The Reel Dad’s seven favorite films from the 2010’s
For more than 21 years, I have shared my thoughts about movies as The Reel Dad.
And, from more than 1,000 films I have reviewed in this column, here are my seven of my all-time favorites. As of today. Because I reserve the right to change my mind tomorrow.
The Social Network (2010)
We want, as parents, for our children to be happy and healthy and, hopefully, to discover direction to fuel their lives. We also hope they remember what we try to share over the years, the lessons we try to teach, the values we hope to embed in their ever-curious minds. While we never see the parents of the college students who invent Facebook in this fascinating film, we can only imagine how they might react to what their children accomplish as they dream and scheme, lie and steal so they can create new ways for the world to communicate.
Any parent who watches the time raising children travel too fast will feel at home with Richard Linklater’s remarkable epic, a moving tribute to the persistent, seldom appreciated, often frustrating, always essential work that parents bring to every year of a child’s life. Without getting caught up in artificial drama, or injecting unnecessary conflict, Linklater presents a reality that all parents face, that some days are better, some decisions are more correct, some guidance is more effective and all you can hope, at the end of a day, month or year is that your kids will realize you have done the best you could.
We define family in many ways. We experience the collection we are born to join and, as years pass, we connect with others who become as essential to our survival as those who initially feed and nurture. This razor-sharp comedy dares to imagine integral relationships that stray from convention, celebrating the ways people connect without giving those connections artificial boundaries. With a minimum of the silly and a maximum of the real, moviemaker Barry Jenkins makes us believe in the power of the people we meet to shape how we think and love.
Get Out (2017)
Some families are, simply, frightening, yet hide their dysfunction in beautifully appointed homes and meticulous table manners. Filmmaker Jordan Peele teases us, in the opening minutes, with what feels like a conventional romantic comedy about a nervous boyfriend traveling with his girlfriend to meet her parents. But any expectations for a low-key weekend soon disappear when the visitor finds the hosts are much more complex than the invitation might suggest. Peele reminds us that what we may see may only hint at what we will experience. No matter how well-groomed people may be.
Lady Bird (2017)
The mother tends to her laundry with precision and care, never doubting her mission, never questioning her ability. She owns this room. And, if anyone dares to question her authority, the conversation will be brief. Because some days all she can manage is the laundry. Greta Gerwig's breathtaking comedy ventures into emotional landmines filled with anger and denial yet graced by love and kindness. She refuses to simplify the complexities between parents and children. Her film expresses the hope that, ultimately, people who love each other will look beyond what drives them crazy.
Some movies reach beyond their imagery to inspire us to take fresh looks at the world we experience and the mirrors we examine. Such films inspire us to reach beyond what we may see on screen to explore how we react with our hearts. This magical film explores a family trying to learn what life can mean as they maneuver through the details of day-to-day life. But we soon learn that what burns beneath the surface defines this home, as the grandmother dotes on the children and parents navigate the tension in their marriage.
Families are marvelous collections of hopes, dreams and disappointments. I’d love to chat with Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho about his immediate family because, as we cherish his fabulous Oscar-winning film, “Parasite”, we are reminded how the absurd things that siblings and parents do really can make us care. This funny and devastating look at the devotion and commitment people share may not paint a conventional portrait of family life but beautifully celebrates the layers of love that can thrive inside a home. And finish the whole movie. Joon-ho keeps most of the surprise until the very end.