Best of the 2010s: 25-1
The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
25. The Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese)
The Wolf of Wall Street is an amazingly wild, depraved, twisted, and beautiful party of money and debauchery. Scorsese confidently displays excessive pictures of sex and drug use–money, cocaine, liquor, prostitution, orgy, and party are everywhere. Scorsese finally gets the best of DiCaprio in his finest piece of work in the decade.
Before Midnight (2013)
24. Before Midnight (Richard Linklater)
In 1995, we follow Jesse (Ethan Hunt) and Celine (Julie Delpy) as they share ideas and perspectives about lives and love in Vienna on Before Sunrise. In 2004, their paths crossed again in Paris, in Before Sunset, where their more matured spirits contemplated together. In 2013, the couple embarks in another conversation about parenting, about career, about the fantasies against the imperfect reality. Before Midnight offers intelligent insights about commitments and long-term relationships, wrapping the ideas from the whole trilogy warmly.
The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
23. The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson)
Picturesque like the portrayed establishment and witty as the main protagonist who becomes magnetic navel of Wes Anderson’s eighth feature film that, The Grand Budapest Hotel proves his savvy. With fancy ‘literature’, contemplative humor, and most of all, premier narrative—whimsical and quirky, needless to say, it embraces those features to structure a more historical, literature, and European quirky tale in the titular hotel. Once you check-in, you only want to stay and explore and nothing more.
Toy Story 3 (2010)
22. Toy Story 3 (Lee Unkrich)
Unkrich crafts a bold story with Toy Story 3. Not only that the plot redefines the world-building once and for all, but it also provides a heartfelt closure making Toy Story the most effortless movie trilogy (which eventually is extended with a victory lap in Toy Story 4).
21. Somewhere (Sofia Coppola)
Sofia Coppola portrays the existential crisis of another celebrity as in Lost in Translation with a different breed of stardom, of course, but somehow injects the story with her personal experience as the daughter of Francis Ford Coppola. Stephen Dorff perfectly captures the message with certain kinds of melancholy and boredom; but, the real star of Somewhere is the silence that connects and glues the whole story together. The whole movie is a meditative observation of characters with only a handful of a plot to analyze.
20. 1917 (Sam Mendes)
Mendes reinvents World War I movie with sophisticated technical prowess and massive scale of production in 1917. It’s a cinematic triumph presented with an illusion of seamless single take for almost two hours, which works more than pleasing the eyes. The technique undoubtedly is the only possible one to narrate Mendes’ captivating story and guide the audiences to the harrowing looks of war in real-time.
19. ROMA (Alfonso Cuarón)
There’s an old saying, “beautiful thing doesn’t seek for attention.” I believe that’s the most perfect phrase to define Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma—the director’s love-letter to the 1970s Mexico, a place that shaped him to be the auteur he is now. A lot of things happen in Roma, yet, Cuaron binds them up together carefully with refined visuals and technical expertise. Guillermo del Toro calls it a mural of subtexts about the zeitgeist of the place and the era. By all accounts, it is eloquent, contextual and, definitely, timeless. A cult classic.
18. Carol (Todd Haynes)
Taking a subtle way to transliterate its substance—an unconventional love between two women against the 50s scene—into a digestible romance, Carol makes romance great again. Fueled by Haynes’ exquisite directing and both main actresses’ idyllic performances, it effortlessly ascends in the rank of finest romance ever made. Heightened by dying-to-see performances from Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, the love burns at all times.
The Favourite (2018)
17. The Favourite (Yorgos Lanthimos)
Lanthimos strays away from making modern fable out of miserable people, as in The Lobster and The Killing of a Sacred Deer; instead, he crafts an exquisite period drama that feels as peculiar and as bold as any Lanthimos’ movies. Not only it is his most accessible, but The Favourite is also his most well-acted and his most celebrated triumphant with Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz, and Olivia Colman takes the prize.
16. Silence (Martin Scorsese)
Adapting Shusaku Endo’s 1966 novel of the same title about the voyage of two Jesuit priests in 17th century Japan, in a misty era called ‘Kakure Kirishitan’ or ‘hidden Christian.’ It is a story about faith and questions that surround men of faith in a desperate time. Inarguably, it is poignant, visceral and thought-provoking at the same time – just like faith itself. Scorsese has transcends the story into a real pilgrimage of faith: a timely best picture.
Lady Bird (2017)
15. Lady Bird (Greta Gerwig)
Lady Bird gives us a candid confession of a rural teenage girl with her big passion as brilliantly made alive by Saoirse Ronan’s terrific performance. The film’s concern to the protagonist’s identity odyssey and conflict with Laurie Metcalf’s unnerving mother persona is profound and honest. In her directorial debut, Greta Gerwig’s indie darling spirit is emanated all along, making the whole film seems like a reflection of her mind. It resounds as a highly relatable ode to adolescence.
14. Arrival (Denis Villeneuve)
Adapted from one short story in Arrival also nudges about Bruner’s idea that language is constitutive of reality. Meaning to say that reality might differ from each other due to the way one understands the language. The film brings this construct into the surface, keeps the connection between language and science intact, and presents it into a moving story mildly but vividly. It results in an elegantly eloquent palindrome of a story—a continuum, an order which can be seen forward from beginning or backward from the end respectively.
The Shape of Water (2017)
13. The Shape of Water (Guillermo del Toro)
The Shape of Water is, once again, Guillermo del Toro’s love letter to his own works, to his obsession with baroque fantasy and, especially, to his frequent collaborator, Doug Jones. What makes it different from his previous film is Del Toro’s shift to more mature storytelling about love and acceptance. It’s beautiful and heartwarming by any means as it precisely transcends its whimsical love story with wonders and splendors into a delightful fairy tale. The director’s inner-child has grown up a bit and it’s a satisfying process to experience.
The Social Network (2010)
12. The Social Network (David Fincher)
The beat of Aaron Sorkin’s dialogues sets the rhythm of David Fincher’s biography of Mark Zuckerberg. Fincher’s direction is clever and rapid as if it’s Zuckerberg himself; somehow, it feels like it has all the precision and it cannot wait. Jesse Eisenberg’s clinical performance is proven to be iconic as time goes by. However, it’s always the story’s stance which lasts longer than all other qualities. Fincher’s vision of Zuckerberg is predictive and imminent; he has warned us.
La La Land (2016)
11. La La Land (Damien Chazelle)
Damien Chazelle crafts a sharp-witted, jazz-spirited romance in La La Land. It’s love, no, passion letter to the beauty of music, of cinema, of L.A., and of a dream. La La Land, undoubtedly, is a bunch of happiness, blissful tunes and whoop-de-do wrapped in an ethereal rhapsody. It’s an exhilarating, feel-good musical that will take you to the stars and make you reluctant to touch the ground again, even if you’re not familiar with classic musical.
A Separation (2011)
10. A Separation (Asghar Farhadi)
Narratively complex and morally ambiguous, Farhadi’s hyperrealistic suburban drama which can only happen because of the complex Iranian law systems. Farhadi connects chains of events tautly under the pretense of poetic justice while grounds the whole narrative as close as it can be with the reality. The result is a harrowing and haunting tale that Farhadi is adeptly engineered to play out with audiences’ sympathy and logic at the same time.
09. Drive (Nicolas Winding Refn)
The director’s penchant for arthouse brutality and neon-bathed cinematography meets the climax with Drive. Guided by Cliff Martinez’s carefully crafted scoring, Ryan Gosling’s complex performance, and a series of striking imagery, Refn slickly plays out on hyper-drive to craft the ultraviolent action bonanza an artful experience.
08. Parasite (Bong Joon-ho)
Angry Bong Joon-ho illustrates his restlessness towards the social gap with a thought-provoking, family tragicomedy that does not look like anything you’ve seen before. It’s the game-changer to the world cinema with the surprising (but much-predicted) Oscar-winning. It’s funny, ironic and thrilling deeply at the same breath.
07. Her (Spike Jonze)
Her transcends the extraordinary love story between a sentimental man (Joaquin Phoenix) and an operating system into a deeply meditative observation of human dependency. Jonze’s story is profoundly moving, beautiful, and scary at the same time. His directorial effort, on another note, is filled with cleverness and subtlety. Phoenix is given the authority to create the fantasy all by himself and Jonze captures it perfectly to make the whole drama believable.
06. Gravity (Alfonso Cuarón)
In 372 miles above the Earth, there are some absolute rules: air temperature always fluctuates, sound cannot spread, no air pressure, no oxygen at all, and most importantly, no gravity. Cuaron incorporates them into a thrilling and beautiful space survival that sticks to the law of physics. Not only does it break the grounds of cinematic experience, but it also reinvents space blockbuster.
Knives Out (2019)
05. Knives Out (Rian Johnson)
Johnson’s entire filmography only highlights how rich his references are and how stylish his filmmaking technique can be. Brick is an excellent hardboiled homage; The Brothers Bloom makes an ambitious callback to caper movies; Looper is an instant sci-fi classic, and only toxic Star Wars fans deny The Last Jedi as the finest movie in the canon since the original trilogy. Knives Out takes Johnson’s geekiness to the next level and you should be ready to call his new whodunit thriller a new instant classic.
Inside Out (2015)
04. Inside Out (Pete Docter, Ronaldo del Carmen)
Pixar takes the complexity of human emotion and creates an intriguing story that helps to visualize neuro-psychology with a wonderful story of teenage angst. It’s undoubtedly the boldest step the studio has ever taken with the most inventive (if not reflective) world-building since Toy Story.
03. Whiplash (Damien Chazelle)
There are no two words in the English language more harmful than “good job”. That’s the credo of Chazelle’s Whiplash, the most intense movie of the decade. Chazelle breaks the conventions of movies about music and engineers a completely different vehicles for the story to make it like an intense action bravura.
The Master (2012)
02. The Master (Paul Thomas Anderson)
Masterfully acted, expertly written, and clinically directed, The Master continues Paul Thomas Anderson’s back-to-back masterpiece following There Will Be Blood. Pairing Joaquin Phoenix in one of his most frighteningly powerful performances and Philip Seymour Hoffman in his finest performances of all time, the acting department is colossal; especially with Amy Adams on board as well. This is a major voyage to the impending harrow which Anderson only unravels when audiences connect to the infernal characters.
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
01. Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller)
The idea of Mad Max: Fury Road crossed in George Miller’s mind when he walked across an intersection in Los Angeles back in 1998—28 years since he met lifetime collaborator, Byron Kennedy; 19 years since the first Mad Max; 15 years after Byron Kennedy’s death; 13 years after the last Mad Max movie, Beyond Thunderdome. Only 15 years later, after some intensive study to break down the Hero’s Journey, a book which Miller worships like the bible, Miller flew all the way to Namibia continuing the story that has to be done. The result is a real cinematic prowess by any means, by any standards. The high-octane, heavy-metal infused car-nage rips the desert marking the most exquisite cinematic come-back in the recent history.