Papiro & Mint is back with the third 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 2018, covering their significance and a personal intake from each title. You can check the first part of the article here and the second part here.
For this week, I’ve struggled to fit 20 movies into a list that covers the years of 2014 and 2015, both incredibly exciting years that I can say it’s probably one of my favorites from this decade. Also, 2015 brings back special memories since I was working in a movie theater at the time, so many movies from this list were actually watched on the big screen.
“The Tribe (2014)” by Myroslav Slaboshpytskyi
Watched at the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival, The Tribe is considered by me one of the most important movies of the decade for being shot entirely in sign language. Even though cinema itself started off without sound, Myroslav Slaboshpytskyi’s film can be seen as groundbreaking for using a language that is not well explored on films to tell the story of a teenage gang in a deaf-and-mute school. The fact The Tribe is showed without subtitles and it can still be understood is an exercise that part of the film is constructed through the audience and their imagination and intuition, which becomes extremely interesting when the film starts dealing with violence, prostitution, and immigration.
“Mommy (2014)” by Xavier Dolan
I really wonder why Xavier Dolan has created this love-or-hate relationship between cinephiles, as I find his body of work incredibly interesting and hypnotizing. Maybe I can see some things from his early movies that people don’t like, but Mommy is so brilliant and powerful that I start wondering if people aren’t just being jealous. Having shared the Special Jury Prize with Jean-Luc Godard at Cannes Film Festival, Xavier Dolan’s fifth film is a 140 minutes odyssey shot on a 4:5 aspect ratio about the relationship of a mother with her troubling son. With a lot of influences from video-clips and 90s culture, an amazing cinematography and strong performances, Mommy exhales a style of its own. The fact it was written and directed by a 25-year-old Canadian actor makes Mommy a definitely must-watch.
“Whiplash (2014)” by Damien Chazelle
Another great film from a young director, Whiplash was incredibly fresh and different when it came out. The fact Damien Chazelle would make La La Land and First Man in the years to come, makes Whiplash one of the most interesting debuts of this decade, as it won three Oscars – Sound Mixing, Editing and Supporting Actor – out of the five Academy Awards nominations, including Best Picture. I still think this is Chazelle’s best film.
“Leviathan (2014)” by Andrey Zvyagintsev
From the same director that would late make Loveless, Leviathan is a 140-minute movie about life, politics, and religion. Despite having very strong themes, Andrey Zvyagintsev makes an extremely subtle film about a family who won’t give up their land to the mayor and the consequences of that act, which are so powerful and shocking that it’s impossible not to feel speechless as the credits roll. Is a very raw and dark study of the human society, which makes Leviathan in my opinion, one of the most hard-watching films of the decade.
“Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance (2014)” by Alejandro González Iñárriatu.
It’s still very interesting to remember that Birdman has won Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Shot “in a single take” inside of a theater in New York City, the movie is nothing like what the Academy is used to praise, but it’s so powerful, different and smart that it would feel like treason if the film had lost (maybe not so much if Whiplash had won). Either way, Birdman is still one of the most innovative films of the decade, with brilliant performances by Michael Keaton, Emma Stone, Edward Norton, and Naomi Watts. Emmanuel Lubezki’s cinematography is a show of its own, which combining with Iñárriatu’s mise en scene, makes Birdman a classic from modern times.
“Interstellar (2014)” by Christopher Nolan
After The Dark Knight trilogy and Inception, Christopher Nolan came back with his most visionary film to date. Written alongside a real metaphysician, Interstellar is a modern 2001 that mixes themes such as family, life, space and time with powerful and hypnotic visuals build upon real concepts of physics, transforming Interstellar into a very unique and beautiful experience.
“Gone Girl (2014)” by David Fincher
I wonder what would have happened with Gone Girl without David Fincher, since everything he puts his hands on, results in astonishing films. Gone Girl is no different since it was commissioned by the big studios after Gillian Flynn’s best-selling book. Luckily, she was the one who wrote the script and with David Fincher’s magic touch, made this an exciting and dark thriller about a woman who goes missing in mysterious circumstances. The way the plot unfolds with its unpredictable twists is what makes Gone Girl so great, resulting in probably one of the most interesting movies of 2014.
“The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)” by Wes Anderson
Having received a way bigger attention than Moonrise Kingdom, The Grand Budapest Hotel is probably Wes Anderon’s most important film. With an impeccable production design, cinematography and performances, the movie is a smart and brilliant tale about the misadventures of a hotel manager who inherits a painting from a rich old woman and a bell boy who works for him. Despite having every Wes Anderson’s signature style, The Grand Budapest Hotel seems to be different from his previous works by experimenting with elements that he has never used before, resulting in Anderson’s most visionary film and one of 2014’s best.
“The Babadook (2014)” by Jennifer Kent
Every once in a while, a horror movie seems to stand out within the cinephile community and The Babadook gets this attention with great reason. Being a very smart film that plays with tropes of the double, the hidden traumas that comes to hunt us and the Hitchcockian house metaphor of the mind, The Babadook is a great horror movie about an apparition that comes to haunt a family after they discover a mysterious book in the house. Jennifer Kent, however, creates a movie way deeper than what it looks, resulting in a very scary and different horror film. Not mentioning Essie Davis’ incredible performance, who like Toni Collette in Hereditary, deserved an Oscar nomination.
“Boyhood (2014)” by Richard Linklater
Shot during nothing less than 12 years with the same actors, Boyhood is a very interesting study of time by following the life of a kid through more than a decade. Even though this has been made before with a series of a documentary by Michael Apted and the Antoine Doinel’s series by François Truffaut; Boyhood is the first American fiction film to show this event of a coming of age story through time and adolescence. In my opinion, it has little depth problems, but we can’t ignore the fact is an important film.
“Victoria (2015)” by Sebastian Schipper
If Birdman gave us the illusion of being shot on a single take, Victoria is literally a 120-minute film with no cuts, which resulted in an Outstanding Artistic Contribution for Cinematography Award at Berlin Film Festival. Even though the story is only about a woman who decides to join a bank robbery with some people she met on a club, Victoria ends up being an extremely tense and powerful film by Sebastian Schipper’s mise en scene, who had to build his way through Sturla Brandth Grøvlen’s cinematography, whose signature in the film is probably as important as the director.
“The Lobster (2015)” by Yorgos Lanthimos
Without a doubt Yorgos Lanthimos’ best film, The Lobster is by far the most original and creative movie of the decade. Telling the story of a world where everybody has to live as a couple, Yorgos Lanthimos focuses on the story of a single man who needs to go through the process of finding his soul mate on a hotel, otherwise, he will end up like an animal. With a very dark and twisted sense of humor, The Lobster is made in a beautiful and poetic way that uses dark humor to explore the hidden emotions of human nature.
“The Revenant (2015)” by Alejandro González Iñárriatu
The movie that finally gave Leonardo DiCaprio his first Oscar, The Revenant is a beautifully shot western in the snow. If his performance isn’t enough motivation to watch this film, Iñárriatu creates a very realistic and challenging movie about a man trying to survive in the snow, which is accompanied by Emmanuel Lubezki’s incredible cinematography, resulting in three Academy Awards – director, actor, and cinematography – out of the 12 Oscar nominations. I don’t know why this film didn’t get Best Picture, as it lost to Spotlight. Either way, it’s still one of the most important movies of that year.
“The Hateful Eight (2015)” by Quentin Tarantino
Even though everybody loves Quentin Tarantino, I have several problems with the director. Either way, I can’t deny The Hateful Eight is probably one of Tarantino’s greatest films. Being another western shot in the snow, Tarantino’s movie was built on a massive scale and format – shot on 65mm using Panavision anamorphic lenses with an aspect ratio of 2.76:1 and projected on Ultra Panavision 7 with the soundtrack composed by Ennio Morricone. More than that, the script, direction, and editing of the film are beautiful to watch, resulting in a 167-minute film where everything can and will go wrong.
“Son of Saul (2015)” by Lászlo Nemes
Winner of the Best Foreign Film at the Academy Awards and watched at the Jew Film Festival in Santa Fe, Son of Saul is probably one of the most haunting movies of the decade by telling the story of a jew in a concentration camp who works at the facility’s gas chambers. Shot entirely in close-ups, Lászlo Nemes builds a claustrophobic mise en scene where the faith of a man will be tested in a place where it can easily be compared to hell, resulting in a disturbing film which its unique format can’t easily be found on the big screens anymore.
“Carol (2015)” by Todd Haynes
I don’t know why this film didn’t make to the Director and Best Picture nominations at the Academy Award that year, but Carol is definitely worthy of such acclamation. Based on the novel by Patricia Highsmith, who also received an article at Papiro & Mint, Carol is a beautiful movie about the relationship of two women set in the 50s in New York City. Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara are hypotonic through Todd Hayne’s incredible direction, resulting in one of the most touching films of 2015.
“Inside Out (2015)” by Peter Docter and Ronnie Del Carmen
Also considered in my opinion one of Pixar’s greatest films, Inside Out is a beautiful and important movie about the feelings of a child and the confusions of growing up by tackling themes such as depression. Being a smart allegory for the understanding of happiness, sadness and the combination of both, the movie is extremely original and creative by showing how these feelings behave inside our minds and how they drive us through our daily lives.
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” by J.J Abrams
Who would have thought Star Wars would be back? I must admit I only started paying attention to the franchise when this film came out, so I can’t through a lot of back story to this one. Either way, the fact one of the most famous franchises of the world came back is definitely a reason to mention The Force Awakens here. Not only that, the movie itself is great, by honoring George Lucas’ world and retransforming it to a new generation that didn’t grow up with the characters of Lucas Skywalker and Darth Vader. Maybe Disney went a little crazy after that with Rogue One and Hans Solo, but we can’t deny that this episode is great and extremely relevant.
“Mad Max: Fury Road” by George Miller
And speaking of comebacks, Mad Max: Fury Road was probably one of the best surprises of the decade. Being written and directed by the same creator of the originals, George Miller retransformed his world into pure madness in an incredible production design and a very smart and modern script where the girls are actually the heroes. With an outstanding sound design, editing and cinematography, Mad Max was nominated for 10 Academy Awards and took 6 Oscars home for Best Costume Design, Makeup, Editing, Production Design, Sound Editing, and Sound Mixing.
“The Witch (2015)” by Robert Eggers
And for last but not least, The Witch is another horror film that was – and is still is, incredibly praised for its artistic content. By telling the story of a family who resigns their community and goes live alone in the woods, Robert Eggers builds a very interesting, beautiful and disturbing tale about the deconstruction of a home by supernatural forces. With a very rustic production design and a minimalistic script, The Witch is also based on old folkloric tales, which made the film so haunting and special. Especially because of what happens in the end.
Next week, Papiro & Mint will conclude the series of articles by talking about the years of 2016, 2017 and 2018 in a very long and special list.