20 Best Movies of the 2010s


As we officially head into a brand new decade, it’s time to look back at the best movies of the last ten years. The 2010s had a SHITTON of good-to-great films and, sure enough, since this list is limited to 20, we had to leave out a few.

The list of movies that didn’t make the final cut includes a couple of really good Marvel movies — Black Panther (the last scene of the final battle is some heart wrenching shit) and Captain America: Winter Soldier (a movie starring Robert Redford that’s an homage to 1970s conspiracy thrillers starring Robert Redford) — are seriously great flicks, even if you don’t watch any other Marvel movie. Then there were good films elevated by great performances, such as Birdman (MICHEAL KEATON IS AN AMERICAN TREASURE) and The Revenant (man, fuck that bear!). Ultimately, the 20 movies below beat out the rest.

Here are the 20 best movies of the 2010s. DIVE IN AND AGREE OR TWEET ANGRY THINGS AT ME LET’S GO!:



20. DJANGO UNCHAINED (2012): Quentin Tarantino rolls out another alternative history story where the bad guys get their comeuppance good and proper (following 2009’s Inglourious Basterds) — this time at the hands of an escaped slave named Django (The D is silent). Leonardo DiCaprio was absolutely robbed of an Oscar for his portrayal as a vile plantation owner, and Jamie Foxx is awesomely roguish and dangerous as the titular Django. “I like the way you die, boy.”


19. LINCOLN (2012): Lincoln is more a movie about the complicated passing of the 13th Amendment than a biopic of the 16th President, but it works as a dramatic chronicling of a pivotal moment in U.S. history. Meticulously researched, the movie shows us just how hard so many racist old farts fought against freeing the slaves, and all the maneuvering — shady and otherwise — Lincoln and his “team of rivals” cabinet had to do to get the amendment passed. Daniel Day-Lewis turns in one the best performances of his career, going all methody with his high-pitched Honest Abe voice (The voice is the fingerprint of the soul, according to God). Day-Lewis won his record-breaking third Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of a worn down melancholic Lincoln, grappling with the soul of America. “I am the President of the United States of America, clothed IN IMMENSE POWER.”


18. SPOTLIGHT (2015): An important movie and a great real-life telling of journalists up against the seemingly untouchable machine that is the Catholic Church. Spotlight is the riveting tale of a team of dogged Boston Globe reporters (led by an editor from Miami!) uncovering the great scandal that rocked the Vatican, and the lengths the church went to in order to protect child predators and cover up their crimes.  The film moves along almost like a murder mystery as the reporters uncover some shocking truths, and are stonewalled at every turn by those in power trying to brush the evils of the Church under the proverbial rug.


17. THE SOCIAL NETWORK (2010): It’s Aaron Sorkin and David Fincher at their finest. A lot of the story is bullshit, but it’s an entertaining look at how Mark Zuckerberg became a gazillionaire and how Facebook went from a small college dorm idea to social media giant where your family members post racist memes and dumb MAGA shit in droves.


16. BLACKKKLANSMAN (2018): A movie for our times if there ever was one. This is Spike Lee yet again showcasing what he’s best at: making a fun, funny, entertaining flick that doubles as serious social commentary. Blackkklansman is based on real events, and has some harrowingly scary moments, as well as some hilarious ones. Overall, it’s a disturbing portrait of neo-Nazis being total assholes, and the way their leaders oftentimes break into the mainstream to spread their vile beliefs. *SPOILER ALERT* David Duke is a real piece of shit.


15. GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL (2014): Nobody frames a movie quite as quaintly beautiful as Wes Anderson. Funny, quirky, and tender, Grand Budapest Hotel is why Wes remains one of the best, most thought-provoking filmmakers in cinema.


14. SICARIO (2015): Denis Villeneuve’s dark story about drug dealers and the cops out to stop them is a slick, smartly paced thriller. It’s tense, it’s gorgeously shot, and it’s Benicio Del Toro being a total badass.


13. BRIDGE OF SPIES (2015): What happens when you get Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks and the Coen Brothers to make a movie? A fantastic telling of largely unknown historical events. Bridge of Spies is a taut Cold War espionage thriller with unmistakable commentary on modern times dressed as classic film noir. SO MANY TRENCH COATS AND FEDORAS.


 12. DRIVE (2011)
Quiet, cool, violent as fuck. Beautifully shot and scored, Drive moves languidly for most of its runtime, only to be interrupted by flashes of action sequences and people having their heads explode like watermelons dropped from a rooftop by shotgun-wielding bad dudes and Ryan Gosling stabbing said-bad dudes to death with a curtain rod. Drive also has Oscar Isaac nearly stealing the movie from Gosling, and an evil Albert Brooks — which is weird but also works really well. The opening chase scene and the elevator scene are pieces of pure cinematic badassery.


11. 12 YEARS A SLAVE (2013)
12 Years A Slave is the kind of movie that will make you simultaneously cry in sorrow and want to put a fist through a wall in anger (the slave auction scene with Paul Giammati is a perfectly constructed, rage-inducing showcase on the banality of evil that was America’s slave trade). Director Steve McQueen’s quiet framing and the cast’s poignant performances make you all at once feel the pain of those in bondage and real, visceral anger at the entire heinous and malignant institution that was slavery in America. It’s the closest thing in cinema to show the naked unvarnished truth of all its horrors. It’s beautifully shot, perfectly acted, and a film that sticks with you forever.



10. WHIPLASH (2014)
WERE YOU RUSHING OR WERE YOU DRAGGING?!?! Set in an elite music school in New York, Whiplash is a meditation on the raw and brutal realities of artistic ambition gone horribly, horribly askew. Miles Teller stars as the cocky but talented jazz drummer looking to prove that he’s the best, beating his drums into the ground. A jacked-to-the-tits JK Simmons is the sadistic and tyrannical music instructor drunk on power, beating his students into submission through expletive-filled outbursts and verbal abuse. The story moves at breakneck speed (NOT QUITE MY TEMPO!) as Teller’s drummer boy is pushed to his absolute limits by Simmons’ batshit sociopathic instructor. Simmons won a well-deserved Oscar for yelling at Miles Teller for two hours. Yet for all the kinetic energy and anger in his performance, it’s Simmons’ subdued monologue on how mediocrity chokes out excellence that shows the movie’s heart — for good or for bad. It’s also got a hell of a jazz score.


My favorite story behind the making of Phantom Thread is about how Paul Thomas Anderson and Daniel Day-Lewis crafted Day-Lewis’ fashion designer character. At one point in the exchange, the story goes, Day-Lewis told Anderson that his character has to be named Woodcock and then he laughed and laughed. Anderson acquiesced, and so Daniel Day-Lewis’ Oscar nominated performance of Reynolds Woodcock was born. The fact that such a brilliant and elegant piece of cinema that examines the flawed, yet unshakeable, romantic relationship between a tortured artist and his beautiful muse is built on one of the greatest actors to ever live making a dickjoke is just amazing.


8. THE BIG SHORT (2015)
So what the hell was up with the 2008 financial crisis that nearly broke America and wrecked millions of lives while allowing the gazillionaires responsible for the meltdown to get off scot free? The Big Short answers that question. Charles Randolph and Adam McKay’s near-perfect script is laced with sardonic wit and helpful exposition, laying out exactly how everything went to shit in the housing market (where Florida was ground-zero weeeeeeee!) and just how unbelievably easy it is for rich greedy assholes to fuck things up for everybody else. The Big Short features a ridiculously talented cast (Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Christian Bale, Brad Pitt) and is accessible, hilarious and exacerbating. Also, MARGOT ROBBIE IN A BATHTUB EXPLAINING FINANCIAL TERMS, WOO HOO.


7. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD (2015)
An absolute perfect action flick in every way. From its blow your head clean off crazy practical effects, to its subversion of the classic protagonist archetype; the movie is called Mad Max (Tom Hardy) but it’s actually all about Furiosa (Charlize Theron), the badass desert bitch who saves women from a life of sex slavery and wars against a weird tyranical patriarch who drives around the desert with his own personal heavy metal guitarist. Hardy was perfectly cast to play the titular Max — the stoic leather-clad wasteland wandering hero made famous by Mel Sugartits Gibson in the 80s. Hardy manages to grunt his way through the entire movie while helping Furiosa fight against the usual Mad Max Movie Baddies (i.e.: weird mutated dudes who are probably riddled with fallout cancer and are gross and smelly). Director George Miller practically invented the post apocalypse genre with his Mad Max films and fills Fury Road with even more balls-out crazy shit like flaming guitars, exploding catapults, human blood bags, deadly sandstorms, and the awesomest chase scenes ever put on film. Fury Road is his masterpiece. I LIVE. I DIE. I LIVE AGAIN.


Here’s what I wrote in my 5 Reasons review for Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood back in July: “It hits most of the Tarantino sweet spots: It’s funny, it’s irreverent, it’s violent, it’s nostalgic, it’s stylized and it’s cool. And it’s going to be a movie that, in ten years or so, will be considered one of his best. This Tarantino film, more than most, is about the journey more than the destination. And, much like Jackie Brown — Tarantino’s third movie and a masterpiece in its own right — it leans heavy on an amalgam of interesting hapless low-rent characters you can’t help but like and root for. And, like Jackie Brown, Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood is a film you’ll need to see again and again to truly grasp how good of a movie it really is.”


Top 5:


5. BLADE RUNNER 2049 (2017)
Man, it’s hard to make a good sequel, let alone a great one. Especially when the sequel is wholly unnecessary. But if anyone was up to the task of making a sequel to one of the greatest science fiction movies of all time, it’s Denis Villeneuve. Just as its predecessor did, Blade Runner 2049 explores the duality of being human and non-human (or, more human than human). It’s Philip K. Dickian philosophy wrapped in sci-fi action and uses the major parts and characters of the original film not as fan-service prop pieces, but as important plot devices. It’s beautiful to look at and listen to, and it’s right up there with The Godfather Part 2 as a movie that challenges the greatness of the original.


4. GET OUT (2017)
An instant classic as soon as it hit theaters, Get Out is a smart piece of political commentary wrapped in a brilliant horror film. Jordan Peele stepped out of the sketch comedy world and announced himself as a filmmaker to be taken seriously with this flick — a modern day version of Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner in scary movie form that uses humor, suspense, and horror to sharply critique white liberalism, cultural appropriation, and the bullshit narrative that we live in a post-racial America.


3. MOONLIGHT (2016)
Based on a script by Miami native Tarell Alvin McCraney, and directed by Barry Jenkins, Moonlight hits the trifecta of great drama — it’s excellently written, excellently acted, and gorgeously shot. It’s a film that examines the life of Chiron, an African American kid living in the projects in Miami grappling with his family, his sexuality, his identity. It’s brutally honest in its depiction of African American life, and the life of an African American boy coming of age, discovering his sexuality, and taking a life-long journey of self discovery. Moonlight is a perfect film.


2. THE MASTER (2012)
“If you leave me now, in the next life you will be my sworn enemy. And I will show you no mercy.” Paul Thomas Anderson has denied any connection between Lancaster Dodd (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) and L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of the Church of Scientology. But man is that denial hard to believe, especially if you know a little of the history of Hubbard and his weird Tom Cruise outerspace boat cult. Either way, The Master is simply a perfect piece of filmmaking. It’s a meticulous character-driven exploration of a grand American tradition: religion and the wonderful world of manipulating the vulnerable. The film is a psychological immersion of the senses, a PTA trademark — beautifully shot with an unsettling score from Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood. Joaquin Phoenix is getting a lot of praise for his portrayal as the Joker this year, but it’s his turn as the wayward World War II vet Freddie Quell that will go down as his finest ever performance. Paul Thomas Anderson is the GOAT filmmaker of the current century, fight your mother.


Set during the rise of the folk music scene in the early 1960s, Inside Llewyn Davis tells the melancholy tale of ill-fated troubadour Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) and his cold winding odyssey with an orange tabby cat. It’s an existential exploration of how we don’t all make it, how the Universe is indifferent, how the gatekeepers of art and commerce don’t always know the difference between good art and dog shit. It’s also an exploration of how art is vital, even when life kicks you in the balls over and over again. Davis keeps reaching for the stars but can’t quite grasp them, either because he sabotages himself, or from sheer bad luck. Even on the biggest night of his career, he puts on his greatest performance in front of a crowd filled with star making critics, only to be followed by a certain then-unknown folk singer from Minnesota. The film is shot in dark shades, imbuing it with a cold dirty Greenwich Village winter vibe, and features a fantastic soundtrack showcasing Isaac’s versatility as an actor and musician. It’s sharply written with the trademark Coen Bros. wit, and has great performances from an impeccable cast — including Carey Mulligan, John Goodman, Justin Timberlake, F. Murray Abraham and Adam Driver (seeing Kylo Ren and Poe Dameron singing a song about outer space together is an unintentionally funny little moment in movie history). The Coen Brothers’ love of dark comedy, mythology and Shakespearian themes are on full display in Inside Llewyn Davis, yet another masterpiece in their ingenious filmography.

Chris Joseph (@ByChrisJoseph) is a host of Five Reasons comedy podcast, Ballscast. He’s written about sports and movies for Deadspin, Miami New Times, CBS Sports, and several other outlets.

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