Rough Cut’s Best of the Decade (2010-2019)

Claire White

(aka. Films From This Decade Which Have Stuck With Me)
In order of release:

Frances Ha (2012, Noah Baumbach)
“I’m so embarrassed. I’m not a real person yet.”

Moonrise Kingdom (2012, Wes Anderson)
A cinephile was born!

The Bling Ring (2013, Sofia Coppola)

The Killers – Shot at the Night (2013, Roboshobo)
Yes, this is a music video, but this music video is very important to me!! Honestly, if I’m including a music video in this list, I should be saying Beyonce’s Lemonade or something like that. There have been honestly so many amazing music videos this past decade, however, I cannot get past Shot at the Night. The Killers is one of my favourite bands, and a lot of their music is filled with a sense of longing and desire to get out of a rut — something I was filled with a lot in Year 12, when this video came out, and again in 2017, the year after I graduated from uni — which this video captures so well.  Set in Las Vegas and starring Max Minghella and Australia’s Bella Heathcote, the music video features Heathcote as a cleaner at a Las Vegas casino, her job monotonous and unfulling. Until one night, she meets a handsome young stranger (Minghella) and they spend a whirlwind night together, her “shot at the night.” Beautiful to look at, the cinematography is an excess of neon and colour, not unlike Scorsese’s Casino. And like UGGGH, the contrast between her bleak, sparse and small apartment and her exhausted boredom, and the bright lights of Las Vegas at night and this adventure she’s been whisked on by a handsome stranger???? We absolutely love to see it!!

Mustang (2015, Deniz Gamze Ergüven) / American Honey (2016, Andrea Arnold) / Moonlight (2016, Barry Jenkins)
Films I haven’t seen since I saw them in cinema, but were so striking, I think about them all the time.

Jackie (2016, Pablo Larraín)
I loved this in cinema, but adored it even more outside of it. This is mainly due to Angelica Jade Bastien’s piece on the use of horror elements in the film, which opened my eyes to the way I viewed it. Inspired, I then used Jackie as a comparison point in a piece I wrote about Thoroughbreds. What I find so stunning about this film is the brevity it brings to a figure like Jacquline Kennedy, who has never really given serious attention she deserves beyond housewife/style icon. It’s sleek, cold, distancing, and warm all at the same time. Mica Levi’s score is to die for.

20th Century Women (2016, Mike Mills, 2016) / Columbus (2017, Kogonada)

Edge of Seventeen (2016, Kelly Freemon Craig) / Lady Bird (2017, Greta Gerwig)/ Eighth Grade (2018, Bo Burnham)
Awkward, dysfunctional, unruly and anxious girls on screen! These films truly represent a shift in how we see girls portrayed in film. Nadine throwing up in the bathroom while lamenting that she has to live with herself every single day of her life, how she knows how annoying she is but can’t stop it anyway. Lady Bird trying so desperately to chase an idyllic, grand life and get out of her hometown. Kayla addressing her middle school time capsule “To the Coolest Girl in the World”, her anxiety, her joy for making friends. All of these insecurities are so important to me to see in film: a departure from the Spectacular Girl of the late 90s and 2000s, these films from the 2010s embraced an Imperfect “Ordinary”.

Debbie Zhou

American Honey (2016, Andrea Arnold)
Images from Andrea Arnold’s dreamy, sun-hued film have stuck with me, years after I saw it at the cinemas — unable to look away, feeling the warm tones of the aesthetics drench into me — both natural and rhapsodic. There wasn’t a moment I wasn’t utterly enraptured by its relaxed, unhurried style of storytelling and the bountiful amounts of detail and emotion placed into every shot; the euphoric joys of young love, the insects that flutter and crawl into frame, this van of teens living in the moment…their lens-flared moment. I haven’t rewatched this one since its initial release, but somehow it’s so crystal clear that it deserves a top spot, and that Andrea Arnold deserves the world — her vision left pure and untouched.

Arrival (2016, Denis Villeneuve)
There’s a perfection to Arrival’’s structure — so much that my entire perception of this film changed in a precise instant. It’s a brilliant build-up, and an equally brilliant pay-off. My love for non-linear storytelling burst at the seams for this one. It’s eerie and strange, but it’s got such a gentle human element to it — so creatively interweaved and subtly hinted at, that it holds up, and manages to give more each viewing. Hand over the goddamn Oscar to Amy Adams already.

Cameraperson (Kirsten Johnson, 2016) / Stories We Tell (2012, Sarah Polley)
Perhaps it’s unfair to couple two of the best documentaries (and films) of the decade together, but Kirsten Johnson and Sarah Polley have such command of their craft that it’s hard not to find at least a connection between their intimate works of absolute art and soul. Shattering, questioning and rebuilding ideas of filmic construction, human memory, personal and ephemeral truths — the fragmentary and loose nature of these documentaries also feels so innately meticulous and thoughtful. It made me appreciate and think about documentaries in an entirely new way; made me see cinema in a different light.

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015, George Miller)
Watch all 28 mins of this and tell me that Mad Max: Fury Road isn’t a masterpiece. I’ll wait.

Phantom Thread (2017, Paul Thomas Anderson)
Oh hell — the sumptuous, twisted energy of PTA’s film with Jonny Greenwood’s divine score is too difficult to resist, and too difficult not to relish in all of its delicious, romantic glory.

Phoenix (2014, Christian Petzold) / Ida (2013, Paweł Pawlikowski)
Two images that continue to burn holes in my mind. In Phoenix, the last and final shot. In Ida, the shot of the open window as the curtains blow from the slight gust of the cold winter wind. Both haunting; stark reminders of the post-war traumas that underlie both films. 

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017, Rian Johnson)
Truly exciting, structurally bold and full of E-N-E-R-G-Y. I may have wept a tear during the Battle of Crait scene — the Resistance Speeders dragging behind a cloud of red against the salty white planet did something to my senses that I have not felt watching a blockbuster film this decade (bar the ‘No Man’s Land’ scene in Wonder Woman). I also may have scrambled to watch this again on the big screen immediately after my first viewing. A miraculous, rare instance in which I was willing to throw all my money at Disney.

The Social Network (2010, David Fincher) / The Tree of Life (2011, Terrence Malick)
Ah, the films that got me into cinema. Some of my teen taste was embarrassing (no, that isn’t permission to look at my Letterboxd), but these two I stand behind. It’s strange (and nostalgic even???) to think about how much this decade moulded my love of movies considering it was the very decade that it began to flourish. I remember my first watch of The Social Network vividly — as a teen who was used to only watching mainstream movie releases, and coming across the film only because everything else was sold out besides ‘That Facebook movie’. I came out thinking for days about ‘protagonists/antagonists’ in a way I had never thought of before, the way art can make us empathise with human beings — even if they’re morally complex, difficult to decipher, never predictable. Cut to a few years later, Malick’s film swept me up and left me with more existential questions than an adolescent should ever bear. But I loved it. That curiosity to discover more movies that leave me buzzing hasn’t stopped since.

You Were Never Really Here (2018, Lynne Ramsay)
Biggest stan of Lynne Ramsay chooses a Lynne Ramsay film as a top film. A surprise to no one ever. (No, but I wrote an essay on this movie and I stand behind every single word of it).

Eliza Janssen

my neglected letterboxd account tells me that I’ve seen 725 films from the 2010s, so why is Pokemon: Detective Pikachu the only thing coming to mind???? for real tho here is a list of my ten favourites. 70% are American, 80% are directed by men, and 20% feature Scarlett Johansson, which is kind of troublesome, but all I can tell you is that these are the films that have taken up the most real estate in my brain for the last ten years.

Under the Skin (2013, Jonathan Glazer)

Her (2013, Spike Jonze)

if it weren’t for this woozy white boy romance movie, I might never have ended up writing for Rough Cut. Way back in high school I finished watching this movie, and immediately replayed the film as soon as the credits rolled. The things I learnt about loneliness and romantic connection from Jonze, Phoenix, Adams and uuhghghgh Johansson have since informed my personal life in some very real ways.

Good Time (2017, Josh Safdie & Benny Safdie)

A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Contemplating Its Existence (2014, Roy Andersson)

Twin Peaks: The Return (2017, David Lynch)

Mad Max: Fury Road (2016, George Miller)

Get Out (2017, Jordan Peele)

i first saw Get Out at a free student screening while i was in the US in February 2017, in a lecture hall packed with angry young people all still reeling from the election a few months before. It’s the best example I’ve seen this decade of a film ‘working’ its audience – Peele makes us laugh, gasp, and scream whenever he so decides. I can’t wait for the next time I have an experience like that.

The Love Witch (2016, Anna Biller)

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010, Apichatpong Weerasethakul)

Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019, Céline Sciamma)

the most recent movie on this list!!! it’s in cinemas right now!!! Sciamma makes me entirely joyful and excited for the future of film. CMON 2020’s lets get SICKENING

Valerie Ng

The Old Man and the Gun (2018, David Lowery) / A Ghost Story (2017, David Lowery)

Cemetery of Splendour (2015, Apichatpong Weerasethakul)

Ex Libris (2017, Frederick Wiseman)

Amour (2012, Michael Haneke)
I love this film as much as Richard Brody hates this film.

Faces Places (2017, Agnès Varda & JR)
I watched Faces Places in the first weekend after my move to Melbourne, a city I chose for its primo law school and BIG MOVIE CULTURE. Studying in Canberra, I was sorely film-starved, scouring the cinemas for any mention of Varda — of which there was none — and bashing the ears of my uninterested friends about ““cinema””. Newly arrived in Melbourne, walking to ACMI, I passed a guy in a Cleo from 5 to 7 tee — my first spotting of a cinephile, and splurging out for the ticket (+ an annual cinematheque pass) at the counter, my choices gratified by the gushing approval of the cashier, I thought — I am in movie city. And then I watched the film, which was everything I had dreamed — a light, rambly, semi-auto-biographical dissemination of art and humanity — tenderly, humorously humble and perfect.

Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019, Céline Sciamma) / Happy as Lazzaro (2018, Alice Rohrwacher)
In my first MIFF, packed in a sold-out theatre, watching Fellini reborn in the extraordinary, magical fabric of Happy as Lazzaro, and in my second MIFF watching the near-perfect rich, rich, rich swoon of a movie — i.e. Portrait of a Lady on Fire — on the gigantic Hoyts screen, were two big screen experiences that stood out to me from the cyclonic film festival muddle – two serious miracles of movie magic that I’m not certain I even deserved.

Twin Peaks: The Return (2017, David Lynch)
The first two seasons of Twin Peaks began my official and self-administered indoctrination into the world of cinephilia, in which I googled ‘famous directors’ and clicked on the guy with the best hair. The show’s distinct Lynchian stamp introduced me to the existence of an ““auteur”” – something I had never really paid attention to before, nor cared about. Twin Peaks spiraled me into Blue Velvet, and Eraserhead, and Lost Highway etc. which spiraled me into the whole world of arthouse. I dived back full circle into Twin Peaks: The Return a few months later, which as 18 hours of pure, undiluted Lynchian energy, was a completely different beast – and its near-surgical mastery of tone, its murky, immersive wash into another world – one darker, stranger, and wildly beautiful – served as one of the best (months-long) viewing experiences of my cinephilic life. It’s something in which to plunge and savour.

Cloud Atlas (2012, Tom Tykwer, Lana & Lilly Wachowski)
Hands down best movie of the decade.

Samuel Harris

Pain & Gain (2013, Michael Bay)
On average, a single Michael Bay film has more great shots than most directors produce in their entire oeuvre. Pain & Gain sits above curve — an uncut assortment of dirt, sweat, blood, spit, lens flares and muscle, blended into a protein shake that’s spilled out into the cracks of a hot and splitting slab of asphalt and spelled out the word “PARODY”. As many have noted, as close to a Bay autocritique as we’ll ever get, but this reaches a point where I don’t even care if he’s in on the joke, it’s just the most entertaining film of past 10 years bar none. Transcendent. Your fav could never.

Holy Motors (2012, Leos Carax)

Gone Girl (2014, David Fincher)

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017, Rian Johnson)

Unfriended: Dark Web (2018, Stephen Susco)
Fuck it, Unfriended: Dark Web thesis. Spent this entire year trying to give words to the way these Screenlife films — this new type of film, set entirely within the constraints of a Mac desktop screen — so potently articulate 21st-century anxieties and fears, not only of this nascent network culture, of always having to be online, of the pitch-black corners of the internet, but of shifting consumption and reception practices. How we engage with cinema in all its new forms has radically changed with the influx of shit like torrenting and streaming, and everyone’s watching from their laptops — the Unfriended films realise these technological shifts and filter them through a super slick horror narrative told entirely through screen recordings and Skype calls. Real 21st-century shit. 

Frances Ha (2012, Noah Baumbach)

Lady Bird (2017, Greta Gerwig)

Blackhat (2015, Michael Mann)

The Tree of Life (2011, Terrence Malick)

Good Time (2017, Josh & Benny Safdie)
May ultimately end up a placeholder for Uncut Gems, only currently available in Australia via 123movies, but this is perhaps the film that’s most grown on me in the latter half of the decade. Peep my Letterboxd entries and you’ll notice a star-rating jump every year since I caught it at MIFF which, upon standing up post-film, I turned to my friend in confusion and said “that was shit, right?”. Whatever. It’d only take a few months for me to become intoxicated with the Safdie’s form — all blood, sweat and neurosis, but I have little to say about this that isn’t distilled in Peter Labuza’s Letterboxd capsule

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015, George Miller)

Nocturama (2016, Bertrand Bonello)

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010, Edgar Wright)

Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning (2012, John Hyams)

Resident Evil: Afterlife / Resident Evil: Retribution / Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (2010 / 2012 / 2017, Paul W.S. Anderson)
The trinity of bitches! Hard to find another series post-Star Wars and Indiana Jones-childhood-obsessive-phase I’ve given as much time to as this one. Like Universal Soldier: The Day of Reckoning, these are about realising the videogame-like generic constraints bounding you to narrative and eclipsing them. Rifling through the artifice for truth. Fighting for our memories, whether they’re real or not. Most importantly, they feature some of the cleanest action of the decade: PWSA’s penchant for symmetrical, clinical action reaches a peak in Retribution’s bright white Tokyo fight corridor scene (On this, I turn to Joe Earp’s PWSA reflection — essential reading!). Much love to Milla Jovovich and Paul W.S. Anderson, the parents of contemporary videogame cinema.

Ivana Brehas

The Social Network (2010, David Fincher)

The Master (2012, Paul Thomas Anderson)

Inside Llewyn Davis (2013, Ethan & Joel Coen)
“If that’s what music is for you, a way to get to that place, then, yeah, it’s a little careerist, and it’s a little square, and it’s a little sad.”

Gone Girl (2014, David Fincher)
Amy Dunne quotes as female survival mantras. Feels bigger than a film.

Nightcrawler (2014, Dan Gilroy)

Ex Machina (2014, Alex Garland)

Magic Mike XXL (2015, Gregory Jacobs)
More exciting because of the creativity of the critical responses that arose from it than because of the actual film itself. There are about a thousand essays on this film, exploring it from every angle — from its Christian/Biblical symbolism to its inversion of the patriarchal Hero’s Journey. The criticism of Magic Mike XXL became its own art form.

The Fits (2015, Anna Rose Holmer)

Moonlight (2016, Barry Jenkins)

American Honey (2016, Andrea Arnold)

Twin Peaks: The Return (2017, David Lynch)
I feel really lucky to have been alive when this was happening; to have experienced it. I 100% think it was a TV show and not a film, but I’ll put it on any list that lets me celebrate it.

Get Out (2017, Jordan Peele)

Phantom Thread (2017, Paul Thomas Anderson)
Favourite film of 2017 and one of my favourites ever. Deeply important to me. Indescribable.

Good Time (2017, Josh & Benny Safdie)
Co-signing Sam’s comment about Uncut Gems.

The Work (2017, Jairus McLeary)

Burning (2018, Lee Chang-dong)

Yours in Sisterhood (2018, Irene Lusztig)

John McEnroe: In the Realm of Perfection (2018, Julien Faraut)
The closest we may ever get to a modern equivalent of the Achilles figure (talent, rage, big sulking).

Shakedown (2018, Leilah Weinraub)

Parasite (2019, Bong Joon-ho)

The Irishman (2019, Martin Scorsese)

André Shannon 

Blue is the Warmest Colour (2013, Abdellatif Kechiche)
Unless you’ve been gay in a French classroom and your film has more than 3 female editors don’t talk to me about BITWC.

Elle (2016, Paul Verhoeven)
Isabelle Huppert is mean and nice!

Syndromes and A Century (2006, Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
This movie is literally autobiographical.

You Were Never Really Here (2018, Lynne Ramsay)
This movie just gets it.

The Tribe (2014, Myroslav Slaboshpytskyi)
Sign language and violence = wild combo.

A Fantastic Woman (2017, Sebastián Lelio)
An actual real movie.

Kick Ass (2010, Matthew Vaughn)
Never knew the youngest girl to say ‘cunt’ in a film was a record that needed breaking. Also, The Prodigy xo.

Margaret (2011, Kenneth Lonergan)
Anna Paquin is just the best.

Tangerine (2015, Sean Baker)
The most movie movie we’ll probably ever see…

Rough Cut