Eric and I share a vision for Leveller, but our opinions on movies differ. After reading his post on the top ten films of the decade, I decided that I needed to share my own opinions on the best cinema of since 2010.
- Ryan Clarkson, Co-Founder and Co-CEO
Free Solo (2018, d. Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin)
The most thrilling documentary I’ve ever seen. The film’s subject, Alex Honnold, may well be a madman, but I’m grateful we had a chance to witness his climbs.
The Salesman (2016, d. Asghar Farhadi)
This Iranian drama of trauma, healing, and revenge left me stunned and shattered; this is a film of brutal honesty. Its invocation of Arthur Miller reminded me of pioneering Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami’s playfully experimental and referential movies, but Farhadi is very much his own filmmaker. I’m honored that star Shahab Hosseini will appear in Leveller’s first film, The Night.
Ex Machina (2014, d. Alex Garland)
Alex Garland began as a novelist in the nineties and became a screenwriter in the early 2000s. So far he’s only directed two films, Ex Machina and Annihilation, but both impressed me enormously: Beautifully composed, stunningly acted, and philosophically engaged science fiction.
Drive (2011, d. Nicolas Winding Refn)
The rare film where style is substance, a pared-down and amped-up masterpiece from Nicholas Winding Refn. For all its minimalist cool, intense action, and limited dialogue, Drive somehow manages to be a character study too.
Spotlight (2015, d. Tom McCarthy)
A non-flashy film about non-flashy people doing their job and changing the world. The Boston Globe gave its reporters leeway to investigate and report on stories that might not bear fruit, that might inspire legal action, and that might offend readers. The result, of course, changed the world.
Once Upon A Time in Hollywood (2019, d. Quentin Tarantino)
I’m still not quite sure what Tarantino was trying to accomplish with this mix of California chill, wishful thinking, and nightmarish ultraviolence, but I’m pretty sure he succeeded at his task. The movie theater vignette is one of the most beautiful, and sad, scenes of the decade.
Moonlight (2016, d. Barry Jenkins)
Eric and I agree that Moonlight is one of the essential films of the new millennium. No Best Picture winner in years has deserved its award more: Moonlight is topical but timeless, universal but particular.
12 Years A Slave (2013, d. Steve McQueen)
Perhaps the most harrowing of Steve McQueen’s movies, which is something to say if you’ve seen Hunger and Shame, 12 Years a Slave never flinches or flatters. This is urgent and accomplished art.
Arrival (2016, d. Denis Villeneuve)
A science fiction blockbuster about aliens, language, and motherhood? Only Denis Villeneuve could pull it off. Amy Adams gives a career-best performance as a linguist drawn into a first-contact situation when mysterious alien monoliths land on Earth. Compelling and surprising even if you know the (incredible) twist going in.
The Irishman (2019, d. Martin Scorsese)
Like Eric, I thought this was the best film Scorsese made in a decade in which he directed at least three masterpieces. The Irishman is in rich conversation with Scorsese’s own films, with the director’s faith, and with American history. It takes its time, but I wouldn’t cut a single frame.