A Half-Decade of Film

When the last decade ended, in 2009, I was finishing university studies and about to make a few major life changes. This time around I have much more ability to be reflective and to think about my favorite things from the past year and decade.

To that end, I have complied a list of my most memorable films from each year in this past decade, from 2010-2019. I really enjoy going to the cinema and watching a movie on the “big screen”. Films have a way of moving me out of my normal life and normal concerns and putting me into a new headspace, even if for just a few hours. I suspect that it does the same for most moviegoers.

For my end of decade list, I have a few comments about each film, and then will pick a top film from each year. That will culminate in a top film for the decade. It won’t be easy, considering my list and my tastes. Also, this is only the first five years. The second five will be a second post.

By the way, this is simply my list. Your list may, and probably should, look different. We all love what we love, and in our own ways. In fact, I would love to know your top films from the past decade, or any particular year. Leave a comment and let me know.

2010

Toy Story 3
Iron Man 2
Inception
Scott Pilgrim vs the World
Tron: Legacy
True Grit

Toy Story 3 made me cry. I am not gonna lie. I really thought the toys were going to face their end, and I got choked up. It was an incredible story, and a great ending to the toy’s story. You’ll notice that Toy Story 4 won’t be on my list, and there is a reason for that. I think Toy Story 3 ended things so well. Iron Man 2 and Scott Pilgrim make the cut because I simply enjoy watching them so much. They are just so much fun. Inception is mind bending and fantastic. A great thrilling story that is a mystery at heart. And it has such incredible visuals. What’s not to love?

True Grit is a great character drama, so well cast, and wonderfully done. Tron: Legacy was the first film I saw in 3D, and the spectacle was well worth it. It is also a movie I will watch at almost any time. The music by Daft Punk is spellbinding. Beyond that, I love so many of the lines from the film. Top pick? It’s gotta be Tron: Legacy.

2011

Battle: Los Angeles
Fast Five
X-Men: First Class
Captain America: The First Avenger
Cowboys and Aliens
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

I don’t go in for war movies as much as I did when I was younger. The human cost weighs too heavily on my soul. However, Battle:LA is a sci-fi war movie, and thus divorced from the usual “based on actual events”. I love Aaron Eckhart in this movie, and truly find it entertaining. Fast 5 proved that the Fast & Furious franchise could be something enduring, by taking the street racing genre to a heist film. Honestly, people though F&F was done until this movie. X-Men: First Class was the new beginning of X-Men films, and the amazing cast solidified the new series as well worth watching.

Captain America was a true period super hero film, though not the last. After a slight downturn with Thor and Iron Man 2, Marvel needed a hit to take them into Avengers and got it in spades. Many people dislike Cowboys and Aliens, but this is another film that I just really enjoy watching. A straight western, but with aliens, and with James Bond and Han Solo/Indiana Jones. What’s not to love? Finally, Sherlock Holmes with Robert Downy, Jr. I am a huge fan of both, and this film delivered on both in the same way the first Sherlock film did. Top pick? I’m going with Captain America on this one.

2012

Cabin in the Woods
Skyfall
Avengers
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Horror is not my genre, but then Cabin in the Woods isn’t straight horror. It is a blood soaked love letter to horror with zombies (sort of). Anyway, I just really, really love it. Plus, its by Joss Whedon and I enjoy most of his cinematic work. This feels like a spiritual end to both Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Skyfall is one of my favorite James Bond films. It to me is classic Bond. I have been a Tolkien fan since the first Lord of the Rings film was announced, and I think this Hobbit film was a great adaptation. Also, the 3D High Frame Rate was completely breathtaking and immersive.

Avengers was the culmination of everything since Iron Man, and successfully blended five movies and six heroes into an ensemble film that was the best of all that had come before. Now that the Avengers saga that began in 2008 is mostly over, people forget what a huge deal Avengers was at the time. I saw this movie in theaters more than any other film to date (surpassing 2008’s Dark Knight). Top pick: Avengers.

2013

Iron Man 3
Much Ado About Nothing
The Wolverine

Only three films really captured me in 2013, not to say that I didn’t enjoy others. Iron Man 3, a Christmas film, really carried on the legacy of Avengers while truly being about Tony Stark and not Iron Man. There are so many things I enjoy about it. Much Ado About Nothing was the little project that Joss Whedon did in between shooting Avengers and editing Avengers. I enjoy Shakespeare and this is Shakespeare done extremely well. The Wolverine is a solid entry into the Hugh Jackman/Wolverine story. I like it because it explores Wolverine without his signature healing powers. Imagine creating a super hero, and then taking away his powers? Yeah, this went there. Top pick: Iron Man 3.

2014

X-Men: Days of Future Past
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Guardians of the Galaxy
Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies

Days of Future Past is an excellent, compelling story. The future X-Men go into the past to fix a mistake made by the past X-Men, but this isn’t a standard time travel flick. Both the old and new X-Men casts unite, and I love so much about this film. Best scene is young and old Charles Xavier having a conversation. It was an amazing trailer moment and incredible in the film. I cannot say enough about Andy Serkis and his work as Caesar the Ape in the latest Planet of the Apes films. This is my top one in that trilogy and the one I most often watch again.

Guardians of the Galaxy…Are you kidding me? What a gamble at the time, and what a hilarious, heartfelt, and fun movie. Yes. Yes. Yes. We. Are. Groot. Battle of Five Armies always makes me cry at the end. Always. From the death of Thorin to Bilbo’s farewell. It isn’t the best adaptation, but by the time I get there, I don’t care. Top pick? Guardians of the Galaxy.

There are the first five years of the decade. I will pick up with 2015 and the last five in my next post. Thanks for reading, and again, let me know what your picks would be.

Star Wars: The Phantom Confession

At last I will reveal myself to the internet. At last I shall have catharsis.” – Darth Me

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The Phantom Menace premiered in theaters on May 19, 1999. I had just turned 12 two months before and I was ecstatic to see this new Star Wars film. You have to remember, in those days, Star Wars was a trilogy, a finished masterpiece in three volumes. It had been since 1983, four years before my birth. For my entire life, Star Wars was the best set of films there were for a nerd, young or old. It was “this colossus, this great legendary thing”.

A new film, a new trilogy, was announced. I scoured the young internet for news, images, clips, rumors and at dial-up speed, fuzzy jpegs revealed themselves for my viewing pleasure. Articles kept me fascinated. There wasn’t much being disseminated, remember, again, this was before Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and every other network. We had no smart phones, no texting, no social media. I remember reading articles in actual magazines and the newspaper about this new Star Wars film. I cut out pictures from pages and savored images of Qui-Gon Jinn, whom I mistook for Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Jake Lloyd and Ewan McGregor whom I thought were playing Anakin Skywalker. I also remember savoring images of the Naboo starfighter: graceful, sleek, and deadly. Much of my information also came from LEGO, who had just signed a deal with Lucasfilm to produce Star Wars branded and based Lego sets. Most of my early spoilers came from LEGO fan club magazines that depicted ships, characters, and locations in brick form. Pepsi had also made a marketing deal in which every can of every variety of soda featured a different character image with a printed backstory that you could collect. Even Taco Bell got in on the marketing with their stupid chihuahua.  It was all glorious and amazing and wonderful. I annoyed my family and friends silly because I would not stop talking about the new Star Wars film. It was to be the best thing EVER.

A few days, or weeks, I don’t remember exactly, into the premier my dad took myself and my brother to a Saturday afternoon showing of The Phantom Menace and I floated into the theater. I absorbed every sound, image, and musical cue with delight … except … except, something wasn’t quite right. Jar Jar Binks wasn’t funny, like he was supposed to be. There were fart jokes, in the middle of John William’s grand score even! Some bits blew my pre-teen mind – Darth Maul versus the Jedi – podracers roaring around Tatooine, but mostly it was boring with a shine and long with excitement. I didn’t realize it then, but every time thereafter that I saw it, my smile was less broad and the twinkle in my eye shrank. I remember visiting my grandfather, perhaps the next summer, and convincing him to Pay-Per-View rent The Phantom Menace. It was a day long thing, where you could watch it over and over again for 24 hours. I must have watched it 8 or 9 times that day. Over and over again. It was amazing! It was Star Wars! but it wasn’t quite the Star Wars I loved and had grown up with.

Truth is: I loved The Phantom Menace. Even with Jar Jar and the fart joke. In those early days, I couldn’t get enough of it. It wasn’t until 2002’s Attack of the Clones that I began to become disillusioned. 2005’s premier of Revenge of the Sith arrived and I was in college. It failed to end the new trilogy properly, but I had lost my love. Star Wars was nothing more than the Old Trilogy, as it was now known, and the new films were dead to me. I even spent time methodically watching Menace, Clones, and Sith and tearing them systematically apart on my blog (which you can still read under the Star Wars tab). I made a reputation among friends and a presence online by hating the prequels.

But. But. I did love Menace. I thought Clones had good parts. I figured Sith was mostly there. I don’t know when or why I let other people’s opinions and acidity eat through my heart of enjoyment. I like plenty of badly written movies that are chock full of bad performances and cheesy effects. So I suppose now we are here, at the end of my vitriol to admit a love I once held dear.

I haven’t watched the Prequel Trilogy in years, now, and I feel a strange urge and longing to do so. Maybe it is the 11 year old in me that collected Mountain Dew cans for their images of Yoda and Qui-Gon Jinn. Maybe it is the 12 year old that convinced my grandfather to let me spend a day watching a movie ad nauseam. Maybe it is the 13 year old that treasured old LEGO magazines and their pages of colorful LEGO Star Wars sets.

At least I am willing to admit it to myself, and now, the world that reads my blog: unabashed, unashamed, unfettered: I loved Star Wars The Phantom Menace a long time ago, and may yet love it. And that’s ok.

Embrace your famdoms, nerd out, rock on, love what you love. It makes you you and no one else. And that is the best thing ever.