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 looking at #30 – #21. Let’s get going…
#30 – “Moonrise Kingdom” (2012)
Oh how I love Wes Anderson movies. When you watch one there is no denying he is the man behind what you’re seeing. “Moonrise Kingdom” is a true gem in a filmography filled with gems. So many of Anderson’s favorites fill out the wonderful cast and the humor is the perfect measure of silly and quirky. And as with every Anderson picture there is a beautiful, warm heart at the center.
#29 – “Brooklyn” (2015)
I love that a movie which is so simple can also be so satisfying. “Brooklyn” is such a warm and sweet romantic drama, but I think many are content to leave it there. For me the film also tells the story of a young woman breaking free to take control of her own life. Saoirse Ronan gives the performance of her career and proves herself to be one of the best young actresses in the business.
#28 – “A Separation” (2011)
Writer and director Asghar Farhadi won an Academy Award for his potent drama “A Separation”. As with his other work, Farhadi dives deep into the emotions of his characters and meticulously reveals each layer of moral and psychological complexity. And he goes even further by thoughtfully examining an assortment of other relevant social issues. This is a gem.
#27 – “Nebraska” (2013)
One of the best surprises to come out of 2013 was Alexander Payne’s “Nebraska”. It succeeds in being one-half road trip comedy and one-half family drama. And at its core is the wonderfully ornery Bruce Dern. He’s surly but also sympathetic especially when surrounded by his less than loving family. Shot in gorgeous black-and-white, “Nebraska” looks and feels like classic cinema. It can also be laugh-out-loud hilarious.
#26 – “The Way, Way Back” (2013)
I remember having absolutely no expectations for “The Way, Way Back”. Instead I found it to be one of the most pleasant surprises of the decade. Delightfully warm and unexpectedly funny, the film hits many of the normal teen movie notes while never feeling redundant. And then there is the hysterical, show-stealing performance from Sam Rockwell.
#25 – “Sicario” (2015)
It didn’t take much to sell me on the border crime thriller “Sicario”. Denis Villenueve directing. Roger Deakins handling cinematography. Emily Blunt, Benicio del Toro, and Josh Brolin as the stars. All of those ingredients proved to equal an incredibly intense thriller. Blunt is excellent but it is Del Toro who keeps you glued to the screen.
#24 – “Winter’s Bone” (2010)
Before “The Hunger Games” and before her steady run of David O. Russell collaborations Jennifer Lawrence showed her acting chops in the cold, dark “Winter’s Bone”. This small rural thriller gave Lawrence the opportunity to showcase her immense talent, but it also gave us a John Hawkes portrayal of the scariest character of the decade.
#23 – “The Intouchables” (2012)
Olivier Nikache and Eric Toledano could have really dropped the ball with “The Intouchables”. Instead they develop two very different characters and a central relationship that is easy to invest in. Omar Sy and Francois Cluzet have a wonderful chemistry and the script utilizes it perfectly.
#22 – “Beasts of the Southern Wild” (2012)
I love it when movies come out of nowhere and blow me away. That is exactly what happened with Behn Zeitlin’s drama “Beasts of the Southern Wild”. Set in the Louisiana bayou, “Beasts” speaks of a poverty that may seem other-wordly to many, but through the eyes of a six-year old dreamer named Hushpuppy, it is simply home. A moving film that manages to be uplifting and deeply depressing at the same time.
#21 – “The Hunt” (2013)
In “The Hunt” Thomas Vinterberg pulls no punches in asking a host of thought-provoking questions regarding modern society. Mass hysteria, false judgements, gossip – these are just some of the ills at the center of Vinterberg’s story. Mads Mikkelsen gives an Oscar-worthy performance in a film that skillfully deals with troubling but important subject matter. Brilliant in every regard.
That’s it for now. Follow along and look for #20-#11 which will be coming just around the corner. Also be sure to share your thoughts in the comments section below. I would love to hear what you think of the picks so far.