Sure, maybe this isn’t thematic for November, BUT it dawned on me that we are nearing not just the end of the year, but the end of the DECADE! The 2010’s are rapidly leaving us, and who knows what the 2020’s have in mind? Depending on whether you say “Twenty-twenties” or “Two-thousand-twenties”, they may bring us 100% more Barbara Walters and Hugh Downs!
Am… am I aging myself? How long ago was Hugh Downs on 20/20? Shit, is 20/20 even still on? Is Hugh Down still alive?
Hugh Downs IS still alive, and he is 98 years old! I am writing this article a full month before it is scheduled to be released, though, so… I hope I’m not jinxing anything.
Fun fact: In middle school, we did a thing where we had to act as reporters at some event, and we all got to choose who we were, like anchorman role-play. I was Hugh Downs! I loved 20/20 as a kid. Was that weird?
Where am I even going with this? Oh well.
Between now and mid-January, we will likely have other 2010’s-In-Review type articles and lists, so hang around for those. It will be a lot of fun going through the last ten years and seeing what stuck out… for good or not bad.
Speaking of bad… how about those 2010’s movies, am I right? Seeing as how we are a comic book podcast, and the 2010’s were absolutely LOUSY with comic book cinema, we had a self-imposed rule for this list: Top Ten NON-COMIC-RELATED Movies of the 2010’s. So don’t expect to see any Endgame’s or Logan’s up in here. This is a list that would make fuddy-duddy attention-seekers like Martin Scorsese and Bill Maher proud.
Bill Maher has always been a putz, but Scorsese’s vitriol against comic movies is more disheartening, and I worry that it’s the fans’ own fault. His initial statements weren’t anything I thought to be egregious or newsworthy at all; they were, frankly pretty tame and respectfully stated. But then the media grabbed hold of them and pushed them as a “SCORSESE THINKS COMIC MOVIES ARE TRASH” angle, whereupon I imagine Marty found himself on the receiving end of some public backlash.
The problem then came in that he decided to NOT come out and say “No, here’s what I actually said…” but to go all hardline on the original statements and basically turn into a Simpsons meme over comic book films. Which… fine. It’s fine. This is fine. But it’s sad to see MARTIN SCORSESE reduced to a Bill Maher-esque attention troll just to get some publicity for his new movie (which… I will still watch).
You know what else the 2010’s brought us? The era of the Academy Awards moving further and further away from the public pulse and more and more up their own ass. We’re lucky if they nominate movies people have heard of, let alone reward ones the public actually enjoyed. Not saying the public is always right or that popular = artistic, but man… at least give me a reason to watch and care. They are just intentionally insular now. This is why Trump won!
Well. It seems I am just yelling at my own cloud now. Let’s get on to the list!
STEW’S TOP TEN 2010’S ERA MOVIES THAT AREN’T COMIC BOOK RELATED!
#10. What Keeps You Alive (2018)
See, this is why I’m going to lose this month for sure, because I’m starting off with a movie that most of you have likely never heard of.
What Keeps You Alive is a high-quality suspense film from 2018 with a brilliantly sudden and shocking twist that occurs about 15-20 minutes in. It’s not so much that you don’t see the twist coming, but you certainly don’t expect it when and how it does. It works, too, and doesn’t feel like a shock just for the sake of shocking you.
From there, it’s a roller coaster thrill ride that’s as good as any low-budget suspense flick I’ve ever seen. I just saw it this year, so maybe there is some recency bias allowing it to sneak in to the #10 spot, but… I enjoyed it.
#9. Inside Out (2015)
This was my Obligatory Animated Feature spot that was narrowed down from a list that also included Despicable Me, Tangled, and The Lego Movie. Ultimately, this was the one that I thought did the best job with my emotions overall. It’s no Up, but it injects its comedy exterior with a whole lot of emotional heft and heart. I can’t remember if I cried during it. I might have cried during it. I probably cried during it. When Bing Bong (the imaginary friend) faded away, if anywhere.
The double story of Riley’s internal and external lives are both well done, and I think this is somehow one of the more underrated Pixar treasures.
I also kind of love that Lewis Black is in a kid’s movie, essentially playing himself. The entire voice cast is fantastic, but that casting is especially wonderful.
#8. Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle (2017)
ELEVENTH HOUR UPDATE. As I write this, this article is set to be published in 12 hours, and I am panicking over whether or not to change out one entry on the list. But yes, here it is: out with It Chapter 1, and in with Jumanji.
The biggest problem with Jumanji is the casting if Kevin Hart in a movie where the ENTIRE POINT s for the characters to be avatars of humans who aren’t actually like them. Kevin Hart, however, is incapable of playing anyone but Kevin Hart. So he turns the jock that selects his character into the typical fast-talking, squirrelly Hart creation. Ah well.
But aside from that, the rest of the cast is delightful, especially Jack Black playing as a high school mean girl. The movie is funny, too, and actually betters its predecessor, which I don’t think ANYONE saw coming when this was first announced.
#7. Date Night / Game Night (2010 / 2018)
COPPING OUT! I wanted to put one of these on this list, but I absolutely could not choose one over the other. Because these are essentially the same movie. Game Night actually feels like a quasi-sequel to Date Night, just with an entirely new cast. And director. And writer. The strikingly derivative name helps nothing. And the fact that both star a guy from a 2000’s era sitcom who played a character named Michael on his show.
Both are really funny, though, with Game Night being the best pure comedy of the last few years, and Date Night being a stand out of the beginning the decade. Both of these flicks are classically funny, with great actors delivering great lines and blending physical and verbal comedy seamlessly. Carrell, Fey, Bateman, and McAdams are a joy to watch navigate the absurd circumstances that interrupt the ruts their characters’ marriages are in. If you haven’t seen one or both of these and love comedies, go rectify that immediately.
#6. John Wick (2014)
Confession time: I never watched John Wick 2 or John Wick 3. I was worried they were going to “Taken” up John’s story, so I ignored both sequels when they came out, but I have subsequently heard they are equally as potent as the originator. So I’ll get to them eventually, I promise.
John Wick is a throwback to an era of unashamed action “blow bad guys away” movies, but it embraces modern sensibilities and cinematography. It’s stylish in its hard-hitting action, and the movie does a gorgeous job establishing the Wick character by showing how others react to and view him without relying too much on exposition dumps. Keanu Reeves even manages to shed the “…whoa” characterization that has followed him most of his career by playing so against what we all considered his type. THIS is Keanu now. Poised and quietly confident. And good for him, too, because by all accounts, he is the nicest dude in the universe.
#5. Happy Death Day (2017)
Yeah, this movie is in my Top 5. Fuck you going to do about it? Vote against me? DO IT ALREADY. You were going to since #10, and you haven’t even seen my #2 movie yet!
This is the first of THREE Horrror-Comedies in my Top five. Look, if you take comic movies away from me, I’m falling back on my SECOND favorite genre! And truthfully? This movie was FAR better than it had any right to be. It’s Groundhog Day: The Slasher Flick, but the sharp writing and Jessica Rothe’s complete immersion into her character pull it up from the direct-to-video life it could have led. The increasingly inventive ways that Rothe’s character (Tree) meets her doom while reliving her birthday are a blast, as is her simultaneous character growth and mounting frustration.
I don’t know what to tell you. This is just fun, and it’s more nuanced than you might expect.
EDIT: Since I initially wrote this, I have seen Happy Death Day 2U. It’s also good, but suffers from Sequelitis. Jessica Rothe continues to be a treat (TREE-T!), though, so it was enjoyable as a wrap-up to the original.
#4. Tucker & Dale Vs Evil (2011)
This movie gets a spot just because of the name.
Not that it isn’t good, though, because it’s exceedingly so. Tucker and Dale Vs Evil takes the usual horror trope (teenagers in the woods find backwards hillbillies who murder and torture them) and turns it inside out and backwards. The titular characters are backwoods folk, sure, but they are harmless and good-hearted. The teenagers are [quite literally] scared to death of them due to misunderstandings, however, and bloody, accidental shenanigans ensue. There are some priceless moments in here as the teens try desperately (and unsuccessfully) to take out Tucker and Dale before the rednecks can get them. Unapologetic gore aside, this one is much more comedy than horror, and it’s one of the funniest movies of the past ten years.
#3. A Quiet Place (2018)
I saw A Quiet Place only once, in theaters. I don’t imagine I’ll ever see it again because this movie is built for its theater experience. That said, what an experience it is. A whole theater full of people trying their best to be as quiet as possible, wrapped up in the environment of this tense suspense horror.
This movie is straight hold-your-breath-and-ball-your-fists tension from the first frame to damn near the very end. The atmosphere it builds is palpable. It’s just so damn successful at what it’s trying to do. The movie occasionally “cheats” its concept by finding ways to have the characters speak at points, but by-and-large, it sticks to its core and just pulls you along for the ride.
#2. 50/50 (2011)
Have you ever seen this one? Have you ever even heard of? This is why I lose polls.
This was the movie that caused me to do a 180 on my opinion of Seth Rogen, who prior to this, I viewed as just an obnoxious loudmouth guy who starred in moronic pothead comedies. And while Rogen doesn’t turn far from type here, he gives a heartfelt performance in a fantastic character study of a movie where Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character finds out he has cancer and is given survival odds of… well, you can probably work that out.
I can’t remember if I teared up during Inside Out, but I KNOW this movie got to me. Admittedly, I’m a big baby who gets caught up in storytelling and let things affect me, but this had some solid emotion to it. I really enjoyed the ride 50/50 took me on.
#1. Cabin in the Woods (2012)
Nothing else from the 2010’s is even close [if we rule out comic book movies]. In the 2010’s, there was Cabin in The Woods, and then there was everything else. This isn’t just my #1 movie of the past decade; it’s in my top ten of all-time. Maybe top five.
Like Tucker & Dale, it takes expectation and convention, and then it obliterates them. Cabin In The Woods knows what you expect it to be, but from the very start–the very opening scene–it lets you know that it’s different, but it only lets you see the curtain. You are left hanging for quite some time before it starts showing you all the layers behind it.
I can’t say much without spoiling it, but this movie is fantastic from start to finish, and it’s the best blend of 50% horror and 50% comedy you are likely to find.
There you have it. Huh. The 2010’s actually did all right by horror movies. Horror and Comic Book movies, that’s what the 2010’s are here for!
Hey, remember the “horror” movies the 2000’s blessed us with? All torture porn and gross-out nonsense? What a nightmare that era was. The 2010’s had some stinkers, but nothing as bad as, say, Hostel or Saw 15 or whatever.
Honorable mentions? You want honorable mentions? I can do that!
Deep Murder: Okay, I just saw this on 11/23/19, so I couldn’t realistically put it on this list yet. That said, this movie was absolutely hilarious, and I may write a separate article about it.
Social Network: My obligatory movie that fared well with awards.
It (2017): Probably the best Stephen King adaptation ever for my money, this was #8 on the actual list for a month before swapping out with Jumanji at the last minute.
Everything Must Go: Little known serious role for Will Ferrell that showed him off like nothing else except Stranger Than Fiction.
Edge of Tomorrow: I liked this and it was a blast, but I just don’t remember it; like, there’s no “Oh, THAT scene!” moments.
That’s my list! Like I said, I expect to lose unless Andy pulls some weird obtuse shit out of his ass like ten Bob Dylan documentaries, and Chad names, like, ten cartoons his kid loved when he was four. I mean… 50/50? What Keeps You Alive? I am a poor panderer! But at least I am true to myself.
That and, like, seventy sympathetic friends might get me a win!