Tempe Cinemas – Tempe, AZ, June 2013 – in which I discover my favorite movie theater that I’ve been through yet and also learn the appeal in talking a long walk at night back to my apartment, listening to music and processing what I watched by myself
  • Man of Steel at the Arizona Mills IMAX – Phoenix, AZ, July 2013 – in which my Thai foreign exchange co-workers and I decide to take a day off to catch a big popcorn flick and they walk out declaring Superman is the coolest dude ever, which endears even beyond my muted attitude to the film.
  • The Wizard of Oz at the AMC Arrowhead – Phoenix, AZ, September 2013 – in which I shock one of my professors by expressing excitement that I’m seeing it on the big screen later tonight.
  • Metallica: Through the Never at the Harkins Tempe Marketplace – Tempe, AZ, September 2013 – in which I remind myself that “yeah, they’re not excellent movies but it’s really something to get stuck in a theater with other metalheads”.
  • Gravity at the Arizona Mills IMAX – Phoenix, AZ, October 2013 – in which I regret dying of laughter every time I saw the trailer because holy shit, that was a scary experience to watch in the most immersive presentation.
  • The Lego Movie and The Raid 2 at the Harkins Chandler Fashion – Phoenix, AZ, February 2014 – in which I decide to take a day off of work to just have an impromptu double feature.
  • The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them at the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès – Cannes, FR, May 2014 – in which my friends and I go straight from Graduation to Cannes, our very first movie premiere, and I fucking fall asleep (a struggle I find tough to perform throughout).
  • The Umbrellas of Cherbourg at the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès – Cannes, FR, May 2014 – in which I discover another new favorite movie in the best place to discover it.
  • It Follows at the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès – Cannes, FR, May 2014 – in which I feel actively part of the festival hype phenomenon for the very first time.
  • Goodbye to Language at the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès – Cannes, FR, May 2014 – in which I take an early morning screening without the rest of my friends to feel like I’ve now just learning totally new dimensions to movies that I rejected because they didn’t seen right?
  • Godzilla at the AutoNation Museum of Science IMAX – Ft. Lauderdale, FL, May 2014 – in which I punctuate a kaiju binge several years long with this big experience.
  • Boyhood at the Classic Gateway Theater – Ft. Lauderdale, FL, June 2014 – in which I drive across county lines to discover another favorite cinema of mine for the first time and to watch one of my most anticipated movies of the decade.
  • Snowpiercer at the O Cinema Wynwood – Miami, FL, July 2014 – in which I am so hype over Bong Joon-ho’s victory that I drag my friends in the middle of the night to see it in a nearly empty theater.
  • Interstellar at the AutoNation IMAX – Ft. Lauderdale, FL, November 2014 – in which I witness the last 70mm print they will ever play.
  • National Gallery at the Bill Cosford Cinema – Miami, FL, November 2014 – in which I realize that I am fully on board with Frederick Wiseman’s approach to observing a place.
  • Goodbye to Language at the BAM Rose Cinemas – Brooklyn, NY, January 2015 – in which I decide I’m so determined to see that movie more than once that I fly up to see it by myself and laugh along with it one more time.
  • Moulin Rouge! at the IFC Center – Manhattan, NY, January 2015 – in which I learn one of my favorite movies is playing at midnight so I run! (not take the subway!) after one of my most anticipated boxing matches of the decade concludes from Times Square all the way down to Washington Square and dream with it in my fatigue.
  • Jupiter Ascending at the Cobb Theaters Dolphin – Miami, FL, February 2015 – in which I determine that everyone is wrong sometimes.
  • Alien at the Coral Gables Art Cinema – Miami, FL, February 2015 – in which I first encounter the Secret Celluloid Society, which becomes a weekly pastime for a good year.
  • The Evil Dead (1981) at the Coral Gables Art Cinema – Miami, FL, April 2015 – in which one of my earliest movies that made me love movies gets the rotting 35mm presentation it deserved.
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark at the Coral Gables Art Cinema – Miami, FL, April 2015 – in which Secret Celluloid Society showed one impatient dude what the fuck is up.
  • The Apu Trilogy at the Coral Gables Art Cinema – Miami, Fl, April 2015 – in which I spend the whole day taking the walk of life with Satyajit Ray’s iconic protagonist.
  • Blade Runner at the Coral Gables Art Cinema – Miami, FL, April 2015 – in which I introduce my sister to my favorite movie at the insistence of my mom.
  • Mad Max: Fury Road at the Regal Kendall Village – Miami, FL, May 2015 – in which I have the single most physical cinematic experience ever.
  • Mad Max: Fury Road at the Regal Kendall Village – Miami, FL, May 2015 – in which I drag my friends in to have that physical experience with me.
  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Classic Gateway Theater – Ft. Lauderdale, FL, May 2015 – self-explanatory.
  • Creature from the Black Lagoon at the Miami Beach Cinematheque – Miami Beach, FL, October 2015 – in which I see it in 3D with Ricou Browning himself.
  • The ThingNight of the DemonsEraserhead, & The Texas Chain Saw Massacre at the Coral Gables Art Cinema – Miami, FL, October 2015 – in which Halloween is spent all night at a movie theater until the dragging dawn.
  • Mad Max: Fury Road at the Coral Gables Art Cinema – Miami, FL, December 2015 – in which I learn that oh they make 35mm prints of everything.
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens at the AutoNation IMAX – Ft. Lauderdale, FL, December 2015 – in which my childhood friends and I make our dramatic return to watching movies together via the dramatic return of Star Wars to the big screen.
  • The Hateful Eight at the Regal Kendall Village – Miami, FL, December 2015 – in which my Tarantino-loving homie and I find that the Road Show is happening less than 10 minutes away from us, to the dismay of nearly everyone we watch it with.
  • The Wild Bunch at the Coral Gables Art Cinema – Miami, FL, January 2016 – in which life got wild.
  • The Witch at the Regal Kendall Village – Miami, FL, February 2016 – in which I opt to sleep with the lights on that night.
  • Miami Connection at the Coral Gables Art Cinema – Miami, FL, March 2016 – in which I have the best time I’ve ever had at a movie theater.
  • The Lobster at the Angelika Film Center – Manhattan, NY, May 2016 – in which I recalibrate my position in life.
  • Love & Friendship at the Malverne Cinema – Long Island, NY, June 2016 – in which I discover another of my favorite movie theaters I’ve ever gone to.
  • Close-Up at the Coral Gables Art Cinema – Miami, FL, July 2016 – in which I pay my respects to Kiarostami.
  • Kiss Me Kate at the Coral Gables Art Cinema – Miami, FL, July 2016 – in which I revisit it in 3D and catch that 50s musical magic in an entirely new way.
  • The Barn at the O Cinema Wynwood – Miami, FL, August 2016 – in which I integrate myself more into Popcorn Frights as an audience member and reignite my enjoyment of genre cinema as is.
  • Suspiria (1977) at the O Cinema Miami Beach – Miami Beach, FL, September 2016 – in which my long awaited Secret Celluloid Society request is met with hilarious anti-climax.
  • Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom at the O Cinema Miami Beach – Miami Beach, FL, September 2016 – in which shit gets wild in my life yet again.
  • Lawrence of Arabia at the Coral Gables Art Cinema – Miami, FL, September 2016 – in which I realize that there’s no going back after seeing it in 70mm.
  • Casablanca at the Coral Gables Art Cinema – Miami, FL, September 2016 – in which I learn that my familiarizing with the theater runners of Miami has in fact saved my date and introduced them to possibly my favorite movie (I know I just said that about Blade Runner, fite me).
  • Moonlight at the Colony Theatre – Miami Beach, FL, October 2016 – Yet another unexpected movie premiere I got to attend at the last second.
  • Phantom of the Paradise at the O Cinema Miami Beach – Miami Beach, FL, October 2016 – in which it was clear that just because SCS’ venue changed didn’t mean it wasn’t going to be any less raucous.
  • Nosferatu, A Symphony of Terror at the Coral Gables Art Cinema – Miami, FL, October 2016 – in which I experience a live scoring that is outstandingly chilling against the beautiful restoration.
  • Blood Diner at the O Cinema Miami Beach – Miami Beach, FL, October 2016 – in which I discover the value of trusting someone to deliver you shlock.
  • La La Land at the AMC Sunset Place – Miami, FL, January 2017 – in which I find the way sentiment off the screen can translate to sentiment in life.
  • Get Out at the Regal Kendall Village – Miami, FL, February 2017 – in which nobody could keep to their seats.
  • Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem at the O Cinema Miami Beach – Miami Beach, FL, April 2017 – in which the theater is transformed into a party.
  • Gentlemen Prefer Blondes at the Bill Cosford Cinema – Miami, FL, June 2017 – in which I watch my friend finally lift off their long-time passion project in movie and drag performance presentation.
  • Dunkirk at the AutoNation IMAX – Ft. Lauderdale, FL, July 2017 – in which I think my friends and I realized that an annual visit to see a big fucking movie here was going to be a frequent thing.
  • Grindhouse at the Coral Gables Art Cinema – Miami, FL, August 2017 – in which a movie I never expected to get the same midnight movie house screening again with… got exactly that same nostalgic feel outta me.
  • Close Encounters of the Third Kind at the Regal Kendall Village – Miami, FL, September 2017 – in which I eschew hurricane preparation to revisit one of my most purest movie loves in excellent presentation.
  • Loving Vincent at the Regal South Beach – Miami Beach, FL, October 2017 – in which I saw how physical textures of art can be translated to the big screen in a manner that can never apply elsewhere.
  • 24 Frames at the Coral Gables Art Cinema – Miami, FL, February 2018 – in which I’m tickled at what Kiarostami left behind.
  • The Hurrican Heist at the Cobb Theaters Dolphin – Miami, FL, March 2018 – in which my homie and I discover the true joy of discovering a piece of so-bad-it’s-good cinema before any of the cult can lock in.
  • Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) at the Lucas Theatre – Savannah, GA, April 2018 – in which I experience a live scoring by snubbed Antonio Sánchez that spills over past the runtime into an epic drum solo performance.
  • Isle of Dogs at the O Cinema Wynwood – Miami, FL, April 2018 – in which I allow my baby dog Bruno to feel like a movie star up in the motherfucking theater before he decides he’d rather go home than finish.
  • The Full-On Studio Ghibli Festival at The Coral Gables Art Cinema – Miami, FL, June 2018 – which took up the entirety of 2 weeks for my friend and I to attend it all and introduce him to all of those movies for the first time while I revisit all of them. I honestly can’t pick just one screening as they were all magical and fun in their own way but if I had to pick a top five in viewing experience: My Neighbors the YamadasKiki’s Delivery Service, My Neighbor TotoroThe Cat Returns, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey at the Coral Gables Art Cinema – Miami, FL, July 2018 – in which it’s about the end of my time with this movie… I don’t know how the experience can surpass that one.
  • Pina at the Walter Reade Theater – Manhattan, NY, July 2018 – in which I remind myself of the proactive quality of 3D and my love for dance as an artform.
  • Mission: Impossible – Fallout at the AMC IMAX Lincoln Square – Manhattan, NY, August 2018 – in which I finally re-watch the movie in the presentation I’ve deeply been wanting since I first saw it and make for a distant second to Mad Max: Fury Road in physical cinema experience.
  • Andrei Rublev at the Walter Reade Theater – Manhattan, NY, July 2018 – in which I revisit one of the most beautiful films ever with stunning clarity that makes me feel like I’m watching it for the first time.
  • Night Is Short, Walk on Girl at the Metrograph – Manhattan, NY, September 2018 – in which Yuasa Masaaki refreshes me from an uncertain point in my life.
  • ★ at the Anthology Film Archives – Manhattan, NY, September 2018 – in which I catch a long elusive watch I’ve been dying to catch and hope to see it again sometime in the future.
  • The Master Phantom Thread at the Museum of the Moving Image – Manhattan, NY, September 2018 – in which I catch both in the 70mm presentation they were made for and it is something else.
  • Mandy at the United Artists Kaufman – Queens, NY, September 2018 – in which I witness my favorite movie of the decade for the first time.
  • A Simple Favor at the United Artists Kaufman – Queens, NY, September 2018 – in which a full house was at the same level of shlock enjoyment as I was (including my second favorite audience outburst in a movie “this is a really good movie”).
  • The Other Side of the Wind at the Lincoln Center – Manhattan, NY, September 2018 – in which I watch the most anticipated movie of my life as it is premiering in North Americe in the unexpected company of some huge icons of filmmaking.
  • Halloween (2018) at the Brendan Palms Casino – Las Vegas, NV, October 2018 – in which I calibrate where I can catch movies in my city of work with the return a beloved slasher.
  • Suspiria (2018) at the Regal Union Square – Manhattan, NY, October 2018 – in which I exhaust myself by going straight from a flight returning from Las Vegas, race from Queens to Manhattan, and catch the very last opening night showing of a film that sank in better dreamily with that exhaustion.
  • The Favourite at the Cinerama Dome – Los Angeles, CA, December 2018 – in which I visit that famous institution and find the perfect visually warped movie to make that first impression with the huge screen.
  • Roma at the Vista Theatre – Los Angeles, CA, December 2018 – in which I thank fortune on finding a way to see a movie in a theater that deserves it when I can. Even though my homie falls asleep during it.
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse at the Regal Kendall Village – Miami, FL, December 2018 – in which I discover a movie that makes me feel like I’m flying in the sky.
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse at the AMC Classic Savannah – Savannah, GA, December 2018 – in which I make my friends experience that same feeling.
  • Celine and Julie Go Boating at the Quad Cinema – Manhattan, NY, January 2019 – in which I feel like I’m in on a joke with the movie that apparently most of the audience couldn’t get ahold of.
  • 76 Minutes and 15 Seconds with Abbas Kiarostami 3 Faces at the IFC Center – Manhattan, NY, January 2019 – in which I spend a double feature with two of the most gracious presences in cinema.
  • Flash Gordon at the Savor Cinema – Ft. Lauderdale, FL, February 2019 – in which I admire how the venue has literally taken movies as a religion seriously while also introducing my friend to one of my deepest guilty pleasures of space opera fun.
  • Police Story Police Story 2 at the Music Box Center – Chicago, IL, February 2019 – in which I spend another double feature acquainting myself with one of my cinema Meccas.
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse at Harkins Arizona Mills – Phoenix, AZ, February 2019 – in which the victory lap of one of the best animated movies coincides with reuniting with one of my closest friends over the past 10 years.
  • PROTOTYPE at the Cornell Cinema – Ithaca, NY, March 2019 – in which I re-experience one of the most incredible 3D experiments I’ve ever encountered in the intimate basement of Cornell University (actually it’s a much nicer theater than that sounds).
  • Us at AMC Sunset Place – Miami, FL, March 2019 – in which I’m reminded why opening weekend horror movie crowds are the best with my favorite outburst in a movie (“I thought this was supposed to be a comedy”).
  • Shadow at the Ritz at the Bourse – Philadelphia, PA, April 2019 – in which I commit to the interstate drive from my new workplace just to get a fixing for great cinema.
  • Long Day’s Journey into Night at the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center – Manhattan, NY, April 2019 – in which I take a one of a kind unique film experience… and my homie falls asleep during it.
  • High Life at the Ritz Five – Philadelphia, PA, April 2019 – in which I once again find the perfect movie to go in dreamy and exhausted-like.
  • Stop Making Sense at the Fillmore – Miami Beach, FL, May 2019 – in which I resolve to one day find an audience with this movie that will actually fucking dance with this bitch.
  • John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum at the Regal Kendall Village – Miami, FL, May 2019 – in which I finally convince my biffle Josh to join our ranks in the John Wick hype squad.
  • The Last Black Man in San Francisco at the Grand Lake Theater – Oakland, CA, June 2019 – in which even despite disliking the film, I found myself introduced to an excellent movie palace and felt the voodoo of location in watching a movie based in the city it is a love letter to.
  • Crawl at the AMC Sunset Place – Miami, FL, July 2019 – in which we had the single best horror movie audience to sit behind us and also felt that voodoo of location in an entirely different and trashier way.
  • Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood at the AMC Tamiami – Miami, FL, July 2019 – in which I re-watched it with one of my best friends and finally found myself warming to it.
  • Portrait of a Lady on Fire at the Tower Theater – Miami, FL, October 2019 – in which we took up a whole row prepared for the hype of this movie and not one of us left unaffected.
  • Gemini Man at the AMC Dolby Aventura Mall – Miami, FL, October 2019 – in which my friend and I watched this video game movie dictate to us the true power of 3D HFR.
  • The Lighthouse at the AMC Sunset Place – Miami, FL, October 2019 – in which my biffle and I formally decide we are way too mad for being into this shit.
  • Apollo 11 at the Smithsonian Air and Space IMAX – Washington, DC, November 2019 – in which Thanksgiving is spent revisiting this movie in the best possible theater to visit it and convincing my dad and sister that I have the ultimate taste.
  • Knives Out at the Senator Theater – Baltimore, MD, November 2019 – in which I find another movie palace with my sister.
  • Cats at the AMC Sunset Place – Miami, FL, December 2019 – as my friend and I lost our heads in the madness of the film, took silent note of every single walkout (11!), and threw paper balls at teenagers texting in the middle of the movie until they stopped.
  • A Hidden Life at the Classic Gateway Theater – Ft. Lauderdale, FL, December 2019 – in which it wasn’t the very last movie I saw in the 2010s but it felt like the perfect final note for a long drive, a long movie that I waited a long time for, and a long horizon to look beyond.

And also shout out to J.A.B. for the times they’ve arranged certain screenings that I can’t particularly talk about in public but if I could, they’d be peppered all over here. I will only say name the movies – Resident Evil series, Inland EmpireParasite.

And these are just the experiences I REALLY cherish.

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