The 2010s are done and we are now into the 2020s so to reflect back on the previous decade I’ll be going over my favourite film from every year between 2010 and 2019.
2010: How To Train Your Dragon – I actually much prefer the second How To Train Your Dragon film, but by virtue of 2014 containing several of my favourite films of the decade the first is the only movie from the franchise that will be making this list. And all of that shouldn’t make you think any less of the first How To Train Your Dragon, because it is still one of the most beautiful and heartfelt films of the decade. The scenes where Hiccup and Toothless begin to bond are wonderful, and helps form one of the great film friendships of all time.
2011: Drive – 2011 was a hell of a year for Ryan Gosling who is consistently one of my favourite actors. He starred in Crazy, Stupid, Love as a charming womanizer, and in Drive he is about as far from that as it is possible to be. His role as the unnamed driver is one with a minimal amount of lines, but he does so much despite that. It also means that when he does go big in the film it has far more emotional impact, that elevator scene is still one of the most intense and brutal scenes of the decade. Everything else, the supporting cast, Nicolas Winding Refn’s direction, the cinematography, and the soundtrack all come together brilliantly as well. But this was really the year where I started to notice Gosling, and just how great he was.
2012: The Cabin in the Woods – Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon’s deconstruction of horror movies and their tropes is just brilliant. The film is funny, entertaining and gory as hell. The first two thirds a fun exploration of the usual horror film tropes, such as the standard characters, bad decisions, and the regular set ups. The idea that all of this is being done as some kind of ritual manipulated by an outside force explains so much in most horror films. Then the last third just goes crazy. I remember the first time we saw it being a bit disappointed that we ended up with zombies (yes I know Zombie Redneck Torture Family) but that quickly dissipates at the end during the carnage.
2013: Rush – There are a lot of really excellent films from 2013 including Frozen, Fruitvale Station, and Before Midnight, but my favourite of the year is Ron Howard’s Rush. Dramatising the rivalry and competition between Formula 1 drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda, particularly in the 1976 season. The film shows these two personalities who could not be more different, with the laid back Hunt and the calculating Lauda, and how that gave us one of the great rivalries in F1 history. The racing scenes are brilliantly shot by Howard, and the two lead performances from Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl are exceptional. Even for those who aren’t fans of F1 Rush is a great film, but as someone who is a fan I adored it.
2014: Pride – If you haven’t seen Pride you really should. A film set during a time of huge political unrest in the UK as Margaret Thatcher decimated the working classes. The film follows a small LGBT+ group who decide to show solidarity with a group of miners in north Wales and help the families who have been affected by the miner strikes. The film shows these two communities, who on the surface could not be more different, coming together through what connects and binds them. The film is funny, moving, and important as politics in the UK regresses back towards this era.
2015: Mad Max: Fury Road – I’ve heard it said that Mad Max Fury Road is a film that should be taught in film schools, and I have to say I agree. This is a masterclass in show don’t tell storytelling, because there is so much about this world, and the journeys of Max and Furiosa throughout the film, but it isn’t all laid out big exposition dump pieces of dialogue. Next is the filmmaking craft that went into the film, George Miller’s direction is brilliant, and the real life stunts and practical effects he oversaw are breathtaking. Honestly Fury Road is the kind of film you can appreciate more every time you see it, and is still a blast to watch as well.
2016: Your Name – I remember bring a massive fan of Your Name the first time I saw it. But it wasn’t until my second viewing that I realised just what a masterpiece it was. This is the kind of film that gets even better on the second viewing when you know how the events will play out, because it makes the events of the first half of the film mean so much more. The characters in the film are wonderful, the story brilliant and heartbreaking, and the animation just jaw droppingly beautiful. If your only knowledge of the world of Japanese animation is Studio Ghibli films then I cannot recommend Your Name enough.
2017: La La Land – Hating on La La Land seems to come more and more into vogue over the last couple of years, but this was a film that I saw and immediately fell in love with. Even now this film is like a warm hug for me, and place I can retreat into when I need a film to help me through my anxiety or difficult times. Much like the rest of Chazelle’s work it tackles the theme of what are you willing to sacrifice to achieve your dreams, and in this case for Seb and Mia it is their relationship. So much of the film is delightful, and then it gut punches you with heartbreak. But in the end the two characters share a look. A look that lets you know everything is going to be ok, and that’s how the film makes me feel.
2018: Avengers: Infinity War – I saw Infinity War 5 times in cinemas, no other film in my lifetime comes close to that. As a piece of pure entertainment it is hard to top with scene after scene of epic superhero action alongside brilliant character moments and interactions. This was the first half of 10 years of storytelling and it brought all of that together in such a satisfying way. I actually think that Endgame is a better film, and one of the most special cinema experiences ever, but Infinity War is the perfect fun blockbuster.
2019: Knives Out – Booksmart was leading my favourite film of 2019 for a long time. And then we got Rian Johnson’s Knives Out. Both a throwback to the classic whodunit Agatha Christie adaptations, and a modernisation of the genre. With Daniel Craig as the detective Benoit Blanc appearing to just have the best time making the film, that really sets the tone for Knives Out as it is just pure entertainment. When you add in the meticulous plotting and scripting from Johnson, where every little detail and moment it important later in the film, this is just a work of genius. I genuinely don’t think I’ve this much fun in the cinema for quite a long time.