illustration by Andrea Nebhut
It seems people are always complaining about how Hollywood has gotten dry and that the era of great movies is long gone.
While that sentiment has certainly been valid at times in the last 10 years (2011 comes to mind), there have been several spectacles in the realm of cinema since 2010.
To pick one out of the literally dozens of candidates for the best movie of the decade is no easy feat and is sure to be met with opposition (especially my choice.)
Alas, after a few days of thought, I narrowed my choice down to one that I remember vividly to this day: “Interstellar.”
Of course, I understand I am in the minority here, both in terms of the best movie of the decade, but I still think I can make the case for why “Interstellar” deserves a spot at the top of the list of movies released this decade.
Before jumping directly into the story, it’s important to note the director behind “Interstellar,” Christopher Nolan.
Those familiar with Nolan know that he simply cannot make a bad movie, and the amount of time and dedication that goes into each of his films is what draws audiences to the theaters for every release.
Furthermore, Nolan has one of the most creative minds in modern filmmaking, often subverting audiences’ expectations with clever twists and turns driven by a stellar (no pun intended) cast that gives it their all.
But Nolan’s creativity peaks in “Interstellar.”
When Earth begins to run out resources, humanity looks to the stars for the solution. NASA, or what’s left of it, discovers a wormhole just miles away from Saturn.
Having already sent and lost contact with astronauts through the wormhole, former pilot Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) volunteers to lead the expedition along with Dr. Brand (Anne Hathaway) to find them and establish a home for humanity on another planet.
What ensues is a thrilling journey throughout the cosmos filled with black holes, ice-covered planets and reality-warping concepts all while Oscar-nominated soundtrack sets the tone for every moment on screen. And Nolan works diligently to make this space epic believable, even hiring a theoretical physicist to verify that every action taken throughout the movie is at least somewhat plausible.
Of course, at its heart, the movie is still science fiction, but Nolan’s dedication to realism for 90 percent of the movie gives him a pass when it comes to dropping a man in a black hole and allowing him to survive at the climax of the film.
Yet, at the core of all this science fiction is a story about humans and the choices that must be made to allow humanity to continue on.
In fact, the whole movie can be summed up with choices.
Do we abandon our family and everything we have ever known to save humanity? Does humanity even deserve to relocate to another planet or is this entire effort one futile fantasy?
Nolan provides approaches, but never answers, to each of these notions and more, demonstrating that humanity is unpredictable, rash and emotional, yet tightly bound to a sense of purpose in the face of global catastrophe.
And that dualism between emotion and rational purpose is something that we do not see in most films of the modern-day. In the era of Disney remakes, book and comic adaptations like, “It,” or CGI conglomerates, like “Last Shot,” “Interstellar” gave a fresh experience that surpassed many of those styles of filmmaking.
Rarely are we able to leave a theater questioning our very place in the universe. Nolan in a way takes us to space so that, in all of is vast nothingness, we may focus on the characters and ultimately question our own humanity.
“Interstellar,” although complicated and unclear at times, keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout all of its nearly three-hour run time and provides a space epic that could possibly rival that of Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey.” “Interstellar” offered something for everyone.
The science-lovers rejoiced at a movie that made an effort to respect physics.
More character-focused audience members cried with McConaughey as he musters up the courage to leave his family behind.
The deep thinking cinema-goers have plenty of reality breaking concepts to dissect (including time travel… of sorts), and those looking for a good film to enjoy could, and still can, sit down on a weekend night alone or with friends and marvel at the visuals that Nolan puts on screen.
“Interstellar” may not be the best movie since 2010 to most, but its ability to spark curiosity and innate the explorative nature of the human race was unparalleled throughout the rest of the decade.
And that is a feat worth recognizing and will forever go down on the history of not just space epics but cinema as a whole.