Creating a best of the year list is a daunting enough task, much less a best of the decade list. These may not be the films that are technically the best, but they’re the films I’ve loved the most and have come back to the most often.
BLACK SWAN – Darren Aronofsky’s uncomfortably tense psychological thriller about a ballet dancer whose dreams drive her to utter madness is a rare case of the best performance of that year actually winning the Oscar. This film sees every person involved with the production at the top of their game in the most thrilling way.
NOCTURNAL ANIMALS – Director Tom Ford’s second feature that elevates the tawdry mystery novel movie into something elegant, exquisitely paced and thrilling. Featuring a terrific cast at the best of their abilities and a complex and bleak script that keeps you guessing every step of the way.
GRAVITY – One of the two films director Alfonso Cuarón won best director Academy Awards for in this decade, Gravity is a marvelous and incredibly intense sci-fi drama that has as much on its mind as it does onscreen. It also features the best work Sandra Bullock has ever done.
THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER and LOVE, SIMON – Two coming-of-age dramedies that fully capture a particular teenage experience. Both take the John Hughes teen movie trope that’s been done a hundred times and executes it in a way that makes you feel like you see something completely fresh and of the moment, like something you’ve never seen before. I hold both films close to my heart, and I rewatch them often.
PRISONERS and ARRIVAL – I could also include every film Denis Villeneuve has directed during this decade here, but these two stand out. Prisoners takes the missing person drama and elevates it to something rarely accomplished in a Hollywood film, and the same is true for Arrival, which does the same for the sci-fi alien movie. Both are far more complex than they appear on the surface, and both are impossible to stop thinking about.
AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY – The guilty pleasure pick. This adaptation of the Tony-winning Tracy Letts play features workmanlike direction and almost no flair – plain costumes, an unmemorable score, weird editing. But this is one of the best films of the decade for one big reason – Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts screaming at each other for two hours. This film is hilarious, devastating, deliciously bleak, and mean-spirited.