Theme: Richard Linklater
Also Featuring: Before Midnight
and Last Flag Flying
There has been talk about directors who have faded, and certainly of directors who broke out in the 2010s, but the ranks of the big name directors who have kept up a level of output from prior decades into this one is somewhat limited. Richard Linklater is certainly one of them (alongside Spielberg and Koreeda). And Linklater does it in so many ways. The decade-spanning project Boyhood is a powerfully effective granular look at a boy becoming a man in the midst of family strife. The Before series takes a slightly different granular approach to the peaks and valleys of a relationship watching not over the course of the decade but rather checking in every decade. These are epic works. On the other hand the previously mentioned Bernie and Last Flag Flying are both distinctive works of more standard film-making. Last Flag Flying, with a stunning cast of Steve Carell, Bryan Cranston and Laurence Fishburne, considers the lingering effects of war on three men who served together, brought together by the combat death of a son.#10 Gravity
Theme: Survival of the Fittest
Also Featuring: Ex Machina
and Mad Max: Fury Road
Each of these technically dazzling films ultimately are about female survival. Gravity is fight for survival against cold, uncaring space (or grief), Ex Machina is an effort to survive male attempts to define womanhood (in the form of AI awareness), and Fury Road leaves metaphor by the wayside and is outright combat against patriarchal control. I suppose Tom Hardy is also surviving in Fury Road, but the fact that he's the title character and gets sidelined all the same is one of the film's strengths.
Of course, I also observe these three tales of female survival come from male directors, and indeed for as much as I think my list is very inclusive of female directors (20% of the films approximately from the rough count I just did), the highest ranked one was Little Women. With the exception of one Also Featuring title, itís men from here on in. Iím not sure if thatís something I should read into.