Top 100 Best Movies of the 2010s: 50-41

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(Source: The Hollywood Reporter)

50. Ford v. Ferrari (2019) – There are several movies over the past ten years that were worth seeing on the big screen. Clocking in at two-and-a-half hours, James Mangold’s return to biopic-territory drives by (no pun intended) like a breeze. I have never heard of the story behind the 1966 24-hour race at Le Mans until walking into the theater. This is an exhilarating and downright hilarious movie with superb performances by Matt Damon and Christian Bale (rare to see him perform with his native British accent nowadays). Also, big thumbs up for actually filming the climactic race in Le Mans.

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(Source: The New York Times)

49. Lincoln (2012) – From Young Mr. Lincoln to Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Abraham Lincoln has been portrayed and parodied hundreds of times since the beginning of the 20th century. However, no other movie would have this much power that Steven Spielberg and Tony Kushner bring here. Even as a child, I imagined Lincoln to have a high-pitched voice (without even knowing, years later, that he actually did). Daniel Day-Lewis perfectly embodies the 16th president of the United States, with his tall stature, killer sense of humor, and his love for public speaking. Leading a stellar cast including Sally Field, Tommy Lee Jones, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tim Blake Nelson, and David Strathairn, this is a patient and timely portrait of a legendary man’s final months in office.

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(Source: NPR)

48. 12 Years a Slave (2013) – Steve McQueen’s Oscar-winning film is far from easy viewing. At the same time, it’s an uplifting odyssey of Solomon Northup (a superb Chiwetel Ejiofor), an African-American violinist from upstate New York encountering the horrors and unexpected sympathies as a slave on his road to freedom. An all-star cast with the likes of Michael Fassbender as a vicious slave owner, Lupita Nyong’o, Brad Pitt, Paul Giamatti, and Benedict Cumberbatch all carry through in a movie so disheartening and beautiful.

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(Source: The Collegian)

47. Selma (2014) – For her portrait on Martin Luther King, Jr.’s quest for civil rights in Alabama, director Ava DuVernay takes David Webb’s screenplay to make the most powerful film on the subject. David Oyelowo’s portrayal of King is a gentle soul, who is a caring husband and an ambitious leader in the Civil Rights Movement. With a gifted supporting cast including Carmen Ejogo as Coretta Scott King and Tom Wilkinson as LBJ, a lot of research was done to get the history 100% accurate. It all worked out beautifully. Selma is required viewing for American history classes.

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(Source: ComingSoon.net)

46. Midnight in Paris (2011) – Woody Allen has made some of the greatest films since the 1970s–Annie Hall, Manhattan, Hannah and Her Sisters, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, and Blue Jasmine. Coming from somebody who loved all those movies, Midnight in Paris is probably his magnum opus. It’s a downright charming, witty story about an American screenwriter named Gil (Owen Wilson, who has never been better), who moves to Paris with fiance Inez (Rachel McAdams). One night, while resting after a late-night stroll through the city, he mysteriously goes back to the 1920s, and encounters several historical figures including F. Scott Fitzgerald (Tom Hiddleston) and Ernest Hemingway (Corey Stoll). This movie contains themes that are familiar with his other movies involving characters in love affairs and Gil’s love for this magical era is infectious. There is a line from Hemingway that is not only, but also rings true about writing: “If it’s bad, I’ll hate it because I hate bad writing, and if it’s good, I’ll be envious and hate all the more.”

"Manchester by the Sea" Casey Affleck, from Roadside Attractions press site

(Source: Boston Herald)

45. Manchester by the Sea (2016) – Kenneth Lonergan’s drama set in New England is about as hard-hitting as it is engaging. Casey Affleck received a well-deserved Oscar for his performance as Lee, a janitor from Quincy returning to his home in Manchester-by-the-Sea setting up funeral arrangements for his brother Joe (Kyle Chandler) while looking after his nephew Patrick (Lucas Hedges). Through a series of flashbacks, we quickly begin to learn how and why Lee has left his home after all these years. Talking too much about it will ruin the whole movie. 

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(Source: Chicago Tribune)

44. Skyfall (2012) – Daniel Craig is arguably the best James Bond since Sean Connery. He gains enough charm of Connery, as well as having the violent side of Timothy Dalton. Casino Royale served as my proper introduction to the ongoing franchise with its incredible stunts and the most intense game of poker ever witnessed on film. After the disappointing Quantum of Solace, Sam Mendes and Roger Deakins both take the franchise to another level with Skyfall. From beginning to end, this is a gripping, stunning ride of getting rid of someone from M’s (Judi Dench) past. As Rauol Silva, Javier Bardem gives enough complexity to his delightfully over-the-top performance. Skyfall is up there with Casino Royale, Goldfinger, and GoldenEye as one of the best in the series. Bring on, No Time to Die!

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(Source: IMDb)

43. John Wick (2014)/John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)/John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum (2019) – This exhilarating trilogy showcases how awesome Keanu Reeves truly is. It tackles the familiar concept of “bringing back the past” in a unique way. Chad Stahelski (who worked as Reeves’ stuntman in The Matrix) is behind the director’s chair to give some of the most amazing action in recent years. Sprinkled with dark, deadpan humor and suave energy from its talented cast with the likes of Ian McShane, the late Michael Nyqvist, Laurence Fishburne, Willem Dafoe, Halle Berry, and John Leguizamo. The first had a simple revenge plot, while the sequels up the ante. I mean, how can you not get excited seeing our action hero riding on a horse through the streets of NYC?

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(Source: The Wrap)

42. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)/Captain America: Civil War (2016) – After his introduction in the flawed yet entertaining origin story from 2011, “The First Avenger” returns to get caught up on American society in The Winter Soldier. This is where directors Anthony and Joe Russo introduce a more political vibe in the MCU. Although it contains plenty of humor, it surprised me on how dark it becomes. Robert Redford couldn’t be any better in a villainous role. 

Its follow-up–Civil War–ups the ante in a showdown of terrific proportions. It features characters we know as well as some new ones and some of the best action set pieces in the franchise. The titular battle showcases the most thrills and laughs the franchise has to offer. Thank goodness Chris Evans decided to play the most badass Avenger after the disastrous Fantastic Four films. Oh–and take out the tissues. You might need them.

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(Source: Vox)

41. The Shape of Water (2017) – There is a familiar theme in the films of Guillermo del Toro: the real monsters are more human than one might expect. His Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water, is a fantasy, romance, Cold War thriller, and a delightful tribute to the Golden Age of Hollywood all wrapped into one. Sally Hawkins leads a talented cast as Elisa, a mute janitor at a government facility, who gains a connection with a sea creature known as the Amphibian Man (Doug Jones), which is obviously inspired by The Creature from the Black Lagoon. Dan Laustsen’s cinematography and Alexandre Desplat’s Oscar-winning score are enough to carry the beauty and madness of this movie.

 

100-91 90-81 | 80-71 | 70-61 | 60-51 | 50-41 | 40-31 | 30-21 | 20-11 | 10-1

2019 Summer Movie Review: John Wick: Chapter Three – Parabellum

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John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is running out of time in the masterful third film in the beloved cult action franchise. (Source: Entertainment Weekly)

John Wick didn’t become a big box-office hit when it hit theaters in 2014. However, it didn’t stop people from loving it for Keanu Reeves’ terrific performance as the titular hitman getting vengeance on a group of Russian gangsters after they killed his dog. With its straightforward premise, the thrilling action set pieces, and the surprising amount of dark humor, director Chad Stahelski and the crew thought it would be a great idea to have John Wick go on more adventures. The superior sequel contained much more action and visual wonder to carry through. The third film–subtitled Parabellum–showcases what audiences expect from the franchise, and shattering expectations to give another violent and badass ride against time.

In the previous film, John Wick (Reeves) is stripped from his services as an assassin for killing a member of the High Table. Winston (Ian McShane), the manager of the Continental Hotel, declares “excommunicado”. It means a $14 million bounty is put on his head, so anyone can gun him down. John runs through the mean streets of NYC, and meets a ballet instructor, known as “The Director” (Anjelica Huston), who helps him to go to Casablanca to clear his name. Along with colleague Sofia (Halle Berry) and her two German shepherds, John must run against the clock before it’s too late.

Stahelski’s direction has become more confident with each entry in this awesome franchise. Yet again, he and cinematographer Dan Laustsen (who also worked on Chapter Two) do a fantastic job capturing the over-the-top action set pieces (that are just as brutal and bone-crunching as before) and the abstract beauty with its massive scale. Hearing the guns going off is music to my ears. The final showdown at the hotel is one of the best action sequences of all-time.

Reeves, yet again, proves he can play a vulnerable anti-hero who can kick anyone’s ass if they get too close. This movie gives more insight to John’s mysterious past (explaining it will ruin the experience for everybody). Like with the previous two films, he does his own incredible stunts. There’s one scene where he takes down a group of assassins while riding on a horse that is nothing short of amazing! The supporting cast also has their shining moments; Laurence Fishburne provides enough suave energy as the Bowery King and McShane is as awesome as always. Berry, whose career has been going downhill for years, makes a surprisingly resonant role as the colleague who helps John in the middle of the stifling desert.

John Wick: Chapter Three – Parabellum will make audiences leave the theater smiling and wanting more. It has recently been announced a fourth film will come out in two years. Look forward to seeing more high-octane adventures from the badass hitman.

10/10

Movie Review: John Wick: Chapter Two

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John Wick (Keanu Reeves) returns in the sequel to 2014’s modest box-office hit. (Source: IMDb)

This movie is right! John Wick is not very good at retiring.

2014’s John Wick is one of the best action films so far this decade. However, it’s a shame a lot of people didn’t see it in theaters. Stunt coordinator Chad Stahelski sits in the director’s chair to give a stylish portrayal of the criminal underworld of New York City. With some amazing action set-pieces, badass dialogue, and a sense of humanity. And Keanu Reeves knows what he does best while in a black suit. With the movie ending on a cliffhanger, I could not be more excited for the sequel.

If any of you were upset about the dog dying in the first film, don’t worry; no dogs are harmed in John Wick: Chapter Two. I know it’s a spoiler, but I don’t care.

After that wonderful opening action scene in the warehouse, John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is still grieving over his dead wife (Bridget Moynahan, in flashbacks). With a new dog living with him in his beautiful home, he’s trying to forget about the past all over again. One day, he gets a visit from Italian crime lord Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio), who forces John to return to the Continental (where everybody knows their name) to perform a task of assassinating Santino’s sister Gianna (Claudia Gerini). John reluctantly accepts, and goes all the way to Rome. He slowly begins to realize that Santino, his mute bodyguard Ares (Ruby Rose), and his men are after him. Eventually, John seeks the help of Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne, having a little Matrix reunion).

John Wick: Chapter Two improves upon its predecessor with its no-BS approach to the action-thriller genre. With Stahelski back as director, he brings so much gothic style through its straightforward narrative and stunning visuals. Compared to its predecessor, there is a surprising amount of dry humor scattered throughout. In one early scene, John gives his damaged Ford Mustang to Aurelio (John Leguizamo) saying it will be ready by “Christmas…2030”.

The action sequences almost feel like a dance; the choreography is expertly handled and the tension is at an all-time high. Nothing is more awesome than seeing John shoot-‘em-up in the catacombs of Rome. In a time where cheesy horror films and over-the-top, CGI-fueled action flicks are the norm, John Wick: Chapter Two breaks that spell.

4/4

Movie Review: John Wick

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In John Wick, the titular assassin thinks he’s back. (Source: IMDb)

Ah—revenge never felt so good!

After the death of his wife, John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is living a lonely life with a beagle. While pumping gas in his Mustang, one of the members of a Russian mob, led by Viggo Tarasov (Michael Nyqvist), wants to make an offer on the car. But–Wick refuses. Later that night, the mob breaks into his house and steals his car. Ridden with anger and more grief than before, Wick’s past of being an assassin begins to creep up on him. What does he do? Hit the streets of New York City to get his revenge, of course!

After a modest performance in theaters back in 2014, John Wick is slowly beginning to earn its cult status. It’s a shame people shied away from Keanu Reeves shoot it up in a black suit driving a Ford Mustang among other vehicles. This proves that the action genre can be more than just your typical action genre. Stunt coordinators Chad Stahelski and David Leitch sit in the director’s chair to give a noir-ish portrayal of NYC’s mob underworld. Featuring a gifted cast including Ian McShane, John Leguizamo, and Willem Dafoe, expertly-edited, wall-to-wall action (not to mention the best nightclub shootout sequence since Collateral), a deadpan sense of humor, and kick-ass dialogue, John Wick is what action thrillers are all about! Cannot wait for the sequel!

4/4

Movie Review: Keanu

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Rell (Jordan Peele) and Clarence (Keegan-Michael Key) have one hell of a weekend to save a cat in Keanu, from the creator of Key and Peele.

Key and Peele are the greatest comedic duo working today. After finishing five seasons of Comedy Central’s sketch comedy series (I only seen a few of their sketches, and I get a kick out of them), the duo—as well as creator Peter Atencio—begin to make their transition to film. Keanu is a parody of John Wick (one of the best and, sadly, most underrated films of this decade); not only does it have the laughs it also has the violence and cuteness.

Rell (Jordan Peele) is feeling lonely after getting dumped by his girlfriend. His life takes a big 360 degree turn when a kitten arrives on his doorstep. He names him Keanu, and decides to take pictures of him for a calendar. His family-man cousin Clarence (Keegan-Michael Key) is also in love with him. One night, after coming back from the movie theater, they find out that Keanu has been taken by a group of drug dealers, led by Cheddar (Method Man). Rell and Clarence both go to the other side of Los Angeles; in order the get the cute little fur ball back, they go gangsta!

Fans of the show will have a blast with the movie; as for newcomers of the duo, Keanu is a good place to start. It provides fast-paced energy, ranging from having fun with the African-American—and drug dealer—stereotypes, film references galore, celebrity cameos, and a soundtrack featuring George Michael (those jokes had me in stitches). The chemistry between Key and Peele makes up for the flaws, not to mention the most adorable cat to ever grace the silver screen (the movie used seven cats to portray Keanu, according to Peele).

It might feel like an overlong Key and Peele sketch. The action-filled final act, although better than most action sequences today, loses a bit of steam. Nevertheless, I had a great time with Keanu, and I look forward to see more of the ingenious duo.

3/4