ArtsQuest’s Favorite Films of the Decade
Best Of lists are all well and good but, here at ArtsQuest and the Frank Banko Alehouse Cinemas, we wanted to do a little something different. Instead of pulling together lists that could all look the same – especially compared to the thousands out there you can already see – we wanted to give you our favorite films of the decade instead with the hopes that you might find a new fav yourself.
There are over 130 films on the lists below and only 40 of those show up on more than one. Robert Egger’s 2015 supernatural horror film The Witch shows up on four lists, more than any other film. Avengers: Endgame, Coco, Get Out, and Mad Max: Fury Road show up on three lists each, as does a more hidden gem guaranteed to make you smile, Sing Street.
Everyone has different rationales as to what makes a film their favorite, which is why there are so many different movies below; there are so many different personalities and backgrounds within the staff and volunteers that make ArtsQuest and the Frank Banko Alehouse Cinemas work. We hope you enjoy these lists and that the 2020s provide you with health, happiness, and a whole bunch of visits to our movie theaters!
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1. Frances Ha
2. What We Do in the Shadows
4. The Babadook
5. Sing Street
9. I Am Not Your Negro
3. Never Look Away
4. Toy Story 3
5. Sing Street
7. Wild Tales
8. Avengers: Endgame
10. Phantom Thread
1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
4. The Hunt for the Wilderpeople
5. The Little Hours
6. About Time
7. Crazy Stupid Love
8. Easy A
9. Eighth Grade
10. Pitch Perfect
2. Jojo Rabbit
3. Toy Story 4
4. Eighth Grade
5. Toy Story 3
6. The LEGO Movie
9. 21 Jump Street
10. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Steve Abruzzese and Jennifer Suwak
1. The Social Network
If you are looking for the quintessential masterpiece of filmmaking in the 21st century, look no further than David Fincher’s The Social Network. Every shot is perfect for what this film is, the film’s score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross fits amazingly well and these elements can tell the story of Facebook without dialog. However, the screenplay by Aaron Sorkin gives the film the bones it needs to stand as one of the best of all time. Snubbed for Best Picture (King’s Speech).
2. Inside Llewyn Davis
When we screened our short documentary Pulling Teeth at the Austin Film Festival in 2013, we were able to see an early screening of Inside Llewyn Davis. We were in the very last row at the Paramount Theatre, in an aisle seat right by the exit. T Bone Burnett and a relatively unknown Oscar Isaac were there for a Q and A afterwards. Even though we were able to see this Coen Brothers film in this setting, the movie holds up as one of their greatest films as just a simple story of a week in a musician’s life during 1961 Greenwich Village.
3. Inherent Vice
This is a film that some people love or just do not care about. We love it! Besides Joaquin Phoenix’s wonderful performance as a P.I. in 1970 Southern California, the set design, abundant characters and a plot that it is okay to be confused about. The plot doesn’t matter, follow the interesting characters. A new The Big Sleep or The Big Lebowski. A great couple scenes with Joaquin and Reese Witherspoon (since Walk the Line), Josh Brolin eating a paper plate of Cannabis or Martin Short doing blow then running after a girl with his pants down… the point is there is a scene for everyone.
How can a seventh installment of the Rocky franchise get Golden Globe Awards and an Oscar nomination? Ryan Coogler, fresh off the success of Fruitvale Station, proposed the idea to Sylvester Stallone in a twelve-minute pitch meeting and they ran with it. There is an entire fight in one long take, a new engaging “Training Montage” and a date night scene where the Philadelphia phrase “Jawn” is discussed. The fresh performances by Michael B. Jordan and Tessa Thompson, with a revival of Stallone himself as Rocky, make this film the most authentic and real Rocky since the first.
5. The Witch
The horror film has many forms, but a film that’s setting and mood kick in immediately with the banishment of a family in a 1600s New England gets us. We feel isolated and stalked like they do. This family is prey to something outside of their control. Slight paranormal but mostly just atmospheric, the scares in this come from error in human judgement, and this hits us hard with the authenticity of the dialog to the times. Everything about this film is creepy. We get lost in this world like no other film, and Robert Eggers will probably do it again in The Lighthouse.
The only Best Picture Winner on our list is Moonlight because it’s on a level of its own. Three act structure follows a young black man in Miami is one of the most authentic and raw coming-of-age stories put to screen. Watching the film several times you notice all of the details, like in costume design (the use of blue and red outfits) the haunting score and the setting really put us in 1980s and 1990s Miami. You are with Chiron the whole way, with his highs and his lows and his lows are tough to go through with him, but Barry Jenkins does an amazing job of shot choice and sound design to keep us going.
7. Baby Driver
Edgar Wright nails this modern musical that everyone can enjoy. It’s funny, action packed and precise. Every beat to every song goes with the visuals in some way and diegetic sounds in the movie like police sirens, becomes part of the song playing in Baby’s earbuds. After your first viewing you will be re-watching every scene for the subtleties missed. If it wasn’t for Kevin Spacey being a part of this film (bad timing), this film wins every editing and sound Oscar and is recognized for the masterpiece that it is. It’s a gamechanger.
8. Get Out
The opening long shot of a man being abducted by a stalking car in an affluent neighborhood is chilling. Get Out made a new type of horror film by bringing the consciousness of society today mixed with a psychological thriller. A film about race and class issues under the plot of rich white people entering the bodies of young African Americans to the highest bidder has a mix of humor and horror which Jordan Peele masters. It’s a great movie overall, but it did so much for the horror genre. It was tough not to pick his second film Us which is just as masterful.
9. A Ghost Story
Two women asked me in the bathroom at the theatre “What did the movie mean?” The movie is about grief and the feelings that go with the loss of a loved one and the space you inhabit together. The scene where Rooney Mara doesn’t eat for days then eats so much of a casserole that she pukes her guts up hit home so hard when you or someone you know is going through depression. The movie is a wave of emotion from the start and when you think the movie is going one way, you realize it is going another way and you get hooked going through time and space until we come full circle.
The best movie about mental illness is a movie coming from DC comics. There are so many layers to this film, but the main focus of a character who has dealt with childhood trauma and how society ignores him is chilling to its core. Most people know the end product; this man becomes the Joker who will fight Batman one day, but most of the film you rarely think of him that way. Gotham in New York and North Jersey is a great aesthetic too.
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The Big Short
The Dark Knight Rises
La La Land
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1. Avengers: Endgame
This movie is truly an epic in every sense of the word. Nothing like it has ever been done before and I honestly think nothing ever will again. I don’t care who says what, this movie is a cinematic masterpiece.
2. Hardcore Henry
I remember trying to see this as many times as I could in theaters because of how unique it was. This movie feels like you’re playing a video game, it puts you right into the action and literally doesn’t stop until the end. While obviously not the best story wise, it’s certainly the most fun I’ve had watching a movie this decade.
3. Pacific Rim
Words fail when I try to describe how much I love this movie. It seriously has everything I could ever want: giant monsters, giant robots, emotional final stands, Charlie Day…It’s just a shame they never made a sequel to this movie (if you keep telling yourself a lie enough times you’ll start to believe it).
4. War for the Planet of the Apes
This is such an emotional, satisfying conclusion to the best trilogy we’ve had since LOTR. Absolute perfection.
5. Blair Witch
I’m one of the few people on earth whose favorite genre of film is Found Footage Horror, so obviously this HAS to be on my list. This movie is one of the very few sequels that actually feels on par, if not better than the original. This was an improvement and expansion on what is already one of the greatest Horror films ever made.
6. King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
I will never understand why people hated this movie. From its score, to its story, to the Guy Ritchie-ness, it’s simply brilliant.
The perfect send off for one of my favorite comic book characters. I wish we had more standalone comic book movies that packed as much punch as this one did.
8. Ex Machina
I was never really interested in ”low budget indie film”-esque movies until I saw this. It changed how seriously I took film and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Oscar Issac’s performance…*chef’s kiss*.
9. Wind River
This is easily one of the most well-acted and well written movies I’ve seen this decade. This would not be on this list if not for Jon Bernthal’s performance, to this day I’m still riveted by it. Hands down best of his career.
Whenever I’m down or have had a rough day, I watch any scene from this movie and it cheers me right up. It’s stuck with me for that very reason. When it came out, it felt like a much-needed breath of fresh air. Incredibly cute, super charming, a solid 10/10.
20 Feet from Stardom
An enlightening tribute to the background singers to the most popular performers in music. This documentary dives deep into the reality that talent is not enough. At times breaks your heart and other times has it soar with the life stories of these amazing singers/artist.
There is a scene in the film that is amazing. Real footage of David Bowie recording “Young Americans” with his backup singers of which one is Luther Vandross. It Won Best Documentary. Although there are a number of documentaries that are very important and well done, this one stayed with me. The content goes beyond music.
And, Breathe Normally
I was fortunate to screen this film at the Provincetown Film Festival. It stole my heart and uplifted my spirit. It’s a film that most, I imagine, did not see in 2018.
In Iceland two women’s lives intersect for a brief moment by unforeseen circumstances. Strong performances by the lead characters and the supporting role of the young boy are moving. Director Isold Uggadottir balances suspense and without being too sentimental. A film I love more and more each time I watch it.
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Warmed my heart. It was called poetry on film and I would agree. When I watched it 2012, it blew me away. When I think it today it still touches me. I appreciate this film. The young 9-year-old actress was terrific as Quvenzhane Wallis became the youngest Best Actress nominee in history. Her character’s imagination and perseverance are on display which is a wonderful story set in the most challenging circumstances.
Familiar with the novel “Price of Salt” by Patricia Highsmith, I was anxiously awaiting the film to be released. A beautifully written screen play by Phyllis Nagy brought to life by a strong cast, cinematography and musical score. It plays as a novel, which I enjoy very much. It’s both subtle and powerful. Set in the 1950’s, Todd Haynes direction brings this film together beautifully.
A rollercoaster ride of a suspense and intrigue. It’s original with twists and turns that kept me entertained and interested in the characters. I am not usually taken in by action films, but this film is one of my favorites.
This had me right from the opening scene. Not your typical coming of age film. The script is original and smart…joyful and easy to identify with all the characters. Purely authentic, this is what I appreciate in film and especially this one. Laurie Metcalf and Saoirse Ronan, along with the supporting cast, are at their very best and make it look so easy.
Life of Pi
There were times watching this film I was in awe of the beauty Ang Lee brought to life on the screen. The technical effects were excellent. I cared for Pi as well as the tiger on their journey of spirit and survival. This wonderful novel became remarkable filmmaking that is still with me.
Miseducation of Cameron Post
Set in 1993, the winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival is one I can relate to. I had friends who survived gay conversion therapy and some who did not.
Why this film is on my list (and not such fine films like Boy Erased) is that the screenplay co written and directed by Desiree Akhaven, based on the adaption of Emily Danforth’s book, balances out the drama with humor and sensitivity that creates a refreshing original film. Akhaven is queer herself and I believe that brought insights to this subject that other directors may not have to offer. Some say it moved too slowly, but that to me that is the film’s strength, taking the time to understand the characters as they are coming of age in this repressive environment. I also appreciated that the budget was fewer than 900,000 dollars and shot in 23 days.
Powerful and sensitive story that is beautifully shared on film. It all worked for me. The script, acting, direction delivers a wonderful coming of age story in a brave way not seen before.
Possibly the best film of this year. Beautifully crafted and the score is wonderful. But why it moved me were the stories within the story… surprises throughout that bring tears and laughter. It is disturbing because it needs to be. I could share much more about this film but it’s so difficult to put into words.
Being tasked with coming up with my ten “favorite” films of the 2010s as opposed to what I view as the BEST means that masterpieces like The Tree of Life and The Turin Horse end up ranking lower than Mandy. Here an anti-laugh riot like Michael Haneke’s Amour loses to The Lobster and Lady Bird. It’s for the best as this decade was more spent by me being a father than a filmgoer. Too many blindspots to have a Best Of list to be taken seriously.
With that in mind, here are the films I found myself watching over and over, falling asleep to, waking up with, and hiding in. The cinematic comfort food of the last ten years. My favorite films of the 2010s are:
10. The Trip
This and the two sequels are really just road trip conversations between two intelligent and witty individuals. It’s My Dinner with Andre with dueling Michael Caine impersonations.
9. Good Time
Like Scorsese’s After Hours, a darkly comic descent into the hell that can be New York City. Any unsuspecting Twilight fan following Robert Pattinson’s career this decade has had a wild ride with a couple Cronenberg flicks, one by Herzog, Claire Denis’s High Life and the recently released The Lighthouse.
8. I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore
Elijah Woods plus a ninja throwing star belt buckle equals greatness. The first five minutes of this movie kind of encapsulates all that is wrong with the western world. Stuck in traffic staring at truck balls. Yep. I feel your pain, Ruth.
7. Sorry to Bother You
An edgier, more incisive Office Space. Also, a beautifully chaotic mess. In the same year Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman got all the hype this piece had deeper and more radical insights on race in modern AmeriKkKa.
6. Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World
A comic book adaptation about a jerk reckoning with his romantic past and that of his girlfriend. The graphic novel roots vividly translate to the big screen with fight scenes that have a video game boss battle flair. Seems unlikely but I mean all of that in the best way possible.
I want that jacket, but know I’m not cool enough to actually wear it. Add a toothpick and driving gloves? Forget about it! A moody masterpiece with a great soundtrack (except for that one song). Hey Girl, er Gosling, Baby Driver got nothin’ on you.
4. Only Lovers Left Alive
Style and substance combine to cast a gloomy, romantic spell. Best viewed at a midnight screening on a cold winter night where one must wander dark alleys and cracked sidewalks to make the subway home before dawn. To paraphrase John Hurt’s Marlowe “Jim Jarmusch, please never die.”
A vegetarian veterinary student develops a taste for flesh and stomach-churning hilarity ensues. The best coming of age film of the decade.
2. Phantom Thread
Another film about a jerk. Elegant bile. It’s perfect.
1. Mad Max: Fury Road
As much as I bemoan the dismal state of cinema with everything seemingly being a remake, a reboot, or a sequel this, this adrenaline (and guzzoline)-fueled post-apocalyptic bit of anarchic insanity is sort of guilty of being all three. It’s my favorite action movie of all time (unseating the previous champ, The Road Warrior) as well as being my favorite and what I consider the Best Film of the Decade.
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1. The Shape of Water
I’m a big del Toro fan; I’ll watch anything he’s put his hands on, and I’ve never been disappointed, even when critics disagreed. Shape of Water is unquestionably his masterpiece. It’s part fairy tale, part monster movie; it’s Beauty and the Beast meets the Creature from the Black Lagoon. It’s sweet and scary and tragic and heartwarming and dark all at once, and I love every second of it.
2. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
This is the only comic book movie that actually feels like a comic book, thanks to Edgar Wright’s masterful editing, timing, and special effects choices. It’s fun and lighthearted and silly, with a great soundtrack and a fantastic young cast.
3. Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
I had the pleasure of seeing this with a live Q&A from Mr. McFeely himself, but the documentary’s merits far outweigh that experience. It’s a fantastic portrait of the journey that led to the creation of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood and a wonderful look at one an iconic entertainer and educator. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house when the lights came back up.
4. It Follows
The 2010s have been a great decade for horror in general. We’ve gotten a lot of interesting and imaginative films that are thought-provoking and genuinely spooky, and It Follows is first among them. It’s dark without being bleak, disturbing without gore, and unnerving without relying on jump scares.
5. Baby Driver
While not as funny as Edgar Wright’s other films, it shines the most with his style. The opening credits alone are a testament to that: the pacing, music, editing, the appearance of the lyrics as Baby walks down the street are all pure Wright.
6. Doctor Strange
Strange has long been my favorite superhero, and given his low place on Marvel’s roster, I was worried he’d get a sub-par film. This was everything I wanted and more. Cumberbatch and company are great, the visuals are brimming with Ditko weirdness, and the story hits all the right beats for a Strange tale. I’m looking forward to the sequel.
7. Get Out
I’m so glad this got the award consideration that it did. It’s not as scary or as full of twists and turns as other horror films, but everything about it is crafted to a tee. I was skeptical about Jordan Peele’s change in genre, but he’s done so spectacularly.
8. Midnight in Paris
This scratched my English nerd itch so well. The characterization of so many great artistic figures: Gertrude Stein, the Fitzgeralds, Hemingway, Dali, etc. are all done so well that it’s easy to find yourself getting caught up in the dangerous nostalgia that the movie tries to warn against.
Pixar has had some many great films in their library, but Coco is my favorite. I love the themes of death, memory, and family–despite the context of Mexican tradition, the message is universal. The ending gets me right in the heart every time.
10. Train to Busan
As far as I’m concerned, this is the greatest zombie film (with the possible asterisk for Shaun of the Dead). You learn to care about the characters and become invested in their survival in a way that’s rare for most films in the subgenre.
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2. The Handmaiden
3. The Duke of Burgundy
4. Green Room
5. How to Survive a Plague
6. The Skin I Live In
7. Mad Max: Fury Road
8. Stranger By the Lake
9. Winter’s Bone
10. Jupiter Ascending
Whew! Narrowing down a decade’s worth of moviegoing to just ten favorites was no easy task, but I managed (barely). Ultimately, I arrived at a selection of films I deeply love; some that delight me enough to revisit them over and over, and others that get under my skin and challenge me on a deep, emotional level. They’re pretty diverse in terms of genre, style, budget, and subject matter. Movies of complicated morality and desire, radical queer outsiderdom, underdog victories, gritty social realism…and one big budget failure so achingly sincere, my silly, sentimental heart didn’t stand a chance.
Host of the Tuesday Talkback Film Series
10. Winter’s Bone
Debra Granik’s film tells the story of a teen girl from the Ozarks (Jennifer Lawrence in a breakout role) forced to take on the role of detective seeking her missing father in order to save her family home. The film deftly mixes family melodrama and rural noir for an experience both moving and unsettling.
9. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
This film already warrants acclaim for its smart mixture of animation styles, but it also earns our affections for its poignant storytelling and quality voice performances.
8. A Separation
This Persian-language film from acclaimed director Asghar Farhadi tells the story of a married couple separating so that their daughter can grow up away from the oppressive government of Iran. The thoughtful cinematography and the moving performances of its lead actors captivate the audience throughout the film.
Director Paul Feig and star Melissa McCarthy have enjoyed many successful collaborations this decade, but none of them quite match the hilarity and the craft of this comedy.
6. The Grand Budapest Hotel
Wes Anderson strikes his usual smart balance between a quirky comic tone and a lingering melancholy while tackling the even more ambitious subject matter of 1930s fascism.
5. Sing Street
This film about a 1980s Dublin teen falling in love, discovering his identity, and pursuing his love of making music hits me hard every time. It’s an essential love letter to 80s music and to the joys of creative work.
4. The Witch
While this film’s commitment to historical detail is admirable, far more impressive is its ability to keep audiences in a constant state of dread leading up to its powerful and cathartic ending.
Barry Jenkins’ film, structured in three parts of the life of a young black man from Miami, meditates brilliantly and beautifully on what happens to a boy who grows up struggling with poverty, institutional racism, and toxic masculinity.
2. Get Out
Jordan Peele’s brilliant social horror film manages to be disturbing and funny in its commentary on 21st century racial politics. It provides new layers of material to be discovered on every viewing.
1. Lady Bird
Great Gerwig’s story of a Sacramento high school senior ready to leave her hometown behind offers well-observed comedy and heartbreaking family conflicts. I love this film especially for the empathy it shows its characters and encourages in its viewers.
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“Argo f*** yourself” – Unbelievable tension as they were leaving the country and boarding the plane.
The Big Sick
Just cute and original.
Acting was top notch and I loved the music.
No explanation needed.
Sad but honest portrayal of what my father/grandfather’s generation experienced.
Crazy twist and Neil Patrick Harris was amazing.
Manchester by The Sea
Sad and depressing beyond words, but if he can resolve his pain and move on in life, we all can. Wonderful acting.
Silver Linings Playbook
brought light to mental illness and also Bradley Cooper.
Current and relevant and needed attention brought to it.
We’re the Millers
I have seen this at least 20 times and still laugh so hard each time.
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10 Cloverfield Lane
Probably one of the best thrillers of the past 10 years. Plus, each Cloverfield movie adds to the Alternate Reality game making every entry an immersive experience. The hidden back story (found only through easter eggs and online sleuthing) apart of each film just adds to the grander mystery.
An extremely original and innovative idea. even though you’re watching a documentary of a family going through their dearly departed grandmother’s stuff, you get a taste of who she was, how she lived, and how much she was loved. by the end of the movie, you miss her too.
The biopic of country singer Blaze Foley is one of the most simple, yet hard hitting stories ever told. He only loved two things: music and his woman. how he found his way through life having nothing but that gives you a grander perspective of what is really important.
The Cloverfield Paradox
A new take on alternate dimensions, it keeps you wondering what’s actually real. Plus, with every Cloverfield film, the backstory and events leading up to the events in the movie makes the film so much more intense. As the third entry in the Cloverfield story, it begins to tie the first two films together.
The Fault In Our Stars
Not a fan of Young Adult fiction, this story actually hit me harder than i anticipated. even when you think the plot was going one way, it’s a punch in the gut every time when the final scenes play out.
The Hateful Eight
One of the best written films this past decade. Mainly taking place within one room, you get a sense of a lack of trust as the characters feel it. and there’s something about a good intermission that makes you feel you’re watching a truly classic film.
Gilda Radner is one of the most influential comedians ever to make it big. the story of who she was and where she went resonates with anyone who every just wanted to entertain.
Straight Outta Compton
The NWA biopic is one of the most well written biographies. the performances were so compelling, you felt every happy, angry, and sad moment throughout their music careers.
As a comic fan, i never thought I would every see Suicide Squad/Harley Quinn in a live action movie. it had a different feel and look than every other superhero story, and i appreciate the change in direction.
One of the most intense and scary movies without any major gore or special effects. the buildup of tension and paranoia will get you way before the fear does.
Curator, Cinema Significa…
3. Mad Max: Fury Road
4. The Witch
8. The Florida Project
9. The Cabin in the Woods
10. Sing Street
Experience is crucial in determining what is considered the “best” through my eyes. How it felt to be in the cinema, experiencing a world of untapped and unfamiliar senses, is my measure for compiling this painstaking top ten list. Each one of these films are forever engraved in my DNA, each leaving an incredible impact that has carried, and will continue to carry, throughout the years. From the riveting screenplays, or even lack thereof, combined with inspired cinematography, terrifically poignant performances, and with a slight directorial bias towards the more abstract, I believe that these films will stand the test of time. And, if not, I will be here to love them anyhow!
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1. The Social Network
4. Blue Is the Warmest Color
5. Black Swan
6. Gone Girl
7. First Reformed
8. Manchester by the Sea
9. Frances Ha
10. The Way He Looks
Amidst the increasingly overwhelming feelings of insecurity throughout the decade, the desire to make sense of chaotic times, both within ourselves and with others, is seen expressed in the films selected.
In The Social Network and Black Swan, the yearning for personal success and notoriety ultimately doom the protagonists in different ways, skillfully portraying the alienating mental and social consequences of talent and the way ambition affects our relationships with others in ways that never feel like a lecture. The search for self-discovery and identity, whether sexual (Blue is the Warmest Color, The Way He Looks) or personal (Mommy, Somewhere), feels more relevant as a cinematic staple than ever. Both illustrate cohesive and nonjudgmental studies of individuals enduring remarkable struggles, portraying a variety of diverse perspectives on minority issues that nevertheless hold universal appeal and empathy.
Other selected films examine our relationships with each other in unpleasant ways suited to a cynical age. Manchester by the Sea confronts viewers with an uncompromising and masterfully acted portrayal of grief and depression as well as our desperation to feel a connection with others while Gone Girl flaunts a fantastical yet uncomfortably thought-provoking dissection of the faults in our personal relationships and the not-entirely-exaggerated ways we cope with them.
The remaining films, First Reformed and Frances Ha, faithfully portray feelings of helplessness with matters beyond our control — from death, religion, and a progressively hopeless environmental situation to friendships, existentialism, and the pursuit of happiness — both forcing us to reflect on our ability to influence any of it.
Overall, I’ve chosen these ten films as my favorites of the decade because of similar strengths: extraordinary acting, engaging scripts, inspired direction and cinematography, and a deep understanding of the human condition in the way we interact with ourselves, each other, and the world around us.
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Easy A is a film I will always stop and watch if I see it on TV. Emma Stone is awesome (in this and in any film) and so are all of the 80s movie references made.
Original horror is hard to come by these days, yet Jordan Peele is conquering the genre with his creativity. The film’s suspense grew the more I pieced together what was going on and, as the end came, I was physically up on the edge of my seat. Once the film ended, I wanted to turn around and watch it again. I went back to the theatre less than a week later and did so.
Grand Budapest Hotel
The fantasy-like colors and symmetry are typical Wes Anderson which made it hard to not be drawn to this film. It is beautiful to look with whimsical storyline and characters that are fun to follow.
Guardians of the Galaxy 2
Baby Groot dancing to Mr. Blue Sky while an insane battle is going on behind him is so wholesome and lovely. I can listen to Awesome Mix Vol. 1 & 2 all day long and I stan Star-Lord and Gamora and their banter.
Happy Death Day
Take the movie Groundhog Day but add a murderer and a final girl and you get a movie on Alli’s top 10 list. The comedy aspects in this film made it really fun to watch and I also want to be friends with Jessica Rothe.
The last time I was afraid of the dark was when I accidentally saw a scene from House on Haunted Hill at the age of eight… until this film. I couldn’t look at the dark corners of my room for weeks due to one scene that held suspense for what felt like an hour. The array of emotions I experienced during and after this film makes it one I will never forget.
One of the main reasons I love this film is the soundtrack. It opens with music that feels straight out of an 80s slasher. It Follows was original and, at least for me, was one of the films that started to bring the horror genre back.
The retelling of Sleeping Beauty from a new perspective was refreshing. Angelina Jolie, an absolute QUEEN, had me loving and sympathizing with a character known for being one of the most evil villains in the Disney realm.
I’m a huge Disney fan and this was one of my favorite Disney movies from the last decade. You get to see child Mike Wazowski excited about finding a nickel and it’s so wholesome my heart could explode.
Witches/witchcraft themes have been favorites of mine recently, an interest that all stemmed from this film. I watched it for the first time last year and was obsessed especially thanks to the phenomenal voice casting. Thinking about it still gives me chills.
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Take all my favorite superheroes from the Marvel world and roll them into on extremely entertaining, funny, and action-packed film. I love all the crossovers in the Marvel world and all of the connections you notice with the more films you have seen.
Beauty and the Beast
I am a big fan of Disney and have seen this show twice on Broadway so I was very curious as to what they would do with this beloved story. They brought together an all-star cast, brought in new music and carry-overs from the Broadway show/film, and Emma Watson was charming as Belle. It was great to learn even more of Belle’s backstory.
I loved this film because it felt like visiting with old friends and getting to catch up on their lives. It played as a “Downtown Abbey’s greatest hits” with all that fabulous wit and storytelling.
Iron Man 3
Robert Downey, Jr. is so much fun as Tony Stark and this film in the series brings out another side of him and his relationship with Pepper Potts.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
The final film of the series, it just includes such amazing energy with the build-up to the battle with Voldemort. I have read all the books so no spoilers, but I love seeing how these characters (and actors) complete this chapter of their story.
The Last Five Years
I love musicals and the story-telling approach in this musical (telling the story forward and backward at the same time) is so unique. You feel the excitement of a new relationship and the devastation as it falls apart at the same time for the length of the entire film, thanks to brilliant performances by Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan. I always get wary of film adaptations of musicals, but I actually think this might be the exception where it is even better than the stage play.
Letters to Juliet
Yes, I listed all the others, but the reality is that I have watched this film many many more times than the rest combined. This film is absolutely light fluff, but I love it. I love the simple romantic comedy with pretty people driving around Italy, and the parallel love stories between Amanda Seyfried and Vanessa Redgrave. It is a simple watch and it makes me happy, and sometimes those films are just the best and just what you need.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
I had never seen any of the Star Wars films until my mid-20s, when I met my husband. I loved this film because I felt like it was the Star Wars story that I finally got to experience together with Star Wars fans for the first time! It was brand new to all of us. It was the one sentence in the scrolling Star Wars text that turned into a real story of people and bravery and giving it all for a cause.
This is my favorite James Bond film. Daniel Craig puts on a stellar performance that looks into Bond’s past. And, of course, the amazing performance by Dame Judi Dench as M is icing on the cake.
Thor: The Dark World
One word: Loki. I love seeing the relationship between Thor and Loki continue to develop as they find themselves momentarily on the same side.
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You have to understand, this movie was an event. As a culmination of eleven years of films, this ending to what Marvel is calling the “Infinity Saga” has for better or worse changed the landscape of mainstream cinema and acts as an immense payoff for anyone who has been there every step of the way.
It boasts unparalleled special effects, a boggling amount of very expensive actors, and perhaps one of the greatest action sequences ever made. It took a long time to get there, and I nearly had heart palpations as I watched it unfold.
My girlfriend and I had a tradition where every Wednesday night, we would get tacos for dinner and then go see a movie at The Roxy in Northampton. Brooklyn was the first movie that started our long-standing date night, but besides the sentimental reasoning it also happens to be a great movie.
It does a great job of visually transporting the viewer to the 1950s (perhaps made unintentional more powerful by The Roxy’s atmosphere), and it sets up a love triangle that creates a truly difficult decision by the end of the movie. If you have any trouble realizing that Saoirse Ronan is a star, this film will set you straight.
This movie has a ton of bad words, a ton of violence, and it toys with America’s traumatic and racist past. However, it does give you the superficial satisfaction of watching some really bad people get their comeuppance in masterfully shot (both by cameras and guns) action sequences.
The movie looks beautiful with its snowy, rocky landscapes and sounds amazing with a soundtrack that doesn’t stick to one genre. Jamie Foxx and Kerry Washington deliver standout performances, and this is the movie Leonardo DiCaprio should have won his Oscar for.
This movie is a great, thrilling adventure if you don’t take it too seriously. It’s easy to get caught up in the corny aspects of it (the tagline was “Your mind is the scene of the crime!”) but I felt the sci-fi world building and visually imaginative action add up to a movie that sticks with you as you try to piece it all together.
The way the timelines sync up thanks to how they edited the footage, how they play with gravity and perception—it’s a master class on how you tell an especially visual story; it wouldn’t have the same effect as a book.
The Grand Budapest Hotel
I love Wes Anderson’s style through all his movies, but this one sticks with me because of its adventurous plot and enchanting set pieces. Dark, deadpan humor is delivered by actors at the top of their form and M. Gustave’s penchant for romantic poetry, thinly veiled vanity, and fierce loyalty to his friends warms my Scorpio heart. Grab your bottle of L’Air de Panache and call the Crossed Keys, because it’s time for a grizzly adventure in pre-war Europe.
The LEGO Movie
Growing up, I loved LEGOs. I remember being so into those bricks that I once had a dream that there was a LEGO movie, like a “straight to DVD” kind of thing, but then I woke up into a sad world where that didn’t exist. Besides my dream coming true, this movie was surprising in other ways: it had Easter eggs for long-time fans, it was genuinely funny, and it has a twist towards the end that I never knew I needed. I was blown away that they work LEGO bricks into nearly every bit of animation. You get the sense that you’re watching a movie made carefully, by artists who love the subject just as much as you do.
This…is a weird one. Concerning a near future where everyone is obligated to settle down and marry or be faced with getting turned into an animal, the hopeless are sent to an unnamed hotel in a last-ditch effort to find their match.
This is so darkly humorous, so psychologically chilling, and so bonkers that it’s impossible to forget. The deadpan performances give this strange world an ethereal quality, and the ending gives me shivers whenever I think of it. How far are you willing to go to not be alone?
Mad Max: Fury Road
I’m sure someone is going to be mad at me for this, but I haven’t seen any of the other Mad Max movies. Even so, I feel that this film allows you to jump in and experience it without the baggage of what came before, even if only because Tom Hardy takes over as a new version of the character. I love Tom Hardy’s mouth full of gravel, but it’s Charlize Theron’s performance that really steals the show.
This is another example of a story that exists visually—there’s very little exposition in the dialogue and you must use what you see to piece the world building together. Every detail is meaningful and unique, from vulture people walking on stilts in the dead of night to the Doof Warrior, some part of this movie will remain with you long after you’ve seen it.
Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse
When they first announced that they were adding Spider-Man into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I had truly hoped that they were going to go with the Miles Morales version of the character. I was disappointed to learn that they were sticking with yet another Peter Parker, and this movie shows why things would have been way more interesting with Miles.
It’s a more interesting comic book movie in general, and it painstakingly uses animation to play with its comic origin and provides its characters with complexity and nuance that some might not expect from a cartoon. It’s a great movie full of fun new versions of many characters (they found a way to make Doctor Octopus not corny?!), and the Nicholas Cage cameo doesn’t hurt either.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
I hear that some folks didn’t like this one. The thing is: this chapter in the Star Wars saga tried to do things differently, and while there are plot lines that don’t quite stick the landing, I’d rather see something new than the recycled, safe choices that The Force Awakens made.
I personally enjoyed the direction they took Luke’s character, as I feel his strict isolation made sense after everything he’s done and seen. If all people wanted to see was a badass Jedi master using the Force to crush enemies, I’m not sure how they wouldn’t be happy with Luke creating an illusion of himself from the other side of the galaxy just to troll his terrorist nephew. Also, porgs are adorable and I could cry just thinking about them.
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1. The Shape of Water
Plainly, this movie is beautiful, the composition, the themes, the performances. It was a film that is a reminder of why the theater experience is such magic as life and love radiated through this film.
2. La La Land
The opening sequence alone would make this an immediate candidate as my favorite movie of the 2010s. It’s a love letter to the splashy movie musicals of the 40s and 50s and a rather glistening version of Tinseltown. Without a doubt, though, my favorite sequence is “What a Waste of a Lovely Night”; that chemistry is astounding and that one long take perfection.
3. Super 8
In JJ Abrams I trust. Nostalgia flick, yes. But that alone? Not even close thanks to the emotional depth to this film, the choices Abrams makes to balance the intimate and the spectacle, and the celebration of the adventures of youth.
Three separate thematic and cinematography sequences exist in this film and they match perfectly a search for self and identity, the unmooring and exhilarating emotions of that process, and how you reconcile that personal discovery with the notion of home. In short: the movie is damn pretty and damn moving.
5. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I
Aside from an undying loyalty to all things Rowling, I just love the experience of this story revealed in all its cinematic glory. It remains, to me, the truest adaptation: the mood, sequencing, and the additions from page to screen work to enhance what is the most dynamic portion of the entire Harry Potter series.
6. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
I know this is my second JJ Abrams entry on the list, but I can’t help how much this movie delighted me. I grew up a Star Wars fan, that fandom was tested during the prequel films, but that fandom was galvanized during this film. Rey is the most thrilling and hopeful protagonist of the series. There are so many moments that make this film special, and so many choices by Abrams that make this the best directed of all the Star Wars films (come at me).
In a film world fatigued by dystopian realities, this film emerged as a battle cry of why that genre works. It’s painful, brilliantly edited, and a really enjoyable punch to the gut.
All cinematic governing bodies need to just hand Lupita Nyong’o all their shiny metals. Jordan Peele has a tremendous command already of psychological terror and this film, particularly in the first home encounter with the tethered, is representative of that.
Ryan Coogler breathed life into the much overwrought Rocky franchise and the boxing genre. He placed the camera and the audience in the ring in ways that were not only innovative, but also provided some immense heart to a story that could have been paint by numbers. I’ll leave this line right here for anyone who has seen the film “That I’m not a mistake.”
This film delivers on a tremendous career. A compelling story, and most of all an apropos message. Also the “Too Late to Turn Back Now” scene may be the best musical number in cinematic history.