Song of the Day #4,228: ‘Tulou Tagaloa’ – Moana soundtrack

Best Movies of the 2010s
#1 – Moana (2016)

I really fought the urge to rank Disney’s Moana as my #1 film of the 2010s. I tried every other film in my top five at this position. The rational part of my brain told me I couldn’t call a movie in which the third lead is a chicken the best of the decade.

But ultimately the decision came down to one thing. If I were asked to create a list of my ten favorite movies of all time, I would put Moana on it. I would consider the other titles on this list, maybe even include one or two of them depending on my mood, but Moana would definitely be there. And therefore it’s here.

I don’t know if I can diagnose exactly why I love Moana so much. Of course, it has obvious strengths: the music, the visuals, the characters, the story, the themes. But beyond all that, I simply have a chemical reaction to this movie. Intense joy and satisfaction, an emotional high.

It doesn’t hurt that it’s a hero’s journey about a young woman. Having two daughters has made me permanently susceptible to those (a phenomenon that started with 2003’s Whale Rider, released a year after my oldest daughter was born).

Add in the incredible songs of Lin Manuel Miranda, whose Hamilton I saw on Broadway the spring before this movie was released. The half-dozen tracks he penned for this stirring musical are Broadway-worthy themselves.

Another plus: the setting. Moana came out a few months after my family visited Hawaii for the first time and fell absolutely in love with that part of the world. The film’s creators went to great lengths to represent and honor Polynesian culture and that loving attention to detail is evident in every frame.

The film also passes the cry test, with at least four scenes bringing me to the brink of tears each and every time I watch them. The ‘I Am Moana’ sequence (in which Moana is visited at sea by the ghost of her grandmother) is one of my all-time favorite scenes from any movie.

I’ve seen Moana more times than I can count and there is never a time I wouldn’t be perfectly happy to fire it up and watch it again.

After a decade of wonderful films — many represented on this list and many more that just missed the cut — this is the one I most treasure.

Thanks for joining me for this countdown. I’d love to learn about your own 2010s favorites in the comment section. We’ll do it all over again in 2030!

13 thoughts on “Song of the Day #4,228: ‘Tulou Tagaloa’ – Moana soundtrack

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    Wow, I did not see this one coming, but, after hearing your explanation, it totally makes sense.

    I too thoroughly enjoyed Moana for all the reasons you mentioned, but, unlike you, I’ve only seen it one time. I owe it and myself another viewing.

    Thank you for sharing your Best Movies of The Decade list. I’ve enjoyed the discussion and occasional debate. Unfortunately, I haven’t kept up with annual lists, so compiling a best of decade would be a bit challenging. I believe Amy, however, will be posting hers soon.

  2. Amy says:

    I, too, did not seeing this coming at all. Great post about how and why this film arrived so high on your list. Since in 2016, my Moana was already more than halfway through college, I suspect those intrinsic/extrinsic factors had far less a hold on me. A decade earlier would find both The Incredibles and Finding Nemo on my list, and our family’s Hawaii movie is Lilo and Stitch! 🤣

    This has been fun, and I do have a list I’ve been culling over the past week. I’m sitting in the DFW airport at the moment, so I’ll plan to finalize and post that list by the end of the day.

  3. Amy says:

    1. Get Out (2017) – 98% – Jordan Peele
    2. Moonlight (2016) – 98% – Barry Jenkins
    3. Creed (2015) – 95% – Ryan Coogler
    4. The Martian (2015) – 91% – Ridley Scott
    5. Enough Said (2013) – 95% – Nicole Holofocener
    6. Boyhood (2014) – 97% – Richard Linklater
    7. Inside Llewyn Davis (2013) – 92% – The Coen Brothers
    8. Chef (2014) – 87% – Jon Favreau
    9. Whiplash (2014) – 93% – Damien Chazelle
    10. Black Panther (2018) – 97% – Ryan Coogler
    11. Toy Story 3 (2010) – 98% – Lee Unkrich
    12. The Social Network (2010) – 96% – David Fincher
    13. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019) – 85% – Quentin Tarantino
    14. Parasite (2019) – 99% – Bong Joon-ho
    15. Mudbound (2017) – 97% – Dee Rees
    16. Hugo (2011) – 93% – Martin Scorsese
    17. The Avengers (2012) – 91% – Joss Whedon
    18. Searching (2018) – 92% – Aneesh Chagnaty
    19. Blindspotting (2018) – 94% – Carlos Lopez Estrada
    20. Jo Jo Rabbit (2019) – 80% – Taiki Waititi

    I was able to retrieve it after all. Like you, my list has shifted several times since I first started mentally working on it while reading your early posts. I never went back to see if there were films I saw after the fact and never ranked, so I worked only with each of my year end best lists and went from there. I didn’t aim for anything in particular to shape my list, but I did want it to honestly reflect both the films I loved and those I found special in some way. After I made the list, I was curious which of my best of were the best or worst reviewed, so I added the RT percentage. I also wanted to see if there were any trends, so I added the directors. I guess that I’m a sucker for a Ryan Coogler’s films is the only real trend. We have 5 in common, I believe. 👍🏼😁

    • Clay says:

      Nice list. We have seven in common, actually, and five in common among our Top 11. Decent amount of overlap.

      Your list backs up some of my conclusions about the decade. Fourteen of your 20 come from ’14 and later, while the first several years are pretty lean. Like me, you have three films apiece from 2018 and 2019.

      Really nice to see nine films directed by people of color (including two spots for Coogler). You have half as many Black directors in your top three as the Academy has nominated for Best Director in its 92 years.

      Two Marvel movies!

      I’ve seen 19 of these (Enough Said is the exception) and enjoyed them all. Hugo is the only one I have a negative association with because the use of 3D made me feel physically ill. I should probably revisit that without the glasses.

  4. Peg says:

    I didn’t see this coming either. I saw this film with our granddaughter/your daughters on a sleepover at our house several years ago. It has a special place in my experience for that reason. Amy’s list is interesting I certainly would pick a few from both lists i.e. Get Out, Once Upon a Time, whiplash to name a few. I always love to “talk” movies so this was great fun. Thanks!

  5. Peg says:

    Correction granddaughters!

  6. Maddie says:

    I love to see Moana so high up and, as predictable as I am, I couldn’t find a way not to have Paddington represented at the top of mine. My own list is on Letterboxd and it keeps shifting. I have a whole note filled with movies from each year that could/possibly should make it on there. Anyway, here’s how it looks right now:

    I’m excited to return to some of the films you listed here and watch some for the first time. 🙂

    • Clay says:

      Seeing Paddington 2 atop your list made me all the more confident in my decision to put Moana at the top of mine!

  7. Clay says:

    The movies common to my list, Maddie’s and Amy’s are these: Chef, Creed, Get Out, Inside Llewelyn Davis, and Parasite.

    The consensus top five of the decade!

  8. Amy says:

    Hugo is a film I came to love more and more with each repeated viewing. I also taught it as an entry into films from that era and came to appreciate it even more. It’s truly a great and special film and the best film Valentine to the film industry ever. I didn’t mind the 3D as you did (esp. in terms of its significance symbolically), but the grand majority of times I’ve seen the film is in 2D.

    Your line about the Academy had me, literally, laughing out loud. 🙂

    Meanwhile, Maddie, your list reminded me of two films that somehow missed my master list… Obvious Child and Spiderverse…l I may have to revisit my list yet again…

  9. Peg says:

    Interesting lists Amy and Maddie. Also I love Maddie’s handsome presentation! Some of my very favorites are on there i.e. Enough Said, Chef, Get Out and About Time for sure. Thanks for sharing ❤️

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