So Far we’re a full five years into the decade now, and milestones like that always make for nice opportunities to look back and reflect. It’s a time for “best of” and “worst of” lists, and in that spirit I wanted to look back on a little bit of both: the best and worst films of the decade so far, at least according to one writer!
Undoubtedly among the most entertaining movies of the decade, Django Unchained has stood the test of time as a work of remarkable quality also. In fact, the recent release of The Hateful Eight – Quentin Tarantino’s follow-up to Django that takes place in a roughly similar world – has only emphasised just how perfect a pleasure Django was. The Hateful Eight is good, violent fun, and really among the better films of 2015. But it doesn’t hold a candle to Django Unchained.
Silver Linings Playbook
Based on Matthew Quick’s unique novel, Silver Linings Playbook was a rare exercise in “simple” filmmaking elevated purely by writing, direction, and performance. Sure, it got more attention than other indie-style dramas because of the big names attached to its cast, but Silver Linings Playbook was a wonderful demonstration that Hollywood doesn’t need mind-blowing CGI and $100 million budgets to entertain and inspire.
Inception goes the other way. If Silver Linings Playbook showed the power of restraint, Inception demonstrated that a limitless budget in the right hands could produce a work of staggering imagination and a visual spectacle with purpose beyond 3D ticket sales. I’ll put it this way: people are still reinterpreting and debating this movie five years after its release.
People seem to have forgotten Rush. It didn’t garner any major awards, it performed better internationally than in the U.S., and as a result it seems to have been lost in history already. It did generate some buzz during awards season, and Gala’s bingo page still hosts an online game that appears to be loosely based on the film. But aside some brief attention and an online bingo game, it’s just gone. That shouldn’t be the case. Rush is my pick for the decade’s most underrated film so far. It’s a beautifully depicted drama telling the true story of one of sports’ most fascinating rivalries. It’s also the movie in which Chris Hemsworth showed without a doubt that he’s more than Thor.
There’s a perception out there that historical dramas and biopics that exceed two hours in runtime and feature scripts dense with dialogue are simply built to win awards. Lincoln falls into this category, but more than most similar films it was also delightfully entertaining. This makes my list simply because it was hours of political debate that kept me not only alert but on the edge of my seat. What an achievement in screenwriting.
Man Of Steel
The best thing about Man Of Steel was a mobile app by Warner Bros. that let fans play out the events of the movie. That’s because the movie itself was a mindless hodgepodge of heartless action that felt more like watching a stranger play a video game than watching a major superhero film. It’s just more fun when you’re the one playing. But of course, unlike Rush, where the only lingering sign that it ever existed is a small video game, Man Of Steel inevitably spawned this spring’s coming sequel and a “universe” of DC movies to follow. No Hollywood event of the last five years has made me feel more like I’m taking crazy pills than the fact that Zack Snyder got to keep making superhero movies after this atrocity.
Every so often an action flick that’s completely generic at first glance rises above 50 similar movies in its year. Taken was just such a film, fueled by Liam Neeson’s portrayal of a furious father with a “unique set of skills” out for vengeance. It was simultaneously badass and hilarious, which is really what we want in action movies. Taken 2 wasn’t a bad idea, but the creative team failed to realise that they had to do something new to keep it interesting. An attempt to more or less replicate the original fell flat on its face; this movie is useless.
Obviously there are five movies worse than Gravity from the past five years. There are probably five hundred. But relative to the praise it received, this was a deceptively lazy and ineffective movie, and I can explain why with a very simple comparison. Gravity was lauded for “stunning visuals,” so good that the lack of plot was no big deal. But didn’t Interstellar and The Martian capture space travel with equal visual skill and plots?
It’s not uncommon for good comedy actors to whiff on a project now and then. But among movies in which this happened in the last five years, The Watch was probably the hardest to enjoy. You just expect better from a collaboration between Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Jonah Hill.
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
You know everything good I said about Lincoln? This movie represents the polar opposite. It’s a dense historical drama based on a wonderful book by John le Carré that was marketed as a “slow burning thriller” and old-fashioned mystery. I can deal with slow films, intelligent build-up, and subtlety. But this was boring, and almost nothing else.
So those are my picks for at least some of the best and worst movies of the decade so far. Naturally a lot of other films could have made the list, but these stand out. Agree or disagree? Which movies might you include?