Crazy to think that we’re in the final weeks of a decade; we’ve still got 2019’s top films to discuss as well as awards season to stress over. This decade was big not only for me, as it was when I fully started going to, tracking and reviewing films (officially starting with “Scream 4” in April 2011) but we as a people were treated to groundbreaking cinema, the birth of the connected universe and strides for all sorts of representation.
But with every decade comes reflection, and here are my Top 25 films from 2010-2019. Some of these films may have been rated higher or lower than one another at the time of their time of release, however replayability and cultural impact also factor into this. I’ll start with the 15 films that *just* missed the cut (in alphabetical order), and then get into my Top 10.
Honorable mentions: Fury (2014), Get Out (2017), Green Book (2018), Marriage Story (2019), Moneyball (2011), Paddington 2 (2018), Shutter Island (2010), The Imitation Game (2014), The Revenant (2015), The Shape of Water (2017), The Town (2010), The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), Toy Story 3 (2010), Warrior (2011) and Wreck-It Ralph (2012).
10. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
This film blew me and many others away simply because the first “Captain America” film was pretty safe and vanilla. “Winter Soldier” works both as a superhero film and political thriller, and introduced the Russo brothers, eventual helmers of the “Infinity War” saga, to the MCU.
9. Straight Outta Compton (2015)
Another wonderful surprise, not many expected great things from an August release in a genre (biopic) that is often cliche or heavy-handed. But like the rap group it focuses on, “Compton” has great energy, edge and determination, and is built to last.
8. Argo (2012)
A great movie about a great story, the direction by Ben Affleck (who was famously snubbed for an Oscar nomination) is nothing short of incredible. I’ve seen the film a half-dozen times and know how every situation plays out and I still get white knuckles watching it.
7. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014)
Featuring career performances from Michael Keaton and Edward Norton, “Birdman” is as technically impressive as it is funny and dramatic. A sharp script and the “all-one-take” feat make this a compulsively watchable Best Picture winner.
6. Inception (2010)
Cool and smart, “Inception” confirmed Christopher Nolan as one of the best directors of his generation and features an incredible cast of Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
5. Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
A film that only gets better with every viewing, this took 10 years of characters and stories and successfully put them into one shared world. By-far the best Avengers film to-date.
4. Steve Jobs (2015)
A film I can put on at any time of day and watch, Aaron Sorkin’s dialogue seems built for the likes of Michael Fassbender, Seth Rogen (in a career-best performance) and Jeff Daniels. Sure, many wonder what a Jobs biopic would’ve looked like under director David Fincher, but Danny Boyle’s vision turned out just fine.
3. La La Land (2016)
A love letter to the movies and the city of Los Angeles (two of my favorite things), this is a film that goes down like candy and is as close to perfect as a film can get from an acting, directing and technical standpoint. It also features one gut-punch of an ending.
2. Captain Phillips (2013)
Speaking of great endings, this film’s climax actually left me shaking. Just like “Argo” I have seen this film multiple times and know the outcome, but because of the always-reliable Tom Hanks’ brilliant performance and Paul Greengrass’ direction, this thing is an emotional roller coaster in the best way.
And the best film from the 2010s was…
1. The Social Network (2010)
The first film on this list of the decade came in the first year of it. I remember going in not expecting much (“who needs a movie about Facebook?”) but was left blown away. Funny, intense, dramatic, witty, this film has it all. If you know me then there wasn’t any suspense or question as to whether or not this would be my number one of the decade, I won’t go a day without referencing it and it was the subject of three projects in college. “Social Network” also perfectly predicted our online future and the rifts it would cause. It isn’t very often a film is absolutely perfect, but of course, rules are made to be broken.