The 2010s: The Best films you didn’t see but need to – Part 2
There are so many wonderful films of the last decade. But what about the amazing ones you’ve never seen? Are they worth going back and giving a watch? In this three-part series, we will take a look at the great unknown movies of the 2010s that deserve more recognition. This part will focus on the decade’s dramas and heartfelt tragedies, or rather…
The Serious Ones
7. Samsara (2011)
Mystical and awe-inspiring. Considered among many to be the most visually stunning film of all time, this is amplified by the fact that this is a documentary. It is, however, extremely unconventional in how it approaches storytelling and structuring themes, which can become confusing to more analytical viewers. Nonetheless, the numerous real-life images captured are simply wondrous and incomparable to anything audiences have ever seen and make this spiritual collage of life’s most extraordinary images worth the watch.
6. Locke (2013)
Imagine cruising down an empty freeway late at night with big, gold floodlights covering the street as fluorescent blues puncture the deep darkness. This is the emotionally atmospheric world of “Locke,” a film that is set completely in the protagonist’s car. In one night, his life falls apart, as he makes his fateful drive towards an unknown future. “Locke” is a spectacular vehicle for lead actor Tom Hardy, who displays an array of complex emotions while consistently maintaining a reserved spirit. He always seems on the verge of a tearful breakdown, yet astonishingly keeps his composure for the majority of the film. The plot is nothing special, but its execution through the smallest window possible, phone conversations in a car, make it an innovative picture with emotional punches that hit home.
5. A Ghost Story (2017)
This suppressed and prolonged meditation on eternity is head-scratching and somehow, totally entrancing. One of the more abstract plots of the decade, a Ghost lingers through time as he watches random humans move in and out of what was once his home. Shots in “A Ghost Story” hold still and uncut for excruciating amounts of time. For example, a nameless character played by Rooney Mara leans against a counter and eats pie for an unmoving, unbroken, silent shot that lasts a whopping four minutes and twenty-six seconds, and all that happens is Mara eats a pie. The aspect ratio is also wildly different than the average feature. Filmed in 1.33:1, the entire frame is contained in a narrow box, with the edges rounded instead of pointed, creating a mysterious, immaculate reality. While this experimental story may not be for everyone, it is worth a watch for its beautiful and curious scenes that form an intricate narrative.
4. Jackie (2016)
This biographical film tells the story about the brief period of time after JFK was assassinated…through the eyes of his widow. Natalie Portman, playing Jackie Kennedy, gives her soul in a strong and powerful performance that, unflinching conveys immense sorrow in a world that doesn’t stop moving. The rest of the supporting actors sizzle off of Portman and provide intriguing foils to her firm demeanor. The script takes its time in establishing themes and lets the characters feel their way through the narrative darkness, perfectly echoing the feelings of real tragedy. The cinematography is also complementary, sustaining shots with a grit and grim documentary-style, all the while keeping saturated colors in check. The most unique element of this film however may be its aspect ratio, which shifts its horizontal letterbox (The Black bars normally found on the top and bottom of the picture) to be vertical, ever so slightly inching viewers closer to Jackie’s inner world.
3. Bridge of Spies (2015)
Somewhere squeezed between the historical drama “Lincoln” and the thankfully forgotten “The BFG,” Steven Spielberg made the fascinating Cold War political drama “Bridge of Spies.” Tom Hanks plays a lawyer assigned to defend a Russian spy, portrayed by the lovable Mark Rylance in an Oscar-winning performance. As narrative twists reveal themselves and political ideologies are challenged, the engrossing and intelligent story never detracts from the emotional core of the film; Hanks and Rylance’s complicated relationship. The secret weapon here, however, is the Oscar-winning screenwriters, the Coen Brothers, who electrify the script and give the brilliant actors crackling dialogue. There’s always something delicious to chew on in “Bridge of Spies.”
2. Molly’s Game (2017)
Acclaimed writer Aaron Sorkin teams with captivating actors Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba to make his directorial debut with the character-crime drama, “Molly’s Game.” After losing her dream career to a random accident, Molly Bloom (Chastain) decides to build herself from the ground-up and over the years, constructs an underground gambling empire. Written with impeccable dialogue and character arcs, “Molly’s Game” never loses speed with its kinetic narrative and yet always finds time for the intimate, quiet moments between characters. Kevin Costner plays a pivotal role as Chastain’s father and delivers his best and most moving performance in years. Chastain and Elba also strike lightning chemistry and propel the nonlinear narrative to endearing heights. Viewers will consistently be on the edge, trying to guess the next twist Sorkin has in store for them, but always being surprised by the heart imbued within this inspiring film.
1. Silence (2016)
Before his mammoth that was “The Irishman,” Martin Scorsese released his magnum opus in the form of the reserved and powerful “Silence.” Truly a feat in storytelling, Scorsese expertly tackles the touchy subject of religious faith. He delivers a tapestry of cultural and universal themes that stun and force reflection. The particular use of score, or lack thereof is immersive and stirring. The performances of Adam Driver, Liam Neeson, and especially Andrew Garfield are elegant and passionate, oftentimes striking at the heart. The unflinching editing and direction astound and make this mythical, yet real story entrench itself in viewers. So often, audiences want it easy—to have the message or meaning of something delivered on a platter. With “Silence,” viewers will just grapple. Long after the film has ended, its harrowing and powerful questions will echo in the audience’s minds.
If given the chance, most if not all of these films will captivate viewers. They are more than worth the search on Netflix, Amazon Prime, or a trip to the movie store or one’s local library. In the final part, we will embrace the more lighthearted movies of the decade: The Feel Goods.