A decade which began in a flurry of 3-D movies gradually gave way to an onslaught of Marvel product and the irresistible rise of Disney, boosted by its remakes of it own classic animations as live actions – Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Alice in Wonderland – and the new era of Star Wars stories.
It was also the decade cinema itself came under threat from the streaming giants, by which we really mean Netflix, who in five years have gone from one feature production – Beasts of No Nation – to dominating the awards landscape and who now look sure to take their first Oscar after narrowly missing out with ROMA.
They’re still unwelcome at Cannes, of course, but that is looking increasingly stubborn and French of the festival – just because Netflix want to put movies on smaller screens doesn’t mean they don’t like making good films… of course they make rubbish, too, but have you seen the output from the studios over the last decade?
With all this jockeying, you might have thought there’d be creativity bubbling up through the cracks but there simply wasn’t enough indie film coming through for me, certainly not with the voices who made it the world’s most exciting cinema in the 90s.. where are the new Jarmusch, Hal Hartley, Kevin Smith, Tarantino, youngsters? Sundance began plonking there own festival here in London, but very little of what they offered seemed urgent, fresh or exciting.
The rise of Eastern European cinema in the Romanian New Wave continued where it began in the previous decade – Cristi Mungiu, with Beyond the Hills, and Corneliu Poromobiou – and there as some Chinese international successes like Xia Zhangke or Japan’s Kore-eda but no dominant national voice emerged – Russia gave us one great film maker in Andrei Zvyaginstev who had a great run of form with Elena, Leviathan and Loveless – grim stuff though it might have been, his films have an icy control and throb with the lawless, heartless threat of what’s been happening in that nation over the last 10 years under Putin.
South Korea maybe the most exciting cinema right now – The Handmaiden, Burning and Train to Busan were decade highlights – now with Bong Joon Ho leading the way with this year’s Cannes-winner Parasite. Thailand also won at Cannes all in last decade, suggesting Asian cinema is on the up but it hardly a deluge. And Reuben Ostlund became the first swedish director to win the Palme since 1951 with The Square in 2017, although Force Majeure, from 2014, is arguably his more striking film. He is part of that ironic European movement we also see in Greek auteur Yorgos Lanthimos, while Matteo Garrone and Paolo Sorrentino continued good work in Italy, although failed to usher in a whole new wave.… they all tried English language movies in the last decade, often with rather stilted results…
As for British film, well it’s still here and it is in relatively robust health despite itself. More boutique cinemas opened in the last decade than ever before, from Selfridges to the Lexi to PictureHouse Central. But have new voices emerged in the last 10 years? I hope so: Ben Wheatley, perhaps Joanna Hogg, Carol Morley, Clio Barnard, maybe Dexter Fletcher, Martin McDonagh (still more of a writer for me), certainly Steve McQueen and in Docs we’ve hit hard with Asif Kapadia and Simon Chinn taking Oscars with Amy and Searching for Sugarman…
I’d like to say we’re leading the way in something – costume drama, female film makers, romantic comedies, fresh black voices even – but right now it doesn’t feel particularly that we are or that we’re forging ahead…still cosily predictable slates with our Dickens and Austen, our London gangsters and hooligans, our gritty survivors, our wartime memories, and our TV spin-offs which over the decade gave us Downton Abbey, Keith Lemon The Film, Alan Partridge Alpha Papa, Harry Hill The Movie, Mrs Browns Boys d’Movie, two Inbetweeners films, Jack Whitehall in Bad Education, Dads’ Army, Ab Fab, David Brent, Horrible Histories and, lest we ever forget, The Pudsey the Dog the Movie.
2010 The Arbor / A Prophet / Animal Kingdom / The Kings Speech (Oscar Winner)/ The Social Network / Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (Cannes Winner)
2011 The Artist (Oscar Winner)/ The Tree of Life (Cannes Winner) / Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy/ Bridesmaids / Dreams of a Life
2012 Zero Dark Thirty/ Amour (Cannes Winner)/ Argo (Oscar Winner)/The Master
2013 Blue is the Warmest Colour (Cannes Winner) / Gravity / The Great Beauty / Bling Ring/ Under the Skin/ 12 Years A Slave (Oscar Winner)
2014 Wild Tales / Paddington / Leviathan / Force Majeure/ Boyhood/ Birdman (Oscar Winner) / Winter Sleep (Cannes Winner)
2015 Inside Out / Timbuktu / Amy / Spotlight (Oscar Winner) / Room / Brooklyn / Dheepan (Cannes Winner)
2016 Moonlight (Oscar Winner) / I, Daniel Blake (Cannes Winner)/ Son of Saul / La La Land
2017 Call Me By Your Name / Get Out / 120 BPM / Phantom Thread / Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri / The Shape of Water (Oscar Winner) / The Square (Cannes Winner)
2018 Black Panther/ Cold War / ROMA / BlackKklansman / Green Book (Oscar Winner) / Shoplifters (Cannes Winner)
2019 Parasite (Cannes Winner) / The Irishman / Pain & Glory / Monos / Blue Story / The Souvenir
My Top Five Films of The Decade
5 Black Panther
4 I, Daniel Blake
3 The Great Beauty
2 A Prophet
1 Moonlight (featured image)