• James Rutherford

The Best & The Boldest: My 10 Favorite Films of the 2010’s (So Far)


The Best & The Boldest: My 10 Favorite Films of the 2010’s (So Far)

1. 12 Years A Slave

Movie poster for the film 12 Years A Slave starring Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael Fassbender

“12 Years A Slave” (2013) is the feature film adaption of Solomon Northup's 1853 autobiography, detailing his abduction and forced subjugation into a life of slavery in rural Louisiana beteen between 1841 and 1853. As the central free-man-turned-slave, Chiwetel Ejiofor is phenomenal in his aggrieved and impassioned performance, while Michael Fassbender stands stunningly assured as the malevolent plantation owner who menaces Northup and his fellow slave laborers sadistically. Harrowing yet exquisite storytelling from British artist and filmmaker Steve McQueen (Shame, Widows), “12 Years A Slave” benefits immensely from McQueen's ability to capture human emotion and intimacy in such a startling visual manner. A no-holds barred exposition of American slavery in all of its brutality, featuring brief yet vital hints of humanity, it’s a riveting cinematic experience not to be missed.

View the trailer here.

 

2. Incendies

Movie poster for the Canadian film Incendies starring Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin and Maxim Gaudette

“Incendies" (2010) is a deeply enthralling drama-thriller that follows a pair of siblings (Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin and Maxim Gaudette) as they honor the last wish of their mother, Nawal (Lubna Azabal), by journeying from Montréal to the Middle East in search of the father they have never known. The brother-and-sister duo's investigation and profound discoveries are finely interwoven with flashbacks to their mother’s own arduous travails within the same war-torn region decades earlier, as a Christian-Arab driven by the injustice of losing her lover and her son amidst hardline sectarian tumult. Adapted from the stage play by Wajdi Mouawad and directed by Denis Villeneuve (Arrival, Blade Runner 2049) “Incendies” is immersive, riveting and ultimately downright shocking—providing as emotionally visceral an experience as you are ever likely to find on film.

View the trailer here.

 

3. Whiplash

Movie poster for the film Whiplash starring Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons

“Whiplash” (2014) is the intense and captivating story of a young musical prodigy (MIles Teller) attending a prestigious performing arts program in New York City, where he is beholden to the fierce and merciless tutelage of famed music instructor Terence Fletcher (JK Simmons). Simmons (in an Academy Award-winning performance) is absolutely bonkers as the maniacal and abusive Fletcher, while Miles Teller quite nearly matches him step-for-step as Andrew, the young drumming virtuoso who desperately yearns to become “one of the greats”. Thoroughly tense, compelling and anxiety-inducing, writer/director Damien Chazelle (La La Land, First Man) has crafted a high-octane drama that culminates in one of the most jaw-droppingly superb finales you’re ever find on film. A+ entertainment every step of the way.

View the trailer here.

 

4. Shame

Movie poster for the film Shame starring Michael Fassbender

“Shame” (2011) is a mesmerizing depiction of sexual addiction, featuring Michael Fassbender in one of the most remarkable acting displays of the entire decade. The storyline follows his protagonist, Brandon, through his day-to-day existence in New York City as a high-performing professional harboring an incessant, nearly furious demand for sexual gratification. Fassbender’s performance is quite nearly matched by Carey Mulligan as his wayward sister, Sissy, whose intrusion into his lifestyle sets the central conflict of the story in motion. It’s a strikingly provocative depiction of the human condition in all of its agony and lurid detail. With "Shame", director and renowned British artist Steve McQueen furthered his ascension toward filmmaking royalty, following-up on his stunning 2008 debut Hunger and precluding his Academy Award winning triumph 12 Years A Slave.

View the trailer here.

 

5. Silver Linings Playbook

Movie poster for the film Silver Linings Playbook starring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence

"Silver Linings Playbook” (2012) is the wonderfully unusual, serio-comic tale of two damaged souls (Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence) drawn together under unlikely circumstances—each suffering from profound depression—as they attempt to find some degree of solace in their woe-begotten lives. As they channel their energies into an absurdist attempt to succeed at competitive ballroom dancing, writer/director David O. Russell infuses the film with existential angst and aggressive humor that propels the film’s weighty emotional groundwork. Russell’s trademark manic energy and inventive characterizations make “Silver Linings Playbook” a truly one-of-a-kind cinematic experience: a dynamic fusion of off-kilter sensibilities and bittersweet storytelling that touches the heart, the soul and the funny bone in equal measure.

View the trailer here.

 

6. Inception

Movie poster for the film Inception starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Cillian Murphy and Tom Hardy

“Inception” (2010) is an extraordinary science fiction thriller that follows Dominick Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio), a professional thief whose team of “extractors” use advanced technology in order to infiltrate the dreaming minds of their victims and steal highly valuable information. Facing trumped up charges that keep him barred from the United States and his young children, Cobb accepts a challenging new assignment to penetrate the subconscious of corporate titan Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy) and implant the idea of breaking up his energy conglomerate—the reward for which would be Cobb’s return to his home country and family. Written and directed by cinematic luminary Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight, Dunkirk), Inception is an exhilarating and wildly inventive thrill-ride, featuring mind-blowing visual effects and grade “A”, top-of-the-line craftsmanship across the board. A truly special experience.

View the trailer here.

 

7. Drive

Movie poster for the film Drive starring Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan

“Drive” (2011) is a sleek action thriller starring Ryan Gosling as a stuntman and getaway driver who befriends his new neighbor, Irene (Carey Mulligan) and her young son, before becoming caught up in jewelry store heist concocted by Irene’s newly-released husband, Standard (Oscar Isaac). With both sides connected inextricably to mafia bosses Bernie (Albert Brooks) and Nino (Ron Perlman), the storyline finds their carefully laid plans veering wildly off-course, with Gosling’s driver soon lurching off on a brazen path of violent retribution and destruction. This English-language premier of celebrated Danish auteur Nicolas Winding Refn (Pusher, Bronson) is a highly modernized genre piece etched out by the ultra-cool stylings of a true cinematic visionary—delivering a feverish and immersive experience bound for gleeful repeat viewings.

View the trailer here.

 

8. The Fighter

Movie poster for the film The Fighter starring Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale

“The Fighter” (2010) is a true-to-life depiction of the early years in the career of renowned professional boxer “Irish” Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg), coming up from the streets of Lowell, Massachusetts in the shadow of his elder half-brother, Dicky (Christian Bale). A former professional boxer himself, Dicky now finds himself down and out, strung out on drugs, even as he endeavors to train his younger brother in his imminent bid for the welterweight title. Directed by David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle), “The Fighter” is a spirited and provocative sports drama, highlighted by Bale’s masterful, Academy Award-winning performance as the troubled Dicky. Russell employs his wildly idiosyncratic brand of storytelling in the best possible manner with this one, delivering a top-notch cinematic experience and one of the finest sports films of the 20th Century.

View the trailer here.

 

9. Arrival

Movie poster for the film Arrival starring Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner

Based on the story “The Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang, “Arrival” (2016) is a captivating science fiction film depicting the appearance of alien spacecraft around the globe, and the recruitment of a linguistics expert Louise Banks (a phenomenal Amy Adams) to attempt to communicate with the extraterrestrial visitors. Paired with a physicist played by Jeremy Renner, Louise comes face-to-face with the “heptapod” creatures and begins a process of careful interface in order to determine their intent. It’s a fascinating and excitingly original storyline, based in part on the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis that language shapes the very way we think, and the way Louise comes to perceive reality. Director Denis Villeneuve’s ability to capture the abstract concepts in Chiang’s work in such an engaging manner is remarkable, leading to an extraordinarily evocative and emotionally commanding finale. Really touching, spellbinding stuff here.

View the trailer here.

 

10. Green Room

Movie poster for the film Green Room starring Anton Yelchin, Joe Cole, Alia Shawkat and Callum Turner

​"Green Room" (2015) is a dark, dynamic thriller about a young punk quartet called “The Ain’t Rights” touring the Pacific Northwest, barely scraping by and forced to trek to a remote music hall in the Oregon woods to perform to a houseful of aggressive Neo-Nazis. Backstage after their set, they inadvertently stumble upon a murder scene within the titular green room, setting off a volatile scramble to barricade themselves against the murderous members of an alt-right brotherhood overseen by Patrick Stewart (truly inspired casting) at his menacing best. Building on his previous success with the violent revenge drama Blue Ruin, writer/director Jeremy Saulnier has crafted a twistedly enjoyable and remarkably well-crafted nail-biter with this one. It’s a wicked brew of fear, claustrophobia, violence and revenge that’s certainly not primed for family viewing—but it’s so finely drawn out, the characters all so well-defined and the direction so spot-on every step of the way—it’s an undeniable pleasure.

View the trailer here.