Most people in the world view cinema solely as a source of entertainment. Even though a lot of us discern its artistic potentials, we still prefer entertaining films over the artsy ones. It’s the prime reason as to why a lot of good films go unseen and unheard of albeit garnering positive reviews from critics and movie buffs. Even if the movie is entertaining, weak marketing hinders its reach to a wider audience. Sometimes, even the seemingly commercially viable films fall into oblivion because of their serious approach to filmmaking due to which the audience feels that the entertainment has been compromised. If we get into the details, there will be many more reasons and sub-reasons to understand as to why good films sometimes fail but our focus today is to bring to your view ten terrific movies of this decade (the 2010s) which most people don’t know of or don’t talk about notwithstanding their excellence. If you have any more suggestions, let me know about them in the comments below.
10. Brotherhood (2010)
We have seen a countless number of movies focussing on the aftermaths of a heist gone wrong. Given that, and also the understanding that moviegoers have seen almost all possibilities of making such a flick, it’s only fair that most people haven’t seen (or don’t even know about) this American indie-thriller. If one views it on broad terms, Brotherhood may not be very different from its genre-counterparts, but it surely has a lot to offer. What starts as a generic heist-gone-wrong film turns slowly into a social satire taking on issues as trivial as youth and honour, and serious matters such as racism, all pooled into one single frame. It’s insightfully directed and written, well acted and has been time-wise concise with an incredible amount of thrill, allowing people of varying cinematic taste to relish its grounded splendour.
9. All I See Is You (2017)
We all know that marriage isn’t easy albeit being beautiful and we understand why. Hence, most films about marital relationships have a mixture of sweet and bitter moments which are integral to the storyline. However, this Marc Foster psychological drama has something else to offer. It’s definitely not sweet, and bitter isn’t the correct adjective for it either. The film revolves around the relationship of a man and his blind wife and how it takes a hit after she gets cured and begins to see. All I See Is You is a difficult film not just because of its disturbing nature but because the viewer understands how real the conflicts and situations are. The people in it behave differently in different situations and no single one is always right. The film doesn’t attempt to draw sympathy towards any of its characters and that remains consistent even as it concludes. The lack of likeable characters is probably why the film was derided by critics and audiences alike at the time of its release but that’s also the reason as to why it’s so damn effective. It’s not something that will be liked or understood universally and rather requires a matured outlook to appreciate its honesty and subtle sublimity.
8. Marjorie Prime (2017)
Of all the movies in this list, Marjorie Prime is likely to have the least appeal among the generic audiences but for ardent movie lovers, it’s a beautiful piece of cinema-work. In spite of being based on a fictional scientific premise, it rarely gives you any jerks of a quintessential sci-fi flick. That can be credited to its somewhat stagnant storyline which revolves around one plot point throughout the narrative. However, the real piquancy of Marjorie Prime lies in the way its characters blossom and the philosophical impact their interactions leave behind in the viewer’s mind. It requires a lot of maturity and unfaltering attention to like and understand this out-of-the-box sci-fi movie but in the end, it’s all worth it!
7. The Frozen Ground (2013)
Seeing Nicolas Cage go all operatic on the screen is no less than a cinematic cliché. But when he gives a grounded and natural performance, even his worst critics can’t help but applaud him. The Frozen Ground is one such film and Cage’s performance here is arguably one of his best in recent years. Based on a true murder-mystery case, the film is predominantly grim in its telling and character build-up as it should be. It’s writing is sharp, direction astute and its performances justify its darkness, all contributing to a gripping cinematic experience. The Frozen Ground is no doubt entertaining but that doesn’t mar its thematic quality and the film’s ability to switch between emotions and thrill without any bumps makes it a whole lot more likeable.
6. Mississippi Grind (2015)
It’s difficult to decide where to start in order to commend a movie like this. There’s always something quirky about Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck’s filmmaking style but it’s also true that their films always have something to teach. Mississippi Grind is no exception to that. This film is an uncanny mixture of drama, dark humour and insights into human nature, especially its unrelenting inclination to desire. It’s not crafted with many convolutions and is rather a penny plain piece of work. It’s simplicity only magnifies its comic punches and relatability with the viewer which is why it transcends other flicks with similar storylines. Mississippi Grind is a smooth and delectable ride that demands neither a matured outlook nor a strict observation and yet grabs your attention which stays so throughout its fun-filled run.
5. To Write Love On Her Arms (2012)
There are many things that this biographical drama shares with its counterparts apart from its basic theme (i.e. drug addiction and depression), but there are also a few things that it does much differently. First, and most importantly, it doesn’t melodramatise its narrative or its characters. Every person and situation is constructed in such a manner so as to make them real and believable. Secondly, the film lucidly portrays how difficult it is for a person to fight depression and addiction. It doesn’t end with its protagonist leaving the rehabilitation centre as a new person, rather depicts the struggle that still continues within and how vulnerable one can be to go back to his/her previous depressed state of mind. The basic plot may seem disturbing but the film is instead a smooth sailing ship which doesn’t falter even in the strongest waves. In its deeply touching narrative, the film has an undue charm which leaves its viewer with a lot of delight and hope, something a movie like this should always end up doing and for the good.
4. Kill List (2011)
Like every movie, Kill List has its moments where you like it and where you don’t. But it’s that kind of film which will be difficult to sit through in both the situations. It has a fairly simple plot and for most of the time you’d feel it beating around the bushes chiefly due to its sharp editing and hiccup-like narrative which can be flustering at times. But the best part comes up in its final act where everything culminates into an unexpected and horrifying finale which is likely to beat the shit out of you no matter how immune you consider yourself to scary cinematic elements. Again, it’s necessary to understand that movies like Kill List are not meant for everyone and definitely not for the weak-hearted. It requires a lot of patience to sit through its first and second act and it demands a hell lot of perseverance to bear its arguably terrific third act. Watching a film like this is no less than a dare challenge in a truth-or-dare game, but for ardent cinegoers, it’s a movie worth a chance and worth a dare.
3. Mistress America (2015)
Having seen umpteen number of female-oriented movies, I believe it’s safe to say that the western film industries make much better films on women than their eastern counterparts, especially those in the Indian subcontinent. Unlike the latter, they focus on more diverse aspects of a woman’s life, requirements and rights and don’t necessarily restrict themselves to patriarchal notions and sexual desires or taboos. Noah Baumbach’s Mistress America is such a kind of film which deals with the life of two women with great simplicity without involving too much drama, sex, oppression and stuff. It’s funny for sure but is also relatable not just to women but to men as well for it characters are crafted as humans and not merely as a manifestation of gender notions. The film is a mixture of multifarious sentiments that reflect through its character-interactions and subsequent developments, something which also gives the film its sweet philosophical touch. Mistress America makes up for a breezy watch which anyone can watch at any time and with any state of mind and yet like it. It may not be through and through a piece of novel work but it definitely is a lesson to filmmakers as to how you build up your characters in a female-oriented feature sans melodrama and insinuation and still make it likeable.
2. Still Life (2013)
For almost 90% of its runtime, Still Life might seem like an arthouse movie and it probably is for it’s slow, void of any commercial spice and doesn’t have a very eventful story. It’s about a man named John who works at a funeral house to locate the next of kin of the unclaimed dead people while also dealing with his own loneliness. Still Life’s overall tone is always mild. It never intensifies its emotions but showcases them with great ingenuity especially that of solitary and despondency. Despite being largely un-dynamic, as its name suggests, it covers a multitude of emotions at different points of time owing to different events through different characters in its course and all of them reach out to the viewer with great effect. Starting as a very simple movie, it culminates in a surrealistic manner which albeit being inconsistent with respect to its narrative makes the film infinitely more likeable, something which I personally consider as its greatest virtue. Still Life may not be a very entertaining film and surely requires a matured discernment from its viewer but it’s experience will be worth remembering for long.
1. American Honey (2016)
Dealing with only a dozens of youngsters selling magazine subscriptions door to door, the whopping 163 minutes of runtime might seem too long to someone who hasn’t yet watched this coming-of-age film, but believe me when I say that time here is just a number. Andrea Arnold’s American Honey isn’t as linear as it seems and its simple plot is actually branched into many other sub-plots which are instrumental in giving the film its emotional and philosophical thrust which in turn make it highly engrossing. Make no mistake, this flick is not a mawkish drama and is far from the realms of commercial filmmaking. It’s real in its events, characters, and the emotions associated with them. Its best aspect is that it doesn’t necessarily seek a matured view but it definitely instils a matured outlook in its viewer as it does with its central character Star with the passage of time. American Honey is not an all jaunty or jocund movie experience notwithstanding its obvious simplicity but it’s not disturbing either. It has a rare virtue of being a painless and gratifying cinematic ride regardless of its rawness and runtime which is indubitably one of its greatest merits.