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.
80. The Kings of Summer (2013)
It’s ironic that the decade that produced some of the best written teen comedies, always gets overlooked for its contributions to the genre. John Hughes cast such a large shadow, that the decade that produced them became synonymous with the genre. When you think teen comedies, you think the 80s. And I’d argue, the 2010s had films that were just as good as anything from that decade. Obviously not as iconic but just as smartly written. But for some reason, none of them clicked with moviegoers. There was the occasional hit (Lady Bird, Easy A, Booksmart) but by and large, audiences just didn’t care about adolescent problems.
Which meant gems like The Kings of Summer got sorely overlooked. A rarity in the genre, The Kings of Summer is a coming of age flick that doesn’t star a girl, is legitimately funny without ever resorting to crass, gross out humor and has adult characters that aren’t used as out of touch punchlines or villains. No one is chasing tail, no one is dying of cancer or some other sad disease and no one is trying to get a date for the prom. It’s just about a couple of teenage boys and their desire to live like kings in a forest. The film also includes my favorite character of the last ten years (Biaggio) and my favorite soundtrack. The Kings of Summer is not the best teen comedy of the decade nor is it the most overlooked but it might be the most entertaining.
79. Catfish (2010)
Morgan Spurlock may have changed the way fast food companies handle their healthy alternatives, Michael Moore may have gotten bullets out of Kmarts and Wal-Marts and Errol Morris may have gotten an innocent man out of prison but none of them have contributed more to the pop culture landscape than directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman. In addition to adding a new word into the lexicon, Catfish revealed the ugly underbelly of the internet. Pretending to be someone you weren’t, was nothing new. People have been doing it for years but this was the first film to portray how destructive a force it could be. Back in the day, all you had to do was say you were a space doctor or a gator rustler and no one argued because it worked on the honor system.
No one could prove anything and there was no stakes involved, so it was just a bit of harmless fun but Catfish proves how dangerous the internet can be. How anyone could create any identity they wanted and live an entirely separate life online. It plays like a mystery that turns into a horror film due to the real-life implications. In a time where everyone has anonymity and freedom online, personal identity is dead. And the long running show it inspired proves that this is still happening and it always will.
78. Cabin in the Woods (2012)
The fact Cabin in the Woods—a film all about deconstructing horror tropes in a post Scream world—works at all, is a miracle. Meta horror films are nothing new, they predate Cabin in the Woods by almost twenty years. Letting the audience in on the joke that all of this shit is silly and dumb but here’s why it’s dumb, is not a new concept. And yet, writers Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard some how made it fresh and original. They didn’t just point out all of the cliches, they took the time to explain why each one exists. The creepy old man found in every horror movie that tells the kids that they’re all going to die? He’s an actor. The fact that every victim falls within a stereotype (the jock, the cheerleader, the bitch, the nerd, etc.) Isn’t a coincidence, it’s by design. The film takes all the overused cliches and tropes you’re used to and brilliantly turns them into plot points. It also has a unique mythology built around all of those rules. It’s a clever take on horror movies that actually improves every other terrible horror movie by pretending they exist within this universe.
77. Boyhood (2014)
After completing his Before trilogy, which was three films released a decade apart from each other, Linklater pulled the ol’ “hold my beer” on himself. Shot over the course of twelve years, Boyhood is a day-in-the-life (or in this case, many, many days) drama about a boy named Mason (Ellar Coltrane) and the trials and tribulations that come with adolescence. We witness the evolution of his father (Ethan Hawke), the hardships of his mother (Patricia Arquette) and Mason himself go from a boy into a man. It’s an ambitious project that works as a snapshot of all the technological advancements and pop culture events of the era, as well as a great drama about growing up that feels so real, it feels like series of home movies strung together.
76. The Lego Movie (2014)
The genius of The Lego Movie isn’t that it masterfully juggles side splittingly hilarious comedy with clever social comedy or that it’s an ingenious satire with some of the best choreographed and directed action, animated or otherwise. No, the best thing about The Lego Movie is that at no point does it feel like a toy commercial. This film should not exist. No fan of the miniature building blocks ever thought to themselves “man, I wish this was a movie!” nor did any one think it was going to be good when it was announced. And yet, Lord and Miller, as they’ve proven time and time again, can spin gold out of any property. Again, this film should not work, so the fact that it’s this good, is a miracle. The film is filled with so many ideas and themes and jokes and pop culture references, that it’s in constant danger of popping like a balloon filled with candy and confetti. Everything is awesome, indeed.
75. We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011)
Even though it’s not horror film, We Need to Talk About Kevin has one of the most terrifying premises of any film I’ve ever seen. What if your own child was evil? Not Antichrist demon baby evil or some over the top monster but a demented monster who delights in tormenting everyone around him including you? From about the age of four up until the day he’s arrested for multiple murders (that’s not a spoiler), Kevin is a complete and total monster. He’s not a charming psychopath, he’s not sympathetic boy with mental problems, he’s absolute evil. He’s playing an insidious game with his mother but she doesn’t know the rules and every time she loses, she gets punished. She loses at least twenty times a day, everyday for sixteen years, with the ultimate irony being that even after he’s out of her life, the true torment begins. It’s a harrowing drama about a woman who’s burdened with the weight of being the one to spawn a murderer and how she has to cope with that. It’s also the greatest PSA for safe sex and/or abortions ever.
74. Raw (2016)
A twist on the coming-of-age movie, Raw is like Ginger Snaps but with cannibalism instead of werewolf-ism. After a hazing incident goes wrong, college student Justine (Garance Marillier) slowly develops an insatiable hunger for human flesh. While the plot synopsis would make it seem more like a horror film, it’s a bit more than that. There are horrible and shocking things in it (the film does not shy away from the gruesome) but it has more on its mind than just shock value. It tackles topics such as: the uncertainty of self, dark family legacies, fear of female sexuality and possibly homosexuality. The cannibalism can be a stand in for any number of issues. Or it could just be a clever take on the zombie genre. It’s a film that refuses to be categorized.
73. Your Name (2016)
Spirited Away made so much money, nobody thought it would ever be topped. It didn’t just break Japanese box office records, it demolished them. To put it into context, Spirited Away made more in Japan, than Avatar and Titanic did in America. Combined. It was a monster hit that held onto the record for an astonishing 15 years. The film that eventually beat it: Your Name. Playing like a high school version of Freaky Friday, the film is about two teenagers in Japan — one living in a small rural town, the other in a bustling metropolis — wake up in each other’s bodies. They switch places back and forth, slowly learning more about one another and helping each other’s lives. Obviously they fall in love but without giving away the film’s bigger hook, this isn’t your typical cliched romcom. Even if that was all this film was, it would still probably make this list due to the likability of the characters but that narrative twist at the half way point turns this film into a masterpiece. Just remember, this challenged Miyazaki’s best film and it won.
72. Four Lions (2010)
For satire to work, it has to hit every target its aiming at while simultaneously being funny and smart. It’s delicate balancing act that’s incredibly difficult to pull off. Tip too far in one direction and you have a preachy melodrama. The other, a flat comedy with no bite. And that’s just for “normal” satires. You know, the ones about Hitler and such. Four Lions deals with such controversial subject matter, I’m amazed it was made. Making a comedy about terrorists in Britain, is almost as ballsy as making a comedy about school shootings in America, especially considering its an ongoing problem. But Christopher Morris manages to pull off the impossible. He made a film about suicide bombers funny. It’s a brilliant takedown on religious extremism, radical fanaticism and idiotic ideologies. The film will either make you laugh or piss you off but it’ll definitely make you think.
71. Creed (2015)
Rocky V so thoroughly and completely killed this franchise, it’s wanted for murder in about six states. It’s a film so bad, Stallone himself hates it and retired the character because of it. But against all odds, it came back. Just like the underdog that he is, Rocky made a triumphant comeback with the poignant Rocky Balboa. It was a touching ode to a boxer who refuses to go gently into that goodnight and acts as a magnificent send off to a beloved character. Or it would be if it wasn’t for Ryan Coogler. Taking Rocky out of the ring and into the role originally inhabited by Burgess Meredith is a stroke of genius, as is shifting the focus to the son of his old rival who is fighting to get out of his father’s shadow. It adds a level of emotional complexity the series has lacked since the first one and has the best camera work in the entire series. It may not have a flashy villain or the best training montages but it has heart and as Rocky proved, that’s sometimes all you need. Creed is a knockout.
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!