The 2010s became the transformative era for Philippine Cinema. We witnessed small budget movies move from being shot with consumer digital cameras to high-end equipment in the industry, providing some of the most compelling visuals on screen. This era also sees the dissolution of the “mainstream-indie” dichotomy as viewers point out that those labels on Filipino films don’t matter. Aside from technological shifts and removal of labels, we commemorate this decade as we look back to the 12 best Filipino films that defined this era. The movies in this list can either be critically acclaimed, has a mass following, and/or made a cultural impact.
The 12 Best Filipino Films of the Decade
Four Sisters and a Wedding
This Filipino film was hardly an icon when it came out in 2013. However, it achieved meme-lord status thanks to the hugot culture. A pivotal scene in this movie acted as a substitute for this generation’s frustrations and feelings of failure.
This Filipino film feels like a time capsule, capturing a scene in the past that showcases the nature of life in poverty. If the two main characters would have been accused of selling drugs, they wouldn’t just be captured. They would be slaughtered, thanks to the brutal unfairness of the current administration.
Heneral Luna and Goyo
Filipino films share the lives of the titular characters. Seeking to empower the nationalism, it sees how they grapple with their own “heroism” in different circumstances. Not only did this earned the irk of some politicians we won’t bother naming, but these blockbusters also came from a small and unknown studio that earned commercial success.
This Filipino film may be the most unique out of all the movies on this list. It used rotoscope animation and still properly conveyed the feeling that the director wanted us to perceive. Probably the most affecting kind of on-screen love people resonate with the most, the titular character tries to live as long as she can even beyond the grave.
Billie and Emma
This Filipino film sees two queer people sharing a life-changing moment with such precocity. They shared a moment, depicting the struggle of gay life as necessary to ground us in reality. This movie makes a case for a gay life that is lived and that these urges that we feel aren’t transgressive as the world would want to make us believe.
That Thing Called Tadhana
Aside from Four Sisters and a Wedding, this Filipino film also has the most profound and lasting effect. It has an undeniable impact through a good script and a pair of actors with electrically charged chemistry. Of course, this movie made viewers hope for a sequel.
On The Job
This Filipino film starts of with an assassination in broad daylight. This shows off the comments on the sprawling, dense, and systematic corruption that represents the country. Aside from that, it also carries on the institutional commentary and targeting the hypocrisy of organized religion.
Oda Sa Wala
This Filipino film has a synergy of many finely-tuned parts. It shows off the black comedy through urban fairy tales and magical realism with impeccable use of cinematic language. Aside from that, this movie remains remarkable as it highlights the extent of melancholia through rendering death, an emotional extreme for many.
Ang Babaeng Humayo
This Filipino film has a clear-cut and concrete story line about social injustice, the initial premise of which was inspired from Leo Tolstoy’s God Sees The Truth But Waits. It essentially shows the story of the titular virtuous woman becoming tainted with cruel maneuverings of fate in a world where God and salvation do not exist.
This Filipino film remains a masterpiece of cinema where two foolishly callow kids trying to survive on the tough streets. It makes us feel like we are there with them, inhaling the same grime, strength, and even rugby with them. With realistic performances, it shows off the reality to survive on the streets.
This Filipino film used a uniquely ingenious storytelling style in both spoken dialogue and song lyrics. They impeccably have chosen to convey their intended messages in the most heartbreaking ways possible. Of course, this translated into an intricate web of human relationships.
This Filipino film remains a rare beast. The director shows off his advocacy against the extrajudicial killings, revolving the story around an elite squad attempting to escape from a slum after a botched operation. It has visceral representations of death and destruction as the protagonist battle with crazed and zombie-like mobs trying to navigate her way to her survival.
Which of these Filipino films do you think stands as the best one this decade? Let us know in the comments section below.
Angela Grace P. Baltan is a Communication graduate from Colegio de San Juan de Letran. She doesn’t hesitate to be opinionated in analyzing movies and television series. As a writer, she uses her articles to advocate for feminism, gender equality, and mental health among others.