The 50 Best Films of the Decade (So Far) #40 – 31

50 Best

The decade is a little over half way gone so I thought it would be fun to look back at the first five years and see what movies have stood out the most. It is also a good chance to see how the films stand up against each other as well as how they have stood up with the passing of time. Today we are starting off with #40 – #31. Let’s get going…

#40 – “Hugo” (2011)


It still breaks my heart that Martin Scorsese’s heartwarming look at childhood and the beautiful history of cinema didn’t get the box office attention it deserved. I love “Hugo” and it left the same warm impression after a recent viewing. Scorsese stepped outside of his normal box to create a magical experience both visually and emotionally.

#39 – “Two Days, One Night” (2014)


This is the second appearance of the Dardenne brothers on this list. This time we get the same honest and grounded look at a very personal circumstance. Marion Cotillard delivers a quiet, natural, stripped down performance that conveys a plethora of emotions and never hits a false note. The same could be said for the entire film.

#38 – “The Look of Silence” (2015)


It is hard not to be shaken by Joshua Oppenheimer’s exceptional documentary “The Look of Silence”. This is the companion piece to his equally piercing “The Act of Killing”, but this time he looks at the brutal Indonesian Killing of 1965-1966 through much more personal perspectives. The film literally left me speechless. Powerful filmmaking.

#37 – “Force Majeure” (2014)

force majeure review

Underneath the lovely family exterior of “Force Majeure” lies a rotten, acidic core that reveals itself to us over the two hours we spend with a Swedish family on a ski vacation. “Force Majeure” isn’t a comfortable film to sit through, but the combustible drama builds and builds. Ultimately I couldn’t tear myself away.

#36 – “The Ghost Writer” (2010)


I was a huge fan of Roman Polanski’s “The Ghost Writer” when it hit theaters in 2010. Sadly it didn’t get a lot of attention. Now several years have passed and the film still holds up well. It’s a hard movie to categorize. It is a political drama but it is also a low-key yet exciting thriller. Lots of mystery, a great script, and a wonderful cast.

#35 – “True Grit” (2010)


When the Coen brothers do anything I’m intrigued, but the Coen brothers doing a remake of John Wayne’s “True Grit” was exciting beyond measure. The results didn’t disappoint. The new version beats the old in every possible category. Jeff Bridges is a blast and a young Hailee Steinfeld almost steals the show.

#34 – “Certified Copy” (2011)


Who knew watching a British author roam around Tuscany talking with a French antiques dealer could be so engrossing? When Abbas Kiarostami is at the helm it’s pretty easy. It also doesn’t hurt to have Juliette Binoche (one of the best working actresses) in the lead. This veiled, winding story is fed to us in small cryptic pieces and putting it all together is most satisfying.

#33 – “Another Year” (2010)


“Another Year” is a talky British drama written and directed by Mike Leigh and I mean that in a very good way. Leigh shares his dialogue-heavy story in the most natural of ways. Every conversation or argument comes from authentic places. The film is filled with unhappy people except the two at the core. They are our anchor through these turbulent but mesmerizing dramatic waters.

#32 – “The Past” (2013)


Asghar Farhadi is one of my favorite working directors and this isn’t the only time he will make this list. “The Past” shows every reason why he is a treasure. No one handles fragile or damaged relationships like Farhadi. Here his dialogue cuts his characters open to reveal the deep, personal scars left behind by their pasts. It’s mesmerizing drama.

#31 – “Room” (2015)

'Room' is a journey out of darkness, director says

This year the Best Actress Oscar buzz has centered around Brie Larson and her devastating performance in “Room”. The attention is definitely deserved. Larson and young Jacob Tremblay give us an incredibly strong mother/son relationship that drives this entire film. The concept is captivating enough, but it’s this beautifully realized relationship that makes “Room” such a heart-wrenching yet emotionally satisfying experience.

That’s it for now. Follow along and look for #30-#21 tomorrow. Also be sure to share your thoughts in the comments section below. I would to hear where you agree or disagree with my picks.

40 thoughts on “The 50 Best Films of the Decade (So Far) #40 – 31

    • This makes me feel good. You are the second person to applaud The Ghost Writer. I’ll ask you the same question – do you feel it was an underappreciated movie? It seemed so to me.

      Didn’t you and I talk about Hugo not long ago? I’m a huge fan of that film. It is a shame that more people don’t talk about it these days.

  1. So far I have only seen 35, 36, 39, and 40. All great choices. I think Hugo didn’t have a clear target audience which was part of why it wasn’t bigger at the box office. Kids didn’t quite connect with it. My own said it was boring. I never once heard any kid bring it up as something they either saw or wanted to see. Just the mere fact of being a Scorsese film helped it do as well as it did, but that was also a hindrance. Some people saw his name attached, but noticed it was not a gritty, urban drama and tuned it out as something way out of his element without seeing it.

    By the way, after The Act of Killing, I’m scared to watch The Look of Silence, though I must do it soon.

    Great work, once again.

    • Thanks my friend. All your points on Hugo are great ones. I just had a different experience. My son and I went and saw it and he loved it. He would have been 10 years old at the time. But you’re right, I don’t remember hearing a ton of other kids singing its praises.

      The Act of Killing was great but Silence hit me even harder. As I mentioned it works on a much more personal level and I literally squirmed through the entire film. Tough stuff.

  2. Good to see a mention for Force Majeure. One of the best foreign films I’ve seen in recent years and its realistic tone and setting made it as haunting as a Haneke picture.

    • So true. That film really stuck with me. It amazed me how authentic every single exchange is. And watching the true nature of the central relationship being revealed is simply mesmerizing. So glad to hear from someone else who has seen it. What about Another Year? Hoping more people have seen it too.

  3. Ah, so here I haven’t seen Hugo, Certified Copy or The Past, but Kiarostami is someone I’m keen to check out and I’ve had Hugo on disc for a few years without watching it…so maybe sometime soon! Great to see some love for Another Year – I really enjoyed that when it came out and had forgotten all about it, and the few you mention from last year are all excellent.
    The Ghost Writer was released over here as The Ghost….critically acclaimed, I know, but I didn’t care for it at all. I must have missed something!

    • I champion Hugo whenever I can. Critics liked it but even they rarely talk about it. In many ways it is a forgotten film and that’s a shame. I love The Past (recently posted a review for it) and Certified Copy is so strikingly unique. It isn’t for everyone as evident by one of the comments to this post. I really went for it. The Ghost Writer didn’t do it for you? I don’t think it stuck with many people. Like Hugo, no one speaks of it these days.

      • I’d have loved to see it in 3D at the cinema (Hugo). I must get round to it one day. Yeah The Ghost Writer…I seem to recall not liking McGregor’s performance for some reason, but it was a few years ago now and I can’t say why or even say for sure. I have dim recollections of it!

      • I had the opportunity to see it in 3D. Now I’m not the biggest 3D fan but Scorsese did an incredible job with it. He made it one of the few worthwhile 3D experiences.

    • Completely understandable! I must say I got a little misty in Room. How can you not, right? And notice both of these are fueled by phenomenal female lead performances. Cotillard and Larson knock it out of the park!

  4. Love the inclusion of Another Year – one of the most accessible of Mike Leigh’s recent work and a wonderful story about relationships, marriage and growing old together.

  5. Lists like these are really cool because I forget so many great titles I’ve seen in recent years (Two Days, One Night; Force Majeure being prime examples) and it’s great to be reminded of them. I’m impressed you’re doing a top 50 — that must be some tricky business sorting out the last 10!

    • The top 10 was BRUTAL! And you’re right, it does serve as a reminder of how many you have seen. I’ve really enjoyed seeing how some of the earlier films stack up with recent ones as well as how they have held up over time. It has been a lot of fun and I appreciate you and others who have enjoyed it with me.

  6. another great list of choices here Keith. Once again u’ve intrigued me to check out some more. Another year, Certified copy and two days, one night all seem quite inetresting

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