Scarecrow Video’s Favorites of the 2010s #21-50

Since 2010 a lot’s changed here at Scarecrow. We opened our screening room in 2013, became a non-profit in 2014, started our Silver Screeners, Outdoor Movies at Magnuson, and Children’s Hour series, and a lot more. But mostly what we did was add to our vast catalog. We don’t have the exact numbers, but we estimate that Scarecrow Video brought in roughly 40,000 new rental titles in the last decade, increasing our total catalog to over 135,000 individual titles. We figured that since we’re so obsessive about our movies, the best way to celebrate that was to make a list. We had some pretty simple criteria for what could go on that list. It could be anything that came out in the last decade that was a feature film or a long-form, contained story. So open-ended TV shows wouldn’t count (that’s a list for another time), but a mini-series might. Each of our staff members made a ranked top 25 list, and the titles were given a score based on their ranking, and their point totals determined their spots on our list. We think the breadth of this list matches the breadth of our catalog, with narrative films and documentaries from all over the world, in multiple languages, about all kinds of subjects, from filmmakers of all kinds. It’s not just a list of our favorites but a quick scan of what made movies so exciting in the last ten years. So with no more ado, we proudly present Scarecrow’s Favorites of the 2010s!

21. THE HANDMAIDEN (2016, Park Chan-wook)

As twisted and erotic and nasty as this movie gets it never loses its humanity. Park Chan-wook’s warmest movie to date. And it revels in being a movie too, twisting back and forth on itself until you don’t know who’s conning who. A gorgeously made period piece with a cynical sheen but a heart of gold. (Kevin C)

 

22. DJANGO UNCHAINED (2012, Quentin Tarantino)

My introduction to the smooth talking and endlessly charismatic gift to the screen that is Christoph Waltz. I love that his character is a “lawman” but has no real regard for the territorial law he hunts bounty in. He is more of a moral lawman to me, a golden rule kind of guy. He lives for actual justice and a clean set of choppers. Smile while you watch. (Jensen)

 

23. SPRING BREAKERS (2012, Harmony Korine)

While it begins like a 16 year old’s hazy, beats-dropping, color-coated idea of the promises of freedom that await in Florida during those all-important few weeks of Spring Break, it ends like a paranoid dad’s fever dream of what horrors await his formerly Disneyfied, bikini-clad daughter, while a gun-loving, Britney Spears-singing gentleman named Alien, who after bailing said breakers out of jail, asks the girls and audience to “Check out all his shhheeeeyit”. Cast, music, vomiting, regrets, and sunset beach piano playing accompanied by four teenage girls in bikinis, balaclavas, and high powered guns are all perfect, if you can get over how bad it all makes you feel about the future of humanity. (Jamie)

 

24. HEREDITARY (2018, Ari Aster)

Uncertainty and slow dread are at the center of this legitimately frightening and haunting film. Moment to moment, never quite sure where it is taking you, but willing to go along for the ride. And, without giving anything away, in the end Ari Aster delivers and that both satisfies and makes you wish you could go back to not knowing. (Wil)

 

25. TWIN PEAKS: THE RETURN (2017, David Lynch)

An exploded universe collapses, entropy assembles into order.  Life, death, love, and sorrow fall in line. The big bang at the end reveals a new beginning. (Leo)

 

26. MOONRISE KINGDOM (2012, Wes Anderson)

Two twelve year old pen pals decide to ditch their respective summer camps and run away together, but their romantic adventure turns grim when a skirmish with the Khaki Scouts leads to an accidental lefty-scissor stabbing. From their youthful perspective, filtered through the meticulous imagination and dry humor of Wes Anderson, life becomes an epic fugitive tale with a dragnet and a hurricane. Anderson perfectly captures the outsized emotions of adolescence, when having a crush or getting into a little trouble can seem momentous. (Bryan)

 

27. ZERO DARK THIRTY (2012, Kathryn Bigelow)

Not merely an electric military procedural but just maybe western cinema’s greatest response to our age of terror, both existential and political. Here are the terrible things perpetrated by enemies on all sides, with the only measurable outcome being more dead bodies. (Matt)

 

28. THE ACT OF KILLING (2012, Joshua Oppenheimer)

A where-are-they-now about the Jagals that were responsible for slaughtering almost a million people accused of being communists in Indonesia during the mid ’60s. True monsters, either in denial or totally oblivious to their past wrongdoing, happily giving interviews about their lives and successes since the genocide. Equally disgusting and riveting, The Act Of Killing is one of the best documentaries ever made. (Jensen)

 

29. ALL IS LOST (2013, J.C. Chandor)

Robert Redford, always the laconic hero, was really the only guy to play Our Man, a role which grants him latitude to say almost nothing for an entire week as he works alone to buttress his foundering sailboat against the sea. Director J.C. Chandor patiently guides him through the stations of his chastisement, and we witness the limits of self-reliance as the freedom of solitude becomes horror of isolation. The result is a visceral sinking-boat survival movie which seems hard to equal in its realism and depth: This ain’t your daddy’s Titanic. (Krishanu)

 

30. REVENGE (2017, Coralie Fargeat)

Some bad guys do some very bad stuff and get what they deserve at the hands of the woman they’ve wronged in this debut feature from Coralie Fargeat. One hell of a feminist ride defined by liberal doses of blood, bright colors, and badassery of the best sort–the sort that doesn’t release its grip until its good and done with you. Satisfying, intelligent, and masterfully crafted, I can’t help but clap when I watch Revenge. (Sage)

 

31. BLADE RUNNER 2049 (2017, Denis Villeneuve)

Fascinating for both the ways in which it very much is Blade Runner and very much isn’t. Just as much, if not a lot more, of a jaw-droppingly gorgeous, absurdly portentous, meticulously designed hypno-drone than its progenitor, but this also upends its legacy in ways that will confound a lot of people but are also highly rewarding. (Matt)

 

32. WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS (2015, Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi)

“This is the true story of 4 strangers picked to live in a flat and have their lives taped to find what happens when people stop being polite and start getting real.” …but with vampires. (Jensen)

 

33. HOLY MOTORS (2012, Leos Carax)

Life as a series of performances on the screen.  We accept new roles and they change us and the lives around us. (Leo)

 

34. ARRIVAL (2016, Denis Villeneuve)

This is possibly my favorite of the “sci-fi for humanity” movies. It speaks to the heart about basic human needs and emotions instead of filling you with space dread or putting you in an impossible doomsday scenario. I mean I like those things too but what really hooked me about Arrival was the idea that talking to each other, taking the time to listen and figuring out a decent solution rather than killing everything we judge to be wrong or different is a better approach to the survival of our actual world. (Jensen)

 

35. UNCLE BOONMEE WHO CAN RECALL HIS PAST LIVES (2010, Apichatpong Weerasethakul)

The physical and the spirit worlds cross paths.  A sexy catfish, a sasquatch son, and an existential water buffalo visits a dying man. (Leo)

 

36. BOYHOOD (2014, Richard Linklater)

The extremes of cinema are “Everything Happening All At Once” on screen and “Nothing Happening At All” for long stretches. Richard Linklater’s observant Boyhood, while mostly in the “Nothing Happens” camp, has a cumulative effect after watching of having experienced a large chunk of a life; not only the main character’s, but those of all the people surrounding him as well. In a filmography obsessed with time and its passage, Linklater has created an epic coming of age story out of the nothing moments of life. (Kevin C)

 

37. I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO (2016, Raoul Peck)

“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

One of the most important American writers/social commentators/philosophers of the 20th century, James Baldwin never completed the final book he had envisioned about his friends Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr. This documentary explores the author’s life and his artistic process as he prepared to write this book. Through this journey we learn not only how critically astute Baldwin was of his own time, but how many of his observations sadly still ring true today.  (Kate)

 

38. INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS (2013, Joel & Ethan Coen)

He’s undeniably a narcissist, often to the point of being a jerk, and it’s not clear what he actually believes in, but it’s hard not to admire Llewyn’s nonconformist determination to spit in the face of everything he sees as corrupt and false, even after it becomes clear that life won’t stop punching him in the face until he capitulates and starts kissing ass. The Coen Brothers succeed in turning The Greenwich Village folk scene of the early ‘60s into a kind of wet, wintery torture chamber for Llewyn, populated mostly with hell-is-other-people type people, while somehow evoking just enough hazy nostalgia to make his suffering picturesque. (Krishanu)

 

39. THE TRIP (2010, Michael Winterbottom)

Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon play versions of themselves in this road movie where they’re on assignment reviewing restaurants in the north of Britain. There’s an easy, improvisational feel to their constant (and hilarious) banter and having a fly-on-the-wall vantage for it is a lot of fun. But there’s a lot more to enjoy here. There are some beautiful shots of the English countryside and Michael Winterbottom has a knack for making fine dining experiences (both the gorgeous food produced and the gritty, behind-the-scenes shots of how it gets to the table) hypnotic. On top of all that, the film takes sudden sharp turns from yuks to dead-serious drama, and the hairpin tone shifts make it even more compelling. The feature film and its follow-ups The Trip to Italy and The Trip to Spain are distilled from BBC series and they’re all worth your time (And we have them all for rent at Scarecrow). (John)

 

40. JOHN WICK (2014, Chad Stahelski)

I have this friend Logan that always asks me for movie recommendations. I usually just text him a big list of things I like and then I don’t hear from him for a while. He comes back a couple weeks later and we talk about what he liked and what he didn’t then asks for more. It’s fun to see how he is growing as a movie fan. He loves action movies so when I told him about John Wick he got very excited. I didn’t hear from him for a while as expected but it was a little longer than expected this time. Turns out he only watched John Wick for about a month. Like 15 times or something like that and then crashed his car trying to do some fancy stunt driving moves. Long story short, this movie kicks butt. Watch responsibly, please. (Jensen)

 

41. BLACK SWAN (2010, Darren Aronofsky)

You can find dance, and more specifically ballet, frequently in horror movies if you start looking. It’s a perfect activity that car-crashes perceived femininity against the brutality that often drives it. It’s the beauty of pale pink leotards and tutus juxtaposed against the bloody, mangled feet of a dancer. Natalie Portman stars as Nina Sayers, who in her quest to become the perfect lead in Swan Lake, begins to drown in her own duplicitous psyche. (Emalie)

 

42. Blackhat (2015, Michael Mann)

Michael Mann’s moody digital thrillers have become increasingly inscrutable to the mainstream over the last decade while critics and cinephiles have largely embraced his very expressive esoterica. His recent films have mostly been about individuals being swallowed up by systems. Personal relationships can’t thrive and personal desires are a liability when institutions (legitimate or otherwise) are arrayed against you. But in Blackhat that gravity is reversed. It’s not new for Mann that the professional is personal, but here individuals crucially once again have power over systems that have become too immense to control. (Matt)

 

43. TRUE GRIT (2010, Joel & Ethan Coen)

Every moment of this story – the story of determined, by-the-book revenge disguised as justice – rings absolutely true. Never a false note, not in the script, the production or the performance. The Coen Brothers (and Hailee Steinfeld and Jeff Bridges) take what was done before and make a masterpiece of it. (Wil)

 

44. MELANCHOLIA (2011, Lars von Trier)

The first half of Melancholia follows Kirsten Dunst on her wedding day, a chaotic dance through social expectations and familial communication at her sister’s isolated mansion. The second half follows the family in the days before a mysterious planet, dubbed “Melancholia,” is expected to barely miss hitting the earth. Lars von Trier illustrates depression and mental illness so on-the-nose perfectly it aches; from the bouncing and fighting through “normal” moments, to the heavy blanket of defeat where whatever happens is just going to have to happen. (Emalie)

 

45. AMERICAN HONEY (2016, Andrea Arnold)

Director Andrea Arnold never disappoints when it comes to stories of young women finding their independence — often not by choice — and rising above their circumstances. Her epic road drama American Honey is the perfect pop-culture infused, crust-punk hero’s journey. Breakout star Sasha Lane, Riley Keough, and Shia LeBeouf shine in their roles as van-living magazine sellers in this sprawling examination of class and privilege. (Emalie)

 

46. MARGARET (2011, Kenneth Lonergan)

Barely released in the US, Kenneth Lonergan’s second film experienced trouble and languished in the editing room for years, so much so that Producer Martin Scorsese and his long time editor, Thelma Schoonmaker, helped with a 2.5 hour edit that played briefly for Oscar contention 6 years after it was scheduled for release. Lonergan himself completed his preferred 3 hour cut the next year. In this meditation on our insanely traumatic 21st century, we follow a teenage girl played by Anna Paquin and her fumbling attempts to deal with some terribly adult knowledge about how personal pain either destroys you or makes you stronger. Nowhere in the film is anyone named “Margaret”; the title is taken from a poem read in a classroom containing the line “It is the blight man was born for. It is Margaret you mourn for”. The point being that the world will always be hard and a struggle to comprehend, but learning about trauma and mortality is an epic psychological journey when you’re a teenager, and worthy of our compassion. (Jamie)

 

47. PHANTOM THREAD (2017, Paul Thomas Anderson)

Never one to be predictable in any “fashion”, Anderson delivers an audaciously subtle homage to British cinema titans Powell & Pressburger, with a wink at playful Hitchcock for good measure, all the while masterfully allowing us to follow as a brilliant yet abrasively difficult hungry-boy haute couture designer finally finds what he was never looking for. Impeccably acted and scored to perfection, Anderson seems to self-analyze throughout, commenting on the struggle of trying share a life with a destructively controlling artist, and at the same time revealing the invisible, unexplainable phantom threads™  that hold people together. Best paired with a House of Woodcock farmed mushroom omelette! (Jamie)

 

48. A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT (2014, Ana Lily Amirpour)

Don’t mess with the girl who walks home alone at night, because she’s a vampire and she would love to drain the life out of you to the trumpets of Federale’s “Black Sunday,” or at the very least give you a terrifying warning to be a good boy for the rest of your life–and if she asks if you’re a good boy, you’d better eek out a “yes” and mean it. She’ll also take your skateboard and ride down the gorgeously framed black and white street, her chiaroscuro world on grand display, cape flying out behind her with a softly lit smirk of satisfaction on her face. She’s always watching. (Sage)

 

49. THE WITCH (2015, Robert Eggers)

New England in the early 17th century: a prideful father takes his family into the wilderness to build a homestead after being banished from their settlement. Once established, a mysterious tragedy will test their familial bonds and give rise to suspicion and paranoia. Taking on such themes as religion and superstition, the persecution of women, and man overcoming nature while steeping itself wholly in local color, The Witch is a smart, slow-burn horror movie like no other. (Rich)

 

50. EX MACHINA (2014, Alex Garland)

If recently seeing Mark Zuckerberg planted in front of Congressional hearings like a glazed-over automaton attempting to synthesize its own flesh and blood wasn’t enough to awaken today’s observer to the possibility that the Turing Test might be a weird two-way street, Ex Machina spells that out in plainer terms. As much a retelling of the Bluebeard fairy tale in the grand cautionary tradition of technophobic science fiction as it is an indictment of tech-bro culture: Amoral, juvenile, and, yes folks, misogynistic, our human characters seem to have been provided with two servings of smarts but only a half-portion of wisdom. (Krishanu)

 

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