in Top Ten

We’ve been writing “Top Ten Movies of the Year” posts on this blog for over a decade. With that in mind, you’d think it would be easy to write a “Top Ten Movies of the 2010s” list. All I have to do is look back at all my past lists and crunch the numbers. I didn’t do that. My reason? I am very bad at calculations.

My other reason is that feelings change. Opinions shift. Different movies mean different things to me as the years go by. Even my favorite films I come to appreciate for different reasons. That being said this list can only reflect how I feel RIGHT NOW. I could change my mind next week. Some of these picks aren’t even consistent with my “Top Ten Movies of 2019” list I did a few weeks ago. That’s what’s great about art. If it’s good it can evolve. Let’s take a look at their current evolutions.

Honorable Mention (these were all SO CLOSE to being on my list)
Avengers Endgame
Blade Runner 2049
It Follows
A Ghost Story
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Mad Max: Fury Road
Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

10. Uncut Gems (2019)


9. Brawl in Cell Block 99 (2017)

As movie fans, we all have our favorite genres and subgenres. I know Sean is a fan of legal dramas and Colin likes his journalism movies. I’ve always had an affinity for prison dramas. I find when you put a rough customer in a confined space with a bunch of other rough customers you get good conflict. Unless it’s Escape Plan. But Bronson? Like it. Midnight Express? Love it. Brawl in Cell Block 99? Gotta have it.

A lot of directors came to prominence this decade but few came with more piss and vinegar than S. Craig Zahler. Like Tarantino (but more sadistic), S. Craig Zahler makes A-list dramas disguised as exploitation movies. Brawl in Cell Block 99 is no exception. Brawl tells the story of Bradley (Vince Vaughn in the role of a lifetime), a former amateur boxer and drug runner trying to go straight. Until Bradley loses his job and finds himself back in the drug business and later in jail after a job gone wrong.

The film is split into three parts. There’s Bradley outside of prison, which plays like a ’70s American new wave drama. The second part, which is your standard prison drama about adjusting to life behind bars. Then part three, which is Hell. Not literally but it’s close. This the part of the film where Bradley gets himself sent to a MAXIMUM security prison to kill a crime boss to prevent a group of criminals on the outside from harming his unborn child. There’s a lot going in this film but instead of hearing me (the big dummy) talk about it, check out the video link above.

P.S. This movie has an amazing theme song written by Zahler and performed by The O’Jays.

8. What We Do in the Shadows (2014)

Mockumentaries are always better on repeat viewings. I’ve liked mockumentaries on a first watch, but rarely loved. It’s because the subjects in these kinds of films, whether it’s This is Spinal Tap, or Waiting for Guffman, or What We do in the Shadows don’t know they’re in comedies. They’re not trying to be funny. They’re living their lives. It takes time to pick up on the nuisances of these characters and the more you learn the more you laugh.

The concept is brilliant. There is so much vampire lore and history to draw on. It’s an endless well for jokes, and even in its brief 85-minute runtime, not a moment is wasted. Taika Waititi, Jermaine Clement and Jonathan Brugh have such chemistry. I could watch them riff for hundreds of years (as their characters already have). It’s the kind of film where you can imagine these vampires going about their existence even after the credits roll. That’s why the concept works so well as a TV show.

Jokes aside, the art direction in the vampire’s gothic home and choice of the wardrobe are a joy to look at. As is the film’s numerous cutaways to old photographs and paintings. Every time I spot a new detail, and I imagine I’ll be watching the film many times in the future with a big plate of basghetti.

7. ParaNorman (2012)

An homage to b-movies and a heartfelt story about isolation. ParaNorman is one of the most poignant kid’s movies I’ve ever seen and makes me tear up every time. I poured my heart into a review of the film a few Shocktobers ago. Check it out!

6. The Shape of Water (2017)

This is the pick I have the most question marks about. I ranked it my number one in 2017 aka the “Best Year of the Decade” and yet I don’t know if it would be as meaningful on a second viewing. What I can is it’s a love letter to monsters by one of my all time favorite directors, Guillermo del Toro. This is another movie I wrote a very long and heartfelt review for. These are all my thoughts and feelings on the film.

5. Parasite (2019)

I’m gonna keep this brief as I already shared my feelings on this film on a
podcast we did awhile back. Yep, I got all the links.

Parasite on my “Top Ten of the 2010s”. Could this be recency bias? Maybe. Parasite’s ranking on this list isn’t even consistent with the “Top Ten Movies of 2019” post I did recently. I don’t care. I watched Parasite again a few nights ago and wow, from the middle of that film straight till the end I was digging my nails into my seat, and I’d already seen it. The tension is real and only heightened by the fact that you don’t know where it’s all going. That’s great cinema. Surprise. It’s almost as if Bong Joon Ho had no plan.

4. Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016)

This is a happy surprise. I wasn’t a huge Taika fan going in. I liked him. I’d seen Eagle vs. Shark and thought it was fine. I wasn’t even a big of What We Do in the Shadows at the time. But this film sucked me out of my seat and into the screen. It’s funny and clever and heartfelt. It’s like the best Edgar Wright movie Edgar Wright never made. But what it really comes down to are the characters.

Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison) is the rare character that finds that balance between insufferable and irresistible. He’s a brat but you love him. And hey, what a treat to get a Sam Neill performance of this caliber in this day and age. The part where he reads the letter he wrote to Ricky about their adventure had me bawling in the best way. This is a film I’ve revisited a few times since seeing it in theaters and it’s such a pick me up. Even better than Coke Zero.

3. Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood (2019)

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood is Tarantino with full control. Likable characters in a carefully curated world chocked full of references and homages. Structure and style come and go as Q.T. pleases. “Maybe we should have a five-minute sequence narrated by Kurt Russell ninety minutes into the film.” Okay. “Maybe we should digitally put Leonardo DiCaprio into The Great Escape.” sounds good to me.

The cap on this was the experience I had watching this movie with my friends. We all went to see it projected on 35 mm in an old school movie theater. Watching all those flickers and scratches was a thing of beauty. It’s the cinema at its finest. Rick Fucking Dalton.

2. Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)

I probably watch the above clip about once a week. I’m not kidding. For the catchiness of the song but also the look and feel. This is the kind of film you don’t just watch, you live in it. The world of Llewyn Davis is a world I believe. It’s not a fair world. It has equal parts humor and failure but that’s what makes it feel so alive. The Coens can be shticky but they love their “characters”, like John Goodman as a strung together jazz musician or Garrett Hedlund as a terse beat poet. Life has no shortage of oddballs.

What I’m trying to say is this feels like the Coen Brothers at their most grounded and honest. Which makes Inside Llewyn Davis one of their most resonant films. It’s not my favorite Coen Brothers film but it makes me FEEL the most. And those songs. Damn. Fare Thee Well.

1. Get Out (2017)

This was one of my favorite theater-going experiences of all time. I had won tickets to a Critic’s Screening and went on a Wednesday night. Now you would think those two elements combined would result in a relatively quiet and dignified evening. All those journalists scribbling in their notebooks on a work night. This wasn’t the case.

Screams and cheers rang through that crowded auditorium. Few times have I seen reactions so strong. I remember the climax, where Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) tries to strangle Rose (Allison Williams) on a dark road only to be interrupted by a siren and flashing lights. To which a lone woman in the audience went “Oh damn…” And no one laughed. It wasn’t the kind of comment thrown out for a laugh. We were all that invested. The scene doesn’t end the way you think it’s going to end but my point is this film had us in the palm of its hands. It still does.

I’ve watched Get Out once a year since its release and it still grabs me. I can’t take my eyes off of it. It’s a brilliant piece of satire that combines elements of The Stepford Wives, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? to create something new and truly terrifying. “The Sunken Place” is one of the most uniquely horrifying concepts I can recall in a movie. I think a lot of people feel that way.

Remember when Jordan Peele made a joke about Kanye West being in the Sunken Place? And then Kanye responded and changed his profile pic on twitter to a drawing of him as Chris from Get Out? Even one of the biggest and craziest stars in the world recognizes the significance of this movie (whether or not he understands it). This film is smart, it’s scary, it’s fun, it’s perfect.

  1. Since you’re all in on prison dramas now, one of my near misses was 2010’s “Un prophète.” You ever check that one out?

Comments are closed.