Brad Beatson is back from the crypt like the Mummies.
Some of these movies were obviously on critics lists. And plenty are well-known, well-liked or both. But you’re not going to find Mad Max: Fury Road, Moonlight or Phantom Thread. A thousand-odd critics tried to pen the final word on those classics long ago. These are the films that evaded the 2010s consensus — and since the essence of the site has always been to shine a light on lesser-known gems, the collection aims to do exactly that.
Jake (Shia LaBeouf) idles in a Big K parking lot singing along to a song that’s stuck in his head, Kevin Gates’s “Out the Mud.” We’ll hear it again later, in a jam-packed commuter van filled with misfits getting fucked up on their way to sell magazines door-to-door across middle America. It has hits throughout from E-40, iLoveMakonnen, Migos, and the artist of the decade, Rihanna. If you are reading this site and that isn’t enough of an endorsement, I don’t know what to tell you.
I’ll single out two scenes in particular. In the first, Oliver (Ewan McGregor) is pitching a band his designs for their upcoming album artwork. He walks them through his process, lays out his drawings… but it’s clear the band couldn’t care less about what he’s done. He finishes his spiel and the band gets up, says nothing, then leaves. Their manager walks over and says,
“Just do the portrait of them. It’s an album cover, right? That’s what they want. Yeah?
Oliver is well-known for a certain style. It’s probably what got him a cushy job at a design firm. And yet here, at least, he’s been reduced to a tradesman and not an artist. Man…
The second sequence is much more meaningful, honest, and occurs roughly 25 minutes into the movie, long after we’ve seen Oliver’s dying father, Hal (Christopher Plummer in an Oscar-winning role), come out of the closet at age 75 and meet his boyfriend Andy (Goran Visnjic).
Oliver’s friends drag him to a costume party where he chats up Anna (Mélanie Laurent), which leads to a meet-cute for the ages and they wind up back at her hotel. Walking down the long hallway to her room, jitters in the air, Oliver reaches for her hand. They stop and kiss — gentle and comfortable with each other.
The movie cuts to Oliver, now alone and heading home. He’s happy. There’s a close-up on his face as he remembers their kiss… and the scene is repeated: “Oliver and Anna’s first kiss, tentative and delicate” before the movie cuts to another memory and we see “Hal and Andy kiss lovingly.” It cuts to another memory: “Andy coming up behind Hal doing the dishes, he kisses him. Hal smiles, very happy.” The juxtaposition needs only a few seconds for its message to land.
In 2015, the Supreme Court ruled by a 5-to-4 vote that the Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriage. Oliver and Anna; Hal and Andy — natural, normal, elemental, lovely.
Available at your local library
Cemetery of Splendour
His name is Apichatpong Weerasethakul and he’s a filmmaker from Thailand. But he insists we call him “Joe.” This movie and his Palme d’Or winner, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, were produced by Danny Glover.
Cemetery of Splendour is about ghosts, about people and places, locations in time and how they change; about death and the process of dying; about the people who care for them. There are also statues of velociraptors. Be prepared for stillness. For a stationary cam and long scenes, for silence. For a movie that lets you sit with your thoughts, to process what you’ve seen, to come to your own conclusions.
If you watch it and don’t like it, I guess you can punch me in the face.
Damsels in Distress
Whit Stillman isn’t the flashiest filmmaker and doesn’t get the push that other witty writers routinely receive. Maybe because he only puts out a new feature every five to ten years. In this one, the story follows a group of friends around campus, led by Violet (Greta Gerwig, in a role that could’ve been played by Saorise Ronan today or Laura Dern in the ’80s) as she blah blah blahs. This is a Best Of list, right? — I hate it when people demand I explain the plot to them. Where’s your sense of curiosity? It costs almost nothing to act on a recommendation and you can turn off the movie if you think it sucks. Jesus Christ, man. Live a little.
Available at your local library
The Edge of Seventeen
Coming-of-age movies seem to be favored by young but clearly aging media members (myself included) that are otherwise stuck fluffing up aggregated content long past happy hour. Painfully few of these movies rise to the rank of believability as they’ve been written by well-meaning adults in their 30s portraying high school as wish-fulfillment (Booksmart).
Much like Blockers and other exceptions to the rule, The Edge of Seventeen soars because of its well-drawn leads, their supporting friends, family, and teachers, and an unflinching tone that’s frequently funny but not afraid to get messy.
The movie opens with Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld) breathlessly rushing into Mr. Bruner’s classroom (played by Woody Harrelson). She sits down and launches into an overly dramatic, “my life is over and I’m going to kill myself” soliloquoy. After a disgruntled beat, Mr. Bruner looks at Nadine and replies,
“Wow, this is a lot to take in Nadine. I wish I knew what to say. Well, I was actually just drafting my own suicide note, you know, just now: ‘Dear everybody, as some of you know I have 32 fleeting minutes of happiness per school day, during lunch, which has been eaten up again and again by the same… especially badly dressed student, and I finally thought, you know what? I would rather have the dark, empty nothingness. I really would. It sounds… relaxing. Have a nice life without me, fuckers.”
Streaming on Netflix
What if I told you a movie about “four incompetent British terrorists” setting out to train for and commit an act of terror is one of the funniest movies of the 2010s? That it’s led by one of the decade’s breakout stars, Riz Ahmed? And that it was co-written by the guys who created Peep Show, and that one of those guys, Jesse Armstrong, would go on to create Succession? Exactly.
Streaming on Kanopy
Gimme the Loot
This recommendation goes out to my former boss, deputy copy chief James Bradley. He had a Barry Lyndon poster in his office and helped reignite my passion for movies. This was probably the first recommendation he gave me and I’ve taken every one of his since.
In an essay for The New York Times Magazine, Willy Staley wrote about how New York City’s been portrayed in TV comedies of late, how it’s been reduced to some sort of millennial fantasyland. Gimme the Loot, while taking its name from a Biggie song, does a good job of placing its onus on real New Yorkers rather than transplants who made Tumblr shrines to Adam Driver.
The film won the Grand Jury Prize at SXSW, an Independent Spirit Award, and premiered internationally at the Cannes Film Festival. The plot features weed delivery and bombing (or tagging, or graffiting, if you must) and follows two winning performers who deserve to be cast in leading roles more often, Ty Hickson and Tashiana Washington (Skate Kitchen; Random Acts of Flyness).
Available at your local library
Originally “H” was reserved for The Handmaiden, but you’re right, you meatball, it appeared on far too many end of decade lists. And deservingly so, since it’s the second coming of Hitchcock. So I thought, instead, I’d try and argue why I prefer the Coen brothers’ comedies to their more dramatic work.
But do I really want to argue that, knowing full well their dramas are just as great? Hail, Caesar! is a love letter to the Golden Age, playing out on Hollywood lots and mansions in the hills, sending up favored talkies of the time: giddy-up Westerns, dapper-dame musicals, ballroom dramas. I don’t want to spoil anything or argue a Coen comedy because I believe they should be seen unaltered by expectation. So fire up A Serious Man; O Brother, Where Art Thou?; Burn After Reading; The Big Lebowski; Raising Arizona, and revel in the hilarious hijinks the brothers have drawn — with the help of their longtime storyboard artist, J. Todd Anderson — over decades of inimitable work.
Streaming on HBO
If Beale Street Could Talk
Time to let the pros talk about this James Baldwin adaptation, which I considered the best film of 2018. Here’s P.T.A. in conversation with writer-director Barry Jenkins on the DGA podcast:
“Um, I’m very jealous of your close-ups, I mean… I try —”
“ — Let the record show that Paul Thomas Anderson is jealous of my close-ups. Bruh! That’s it, I’m done.”
“Well, you know, I think there’s a long line of people that’ve tried to do Jonathan Demme close-ups, and I try all the time, but I have to say, you got it right better than anybody.”
And now some clips from A1 film critic Kam Collins:
“The look and feel of the movie — with its luxurious sense of color, its slow gestures and nimbly drawn-out scenes — is so much bigger, more generous, than the hardships it depicts.
“What Jenkins gets most right — what astonishes me the most about this film — is Baldwin’s vast affection for the broad varieties of black life. It’s one of the signature lessons of Baldwin’s work that blackness contains multitudes.”
Streaming on Hulu
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
Is Universal Studios’ proud baby really one of the best movies of the decade?
Disney bought Marvel in 2009, Star Wars in 2012, then swallowed Fox last March. Netflix, Amazon, and even Apple took over a nascent streaming market and made it the go-to medium to watch all of your shit. Big name directors and talent have turned to these platforms to produce their projects, which are only sometimes released in a theater near you, for a week or two, before they become streamable, pausable, and disposable ’round the globe. When you head to the movies less than a handful of times per year, on average, chances are your options will be a riff on some existing or copyright-lapsed property, a live-action remake of an animated classic, or some bullshit sequel that further bastardizes the form by trying to turn everything into serialized television.
Yet I can’t quit these dinos. Twitch and groan as I might about all the changes and sameness the blockbuster has wrought, I can’t swear off the Jurassic franchise. And although no entry has bested the original thus far, Fallen Kingdom works as a standalone effort (if you squint) and features the best mix of creature-and-CGI dinosaurs to date. Staging the key action at night or in crowded landscapes still works better than in broad daylight, as far as the animation is concerned, and it’s rarely an outright disappointment.
And that will be a sad day, when the hired hands finally crack the code and close the uncanny valley, creating dinosaurs, scenery, and even people so realistic that the animation is no longer perceptible to even the sharpest of eyes.
Available at your local library
Kobe Doin’ Work
Over the past week or so I’ve watched the Oscar-winning animated short Dear Basketball and started a new campaign in NBA 2K17, playing a fantastical franchise starting Nos. 8 and 24 alongside Shaq. And I’ve been rewatching Kobe Doin’ Work on YouTube, pausing every few minutes to make it last.
The first thing that struck me was Kobe’s admiration for Kurt Thomas, how he’s a throwback player that’s willing to get down and dirty. Kobe relishes the competition, Kurt’s dedication, the Spurs’ execution and commitment.
Listening to Kobe talk about the triangle offense and the game is nothing less than a treat. He talks about the scheme as if it’s the easiest thing in the world to understand and doesn’t comprehend how people can think it’s complicated. It reminds me of when someone tells me they can only draw stick figures… that they can’t draw at all. I can remember the times when I was young, scribbling, trying to gain control of the pencil, struggling to form flush lines.
This happens still, often, and it takes work. But I know if I keep at it, keep drawing, I’ll end up with something great. If Kobe misses six in a row, he knows the seventh is going in. Misses seven in a row? The eighth is definitely dropping.
Let the Sunshine In
It should be no surprise that, when one of the best actors teams up with one of the best directors of the past 30 years, the result is some kind of magic. But anyway, I’m just some dolt on the internet, so why should you trust me? Here’s Justin Chang, film critic for The Los Angeles Times and chair of the National Society of Film Critics:
“‘Open’ is a good word to describe the sensibility of the French writer-director Claire Denis, who, in brilliantly elliptical films like Beau Travail and The Intruder, refuses to approach the world with a rigid narrative template in hand.”
“Over 90 minutes or so, we watch Isabelle (Juliette Binoche) drift with weary optimism from one lover to the next. She has rejected as many men as she has embraced, but never without giving them the full measure of her sharp, curious and startlingly honest consideration.”
“What do women want? More movies as emotionally intelligent and fine-grained as this one, I suspect, and I can attest that they are hardly alone.”
OK, back to me now.
Let the Sunshine In is the second of five foreign-language features included on this list, which may seem like a lot to some. But as Bong Joon-ho said at the Golden Globes, “Once you overcome the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.”
Treacly as the following sentiments may seem, foreign films have the ability to take you places you may otherwise never get the chance to visit and they allow you the opportunity to deepen your worldview.
Streaming on Hulu
You want a portrait of an artist that’s less forgiving? Give the grunting, frequently disgusting Mr. Turner a spin.
But y’know, this really seems like one of those movies that people would either recognize, having seen it, or scroll right past in a Best Of list. So, if you’re a nice person who took a few minutes to read these scant sentences, I believe you’ll find value in the film. If you’ve seen it and loved it and were hoping I would expound on its virtues, sorry — maybe read this instead.
If you add it to your watchlist and it gets buried under a barrage of juicier titles, I won’t blame you. It’s about a painter. I accept that most people don’t give a shit about painters. Have you heard of Mike Leigh? This isn’t a movie website, so maybe you haven’t. Look him up. Then bump this up your watchlist.
Available at your local library. Shout-out to my buddy Ravi Mangla for the recommendation.
I’ve been on a set once. I was photographed and the footage is utterly embarrassing — I am so aware of the camera, so self-conscious. Every movement is stilted. And yet I’m a real piece of shit when it comes to judging actors.
There’s no actor I made fun of more this past decade than Dave Franco. I mean, I really thought the guy was just a pretty face with a name and next to no talent. Runners-up include Michael Stuhlbarg, a fine actor, to be sure, but one whom I’ve frequently imagined casting directors calling for when they needed a “budget Joaquin Phoenix.” The point is there’s no way I feel confident judging acting ability, and so I ignored Nerve, the Dave Franco and Emma Roberts-starring popcorn flick, when it was first released in 2016.
As you can discern from the screenshot above, it’s a movie about social networks and celebrity — what people are willing to do to attain fame, however long it may last; and the envy and jealousy that come with its trappings. Am I saying you should seek out this movie and watch it as soon as possible? No. But if you happen across it on a streaming service sometime in the future, play it for a couple.
There are few things I find more enjoyable than being proven wrong by a movie I thought I would otherwise hate. Maybe it will surprise you, too.
Oslo, August 31st
If I could only recommend one film on this list, it would be Oslo, August 31st.
Here’s a bit from legendary film critic Roger Ebert’s four-star review, since I’m at a loss:
“Oslo, August 31st is quietly, profoundly, one of the most observant and sympathetic films I’ve seen.
“Director Joachim Trier and actor Anders Danielsen Lie [understand] something fundamental about their character…. He lost years in addiction and recovery. Life has moved on…. Above all, Anders is angry with himself and in despair, although he’s so inward as he tries to conceal that.
“What a sad, true film. How knowledgeable.”
Available at your local library
Portrait of a Lady on Fire
It feels a bit dubious to put a 2019 release on a best of the decade list, but here’s a movie that, according to Metacritic, was the eighth highest reviewed film of the 2010s and received an average score of 95/100 according to 29 professional-grade critics. It also found its way into the top five on Letterboxd, a popular social network filled with film fanatics. And even longtime POW contributor and longer-suffering Twins fan Paul Thompson wrote on Twitter, “Time is not real but Portrait of a Lady on Fire is the best movie of the decade.”
But I see you there, arms crossed, skeptical of universal acclaim and I can’t blame you. I mean, France didn’t even shortlist it for the Academy Awards, so how good could it be? The film they submitted for Oscar consideration is titled Les Misérables, and it was, in fact, nominated for best international film. Maybe France knew they didn’t have a chance this year, that any film would be bested by Parasite. Or maybe they consider Academy voters stupid, that they’d vote for Les Misérables because they recognized the title and, hey, they woudn’t have to sit through all those subtitles.
The French Oscars are known as the César Awards, and there’s no doubt in my mind that Portrait of a Lady on Fire will clean up, as it was nominated in 10 categories — adding to the haul it received at Cannes, where it won the Queer Palm and Best Screenplay.
This movie drops you into 1770 and shows you what it was like to endure everyday life. Yet it somehow captures the same feeling the pressure and exhilaration that exists in the moments before you push send or show someone your work and prepare to face the whiplash dread that follows as you wait for their feedback. It’s a film that features brilliant sound design, visual effects artists, and costumers. It loves the written word, and leads you down familiar roads of story and dialogue, only to consistently surprise. It’s a world-shattering romance that will reduce you to tears, and leave you in your seat long after the credits roll. It will make you wonder how on Earth something this beautiful was so fully realized on-screen.
I understand the problem with creating hype but I really don’t care. Watch the fucking movie.
In theaters on Valentine’s Day and joining the Criterion Collection later this year.
A Quiet Passion
We’re really into the heavy hitters now. But I must admit, A Quiet Passion is a bit too smart for me. I found myself fumbling to grasp the period dialog while delighting in its visuals.
So here’s RogerEbert.com contributor, and New York Times film critic, Glenn Kenny on what makes this Emily Dickinson biopic great:
“Filmmaker Terence Davies does not view Dickinson as any kind of eccentric…. At first he presents his story and characters in the form of tableaus, like something out of a silent picture. The characters speak stiffly and stand as if posing. As the movie continues [and we hear] more of Emily’s work in voiceover, the movie’s style becomes less constricted, more fluid, but still retains an unearthly quality.”
“And it is grounded, and made most exemplary, by Cynthia Nixon’s performance. Every actor in this movie is wonderful. But Nixon’s precision in portraying every particular mood of Emily—for each individual scene calls for absolute specificity—is simply spectacular…. I will be very surprised if I see a better performance from an American actor this year.”
Streaming on Kanopy.
Chloé Zhao traveled to the South Dakota badlands with a handful of crew members. They got to know the locals, the Native tribes, and she decided to make a movie centered on a rodeo rider named Brady (Brady Jandreau). Rather than make a documentary though, she immersed herself in their culture, dreamt up a story, and let the beautiful surroundings and first-time actors lead to her stirring drama, a heartfelt meditation on loss and moving on.
The movie’s behind-the-scenes accounts make it all the more wonderful, especially when you see the names of the actors in the credits, but none of that really matters when you’re scrolling through titles to watch and you see some guy and a horse on a movie poster. So I guess I’ll focus on that guy and that horse and one of the more heart-stopping sequences in the movie.
Brady was in a rodeo accident and he’s still rehabbing his injuries. He’s taken a job at a grocery store but he’s otherwise unfulfilled. Someone comes by the house and asks if Brady can break their horse, and he agrees. It’s sort of his specialty. So he heads out to their ranch and we see the beast. The way Zhao films this wild horse, now trapped in a cage, makes it clear that no one in their right mind should ever think of stepping into its pen. But Brady does. And what happens next needs to be seen to be believed.
Available at your local library
Stranger by the Lake
Here’s Michael Koresky, co-founder and co-editor-in-chief of the influential publication Reverse Shot, on Stranger by the Lake, a film that takes place at “a small, secluded beach somewhere in France that functions as a cruising spot for gay men.”
“The political weight of representation inevitably bears down on the viewer of Alain Guiraudie’s Stranger by the Lake—an explicit film about amorphous desire that unapologetically combines menance and erotiscm, and daringly—and most alienating for those who want to be told what to think at the movies—it has no agenda at all.”
“Though it concerns the act of watching […] the film feels neither voyeuristic nor clinical, existing in a curious in-between state…. Cast [almost] exclusively with men… Stranger by the Lake is less about gayness than the single-minded, direct elegance of masculine desire.”
I’m ashamed that, even though I had 26 slots to fill, I passed over animation. So here’s a shout-out to the one and only Brad Bird.
Tomorrowland, written and directed by Brad Bird with the help of co-writer Damon Lindelof, is a family film, to be sure, but it’s no less considered and just as divine and detail-oriented as Brad Bird’s animated classics, like The Iron Giant, The Incredibles, and one of my favorite films, Ratatouille.
Here’s critic Amy Nicholson writing for the now-defunct Village Voice back in 2015:
“Bird’s Tomorrowland is a literal oasis of ingenuity, a shiny skyscraper metropolis surrounded by endless wheat fields as though science has figured out how to heal gluten intolerance. Its residents zoom around wearing jetpacks and protective airbag suits, and when they slip those off, everyone tends to wear bright yellow. This, says Bird, is the future we imagined in the past — call it Aspirational Jetsons.”
Though he’s not as well-known for directing live-action features, Bird proved himself capable in the 2010s by wrangling some of the most renowned stars in history: Tom Cruise (Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol) and George Clooney (Tomorrowland).
His next feature is set to be an animation/live-action hybrid, of which he has said: “I don’t know anything about musicals so I figured I should do this, because I’m deathly afraid of it and that sounds like a cool thing. It’s a project I’ve been waiting to make for a long time, it’s got about 20 minutes of animation in it.”
You can find Tomorrowland at your local library. Recommended if you like A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
Other than Bob Iger and Ted Sarandos, it’s hard to think of many people in Hollywood who capitalized more in the 2010s than Jason Blum. His business model is simple: keep the film’s production budget under $5 million and he’ll be able to recoup the costs through distribution and other avenues — even if the movie tanks at the box office or on-demand. His proven track record has led to a deal with Universal Studios that’s set until 2024 and he recently struck a partnership with rising distributor Neon.
Here’s a list of some movies Blumhouse Productions made in the 2010s: Get Out, Unfriended: Dark Web, Whiplash, BlacKkKlansman, and Cam, plus a bunch of Paranormal Activities, Purges, and Insidiouses. I can confirm that Jason Blum sleeps on a pile of money in Hancock Park.
Leigh Whannel (Saw, Insidious) sets Upgrade’s story in the not-so-distant future and peppers the narrative with advancements we’ll see in the 2020s and beyond (like artificial intelligence, gene-editing, self-driving cars, and biohacking). He smartly elevates a B-movie premise by making sure the action drives the plot, rather than the other way around — as in, we’re not told things before we can think them or see them for ourselves. (For an example of plot driving action, in considerably mind-numbing fashion, watch Parasite.)
Streaming on HBO.
Christopher Nolan turned comic-book movies into dark and dour dramas by employing something we now call, pejoratively, “prestige filmmaking.” Hollywood, of course, followed suit and we’ve been wading in self-serious rabble for more than a decade. Thankfully though, 15 years after Batman Begins, it seems like the genre might be onto something new.
Venom has all the trappings of contemporary superhero dreck: a dark color palette, a trio of award-winning A-listers (Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed), the inevitable “5…4…3…2…” boss battle, and on and on. But what separates it from the pile of recent genre fare is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously — meaning it doesn’t care why you’re laughing, it simply aims to entertain.
Eddie Brock (Hardy) is a pivot-to-video journalist investigating some Elonian Muskian avatar (Ahmed) and his company’s wrongdoings, which include conducting experiments on San Francisco’s homeless population.
When Venom enters the picture (also voiced by Hardy), the movie gets away from its beat-by-beat tight-fighting approach and warps into more of an oddity, as Brock is infected by an alien substance that becomes a part of him, and starts talking to him — but only he (and we) can hear it. As one does in this situation, Brock goes insane, while Venom becomes more infatuated with the body he’s inhabited… to the point where it becomes a bit of a romance. (Stay with me.)
Some have said Venom is a good-bad movie. If that’s what it takes in a recommendation to make you want to watch something, fine. Just know that anytime you say something is good-bad or “so bad it’s good” you sound like the corniest person alive.
Available at your local library
Welcome to Me
Some critics can’t see past Kristen Wiig’s time on Saturday Night Live. Others have been paying attention to what she’s been up to since the middle of the last decade, when she started taking on parts traversing less-covered ground.
She was as great in The Diary of a Teenage Girl in a supporting role as she was opposite Bill Hader in The Skeleton Twins, both of which showcased a more downbeat, dramatic side, and she had a laugh-out-loud voiceover cameo in Spike Jonze’s Her. But Welcome to Me was really her show, her starring vehicle. It’s a movie about an unstable lottery winner who goes off her meds and decides to produce a talk show… where the topic of every show is herself.
The latest Rochester, New York legend in an ever-expanding canon (Philip Seymour-Hoffman, Winston Duke, the man responsible for all the magic, Kodak’s founder, George Eastman), Wiig turns in a gutsy performance that was mostly ignored or dismissed due to concerns over the film’s content, as critics questioned if it was a responsible story to tell. I’ll let you be the judge.
Streaming on Prime Video.
XXL, Magic Mike
BuzzFeed’s effect on the last decade of media seems irreversible. Why do you think I titled this “26 of the Decade’s Best Movies Not Found on Critics Lists,” while also including borderline or somewhat trolly movies, and had the false hubris to claim that they were, in fact, “the best.” Because I want POW to survive. For that to happen, it takes clicks and advertisers and, most importantly, your continued support.
Over the past decade, so many publications have been shuttered, stripped for parts, or sold off to morally bankrupt, asinine venture capitalists. From blogs to American institutions, the media industry has been backed into a corner and beaten into a pulp — only to wake up to another punch in the face.
Every time a writer shares a screenshot of an article on social media, they are actively killing their earning potential. Social media is free and its algorithms are designed to push things up in your feed that will keep you on the platform, and the honchos at Facebook and Twitter have divined over the years that anger and hate are what keep people engaged. Perhaps this is why you see so many people hate-sharing screenshots or subtweets of pieces they’ve read. More often than not, they’re doing so without linking to the piece — because why bother linking to something you hate? It makes sense, in principle, but only if we’re operating on a level playing field.
Hate and anger have become the dominant drivers in our virtual town hall and thus hate and anger get the attention and, inevitably, the clicks. As journalists and bloggers work their days away trying to share stories they’ve written, the majority of these stories are relegated to the abyss of your timeline because the discourse has decided everyone should be mad about, I don’t know, people who don’t wash their legs in the shower.
Being on the right side of the discourse has turned into the most valuable currency on social media, as people will block, mute, unfollow, or worse yet, drag or dox you, as soon as they deem you unworthy of their idealized molds of the moment.
All I’m asking is, if you’re reading this: please don’t post screenshots of writing from websites on social media. Instead, link to the article and describe the piece in a way that will make someone want to click through. If you keep posting screenshots and withholding clicks from your employers, pretty soon they won’t have enough funds to sign your checks.
As far as Magic Mike XXL is concerned, I chose it because it appeared on some crusty and dusty list that dubbed it “one of the most overrated films of the decade” and thus, of course, the list spurned a lot of discussion at the lunch table, and provided the inspiration for my above rantings which admittedly are more intuitive than fact-based.
I enjoyed Soderbergh’s original, and even though I think movie sequels are more television than film; more commerce than art, I can admit that a stripper-movie sequel is far more worthy of being produced than the umpteenth good vs. evil flim-flam.
Anyone who knows of, or can recognize, or has experienced the sort of semi-delusional, outsized ambition on display here will cringe, and cringe and cringe and cringe. Exponentially so if they hail from a small town and wish(ed) to make it big.
Once it gets rolling, Young Adult is maybe a bit too “on the nose,” but I still believe it’s a seminal film — fit for this generation’s strivers. If you think you’re hot shit and bolted for the metropolis… maybe give it a watch?
Streaming on Netflix
A simpler time… and not, technically, part of the decade. Kobe Doin’ Work was also released in 2009, so sue me.
The fact of the matter is that when you make an alphabetical list it’s pretty hard to find a movie that begins with Z, especially after you cheated with Magic Mike XXL and Zama was critically lauded. Anyway, it affords the opportunity to wind back the clock and reflect on growth, or lack thereof.
The screenshot above depicts a roving troupe of apocalyptic survivors taking a break to “enjoy the little things.” To them, that means walking into a roadside tchotchke shop and wreaking havoc, breaking every little thing in sight.
Watching this scene in 2020 brings a few things to mind: thinkpieces about Coachella festival-goers in Native American cosplay; how the lead character’s name is Columbus and that they’re laying waste to this store — of all the possible stores that could’ve been dreamt up in a screenplay. It’s hard to argue that it doesn’t seem a bit insensitive or problematic.
And yet I can still enjoy it. I’m capable of knowing each of these things while still being able to delight in the goofy destruction playing out on-screen. I’ve been in plenty of these rinky-dink stores and, sometimes, when I see a sign that warns, “If you break it, you buy it,” I immediately want to push over the glass case filled with ceramic doodads. It’s my natural instinct… but I’m never going to do it. I’m just happy to see this silly fantasy carried out by actors in a movie.
Streaming on Netflix
ADDENDUM: August 9, 2032: Brad Beatson was in court today for a preliminary hearing in an open case concerning vandalism-based robbery. Mr. Beatson was captured on film destroying shelves of merchandise in the prosecution’s shoppe, including their collection of midcentury trinkets and tag-intact Beanie Babies. The court played a video that was taken shortly after Mr. Beatson’s arrest, in which he states, and I quote, “[he] was just messin’” and they would “never see a dime from me.” The judge directed the court to Passionweiss.com and showed us this post before admonishing Mr. Beatson’s lack of foresight in assuming the legal system wouldn’t scrape his digital history. In response, Mr. Beatson shrugged. He’s being held without bail until his sentencing hearing this December.