Song of the Day #4,213: ‘Sweet Virginia’ – The Rolling Stones

Best Movies of the 2010s
#12 – Knives Out (2019)

It’s tough to consider the most recent year when compiling a ‘best of the decade’ list. The films both benefit from being freshest in your mind and suffer from not having enough time to really sink in.

I’ve read a couple of decade recaps that set aside 2019 altogether for that reason, which I find silly. How can you assess a movie decade while looking at just nine years’ worth of films?

Another alternative would be to hold off on creating this list until 6 months or a year from now, when 2019 has the benefit of a little more hindsight. But I’m not that patient.

So 2019 is fair game, for better or worse. And that’s a good thing, because it’s been one of the best movie years of the past decade. Just as 1999 is looked back on as the crowning film year of the 90s, I believe 2019 will earn a similar reputation.

Which brings me to Rian Johnson’s Knives Out, an old-school whodunit with a very present-day twist. I was excited for this movie based on the writer-director and the cast, but I ended up loving it even more than I had hoped.

Somebody made the brilliant choice to keep actress Ana de Armas’s role almost entirely out of the film’s marketing. It turns out her character is the main protagonist, and the audience is surprised by both the movie’s perspective and a wonderful performance by a new talent.

De Armas plays the kindhearted, resourceful underdog facing off against a pit of vipers. Politics play a big role in the film, particularly immigration policy, but the bad guys sit on both the left and the right. Johnson’s film is an antidote to the Trump presidency — not so much on the issues but by advocating the importance of basic decency.

Though Knives Out is operating from the Agatha Christie playbook, Johnson tweaks the formula in exciting ways. He shows the victim’s manner of death right up front. He asks the audience to root against the colorful detective (Daniel Craig, having a ball as the Poirot-inspired Benoit Blanc). He very earnestly maintains he has no tricks up his sleeve until until you actually believe him, then produces a beautiful bouquet out of thin air in the movie’s delicious climax.

Craig and De Armas are the standouts, but the rest of the cast does a lot with limited screen time. Jamie Lee Curtis, Don Johnson, Michael Shannon, and Lakeith Stanfield are all unexpected but pitch-perfect casting choices. Toni Collette, in particular, has a ball chewing scenery as a lifestyle blogger. Chris Evans plays gloriously against Captain America type as a trust fund punk. This movie should win every Best Ensemble award.

Finally, Knives Out does what all great movies do, and sticks the landing. The final shot of this film is one of my favorites not just of 2019 but of the last decade.

[Verse 1]
Wading through the waste, stormy winter
And there’s not a friend to help you through
Trying to stop the waves behind your eyeballs
Drop your reds, drop your greens and blues

Thank you for your wine, California
Thank you for your sweet and bitter fruits
Yes I’ve got the desert in my toenail
And I hid the speed inside my shoe

But come on, come on down, Sweet Virginia
Come on, honey child, I beg of you
Come on, come on down, you’ve got it in ya
You’ve got to scrape that shit right off you shoes

[Saxophone Solo]
I want you to come on and sing it with me one time…
All right

Yes, I want you to come on, come on down, Sweet Virginia
I said I want you to come on, honey child, I beg of you
I want you come on, honey child you’ve got it in you
You’ve got to scrape that shit right off you shoes

One more time

But come on, come on down Sweet Virginia
Come on, come on down, I beg of you
Come on, come on down, you’ve got it in ya
You’ve got to scrape that shit right off you shoes

9 thoughts on “Song of the Day #4,213: ‘Sweet Virginia’ – The Rolling Stones

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    I greatly enjoyed this movie for all of the reasons you have stated. However, best of the decade? I could be wrong, but I think this is a case where, if you were compiling this list 5 years from now, this one would not make the cut. But who knows? Maybe 5 years from now, this and Mamma Mia II will still be considered by you to be the very best that the 2010# had to offer.😁

    • Clay says:

      I find the movies that fade in the “five years later” test are generally the more serious, traditional titles, not the fun ones. My only question with Knives Out is whether the mystery aspect makes it less rewatchable because the element of surprise is missing on repeat viewings. But I found this movie more than just fun — it is one of the very best films of one of the very best years of the decade.

      • Dana Gallup says:

        As I recall, there have been at least a few other years in this decade that you trumpeted as one of the very best years of the decade. There is little question that immediacy often tends to elevate while distance often tends to cause a more sobering and usually downward evaluation.

        • Clay says:

          There is one other year I consider even stronger overall, and a couple of years right up there with it. The distance debate can obviously only be settled with distance, so we’ll have to check back in five years!

        • Clay says:

          Funny… I looked back at my ‘Top Ten of the 00s’ list and at the time I intentionally left off a couple of films I had recently seen — A Serious Man and Inglourious Basterds — to avoid recency bias. Ten years later, looking back, I absolutely should have included them, in the top 20 for sure, if not the top 10.

          • Dana Gallup says:

            Well sure, it’s not always going to be the case that your opinion of a movie lessens over time, and it sometimes can get higher. I just think a film like Knives Out is more likely to fade from top 20 consideration than maintain or increase, but who knows?

  2. Peg says:

    Wonderful synopsis of a wonderful film. It was one of my favorites this year as well.

  3. Maddie says:

    This was a wonderful film, though it wasn’t even my favorite of this year so I doubt it would make the cut of a personal decade list for me. Still, I plan on revisiting it and that final shot easily should find status as an iconic movie still.

  4. Amy says:

    Loved this film even more on a second viewing, and I do expect it will hold up in the years to come. Your list continues to intrigue.

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