by Kyle Arango
We are at the end of the decade and wow that went by incredibly fast. That means it is time to look back at this decade and recognize what are the best films of the last ten years. There is no easy way to do this list, so we are not going to rank them. In no particular order, these are my picks for the best films of the 2010’s.
The Wolf of Wall Street
Martin Scorsese is one of the best to ever do it and he reaffirmed that yet again with The Wolf of Wall Street. A contender for the most entertaining movie of all time where from beginning to end you watch this terrible man live the life we all wish we could have but slowly destroy it. There are so many memorable moments in this film, but I always go back to the moment between DiCaprio and McConaughey where they beat their chest in unison and hum nonsense which should be so stupid and yet it is amazing. Plus, this film also introduced us to one of the best actresses today in Margot Robbie, we will forever be thanking this film for her.
Damien Chazelle is a director who has become a force in the industry in a small amount of time. He hit the ground running with Whiplash. The story of a boy who desires to be the greatest drummer ever and his abusive teacher who feeds his obsession and completely breaks him. I’d argue J.K. Simmons gives the best performance of the decade in this film as Fletcher who sells the rage and anger that would break anyone. The film wraps up with one of the best back-and-forths you will ever see and perfectly ends this story.
Guardians of the Galaxy
Marvel Studios might be what defines the 2010’s and beyond when it gets looked back on. 21 films in this decade alone but the one that stands out the most above them all is Guardians of the Galaxy. The story of a group of misfits who have been shunned by society and find comfort in each other. This movie is the perfect blend of humor, action, drama, and heart that creates something that should’ve never worked yet somehow does. The film opens with a young boy watching his mother die of cancer and then transitions into a dance sequence and it all feels natural. The music tells the story, the characters carry it, and director James Gunn leads the way in what is still Marvel’s best film yet.
One of the most memorable moments of the decade was at the 2016 Oscars when La La Land won best picture for two minutes and then we found out the envelopes were switched, and another film won. That film was the great Moonlight. This movie is a journey of self-discovery where we watch a boy become a man through three stages of his life and learn who he is sexually. In a community that shuns homosexuals, he finds someone he grows to have feelings for that are reciprocated only to be turned on. The third act is one of the most honest and raw moments you’ll see in any film. It was absolutely deserving of best picture and a film more people need to see.
La La Land
Now let’s talk about the film that almost won best picture in 2016 in La La Land. Musicals have always been something people went to go see, but they weren’t doing so hot coming into 2016. Then La La Land came out and reinvigorated that love people have for the genre. This is one of the most beautiful love stories I have ever seen onscreen with Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling just giving it everything they got. The music is also just as amazing with melodies that linger on throughout that hit home the films emotion. It shows us that even in Hollywood where you think everything is possible, there are not always happy endings and sometimes relationships don’t workout. A film sure to carry on for decades to come.
I was one of those people who saw Get Out and thought that it was a solid thriller, but Split was better the previous month. Boy was I wrong. With every subsequent viewing of Get Out, it got better and better with deeper themes being uncovered. You pick up something new every time you watch it and then suddenly realize this is one of the smartest and tightest screenplays we have seen in a long time that is executed beautifully. Jordan Peele shines a light on the racial bias we have in this country and decides to scare you with it. This film is thrilling, haunting, and eye-opening with an expert performance by Daniel Kaluuya and is sure to go down as a horror classic.
You never forget those experiences in a theater when a film finally reveals itself to you and it blows you away. That is how I felt after watching Arrival. A film where multiple alien spaceships plant themselves across the world and Amy Adams is tasked with communicating with them and learning why they are here. This film is all about just how bad we are as a species as communicating with each other and a lack of it can lead to consequences. Director Denis Villeneuve hits another homerun with this one and by the end of the film I was utterly speechless with the masterpiece I had just witnessed. There are many great films on this list, but this might be the best.
The Social Network
David Fincher is one of those legendary directors who is still putting out quality pictures every time he sets out to make a film. In 2010 we got his masterpiece in The Social Network. The story about the creation of Facebook and what came to be the modern age of social media. This film just had everything perfectly fall into place with a flawless screenplay by Aaron Sorkin, direction by Fincher, an amazing cast all giving terrific performances, and a score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross that’s subtle notes leave a heavy impact. It has only become more prominent as time has gone on and we’ve seen how much impact Facebook has on society today.
Pixar is known for putting out classic animated films that are both for children and adults but between 2011 and 2014, they were trending downward. Then in 2015 we got what might be their best work yet in Inside Out. A film that takes a dive into the brain of a little girl and we follow her emotions Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust. It sounds crazy but this film teaches us that it is important to have happiness in your life, as well as sadness. The world Pixar creates is fascinating and as the film goes on, you discover more and more just how similar we are to this child Riley. When Bing Bong her imaginary friend disappears and is ultimately forgotten by the child, it is one of the saddest moments I have ever had in a theater. It is a perfect film for the whole family and one that Pixar should hold up high.
2019 has been a great year for film and I would be remised to not include its best with Jojo Rabbit. A film about a boy growing up in Nazi Germany who has an imaginary friend in Hitler that is a comedy is a crazy idea that should never have worked, but it did. Taika Waititi fully exposes the ridiculousness of the Nazi beliefs and does it through the eyes of a child in Jojo, who learns that everything he once believed in was a fallacy. Taika’s strength as a director has been mixing moments of comedy with emotion without undercutting the drama and this is the best he has ever done it. It will have you on the floor laughing one moment and then crying the next. A film that deserves to win best picture this season.
Blade Runner 2049
Coming off Arrival, you wondered how could Denis Villeneuve possibly live up to those heights again? Well he decided to do a sequel to a cult hit in Blade Runner and create another masterpiece in Blade Runner 2049. The original film was all about just what it means for someone to be human. In this film, that theme is explored even deeper turns the mirror on us. This world where humans interact with robots who are just like us paints a fascinating picture of society that makes us wonder just what we are doing and what makes us better then the next person. The scenery in this film is gorgeous, the score is beautiful, and everything together helped me understand that Villeneuve is the best filmmaker working right now.
That awkward stage in high school is something we can all relate to. How we try to break out and be who we are truly meant to be. That theme is done so amazing in Sing Street. A film about a boy who starts a fake band in order to impress a girl. John Carney is one of the most underrated directors out there who takes this story and makes the audience feel comfortable. The songs here are also out of this world good. If you have not heard “Drive it Like You Stole it”, do yourself a favor and fix that immediately. Begin Again was fantastic, but Carney does it even better in this film and it is truly one of the best coming of age films in a long time.
Ridley Scott is a director that has had a rough go at it lately and was struggling for most of this decade. Then he made The Martian, and everything was suddenly forgotten. The Martian is a concept that does not work without precise execution and a leading man who can carry a movie by himself. It is literally a movie about a man stranded by himself on Mars. What Matt Damon does as Mark Watney is such an achievement being able to be entertaining, charismatic, and inspiring all while showing the slow decline of the emotional state of his character is incredibly difficult and he makes it look easy. This film is all about perseverance and never letting go of hope which is a message everyone can use in their lives.
Hey look, we have yet another Denis Villeneuve film on the list! Why? Because he the best there is right now and Sicario is just further evidence. Just look at how much worse the sequel was when he wasn’t behind the camera. Here we see a woman who gets the promotion she has desired by being hired to assist in busting cartels across the border. What she soon realizes is everything she had learned goes out the window and that the government will do whatever it takes to get what it wants and assert its dominance. The tension in this film is some of the highest you will feel in any film, especially the sequence on the bridge. It all ends incredibly dark where you see that no matter how hard you try to be someone that follows the rules, we all eventually succumb to greater powers and that is just how the world works.
I remember just how numb I felt at the end of this last film after seeing it. Shaking in my seat in sheer awe by what I had just witnessed. That film that did that to me was Nightcrawler. Here we see a man named Lou Bloom who is searching for his purpose and wants to find what he is good at when he stumbles upon filming crimes and catastrophes to sell to news stations for money. He finds success and pushes the limits so far that it leaves you both disgusted and fascinated by what happens as things progress. Jake Gyllenhaal gives one of the performances of the decade as this unsettling madman who scares you with his soft yet threatening tone and persona. It is a crime that he did not win or was not even nominated for an Oscar. This is a one of a kind film, as evidence by Dan Gilroy’s other works, and one that deserves to be seen for years to come.