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Best Movies of the Decade: 2010-2019

Hello and welcome to this special once-in-a-decade article!

Several of the other contributors here at Geeks Under Grace and myself have endeavored to provide our lovely readers with a sample of the movies that we consider the most influential, important and excellent pieces of cinema that this decade has given us! Each list speaks to our own personal experiences, locales, priorities and beliefs and should be considered the opinion of us individually.

As such, this is a rather long-winded piece. We all have a lot of stories to recount and this decade has covered an enormous swath of artistic transformation. At the beginning of the decade, superheroes were half as popular as before and Netflix was just starting to grow. The X-Men movies were only just falling apart for the first time at this point. Disney was slightly less terrifying, not having purchased Star Wars, Hulu or Fox yet. Bad remakes were all the rage, and the largest franchise on the planet was still the Transformers franchise. Let’s not forget that people still REMEMBERED that Avatar was a thing at that time. It was weird. 

Please be patient with a few of us (mainly me) for the long-winded nature of their recollections. It’s been a long decade!  

Juliana Purnell

While I’m still coming to terms with the fact that the 90s didn’t occur ten years ago, cinema has made some startling changes during the meantime. The last decade has possibly seen some of the largest shifts in the art form in regards to its accessibility, business modelling, technical development, and the changes foisted upon it due to the influence of the surrounding socio-political atmosphere. Some genres blossomed while others receded into the background, only to discover a resurgence of energy in the past few years. 

It’s also the time period where my own interest in film really deepened, where I now view eight times the number movies than I did back in 2010. As a result, there are many fine films I could name for this list. Unfortunately, despite their high quality, they do recede to the back of the mind. So when it comes to naming the best of the decade, sometimes it’s not about a film’s level of quality, but rather its impact and lasting resonance. 

Therefore there are a number of movies on my list that aren’t necessarily the ones that I consider the best in terms of quality, but they mark a pivotal point in cinematic history (or at least from our perspective only just a few years ahead in hindsight). Some are horribly overlooked, while others are unjustifiably popular but extremely relevant nonetheless, though all movies mentioned below are certainly worth a look. 

Avengers: Infinity War

Call me a Martin Scorsese wannabe as I’ve never truly been a hardcore fan of the Marvel Universe, but one cannot deny its sheer dominance of the cinematic landscape over the past decade. It set a precedent for successfully interconnecting a multitude of different characters and stories, where credit must be given where credit is due. There are a number of fine examples–the excitement over the initial assembling of The Avengers was palpable, whilst Black Panther demonstrated the importance of positive representation. While the entire arc amounted to Endgame, the film I’m choosing for this list is its predecessor, Infinity War. This was the film that finally catapulted the stakes in the MCU where it had previously been playing it safe, with “Thanos snap” quickly being adopted as a verb in our cultural lexicon. 

Inception

At the turn of the decade, Christopher Nolan had already made a name for himself thanks to the success of The Dark Knight. His career has only continued to grow over last ten years as well. At a time when major franchises dominated cinema screens, heavily overseen by studios, companies and producers, Christopher Nolan’s films seemed to be the only “blockbusters” that at least appeared to contain a strong level of directorial creative control. Dunkirk and Interstellar are both wonderful, though it’s Inception that really wowed the crowds and remained as memes. Utterly satisfying with its complexity, Inception challenged the notion that some things are “unfilmable”, boldly setting a story several layers deep into one’s subconsciousness. It also showed how cool things look in zero gravity. 

A Silent Voice

When one door closes, another one opens. This decade it felt like we said goodbye to the animation giant, Studio Ghibli, due to Hayao Miyazaki’s never-ending announcements of retirement. The Wind Rises was a heartfelt mature film, though it lacked the magic of Miyazaki’s previous works. The studio has released some more wonderful award-winning entries after Miyazaki’s departure, though other Japanese animated feature films have entered the space since then. Your Name was a colossal hit, though personally I prefer A Silent Voice. It’s a deeply honest film that cut me to my core in regards to its portrayal of bullying. It affected me so greatly that it convinced me to take up sign language classes. 

Inside Out

Pixar managed to maintain its stronghold on Western animation despite the quality of the studio’s narratives dipping from one decade to the next. Having a reputation for producing children’s films that also entertained adults, none proved that belief truer than Inside Out. With a story that’s as “unfilmable” as Inception but able to fully utilize the freedom of animation, audiences were taken into a deeply layered narrative, one that taught children how to express themselves, and reminded adults of the grief surrounding the loss of innocence. Wonderfully intricate, this is one of the smartest films of the decade. 

The Tree of Life

This is the most experimental and “artsy fartsy” movie on my list; one that is the most inspiring when it comes to the art of filmmaking. I once met a person who said that film was always inferior to the written word, as a movie was never better than the images he could conjure in his imagination. After admiring his audacity for saying that in front of a film critic, I was quick to suggest that maybe he wasn’t watching the right sort of movies. The Tree of Life was my first example. While Life of Pi, Inception, and Inside Out has completely debunked the idea of things being “unfilmable”, The Tree of Life also demonstrates the reverse–that some things cannot be written. The script was a cobbling of photos and strings of poetic verse, providing just enough of the director’s vision for others to understand the essence of the project. This film is a piece of art. An experience; one that represents the power and uniqueness of visual narratives that cannot be replicated in other mediums. 

Wonder Woman

Feminism isn’t anything new, though the gender wars have really picked up over the last ten years. Despite what is commonly heard, there have been a number of “strong female characters” throughout cinema. However some of the latest examples simply portray women taking on masculine traits, instead of finding the strength in femininity. The importance of Wonder Woman was that it bucked the trend, demonstrating that loving and trusting a male, and being strong, are not mutually exclusive attributes. The film also had achievements behind the camera, with Patty Jenkins finally putting to rest the discriminatory comments regarding a female director’s ability to lead a big budget film. It’s certainly not a perfect movie, but one cannot deny its accomplishments and impact on cinema. 

Searching

If anything got completely overhauled during the past ten years, then it was the casting process. The movement started off with good intentions; entire races had a tendency to be typecast in particular occupations and status roles, while there was also an underwhelming number of films tackling the subtleties of being biracial. Yet for every movie that successfully addressed those issues (Crazy Rich Asians, Abominable, Luce, The Farewell), there were also plenty that made the problem worse. Soon some casting bills resembled a shopping list of ethnicities, where it became painfully apparent that the hiring of Caucasian actors was avoided even in narratives where it made no sense to do so. Then there was the odd demand for authenticity from the public (ignoring the concept of acting itself), which ironically lessened diversity, as the business side of the industry would simply deem certain projects too hard to cast, never green-lighting the stories featuring the tinier minorities. Then Searching came along like a beacon of light and gave everyone a lesson in how it should be done. John Cho was cast because he is a good actor. The role he plays doesn’t need to be any particular race. It also doesn’t hurt that this film also revolutionized the found footage subgenre. But ultimately Searching shows that maybe we’re just overthinking things when it comes to racial representation in casting. More of this, please!

The Irishman

Hollywood has always been a business, but that has become extremely apparent during the last decade. Why fund a new property when one can produce a film based off an already popular, well-established franchise? The more screens dedicated to it, the more sessions, and the better the return on investment. The more niche genres, like dramas, were filtered out from theatrical releases. Sci-fi hung in there (of which there are many great films: Oblivion, Edge of Tomorrow, Ex Machina, Blade Runner 2049, Arrival), though Annihilation marked the turning point, completing its worldwide release on streaming services. Cinephiles grieved the lack of diversity of content in traditional theaters, with the Cannes Film Festival displaying an open bias against Netflix-released films. Ironically it was that same negative attitude that allegedly cost Roma Best Picture at the Oscars. Now we’re at the point where even cinematic legends like Martin Scorsese can no longer resist the inevitable–releasing his gangster masterpiece on Netflix due to limited choices in distribution. This film symbolically marks a pivotal point in cinema and its accessibility.  

Joker

If you can’t beat them, join them!  There was always a growing concern over the prevalence of big blockbuster films, to the point where the “summer blockbuster” is now an extinct term as they occur year round. Nothing wrong with a popcorn flick, unless people are consuming it constantly. To alter the general public’s diet, Joker was conceived as almost an inside joke in itself–an experiment to determine whether a deep character study film, like that of Manchester by the Sea, could be hidden within a comic book story. People ate it up! Yet whilst critics were delighted that audiences were enjoying something different, it’s also infuriating and scary as to what the future now holds. Spotlight disguised as a Clark Kent film? The Wolf of Wall Street crossed with Bruce Wayne? Have we merely ushered in a new wave of superhero films, where deeper narratives are possible, but must still hold the hand of a franchise entity in order to gain recognition? Only time will tell how pivotal Joker is in film history. 

 The Babadook

Cheap to produce and still well attended at cinemas, the horror genre boomed alongside blockbuster films. It certainly went through a Renaissance, with it all starting with The Babadook. Between 2000–2010, horror films became obsessed with gore, with Saw ushering in an era of torture porn, while found footage movies dominated the scene as well, despite a lack of longevity with its narrative style. Then The Babadook presented a story that needed to be a horror for it to work, exploring the isolating nature of grief, and providing one of the best allegories for the emotion in cinema history. It Follows and The Witch released soon after, also utilizing horror as a necessity to the plot as opposed to exploiting it. These films brought a great deal of respect back to the genre, which was then built upon and mastered by the likes of Ari Aster and Jordan Peele over the past few years. 

The Wailing

2000–2010 also marked the rise and fall of J-Horror. The subgenre was popularized by Ringu and Ju-On: The Grudge, though subsequent films and concepts never managed to add anything new to the category. Yet in a way, South Korea took up the mantle in creating high quality Asian horror; a country with a strong cinematic history in producing compelling dramas and thrillers. Many will have heard of Train to Busan, but personally I prefer The Wailing. As a father desperately tries to save his daughter’s life from supernatural forces, he seeks advice from three religions. It contains a heartbreaking and honest complexity, rivalling the likes of Silence, while also presenting a wonderful analysis of the nature of evil. It’s a satisfying, deep, and effective horror film. 

Parasite

It has been a great decade for South Korean cinema, and none more so than for director Bong Joon Ho. In order to keep things fresh, Marvel began to push the boundaries of genre, bringing about an acceptance of genre blends in the process. Bong Joon Ho however has been doing this his whole career, and has finally mastered it in Parasite. Funny, thrilling, and sometimes outright depressing, the tonal changes and manipulation is perfect, and this movie is the culmination of Bon Joon Ho’s career and a representation of the new heights of South Korean (and world cinema) as a whole. It’s a risky prediction, but this movie has the biggest chance in cinematic history to finally be the first Foreign Language film to win Best Picture at the Oscars. 

Blackfish

The advancement of streaming services made certain genres more accessible. YouTube provided the perfect platform for shorts operating as proof of concept pieces for larger feature films, with Lights Out, Cargo, and Kung Fury all finding success. The other genre to benefit was the humble documentary. Blackfish in particular made headlines, drawing so much attention that it forced Sea World and other aquatic wildlife parks to change their policies. It also bolstered faith in activism thanks to its real world results, while also making the genre synonymous with needing a “call to action” as its final beat. Though the latest documentaries (Three Identical Strangers, Free Solo, Honeyland, The Amazing Johnathan Documentary) have returned to a more passive form of story telling techniques, swinging back and bucking this trend. 

Whiplash

This is my favorite film of the decade. It set a new bar, where when I came across a great film, I would literally ask myself whether it was better than Whiplash. Sure, it’s not as great as The Shawshank Redemption, but it’s up there. Fantastic characters, electrifying visuals, tense dramatic sequences and a perfect ending for the narrative. Just watch it. 

Game of Thrones

Yeah, I’m cheating. But this decade was a Golden Age for television thanks to the advent of streaming services. LOST may have started the notion of big budget TV productions, but Game of Thrones took it to the next level. With its high quality production designs, special effects, large budget and feature length episodes, it blurred the line between film and television. Sure, the final season has marred its reputation, but now that The Rise of Skywalker exists, complaints about pacing might ease, and the show may once again respected for its contribution to the art form. 

Tyrone Barnes 

For all the normalcy that was remarked upon while we were in the midst of it all, there’s no denying that the 2010s was the decade when giants walked the earth again. Okay, it’s more accurate to say that most of them floundered about menacingly with occasional flourishes of significance, almost as if they were just the exhumed husks of bygone legends being reanimated through questionable means and puppeteered about for our amusement. Yes, that’s a bit overly cynical, as the last decade did genuinely grant us works of worthwhile import that will most likely be discussed and debated for generations to come. Whether those most deserving of such attention receive their due diligence is another question.

As the man said, “The dark side is a path to many abilities that some would consider…unnatural.”

Avengers: Infinity War The MCU marched around the summer blockbuster scene like it owned the place. That’s mainly because it largely did. Infinity War was the first and the last entry in the project to have a sense of real stakes and consequences attached to it. Mind you, that was mostly undone later, but it was good while it lasted.

mother! I’ve yet to come across another film from this decade that rocked me to my core in the way that Aronofsky did with this outing. Not for the faint of heart or mind.

It’s Such a Beautiful Day Okay, that one also rocked me pretty hard. The fact that it did so with crudely drawn stick figures is even more impressive.

Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse Best superhero movie of 2018 and best Spider-Man movie ever. You can’t change my mind.

A Quiet Place Think The Incredibles but without the powers and placed in a survival horror game. Admit it, you wanna watch it now.

Inside Out – This is the Pixar that I know and love. The premise is ingenious. The characters are vibrant and unforgettable. The meaning is deep, powerful, and sophisticated. The ending is basically perfect. Can you do it again, guys? We miss you.

Frozen I KNOW, I KNOW. But look, there’s no denying that this was a mighty return to form for one of the biggest names in family entertainment. The fact that it’s the most profitable animated film ever made certainly makes it worthy of consideration, regardless of quality.

Teen Titans GO! To the Movies Look, shut up. I know tha- SHUT UP! I know this entire idea has earned little more than vitriol from most onlookers, both on the large and the small screens. Such animosity is misguided, as this is a manner of subversion that came at just the right time and delivered everywhere it counted. DEAL WITH IT.

Avengers – Aside from Infinity War, this was one of the biggest feature-length episodes in the most expensive TV series ever made. There’s no way to overlook that. It doesn’t give us that option.

ParaNorman – I only include this rather than Coraline because it came out in the last decade. The resuscitation of stop-motion by the masterful craftsmanship of Laika was one achievement I could never have predicted. Few others are more grateful for it, and ParaNorman is one of those few works that I find a new reason to love it all over again every time I see it.

You Were Never Really Here This was one powerful title that I nearly missed. Glad I didn’t. What would have been at first glance a mindless action thriller, was instead a quietly brilliant reflection on trauma, malice, and suffering. You’re not gonna get that at your local summer flick.

Whiplash – A young starry-eyed creative talent runs himself  (partially of his own accord and partially through authoritative pressure) through a brutal gauntlet of violence and fury to become “one of the greats,” and fails colossally multiple times for every hint of success he manages to grasp. I feel this movie spiritually.

Inception – I’m surprised more mainstream studios still aren’t trying to ape off of the success of this title. “Mind heist” is such an easily marketable concept that I’m sure several producers were itching to run into the ground with hollow and uninspired copycat projects. It’s for the best that they didn’t though.

The Social Network – How curious is it that the underlying motives behind the revolution of online social media were antisocial pathologies, constant backbiting, and generally unscrupulous pathologies of social interaction? Not quite sure what to make of that…

How to Train your Dragon DreamWorks’ best work since The Prince of Egypt? Yes, indeed. Has its legacy been given its due diligence? Hardly. But that doesn’t mean we can’t still appreciate what a glorious shot out of the blue the first film was and still is even now. Honestly, this movie has aged very gracefully for its sort.

The Tree of Life – This is going to be required viewing in film schools soon enough. This is one of those few movies that can only exist as a movie. No other narrative medium can do what this film does.

Cloud Atlas – This was far more innovative, ambitious, and transcendent in scope and theme than The Matrix, but for some reason, almost nobody speaks of this title anymore. Such a tragedy.

The Wolf of Wall Street – Mr. Scorsese’s great works span many decades, and the definitive accomplishment of this one, at least in the mainstream, is a true-to-life story of the allure and self-destructive poison of hedonism. That it’s perfectly paced, brilliantly acted, and an absolute thrill from start to finish also helps.

Man of Steel – I have a bit of a sentimental attitude towards films at times. I tend to admire a movie for its vision (or at least implied vision) even if the execution doesn’t quite work. Man of Steel is still one of the strongest of this in my lexicon.

The Conjuring – I’m not keen on how this is being spun out into another ill-fated attempt at a “cinematic universe”, but both The Conjuring and its sequel are outstanding and gloriously reverent of their spiritually heavy subject matter. Never would expect someone like James Wan to pull that off, but here we are.

John Wick – Yes, this certainly one of those cinema giants who was once able to walk the earth. An entire film franchise oriented around Keanu Reeves – being a legend of the underground criminal world, and all parties concerned having to realize just who they’re messing with – would get me into the seat with ease. That it also presents ingenious innovations for action choreography in every entry without fail, marks this as an unforgettable experience.

Nightcrawler The fall of journalism is a timely topic for any film to undertake. Taking a few aesthetic and character cues from Taxi Driver certainly doesn’t hurt either. Well done, Mr. Gilroy.

Boyhood This film was in the incubation chamber for twelve years. That alone makes its eventual release a noteworthy event for the decade, almost without regard to actual quality. Could it have stood to be a bit more mature and sophisticated? Sure, but still. Twelve years of shooting with the same cast. That’s a daredevil act.

Chef – There are few films that I appreciate simply for existing. Jon Favreau’s non Marvel-related passion project delivers what I didn’t even know I wanted. Part road trip comedy, part endearing family film (with an R rating, mind you), part celebration of food and excellence. Such a joy.

The Babadook – It’s not common for new filmmaking talents to shock the world with their first outing. Jennifer Kent managed to do this with a haunting psychological thriller, featuring stellar performances and sense of atmosphere, that managed to be piercingly unsettling despite the stock audio usage. Brava.

Noah The Great Flood is one of those Bible stories that is so popular with kids, mainly because it features a lot of animals. How easily we forget that no matter how we slice it, this is a tale of divinely orchestrated mass death. A passion project for several years, Aronofsky gives a welcome and challenging alternative perspective on such a well-known and critical moment in the biblical narrative.

The Last Jedi Fight me. If there was one franchise that really needed to be shaken up and reshuffled with some grand new visions and compelling direction, it was Star Wars. I greatly appreciate what Rian Johnson offered up, even if it falters technically in some respects. In fact, it’s the most satisfying Star Wars experience I’ve had since Empire. Yeah, I said it.

Mad Max: Fury Road We’ve been letting action movies get away with too much, and this is proof of that. The whole film is basically a feature-length Chuck Jones cartoon in live-action, with the chase being the primary selling point. The stunts are real. The vehicles are real. The explosions are real. Hollywood, the gauntlet has been thrown.

Cinderella (2015) – Disney’s “live-action remake” movement is…odd to say the least. There is a chance for real greatness there, and Sir Kenneth Branagh delivers hard with what he called “a movie in which kindness is a superpower”. Seriously, who says that anymore?

Silence While The Wolf of Wall Street was Scorsese’s most thrilling release of the last decade, Silence was easily his most profound and thought-provoking. Based on the true story of Jesuit priests working in Japan during a time of fierce anti-Christian persecution, we are given a king’s feast of food for thought. Where is God in the midst of our suffering? I hope you can see an answer here.

Arrival I wish sci-fi writers had greater appreciation for what their genre is capable of doing. Arrival does several things that I’d been hoping for at once. Time paradoxes, linguistic complications, rapid tech development in the face of an extra-terrestrial threat… Easily my favorite film of that year.

Your Name Gotta go across the pond for this one. The highest grossing animated film out of Japan deserves recognition for that description. Rest assured, it lives up to the legend. Body swap stories are rote at this point, especially in animation, where changing characters and voices is hardly an inconvenience. Watch as this film throws all expectations on its head with quietly beautiful aplomb, and looks good while doing it.

Logan Did not see that one coming at all. After Fox Studios retread familiar ground with such titles as First Class and Days of Future Past, who could have predicted something like an endgame (heh) for the story that kicked off way back at the turn of the millennium? Fittingly brutal, reverently morose, and endlessly thrilling.

Baby Driver It was either this or Scott Pilgrim for the smash hit Edgar Wright film of the decade for me. I probably would have chosen The World’s End had I spent more time with it, but hey. Everything I love about this guy’s filmmaking is on full display here. Slick pacing and editing, expert needle-drop soundtrack, fantastic comedic beats found in the most unlikely of places–this is Wright at his best.

Of Gods and Men – The demands of the life of a disciple cannot be taken lightly precisely because they are so heavy. See this powerfully constructed, French-language meditation on those demands, made all the more weighty by its true story of Jesuit monks, who must wrestle with guarding themselves or remaining loyal to the community they serve.

The Breadwinner – The thing that always fascinated me about the world of the Middle East is how central stories are to their whole perception of life and existence. Everything has a tale and almost any problem can be addressed and resolved with a story. This animated gem explores the perils of a young girl forced into a web fraught with danger, and how the stories she spins not only give her strength, but clarity in how to bring a close to the conflict that separated her from her family.  I know you have a Netflix account. Please use it for something other than binge watching Stranger Things again.

A Silent Voice Let’s take one last sojourn to the other hemisphere for a tick. With the tragic arson attack on Kyoto Animation that happened earlier this year, I felt compelled to give a shout out to one of the studio’s finest feature releases, and one of the most heart-wrenching bildungsroman stories put to animation. In the Bible, King David is said to be a man “after God’s own heart”. In a way, lead character Shoya Ishida is one who actively chases after God’s own heart in his relentless urge to be redeemed for his past sins. It’s brilliant, it’s moving, and it’s breathtakingly gorgeous.

Honorable mentions: Pain & Gain, Crazy Rich Asians, Bad Times at the El Royale, Bumblebee, Creed, Scott Pilgrim vs The World, True Grit, Toy Story 3, The King’s Speech, Sinister, Captain America: The First Avenger, Sucker Punch, Hanna, Hugo, The Cabin in the Woods, Midnight in Paris, We Need to Talk About Kevin, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Lincoln, The Master, Looper, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Her, Wreck-It Ralph, Snowpiecer, Prisoners, Under the Skin, Enemy, Inside Llewyn Davis, Pacific Rim, Edge of Tomorrow, Fury, Ex Machina, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), What We Do in the Shadows, The Revenant, The Witch, Moana, Hacksaw Ridge, Zootopia, Captain America: Civil War, Doctor Strange, Eighth Grade, Don’t Breathe, Us, The Greatest Showman, Coco, Aquaman, Ready Player One.

Tyler Hummel

It’s been quite the decade, hasn’t it? Speaking for myself, I started the decade in high school, graduated, graduated college, started my career (twice), moved homes four times, wrote and directed an amateur feature film, and just this year was finally baptized. I’ve lived almost my entire mature life in this decade since I was a high school sophmore in 2010. 

My entire moviegoing life was formed in this decade as well. I remember the first few times I ever went out and viewed movies by myself was in the summer of 2011, when I saw Captain America: The First Avenger, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II and Transformers: Dark of the Moon. I’d never seen movies without my family before, and suddenly I could go out and find movies that personally appealed to my own tastes. Doing so set me on a path to appreciating film as a medium and finding passion in it.

I published my first movie review on Facebook two years later in November of 2013. A year after that, I moved the blog to Tumblr. In December of 2017, I was brought into Geeks Under Grace which has become my writing home. My path has been long and unexpected. I can’t begin to tell you how I ended up where I did but, as P.J. O’rourke once said, very little cognitive thought was involved in the process. I owe much to the people in my life who have helped me grow into the quasi-functional millennial I am today. Much love to them and praise to God for his infinite mercy and patience. 

With the soporific sophistry out of the way, I give you my contribution to Geeks Under Grace’s Best Films of the Decade!

For my list, my only rule imposed is that no director can have more than one entry in the list. If I didn’t make this rule the list would only be comprised of a handful of masters, when this should be a much more diverse and sporadic list that covers more than one artist and culture. I’ve also decided to deliver these 50 movies in alphabetical order since I cannot reasonably figure a means by which to grade these movies numerically. Art is art. You can’t stick a dipstick into it.

There are also a handful of personal favorites that didn’t make the list for one reason or another. Some personal favorites like Godzilla Resurgence, John Wick, Nightcrawler, Brooklyn, Fury, Logan Lucky and The Walk didn’t quite meet the mark of quality I was trying to capture. Still, they merit a mention! There are also a handful of movies I’m sure cinephiles will probably question the absence of, like Whiplash or Get Out. Rest assured – they’re great movies, but they didn’t quite break my rankings! 

Without further ado, lets begin!

  1. 12 Years a Slave (2013) – To be frank, I haven’t seen this movie in more than six years, but after all that time it’s stuck in my head for its horrific depiction of American slavery. Steve McQueen (no, not THAT one) is an immensely talented director, having produced films like Hunger, Shame and Widows, but this film is the one that really cemented his incredible talent as an artist. 
  2. Annihilation (2018) – There have been a lot of unique science fiction movies coming out of the independent film scene this decade. Screenwriter and director, Alex Garland, has arguably been the most important contributor to this phenomena. His movies have a depth and curiosity to them, paired with legitimate existential horror that makes them unforgettable and disturbing. 
  3. Anomolisa (2015) – Charlie Kaufman isn’t really “my bag”, as the kids would say. His particular brand of existentialism doesn’t appeal to my soul. Still it’s hard to argue with the results when you make movies as intelligent as Adaptation, Being John Malcovich, Eternal Sunshine and Synecdoche, New York. His only contribution in the last ten years – Anomolisa – is one of the best animated films of the decade and pushes the boundaries on stop motion animation as an artform. 
  4. Arrival (2016)I’m going to probably say this a few times in this article, but I could’ve picked any of Denis Villeneuve’s movies for this list and it would’ve been appropriate. This God-mode run of Prisoners, Enemy, Sicario, Blade Runner 2049 and Arrival has been this decade’s most unexpected surprise. If I had to pick a favorite with a gun to my head, his 2016 science fiction masterpiece would probably be it. 
  5. Attack the Block (2011) – The 2010s were a decade of revivals for the film industry, and one of my favorites was the mini-John Carpenter homage phenomena we got between Get Out, The Guest, It Follows and Attack the Block. The latter remains my favorite. Joe Cornish’s excellent sci-fi/horror film, set against one of the poorest areas of the UK, is absolutely a revelation. 
  6. Bad Black (2016) Wakaliwood is completely lovely and deserves the viral fame they’ve earned! This fledgling amateur film studio from Uganda has had more of an impact on film internationally than most people realize, and going forward I can imagine they got a few surprises as they break into the mainstream. Of their films, Bad Black is the best one that’s been distributed internationally!
  7. Blindspotting (2018) – If all directorial debuts were as stylish, emotional and tense as this film, Hollywood would be a much better place. Carlos López Estrada’s movie about two men living in a poor, gentrified San Francisco suburb is one of the most enthralling, funny and original films in years. 
  8. Blue Jasmine (2013) – Late period Woody Allen films are extremely hit or miss. Sometimes you get a Midnight in Paris, and sometimes you get an unwatchable slog… His late homage to A Streetcar Named Desire is thankfully one of his best dramas. Though more serious than most of his films, it’s a difficult, wordy and fascinating character study with great performances. 
  9. Bridge of Spies (2015)Steven Spielberg got bored of directing action movies decades ago and it’s taken him a long time to find a new direction in his career. His late period transition to dramas following Lincoln was long overdue and all of them are great! Of them, his Cold War collaboration with the Coen Brothers is his late masterpiece! 
  10. Creed (2015)The idea of a seventh Rocky film is an idea that rightfully creates thoughts of deep fear and loathing in the mind of cinephiles. Leave it to veritable wunderkind Ryan Coogler to find a new angle and a fresh take on cinema’s most disabused, egomaniacal and unnecessary franchise. This isn’t just a spin-off to Rocky 4. Creed is a powerful story about legacy, intergenerational relationships, and identity. 
  11. The Death of Stalin (2018) – Take the basic premise of Monty Python Does Soviet Russia and turn it up to eleven. Not only one of the darkest anti-authoritarian films ever, but one of the funniest comedies ever made. Few films can reasonably balance such a mix of pitch dark-humanism and absurdism, but this one does it with style. 
  12. Dragged Across Concrete (2019) – S. Craig Zahler walks the line with every one of his movies between tastelessness and irony. They always feel like they’re one or two degrees away from total depravity and hatred, and yet there’s a reservation to them that makes me think there’s always something else going on, even when he’s made a movie as trollish as a Mel Gibson/police brutality movie. Rarely are such evil characters so compelling. 
  13. Drive (2011) – Nicolas Winding Refn can be a frustrating director. He has such a unique and powerful aesthetic that works so well in movies like Bronson and Valhalla Rising, yet his last several projects get lost in all their beautiful imagery. Of them all, Drive is the one that balances his beautiful visual style the most, with a fascinating, if difficult, narrative that lends itself to being watched again and again to be fully appreciated. 
  14. Edge of Tomorrow (2014) – Maybe the most underappreciated contemporary action film to come out of a mainstream Hollywood production, Edge of Tomorrow (aka Live, Die, Repeat) comes with a basic premise that gets used to incredible dramatic and comedic effect. This is the movie that foreshadowed Tom Cruise’s career rejuvenation and establish that he was going to enter one of the most exciting times of his filmography, with great action movies like Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation and Fallout
  15. First Reformed (2018) – Paul Schrader finally achieved his masterpiece this decade after a messy–if prolific–career as a screenwriter and director. The one time screenwriter of Taxi Driver and Raging Bull, shifted focus and directed movies like Hardcore and Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters, before achieving a late-in-life feat with First Reformed. This morally grey masterpiece explores complex themes regarding salvation and environmentalism, and asks some dangerous questions about how far we ought to go to seek justice in a fallen world.   
  16. The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) – Wes Anderson has such a distinct, aesthetic sensibility that overshadows the course of his entire career, that one might assume the MOST exemplified film showcasing his style would be cloying and obnoxious. Yet it’s surprisingly his most personal, funniest, and most painful film. This movie’s meaning is found in the framing of its story. It’s a memory of a memory of a memory, being read by a young woman in a park decades after the events of its story. It’s a sad, powerful metaphor for nostalgia; the past we yearn for and the past we think existed but may have never been. 
  17. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)It’s hardly controversial to call this decade the “decade of superhero movies”, given the prevalence of the genre. Of them all, none to me had the impact as James Gunn’s seminal MCU film, Guardians of the Galaxy. No other film in this genre had the cultural affect that this one film managed to create. Just walk up to someone on the street and tell them “We Are Groot” to see what I mean. 
  18. Hacksaw Ridge (2016) There’s been a massive revival of religious films this decade with the immense success of films like God’s NOT Dead, Son of God and War Room. The most interesting though, are the ones that have been coming from offbeat Hollywood weirdos with estranged and complicated relationships to the church and culture at large. Enter Mel Gibson–the world’s most controversial (living) movie star. The man who famously brought his unique energy to epics like Braveheart and Passion of the Christ, here crafted one of the most brutal and inspirational war films since Saving Private Ryan. It’s not so much a movie about the persecution of faith, so much as it is about the proving of it. 
  19. Her (2013) – This movie should NOT work. Spike Jonze’s vision of a world deeply atomized by technology, to the point that one man falls in love with his computer’s operating system, should either be a dark comedy or a horror film, and yet it’s not. It’s a melancholic exploration of a world not too far from our own, where our ability to connect is dissolved proportionally to our ability to increase our technological capacity. 
  20. Holy Motors (2012) – It’s taken me more than half a decade to understand Leo Carax’s complicated arthouse film, comprised of disconnected scenes of an actor going about his day dispassionately. There are so many layers of theme and real world context that make this one of the most exciting films to think about even years later. Maybe you’ll just love one or two of the scenes without understanding the context, but once you discover the movie’s foundational narrative it opens up to new ways to interpret it.  
  21. Inception (2010) – Christopher Nolan earned his place in the cultural landscape with this movie. Years later, people are still complaining about how it doesn’t make any sense, yet it’s stuck in their minds. This is a movie of metaphors and deep personal tragedy. Cobb’s journey to perform the greatest heist of his career is also a journey into the subconscious. It’s a tragedy of one man’s poor choices and mistakes, slowly eroding his grasp on reality until he no longer cares what’s real anymore. 
  22. Inside Llewyn Davis (2013) – The Coen Brothers have REALLY slowed down their output this decade. Most directors would be proud to make True Grit, Inside Llewyn Davis, Hail, Caesar! and The Ballad of Buster Scruggs back to back, yet this hasn’t even been their strongest decade. It’s nobody’s fault if you can’t live up to your own best work though. That said, their 2013 masterpiece, Inside Llewyn Davis, is easily their best work of the 2010s. It’s not as immediately fun as some of their other films, but the underlying tragedy of the film is palpable.  
  23. Ladybird (2017)Saoirse Ronan has become my favorite actress. I more or less fell in love with her in Brooklyn, and since then she’s dedicated her career to finding difficult and emotional roles to expand her skills. Ladybird is easily the best thing she’s been in. The film by Greta Gerwig, explores an immensely complicated, toxic, broken and sad young woman, whom we develop immense empathy and love. 
  24. The LEGO Movie (2014) In an age when commercialism controls the film industry, self reflection goes a long way. What should’ve been the most cynical and painfully awkward films of the decade, instead became a masterpiece of modern animation in the hands of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. It uses the bare bones of the hero’s journey to utterly subvert the meaning of the stories we most frequently tell ourselves. It’s a movie about imagination, inspiration, and the stories we tell ourselves. 
  25. Logan (2017) James Mangold’s radical deconstruction of the superhero genre remains of the most powerful entries into any mainstream superhero franchise ever produced. Reinterpreting the genre through the lens of a nihilistic neo-western to tell this story of dystopian horror and violence, gave us a movie that even people who hate superhero films praise.  
  26. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) A movie like this shouldn’t be possible. You shouldn’t be able to sneak a movie this excellent and enthralling through the studio system. Then again, most directors aren’t George Miller. The legendary director of The Road Warrior, returned as a 70-year-old man to reinvent the possibilities of an action film in the eyes of modern Hollywood. This shouldn’t work and yet it’s a masterpiece. 
  27. The Muppet Movie (2011) – Jason Segal’s revival of The Muppets is basically the best shot of pure joyfulness and kindness you’ll find this decade. I’ve met lots of Jim Henson purists who don’t appreciate his work being handled by other puppeteers, yet this movie is easily the best movie in the entire franchise just as a film. The music is great, the cameos are hilarious, and all of your favorite Muppets show up. I wasn’t even a fan of this franchise before seeing it and now I love them! 
  28. Never Look Away (2018) – When I heard the German director of The Lives of Others had a new film coming out, I almost flipped out. That it not only meets his previous masterpiece but manages to exceed its predecessor, is a testament to the beauty of this long-winded epic. The story of this one tortured artist–struggling to grasp the trauma of living through Nazism and the Soviet occupation of his nation–is tense, funny, and romantic from start to finish.
  29. The Nice Guys (2016) Shane Black is the best buddy cop writer in the history of cinema. He’s also a spectacular screenwriter on his own terms, who has matured from good movies like Lethal Weapon and The Long Kiss Goodnight, to making comedic masterpieces like Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. The Nice Guys is almost a culmination of his filmography. It’s at once lurid and sharply written from start to finish. Getting to laugh at the absurdity of America during the 1970s never stops being fun. 
  30. Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood (2019) Tarantino has really grown into himself this decade with a handful of his best films ever. Like Wes Anderson though, one would think the deeper he falls into his idiosyncrasies the more obnoxious he would become. It turns out with his newest film released just this year, that’s not the case. OUATIH is easily his most personal film yet. It mixes and remakes ideas and locales from across his career to create a dreamscape of the world he wishes he could live in. It’s a memory wrapped in a fairy tale that asks you to sit back and relax. 
  31. The Other Side of the Wind (2018)It’s not everyday that one of the greatest directors in history gets a film released posthumously. Orson Welles’ late masterpiece was one of the most infamous “lost” films in Hollywood history, that is until a small group of dedicated filmmakers convinced Netflix to finance its completion. It’s a deeply fractured yet purposely satirical take on egomania in the New Hollywood of the 1970s. It uses its status as a mockumentary to get away with shots and poor audio that no other film could use without criticism. In the hands of a genius, the film is deeply purposeful and endlessly fascinating. 
  32. Pacific Rim (2013)I’m sure someone is going to disagree with this movie’s placement on this list, yet honestly it’s one of my favorite movies ever. Going into it with zero expectations, I was blown away by its tension and creativity. It’s easily the best monster movie Hollywood has produced in decades, thanks to the gentle guiding hand of Guillermo Del Toro. He would of course go on and double down on that feat with his 2017 masterpiece, The Shape of Water
  33. Pain & Gain (2013) – I will likely never watch this movie again. Seeing it the first time made me feel slimly and disgusting; like I was complicit in someone else’s crime. At the same time though, watching Michael Bay feel his way through something like a Coen Brothers’ dark-comedy is utterly fascinating. It’s a masterpiece of nihilism and corruption. 
  34. Phantom Thread (2017) Any Paul Thomas Anderson movie deserves a place on this list, from his immediate follow-up to There Will Be Blood that was The Master, to his lurid 1970s noir, Inherent Vice. They’re all great. Phantom Thread is on an entirely different level though. His final collaboration with Daniel Day-Lewis ended up being one of the most enthralling and viscerally disturbing explorations of an abusive relationship in cinematic history. It’s a movie of dizzying beauty, but it’s all a front. Its beautiful surface covers the emptiness within, as we watch these two characters literally and metaphorically poison one another. 
  35. The Raid: Redemption (2011) – There was before The Raid, and then there was after The Raid. No other action movie has fundamentally changed the very air that its entire genre breathes this much in decades. The movie resurrected interest in the martial arts genre and provided one of the most stripped down, no-nonsense takes on the genre ever. It’s a movie defined by minimalism, that manages to focus entirely on its masterful fight scenes while still functioning perfectly as a story about one man’s lonely fight against corruption. 
  36. Roma (2018) – Alfonso Cuarón earned my attention with Gravity and Harry Potter. With Roma he earned my respect. This otherwise quiet drama about a lower class home maker in Mexico shouldn’t hit as hard as it does, and yet it’s peppered with tragedy and loss. When this movie hits its darkest moments, you feel it. You feel for Cleo as she’s repeatedly disregarded and abandoned by those around her until the movie’s final moments. 
  37. Silence (2016) I can’t begin to describe to you how much this movie means to some people. As a Christian, some aspects of its story are objectionable, and yet there’s a tangible pain and empathy for the Christian experience that sits at the core of this movie. It’s asking the darkest questions a Christian can ask unflinchingly, and asks how we rationalize them and maintain our faith in the face of a cruel world. Martin Scorsese has outdone himself with this movie. 
  38. Skyfall (2012) – James Bond movies are very hit or miss. Most of them stink, yet when they hit their stride, they’re some of the best adventure movies you’ll ever find. With Casino Royale in 2008, the franchise was totally reinvented, and here it comes to a kind of fruition. Sam Mendes and Roger Deakins crafted one of the most beautiful adventure movies of all time. Rarely does a movie ever look so unflinchingly at the cracks in a character and still give him to us in all of his messy glory than this movie does. 
  39. Snowpiercer (2014)Bong Joon Ho is a more radical director than I generally care for. There’s a genuine rage in his heart about the state of the world and the casual cruelties of society, but his solutions are more than merely radical if this film is any indication. Still it’s hard to argue with science fiction films THIS good. His breakout American-Korean joint production is one of the darkest movies about the way society is constructed that you’ll ever see. At the same time though it’s also enthralling and perfect. 
  40. The Social Network (2010) – I’m honestly not the biggest fan of David Fincher. I know he has tons of fans amongst cinephiles but his work is too uneven and lurid for my tastes. When he’s on point though, his movies are masterpieces. I LOVE Zodiac! Maybe my favorite of his films though is his turn-of-the-decade biopic on Mark Zuckerburg’s founding of Facebook. It’s more restrained than his normal output, yet it’s also one of his harshest and most uniquely stylish films ever. 
  41. Son of Saul (2015) – I was late to discover this Hungarian Holocaust movie. It seemed like something needlessly dower at the time I first heard of it. Having seen it, I can affirm it’s worse than that. It’s also vital. This story follows one Jewish man who witnesses the miracle of a child surviving the gas chambers in Auschwitz, only for them to be summerly murdered. The story of that man attempting to give him a traditional Jewish funeral in the midst of the worst tragedy of the 20th century, is harrowing in the way that resolving one small, unjust deed in a sea of injustice can only provide. 
  42. Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse (2018) Am I breaking my rule to NOT credit the same creators more than once in this list for Phil Lord and Christopher Miller? Not really. They only wrote this movie. It’s still a masterpiece. Not only is this stylish animated movie the best Spider-Man movie since Sam Raimi left the franchise, it’s one of the best unironic depictions of the most popular genre in the history of cinema. 
  43. Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) I know many people despise this movie and I respect that. I honestly love this movie, even though I’m disappointed with The Rise of Skywalker and how it undermines some of its themes. Even so, that doesn’t take away what this movie accomplishes for me. Rian Johnson cut Star Wars to the bone, in the same way Scorsese cuts ideas to the bone in his movies to reveal the best and worst of it. It’s an unusual and rare way to dig into the ideas of a movie and I respect it so much for that. 
  44. The Tree of Life (2011) – It’s taken me a long time to warm up to Terrance Malick’s epic existential drama. I didn’t like it the first time I watched it, yet it opened up to me upon a second viewing earlier this month. Seeing this small Texas family reenact the Book of Job is completely fascinating. It’s a movie totally disconnected from any coherent narrative, that just exists to let us explore the minds of a tortured family. Set in contrast the grandness of the universe, it takes on a new meaning and an new perspective. Where were we when God laid the earth’s foundation indeed. 
  45. What We Do in the Shadows (2014) I love Taika Waititi so much! Between this, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Thor Ragnarok and Jojo Rabbit, he’s established himself as one of the best comedians in Hollywood. Few find such immense joy and empathy in bad situations as he does. All of that creativity started with his improvised, low budget comedy from 2014, starring his collaborators from Flight of the Conchords. Everything about this mockumentary is perfect, from it’s self deprecating New Zealand wit, to its surprisingly deep cutting insights on how much being a vampire would actually stink. There’s nothing else quite like this movie!  
  46. The Wind Rises (2013) – This is my favorite movie. I don’t say that lightly, but out of any film I can think of, this is easily the movie I can most readily return to as my favorite. Seeing it in theaters as the first Miyazaki movie I’d ever gone out of my way to see was insanely powerful. This romantic historical fiction about the Japanese aeronautical engineer who invented the Zero fighter, is awash with sadness, regret and futility. The desires of one artist to create something beautiful are twisted into a weapon of war that gets used to contribute to the Rape of Nanking, and the Pacific Theater of World War II. It’s a tragedy of enthusiastic myopia. 
  47. Wolf Children (2012)Mamoru Hosoda has come a long way to pick up the torch Hayao Miyazaki dropped when he “retired” in 2013.  While I adore The Boy and the Beast as one of my favorite films ever, his previous film is easily his masterpiece. This beautifully animated tragedy about the struggle of a single mother is heartbreaking and painful in ways you wouldn’t believe. 
  48. Won’t You Be My Neighbor (2018) – There hasn’t been a single person I’ve shown this unassuming documentary about the life of Fred Rogers to, who hasn’t been deeply affected by it. The late PBS star did more in his life to touch the lives of those around him than anyone could ever know. His was a unique ministry. As an ordained minister, he used his immense well of love and compassion to help people just by showing he cared. We should all be so lucky. 
  49. The World’s End (2013) – What’s a list of great movies that doesn’t include Edgar Wright on the list? It’s a shame it took this long to get to any of his movies. Sadly this decade hasn’t been as kind to him as he has to us. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World was a box office non-starter, and his version of Ant-Man was taken from him by corporate mandate. Thankfully the immense success of Baby Driver has helped to mitigate those issues. That said, my favorite of his movies is his final part of the Cornetto Trilogy. The World’s End turned me off the first time I saw it. Up until that point, I’d never seen a movie that could recontextualize the apocalypse as a happy ending. This film goes far beyond that though. It’s a painful and funny story at its heart, that delivers some of the best performances of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost’s career. 
  50. Zero Dark Thirty (2012) – Critical distance is a rare trait in any piece of art. Humans frequently don’t realize the levels of bias and innate assumptions we carry with us at any point. Anything as contentious as the War on Terror is likely going to drudge up primal and ugly emotions in the best of us. Amazingly that’s what Kathryn Bigelow was able to accomplish with this film. She’s usually drowned in perspective as The Hurt Locker and Detroit show. Here she delivers a cold, detached look at the immense trauma and personal cost that the hunt for Osama Bin Laden caused in the hearts of the people who served to hunt him down. The movie famously changed its premise mid-shoot, because it turned out that the real Bin Laden was killed during the film’s production. Even with the happy ending though, the movie still captures the taxing human cost of such a campaign. It’s the rare kind of film you could call a miracle. 

What about you? What are your favorite movies from the past decade? Comment below or tweet us @geeksundergrace with your favorite movies, and have a Happy New Year! 

Categories
Gaming PC Reviews

Review: John Wick Hex

Developer: Bithell Games

Publisher: Good Shepherd Entertainment

Platform: PC

Genre: Strategy

Rating: N/A

Price: $19.99

Here at Geeks Under Grace, and among friends, I’ve become the resident John Wick fan. I was excited to see we’d be getting a full John Wick video game, not like the VR experience that came out a few years ago. With the announcement, we also learned that Bithell Games would be developing the game.

Knowing the vetted indie game dev Mike Bithell was behind the project was also exciting, because that meant we were going to get something very unique. Instead of giving us the Baba Yaga’s skillset in a close-quarters third-person shooter, we enter his mind in the tactical strategy of John Wick Hex. After my time with the game, I was right to assume it would be unlike anything I’ve ever played.

Content Guide

Violence: Players take control of John Wick, a deadly assassin. Gameplay consists of ranged and close quarters hand-to-hand combat. Players are strongly encourage to use firearms in the game and must use them to kill bosses. There is very little blood or gore to be seen, but when characters are shot, they violently react and scream in pain.  On a few occasions we do see some blood under the bodies of dead characters.

Review

The events of John Wick Hex take place long before the events of the three films—before he meets his wife. We are introduced to Hex, who has captured Winston and Charon of the Continental to claim his birthright. Troy Baker voices Hex while Ian McShane and Lance Reddick reprise their roles from the film. It’s always good to see actors hang on to their roles when licensed products are involved instead of stand-in voice actors. John himself is a silent protagonist in this game; that means no Keanu, but gives the player more agency in filling that role.

John Wick Hex has a unique cel-shaded art style that looks as if it came from a previous comic adaptation, but it’s completely original. It was the right choice for the developers to go for a stylized look to focus on gameplay instead of trying to achieve realism. The music also stood out and resembled tracks I’ve heard in the films. Austin Wintory composed the soundtrack, who is known for his work on games like Journey and The Banner Saga. The overall presentation is one of the many factors that help the game stand out.

As was stated in the introduction, John Wick Hex is a tactical strategy game. In each stage, I was tasked with planning my route through each area, deciding the importance of my actions, and which enemies to take out first. The ultimate goal of the experience is for players to feel as if they acted out a scene right out of a John Wick movie. For the most part, I believe the developers were successful in bringing their vision to life.

Gameplay takes place on a staggered grid. The main objective is to get from one side of a stage to another and take out enemies that stand in your way. As you follow the grid, you have a limited range of vision and a timeline at the top of the screen. The timeline reminds me of a JRPG in such a way that you must plan your actions around it, because it will keep you one step ahead. For example, you’ll know when an enemy is entering the room and can take a shot at them as they walk in. Actions are not turn-based like typical strategy games such as XCOM, but occur in real-time as your character moves similarly to Superhot.

I had a number of ways to subdue him at close range and eventually pick up his gun.

When an enemy is in your line of sight, you can either shoot at them or throw your gun. You can parry, strike, takedown, or push enemies that are within close range. Many of these actions are great for subduing an enemy while simultaneously keeping John on the move. I utilized takedowns to either help me dodge a bullet from another enemy or to move in towards them if I was too far away. The push action was great if I didn’t have time for a takedown and needed space to finish off an enemy. These close-quarter actions are a great way to authentically thread the gun-fu needle to give us the action that we get from the John Wick movies.

There are various enemy types to watch for in the game. Many of them vary on the kind of ranged weapons they use, but it is important to be on the lookout for the unarmed brawlers. Those are the enemies that aren’t afraid to get close and unleash a few strikes and takedowns of their own. There are also a few boss fights that occur, which can be even trickier since its required to get in close and stun them before any shots you take will do damage. There was enough difference in the enemies to keep me on my toes and stay aware of my surroundings.

These brawlers sometimes travel in groups.

One of my favorite features in the game is also one that needs work. After each stage is completed, you have the option to watch a replay of everything that you did. While its fun to see the mission play out in real-time, that’s also when the flaws show up. Fixed cameras across the stage layout will trigger as John moves through and will change as actions occur, so it can be tough to keep up with the action. What would greatly help with this issue is if we could edit the replays and decide the placement and behavior of the cameras. When viewing the replays, you also see how stiff the movement and actions are—due to the tactical nature of the gameplay.

Before each chapter is also a planning phase, in which you use an allotted amount of points to prepare. Points can be used to place a weapon or extra healing items in one of the stages. The other way to spend them is on modifiers that work in your favor and stay active across a whole chapter. Proper planning can be beneficial, especially if you end up having to heal often. Although, I made the mistake of not being conservative with my healing items and ended up in a boss fight without anything. I had a much more difficult time due to my failed planning.

The replays capture the best and worst moments of your run through a stage.

John Wick Hex can be very challenging, but the same can be said for others in the genre. I enjoy how it had me thinking ahead and to be more observant. Though I have enjoyed my time with the game, I lost interest at some point. The reason is likely because nothing changes after awhile. Following a few chapters, the formula becomes very “rinse and repeat” as I learned how to deal with all of the enemy types, and each boss encounter boiled down to the same strategy. The story doesn’t go anywhere very interesting, but it succeeds in being a reason for players to become one of the deadliest action movie assassins.

I didn’t come into John Wick Hex expecting it to blow my mind. I wanted a unique experience based on my favorite action series of the decade. Bithell Games has delivered on my expectations, but could fine-tune a few things to improve on the experience. The tactical gameplay ultimately helped me enter the mind of the titular character and watch the results play out as it would in one of the movies. For that reason, my time with the game was still worth-while.

 

Review copy generously provided by Sandbox Strategies.
Categories
Action/Adventure Movies Reviews

Review: John Wick Chapter 3 – Parabellum

Distributor: Summit Entertainment 
Director: Chad Stahelski

Writers: Derek Kolstad, Shay Hatten, Chris Collins, Marc Abrams

Composer: Tyler Bates, Joel J. Richard
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Halle Berry, Ian McShane, Laurence Fishburn

Genre: Action

Rating: R

The newest chapter in the saga of John Wick has arrived. Following the events of the first two films, our violent hero is alone and being hunted in New York City. Without any assistance from his old allies, how will the desperate assassin survive? 

Content Guide

Violence/Scary Images: Significant violence, characters are shot, stabbed, bleed profusely; some scenes of excessive gore
Language/Crude Humor: Intermittently severe language throughout
Drug/Alcohol References: Characters drink alcohol, references to smoking
Sexual Content: None 
Spiritual Content: Characters carry religious artifacts for non-religious purposes
Other Negative Content: Betrayal, senseless violence
Positive Content: Themes of loyalty, fighting corrupt authorities

Review

The question floating over John Wick‘s third entry in the series for me was a question of long term viability. The first John Wick film was a lean, no-nonsense action film that blindsided a complacent entertainment industry waiting for the next big thing in action movies. The second one was a more divisive film some fans like myself considered an elevation of the story and world of its lead character, while others disliked it. 

The possibilities of a third film in the franchise seemed quite enthralling. Given the events at the end of the second film where John Wick assassinates a ranking member of the High Table in cold blood on the grounds of the Continental Hotel, it suggested the third film was going to reflect a kind of purgatory for the lead character. I got excited early in the film where an assassin walks up to John quoting Dante’s Inferno. It suggested a fascinating direction for where the film could be morally taking John Wick as a character and how the movie might attempt to redeem him. If the first movie was about resurging, then the second film was about a descent into Hell, meaning the third film would likely be a story of salvation. Using the frame of Inferno, the story could’ve theoretically been a gauntlet to explore Wick’s journey to forgiveness and redemption. In practice, however, the moral compass of the third film is quite messy. 

The story picks up literal minutes after the end of the second film, where John is being hunted by an army of hundreds of professional assassins all seeking the $14 million bounty on his head. For killing the leader of the Italian mafia, the High Council has dispatched an agent to clean up the mess in New York City. He is to punish every party that allowed him to escape in the last movie and hunt John to the ends of the Earth while he seeks assistance from an elder above the Council who could potentially wipe away his excommunicato status. 

John Wick Chapter 3 isn’t a bad film…far from it. It’s one of the most beautifully shot and brilliantly choreographed action movies since The Raid 2. As an orgy of violence, it’s second the none. Yet I couldn’t help but think during the screening that the movie had somewhat lost the plot in regards to where the actual ethics of the story was supposed to be going. I had hoped the story would find a satisfying way to close the book on the story arcs of the first two films while leaving room for a potential sequel, but alas, that’s not quite what the movie does. The movie depressingly functions as an extension of the story of the first two films that seems to suggest the filmmakers are going to drag on this story for as many films as possible. That left the movie’s ending feeling like it could’ve been setting up a clever bait and switch feeling very hollow and rushed. 

As a whole, I’m disappointed with the film. It had the opportunity to definitively deliver the cathartic end of the story this central character deserves, or at least should’ve had the opportunity to earn. It’s not like there aren’t a dozen other sequel/prequel ideas the filmmakers could’ve used as a hook for other movies in this universe.

Broken down into its individual parts, however, the film sits with me better. A second act digression in Casablanca with Halle Berry ends up providing the emotional and action highlight of the film. I’d been skeptical of her inclusion in the film ever since I heard she’d be in it, given Berry’s infamous roles in early 2000s trainwrecks like Catwoman and Die Another Day. In her half hour of screentime, she carries more history and pathos than any other character in the film. She manages to outfight John Wick in their scene together and prove her chops as one of the best characters in this movie. I genuinely hope she comes back for another film or earns a spin-off. 

Again the movie is quite well done. The John Wick movies are nothing if not some of the best working filmmakers in Hollywood teaming up to create a love letter to action cinema, so the parts of the film people came to see don’t disappoint.

For me, though, the sum of these parts doesn’t outweigh the whole. The economy and tight storytelling of the first movie is almost entirely gone, replaced with scope and ambition that doesn’t serve the story of its main character in an emotionally satisfying way by the end. It definitely ups the ante on action, but doesn’t feel as cathartic as the second movie’s Rome sequence which came with 15 minutes of setup/payoff, or dramatic as the first movie’s character motivated action. I hate to be negative about this movie at all given my adoration for the first two films and just how much everyone in this film is giving it their all. However, at the same time, I don’t want this story to drag out indefinitely. John Wick deserves a proper ending to his story that addresses the conflict that’s been building up over two movies. 

 

Categories
Action/Adventure Articles Articles Christian Living Coming Soon Movies Reviews

Flawed Faith: John Wick’s Spiritual Descent

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. —Romans 8:28

I have an innate skepticism about vengeance tales. On a gut level, they are some of the easiest stories to tell. They represent the apotheosis of humanity’s yearning for cosmic justice. Someone has wronged you and now you must go on a quest to set the world right. Dozens of great movies , from Dirty Harry to Kill Bill to Oldboy, have been written on this premise. The problem is that spiritually speaking, while this urge for justice is profound and deep, it’s also deeply sinful. As humans, we aren’t the arbiters of justice. When we go out into the world seeking justice for what has been wronged of us, we end up looking more like Charles Bronson in Deathwish. We become dirtied, lesser beings crawling around in the same muck and injustice the world has placed upon us. The Bible says as much. 

“Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord,” Romans 12:19 ESV

God doesn’t want us to lash out in revenge. On the contrary, he wants us to take the horrors of the world in stride. 

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also,” Matthew 5:38-39 ESV.

Injustice is part of the human experience. As our experiences often show us, when we attempt to seek out further justice in the world, we end up destroying ourselves in the process. The only way we can escape the cycles of destruction vengeance creates is by breaking the link and turning the other cheek. In doing so, it creates the only path forward that allows you to heal and move on. I’ve considered this idea a lot in conjunction with the now highly popular John Wick movies. The first movie was a minor surprise when it released in October of 2014. It came off almost as a joke premise. Keanu Reeves was playing an ultrapowerful hitman-assassin seeking vengeance for the death of his dog in what seemed like the most ridiculous spinoff of the Taken premise yet seen. It’s the kind of a story Smosh was actively making fun of years before the movie came out. 

To the surprise of everyone, the movie ended up being one of the leanest, well-produced action movies of the decade. Being heralded by longtime Hollywood stuntmen Chad Stahelski and David Leitch, the movie was a low budget side project that brought the two men back together from their experience working with Keanu together on The Matrix. With a combination of a solid script and no-nonsense production, the group managed to produce one of the most surprising miracles of recent filmmaking. That first film is unquestionably excellent. Because the filmmaker’s clearly had limited resources, they made the most of every location through great choreography and lighting. 

Still, if there is one thing universally agreed upon as a fault, it’s the ending. The final fight doesn’t really work in conjunction with the logic of the rest of the narrative, and mostly just exists to be the final boss fight of a movie that had mostly resolved its story otherwise. Beyond that basic flaw, the movie’s setup and second act are phenomenal. John Wick’s journey is immensely cathartic. He’s a man who undergoes immense pain and trauma who manages to right a wrong through sheer force of will and talent. It proves almost impossible, but by the end of the film, we see him walking home with a limp having resolved his central dilemma. The puppy his wife gave him to help him cope with his loss has been avenged by the death of almost every major member of the Russian mafia who stood in his way. He’s allowed to walk into the sunset with a freshly treated wound and a new puppy. 

Given how bare bones this movie is, it really doesn’t leave any room to comment on the actual moral legitimacy of its central character’s actions. We empathize with him because we know he’s been broken by compounding tragedy upon tragedy, but that doesn’t make his actions morally right. He murders 77 people in cold blood over a dog in the first movie alone. It’s a spectacle to watch, but it’s not a moral character journey. That’s why I think it’s brilliant John Wick: Chapter 2 completely uproots the entire moral basis of the first film. I’ve met many people that don’t appreciate the bloat the confusingly convoluted lore the second film brings into the series. Personally, that doesn’t matter to me. The movie is one of the greatest action movie sequels of all time and it’s surprisingly morally introspective in regards to the actions of its lead character. 

What sets the sequel aside from the first is the way it treats the events of John Wick as an open wound. John tries to go back to his peaceful life hours after reopening these wounds of his former life, but it doesn’t take more than a few minutes for that same past to show up at his door with expectations. Enter Santino D’Antonio, an Italian crimelord who helped John Wick escape his life of violence once before. Antonio comes with an old blood debt with the demands it must be fulfilled or John will be killed. After John’s house is destroyed (along with all of the remaining evidence of his wife’s existence), John immediately agrees to fulfill Antonio’s request, but quickly plots to kill Antonio after the debt has been paid in full. 

This ends up being the movie’s moral spiral. John Wick becomes trapped in a catch 22 wherein the only way to save himself is to kill more to survive. At the same time, the more he fights and kills, the more his ancient enemies start forming around him seeking further revenge or personal gain. A massive bounty is placed on him and he’s forced to spend much of his time just dodging New York City’s seemingly endless supply of assassins.

As the movie progresses, he makes more compromising decisions that come closer to making him exhausted and getting him killed. This all leads up to the brilliant final confrontation between John and Antonio, wherein he kills him in the lounge of the Continental Hotel, the one place in assassin society that is universally agreed to as a violence-free zone. For this, he loses all of his allies and another enormous bounty is placed on his head. With nothing left, he is forced merely to run and hope none of the assassins in New York City can catch him. 

This is a brilliant spiraling exploration of moral and spiritual descent. It’s somewhat tone-deaf given the movie revolves even more around killing for the fun of the audience (ie: Audience’s desire for violence and the story’s moral dilemma are on separate pages), but it’s also a much more interesting and tense dilemma than most action films put into their stories. I’ve seen reviewers go as far as to compare Wick’s dilemma to a Greek Tragedy in terms of how it portrays its character’s descent.

The movie acknowledges John’s journey in the confrontation between John and Gianna D’Antonio, when she directly asks him if he’s afraid of Hell. John is acutely aware of how badly the situation can escalate the more he kills, and Antonio only serves to benefit from his death. It carries the same echos of classic Man and The Devil stories like The Devil and Daniel Webster or Faust. In the end, the devil gets his due and Antonio is functionally John’s Lucifer. Even in death, Antonio leaves John in worse shape than ever before. The tragedy of John Wick comes in that nothing he could’ve done after taking revenge on the Russian Mafia could’ve prevented this decline. He signed his soul away the moment he started taking lives again. This will all likely be addressed with the release of John Wick: Chapter 3.

Going into the movie, the stakes set against John are higher than he’s ever dealt with before. He’s alone in a city of murderers with no home to return to and the only thing he has left to defend is his life and his second dog. His only choices are death or struggle. It’s hard to say for sure how the movie will handle John’s continued spiral into self-destruction, but it’s likely the movie will deliver on some of the best action of its franchise. 

This self-awareness sets John Wick: Chapter 2 aside as one of the most spiritually fascinating action movies of the last several years. There are plenty of great movies that examine the cost of vengeance like Blue Ruin or the aforementioned Oldboy, but for the most part, these are low budget arthouse films. Big budget action and grindhouse films like the kind Cannon Films made with Charles Bronson and Chuck Norris never evaluated these questions. Dirty Harry doesn’t decide the serial murderers and (other) vigilante cops he kills deserve time in court. He blows them away as the arbiter of justice and suffers little consequence for it. Stories like these tend to come out of immensely stressful times. Dirty Harry was set against the stress of the effects of the counter culture of the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Now John Wick‘s success is set against the turbulence of the past half-decade that’s brought the world to an incredible point of stress. We desire justice in the world, and we grow weary all too frequently when we don’t see it. So we escape into fantasy to enjoy a world where the bad guys are blown away brutally for their crimes. John Wick’s story captures the brilliant tension between humanity’s fallen nature and the cost of mediating cosmic justice on our own terms. As fearful as he seems to be of his own damnation and death, he couldn’t control himself in the face of being broken by the weight of the world’s cruelness and ceased his revenge at what might be the cost of his life. As understandable as this instinct to take revenge is, it’s one that’s well worth exploring and questioning within ourselves. Thankfully John Wick serves as a valuable cautionary tale about the spiritual cost of delving into the muck. We must remind ourselves justice does exist in the world in the long run. John Wick deserved justice, but he’s earned damnation and strife. 

“The righteous will rejoice when he sees the vengeance; he will bathe his feet in the blood of the wicked.” Psalm 58:10

Vengeance does not belong to us, but to the Lord. 

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Geeks Under Grace’s Most Anticipated Films of 2019

Every year brings unexpected triumphs and downfalls and usually, you can’t predict where things are going. 2018 was a year with some of the largest films ever made like Avengers: Infinity War and Solo: A Star Wars Story but few would’ve walked away from that year assuming Black Panther, Won’t You Be My Neighbor, and Mission Impossible: Fallout would be the biggest financial and critical success stories.

Looking into this new year there are some enormous films coming out. Frozen 2, Spiderman: Far From Home, How to Train Your Dragon 3, Hellboy, X-Men: The Dark Phoenix, Terminator 6, Kingsman 3, and Men in Black: International all have movie fans in various states of frothing, excitement, and despair. Maybe the most anticipated film this year is Jordan Peele’s sophomore horror film Us, which many people are hoping will be as excellent as the critically acclaimed Get Out. Looking out into this year it’s difficult to decide which of these films will be successful and which will go down as the year’s worst.

With dozens of films on the horizon for 2019, five of us at Geeks Under Grace came together and submitted our thirty most anticipated films of the year!

Dragon Ball Super: Broly – January 16th

Directed by Tatsuya Nagamine

Tyler Hummel – Starting out the year in just two weeks we have the third of the recent line of Dragon Ball films following the immense success of Battle of Gods and Resurrection F. While the fan’s relationship to Dragon Ball Super has been mixed due to the show’s poor character writing and overt fan service, the anticipation for this film seems to be universally positive. At a glance the film seems to be remixing elements of the series from wildly disparate non-canon sources like Fusion Reborn, Broly: The Legendary Super Saiyan, and Bardock: The Father of Goku to create a new story that brings the fraying story threads of the past five years to a head where Goku and Vegeta need to make serious decisions in order to save the day. While the end of the story might be predictable, it’s the journey that matters. The new animation style looks like some of the most beautiful artwork in the history of the series and it might go down as the most visually gorgeous story in the franchise.

Glass – January 18th

Directed by M. Night Shyamalan

Colby Bryant – Unbreakable is, by far, the top film I love from M. Night Shyamalan. Coming in before the prevalence of superhero films came to be, it had an interesting, slow-burn take on the concept of heroes and villains as a whole, and it always entertains me, even to this day, to give it a view. Split was a film I regrettably missed in theaters, but I am so glad I now own it, due in most part to the absolutely superb acting of James McAvoy on display. With Glass, the two films collide with a story that I’ve anticipated since the credits rolled in 2000. While I don’t see it being a mega-hit blockbuster in January (few films ever are), I do hope it can be what I want it to be as a long time fan of what Shyamalan began years ago.

The Kid Who Would Be King – January 25th.

Directed by Joe Cornish

Tyler Hummel – Joe Cornish is one of Edgar Wright’s frequent collaborators. He helped write the screenplay to Ant-Man and The Adventures of Tintin and in 2011 he directed one of the best contemporary science fiction/horror films. Borrowing a lot of the tone and style of his contemporary while injecting it with a unique social consciousness about the difficult internal life of young boys living on the streets, he fashioned an excellent film in the vein of John Carpenter’s unique style of low budget, high concept science fiction. It’s taken him a long time to make a follow-up and now we finally have it. Truthfully the promotional material for this film hasn’t been terribly forgiving. The fact that it got bumped up to January suggests there is some trepidation on the part of the distributor on how to market it. That said, I have high hopes.

Lego Movie 2: The Second Part – February 8th

Directed by Mike Mitchell 

Kyle Mann – Lego films have gotten worse with each release, so it’s possible that returning to the setting and characters of the one that started it all will reinvigorate the series. Of course, it’s always possible that the movies just continue to decline in quality, but again, I’m an optimist!

Happy Death Day 2U – February 14th

Directed by Christopher Landon

Julianna Purnell – It just looks like fun!

Captain Marvel – March 8th

Directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck

Colby Bryant – With the inevitable shakeups coming to post-Avengers: Endgame, it’s important that we have central figures to latch onto in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I’ve written at length on my own blog about the MCU, and for it to continue, there is a lot riding on Captain Marvel, I feel. With its nostalgic look at the 90s and cosmic-cops plot involving the shape-shifting Skrulls, I think it has the ingredients to be a great solo-film, but the baggage of audiences needing to attach to her as an immediate core part of the Avengers moving forward is going to make this one to watch for sure. I’m just as excited about the Endgame, as it were, but I think that this film, in particular, will have to work for it all to work down the line.

Us – March 15th

Directed by Jordan Peele 

Julianna Purnell – As Jordan Peele’s next film, I’m hoping he offers what I love most about this genre–that the horror is present only because such a message requires it, and not just for cheap scares and exploitation.

The Man Who Killed Don Quixote – March 2019

Directed by Terry Gilliam

Tyler Hummel – Terry Gilliam isn’t a household name but as the director of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Brazil, Fisher King, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and 12 Monkeys, cinephiles everywhere are likely familiar with some of his work. He’s an immensely talented visual filmmaker with an eye for surrealism and existential stories. His passion project of the past two decades has been an adaptation of the Spanish language’s greatest piece of literature Don Quixote. As documented in the documentary Lost in La Mancha, the film has been falling apart due to financing issues, cast illness, and legal red tape since it’s inception. Now finally after an additional year of lawsuits following the film’s supposedly illegal premiere at Cannes, it’s finally receiving its long overdue North American premiere after being dropped by Amazon Studios. While the reviews are coming in relatively badly, the joy of this film comes from a director finally crossing the finish line after so long more than anything else.

Shazam! – April 5th

Directed by David F. Sandberg 

Tyler Hummel – Maybe tacit curiosity isn’t a compliment. That being said, there is certainly potential here. The superhero story is all about exploring morality and facets of life through hyperbole. As a metaphor, exploring the impulses and power fantasy that come with being a superhero would be interesting if you told a story about all that power being placed in the hands of a literal child. Granted I’m not sure Warner Brothers has the dexterity to make a straight-up comedy film similar to Deadpool but there is at least a possibility of this film being good given that Wonder Woman was fantastic and Aquaman was serviceable.

Pet Sematary – April 5th

Directed by Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer

Kyle Mann – The first Pet Sematary adaptation is something of a cult classic, hokey as it may be. And the original King book stands among his very best works, touching on the universal themes of the inevitability of death and man’s ability to accept it as a natural occurrence (or not). An updated version is just the ticket for King fans, though we’ll see how well they’re able to live up to the source material.

Avengers: Endgame – April 26th

Directed by Joe and Anthony Russo

Derek Thompson – The main concern I have for Endgame is whether or not Marvel will learn from the mistakes of the Star Wars reboot. They are clearly headed for a “soft reboot” where many characters will really die and set up the next generation. That can be done well, but it can also be done incredibly poorly. However, Marvel has already generated over twenty movies in this universe with very few duds; far more than was ever accomplished in the original Star Wars universe. I expect good things.

Game of Thrones: Season 8 – April 2019

Adapted for television by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss

Julianna Purnell – And finally, my most anticipated film for 2019…Game of Thrones. I know what you’re thinking. Yet if it has the length of a feature film, is shot like one, and has the budget to match, then… isn’t it a film? With Martin Scorsese’s upcoming The Irishman going straight to Netflix, the line between television and film is becoming more and more blurred. David Benioff and D.B. Weiss originally applied for the final season to be several cinematic releases, and while that was denied by HBO, it means the only real difference between film and television is its platform. With rumors that the last few episodes contain battle sequences on the scale of Braveheart, be prepared for Game of Thrones to deliver the best action sequences out of all the films in this list. So watch this space, as just how LOST revolutionized the film quality of television, I think Game of Thrones may topple boundaries and spread into the cinematic sphere if it hasn’t done so already.

Detective Pikachu – May 10th

Directed by Rob Letterman 

Julianna Purnell – When it comes to the franchise films, I must say I’m looking forward to Detective Pikachu the most, as it’s willing to push the boundaries on a fandom that has kept things relatively safe over the past twenty years.

John Wick: Chapter 3 – May 17th

Directed by Chad Stahelski

Tyler Hummel – The anachronism that is the John Wick franchise continues with its much-anticipated third chapter. The first film was produced as a side project by a group of industry special effects veterans working together with Keanu Reeves that ended up being one of the best standalone action films in years. Then just two years later they made lightning strike again with the superior John Wick: Chapter 2, that took the revenge story setup from the first film and made its character grapple with the consequences of returning to the Hell he once escaped from. The story of John Wick is a tragedy about the moral descent inherent to vengeance. The third chapter has the difficult task of being a film that can outpace its already intense predecessors and bring some amount of closure to a story that can only end in more cyclical death and destruction.

Brightburn – May 24th

Directed by David Yarovesky

Tyler Hummel – Given that Superman is my favorite superhero, I find Brightburn to be conceptually interesting. Taking the setup to the Superman mythos but playing it out as the setup to a horror film is interesting and I’m fascinated to see how this will play out. The movie is written and produced by members of James Gunn’s family so having his name hanging around the project will inevitably carry a weight of pressure given his unceremonious dismissal from Marvel after his unfortunately disgusting old tweets were leaked onto the internet. That said, he’s only involved in a producing role. The last time Gunn gave us a film he merely had a hand in developing we got the gory and schlocky film The Belko Experiment which has largely been forgotten. Either way, this will be an interesting story to watch unfold.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters – May 31st

Directed by Michael Dougherty

Colby Bryant – I’m going to say it: 2014’s Godzilla didn’t do a whole lot for me. It was competently made, for sure, but it had an overall dullness that kept me from revisiting it often. The full reveal only at the end of the film of everyone’s favorite atomic titan at the end was necessary, but it only allowed so much to be excited about. That said, 2016’s Kong: Skull Island is one of my favorite blockbusters of recent years. It was a ton of fun throughout, and yes, it is connected to the events and mythology of that Godzilla film. Now, Godzilla is back with a full slew of his biggest, worst threats in this film, and it all leads to the showdown I’ve been waiting for against King Kong. As should be obvious here, I’m hoping for an even better film here, as the dealings of Monarch in all of these films are becoming increasingly intriguing.

Toy Story 4 – June 21st

Directed by Josh Cooley

Colby Bryant – I’m cautiously optimistic about this film. First off, I think that the original three are as close to a perfect film trilogy as one can hope for, and the ending of Toy Story 3 came full circle in its imagery and message to link back to the first one. So, with that said, I love each and every character in these films. I could spend the rest of my life enjoying them all, doing nearly anything. I lovingly watched each and every one of the Toy Story Shorts released over the last several years, and their quality keep me confident that this entry will be well-made, even if unnecessary. Still, who knows? PIXAR could surprise us all with an incredibly well-made and necessary film that will make me reconsider just how vital adding another story was to the experience of the series. Here’s hoping.

Once Upon A Time in Hollywood – July 26th

Directed by Quentin Tarantino

Julianna Purnell – Can’t wait to see Quentin Tarantino’s take on his home city!

Tyler Hummel – It took me a fair minute to figure out what this film could be trying to do. The obvious timeliness of making a movie with Charles Manson in a major role seems significant but Tarantino had previously said that he wanted to have a full trilogy of westerns in his filmography. It then struck me that this movie, with two lead characters who are actors in the story, set against the backdrop of an evolving Hollywood and named after one of Sergio Leone’s greatest westerns was that film. Beyond that, it was a visitation of the setting of Pulp Fiction that initially defined his career. This could very well be his most ambitious and cozy film in years. There is so much potential in this film to examine society, the evolving nature of the film industry, the nature of the western genre and Tarantino’s filmmaking philosophy itself.

Midsommar – August 9th

Directed by Ari Aster 

Julianna PurnellHereditary’s first time director, Ari Aster, will be releasing his second film, Midsommar. I’m excited to see if lightning can hit this extraordinarily talented novice twice.

It: Chapter Two – September 6th

Directed by Andy Muschietti

Kyle Mann – Yes, another year, another slew of King adaptations. This one has a lot to live up to, with 2017’s It ranking among the best King films, besides just being a powerful, heartfelt movie on its own. The two-part structure was inevitable, given the flashback-driven nature of the book, though I fear the change may rob the adaptation of some of the book’s power. But I’m still hopeful that Chapter Two will be every bit as riveting as Chapter One.

Julianna Purnell – I’m curious to see if they can pull it off!

Downton Abbey – September 20th

Directed by Michael Engler 

Derek Thompson – The premise for the TV series Downton Abbey is about the most boring thing imaginable. I honestly cannot remember why I ever considered watching it, but I did. And I was entranced. The acting was so good, and the time period was so interesting–in the grand scheme of history, it was so close to the modern day, and yet so far away. I did not think we would ever get more of the series after so many cast rotations before its conclusion, but I’m glad to be wrong.

Joker – October 4rth

Directed by Todd Philips 

Tyler Hummel – Again I’m going to pull the tacit curiosity card on this film. I like the idea of Warner Brothers experimenting with risky non-canon superhero stories and the production stills that were released early in the film’s production functionally broke the internet for the better part of a week. Given Joaquin Phoenix’s pedigree as an actor, it’s easy to want to get excited with this film that he could come close to matching Heath Ledger’s generation-defining performance in The Dark Knight. The only real problem I foresee is that its director Todd Philips lacks the subtly the film might very well need. He’s the director of the Hangover trilogy and War Dogs so whatever respect that gleams him is what you can expect going into it. I would expect a mean-spirited, violent gangster film that will probably end up being superficially entertaining that sparks a lot of controversies. More than likely it will be 2019’s Venom.

Knives Out – November 27th

Directed by Rian Johnson 

Tyler Hummel – Speaking of controversy, the director of Star Wars: The Last Jedi has a new film coming out this year. That’s probably all you need to know about whether or not you’re interested in seeing it. Even if you’re not interested in the director the film itself sounds interesting. It’s a mystery thriller inspired by the works of Agatha Christie. The cast is a veritable who’s who of interesting actors including Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Michael Shannon, Jamie Lee Curtis, Christopher Plummer and Lakeith Stanfield. Granted if this isn’t interesting to you it will be opening up against Frozen 2 so you’ll have options that weekend.

Star Wars: Episode IX – December 20th

Directed by J.J. Abrams

Kyle Mann – Not an original pick, I’m afraid, but I can’t stand Disney live-action remakes and didn’t care for the latest Avengers (gasp!), so this is all that’s left. I’m one of those who thought The Last Jedi was great, wacky casino scenes, Death Star-sized plot holes, and all. The core Star Wars films give me chills every time when I see the opening crawl and hear that majestic score, and I’m sure Episode IX won’t be an exception—as long as the filmmakers are confident enough to stick with their vision and not listen to a few whiny fans.

Derek Thompson – Is there such a thing as “cautiously pessimistic?” After Episode VII, I felt that the new universe had potential (despite a ridiculous Super Mega Ultra Death Star Planet), but that none of the potential had been tapped yet–it was all set up for future films. Then The Last Jedi came and completely disappointed me. The question is whether Episode IX–given the backlash from TLJ, and the death of Carrie Fisher–can right the ship and give a satisfying conclusion, or if it will simply give more fuel to the fire for angry Expanded Universe (Legends) fans.

Little Women – December 25th

Directed by Greta Gerwig 

Tyler Hummel – With her inaugural effort Ladybird, Greta Gerwig established herself as one of the top female directors working today. He sophomore effort is an adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s classic Little Women starring Meryl Streep, Saoirse Ronan, Laura Dern, and Emma Watson.

Jojo Rabbit – 2019

Directed by Taika Waititi

Julianna Purnell – Taika Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit is boldly (or unwisely) going to be a fantasy comedy featuring an imaginary version of Hitler.

The Irishman – 2019

Directed by Martin Scorsese

Tyler Hummel – Scorsese’s newest film for Netflix is somewhat infamous for its bloating budget. Obviously, this is a revisitation of the same gangster dramas that have defined his career like Goodfellas and The Departed but this depiction of the death of Jimmy Hoffa has a great deal of potential to be a solid film given just how spectacular Silence and The Wolf of Wallstreet are.

Parasite – 2019

Directed by Bong Joon-Ho

Julianna Purnell – Bong Joon-ho always offers something interesting, and this time it’s all about toxic family dynamics.

Synchronic – 2019

Directed by Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead

Julianna Purnell – After their unexpected hit, The Endless, last year, I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead deliver next. It doesn’t get more indie than those two, offering the best budget sci-fi I’ve seen in years.

The Resurrection of the Christ – Spring 2020

Directed by Mel Gibson 

Julianna Purnell – It almost sounds like a joke, but every Christian knows there’s more to this tale, and with Mel Gibson directing once again, one can hope that there’s not a drop in quality.