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Top 15 Movies of the 2010s

Ross is a student at the University of Maryland. He is planning on majoring in Film Studies and English.

The 2010s was an exciting time for film as it led to new innovations within the film industry. First, there was the development of a cinematic universe within a franchise. Marvel has become so successful from this that DC, Warner Bros., and Universal all tried to capitalize off this new trend. The streaming wars also began as companies like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and now Disney have begun to develop content at a rapid pace for viewers enjoyment at home. There were a lot of films that were made during the 2010s. Some of them were remarkable achievements, while others were complete train wrecks. Here is my personal list of my 15 favorite movies that came out during the 2010s.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Blade Runner 2049
  • La La Land
  • Avengers: Infinity War
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  • Coco
  • Argo
  • Moneyball
  • Avengers: Endgame
  • Prisoners
  • Captain Phillips
  • Guardians of the Galaxy
  • The Help

15. Parasite

It seems a bit too new to put on a best of the decade list, but after watching this movie for a second time, I really see how fantastic this movie is. It is treated with intense care and is masterfully created by director and writer Bong Joon-Ho. The film really takes its time to slowly build up to an absolutely shocking and brutal ending of a film. The characters are written very well and performed perfectly by the cast. The film deals with class but it never feels heavy handed. It does an excellent job at looking at the different experiences between the rich and the poor and how it shapes them as people. The way that they look at the world is indicative of their experience with their social status. It also balances two tones very well. The first half is almost a comedy, while the second half is almost a horror/thriller movie, but it never feels out of place. It is an excellent film that is truly worth your time, even if you have to do some extra reading.

14. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The Planet of the Apes reboot trilogy is a great trilogy, but the second part is definitely the best. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is a very tense film that shows the rising tensions between the humans and the apes before they go to war. This movie does have some great action sequences, but it is a lot more than that. It questions what makes someone human versus what might make someone an animal. Who are the heroes and who are the beasts? Matt Reeves directs this movie brilliantly, along with fantastic motion capture technology that help to capture Andy Serkis' fantastic performance as Caesar. He brings so much to the character, while saying very few lines. All the apes look fantastic with unbelievable special effects bringing them to life. Come for the ape and human politics, stay for the apes on horses.

13. The Social Network

The most impressive thing about The Social Network is how it takes a somewhat boring concept and makes it very compelling and entertaining. Aaron Sorkin's witty script along with David Fincher's tense direction help make the invention of Facebook seem like a courtroom thriller. While the portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg is apparently inaccurate, Jesse Eisenberg gives his best performance as a snobby, arrogant, tech prodigy. The film also has a brilliant score composed by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. The dialogue between the characters is so entrancing that I sometimes find myself so locked in to a scene that it is hard to take myself out of it. It may be a standard idea for a movie, but it finds a way to tell the story so compellingly.

12. Get Out

A horror movie directed by comedian Jordan Peele? Sounds strange, but it works insanely well. Get Out is an awesome thriller that may seem slow but is constantly building to a satisfying conclusion. The film is slowly setting up bits and pieces until the final reveal. It is a horror movie that deals with race, but it deals with race in a very unique way. A way that I think will remain relevant for quite a long time. Not only that, but the film is also very funny. Peele finds a natural way to bring his sense of humor into the movie without it becoming distracting. While not a very scary movie, it does stick around with you after you watch it as you interpret what everything means. Get Out made Peele one of the most exciting horror directors in Hollywood right now and I can't wait to see what he does next.

11. Captain America: Civil War

So far, this is my favorite movie in the MCU mainly because i think it is the most unique. This film doesn't end with a big, city-destroying action sequence with some villain who wants to destroy the world. It is a fight between characters, a fight between ideologies, and a fight between doing what is right versus doing what is acceptable. The MCU is not great just because of its action sequences, but also because of the characters and the journey we have with them. Civil War places the heroes against each other in a way that is very compelling. What I love about Civil War is that as a viewer, you never really take a side. Both sides have good arguments and nobody is clearly in the wrong. It also brings in a ton of characters that we love, but balances them and makes their appearances feel deserved. Also, I can't say enough about how amazing the airport sequence is. It has amazing action, but it also brings in emotion to make you more invested in the action.

10. Interstellar

Christopher Nolan is easily one of the best directors working in Hollywood right now and Interstellar is his best shot movie. It is an absolute marvel to look at as space has never looked so good on film. Not only that, but Interstellar has a very fascinating story that brings in a lot of cool concepts about time and space. This movie gets better the more you watch it as certain things get easier to understand. The twist at the end is one of the most mind-boggling things that is very cool and caught me by surprise. It is filled with emotion, especially from Matthew Mcconaughey, who just wants to save the world for his kids. The film is also boosted by Hans Zimmer's score, which is probably the best score of the decade for any movie. It truly does catpure the sci-fi element while also adding bits of fantasy as they explore the unknown. This movie may be confusing on a first watch, but it is easily one of the most fascinating sci-fi movies of the decade.

9. Inception

Inception is not nearly as confusing as people claim it to be. It explains everything fairly well and isn't too hard to follow if you are paying attention. This is a great action film that is boosted by it's sci-fi plot. The "dream within a dream" stuff is awesome to watch, especially as each dream starts affecting another one. Christopher Nolan directs this movie very well and it has an amazing cast. Leonardo Dicaprio, Ellen Page, Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ken Watanabe, and Marion Cotillard give this movie a ton of emotion throughout. Hans Zimmer also provides another fantastic score that still remains iconic. This is easily one of the most unique and imaginative movies ever made. The ending is one of the best of the decades as it keeps you guessing about the events of the movie.

8. Baby Driver

Baby Driver is an awesomely unique action movie. The film is basically directed to a soundtrack as the motions on screen often match the song that is playing. The car chases and gun fights sync their movements and noises to the song that is playing, creating an environment that is almost like a music video. Every time, I watch this movie, I notice new ways in which the movie plays along with the music. Edgar Wright often brings a very unique touch to his films and Baby Driver is no different. The soundtrack is also great as it brings back old classics, but pairs them with a modern aesthetic. Baby himself almost seems like a character from a different era. This is a fast paced, musical, thrill ride that never takes its foot off of the pedal.

7. Saving Mr. Banks

This is an endlessly heartwarming. It is very hard to watch this movie without a smile on your face. It does have the typical Disney cheesiness, but it does actually provide a very emotional story. Emma Thompson is amazing as P.L. Travers by making her someone who you root for even though she is very shrewd. Thompson easily got snubbed of an Oscar for this movie. Tom Hanks is also great as Walt Disney and really brings him to life. Colin Farrell also plays P.L's father in a role that is endearing, yet heartbreaking as he struggles to provide for his family. This film switches between the flashbacks and the actual creative process for Mary Poppins. While the filmmaking scenes are the more interesting, the flashbacks of Travers's life does a good job at tying into Travers's story and why she behaves the way she does. The most impressive thing about this movie, however, is how it makes you rethink Mary Poppins. Once this film suggests that Mary Poppins comes to save "Mr. Banks" and not the kids, it puts Mary Poppins in a whole new light. This is an absolutely delightful film and will definitely raise your spirit.

6. Toy Story 3

I grew up with Toy Story and this film came out at a time when I had begun to stop playing with toys and move on a little. With that, this movie hit me on a very emotional level as I relate to this movie immensely. This movie faces the truth about growing up and letting nostalgia go. The ending of this movie is one of the few times that I have actually cried while watching a movie. It is an ending that is perfect and wraps up the series perfectly (technically not the end because of Toy Story 4 but 4 was good so it's ok). Besides the ending, though, this film is wonderful throughout its entirety. It's very funny, heartfelt, dramatic, and often surprisingly dark at times for Pixar. Of course, the main crew of Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Bullseye, Jessie, and Rex are all great to see again, but they are paired with new faces, including Lotso Huggin' bear, who I think is pretty intimidating villain for this movie. The new daycare setting does lead to some funny and exciting sequences for our characters to play in. To this day, this remains my favorite Pixar movie and the ending still makes me tear up.

5. Logan

It's crazy to think that Hugh Jackman had been playing Wolverine for almost 20 years. Most actors are not lucky enough to evolve and develop a character through that much time. Logan understands what this character and Professor X have gone through in the X-Men franchise and capitalize on that, delivering a gritty, raw, emotional, and somber experience. We find Logan as an old, broken man who is just trying to take care of himself and Professor X until his mutant daughter shows up out of the blue. We also see Professor X as a sick, old man and Patrick Stewart is so convincing that is sometimes hard to watch, but the film does something very interesting with it, considering how much power Professor X has. The film is rated R and it shows as curse words and gore flies throughout, but the film would feel incomplete without the grittiness of its world. As of right now, this is my second favorite comic book movie behind The Dark Knight. If this is Hugh Jackman's last movie as Wolverine, it is a damn good one to end with and great ending for his character.

4. Mad Max: Fury Road

Absolute, pure chaos is the best way to describe this movie. This is easily the best action movie of the decade and one of the best action movies of all time. It is remarkable to see a movie that pulls off incredible stunts with very little CGI. The car chases are extremely gritty and feature cool explosions and awesome fights. There isn't much of a story, but there really doesn't need to be one when everything else is so awesome. The title of this movie is somewhat misleading because it really isn't about Mad Max, portrayed with very little dialogue from Tom Hardy. It really is more focused on Charlize Theron as Furiosa, who is an absolute badass. The film is expertly shot and directed by George Miller by making all the action scenes easy to follow, but also by creating beautiful atmosphere in a chaotic world. If you love action movies, then you definitely have to witness this two hour adrenaline-fueled, action spectacle.

3. Whiplash

Whiplash is one of the most intense movies of the decade, which is impressive to say about a movie about drums. It is about passion and perseverance, but also the negative consequences of what happens when people are pushed to their limits. It asks whether or not reaching your full potential is worth the pain that one may face to get there. J.K. Simmons delivers an amazing and frightening performance as the musical teacher who pushes Miles Teller past his limits in order to reach success. Teller is also great and should not be overlooked, but Simmons absolutely steals the show. His lines are some of the greatest insults I have ever heard. Not since the drill sergeant in Full Metal Jacket has a character been so cruel, but also pretty damn funny. A lot of the drum sequences are very intense as we see Teller not willing to give up on his pursuit to be one of the all time greats. Teller is not that nice of a person, but we still root for him due to the challenge that he is facing from Simmons. The ending of this movie is also one that will leave you questioning how to feel about it. Whiplash is an awesome, intense movie that really should be seen, even just for Simmons' performance alone.

2. Django Unchained

Django Unchained is another piece of revisionist history told by Quentin Tarantino. This time, he goes back to the 1800s and tells a story of a slave turned bounty hunter who gets his revenge on evil, white plantation owners. Of course, this movie is filled with Tarantino's staple of bloody gun fights, but it also features incredible dialogue along with fantastic performances. The film contains an all star cast with Christoph Waltz, Jamie Foxx, Samuel L. Jackson, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Kerry Washington. Waltz is awesome as a bounty hunter who despises slavey, but still uses it to his advantage in order to kill his targets. DiCaprio takes a surprising turn as a villain, but plays it incredibly well and is really fun to hate. He is chewing up every scene and relishing in his own wickedness. Tarantino brings his own style through the storytelling, the music choices, the action, and the dialogue. It is funny, dramatic, emotional, and often times frightening. It is a long film as most Tarantino movies are, but it is an awesome movie nonetheless.

1. The Wolf of Wall Street

Even though this is the longest movie on the list, it is also the most entertaining. Martin Scorsese has created a 3-hour epic of debauchery and degenerate behavior, however, he still makes the audience somehow root for Jordan Belfort. However, it is almost impossible not to root for him when Leonardo Dicaprio portrays him with so much charm and charisma. Dicaprio gives, in my opinion, his career best performance in this movie as he goes all in for three hours. He is chaotic, charming, manipulative, shrewd, and filled with energy for the entire film. The film is also boosted by excellent performances from Jonah Hill and Margot Robbie. It also contains a scene with Matthew McConaughey which is one of the best scenes of the decade. It is also a very funny movie, but still takes time to deliver scenes that contain a lot of emotional weight and drama. The film is absolute chaos, but Scorsese's talent for telling a narrative allows it to not feel excessive. It feels like this is the world that Belfort is a part of and Scorsese is wrapping all of the audience in for it. It never endorses Belfort's actions as there are consequences for what he does, but it does offer a look at the crazy world of a very wealthy man who is surrounded at all times by temptation. While it is a lengthy movie, it is an absolute ride from start to finish and it is one that is well worth your time.