Top 10 List

Ten Years as a Film Critic: My Top 10 Movies of the Decade

Something big fell into my lap ten years ago.
Kurt Johnson, my boss at CBS Radio, approached me and asked, “What do you think about being a Film Critic?”
I was doing freelance voice-work for Jack FM at the time and always wanted more airtime, but I was still unsure. Two little girls at home kept me pretty busy and honestly, the idea of starting something brand new scared the crap out of me.
I said yes though, and it changed the course of my life.
I started covering movies for KRLD, then KVIL, then CBS11 with the wonderful Tracy Kornet. I was voted into the Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association not long after, which was a big deal since I’ve never been voted into anything.
That all changed in 2014 though. I lost my morning show job at CBS Radio and, with it, my side-hustle as a Film Critic.
I can’t tell you how much it hurt.
I kept covering movies though. I started the Julie Says So website and, with the help of Jeff Crilley at Real News PR, became the Film Critic for radio shows all across the country. Then I became an entertainment contributor for Good Morning Texas and the side-hustle became my main-gig.
I don’t think I ever thanked Kurt Johnson for that surprise suggestion, but I honestly don’t know what I’d be doing today if he hadn’t made it.
I saw that Film Critics were listing their Top 10 Movies of the Decade and figured I had to jump in. This is about more than ten years of film for me, though. It represents the movies that truly changed my life.

10. Here’s the truth about Bridesmaids: I didn’t like it at first. I’d let my expectations run wild in the months leading up to it’s release and was so disappointed when I didn’t relate to anyone onscreen. It was a movie about women, written by women, and starring women I loved, but they all seemed like caricatures to me. In fact, I gave it a C+ in my first review and didn’t appreciate the love everyone else had for it until I watched Bridesmaids a few months later. Then I watched it again…and again…and eventually I fell in love with it just like everyone else. I decided to add it to my Top 10 of Movies the Decade because it changed big-screen comedies for women forever, but Bridesmaids is also a reminder that high expectations can ruin a film. And because sometimes my first impressions are just wrong.

9. Look, I know a huge chunk of you didn’t like Arrival and to you I say, “Bridesmaids.” Give it a second chance with lowered expectations. I bet you’ll find an appreciation you didn’t have before for this subtle but gorgeous film, even though you already know that gut-punch of a twist.

8. It’s a strange combination, to love a film that also infuriates you, but that’s the reality of Spotlight. It was perfectly written and acted, and showcased the reality of this abuse story in no uncertain terms. If you haven’t seen Spotlight, fix that immediately. Then watch it again, once a year, and remind yourself to listen to that inner voice and always question authority.

7. I know it’s a good movie if I take my husband to see it opening weekend, and that was the case with Zero Dark Thirty. There was a packed house that night and we were forced to sit in the second row for the full two and a half house, but we didn’t care. Dave and I gobbled up every second of that movie and will also, for the rest of our lives, whisper “O-sah-mah” when entering a dark room (thank you, Chris Pratt).

6. I’ll never forget the last few minutes of Take Shelter, and the chills that ran all over my body as I watched it. It was my introduction to director Jeff Nichols (who has become a favorite), the first time I truly appreciated Michael Shannon’s ability, and I will always feel the tinkling music from the trailer in my spine.

5. Let’s forget all the screaming dissent of recent years and focus, for one second, on the pristine brilliance of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens opening sequence. My heart felt like it exploded when “Star Wars” hit the screen, accompanied by that John Williams blast. The following films might not have reached that particular highlight, but it alone was enough for me to love them all.

4. I’m not sure why, but my daughters and I thought that Frozen was going to be bad. We’d been mocking the trailers for months and had the lowest expectations for this film about a reindeer and a snowman, but we were wrong. My youngest even leaned in to me during the film and whispered, “This is good, right???” Yes Lucy, Frozen was good. Actually, it was great and to this day, I can’t hear Elsa sing “Let the storm rage ONNNNNN,” without tears welling up in my eyes.

3. There’s a moment in The Conjuring that, to this day, I can barely sit through. It’s when Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) has fallen into the basement and she’s being tormented by spirits trapped down there. I adore scary movies and will giggle uncontrollably through most of them, but that scene is almost too much, even for me.

2. When I started covering movies ten years ago, I realized I’d have to start seeing movies I didn’t care about. Even those stupid superhero films. I remember leaning over to my movie buddy before The Avengers and whispering, “I hate this garbage,” but I loved it so much I saw it in the theater three times afterwards. I even took my daughter, who was home sick from school, to see it opening day and we’ve bonded over the series through the years. We started taking her little sister to the Marvel films when she was old enough, and cried our eyes out together during Endgame back in the spring. Captain America: Civil War and Thor: Ragnorok might be my favorites, but it all started with that first screening of The Avengers in 2012.

1. I’m not sure that Get Out is really the best film to come out in the past ten years, but I’ve sure enjoyed it more than any other. Jordan Peele’s debut surprised the hell out of me, even though I’d been told over and over again how great it was. It’s hard to beat a horror movie that also makes you laugh, and Get Out opened up conversations about modern racism in the process. You can listen to my original Get Out review HERE, and hear those first breathless moments after leaving the theater. We’ve known the “secret” of this movie for so long, I’d forgotten how amazing it was to see it unfold!

If you haven’t had a chance to see these films, I highly encourage you to but remember…this list is extremely subjective. It would probably be more fun to list YOUR favorite films of the decade, and think back to why they meant so much to you. Feel free to share those in the Comments below, and remember to keep checking the Free Movie Passes page to see what I’m giving away next!

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