Best Film Directors of the 2010s

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CREDIT: YouTube Screenshots

I’ve got another extra-innings Best of the 2010s for ya. This time, the focus is on Film Directors, those folks who hang out behind the camera and let everyone know how they would like the movie to go.

Based on the eligibility rules of the poll that I submitted my list to, each director had to have at least two films come out between 2010 and 2019 to be considered. I made my selections based on a combination of how much I enjoyed their output and how much they influenced the medium and the culture at large.

My choices, along with their 2010s filmography, are listed below.

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Movie Review: ‘The Lego Movie 2’ Has Some More Valuable Lessons to Teach Us With Bright Colors and Peppy Songs

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CREDIT: Warner Bros.

Starring: Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Tiffany Haddish, Stephanie Beatriz, Charlie Day, Alison Brie, Nick Offerman

Director: Mike Mitchell

Running Time: 107 Minutes

Rating: PG for Traumatizing Lego Destruction

Release Date: February 8, 2019

Where does a sequel go after the original makes such a definitive statement? This is the conundrum facing The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part. (That subtitle is infinitely unnecessary, but not indicative of the movie’s humor as a whole, and also this title would have looked rather naked without a subtitle.) 2015’s first part summed up in cinematic form the whole ethos of the iconic Danish building blocks: in a world that often favors rigidity and conformity, you cannot give up on your individuality, because everyone can be and is special. Childlike imagination and wonder are what fueled The Lego Movie to be as successful as it was. Those values will get you pretty far in life. So why do any more statements need to be made?

It turns out that while The Lego Movie offers a philosophy with wide-ranging applicability, it is not quite a grand unified theory that covers absolutely everything. It spoke to the power of a singular creative vision, but The Second Part demonstrates how collaboration is equally vital. Emmet Brickowski (Chris Pratt) and his Lego friends are now living in the wasteland Apocalypseburg, because in the human world that is controlling them, a little sister has invaded the playspace of her big brother. So Emmet, Lucy (Elizabeth Banks), Batman (Will Arnett), and company head out to broker a peace with some differently designed block-creatures. This leads to permanent bachelor Batman becoming engaged to a sparkly shape-shifter voiced by Tiffany Haddish, while Superman (Channing Tatum) lives happily alongside General Zod in a Stepford-esque perfect suburb.

Sizing up the situation, Emmet believes that his mission is to free his friends from the brainwashing of strangers. But while it may seem that all is not what it seems, it turns out that that particular mystery trope is not being played as straight as you might expect. The Lego Movie taught us to be skeptical about a constantly smiling world insisting that everything is awesome, but it also taught us that awesomeness sometimes really is awesome if it has genuine feeling behind it. The candy-coated invading milieu of The Second Part initially appears to be fundamentally suspicious. But sometimes a bright, peppy outer layer is only covering a bright and rewarding core. Sometimes a catchy song that jams itself right in your head is so buoyant that you’re happy it’s stuck there. Belief in yourself is important, but don’t forget to be open-minded about everyone else.

The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part is Recommended If You Like: The Lego Movie and its spin-offs, Playing with your siblings

Grade: 4 out of 5 Catchy Songs

This Is A Movie Review: The Lego Movie

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The ending of The Lego Movie was spoiled for me before I saw it.  I’m not complaining; it is my prerogative to not go out of my way to avoid spoilers.  And it wasn’t specifically spoiled in any one review – I put the details together from various reviews and comments sections.  It is also my prerogative when writing my own reviews to include spoiler-ish information if useful, so be forewarned and stop reading if you feel you must.  I believe that a great movie still holds up even if I know the ending ahead of time, whether or not that ending is surprising.  But if it is a surprise, it is fun to have that surprise revealed when it is meant to be.  But, oddly enough, I think I actually enjoyed The Lego Movie more than I would have without knowing the ending.  Each point of conflict was so much more resonant because I knew it was supposed to have sprung from the imagination of a young boy trying to get through to his dad.

Surprise or no, that last scene worked brilliantly.  I loved the way it was directed and edited.  Obviously there was plenty of care given to the visual aesthetic of the majority of the movie, goofily capturing the herky-jerky rhythm of moving blocks around.  Directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller probably could have gotten away with blowing off the live-action portion, but it appears that they gave it just as much care.  There are several high shots of Dad Will Ferrell that are blocked by the Lego models that effectively convey a child’s POV and just look cool.  Also, props must be given for the psychedelic transitions of Emmet traveling between the Lego and real worlds that made everything disorienting in the best way.

The message of The Lego Movie is inspiring, and it is phrased in a perfectly nuanced way.  A prophecy declares that whoever finds the Piece of Resistance will be “the Special,” the one who will save the world.  And so it is that Emmet, a simple construction worker, finds himself in this position.  But Emmet doesn’t find himself among the more obvious Master Builders like Wyldstyle, Batman, and 1980-Something Space Guy because everyone is special; he is among them because anyone can be special.  You see, Vitruvius made up the prophecy, but that does not mean it wasn’t true.  It just meant it was incumbent on Emmet to make it become true.  And so it is for everyone to figure out how to be special themselves, knowing when to follow instructions and when to imagine whatever they can think of. A