The 100 Best Films of the 2010s
The planning of making a top 100 movies of the 2010s started around a year ago, though the thought that it was a good idea to do so faded away more as time went on.
It almost began to cross the border into frivolity. A self made gordian knot.
Even though my top ten does seem to be set in stone now and for the future, the other ninety keep switching over time. You would think that my favorite movies of a certain year would be higher than those I thought second or third of the same year, but that is not always the case. Like all humans, my mind changes over time.
What I like most about this list is how personal it is to me. It does not have to align with other critics or movie buffs (which no “best of” list should, when you think about it).
Well, here it goes…
A great directorial debut, Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird (2017) was a great coming of age tale proving more how great an acting talent is Saoirse Ronan.
Movies about how crazy all families are win me over rather quickly (especially when you have a family like mine, who are amazing.) Without Crazy Rich Asians (2018), we would never know about those “starving kids in America”.
There are always more bad remakes than good, but the True Grit (2010) has many more positives than the 1969 John Wayne classic.
One of many of the decade’s great foreign films, Ida (2013) was also one of the most beautiful in any language.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010) is what all other movies based off of video games should strive to be.
Like Edge of Tomorrow (2014) after it (and another that couldn’t crack the top 100), Source Code (2011) was a brilliant thriller with a Groundhog Day twist.
Most movies based off of the news business tend to work, but that is an understatement when considering 2015’s Best Picture winner, Spotlight.
The King’s Speech (2010) tends to get spat on when compared to another film from the same year that will come later on this list. Still, the film is light hearted and effective, and even the film’s haters cannot deny the powerful performance by Colin Firth. The film was a solemn reminder that even those in high power are far from perfect.
Anytime Spike Jonze helms a script, it is bound to fascinate. The movie Her (2013) is no exception.
Years before Netflix unleashed the Updside Down in the 80s nostalgia filled Stranger Things, there was 2011’s Super 8. It gave us the feeling of a Spielberg thriller (which isn’t surprising, since he was one of the producers).
Probably one of the top five or so most acclaimed films of the decade, Moonlight (2016) was about as poetic a film as any I have seen.
Age will never be a number to Clint Eastwood, and one of his best (especially to audiences) was American Sniper (2014). It is another example of the epic talent and star power of Bradley Cooper as he plays the late American icon Chris Kyle.
There was a time when we all were suffering huge Rocky fatigue. Then Ryan Coogler (one of the decade’s best new directors) came and breathed life back into the franchise with Creed (2015).
It is always great when a movie’s title describes itself, and that is precisely the case with 2017’s Wonder, based off the book of the same name (which I would highly recommend to any age). This is definitely not the last time you will see a Jacob Tremblay movie on this list.
Not all great movies are ones you can rewatch, and I admit I have not seen 12 Years a Slave (2013) since it was in theaters. Perhaps I will one day, but it is meant to give you the feeling of shock and terror that you can still feel years after.
The editing of the Best Picture winning Birdman (2014) is seamless and rightly so: It is mean to represent one take. It is hard to tell when the cuts happen when you are watching actors on their A game (most noticeably, of course, Michael Keaton).
The decade had a good amount of times that Tom Hanks took on historical figures (Walt Disney and Mr. Rogers to name a few) but the most memorable was Captain Philips (2013).When it comes to movies about characters under undetermined circumstance, this film could briefly say it was the captain now.
Lincoln (2012) was directed by Spielberg, but it was great mainly because of possibly the greatest living actor, Daniel Day-Lewis. As mentioned before with The King’s Speech, positions in power don’t leave people flawless.
Very few directors today have a track record as solid as Christopher Nolan, and his first Best Director nomination finally came for 2017’s Dunkirk. Realism and escapism don’t mix much better than this.
Unless you are a fan of anime, you probably have not heard of 2016’s A Silent Voice. Even those unfamiliar with anime can learn from this story of regret and redemption.
The only other film this decade to star DDL, Phantom Thread (2017) was one of the more obscure relationship films of recent years, as well as enthralling.
I have had no other film this decade to defend in my family more than Hugo (2011). Undoubtably the most family friendly of Scorsese’s, the movie is a nostalgia adventure for the director, enjoyable for all ages (though my siblings would say otherwise).
Though it flew way under the radar, The Breadwinner (2017) is still (as of this writing) on Netflix, and is moving for anyone able to get past their pride to see an animated film from Afghanistan.
After Moonlight, director Barry Jenkins made If Beale Street Could Talk (2018), another film that shows love reaches through any unfortunate circumstance or trial.
I have reached the age where I feel nostalgia more and more during coming of age films, and that was the case for The Perks of Being a Wildflower (2012), even though few things from the film happened to me in real life.
Chick Flick Schmick Flick. I was totally won over by The Fault in our Stars (2014). I admit to even getting a tear or two in the eyes. I admit it gladly.
Oscar Isaac has been one of the past decade’s most underrated stars, and perhaps his best role was the title role of Inside Llewyn Davis (2013) by the Coen Brothers. The soundtrack is still one of the tops of the decade, and is nothing short of glorious.
The first of the MCU on the list, only the most hardcore of fans would have known who Groot and company were. Now, Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) is one of the quintessential ragtag group of heroes in film history. It is also another example of a killer soundtrack.
Of course, the decade was filled of visually stunning films, such as 2012’s Life of Pi. It was a film to prove movies are better when the screen is bigger.
Originality and writer/director Wes Anderson go hand in hand. He struck more gold (Oscar wise) with 2014’s The Grand Budapest Hotel than any other of his films thus far.
It is hard to imagine someone other than Spike Lee directing 2018’s Blackkklansmen. The only thing more unbelievable is that it is based on a true story.
In my view, there are three reasons why The Artist (2011) gets a bad rap. The first is it is silent. The second it is in black and white. Both of those are reasons made by people who I feel just don’t like to step out of their comfort zone, and I feel sorry for them. The third is that it was produced by Harvey Weinstein, which is probably the main thing this great film has to sadly have attached to it.
Yes, it resembled a lot about the first film, but the introduction of new characters mixed with old favorites made Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) a breath of fresh air.
No other film this decade was as prophetic as The Social Network (2010). There were also very few films with as precise, excellent dialogue (which is due, of course, to Aaron Sorkin).
Remember when everyone thought Ben Affleck was a joke? Now, he is a fine director/actor who stepped up with 2010’s The Town and then outdid himself with 2012’s Argo.
With a premise filled with Jamie Foxx spouting lines like “I like the way you die, boy!”, only Tarantino could behind Django Unchained (2012). He had our curiosity from the get go, and quickly gained our attention.
Though basically a stage play, the 2016 film Fences succeeds highly because of it being under the care of it’s star/director Denzel Washington, as well as the Oscar winning performance by Viola Davis.
While there were good horror films in the early part of the decade, it was in 2014 when The Babadook helped me respect the genre all over again. By the way, an anagram for the title is (creepily so) “a bad book”.
The MCU may have ruled the decade along with new films from the Star Wars franchise, but that did not stop Blade Runner 2049 (2017) from being a pinnacle of a follow up to its predecessor.
One of the more riskier films of the early part of the decade, the all star cast of Contagion (2011) deliver realistic portrayals of normal people under circumstances that are all too real.
As I get older, I have a feeling a movie like Nebraska (2013) will only get better in my aging eyes. Truly underrated.
It took me time to catch up, but Snowpiercer (2013) was the second film I saw that was directed by Bong Joon Ho. It was a wake up call I got from one of today’s best directors.
Your interest in baseball can be virtually nil and you would still find something positive out of Moneyball (2011) and then some. This is due to the writing of Aaron Sorkin and the homerun of a performance by Brad Pitt.
Rom coms can be so bad we sometimes forget how good they can be. Then again, like a character says in The Big Sick (2017), “Love isn’t easy. That’s why they call it love.”
Another film to prove why movie theaters are essential, Gravity (2013) was, to put it plainly, out of this world.
Possibly the quietest film on this list (aside from The Artist), All is Lost (2013) is a movie of few words, all spoken by it’s star, Hollywood legend Robert Redford. It gives us more time to reflect on our own lives as a result, and how we would respond as we face our own mortality.
Disney is always in the business of making the impossible seem possible. In Wreck it Ralph (2012), they make video games and movies mix, something still unthinkable today.
A lesser known animated film, The Tale of the Princess Kayuga (2013) is not the type of anime you would expect, which is not at all a bad thing. It is a magical fairy tale, pure and simple.
Though the filmmaking was stellar, The Revenant (2015) is known now for two things: The movie that got Leo his long overdue Oscar, and what reminded us why bears are scary.
All the MCU films that followed The Avengers (2012) have passed it up from a tech stand point. Still, in 2012, rounding up a bunch of heroes for a single film that was good was simply ridiculous to consider at the time.
I can’t remember if I was alone in thinking The Lego Movie (2014) was a dumb idea. I do know that I wasn’t alone in thinking, when it ended, everything is awesome.
The 9th film from QT, Once upon a time…in Hollywood (2019) is more proof that few (if any) directors are better at having the right script with the right cast at the right time.
I know it is technically cheating to have a three way tie, but there really was not a more solid trilogy this past decade than that of the Planet of the Apes Trilogy.
Time for another film you probably missed, but should seek out. If I am blessed to make it to my 80s, I hope to see if I respond the same way the characters in Amour (2012) would. It seems so authentic.
Building up to a baddie like Thanos may have taken some time, but it was well worth the wait when he finally unleashed his power in Avengers: Infinity War (2018). In the process, he became the best cinematic comic book villain since Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight.
Even for the story being told a fourth time on screen, A Star is Born (2018) provided us all the feels, mainly due to the chemistry of Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga.
While the second film was a let down in comparison, the first IT (2017) proved to be a horror classic as well as one of the best adaptation of a Stephen King novel in years.
For anyone who says they need time before revisiting 2018’s Hereditary, I would not blame them in the least. Okay, I confess I have not been able to bring myself to see it again, but I am not afraid to admit it.
If I had to pick my favorite Wes Anderson flick, it may be Moonrise Kingdom (2012), partly because I am a sap for puppy love. All love (especially romance) tends to hit us at any age.
While it is no longer the last of the series, Toy Story 3 (2010) did bring us the end of the relationship with Andy and his toys….no, you’re crying.
The end of an era. The world’s biggest money maker. Cap holding Thor’s hammer. Yeah, Avengers: Endgame (2019) being on this list was, like Thanos, inevitable. A fine reminder that, like in life, part of the story is the end.
Anyone who has seen The Florida Project (2017) will never look at Disney World the same way again.
While Get Out was more acclaimed, I was more impressed with Jordan Peele’s second film, Us (2019). It had more layers, and a spine tingling performance by Lupita N’Yongo.
Yes, there are faults in Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017), but I will always feel that they are minor compared to the major positives of the film. I will be pro Last Jedi for life.
Though I have not seen all of the Bond films, Skyfall (2012) is still one of the “last rats standing”. The past ten years has not given us a more memorable theme song.
Yes, it is basically all singing, but that is really what musicals are. And Les Miserables (2012) is one of the best of the decade. It succeeded where CATS failed, in having stellar music thru out and telling a story with morals, the main of which that to love another person is, truly, to see the face of God.
I discovered it years after its release, but Short Term 12 (2013) is an emotional punch with actors like Brie Larson stretching their acting wings. Shout out to my little brother Grant for recommending it to me.
Anytime a movie addresses bullying, I am in. The 2011 documentary film Bully is a personal one to me, who has both experienced bullying and been one as well.
Perhaps the best unseen film of last year, The Peanut Butter Falcon (2019) does not let it’s obscure title get in the way of it’s down right warmth and genuine charm. See it, or don’t come to my birthday party.
Body switch plots are common, but throw in the fact that Your Name (2016) is both anime and romantic and you have a unique classic. If you have seen it, you can understand why I was yelling at the screen for the last thirty minutes or so.
Scorsese. De Niro. Pacino. Pesci. Keitel. I was on board the minute I saw those names during the first trailer of The Irishman (2019). Three and a Half Hours never seemed so short.
Tom Hardy has always given performances that radiate power, but his best may be in the criminally underseen Locke (2013). Phone conversations have hardly been more intense on film.
When it comes to films about music, very few do as well as John Carney. Enter 2013’s Begin Again, which even manages to show case the acting chops of Adam Levine.
When Parasite (2019) won Best Foreign Language films at the Golden Globes, the director Bong Joon Ho stated,
“Once you overcome the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.”
A tip of the hat to you sir.
After the disaster of The Emoji Movie the previous year, Sony Animation Studios made Spider-Man: Into the Spider Verse (2018). I cannot think of a bigger cinematic bounce back like that happening in decades. Not to mention the best ending credit scene in years.
All the action of the MCU this past decade was impressive, but none seemed more authentic than that of Mad Max: Fury Road (2015). As someone who has yet to see any of the previous films, I can state this one still stands alone. And that musical score…dude!
Of all the superhero flicks of the 2010s, the most impressive by far was Hugh Jackman’s swan song as Wolverine in Logan (2016). His is arguably the best performance of a superhero to date.
While 2016 had another musical that dominated (and will be named later), that did not take away at all from the brilliance of Sing Street, another gem from director John Carney.
Mystical is an understatement when describing The Shape of Water (2017). It is haunting, funny, beautiful, romantic, and distinct. It deserved it’s win for Best Picture. Water comes in all shapes. Kind of like water.
Having only seen the film once, my mind may change as time goes on for the movie Waves (2019). For now, it is still an emotional kick that you feel long afterwards.
Director Ryan Coogler was first introduced to me when he made the heartbreaking Fruitvale Station (2013), based on an actual event that starred new upcoming actor (and frequent Coogler ingénue) Michael B. Jordan, on his way to a great remainder of the decade.
Tom Hanks may have done a great job of being Fred Rogers, but the magic truly lied in the documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (2018). May the ideals of Fred Rogers live forever.
For Matthew McConaughey, 2013 may have been the best year of his career. He would star in Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street (unseen by me) and go to win an Oscar for The Dallas Buyers Club. Still, my vote goes to the underseen treasure Mud, which also gave a stellar breakout performance by Tye Sheridan.
Of all the decade’s impressive horror films, none have stood with me as long as director Robert Eggers’ The Witch (2016). Or creeped me out as much.
Even when you rule out Comic Book films, the past decade gave us a lot of heroes to look up to. Still, the most unseen of these (and one of my personal heroes) would be that of Rocky Braat, who is shown in the documentary Blood Brother (2013) as a normal person simply going to India to help kids with HIV/AIDS, something he is still doing today. He is one of the most selfless people I have ever seen. It is the only film on my list that you can see for free on youtube.
Laika has been doing well, considering the animation studio has to work in the same time as Disney/Pixar. Though I have yet to see most of their films, I cannot imagine any being as moving, funny, or gripping as Kubo and the Two Strings (2016). Unlike other animated films, this one deals with deeper issues for viewers of all ages, such as loss, character, and the importance of memory. If you must blink, do it now.
It is true that a movie may not always be for everyone, which is most definitely the case for A Ghost Story (2017). A movie that defies description, it helps you reflect on your own life, making it much more than just Casey Affleck under a bed sheet.
As someone with Asperger’s Syndrome, Life, Animated (2016) clearly hit close to home for me. It is hard for me to describe without getting too emotional.
Before Netflix came out with guns blazing in 2019, they were putting all the eggs in the basket of Roma (2018), the sublime visual feast of a simple story by director Alfonso Cuaron.
Director Damien Chazelle was not a known name yet, but his film Whiplash (2014) changed that. It is a film one of my high school band directors refuses to see, and no film villain this decade has been able to keep in tempo with J.K. Simmons’ Terrence Fletcher (and I am not exempting Thanos).
Of all the animated films this past decade, the most original and moving is Inside Out (2015). Two stories are told, both of which work on their own. Every little thing is mentioned with such clever detail it is mind boggling (see what I did there?). I will never forget you, Bing-Bong.
Another mind bender of an original story, writer/director Christopher Nolan’s Inception (2010) managed to do one of the rarest of feets: give sublime CGI matched only by a script of epic preportions. As for why the top is still spinning…?
I am still not entirely sure where “the bath tub” is, but it is still full of people to care about in Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012). Though not in too much since, young Quvenzhane Wallis has truly left her mark as she lit up the screen (literally) as Hushpuppy. Don’t Cry. Easier said than done.
When it comes to movies about rural areas, director Debra Granik hits the nail on the head. In Leave No Trace (2018), we see a father (Ben Foster) and his daughter (Thomasin McKenzie) trying to find their way in the world, resulting in heartbreak and hope.Debra Granik made only one other film in the decade,…
…and it was Winter’s Bone (2010). Another film about an area in the world we don’t think of much. It is also responsible for introducing the world to the lovely and talent Jennifer Lawrence.
As a sucker for old Hollywood, I am still head over heels for La La Land (2016). It put director Damian Chazelle into the main spotlight (and gave him an Oscar), and still has me tapping along to the tunes today.
At this moment in time, our country is on the presipis of going to war with Iran. I know little to nothing about politics, but I will say I hope it does not stop people from seeking out A Separation (2011), which is streaming on Netflix as of this writing. The idea of family drama has universal appeal.
It is still kind of hard to imagine a movie being described as “feel good” when the main character is locked in a shed for years as a sex slave, yet that is what one experiences when watching 2015’s Room (not the Tommy Wiseau one.) Also, in a decade full of stellar performances by youths, none has been better than that of the one here by the almost unfairly talented Jacob Tremblay.
Admittedly, The Tree of Life (2011) was my first introduction to director Terrence Malick. I may have been late to the game, but what an intro. Yes, you could argue he is being beyond pretentious, but it may just be that he has more ideas about life than we do. Even without the dinosaurs, the film brought me back to the vibes I felt when I discovered 2001: A Space Odyssey.
When first considering what I would call my favorite movie of the decade, I jumped to Boyhood (2014). I thought over it, but realized it was bound to me nothing else but. Other movies in the decade wowed us with CGI and performances and all that great stuff. Director Richard Linklater wowed us with something even more impressive, time. He took 12 years to make this film, which could have gone wrong in every way (imagine if a key crew member or cast member sadly died?). Thankfully, none of that happened. Add in the nostalgia and you have the only movie on this list I am 100% certain would be on a list of my 100 movies of all time.