10. Room


“Room” is an incredibly touching and emotionally devastating story about a held-captive mother raising her son for five years in a single room. My goodness, this film completely floored me. There were tears streaming down my face on several occasions. I can’t think of another film that has ever affected me quite as much as “Room.” I really don’t cry often in movies, even though I make it sound like I do. I’m frequently moved and sometimes get lumps in my throat, but rarely am I actually brought to tears. I can only think of a handful of films that have done that to me – “Schindler’s List,” “The Green Mile,” “Avengers: Endgame,” and now “Room.” Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay both give powerhouse performances. What a phenomenal young actor Tremblay is. Their relationship on screen is so believable. The film is not what you expect. It’s not about torture or Stockholm syndrome. It completely changes gears halfway through. On rewatches, the cinematography is a bit distracting, but the story is so emotionally engaging that it hardly matters. The film is told from Tremblay’s perspective, and has a steely gaze that never resorts to exploitation. It profoundly gets under the skin of the mother-son relationship, and when it’s over you’ll have adjectives like “life-affirming,” “uplifting,” and “masterpiece” to describe it. 


9. La La Land


“La La Land,” as its title would imply, is a story about music and dreams. Its nostalgic color palette, narrative style, and use of visual effects make it evident that the film’s director (Damien Chazelle) holds the time of Hollywood’s Golden Era in great reverence. The references are there in obvious light, but they’re not overly aggressive. Many of Chazelle’s films have been marked by a common musical theme: jazz. Chazelle himself was an aspiring drummer, much like his lead character in “Whiplash,” but unlike Neiman, Chazelle knew he wasn’t the next Charlie Parker. I’m sure we’re all glad he chose filmmaking as his career. Like jazz itself, Chazelle’s films are always new and exciting. There is a great sense of innovation and energy in the film’s musical numbers as well as within its narration.

While “Whiplash” was a grueling psychological excavation, “La La Land” is a fun and enjoyable tale of passion and romance. The musical numbers are utterly charming. Much of the story is told through music and movements rather than lyrics and script. The epilogue is especially impressive. The story has an illustrious sense of originality and corniness to it that made it the best feel-good and best overall movie of 2016. “La La Land” takes me back to the great Rodgers & Hammerstein and Gene Kelly musicals that I grew up watching. And while the drama in those might have fallen short, in “La La Land,” Gosling and Stone excel in the quieter moments of dialogue. I absolutely love this film.


8. Mission: Impossible – Fallout


The “Mission Impossible” franchise had a truly phenomenal decade. While most people would say that “Ghost Protocol” is their favorite of the last three, I think each entry has continued to get better since “MI:3.” “Ghost Protocol” is a fun spectacle, but lacks a compelling villain. “Rogue Nation” was a bit more grounded in espionage, introduced Ilsa Faust, and featured a much stronger villain. “Fallout” has everything that I want in a “Mission: Impossible” film. It has the craziest stunts yet, a charismatic and daring lead in Cruise, a threatening villain, the return of Ilsa, and is just balls out a fantastic time at the movies. Watching this on the big screen was a fantastic experience. When I walked out, I wished I could have seen it on an even bigger screen.

“Fallout” wastes no time in dumping us straight into the narrative. It gets all of its exposition out of the way so it can focus on venturing down all of the surprisingly complex twists and turns that exist in its storyline. The film’s backseat villain, Solomon Lane, continues to threaten Ethan with his seer-like abilities, and the many conflicts that occur flesh out the film’s underlying theme: how much should one be willing to sacrifice for the greater good. “Fallout” is one of those impressively streamlined action movies that at 148 minutes goes by at a blistering speed. There’s not a single frame that doesn’t belong. The film is gorgeously shot by cinematographer Rob Hardy. Tom Cruise blows us away by doing it all in “Fallout.” He runs, jumps, dangles, falls, shoots, doesn’t shoot…I’m not sure what brash physical move he could possibly make next or if he’ll survive it. It’s not just the stunts he excels at though – in “Fallout,” he brings an incredible amount of depth and humanism to the character of Ethan Hunt that we haven’t seen before. “Fallout” is more about exploring Hunt’s character than anything else. There’s a surprising amount of characterization, something I miss when watching “Mad Max: Fury Road.” I prefer my action espionage films anyway.

What I think has really made the “Mission:Impossible” films special over the years is the team chemistry. Most action espionage films are centered around one lone wolf that does it all, but this franchise has always been reliant on the team support and camaraderie that has been portrayed. All of our favorites are here, and they all give sensational performances. Even Henry Cavill does a fine job. You get the sense that the cast get along as well off camera as they do in front of it. “Fallout” is a pulse-pounding, intelligent action thriller that left me completely invigorated and ready to take on the world. If the IMF were real, I would go join it.


7. Skyfall

Daniel Craig;Javier Bardem

I had a hard time deciding which film between “Fallout” and “Skyfall” would be my favorite action movie of the decade, but at the end of the day my Bond fandom won. Roger Deakins also played a sizable role in my decision. That Shanghai sequence is so creative and is simply breathtaking. After the dismal “Quantum of Solace,” “Skyfall” was a highly invigorating experience that brought back all of the great elements we know and love in the Bond franchise. We finally had a gadget for the first time in the Craig era. Javier Bardem was gloriously slimy and menacing as the main villain, Silva. His monologue about the rats is impressive and quite creepy.

Craig turned in another fantastic performance as Bond, playing the suave agent as an aging and beaten down animal – kind of a strange turn after watching his origin story in “Casino Royale” and “Quantum.” Reflecting on Craig’s turn, I wish we had gotten to spend more time with the newly-initiated Bond rather than this older, weathered version, that while does suit Craig well, it ultimately feels a bit tired at this point. Still, when revisiting “Skyfall,” the angle that Craig and Mendes took with the character works brilliantly well for the story. Judi Dench gave her final performance as M, and I remember feeling completely devastated that she wouldn’t be returning. Her character receives a heartfelt sendoff, and her increased presence in the film is a welcome one.

“Skyfall” at its core is a very intimate story about the relationship between Bond and M. Silva is a brilliant foil that just puts that relationship in brighter light. My only criticism is that the second act is a bit derivative of “The Dark Knight,” and Mendes admitted to taking inspiration from Nolan during the press tour. However, I think the film still feels very much its own, despite having a few similar story beats. This is one of my favorite Bond films overall, and interestingly is the one Bond film that everyone I know really enjoys. “Skyfall” isn’t just a great Bond movie, it’s a great movie, period.


6. The Social Network

The Social Network

David Fincher’s “The Social Network” is really the defining film of the decade. It is a true representation of the world we live in today and just continues to age well year after year. Who else is ready for a sequel that examines how social media has evolved and taken control of our culture?

At first glance, a collaboration between Fincher and Sorkin doesn’t seem to make sense. Fincher is a brilliant visual director while Sorkin writes people talking fast in rooms. Their contrasting styles ended up reaping great rewards, as the finished product encapsulated both of their strengths as filmmakers. Fincher embraced that the story needed to be told through the use of language, but at the same time, his unique visual style and sense of atmosphere created the perfect environment for Sorkin’s characters to interact in. Sorkin’s scripts are always uniquely structured, and in “The Social Network,” depositions drive the story forward. Sorkin was intrigued at how three parties had three different perspectives about the founding of Facebook, and instead of choosing just one, he laid out the story in a way where it’s virtually impossible to pick a side. The themes explored in the story have been around since storytelling began – friendship, loyalty, betrayal, and class. They’re the same things Shakespeare wrote about over four centuries ago.

“The Social Network” isn’t so much a story about the founding of Facebook as it is about its protagonist trying to form connections. Zuckerberg had difficulty creating connections in real life, so he created a world where you could feel connected behind your computer screen. He had trouble maintaining relationships, so he created a world where you could reinvent yourself. Zuckerberg found satisfaction in manipulating systems, so he approached human interaction in the same way he approached programming. The problem is, you can’t seek romance by demonstrating your intellectual superiority through strict logic. It still surprises me that a young man who was hopeless with relationships could create the most popular social networking site in the world. The glorious irony is that this great social experiment has led to a lot of people feeling less close and less connected to the people around them. The same weaknesses that can be found in Zuckerberg’s character can also be found in the 500 million profiles on the site.

It’s often been said that it’s impossible to make a movie about a writer or a programmer because you can’t just film them writing or coding for two hours time. “The Social Network” hurtles through two hours of spellbinding dialogue and focuses on the angle of programming that we’re all actually interested in – how people relate to their roles rather than to each other as people. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross provide a soundtrack that amplifies the cold atmosphere and cocksure elements of the characters. The acting is superb. I couldn’t imagine anyone other than Eisenberg playing Zuckerberg, and Timberlake brings just the right amount of edge and charisma to the character of Sean Parker. Fincher and Sorkin crafted an impressively perceptive film that may very well outlast the subject which it’s about. Like I said, it’s time for a sequel.


5. Silence


“Silence” is Scorsese’s best of the decade, and is one of the director’s finest of his career. He labored over writing the adaptation for several decades; you can feel his passion in every frame. For some, it may be punishingly long and boring. In order to appreciate “Silence,” you must have an intellectual curiosity in history and religion. You should be able to question your own faith and moral superiority. “Silence” never arrives at a moment of enlightenment, rather it only offers a set of questions, propositions, and sensations, and asks us to draw our own conclusions.

“Silence” is one of Scorsese’s most unique works in that the director is intent upon simply showing us sequences and allowing us to consider their meaning. There are a few moments of voice-over, but otherwise there’s never a feeling of omniscience in the storytelling. As per the title, there are many moments of silence, or peaceful sounds which we associate with silence – waves crashing, birds chirping, and wind moving through grass. When we’re not hearing sounds of nature, then we’re hearing screams and moans of agony. There is no musical score in “Silence,” and it proves through this juxtaposition of sounds that it does not require one. And of course, beyond all of that, the concept of complete silence is terrifying because it is associated with the end of life.

But there remains another layer beyond that – the maintenance of faith in times of great adversity. Should God exist, why does he remain silent? The story is simple – we follow two priests from Portugal to Japan where they attempt to find Father Ferreira, who has gone missing and is believed to have committed apostasy. Eventually, one of the wandering priests is captured and put through hell by witnessing the torture of those who he (and his colleagues) had successfully converted to Christianity. The priest is forced to ponder many unanswerable questions: How much pain can a man endure before renouncing that which is most important to him? Does failing mean he has failed God? Will God’s love be great enough to forgive him for renouncing his faith? Does God even notice the suffering? Is it right to allow others to suffer when their suffering can be ended through a simple symbolic action? The parable mirrors that of Christ in a way.

Much criticism was pointed at Scorsese’s “glorification” of the missionaries, but I did not find this to be the case at all. Scorsese carefully devotes ample time in understanding the position of the Japanese authorities. We’re supposed to criticize the action of the missionaries and ask ourselves to consider why our own beliefs may not be universally appropriate. Scorsese’s respectful distance with the camera makes the suffering almost more unbearable, as we are forced to watch more inaction than action. We beg for one of the characters to do what we think is right in our own minds. We grapple with our own conclusions and their consequences, just as the priests do with theirs. Scorsese has always grappled with his own faith, and has injected theology into many of his works over the years. “Silence” is his most fascinating, and simultaneously his most painful and beautiful project.


4. Parasite


When I arrived early at the Alamo Drafthouse to watch “Parasite,” there was a feature on director Bong Joon-ho playing. It showcased his use of camera angles, editing, and other cinematography tricks to his full advantage. It ended with describing the director as a master of genre. Walking in to “Parasite,” I expected a full-on thriller. What I got was an equal mix of suspense, drama, comedy, and tragedy, each as masterfully handled as the other. In fact, the humorous parts of “Parasite” may stay with me the longest. Many would describe “Parasite” as Hitchcockian, though I would draw more parallels with the works of Shakespeare than the master of suspense. The twist mid-way through has sparked much discussion, and rightfully so, as it is the most unexpected plot point in a film that I have ever seen. It is so surprising, yet feels totally natural. It actually enhances the dichotomy that the film is exploring, and provides an additional emotional layer that elevates the film to rare heights.

“Parasite” features one of the best ensembles that I have seen in any film. Too often in such productions are the supporting cast members pushed into the background, with the result being one or two standout performances in a mix of stellar actors that hardly get their due. I generally feel robbed in ensemble pictures because my favorite of the bunch gets demoted to minimal screen time. Bong Joon-ho gives each of his actors equal opportunity, and each one delivers. They’re all scene-stealers.

“Parasite” has some of the best visuals I’ve seen in any film. While the dialogue is witty and engaging, much of the storytelling is told through visual means. The contrasting settings that the two families live in give us more information into their differences than dialogue ever could. There is a scene in which a rainstorm is ravaging the Kims’ neighborhood, causing intense flooding and sewage leaks. Meanwhile, the Parks watch the raindrops hit their perfectly trimmed lawn from the comfort of their living room. What is tragic to one is beautiful to the other. Like one character says, “It’s so metaphorical!” Each scene, each prop, every movement has a purpose. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Parks’ home becomes one of the most iconic sets in film history.

If you’ve seen any sort of marketing for the film but haven’t yet watched it, you’ve likely been left wondering what on earth it is about. On first glance it gives the impression of a virus-induced apocalyptic thriller. Then once you watch the trailer, you think it could be an experimental suspense film. Perhaps someone from one family kills a member from the other family, and they go to war against each other. Whatever you may think will happen in “Parasite,” you’ll be proven wrong. Its ambiguity will draw you in, and its powerful intellect will stay with you as you walk out. The expression behind and in front of the camera is intoxicating. I love films like this.


3. 12 Years a Slave

12 years a slave 1

“12 Years a Slave” is an incredible true story about how freedom was taken away from an African-American man living as a born-free man in the mid-1800s. The film is based on Solomon Northup’s 1853 memoir, “12 Years a Slave.” Solomon was kidnapped by two conmen and sold into slavery in 1841. He was put to work on plantations in Louisiana for 12 years before being released. In McQueen’s Oscar speech, he said that, “Everyone deserves not just to survive, but to live.” Solomon Northup endured 12 years of unjust hardship to return to living as a free man. His grit and spirit is inspiring, and it’s a miracle that he was able to survive as long as he did and return to his family.

“12 Years a Slave” is an absolute masterpiece from Steve McQueen. Thanks to the source material being a memoir, the history feels intimate and immediate. Much of the film is somber, brutal, and meditative, with many shots lingering on the face of Chiwetel Eljiofor, who gives a phenomenal performance. An incredibly versatile actor, the real brilliance in his performance lies in the physicality of it. The only way for Solomon to survive was to act accordingly to how his owners thought he should carry himself, so an awful lot of how Eljiofor portrays Solomon lies in his restraint, his posture, his nuanced movements, or how much intelligence (particularly his literacy) he is concealing. Lupita Nyong’o also gives an incredibly powerful performance as Patsey. She gives what I believe to be the best supporting performance of the decade.

The story is tragic and the violence hits hard. It’s never exploitative, and the horrific actions displayed on screen feel real and consequential, unlike in Tarantino’s “Django Unchained.” Benedict Cumberbatch plays a slave owner who seems relatively benign to his “property,” but still remains morally reprehensible for owning slaves in the first place. Fassbender plays a slave owner who is boiling with rage and vitriol, and treats his slaves like animals. Not only is he a disgusting human being, but he also lusts after Patsey, and commits sexual violence against her. Fassbender’s performance is on another level, and it’s hard to imagine how anyone could commit to playing such a horrendous, brutal individual.

Underscoring the cruelty is the beautiful landscape of gnarled tree limbs, mossy marshes, and quiet skies. Hans Zimmer’s score is understated and features a theme that sounds an awful lot like a slower, more melancholic version of his “Time” track in “Inception.” McQueen has made something of a name for himself with uncomfortable films about human suffering. For him, naked flesh is an artistic medium, not a gratuitous box office draw. McQueen’s unflinching look at slavery mirrors that of his two preceding works – “Hunger,” in which he plunges into the depths of despair during the 1981 Hunger Strike, and “Shame,” in which he explores the dark consequences of sex addiction. With “12 Years a Slave,” he has given us the definitive film on American slavery that will never be surpassed. I felt as though I was actually there in the time period witnessing these accounts first hand.


2. Moneyball

moneyball 1

“Moneyball” perfectly encapsulates the spirit of baseball. In my estimation, it is the greatest sports movie ever made. It goes beyond the simple romanticism of its peers, where generally a group of scrappy players are led by a coach filled with self-doubt, and the team pulls together for a shocking victory in a championship game. “Moneyball” is about building a new process, about intuition vs. analytics. It’s about believing in change and convincing others to follow. There’s hardly any screen time on the field.

Methodical, intelligent, and quite witty at times, “Moneyball” is anchored with a phenomenal script penned by the two greatest screenwriters of our time – Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zaillian. The most unique aspect of the film is the bridge it creates between two genres- drama and documentary. Director Bennett Miller mixes archival footage with scenes featuring his actors that blur the lines between real and staged in the most compelling way. “Moneyball” isn’t so much about baseball as it is about management, as most sports are driven more by business than us fans would care to admit. Players are shipped around like inventory, and teams who can afford large payrolls can stack their lineups and hold an unfair advantage. “Moneyball” is a melancholic story with a sizable awareness for the amount of irony it presents – and also features some useful insight into human nature. The soundtrack is perfect for the film – the musical cues start off simple and soft and crescendo into more complex and emotional chords. The song, “This Will Destroy You,” by The Mighty Rio Grande, is perfectly utilized to symbolize how change is like a current; it will continue to move and erode over time despite efforts to thwart its progress.

Many may criticize how Beane’s relationship with his daughter feels shoehorned in to the story, but I would argue that it has an important purpose. Beane’s hatred for losing is more powerful than his love of winning. His mission to build a winning team through unconventional means threatens his job security and his relationship with his daughter. Beane wants to capture success in both areas of his life that are most important to him, so his relationship with his daughter mirrors his love for the game of baseball. For those audience members who don’t share Beane’s love for the game, they can empathize with his love for his daughter.


“Moneyball” is based off of the bestselling novel of the same name by Michael Lewis, and explores the Oakland Athletic’s 2002 season and their GM’s attempt to assemble a winning team. In the film, Beane meets Peter Brand, a young Yale graduate (played by Jonah Hill) with a degree in economics and a passion for baseball. Beane is faced with a dilemma – he must put together a competitive team with one of the lowest payrolls in the game, and convince the other scouts, managers, and coaches to get on board with his radical ideas. Brand presents a sophisticated approach to analyzing players’ values through the use of sabermetrics. Beane and Brand pick players like Benjamin Graham picked stocks – by picking players who they considered were undervalued in the market. OBP (or on base percentage) was the main focus. The more traditional scouts have amusing conversations on how they pick players – looking at their grooming habits, build, or how attractive the players’ girlfriends are.

In 2002, the nation’s lowest-salaried ball club put together a 20-game winning streak (setting a new AL record) after opening the season with 11 straight losses. Over the past couple of decades, the A’s have been at the bottom of the food chain when it comes to picking players. The idea of using sabermetrics to counter the decreased budget of the club was first employed by previous GM Sandy Alderson, who mentored Beane on how to evolve the statistical analysis moving forward. The character of Peter Brand is a composite character, modeled mostly after Paul DePodesta along with a few of Beane’s other assistant GMs. The book “Moneyball” has received controversy over the years for its lack of acknowledging that pitching contributed as much to Oakland’s success in 2002 as much as a high on base percentage did. Also, Miguel Tejada receives no mention in the film, and he was up for MVP that year as a position player. There was also allegedly the use of PEDs by several A’s players that year, but whether or not drug use contributed to the success of the team as a whole is unproven. The fact remains, Beane’s methods proved to be effective for the A’s, and his means of analysis were adopted by pretty much every other ball club in America following the 2002 season.

When I watch “Moneyball,” I’m not concerned with historical inaccuracies or whether or not Beane deserves the legendary status that Hollywood has awarded him. Beane believed in a new system of analyzing a player’s value and implemented it knowing full well that it would receive backlash from his organization as well as MLB at large. The film shows how belief in an idea, how commitment to change, can transform an entire industry. It’s inspiring and touching. I love the game of baseball, and though I am not an A’s fan, I respect what they try to do year after year to remain competitive at the big league level. “Moneyball” puts their struggle into a perspective that anyone can understand, and even people who don’t have a love for the sport can enjoy this film. Its message is universal.


  1. Inception


I first saw “Inception” ten years ago with my grandmother in an IMAX theatre. Since then, it has remained my favorite film of the decade and one of my favorite films of all time. This is Nolan’s masterpiece. I doubt that it will ever be surpassed, especially if Nolan continues operating in the realm of action/sci-fi and experimenting with time in his scripts. Just think about the last time you were eating a layer cake and one of your friends remarked, “It’s like cake-ception!” Or they remarked something similar in regards to a story, piece of music, or anything with multiple levels of intricacy. “Inception” has invaded our popular culture like dreams invade our sleep. It changed how blockbusters were perceived, written, staged, and marketed. Audiences have expected more from their favorite summer flicks since “Inception” was released – the expect a certain level of intelligence, innovation, and practicality to modern productions. Hans Zimmer’s score changed film music for good, and I must admit, I’ve had some moments where I’ve become annoyed by the loud synthetic drones of popular soundtracks in recent years. When I listen to the “Inception” soundtrack on its own, or I hear it in the context of the film, I still love it though. It works brilliantly well in building up suspense and adrenaline as Cobb and crew work their way deeper into the subconscious. There’s just no denying that “Inception” changed cinema for the better, and I suspect it is one of those rare films that will far outlive its creators.

“Inception” combines all of my favorite elements of cinema into one gloriously intelligent screenplay. It has elements of crime, espionage, science-fiction, and action sewn into its complex weave. “Inception” requires attentiveness, and Nolan has never been one to shy away from asking more from his audience than what Hollywood thinks it can attain. It is not a difficult film to understand – I completely followed the plot on my first viewing and was completely sucked in to its spellbinding world. Some people make “Inception” out to be as convoluted as neuroscience or quantum mechanics. Anytime a writer plays around with time or reality, people can easily get lost. However, the concepts are rooted in reality, and the rules of the dream world are clearly laid out. They’re so compelling that they’ve changed the way in which some of us perceive our own dreams. When you wake up, do you believe that you just died in a dream? Have you been woken up from the feeling of falling down a deep crevice? Are real stimuli incorporated into your dreams? Does a past trauma haunt your thoughts as Mal haunts Cobb’s subconscious? I’d say it’s more than likely that we’ve all had these experiences.


Nolan worked on the script for “Inception” over the course of a ten year period. It originally began as a horror film, then evolved into a heist film, but all along he felt that he needed to increase the emtional stakes. He initially pitched the idea of dream-stealers to Warner Bros. back in 2001, but decided that he needed more experience with big budget productions before making “Inception.” Upon attaining a large budget for the film, Nolan commented that he need a large amount of cash to convey the scale of infinite possibilities in the human mind. After securing a deal with Warner Bros., he continued to work on the script for months along with DiCaprio, feeling like there needed to be more dramatic consequences from the actions of Cobb. In 2009, the project finally was officially announced.

One of the most impressive aspects of “Inception” is Nolan’s use of practical effects, particularly in the rotating hallway scene. A rotating set piece was created that ended up being 100 ft. long in order to encompass the full scope of the action sequence. Joseph Gordon-Levitt spent weeks learning how to stage a fight in a corridor that he equated to a spinning hamster wheel. I’m sure I’m not the only one who would say that action sequence in particular is once of my favorite sequences in any film ever. This is of course just one of the incredible action sequences featured in “Inception.” I’m also consistently blown away by an iconic foot chase, car chase, a freight train crashing through the middle of a downtown street, and of course the ski chase inspired by “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.” Good grief, when will Nolan finally direct a Bond film? My favorite moment in “Inception” though is a phenomenally well-edited sequence at the heart of the climax, when Fisher unlocks the safe and believes that his father was disappointed in him not because he wasn’t enough like him, but because he tried so hard to be. Anyone who suggests that Nolan’s scripts lack emotional depth should revisit that moment. The scene is intercut with multiple “kicks,” including an elevator drop and a van falling off a bridge, and the tension created in the editing and Zimmer’s score is just magnificent. Of course, what more is there to be said about the ending sequence, in which Zimmer gives us the track of the decade with “Time.”


At the heart of “Inception” is a man’s mission to reconnect with his children and move beyond his own feelings of guilt. Cobb’s relationship with Mal is deeply rooted in the noir genre, with Mal representing the essence of the femme fatale. She is a manifestation of Cobb’s own fears and obsessions. Exposition is expertly entwined into the screenplay as we follow our characters from one level of dreaming to the next. Introducing a new member of the crew, Ariadne, and following along with her as she attempts to navigate Cobb’s subconscious allows for the exposition to not feel forced or detract from the visual aspects of the film. The final scene is absolutely perfect, where the top continues to spin and the film cuts to black. The emotional significance of the scene is that Cobb is where he wants to be; he is looking at his kids and not at the spinning top. The ambiguity of us not knowing whether Cobb is in real life or still in a dream is the perfect ending to a perfect film. In my estimation, all evidence supports Cobb being back in the real world, but there’s also a chance that his familial reunification and happiness were only achievable in the dream world, and his “not caring” is the result of his own subconscious manipulating him after moving past his feelings of grief over Mal. To each their own.

When looking at people’s lists of their favorite films, it’s rare to not see “Inception” on them. Such is the case with my own list, as “Inception” sits high on it. Aside from a few self-absorbed film critics who thought that the film was “too logical” to equate to the imagination found in their own minds, everyone I know enjoys “Inception.” The film is a conceptual tour de force that features a scale that has hardly been replicated over the last 10 years. Nolan may try to outdo himself in the future, but even scenes in the latest trailer for “Tenet” remind me of scenes in “Inception.” The film will continue to be the gold standard for which I hold summer blockbusters to until my dying day. If I ever made a film, I would want it to be as visionary, as grand, as exciting, as original, and as thought-provoking as “Inception.”