Important Films of the last ten years

Our contributors discuss what what they think are the most important films to come out in the last ten years. 

Inside Out 2.jpg

Inside out

- By Marieke Oggel

Disney Pixar’s Inside Out is a 2015 animated film directed by Pete Docter. It tells of five personified emotions in 11-year-old Riley’s mind, or her “headquarters”, as she moves away from home to a new town and school. These emotions, Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black) and Disgust (Mindy Kaling), must maintain some balance as Riley learns to cope with her new surroundings. The film lays out a basic understanding for children of what might be going on in their heads, a kind of vocabulary to talk about their emotions. It also encourages viewers to embrace these emotions; to feel what needs feeling.

From the start of the film, the character of Sadness is treated as more of a pest than a valued emotion in Riley’s headquarters. “I’ve tried, but there’s no place for her to go,” says Joy. In her continued attempts to make Riley happy, she encloses Sadness in a “circle of sadness,” just as we might bottle up the emotion when things go wrong. At a key point in Riley’s emotional maturity, Sadness becomes rapidly more relevant. The catharsis of the film comes when Joy realises that Sadness is not some glitch. She’s useful and essential, and without her, Riley can’t ever be truly happy. The key to Riley accepting her circumstances and growing as a person is to accept her sadness.

The Social Network.jpg

The Social network

- By Dara McWade

Facebook is everywhere. The US, Thailand, Botswana; it's a central hub of the world wide web, a parasitic tool that's almost become our first artificial sense. It's creation is arguably one of the most impactful events in human history.

The Social Network reveals this creation as the jealousy-fueled rage of a young, bitter computer nerd. The film, written and directed by a dream team of talented angry white men of Aaron Sorkin and David Fincher, tracks the early days of Facebook's creation. We see the bitter feud between the two friends at the centre of its creation. Jesse Eisenberg and Andrew Garfield give star-making performances as the student-age Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin, tracking their souring relationship from Harvard dorm to glassy high-rise negotiation rooms.

Sure, half of it is heavily exaggerated. However, it captures that predictable truth perfectly, that this massively important company was just the byproduct of some hurt young man, bitter at his only friend's social success. Late in the film, a lawyer tells Zuckerberg that "Every creation myth needs a devil". In these days of privacy panic surrounding Facebook, and with all of the controversies Facebook has suffered, Zuckerberg has become our devil. So, let's watch the devil fall.

You can find the writer of this piece, Dara McWade, on Facebook.


- By Simon Jewell

The ultimate coming of age story. Boyhood’s unique quality is that it was filmed over the course of a 12-year period, with the same cast meeting up periodically to shoot new scenes. It maps the life of first-grader Mason (Ellar Coltrane) who literally grows up as we watch him on screen. It’s intimate, raw and spellbinding as Mason’s whole life shifts from childish innocence to the separateness and decision making of adult life. Richard Linklater chose to shoot Boyhood in 35mm film as he feared digital film would enhance greatly over the 12-year stint. Boasting a cast including Patricia Arquette as Mason’s divorced single mother and Ethan Hawke as his estranged father, Boyhood became Hollywood’s best-kept secret. It was pipped for the best film Oscar (somewhat surprisingly) by Birdman in 2014. The script is kept simple, yet effectively fresh and at times it feels completely improvised as the story unfolds at its own pace. Boyhood’s defining impact is its ability to reveal that whilst our own childhood may feel like a never-ending series of rebellion and immaturity, for our parents as viewers it may disappear in the blink of an eye. Life is short, especially when it is captured within the narrative of a 12-year film

the dark knight.jpg

the dark knight

- By Shane Hughes

It’s hard to believe that a full decade has passed since Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight was released. One of Heath Ledger’s final films, his completely reimagined and far more sinister portrayal of the Joker joined Christian Bale’s roughed up Batman, becoming  the platinum standard in what was a new generation of superheros and supervillains. The 2000s weren’t a particularly great time for superheros at the box office. Hotly anticipated films such as Superman Returns (2006)  were financial disappointments, whilst others such as Fantastic Four (2005) were critically bashed. However, in the summer of 2008 Nolan’s The Dark Knight changed everything. The genre had been desperately searching for a form of validation. Studios were looking for that one hit that could thrust Superhero films back into the mainstream and attract large audiences again. The Dark Knight was that hit.

The Dark Knight wasn’t just a major superhero film, it was arguably 2008’s best film, and to this day it regularly makes its way into lists of cinematic importance. The Dark Knight didn’t only prove there was an appetite for superhero films; it opened up the genre to brand new audiences. Superhero films aren’t just for kids anymore, they are critically acclaimed masterpieces.

loving vincent.jpeg

Loving vincent

- By Oisín Walsh

This film is important as it is the first fully painted film in history. It has an appropriate subject too, retelling the final days of Vincent Van Gogh.

The plot is not complicated. It takes on a sort of Citizen Kane narrative as we learn about this mysterious figure from the points of view of people who knew him, all with conflicting opinions and ideas of why he may have killed himself. It plays out simply but it draws you in, like all good mysteries should.

The film is dotted with a number of well known actors like Saoirse Ronan, Chris O’Dowd, and Aidan Turner (just to name the Irish who feature). It is scored beautifully by Clint Mansell and really everything in the film just works well together. The animation is more than just an ambitious gimmick.

It would have been easy for the filmmakers to have simply relied on the selling point of this being the first painted film to draw in audiences and by extension carry them through an uninspired narrative. But watching this film, you really get a sense that the people working to create this story truly cared about their work. From the actors to the writers to the artists, it was a true passion project for all. This is just a sense I personally get from the film, but it’s a rare thing to feel.

So I suggest checking this film out and I hope you enjoy it from the first painted frame to the very end where Lianne La Havas sings you out with Starry, Starry Night as the credits roll.

Manchester by the sea

- By Alison Traynor

Perhaps I am being self-indulgent by naming Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester by the Sea one of the most important films of the past 10 years. After all, it was only released in 2016, so we cannot yet understand what cultural impact it will have over time. However, there was no other film that I could have chosen; because if a film had so much of an impact on me personally, surely there must be other people who feel the same way about it. The fact that it won two Academy Awards and was nominated for many more indicates that this assumption is correct.

Manchester by the Sea has haunted me since I first watched it. It was the film that really demonstrated to me the power that film can have upon an audience. Its deceptively simple plot allows for an astonishing exploration of character and through that exploration of character we see a poignant study of grief and bereavement. It is a deeply human portrayal of a man haunted by the tragic deaths of his daughters in a house fire, for which he blames himself. Consistently stark and unflinching, it is an incredibly brave and honest work that will probably leave you in tears.