(This article is part of our Best of the Decade series.)
The 2010s has been a wonderful decade for cinema. Picking a top 10 wasn’t an easy job and if I were to list honourable mentions, I’d be here all day. It should go without saying this isn’t a list of the best or most popular movies, but simply the ones I enjoyed the most. So read on for my favourite films from the last decade.
10. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
In terms of pure adrenaline-pumping action, there isn’t much better out there than Mad Max: Fury Road. Just when you’ve caught your breath from one set-piece you’re thrown headfirst into another. Endlessly rewatchable.
9. Carol (2015)
Carol took me by surprise. A romantic drama set in 1950s New York wouldn’t be my usual film of choice, but I’m very thankful I gave it a chance. Rooney Mara is great but Cate Blanchett in particular had me engaged from the very start, while cementing herself as my favourite female actor working today. The direction and score are both breathtaking as the agonising, but ultimately beautiful, love story plays out.
8. Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
To get close to the standard of the original would have been quite an achievement. To match the quality was astounding. A big-budget sci-fi adventure that has lots going on underneath the surface. You can read my full review here.
7. Ex Machina (2014)
Alex Garland’s directorial debut showed straight away that he is one of the most exciting directors working today. The basic premise has been done before yet Ex Machina still has a fresh feel. As the narrative plays out with a number of surprises, the three fantastic lead performances kept me gripped.
6. Whiplash (2014)
If I’m being honest, any of Damien Chazelle’s films could easily have made this list. A large part of why I went with Whiplash is down to J. K. Simmons’ extraordinary performance as the teacher from hell. As nasty as he is, the ending still leaves us with the question – were the literal blood sweat and tears worth enduring to uncover greatness?
5. The Hunt (2012)
As mass hysteria sets in with trust and friendship disintegrating around him, Mads Mikkelsen’s portrayal of a teacher accused of something abhorrent is phenomenal. For me, the best performance of the entire decade. An unsettling film, but one that is essential viewing.
4. Dunkirk (2017)
I said earlier that few films could match Mad Max: Fury Road for adrenaline-pumping action. Dunkirk is one of the few. Christopher Nolan utilizes his trademark manipulation of time to tell a number of intimate wartime stories alongside each other. The result is something special and in the end it actually feels less war film, more blistering action masterpiece.
3. Incendies (2010)
The Hollywood Critics Association declared Denis Villeneuve filmmaker of the decade and rightly so in my opinion. Whilst I have enjoyed everything he has directed, for me his magnum opus is Incendies. A fantastic mystery centered around a brother and sister fulfilling their mothers dying wish, it’s storytelling at the highest level. Right up until the mind-blowing finale.
2. Inception (2010)
A Christopher Nolan film where blockbuster visuals meet indie film intelligence. A dream cast (pardon the pun) is put together to tell an imaginative and original heist story that contains some of the greatest action set pieces in cinema history.
1. The Handmaiden (2016)
After trying his hand in America, Park Chan-wook returned to his Korean roots in 2016 to do what he does best. Make phenomenal movies. Inspired by the novel Fingersmith, The Handmaiden’s story centers around a wealthy heiress, con artist and housemaid. The plot plays out spectacularly as it twists and turns. And then twists again. Beautiful visuals. Terrific score. Remarkable performances. Engrossing storytelling. Close to cinematic perfection and my favorite film of the decade.
What do you think of my favorite films from the last decade? Anything you think I missed?