Best Film Performances of the 2010s

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CREDIT: YouTube Screenshots

Back in April, I revealed my lists of the best podcasts, TV shows, TV episodes, albums, songs, and movies of the 2010s. I declared that that was it for my Best of the Decade curating for this particular ten-year cycle. But now I’m back with a few more, baby! I’ve been participating in a series of Best of the 2010s polls with some of my online friends, and I wanted to share my selections with you. We’re including film performances, TV performances, directors, and musical artists, so get ready for all that.

First up is Film Performances. Any individual performance from any movie released between January 1, 2010 and December 31, 2019 was eligible, whether it was live-action, voice-only, or whatever other forms on-screen acting take nowadays. For actors who played the same character in multiple movies, each movie was considered separately.

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‘Charlie’s Angels’ Doesn’t Do Much to Justify Its Existence in 2019, Except When It Gets Really Silly

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CREDIT: Chiabella James/Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Entertainment

Starring: Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott, Ella Balinska, Elizabeth Banks, Patrick Stewart, Djimon Hounsou, Sam Claflin, Noah Centineo, Nat Faxon

Director: Elizabeth Banks

Running Time: 119 Minutes

Rating: PG-13 for Deafening Explosions and a Lot of Flexible Legwork

Release Date: November 15, 2019

Globetrotting in 2019: who needs it? I, for one, cannot say I find it particularly necessary after watching the 2019 edition of Charlie’s Angels. As three gadget-toting, butt-kicking, espionage-deploying young women chase a McGuffin around multiple continents, what do they, or any person of any age for that matter, have to offer us that we haven’t been offered before? Maybe something new is theoretically out there somewhere, but what I see are mostly a bunch of competently (and frequently goofily) staged action scenes. I’ve never previously seen any Charlie’s Angels TV episode or movie in its entirety, but the main feeling this one gave me was a nagging sense of “been there, done that.” (Although, it is worth noting, there is nary a whiff of the “three little girls” paternalistic energy of the original.)

Despite that shortcoming, I suspect that Elizabeth Banks, who wrote and directed and also stars as Bosley (or rather, one of the Bosleys), is not necessarily too worried by the plot being overly paint-by-numbers. As long as our new batch of Angels (Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott, and Ella Sabinska) get to show off some personality, there can be a feature-length rasion d’être. For the most part, they just go where the story demands that they go, but occasionally there are flashes of extreme goofball energy. Naomi Scott wears a fantastic red dress because why not? K-Stew makes “beep boop” noises while cracking a safe just for the hell of it. And then during the credits there is an onslaught of cameos: a few make obvious sense for this movie, but most of them are breathtakingly, delightfully random. So at least there’s a little bit of fun to get these angels flying.

Charlie’s Angels is Recommended If You Like: Flirting with Noah Centineo, Original pop soundtracks

Grade: 2.5 out of 5 Bosleys

This Is a Movie Review: ‘The Kid Who Would Be King’ is a Goofy and Honorable Rendition of the King Arthur Legend

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CREDIT: Kerry Brown/Twentieth Century Fox

This review was originally published on News Cult in January 2019.

Starring: Louis Ashbourne Serkis, Dean Chaumoo, Angus Imrie, Patrick Stewart, Rebecca Ferguson, Tom Taylor, Rhianna Doris, Denise Gough

Director: Joe Cornish

Running Time: 132 Minutes

Rating: PG for Some Creepy Dark Magic and Middle School Bullying

Release Date: January 25, 2019

In the course of human history, it is always the children’s time to inherit the Earth. Thus, if all is right, then every generation gets the re-telling of the Arthurian legend it deserves. Not only does The Kid Who Would Be King deliver on this front as entertainment, but it is also about how young people, however modest their origins, can rise up to prove themselves and be upright, inspiring leaders. Middle schooler Alex (Louis Ashbourne Serkis) randomly stumbles upon a sword at a construction site, so he pulls it out of a stone and takes it home, totally unaware that it is the legendary Excalibur. He soon finds himself embroiled in a generations-long fight against Arthur’s sister Morgana le Fay (Rebecca Ferguson) as she uses dark magic to take over the world. He teams up with his best friend Bedders (Dean Chaumoo) and converts some school bullies into allies, rendering the whole affair a lot more noble than you might expect a kid-friendly version of this story to be.

The biggest, and certainly showiest, highlight (as is the case in so many King Arthur stories) is Merlin (Angus Imrie), who here takes the form of a skinny young lad, as he is a wizard with a bit of a reputation for aging backwards. (Patrick Stewart occasionally pops in to play his older version, partly to look the part to anyone who doubts he is an actual ancient wizard.) There are some fish-out-of-water gags that really hit the spot, as Merlin disguises himself as a new schoolmate of Alex’s, declaring himself a “normal, contemporary British schoolboy.” Then there is the mesmerizing way he conjures spells, which is a basically a series of combinations of jazz hands and finger snaps. Imrie must be some sort of champion finger-snapper. Basically, if you like your Excalibur stories to feature jokes about how fast food consists of beetle blood, crushed animal bones, and beaver urine as well as lessons about living according to a code of honor, decency, and bravery, then The Kid Who Would Be King is just what you need.

The Kid Who Would Be King is Recommended If You Like: A Kid in King Arthur’s Court, The Goonies, Thor

Grade: 3 out of 5 Finger Snaps

 

This Is a Movie Review: Mother of Mercy, Is This the End of ‘Logan’?

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This review was originally published on News Cult in February 2017.

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant

Director: James Mangold

Running Time: 135 Minutes

Rating: R for Relentless, Vengeful Bodily Harm and a DGAF Attitude to Language

Release Date: March 3, 2017

Logan marks the ninth time that Hugh Jackamn is donning the muttonchops and adamantium claws to play indestructible X-Man Wolverine. At this point, for general audiences and fanboys alike to care, there simply MUST be something new to offer this go-round. Both of Wolverine’s previous solo films kind of fulfilled that dictum, but 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine otherwise totally missed the mark, while 2013’s The Wolverine felt too inconsequential. Logan ain’t having any of that. Set in a semi-apocalyptic near future, the film streamlines the muddled continuity down of the X-universe to its essence and gets right down to business.

Logan and an unstable, nonagenarian Professor X (Patrick Stewart, relevant as ever) are tasked with transferring the preteen Laura (Dafne Keen) to safety. In this future, mutants have mostly died out and no new ones have been born for two decades (the reason for this is revealed in a quick bit of exposition, so keep your ears peeled), but Laura displays abilities very reminiscent of our title character, suggesting that the mutant gene may not have died out completely. What we have here is a classic Western story structure about transporting human cargo. This makeshift family treks along dusty Oklahoma highways in search of a supposed Eden, avoiding the evil scientist forces that constantly plague this world’s heroes.

In a first for the franchise, Logan is rated R, and it does not shy away from earning that rating. With Wolverine’s penchant for slicing his enemies to smithereens, this potential was always there. And this is not just bloodlust for the sake of it. Logan does not have any new powers in this iteration, but he does deploy them in unprecedented fashion. Rendered sick by the same culprit that killed off the rest of mutantkind, there is greater vulnerability to his carnage. His earlier appearances have not lacked for thrillingly hardcore action, but with his healing power, the stakes have never been as high as they are in Logan. Every thrash of his claw becomes profoundly cathartic.

Logan works primarily as an acting showcase for Jackman, Stewart, and Keen. This entry just solidifies the Aussie’s performance as one of the most iconic bits of casting in cinema history. Stewart plays the telepathic leader in a key that I would have never anticipated. I am not entirely sure it all works, but it is undoubtedly riveting, and I admire Stewart for venturing into such dangerous territory. Keen is a spitfire and a revelation. It takes a special breed of 11-year-old to go toe-to-toe with a hairy beast, and she’s got what it takes. All signs point to Jackman hanging up the claws for good after this entry, and if this means that Keen can inherit the mantle, we are in good hands.

Logan is Recommended If You Like: The berserker scene from X2The Hateful EightThe Nice GuysLooper

Grade: 4 out of 5 Decapitations