10/10: Paul Harrill

We asked writer-director Paul Harrill, whose new feature starring Marin Ireland and Jim Gaffigan, opens Friday, for his ten favorite films from the last ten years. To make the task approachable, Harrill “picked ten films (and one television show) with my favorite performances,” while noting that “even with that limitation, tomorrow it would be a different list.”

– in chronological order –

1. Party Down (John Enbom, Rob Thomas, Dan Etheridge, Paul Rudd, 2009-2010) I don’t watch a lot of television, but I loved this show — especially Adam Scott and Lizzie Caplan.

2. The Unspeakable Act (Dan Sallitt, 2012) One criteria for judging a performance is to imagine other people playing the role. And I can’t imagine anyone other than Tallie Medel in this movie.

3. The Master (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2012) I bet it would be astonishing to watch the dailies from this film. Of course, you could say that about any Paul Thomas Anderson film, but it seems especially true with this one.

4. Congratulations! (Mike Brune, 2014) Playing the confused, grieving parents in a comedy about a child abduction seems like an impossible task, but Rhoda Griffis and Robert Longstreet somehow manage to do it. An extraordinarily strange and underrated movie.

5. Paddington 1 & 2 (Paul King, 2014 & 2016) These two films probably get my vote for the most perfectly cast films of the last ten years.

6. Christine (Antonio Campos, 2016) I was very skeptical about this movie going into it, but Rebecca Hall’s Christine Chubbuck is really, really something.

7. Moonlight (Barry Jenkins, 2016) Like so many of these, the entire cast is great, but the opening section with Mahershala Ali and the kid is my favorite.

8. Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade, 2016) I’ve seen so many tremendous performances in foreign films over the last ten years. Sandra Hüller’s is the one I keep thinking back to the most.

9. Princess Cyd (Stephen Cone, 2017) I would watch a dozen Stephen Cone movies starring Rebecca Spence.

10. The Show About The Show (Caveh Zahedi, 2017) I don’t know what is “performance” and what is “actual” in this. Either way everyone in it — especially Caveh — is electrifying, terrifying, real, and unreal.


Paul Harrill’s Light From Light opens on November 1.

10/10 is an ongoing series in which we ask cinephiles to name their ten favorite films from the last ten years (currently, between 2010 and 2019).