Holy crap it’s almost 2020! Where have the years gone? What a wild decade the 2010s have been. One that started with Obama in the White House will end with Donald Trump in the White House. Go back to January, 1st 2010 and imagine someone coming from the future telling you that. You’d have laughed in their face. But alas, here we are. We’re writing this on the day before Thanksgiving, and Donald Trump is indeed the president, and he just tweeted this like two minutes ago. Life is so very strange, and it comes at you so very fast.
So enough about all of that. Let’s talk about movies, specifically the movies that we loved the most over the past ridiculous decade. To come up with a list, we asked members of our entertainment staff to list their favorite 15 or so movies from the past decade. Each movie that was listed on a ballot was assigned a single point. Of all the movies that were nominated, only 22 appeared on multiple lists and thus garnered multiple points. They are listed below, in no particular order whatsoever, for maximum chaos. You’re welcome.
And for the record, there was one movie that received more points than any other. If you’re dying to know which movie it is, email us and maybe we’ll send it to you written on a message inside a bottle, but there’s a (pretty good) chance that the message might read “Epstein didn’t kill himself” written in crayon, because what could possibly be more 2010s than that, a conspiracy theory wrapped inside a troll job?
Anyway, here are the movies we think were the best of the 2010s decade.
Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)
Inside Llewyn Davis is not just the best film of the 2010s, it’s one of my favorite films of all time. In a decade in which the musician biopic came to dominant awards categories and became the gold standard for commercial prestige filmmaking, no film was a more honest portrayal of life as an artist. Biopics are written by the winners. Inside Llewyn Davis is a dispatch from the front. It gave us Oscar Isaac (in arguably the greatest singing/acting performance of all time), a magical cat, and time-as-a-flat-circle chronology that makes you want to start it up again as soon as it finishes. Funny, sad, cathartic, crotchety, unforgettable. It is a masterpiece. — Vince Mancini
Get Out (2017)
If you’d have told me back in 2012 that one half of Comedy Central’s Key and Peele would propel himself to horror visionary status in five years, I’d definitely have been curious but still a little cautious. Well, Jordan Peele swiftly proved that stepping out of the Hollywood box is only impossible as one believes because Get Out is one hell of a directorial debut, all on top of a startlingly original story (it never gets old to stress how rare originality is at the multiplex these days) that painstakingly sprinkles in suspenseful moments and horror tropes to chilling perfection. The end result is uncomfortable to witness at times, but Peele wields his satirical pen until the film whips up provocative and mind-bending commentary on what folks only imagine to be post-racial times. Not only that, but Get Out continues to be a film that people love to dissect, and such compelling nuance made this work an instant classic. — Kimberly Ricci
The Social Network (2010)
David Fincher’s The Social Network was great in 2010, the year it came out. It’s even better now, as the Wikipedia entry for “Criticism of Facebook” has grown distressingly longer. It’s also impressively prescient. Take one of the movie’s most quoted lines, written by Aaron Sorkin and spoken by Mark Zuckerberg’s ex-girlfriend Erica Albright (played by Rooney Mara): “Look, you are probably going to be a very successful computer person. And you are going to go through life thinking girls don’t like you cause, you’re a nerd,” she tells Zuck (a never-better Jesse Eisenberg). “And I want you to know, from the bottom of my heart, that that won’t be true. It’ll be because you’re an asshole.” And that was before Facebook went from a way to keep up with your high school friends to what it is now, a toxic sewer of misinformation, data breaches, and racist memes. Sorkin’s grating The Newsroom aimed to be a snapshot of the time, but it’s The Social Network that holds up; as it’s the movie that best depicts this (horrible) decade. — Josh Kurp
12 Years a Slave (2013)
Steve McQueen’s haunting portrait of an enslaved man and the abuses he suffered while enduring captivity was the 2013 Best Picture Oscar winner, and for good reason. The film, based on the true account of Solomon Northup, a free black man living in Boston in the 1800s who was kidnapped and sold as a slave, is brutally realistic in its depiction of the horrors of slavery with Chiwetel Ejiofor giving a gripping performance as Northup. Michael Fassbender plays a sadistic slave owner who delights in mistreating Northup at every turn and Sarah Paulson plays the man’s wife, a woman who deals out her own form of abuse, but it’s Lupita Nyong’o’s Oscar-winning turn as Patsey, a young slave woman regularly raped and whipped by her master while Northup is forced to helplessly watch that elevates this into something more than an unforgiving history lesson. Patsey and Northup’s resolve to survive and escape their imprisonment on the plantation is the driving force of this story and the film leans on that bit of hope, especially in it’s darker moments. — Jessica Toomer
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
Overplotting became the norm in the 2010s, driven more by market forces than artistic choices. How else to squeeze in the scores of actors and dozens of plot points necessary for maximum expanded universe synergy? Into this milieu roared Mad Max Fury Road, an extended chase sequence that proved once and for all that complex plots aren’t what make great stories. It supercharged the original’s apocalyptic world-building until it became religion, inventing its own post-civilization vernacular of breeders and guzzeline. Suicidal war boys huffed paint fumes and dreamt of chrome paradise in a fantastically batshit flame-spewing fever dream that never offered the comfort of escapism. In an era when action set pieces often became bloodless displays of digital tech, Fury Road felt not only inventive, but dangerous. It’s the defining action film of the era. — Vince Mancini
OJ: Made in America (2016)
Back in 2016, I had access to some pretty early screeners of O.J.: Made in America, which I plowed through at a breakneck pace. I was telling a friend how great it was and he seemed dismissive, basically because he had no interest in watching a documentary about O.J. Simpson. I asked him to watch the first half-hour and if he wasn’t into it, we could turn it off. Smash cut to a day later, as we finished up the fifth and last part — a movie that runs at a whopping 467 minutes; more than double that of The Irishman — my friend, at 2 a.m., looked at me and said, “I think I could go ahead and watch the next part.” To which I had to tell him there wasn’t one. There was some debate over O.J.: Made in America winning an Oscar, since it also competed at the Emmys and was presented on television in an episodic format. Whatever. No other piece of filmmaking has so captured America like Ezra Edelman did with this masterpiece. So, yes, give it the Oscar. Give it the Emmy. Give it the Great British Bake Off award! It deserved to win everything. — Mike Ryan
Netflix, by financing this Alfonso Cuarón-directed film, shifted the streaming-game paradigm, and in doing so, the streaming service ruffled more than a few theater-owner and Oscar-voter feathers. That’s a notable accomplishment in and of itself, but fortunately for all of us, the movie also happens to qualify both as a masterpiece (just as much as a blockbuster like Gravity was) and a crowd-pleaser (like that Harry Potter flick that Cuarón helmed as well). Roma, of course, serves as love letter to Cuarón’s Mexico City childhood, and he helms the experiences of a domestic worker in such a raw, heartbreaking way that feels like a photo album come to life. It’s an immersive movie and one that’s worth burying oneself within no matter the size of the screen. — Kimberly Ricci
John Wick (2014)
It helps to strip this all of its context. Look at it from 10,000 feet. John Wick is a movie about Keanu Reeves taking down the entire Russian mob in New York City because Theon Greyjoy killed his puppy. That’s the one-sentence summary. That movie has no right to be as good as John Wick was, and certainly no right to be the first entry in what is now a huge and star-studded action franchise. But it was and it is. That might be its crowning achievement.
It’s all in the how. How the movie did it, how it worked, how Keanu moves. The film is all colors and sound, with reds and blues standing out as haunting music from Marilyn Manson plays. Keanu slides around the screen, almost like he’s doing ballet, a model of efficiency and brutality, delivering dozens of headshots as he hunts his way up the ladder. The scene in the Red Circle, the Russian nightclub with discos and hot tubs, will go down as one of the best action sequences in history, one you can’t help but watch when you stumble across it on basic cable. If that’s not the sign of quality, what is? — Brian Grubb
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019)
My expectations for Once Upon a Time In Hollywood going into seeing it couldn’t have been lower. I was not particularly a big fan of Quentin Tarantino’s previous film, The Hateful Eight, and the trailers for this film didn’t particularly excite me — I had come to accept that this generation’s most influential filmmaker’s best days were probably behind him. Which was perfectly fine, mind you; he’d had a good run and given myself and countless others so much pleasure through the years with his movies. I was perfectly content to see Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and leave the theater feeling “meh” about it.
Thankfully, of course, I left the theater feeling quite the opposite this past summer. I knew immediately that this will be one of those movies that I’ll probably re-watch at least 200 times over the course of my life so I can continually relive the chill of hanging out with Brad and Leo in late-’60s Los Angeles. Hell, I’ll probably even make myself a few whiskey sours or a pitcher of margaritas and maybe even saunter up on my roof shirtless to smoke some cigarettes and daydream about kicking someone’s ass after the movie’s over when I do. But I won’t look anywhere near as good as Brad Pitt looks shirtless when I do, and that’s just fine. I’ll feel cool as hell, and that’s all that matters. — Brett Michael Dykes
It’s hard to make a film that feels both refined and unencumbered, but that’s the dance Bong Joon Ho does in Parasite. It is both a genteel farce and feral screed, a comedy of manners that exposes the ruthlessness underpinning those manners. Bong Joon Ho has never feared the fantastic, but Parasite is a feat of gradual world expansion that never rushes its reveals — all of which arrive with a bang. In place of a magical cat it has a magical rock. Some of the best stories expand our conception of the natural world, revealing an entire layer of reality underneath the one we thought we knew (Bruce Willis was dead the whole time!). In Parasite, that hidden layer beneath the known world becomes literal subterranean reality. It does the same trick with “the stench of desperation.” Parasite marries idiom and parable so seamlessly that it’s almost a proverb. — Vince Mancini
Every time I watch or just see a GIF from Moonlight, which is a lot but still not nearly enough, I’m reminded of its beauty. Even in three-second looped form, like the GIF of grown-up Chiron looking across the table at grown-up Kevin. You can feel the longing history between the characters, the what-could-have-beens and what-might-bes. It’s heavy, but through the lens and words of Barry Jenkins, the scene, like Moonlight as a whole, is also lovely, sensual, and empathic. With its years-spanning love story, exploration of masculinity and emotional vulnerability, and flawless cast, including Oscar-winner Mahershala Ali, Moonlight is the rare “I remember where I was when I saw it” movie. It’s simply unforgettable. — Josh Kurp
Mission Impossible: Fallout (2018)
Is Mission: Impossible the best current movie franchise? It’s certainly in the running, thanks in large part to the shockingly consistent quality the movies are delivering, even today, over two decades after it all kicked off. Look at Fallout. You got maybe the best action sequence in the series (HELICOPTERS), a final set-piece that ties together Ethan’s two loves, twists galore, driving action, real stakes, Alec Baldwin’s spiky haircut, Henry Cavill loading up his fists before a fight, Sean Harris and his terrifying shark eyes, Angela Bassett…
Hmm. It appears this has devolved in a list of cool stuff in Fallout. That wasn’t the point. The movie is more than a collection of cool stuff. It’s also one of the best action movies in recent memory, a testament to Tom Cruise’s lasting star power and Christopher McQuarrie’s handle on the franchise and the genre. Fallout rules. Maybe that is the point, after all. — Brian Grubb
Selma could have easily been just another biopic. Especially when the subject of said bio is someone larger than life, like Martin Luther King, Jr. (played by David Oyelowo). We as an audience are familiar with King’s speeches, but what director Ava DuVernay does here is show why King was so effective behind the scenes. We don’t hear as much about King the politician — and the deals he had to make with government officials to get things done. King wielded his power wisely and DuVernay shows us how he did that. Set in the aftermath of the church bombing in Birmingham that killed four young black girls, Selma shows the story how the 1965 march from Selma to Birmingham took place. But, again, it’s not just the march, but what King does behind the scenes to make it happen, as he wrestles with his own self-doubt about the whole thing. Shot brilliantly by Bradford Young, DuVerney’s Selma cuts through the legend of Martin Luther King and, brilliantly, makes him human. — Mike Ryan
Wonder Woman (2017)
Plenty has already been said about Warner Bros. running amuck with a “gritty” vision for DC superhero movies like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad, but this standalone Diana movie was a game-changer for not only this studio but comic book movies as a whole. Praise Zeus for Patty Jenkins helming this epic origin story through a 21st century, feminist lens, which not only paved the way for a less-cynical Warner Bros. stable of tales but pushed the genre to a new frontier of empowerment in 2017. Seriously and at that point, Marvel Studios/Disney had already knocked out over a dozen MCU films with no standalone Black Widow in sight (although 2020 appears to be the year). Yet Diana’s genuine heroism and compassion, fueled by tenacity and a well-placed, visible thigh jiggle, paved the road for more female-fronted blockbusters to come. And for that especially, it will always be remembered. — Kimberly Ricci
Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)
For a Star Wars movie, yes, the reaction was polarizing. This wasn’t the same tone that Star Wars had established, and some fans balked. Its box office was the worst of the trilogy and the reviews were mixed. The complaints ranged everywhere from the main characters being split up throughout the movie, to the evolution of our heroes’ personalities, circumventing what had come before. But, yet, today, The Empire Strikes Back is regarded as crown jewel of the Star Wars saga.
Yes, I tried to trick you because I am supposed to be writing about The Last Jedi, but I couldn’t resist to point out the eerie similarities between the initial reactions to these to middle chapters of Star Wars movies that dared to challenge us to go to places we didn’t quite think possible. (The only real difference being that the initial reviews for The Last Jedi were better than The Empire Strikes Back.) Another complaint is nothing happens in The Last Jedi. And compared to The Force Awakens and The Rise of Skywalker, that’s true. But there’s really not much of a plot to Empire other than “The bad guys attack the good guys, then then the good guys all run away in different directions.” Over time, there’s little doubt The Last Jedi will also develop this kind of lore, which is why it lands easily on this list. — Mike Ryan
Ex Machina (2015)
Alex Garland gave us 28 Days Later, Sunshine, and Annihilation so it should come as no surprise that the prolific writer’s directorial debut earns a spot here. And if you are surprised by how much we enjoyed this sci-fi thriller about a humanoid AI, her egotistical creator, and the young programmer who disturbs their precarious isolated existence well, have you seen the Oscar Isaac disco-dance sequence? Isaac plays Nathan, a controlling, problematic genius type who invites a quiet, reserved employee named Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) to spend some time at his private villa getting to know his latest creation, an AI named Ava. Ava (Alicia Vikander in the kind of distinct, provoking leading turn actors only dream of) has a human face and robotic body. She’s confined to a room, and it’s Caleb’s job to assess how well she passes for human. An escape plot, a psychological breakdown, and a meditation on the defining parameters of humanity follow making this one of the more surprising, expertly assembled sci-fi films of the decade. — Jessica Toomer
Black Panther (2018)
Sure, there are so many innovations here that stick with you long after the film ends: Wakanda, vibranium, Shuri, M’Baku, that suit, the music. But it’s Killmonger’s philosophy, so far removed from the mustache-twirling, get-rich-quick, take-over-the-world schemes endemic to the villainous archetype, that takes Black Panther out of the usual realm of superhero fantasy and transforms it into the urgent sociological commentary that had many wondering, “Was Killmonger right?” The scary part is: He wasn’t completely wrong. — Aaron Williams
La La Land (2016)
There’s a day in December of 2016 that I’ll never forget because it was one of the worst days of my life. I was working in Los Angeles that week, at Uproxx’s office in Culver City, and when I arrived that morning I was told to report to the studio where our CEO would be making an announcement, which was that one of the company’s senior executives had taken his life by suicide. About an hour after getting out of that meeting, still in a state of shock, I was told that our company’s chief technology officer had just been diagnosed with Stage 4 liver cancer — he would pass away just a few weeks later. That night, feeling like I’d been hit by a dump truck emotionally and in desperate need of a mental escape, I went to see La La Land. I would return to theaters to see it again the following three nights as well. I doubt I’ll ever forget how this movie made me feel, which was alive with happiness, to the point that I would often return to my hotel room after the screenings and dance around like an idiot to the film’s soundtrack. To this day, I still listen to the La La Land soundtrack whenever I need an emotional lift. It just brings me so much joy. And I’ll never forget the therapy this movie offered me in one of the darkest moments of my life. It was a welcome reminder of the often underappreciated power of cinema, the power to lift a weary soul. — Brett Michael Dykes
Lady Bird (2017)
Is Greta Gerwig the voice of a generation? Maybe. She’s certainly a voice of a generation and she captures that bittersweet millennial nostalgia and torturous angst perfectly in Lady Bird, a film loosely based off her own life that stars the next crop of talented A-listers. Saoirse Ronan plays the titular heroine, a young woman desperate to break free from her suffocating family and school while Laurie Metcalfe turns in a comedically brilliant performance as her mother who, despite her best efforts, just can’t seem to understand her rebellious teen. Beanie Feldstein, Lucas Hedges, and Timothee Chalamet also make appearances, but this is Ronan’s starring vehicle and she steers it with the confidence and charisma of actors twice her age. That coupled with Gerwig’s understated, introspective storytelling style and some dreamy cinematography make this nostalgic coming-of-age flick one of the better entries in its genre, and one of the best films of the past decade. — Jessica Toomer
Sorry to Bother You (2018)
Explorations of race and class these days so often feel preachy and hopelessly literal, designed to flatter an audience’s sensibilities rather than inspire. Boots Riley’s directorial debut is one of the few that feels not just important but inventive, a treatise on class politics that you watch because you want to, not because you think you’re supposed to. In a film that could so easily become self-serious, Sorry To Bother You is unabashedly goofy. It takes the normal rules of discourse and gleefully draws a big, veiny horse cock on them. It’s strange, smart, cerebral, and surreal. — Vince Mancini
As both an action film and a deeply dark parable, this movie threw down an absolutely frigid take on class warfare and social uprisings. Much like the humanity-preserving train that circles the Earth in this story while swirling through the icy terrain, one can sense director Bong Joon Ho’s delight at hurling both schlocky thrills and philosophical questions toward his audience. Although the movie didn’t stick its landing, the cast more than makes up for any shortcomings. We’re used to Tilda Swinton being able to carry any bizarre role, and my god, she literally wears curtain chewing chompers here, but this movie gave Chris Evans a chance to prove that he’s capable of a layered performance. He’s fiercely confident in his role, which means that even the worst scene of the film (Evans sobbing about knowing that “babies taste best”) is pretty great. At its core, Snowpiercer feels like a mating dance between an action dream and an art-house hard-on, one that sticks with you and chills to the bone, years later. — Kimberly Ricci
Surely at some point you too have purchased a satin jacket adorned with a scorpion on the back via Amazon, rented a Ford Mustang GT, donned some black leather driving gloves, popped a toothpick in your mouth, blasted “Nightcall” by Kavinsky through the speakers, and driven around LA late at night going 100+MPH like you were running from the cops as if you were Ryan Gosling in Nicolas Winding Refn’s moody noir, Drive? Wait, you haven’t done that? Well, I regret to inform you that you, sir or madam, have not truly lived. I suggest you do something about that. — Brett Michael Dykes