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: Mission: Impossible – Fallout

Christopher McQuarrie’s Mission: Impossible – Fallout is the best blockbuster of the year so far. No mean feat for the sixth film in the series.

After a mission goes wrong, Ethan Hunt and the IMF team face a race against time to fix things. Along the way, the team encounter a familiar face, and are joined by members of the CIA…

The second film in the series to be helmed by Christopher McQuarrie (after 2015’s Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation), Mission: Impossible – Fallout is quite possibly the best film in the franchise thus far. Written and directed by McQuarrie, the film gets a lot right. Action sequences are immense, the plot is entertaining, and the momentum is strong.

The film brings back some of the characters from the previous instalment. As well as the team members, a few other characters return. There is more cohesion to the IMF team this time around, and there are even some more affecting moments to be found. The other main addition is CIA agent Walker, who is tasked with joining Hunt and co on their mission. The plot of the film works well; it is reminiscent of the Bond series – in a good way. There is sufficient peril, but really the narrative takes a backseat to the action.

The numerous action sequences are brilliantly executed. Unlike so many recent blockbusters, McQuarrie relies on stunts rather than CGI to bring the thrills. The sequences are highly exciting, whether it is magnificent fight choreography in one room, a pulsating chase sequence, or a large-scale finale. Tom Cruise tenacity pays off in bounds, giving viewers exactly what they want from an action film. Henry Cavill is a good addition, and Vanessa Kirby is lively in a small role.

Mission: Impossible – Fallout will be hard to beat this year in terms of authentic thrills. A must-see for most.

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Previews: Mission: Impossible – Fallout Featurette, More!

Plenty in this week’s preview of coming attractions, including the new Mission: Impossible – Fallout featurette, plus Mortal Engines, Mile 22, and more…

Mission: Impossible – Fallout Featurette

Here is the brand new Mission: Impossible – Fallout featurette. Producer and star Tom Cruise and director Christopher McQuarrie discuss the upcoming film, the sixth in the franchise. What is interesting about the series is that rather than starting off strong, and getting progressively weaker, the films have got better generally (Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is a particular highlight). Mission: Impossible – Fallout will hit UK screens on 25th July 2018.

Mile 22 Trailer

Here is the latest trailer for Mile 22. The action thriller is about an American intelligence officer who must smuggle an informant out of the country. The film stars Mark Wahlberg, Ronda Rousey, John Malkovich, and Iko Uwais. Directed by Peter Berg, Mile 22 is coming soon to UK cinemas.

Black KkKlansman Poster

Above is the latest poster for Spike Lee’s Black KkKlansman. The film is based on the true story of first African-American detective on the Colorado Springs Police Department, who infiltrates the Ku Klux Klan. The film stars John David Washington and Adam Driver. Black KkKlansman is out at UK cinemas on 24th August 2018.

The House with a Clock in its Walls Trailer

The House with a Clock in its Walls is a new fantasy adventure from director Eli Roth. The film is about a young boy who goes to live with his mysterious uncle in a peculiar house. The film stars Jack Black and Cate Blanchett. The House with a Clock in its Walls will be released in cinemas on 21st September 2018.

Mortal Engines Featurette

Here is a new look at the upcoming Mortal Engines. The film is directed by Christian Rivers, and co-written and produced by Peter Jackson. Set in a post-apocalyptic world, the film is about giant cities that roam the Earth, enveloping smaller towns. Starring Hugo Weaving, Mortal Instruments will hit UK screens on 14th December 2018.

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Film Review: Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

Sequel Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is a sufficiently entertaining action thriller. Whilst the film distracts, there is little that is original.

Jack Reacher has been working with Major Susan Turner, from his old military base, on cases. When he goes to meet her in person, he is shocked to find her under investigation. Reacher must clear both her name and his…

Director and co-writer Edward Zwick has created an archetypal Tom Cruise action thriller with Jack Reacher: Never Go Back. This film, however lacks the sprightliness of the recent Mission: Impossible films, or the tongue-in-cheek fun of Jack Reacher. Whilst it is never boring, the film does not distinguish itself either.

The narrative of Never Go Back focuses on framed military major and Reacher’s efforts to find who is behind corruption. It is a traditional government corruption plot; the hook here is figuring out who is responsible. As the film progresses, it turns out that the big villain is a red herring for less important but more deadly assassin. The little viewers see of the person responsible only depicts them as lacking in depth. Overall, the antagonists one dimensional. Furthermore, there is little to Susan’s character. She functions more as a sidekick to Reacher, and a plot device to engineer the set up. It is a relief that the romance angle is never fully explored, as it is not needed.

The character of Samantha adds a more interesting dynamic to film. She gives the protagonist a bit more depth. It becomes apparent that Reacher is a loner figure, although this never feels fully emphasised in this film or its predecessor. The action sequences are fine, although the film needed more exciting set pieces to make it memorable.

Tom Cruise appears distinctly older in this film. Given his role as producer, this seems a conscious decision. Although he is very physical in the fight sequences, the bruises last longer and he appears weary. It is one of the film’s few distinguishing angles. It will be interesting to see whether the actor plays out a career as the ageing action star.

Jack Reacher: Never Goes Back is standard action thriller fare. It is a shame that the film does not strive for some originality.

Film Review: Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation

Mission: Impossible Rouge Nation

The fifth instalment in the franchise, Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation is a formulaic but finely executed action thriller.

Ethan Hunt is convinced of the presence of a shadowy organisation known as The Syndicate. When the IMF are called into question, it is down to Ethan and his small team to trace and combat the rogue group…

The Mission: Impossible film franchise bucks the trend of movie series in that it seems to improve with every instalment. Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation follows the same tread as its predecessors. The big set pieces are present, along with jet-setting adventure, espionage intrigue, and jokes to lighten the mood. Nevertheless director and writer Christopher McQuarrie pulls off the action thriller with some aplomb.

The narrative focuses on the official disbanding of the IMF, and Ethan’s drive to uncover The Syndicate. Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation is very much about espionage. The film harks back to Cold War sensibilities, with the mysterious double agent trope, and the shiftiness of spy agencies. This works well to provide a backdrop and reasoning for the action that unfolds in the film.

What makes Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation so successful is the way it has been executed. Pacing in the film is excellent, with little let up between action sequences. These action sequences are great, with cinematography, sound and effects all working together well. Panoramic shots make the most of exotic locales featured in the film.

Tom Cruise is as active as ever as Ethan Hunt, upping the stunt stakes even further in Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation. Alex Baldwin is a good addition to the returning cast. Rebecca Ferguson is decent as the sole female character Ilsa, a suitably complex role. However, it is a shame that she is reduced to voyeuristic  shots in skimpy attire. He skills and physical prowess suggest that she is little more than eye candy, which makes these shots feel all the more dated. Nevertheless, this is one negative of a great film overall.

Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation is a tremendously entertaining film which should thrill fans of the franchise.

Previews: Inside Out TV Spot, Maggie Trailer and More

A cornucopia of film-related goodness in this week’s preview of coming attractions, including the latest Inside Out TV spot, a Terminator Genisys featurette, Maggie trailer and lots more…

Inside Out TV Spot

Here is the latest Inside Out TV spot. The Disney Pixar film has been doing fantastic business in the US, and looks certain to replicate that in the UK with its summer holiday’s release. With the voices of Amy Poehler, Bill Hader and Mindy Kaling, Inside Out hits UK screens on 24th July 2015.

Terminator Genisys Featurette

The cast and crew of upcoming Terminator Genisys talk about protagonist Sarah Connor in this new featurette. The famous action heroine is played by Game of Thrones‘ Emilia Clarke, who indicates that there will be nods to the original film in this latest instalment of the franchise. Terminator Genisys is released on 2nd July 2015.

Ant-Man TV Spot

Marvel’s latest super hero to receive the big-screen treatment is Ant-Man. From the above TV spots and earlier trailers, the film looks to offer a fair amount of humour. Starring Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas, Ant-Man launches its way onto the big screen on 17th July 2015.

Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation Poster

Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation poster

Tom Cruise returns as Ethan Hunt in the five instalment of the Mission: Impossible film franchise. Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation sees the IMF disbanded, leaving Ethan and his team trying to combat deadly terror attacks. With Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg and Ving Rhames also returning, Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation bursts into cinemas on 30th July 2015.

Maggie Trailer

Arnold Schwarzenegger must once again play the hero in new thriller Maggie. The film is a teenage girl who is infected during a zombie outbreak, and her father’s efforts to protect her. Also starring Abigail Breslin, Maggie is set for release on 24th July 2015.

Ted 2 Trailer

So teddy bears coming to life is something that I dream about. Ted is a little lewd for my tastes, but the first film was enjoyable enoughTed 2 reunites Mark Wahlberg and Seth McFarlane, and brings on board Amanda Seyfried as Ted’s lawyer. Ted 2 hits the big screen on 8th July 2015 in the UK.

Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension Trailer

The trailer for the latest instalment of the Paranormal Activity franchise is here. Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension sees a family discover some old VHS tapes which hold a nasty surprise. The conclusion of the horror franchise is scheduled for release on 30th October 2015.

Vacation Poster

Vacation poster

Here is the latest poster for upcoming comedy Vacation. The film is the latest in the National Lampoon franchise, and sees a grown-up Rusty Griswold (Ed Helms) taking his family on a road-trip vacation. Also starring Christina Applegate, Leslie Mann and Chris Hemsworth, Vacation is release in UK cinemas on 21st August 2015.

The Secret Life of Pets Trailer

I know what pets to all day; the nap and eat and nap some more. That is to say, they live the life. New animated comedy The Secret Life of Pets takes us behind closed doors. Featuring the voices of Louis C.K., Ellie Kemper and Hannibal Buress, The Secret Life of Pets  is set for release on 24th June 2016.

Fantastic Four Photo Shoot

Here are the stars of the new Fantastic Four film looking dapper. Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara and Jamie Bell star as the superhero quartet in the reboot of the Marvel franchise. Fantastic Four launches its way onto the big screen on 6th August 2015.

Spectre Vlog

Here is the latest blog from the set of new James Bond move Spectre. Director Sam Mendes discusses filming a scene that takes place amidst the Day of the Dead festival in Mexico City. Starring Daniel Craig and Christoph Waltz, Spectre will be released on 6th November 2015.

Magic Mike XXL Clip

The marketing for sequel Magic Mike XXL has been wonderful. This latest clip suggests the tongue-in-cheek attitude will continue in the film. Whereas the first film descended into schmaltz, here’s hoping this instalment will keep the tone humorous. The film is, after all, about male entertainers. Magic Mike XXL is released in cinemas on 3rd July 2015.

Stuff To Look At

Plenty of film previews this week, with Mad Max: Fury RoadSpyPoltergeist and more…

Amy

Above is the teaser trailer for documentary Amy. Filmmaker Asif Kapadia looks at the life of late singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse. From the footage here, she is depicted as quiet personality, perhaps debunking tabloid representations. Amy is set for release in UK cinemas on 3rd July 2015.

Mad Max: Fury Road

Here is the latest trailer for Mad Max: Fury Road, starring Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron. It was announced this morning that six minutes of footage from Mad Max: Road Fury will be shown before screenings of Fast & Furious 7 exclusively at Odeon cinemas from 3rd April. Mad Max: Fury Road will hit the big screen on 14th May 2015.

Spy

Director Paul Feig teams up again with Melissa McCarthy for Spy. Also starring Jason Statham and Jude Law, McCarthy plays a desk-bound CIA agent who goes undercover on a dangerous case. Spy will be released in UK cinemas on 5th June 2015.

Poltergeist

Poltergeist

I have chosen to feature this terrifying-looking poster as I want everyone to experience the same discomfort I felt when first glancing upon it. The Poltergeist remake, which stars Sam Rockwell, is set for release in UK cinemas on 22nd May 2015.

Terminator: Genisys

What this latest TV spot for Terminator: Genisys shows us is that robots age. This latest Terminator film stars Jason Clarke, Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney and, of course, Arnold Schwarzenegger. It will be interesting to see whether Schwarzenegger can bring back the magic of the first two films. Terminator: Genisys hits the big screen on 3rd July 2015.

Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation

Speaking of ageing action heroes… No! The trailer for the latest Mission: Impossible movie is here, and looks as action-packed as ever. Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation sees the return of Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg and Jeremy Renner, alongside newcomers Rebecca Ferguson and Alec Baldwin. The film is released in UK cinemas on 30th July 2015.

The Falling

Carol Morley’s The Falling is about a fainting epidemic at a girls’ school in the 1960s. Starring Game of Thrones‘ Maisie Williams and newcomer Florence Pugh, The Falling is out in cinemas on 24th April in the UK.