The Reel Talk Editorial Team’s Top Three Films of The Decade: Part 1

Edited By Charlotte Ammirato

Everybody loves film. Well, not everyone, but we can guarentee that nearly everyone you know has films they both love and cannot stand.

The brilliant thing about film is accessibility. Unlike other departments on campus, everyone can get involved in discussion about film and television, because it’s something that everyone gets involved with in their day-to-day life.

Here at Reel Talk, we want to do exactly that. A place for Warwick Film and TV undergrads to discuss everything you could possibly want, or not want, to watch on a screen.

We’re currently after student submissions, but, whilst we wait, let’s get kickstarted by meeting the Editorial Team here at Reel Talk, as they discuss their top films of the past decade, as 2019 begins to draw to a close…

Jake Helm, Third Year Film Studies

The Grand Budapest Hotel (dir. Wes Anderson, 2014)

In this comedy, Wes Anderson accomplished the complex task of blending form and content, style and substance. With its signature zooms, satirical tableaux, and candy colour palette, Anderson creates a vivacious and imaginative evocation of a bygone era that features a captivating tale of homicide, theft, and conspiracy. It’s a testament to Anderson’s skill that he makes a film, whose main subjects are death and loss, appear so light-hearted and filled with amusing slapstick moments. It’s a whimsical, melancholic homage to the opulence of the fin-de-siècle, and an elegant portrait of 1930s Europe, as well as an intricate reflection of our own times. His innate artistry to build fantastical worlds, combined with a brilliant lead performance from Ralph Fiennes, and Alexandre Desplat’s exceptional score, makes, in my opinion, The Grand Budapest Hotel the most exquisitely designed film of the decade, and firmly establishes Anderson as one of the greatest auteurs of our generation and, perhaps, ever.

Honourable mentions: La La Land (dir. Damien Chazelle, 2017) and Toy Story 3 (dir. Lee Unkrich, 2010)

Lia Barrett, Third Year Film Studies

The Help (dir. Tate Taylor, 2011)

As a generally unfavourable choice, with online critics often only awarding the film three star ratings, it may be unusual to see Tate Taylor’s 2011 drama The Help taking pride of place as a ‘top film’ for any viewer. Nonetheless, by exploring the treatment and experiences of the African American ‘help’ during the Civil Rights Movement in the southern states of 1960s America, The Help tells a heart-warming story about female relationships, and the navigation of womanhood at opposing ends of the class spectrum. The incredible female characters, portrayed by Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer and Emma Stone, retain their pride and dignity in a community where anyone’s business is everyone’s business – whilst the muted, yet beautifully coherent pastel, colour palette creates a glossy presentation of the gritty content on screen. All of these elements, after 8 years, still manage to make what should be an uncomfortable viewing experience more digestible and relevant for a range of audiences.

Honourable mentions: Prisoners (dir. Dennis Villeneuve, 2013), Baby Driver (dir. Edgar Wright, 2017)

Matthew Smolenski, Second Year Film Studies

Phantom Thread (dir. Paul Thomas Anderson, 2017)

Romantic comedies are inherently dialectical, as the contradictions of heterosexual relationships are synthesised through the emotional coming together of two people. As the next decade of film hopefully transcends the barriers of its past, and elevates marginalised voices, it is fitting that the defining romantic comedy of this decade grapples with these questions through its setting in the male-dominated 1950s London fashion industry. 

Paul Thomas Anderson’s passion for period pieces culminates in a self-reflexive story of an egotistical male artist clinging to the past; his inner contradictions are tested by a formidable woman, who is able to fall in line with the lavish expectations of his lifestyle, while subtly disrupting the order from within.

The main disruptive force of the film, however, is nostalgia itself, presented as a haunting presence that requires constant negotiation in order to move forward. It is the film’s answer to this diagnosis that ultimately makes it so timeless, honest and special.

Honourable mentions: It’s Such a Beautiful Day (dir. Don Hertzfeldt, 2012), Under the Skin (dir. Jonathan Glazer, 2013)

Harry Russell, First Year Film Studies

The Hunt (dir. Thomas Vinterberg, 2012)

The Hunt is home to, perhaps, my favourite performance of the decade. Mads Mikkelsen expertly plays the role of a man newly made an outsider in his own community. Even besides our main character, the entire cast is wonderful. Every actor feels like a real person, rather than just an actor vying for attention. From beginning to end, the film brings the viewer in – with, sometimes, the paranoia central to the film even spreading to us. We feel the need to question even the knowledge that we know to be objectively true.

To spoil where the film goes would be unforgivable. But needless to say, it twists and turns throughout. The final scene has stayed with me ever since first watching it, and I don’t think it’s ever something I’ll allow myself to forget. I genuinely implore anyone who hasn’t watched this film to watch it, and even if you have, it’s likely worth your time to watch it again anyways.

Honourable Mentions: Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World (dir. Edgar Wright, 2010), Climax (dir. Gaspar Noe, 2018)

Rick Maslin, First Year Film and Literature

Your Name (dir. Makoto Shinkai, 2016)

This was an excruciating decision as most of my favourite films come from this decade. In the end, I settled on Your Name (2016) directed by Makoto Shinkai. Not only is it an incredible film with fantastic animation, loveable characters, and an uplifting yet heartbreaking ending, but I watched it at precisely the right time. 

I had just finished secondary school, and I felt unsure of my place in the world. I didn’t know whether I had got into sixth form, and the idea of failing my GCSEs really scared me. But after watching Your Name, I realised that it is never as bad as we think it is. There will always be another chance. 

That message has stuck with me because there will always be moments where everything feels hopeless, and it’s important to remember that there is always a way forward.  

Honourable mentions: Dredd (dir. Pete Travis, 2012), Avengers: Infinity War (dir. Anthony and Joe Russo, 2018)

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