(This article is part of our Best of the Decade series.)
This has been a really great decade for film. We have seen the boom of the superhero blockbuster and a resurgence in quality made horror movies that have been sorely lacking from the genre. I feel like this was the decade where I broaden my horizons into different genres, foreign films and deeper into the independent scene. I decided to do a top ten movies of the decade along with my top ten horror movies of the decade as well. Enjoy!
Favorite Movies of the 2010s
Honorable Mentions: Avengers: Infinity War (2018), Black Swan (2010), Inception (2010), Pitch Perfect (2012), Ex Machina (2014), Logan (2017), Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse (2018), Dolemite is My Name (2019), Hell or High Water (2016), Whiplash (2014)
This is my favorite movie of the decade by far. It is just so damn good. Denis Villeneuve is one of the directors that blew up this decade churning out stellar movies one after the other. The acting by Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner make this film feel personable and Villeneuve just knows how to shoot gorgeous and captivating images. It is one of the few movies to impact me emotionally, so I have to take my hat off to all involved in this incredible film.
Scott Pilgrim vs the World (2010)
I can not tell you how much I love this or even why I love it so much. It’s just fun, weird and creative with a ton of interesting characters. Michael Cera and Mary Elizabeth Winstead had incredible chemistry as did the whole cast it seemed.
Easily my favorite Ryan Gosling performance in this stylish and ultra-violent neo-noir type thriller. Carey Mulligan and Oscar Isaac add to an outstanding cast with Refn giving us a fined tuned film and perhaps the best movie of his career thus far.
Blue Ruin (2013)
Jeremy Saulnier quickly became one of my favorite directors of the decade with Blue Ruin, Green Room and Hold the Dark. He builds incredible characters and does brutal violence as good as anyone. Blue Ruin is a revenge thriller that takes a more of an intimate and personal look at the consequences of vengeance. It’s a brutal and stark story about a drifter named Dwight reeling from the murder of his parents. It’s a tough watch as Dwight bumbles his way through his revenge plot.
Brawl In Cell Block 99 (2017)
I feel like I discovered most of my favorite directors from this decade. Or at least the ones I’m most excited about following their career because of the stellar films they made this decade. S. Craig Zahler fits that bill. Bone Tomahawk got my eye but it was Brawl in Cell Block 99 where he captured my attention. Similar to my favorite director (keep reading), Zhaler proved that he can pull together a fantastic cast and get amazing performances from his actors. Here, though, was the Vince Vaughn show as he transformed into someone I had never seen and gave my favorite performance of his career. It is beautifully brutal with a little grindhouse flair.
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
I know. I know. But I absolutely love this movie. It has its flaws but I don’t care. Ben Affleck gives a solid performance as the Bat and Henry Cavill is my Superman. This better than most give it credit and I feel it is a solid entry to the superhero boom of this decade. I loved what Snyder did with Man of Steel and BvS and would have loved to see where he was going with his whole story. There are some great scenes here with the best Batman action sequence. Kill em all I say! Let the paramedics sort em out. Yes, I agree this could have been better but that doesn’t change how much I enjoy the movie as a whole.
Once upon a Time…in Hollywood (2019)
Quentin Tarantino is my favorite director and this instantly became one of my favorite films of his. Leo and Pitt both do stellar jobs with Pitt stealing every scene he was in. QT captured the LA scene around that time pretty well and gave us one of the most intense scenes in movie history.
John Wick (2014)
I remember first hearing about John Wick and dismissing it as just another lame action movie. I love Keanu but he wasn’t a lock for great movies. One a cold and nasty evening I decided to rent this from RedBox and was blown away by it. The shootouts, the violence, the club scene, and the world created just captured me, along with a lot of other people.
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
There isn’t a lot to be said about this film that is on about every top movie list of this decade. It’s gorgeous, unique, well-acted and George Miller just killed it behind the camera. It’s a different kind of action movie that takes the genre to another level.
Tom Hardy would make a run for my favorite actor of the decade and this is the film where I fell in love with his work. This was a character-driven drama similar to Rocky. Joel Edgerton and Hardy put on a great show but it’s Nick Nolte as the remorseful alcoholic father that is really worth watching.
Favorite Horror Movies of the 2010s
Honorable Mentions: Midsommar (2019), The Ritual (2017), The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016), Lights Out (2016), Mandy (2018), Goodnight Mommy (2014), The Invitation (2015), What We Do in the Shadows (2014)
This all starts with writer and director Ari Aster. The fact that this was his debut full-length feature film is ridiculous. His command of every scene is astonishing and not to mention a score and sound design that would give you nightmares even if you weren’t watching the screen. Toni Collete helped put this over the top with her portrayal as the grieving mother/daughter who seems like she is losing touch with reality. You feel every inch of her grief and remorse about the events taking place. This is another one of those rare films where everyone involved just killed it.
Being a horror fan pretty much all my life, there isn’t much that gets under my skin until it comes to kids being harmed. Director Scott Derrickson sets an eerie tone with the opening shot of this by showing us a murder of an entire family in Super 8 home video fashion. Ethan Hawke gives a fantastic performance as a true-crime writer who is looking for his next bestseller as he moves his family into the house where the opening scene murders took place. As weird things start to take place in the house, he discovers a box full of Super 8 reels and discovers other families being murdered in brutal fashion.
The realistic and almost grindhouse feel of the murders from the home movies combined the haunting score makes this one of the most unsettling recent horror movies. The boogeyman Bughuul is extremely effective given the minimal amount of screen time. It does a stellar job of creating a disturbing atmosphere with one of the best jump scares.
The Cabin in the Woods (2011)
Looking at the cover art and reading the synopsis, you would think this is just another run of the mill “cabin in the woods” story we have seen a hundred times over. Well, the name doesn’t help either, but for those who took the chance on the Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon creation were for an unexpected trip. Those who have seen it, know what I am talking about. For those of you who haven’t then I suggest you go in as blind as possible and enjoy. The Cabin in the Woods is a meta-heavy horror-comedy filled with references and homages to the genre’s most famous films.
I Saw The Devil (2010)
In his sixth film, Kim Jee-Woon proves himself a master of violence, setting the film in a slightly fantastical version of real-world where killers, cannibals, and rapists lie around every corner, and where a body can withstand an ungodly onslaught of violence, if only so that violence can continue. Gorgeously shot in a palette of red and cold blue with incredible acting, I Saw the Devil is an unwavering look at the darkest depths of the human heart.
You’re Next (2011)
Home invasions are a staple in horror with most filmmakers trying to add a wrinkle or something fresh to help their home invasion story stand out above the rest. Writer Simon Barrett and director Adam Wingard were able to do just that by giving us a terrifying violent and smart film. We get some great kills and some hilarious black comedy, but Shari Vinson as Erin is the real treasure here.
The Wailing (2016)
If I could shout about the greatness of The Wailing from the top of a mountain for all to hear I would. It is an absolute masterpiece and in my humble opinion, the best foreign horror film of all time. Director Na Hong-jin creates an incredible atmosphere of dread about South Korean folklore that delivers laughs, gore, and terror. As a small South Korean village experiences frightening occurrences and a series of possessions, all signs point to the presence of a demon. The gorgeous cinematography combined with a goofball police officer who investigates the happenings helps give the movie a horror noir type feeling.
Train to Busan (2016)
Zombies have been done to death especially over the past couple of decades, so it is tough to get excited over yet another film where a horde of undead attack a group of people. Well, until writer-director Sang-Ho Yeon brought us his glorious Train to Busan. Sometimes the best concepts are the simplest. Let’s take zombies and put them on a bullet train with helpless passengers. It doesn’t sound like anything special till you witness the quick change to zombies ferociously moving toward other passengers with nowhere to go and nowhere to hide. It is a pulse-pounding film that barely gives you time to catch your breath.
Bone Tomahawk (2015)
There aren’t too many Western horror films out there and I went back and forth about adding it to the list because it takes some time to get to the horror, but when it does get there, you are left with a sickening feeling in your stomach like most good horror films. So, it makes the list. This would be a great Western by itself with director S. Craig Zahler telling an intriguing story with compelling characters. Kurt Russell, Patrick Wilson, and Matthew Fox all turn in fine performances, but it is Richard Jenkins as Chicory that steals the show. Well, until the hurting begins. They are on missions to save some captured settlers from a group of cannibal savages.
Get Out (2017)
Who would have ever thought that one of the best horror films of all-time would have been written and directed by comedian Jordan Peele? You know, the guy that gave us “noice!” Get Out would take the horror world by storm in 2017 for not only how well it was made and its social commentary but for its divisiveness as well. Get Out is a horror film with multiple things to say. Peele would touch on multiple themes with Get Out including but not limited to: slavery, race envy and neglect for minority missing persons. Even with these tough questions raised and whether you agree with them or not, Peele still manages to make a smart, strange, unpredictable thriller that doesn’t skimp on what horror fans want.
The Lighthouse (2019)
First and foremost is the look of this film is so unique compared to anything else put out today and it doesn’t ever feel like a gimmick. Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe are both fantastic playing opposite each other. Dafoe is always great and Pattinson continues to show he could be one of the best actors of our time. There are laughs, claustrophobia, and of course with Eggers, plenty of chores to go around. I do feel like it was a bit long as I glazed over at one point but this is a damn fine horror film that deserves some recognition. Eggers is a hell of a director.
What do you think of my favorite movies of the decade? Power Rank your top 10 favorite movies of the decade below!