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.

Film Review: Truth or Dare

Director and co-writer Jeff Wadlow’s Truth or Dare is silly horror fare. Whilst the film is sufficiently entertaining, it fails to generate the scares.

Olivia and her friends take a trip to Mexico for spring break. Whilst there, they are invited to play a game of truth or dare. The game turns deadly, however, when it follows them home…

The latest horror from Blumhouse Productions, Truth or Dare is unlikely to reach the heights of Get Out or Whiplash. Directed by Jeff Wadlow, with a screenplay by Wadlow, Michael Reisz, Jillian Jacobs, and Christopher Roach, the film offers an enticing premise for fans of teen horror. The idea of a cursed game with deadly consequences gives plenty of opportunities for scares and fun set pieces.

Despite the premise, Truth or Dare never really makes the most of these prospects. There are a couple of set ups which engage viewers, yet none of these are particularly memorable. Furthermore, the sequences fail to generate any terror. Whilst playing up set pieces can be a successful strategy, Wadlow does not ramp up the tension sufficiently. Truth or Dare could have emulated the Final Destination franchise’s penchant for teasing viewers with a big lead up to a gory demise. Yet the death toll grows swiftly, and these deaths lack tension or the shock value.

The main characters are given a little backstory, but this does not make them particularly likeable or sympathetic. As a reason for the curse is explored, exposition is delivered in a leaden manner. Pacing in the film is fine, although the lack of tension makes for a less than dramatic final third. The very end of the film eschews the ending expected, and Truth or Dare should be applauded for this. The gimmick of the changing faces is fine, but the film needed more than this to generate fear.

Performances in the film are adequate, with Lucy Hale, Tyler Posey and others looking the part, even if the script is lacking. At times, Truth or Dare generates laughs instead of screams. Although the film is never boring, it is very forgettable.

Final Destination 5 Trailer

I like Final Destination as a film series. I like that the films make to attempt at plot or character development. I like the outlandish opening sequences that set up the rest of the film. I like that they give the viewers what they want: gory deaths depicted in creative and innovative ways. I like that the films are proudly formulaic. In short, I will be seeing Final Destination 5 when it is released on 26th August 2011. I know exactly what to expect, and I am almost certain I will enjoy it.