Since this decade has passed its halfway mark, I thought I’d compile a list of the top ten best films of the decade so far. The list is a combination of my personal favourites and what I think are the greats.
10. Drive (Nicolas Winding Refn, 2011)
Stylistically, Drive is one of the most refreshing films to have come out in recent years. Whilst not particularly original in terms of its narrative, Refn has managed to refine familiar plot devices into something really compelling and unique. Starring Ryan Gosling as the unnamed driver, who gets involved with the life of a single mother, Irene (Carey Mulligan), and her young son. Drive looks and sounds great, and the film has an edginess about it that makes it very engaging and memorable.
9. Enemy (Denis Villeneuve, 2013)
Enemy is the most underrated film to have come out in the last few years. A hypnotic and psychological journey through the disturbed lives of Adam Bell (Jake Gyllenhaal), and his doppelganger, Anthony Claire (Gyllenhaal again). Tales of the doppelganger may be overdone now, but Enemy is definitely one of the best. It has such an intricate and thought-provoking plot, it amazes me how this film does not receive more attention.
8. Fruitvale Station (Ryan Coogler, 2013)
Ryan Coogler’s debut feature film Fruitvale Station is based on the events leading up to the shooting of Oscar Grant by a police officer in Oakland, California. It is a very harrowing and sensitive story, but incredibly relevant and significant. In terms of narrative, the film is actually very simple as it depicts the last day of Oscar Grant’s life before the fatal shooting. Although some parts of the film were fabricated for dramatic effect, it does not by any means take away the film’s quality.
7. Room (Lenny Abrahamson, 2015)
Very few films over the last five years or so have affected me quite as much as Room, which tells the story of a woman (Brie Larson), and her son (Jacob Tremblay), who have been held captive for several years in a small room. The young boy, Jack has never experienced life outside the room, so the tiny enclosed space is his world, as it is all he has ever known. Based on the novel of the same name by Emma Donoghue, Room is an incredibly moving and powerful film about survival and the pursuit of freedom.
6. Django Unchained (Quentin Tarantino, 2012)
Django Unchained is another stylistically and creatively brilliant addition to Quentin Tarantino’s filmography. The film is about Django’s (Jamie Foxx) mission to save his wife from a vicious plantation owner, with the help of German bounty hunter, Dr King Schultz (Christoph Waltz). Like Inglorious Basterds, this film is another fabrication of history, and Tarantino calls Django Unchained a ‘spaghetti Western.’ It is a very entertaining film with some immense performances.
5. Whiplash (Damien Chazelle, 2014)
The story of the underdog aiming to fulfil their dreams by climbing to the top is a well-trodden theme. However, Whiplash eradicates all expectations and cliches. It’s about a young jazz drummer, Andrew Neiman (Miles Teller), who aspires to be one of the greats.
The film focuses on the relationship between Andrew and his abusive instructor, Terrence Fletcher (J. K. Simmons). Whiplash details the dangers and consequences of obsession, and at the same time, the wonders of having ambition. Immensely entertaining and compelling, with a great story at its centre, Whiplash is definitely one of the best films so far this decade.
4. The Wolf Of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese, 2014)
Once again, Leonardo DiCaprio collaborates with Martin Scorsese in The Wolf of Wall Street. It is a biographical comedy film, depicting the life of Stockbroker Jordan Belfort, and how his firm engaged in excessive amounts of fraud and earning millions in the process. The film also navigates through Belfort’s hedonistic lifestyle, which is all purposely exaggerated. I believe it is DiCaprio’s most memorable and best performance to date, and one he should have won an Oscar for. Audaciously thrilling and hilariously gripping, The Wolf of Wall Street is an essential watch.
3. Birdman (Alejandro G. Inarritu, 2014)
At number three on the list, comes the quirky, strange and mysterious, Birdman. The film is a satire on showbiz, starring Michael Keaton as Riggan Thomson, a washed-up actor known for playing a superhero. The film has sublime acting and cinematography, as the whole film is constructed to appear as just one continuous shot. Rightfully so, it won Best Picture at the 2014 Acadamy Awards and numerous other awards. Quite simply, there are not many films out there quite like Birdman.
2. 12 Years A Slave (Steve McQueen, 2013)
Steve McQueen has already made a name for himself from directing unflinching and evocative films, and 12 Years A Slave is his most daring film yet. It is an adaptation of the slave memoir by Soloman Northrup, a New York State free black man, who is kidnapped and sold into slavery.
The film depicts the brutal and horrendous treatment Soloman receives at the hands of the plantation owner, Edwin Epps (Michael Fassbender). The film follows Soloman’s struggles during slavery, whilst he maintains the hope he will be a free man once again. 12 Years A Slave is phenomenal and has such a raw and honest portrayal of slavery, that is very sad but incredibly purposeful.
1. Inception (Christopher Nolan, 2010)
Amongst all the fast-paced action thrillers, heist films and mind-bending sci-fi flicks, I believe Inception is the one that stands out the most. The reason I have placed this film as number one is because the film accomplishes the very difficult task of combining entertaining and enthralling cinema, with an intelligent and complicated narrative that actually makes you think.
Inception follows the highly skilled Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his team of extractors, who are assigned the task of “Inception”: Planting an idea into someone else’s mind. Hectic, with non-stop action and thrills, Inception is a truly high-quality film, that is simply unmissable, and I believe it is the best film of the decade so far.
The Revenant (2016)