Best Films of the Decade 2010-19


23 December 2019| No Comments on Best Films of the Decade 2010-19     by Sean Chavel


I did what I could to rewatch the considerations of the list. I mostly conquered that, with a few I only saw once. Sometimes it is your gut, and instant recall. What moves me or lights me up when I summon up thoughts over what was best these past ten years.

  1. The Tree of LifeDon’t Think. If you’re watching it for the first time, or for the second time trying to figure out what it means, Don’t Think. That’s the answer I’ve come up with. Turn off your brain and muse over it as an inquisitive 5-year old child would consider the Universe for the first time. A 5-year old mind isn’t trying to conquer “answers.” The 5-year old is in awe by the beauty and majesty of the images, and a thousand lush images there are. You don’t find yourself dissecting the meaning of great music, do you? When you hear great music you let it surge through your body with a transcendent nature that isn’t left to raking for analysis. Directed by Terrence Malick
  2. The Social NetworkI don’t care if “TSN” is an accurate portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg’s behavioral mannerisms or not, it’s no longer pertinent in the scope of the impact of everything else its saying. Jesse Eisenberg’s uber-nerd creates our cultural shifting behemoth when he himself cannot sync with people in the actual present. If you’re not on Facebook anymore, does it matter(?), Facebook inspired every other social app. Directed by David Fincher
  3. La La Land — It’s almost a radical notion that a great film can be infused with so much joy. Here is a beautiful hallucination where you don’t ever want to go home, you want to sink in and live inside the movie. Twas the greatest commercial musical of the last 63 years (since 1953’s “The Band Wagon”), made with dazzling numbers, verbal wit that’s terse and not overwritten, charisma by Ryan Gosling and preciousness by Emma Stone, a dreamy ending that out-Kaufmans Charlie Kaufman, a rekindling reminder of the butterflies in the stomach of first real love. Directed by Damien Chazelle
  4. Annihilation — The most terrifying film I’ve experienced of the last ten years, maybe longer; it’s the damn lighthouse sequence in particular! We’re challenged with ideas on memory, hysteria and delirium that can debase smart professionals, dislocation in a foreign environment, loss of time, self-destructive impulses, as well as containing the ultimate movie predicament: The knowing that you’re going to perish and if that be the case then to at least solve a great human mystery before expiring, even if that means plunging into a terrifying abyss. Directed by Alex Garland
  5. Poetry — From South Korea. A grandmother has memory problems, and follows through on a recommendation to partake in a poetry class to sharpen her mind. At home, she has a grandson to take care of. Yet the more we see, the more we see what a little irredeemable S.O.B. the grandson is. Yun Jung-hee, with frailty and tenderness and scrupulousness, gives one of the ten greatest performances I’ve ever seen. The full of anguish screenplay is one of the ten best ever written. Directed by Lee Chang-dong
  6. Gravity — Among the most beautiful films ever made, that should be the beginning and end of criticism. It’s a relentless cascade of things-go-wrong in space, but to analyze the episodes however would be to sidestep the entire purpose: To discover something new and awe-inspiring in your entire visual-memory repertoire. Directed by Alfonso Cuaron
  7. Detroit — This was the the 1968 film “The Battle of Algiers” which was markedly the first to use verité documentary realism to film a docudrama about terrorist outbreak. It also used naturalism in its roving conversations, and as a result, any artifice was dropped and you just accepted the thing as you would a documentary – it is a documentary of violent events happening before your very eyes. As difficult as that filming approach is, “Detroit” has done it and even upped that ante by invigorating raw, naturalistic pandemonium of what was happening around them. In a hallucinating way it congeals into a crushing mosaic of heated racial conflict and injustice. Directed by Kathryn Bigelow
  8. Take This Waltz — Michelle Williams, in a phenomenal performance of an ordinary woman, has a mild and safe marriage with Seth Rogen (in a crass-free performance). A stranger flirts with her, the conversation gets graphic, and the subsequent get-togethers have promise of romantic liaisons. But this isn’t your average adultery affair movie. It considers the consuming guilt of even thinking of adultery. Now I can say I have two films by women in my top ten. Directed by Sarah Polley
  9. Boyhood — Filmed over a course of 12 years with his actors (Ellar Coltrane, Ethan Hawke, Patricia Arquette), shooting with continuity, the result is more just physical growth observance on camera, spiritual growth rubs off too. With everything popping off spontaneously, this is amazing technique and enthralling storytelling at the same time. Directed by Richard Linklater
  10. The Florida Project — The punkish blue hair-dyed Halley (Bria Vinaite) is a twenties-something mom who is really just a kid defying twenty-first century establishment, raises her seven-year old daughter Moonee (Brooklynn Prince) who pretty much bounces around in mischief around a skeezy hotel called “The Magic Kingdom” to kill the hours. This lightening in a bottle indie has an on the fly approach that is documentary-like in its probe. Willem Dafoe, it should be said, is pitch-perfect as the blue collar hard-worker Bobby who takes the upkeep of the motel very seriously, and sometimes has to work as a principal, referee, and arbiter between the quarreling troublemakers that make up the hotel. Directed by Sean Baker

The Next Fifteen: Ex Machina; Uncut Gems; The Master; Nymphomaniac (Denmark); Mad Max: Fury Road; A Star is Born; Cloud Atlas; Nightcrawler; Moneyball; Mission: Impossible — Fallout; 127 Hours; Sully; The World’s End; Parasite (South Korea); Life of Pi

BEST PERFORMANCES Five Males, Five Females:

Jake Gyllenhaal, Nightcrawler

Woody Harrelson, Rampart

Adam Sandler, Uncut Gems

Tom Hanks, Sully

Michael Fassbender, Shame

Yun Jung-hee, Poetry (South Korea)

Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine

Natalie Portman, Vox Lux

Charlotte Gainsbourg, Nymphomaniac

Bria Vinaite, The Florida Project

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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.


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