I fell in love with movies over this past decade. I genuinely love going to the theatre with my friends and family. Movies as a whole, mean a lot to me. Call that “nerdy” or “strange” if you want. That’s fine with me.
However, as we finally hit the end of the decade I couldn’t help put to put together my personal list of the best films from the past 10 years. Of course this is my own, subjective list. It’s not a statement of fact. In fact, I welcome all kinds of disagreements to my list. That’s the beauty of cinema, after all.
Let’s get right to it. Here are my Top 10 Movies from the past decade starting off some very honorable mentions that ever-so-closely missed the final cut. (I have yet to see Parasite, The Lighthouse, and 1917 from this year so I put them as honorable mentions due to them having massive critical acclaim at the moment.)
Honorable Mention: Mad Max: Fury Road, The Big Short, Interstellar, Logan, Knives Out, Parasite (?), The Lighthouse (?), and 1917 (?).
10. The Martian (2015)
I really feel like this is the most underrated movie of the decade. It gets massively overlooked by Mad Max: Fury Road which came out that same year, and I can understand why. However, the message of “The Martian” is far, far more urgent and meaningful.
This is a film that everyone should rally behind. The main idea displayed here is that different groups and nations of people can work together by using science to achieve a common goal. It doesn’t get much better than that. Calling that motif “corny” doesn’t make much sense to me.
And of course, director Ridley Scott lands the movie perfectly in all cinematic areas. It’s constantly thrilling, every performance in the movie (especially Matt Damon’s) is an absolute home run, the vintage soundtrack is a must-listen (shoutout ABBA), and this film looks amazing and somehow not that fake at all. Selling the look of Mars in a movie is an insanely tough task, but Scott nails it here.
It’s as entertaining as it is rewatchable and critically pleasing. When a movie covers all those bases with little to no flaws, it’s a great film. Period. “The Martian” is a great film, and hopefully it earns more respect from the general public over time.
Best Scene: “That’s all it is. You just…begin.”
9. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)
Please, please, please don’t see this and think “Ew, the animated superhero movie for kids? What is this guy thinking with this pick?”
I can promise you that Spider-Verse is an absolute experience as the animation might be the most creative I’ve ever seen in a theater. Within the first few minutes you will be fully immersed in the world of this movie without even realizing it.
I firmly and honestly believe this animated superhero movie has earned all the following accolades: The biggest surprise of the decade, the best superhero movie of the decade, the best Spider-Man film ever made, and the second-best superhero movie of all time. I’m completely serious.
Of course, it isn’t all those things just because of the outstanding animation and action. It’s a truly great film because of the story that Sony has created. It’s so moving and inspiring in the way that a Spider-Man movie should be. Spider-Verse is never afraid to be completely unique in its hysterical comedy and heart-rendering moments.
I cannot urge you enough to go watch this movie with your entire family because it truly is a movie for everyone (good news, it’s on Netflix). Spider-Verse’s beautiful main point is to show that anyone can step-up and be a hero. Anyone can be Spider-Man. However, I now prefer my Spider-Man to be wearing Nikes as he flies across the New York skyline to save the day.
Best scene: “A Leap of Faith”
8. A Star Is Born (2018)
Best romance movie of the decade. Simple as that.
The chemistry between Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga in this film is unlike anything I’ve seen in a movie this century. You will never connivence me that they aren’t really in love. Both Cooper and Gaga give two of the best performances of this decade, and both were somehow robbed by the Oscars earlier this year.
In fact, this entire film got snubbed. The fact that “Green Book” took home Best Picture will forever be a puzzling decision to me.
The pacing in this film is perfect. I never got bored, nor did I ever think how long the movie was. It’s a true experience that grips you and never lets you go. This was a very emotional movie. Gaga’s final song and final look into the camera captures the essence of a tragic love story perfectly.
The soundtrack of original songs sung by Gaga and astonishingly by Cooper were some of the best songs of 2018, quite frankly. I’m calling it now: This will be a movie that will age incredibly well and looked back upon as an achievement that deserved the acclaim it missed out on.
Best scene: The first performance of “Shallow” of course.
7. Inception (2010)
This is probably the first “obvious” choice on this list that many of you probably had in your heads. Has there ever been a film that made audiences argue about an ending more than the ending of Christopher Nolan’s second-best movie of the decade?
Was it all a dream? Or did Leonardo DiCaprio’s character really get to see his kids again? Wait, does that even make sense?
Few movies had made me spend more time in thought than “Inception” has. But that’s not the point of the film, of course. The point is how we as individuals deal with personal trauma, and how do we let ourselves move past our own mistakes?
That’s why DiCaprio’s character finally stops watching the top at the end. He doesn’t care rather what he is experiencing is real or not. In the end, he has finally embraced happiness and forgave himself. Why shouldn’t that be his “reality?”
Oh yeah, Hans Zimmer’s score, the cinematography, and the direction are just outstanding here. With the exception of a few plot holes, this is (almost) peak Nolan.
Best scene: That famous ending.
6. Dunkirk (2017)
Now THIS is peak Nolan.
Go ahead. Rain down all of your hate. I am very well aware that the general population does not embrace this film like critics do, and I could care less. This was an absolute masterpiece whenever I first saw it, and it’s a masterpiece to this day.
This will be a movie that’s studied in film classes for the next 50 years. Not only is it jaw-dropping on a technical level (sound, editing, cinematography), but Nolan plays with the timeline of events in the movie to tell a story that truly strikes a cord with me when the end credits roll.
This war movie actually feels like a real war is happening. The dogfights in the sky with Tom Hardy are absolutely breathtaking. Everything about “Dunkirk” feels absolutely real. In all honesty, it’s a near perfect film. The only flaw is that some of the characters are a bit lifeless which reminds me of “Black Hawk Down” in some ways.
That’s it. I have this as one of the best war movies ever made, and I think this is Nolan’s second-best film from top to bottom behind “The Dark Knight.”
Best scene: The Commander finally sees “Home.”
5. Get Out (2017)
It may not be No. 1 on this list, but there wasn’t a more crowd-pleasing original film that came out this decade than Jordan Peele’s “Get Out.”
Like the other films in this list, it checks off some pretty big boxes. Best horror film of the decade? Check. Best thriller? Check. A film that defined a time in America? Check.
To be all those things and still be so entertaining and funny is a miracle. Peele really made what might go down as the best first film ever from a director. On the technical side, the performances are amazing, the script is so creative, and the score is iconic.
There will be other movies that will come along and help define the the social climate of a particular generation. I’m just not sure that any those films will be anywhere near as entertaining as “Get Out.”
Best Scene: “The Sunken Place”
4. 12 Years a Slave (2013)
This is the only movie on this list that actually won the Oscar for Best Picture in its respective year this decade, and in my opinion it’s the only Best Picture winner that actually deserved it 100%.
Let’s be clear here: This is not on this list because it’s “entertaining” or because it’s “rewatchable.” In fact, I only saw this movie once in theaters, and I have absolutely no desire to ever see it again.
And that’s exactly what director Steve McQueen set out to do when he made this film. This is a tortuous movie that is, at times, incredibly disturbing with its violence and brutality.
But McQueen set out to showcase the true darkness of slavery and what it did to an entire generation of people. He succeeded at this goal with no debate. That isn’t to mention that the film-making on display here is probably the best of the decade.
The way McQueen films the shots and presents the story is just awe-inspiring from a film-making perspective. And yes, Chiwetel Ejiofor gives the most devastating performance of the decade as Solomon Northup.
For me, this is the movie that truly “exposed” me to movies as a form art. Before this I just loved superhero and Harry Potter movies. I’ll never forget walking out of the theatre after watching this. And it will forever be in my top five of this decade.
Best scene: The ending where Solomon finally sees his family again. One of the most heartbreaking moments I’ve ever seen. (I couldn’t fine a high-quality version of the scene so I just linked the trailer below instead)
3. Once Upon A Time In Hollywood (2019)
Call it recency bias if you want to, but I truly think that Tarantino’s masterpiece which only came out in July is one of the best films of this decade.
It’s not his most entertaining film. In fact, many people found this to be quite boring. But I can’t help but to feel like those people missed the point. The point being that the power of art (in this case cinema) can change the course of our lives.
Now, that may sound very pretentious, and I guess it depends on how much you love movies. Personally, I absolutely love watching movies and the entire experience of going to the theatre. This movie is the perfect swan-song for cinema.
This generation just doesn’t value movies with the advent of streaming services and the golden age of television really taking over the way we consume entertainment. But this will always be the movie that honors the power of movies.
For all his creative downfalls, this is Quentin Tarantino’s most contained and contemplative film. It’s an amazing tribute to the life of Sharon Tate and what she stood for. Most Tarantino movies don’t have a message but this one definitely does.
Oh yeah, the two biggest stars of our generation (Leonard DiCaprio, Brad Pitt) are at the absolute peak of their acting talents here. They are both equal parts hilarious and so, so likeable.
Time will tell how this film holds up, but I suspect that this fairytale of the hope that still rests in idea of Hollywood will be remembered fondly in the coming decades.
Best scene: Pitt and DiCaprio watching and commenting on an episode of TV. Just awesome stuff.
2. The Social Network (2010)
Every once in a while, a film comes along and perfectly encapsulates the thoughts and feelings of a generation.
For better or for worse, that movie for this generation (millennials) is easily David Fincher’s “The Social Network.” Social Media is a monolithic force that has loomed large over this entire decade. It’s defined so much of how the average American under the age of 30 lives their lives, rather that be a good thing or not.
This is the movie that showcases how it all begin with Jessie Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg creating Facebook. This is a complete masterclass of cinema all the way from the decade’s best movie score by Trent Reznor to the perfect writing of Aaron Sorkin’s screenplay.
For the vast majority of critics, this tops their top 10 movies of the decade lists, and it’s very hard to argue differently. Eisenberg and Andrew Garfield are just otherworldly here as is Justin Timberlake being a complete jerk.
Zuckerberg has been a seminal figure in pop culture with Facebook being a huge controlling force for the lives of so many people no matter their age.
For me, this is the film of our times. As social media attempted to draw us more closely together, I can’t help but to think it might have driven our society apart.
The ending perfectly showcases this as Zuckerberg refreshes his own Facebook page in the hope that the girl he just asked out accepts his friend request.It’s that pursuit of social acceptance that drives the movie, social media, and this generation.
Best scene: The climactic showdown between Garfield and Eisenberg.
“The Social Network” had the No. 1 Spot for a very long time…but I made a last second switch because I just had to go with me heart on this one. Without further ado…
1. Arrival (2016)
Honestly, I don’t even know where to begin.
I can write a 1,000 word essay over this film, and it still wouldn’t truly showcase how I feel about it. I’ve a few times during movies before. However, no film has ever made me openly weep…until “Arrival” did.
It’s ending twist is so shocking and unexpected, but it’s the message that the movie reveals with its finale that absolutely shattered me in the best way. Essentially, it asks, “Would you choose the same future for yourself while knowing of terrible grief that awaits you?”
And the answer which the movie beautifully displays, is yes. It’s not about the destination. It’s about the journey. Life is not a means to an end. Happiness, instead, is found in small, unexpected moments, and a major part of being happy is the ability to recognize and embrace those moments when they occur.
That’s the sentiment at the heart of “Arrival” and it’s absolutely breathtaking. I had recently lost a very close friend to a sudden illness just a year before seeing this, so you could imagine what affect this movie had on me.
The very, very best films are the ones that give back to the audience and teach us a important lesson. They generate empathy within ourselves and help us cope with our own downfalls and tragedies. In short, they give us hope.
That’s what “Arrival” did for me, and I’ll always be thankful for it.
Best scene: “Despite knowing the journey and where it leads, I embrace it. And I welcome every moment of it.”
Happy New Year, everyone. May God bless you all.