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: American Made

Doug Liman’s American Made is an entertaining thriller which engages thanks to a charismatic performance from Tom Cruise, as well as an appealing style of storytelling.

The talents of Barry Seal, a domestic airline pilot, are recognised by a CIA agent, who wants Barry to use his skills to obtain information of the US’s adversaries in Central America. Barry uses this opportunity to simultaneously become a drug runner…

Doug Liman teams up with Tom Cruise once again (after Edge of Tomorrow) for American Made. The film is a biopic of pilot Barry Seal, focussing on the period when he begins working for the CIA. Although based on a true story, the film does not quite follow events precisely. Nevertheless, the timeline works to depict his life working for both the CIA and a notorious drug cartel.

The film begins with some archive news footage, immediately positioning the background for events. This is returned to later in the film for viewers to see how Seal’s story ties in to wider historical events. American Made is at once a character-driven piece and a commentary on US international politics in the late 1970s and 1980s. Director Liman and writer Gary Spinelli offer a pretty damning account of the higher echelons of US Government at this time. They even throw in a couple of name drops and brief appearances, ensuring that no one gets off unscathed.

The political climate made clear, the focus on the film is depicted in an engaging way. Barry is amoral, yet Liman gives viewers a protagonist they can root for. American Made is not a morality play; the protagonist has little guilt for his actions. In a way, the film suggests that he does what most people would do, given the opportunity.

It is refreshing to see Tom Cruise in a role which relies more on character than action, as has been the case of late. Whilst there is still sufficient action in this thriller, it is great to see Cruise as the antihero. Domhnall Gleeson and Sarah Wright are good in supporting roles, but really this is Cruise’s show.

American Made delivers a portrayal of what is perhaps the real American dream. One of the film’s strengths is its acknowledgement of this.

Previews: Dunkirk Poster, Baby Driver, More!

Plenty in this week’s preview of coming attractions, including the latest Dunkirk poster, plus Baby Driver, American Made, and more…

Dunkirk Poster

Here is the latest Dunkirk poster. Writer-director Christopher Nolan turns his attention to the war movie, after excelling in a number of other genres. The film stars Tom Hardy, Mark Rylance, Cillian Murphy, and Kenneth Branagh. Dunkirk hits cinema and IMAX screens on 21st July 2017.

Baby Driver Clip

This clip sheds light on the central character in Edgar Wright’s upcoming Baby Driver. Starring Ansel Elgort, Jamie Foxx, and Lily James, the film is about a getaway driver who wishes to leave his criminal life behind. Baby Driver is out in UK cinemas on 28th June 2017.

American Made Trailer

Tom Cruise reunites with Edge of Tomorrow director Doug Liman for American Made. The film is based on the real-life exploits of pilot Barry Seal, who is recruited by the CIA to run a covert operation. Also starring Domhnall Gleeson, Sarah Wright, and Caleb Landry Jones, American Made is due for release on 25th August 2017.

Goodbye Christopher Robin Poster

Here is the new poster for Goodbye Christopher Robin. The film is based on the family who created one of the world’s most beloved bear, Winnie the Pooh. It revolves around the relationship between writer A.A. Milne and his son Christopher. Starring Domhnall Gleeson, Margot Robbie, and Kelly Macdonald, Goodbye Christopher Robin will be out in cinemas on 29th September 2017.

Murder on the Orient Express Trailer

This trailer for Murder on the Orient Express looks sumptuous. The film looks to have one of the most star-studded casts of the year, with Penelope Cruz, Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Judi Dench among some of the passengers on the fateful train. Director Kenneth Branagh stars as famous detective Hercule Poirot; comparisons to David Suchet will be inevitable. Based on one of Agatha Christie’s most famous novels, Murder on the Orient Express is set for release on 3rd November 2017.

Previews: Okja Trailer, The Mummy, More!

Plenty in this week’s preview of coming attractions, including the Okja trailer, The Mummy, War for the Planet of the Apes, and more…

Okja Trailer

Here is the latest Okja trailer. Bong Joon Ho’s film is having its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival. Okja is about a girl who must stop a corporation from capturing her gentle friend. The film stars Tilda Swinton, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Paul Dano. Okja launches globally on Netflix on 28th June 2017.

The Mummy Featurette

This featurette on The Mummy reveals a bit more about the characters and the world of the film. The film is intended to be the first in a series of a franchise rebooting the Universal Monsters. Russell Crowe plays Dr Jekyll (the Robert Louis Stevenson creation), with Sofia Boutella starring as the title character. With a cast headed by Tom Cruise, The Mummy hits UK screens on 9th June 2017.

War for the Planet of the Apes Trailer

Here is the latest trailer for War for the Planet of the Apes. The film completes a trilogy that began with Rise of the Planet of the Apes. The series acts as a prequel to the 1968 classic Planet of the Apes. Starring Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, and Steve Zahn, War for the Planet of the Apes is out in UK cinemas on 14th July 2017.

Baby Driver Poster

This poster for Baby Driver gives an idea for the tone of the film. Directed by Edgar Wright, the film is about a young getaway driver who hopes to ditch his criminal life. The cast includes Ansel Elgort, Kevin Spacey, and Lily James. Baby Driver is released in UK cinemas on 28th June 2017.

The Hitman’s Bodyguard Trailer

Here’s hoping the film is as hilarious as the premise. Ryan Reynolds stars as the bodyguard attempting to protect Samuel L. Jackson’s hitman in action comedy The Hitman’s Bodyguard. With two likeable leads in an odd couple pairing, the film could be a winner. The Hitman’s Bodyguard is out in UK cinemas on 18th August 2017.

Wonder Woman TV Spot

Here is one of the new TV spots for the upcoming Wonder Woman. The first live-action film based on one of the most famous comic book characters, the film has been a long time coming. Directed by Patty Jenkins, and starring Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, and Robin Wright, Wonder Woman launches onto UK screens on 1st June 2017.

IT Clip

Hopefully this adaptation of Stephen King’s IT lives up to the novel’s reputation. A group of kids (the ‘Losers Club’) must face their biggest fears when children start going missing in the town of Derry. Starring Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise, IT is set for release on 8th September 2017.

Previews: Detroit Trailer, 6 Days, More!

Lots to see in this week’s preview of coming attractions, including the new Detroit trailer, Transformers: The Last Knight, 6 Days, and more…

Detroit Trailer

Here is the Detroit trailer. Kathryn Bigelow’s latest film is about the civil unrest that rocked the city in 1967. The film stars John Boyega, Will Poulter, Anthony Mackie, and Jack Reynor. Detroit will be released in UK cinemas later this year.

Transformers: The Last Knight Trailer

Here is the latest Transformers: The Last Knight trailer. The film sees Mark Wahlberg and Josh Duhamel return from the last instalment. They are joined by Anthony Hopkins this time around. From the above trailer, it seems that the world this film is set in is rather different to previous incarnations. Transformers: The Last Knight will hit UK screens on 23rd June 2017.

Atomic Blonde Trailer

So far, all the Atomic Blonde promotion seems to be delivering style in spades. The film stars Charlize Theron as an MI6 agent sent to deliver a priceless dossier. Theron is joined by James McAvoy, John Goodman, and Eddie Marsan. Atomic Blonde will be released in UK cinemas on 11th August 2017.

The Mummy Poster

The Mummy is intended as a reboot of the Universal Monsters series of films which were successful in the 1930s. This film is meant to kick off the series, which will also see the return of famed creatures in a shared universe. This new version of The Mummy certainly has star power; Tom Cruise heads up a cast which includes Sofia Boutella, Courtney B. Vance, and Russell Crowe. The Mummy hits UK screens on 9th June 2017.

6 Days Trailer

6 Days is a new action thriller based on true events. The film focuses on the Iranian Embassy siege that took place in London in 1980. The film stars Jamie Bell, Mark Strong, and Abbie Cornish. 6 Days is out at UK cinemas on 4th August 2017.

My Cousin Rachel Trailer

My Cousin Rachel is an adaption of the Daphne du Maurier novel. The film is about a young man who plots revenge against his mysterious cousin, who he believes murdered his guardian. Starring Rachel Weisz, Sam Claflin, and Holliday Grainger, My Cousin Rachel will be released on UK screens on 9th June 2017.

Unlocked Clip

Here is a clip from upcoming thriller Unlocked. The film is about a CIA agent who must stop a biological attack in London. Noomi Rapace heads up the cast, and is joined by Orlando Bloom, Michael Douglas, Toni Collette, and John Malkovich. Unlocked hits UK cinemas on 5th May 2017.