Year End Content 2021

This is a bit late because I got to distracted by other things and neglected to make the poster collage thing until the last minute.  Hopefully this means I’ll finally be able to get to the 2022 stuff.

The 2021 Golden Stakes

2021 Top Ten


Year End Content 2020

Well, it’s been a long year, and it’s far later than it should be for this, but I have completed the Golden Stakes and Top Ten for the year.  There are some unique qualification things going on this year, I have a page outlining them, and I suspect this will make some things a bit odd when I do the year-end content next year and include some stuff they associate with the current award season, but I’m glad I stuck to my guns.  Still, it’s not really going to feel like a normal year, so hopefully, some measure of normalcy will be there next year.

The 2020 Golden Stakes

2020 Top Ten

Top 100 Films of the Decade – The Statistics

I swear this is going to be the last post I make dissecting my top 100 films of the 2010s list.  I’ve been stretching out content about this list for a while now and its running dry, but I would like take a look at some of the statistical elements.

So, the decade was obviously a conflation of ten separate years, let’s see which years provided the most movies that made it to the list:

As you can see the years are for the most part pretty evenly distributed in the grand scheme of things.  The biggest outlier is 2011, with only seven films represented on the list, which is ironic given that that was the year my number one film came from. That is more or less kind of how I remember that year being.  I’m a bit more surprised that 2018 fared so poorly but that might have been hurt by its recency even more than 2019, which at least benefited from being fresh in the mind.

As far as filmmakers go there’s a sort of three way tie for the directors who have the most films on the list with three films each between David Fincher (The Social Network, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and Gone Girl), Martin Scorsese (The Wolf of Wall Street, Silence, The Irishman), and Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained, The Hateful Eight, and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood).  Only six films on the list were feature length debut’s from their perspective directors: Son of Saul, The Witch, Eighth Grade, The Tribe, The Babadook, and Mustang.

The average running time for a film on the list is 130 minutes.  The shortest film on the list is Ida, which runs a lean 82 minutes.  The longest film on the list is Lars Von Trier’s Nymphomaniac, which runs 241 minutes but which was technically released as two films, so if you omit that it’s of course The Irishman, which runs an impressive 209 minutes.

Though I tried to be as inclusive of world cinema as possible, ultimately 70 of the lists’ 100 movies ended up being English language films.  That of course includes films from the UK, Australia, and Denmark (thanks to Lars Von Trier) and I’m also including in that number The Clouds of Sils-Maria, which is sort of bilingual.  Of the thirty foreign language films on the list the following languages are represented:

It probably isn’t a big shock that France has the most films represented given how much of a cinematic powerhouse that country is. Korean coming in second was a bit more of a surprise, but probably not a huge one.  That Turkish would be tied with Spanish is a bit more of a shocker, though it should be noted that “Columbian Indigenous Languages” are seperated out thanks to the efforts of Ciro Guerra and both of those films have a decent amount of Spanish in them as well.

Dividing movies by country as opposed to language is a bit trickier as a lot of movies are the product of co-productions across national borders and the divide between American and UK productions can be tricky.  Take Dunkirk for example.  That’s certainly a movie that’s very much about British history and people but it’s also very much a product of Hollywood and the American Film industry.  It goes the other way too.  The BAFTAs consider the movie Gravity to be a British film despite being about American Astronauts working for NASA because it was shot on British backlots and had some British money invested in it.  Then there are movies like Cloud Atlas that was financed by people all of the world and features characters from all over the world, so for the below (messy) pie chart I’m making some judgement calls based on what country a movie feels like it’s from, so in the above examples I’m calling Dunkirk British, Gravity American, and Cloud Atlas American kind of for lack of a better option.

Moving on, lets take a look at the distributors that brought us the most movies for the list.  Now, I’m strictly looking at the companies that distributed these movies in the United States rather than the original production studio firstly because that ultimately determined who controlled how the films were brought to me and secondly because determining a single production studio for some of these movies would be tough if not impossible.

So on the above I’ve combined subsidiaries with their parent companies in the interest of readability though some of those distinctions are telling, like Sony Pictures Classics which contributed fourteen movies to its big studio counterpart’s six, which is a good illustration of SPC’s prominence in the distribution of foreign cinema.  The chart also shows how much of a big deal A24 has been in the distribution of finer cinema given that it has a much bigger piece of the pie than major players like Warner Brothers and Netflix.  Notice also that despite its commercial prowess the Disney corporation only had two films on the list (Avengers Infinity War and Lincoln, which was made by Touchstone in the waning days of non-franchise obsession from that company).  I’ve also included an “other” category which mostly consists of really indie distributors like Oscilloscope, Music Box Films, and The Cinema Guild.

Now let’s take a look at what MPAA ratings the films on the top 100 received :

Chart 5

Unsurprisingly, a decent majority of the films on the list were rated R what with sex, violence, and profanity all being things I like quite a bit and PG-13 movies took up a decent chunk of the list what with that basically being the designated rating of commercial cinema out of Hollywood.  Two films on the list were officially rated NC-17 (Shame and Blue is the Warmest Color), but there are a couple of movies in that “Not Rated” category like Nymphomaniac and The Handmaiden which definitely would have gotten that dreaded rating if they’d bothered to submit for that rating.  A couple of other titles like Dogtooth, The Tribe, Holy Motors, and maybe BPM (Beats Per Minute) may have also been in the same boat but I’m not sure.  However most of the rest of the sixteen movies in that “Not Rated” categorization are just movies that were going to have very small theatrical releases and just didn’t bother to submit to the MPAA despite being mild enough to get an R or less.  On the other end of the nastiness spectrum there were two PG movies (Little Women and Our Little Sister) but no G-rated films which may have as much to do with with MPAA rarely giving that rating out anymore as it does with my personal taste.

Now let’s look at one of my regular obsessions: Aspect Ratios!  Here’s the breakdown of what aspect ratio the films on the list were shot in:

Chart 6

Clearly “widescreen movies dominate the chart with 2.35:1 films taking up 55% of the list, which you can bump up by two if you lump in the two really widescreen movies from the list: The Hateful Eight and La La Land (an element of that film I don’t remember being discussed at all).  The supposed “standard” ratio of 1.85:1 makes up a mere 30% of the list but interestingly makes up 50% of the top ten.  This decade also saw a bit of a boomlet of movies using narrower ratios that harken back to the earlier days of cinema with a full 10% of the films being narrower than 1.85:1.  Interestingly, out of those only The Lighthouse (which was in the ultra-narrow 1.19:1 ratio), Ida, and arguably First Reformed were really trying to harken back to that pre-1950s cinema.  The film No was harkening back more to 80s and 90s television while other movies like A Ghost Story and Son of Saul used the boxy frame for its own narrative purposes.

One of the biggest debates in the world of cinema in the last decade was the battle between 35mm film and digital filmmaking so it seemed logical to see how many of my top 100 were shot in one format versus the other:

Chart 7

Not exactly the most decisive results.  First of all, that sliver at the top represents the film No, which was shot on an archaic television video format in order to match some stock footage in the film.  It’s still technically an analog format so if you put it with Film you come within two movies of a 50/50 split, which is kind of crazy.  I should note that under “film” I’m also including formats as diverse as 16mm and IMAX along with the traditional 35mm works.  It should also be noted that some films are a hybrid of both formats and I tended to go with “film” if any substantial amount of the movie was shot in that format.

Finally we’ll look at some statistics related to how I personally watched each movie.  First let’s take a look at what medium I watched each film on:

Chart 8

So, clearly I watched an overwhelming majority of these movies in theaters.  What to interpret from this?  Most likely just that I had a good nose for what I was going to like and I managed to get out and see them when I had a chance.  Beyond that it might just be that the theatrical experiences really makes you more inclined to love a film.  Of the films I watched at home the highest ranking film, by far, was Jacques Audiard’s A Prophet, which came out really early in the decade before I was necessarily getting out to the arthouse as much as I would be later.  Dogtooth was kind of in the same boat.

Finally I want to take a quick look at how many of the films on the list were watched more than once before I assembled the list, and the tally is surprisingly low.

Chart 9

In fact I’ve only rewatched 30 of the 100 films and they aren’t necessarily the ones high up on the list you might expect.  In fact I’ve only given 13 of my top 50 a rewatch.  This is mostly a reflection of how rarely I re-watch much of anything these days.  You don’t make yourself a human film database by watching the same handful of movies over and over instead of watching new things and when I do rewatch things they are generally more likely to be really old movies rather than movies from the last ten years.  So, with a lot of these I based by placement on my memories of a single viewing years ago, and yet I still feel pretty confident about almost all of my choices.  Great movies just tend to make that impact on you that you don’t forget.

The Top 100 Films of the 2010s: Commentary #25-1

To quickly reiterate, I’ve been providing a little extra commentary about my top 100 films of the decade list and giveing a little bit of behind the scenes insights into how I put the list together.  As I said from the beginning the definitive listing of the list can still be found on its dedicated page and these posts should largely be viewed as an appendix.

25. The Tree of Life (2011)
24. The Handmaiden (2016)
23. The Social Network (2010)
22. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
21. Twelve Years a Slave (2013)

The Tree of Life was definitely the movie I was the least sure of the placement of.  My feelings about that movie are… complex.  I was super hyped for it, then I was a little disappointed, but then I came around on it… it’s a whole thing.  Putting it right at 25 seemed like the best way to acknowledge if while reflecting my misgivings.

20. Holy Motors (2012)
19. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014)
18. Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)
17. The Hateful Eight (2015)
16. mother! (2017)

Holy Motors was a bit of a wild card for me.  I haven’t watched it in eight years (I’ve rewatched surprisingly few movies at all from this decade) but in many ways it has really held up as one of the decade’s most out there experiments that still managed to really work and feels like it will be remembered.  Birdman stands out as one I might have placed a little too high, possibly because I’ve become rather defensive about it, and that might also be just a little true about The Hateful Eight and mother! as well.

15. Parasite (2019)
14. If Beale Street Could Talk (2018)
13. Certified Copy (2011)
12. Jackie (2016)
11. Blue is the Warmest Color (2013)

Parasite was almost certainly hurt by having come out so recently and that kept me a bit cautious about putting it higher up on the list.  Of all the movies that was number one on its yearly top ten it was the lowest on the top 100.  If Beale Street Could Talk probably suffered a bit from being relatively recent as well.  As discussed in its write-up, Blue is the Warmest Color was probably kept out of the top ten because of some lingering concerns about its director both personally and artistically since he made that movie.

10. A Prophet (2010)
9. The Florida Project (2017)
8. Winter Sleep (2014)
7. Room (2015)
6. Manchester by the Sea (2016)

A Prophet was a movie I debated placing on the list because of some lingering questions about whether it should considered a 2009 or 2010 film.  Once the decision was made to include it its high placement was pretty much guaranteed.  Really regret no going ahead and counting it as a 2010 film in 2010. The rest of this section is kind of an island of misfit films as the remaining four were all critically acclaimed films that oddly never quite made the debate for the years’ finest among critics groups in their respective years and were overshadowed by sexier choices like Mad Max: Fury Road and Moonlight.

5. Inception (2010)
4. Son of Saul (2015)
3. Boyhood (2014)
2. The Master (2012)
1. A Separation (2011)

Inception for me is plainly the best movie Hollywood tentpole machine made this year and I might have bumped it just a couple slots to put it in the top five just to make a bit of a statement.  Son of Saul was a movie that could have contended for the top spot but at the end of the day I just didn’t want something that depressing getting that high so number four was the place.  As for the top three; I really did have no firm choice for number one the whole time I was putting this list together and didn’t have a firm choice locked in for the top spot until about a week before the final announcement.  I knew I wasn’t going to put The Master on top just because on some level I think it’s a movie I’m never going to fully truely understand and I wanted something I could be 100% confident about, so I decided early on I’d have it follow in There Will Be Blood’s footsteps and sit at number two for its decade.  For a very long time I considered putting Boyhood at the number one slot and what ultimately made me swap it with A Separation was that bit with the mother inspiring the Mexican worker to become a restaurant manager.  In 2014 that one flaw wasn’t nearly enough to keep it from being the best movie of its respective year for me but when dealing with elite competition like this that one little tiny issue can be enough to hold a movie back just a little bit, but A Separation wasn’t declared number one just by default like that, it really was just a confluence of it being a movie I had absolutely nothing bad to say about.

The Top 100 Films of the 2010s: Commentary #50-25

To quickly reiterate, ten days ago I decided to provide a little extra commentary about my top 100 films of the decade list and give a little bit of behind the scenes insights into how I put the list together.  As I said at the time the definitive listing of the list can still be found on its dedicated page and these posts should largely be viewed as an appendix.

50. Dunkirk (2017)
49. Mustang (2015)
48. Leviathan (2014)
47. Clouds of Sils Maria (2015)
46. Black Swan (2010)

One of the things that made this list a lot more challenging to put together than my 2000s list was that I re-watch movies a lot more infrequently than I used to just as a matter of time management so there are a lot of movies like Black Swan which I haven’t seen since its theatrical release ten years ago.  That particular movie kind of sticks out to me more now than it did at the time because of how it acts as a precursor for another Aronofsky film and just because it increasingly interests me that it became a huge hit despite being what it was.

45. Roma (2018)
44. The Past (2013)
43. Embrace of the Serpent (2016)
42. Beyond the Hills (2012)
41. The Favourite (2018)

Romas was one of only three Netflix films on the list and it was also a movie whose placement I debated quite a bit.  I suspect it’s a movie that I would have placed a bit higher if it came out earlier in the decade and had more of a traditional release but its place in the discourse still looms kind of large for me.  I will also admit that Beyond the Hills posed a bit of a challenge for me as I have less clear memories of it than some movies and that I never wrote a full review of it.

40. Blue Valentine (2010)
39. Ida (2013)
38. The Irishman (2019)
37. Eighth Grade (2018)
36. The Lighthouse (2019)

Blue Valentine has a slightly infamous place on this blog as it was one of only a couple of movies I saw in theaters but didn’t manage to write a full review of. The other major examples of this were The White Ribbon and Waltz With Bashir.  All three were movies that came out very late in their years when I was deep into the Golden Stake writing process and I didn’t have time to write reviews of super challenging movies like that.  I think that’s the last time this happened and I must say it still proved to be an oddly tough movie to write about, I haven’t done exact word counts but I think it’s the shortest of all the captions I wrote for this thing.

35. Dogtooth (2010)
34. The Revanent (2015)
33. Django Unchained (2012)
32. Phantom Thread (2017)
31. Melancholia

This little stretch is interesting in that there’s a set of three films in a row (The Revenant, Django Unchained, and Phantom Thread) that happened to have come out on Christmas day, at least on the coasts.  The only one of them I personally saw on Christmas was Django.  Melancholia also bears discussion as it’s the movie I took my title card from.  My idea was to choose something that would match the Benjamin Button clock I used for my 2000s title card and a sundial seemed like a fun interpretation of that.

30. Before Midnight
29. Burning
28. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
27. The Witch
26. Moonlight

Moonlight is a movie that probably would have been higher on the list if not for the fact that I wanted to give a little extra space between it and another Barry Jenkins movie… though in retrospect I realize that a last-minute change I made put some Quentin Tarantino films a little closer together than they probably should be.  Burning is also a movie I have trouble being objective about because I at one point ended up driving all the way to Chicago in order see it on the big screen in time for the Golden Stakes because of Well-Go-USA’s incompetent release strategy and I kind of lump the film in with that whole adventure.

The Top 100 Films of the 2010s: Commentary #100-50

Earlier this month I made a post announcing that I’d created a list of the 100 best movies of the 2010s decade and posted a link to the page I’d be updating with the films and my various captions about them.  At the time I’d posted the first twenty-five movies and had planned to just leave it at that and let that page be the last word on the subject and let people know to keep an eye on it.  However, with movie release schedule having been paused due to current events I need not dwell on it’s become apparent that I’m going to need to ration out content, and as such it made sense to me to do a bit more with this list I’ve created.  As such I’m going to do a little piece where I post some of my choices and write a little bit about what decisionmaking went into the choices.  This will not, however, replace updates to the main page on the subject, which I intend to be the definitive showcase of the list so don’t forget to check that out.

100. The Shape of Water (2017)
99. Baby Driver (2017)
98. Cloud Atlas (2012)
97. Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
96. Blue Jasmine (2013)
95. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2011)
94. Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
93. The Life of Pi (2012)
92. Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
91. Midsommar (2019)

The first ten on pretty much any top ten list I do are going to have a couple of movies that represent some trend or another that I feel needs to be acknowledged but which doesn’t necessarily have that one representative that’s number one with a bullet.  Not a line of thinking I normally want to indulge in list making, but it is necessary in certain situations.  Here Avengers: Infinity War and Blue Jasmine are largely functioning as that in order to represent the output of the MCU and Woody Allen respectively. And to some extend Moonrise Kingdom is also doing that for Wes Anderson.  The rest are movies that have some really good qualities but which I have reservations about like Cloud Atlas and Life of Pi, and then there’s The Shape of Water, which I singled out early on as the movie I wanted to put in the number 100 slot less because it’s worse than the movies that would be higher in the 90s but more because it just felt like it set the tone for the list to come well.

90. Whiplash (2014)
89. The Raid (2012)
88. Ash is Purest White (2019)
87. 127 Hours (2010)
86. Our Little Sister (2016)
85. Julieta (2016)
84. Captain Phillips (2013)
83. The Tribe (2014)
82. Marriage Story (2019)
81. The Martian (2015)

With my choices in the 90-80 range I was still including some films that were meant to be stand ins for certain filmmakers and movements (Julieta for Almodovar, Our Little Sister for Kore-eda) but they were very much films that were going to make the list one way or another regardless of that.  I also placed The Raid here despite maybe liking a couple of the movies in the 90s better just because I didn’t want my first ten dominated by genre movies that weren’t overly representative of the film to come.  I should also address the 2019 films on the list, which stick more closely to the order in my recent top ten list than movies from other years and were added to the list late in the process and had to be sort of distributed slightly awkwardly over the length of the list.

80. True Grit (2010)
79. Birds of Passage (2019)
78. Gravity (2013)
77. Little Women (2019)
76. Shame (2011)
75. Contagion (2011)
74. Mr. Turner (2014)
73. No (2013)
72. Uncut Gems (2019)
71. Ghost Story, A (2017)

True Grit was another movie that probably got bumped up a little in order to keep the 90s and 80s filled with genre movies.  Gravity was also a tricky one to place because I needed to balance the fact that I think it’s very technologically impressive, but also a tad shallow.  It’s placement in the bottom half of the list is probably indicative of why I backed off from including the recent film 1917. Beyond that this tier and some of the ones in the 80s mostly speak to the fact that they are movies that I had a strong reaction to but which I haven’t watched again and am not necessarily planning to watch them again any time soon.  I would also like to point out that the placement of the movie Contagion was already chosen before recent events made it newly relevant.  I liked that movie before it was cool.

70. Carol (2015)
69. Gone Girl (2014)
68. To the Wonder (2013)
67. Us (2019)
66. The Square (2017)
65. La La Land (2016)
64. Poetry (2010)
63. First Reformed (2018)
62. Selma (2014)
61. 20th Century Women (2016)

This is where I ran into some surprisingly controversial choices.  I might be one of the only critics to much prefer Ruben Östlund’s The Square to Force Majeure, and it’s also kind of strange to really like Us but not like Get Out.  In general, I seem to have a bit of bias towards follow-ups rather than debuts which may have also played into my choice of 20th Century Women over Beginners, though that’s probably a less controversial opinion.  Aside from that this chunk is pretty straightforward except that Gone Girl might have been placed a touch high simply because I wanted it to get some separation from Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

60. Silence (2016)
59. BPM (Beats per Minute (2017)
58. The Babadook (2014)
57. Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
56. Nymphomaniac (2014)
55. Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (2012)
54. Annihilation (2018)
53. Amour (2012)
52. Lincoln (2012)
51. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

Silence and Once Upon a Time in Anatolia stand out to me as movies that got relatively high slots, in part because I felt like I owed them second viewings that I still haven’t done which may have pushed them even higher (or lower).  Nymphomaniac was also a tricky one because it was the only movie of the decade that I found myself invoking the Kill Bill/Che rule for by considering them a single film despite it having been released in two parts.  That wasn’t too much fo a stretch though because that was a movie that was pretty arbitrarily cut in two for commercial reasons without even an added cliffhanger like we got in Kill Bill.  The other placement I was a bit nervous about was of course Mad Max: Fury Road, which is a lot lower than a lot of other outlets are placing it, but that’s just kind of how I felt about it and I swear I wasn’t trying to make some sort of statement by placing it just outside the top fifty.