Tuesday, December 31, 2019

The 100 Best Movies of the Decade: AT LAST, THE FINAL 25!!!!!!!

We arrive to it at last, the final 25 of the decade! For anybody who is curious, here's a list I made over at IMDB that has every new movie I saw this decade! Here's the first part of this list here. Here's the second part of the list here. And here is the third part of the list here


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
"Brigsby Bear"
" Contagion"
"The Ballad of Buster Scruggs"
"Black Panther"
"Whiplash"
"Skyfall"
"A Star is Born"
"Paul"
"Ted"
"The Silver Linings Playbook"
"Midnight Special"
"Nocturnal Animals"
"Sing Street"
"Beautiful Boy"
"Dope"
"Chef"
"The Night Before"
"Midnight In Paris"
"Lincoln"
"Jojo Rabbit"
"Cold War"
"Argo"
"Big Bad Wolves"

THE COMPLETE LIST WITH NO YAPPIN

1. "Boyhood"
2."Holy Motors"
3. "The Florida Project"
4. "Take Shelter"
5. "Anomalisa"
6. "Her"
7."Mad Max: Fury Road"
8. "Inherent Vice"
9."American Honey"
10. "Avengers: Endgame"
11. "Roma"
12." The Social Network"
13. "Lady Bird"
14 "The Tribe"
15. "Annihilation"
16. "Melancholia"
17. "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World"
18. "Parasite"
19. "The Shape of Water"
20. "12 Years A Slave"
21. "The Act of Killing"
22. "Bellflower"
23. "Moonlight"
24. "Birdman"
25. "Toy Story 3"
26. "Manchester By The Sea"
27. "Us"
28. "Inception"
29. "Blade Runner 2049"
30. "Drive"
31. "Enemy"
32. "The Irishman"
33. "Room"
34. "Zero Dark Thirty"
35. "Bodied"
36. "Cloud Atlas"
37. "Thunder Road"
38. "The Grand Budapest Hotel"
39. "First Reformed"
40. "The Hateful Eight"
41. "Inside Out"
42. "Uncut Gems"
43. "Hereditary"
44."Once Upon A Time In Hollywood"
45. "The Revenant"
46. "A Ghost Story"
47. "Chi-Raq"
48. "BlackKklansman"
49. "Midsommar"
50. "Gravity"
51. "The Artist"
52. "Arrival"
53. "Selma"
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"
64. "Prometheus"
65. "I Saw The Devil"
66. "Hearts Beat Loud"
67. "Cheap Thrills"
68. "Mutafukaz"
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"
76. "Burning"
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"
86. "Booksmart"
87. "Warrior"
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!

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Review: "Jumanji: The Next Level" is a bunch of holiday fun!

Jumanji: The Next Level Review
What started out as one of the most unexpected series' has become something rather fun. I didn't have much enthusiasm for this idea when it was first announced. I thought Jumanji in a video game was just a stupid, new-age way to make money off of something from the past. It seemed half-assed. Yet, the first film is a shining example that an idea on paper is just that...an idea. The execution of the idea is everything. "Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle" is a prime example of why its important to not simply write something off, because sometimes surprises DO happen.

So, can Sony hit lightning in a bottle twice? I am on the fence as to which new Jumanji movie is better, but I can say that "Jumanji: The Next Level" is a fun sequel at the very least. Let's be honest here, this was a series that never had the awards season on its mind. This exists solely to entertain, and that's exactly what this new movie does, it entertains. This is a movie that is full of fun, and if that's what you want, that is what you're going to get. Not everything has to be a classic and not everything has to have this life-altering message in order to have merit.

"Jumanji: The Next Level" is set up like a sequel. Its a reason to get the recognizable characters back. There is a semi-new adventure but its bigger, there are some differences to the adventure but the movie makes some of the same points that the first film made and everything gets wrapped up in a nice-looking bow.

The movie begins with Spencer (Alex Wolff), Fridge (Ser'Darius Blain), Martha (Morgan Turner) and Bethany (Madison Iseman) returning from college for Christmas break. It's been a different transition for all of them, but Spencer seems to be affected the most. Him and Martha are on a break. Spencer seems to be suffering from anxiety that he really can't put his finger on. If you felt weird that first year you headed off to college, then this sub-plot might relate to you. I definitely felt a slight disconnect from my Peoria friends that first year of college, so much so that it was a huge relief to see them all again when I came home for my first Christmas break. I am also just glad that I still have friends from college and still have that core high school clique intact too. But for some, it can feel like a weird limbo you're in. So that's why Spencer decides to go into the Jumanji game again, to feel something.

He just accidentally gets his friends sucked into the game by accident too. Also his grandpa (Danny DeVito) and a friend of his grandpa named Milo (Danny Glover) who has a past with his grandpa. Danny DeVito gets sucked into The Rock's body and Milo gets sucked into Kevin Hart's body. 

Kevin Hart playing Danny Glover is the most hysterical material in the whole movie.

Awkafina also shows up as Ming Fleetfoot, a new playable character in Jumanji, and is the character Spencer gets sucked into. Awkafina does some very funny work playing a teenager and then eventually playing Danny DeVito. Yes, there is some fun character changing in this movie and leads to some big laughs. Rory McCann plays the game's villain who the team needs to stop in order to get out of the game. McCann is good, but if you saw him on "Game of Thrones" you may get why he's slightly uninteresting. The character is basically The Hound-Lite. I'm not terribly sure that McCann pushed himself, but I am also not sure the script allowed him to.

There is plenty to laugh and cheer about here. There's even a nice little Pixar-like message wrapped into the ending as well. At the end of the day, this sequel serves only to please, and again, if that's what you want, go for it. When you see a Pegasus take flight in this film, you'll understand that it serves to make your time at the theater joyous. Which for this time of year, isn't bad at all.

FINAL GRADE: B+

Friday, December 27, 2019

The 100 Best Movies of the Decade: PART THREE OF FOUR!


I’ve been feeling pretty nostalgic as I’ve continued this countdown and its been fun remembering where I was in life when I first saw lots of these movies. Let’s go ahead and keep going. We are heading into the Top Fifty now!


50. Gravity (2013, dr. Alfonso Cuaron, scr. Alfonso & Jonas Cuaron)

I like to believe that we go to the movies to be equally provoked and equally entertained. Its amazing to sit on the edge of your seat in awe of something you see. Something you’d never thought you’d see. An image that you could only envision in the depths of your imagination. That is always amazing. When you add arguably two of the hottest actors of their generation and a timely story of survival against impossible odds, “Gravity” adds much more to the viewing experience. No, this is not “Castaway” in space. At least, I never thought of it that way. It’s a cascade of visual art and engrossing storytelling that has stuck with me all decade long.


49. Midsommar (2019, dr./scr. Ari Aster)

This was the movie I was most engaged in during 2019. It could have easily ended up an embarrassment because I would have hyped it up too much in my head, driving up expectation. Thankfully that didn’t happen. I’ve watched it a few times since the summer, and I can honestly say that it has stuck with me in a big way. I think the problem some people had with this movie was that they were expecting “Hereditary 2,” but “Midsommar” is a different film entirely. I wouldn’t call it a horror film. Ari Aster himself doesn’t call it a horror. This is a fairy tale, and if you know anything about the old-world fairy tales the Grimm brothers wrote, those original texts could be pretty dark at times. As Dani and her friends enter this Swedish Pagan community, we almost feel like we are being transported to a far away land. You may laugh, you may cry, you may be taken aback by the beautiful horror of the end, and you just might enjoy this more than you think.


48. BlackKklansman (2018, dr. Spike Lee, scr. Lee, Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, & Kevin Willmott)


47. Chi-Raq (2015, dr. Spike Lee, scr. Lee & Kevin Willmott)

I have grouped these two movies together because they were both made by Spike Lee. Lee is a very interesting director simply because he is constantly putting America under a microscope, which is probably why he is so controversial all the time. These two movies really speak to the times we are living now without ever once acting as if they are pandering. “BlackKklansman” is one of those true stories that is so crazy that nobody could have possibly made it up. A black police officer uses a white voice over the phone to gain access to the local Klan and uses his Jewish partner as a stand-in to stop a terrorist plot. The movie mostly plays and works like a quirky comedy, and some have criticized the use of Charlottesville footage at movie’s end. To me, the ending works though. Lee is showing us that for every foot forward we’ve made in race relations over the years, we’ve seemingly taken several steps backwards too. And that’s a hard fact to admit. In “Chi-raq,” several girlfriends of local Chicago gangs get together and vow to stop having sex with their boyfriends until all the city’s gangs call for a cease-fire and peace. Again, it looks like a quirky social satire at surface level, but what Lee is really saying that people on all sides of the political fence are going to have to come together and compromise if we are ever going to solve gun violence in our country. No, that doesn’t mean take the guns away, because that isn’t a realistic solution. But we need to see that mere “hopes and prayers” are stopping mass shootings. These are highly-provocative films, important films and they easily helped shape this decade and make sense of where we are as a nation right now.


46. A Ghost Story (2017, dr./scr. Robert Lowery)

This may look like a fairly typical “art film” if you just look at trailers. But what’s hidden underneath is an overwhelmingly emotional tale of love and loss. Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck play a couple living in a house, and they seem to have a happy life. Sadly, Affleck’s character dies but his spirit stays in the house for many years to come. Instead of using wild CGI, director Robert Lowery simply puts a white sheet over Affleck’s head and its visually impressive how much emotion Affleck can emote under a simple bed sheet. How time passes and what we do with time in general is going to be a big, overall theme to this list and the movie has some ideas that will make your brain grind. It’s a small film but its also a masterpiece.


45. The Revenant (2015, dr. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, scr. Inarritu & Mark L. Smith)

Henry Glass is one of those figures in history that you rarely (if you ever really) hear about, but is so interesting that you can’t believe that we don’t get five movies a year about. On one level, “The Revenant” may look like a simple revenge movie with several good actors in it, featuring some very pretty pictures. Yes, its true Emmanuel Lubezki is probably the most gifted cinematographer working today. But the movie is a powerful reminder of a part of ourselves that strives to be one with nature. It is beautiful and daring in way many revenge movies simply can’t. This also awarded Leonardo DiCaprio his first and much deserved Oscar. It is a performance that should rank very high on his greatest performances of his career list.


44. Once Upon A Time In Hollywood (2019, dr./scr. Quentin Tarantino)

In speaking of Leonardo DiCaprio, I guess when you’ve given one of the performances of your career, its only fitting that you go off and have some fun. Which is exactly what he did. But this isn’t simply Tarantino goofing off, just like many of his films aren’t. Tarantino made a movie that really defines the decade. This is a movie about how a certain era of Hollywood died, just like it seemed like an era died recently and we didn’t see it happening around us. Tarantino uses his usual flair (and his squiring of history) to tell something entertaining but also asking if we really understand what’s going on in pop culture right now.


43. Hereditary (2018, dr./scr. Ari Aster)

Elevated horror. That’s a phrase that comes up quite a bit when discussing Ari Aster’s big debut film. What was the secret of Aster’s film that put so many people under its spell? I am not sure, and I’ll bet Aster doesn’t know either. All I can guess is that he’s a natural for the genre and everyone noticed. Aster is interested to making art that hurts, which was painfully missing from horror for a very long time. He made a movie that taps into something specific. The idea of our families failing us is an incredibly scary thing. I don’t get into this much on my personal blog but, I am adopted and I am happy to report that I was adopted into a wonderful home as a baby. I have a loving family. I know that isn’t always the case. I could have been abused and neglected and I am happy I wasn’t. I know I am not the only adopted child to get good parents and I know some kids’ biological parents can be abusive and neglectful. That’s the horror Aster is getting to, in a heightened way you can only find in horror. The final twenty minutes of the movie have yet to be rivaled in modern horror. It plays out as joyous and victorious, but what is being celebrated is equally awful. It’s a wonderful horror film and the scares are still fresh.


42. Uncut Gems (2019, dr. Josh & Benny Safdie, scr. Josh & Benny Safdie, Ronald Bronstein)

Yep. I know I’ve only watched this a mere couple days ago, but its such an unflinching experience that I couldn’t help but include it on this list. It’s so much more than “Hey, Adam Sandler is doing something serious for a change!” Its an amazing portrait of how addiction can trap us in a very dangerous life, and for some people, too late is something you can’t see. There are many unexpected great performances in the movie and it only adds to the gritty flavor the Safdie brothers create here. Who knows? Maybe I’ll look back in the next ten years and wonder what the hell I was thinking ranking this movie so high after only seeing it once. But I feel its one of those lightning-in-a-bottle moments, an instant recognition of something great, something I’ll revisit many times in the future.


41. Inside Out (2015, dr. Pete Docter, scr. Docter, Meg LeFauve & Josh Cooley)

Overall, Pixar Studios acted like they wanted to take a backseat in the creativity field during much of the 2010’s. Their decade is, quite literally, littered with sequels and prequels that, quite frankly, nobody was truly asking for. Even stuff like “Brave” and “The Good Dinosaur,” both great movies, didn’t quite hit like the punch to the heart typical Pixar movies hit in the late 90’s and throughout the 2000’s. So, by the time “Inside Out” made it to theaters, I wasn’t expecting much. So, color me surprised when I walked out of the theater completely knocked flat. Yes, the movie is cute and clever in equal measure. But story is key in the best of Pixar, and when they really let loose, its unrelenting.


40. The Hateful Eight (2015, dr./scr. Quentin Tarantino)

Imagine if Quentin Tarantino didn’t make “Reservoir Dogs” first in 1992. Imagine if he waited and got his big break with something else. Imagine if he decided to make “Reservoir Dogs” in 2015 with over ten years of filmmaking experience under his belt. That’s “The Hateful Eight.” (Not trying to badmouth “Reservoir Dogs” at all, great movie. Just imagine how awesome it’d be if it were made by Tarantino right now, though)


39. First Reformed (2017/2018 dr./scr. Paul Shrader)

There are many conversations regarding science versus faith and I can’t think of another movie that was so at odds with that ongoing debate than “First Reformed.” Ethan Hawke plays the leader of a dwindling church, he’s also a pastor suffering from his own demons. When a wife worried about his husband asks the pastor to council him, he learns that the husband wants his wife to abort the baby, because he can’t imagine raising a child that will meet such a cruel end as climate change. This isn’t an agenda movie; this is a movie about a crisis of conscience. Should the religious refuse the views of backing science simply because it doesn’t fit their narrative. What does God truly think of his creations destroying his creation? Should we feel guilt that we are using the free will God gave us to destroy the planet He gave us to live on? But don’t worry folks, this isn’t a preachy movie. It’s a character study about how a person who has lived in faith as far as he can remember sees that faith slowly begin to crack. It’s a brilliant performance by Ethan Hawke and a tremendous motion picture.


38. The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014, dr. Wes Anderson, scr. Anderson, Stefan Zweig & Hugo Guinness)

It seems every time Wes Anderson sits down to make a movie, he’s going to continually push his visual eye, is ear for deadpan humor and his creation of these wacky, whimsical worlds so many memorable characters call home. After playing so many serious roles and villains, to see Ralph Fiennes let loose in a world created by Anderson is truly one for the ages, easily one of the greatest delights in his brilliant filmography. Yes, Anderson has a knack for getting great performances out his usual all-star casts, but Fiennes zigs every time you think he’s going to zag and it makes all the difference. When the right actor makes the right choices and clashes with a director’s vision in just the right way, it can elevate a movie to greater heights.


37. Thunder Road (2018, dr./scr. Jim Cummings)

I don’t want this to sound bad so I want to carefully word what I am going to say about this movie and why it works. Sometimes, its tough being a guy. I am NOT trying to say its tougher being a guy than it is being anything else, but being a guy can be tough sometimes. It seems toxic masculinity has slowly flowed into our culture like a stream, and what defines a “real man” is also being rewritten. Growing up, I can tell you I bought into the notion that boys don’t show emotion, boys don’t cry, boys have to be the brave ones with no fear. Jim Cummings, who stars as the lead, wrote the script, directed the movie and got the funding using fringe channels, expertly paints a portrait of a man whose life is falling apart, and he doesn’t have the skills to know what to do about it. It’s a movie that Cummings really should have got all the awards attention earlier this year. Yes, boys should be brave, bold and protective but they also need to be able to navigate their own emotions. It’s a powerful statement from a movie, and when you can shake out a laugh, even better.


36. Cloud Atlas (2012, dr./scr. Tom Tykwer, Lilly Wachowski & Lana Wachowski)

As I’ve read through other “Best of the Decade” lists throughout the last few weeks, I am always a little surprised by some of the movies getting snubbed. I can’t believe that I’ve barely seen this beautiful fever dream of a movie on many of the other lists I’ve read. “Cloud Atlas” is big, and bold and aggressively told. A movie that doesn’t feel like anything else you’ve ever seen. A beautiful, bracing odyssey through time and how the smallest of acts can lead to major shifts in the world. Watching Tom Hanks, Hugh Grant, Hugo Weaving, Jim Broadbent, Bill Whilshaw, and especially Halle Berry playing multiple characters throughout several generations was something of a marvel.


35. Bodied (2017/2018, dr. Joseph Kahn, scr. Alex Larsen)

We at war with responsibility, not with language. What looks like a quirky movie about a white, progressive college student looking at underground rap battling as a thesis subject, slowly turns into a thesis on how freedom of speech really works in this country and how all media can twist any subject and form its own “truth.” This was produced by Eminem, and even with all the people working around this movie, I can’t believe that a big studio never picked it up. It’s a damn shame that this movie found on home on YouTube, so I hope it ranking this high will equally shame all studios for not taking a chance on this difficult yet entertaining film.


34. Zero Dark Thirty (2012, dr. Kathryn Bigelow, scr. Mark Boal)

What could have easily been a quick and easy cash-in on what is arguably the biggest story of the 21st Century thus far ends up becoming a methodical and unblinking look at a ten-year, exhausting manhunt. Jessica Chastain does the best work of her career so far as Maya, a CIA analyst who became responsible for catching Osama bin Laden. The film works like a piece of journalism, which makes it a step up on the karaoke version of the story that a lesser director would attempt. Any time a movie matters much more than you could possibly imagine, that’s a special movie.


33. Room (2015, dr. Lenny Abrahamson, scr. Emma Donoghue)

A mother named Joy (Brie Larson) and her son Jack (Jacob Trembley) live in a small room where they share the basic pleasantries. The room is the only world Jack really knows and as the movie begins, it’s a little confusing what is wrong and why they are living in a room. When the horrible truth is discovered by the audience, it fairly shocking. Larson and Trembley play it straight, up through when Joy decides to evade her captors and make her way to her family’s house. It’s a movie about coping, small victories and the willpower to never give up. Larson has never been as great as she is here.


32. The Irishman (2019, dr. Martin Scorsese, scr. Steve Zaillan)

Every single decade, Martin Scorsese is rewriting the definition of the gangster movie. Every single decade, we are richer for it.


31. Enemy (2013, dr. Denis Villeneuve, scr. Javier Gullon)

Easily the greatest mind-fuck of the entire decade and I thought we weren’t getting as we did last decade. Jake Gyllenhaal does double duty playing a college professor who rents a movie on a whim, only to see an actor in the movie who looks exactly like him. The mystery of his doppleganger is the mystery of the movie and this was the funniest movie conversation nobody had this decade. This was a movie everybody should see. Its mysterious and daring and dangerous. Yes, Gyllenhaal has solidified himself as Hollywood’s greatest weirdo.


30. Drive (2011, dr. Nicolas Winding Refn, scr. Hossein Amini)

If Michael Mann had the ability to travel back in time, he would have made “Drive” back in the 1980’s. Although, I am not sure he would have hyper-fetishized the violence on the level Refn does. But, despite what the naysayers would tell you, “Drive” is much more than empty style. It’s a gritty crime thriller that kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. But its also a study on whether or not monsters ever really find salvation. Ryan Gosling can project several different emotions by simply giving an expression or making a face. Great performances all around by some of the best actors in the business, and a wicked case of crazy violence and style, “Drive” is one for the ages. It also has my vote for the very best movie soundtrack of the decade. Such great music.


29. Blade Runner 2047 (2017, dr. Denis Villeneuve, scr. Hampton Fancher & Michael Green)

It was a decade full of sequels nobody asked for, but within all of that one of the best unexpected sequels of the decade also became one of the most brilliant. “Blade Runner 2047” is a marvelous expansion of the world Ridley Scott created in 1982, delicately honoring the material. I’m sure the temptation to answer one of popular culture’s biggest question made the filmmakers’ skin crawl. But honestly, they were smart enough to not even go there. There’s a wildly original storyline being told here, with some awesome, state-of-the-art special effects on display. It’s a remarkable meditation of a movie and will hopefully go down as one of the best sequels of all time.


28. Inception (2010, dr./scr. Christopher Nolan)

The biggest mind-bending, action-packed thrill ride of the decade and still holds up. Even today. Yes, Nolan showed some things we’ve never seen before. Things no other director really could. But what makes “Inception” stick isn’t its dreamy gimmick. The hook is the story around Leonardo DiCaprio and Marion Cotillard, and how the guilt of a failed relationship sticks with you. Also how we will do anything to get back to the people we love, no matter what. Yes, the original score is still in my head all this time, but the characters and their journey is always what’s most important to me.


27. Us (2019, dr./scr. Jordan Peele)

Yep, it’s a greater accomplishment then Peele’s much lauded first venture, “Get Out.” And I don’t want that to be knack on “Get Out” because that movie is amazing. Jordan Peele is clearly a pop culture nerd and I love that “Us” is equal parts creepy and silly. But its even more than that. Our culture is at a particular boiling point, so much so that I genuinely worry about the future. The only way we overcome this overwhelming problem is if we get together and tackle the problem ourselves. We put ourselves in this mess, and it will be up to us to get ourselves out of it. Lupita N’yongo deserves all the attention this awards season, a truly savage and unforgettable performance. If she doesn’t get the Lead Actress Oscar this winter, the Academy is just plain wrong. I know art is subjective, but the Academy will be wrong.


26. Manchester By The Sea (2016, dr./scr. Kenneth Lonergan)

Up until I saw this movie, I couldn’t think of a better film that really captures how random and powerful memory truly is. Anything, no matter how subtle, can provoke a memory. Sometimes those memories are good and sometimes they are terrible. Casey Affleck gives life to Lee Chandler, and he finds himself giving a caretaker position for his nephew when his brother passes. The thing is, he can barely take care of himself. His soul lost the will to live after a horrific tragedy and just decided not to tell the rest of his body. The movie’s big hook is, can Lee get over his grief to be a solid caretaker for his nephew? It’s also a bold study on how nothing prepares us for grief and just how powerful a feeling it is. As a recent parent, this movie hits harder than it did on my initial screening. Because if I was responsible for what Lee does in this movie, I don’t know how I’d even get up the next morning. How do you move on? It’s brilliant acting on Affleck’s part, and there’s a moment in particular that gets me everytime, breaking me into a cold sweat. “Manchester By The Sea” may not be the most sunshiney movie to come out this decade, but its importance is sewn on its sleeve.



You know what that means. Only 25 more left. I can't believe we've finally got here. I hope you've enjoyed the list up to this point and I hope you just as excited to see the final 25 as I am to write it!

Just in case you missed it...Part One is here! Part Two is here!