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January is the time of year when everyone from diehard cinephiles to movie critics look back on the previous year’s film offerings and assign them a numeric value. This is what the "Best Of" lists are all about, and it’s not the most enjoyable process. If you think otherwise, at least check out this one particular movie ranking, which professes to rank the top films of not the year but of the past decade. We guarantee it’ll light a fire under your butt.
Filmmaker and critic Kevin B. Lee tweeted the following over the holidays, as he realized we were about to pass the midway mark of the 2010s: "What are the best films of the decade so far?" Anyone wishing to answer submitted their thoughts to him through social media, and he compiled the results into a definitive list. While he admits that this was an open inquiry, he notes in the headline of his analysis on Slate that the results reflect the thoughts of more than 300 critics.
The list, "The Best Films of the Past Decade So Far (2010-2014)," encompasses 491 films. But what would you, as a movie lover, think would make the top 10? Boyhood, perhaps? Maybe something like 12 Years a Slave or Argo? While Boyhood did make it into the top 10, it did so only by the skin of its teeth. And you’d probably never guess which films bested it.
1. The Tree of Life (103 votes)
2. Certified Copy (91 votes)
3. The Master (76 votes)
4. Margaret (68 votes)
5. Holy Motors (66 votes)
6. A Separation (64 votes)
7. Under the Skin (61 votes)
8. Inside Llewyn Davis (59 votes)
9. Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (45 votes)
10. Boyhood (44 votes)
This is a damn-near perplexing list. While The Tree of Life was a fine film, the fact that it’s in the top spot on this list, above Boyhood and Inside Llewyn Davis, is disconcerting. The same goes for The Master and Under the Skin’s placements. And what about Certified Copy? The 2010 film starring William Shimell as a traveling author who spends a day with a French store owner (Juliette Binoche) in Tuscany, Italy, the film was widely praised by critics, but its overall resonance was unexpected. Those who participated in this poll are still thinking about it enough to bump it to the second-place spot.
As for Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, we have no words. Admittedly, this one eluded me, but after investigating, I can tell you it’s about a man reflecting on his past lives while on his death bed and seeing apparitions. For those of you who have seen it, good for you! The rest of us will still be scratching our heads.
According to Lee in his analysis of the list, the Cannes Film Festival is a greater indication than the Oscars as to the best films of the decade. As he notes, five out of the list’s top 10 films premiered at Cannes, while 12 Years a Slave was the highest ranking film to win the Oscar for Best Picture. (It came in 39th.) The full list of films can be found on Fandor, but prepare yourself for some aggravation.