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 Founder

Director John Lee Hancock’s The Founder is memorable thanks to a charismatic performance from the always watchable Michael Keaton.

Ray Kroc is a milkshake machine sales man struggling for orders. When burger restaurant McDonald’s places an order, Ray is astounded by their innovative take on diner service. Ray wants to franchise the restaurant, but must convince owners Dick and Mac McDonald…

The Founder is essentially the story of how McDonald’s went from a single eatery in San Bernardino, California, to one of the most recognisable brands in the world. However, the film is the tale of an anti-hero in a world that goes beyond black and white depictions.

The most interesting thing about The Founder is that it avoids the common archetypes. Ray Kroc is portrayed as a multi-faceted protagonist. He is neither the hardworking guy who helps to monetise a great idea, nor the greedy, unscrupulous salesman who gets rich from the invention of others. Instead, he sits somewhere in between. The film is all the better for not casting too firm a judgement on his character. Similarly, his interactions with others, ranging from charming to nasty, further reflect that this is a flawed but believable character.

As the film progresses, it is clear that there will not be a satisfactory outcome for the McDonald brothers. Yet again, these two characters are not depicted exclusively as victims, although it is hard not to feel a pang of sympathy for them by the end of the movie. Nevertheless, the brothers are not depicted in an entirely positive light (their resistance to new ideas, for example), again echoing the light and shade of the central character. The film is predictable in places, but decent storytelling and good performances make it worthwhile.

Michael Keaton is fantastic as Ray Kroc. Keaton brings a nervous energy to the role, ramping it up in key scenes to deliver a most convincing performance. John Carroll Lynch and Nick Offerman are decent as the McDonald brothers, whilst Linda Cardellini is memorable in a minor role. Laura Dern is great as the weary wife Ethel Kroc.

The Founder pulls no punches in telling the origins tale of one of the world’s largest corporations. The film is a wonderful showcase for Michael Keaton’s talents.

Previews: Lady Macbeth trailer, Raw, More!

This week’s preview of coming attractions include the Lady Macbeth trailer, RawLogan, The Founder and more…

Lady Macbeth Trailer

This Lady Macbeth trailer is most striking. Based on a nineteenth-century novella, the film is about a young woman stifled by her loveless marriage to a much older man. Starring Florence Pugh, Cosmo Jarvis, and Paul Hilton, Lady Macbeth will be released in UK cinemas on 28th April 2017.

Raw Trailer

Raw is about a vegetarian student who is forced to eat meat during hazing rituals at veterinary college. So far so strange, but the coming-of-age film takes a darker turn. Julia Ducournau’s debut film was screened at last year’s BFI London Film Festival. Raw will hit UK screens on 7th April 2017.

Logan Poster

This new poster for the upcoming Wolverine movie Logan evokes The Texas Chainsaw Massacre ever so slightly. With director James Mangold at the helm, this latest X-Men film sees a weathered Logan and a fading Professor Xavier trying to stop the destruction of the world. Starring Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart, Logan bounds on to UK screens on 1st March 2017.

Viceroy’s House Clip

Here is a clip from the upcoming Viceroy’s House. I was thinking ‘this is a bit Downton in India’ then Hugh Bonneville popped up. Set during the final months of British rule in India, the film also stars Gillian Anderson, Manish Dayal, and Michael Gabon. Directed by Gurinder Chadha, Viceroy’s House will be released in UK cinemas on 3rd March 2017.

The Founder Trailer

You could probably sell most film’s on the charisma of Michael Keaton alone. The Founder, however, seems to offer more than this. Focusing on the salesman who turned McDonald’s into a international franchise, the film also stars Laura Dern and Nick Offerman. The Founder hits UK screens on 10th February 2017.