Papiro & Mint is back with the second part of the article A Decade in Film: 10 Years 100 Movies. Since 2019 marks the last year of the 2010 decade, I’ve decided to gather the 100 most important and influential movies of the last ten years. Divided in four parts, the movies will be organized by release date and will be posted each week until we reach the movies of 2018, covering their significance and a personal intake from each title.
For the second part of this article I’ve chosen nothing less than 24 movies to cover the years of 2012 and 2013 – the latter being a period of fantastic, creative, innovative and provocative films. I wish I could fit more movies, but these were the ones I thought were just.
“The Dark Knight Rises (2012)” by Christopher Nolan
If the second movie of a trilogy goes extremely well, it’s very likely that the third one will disappoint. Luckily, this was not the case with Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises. This third installment of the series is in my opinion not only the best movie from the three, but possibly one of the best super-hero movies ever made. It’s actually kind of dubious to put this trilogy in the super-hero category as what Christopher Nolan does with Batman is something extraordinary and of unique vision, transforming the cartoonish hero into something more complex, dark, serious and with extremely relevant content when it comes to social and political problems. A lot of people prefer The Dark Knight for the amazing performance by Heath Ledger and the tragedy surrounding his story, but we musn’t forget the conclusion of this such important film trilogy and what it means to Nolan’s career.
“The Master (2012)” by Paul Thomas Anderson
Being one of my favourite Paul Thomas Anderson’s film and probably one of his most strange ones, The Master is a lesson of cinema in the most peculiar way possible. Talking about a World War II soldier who returns home and decides to join a religious cult instead of facing his own demons, Anderson creates a very strange and bizarre tale of madness and obsession from the absurdity of what war does to soldiers to what religious leader does to communities. Shot with a masterful cinematography and outstanding performances, The Master is a kind of film that you won’t exactly know what is about but you will definitely realise it’s an incredible film for how it’s done and how it differ from anything you’ve ever seen.
“The Hunt (2012)” by Thomas Vintenberg
A film that I haven’t heard people talking about it for a while and I definitely need a revisit is Thomas Vinterberg’s The Hunt. With movements like MeToo and Time’s Up, this film probably wouldn’t be selected for the Oscars as it was then for portraying how the life of an innocent man accused of child abuse is destroyed within a community. On the other hand, is an extremely important film for showing how we can end someone’s life for something based on humors. Not waiting to confirm the facts before we take action. The Hunt had a great impact on me when I’ve first watched it, and it gave a Cannes Award for Best Actor to Mads Mikkelsen; but with everything that’s been going around in Hollywood, I’m not sure if it can be seen as the same. Either way, it’s a great film from the 2010 decade.
“Frances Ha (2012)” by Noah Baumbach
From probably one of the best collaborations in a movie of this decade, Frances Ha was an instant indie classic when it was released. Shot in a remarkable black and white cinematography and starring Greta Gerwig – who also wrote the film – Frances Ha is one of the first movies to portray a millennial story that is not only taken seriously but also shown in an artistic and beautiful way. It’s like a millennial Manhattan and the more the years pass the more important Frances Ha seems to become. Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig tried to repeat this formula in Mistress America but I must admit that is here where it lies the masterpiece.
“Moonrise Kingdom (2012)” by Wes Anderson
Wes Anderson was a little more indie when Moonrise Kingdom came out. Even though everybody started talking about him after The Grand Budapest Hotel, Moonrise Kingdom is still in my opinion, his greatest film to date. The director style is so right for this film that many things that he does here ended up being a joke of his own signature – which is probably why is so brilliant! The perfect cinematography, the color palate, the impressive cast, the soundtrack and many other details that makes this film so special. And oh, let’s not forget Lucas Hedges’ first role! People only talk about The Grand Budapest Hotel nowadays, but we mustn’t forget how awesome Moonrise Kingdom really is.
“Amour (2012)” by Michael Haneke
It’s interesting to see that this is Michael Haneke’s most well-known film. It won the Palm d’Or at Cannes Film Festival, the Oscar for Best Foreign Film and it got a nomination for Best Picture, Director and Actress at the Academy Awards. But being one of my favourite directors of all times, I have to say this is not my favourite of his works. Either way, Amour is an extremely important film from 2012 for getting all of this attention, and specially for giving Haneke his second Palm d’Or. Is a very touching and subtle film about love, life and death, but if you watch Haneke’s previous works you’ll see that his material was way more intense and shocking back then. I guess this is more of a sentimental version of Haneke, but still very good.
“Zero Dark Thirty (2012)” by Kathryn Bigelow
The movie that should have won the Oscars back in 2012, Zero Dark Thirty is a 157 minutes version of Homeland. Even though the TV show with Claire Danes started in 2011, we can’t deny the similarities. But don’t think I’m saying bad things because of it! I love Homeland and Zero Dark Thirty was not only amazing but incredibly important for portraying the real story of the female operative who discovered where Osama Bin Laden was hidden. This may sound like an american nationalist film, but having a brilliant actor like Jessica Chastain in the lead and the badass female director Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty became a powerful, tense and exciting thriller about commitment and life purpose.
“The Life of Pi” by Ang Lee
A movie that is kind of being forgotten throughout the years but its importance couldn’t be taken for granted is Ang Lee’s Life of Pi. With an outstanding cinematography and ground-breaking special effects, the movie is a 2 hour adventure in the middle of sea shot entirely in a studio. For a movie that happens mostly on a boat in the middle of the ocean, The Life of Pi embraces film language to perform what cinema does best: to perform beautiful images. The result, beyond impressively beautiful, was nothing less than 11 Oscar nominations and an Academy Award for Best Director and Special Effects.
“The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)” by Stephen Chbosky
I wasn’t really sure if I was going to put this film on the list, but the more I thought about it and compared to the teenage movies that are being made nowadays, I couldn’t help but having to bring this one up as it’s probably one of the most important teenage dramas of the decade. We always think bad things when we talk about teenage movies but everybody loves the ones from the 80s. Not that The Perks of Being a Wallflower looks like an 80s film, but it’s so relevant and it treats the material in such a natural and careful way that is impossible not to love it. Based on the book by Stephen Chbosky, who also wrote and directed the film, The Perks of Being a Wallflower deals with important themes such as depression, sexual abuse, homosexuality, love and friendship without suffering from the desperation of being cool like most movies nowadays. It was also a big deal when it came out and the book which is based on has already become a classic.
“Skyfall (2012)” by Sam Mendes
Who cares about James Bond in 2019? I think that was also the question back in 2012 when they created a new version of the character played by Daniel Craig. Was it going to last, though? When Sam Mendes came on board, no one was expecting what happened with Skyfall, a fresh, dark and interesting thriller that deconstructs everything we think we’ve known about Bond by going back to his origins. Or at least, Daniel Craig’s version of it. The direction and cinematography of this movie are beautiful and it can be seen definitely as one of the best James Bond’s films. Not mentioning the great performance of Javier Barden as Raoul Silva who was ignored by the Academy. Fortunately, it won for Best Song, giving the award for Adele.
“Argo (2012)” by Ben Affleck
With seven Oscar nominations and the big winner of Best Picture at the Academy Awards that year, Argo is probably Ben Affleck’s greatest film but not the best of 2012. Its relevance comes most from winning an Oscar but most people have probably forgotten that it exists. Wich doesn’t mean is a bad film though! The idea of adapting an article about the production of a fake movie in Iran to save the people from the American Embassy who were being held as hostages in the 70’s seem to have been made for the big screen, which even received an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. But having Zero Dark Thirty, Amour and The Master on the same category, well, I must say I prefer to stay with the others.
“The Avangers (2012)” by Joss Whendon
I remember when I first watched The Avangers I thought to myself: what happened with the super-hero movies where the guy saves the girl? What is all of this space monster nonsense? Not liking this film doesn’t mean I don’t realise its importance as it was not only Marvel’s boldest film to date but it officially started the super-hero film era by putting all Marvel characters together and starting a film empire based on comic books. Of course Marvel was about to do something way bigger with Infinity War, but being the first movie to do something like this was tremendous, so we must recognize its importance within its genre. Or even better, the importance of the birth of a genre.
“The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)” by Martin Scorsese
I might not be a Martin Scorsese fan as most cinephiles are, but I must admit The Wolf of Wall Street is by far his best film to date. By telling the story Scorcese tells best – a man who is addicted to drugs and performs illegal operations to get richer than he already is – the movie embraces all of the Hollywood’s nonsense with an outstanding script and performances by Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill and Margot Robie. Without this film, I dare to say movies like The Big Short wouldn’t have happened through the following years, and it would have probably won the Oscar for Best Picture if 12 Years a Slave wasn’t nominated. But of course, how would the Academy give its biggest prize to a movie about sex, drugs, money and white men when you have one of the most important slave movies of the decade? More about that in a minute.
“Nymphomaniac (2013)” by Lars Von Trier
Probably one of my favourite movies of all times, Nymphomaniac is Lars Von Trier’s four hour sexual odyssey masterpiece. With scenes of explicit sex shot with porn actors, the film was a box office success divided in two parts that concluded Von Trier’s Trilogy of Depression. With an outstanding script, Nymphomaniac is a little divisive between film lovers but it’s extremely important when it comes to its content and the time it was released. It embraces the nature of punishment and martyrdom towards society’s standarts and I dare to say is one of the most feminist films ever made. This statement is up to debate, but you can’t deny Nymphomaniac is a 2013 classic and one of Lars Von Trier’s most notorious films.
“12 Years a Slave (2013)” by Steve McQueen
As I’ve said before, 12 Years a Slave was probably one of the most important movies about slavery of the decade. It’s also one of my favourite Best Picture Oscar winners since it is indeed incredibly good. Steve McQueen had only done Hunger and Shame when he asked Michael Fassbender to rejoin him to tell this story about a man who is forced to become a slave just because of his color. Chiwetel Ejiofor, Lupita Nyong’o and Fassbender do an amazing job with their characters and I definitely must re-watch this film as soon as possible. It not only won the Oscar for Best Picture in 2013, but also for Best Supporting Actress and Adapted Script within its nine nominations.
“Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)” by Joel and Ethan Cohen
I’ve never been such a big fan of the Coen Brothers, but I remember that when I’ve first watched this film I felt like I would’ve liked to have done it. With one of my favourite cinematography works of all times, Inside Llewyn Davis is a strange and funny story about the misadventures of a poor musician who keeps going around on circles and reaching nowhere. Inspired from the lives of several folk singers from the early 60s in NY City – especially Dave Van Ronk – the Coen Brothers make a beautiful work of loneliness, boredom and failure. Not mentioning there are surprising small cameos that makes the movie even better, like Garret Hedlund, Adam Driver and even a personification of Bob Dylan. One of the best anti-hero characters of this decade.
“The Immigrant (2013)” by James Gray
I really don’t know what happens with James Gray as he is an incredible director that makes marvelous films but no one seems to watch them. That’s the case with The Immigrant, a Cannes Award Palm d’Or nominee that was only distributed a year later in 2014. With an incredible cinematography and performances by Joaquin Phoenix and Marion Cotillard, The Immigrant is a forgotten pearl that never had the opportunity to shine by telling the story of a polish woman who goes to New York during the 20’s to find a better life but gets involved with prostitution. Mixing elements of magic and cabaret, The Immigrant is one of the most important films of the decades that no one seems to have watched.
“Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)” by Jim Jarmusch
After the vampire revival with Twilight, The Vampire Diaries, Hemlock Groove and god knows what else, Jim Jarmusch decided to make a real modern vampire film, which resulted in probably one of the coolest films ever made. With Tom Hiddleston, Tilda Swinton and Mia Wasikowska, Only Lovers Left Alive is a film that seems to have come out of an old record. By telling the story of a relationship between two ancient vampires, Jarmusch turns to his interest towards culture, music and art, building a film where these two vampires who are in love for each other but separated because of time, seem to be constantly analysing the time and the changing of things. The mystery surrounding life, the changes through civilization and the need of survival, resulting in a hypnotic film about music, life and death.
“Her (2013)” by Spike Jonze
From one of the most joyful filmmakers working in Hollywood today, Her is remarkable for many reasons. First, it’s a movie about humans falling in love for a piece of technology – more specifically, a sexy version of Siri from Apple. Second, the world where this story happens is not very far from what we’re living today and taking in consideration this was shot in 2013, Spike Jonze was very on point when it comes to predict how people would behave. Third, is an incredibly beautiful and modern story with a great performance by Joaquin Phoenix. Spike Jonze has always left a mark with movies like Being John Malkovich and Where the Wild Things Are, and in 2013 we had the pleasure of watching Her. Hopefully something new will come out from him soon enough!
“Under the Skin (2013)” by Jonathan Glazer
Under the Skin is the best example of the definition of a contemporary sci-fi art film. It’s a shame I haven’t seen many similar things being made afterwards, but its originality towards its format it’s so amazing that it’s impossible not to remember it when we think about the most remarkable films of the decade. Based on the book by Michel Faber, Jonathan Glazer created a narrative of his own by translating the language of writing into film grammar. The result is a very strange, mysterious and sexy film about an alien who eats the skins of human in Scotland to survive. At the same time, the film is about much more, tackling themes such as human feelings, people in exile and the feeling of desire.
“Blue is the Warmest Color (2013)” by Abdellatif Kechiche
Without a doubt one of the most interesting and revolutionary Palm d’Or winners, Blue is the Warmest Color is a three-hour odyssey about the relationship of two young girls in France. The story itself isn’t nothing that we haven’t seen it before, but the way Abdellatif Kechiche builds his film carries such important elements of representivity within the LGBT community that is impossible not to think about how modern this film is. With extremely long and graphic scenes and a very naturalistic mise en scene, Blue Is the Warmest Color is a revolutionary coming of age story where the actresses Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux give themselves completely to the lens of the film. The result is hypnotic.
“Stranger By the Lake (2013)” by Alain Guiraudie
Another very relevant LGBT film, Stranger By The Lake is a sexy and mysterious thriller set on a gay cruising beach where murders are taking place. With several Hitchcockian elements as the moving shadows, the voyeurs and the mysterious figure of the killer, the film presents a journey that mixes sex and death in a cat-and-mouse game that will make whoever is watching at the edge of their seat. Being extremely sensual and provocative, Alain Guiraudie does an amazing job by mixing genres in a creative and controversial way, resulting in one of the most interesting movies of 2013.
“Before Midnight (2013)” by Richard Linklater
Being one of my favourite trilogies of all times, Before Midnight is the last installment of Richard Linklater’s Before Trilogy with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. I have seen this film only once and I really need to re-watch it but I remember this was my least favourite film from all three. One way or the other, the importance of the film comes from concluding a trilogy that was made every nine years since 1995 with the same characters, using the same style of narrative with the same collaborations of the script, resulting in one of the most beautiful trilogies ever made.
“Gravity (2013)” by Alfonso Cuarón
The movie that I like the least from this list, Gravity is an outstanding film to look but not very interesting to watch. Nominated for four Academy Awards and giving Alfonso Cuarón his first Oscar, the film was innovative in terms of how it was shot, feeling like it was made through a giant long take in space. Unfortunately, good-looking special effects don’t make good movies, and I’m afraid what happens in Gravity is too absurd to swallow. Either way, an important within the film community.
Papiro & Mint will return next week with the third part of this article, covering the years of 2014 and 2015, my two favourite years of the decade!