It’s hard to believe but a whole decade has come and gone. Over the 10 years I’ve seen a lot especially on theater screens. Through the decade there have been masterpieces, great films, good films and not so great ones. Overall the 10 years provided us with some of cinemas finest works by Hollywood’s greatest filmmakers and actors. I went back and looked at the many films that have graced us over the 10 years and have put much thought into this list. This is my 10 best films of the last decade.
10. The Artist – 2011
A crowd pleasing tribute to the silent film era, with a breakout performance from Jean Dujardin (who won an Oscar for his performance) and had a stunning visual style. “The Artist” is a joyful celebration of Hollywood’s early days and director Michel Hazanavicius directs a vibrant and alive piece of cinema that has been lacking in Hollywood for years. The passion that went into making “The Artist” is reason enough to be the Oscar winner it deserved to be. This is the reason we go to the movies and why movies are made. Nominated for ten Oscars, winning five for best picture, best actor Jean Dujardin, best director Michel Hazanavicius, costume design and original score.
9. Spotlight – 2015
Based on a true story. “Spotlight” is a riveting taut paper thriller with a screenplay that is right on point with sharp dialogue. An old-fashioned love letter to investigative journalism, in the tradition of “All The Presidents Men”. The A-list cast is all superb in each of their roles and plays it to the best performances of their catalogue. Director Tom McCarthy treats the subject of the investigation and it’s controversial subject with the utmost respect. “Spotlight” is a legal thriller, a newspaper drama, an examination of values we take for granted and of how people survive profound personal damage. Nominated for six Oscars, winning two for best picture and best screenplay.
8. Manchester By The Sea – 2016
“Manchester By The Sea”, one of the first big films from Amazon Studios, was my favorite and the best film of 2016. Casey Affleck’s performance is a revelation and his Oscar win for best actor was absolutely well deserving. The absolute honesty with which Manchester is told and the truth of Affleck’s performance makes this a rise above the rest. The tragedy in the film is horrific (especially Lonergan’s visuals), devastating and truly haunting. Lonergan’s directing style is straight forward but very accomplished. “Manchester By The Sea” has amounts of beauty, with breathtaking location photography and intricate, masterfully composed shots. Director Kenneth Lonergan who is also the screenwriter writes dialogue that is naturalistic and heartfelt, where the dialogue here is real and it’s believable conversations. Lonergan uses every second of the two hour and seventeen minute screen time and nothing feels extraneous. Everything that happens in the film needed to happen. While it’s heartbreaking, “Manchester By The Sea” is a superb motion picture. Nominated for six Oscars and winner of two for best actor Casey Affleck and best screenplay Kenneth Lonergan.
7. The Imitation Game – 2014
“The Imitation Game” is engrossing and accomplished. The cast give a passionate, energetic and emotional performance for a film that is worthy of Oscar wins on every level. Benedict Cumberbatch’s sensitive, moving performance is the film’s beating heart, and the best reason to see it. His performance is the reason Oscars were given for acting. “Imitation Game” is vibrant work, with a solid, engaging historical drama. It’s an exceptional piece of work, that’s a powerful and complex drama. It’s a long-overdue tribute to a true hero and visionary.
6. Only The Brave – 2017
“Only The Brave” is the only film in the past decade that had me floored, in tears or had me hours later still trying to grasp what I had just experienced. Director Joseph Kosinski makes a very realistic drama about very relatable, humans and events, but he has successfully transported his visual style to the fire sequences. “Only The Brave” features haunting photography that captures the destructive majesty of the flames and their impact and destruction on nature. Kosinski gives the film a gut wrenching emotional punch, with an Oscar snubbed performance from Jennifer Connelly. It’s a true life tale of heroism and sacrifices that finds room for rich, complicated characters. The pace never lags and all of the performances and the film itself have an air of authenticity.
5. Rocketman – 2019
Director Dexter Fletcher’s musical fantasy journey of pop music’s greatest showman Elton John, is a stylish and entertaining jukebox musical. Taron Egerton, of “Kingsmen” and “Robin Hood”, does all his own singing and delivers a stunning Oscar worthy performance (he already has won a Golden Globe) as the musical legend. From the get-go, “Rocketman” shows us we’re in for a real show-stopping musical experience. A full-bodied, extravagant musical filled with twenty of Elton John’s iconic songs, that are woven into key times of his life and it absolutely works. Dexter Fletcher creates a musical choreographed journey of the life of an iconic pop star in a storybook fantasy world. A production that is lavish, bigger than life, grandiose, sincere, serious, emotional, fun, profound and truly wonderful.
4. Rush – 2013
Ron Howard solidifies himself as one of cinemas best and continues his reputation of making great films. “Rush” is sleek, slick, well-oiled machine, with impeccable direction and sound design. Ron Howard has it running on all cylinders. “Rush” is a finely crafted sports drama with exhilarating race sequences that take the camera into angles not seen since John Frankenheimer’s 1966 film “Grand Prix”. Led by strong performances from Chris Hemsworth and an Oscar worthy Daniel Brühl. “Rush” is one of the definitive Ron Howard films.
3. A Star Is Born – 2018
In one of the most stunning directorial debuts. Actor and director Bradley Cooper stars, directs, writes, sings/plays guitar, songwriter and produces his version of “A Star Is Born”. A story of love, loss, addiction and one’s rise and one’s fall to fame. Cooper’s “A Star Is Born” is the kind of film that is a pure moviegoing experience. It gives you one hell of a wallop that gives a defiantly fresh approach that allows “A Star Is Born” to emerge as a skyrocket of soul stirring music, drama and heartbreak. He gives us something that is raw, and lived-in. Cooper seamlessly cuts in 19 terrific original songs. Bradley Cooper gives the best performance of his career, while giving light to Lady Gaga’s stunning and career defining performance in her big screen debut. “A Star Is Born” is a perfect film. Nominated for eight Oscars and winner of one for best original song.
2. The Town – 2015
If Ben Affleck didn’t already prove in his directorial debut “Gone Baby Gone”, that he was a talented filmmaker and storyteller. Then his sophomore directorial effort “The Town” only solidifies his talent as a director to be reckoned with. “The Town” based on the Chuck Hogan novel is a down and dirty heist movie rich with detailed character work and emotional angst. “The Town” is the best modern heist film since Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino’s “Heat”. Affleck’s film has assured, confident direction and co-screenwriting credit by Affleck, who choreographs terrifically paced action sequences and once again achieves brilliant use of the city of Boston. Nominated for one Oscar for best supporting actor Jeremy Renner.
1. Django Unchained – 2012
You probably could debate for days and argue which of Tarantino’s 9 films is his magnum opus. Everyone has their pick but for me his best work as a filmmaker is also the best film of the past decade and that is his two time Oscar winner “Django Unchained”. Filled with stunning performances from Leonard DiCaprio and Oscar winner Christoph Waltz. DiCaprio’s performance is a testament to his talent, presence and proves his rapport as one of the great actors of this generation. “Django Unchained” is bold, bloody, brilliant, funny, thrilling, cleverly written, directed and structured. A true cinematic experience. Nominated for five Oscars, winning two for best supporting actor Christoph Waltz and best original screenplay.