JSHmoviestuff started life in the 2010s so here are my MOVIES OF THE DECADE – films from 2010-2019 that delighted, thrilled, astounded and moved me.
I started to notice on social media towards the end of 2019, that people were putting out their MOVIES OF THE DECADE. So, I thought I’d throw my selection into the mix seeing as JSHmoviestuff started its life in early 2011 and has been around for almost the entirety of the 2010s.
When I got my thinking cap on and went back into all my Review of the Year posts to choose my highlights, I was also looking for a quote that encapsulated the ten films that I’d decided upon. The quote I chose and that you see in the post’s title is from the Dardennes brothers’ extraordinary film TWO DAYS, ONE NIGHT as I felt it spoke of the battles, large or small, real-world or fictitious, that each of the characters in these movies experiences and learns from. They all come out at the end of these films, hugely transformed by what they’ve been through and I for one enjoyed every minute.
So, let’s get started. I thought I’d move chronologically through the years with each of my choices and to read my full review of any film, just click on its title.
I couldn’t think of a better movie to start with than MONEYBALL. Directed by one of my favourite directors since I began this blog, the superb Bennett Miller, it stars Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, and the late great Philip Seymour Hoffman. What a bromance is at the centre of this story! Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill are truly sublime as the most charming of odd couples: Oakland A’s manager Billy Beane and economics whizz Peter Brand, who along with Philip Seymour Hoffman’s head coach Art Howe, shake up the world of baseball in Bennett Miller’s superbly recreated sports drama. An early and very winning performance by Chris Pratt as one of the baseball team’s key players is another bonus. I loved this movie instantly in 2011 and I love it every single time I watch it – and there’s been many-a-viewing since.
Keeping in 2011 for my next movie, it created an almighty splash first at the Cannes Film Festival and then throughout the awards season until it triumphed at the Oscars. The early days of the talkies are so, so, so beautifully recreated in black and white in writer/director Michael Hazanavicius’ THE ARTIST. As we watch a deservedly Oscar-winning Jean Dujardin as George Valentin go, with the help of Berenice Bejo’s young newcomer Peppy Miller, from egotistical film star to a true artist in this magnificent romantic comedy/drama, we cry both tears of laughter and tears of joy. Yes, this left me a tear-soaked wreck on its first viewing and every time since – marvellous.
We move onto 2012 for my next movie and another director you’ll see mentioned a lot in my blog is the amazing French film-maker, Jacques Audiard. He collaborated with the peerless Marion Cotillard and, at the time, relative newcomer Matthias Scheonearts for RUST AND BONE. You’ll feel your heart has been brilliantly put through the wringer after watching this because Audiard’s exquisitely realised drama chronicles the romance between Stephanie, an injured whale trainer and Alain, a bare-knuckle boxer and it contains performances of such raw power from the leads that it will knock you sideways. I’m a huge Audiard fan and this, for me, is the best film he’s made to date. And this is the man who made A Prophet and The Beat That My Heart Skipped. Astonishing.
Kathryn Bigelow rightly broke the glass ceiling of the Oscars by being the first woman to win ‘Best Director’ in 2008 for her incredible picture The Hurt Locker. But, for me, she surpassed even that in 2012 with ZERO DARK THIRTY. Even though she didn’t win, this completely gripping and impeccably recreated account of the decade-long hunt to capture Osama Bin Laden is dynamic film-making at its very best. By following the efforts of an initially insignificant CIA operative, Jessica Chastain’s pitch-perfect Maya, we see how the task she takes on becomes an obsession as she becomes convinced the man in the fortified compound in Abbottabad is the world’s most wanted man. An exemplary supporting cast that includes Jason Clarke as a wonderfully rumpled CIA interrogator, the masterful Mark Strong as Maya’s Pentagon boss, and the inimitable James Gandolfini is on blistering form in a cameo as the CIA Director. Bigelow and her regular collaborator and screenwriter Mark Boal deliver a commanding and powerful film that never ceases to exert its grip whenever you watch it.
Let’s skip into 2014 for my next movie. Directors Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardennes collaborated memorably with France’s greatest actress Marion Cotillard in TWO DAYS, ONE NIGHT. And here it is, a performance by Marion Cotillard that, for me, equals or possibly exceeds the breathtaking Oscar-winning she gave as Edith Piaf in La Vie En Rose. Her acting in this film is extraordinary and is maybe the performance of the decade. She plays Sandra, a factory worker who will lose her job on Monday morning unless she can convince her colleagues to forgo a bonus so that the company can pay for her – all over the course of one weekend. As we watch her visit each employee and witness her pleas to keep her job, we go on a rollercoaster of emotions as Cotillard breathtakingly portrays everything from utter despair to the joy of hope. This is both is heartbreaking and uplifting storytelling and exquisite film-making by the Dardennes brothers. Bravo!
Also in 2014, there was the addition of directors Joe and Anthony Russo to the Marvel universe. There had to be a Marvel move in here somewhere, didn’t there? And what a movie is CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER. This, for me, is the finest film of the whole of the first 10 years of the MCU. The hiring of the Russo brothers as directors and the script by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely delivered a wonderful 70s paranoia to Cap’s continuing acclimatising to the modern world. Chris Evans is spot-on as the man with the shield having to battle his darkest fears and his best friend Bucky Barnes (an ace Sebastian Stan) aka The Winter Soldier. Oh and Scarlett Johnasson is fab as the Black Widow herself, Natasha Romanoff, Samuel L. Jackson delivers my favourite portrayal of S.H.I.E.L.D. head honcho Nick Fury and let’s not forget the one and only Robert Redford as the suave Alexander Pierce. A-mazing.
We now move to 2015. Selecting SICARIO the first of my brace of movies by the excellent Canadian director Denis Villeneuve, it’s also important to salute the contribution of screenwriter Taylor Sheridan and director of photography Roger Deakins in this phenomenally thrilling and very dark journey into the world of the Mexican drug cartels – what a terrific script and oh, how beautifully shot. And the performances! Emily Blunt is fantastic as the idealistic FBI agent who with her fellow agent, brilliantly played by Daniel Kaluuya, becomes part of a task force headed by Josh Brolin’s sharp commander and Benicio Del Toro’s shadowy operative. Ethics and morals take a hit as they go into battle along the U.S. / Mexico border in Villeneuve’s movie that grips you like a vice and never lets you go. I absolutely love this film.
My final two movies both come from 2017. The first is just like every single film which director Christopher Nolan produces – an event. But with DUNKIRK, I think he made his masterpiece. What a movie and what a visceral recreation of the desperate rescue attempt in 1940 of Allied soldiers from Northern France as they were surrounded by the advancing German Army. Nolan tells us this in three clever timeframes and in masterful fashion via air, land and sea. And he has the cream of British acting talent to play Spitfire pilots (fab newcomer Jack Lowden and Nolan alumni Tom Hardy), the Commander of the Royal Navy (the awesome Kenneth Branagh) and a mariner who wants to use his own boat to help the evacuation efforts (a peerless Mark Rylance). But it’s an unknown, the gifted Fionn Whiteread with whom we journey through this story, as British soldier Tommy stranded on the beach at Dunkirk awaiting a miracle. Nolan’s movie is just that. Sublime.
The second 2017 entry and the last in my MOVIES OF THE DECADE is a sequel. But not just any sequel. Director Denis Villeneuve (once again – could he be the director of the decade?) followed his magnificent sci-fi picture Arrival with another BLADE RUNNER 2049, the much-anticipated sequel to one of the most iconic science-fiction films since 2001: A Space Odyssey – Ridley’s Scott’s 1982 classic Blade Runner. Double wow for this. It’s quite something to take on such a challenging project but Villeneuve brought us a movie that paid fantastic homage to the original whilst expanding and enriching our experience in that rain-soaked hell-hole that is Los Angeles of the near future. And a large part of that was to do with cinematographer Roger Deakins’ dazzling images which finally earned him a much deserved Oscar. We got to see Harrison Ford once again reprise his celebrated role of Rick Deckard and enjoy some crackling chemistry with the movie’s lead, the tremendous Ryan Gosling. He’s given some pretty outstanding performances over this decade but I absolutely love his portrayal of Officer K, the replicant policeman who uncovers a fascinating link back into the past that also has a shattering effect on his future. Brilliantly talented new discoveries Ana de Armas and Sylvia Hoeks both make memorable impressions and Robin Wright is stellar as K’s superior. This is top-drawer film-making and I love it!