Best Movies of the 2010s

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CREDIT: YouTube Screenshots

I love movies.

I love films.

I love flicks.

It was a great time to be alive in the 2010s, as hundreds – thousands, even – of new cinematic offerings were produced and released. How did I manage to condense them down to the most wonderful of the wonderful? I consulted the projector within my mind’s eye and asked, “Did this make a positive, enduring impression on me (and possibly the rest of the world)?” The results of that endeavor are below, along with mentions of moments that I cannot help but declare my love for.

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The 2017 Jeff Malone Academy Awards

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CREDIT: Amazon Studios

If I were in charge of unilaterally selecting the Oscars, here is who would be selected. Nominees are listed alphabetically, winners in bold.

Best Picture
The Big Sick
I, Tonya
Lady Bird
Lady Macbeth
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Director
Darren Aronofsky, mother!
Luc Besson, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
Patty Jenkins, Wonder Woman
Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk
William Oldroyd, Lady Macbeth
Michael Showalter, The Big Sick

Lead Actor
Michael Fassbender, Alien: Covenant
Hugh Jackman, Logan
Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out
James McAvoy, Split
Algee Smith, Detroit

Lead Actress
Gal Gadot, Wonder Woman
Aubrey Plaza, Ingrid Goes West
Florence Pugh, Lady Macbeth
Margot Robbie, I, Tonya
Taylor Schilling, Take Me

Supporting Actor
Jake Gyllenhaal, Okja
Caleb Landry Jones, Get Out
Ray Romano, The Big Sick
Adam Sandler, The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
Patrick Stewart, Logan

Supporting Actress
Betty Gabriel, Get Out
Holly Hunter, The Big Sick
Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird
Michelle Pfeiffer, mother!
Allison Williams, Get Out

Adapted Screenplay
Dante Harper, Michael Green, John Logan, Jack Paglen, Alien: Covenant
Alice Birch, Lady Macbeth
Scott Frank, Michael Green, James Mangold, Logan
Luc Besson, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
Jason Fuchs, Allan Heinberg, Zack Snyder, Wonder Woman

Original Screenplay
Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon, The Big Sick
Kevin Costello and Kyle Mooney, Brigsby Bear
Steven Rogers, I, Tonya
Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird
Martin McDonagh, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Animated Feature
Coco
The LEGO Batman Movie
The LEGO Ninjago Movie

Cinematography
Bojan Bazelli, A Cure for Wellness
Hoyte van Hoytema, Dunkirk
Ari Wegner, Lady Macbeth
Darius Khondji, The Lost City of Z
Steve Yedlin, Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Costume Design
Natalie O’Brien, The Bad Batch
Stacey Battat, The Beguiled
Jennifer Johnson, I, Tonya
Holly Waddington, Lady Macbeth
Olivier Bériot, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Film Editing
Paul Machliss and Jonathan Amos, Baby Driver
Lee Smith, Dunkirk
Gregory Plotkin, Happy Death Day
Tatiana S. Riegel, I, Tonya
Jennifer Lame, The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)

Makeup and Hairstyling
Alien: Covenant
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Wonder

Original Score
Hans Zimmer, Dunkirk
Oneohtrix Point Never, Good Time
Jonny Greenwood, Phantom Thread
Alexandre Desplat, The Shape of Water
John Williams, Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Original Song
“Cut to the Feeling,” written by Carly Rae Jepsen, Leap!
“Mystery of Love,” written by Sufjan Stevens, Call Me by Your Name
“Remember Me,” written by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, Coco
“Tuff Love,” written by Geremy Jasper, Patti Cake$

Production Design
Alien: Covenant
Blade Runner 2049
Okja
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
Wonderstruck

Sound Editing
Baby Driver
Dunkirk
mother!
Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Sound Mixing
Baby Driver
Dunkirk
mother!
Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Visual Effects
Blade Runner 2049
Okja
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
War for the Planet of the Apes

Documentary
I didn’t watch enough documentaries this year.

Foreign Language Film
A Fantastic Woman
Foxtrot
Loveless
Raw
The Square

Animated Short
Garden Party

Live Action Short
The Eleven O’Clock

Documentary Short Subject
Heroin(e)

Best Movies of 2017

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These movies are gooood

CREDIT: YouTube Screenshots

This ranking was originally posted on News Cult in December 2017.

There are several women-centric films on my 2017 best-of list, with multiple ladies and women appearing right there in the titles. As this has been the year of #MeToo, is this female presence a trend, or just a coincidence? My gut says the latter, as any year’s cinema is deep, wide, and collaborative, and therefore resulting from a multitude of sources. But fresh storytelling resonates with me (and with most critics, I believe), so it makes sense that those who have been previously silenced are highlighted among the best when they are finally able to tell their stories.

Great movies that didn’t quite make my list include Alien: Covenant, Blade Runner 2049, Detroit, The Florida Project, Get Out, Happy Death Day, Logan, Logan Lucky, Okja, Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Victoria & Abdul, and War for the Planet of the Apes.

10. The Disaster Artist
James Franco finds his perfect passion project in revealing and gussying up the making of the best worst movie of all time. The ethos of the confused but accidentally brilliant The Room and its fandom are inherently infused in this mix of the conventional and the once-in-a-lifetime.

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This Is a Movie Review: The Big Sick

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This review was originally posted on News Cult in June 2017.

Starring: Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Ray Romano, Holly Hunter

Director: Michael Showalter

Running Time: 119 Minutes

Rating: R for Adults and Comedians Talking Like Adults and Comedians

Release Date: June 23, 2017 (Limited)/Expands July 14, 2017

The Big Sick follows the classic rom-com template in a lot of ways despite not  resembling any other entry in the genre in any obvious fashion. But if you look close enough, that formula is there. There’s a meet-cute, a dramatic misunderstanding, and a climactic reunion. It is usually that middle portion when lesser rom-coms start to become annoying or even offensive, but when the miscommunications happen because one half of the central couple is in a coma, the struggles along the way to that happy ending become a lot more understandable.

Based on the real-life courtship of comedian Kumail Nanjiani (who plays a fictionalized version of himself) and his co-writer/now-wife Emily V. Gordon, The Big Sick is an astute portrayal of culture clash, modern romance tics, and the workaday stand-up comedy lifestyle. Kumail hits it off with Emily (Zoe Kazan) after she kinda, sorta heckles him, they go back to his place so that they can hook up and he can show her some cool obscure genre flicks like The Abominable Dr. Phibes (she teasingly takes him to task for testing her pop culture tastes). Soon enough they are basically inseparable. Alas, Kumail has been keeping Emily a secret from his parents because he comes from a traditional Pakistani family that practices arranged marriage, so any future with her comes with a risk of being ostracized. This would all be enough conflict on its own, but on top of that, just after they break, Emily succumbs to a mysterious illness that leads to doctors placing her in a medically induced coma.

Classic rom-com humor tends to spring from witticisms and oddball characterizations, but The Big Sick’s most hilarious elements come from its knack for outrageous joke-telling. This is called playing to your strengths. Nanjiani is one of the most top-tier funnymen around today, and the rest of the film’s core stand-up crew are played by some reliable comedic heavy hitters (Kurt Braunohler, Aidy Bryant, Bo Burnham). The Big Sick wins you over because it goes broad and plentiful with its emotions. Every moment of worry over Emily’s health is counteracted with a big guffaw.

Nanjiani and company further distinguish themselves within the rom-com mold in how the make-up and reunion portion plays out. Kumail and Emily find themselves back to each other thanks mostly to the work he puts in with her parents, Terry (Ray Romano) and Beth (Holly Hunter). Romano brings the soulful gravitas he has made his specialty in his dramatic roles, but his comic chops are just as sharp as the young guns around him, and Hunter is the same spitfire we have loved for so long (her confrontation of a racist heckler is one of the film’s best scenes). While Kazan is unconscious for much of the narrative, she does not get shortchanged in the deal (SPOILER ALERT that is kind of given away by one of the film’s co-writers being alive), as she and Kumail still have to hash everything out once she is awake, which justifies the fairly lengthy running time (right around 2 hours). Ultimately, you can feel that every element of the story is in the right place; surely some elements were fictionalized, but the emotional truth is always full-to-bursting.

The Big Sick is Recommended If You Like: Knocked Up, Master of None, Ruby Sparks

Grade: 5 out of 5 Drop Ins