25. Toy Story 3 (2010, dr. Lee Unkrich, scr. Michael Arndt)
Not trying to say that the absence of “Toy Story 4” means it’s a bad movie, just saying that it was the third entry in this series really got to me. There isn’t a single scene in “Toy Story 4” that I feel matches the incinerator scene in power, I have to do nothing to merely think of that scene and I am a puddle of tears. Andy’s final goodbye to his toys is also quite profound. As much as “Toy Story 4” is a good movie, its also a very Woody-centric movie, “Toy Story 3” feels like the real conclusion to the story, and I feel like that is how it is in my head canon.
24. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014, dr. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, scr. Inarritu, Nicolas Giacobone, Alex Dinelaris Jr & Armando Bo)
The Academy is an organization that routinely makes mistakes, and I think its biggest mistake of the 2010’s was NOT giving the Best Lead Actor Oscar to Michael Keaton in 2015. This is Keaton’s magnum opus. A once-in-six-lifetimes type of performance. Alas, we true believers know who the real winner was that year. I love that the movie feels like one long, extended scene. I love the many performances in the movie. I also love the strange, ambiguous ending. Does Michael Keaton fly in the end or not? Asking for a friend…
23. Moonlight (2016, dr./scr. Barry Jenkins)
In speaking of The Academy, one thing that always gets my goat around award season is how the various ceremonies will adopt movies as their pet cause. Certain movies are “better” than regular movies because they have something “important” to say. “Moonlight” felt like a movie that was tailor-made for the award circuit. A movie about a about growing up in a slum, about single parents, drugs, a budding homosexual relationship…everything they look for all rolled into one. I was ready to write the movie off completely, then I saw it. I was taken aback by how delicately detailed Jenkins movie is. I was drawn to the pure innocence of the entire thing. I was blown away by the performances by Naomi Harris, Mahershala Ali, Andre Holland and I was taken aback by how big a discovery both Janelle Monae and Trevonte Rhodes were. This is a film overflowing with passion and emotion and it busts me in the chops every time.
22. Bellflower (2011, dr./scr. Evan Glodell)
Evan Glodell is a mystery man. He came out of nowhere and made this fantastic mess of a movie and then virtually disappeared the rest of the decade. If the Oscars had an award for Greatest Jack-Of-All-Trades Craftsman, Glodell would have won it that year. He directs the film, wrote the script, produced it, edited it, is the lead star, he built the cameras that he shot the movie on. He also built the muscle cars and the flame throwers used in the movie. “Bellflower” is a fever dream, a snapshot inside the mind of a person who has been eagerly waiting to make a movie for a while. It’s a true one-of-a-kind experience and I sincerely hope we get more Evan Glodell sometime soon. This is a voice we need in the business right now, and forever.
21. The Act of Killing (2012, dr. Joshua Oppenheimer)
I’m sure one of the reasons why artists make movies at all is because, on one level, they believe these experiences have the power to change the world. I’ve never seen more direct proof of that then in Joshua Oppenheimer’s brilliant documentary. Oppenheimer originally set out to make a documentary about the Anti-Communist Indonesian Genocide of 1965-1966. Instead of making a typical documentary with interviews and stock footage, Oppenheimer gets together several members of the militia that performed the murders and allows them to recreate their memories in the style of movies. What begins as a eye-opening experiment leads to some real soul-searching from the former militiamen and whether or not they are truly guilty and sorry many years later. It’s a movie about how we compartmentalize memory and how time truly changes us when we are faced with our actions.
20. 12 Years A Slave (2013, dr. Steve McQueen, scr. John Ridley)
A powerful movie that finally treats slavery as it was, a horror movie for those who lived and survived it. This is a piercing look at the south during the 1800’s as unflinching and disturbing as you’ll ever see in these movies. Chiwetel Ejiofor gives his most outstanding performance as Solomon Northrup, a free man who is kidnapped from the North and transported to the South to be a slave. It is an inspiring tale of hope in the middle of darkness. Michael Fassbender has never been so scary and it launched the career of Lupita Nyong’o. A masterful piece, indeed.
19. The Shape of Water (2017, dr. Guillermo del Toro, scr. Del Toro & Vanessa Taylor)
We’ve seen the most wonderful worlds brought to life through the eye of Guillermo del Toro and he has shown us things that no other filmmaker could. However, we’ve never quite seen him so unfiltered as we have with “The Shape of Water.” This is a prime example of what will happen when we completely let an artist off the leash and “The Shape of Water” broke my heart in every way, and still does, every time I watch it.
18. Parasite (2019, dr. Bong Joon-ho, scr. Joon-ho & Han Jin-won)
There was nothing else like it in the year 2019, and there was definitely nothing else like it the rest of the decade. What begins as a quirky comedy about how a poor family tries to infiltrate a rich family so that they will make money slowly turns into a declaration of how greed has affected every corner of our society. This is a movie that is going to age well and showcases how a raging anger is being felt all over the world. Class warfare is probably the biggest culture war of them all right now, and its one where we need to get on the right side of before its too late, this shows how we are all affected by it. Its also the most powerful thing Bong Joon-ho has released yet and that’s honestly saying something.
17. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010, dr. Edgar Wright, scr. Wright & Michael Bacall)
Yes, the movie is really freaking goofy. Yes, its an exaggeration of life. But you honestly can’t tell me that “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World” has nothing important or provocative to say about how we love each other, how we hate each other, how baggage makes its way into each new relationship we strive for and how that baggage can ruin something remarkable. Its all just told through the lens of video games and other popular culture. This seems to something that played to Michael Cera’s strengths (if you truly believe he has any) and the young cast Wright hired all tore up the screen in the best possible way. There is something sincere at the heart of Scott’s precious little life, and I hold it quite dear.
16. Melancholia (2011, dr./scr. Lars von Trier)
Any movie that can make the end of the world this beautiful definitely deserves a spot on this list. Also, any time an actor really diverts from their comfort zone and create the highlight of their career is pretty spiffy too. I wish Kirsten Dunst did more stuff like this. This decade proved she’s ready to push herself as an actress, so what’s everybody waiting for?
15. Annihilation (2018, dr./scr. Alex Garland)
While “Arrival” (number 52 on this list) takes the backdrop of an alien invasion to make a movie about joy, love and overcoming setbacks in life, Alex Garland made the anti-Arrival in 2018. “Annihilation” takes the backdrop of an alien invasion to make a movie about grief, depression and how under certain circumstances, we are all constantly self-destructing. The Shimmer is created for a meteor crash, and begins to create its own habitat. The U.S. Government sends groups to study it, which leads to confusion and anxiety as the group gets lost within The Shimmer. This is not the typical alien invasion movie and its not the typical science fiction movie. Once again, Alex Garland is making true science fiction and thank fuck for that!
14. The Tribe (2014, dr./scr. Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy)
Get a load of this premise. A deaf child moves into a new boarding school for deaf children and is slowly and methodically ushered into the school’s street gang. The movie is told exclusively through sign language. No subtitles and no dubs to guide us. Even though the movie is communicated entirely through sign language the movie is just as profound and just as powerful as any other movie on this list and it speaks volumes without saying one word at all. “The Tribe” sticks out in this decade because it truly isn’t like anything else playing at the cinemas. I am always up for some kind of challenge and “The Tribe’ proves that movies can literally do anything.
13. Lady Bird (2017, dr./scr. Greta Gerwig)
High school coming-of-age movies are a dime a dozen every year. So, what makes “Lady Bird” stick out? I’ve seen the movie several times and I am noticing that it never gets old. Why? Maybe because Greta Gerwig laces her story and her characters with such relatable context that its hard to not see yourself at some point in the movie. Maybe Christine “Lady Bird” McPhearson (Saoirse Ronan) and her mother Marion (Laurie Metcalf) are just a couple of lionesses always battling over the course of the entire movie. It is often hilarious and it is often horrible and it feels so grounded that its crazy. There is so much realism in that phase where you can’t stand your parents yet you can’t live without them. It’s such an amazingly amusing film.
12. The Social Network (2010, dr. David Fincher, scr. Aaron Sorkin)
What’s ironic about this film is that everything included in it seems to be slowly creeping into our world now, making this film even more of a decade highlight. If you think of this as just “The Facebook Movie” you are giving this movie a disservice. Its really a movie about how, no matter what, America and greed seem almost interchangeable in our business world. Who really knows how much of this is true, but it certainly points to some real aspects of how business works in this country. David Fincher really gets the best of the best out of people; just look at Justin Timberlake and Jesse Eisenberg, two actors I don’t really care for. Plus, Sorkin’s script is so amazing to just listen to.
11. Roma (2018, dr./scr. Alfonso Cuaron)
I am still taken aback by how this movie feels like you are stuck inside someone’s memory. Even though the movie is shot in black-and-white, it still feels you are sitting and reacting to someone’s memories, and it is wonderful still from start to finish. This movie continues to break me every single time I watch it. Every actor is perfect, from start to finish. Still, I am in awe.
10. Avengers: Endgame (2019, dr. Joe and Anthony Russo, scr. Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely)
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has been so rich and entertaining that I could have easily cheated and put every movie in the franchise from 2010 to 2019 in this spot. As much as I’ve been impressed by this entire franchise, “Avengers: Endgame” is something that could have easily not worked. It serves as a sequel to several ongoing franchises, it’s an epic conclusion to a huge chunk of storytelling and it’s a victory lap throughout the entire franchise. That’s no easy feat to make well, so how “Endgame” made it out okay on the other side is a miracle. The Marvel Cinematic Universe was my 20’s in a nutshell. I mean, just look through this very blog. I didn’t write about any other franchise more than the MCU, I wasn’t obsessed with any other franchise on any higher level. Usually franchises fizzle out after about three movies, so to see a franchise tell a giant 23-movie story and end it with all barrels blazing is an terrific accomplishment. All I can do now is hope that I am just as lazor-focused on this franchise this time in ten years as I am now. They nailed it, so now I hope they continue to into the new decade.
9. American Honey (2016, dr./scr. Andrea Arnold)
Maybe I am still young enough to understand and relate to some of themes of this movie, but this movie has been stuck in my head ever since I saw it in 2016. There doesn’t seem like much there’s much of a plot. There is a girl named Star played by the amazing Sasha Lane who is living a painful life. When she meets Jake (a breakout moment for Shia LaBeouf) and sees how free he lives, that’s what she wants. She runs away from home and joins Jake on the road with a bunch of kids who sell magazine subscriptions door-to-door and answer to nobody except each other. All Star has ever wanted to was to belong, and she finally finds that belonging. Its such a singular film, so powerful by not doing much while also creating fresh scars. It still blindsides me.
8. Inherent Vice (2014, dr./scr. Paul Thomas Anderson)
Movies like “Inherent Vice” are seldomly made anymore. Epic and funny and an overpowering assault of character, theme, setting and dialogue. Full of wonderful actors who are all chewing up scenery and seem in competition with each other to outdo each other. The real discovery here is Katherine Waterston, who broke out in a big way in this movie. On one level this may look like a bunch of great actors goofing off, but this is a contact-high of a movie and one of the funniest and most deranged times I had at the theater.
7. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015, dr. George Miller, scr. Miller, Nico Lathouris & Brendon McCarthy)
This was the action movie of the decade. If Hollywood is truly paying attention, they will take the right notes from this movie and start a revolution this decade. So much so, action movies and genre pictures follow the same template. There are several scenes of exposition, followed by a reminder of why people assembled at the auditorium in the first place. That is not so with “Mad Max: Fury Road.” Every costume, every character, every car, every place…it all serves as pushing the storytelling forward. It’s also an education on how to shoot action in a unique way. The characters are so rich in this movie, to the point that I could spend thousands upon thousands of words on each character in this movie. There is a reason why so many were so smitten with this since it came out, it revolutionized how we make action movies and should be remembered for it.
6. Her (2013, dr./scr. Spike Jones)
There is so much raw emotion packed into a film that could have easily not resonated with anyone. Our relationship to technology is definitely a complicated one. There are several pros and cons that have spawned from it. To stare at that notion without blinking and to shed light on some hard truths with profound insight, that’s a great movie. That’s a smart movie. That is an emotional rollercoaster. Again, when a love story is relatable, I can really get behind it there is an overwhelming sadness to much of this movie but also a shimmer of hope, which is really what you need with any relationship.
5. Anomalisa (2015, dr. Charlie Kaufman & Duke Johnson, scr. Charlie Kaufman)
“Anomalisa” could have easily been a huge gimmick with no punchline. Its an animated movie about a guy who is seemingly drifting unhappily through life. Every person has the same animated face and is voiced by the same actor, because the lead character sees every person he comes into contact with as the same, which adds to his sadness. Then when he meets a special girl named Lisa, he sees her as an anomaly, something to treasure and nurture. The thing is, he’s married with a family, it is a forbidden love. “Anomalisa” is a movie that challenges your empathy, and its greatest gift is realizing that you may not like the lead character, but you’ll definitely understand him. We only have one life to live and we need to be surrounded by people who make us the happiest, that is the core thought behind “Anomalisa” and its one of the most beautiful movies of the entire decade.
4. Take Shelter (2011, dr./scr. Jeff Nichols)
Jeff Nichols was one of the most exciting new age filmmakers of the entire decade. I love that he never really played the hype game ever and his movies usually just arrived. “Take Shelter” is one of the best looks at how heartbreaking it is to be trapped with someone with a mental illness, and how the illness itself will eat at you. Michael Shannon, in the performance of his career, plays a man who keeps having apocalyptic dreams and he can’t figure out if these visions are biblical or just his mental state deteriorating. It’s a highly informative movie and an incredibly thought-provoking movie. It plays by all the rules, but the road to get there is different and that makes all the difference.
3. The Florida Project (2017, dr. Sean Baker, scr. Baker & Chris Bergoch)
One of the reasons I love movies so much is that they teach me empathy on a level I’ve never seen before. Sean Baker is a guy who has been specializing in telling stories about those who live within the margines. They aren’t the typical people we see as the leads in movies and giving them any time of day at all is important. Focusing on a group of kids living in a slum hotel in the shadow of Orlando, Florida. Its their adventures, their way of keeping themselves happy and busy. They don’t realize they are poor and the lead little girl has no idea just how unfit her young mother is and how she’s on the verge of losing this life she loves so much. On surface level, you may think “The Florida Project” is abhorrent for telling a story about such characters. But that’s Sean Baker’s point, we look down on these people without really understanding their struggle. Brooklynn Prince and Bria Vinaite were huge discoveries here and Willem Dafoe was his usual amazing self.
2. Holy Motors (2012, dr./scr. Leos Carax)
I like to call this cinematic Cirque Du Soleil. The movie is a series of events revolving around lead character Mr. Oscar. At the beginning of the film, Mr. Oscar gets into a white limo and goes around Paris, France acting out various scenes. One is animated, one is dramatic, some are funny and there’s even a musical number. What does it mean? Who knows and who cares? It’s the emotion and the execution that reels you in. It’s a festival of mini-movies packed into one. It’s the one movie I can think of that is a celebration of the entire past, present and future of the cinematic medium. It’s a meditation on all things movie-related. There is nothing else like it and its an ode to movie lovers.
1. 1. Boyhood (2014, dr./scr. Richard Linklater)
Every time I’ve watched this movie this decade, it feels like an entirely different experience every time I watch it. It felt different the night before I got married. It felt different watching it a a dad. Watching it as a success and a failure, in a good mood and bad mood. It’s an entire human lifetime sustained into one movie. It’s a movie that began production in 2001 and Linklater shot here and there for a few weeks from 2001 until 2013, using the exact same actors in the exact same roles. Talk about the mother of all gambles in movies, because if one small thing happened to just one of the actors here, it would have collapsed. It’s the mother of all gimmicks and works dramatically. Much like with most of his movies, Linklater uses time as a character, but never on the level as we do here. We see the characters grow up before our eyes and we actually feel the time in the movie as we see the actual actors age. Not only that, but it is a reminder of how precious time is as we move through life. The movie focuses on decision making, because we only get one life to make these decisions. They are important, and they can either to lead to good things or bad things. We forget the tremendous amount of pressure we are under to always make sure we are happy with this one life we live, and the years move so damn fast. Linklater makes us feel that in a big way in this movie. Its amazing how much I relate to different aspects of this movie and I can’t wait to see how this movie speaks to me as the years pile on. That’s the kind of experience this is, an easy renewable experience. Which is why I am proud to say its Number One.
The Just Missed It List
"The Ballad of Buster Scruggs"
"A Star is Born"
"The Silver Linings Playbook"
"The Night Before"
"Midnight In Paris"
"Big Bad Wolves"
THE COMPLETE LIST WITH NO YAPPIN
3. "The Florida Project"
4. "Take Shelter"
7."Mad Max: Fury Road"
8. "Inherent Vice"
10. "Avengers: Endgame"
12." The Social Network"
13. "Lady Bird"
14 "The Tribe"
17. "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World"
19. "The Shape of Water"
20. "12 Years A Slave"
21. "The Act of Killing"
25. "Toy Story 3"
26. "Manchester By The Sea"
29. "Blade Runner 2049"
32. "The Irishman"
34. "Zero Dark Thirty"
36. "Cloud Atlas"
37. "Thunder Road"
38. "The Grand Budapest Hotel"
39. "First Reformed"
40. "The Hateful Eight"
41. "Inside Out"
42. "Uncut Gems"
44."Once Upon A Time In Hollywood"
45. "The Revenant"
46. "A Ghost Story"
51. "The Artist"
54. "Black Swan"
55. "La La Land"
56. "Spider-Man: Into The SPider-Verse"
57. "The Hunt For The Wilderpeople"
58."We Need To Talk About Kevin"
59. "The Farewell"
60. "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes"
61. "Short Term 12"
62. "The Raid 2"
63. "Get Him To The Greek"
65. "I Saw The Devil"
66. "Hearts Beat Loud"
67. "Cheap Thrills"
69. "Before Midnight"
70. "A Separation"
71. "Attack The Block"
72. "Ex Machina"
73. "Inside Llewyn Davis"
74. "The LEGO Movie"
75. "The Cabin In The Woods"
77. "The Charmer"
78. "The Witch"
79. "The Adventures of Tintin"
80 "Eighth Grade"
81. "Hell or High Water"
82. "Marriage Story"
83. "Won't You Be My Neighbor?"
84. "Sorry To Bother You"
85. "Gone Girl"
88. "Miss Bala"
89. "The Master"
90. "White God"
91. "Django Unchained"
92. "Shutter Island"
93. "What We Do In The Shadows"
94. "Sound of Noise"
95. "Celeste and Jesse Forever"
96. "Baby Driver"
97. "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy"
98. "The Martian"
99. "Moonrise Kingdom"
100. "Rouge One: A Star Wars Story"
Thanks for reading guys!