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: The Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight Rises is a triumph of contemporary Hollywood. It has set a bar that few superhero films will ever hope to reach.

Eight years after the death of Harvey Dent, Gotham city is a safer place thanks to the law enacted in the former district attorney’s name. The Batman has not been seen, and Bruce Wayne is living a recluse life holed up in Wayne Manor. A storm is coming however, one that looks to shake Batman from his retirement…

The Dark Knight Rises had big shoes to fill, given the commercial and critical success of its predecessor The Dark Knight. Thankfully Christopher Nolan’s film does not disappoint. From the very first scene, TDKR enthralls viewers. This is unrelenting, with the film absorbing viewers fully for its 164-minute duration.

Nolan’s direction is superb. Action sequences are thrilling, and the film moves along at a good pace. The third act in particular generates immense tension, with the climax a fantastic ending to both the film and the trilogy. There are moments in TDKR when it is difficult not to get swept away in the sheer exhilaration of it all.

Written by David S. Goyer, Christopher Nolan and Jonathan Nolan, The Dark Knight Rises perfectly balances bravura action with a meaty storyline. Characters get sufficient screen time, despite the abundance of them. New characters given depth, and appear authentic. The film features characters that have appeared in previous Batman films. TDKR offers different depictions of them that completely fit in Nolan’s universe. TDKR, like the previous two films, attempts the most realistic sphere for superhero movies. In keeping with this verisimilitude, themes that feature are very contemporary and resonant concerns.

Once again, Wally Pfister’s cinematography is wonderful. The film is really worth seeing in Imax; the footage filmed in this format is incredibly impressive. Hans Zimmer’s score is memorable, and the perfect accompaniment to the sublime on screen action.

Christian Bale offers a solid and completely believable performance, reprising his role as the caped crusader. Tom Hardy is barely recogniseable as Bane, while Anne Hathaway is excellently cast as Selina Kyle. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is also a highlight as police officer John Blake.

The Dark Knight Rises is a fitting end to a fantastic series of films. The film is impossible to fault. It is the perfect antithesis to the action-comedy romp of the Marvel films. Though this is most entertaining, The Dark Knight Rises is in a league of its own. At times dark, at times mesmerising, the film is wholly compelling.

Trailer Round-Up

This week, we have new trailers for Oz The Great Powerful, Dredd and Hope Springs, as well as a clip from The Expendables 2 and the latest TV spot from The Dark Knight Rises.

Oz The Great and Powerful

Despite not being a hit on its initial release, The Wizard of Oz has gone on to become one of the best-loved fantasy films, and an influence on countless others. Given the success of the musical Wicked, it is unsurprising that a new film based on L. Frank Baum’s stories has been made. Oz The Great and Powerful concentrates on the young wizard, played by James Franco. The film, which also stars Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams, is due for release in March 2013.

Dredd

This is an interesting teaser. Based on the comic book character, Dredd seems to be playing up the stylistic violence with its slow-motion close ups. Starring Karl Urban, Dredd will inevitably be compared to Judge Dredd, the 1995 Sylvester Stallone starrer. Dredd is out in cinemas on 7th September 2012.

Hope Springs

Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones star in Hope Springs, a comedy drama about getting the magic back in a long-term marriage. The thing that strikes me first about the trailer is how Meryl Streep seems to be able to transform herself so easily. Streep looks every inch the dowdy housewife, a strong departure from her glamorous public persona. Also starring Steve Carell, Hope Springs is out on 14th September 2012.

The Expendables 2

Here’s a very short clip from The Expendables 2. I really hope this is indicative of the entire film, with its cheesy dialogue, its ambiguous ‘other’ antagonists, and a high body count. I also hope that Dolph Lundgren, Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger feature heavily, even though the latter two are more likely to appear in a cameo capacity. The Expendables 2 is out in cinemas on 16th August 2012.

The Dark Knight Rises

A week to go until The Dark Knight Rises is released and I cannot wait. Above is the latest TV spot for the film. With the plethora of clips and spots that have been released in the last few weeks to promote the film, I have tried to avoid watching all of them, lest too much be revealed. If you just can’t get enough TDKR watch them all here. The Dark Knight Rises is out on 20th July 2012.

Trailer Round-Up

New trailers for The Dark Knight Rises and Prometheus were released earlier this week. With the latest trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man being released last night, this has been a bumper week for blockbuster trailers. All we need now is something from new James Bond movie Skyfall

Moonrise Kingdom

Moonrise Kingdom is the eagerly anticipated new film from Wes Anderson. The film boasts a stellar cast that includes Bill Murray, Ed Norton, Bruce Willis and Tilda Swinton. Moonrise Kingdom is about two children who fall in love during the summer of 1965. The film is released on 25th May 2012.

The Amazing Spider-Man

The third trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man was released last night. The trailer reveals more of an emphasis on Peter Parker’s parents than the previous run of Spiderman films. Although the trailer looks good, The Amazing Spider-Man has been sandwiched between two superhero behemoths; Avengers Assemble has already done record-breaking business while The Dark Knight Rises is due for release two weeks after Spider-Man. Notwithstanding, given the popularity of this character, The Amazing Spider-Man is sure to bring in the crowds when it opens on 4th July 2012.

Magic Mike

I am not sure what Magic Mike is supposed to be, other than based on Channing Tatum’s former career as a stripper. Steven Soderbergh’s film could have been a male version of Showgirls, but instead seems to have a strong romantic string to the story. Channing Tatum showed off his comedy chops in 21 Jump Street, so hopefully these will shine through in Magic Mike. Also starring Alex Pettyfer and Matthew McConughey, Magic Mike is out in cinemas on 13th July 2012.

Joyful Noise

The only thing you need to know about this film is that Dolly Parton in it. But if you want to know more, the film is about church choir group who enter a competition with new director Vi Rose (Queen Latifah) at the helm. The arrival of Randy (Jeremy Jordan), the grandson of G.G. Sparrow (Dolly Parton) shakes things up. Joyful Noise is released on 29th June 2012.

5 Criticisms That Won’t Be Made of The Dark Knight Rises

The third trailer for The Dark Knight Rises was released earlier today. It made me think of the criticisms levelled at predecessor The Dark Knight, and Christopher Nolan’s last film Inception. Undoubtedly there will be one or two people who will level these barbs at TDKR just to go against the grain. Nevertheless, looking into my crystal ball, I predict that none of these will be valid criticisms of The Dark Knight Rises

1. There Are Too Few Main Characters

A common criticism of The Dark Knight was that there were too many important characters vying for the spotlight. Bane and Selina Kyle are Batman’s adversaries in The Dark Knight Rises, plus there are new characters played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Marion Cotillard. So it is doubtful that TDKR will be accused of having too few main characters.

2. The Plot Is Too Straightforward And Simple

An extension of the first point; given the number of characters that feature, it is unlikely that viewers will complain that the plot is too elementary. Inception and The Dark Knight were considered as being complex or convoluted by some, so it is probable that The Dark Knight Rises will follow suit.

3. The Production Values Are Poor

From the three trailers that have been released, as well as the first scene screening, it is difficult to accuse The Dark Knight Rises of  being a poorly produced affair. The effects in the football stadium sequence look amazing from the trailer. Other criticisms may be well-founded, but it will be difficult to argue that TDKR does not look like a superlative blockbuster.

 4. The Score Lacks Grandeur

After his bombastic Inception score, composer Hans Zimmer returns for The Dark Knight Rises. Given the grandiose nature of his previous scores, it would be surprising if TDKR does not follow suit. The trailers at least indicates the score will rival that of its predecessor.

5. Gotham City Looks Like Croydon

The Dark Knight Rises was filmed in Croydon, as well as a number of over locations across the globe. So whilst some of the footage will actually have been filmed in Croydon, it is highly unlikely that Gotham will look like London’s, ahem, finest borough. New York with hints of Chicago, it is doubtful that Gotham will bear any relation to Croydon.

The Dark Knight Rises is released on 20th July 2012.

Stuff To Look At

There is still some time to go before the new trailer for The Dark Knight Rises is unleashed (4th May, to be shown before The Avengers in US cinemas). I am trying to avoid the TDKR scoops/spoilers like the plague. In the mean time, here is some stuff on other upcoming releases.

Dark Shadows

Dark Shadows is out in cinemas on 11th may 2012 and I am really looking forward to it. Warner Brothers have released this fun featurette about vampire history and the film’s televisual past. Dark Shadows is Tim Burton’s first film since 2010’s Alice in Wonderland. The director also has Frankenweenie coming out later this year.

Prometheus

It’s all about the build up to the trailer nowadays. It was announced yesterday that a brand new trailer for Ridley Scott’s Prometheus would air on television during Homeland on Sunday evening. I might have to wait a little longer than that, as I don’t actually watch Homeland. While we wait for that, here is a short featurette on Prometheus and Ridley Scott. Prometheus is out on 1st June 2012.

The Dictator

The Dictator is due for release on 18th May 2012. Sacha Baron Cohen is stepping up promotion for the film, which will hopefully bring the laughs. Above is footage of an Australian television interview with Cohen (in character). Needless to say, there are some silly jibes.

Snow White and the Huntsman

After Mirror Mirror was surprisingly good, Snow White and the Hunstman needs to step up its game. Above is the latest TV spot for the film. I am really looking forward to the film because I like fairy tales and Charlize Theron looks like an amazing Queen. The Florence + The Machine song ‘Breath of Life’, which features in the film, can be heard here. Snow White and the Huntsman is released on 1st June, with previews from the 31st May 2012.

Rock of Ages

I for one am hoping that Rock of Ages will be the hot mess Burlesque was supposed to be. It has all the right ingredients; Tom Cruise as an ageing rocker, an eighties rock soundtrack boasting Journey and Def Leppard, and Catherine Zeta-Jones. I have never seen the musical, but I am looking forward to seeing the film. You can view the trailer hereRock of Ages will open on 15th June 2012.

2012’s Most Anticipated

As 2012 arrives imminently, I thought I would share some of my cinematic picks for next year. Below are the films I am most looking forward to seeing next year. These do not include films that I have already seen that are due for general release in the next few months, such as Shame or Martha Marcy May Marlene.

1. The Muppets

Although The Muppets was released in America months ago, it is not due for UK release until February. It seems that we have reverted back to the 1980s in that the UK is getting such a big movie as this months after the US. I love the Muppets, so cannot wait for the film. I have tried not to read too much about it, but all that I am hearing so far is positive. The Muppets is released on 10th February 2012.

2. The Raven

From the trailer, this film seems to have everything; macabre murder mystery, Edgar Allan Poe and John Cusack. I love Poe’s work and the premise of The Raven sounds great; Poe pursues a serial killer who bases his crimes on the author’s work. Hopefully the execution will do the idea justice. The Raven is released on 9th March 2012.

3. Prometheus

Ridley Scott’s highly anticipated new addition to the Alien franchise, the teaser trailer for Prometheus has recently been released. It does not give too much away, but it looks very interesting. Hopefully with Scott at the helm, Prometheus will return to Alien‘s combination of science fiction and horror. With a cast which boasts Charlize Theron, Michael Fassbender and Noomi Rapace, Prometheus is very exciting on paper. The film is released on 1st June 2012.

4. The Dark Knight Rises

The grandaddy of them all, the conclusion of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy will be one of the biggest movies of the summer. I recently watched the prologue, which was impressive on the Imax screen. Like others, I was concerned that I couldn’t understand Bane properly. The trailer looks magnificent, so as long as Bane’s voice becomes clearer, the film should be a fitting end to a fantastic franchise. The Dark Knight Rises is released 20th July 2012.

5. Frankenweenie

Another remake from Tim Burton, but at least this time he is remaking his own work. Frankenweenie was a live action short from the director’s time at Disney. Stills from the film were recently released; Burton aficionados are likely to find them reminiscent of Vincent, a short directed by the filmmaker around the same time as Frankenweenie. The stop-motion remake tells the story of a boy who tries to bring his dog back to life, a homage to Shelley’s Frankenstein. Frankenweenie is released 5th October 2012.

6. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings was a triumphant film series, and fans of the books were no doubt pleased when it was announced that the director would return for The Hobbit. On a personal level, I am excited for the film because I love Gollum. The trailer shows the return of familiar faces; hopefully the film will be of the same quality as the earlier series. The Hobbit is released 14th December 2012.