With so many podcasts on Summer hours or outright Summer hiatuses, I have been scrapping the bucket for listening material. So last month while out for a solo hike in the beautiful Taos Ski Valley, I started scrolling The Ringers Big Picture episode history. This podcast is “a conversation show about movies” host Sean Fennessey religiously proclaims. On November 11, 2019 Sean and co-host Amanda Dobbins were joined by their Ringer colleague Chris Ryan to rank the best films of the 2010s. It was a great episode and a charming thought exercise! We had a bunch of favorites in common and they plugged me into a few movies I missed—Frances Ha, Minding the Gap, and Haywire.
I was excited. I was inspired. I thought I had to take this exercise to The Fleet. (As I have written before, The Fleet is a quartet of my dear friends from High School.) Without further a do, here are our lists:
Masseo’s list – Masseo is the only legitimate filmmaker in the crew. He’s based in NYC:
Charlie’s list – Charlie is an ecologist, big bee guy, and a movie aficionado:
Danny’s list – Danny is an incredible cellist, my old college roommate, and a fellow movie lover:
Alright, wow there it is folks. For four good friends with prototypically similar taste, these lists are remarkably diverse. Only one movie was on all of our lists: Get Out. (Which to that point, I think makes the case for me as my #1.) Only two movies were on three of our lists: Arrival (which we all are enamored with, even Danny) and Spider-man: Into the Spider-Verse. So all the boys loved this movie…except me. Masseo and Danny called it a lock, and Charlie confirmed, “it was one of the first movies that came to my mind” when we started this. Okay, no one throw your In-N-Out at the computer, I didn’t make it through the movie… I’m sorry! I didn’t quite get why it transcended the medium in the way it has. What am I missing??
I actually thought the pinnacle of raw filmmaking talent last decade was far and away The Social Network. I rewatched it during COVID. Magnificent. (Also if you’re a Network Head like me, I just discovered this 90-minute doc on the making of. Wild.) To start, the Trent Reznor-Atticus Ross score makes it a top 20 movie alone, even if the visuals were The Fleet and I reenacting the film in my apartment. (For which, I think I’m playing Sean Parker.) On top of that, the Fincher-Sorkin union feels very Simon & Garfunkel. Two incredible talents teaming up to enhance—while helping one another focus—their powers into something greater than the individual pieces. (Side note, someday I’ll do a whole Sorkin thing. I am a believer ((and so is Danny!)) that The West Wing is the best TV show of all-time and Sorkin has been one of my personal artistic gods of the last 15 years.) I was SHOCKED it didn’t even appear on the other guy’s lists. Stunned. I have decided to blindly hope/believe they just haven’t seen it in a long time.
Nonetheless, when you take into account cultural impact, timing (first year of Trump), and the universal ordaining of Jordan Peele as the ‘next guy’, I had to put Get Out #1. Fantastic film. Such an original, fresh, and of the moment narrative. Superb casting (speaking of West Wing, big shouts to Bradley Whitford—aka my guy Josh Lyman!). Remarkable storytelling, which reveals such hauntingly deep layers upon the rewatch. And as a white guy, it just gave me a lot to think about and that’s really significant.
As I wrote in the comments on my list, I only saw Gravity once, but holy shit, what a feat of filmmaking designed for the theatre experience! The movie made as much use of its medium as the Banksy shredder statement. Infinity War was probably the most fun I had at the movies last decade. I just remember being whisked away to another galaxy for ~3 hours and loving every minute of it. The Russo Brothers ability to authentically preserve the tonal integrity of each narrative feels like one of the greatest achievement in franchise cinema. Two Damien Chazelle films on my list. Somehow I feel weird defending him. When did Chazelle become the Jack Johnson of the film industry? Both movies are flawed, but I also thought they were just dazzling works of art.
Inside LLeywn Davis often feels way too much like my life, so I felt as a Folk musician I had to put it on there in solidarity. Plus the music is sublime. God I love those songs. I actually cover “Fare the Well.” Wolf on Wall St. just wrecks me. Every week that COVID creeps on, spending one night with Jonah Hill’s character moves higher on my list of things I want most. Finally Blackfish is probably the movie I think about most often. That s**t haunts me man.
Let’s do some quick hitters to wrap up this discussion:
I read the book for Annihilation. Totally great. Completely different story. Both are fantastic. Walked out of the theatre in awe, thought it was a 10/10. Didn’t fully give me everything I remembered on the rewatch.
Masseo says Christopher Robin is particularly dope. Haven’t watched it yet.
Danny was hyping Enemy. Did you guys know Denis Villeneuve (my guy!) dropped a psychological thriller starring Jake Gyllenhaal in 2013?? Yeah, I didn’t either!
Masseo has Midsommar on this list, but not Hereditary. I asked why and he said he hasn’t seen Hereditary. I liked both! But I’d argue Hereditary is a little stronger top-to-bottom and that he’ll switch when he sees it.
Danny has Drive #1. #1 Danny? I’ve seen Drive once. I liked it? I haven’t thought about it since. Maybe I’m crazy. On the other hand, Danny has The King’s Speech #11…
Our lists include 6 docs: Blackfish, I Am Not Your Negro, Won’t You Be My Neighbor (twice), The Act of Killing, Icarus, and Jiro Dreams of Sushi.
Our lists include 5 Best Picture winners: The King’s Speech (Danny!), 12 Years a Slave, Moonlight, Birdman (twice), and Parasite.
The Lobster is a crazy movie. That’s all I got.
I love Quentin! He didn’t quite make my list, not proud of it, but I think my favorite from his decade is Once Upon A Time… in Hollywood. And in terms of body of work, he is as strong as anyone: Django Unchained (made Masseo’s list at #19), The Hateful Eight (I’m low key into), and Hollywood.
So Masseo had Moonlight and 12 Years A Slave, two movies I really struggled with on his list. I thought they were both phenomenal films. The third act of Moonlight is probably my favorite act of the decade. What a staggeringly gentle and deeply compassionate turn. They were just hard as hell to watch and I will likely never run them back, which made it hard for me to evaluate them because I did factor in rewatchability into my ranking. But two amazing films, Barry Jenkins you’re the man!
Just a few film’s that didn’t grace anyone’s list, but feel worthy: The Master, Inside Out, Skyfall, and Ladybird.
So I was on the phone with Masseo, shooting the breeze, reviewing our lists, riffing on Ari Aster, and we were like, “hey, I wonder how the 2000s compare?” Yeah, they don’t. It’s an absolute murders row. I’m pretty sure Get Out would not make my list… so maybe that’s what we’ll do next. But for now, 2010s, thanks for the great films!