The MoFo Top 100 of the 2010s Countdown

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2022 Mofo Fantasy Football Champ
This was my rough draft list here. I last minute took Black Swan out for The Farewell.

1 The Descendants
2 La La Land
3 Manchester by the Sea
4 Lady Bird
5 American Hustle
6 Frances Ha
7 Gravity
8 Parasite
9 Florida Project
10 Phantom Thread
11 Moonrise Kingdom
12 Take Shelter
13 Melancholia
14 Her
15 The Avengers
16 The Force Awakens
17 Arrival
18 1917
19 Inception
20 The Edge of Seventeen
21 Asako 1 and 2
22 Annihilation
23 Wreck It Ralph
24 Shoplifters
25 The Farewell

12 *Inception
25 *Black Swan
1 *Descendants
14 *Melancholia
15 *Take Shelter
Source Code
8 *Frances Ha
Flight
16 *Avengers
11 *Moonrise Kingdom
24 *Wreck it Ralph
Broken Circle breakdown
6 *Gravity
5 *American Hustle
14 *Her
Inside Llewellyn Davis
Boyhood
Gone Girl
The Revenant
17 *The Force Awakens
18 *Brooklyn
2 *La La Land
3 *Manchester by the Sea
19 *Arrival
Hell or High Water
Tower
20 *Edge of Seventeen
Hacksaw Ridge
Silence
Moana
9 *Florida Project
4 *Lady Bird
Shape of Water
10 *Phantom Thread
23 *Shoplifters
21 *Asako 1 and 2
22 *Annihilation
7 *Parasite
1917
The Farewell
A Beautiful day in the neighborhood
Richard Jewell
Endgame
Us
Hidden Life

45, 20 to cut



25. Ernest & Celestine (2012)



My list starts (or ends, if you will) with the only animated movie on my ballot. It's easily my favorite animated film of the 2010s with only the Ernest & Celestine TV series (yes, check it out!) and a bunch of anime TV series, such as Welcome to the N.H.K.
, coming close to the title of the best animated thing of the 2010s.

I loved this beautiful, moving tale about an unlikely friendship between a mouse and a bear, a festival of riveting juxtapositions crowned with deep platonic love (/friendship) between these two lovely people.

There's a quote from Ernest & Celestine that is both memorable and unfailingly touching to me. It's from the TV series, not from the film, but at this point, with the 2022 film coming out, it's more or less become a cinematic universe. Anyway, the quote goes: "I would have so missed not knowing you". And, to me, this is the very essence of friendship, love, and meaningful human interaction.

24. Asako I & II (2018)



Next on my list is a film by Ryusuke Hamaguchi, a Japanese director who absolutely excels at making a masterpiece after a masterpiece. Many people I spoke to seem to misunderstand this film. Asako I & II is a film of dualities, or even dichotomies: Asako I and Asako II, day and night, love and betrayal, the first lover and the second lover, and so on. Hamaguchi slyly employs the basic traits of J-drama to then revise them. (Or destroy and rebuild them.) He's fluent in overstepping the borders of realism and fantasy and using the trivialities of the genre to trigger you. But even more so, he's fluent in delivering the highest filmmaking qualities.

I love Hamaguchi's visual aesthetic. The short, seemingly meaningless scene in the streets almost made me cry. It's pure Hamaguchian goodness, a feeling I rarely get from new movies anymore. As far as visuals go, Hamaguchi reminds me of Edward Yang. Hamaguchi's social themes are filtered by the experiences of individuals. But don't be fooled. Hamaguchi always talks about me, you, all of us.

One strength of this film is that Hamaguchi does everything to stop the viewer from pigeonholing the characters (and the film as a whole, too). You may want to hate a character but you can't because you feel sympathy for them. Yes, Asako I & II is a very simple and cliché story. In someone else's hands (with slight changes to the script to make it worse), it would be a lousy movie. But Hamaguchi is an absolute master. There are really many subtle and less subtle flavors here. But the real subversive thing that Hamaguchi does is the revisionism of the simple coming-of-age/romance combination. This is a film about a person who doesn't learn from their mistakes. There is no happy ending. There's no sad ending either. There's one big "Now what?" invisibly painted on the screen in the final scene.

Perhaps this is a testament to how our actions are never without consequences. And how hurting somebody is so easy when you only follow your own nose. Which is doubly telling because, in a relationship, you have to keep an eye on the happiness of two people, not just your own.

23. Twisted Pair (2018)



Neil Breen reminds me of my attempts when, as a young boy, I tried my hand at many different things and later, as a teenager, tried shooting movies in video games.

Incidentally, in another Neil Breen masterpiece, Fateful Findings, the characters move like video game NPCs! Neil Breen has something many filmmakers lack: unbridled freedom of expression with no care whatsoever as to the quality of the outcome. Honesty is what counts in film, and Neil Breen is incredibly sincere in his oeuvre. (But not so much in his interviews.)

The rape scene is one of my favorite scenes ever shot. (Risking "click-baitness", you wouldn't believe how it ends!) And Neil's long superhero jumps are superb and quite a spectacle to behold! I'm not being ironic. Twisted Pair is a genuine heartfelt masterpiece.

22. Mandy (2018)



Whiners complained Panos Cosmatos had been prematurely hailed the Kubrick of the 21st century. The guy proved he was not a one-hit-wonder and did not lose his chops! He delivered exactly the same orgone-oozing, neon-lit feverish dream. This time served in grindhouse sauce! During the last 15 minutes, I had been praying for this not to end. 120 minutes felt like 20 minutes, and I just couldn't get enough of this. And then it ended, and I knew I had to wait another eight (?) years for his third film! I feel like rewatching both Mandy and Beyond the Black Rainbow now!

Welcome back, Panos. Welcome back, Nic.

Sion Sono, Terrence Malick, Eugene Green, Eric Pauwels... and Panos Cosmatos.

What's the point in watching anything now, really?

If you don't understand the oozing orgone, Andromeda galaxy, positive vibrations, and fourth dimension, just watch this film and you will get it!

Cage is hilarious and crazy (although not as much as in, say, Bad Lieutenant), but he still manages to deliver a great performance, and he even made me sympathetic for his character at times, like that absurdist bathroom scene that quickly turns into sadness.

WARNING: "Mandy" spoilers below
He was literally unleashed. It seems that he'd had a very dark/turbulent past, but upon meeting Mandy he decided to start a new life. Love seemingly changed him into an introverted, quiet guy, who merely remarks, or quietly replies to her, but in reality, he was just asleep, just like the tiger was in a cage (Cage wears a tiger shirt). The brutal death of Mandy opens the cage (pun not intended), and Red stops giving a f*ck anymore.

She was perhaps the only reason for him to live. Then, the reason for him to live was to take revenge for her death. That's why the ending, when he kills all the bad guys, sits in a car, and starts hallucinating about her is so stunning. He realizes that even though the bad guys got what they deserved, he will never get his wife back. That's when he smiles hilariously (and creepily) in the camera, but in this smile, there's mad desperation and melancholy.

The bathroom scene is phenomenal. He had to look at his beloved one getting burnt alive, but even though it was a very strong initial shock for him, it wasn't until his return to his home that the whole thing really set in. He gets in and sees a goofy commercial - the absurdism of the situation is the final trigger. He enters the bathroom, and he literally explodes. All those emotions just pour out. He relapses and downs a whole bottle of vodka hidden somewhere from his wife. At first, he does the trademark caginess, and the entire scene is framed as if it was a joke. Then, however, the camera zooms in, and all we see is his face. Cage starts crying, and the overall mood changes from an absurdly funny cage moment to absolute desperation and misery.

I love how the film has those sci-fi elements in it, but those are all just hints. Like that dreamy scene in the forest at the beginning, in which Mandy sees an alien baby, or those Hellraiser-inspired bikers who seem to be some monsters/aliens at first, but then turn out to be just some psychos in armor. Mandy looks very alien/androgynous/weird in some scenes which led me to believe that the members of the cult are some aliens and Jeremiah, their leader, chose Mandy with some higher purpose in mind (maybe as one "of their own"). Actually, to the very end, I thought Jeremiah might have some superpowers and will use them in the final showdown with Red. When he started begging for mercy, I understood he was just a delusional maniac, and the film uses this dark theme and style to mirror Cage's mind, and his struggle after his loss.


21. Antiporno (2017)




First off, I’d like to take a minute to talk about how beautiful Antiporno looks. Sono confines most of the action to a single apartment, with walls painted in various vivid colours, giant pop-art paintings leaning on the wall, and numerous rotating fans that shed light into the interiors. All of this coupled with occasional bubbles, lights of many candles, and naked female bodies (being accused of male gaze in 3… 2… 1…) creates some incredible eye-candy moments. The acting is very good and convincing, too. Especially, from, the newcomer Ami Tomite (it’s her first movie both in real life and in the film, so meta!) EDIT: it is actually not her first in real life, meta = broken. I also could swear one of the guest girls was Asami. Now that I have of all this behind me, let’s get to the rant analysis.

SPOILERS

Sion Sono’s Antiporno is not a porn film, but, just like love is close to hate, antiporn is close to porn. The film talks about many things, including art, and show business, how hard it is to get there, as a porn star, as a novelist, as an actress. Average porn star’s career is very short, only the best girls get famous, but at what expense? It’s not only pornstars, though. Especially in Japan, but pretty much in the entire world as well, the show business is extremely competitive. Not only the best and most talented prevail, but above all, these with strongest minds. Suicidal tendencies are common, for instance, Yukiko Okada’s successful and Jun Togawa’s unsuccessful suicide attempts. The world of show business, the world of porn, the world of adults, the world itself is unrelenting. Life sucks, to put it bluntly.

The protagonist of the film, Kyoko, gets to experience this. At the beginning of the film she’s a stereotypical, over-the-top, narcissistic megalomaniac. A star on the verge of madness suffering from bulimia. She treats her manager, Noriko, like a dog. Kyoko is a dom, whereas Noriko is a sub. In a shocking scene, the domina humiliates Noriko in the least titillating way possible. She orders her to cut her wrist only to remark her blood is dirty and of no further use. However, this state of affairs does not last long, as in a surprising twist the roles change. Now the former domina becomes a sub, is humiliated by her former slave, who turns out to be a more experienced person ‘in the business’. Is the beginning of the film a mad dream? The character of Kyoko’s sister may indicate that it is. Is it just a movie within a movie? The abrupt cut from the action that shows the film crew seems to suggest so.

Kyoko’s backstory is a pretty typical ‘how I got here’ kind of a thing, with repressed sexuality, loss of mother and sister, that inflicted deep trauma, and perhaps, mental illness. For Kyoko sex is a form of rebellion, virginity a form of slavery. Just like many girls, she lies her way into porn industry. This reminded me of Reiko Ike, who lied about her age, too. It was pinku eiga, not porn in her case, though. Sex as form of rebellion and expression is stupid. A decision she will most likely regret. Well, she already regrets it when she finds out there is no sister in the apartment. It may be too late as she is already being flogged by the domina – the dream of being famous, being a star, even if porn star is but a dream and reality is much harsher. Young girls are used, exploited, molested. Just like alleged molestation of members of AKB48 group. The paint sequence at the end of the film is reminiscent of BIS ‘anti-idol’ group music videos.

The film seems to try to say something about feminism, too. The only two men in the film, Kyoko’s father, who on one hand, along with her mother, says sex is filthy and dirty, but on the other, has sex every night, is portrayed as a hypersexual. The other man in the film, a young boy, agrees to deflower the protagonist and starts doing it in a rapey style (this changes after a while, as she teaches him to be gentle?!). There is also the director who tries to elicit a natural orgasm imitation by dry-humping her behind the stage. All men in the film = sex. At the end of the film there is a short tirade about men being ‘bad’ and root of all evil, as well. Now, taken objectively, this would be a pretty narrow-minded view in such an otherwise smart film. But it is only so, if taken as a) director’s manifesto against men (and not just immoral world of porn) that I sincerely believe is not the case, and b) OBJECTIVE filmmaking, which I don’t think adheres to Sono neither. Now, you can take it as SUBJECTIVE, a product of Kyoko’s mind. She sees men like that, because that’s all she knows of them. But then again, women she knows aren’t any better either. The ending made me realize yet another thing. The film is also about free speech. Sono has free speech in this film and seems to mock the viewer, introducing the grand finale, in which big puddles of multi-colored paint cover Kyoko and the white floor she’s on. Just like Chytilova in Daisies, he seems to summarize: “This film is dedicated to those who get upset only over a stomped-upon bed of lettuce”, only in this case it’s paint, Jodorowsky Fando y Lis style!

END OF SPOILERS

Of course, Sono is far from subtle and criticism of his metaphors and symbolism being heavy-handed is a fair one, but it is still his best film after Love Exposure. The best movie of 2016. Ex aequo with The Son of Joseph.
20. Olga e il tempo - Parte terza: Elegia della sera (2013)



Manuele Cecconello employs black and white camcorder cinematography with such skill that his trilogy (only the third film came out in the 2010s) reminds of a Murnau film shot somewhere on the peripheries of mystical Biellese Alps. When he switches to an incredibly stark color, light takes precedence over everything else and transforms Olga e il tempo into an old postcard slash analog photography slash otherworldly Technicolor moving picture. The title is very apt. It's about its protagonist, Olga, and time. That's why the first part came out in 2007, and the third in 2013. Cecconello takes his time getting to know Olga and devising some of the greatest shots in all of the 21st century.

19. Out-Takes from the Life of a Happy Man (2012)



As much as As I Was Moving Ahead Occasionally I Saw Brief Glimpses of Beauty is Jonas Mekas' magnum opus, it isn't his swan song.

Films like this remind me of why I started watching films seriously in the first place. Outtakes... is nothing new if you're familiar with Jonas Mekas. It's a mosaic created of many seemingly meaningless moments of his life. Things and people he recorded on his Super 8 camera in the span of a couple of decades. Impressively edited, accompanied by church music and occasionally Mekas' narration, the film scoops everything that's great about As I... and puts it into 70 minutes or less.

Even though it doesn't seem too impressive on paper, the film is an incredible experience you have to live through. Mekas records the everyday, the meaningless details, and the beauty of moments held in time, and adds poetic intertitles in between. He never pretends that his film is anything more than some random moments, and an attempt to catch these brief glimpses of the beauty of everyday life. Even though the eye of his camera is his third eye, one can relate to a lot of what is shown since the life of these people wasn't that different from our lives. Sure, some of the footage is very personal to Mekas and the viewer may miss a lot of contexts, but as some clever man once said: "The most personal is the most universal". To me, this is the ultimate of self-expression. It's incredible how much a single man with a camera can do.

18. The Tree of Life (2011)



The Tree of Life was 18th on my list. It's one of the most divisive, love-it-or-hate-it films I can think of. Both cinephiles and Sunday movie watchers are equally prone to love it or hate it, making it an intriguing barometer of somebody's cinematic preferences. I first saw it on January 26, 2012, and didn't like it. However, something pushed me into rewatching it almost exactly one year later, on January 25, 2013, As far as flashy goes, I think Lubezki's work here is a fair contender for the "best flashy cinematography ever" award. But then again, he's got tough competition (I Am Cuba!!!). I loved every film Malick made after The Tree of Life. My mom loved them, too, and we watch them all together. I just realized it's been 10 years since I last watched it. Wow, time sure flies. Also, that may be why I placed it as only 18th. It gave way to some other masterful films I watched more recently. (Though in this case, 'more recently' means 'more recently than 10 years ago'!!!)
17. The Son of Joseph (2016)



Eugene Green's artistry and wit are on full display in The Son of Joseph, yet another masterwork from this American director living in France.

Remember when I said The Wailing is the movie of the year? Well, it took me exactly one day to find out I was wrong. Eugène Green is the best living director and I can't believe how lofty his films are (in the best meaning possible!). He makes elusive tangible. I'm always awe-stricken by movies of his and they give me this feeling films of no other filmmaker do. This one has quite a lot of comedy (more than his other flicks, anyway), so I naturally feared I'm not gonna love it that much, but hell, did I love it, I absolutely adored it. I'm so pumped and eager to watch more of his (watched all his films, so I'm waiting for new ones!!!
16. Beyond the Black Rainbow (2010)



Psychedelic, enigmatic, orgone-oozing, metaphysical, with great cinematography and music. This is cinema understood as a sensory experience. And so it wonderfully delivers on the promise. Pointless are whiners' retorts about it being pointless, narrationless, plotless, and so on. Cosmatos indeed meant for the film to be a much more traditional outing at first. But when he sat down in the editing room, he decided to go all atmosphere. He's the son of an 80s director, so perhaps at this point, he understood how the films from the 80s, though having the trademark style and feel, always had to revert back to their plot, hark back to conventional filmmaking, and boring resolutions. And maybe at that point, he decided to go full orgone mode. Just speculating, but regardless of why he went about it, I'm glad that the final outcome is what it is. It's one of those films that can transport me into another dimension, full of transcendental miasma.

15. Seven Weeks (2014)



An Obayashi film that I watched on the day Obayashi died. It was my 10,000th film, too.

Children of the future. Learn from the past.

Art cannot be killed. So fantasies should be invested in art.
This is the second film in Obayashi's Anti-War trilogy (or tetralogy if you count his swan song, too); the topic he's been most interested in in the last years of his life. It's almost impossible to put into words how Obayashi's late films feel, but let me assure you that you haven't seen this kind of post-modernism anywhere else.

14. La Sapienza (2014)



Another masterpiece from Eugene Green, his best film of the 2010s. Very much like his 2000s output, La Sapienza is a film on the Light and how it traverses humans. And how sapience is that weird centerpiece of the puzzle at the crossroads between beauty and knowledge. To quote the film verbatim, "But the source of beauty is love. and the source of knowledge is light. At the source, we find sapience. A beautiful word. But forgotten, like so many things".

13. Labyrinth of Cinema (2019)



I don't know what everybody else's relationship with cinema is, and whether you will find this little scene as touching as it was to me, but among many incredible bits and pieces scattered throughout this film, there's one portraying directors Yasujiro Ozu and Sadao Yamanaka having a conversation in Manchuria. What's incredible about this scene is that Yamanaka died of dysentery shortly after, so what you are witnessing is perhaps his last days of happiness, spending time with his dear friend Yasujiro. Before the war Yamanaka made many films of which only three survived, and all are of high quality, with Humanity and Paper Balloons almost unanimously heralded as his magnum opus. There is no telling what incredible masterpieces could he conjure up had he survived the war.

There is director Nobuhiko Ōbayashi dying of cancer, a master who made many poignant, ravishing films. There are many other contemporary directors to which Obayashi directs his message: "carry on with cinema and bring peace to the world". And there's hope they will take over the reins, and somewhere in future create masterpieces just like Ozu's late period masterworks, so revered by many, including Kenji Mizoguchi - another master - who called them much more difficult and mysterious than what he did. That's what Obayashi wants. He wants somebody to continue his work.

This kind of wishful thinking might be seen as naive as the film's anti-war message, but quoting Obayashi: "Art cannot be killed. So fantasies should be invested in art.", and that to me is a beautiful definition of art. Art that can realize your dreams and fantasies. Cinema that can alter reality, change both future and past.

And to these beautiful, touching words, and their author, I tip my hat. Rest in peace and thank you, Obayashi.

12. Vitalina Varela (2019)



You most probably know that feeling. A renowned director whose work you do admire, and do love. But not a single film you really believe to be all-time greatest. Costa just stopped being this kind of director for me. From the very first scene in which the heroine, barefoot, descends the steel stairs, to the final shattering shot, Vitalina Varela is a tremendous masterpiece. The feeling of impending doom, so prevalent all throughout the film is reminiscent of The Turin Horse's incoming apocalypse. The catastrophe already happened. A life. Shattered. Wasted. But what's coming? Does anybody ever still believe in Hope? The visuals are one of the best. Perhaps ever. The faces hidden in darkness -- shots you will remember. Costa finally reached the level of his mentors.

11. The Dreamed Films (2010)



Eric Pauwels' best film, and a film on filming, on dreaming, on so many little things that are important in our lives.

Eric Pauwels just became my favourite contemporary filmmaker right after Eugène Green. After I had finished watching the film, I wrote in the Rate Your Music comment section of it:

Feels like the history of the world. Like the whole world opening before me.

It is an ode to dreams and voyages. These unrealized, these only dreamt, these made up, finally these that lead us to Paradise. So many little particles that amalgamated create a Cosmos.
10. About Her Brother (2010)



Yoji Yamada's Catholic humanism mixes Kinoshita's humanist romanticism with something that I've never seen or felt in cinema, other than in other Yamada films. Though clearly cinematic, Yamada's characters feel deeply human in how far from perfect they are. Yamada always loves his protagonists and he's skillful enough to share his deeply Catholic "sympathy for the underdog" feeling with the viewer.

About Her Brother is based on a book, the same Ichikawa's 60s adaptation was based on. But Yamada changes some things around, masterfully revitalizing the story and setting it in contemporary times. There's a lot of cynicism and misunderstanding about Yamada's films. I think that people clearly miss the point with most of them, no matter how simple they get. I'm not even talking about feeling them which is largely subjective. I'm talking about grasping them, which is incredibly easy for me. But that may be because I was raised Catholic, so I can easily receive Yamada's waves.

The themes of redemption and forgiving are strong here. But those do not necessarily come from a change of heart. A change of heart must be masterfully written and directed to be powerful. Think Jean Valjean's change of heart in Les Misérables. If you don't hold such power, then you better not dabble in that. American directors, take note. But even though I believe Yamada is capable of such power, he doesn't do that here. Instead, he pities the protagonist against his family and us, the viewers, asking us for forgiveness. And by the end of the movie, there's a memorable quote that sums up the entire philosophy of the late Yoji Yamada in one sentence: "Lately I've started to feel sorry for him. He always gets left out, too. He's all alone. As long as he doesn't drink, why not ask him, Ginko? Or is it too late by now?". Even though they're not applicable to everyone, forgiveness and sympathy are powerful tools that make us human.

9. Living with My Mother (2015)



Next to Sokurov's Mother and Son and Tasaka's Run, Genta, Run!, Yoji Yamada's Living with My Mother (AKA Nagasaki: Memories of My Son) is hands down the most beautiful film on the love between a mother and her child.

Other than in Kinoshita's selected work, though Kinoshita usually talked about the impossibility of pure romantic love due to external adversities (perhaps the result of his homosexuality in a traditional Japanese society), I rarely saw works of art that would be so delicate, sensitive, and human in their approach to the great tragedies of life.

Living with My Mother talks about the tough post-war period in Japan when people still scarred by the war had to continue struggling to keep on living in those dire times. It was tempting to go the illegal route, to go to the Black Market. It was also, in a way, tempting to stick to the old times and wallow in sorrow. But, alas, all the wallowing was rarely a choice, and more often an involuntary aftermath of the shocks of the war. People who lost everything just couldn't keep on living as if nothing happened. Only the new generation could continue with their lives, respectfully looking back at the old times, sometimes literally taking them with them, but in a new way. Transforming them, so that sadness turns into happiness.

But those sick, without hope, whose only happiness was looking back at the past were the true invisible victims of the war to be pitied. And so, Yamada shows respect to all of them by making this film. He weaves a heartfelt story about a mother and son and their perpetual love. Though usually uttered between lovers, "I can't live without you" is the truest and most often sincere declaration of love when uttered by a mother. And so, the ending isn't bothering in the least. Because it's just the continuation of desperate hope and depressing illness we've been observing throughout the film.

I watched this film twice, long before and sometime after my mom died. And I was deeply moved both times.

8. Tomorrow I Will Date With Yesterday's You (2016)



I am personally appalled that people are voluntarily abandoning all of their youthful idealization and romanticism in favor of a cold, calculated, callous, pragmatic, corporate mentality. Treating children and teenagers contemptuously and patronizingly as idiots incapable of love is a glaring symptom of this mentality, and people, in general, do not understand how devastating to themselves and the culture it is to cultivate it. I, for one, wished for great spurts of love at a young age, even if it were to end unhappily, and I wish others the same. Without that, what more is there for us? I'm not saying anything more.

7. 0.5 mm (2014)



OK, so Sakura Ando made one movie before 0.5 mm. It was decent but nothing more. She then returned with this soul-shattering, heart-trending masterpiece only to vanish again. But even if she never makes another movie again, I would be forever grateful that she made 0.5 mm. This film proves that she has a bigger heart and bigger balls than I do.

This cathartic film is Aoyama's Eureka of the 2010s. I think the following quote from the movie sums it up best, although it's, understandably, only a tiny bit of what makes it perfect:

"A war between two nations begins with a single person then multiplies into millions
and intensifies. Those governing His Majesty's subjects decided to put us through
such an atrocity. It was their evil, a sin. Even in war each person has a life. Virtues and vices. Mingled feelings of love and hate. When man is pushed to extremes his spirit shines and overcomes the extremity. And he will awaken as an individual. And he will move a mighty mountain. The mountain is our collective spirit. One spirit can move it up to 0.5 millimeters. But if everyone pushed 0.5 mm together even a mountain could be moved marking the start of a revolution."

6. Happy Hour (2015)



Ryusuke Hamaguchi's best film is a five-hour-long masterpiece about how, in the contemporary world, we've lost the skill of communication with other human beings. Well, actually, it's about many other important things, too.

The behemoth running time allows Hamaguchi to slow down and masterfully apply his technique of rehearsals. Actors repeat their lines so long until the lines come out of their mouths automatically and casually. This makes for more natural performances and actually makes the more dramatic moments work beautifully.

It's pointless to talk about the plot or the masterful cinematography if you haven't seen it. Let me just finish with a quote from one of the most powerful scenes in the film.

"I heard... I was born because of you. Thank you."

5. The Whispering Star (2015)



Sion Sono just proved to me he is amongst the all-time greats. A man who can direct films like Love Exposure, Antiporno, and The Whispering Star and make all of them masterpieces is a genius. Period. I feel like this is the best film I've seen in years. Monotonous and slow-paced, trance-inducing moments on a spaceship are juxtaposed to outbursts of emotions accompanying all out-of-the-ship scenes. Every single step out of the ship means yet another encounter with a human. Yet another speck of cognition. The protagonist's incomprehension of human nature starts to fade away. Human impracticality seems to get more and more justifiable. Giant heaps of human sadness hit as strong as waves against the shoreline, but sadness does not wash away. It stays. And it leads to understanding. Every encounter leaves a memento. Every encounter is important. A belated parcel delivered to a villa with ever-present glowing lights containing all the sadness of Veronika Voss. A brief walk, a bike excursion through a dead city, a window onto the old world, a heartbreaking reminder of mortality, a crushed can attached to a shoe. And the culmination - an elegy of shadows - shadows of humanity, shadows of the past. Even a little detail like the protagonist's sporadic sneeze is touching in all infinity of cosmos. This is a film that really portrays what it is to be human. It's not only bigger than life but also bigger than death. The film had ended but I was still crying. Even if Sono ceases to exist, this film never will. It will stay here for eternity.

4. Romancing in Thin Air (2012)



Johnnie To is a Hongkongese director best known for his action and gangster films. Amazingly, To is also a prolific auteur of films spanning a multitude of genres. Besides his more commonly known and critically-acclaimed Triad films, To has a long history of dabbling in Comedy and Romance. Often made to raise money for his more personal projects, To's romances get unjustly overlooked by critics and cinephiles alike, finding their popularity in the general audience. After having seen more than 40 films by Johnnie To, I have a favorite, although it may not be what most people would pick.

Some films are instant favorites. It takes time to fall in love with others. ROMANCING IN THIN AIR was a film I loved right away, but it took me several days to realize it's one of my all-time favorites. My opinion about it only kept getting better ever since. My favorite To is a film that lives with me and changes with me as time goes by. I think about it often, trying to rationalize my endless love for it, recounting its themes, and above all, remembering how particular scenes felt.

(I)

CINEMA AS A LIFE-CHANGING FORCE

It helps to know Johnnie To's body of work, as in many ways, ROMANCING IN THIN AIR is an amalgamation of To's previous efforts. The motorcycle from A MOMENT OF ROMANCE, a high-altitude place like LOVE FOR ALL SEASONS, the theme of coping with loss through art like WRITTEN BY, fantastical elements of resurrection or hauntings (LINGER and MY LEFT EYE SEES GHOSTS), characters separated from each other or imprisoned within a frame like TURN LEFT, TURN RIGHT, and the element of fate prevalent in many To films, including NEEDING YOU.

For ROMANCING IN THIN AIR, To takes these ideas and traits from all romances he made until now and turns them into a tour-de-force of romantic drama while adding a meta-layer and finishing on the most powerful, touching, loveable note imaginable. The primary layer moves you by telling a poignant story, while the second layer makes you fall in love with To's belief in the therapeutic and healing power of cinema; cinema as a life-changing force. This central idea that a film can change lives is not unlike Nobuhiko Ōbayashi's mantra about how cinema can change the present, future, and even past. I think this is the kind of message we now need most. When decrepit cinephiles proclaim the death of film, we need movies that prove cinema is as powerful now as ever. That films are still able to change lives.

As a cinephile, I'm more prone to say that cinema changed my life than the other guy. After all, cinema is a really unstoppable force. Films give you a way to realize all your dreams, to symbolically alter your less-than-perfect life. What's more powerful than that?

(II)

THE INTERSECTION OF REAL AND FICTION

And when it comes to films, there are rules, and there is an exception. Life is the rule. THE THIN BLUE LINE is the exception. The exception is still a subset of the rule, only much more tangible. ROMANCING IN THIN AIR, just like the late works of Nobuhiko Ōbayashi, balances a thin line between the rule and the exception. It's both a deconstruction of the romance genre and a splendid treatise on a large chunk of To's work.

(III)

PROJECTION OF PEOPLE AND FILM

*This section contains spoilers*

Sue (Sammi Cheng) cannot cope with the death of her husband lost in the mysterious labyrinth woods next to a picturesque hotel. It's a secluded place that rightly reflects Sammi Cheng's own few-year-long retreat from acting. Meanwhile, a celebrated actor Michael (Louis Koo) gets ditched by his bride-to-be and runs away to the whereabouts of the high-altitude hotel where Sue works. Sue is a devoted fan of Michael and a fan of A MOMENT OF ROMANCE at that. She owns that motorcycle and countless gadgets and posters!

Michael falls for Sue and wants to win her heart by mimicking whatever her late husband did to win her heart. We learn that her husband acted as Michael did in films. Now Michael has to act like her husband and therefore like himself in his movies. Sue falls for a movie image, then falls for a man reproducing this movie image, and then falls for a man who was that movie image. However, Sue always projects a fake image onto a person. After all, Michael isn't his movie image in real life. Still, he resolves to redo this image so that Sue falls in love with him.

Finally, by directing a film in which Sue's husband didn't die, Michael brings a real person to life using an image. He turned the negative projection into a positive one. And this is the true power of cinema demonstrated in one of the most sincere, powerful ways. Art can do what life cannot. “Film can change the future if not the past,” Obayashi said. And this is what makes ROMANCING IN THIN AIR To's best.

(IV)

ROMANCING THE ROMANCE

Thought up as a sequel to a film-within-a-film, To's masterpiece is a heart-wrenching mix of film and reality that tackles themes of loss, longing, love, fandom, and cinema as the driving force of the universe. But above all, ROMANCING IN THIN AIR talks about relations between people, things, and space in between. Between life and cinema. Between life and image. Between popular cinema and auteur film. Between a place, an object, and the sentimental value they hold for us. ROMANCING IN THIN AIR makes us simultaneously fall in love with life and film, endlessly romancing on themes from Johnnie To's extensive filmography. ROMANCING IN THIN AIR is a film for people who love life and cinema.

3. Hanagatami (2017)



Obayashi's penultimate film is my favorite of his.

An audiovisual marvel, stimulation of the senses. An aptly digital(ized) film for our digitalized age. This is exactly what art should be. People, behold! Obayashi is not the director of one film!

Hanagatami takes a little from all of Obayashi's works because Obayashi had been planning it for 40 years. It belongs to a special kind of films: one that wouldn't work as any other form of art. I'd like to write something more about it, but only clichés come to my lips.

I think the best representation of Hanagatami is Bach's cello suite played throughout the movie. And so, just like music, it's hard to put Obayashi's masterwork into words. Although Hanagatami is a visual tour de force, the film is rich in content. The thing is, interpreting or analyzing its plot doesn't reflect its power, which is precisely in the cinematic. Just like the beautiful simplicity of Bach's music is strictly in the musical.

An absolutely beautiful almost-swan song from Obayashi fighting with cancer. I couldn't recover after the screening for a long time. As this is (despite everything, though only among other things) a film about teenagers.

2. SOAR: I Wish You Were Here (2015)



Whispering of trees
a fairy of my dearest
appears in sunlight


Tradition and modernity. Trees and films. Film and digital. Villages and cities. A forest fairy and a soaring cat. A woman who lost her beloved to the war resolves to realize her fiancée's dream. As Japan enters the post-war era, everything seems to be in danger. Spelling, nature, the village, memories. But this clash of the old and the new is inevitable. Longing for the past while wondering what the future will bring. What would I be doing now if I was alive? A tree is a calm observer of us, humans, and it was here long before film. Tree rings work like film reels. Now if only they could talk and share their wisdom. Instead, they whisper. Can you hear their voice? Will the children of tomorrow hear these whispers? A foundling is a realized dream of an unrealized life. Time passes. All things must pass. The antenna on top of a mountain. A Moonlight Man carries his dad. Thank you, daddy. Now I can't even remember your shadow. Anything can't change and nothing can change. You mean the world to me.

1. The Turin Horse (2011)



I guess some things just never change. The Turin Horse has been my favorite film of the 2010s ever since I watched it in January 2012. I even found some notes about them from 11 years ago. But my English back then was so embarrassing that I decided to not share them here. I don't think what I say there is much of value, anyway. Maybe this is because Bela Tarr's cinema is much more about experiencing than understanding. The nihilism, the rainy, windy plains of Hungary, just two people and their bare existence. The light is on until it isn't. The long takes are to die for. And Bela Tarr's Werckmeister Harmonies is a film that made me a cinephile.

PS: Sorry about the mistakes/typos if any, but this stuff took way too much time already, I don't have the strength/time to proofread.



Women will be your undoing, Pépé
Also, I threw together a fun little tool to streamline the post-countdown sharing process (and alleviate the post-countdown depression):

Your Ballot Results

You can do a couple of things with this:
  • See all your films and where they ranked (NOTE: does not handle tiebreakers, so it's just a general range for some). Threw in some little stats about how many made various cutoffs, and automatically calculated each person's highest and lowest-ranked entry.
  • Easily grab some bbCode you can copy and paste into a post to share your ballot.
That is ALL KINDS OF WONDERFUL!!! LOVE THAT
__________________
What I actually said to win MovieGal's heart:
- I might not be a real King of Kinkiness, but I make good pancakes
~Mr Minio



Women will be your undoing, Pépé
My list. Comments?
1. Meek's Cutoff (2010)
2. Passengers (2016)
3. Never Let Me Go (2010)
4. The Dressmaker (2015)
5. The Flowers of War (2011)
6. Predestination (2014)
7. Stan & Ollie (2018)
8. Ruby Sparks (2012)
9. Molly's Game (2017)
10. Another Earth (2011)
11. Brooklyn (2015)
12. Spotlight (2015).................................#63
13. Bridge of Spies (2015)
14. Manchester by the Sea (2016).....................#64
15. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012)
16. The Founder (2016)
17. The Artist (2011)................................#83
18. Won't You Be My Neighbor? (2018)
19. The King's Speech (2010).........................#78
20. Fences (2016)
21. Philomena (2013)
22. The Hundred-Foot Journey (2014)
23. Captain Phillips (2013)
24. Parkland (2013)
25. Cake (2014)

and my list with overall rankings:

I guess my movie taste is not inline with most MoFos.
Being unique and outside the herd is NEVER EVER a bad thing, my friend!
Solid list and a few I've been curious about like Molly's Game and Bridge of Spies. Kudos for Predestination. That was a heartbreak when I couldn't fit it on mine.



Trouble with a capital "T"
Being unique and outside the herd is NEVER EVER a bad thing, my friend!
Solid list and a few I've been curious about like Molly's Game and Bridge of Spies. Kudos for Predestination. That was a heartbreak when I couldn't fit it on mine.
I've heard nothing but good things about Molly's Game. I'd call it good story telling.



Society ennobler, last seen in Medici's Florence
25. Ernest & Celestine (2012)



My list starts (or ends, if you will) with the only animated movie on my ballot. It's easily my favorite animated film of the 2010s with only the Ernest & Celestine TV series (yes, check it out!) and a bunch of anime TV series, such as Welcome to the N.H.K.
, coming close to the title of the best animated thing of the 2010s.

I loved this beautiful, moving tale about an unlikely friendship between a mouse and a bear, a festival of riveting juxtapositions crowned with deep platonic love (/friendship) between these two lovely people.

There's a quote from Ernest & Celestine that is both memorable and unfailingly touching to me. It's from the TV series, not from the film, but at this point, with the 2022 film coming out, it's more or less become a cinematic universe. Anyway, the quote goes: "I would have so missed not knowing you". And, to me, this is the very essence of friendship, love, and meaningful human interaction.
This film was suggested in the preliminary Group Watch. I saw it then and loved a lot.
A movie I'll remember from this decade...
__________________
"Population don't imitate art, population imitate bad television." W.A.
"You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus." M.T.



Women will be your undoing, Pépé
Wooley's Ballot


"You had 18 in the top 100, 15 in the top 50, 8 in the top 25, and 3 in the top ten."

  1. Black Swan (2010)
  2. Melancholia (2011)
  3. Birdman (2014)
  4. Whiplash (2014)
  5. Only God Forgives (2013)

  6. Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)

  7. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)

  8. Parasite (2019)
  9. Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019)
  10. The Cabin in the Woods (2012)
  11. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)
  12. BlacKkKlansman (2018)

  13. Get Out (2017)
  14. The Avengers (2012)
  15. Sicario (2015)
  16. The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
  17. The Lighthouse (2019)
  18. Drive (2011)
  19. Dredd (2012)
  20. Arrival (2016)
  21. Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

  22. Attack the Block (2011)

  23. The Beach Bum (2019)

  24. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)
  25. Zero Dark Thirty (2012)
Along with a really great list, a serious shout-out for the love expressed for Only Lovers Left Alive BRAVO



Women will be your undoing, Pépé
My Full Ballot:


1. Her (Spike Jonze, 2013) #9


2. Wreck-It Ralph (Rich Moore, 2012) #209


3. Ernest & Celestine (Stéphane Aubier, Vincent Patar, and Benjamin Renner, 2012) #256


4. The Broken Circle Breakdown (Felix van Groeningen, 2012) #140


5. Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015) #2


6. The Skin I Live In (Pedro Almodóvar, 2011) #127


7. Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019) #60


8. Django Unchained (Quentin Tarantino, 2012) #27


9. The Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese, 2013) #11


10. You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay, 2018) #120


11. The Man from Nowhere (Jeong-beom Lee, 2010) #95


12. How to Train Your Dragon (Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders, 2010) #201


13. Rush (Ron Howard, 2013) #197


14. Inside Out (Pete Docter and Ronnie Del Carmen, 2015) #59


15. Capernaum (Nadine Labaki, 2018) #174


16. Zootopia (Byron Howard, Rich Moore, and Jared Bush, 2016) #172


17. Despicable Me (Pierre Coffin and Christ Renaud, 2010) #146


18. The Help (Tate Taylor, 2011) #214


19. Lady Macbeth (William Oldroyd, 2016) #629


20. Jojo Rabbit (Taika Waititi, 2019) #89


21. Irrational Man (Woody Allen, 2015) #684


22. The Illusionist (Sylvain Chomet, 2010) #707


23. The Raven (James McTeigue, 2012) #728


24. Call Me by Your Name (Luca Guadagnino, 2017) #102


25. Kitbull (Rosana Sullivan, 2019) One-Pointer
Spoiler Alert: LOVE your list, my dear!



Women will be your undoing, Pépé
13. Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) - DNP 261st
14. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014) - DNP 465th
15. War for the Planet of the Apes (2017) - DNP 343rd

Greatest trilogy of modern times. Hard to believe none of them cracked the 100. It's tough to get a trilogy right, and Apes totally smashed it.
yeah they did



Victim of The Night

People were like "The decade was just kind of blah," but I could have easily listed 50 films I loved and still agonized over cutting films out.
Well, I'm definitely going to have to watch YOUR list because even at the end of this I don't feel like there's much in our consensus here that really goes toe to toe with some other decades. I think the stats that were presented about how few votes compared to other lists some of these films pretty high up were getting may speak to recency but it may also speak to the films themselves.
But that is really just my feelings.



We've gone on holiday by mistake
Wooley's Ballot


"You had 18 in the top 100, 15 in the top 50, 8 in the top 25, and 3 in the top ten."

  1. Black Swan (2010)
  2. Melancholia (2011)
  3. Birdman (2014)
  4. Whiplash (2014)
  5. Only God Forgives (2013)

  6. Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)

  7. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)

  8. Parasite (2019)
  9. Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019)
  10. The Cabin in the Woods (2012)
  11. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)
  12. BlacKkKlansman (2018)

  13. Get Out (2017)
  14. The Avengers (2012)
  15. Sicario (2015)
  16. The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
  17. The Lighthouse (2019)
  18. Drive (2011)
  19. Dredd (2012)
  20. Arrival (2016)
  21. Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

  22. Attack the Block (2011)

  23. The Beach Bum (2019)

  24. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)
  25. Zero Dark Thirty (2012)
Yay! another Tinker Tailor lover! It was my #10.
__________________



Here's my list



25. Under the Silver Lake (2018)

This is one of those dvisive films that I just love. Embracing multiple styles like 70's New Hollywood and 40's Noir and modern LA indies with surprising visuals and a script that really sucks you in this is a perfect movie for me.





24. Free Solo (2018)

Documentaries didn't make much of an impression on this list which is a shame because this has been the generation of the non-fiction. The first documentary I put on my list is Free Solo. This is the story of a man who climbs without any ropes or support. It's a deadly sport based on precision timing and love.


22. Coco (2017)

Often times I'll criticize a film for it's diverse casting....not that I don't believe in diversity but because I believe in authenticity. And you can watch different films about different subsets of people. Coco is a film that hits every note...its colorful, musical and moving the characters are memorable and distinct.




21. Blackfish (2013)

Sad that documentaries didn't rank because this is a powerful moving and terrifying story of mans suppression of nature and the abuses we see and ignore. When this film didn't win the Oscar for best documentary film or even get nominated is a travesty. Not just a great piece of art but an important one.






19. Dheepan (2015)

This is a film that touches on a number of heavy issues...war, poverty, what constitutes a family and the immigrant experience. Three people escaping the Sri Lankan Civil War end up in the British projects and have to fight their own war. I've seen hundreds of films like this but this is the one that sticks with me thanks to the cinematography, original casting and tight script.





18. Moana (2016)

This was a shocker to me that it didn't rank. Moana was a deconstruction of the female disney princess film done right. When I look at all the female led films with terrible unlikable leads and boring predictable stories I think back on Moana. The story of a princess not happy with her life but actually goes out and does something about it. Musically this is great, visually it's stunning, and the story is original and timeless.



10. Project Nim (2011)

This is the third documentary I picked and it's a great companion piece to Blackfish. While one film demonstrates the dangers of using animals for profit Nim focuses on the dangers of love. And how toxic a scientific relationship can be. An unforgettable experience of a film that leaves you with more questions than answers.

4.


Eighth Grade (2018)

The reflection of humanity is a major theme in my list this year and this is heartbreaking that it hasn't registered with MOFO's. This is a coming of age story about a young girl transitioning to highschool from middle school. The plot doesn't feature any insane twists and turns it's just a human look at how we grow up. It's a simple story told honestly and it hits all the right notes.





3. Won't You Be My Neighbor?(2018)

I saw this in a full theater and you could hear the crying during the entire film. This is a film that wrecks you from start to finish...it's part biopic but mostly its about Christianity and it's values something that we never seen. This is a film that hits you like a ton of bricks over and over and over again.

1. Sicario (2015)
2. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
3. Won't You Be My Neighbor? (2018)
4. Eighth Grade (2018)
5. Her (2013)
6. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019)
7. Whiplash (2014)
8. Silence (2016)
9. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)
10. Project Nim (2011)
11. Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
12. Looper (2012)
13. Logan (2017)
14. It Follows (2015)
15. Ex Machina (2015)
16. Deadpool (2016)
17. Isle of Dogs (2018)
18. Moana (2016)
19. Dheepan (2015)
20. Nightcrawler (2014)
21. Blackfish (2013)
22. Coco (2017)
23. Hereditary (2018)
24. Free Solo (2018)
25. Under the Silver Lake (2018)



We've gone on holiday by mistake
My humble effort.

1. Arrival (2016)
2. Prisoners (2013)
3. Interstellar (2014)
4. Animal Kingdom (2010)
5. The Hunt (2012)
6. Edge of Tomorrow (2014)
7. Whiplash (2014)
8. Moneyball (2011)
9. Margin Call (2011)
10. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)
11. Sicario (2015)
12. Incendies (2010)
13. First Man (2018)
14. The Death of Stalin (2017)
15. Zero Dark Thirty (2012)
16. Spotlight (2015)
17. The Nice Guys (2016)
18. Ex Machina (2015)
19. Nightcrawler (2014)
20. Drive (2011)
21. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
22. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)
23. The Big Short (2015)
24. Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
25. Dredd (2012)

I think of the films not showing up "The Nice Guys" and "The Death of Stalin" were really deserving of a place. The Nice Guys is such a fantastic comedy.



We've gone on holiday by mistake
Thanks to @SpelingError and @Yoda for running this!
Seconded, well done guys!

Has any completed list been posted yet? Would love to see how close some of my misses got. Cheers!



Victim of The Night
16. Beyond the Black Rainbow (2010)



Psychedelic, enigmatic, orgone-oozing, metaphysical, with great cinematography and music. This is cinema understood as a sensory experience. And so it wonderfully delivers on the promise. Pointless are whiners' retorts about it being pointless, narrationless, plotless, and so on. Cosmatos indeed meant for the film to be a much more traditional outing at first. But when he sat down in the editing room, he decided to go all atmosphere. He's the son of an 80s director, so perhaps at this point, he understood how the films from the 80s, though having the trademark style and feel, always had to revert back to their plot, hark back to conventional filmmaking, and boring resolutions. And maybe at that point, he decided to go full orgone mode. Just speculating, but regardless of why he went about it, I'm glad that the final outcome is what it is. It's one of those films that can transport me into another dimension, full of transcendental miasma.
Hmm. Black Rainbow fell flat for me precisely because it reverted back to its plot and ended up seeming conventional at the end when it had fairly consistently kept its course up until the very rote, thriller-like climax. I love the film aesthetically but find it hard to recommend because I feel like anyone I know who would appreciate what the film does well will be just as let-down as me by how straight it plays it at the end.



Women will be your undoing, Pépé
I’m realizing now that I left an amazing film off my list: The Drop



“And you've been awfully fresh since you got that dog you mistake for a kid.”
D@mn, I forgot about that one too



Women will be your undoing, Pépé
I've heard nothing but good things about Molly's Game. I'd call it good story telling.
not sure if it's still on Netflix, but I kept eyeballing it and never took the leap. Really need to.



Hmm. Black Rainbow fell flat for me precisely because it reverted back to its plot and ended up seeming conventional at the end when it had fairly consistently kept its course up until the very rote, thriller-like climax.
I mean, Cosmatos loves his kitsch. The dude obliterating Venom listeners is funny & just Cosmatos sprinkling his film with some pulp!

I can understand not liking that and wanting a metaphysical ending or whatever but after more than 1.5 hours of that, let's give Cosmatos some slack. I mean, this film was supposed to be way more conventional than that, anyway, so it's a triumph!



Victim of The Night
Along with a really great list, a serious shout-out for the love expressed for Only Lovers Left Alive BRAVO
Thanks you kindly.
Yes that one is a BIG favorite among me and my movie-friends. Particularly John Hurt and the ending. But all of it really. It might have ended up even higher for me but that I thought the Mia Wasakowska part was a little rote and had been done in other movies already.