Film Highlights of the Decade 2010-2019

As the decade reaches its close, I take a look back at some of my favourite film trends and cinematic highlights from the last ten years…

The New Breed of Unmissable Directors

This decade has seen the emergence of a new breed of directors delivering must-see films. Leading the pack in Hollywood are Damien Chazelle and Barry Jenkins. Chazelle has delivered one of the decade’s best pictures with Whiplash, and two other fantastic films (La La Land and First Man). Meanwhile Jenkins gifted us two beautiful, nuanced pictures with Moonlight and If Beale Street Could Talk. Jennifer Kent has also created two different but powerful movies (The Babadook and The Nightingale), making her mark.

Other impressive directors who have emerged this decade include Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station, Creed), Robert Eggers (The Witch, The Lighthouse), Ana Lily Amirpour (A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night), Justin Simien (Dear White People), and Julia Ducournau (Raw) also offered impressive debut features.

Excellent Late Franchise Entries

It really has been a decade of remakes, reboots, and belated sequels. Whilst many of these have been passable or forgettable, a couple of late franchise instalments have really stood out. George Miller bucked the trend to deliver one of the best films of this decade with Mad Max: Fury Road. The exhilarating fourth chapter in the franchise was breathtaking. Director Christopher McQuarrie re-teamed with Tom Cruise for the sixth Mission: Impossible film, and produced the best of the franchise and one of the best action films of the decade with Mission: Impossible – Fallout. Elsewhere director Steven Quale revived the tired Final Destination franchise with the very entertaining final chapter Final Destination 5.

Career Resurgences

This decade has seen a notable uptick in the careers of certain veteran actors. After a fairly quiet previous ten years, Laura Dern’s resurgence has been most rewarding to watch. This decade has seen the actress in an array of film roles including The Master, Certain Women, Marriage Story, and the upcoming Little Women. She has also been memorable on television in Twin Peaks and Big Little Lies. Michael Keaton has also had a belter of a decade, after a fairly unremarkable 2000s. He had major roles in Spotlight, The Founder, and Spider-Man: Homecoming (living long enough to become the villain), and was nominated for an Oscar for his brilliant turn in Birdman. Regina King has always delivered solid performances since her debut in Boyz n the Hood. It is only in the last few years that she has finally received the praise and calibre of roles she deserves, winning an Oscar for her role in If Beale Street Could Talk and playing the lead in the critically acclaimed show Watchmen.

Paddington Bear

In a bleak decade politically, Paddington Bear has been the hero we needed. Paul King’s Paddington and Paddington 2 have been a salve against the cruelties of this decade. A lead who is decent and kind (not to mention incredibly cute) has cut through the cynicism of the current world. The films were very entertaining, and a wonderful escape from current affairs. Paddington 2 in particular was very memorable and enchanting, with Hugh Grant on top form.

Christopher Nolan

If the decade had to belong to a single director, in terms of both critical acclaim and box office receipts, then that filmmaker would be Christopher Nolan. No one has been able to create original tentpole blockbusters in the way he has this decade. Nolan began the decade on top form with the action-thriller Inception, one of the biggest films of the year. He followed this with the final chapter of the Dark Knight trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises. The film is just about the most hopeful blockbuster of the decade, reaching a peak of exhilaration that is difficult to match. Interstellar and the truly superb Dunkirk exhibited Nolan’s comfort in a range of genres. With the upcoming Tenet, Christopher Nolan’s films are always hotly anticipated.

Park Chan-wook and Chung Chung-hoon’s Continuing Collaboration

Director Park Chan-wook and cinematographer Chung Chung-hoon collaboration began in the 2000s, working on three films together (Oldboy, Lady Vengeance, and Thirst). The fact that their partnership continued into this decade is a benefit to us all. With Stoker and The Handmaiden, Park and Chung delivered two of the decade’s handsomest pictures. The photography, the mise en scène, and the style are truly beautiful.

Trent Reznor Film Scores

After composing pieces for films earlier in his career (including for David Lynch’s Lost Highway), the 2010s was when Trent Reznor’s career as a composer really took off. His collaborations with Atticus Ross have been a highlight of cinema this decade. Highlights include the partnership with David Fincher (which netted Reznor an Oscar for The Social Network), as well as Mid90s and the recent Waves. Reznor and Ross also created the superlative score for the show Watchmen.

Directorial Debuts By Actors

This decade has seen some brilliant directorial debuts from well-known actors. These actors have proven their talents extend to behind the camera Highlights from this trend include Greta Gerwig’s wonderful Ladybird (Gerwig co-directed Nights and Weekends, but Ladybird was her first solo effort), and Jordan Peele’s fantastic Get Out. Other notable debuts include Chris Morris’ Four Lions, Olivia Wilde’s Booksmart, Joel Edgerton’s The Gift, Bradley Cooper’s A Star is Born, and Brie Larson’s Unicorn Store.

LFF 2019 Highlights Part 2

With the 63rd BFI London Film Festival drawing to a close tonight, there have been a lot of wonderful movies this year. The best films of the first week can be viewed here. Below are the LFF 2019 highlights from the second week…

LFF 2019 Highlights – Unmissable

The Irishman

In a career positively littered with jewels, Martin Scorsese manages to surpass expectations once more. The film is a magnificent gem. The Irishman is an introspective study, with Scorsese pulling no punches where it counts. READ MORE

Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound

Midge Costin’s documentary Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound is as immersive as its subject matter. Midge Costin’s documentary Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound is as immersive as its subject matter. READ MORE

Judy & Punch

Mirrah Foulkes’ Judy & Punch is an impressive fairy tale. Boasting a distinctive atmosphere and strong performances, the film is an engrossing watch. Foulkes has delivered an original, creative, and compelling debut with Judy & PunchREAD MORE

LFF 2019 Highlights – Best of the Rest

Knives Out

Writer-director Rian Johnson’s murder mystery Knives Out is tremendous fun. The star cast are on great form in this very entertaining film. With Knives Out, Johnson plants several red herrings, offers up twists, and delivers a hugely enjoyable film. READ MORE

Waves

Trey Edward Shults’ Waves is tender, powerful, and finely executed. There are several emotional moments, and each of these is earned by the solid script, good character development, and the filmmaker’s considered direction. READ MORE

Family Romance LLC

Werner Herzog’s documentary style drama Family Romance LLC depicts a bizarre but fascinating phenomenon. The film is both amusing and disquieting. Herzog once again shows his flair for capturing the various shades of humanity. READ MORE

Sid & Judy

On the fiftieth anniversary of Judy Garland’s death, director Stephen Kijak has created a timely and engrossing documentary with Sid & Judy. The film effectively conveys Garland’s magnetism, and does not shy away from depicting the star’s personal struggles. A very entertaining documentary. READ MORE

Deerskin

Another one of LFF 2019 highlights is Deerskin. Writer-director Quentin Dupieux’s Deerskin (Le Daim) is absurd and entertaining. The film is a real treat. The film marries creativity and accessibility in an amusing package. READ MORE

The BFI London Film Festival ran from 2nd-13th October 2019.

LFF 2019 Highlights Part 1

It is about half way through this year’s BFI London Film Festival, and some wonderful films have been shown so far. Here are some LFF 2019 highlights from the first week…

LFF 2019 Highlights – Unmissable

The Last Black Man in San Francisco

Joe Talbot’s The Last Black Man in San Francisco is a funny, moving, thought-provoking, and outstanding debut. The film is an embarrassment of riches, boasting a wonderful script, strong direction, great performances, and thematic density.  READ MORE

Marriage Story

Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story is a top-drawer drama with outstanding performances from its leads. The film is heart-wrenching, observant, and very real. With Marriage Story, Baumbach once again proves to be a shrewd observer of the human condition.  READ MORE

LFF 2019 Highlights – Best of the Rest

The Lighthouse

With his nightmarish thriller The Lighthouse, Robert Eggers proves The Witch was no fluke. The Lighthouse is a downward spiral, with a jagged, disorientating descent. READ MORE

The Report

The Report is topical, engaging, and necessary viewing. A story about the compilation and attempted publication of a lengthy report could be considered quite a dry subject matter. Nevertheless, in writer and director Scott Z. Burns’ capable hands, The Report is always interesting, occasionally tense, and at times engrossing.  READ MORE

Saint Maud

Writer-director Rose Glass’ Saint Maud is a unnerving and intense gothic thriller. The filmmaker has delivered an atmospheric and striking debut. The backdrop provides the perfect setting for this exploration of psyche, religious fervour, and obsession. READ MORE

The Personal History of David Copperfield

Armando Iannucci’s The Personal History of David Copperfield is a love letter to storytelling. The film is endearing and entertaining. A warm, amusing, and enjoyable adaptation. READ MORE

The Prince’s Voyage

Jean-François Laguionie and Xavier Picard’s The Prince’s Voyage (Le Voyage Du Prince) is an enchanting animated tale. With its bittersweet ending, the film doesn’t pander to its audience. READ MORE

The BFI London Film Festival runs from 2nd-13th October 2019. See the full programme here.

BFI London Film Festival 2019 Launch

This morning saw the launch of the BFI London Film Festival 2019. In its 63rd year, the festival is screening 229 feature films, including 28 world premieres. Here are some highlights from the festival programme…

Headline Galas

The opening and closing films for the BFI London Film Festival 2019 had already been announced. The festival opens with the European premiere of Armando Iannucci’s The Personal History of David Copperfield. An adaptation of the Dickens’ classic, the film stars Dev Patel, Tilda Swinton, and Hugh Laurie. Martin Scorsese‘s hotly-anticipated The Irishman closes the festival. There is an embarrassment of riches among the other headline galas, including Rian Johnson’s Knives Out, Marielle Heller’s (Can You Ever Forgive Me?) A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood, and Michael Winterbottom’s Greed, starring Steve Coogan and Isla Fisher.

Strand Galas and Special Presentations

This year, films screening as part of the Strand Galas include Robert Eggers’ (The Witch) The Lighthouse, starring Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson. The Dare Gala is Mirrah Folks’ debut feature Judy & Punch, a fairy tale starring Mia Wasikowska. Among the Special Presentations are Takashi Miike’s First Love, and Bombay Rose, a hand-drawn animated feature from Gitanjali Rao.

Official Competition

Among the ten features in Official Competition at the London Film Festival 2019 are Haifaa Al-Mansour’s (Wadjda) The Perfect Candidate, about a young doctor who challenges Saudi Arabia’s strict social codes. Thomas Clay’s Fanny Lye Deliver’d stars Maxine Peake and Charles Dance, and is about a woman living with her puritanical husband in 17th century Shropshire. The Documentary Competition features Rubika Shah’s White Riot, about the Rock Against Racism movement, and Lauren Greenfield The Kingmaker, which focuses on Imelda Marcos. The First Feature Competition includes Joe Talbot’s The Last Black Man in San Francisco and Shannon Murphy’s Babyteeth, a drama starring Eliza Scanlon and Ben Mendelsohn.

Strands

The eleven thematic programme strands are back once more at the London Film Festival 2019. The Love strand includes La Belle Époque, Nicolas Bedos’ drama about an illustrator who uses technology to replay the past, and Ga-young Jeong’s Heart. The Debate strand is particularly strong this year with Citizen K (Alex Gibney‘s documentary on Mikhail Khodorkovsky), Chinonye Chukwu’s Sundance winner Clemency, Terrence Malick’s A Hidden Life, and Scott Z Burns’ The Report, starring Adam Driver. Comedies in the Laugh strand includes Billie Piper’s directorial debut Rare Beasts, whilst Wash Westmoreland’s Earthquake Bird in the Thrill strand stars Alicia Vikander in an 1980s Tokyo-set thriller. Cannes winner The Invisible Life of Eurídice Gusmão is among the films in the Journey category.

The Dare strand features animated coming-of-age tale I Lost My Body and Václav Marhoul’s The Painted Bird, about a Jewish boy on a journey home during wartime. The Cult strand includes Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala’s The Lodge and Lorcan Finnegan’s Vivarium, with Jesse Eisenberg and Imogen Poots. Also in this category is Richard Stanley’s Color Out of Space, a HP Lovecraft adaptation starring Nicolas Cage and Joely Richardson. The Experimenta strand includes Brad Butler and Noorafshan Mizra’s Ruptures, whilst Create includes Midge Costin’s documentary Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound. Two highlights of the Family strand are Edmunds Jansons’ Jacob, Mimmi and the Talking Dogs and Lorenzo Mattotti’s The Bears’ Famous Invasion. Finally, classics that are showing as part of the Treasures programme include David Lynch’s The Elephant Man and Roger Corman’s The Masque of the Red Death, starring Vincent Price.

The BFI London Film Festival 2019 runs from 2nd-13th October. The full programme can be viewed here.

Preview of Coming Attractions: Films in 2019

With an abundance of movie releases slated for next year, it can be hard to identify the gems. After all, there is a glut of Disney live-action remakes (Dumbo, Aladdin, The Lion King), as well as the straight up unappealing (Downton Abbey film, anyone). Here are some must-see films in 2019…

The Favourite

Begin the New Year with Yorgos Lanthimos’ brilliant The Favourite. Starring Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, and Emma Stone, the film is Lanthimos’ most enjoyable to date. Boasting a superb script and wonderful performances, The Favourite is hilarious, consuming, and at times touching. Read full review here.

The Favourite will be released in UK cinemas on 1st January 2019.

If Beale Street Could Talk

Director Barry Jenkins has done it again with the powerful and beguiling If Beale Street Could Talk. There is so much to be in awe of in If Beale Street Could Talk. Jenkins’ attention to detail is superb. His storytelling is absolutely enchanting. Read full review here.

If Beale Street Could Talk will be released in UK cinemas on 8th February 2019.

The Lady Eve

Not a new release for the upcoming year, nevertheless the 1941 classic gets a re-release in 2019. Directed by Preston Sturges and starring Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda, the screwball comedy stands the test of time. For first time viewers, The Lady Eve will be one of the best films in 2019.

The Lady Eve will be released at the BFI Southbank and at selected cinemas nationwide from 15th February 2019. It will be screened as part of the Barbara Stanwyck season in February 2019. For more details see here.

Us

Jordan Peele’s Us is one of the most anticipated films in 2019. Following the success of 2017’s Get Out, director and writer Peele returns with another striking-looking horror. Starring Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, and Elisabeth Moss, the film is about a family trip that takes a dark turn.

Us will be released in UK cinemas on 15th March 2019.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Quentin Tarantino’s latest film has the potential to be explosive. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is set during the Manson Family reign of terror, focusing on a television star and his stunt double. With a cast that includes Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, and Al Pacino, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is sure to get people talking.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood will be released in UK cinemas on 26th July 2019.

The Irishman

Martin Scorsese’s latest project is a thrilling proposition. Focusing on a mob hitman and his possible involvement in the slaying of Jimmy Hoffa, the film sees Scorsese reunite with Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Harvey Keitel, and a host of Boardwalk Empire stars (Stephen Graham, Bobby Cannavale, Jack Huston). The Irishman also sees Scorsese direct Al Pacino for the first time. The film is expected to have a cinema release as well as being available to stream on Netflix.

Sunset

László Nemes’ Sunset is a captivating watch. The director’s sophomore feature (after Son of Saul) is an entrancing mystery drama. Part of the film’s beauty is that it maintains this mystery throughout the duration. Set in the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the eve of World War I, Sunset‘s sense of unease is enthralling. The film is set to be released in early 2019.

The Nightingale

After the success of 2014’s The Babadook, all eyes are on director Jennifer Kent for her next picture. The Nightingale is about a young Irish convict woman who chases a British officer through the rugged Tasmanian wilderness in the early nineteenth century. Starring Sam Claflin and Aisling Franciosi, the film premiered at Venice Film Festival and is due to be released in 2019.

Greed

Michael Winterbottom’s Greed is sure to be a lot of fun. The satire is about a fictional retail billionaire and the build up to his star-studded 60th birthday party on a Greek island. Greed stars Steve Coogan, Isla Fisher, and David Mitchell. Although the protagonist is fictional, the parallels are all too clear. Greed is due to be released in UK cinemas in late 2019.

Sequels

Like 2018, next year will see many sequels. Here are some of the more anticipated follow-up films in 2019. 2014’s The LEGO Movie gets a sequel, with the main voice cast returning, as well as Phil Lord and Chris Miller as producers. The LEGO Movie 2 will be released in UK cinemas on 8th February 2019.

Later in the year, Avengers: Endgame sees the finale of the cycle of the Marvel Cinematic Universe which began with 2008’s Iron Man. The film will hit UK screens on 26th April 2019.  Spider-Man: Far From Home is the sequel to 2017’s superb Spider-Man: Homecoming. Jake Gyllenhaal joins the returning cast for Spider-Man: Far From Home, which will be released on 5th July 2019. Later this year, Zombieland gets a belated sequel. The original cast return for Zombieland 2, which will be released in UK cinemas on 11th October 2019.

LFF 2018 Highlights Part 2

With another BFI London Film Festival reaching its conclusion tonight, there have been some fantastic films this year. The best films of the first week of the festival can be viewed here. Below are some LFF 2018 highlights from the second half of the festival…

LFF 2018 highlights – Unmissable

If Beale Street Could Talk

Barry Jenkins has created one of the best films of the year with the beguiling If Beale Street Could Talk. The film is powerful viewing. Despite the age of the source material, If Beale Street Could Talk is incredibly resonant today. READ MORE

The Favourite

Yorgos Lanthimos hits the target once more with the brilliant The Favourite. The film is Lanthimos’ most enjoyable to date. The Favourite is a world away from other period romps. The film is hilarious, consuming, and at times touching. READ MORE

Sunset

László Nemes’ Sunset is a captivating watch. The director’s sophomore feature is an entrancing mystery drama.  Part of the film’s beauty is that it maintains this mystery throughout the duration. Coupled with this ambiguity is a constant sense of unease. READ MORE

LFF 2018 Highlights – The Best Of The Rest

United Skates

Dyana Winkler and Tina Brown’s United Skates is a thoroughly entertaining documentary. The film is a very impressive debut from the directors. What the filmmakers do is tell a story incredibly well; generating interest, emotion and occasionally amusement. READ MORE

The Sisters Brothers

Jacques Audiard’s The Sisters Brothers is a reflective western. By subverting some of the genre tropes, Audiard has created an interesting addition to the field. The tonal shifts that occur during the film are never jarring, but instead enhance the overall picture. READ MORE

Suspiria

Luca Guadagnino’s remake of Suspiria is a sway which builds to a cacophony. It is quite the cinematic experience. The film relies on an understated fear rather than going for the jugular. It is hard not to get caught up in the film’s turbulent rhythm. READ MORE

Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Marielle Heller’s Can You Ever Forgive Me? is an enjoyable comedy drama. The film is often funny, and at times moving.  Dialogue is superb, as are the contents of some of the forged letters. READ MORE

The Breaker Upperers

Jackie van Beek and Madeleine Sami’s comedy The Breaker Upperers is a sprightly and amiable affair. The first third is brilliant; the film establishes the main characters swiftly, and there are a lot of laughs to be had. READ MORE

The BFI London Film Festival ran from 10th-21st October 2018.

LFF 2018 Highlights Part 1

It is approximately the half way point of the BFI London Film Festival, and there have been some excellent films screened so far. Here are some LFF 2018 highlights from the first week…

LFF 2018 Highlights – Unmissable

Widows

Director Steve McQueen kicked off the festival with a bang with the gripping Widows. There is so much to love about Widows that is pretty much impossible to find fault. READ MORE

The Old Man and the Gun

David Lowery’s The Old Man and the Gun is bursting with charm, much like its leading man. In what is rumoured to be Robert Redford’s last film, Lowery has created an ode to the actor. READ MORE

Non-Fiction

Oliver Assayas’ latest is a witty and endearing exploration of life, truth, and publishing. Non-Fiction illustrates Assayas’ versatility as a filmmaker. READ MORE

LFF 2018 Highlights – Best of the Rest

Sorry To Bother You

Boots Riley’s satire Sorry To Bother You is inventive, thought provoking, and tremendous fun. Riley is not afraid to target the system in Sorry To Bother You. READ MORE

Mandy

Panos Cosmatos’ Mandy is quite the trip. At its best moments, the film is dazzling. Despite the simplicity of the plot, Mandy is a striking and memorable film. READ MORE

The Guilty

Gustav Möller’s The Guilty (Den Skyldige) is a very impressive directorial debut. The filmmaker makes the most of the confined setting, creating a taut thriller. READ MORE

Border

Ali Abbasi’s Border (Gräns) is stark, different and engaging. The film is at different times a mystery, a love story, a crime thriller, and a fantasy. What keeps viewers intrigued is this ambiguity. READ MORE

The Front Runner

Jason Reitman’s political drama The Front Runner is an engrossing watch. The film is superbly scripted, and boasts solid performances from its cast. The dialogue is often quick-fire, and there is plenty of humour to be found, amongst the more serious proceedings. READ MORE

The BFI London Film Festival runs from 10th-21st October 2018. See the full programme here.