10 Years of DCM, 10 Years of Film
Digital Cinema Media (DCM), the company I work for, is 10 years old this month. In 2008, Odeon and Cineworld acquired Carlton Screen Advertising to create DCM. To celebrate a decade as an incorporated company I’ve been asked to compile a list of the best 10 films of the last 10 years. This is an impossible job and I fought against having to do it, but having backed down, I’m going straight in. No honourable mentions, no 11-20, just the 10 best (or my 10 favourite) films from 2009 to 2018, in alphabetical order.
A Separation (2011)
This gripping drama won the Best Foreign Language Film of the Year Oscar, which means it was probably the best film out that year. A married couple are faced with a difficult decision - to improve the life of their child by moving to another country or to stay in Iran and look after a deteriorating parent who has Alzheimer's disease. Unforgettable performances, almost unbearable dramatic tension, this is unmissable (and other words beginning with ‘u’).
I realise it’s kinda cool to hate Avatar now, but seeing Avatar in 3D at the BFI IMAX was the most mind-blowing big screen experience of this century, let alone the last decade. It was so good, I went back three more times. The plot was nothing new, but I didn’t care, I was too busy trying to grab weird floating bio-luminescent spores out of the air. It doesn’t really work on television but it wasn’t meant to. As far as big screen spectacle goes, this is the pinnacle in recent history.
I still can’t get my head round how this film was made and that it works so brilliantly. Christopher Nolan has been the most influential presence in blockbuster filmmaking over the last decade but Inception remains his crowning achievement. The score alone seems to have infiltrated every audio-visual medium since. A knockout cast, stunning inventive set-pieces, just don’t ask me to explain it to you.
Inside Out (2015)
The hardest part of selecting 10 films from the last 10 years is deciding on which Pixar film to go for. The sentient toys came close but this gem is the most ambitious of the lot and sets Pixar well above any of their contemporaries. That they thought up the plot – set inside a young girl’s head, with her five core emotions reacting to her being uprooted to a new city – is one thing, that they managed to pull it off so spectacularly is the best example of their genius. Beautiful, perceptive, funny, thrilling and oh so emotional, it’s a timeless treat.
I love statistics in sport, so a film all about them is my catnip. Chuck in an understated Philip Seymour Hoffman, a touching father-daughter relationship, a spine-tingling score and Brad Pitt in career-best, full-on film star mode and it’s possibly the most re-watchable film on this list.
The most recent film on the list and the only Oscar Best Picture winner, proving how little the Academy know, or how little I know. Probably the latter. A ground-breaking masterpiece that will forever be linked with the also excellent La La Land but this was the deserved Oscar winner. With his second film, Barry Jenkins proved that he is a wonderful talent who coaxed moving performances out of his entire cast. I can’t wait for his follow up, If Beale Street Could Talk, in cinemas in November.
Not here just to prove how eclectic my tastes are, Mustang is beautiful, energising and vital. It’s a Turkish drama about a group of free-spirited orphan sisters, who incur the wrath of their overbearing Uncle, and defy the efforts of the village in which they live to indoctrinate them into a strictly patriarchal society. I haven’t seen debut director Deniz Gamze Ergüven’s Hollywood follow-up, Kings, but it was apparently something of a disappointment. Still, she remains one of the most exciting young directors in cinema.
The Raid (2011)
The best straight-up action film of the last 10 years. Made by a Welshman, in Indonesia with a cast of then relatively unknown Indonesian actors. A SWAT team get trapped in a tenement building run by a gangster and have to fight their way out. Cue some of the most jaw-dropping fight scenes ever put on screen. Almost every action film at the moment seems to be trying to copy this but none can hold a candle to it.
If The Raid is the best action film of the last 10 years, then this is the best action film that’s not really an action film. Damien Chazelle made good on the promise he showed here with La La Land but Whiplash is the greatest calling card of the last decade. I recently learned that Kate Winslet has trained to hold her breath for seven minutes while filming Avatar 2. I’m pretty sure I held mine for 10 during the climax of Whiplash.
Zero Dark Thirty (2013)
The Hurt Locker might have won Kathryn Bigelow her Best Director Oscar, but Zero Dark Thirty is better. Part procedural, part thrilling action-film, Jessica Chastain established herself an arresting lead actor and should have probably waltzed away with an Oscar too. The politics are murky but that only makes it feel more authentic.
So that’s 10 films of the last 10 years. Come at me in the comments.
Tom Linay is Head of Film at DCM