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 :
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:
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:
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:
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.
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.