The 2010’s were a hell of a decade for film. Disney had a stranglehold on the box office. A24 cornered the market on low budget cinema. Blumhouse made horror great again. Moviegoers finally embraced foreign film (kinda) and critically acclaimed movies were being shot on cellphones. The age of the mega-blockbuster essentially destroyed moderately budgeted films. Streaming provided hundreds of hours of new content (some of which was provided by some heavy hitters, such as Scorsese and the Coen Bros). Weird independent filmmakers were allowed the opportunity to direct huge movies. And previously thought impossible to see films such as The Man Who Killed Don Quixote and The Other Side of the Wind were actually released.
It was a decade in which the Oscars finally got it right (for two years at least) and which everyone tried and failed to be Marvel (RIP Dark Universe). Blank checks were cut regularly, resulting in some amazing titles such as Blade Runner 2049, Mad Max: Fury Road and The Irishman and not so great titles like A Wrinkle in Time, The Last Airbender and Cats. Physical media started releasing every movie ever (right before it dies at the hands of digital) and a new generation of actors was getting ready to replace the movie stars of old. It was a controversial decade that had many highs and lows but at the end of the day, all that matters is that it provided a ton of great movies. This is what I consider to be, the best of the decade.
This is The 100 Greatest Movies of the 2010s.
70. What We Do in the Shadows (2014)
The Office meets Interview with a Vampire but with better acting and less melodrama. What We Do in the Shadows takes us on a behind the scenes documentary-style look at the daily routine of a group of vampires. We see the vampires, ranging from 183 to 8,000 years old, squabble over daily chores, picking on local werewolves, cruising for ladies and struggling with new technology. WWDITS is a fresh take on the vampire sub-genre that turns out some good laughs. Even though writer/directors Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement poke fun at vampires, you can tell there is a lot of respect and love here for the bloodsuckers. It is one of those films that even nonhorror nuts can enjoy and gain a new perspective on the genre.
69. Edge of Tomorrow (2014)
Tom Cruise has maintained a very successful career out of playing a variation of the Tom Cruise persona he’s developed over the last three decades. He’s the stoic action man who will outrun the baddies and will probably do some crazy stunts along the way or he’s dramatic man who yells a lot. He changes it up occasionally but for the most part, he’s pretty much the same. Which doesn’t mean he’s bad, he just tends to pick projects that play to his strengths. Which makes Edge of Tomorrow all the more surprising.
The trailers made it seem like just another Cruise blockbuster but it’s actually way more entertaining than that. For one thing, Cruise isn’t an action hero in it. He’s a coward who’s forced to fight after unsuccessfully trying to weasel out of service. That by itself separates it from the rest of the pack but that’s not all it has going for it. There’s also its ingenious Groundhog Day meets Independence Day premise, its breakneck pace and strong female lead. It’s a fun puzzle box of a movie that, like all time travel movies, doesn’t make much sense if you think about it too hard but it makes up for it with imagination, spectacle and thrills to spare.
68. Frances Ha (2012)
Greta Gerwig is the unofficial queen of hipster mumblecore and Frances Ha might be her Citizen Kane. For some, this film will be a pretentious try hard filled with annoying characters and for others, it will be a painfully realistic portrayal of that period of life when you’re no longer a teen but just young enough to still think you’re not an adult. And how fast real life can come punch you in the mouth. All it takes is one event (her best friend moves out of the apartment) to send Frances’ life spiralling out of control. The bulk of the film is spent on her trying to deal with every problem that comes her way (some of which she causes herself) and while it’s always fun watching her try to navigate through all the bullshit, there’s a undercurrent of sadness that adds a real heaviness to every scene. It’s the best (and to my knowledge only) portrayal of the death of one’s childhood. Being an adult fucking sucks and few things are sadder than accepting that fact.
67. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014)
While not as clever as it thinks it is (Iñárritu needs to cut the makers of JCVD a check) nor as technically audacious as everyone else thinks it is (the “shot in one take but not really” thing was done 60 years earlier), Birdman still gets points for managing to (almost) bring all of its crazy ideas into a cohesive whole. The balls it’s juggling aren’t new or original but the fact it’s trying to juggle them all at the same time is impressive. The film would still work if it focused on just one of its elements — a character study of a has-been who’s desperately trying to kill the past or a drama about an acting troupe trying to put on a play or a daughter trying to cope with having a famous father or an egotistical actor trying to take over a troubled production — but the fact that it has as many as it does while also being as meta as Being John Malkovich, is pretty remarkable. The film is a masterpiece of execution. Now, if only it had its original ending…
66. Paddington 2 (2017)
Live action films based on beloved children’s properties are almost always garbage. Magic tends to get lost during the transition from page to screen, with few films being able to capture the essence of the book they’re adapting. Fewer still are the ones that somehow manage to retain the magic while also transcending the medium in which they were born. Paddington is amongst the rare examples of an adaptation that’s better than it’s source material; which makes its sequel doubly amazing, since its far better than the first. With its brighter than bright colors and fantastical realism, the film, while not entirely Wes Anderson-esque, has a visual style definitely inspired by the quirky director. In addition to its gorgeous color palette and storybook charm, the movie is effortlessly charming and legitimately funny, the latter of which solely belongs to Hugh Grant, who’s never been better as the hilariously inept villainous thespian. Paddington 2 is better than a hundred marmalade sandwiches.
65. The World’s End (2013)
I don’t think any film could live up to the ridiculous expectations fans had for The World’s End. As the climax to the Cornetto Trilogy, the film had to not only follow Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz but somehow surpass them. Since each film was getting better than the last, The World’s End had an immense amount of pressure put on it. Pressure it would ultimately buckle under. Making considerably less than the last film and getting less than stellar reviews, the film was seen as a solid yet disappointing follow-up. And at the time, I agreed. I liked it just fine but didn’t think it was in the same league as the previous two efforts from Wright. Now having seen it multiple times, I think it’s the best of the trilogy.
Each of the films takes a specific type of film and subverts them just enough to stay faithful to their respected genres but adds enough to seem fresh and original. Wright takes the old and makes it new again, with The World’s End being his most subversive to date. The film does far more with its premise than Shaun and Fuzz and it has far more emotional depth. This is a film that works outside of its genre. Remove all the sci-fi shit and you have a sad drama about an alcoholic who can’t escape the prison of the past. It’s about getting older and becoming less and less relevant with each day. It’s Wright’s most mature work and everyone in it gives career best performances.
64. The Witch (2015)
The fact that this is someone’s first movie, is a bit mind blowing to me. Every facet of this film, from the directing, the cinematography, and the performances are exceptionally well done. Eggers’ ability to create an authentic world set in 1630’s New England at such a proficient level, in his debut no less, is remarkable. The story follows a family cast out of their local village and left to make it on their own on a farm at the edge of the woods where this Puritan family begins to face supernatural forces of evil. The committed performances are outstanding by all cast members with Ana Joy-Taylor shining bright in her first starring role. With a methodical pace designed to spook the fuck out of you and a thick layer of atmosphere and dread that lingers throughout, The Witch is of the best horror films ever made and is a must see for fans of the genre.
63. The Nice Guys (2016)
Although I would’ve loved to have seen a sequel to Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (which this was originally supposed to be), I’m glad the project morphed into what it is now. The two films are extremely similar in plot and tone but The Nice Guys has a couple of things we would’ve lost if it was just a sequel. We wouldn’t have gotten It’s 70s setting, we would’ve lost the daughter character (fantastically played by Angourie Rice) and more importantly, we never would have gotten the amazing pairing of Crowe and Gosling. The chemistry between these two is off the charts. Both actors are at the top of their game as two mismatched private detectives. Ones a bumbling idiot who relies on luck and the other is a hulking thug who isn’t afraid to resort to violence. Their rapport is worth the price of admission alone and would almost make this worthy of the list by itself but good chemistry is nothing without a solid script and The Nice Guys is Black’s sharpest film to date.
62. Logan (2017)
With hundreds of comic book movies in existence, superheroes have encountered just about every kind of advisory and world ending calamity you can think of. Whether it be a giant laser that shoots up into the sky (there’s a lot of those), a super powered megalomaniac that wants to conquer and enslave the planet or a corrupt businessman that wants to sink half of California in order to create a new West Coast, super villains come in a shapes and sizes but none have been as terrifyingly real as the one found in Logan. Because, for the first time in the genre, a superhero has to contend with life’s mightiest foe: the inevitability of getting old.
Set in the far future where most mutants have been eliminated, Logan is a bleak sci-fi dystopia that focuses more on the human element than providing non-stop thrills. It’s a film where all the heroes have died and all that remains are the ones that lived. Heavily inspired by Shane and Unforgiven, the film tackles themes of getting old and dying, outliving ones usefulness and coming to terms with the fact that perhaps every choice you made was the wrong one and that everything you did in life was pointless. But It’s also a film about how hope weighs more than the burden of regret and how sometimes all we need is one last job to give our lives meaning. Logan is the only comic book film to be nominated for best adapted screenplay for a reason – it’s brilliant.
61. Toy Story 3 (2010)
Pixar’s first film was a ground breaking masterpiece that changed the industry forever. Their first sequel, while not as impactful nor influential, was still a perfectly constructed film that’s as good or better than its predecessor. Now with two flawless feathers in their cap, could Pixar pull off the impossible and deliver the first great cinematic three-peat? The answer: yes and no.
While I adore 3 and think it’s the best of the bunch, I do admit that it has problems. Most notably the fact that structurally, it’s a carbon copy of 2. The film recycles a lot of the same themes, character beats (Lotso is Stinky Pete but with Jesse’s backstory) and has a very similar story and, while I can see why many disregard it as being inferior, those issues don’t bother me. I admit that they exist but I think the good far outweighs the bad. I think it’s the funniest one till 4, I love the new setting, the Great Escape-esque prison escape and the new toys but more importantly, when I think of this series, I picture the incinerator scene and that ending. It may not be a “perfect” film but few films have hit me as hard emotionally and for that reason alone, I think it’s the best Toy Story sequel.
What do you think of the selection so far? What are some of the best movies from the 2010s? Maybe they will show up further on the list!