Entertainment Movies Best movies of the decade that didn’t win the Oscar
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Best movies of the decade that didn’t win the Oscar

Margot Robbie
Margot Robbie became an instant star after her turn as a corporate wife in Wolf of Wall Street. Photo: Paramount Pictures
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So passes another cinematic decade and, as always, the rarefied air of the Oscars were a good reflection, from the magisterial (Spotlight, 12 Years a Slave) to the farcical (La-La Land erroneously and briefly snatching Moonlight’s statuette) and the controversial (Green Book’s victory attracting vitriol unseen since Crash).

But other movies left indelible legacies, as my list of each year’s non-Oscar best film attests.

Animal Kingdom (2010) 

Some might argue there were better films than Animal Kingdom in 2010.

Maybe, but it was indisputably the best Australian film of that year and in the view of many, the best Australian film of the decade.

A brutal and vivid fictionalisation of the war between Victoria Police and the Pettingill clan, David Michôd’s unsparing cops and robbers saga catapulted Jacki Weaver (chilling) and Ben Mendelsohn (terrifying) onto the international stage and was a key influence on crime dramas for the next 10 years.

Midnight in Paris (2011)

The film was a commercial smash of near-Spielberg proportions, marking a dazzling return to form for Woody Allen.

As a writer caught up in a fantasy loop that returns him to 1920s Paris every midnight, Owen Wilson established himself as the most appealing Woody surrogate leading man of all.

Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

Kathryn Bigelow’s pursuit saga of the 10-year hunt for Osama bin Laden, was anchored by Jessica Chastain’s fine performance as the obsessive CIA analyst who tracks him down.

The climactic SEAL team raid on the Abbottabad compound was the most electrifying sequence of the decade.

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

The rise and fall of stockbroker Jordan Belfort is translated by Martin Scorsese less as a morality tale than a farce.

Belfort’s world of corporate greed is a foreign country populated by various grotesques.

Leonardo DiCaprio excelled in an attention-grabbing role that was a stepping stone to his 2015 Oscar for The Revenant.

Margot Robbie dazzled in her first major role and hasn’t looked back.

Interstellar (2014)

Christopher Nolan’s most ambitious project to date channelled Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 in chronicling the odyssey of a team of astronauts, led by Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway, travelling through a wormhole to ensure humanity’s survival.

It’s a film unafraid to tackle the biggest of questions, finding answers that reveal themselves like a palimpsest.

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015)

The year saw several franchises given adrenalin boosts (Mad Max: Fury RoadJurassic World) but this was the best.

Star Wars returned in triumph, honouring its legacy and creating a captivating new Jedi-verse in the process.

As the third trilogy concludes with The Rise of Skywalker the beloved nine-act epic has stretched over half a human lifespan (or one-10th of a Wookiee’s).

Hell or High Water (2016)

The second film in a border conflict triptych by screenwriter Taylor Sheridan sets up a cat-and-mouse clash between West Texas bank-robbing brothers and the retiring lawman intent on stopping them.

The final standoff between Toby Howard (Chris Pine) and Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges) seethes with the repressed menace and grudging mutual respect in which Sam Peckinpah specialised.

Get Out (2017)

Jordan Peele burst onto the scene with this wildly successful, satirical horror, exploring American race relations as successfully as any film of the decade.

Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) meets his WASP girlfriend’s parents, who are almost suffocating in their delight at their daughter’s African-American boyfriend.

But why are the domestic servants acting so oddly?

And what became of daughter Rose’s previous beau?

Like Peel’s follow-up Us, the narrative doesn’t always make sense.

But it’s such a wild ride and so beautifully performed by Kaluuya and Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener as Rose’s parents that the viewer gets pulled into the mystery, as if a teaspoon had tapped the rim of a teacup.

BlacKkKlansman (2018)

If any filmmaker was going to respond to Trump’s America with an angry cri de coeur, Spike Lee would.

This dramatisation of African-American cop Ron Stallworth’s infiltration of the Klan is hilarious, terrifying and enraging.

The galvanising sequence comes as Harry Belafonte in a cameo describes to civil rights activists the horrendous lynching of Jesse Washington.

When Lee juxtaposes this against actual footage of the 2017 murder of Heather Heyer at Charlottesville you want to leap from your chair in fury.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019)

Assuming Marriage Story or The Irishman wins the Oscar, Quentin Tarantino’s Hollywood fantasy will be an unlucky also-ran.

Sure, it’s a shaggy dog story, but it’s also enchanting, energetic and as passionate a love poem to 1960s LA as anything ever produced.

Not to mention impeccably performed by Leo DiCaprio as a washed-up TV cowboy, Brad Pitt as his stuntman and Margot Robbie, radiant as a Hollywood princess beginning her reign.

May the new decade in movies unspool as memorably.

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