The Best of the Decade – Part Three

Read on as I conclude my favourite films of the decade!

4. Green Room (2015)
The exploration of subcultures in film is an interesting one (and one I don’t feel we see enough of). In the case of ‘Green Room’, this subculture is that of neo-nazi skinheads. Here, a punk rock band find themselves trapped in an excluded venue, filled with people who represent this morally questionable section of society. The portrayal of these skinheads and the struggling band feels so incredibly genuine without appearing as on-the-nose. 

I love that the band-members make increasingly erratic decisions as the film goes on. For me, this perfectly aligns with real life and is different to standard horror movies where characters seem to be stupid from the get-go, simply as a mechanism for furthering the plot. 

The action and violence isn’t constant but has a serious punch when it does occur. And Patrick Stewart as the leader of this skinhead group works so well. Despite all of this, ‘Green Room’ is a tricky film to overtly recommend. I hated every second of this miserable film, yet I still loved it and keep coming back to it. Does that make any sense? Probably not. Imagine receiving an adrenaline shot for 90 minutes and you’ll start to get a pretty clear picture of exactly what ‘Green Room’ is all about.

Copyright A24

3. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (2015)
This one is low-key in just about every sense of the word. Right from the beginning, the film makes a point of distancing itself from seemingly similar movies which fall into the brimming cauldron of teen romance.

‘Me and Earl and the Dying Girl’ is a teen movie for people who don’t like teen movies. It’s the story of a distant and aloof high-schooler (Greg) who finds his world outlook rapidly distorted upon befriending a classmate who has recently been diagnosed with cancer. Greg is what makes this movie work so well. He treads a very fine line between wonderful depth and being a downright unlikeable protagonist. His dead-pan comedy and refusal to associate himself with a particular clique helps to elevate his friendship with Rachel (the ‘dying girl’) to levels which few other similar movies reach.

Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s direction is subtle yet effective, providing a gentle push towards the underlying themes and messages, without ever beating you over the head with this information. It’s just a touching and brilliantly written story with completely believable characters and relationships. Imagine ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ without the eye-roll inducing, nauseating dialogue and you’re almost there.

Copyright Fox Searchlight Pictures

2. Kick-Ass (2010)
The biggest compliment to ‘Kick-Ass’ is that I hold it in the same regard as ‘Unbreakable’ (2000). The pair comprise my two favourite superhero films and both helped to re-define what the saturated genre was capable of. I remember watching this, right at the beginning of the decade. Back then, I wasn’t particularly sold but in between multiple rewatches spanning the 10 years since, I have grown to love ‘Kick-Ass’. 

Here, we don’t see a being from another galaxy with the ability to fly and shoot laser-beams, or a ultra-rich billionaire dipping into the toybox for his latest high-tech gadget. Instead, we see an everyman bumble his way into a world of ruthless mobsters and 11 year-old killing machines. The result is an unbelievably entertaining and surprisingly feel good flick. 

The acting and casting is all on point, the soundtrack is fantastic and the action scenes are brilliant and unforgettable. In particular, Hit Girl’s corridor shootout with the mafia runts and the superb strobe light rescue. I think the latter scene in particular marked the point of elevation from a fun action movie to something verging towards the realm of ‘masterpiece’.

I love ‘Kick-Ass’ more every time I watch it. It perfectly blends action with a well-crafted story and reaches places which few other similar films can.

Copyright Lionsgate

1. The Social Network (2010)
When I was coming up with the selections for this list, I was quite surprised when it dawned on me that ‘The Social Network’ was number one. But then, as I gave it some more thought, I realised it just had to be. This film is superb in just about every aspect and I really struggle to find any kind of fault to pick with it. 

In case you don’t know, this is the origin story of Facebook (originally named ‘The Facebook’). We’re shown the story through two separate legal cases, in both of which Mark Zuckerberg finds himself in danger of being sued for hundreds of millions of dollars. I love this type of storytelling. Jumping between the flashbacks and the legal cases helps to keep the outcome interesting. Despite us ultimately knowing the prolific heights which Facebook reached, we quickly become more invested in the legality of the matter. The focus shifts from being about the destination to that of the journey.

The score is great and does so much more than just sound nice. It helps to match the tone at any given moment. I often criticise Jesse Eisenberg for basically playing the same role in every film: a quick witted, fast talking and slightly awkward geek (or some slight variation on this combination). But, this is the role he was born to play. His natural mannerisms perfectly align with that of Zuckerberg.

‘The Social Network’ is a wonderfully crafted story, showing how something can grow from nothing, and the inevitable conflicts which will be cultivated as a result of the enormity of something like Facebook. Such is it’s solidity as a cultural behemoth of our society, it almost seems crazy to imagine a time when it didn’t exist. And guess what? Aaron Sorkin – who wrote the screenplay here, was also one of the co-writers on ‘Moneyball’. So he’s had a pretty good decade by all accounts in my book.

Copyright Sony Pictures

Featured Image Copyright Metro.style

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