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Bottom & Top 10 Movies of 2009-2018

Some ground rules to start off:

-This may not reflect my actual favourite movies of the last 10 years as I’m only picking the movies I ranked on my previous year-end lists, archived here. Movies I either didn’t see in time or have more time to reflect on could easily crack these lists. Off the top of my head, Enemy, Silence, Winter’s Sleep and Mister Turner could easily have gotten onto my top 10, but they’re not in the lists, so I shan’t count them.

-This is strictly a top and bottom 10, no additions or exceptions. I’ll run through an honourable/dishonourable mentions segment, but that’s as far as I go. 10 movies on each list.

-This will not be reflective of my personal feelings on these movies going forward. Hell, they may not be reflective as of tomorrow! I narrowed down this list twice, and both were slightly different with some general hangovers from both attempts. This could be different tomorrow, but this is what it’s like right now, in this time, at the moment of writing.

With that out of the way, let’s start off with:

Worst

Dishonourable Mentions to start:

The Bye-Bye Man, Collateral Beauty, Clash of the Titans, Clouds of Sils Maria, The Danish Girl, Dirty Grandpa, God’s Not Dead, Jem and the Holograms, I Origins, John Paul II in Ireland: A Plea for Peace, Me Before You, Mortdecai, Norm of the North, Saving Christmas, Self/Less, The Snowman, Slender Man, Tusk, Wolves at the Gate

Now onto the actual worst, starting with:

10. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)

I started this blog all the way back in 2014 doing an overview of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man movies essentially in response to my hatred of this one, so in a lot of ways I kind of owe it. I had been etching towards blog posts, but this may not exist had I not hated this film so much. Yet hate it I did. This was the height of trying to ape the MCU’s formula without really understanding what made it so good. Story threads go nowhere, there’s a splattering of lore hooks that don’t get picked up (hi, Rhino!). Peter is incredibly creepy and irritating, not helped by a confused and written-for-function script that barely functions. We’re thankfully passed this “era” of the franchise-builder, now studios just hope movies are good to make follow-ups, but this was the definitive swing and a miss.

 

9. X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)

Another comic book film, this one was already part of a franchise with a lot of legs, however. It’s a pity it didn’t walk this one off a cliff. Baffling ideas with cinematography that’s both over-the-top and boring. This is probably the most charmless Hugh Jackman ever is in any of his appearance as the iconic Canuck, the effects manage to look worse than they did in Singer’s X-Men 9 years prior, the plot is bloated and dull that, like ASM2, takes way too many strands to lead nowhere. Liev Schreiber is kind of perfect as Sabretooth, and it’s a shame he wasn’t in a movie worthy of this performance, but this movie is trash that deserves to stay in the garbage. Just like whatever they did to Deadpool.

8. Terminal (2018)

Yeah, this…this is a rough one. A vanity project for lead actress/producer Margot Robbie and whatever pills the director took before shooting, Terminal takes what may be a clever idea and puts it through so many goddamn bullshit filters who knows what’s come out the other end. Ignoring how garish and over-stylised the general production is, I seem to notice I hate films that try to tackle too much at once, and man is this movie just the pinnacle of it. Literary allusions, out of sequence framing devices, random motifs like the lack of people around this area (which is definitely not a cost saving measure). But it’s the final 30 minutes where this truly loses its mind. It’s kind of fascinating in how broken it is, but it fails on just such a spectacular level you’re left sitting there asking “Why?!”.

7. The Book of Henry (2017)

A movie so bad, it lost it’s director a Star Wars gig! And it’s not hard to see why-a script 20 years in the making seems about 20 years outdated and 5 years outdated at the same time. A baffling story made only possible by you ignoring that the title character is a 12 year old, but it’s okay! He’s very smart. We have talented and committed actors doing Oscar-calibre work to this mess of a script held up by flimsy and baffling production choices and lost, meandering scenes that don’t really add up to the whole. The twist is insulting, how little of a character Maddie Ziegler has here is deeply offensive because they turn an abuse victim into a prop for the plot, it’s got the weirdest mother/son dynamic I’ve seen onscreen in a while, and the tonal mismatch of the child wonderment moments just clash weirdly against the child abuse stuff. Such a strange trainwreck from beginning to end.

6. Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

Another comic book movie! Right from the brain of one of the strangest filmmakers out there, this takes the issues of Snyder’s other failed films and amplifies them to levels of ridiculousness. Random sequences that go nowhere, incredibly out of place “deep” or “contemplative” scenes that land with a thud. Portentous, heavy dialogue that doesn’t really mean anything. Caked in his overdone, melodramatic action that has worn out its welcome a long time ago. This takes the extra step by being two and a half hours of a confused, disorganised mess of a film with ineffective and strange villains, unlikeable leads and an insulting, unearned ending. The absolute pinnacle of weak as fuck comic book movies.

5. Mister Morgan’s Last Love (2014)

Michael Caine is a wonderful actor who should never attempt an accent. Ignoring that, it’s a simpering, ill-conceived and strangely puritanical “love story” between a recently widowed man and a dance instructor two twice his over half  his age. This is meandering and tedious, not helped by how unlikeable Caine’s character is and the awkward, last-minute involvement of his son. This would have avoided this list, but the ending is so, so fucking insulting and gets under your skin that it earned the number 5 spot. Terribly thought out, awkwardly framed and structured and a woefully bad ending, this isn’t a movie you can love first or last.

4. A Good Day to Die Hard (2013)

The Die Hard sequels have, in the very least, felt like Die Hard movies. Until this fucking turkey. Bruce Willis is asleep gliding through a paycheck with a cast filled with people confused and embarrassed to be here. The father/son dynamic is so, so grating and these two have zero chemistry. There’s an incredibly convoluted and nonsensical villain plot which culminates in a really insulting way. Worst of all the action doesn’t work. The film looks ugly and is shot so unprofessionally, most of the shots have no impact outside of awkward Die Hard references the director managed to sneak pass Willis. This is an awful, awful continuation of a great movie, and thank whatever force is out there a planned sixth movie was shitcanned.

3. Yoga Hosers (2017)

Man, Kevin Smith’s films took a nose dive in the late-00s, didn’t they? This is, without competition, his worst. Factoring in the incredible vanity project it is, moreso than his other films, none of the gags work and the dual leads have absolutely no comedic timing or chemistry. Everyone has this sense of obligation to be here, nobody comes off as that interested. Then we get to the Canadian Nazis made of sauerkraut and it continues to get worse and worse and worse. It’s ugly to look at, misjudged as hell, with a deeply stupid story and the obnoxious factor turned up to 90 as the crew clearly had no idea what the direction was for this outside of giving Smith and Johnny Depp’s daughter a movie together. Smith finally went back to his View Askewniverse well with Jay and Silent Bob Reboot, let’s hope it works better than this tripe.

2. The Canyons (2014)

Lindsay Lohan’s big comeback role did not exactly work out that well for her. And it’s a shame because we have Paul Schraeder behind the camera and Brett Easton Ellis writing, there is no reason why The Canyons came out this fucking badly. The satire is awful and really on the nose, it has this ugly, grimy look to it that feels awkward and forced. It’s trying so hard to say something deep and relevant about elitist circles and the Hollywood system but ends up crashing and burning. And oh Jesus Christ the acting! Lohan is in her usual “Not Sure What Mood We Have Her On This Day” greatness, but James Deen takes the absolute pinnacle of misjudged and badly cast performances, being about as intimidating as a hedge and compelling as what I’m assuming the marketing pitch was for this thing. An absolute hodgepodge of bad decisions culminate in this absolute shitshow, well deserved in how forgotten it is.

1. Bela Kiss: Prologue (2013)

Here we are, my most hated film of the last ten years. I may as well just repost what I wrote in my 2013 list, because it still holds up here. An absolutely dismal film inspired by Bela Kiss, that has only the most tangential connections to the real life serial killer. Poor pacing, confused and choppy plot, not a single actor makes it interesting, not a single character I care if they get out of it. They work so hard to build up the “mystery” of the killer’s involvement that you just lose interest quickly and quicker still fall into annoyance and rage. Ugly to look at, terribly shot, confusingly executed and just plain boring to sit through. Nothing about this film works, and it rightfully sits on my spot as the worst film I’ve seen over the last 10 years.

That’s my worst! Now let’s move onto my:

Best

Starting off, honourary mentions:

Arrival, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), Blade Runner 2049, Blue is the Warmest Colour, Hereditary, The Handmaiden, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Ida, Inside Llewyn Davis, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, Mad Max: Fury Road, Nightcrawler, The Shape of Water, Son of Saul, Sorry to Bother You Suspiria, Tickled, Up, The Witch

Now let’s move onto the list!

10. You Were Never Really Here (2018)

Lynne Ramsey is one of our greatest living directors, and it’s an absolute crime her filmography is so low. When she’s able to produce a film, however, she knocks it out of the park, and this includes her fourth feature that looks at a violent hired gun being tasked to save the daughter of a politician. This is probably my favourite Joaquin Phoenix performance, and that’s a high bar, and the careful way they show how trauma and violence has shaped him is masterful storytelling. He doesn’t say a lot, but you completely understand his psychology and motivations. The careful way they mute violence is skillfully handled while the film remains shocking and gripping, with an intense score and gorgeous cinematography right up until its excellent final scene. An absolute treat for any thriller lovers looking for something distinct in the genre.

9. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2015)

What a distinctive and really well thought out vampire film set in Iran, spoken in Persian and shot in California. Ana Lily Amripour’s debut feature combines the mythic loneliness of a vampire, the isolationist tone of a Sergio Leone Western, the creepy unnerving imagery of Nosferatu and the spirit of Chantal Akerman. It looks at the dangers of loneliness and standing against giving into despair. It’s cooler than cool, with skateboard riding and a fucking perfect soundtrack, but manages to hit that emotional centre and get engrossed in dark metaphorical subject matter as all great vampire fiction does. This is one of the best and most unique vamp films out there, and it’s totally worth your time.

8. 13TH (2016)

What an important and fascinating documentary by Ava DuVernay, one of the most interesting voices in film presently. It tracks American history through the lens of the 13th Amendment, with the clause that prisoners lose their rights as free citizens. From there, we see how the African American diaspora have been subjugated and imprisoned en masse to fit this criteria, from Jim Crow laws to mandatory minimums to the private prison industry. It’s rage-inducing and really upsetting, but it does an expert job on showing how systemic and ever present racism is in the United States, rippling through time like a terrible blight on their culture. Excellently argued and engaging as hell, it’s got a fiery passion and sheer force of will that makes her work so compelling to follow.

7. Moonlight (2017)

A mythic-feeling and exceptionally captivating look at growing up being gay in a toxic environment. I love the confidence it exudes-the filmmakers really know what it feels like to be in this world, pulled off by an amazing cast and alluring, haunting score. It manages to glide through Chiron’s difficult and bleak life while never having it feel overwhelming or safe-you really see how people let him down and etched his transformation and loneliness. Offset  by gorgeous, colourful and alive cinematography that excellently complements the mood, it’s one of the best explorations of being LGBTQ+ in the modern world, as well as just being a fantastic character study in its own right.

6. Mommy (2015)

I love the places this movie goes to, how much it cares about its characters, the incredibly intelligent way it uses the aspect ratio, the cleverly thought out soundtrack and the places it goes to explore what it’s like to love someone troubled. The three leads are really likeable and loathsome in their own ways-all have great chemistry together and play off each other brilliantly. It manages to comment on the struggles of mental health and how the world views those with issues in that regard without it feeling condescending or taking away from the flow or focus of the story.  Bold, intelligent and heartbreaking, all while starting the film off with a Dido song.

5. I, Daniel Blake (2016)

Ken Loach has been, for the last 5 decades or so, one of the most socially conscious and outspokenly political filmmakers who shows no signs of slowing down at age 83. This one looks at the horrible practices of the English government outsourcing disability claimants to an American company, who almost always  manage to be seen as fit for work. Look into this, by the way-people have died because of this. Our story focuses on the title character who is forced to go on jobseekers for work he can’t do because he suffered a massive heart attack. It’s a gut punch throughout, with evocative scenes and also a lot of humanity as we view working class England with such a sympathetic and nuanced eye. It’s a rallying cry simply about being a nice bloke who can’t catch a break, and it’s every bit as compelling as it is rage-inducing.

4. Call Me By Your Name (2017)

A movie that feels sensual and inviting. It’s like I went on a nice holiday with interesting people; just being in the movie’s presence makes me feel welcomed. It’s an exploration of young love not coming (hah) in the ways you would expect it. Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer has amazing chemistry, and their relationship feels as familiar and complex as any great romantic epic. It’s a rich and very detailed screenplay, full of small quirks and naturalistic dialogue that makes this movie feel lived in and complex, like the story goes beyond this Italian summer in the 80s. This is an experience and one that has stayed with me for quite some time, with a great romance and Sufjan Stevens jams.

3. Black Swan (2011)

Darren Aronofsky is a director who loves to make you feel uncomfortable, he has an exceptional talent even. This is probably the pinnacle of that, a woman becomes obsessed with ballet to the point where it takes over her mind in really bizarre and disturbing ways. Natalie Portman is a powerhouse throughout this, giving one of the best performances of the decade from an actress who really knows when to show her chops. The direction is disorienting and even frustrating at parts as we really enter this girl’s mind and become compelled by her own goals before pulling back to see how fucked it is. It goes from the deepest corners of the mind to the literal physical damage you can cause chasing a dream that hard.  A great parable about the thin line between ambition and all-encompassing obsession, lead by an amazing performance and moody, striking production. One dance you can’t help but be led by.

2. Anomalisa (2016)

Charlie Kaufman has such a fascinating mind, I love it being probed and seeing what his thoughts are. His (unfortunately) only outing of the decade is a doozy, examining a man who feels like he’s living in a daze, not helped that everyone looks and sounds the same. It’s a really complex examination of neuroses and the self-entitlement of depression in a really simple and straightforward way-most of it takes place over one night after all. Lisa, the only woman who looks and sounds different, is such a joy and fully realised person that it begins to feel kind of skeezy when Michael manipulates her probably even against his own realisation. The unreality of the stop-motion really emphasises the sleepwalking fugue this character is in, and is used in fascinating ways in the interest of the story. It’s a remarkable journey into a lonely, weird, neurotic man’s head, like a lot of Kaufman’s work, but if he keeps making them this brilliantly I’ll continue to watch.

1. Her (2014)

This one is really predictable if anybody knows me, but I stand by how much this film touched me. How it continues to do so when I rewatch it. Theodore feels so real, I love the exploration of love and how self-centered it really can be. I love that it leaves a lot up to your own imagination, and they make clear that this isn’t a unique story in this future. It’s honestly a really cool look at the future, feeling like this is the inevitable endpoint of self-aware AI. Even ignoring the more intellectualising stuff, I dig the soft and dynamic score, I love how much chemistry both the leads have even though one never appears onscreen. It’s such an interesting film that leaves more questions than answer, but it’s also a really heartwarming and sweet love story. It’s the one film I think captures our world and shows it through a futurist lens in a really cynical but hopeful and humanistic way, and it’s a lot of why this is my favourite movie of the 2010s.

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