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Thread: The Best Movies of the Decade

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    The Best Movies of the Decade


    Now the 2010s have come to end, here are the best movies of the decade. It's been a roller coaster ten years for cinema of all descriptions. The blockbuster landscape has seen the rise to dominance of Disney, indie cinema has an increasingly diverse outlook promoted by upstarts such as A24, the Oscars have had an overhaul that rewards a more interesting set (mostly), and streaming giants have taken an increasing share of top directors and audience attention

    But it is, ultimately, all about the films themselves. And across the 2010s, audiences have been spoilt for choice no matter what they're looking for at the theater: from superhero to horror, thriller to historical, there's been a perfect mix of the boundary-pushing, the masterfully-executed the sheer exhilarating. And that is what wants celebrating.

    *** editors and writers voted with their ranked top 20 films of the past ten years, which were then attributed points based on preference and the cumulative winner calculated. Ties were broken based on how high the movies placed in individual rankings.

    25. Interstellar (2014)


    Christopher Nolan's galaxy-traversing sci-fi epic about mortality and love has had a peculiar life, lauded for its meticulous (and scientifically accurate) space travel effects but divisive for its conclusion that "love is the one thing we're capable of perceiving that transcends dimensions of time and space." But while some of the entry points may be blunt (the closest thing to a villain is "best of us" Dr. Mann), Interstellar is an incredibly purposeful and measured movie that has aged impeccably since its 2014 box office smash. Come for the 2001-evoking special effects, stay to tear up when Matthew McConaughey uses a black hole to reconnect with his daughter.

    24. Silver Linings Playbook (2012)


    In lesser hands, Silver Linings Playbook could have been manipulative, messy, or worse, offensive. But director David O. Russell found the right approach, telling an engaging and relatable human story that was equal parts heartfelt and entertaining. Walking that fine line required a great amount of skill from Russell, but he was also helped immensely by his talented cast. Bradley Cooper surprised in a dynamic role that showcased his acting range, Jennifer Lawrence announced herself as Hollywood's newest megastar with a commanding turn that demanded audiences' attention, and Robert De Niro was back in vintage, Oscar-worthy form. One doesn't have to be an Eagles fan to find something to love in this film.

    23. Logan (2017)


    The Fox-era of X-Men movies officially ends with The New Mutants, but the perfect finale released three years earlier in the form of Logan. A sci-fi western where Hugh Jackman Shanes his way through protecting an aging Professor X and his young clone, it was more internalized and meditative than superhero audiences were accustomed to - and excelled as a result. There's a purposefulness and reflection that few other franchise movies can match, and a weight to character that even in-depth studies rarely reach.

    22. Ex Machina (2015)


    A Turing test of a movie, Ex Machina pits Domnhall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac and Alicia Vikander in a three-way game to define what makes us human. It's a tight, economical thriller - set in a single location and keeping the cast small - yet Alex Garland's ideas (and some Oscar-winning visual effects) take Ex Machina so much further. While it's got multiple breakouts (Gemma Chan also stars), Vikander is particularly beguiling as Ava, a calculating creation or product of a flawed genius, a question that you'll be debating long after the movie has finished.

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    21. Whiplash (2014)


    There's a very good argument to be made that Whiplash has the best movie ending of the decade. An energized showdown between Miles Teller's angsty drumming student and J.K. Simmons' manipulatively bullish teacher, it's a tightly edited battle of wits driven by off-the-cuff drumming. But it only works so breathlessly thanks to the care Damien Chazelle puts into everything leading up to Carnegie Hall. Simmons' turn as Fletcher is rightly lauded for intensity that would shake J. Jonah Jameson, but the ruthlessness of Teller's Andrew is what makes the rough victory so earned.

    20. Boyhood (2014)


    It took 12 years to make, but Boyhood is far more than just a gimmick movie. Telling the Texan childhood of Mason from 6 to 18, taking in divorce, first loves and Pottermania, Richard Linklater's real-time encapsulation tells a sprawling-yet-intimate account that's incredibly personable yet immediately relatable. While the writer-director's deft eye for emotional truth gets the project off the ground, it's the performances he evolves that complete the vision - Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke as the split parents make Boyhood so much more than a nostalgic throwback to youth.

    19. Paddington 2 (2017)


    David Heyman may have made billions for Warner Bros. with Harry Potter, but his true producing masterwork may just be the Paddington movies. Directed by Paul King, the films capture the very essence of Michael Bond's marmalade-loving Peruvian bear while updating to a divided Britain that deepens everything he represents. It's the sequel, Paddington 2, that truly steps into greatness, with an overbearing niceness the default, a prison interlude challenging Wes Anderson's work in The Grand Budapest Hotel, and a defining villain turn from Hugh Grant.

    18. Call Me By Your Name (2017)


    Luca Guadagnino's Call Me By Your Name is a simmering romance and coming-of-age story, set against the serene backdrop of a rural Italian town and villa. Leads Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer have magnetic chemistry as Elio, the 17-year-old son of a college professor, and Oliver, a graduate student who comes to stay with the family. With a dreamy soundtrack from Sufjan Stevens, Call Me By Your Name perfectly captures the excitement and heartbreak of young love.

    17. Avengers: Endgame (2019)


    THE BIGGEST FILM OF ALL TIME, THE CONCLUSION TO A NARRATIVE THREADED THROUGH 21 PREVIOUS MOVIES, AND YET IT ENDS WITH A COUPLE IN THE 1950S DANCING IN THEIR FRONT ROOM.

    Avengers: Endgame IS THE MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE IN MICROCOSM, WHICH MEANS BIG ACTION, PLENTY OF EASTER EGGS, BUT ABOVE ALL: CHARACTER. AT THE CORE OF ENDGAME ARE THE FINAL STAGES OF IRON MAN AND CAPTAIN AMERICA'S ARCS, WITH ROBERT DOWNEY, JR. AND CHRIS EVANS GET AMPLE TIME TO TELL THEIR RESPECTIVE STORIES WITHOUT DETRACTING FROM THE OTHER.

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    16. Wonder Woman (2017)


    Her debut in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice may have divided audiences, but Diana Prince came out swinging in her solo outing. Wonder Woman was the first female-fronted superhero movie in over a decade, but defined itself by not resting on such gender limitations. Mythology meets wartime period action meets Superman: The Movie-style wistfullness, Patty Jenkins' film shows how superhero movies can distill a myriad of sources to tell a story that is fundamentally about the now. An overly CGI-d finale may wear off some sheen, but with Gal Gadot emerging fully-formed, it's no surprise that Wonder Woman is leading the DCEU forward into the 2020s.

    15. Lady Bird (2017)


    Lady Bird, the astonishingly assured directorial debut from Greta Gerwig, stands as one of the best entries into the coming-of-age genre in recent memory - and just one of the best movies, period. Led by a stunning performance from Saoirse Ronan (complemented by great supporting turns from Laurie Metcalf, Beanie Feldstein, and Timothée Chalamet, among others), Gerwig’s script is wholly relatable and authentic, perfectly capturing the triumphs and traumas of teenage years. Lady Bird herself is a wonder too, a fresh protagonist for the modern era, who never falls into cliches. It’s hella tight.

    14. Get Out (2017)


    From one half of Key & Peele comes the decade's most invigorating horror movie, a tense, slightly madcap thriller with an unflinching message at its heart. Get Out begins as a pretty expected look at (what appears to be) repressed white middle-class racism, playing on all the expected fears and Obama voting clichés. But the truth is something more developed, more sickening, as Daniel Kaluuya's Chris uncovers a warped plot built on physical adoration and mental superiority. What really brings it all together is Jordan Peele's careful use of humor, including eschewing the expected grim ending for something with a lick of positivity.

    13. Joker (2019)


    A Scorsese-inspired dive into the Joker's origin starring Joaquin Phoenix from the director of The Hangover is a suitably gonzo idea that, if it worked, could change superhero cinema. Whether it did or not remains to be seen, but Joker proved to be a lightning rod for discussion, its release drowned out in a flurry of controversy about fears of violence, suitability of message in 2019, and a dozen other unnecessary talking points. What it is, purely, is a twisted character exploration that dispensed with the source material to tell a story filled with dread, homages, twists and, yes, a few jokes, all grounded by a highlight performance from Phoenix.

    12. John Wick (2014)


    When action is far too often defined by quick edits and what CG artists can cook up after production has wrapped, giving a pair of stuntmen their own movie - Chad Stahelski got the credit, but David Leitch was on-hand - was always going to be exciting. And with Keanu Reeves brimming with rage over the death of his dog, a new icon was born. The John Wick series is up to three movies now, with a fourth coming in 2021, and while each entry has upped the ante and visual style, there's something uniquely delirious about the original, which boasts the cleanest gun-fu and most exhilarating teases of the underworld centering on the Continental.

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    11. Blader Runner 2049 (2017)


    Warner Bros. decision to give Denis Villeneuve $185 million to create a sequel to a notorious 1982 box office bomb that took a decade to gain cult status may not be astute from a business perspective, but they enabled one of the most audacious tentpoles of the decade. Using the original as a jumping-off point rather than a constant reference point, Blade Runner 2049 goes bigger in scale and scope, yet keeps the fundamental thematic area - that of our relationship with technology and, more abstract, what it means to be human, at the fore. Holograms are the mots relatable characters and blank Ryan Gosling ciphers are the point. Best of all, it refuses to answer the Deckard-Replicant question, and brings everything around to be about a simple love story.

    10. The Social Network (2010)


    No film from the 2010s has aged quite as finely as The Social Network. In 2020, it stands as a far more chilling look at how drunken rejection and teenage jealousy led to a total shift in how our world works, from personal relationships to global politics. Whenever you watch it, though, David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin's masterful teamup remains a fascinating parable of misplaced power, manipulation, birthright and the American dream. The truthfulness behind Jesse Eisenberg's Mark Zuckerberg or Armie Hammer's Winklevi almost ceases to matter when the message behind it is so pure.

    9. The Cabin In The Woods (2012)


    What if all the horror movie tropes that define the genre aren't easy writing short-cuts but all part of a grand ritual to keep the world safe? It's a delightfully meta concept that The Cabin in the Woods slowly ekes out over its first half, starting as a celebration of cliches before twisting into an all-out monster action that namechecks everything from The Evil Dead to Hellraiser. When every genre film narrative seems so keen to canonize their self-awareness (post-post-Scream), it's easy to forget just how exciting The Cabin in the Woods was when Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard unleashed it in the other world of 2012.

    8. Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)


    Rian Johnson's Star Wars: The Last Jedi did to Star Wars what the original trilogy did to Flash Gordon: distilled the hero's journey down and asked serious questions about the monomyth ideal (once again filtered through groundbreaking tech and heavy cultural influences). Picking up from The Force Awakens, albeit with the decision to explore in a more tangential direction, Episode VIII was a meditation on the pragmatics of the franchise, what it is to be a hero, how failure defines us but we have ultimate control, and finding hope from within that. It lacks the clear-cut approach of its predecessor, but that allowed The Last Jedi to go deeper, delivering thematic closure to the sequels and providing the ultimate stamp on legacy.

    7. La La Land (2016)


    It remains incredibly fitting that La La Land had the Best Picture Oscar snatched from it after the infamous Warren Beatty mix-up: nothing quite sums up Damien Chazelle's heartbreakingly-true look at lost relationships and the sacrifices necessary for success than such a public near-miss. The film manages to be so much from an industry perspective - a throwback to the Hollywood musicals of old, a satire of the modern moviemaking landscape and, albeit with some questionable perspectives, love letter to jazz - but what so connected with a global audience outside of L.A. is the fraught, regretful love of Mia and Seb, played to millennial perfection by Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling.

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    6. Arrival (2016)


    Amy Adams had an amazing decade, but her absolutely best turn (one criminally overlooked during the awards season) was in Denis Villeneuve's mind-altering Arrival. A simple first-contact premise filtered through a realism lens and taken through to completion, Arrival is the pinnacle of the 2010's cerebral sci-fi wave. It's fantastical in so much as it isn't real, but all of the language learning and time-perception twists are rooted in our own science. Villeneuve and Bradford Young add to the big ideas story with an incredibly grounded shooting style, one that feels rougher than the movie really is.

    5. Inside Out (2015)


    The 2010s were a rocky decade for Pixar, with a mix of troubled productions and Disney-mandated sequels rocking their status a little. Fortunately, Peter Docter managed to maintain his title as the studio's deftest filmmaker with a metaphysically literal look at the ethos behind the Emeryville Titans. The key to real Joy is Sadness may be a lesson most adult viewers have learned in their real lives, but Inside Out so effectively placed them in pre-teen Riley's head that the discovery comes as with the weight of a thousand childhoods. And few moments of loss are quite so destructive as Bing Bong's memory fading away.

    4. Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse (2018)


    Tom Holland may have given new life to the character in the MCU and the PS4 game made players feel like the web-slinger, but it's Into the Spider-Verse that truly captured what it is to be Spider-Man. Taking its cues from 2010s evolutions of the character - Brian Michael Bendis' Miles Morales is the lead and the plot is driven by the multiverse concept from Dan Slott's Spider-Verse run - and using never-before-seen animation techniques, Into the Spider-Verse feels incredibly modern even as it endeavors to drill down to the core of what makes Peter Parker and all his derivations work decades after Stan Lee and Steve Ditko first committed him to the page.

    3. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)


    Marvel Studios released 21 movies in the 2010s (only two of the MCU came in the previous decade), and while there's been a litany of hits by every metric, there's little debate over Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The Russo brothers were gifted some fortunate depth by the Edward Snowden NSA leaks coming mid-production, yet this is still a bitingly modern superhero film that uses its man-out-of-time protagonist to not only reflect on the current state of the world, but divorce his ideals from that of the country that gives him his name. The directors would go onto bigger projects, but this is the most complete, and rightfully places the core relationships front-and-center.

    2. Inception (2010)


    The 2010s was the decade where blockbusters embraced the brainy. They'd flirted with it after The Matrix, but the prime lesson taken from the Wachowskis was more aesthetic. What changed was Inception. Christopher Nolan's dreamscape, realistic yet impossible, trumpeted the worth of practical effects, of realism to the fantastical, of IMAX cameras. But it also highlighted the need for cohesion, care in building a world and rules - exposition-heavy it may be, but Inception is meticulous in giving you all the clues - and ensuring there's an emotional core at its heart. It is a defining blockbuster.

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    1. Mad Max: Fury Road


    Mad Max: Fury Road feels like the movie George Miller would have made with The Road Warrior had the budget allowed. The same energy of the rebellious Australian filmmaker is present in the action extravaganza which gestated for decades and was constructed primarily in storyboards. The result is one of the clearest action films ever made, matching exhilarating vehicular mayhem with desolate dystopia and an undercurrent of hope. Miller understands that the best stories don't have to belabor the point, so while this is a strong feminist tale, that's powered by the action, not impeded.

    Honorable Mentions

    While these 25 are the highest voted by *** writers and editors, there were several other 2010s movies that got a lot of love and deserve a mention. In no specific order, they include:

    • The Avengers
    • Black Panther
    • Bridesmaids
    • Coco
    • Dredd
    • Hereditary
    • Knives Out
    • Man of Steel
    • Midnight in Paris
    • Mission Impossible: Fallout
    • Moonrise Kingdom
    • The Shape of Water
    • Star Wars: The Force Awakens
    • Toy Story 3
    • What We Do In The Shadows

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    let it be.
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    Avengers: Endgame is only #17?! BAHHH!

    I've seen almost all of these, though (except for Call Me By Your Name, Inside Out and La La Land, really). And I meant to watch Boyhood years ago but never got around to it...

    Interesting list, though. Surprised Cabin In The Woods is so high, lmao...


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