100. Hereditary (2018)
Ari Aster brought a unique voice to the horror genre in the 2010s. Overall the horror genre rebounded heavily this decade, but few were as downright horrific as Hereditary.
With Toni Colette giving her greatest performance and an emphasis on grief, the film reaches a whole other level of depth. Its jump scares are used sparingly in lieu of psychological scares that are highly effective.
99. Captain Fantastic (2016)
Captain Fantastic is a warm film that handles complex themes. It’s about family and lifestyle, but told in such a nuanced way where not clear answer is given to the character’s problems.
In addition to being warm and engaging, it’s a reflection on the pros and cons of our everyday lifestyles. Viggo Mortensen is tremendous, and I hope to see more comedies from Matt Ross in the future.
98. True Grit (2010)
What a beautiful film. This remake of the 1969 classic shifts its direction to the environment and nature of the wild west. It feels comical, but also raw and real. Roger Deakins cinematography here is consistently gorgeous.
The Coen Brothers didn’t have a decade as strong as the 00s, but with this and Inside Llewyn Davis, they created 2 films that tackle their philosophies on chaos in human nature.
97. The Peanut Butter Falcon (2019)
You’d be hard pressed to find a film as “feel good” as Peanut Butter Falcon, but it’s that way because it’s simultaneously raw in its presentation.
Nothing feels unnatural, and it doesn’t sugar-coat anything like most films of its kind. And by the end of it you feel the films electricity and gritty optimism.
96. Lion (2016)
Lion is an incredible true story. It draws a strong social attention to child homelessness in India, and you feel the tension and anxiety throughout.
There is something about Lion that sits with you, whether it’s due to its social consciousness or themes of “triumph of will,” I can’t tell. I know that this film sat with me, and continues to sit with me.
95. The Town (2010)
This may be one of the best heist films I’ve ever seen. It doesn’t treat any character as a throwaway, the emotions and tension are hard felt and it’ll make your heart race.
Ben Affleck proved to be a director of extraordinary talent. Argo was also to mirror the pace and feel of a perfectly solid thriller, but for me The Town remains his opus.
94. Leave No Trace (2018)
Similar to Captain Fantastic, Leave No Trace deals with some complex themes in human nature. It’s a gritty film and, deep down, it evolves into a coming-of-age film.
Thomasin McKenzie makes her debut performance which lead to her role in Jojo Rabbit, and Ben Foster may be one of the most underrated actors of the past 10 years. Between this and Winter’s Bone I look forward to any story Debra Granik gets her hands on.
93. How to Train Your Dragon (2010)
One of the greatest animated films, and franchises, of the past 10 years started off with a simple, but effective story. It’s one of the only films I’ve advocated for experiencing in 3D.
It has strong emotional depth and the consequences feel incredibly real. The flight sequences feel as if you’re in a motion simulator. It’s a beautiful, charming film that everyone can enjoy.
92. Rush (2013)
Ford v. Ferrari, I’mma let you finish, but Rush is the best racing film of the 2010s. The film’s nuance enhances the light-speed cinematography and editing. It tells a story of a rivalry where there is no clear protagonist or antagonist.
By the end of this movie I felt strongly about the over-arching message. It’s a film that shifted my view on lifestyle choices and how we categorize them. It’s an amazing film with tremendous depth.
91. Eighth Grade (2018)
Films like Eighth Grade are incredibly important to people in the heart of adulthood. It’s important to see how childhood as dramatically shifted with the times and Bo Burnham illustrates that well with Eighth Grade.
It can oftentimes be a tough watch. I had several PTSD flashes of my awkward middle-school years. But it’s that honesty that makes it so impactful.
90. V/H/S 2 (2013)
The V/H/S films (well 1 & 2) are wildly entertaining popcorn horror flicks. They’re compilation horror films that tell a handful of unique short stories. In V/H/S 2 the short films are made with ambitious techniques.
From first-person perspectives, to lost footage, from aliens to beasts this is an absolutely terrifying film that I watched in the middle of the night while drunk – which is, definitely, the best way to watch it.
89. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1/2 (2010, 2011)
Had to group these together because they both deliver some of the best moments of the entire franchise. Part 1 lets us spend time with the characters as they enter adulthood. It’s a classic coming-of-age film with a fantasy shell.
Part 1 only props up the climactic moments of Part 2 where everything comes together in magnificent fashion. With some of the most bombastic action sequences – it’s not a stretch to say that these are two of the best fantasy films of the 2010s in a long franchise that earns its payoff.
88. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2019)
This film is a meditative experience. You come out of it feeling this deep understanding of yourself in the present moment. It’s also how every biopic should be approached. Mr. Rogers isn’t the main character – but the film says more about him then the documentary about his life.
Marielle Heller has a crazy talent about her, and she shaped this film into something universal – as it should be. It’s direction is so unique and unapologetically empathetic. I love every moment of this movie.
87. Like Crazy (2011)
Some of the best romances of our time are heavy films that deal with the depths of the human condition. Nothing modernizes that struggle like Like Crazy which embodies both the hardships of being away from the one you love, and the absolute bliss of when your love flourishes.
It’s a devastating film that has something big to say about modern relationships. Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones are out of this world good.
86. La La Land (2016)
The bombastic choreography and jazz music make La La Land something beautiful. It’s a big film with big musical moments in a decade that lacked in quality musicals overall.
What Damien Chazelle is able to capture through his direction – with music and cinematography is extraordinary especially at such a young age. With his directing win for La La Land he is established as one of the greatest directors of the modern era.
85. Computer Chess (2013)
What a weird movie that I loved every moment of. It’s a small film, and I was convinced early on that it was actually a documentary. Until it goes to unique and odd places. Then you realize this is a powerful independent film with something to say.
With themes of artificial intelligence and existentialism, Computer Chess’s oddball presentation adds significant weight to its narrative.
84. Gone Girl (2014)
David Fincher had one hell of a record in the 2010s. Gone Girl was something wildly different. You never quite knew where it was going and it leaves your jaw on the floor. It’s dark and twisted, but all around engaging.
Ben Affleck gives his best performance yet, and Rosamund Pike is out of this world. A sinister film more akin to Fincher’s work with Se7en. It’s a beautiful thriller.
83. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)
A lot of Empire Strikes Back vibes here. Dawn is incredible. It has some fantastic action and set pieces and a poignant take on the catalyst of war.
Matt Reeves elevated this trilogy to the next level. It’s a close second in the entire franchise. It’s a mature take on the classic story and holds a ton of emotional weight.
82. Uncut Gems (2019)
Frenetic, anxious, scatter-brained. This film is the movie equivalent of an adrenaline shot. The rapid editing and action-style cinematography enhance the entire experience – adding to the chaos.
Adam Sandler cements the mumblings about him being a “great actor,” he’s one of the best working today – just not always “working.” The Safdie brothers have proven to be one dynamic duo and I look forward to their future projects.
81. The Master (2012)
I left The Master bored and frustrated. But then something amazing happened – it wouldn’t leave my brain. It’s a heavy film that tackles faith in ways no other film has before. Not to mention 3 juggernaut performances from Phoenix, Hoffman and Adams.
Paul Thomas Anderson is extremely talented. In an average movie time – he is able to embody so much complexities about the human condition. The Master is an intense experience that seeps under your skin for years to come.
80. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
There was no film last decade better crafted than Mad Max: Fury Road. George Miller’s opus. An auteur’s vision come to life. It’s big. It’s ambitious. It has some of the biggest stunt sequences in the history of film – and it’s wildly entertaining.
Where Mad Max really thrives is its simplicity. With minimal dialogue and a heightened emphasis on action and high-octane adrenaline. It’s easily one of the best action films ever made.
79. Take Shelter (2011)
Take Shelter starts by introducing you to a character who may, or may not, be crazy. The entire film you waffle between whether or not you buy into his potential delusions. Michael Shannon delivers one of his best performances and the tension never lets up.
It’s rare to find psychological thrillers with this kind of scope and attention to character. It’s a thriller with a deep layered subtext and, at its minimum, it’s a mystery that keeps you guessing.
78. Hugo (2011)
What happens when legend Martin Scorsese makes a kids film? Well, predictably it’s incredible. Hugo is a film for film lovers. It has a historical fiction edge that is undeniably nostalgic.
Additionally it makes effective use of the 3D fad while bottling up that same visual magic for regular viewings. It’s a film that puts a smile on my face when I talk about it.
77. Birdman (2014)
Birdman is a magnificent experience – but the ambitious “one-take” style aside – it’s a compelling and tragic character study. This was the role Michael Keaton was born to play.
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu made some incredible films this past decade – in experimental ways. Birdman is enhanced though by the sheer compassion it shows toward its vulnerable characters.
76. Amour (2012)
Beautiful and downright devastating. This movie about late-life love is harrowing and at times painful to watch. It’s clear though that the leads have an immense amount of love and chemistry. Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva are outstanding in their portrayals.
It’s amazing how some of the best romances devastate us. Amour makes us question the very nature of love and its inevitable tragedies.
75. The Babadook (2014)
There were so many great horror films in the 2010s, The Babadook was an early bird to the horror renaissance. A deep film with themes of grief, parenting, sexual abuse – its layered and wildly interpretable.
I saw this film multiple times and came away with multiple assumptions about the plot and the characters. It’s multi-faceted horror, which for its time was a refreshing break to the genre’s abused formula.
74. Les Miserables (2012)
I’m a little biased here because I’ve always been drawn to this musical. Victor Hugo’s novel is good enough on its own, but the songs in the musical are next level. It’s big, it’s bombastic almost to its own detriment.
The Burton-esque cinematography, long takes, and natural on-set singing add to the experience. It helps that the entire cast brings their A-game. It’s an emotional experience that I enjoyed every minute of.
73. The World’s End (2013)
The Cornetto trilogy (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, The World’s End) contains three of the best comedies of… well of all time, and I don’t think that’s an embellishment.
Edgar Wright knows how to direct comedy, the whip-smart editing, the subversion of expectations – you can make a great case as to why The World’s End is the best of the three and a fitting conclusion to this epic collaboration.
72. Arrival (2016)
This won’t be the first time you see a Denis Villeneuve film on this list. Arrival is a spiritual successor to Contact – a grounded and realistic science-fiction tale that is elevated by immense emotional depth.
The places this film goes are, not only visually stunning, but nuanced and very human. Amy Adams is incredible and gives a devastatingly real performance.
71. A Most Violent Year (2014)
Something about J.C. Chandor’s A Most Violent Year resonated deep underneath my skin. It’s a story of survival in many ways that touches on some real hardships many people deal with in their day to day life.
It’s a movie that takes a nuanced look at morality, at the lengths someone will go for their family and themselves.
70. Capernaum (2018)
I’ve used the word “devastating” describe many films, but it barely scratches the surface of the gut-punch that is Capernaum. Oftentimes a lead child performance can make or break a film, it absolutely makes it here.
Capernaum is one of those films that can affect your mental energy. It draws its attention in a dangerous moment in our present times. After seeing this film you realize just how good you really have it.
69. The Grey (2011)
On the surface The Grey is a run of the mill thriller. Several people survive a crash landing in the arctic and are slowly hunted off by wolves. What many of these films fail to do is draw out the depths of their characters.
It has a Call of the Wild mentality, but the value of human life never feels expendable. You feel the weight and tension of every intense moment. Joe Carnahan’s best.
68. Life of Pi (2012)
Ang Lee created one of the most visually stunning films of the 2010s – a film that pushed digital technology to its limits. He could’ve left it at just that – eye candy. But what we also get is a powerful film that may be Lee’s best.
Life of Pi deals with themes of survival, of insanity, of losing yourself in the fight or flight mentality. And it leaves us with a beautiful ambiguous ending that I’ve been contemplating since I saw it.
67. Little Women (2019)
Few films provide the kind of warmth and chemistry that Greta Gerwig’s Little Women does. The story has been adapted to death – but we finally have our penultimate version here. Told with skillful editing and an emphasis on growing old and growing apart.
Little Women is another film that is stronger due to the ambiguity in its final act. That element aside though, the chemistry and brightness of the characters shines through to make you feel like one of the family. It’s a lovely film that I can’t wait to see again.
66. Her (2013)
Her deals with so many complex ideas and complex themes. Artificial Intelligence was a huge theme of the 2010s and nothing roles out the anxieties and the interconnectivity of AI in humanity like Spike Jonze’s Her.
Joaquin Phoenix also had one hell of a year. With this and another upcoming film on this list he cemented his status as the best actor working today. It’s one of the best, and weirdest romances ever made.
65. 50/50 (2011)
Comedies had an interesting decade in the 2010s. Many of the Apatow-era gang fell toward more dramatic territory – few comedies felt more real than 50/50, which was based on a true story of Seth Rogen’s friend, and writer Will Reiser who battled cancer.
The performances of Rogen and Levitt are on point. The comedy is hilarious and the drama will almost certainly make you cry. It’s one of those rare dramadies that finds away to take it to both extremes.
64. Kick-Ass (2010)
What an entertaining film. With this and the Kingsman franchise, Matthew Vaughn adopted the label of a stylistic-action filmmaker. With many epic action sequences, crisp choreography and whip-smart humor.
On a technical level Kick-Ass is simple great filmmaking. Utilizing different editing and lighting techniques to enhance the comic-like feel. It’s one of the best films of the 2010s, and one of the best comicbook adaptations of all time.
63. Joker (2019)
Speaking of comicbook adaptations, has there ever been a more iconic villain in pop-culture than the Joker? It was a tall task to live up to the career-defining performance of Heath Ledger – but who better to achieve that level of quality than Joaquin Phoenix.
A character study disguised as a comicbook movie, Joker has several layers and the film peels at them one by one. It becomes an honest, and disturbing look at a man’s descent into psychopathy and the influences around him.
62. 12 Years a Slave (2013)
12 Years a Slave has some of the best examples of dramatic filmmaking in the past 10, hell even 20 years. It finds new and inventive ways to illustrate the sheer brutality of America’s darkest period.
It’s a difficult film, but a necessary one. One that pulls no punches in its retelling of an incredible true story. You feel the weight of every moment, and it simmers with you.
61. The Death of Stalin (2017)
Simply put – The Death of Stalin is hysterical. Armando Iannuci’s break from Veep to make another off-the-wall poltiical satire. The Death of Stalin draws a lot from its graphic-novel roots and has a payoff as dramatic as any film.
I continue to have a strong affinity toward great historical fiction. The Death of Stalin is a prime example of that. A talented ensemble and no shortage of witty moments and dialogue.
60. Beasts of No Nation (2015)
You know going in that Beasts of No Nation will not be for the faint of heart. From Cari Joji Fukunaga after his successful run with season one of True Detective, Beasts of No Nation is one of the most emotionally intense films this decade, and one of the first home runs from Netflix.
Abraham Ancer gives one of the best performances of the decade as Agu, his monologue moment is burnt into my brain. Beasts of No Nation is a brutal experience with a strong spotlight fixed on the underbelly of humanity.
59. Boyhood (2014)
Richard Linklater may make this list a few times, but the film he got the most attention for was the movie 12 years in the making. Boyhood follows the story of a young boy. The same actors come back year after year to film the gradual growth.
There’s a lot of nostalgia and subtlety about Boyhood. Even though some of the characters’ aging isn’t immediately noticeable, the overall maturity of the film, and the filmmaker are on clear display.
58. Bernie (2011)
Oh hey, another Richard Linklater film. A little bit under the radar, Bernie tells a bizarre true story with one of the best performances of Jack Black’s career.
Bernie is such a shocking story; elevated by its truth. It looks at its real-life subjects objectively. You feel sympathy for everyone involved, but also devastation as the events unfold. It’s funny, it’s odd, it’s a beautiful film.
57. Sicario (2015)
No film will get your heart racing like Denis Villeneuve’s Sicario. This is one thrilling movie. This list definitely isn’t void of films about moral ambiguity; Sicario takes these themes and bashes you over the head with them – in the best possible way.
The late Johann Johansson delivers one of the best scores of the decade and the legend himself, Roger Deakins is behind the camera. It’s a shocking thriller that makes you question everything you know about the war between the FBI and the Mexican cartel.
56. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010)
Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim is the best comicbook adaptation of the 2010s. Wright takes his eclectic ability to deliver whip-smart editing and comedy, diving head first into the nature of the graphic novels.
Scott Pilgrim, at its least is undoubtedly unforgettable. It has some of my favorite instances of ambitious and bombastic editing. It’s also hysterical and action-packed. A wildly entertaining film.
55. Jallikattu (2019)
You may not have heard of this one, and it may be difficult to get your hands on, but seeing Jallikattu at Fantastic Fest floored me. It’s a more consolidated Mad Max: Fury Road with complex themes of communism and the competitive human nature.
Not to mention the editing and cinematography. Long sweeping shots or quick snap cuts. Everything just comes alive, beat for beat it is entertaining and just when you think you have it figured out the ending is a wild curve ball.
54. Ida (2013)
The cinematography in Ida will be talked out for decades. The crisp black and white, but apart from the regular fancy things – the composition. When shots hang still, when shots breathe – every decision is so precise.
Ida is a quiet film, but it has tremendous depth. It’s absolutely unforgettable and a film all cinephiles should celebrate.
53. Honey Boy (2019)
What a cathartic film. Just the development alone makes Honey Boy worth seeing. Shia Labeouf, in rehab, wrote a screenplay about his childhood and his relationship with his father.
If that’s not enough, Shia Labeouf also plays his father. Imagine playing your father in a biopic about your childhood. It’s a unique concept and Har’el’s direction adds a necessary layer of realism and grit.
52. The Revenant (2015)
The natural lighting and the rugged performances are extraordinary, but everything else about this film is great too! Beyond the flashy filmmaking is a strong example of historical world-building.
The film puts you right in the midst of the action and adventure. It was rare to find solid “adventure” films in the 2010s, but this one was a perfect example.
51. Inside Out (2015)
Pixar strayed away from its originals in the 2010s to mixed effect. They had a few original films though, but none of them stood up to the quality of their 00s films like Inside Out.
Inside Out is as emotional as any Pixar film, with moments of sheer devastation and reflection on growing up. It’s a heart-breaking, but also entertaining film for parents and children.
50. Her Smell (2019)
Admittedly, I went into Her Smell completely intoxicated. Elisabeth Moss’ Becky Something is our flawed protagonist who has an overwhelming addiction to multiple substances.
What enhances the film’s disposition is the filmmaking, as intoxicated as our lead character, it too sobers up as Becky does. And as I did.
49. Cloud Atlas (2012)
Cloud Atlas will be remembered for a long time. It’s a divisive film that tells a wildly ambitious story. The Wachowski’s aimed high and landed gloriously.
As distracting as the reoccurring characters may be to some, I still loved the embedded themes of generational karma and overthrowing those who try to enslave us. We can all still break the cycle.
48. Tangerine (2015)
Shot entirely on an iPhone, Sean Baker’s first film Tangerine is chaotic, hilarious and all too real.
It takes an objective look at a culture Hollywood has never got right. It’s gritty and real. There’s simply nothing out there like it.
47. This is the End (2013)
This is the End is the hardest I laughed in a film in the last 10 years. It was painful laughter, the kind of laughter where you have to remind yourself to breathe.
Fascinating to see Rogen, Franco and friends playing, not themselves, but exaggerated versions of themselves based on how they’re perceived by the outside world.
46. Room (2015)
Room is a highly effective drama. A great, intense story enhanced by the clever cinematography.
It also launched both Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay into stardom. Very few dramas feel as solid and well-told as Room.
45. The Place Beyond the Pines (2012)
Speaking of effective and devastating dramas, Derek Cianfrance’s follow up to the cheery Blue Valentine is exceptional and told, well, unconventionally.
Cooper and Gosling deliver some of their best performances in a movie that shows a dramatic snowball effect as our mistakes can easily stack and compound.
44. The Lego Movie (2014)
Hysterical, poignant, moving, beautifully animated and one of the wittiest scripts of the 2010s. What could’ve been a commercialized mess, The Lego Movie is a film for all ages and there simply is nothing like it.
Phil Lord and Chris Miller have proven to be on point with their comedic direction. As a lifelong fan of Lego, I couldn’t have been more floored by this amazing movie.
43. Blindspotting (2018)
What a movie. Very few films can embody the pure angst and frustration of inner-city communities than Blindspotting. It’s a sharp and direct message about what separates the privileged from the underprivileged.
Two great turna from Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal, this movie is incredible and important. Nuance and all, the film delivers one of the most powerful messages by cinema in the 2010s.
42. 1917 (2019)
I’m a sucker for this movie. I felt like a kid again in the movie theater, the “one take” gimmick works so well. It feels more like a videogame than a film.
1917 is the best war film of the 2010s. Absolutely epic in scope, ambitious in its disposition – there is no other movie that feels quite like this.
41. The Witch (2015)
In a decade where horror films rebounded hard, The Witch was the best. With a script that draws an emphasis on Old English realism, and mythos from the era, everything feels so heightened and real.
The scares resonate with you. They simmer under your skin and shake you to your core. This movie terrified movie – it may be cursed
40. Hell or High Water (2016)
There weren’t many Westerns in the 2010s, True Grit was a fantastic remake of an older classic, but Hell or High Water is a modernized Western, built around the class crisis of our times.
It’s action-packed, but also delivers a strong message of poverty inherited from generation to generation. The loose morals of the Wild West are still prevalent in many parts of our society today.
39. Edge of Tomorrow (2014)
In a perfect world our action films would all be up to this quality. Edge of Tomorrow is engaging, exciting and hilarious. It’s simply a great time.
The Groundhog Day premise has been done before, obviously, but implemented in an action film gives it a video-game like feel. You feel yourself learning more and more along with Cage (Tom Cruise) as he overcomes challenge after challenge.
38. The Big Short (2015)
How does a film break down the complex issues of the 2008 Housing Crisis in a way that anyone can understand, while also being wildly funny? Adam McKay’s comedies have always had a precise and tight pace. The Big Short may as well be the film that he was meant to director.
The cast is stellar and the concepts, while seemingly mundane, are incredibly entertaining. It has an inventive and creative structure for a comedy. There’s definitely nothing else out there like it.
37. Lady Bird (2017)
Loss of innocence – no one tackles this theme like Greta Gerwig in Lady Bird and Little Women. Lady Bird scores extra points with me because it’s almost a literal adaptation of my early adulthood.
There have been many coming-of-age films like Lady Bird, but it has a much stronger comedic and dramatic depth than your average film. The actors are incredible. A film with this much heart is rare.
36. Midnight in Paris (2011)
What a magical movie. Woody Allen’s may be my favorite film from him yet (Admittedly I am behind on his filmography). The film has a fantastical vibe with an astute attention and respect to art history.
The moral that ties the film together makes a big statement how, with art, we oftentimes remain stuck in the past. Viewing present-day art through a more grateful/admirable lens only amplifies the beauty of everything around us.
35. Anomalisa (2015)
What a weird film. Stop-motion animated with a unique way to illustrate the mundane people, from the extraordinary. It’s a broken romantic story that’s painfully human.
This isn’t a film for everyone, it’s often hard to sympathize with protagonists as flawed as this, but in Michael reflects the constant struggle we all have of wanting more out of life.
34. Toy Story 3 (2010)
My favorite Pixar film is often rotating between several movies, but one thing is certain – Toy Story 3 will always be near the top, if not at the top. I was about 7, Andy’s age, with the release of the first film, and was off to college when this installment released.
It mirrored all the relentless “letting go” that weighed me down. It let me know that, while change can be uncomfortable, that it’ll ultimate serve its purpose.
33. Foxcatcher (2014)
Something about Foxcatcher ate away at me – and it still is. This is one haunting film. It’s multi-faceted in its themes of success at all costs.
Channing Tatum and Steve Carell have never performed better. Their performances shake you to your core along with Bennett Miller’s expert direction and framing of the real-life story.
32. Inception (2010)
There are few blockbuster films as engaging and entertaining of Christopher Nolan’s (arguably best film) Inception. The movie introduced deep concepts that are still discussed today.
With one of the best examples of exposition (the rules explained to Ellen Page’s character) followed by non-stop action building to a crescendo, mirrored by one of Hans Zimmer’s best soundtracks. It’s big, it’s bold and it’s unforgettable.
31. You Were Never Really Here (2017)
This is one haunting film. It brings you into a cynical and cryptic world with a deeply flawed character (portrayed to perfection by Joaquin Phoenix). It’s a thriller clashing with an art film.
Sprinkle in some of the most gorgeous scenes and deep themes about mental illness and moral ambiguity, it’s engaging in all the best ways. Lynne Ramsay is one hell of a talent who I will be monitoring for years.
30. Pain & Glory (2019)
Pain & Glory is a film filled to the brim with painful and romantic nostalgia. It’s a beautiful, auto-biographical reflection from Pedro Almodovar. The way this film puts an emphasis on aging and nostalgia amplifies the devastation of an otherwise normal life.
Antonio Banderas gives one of the best performances of the decade. A performance filled with vulnerability and honesty. One of the best in the last 10 years.
29. Winter’s Bone (2010)
Debra Granik really made a name for herself in the 2010s, but it all started with this gritty backwoods drama. Winter’s Bone is an incredible thriller that keeps you guessing till the very end.
It also launched the career of Jennifer Lawrence and is still, to this day, the best and most honest performance the actress has given.
28. The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (2013)
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya will drain your emotional energy. It’s a devastating story told with immense beauty. It reflects our ambition onto ourselves and gives us the painful realization that some dreams are just that, dreams.
It’s one of my favorite animated films of the decade. It left an intense lasting impression akin to taking dramamine. Such a tragic story about the loss of innocence.
27. 99 Homes (2014)
Devastating. 99 Homes is an honest film about a real life situation. It’s one of those films that will entertain you, but also ask you to reflect deeply on the cracks in our system. It’s a painful movie, but it’s an honest one.
We also get some strong performances from Garfield and Shannon. Shannon’s typecast is utilized to his strengths here – and it is glorious to watch.
26. Burning (2018)
Burning is a slow film that asks the audience to reflect simultaneously with the action and tension on screen. It’s artistic in all the best ways and the payoff is something that’ll resonate with you for some time.
The ensemble cast is incredible. As South Korean artists took to cinema to address major class issues in their country this decade.
25. Mid 90s (2018)
It’s easy to be fond of films that mirror your childhood, in many ways that was Mid 90s for me. The touch of Standard Definition and Film only enhances that nostalgic feel.
Another thing intriguing about this film is how “raw” it can be. It’s intense and can give you emotional whiplash. It’s stunning that Jonah Hill’s directorial debut is something this cohesive and wildly emotional.
24. If Beale Street Could Talk (2018)
Beale Street is pure poetry. Much like Moonlight, Barry Jenkins has an artistic edge about him. The score, the cinematography – this film is simply beautiful.
Everything is motivated and reflected through the character’s traumas. Nothing is purely resolved, because the conflict is complex and nuanced. One of the most beautiful films of the decade.
23. Mustang (2015)
I wasn’t sure what to expect watching the Turkish film Mustang, but goddamn I was floored. This is a tense film that you feel all the more because the characters have such strong chemistry.
Which makes it all the more effective when the characters are in situations of uncertainty or danger. The climate feels so real and these are the kind of movies that can make strong political/religious criticisms from the perspective of innocence and purity.
22. Sorry to Bother You (2018)
Speaking of eclectic, Boots Riley’s film is wild and rips around unexpected turn after unexpected turn. It finds a way to mask its statements of government manipulation and chaos in a way that runs counter to subtlety.
There are so many great films with commonalities, but Sorry to Bother You is one of a kind. It’s shocking, daring and leaves a lasting impression.
21. Spring Breakers (2012)
Not for everyone, but for those like myself who were sucked in by Spring Breakers – you got a hell of a lot out of it.
It’s a hypnotic film about seduction. The seduction of excessive lifestyles and how our biological limitations can oftentimes save us from an immoral descent. Harmony Korine may never achieve this level of expertise, but his work is highly elevated by Hoyte Van Hoytema’s cinematography.
20. Call Me by Your Name (2017)
Romantic films can, at times, be entirely dependent on the chemistry of the co-leads. Timothee Chalamet and Armie Hammer are operating on a whole other level here. It’s a homosexual film, without the overbearing emphasis on the homosexuality – it’s a universal story about lost love.
Sufjan Stevens, one of my favorite artists today, does an excellent score to match the pure devastation of the film.
19. Attack the Block (2011)
Attack the Block may be one of the most entertaining films of the decade. The creatures are quirky, the effects not overly-complicated. It launched John Boyega’s career.
It’s simple. You won’t find any deep philosophies here, but because it manages to tell its story, then jumping out on a high note makes it effective. One of the best horror-comedies of the decade.
18. A Ghost Story (2017)
A Ghost Story is unique, it has an unconventional pace about it, but a message that is loud and clear. With themes of legacy and its importance – or its unimportance.
It moves so gently and illustrates the existential dread we all have to cope with. It asks delicately: what is all of “this” actually about? A beautiful, romantic film that’ll make your heart ache.
T-17. Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
Wes Anderson is a master. Moonrise Kingdom is his best film of the 2010s. No one does attention-to-detail like Anderson and his crew – this film is a prime example of how far the film medium can go when it comes to pure design.
Additionally, there’s a child-like wonder to its pace and mood. No other film has ever mirrored this kind of feel.
T-17. The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
It was tough to decide between 2 of the best films Wes Anderson has made in his entire career – so they tied. The Grand Budapest Hotel utilizes Wes’ technical aesthetic to his maximum efficiency.
It’s wildly entertaining and every single frame is something the gawk about. I will always have a strong affinity for this kind of filmmaking – it is something extraordinary.
T-16. Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)
This film choked me up. You can say that about a lot of films, but Beasts of the Southern Wild resonates and touches on some deep, existential themes. The conflicts aren’t necessarily resolved either. It’s fantastical, with a childlike wonder, while sprinkling in some devastating real-life trauma.
Dwight Henry and Quvenzhane Wallis give some of the best lead performances of the decade. Henry, a baker, walking in with no acting experience and Wallis delivering the best child performance of the decade.
T-16. The Cabin in the Woods (2011)
Flip the script. Cabin in the Woods takes some of the widest twists and turns ever in film. Taking an extraordinarily familiar premise and adding a unique twist.
Cabin in the Woods is unforgettable. It’s a film I haven’t seen since it’s release, but I often catch myself speaking of it with a big grin on my face.
15. Everybody Wants Some!! (2016)
This is one of the most seamless films ever made. Richard Linklater takes us back to the 80s as we follow some stereotypical college kids on a baseball team.
What makes this film far beyond Dazed and Confused is that it manages to let us revel in the misadventures of these fun characters. It reflects back to us and makes us consider the worth of nostalgia and the sad fact that youth, well, ends. The conclusion feels abrupt, but is, perhaps, the most appropriate way it could’ve ended.
14. The Florida Project (2017)
Living in Florida for 10 years now – this one hit hard. It wasn’t exactly a revelation that poverty and child homelessness is a huge issue, not just in Florida, but in our country and world. But to see it juxtaposed by the bright-touristy aura of Central Florida adds significant depth to this film.
Sean Baker is excellent at showing the unconverted that poverty is an illness and at times a vicious mental illness that repeats its cycles and beats down on those trapped within it.
13. The Irishman (2019)
The Irishman rivals Silence for Martin Scorsese’s most mature film to date. Best of all – it’s incredibly entertaining.
The 3.5 hours runtime flies by and the cast delivers some of their greatest performances in a range of scenes that are dramatic, comical, romantic all culminating to a conclusion that turns the spotlight to the audience and makes us question the very foundation of “loyalty.”
12. The Red Turtle (2016)
If you’re looking for a film on this list to meditate to, look no further than, in my opinion, the best animated film of the 2010s. The Red Turtle comes in under the guise of a survival film. It then reveals itself to be about nature and human nature – how the world operates as one.
One of the most relaxing scores accompanied with a mellow animation-style, by the end of The Red Turtle you may shrug and wonder what the point was – as many of my friends did. But under the hood we have a film that allows you to experience the nature of what it means to be human. To be a living organism.
11. The Act of Killing (2013)
Easily the best documentary of the 2010s; The Act of Killing will break you down. It’s consistently shocking. Consistently haunting and ultimately devastating.
It’s an unconventional documentary with an ambitious structure that allows its subjects to grow and evolve as the plot progresses. It dives head first into the grayness of morality.
10. Whiplash (2014)
Whiplash is an anxiety attack. A compact story about an aspiring drummer going head-to-head with a sociopathic teacher. What the film really questions is the nature of discipline. How discipline can do wonders to shape our legacy, but it can also break us down and destroy us.
Not to mention the eclectic editing and pace; Whiplash is one of the greatest music movies of all time.
9. Moonlight (2016)
Every so often a film comes along that you admire technically, but comes paired with a unique and wildly deep story. How do you measure the depth of a story though?
Moonlight hangs over you. Moonlight seeps under your skin and affects you deeply. Bringing forth the awareness that all of our struggles are unique – but still struggles and how that turmoil can eat away at any given person.
8. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
The Wolf of Wall Street is Martin Scorsese’s ultimate “excess” film. So much entertainment and comedy derived from an alarming real-life story. We are shown this chaos, without redemption.
This film turns “conflict resolution” on top of its head. Letting us know that, in life, things aren’t always as black and white. Things that are funny can also be deeply disturbing.
7. Melancholia (2011)
One of the most hypnotic films of the decade. Lars von Trier elevates, what could’ve been an above-average story with an above-average conflict to another level poetically.
It’s quite miserable, really. But it allows us to question the fundamental philosophies of our existence as a collective human race and why we suffer through the turmoil of life, already knowing the inevitable outcome.
6. Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
If you want some eye-candy from the 2010s you need not go further than Blade Runner 2049, which takes some of the deep sci-fi philosophies of the original and amplifies them.
It surpasses the original in so many ways. Every frame has some of the most gorgeous photography ever captured in film.
5. Silence (2016)
I left the theater disappointed. A long film with lots of tiring, drawn out sequences. But then, something amazing happened – I never stopped thinking about it.
If The Irishman was about loyalty and its futility then Silence is about faith and its futility. It’s about the relief that we are all aloud to pray in silence. That our fundamental faith is what keeps us going.
4. The Social Network (2010)
David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin proved to be the ultimate collaboration. What we didn’t forsee is that they would both put up their best work to date, simultaneously, with The Social Network.
Add that Cronenweth cinematography and Reznor/Ross’ hypnotic score and what you have is a timeless film about the corrupting process of starting a multi-billion dollar company. The fact that it ties into true events is just icing on the cake.
3. Roma (2018)
Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity gets too much attention. It’s an amazing technical feat – don’t get me wrong. But Roma is an opus. “Big,” but not for the sake of being big.
It’s themes are wildly complex with muted dialogue. Through the character’s broken-hearted struggles, however, we feel everything. No film quite captures the pain and turmoil of loss and rebirth quite like Roma.
2. Enter the Void (2010)
Enter the Void isn’t as much a movie as it is an experience. A process, or interpretation of the afterlife based entirely on the Tibetan Book of the Dead.
What elevates all the more is its wildly ambitious presentation. Long overhead shots coupled with a seamless “one-take” feel. It connects so gently from one moment to the next. When all is said and done, it may have adapted death more realistically than any other faith.
1. Parasite (2019)
Parasite makes a handful of ‘big time’ statements about class that other films have failed to grasp the nuances of. The film doesn’t force-feed us answers for one of modern times most complex problems.
It does however, present to us all kinds of adverse side effects to our complicated world. It’s thirlling, it’s funny and latches onto a big scope finish. It is the best film of the 2010s.