If, like me, you’ve spent much of the last twelve months in front of the television (because, just how many ‘walks’ can one person have in a day?) you might be getting to the point where you’re seriously wondering if there’s anything left to watch.
I know I am.
Then just the other day a Facebook friend of mine challenged me (and a host of other Facebook film buff pals) to come up with a list of Top Five Movies. The only fly in the ointment being they had to be films made in the last decade.
Coming up with my top five wasn’t easy… until I started to think about all those films that I’d watched once, and then watched again the very next day. Once I’d established that as a criteria I had a good selection, and only had to boil it down to just five.
So here it is. And who knows, if you’re in need of viewing inspiration, perhaps you’ll find something in this list to pique your interest. Feel free to share your ‘top five’ in the comments, at the bottom of this page.
PETER’S TOP FIVE FILMS
OF THE LAST DECADE (2010-2020)
Number 5: Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse
Yeah I know. I was surprised too. But if you ever used to enjoy Spider Man / Marvel comics (as a kid), then I promise you, it’s a flippin’ amazing movie. Somehow existing outside the MCU / Avengers Universe (what a relief), it’s a fun (animated) film that both explains every version of Spider Man that’s ever existed… and then redefines him… again.
Narrowly beaten to my number five slot was Anna. I’m a big fan of Luc Beeson, although he almost screwed up with Lucy (starring Scarlett Johansson) by forgetting to have a plot! He totally makes up for that with Anna.
Number 4: Arrival
Whilst compiling this list I was surprised at home many Sci-Fi films made it into the final selection. And when I say “Sci-Fi” I mean, proper Science Fiction – movies that basically start with the premise “What if…” – rather than some meaningless bug-hunt, shoot-em-up, in space. Arrival is one such “what if” movie. What if… technically superior Aliens arrive on earth, but their “language” is so utterly different from anything we’ve ever encountered before, that merely unravelling that language has unexpected consequences.
It’s classy, clever, fabulous, edge of your seat stuff, and I guarantee you’ll never look at a coffee mug stain in quite the same way again.
Number 3: Cloud Atlas
Now obviously everyone has a film or two that they like to watch again and again, but it’s a rare thing to find a film that somehow gets better the more you watch it. “Cloud Atlas” is one such film.
It’s a fiercely complicated movie. Mostly because it’s not just one story, but six. Each story is linked in some way (though it’s not always obvious how). Each story is set in a different period in history – two of the stories are even set in the future. Even more amazingly, each story is told using a different cinematic genre, and to top it all, each of the main cast (which includes Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant, Susan Sarandon and Jim Broadbent) play multiple roles, sometimes even playing against their own sex or ethnic background. Not surprising then that the film clocks in at almost three hours. But, all that said, when you finally get to the end – brow beaten and slightly bewildered, perhaps with a nagging feeling that maybe you missed something crucial – there’s still a good chance that you’d really like to see it again. And soon.
My only criticism (if I have any) is that with a film like this you’d have thought there was be hours and hours of DVD extras to pore over, or a “Director’s cut”. But there isn’t, more’s the pity.
Number 2: The Martian
The Martian is one of those films that I put on when I need cheering up (so, in the last year I’ve watched it at least half a dozen times!) It’s also one of those films I watch when I need a little inspiration. After all, what can be more inspiring than watching a modern day Robinson Crusoe, except that in this re-telling of the famous story the stakes are far higher. In the words of the protagonist: “if the oxygenator breaks down, I’ll suffocate. If the water reclaimer breaks down, I’ll die of thirst. If the Hab beaches, I’ll just kind of implode. If none of those things happen. I’ll eventually run out of food and starve to death.” And yet the protagonist approaches each of these sobering problems with surprisingly good cheer and optimism. And this is the genius of the story telling, because as the film progresses it becomes less and less about Mars, or “space”, or the science thereof (although it is a total geek fest), and more about one man’s considerable strength of spirit and personal life philosophy. “At some point,” so says our hero, “everything’s gonna go south on you and you’re going to say, this is it. This is how I end. Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work. That’s all it is. You just begin. You do the math. You solve one problem and you solve the next one, and then the next. And If you solve enough problems, you get to come home.”
This was one of those films that drove me to read the book. To my considerably astonishment, the book is even better – and it remains the only book that has ever made me weep.
Number 1: Passengers
I absolutely love this movie. It was one of those movies that looked like it might be quite good from the poster, then the trailer sucked me in still further, and when I eventually got to see the film, it managed to surpass all the extremely high expectations I had for it.
One of the reasons I like this movie so much is because it uses several different cinematic genres to tell the story. It basically starts as “Robinson Crusoe in Space” (just like The Martian), flirts for a few moments with Disney (“Sleeping Beauty in Space”) morphs into a Romance, (a kind of reverse “You’ve Got Mail… in Space”), turning suddenly into a Horror (“The Shining?… in Space”), and then ending as an Action packed Thriller (similar perhaps to “The Core”. In Space. But don’t let that put you off).
But best of all, this is one of those movies that whilst extremely entertaining, manages to leave you thinking for days.
If you want to know more, tap here to read a blog post I wrote about it back in 2017. (Ahhh, 2017. Remember those carefree days?)
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