I keep a running list of movies I consider so good that any flaws they have don’t matter. So, picking my favourite movie of the decade should be easy, right? I just need to choose the ‘Best’ movie on the list. Trouble is that just the list starting at 2010 is 27 movies long. So, here’s what I learned when that proved impossible.
One: Anna Kendrick Is Always Killing It
The most well-represented actor on my list, appearing in five of my picks as consistently a really enjoyable presence. Twice she makes a great supporting role, coincidently playing the sisters of main characters in ‘Scott Pilgrim’ and ‘Paranorman’. But that’s nothing compared to her three starring roles where she manages to play the romantic lead opposite Ryan Reynolds and Sam Rockwell in two entirely different but equally wonderful off–the–wall comedies. While at the opposite end of the spectrum, she’s an entire 50% of the cast in the last 5 years which takes the theme of Anna Kendrick dating terrible men in a radically different but equally powerful direction.
Two: I Really Value Dedication to Style
So that you’re adequately warned, I’m about to compare a Wes Anderson movie to the Raid series. Man, I love it so hard when people put such loving effort into how their movies look, ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ is a visual delight teeming with attention to detail and little flourishes, much like all the punching that happens in the Raid movies where the attention paid to choreography is transcendent. And it’s not just those three either, everything from the third John Wick film, and their absurdly enjoyable world-building, to the astonishing everything oozing out of ‘Mood Indigo’. And I’d be remiss not to mention how multiple people went out of their way to make a CGI movie recreating Lego stop motion twice. Oh, and did you see ‘Into the Spiderverse’?
Three: Charisma And Delivery Count For So Much.
I’m a firm believe that quality is inherently subjective and I have no reason to be ashamed of what I like. That said, if I were the sort to worry about being taken seriously, I think the three films on the list most likely to undermine people’s opinions of me would be ‘Detention’, ‘Hardcore Henery’ and ‘Turbo Kid’. These are films that I fully acknowledge are quite messy in terms of production and style, and polarizing even for my tastes. But like so many of my other favourites, there’s something so infectious about the sense of pure joy and love that these films radiate. So many of what might be considered flaws by other people, manage to work well because they’re chaired by the performance of a cast willing to simultaneously have fun with the ridiculous material and respect it enough to take it seriously.
Four: Standing out is a big plus
A common theme among all films I love is that I think they try and do something different. Even among the films that share a series or director, I can’t think of any two that feel redundant or replaceable. And so often that’s what keeps me coming back to them multiple times. I don’t know the next time I’ll get to see giant monster fights as a metaphor for alcoholism, or a love story about how people change where one of the people involved is occasionally a genetic monstrosity stalking scenic Italy.
Not to mention how enjoyable discovering exactly where a story is going can be, I won’t soon forget that subversive oddities like ‘Holy Motors’ or ‘Sorry to Bother You’ are actually about and ensuing madness.
Five: Focus refines films
Films that know exactly what they want to be and do it without distraction are a wonderful thing, and there’s so much to be said for minimalism. Why not make a film which is essentially two characters singing to each other about their relationship, or one where a punk band spend essentially the entire run time trying not to be in Nazi room? Just as intricacy is beautiful so can purity be, ‘Mad Max’ devotes almost its entire run time to a single chase, and similarly ‘Snowpiercer’ is so focused it’s functionally a tube. This single-mindedness is so valuable because it allows a depth of exploration of the concept that couldn’t happen in a film that has to juggle so many different plots and set up an expansive universe.