In one days, I will turn fifty. Or maybe you could say, I will achieve fifty years old, finishing my 50th year. To celebrate (at least, on this blog), we’re taking a look back and picking a film from each year of my life that I think is notable. My birthday is June 7, so each film came out in the year that began on that date, according to Wikipedia.
I’m not warranting that these are the best movie from each year, or even my favorite. I’m actually purposely avoiding mentioning any films that are on my recently created and revised list of 101 Movies That I Love the Most (to be revealed soon). The ones listed here are just movies I find interesting and worth noting–and that maybe are worth seeing if you have the opportunity.
As I was preparing for this, I decided to pick another from each year that I haven’t seen, and make a viewing-list for myself for the 51st year. You can see that list on the bottom of the post.
Check out Part Four here
41st Year (June 2010 – June 2011)
The Other Guys
Directed by Adam McKay
Release Date: August 6, 2010
This is a crude but extremely funny police movie sets its tone with an unbelievable twist near the beginning, where two local hero cop–played by superstars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Samuel L. Jackson–both abruptly die in a moment of supreme over-confidence (they literally jump off of a building several stories to the sidewalk). Into the void they create come a pair of mismatched officers played by Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg. Ferrell is a mild-mannered forensic accountant and Wahlberg is a hot-headed hero-cop wannabe, and so naturally they clash, leading some great moments, chief among them being a hilarious argument they have about which would win in a fight, a lion or a tuna. But then they are also surrounded by lots of other crazy story elements, such as Michael Keaton as their boss who keeps inadvertently quoting songs by TLC, or Eva Mendes as Ferrell’s wife who is completely oblivious to her beauty.
42nd Year (June 2011 – June 2012)
Directed by Josh Trank
Release Date: February 3, 2012
Chronicle is a small scale superhero-gone-bad science fiction thriller about three boys who develop telekinetic powers after a mysterious encounter. Harmless pranks give way to larger problems as one of boy’s more troubled personality is revealed. The movie is shot in “found footage” style, which is normally something I don’t like, but here it works thanks to the strength of the characters, including one played by future super-star Michael B. Jordan. Josh Trank’s success with this early effort led to his being hired to work on Fantastic Four, which didn’t work out as well.
43rd Year (June 2012 – June 2013)
Directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris
Release Date: July 25, 2012
Ruby Sparks is a quirky high-concept romantic comedy-drama about Calvin, an insecure novelist who finds his fictionally created ideal woman–Ruby Sparks–has mysteriously come to life, with no idea of her true nature. It seems like a dream come true for Calvin, but it turns out that Calvin’s real problems are himself, not the other person, and that being able to shape another person to his whim still leaves him deeply unsatisfied. It’s a funny film that still has things to say. Paul Dano is good as Calvin and Zoe Kazan–who also wrote the screenplay–is fun as Ruby.
44th Year (June 2013 – June 2014)
The Lego Movie
Directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller
Release Date: February 7, 2014
I went into The Lego Movie with my family, really thinking I was taking one for the team, but I quickly found myself pleasantly surprised. The movie is bright and imaginative, upbeat and funny, with a massive infusion of pop culture references which appeals to someone like me. The plot, themes and characters are all fully realized, and there’s a good cast including Chris Pratt, Morgan Freeman, Will Ferrell, and Liam Neeson. There’s also some funny cameos by actors like Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels and Shaquille O’Neal playing the characters they’re best known for. But the standout is really Will Arnett playing one of the best versions of Batman we’ve ever had. He of course, got a spin-off, and the movie has had a sequel, but none of it is as good as the original movie.
45th Year (June 2014 – June 2015)
A Most Wanted Man
Directed by Anton Corbijn
Release Date: July 25, 2014
A Most Wanted Man is an espionage thriller about political jockeying in Germany between different agencies (and different nations) about how to respond to potential terrorist threats. Philip Seymour Hoffman is excellent in his last starring role as the head of a team who is attempting to discover critical information while still protecting an innocent informer. It’s a powerful and painful film filled with scenes of well-earned suspense while completely eschewing any plot contrivances normally associated with spy films–no one is suddenly revealed to be a traitor, no one suddenly falls dead from a sniper bullet, no one brutally murders anyone just to show how tough they are. And never have I been so on the edge of my seat just waiting to see if someone would sign a particular set of papers before.
46th Year (June 2015 – June 2016)
The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
Directed by Guy Ritchie
Release Date: August 14, 2015
On the other end of the spectrum, but still a good movie, is The Man from U.N.C.L.E., based on a popular TV show from the 1960’s. Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer play an American and a Russian agent who are put together at the height of the Cold War to stop a mutual threat. Co-stars Alicia Vikander and Hugh Grant add fun to the proceedings as well. The movie is sleek and full of entertaining set pieces which are more dependent on style than on actual explosions or violence (though there are explosions and violence). The movie was a great set-up for future stories which sadly never came.
47th Year (June 2016 – June 2017)
Directed by Clint Eastwood
Release Date: September 9, 2015
With Sully, we were all confused…how could you make a feature length film about an airplane accident which took place six minutes after take off? Well, Clint Eastwood showed them how–by paralleling multiple depictions of the accident with flashbacks to the early life of the pilot, all on the backdrop of the investigation which took place afterwards as to whether that pilot should be considered a hero or a reckless danger. The movie is not glamorous and you’d never write a fictional story this way, but as a depiction of legitimately inspirational real events it works very well. Tom Hanks is perfectly restrained as Captain Chesley Sullenberger and Aaron Eckhart is similarly good as his co-pilot, and the movie holds interest throughout.
48th Year (June 2017 – June 2018)
Directed by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein
Release Date: February 23, 2018
This comical thriller features Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams as a couple whose love for games gets them into hot water with real criminals and smugglers. Like any good “adult” comedy, the movie works thanks to the intelligence of the jokes while keeping the characters sympathetic. In this case, Bateman and McAdams’ relationship as a married couple brings that added layer of heart, without ever getting sentimental. The movie also doesn’t ignore the puzzle-mystery elements suggested by the premise, which brings in another fun element. There are a lot of humorous moments and characters, but a standout is Jesse Plemons as their rejected neighbor.
49th Year (June 2018 – June 2019)
Mission Impossible Fallout
Directed by Chrisopher McQuarrie
Release Date: July 27, 2018
OK, this is the third espionage film on this decade of movies, so maybe my interests aren’t as broad as I’d like to believe. But this is a fun film, and maybe my second favorite in the Mission Impossible franchise. For many, it’d be their favorite, and I can see why. The stunts are outstanding and the plot and characters are fully developed. It is, however, a bit over-complicated and a little tricky to keep track of, but that’s a minor complaint when the movie has got so much to offer. Tom Cruise is finally showing his age a bit but he still can carry a thriller like this, and the rest of the cast are good as well (including Rebecca Ferguson, Simon Pegg, Michelle Monaghan, Vanessa Kirby, Alec Baldwin, and more). I think it’s funny that I have both this and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. on this list–in this one, Henry Cavill looks like a giant compared to his co-star, but in the other, he looks like a dwarf.
50th Year (June 2019 – June 2020)
Directed by Rian Johnson
Release Date: November 27, 2019
And the last film on this list is the mystery movie Knives Out. Rian Johnson manages to subvert expectations related to how the story will play out while still landing the film safely inside the mystery genre. There is big celebrity cast but the real focus of the film is Ada de Armas as the nurse companion for the murder victim, whose character allows for various social themes to come to the fore (she’s the daughter of illegal immigrants working for a family of privileged and entitled people). There is sequel in development featuring another case of the film’s detective, an Agatha Christie-esque figure called Benoit Blanc, played by Daniel Craig–if the filmmakers can again create a satisfying mystery in the midst of whatever other storytelling shenanigans are going on, then I’m all for it.
Fifty Films for my Fifty-First Year – Part Five
Now here, we continue with my choices of fifty more films, one from each year, which I plan to watch in this upcoming year. I’ve never seen any of them before. Some I’ve always wanted to see, while others I never really thought about (or even heard of in some cases) before working on this post.
Year Forty-One – The Social Network directed by David Fincher–a movie I have long been interested to watch, seeing as it combines the talents of both David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin.
Year Forty-Two – Haywire directed by Steven Soderbergh–Soderbergh is a usually interesting, and though I’ve never heard of this action film, it’s gotten generally good reviews.
Year Forty-Three – Supporting Characters directed by Daniel Schechter–a smaller film about a couple of guys editing an independent film. I’ve never heard of it before this.
Year Forty-Four – Inside Llewyn Davis directed by the Coen brothers–unofficially, the Coen brothers are my favorite directors, so it’s good to include at least one film of theirs that I haven’t seen.
Year Forty-Five – Advantageous directed by Jennifer Phang–I’ve heard some interesting but unspecific things about this science fiction film Amongst its cast are Jennifer Ehle (Pride and Prejudice) and Ken Jeong (Community) so I’m super-curious.
Year Forty-Six – Eddie the Eagle directed by Dexter Fletcher–this movie sounds like the British Cool Runnings, but more acclaimed.
Year Forty-Seven – The Girl on the Train directed by Tate Taylor–this is a mixed-review mystery film but I like both Emily Blunt and Rebecca Ferguson, so I’d like to give it a go.
Year Forty-Eight – Darkest Hour directed by Joe Wright–Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill. I’m in.
Year Forty-Nine – Won’t You Be My Neighbor? directed by Morgan Neville–I should have at least one documentary in there, and I definitely am interested in seeing this.
Year Fifty – The Farewell directed by Lulu Wang–I was drawn to this mostly be the presence of Awkwafina, with whom I was very impressed in the recent Jumanji movie, of all things.