A Decade of Protests, Resistance, Disillusionment, Dissent & Defiance
The 2010s, to paraphrase Dickens, was both the best of times and the worst of times – albeit, not necessarily in that order.
The decade, on one hand, witnessed the troubling acceleration in odious incidents and trends around the global – civil wars, rise of populist nationalism and neo-fascism, majoritarian tyranny and supremacism, refugee crises and accompanying xenophobic / anti-immigration attitudes, austerity measures, rampant neoliberalism and ever-widening of the classes, total invasion of privacy, and general erosion of human rights. And, if things couldn’t get any worse, it ended with a truly once-in-a-lifetime kind of an event, viz. the outbreak of a global pandemic.
On the other hand, the period also witnessed stirring movements and responses that provided hope (howsoever fleeting) – Waves of anti-Government, anti-Establishment and anti-Status Quo Protests (Jasmine Revolution & Arab Spring, #MeToo & Black Lives Matter, Kashmir & Catalonia, Palestine & Hong Kong, Chile & Bolivia, Yellow Vest Movement & Occupy Wall Street, etc.) – thus also making this the “decade of protests, resistance, disillusionment, dissent & defiance”. This definitely was the decade of Tahrir Square and Taksim Square and Plaza Baquedano and Shaheen Bagh and Ferguson.
Cinema too, unsurprisingly, was influenced, affected and indelibly shaped – both overtly and subliminally – by these complex opposing forces. And, if there weren’t enough, in these ten years – otherwise a blip in human history – cinema experienced tremendous technological, structural and sociological changes too – from the mushrooming of multiplex to booming proliferation of OTT and streaming services, and from ever irreconcilable chasm between big production houses and micro-cinema to defiant representations and expressions of gender, culture, identity and politics.
Finalizing the list of my favourite films from the 2010s, therefore, did have the above contexts as its backdrop, as nothing – and certainly not the arts – can exist in vacuum.
A few quick statistics to conclude the verbiage: the 100 films are spread across 30 different countries (led by France, USA, South Korea and Chile) and are made by 75 different filmmakers (with 21 having multiple entries overall, and 7 within the Top 50 too); 2012 and 2018 are the best years overall, though superseded by 2019 and 2014 in the Top 50; and, at least 9 trilogies – wholly or partly – feature in the list. And, while I watched a shitload of films before making this list, including all the film of at least 20-odd filmmakers and many or most by numerous others, I had to stop somewhere; in other words, this isn’t a static list but one that will keep evolving and changing.
To cut a rather long story short, this is definitely not a definitive list of great films of the 2010s. Instead, these are ones that’ve resonated with me most among the few (make that many) that I watched, including a stretch of 8+ months – which begun just prior to the draconian lockdowns – during which I literally watched nothing but those from this turbulent, chaotic and strange decade.
- La Flor | Mariano Llinas | Argentina | 2018
- Phoenix | Christian Petzold | Germany | 2014
- The Pearl Button | Patricio Guzman | Chile | 2015
- The Irishman | Martin Scorsese | US | 2019
- Shoplifters | Hirokazu Kore-eda | Japan | 2018
- Certified Copy | Abbas Kiarostami | France | 2010
- Ema | Pablo Larrain | Chile | 2019
- Laurence Anyways | Xavier Dolan | Canada | 2012
- Burning | Lee Chang-dong | South Korea | 2018
- The Turin Horse | Bela Tarr | Hungary | 2011