Here is a selection of 60 movies of the 2010s I found particularly remarkable, with a comment for each. Some of them have no comment, because I have nothing to say about them apart from the fact that they're very good.
The Social Network (2010)
"But David, the screenplay 162 pages, which would be 2h40 of film. We've settled on a 2h film. You need to cut some scenes." "It's okay guys, I will tell the actors to talk faster." David Fincher discussing The Social Network with the producers, probably. Opening the 2010s with the story of the creation of the website which would then be central to the media and political theater of the decade. Talk about vision. Now please open the 2020s with the story of Cambridge Analytica.
How to Train Your Dragon (2010)
This is directed by Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders, who previously made Lilo and Stitch for Disney. We can recognize their ability at crafting perfectly cute creatures, and at writing on the theme of such creature being rejected by human society, except for one ingenuous but brave character, the hero, who must act as an ambassador. How to Train Your Dragon is a lovable gem. It is playful, thoughtful, and knows how to use its viking setting to set up some epic scenes.
Disney opened the 2010s with a CGI animated movie that was way ahead of anything they had created so far in this domain, in order to prove that their own digital department could seriously compete with what their cash cow (Pixar) had been doing for more than 10 years. Tangled has:
- Impressive visuals
- A strong female lead who isn't a ninny like traditional Disney princesses
It basically was a Frozen beta, and, even though Frozen has had a bigger cultural impact, Tangled is in my opinion a cuter, more subtle, and overall better movie.
The Adventures of Tintin (2011)
Spielberg is a master at blocking. He uses smooth, long shots, and has a habit of switching framing inside the same shot by using simple camera movements. He has done this forever but was, of course, constrained by the physical limit of the real world. When he adapted Tintin in animated form, though, this was no longer the case. With the freedom of animation, Tintin offers some awesome action scenes in an overall very entertaining adaption.
Margin Call (2011)
"Oh no, it's the sexual predator!" my mind goes when I see Kevin Spacey at the front center of the poster. No wonder I've come to almost forget the sight of his appearance when Hollywood took up on removing his image with stalinian riguor. Too bad he is a trash person, because he was a brilliant actor.
Margin Call takes place in the building of a large Wall Street investment bank, during one night on the onset of the 2007 economical crisis, where a risk analyst discovers the size of the loss that could be incurred if the value of their assets was to decrease a bit, those assets being the infamous mortgages of the housing bubble, which were therefore highly volatile. It goes all the way up to the big boss in the span of the night, where arguments ensue about the morality of the obvious survivability option (sell it all to others while they think it has any value).
I found Margin Call thrilling. Some say it is a good companion movie to the more in-depth The Big Short; I say it's the other way around. Emotions first!
A real human being... and a real hero... The music immediately echoes in my head as I remember the movie. Drive isn't an action movie with Fast and Furious types of chases (although it opens with a thrilling, realistic chase), nor is it a complex thriller with a rich story. It is an atmospheric, almost psychedelic trip into the life of a handsome weirdo who roams Los Angeles at night in his car, falls in love with the nice girl next-door, but gets entangled in some gangsta shit in between. It is the charisma of Ryan Golsing and the poetry of director Nicolas Winding Refn making our mind glide with pleasure.
The Tree of Life (2011)
Terrence Malick's filmography shows a progressive shift towards the deconstruction of standard cinematographic grammar to a more abstract form, all the way up to total worthless chaos. The Tree of Life sits at the equilibrium point, after the more well-grounded Thin Red Line and New World, but before the cracked up Knight of Cups and Song to Song. It's an autobiographical tale of Malick's own childhood in Texas alongside the creation of the fucking Universe itself. It's the closest thing to cinematic poetry. Haters say Malick is pompous, but it seems to me that he's doing it all for himself, moviegoers merely being guests graciously invited to take a look. I mean, we're talking about the man who is awarded the Palme d'Or but who isn't even there at the ceremony.
Take Shelter (2011)
Narrating the story of a father who is starting to have invasive nightmares, hallucinations, and a strong belief that a tornado will kill his family, here is a movie that offers a realistic look at the subject of schizophrenia. Its depressing subject doesn't really make for the happiest of viewings, but I found it deeply moving, to a great extent due to such a strong performance by lead actor Michael Shannon.
The Help (2011)
This damn cast. Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Bryce Dallas Howard, Octavia Spencer, Jessica Chastain. "The help" are the African American maids working in white households of the southern states in the 60s, and it's also the book that Skeeter, a young white journalist, wants to write about them to show the world the deplorable way they are treated because of their skin color. The movie is a concentration of acting talent.
One of the saddest movie of the decade, it tells a story of pure tragedy: a kindergarten employee is wrongly accused of having touched one the children, and the "news" spreads like wildfire in his little town. It is a remarkable demonstration of the necessity of checking facts before accusing, and of the monstrous potential that community can have when it decides someone is guilty. The entire power of the movie lies on the shoulder of Mads Mikkelsen (Le Chiffre in Casino Royale), who delivers a heart-wrenching performance, and was awarded Best Actor at the 2012 Cannes Festival.
Zero Dark Thirty (2012)
I remember this movie taking shit because it depicted the torture done by the CIA to prisoners in order to obtain information about the whereabouts of Ben Landen (before torture was banned by Obama). It was accused to be a propaganda movie that was in favor of torture (much like American Sniper was accused to be a propaganda movie for American imperialism). Those critics drive me nuts. You know you're supposed to enable your critical mind while you're watching the movie right? Depiction doesn't mean condonance.
The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
That moment when they make a movie about your life as a fraudster, but you realize the production company is financing the movie with funds diverted from a Malaysia. Art imitates life. Life imitates arts. We get the most entertaining movie of the decade.
Best thriller of the decade. That's it.
All Is Lost (2013)
Here is what a screenplay without dialogs look like. I could watch Robert Redford sail, repair his boat, and brave the elements all day long.
La Vie d'Adèle - Chapitres 1 et 2 (2013)
This film is the definition of raw. Not only because of its infamous love scenes that are pretty damn raw, but also because of the way the characters interact, be it either with peace, with love, or with wrath.
Delivered to you by Alfonso Cuarón, the man who made Children of Men (a commercial failure but one of the best film of the 2000s), and who then gets handed 100 millions dollars by Warner Bros to shoot a space film, because everybody knows he's so damn talented anyway. Haters gonna complain about the orbits being incorrect and whatnots, unable to see the boldness of the format (a real-time thriller in space with 2 characters), the overall satisfying realism physics-wise, and the genius of the directing. As a result, it's a film not liked by astronomers, but liked by astronauts. Forget your Interstellar crap and come join us in the astronauts club, it's funny out there.
Captain Phillips (2013)
Captain Lovell (Apollo 13), Captain Miller (Saving Private Ryan), Captain Sully (Sully), Captain Phillips (Captain Phillips). Tom Hanks loves to play captains.
Gone Girl (2014)
I listen to Trent Reznor's Consummation whenever I'm feeling like lightening my day :)
A Most Violent Year (2014)
Set in 1981 New York, the most violent year of the city, an entrepreneur tries to make his heating oil company survive in spite of his drivers being robbed at gun point, and in spite of being under investigation by some district attorney on the lookout for fraud in this type of business.
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014)
Relatos salvajes (2014)
This is a compilation of short stories, about 20 minutes each, unrelated to each other, but on the same theme of people being in a situation of such distress that they go completely bananas. This is glorious to watch.
The director wants to stand out and desperately tries to be original, most notably with the unusual aspect ratio and the weirdly-fitting pop songs. His talent at directing is well enough in its own right, as it captures so well how the brutality of the main character affects the lives of people around him, and his own. This is beautiful and tragically breathtaking.
This movie is the definition of uneasy. The dude is a freaking psychopath. In the generation of smart phones where filming has the priority over helping, it is also an interesting take at our current society.
John Wick (2014)
pew pew pew
The movie that made me realize that going to war can be hell not only because of the horrors of battle with the enemy, but also because of the hazing from your own team.
The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
The border scene is very intense.
This movie contains the most intense scene I have ever seen in cinema. It legit got my heart going off like hell. Now that I have over-sold it to you, you may proceed with your daily activities. In all seriousness, it is an incredible movie, with a first act which left me speechless in the way it subverted my expectations, and a second act more slow, sad, but very thoughtful.
Steve Jobs (2015)
Incredible story-telling format. (The movie depicts Jobs through 3 segments of approximately 40 minutes each, each of which being the 40 minutes before major keynotes of Jobs career).
The Revenant (2015)
If I had to chose the top #1 of the decade, I would probably say this one. It is truly epic, has a bunch of breathtaking scenes, and is astonishingly beautiful from a cinematographic standpoint. It is the third movie cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki obtained the Best Cinematography Oscar for (after Gravity and Birdman), in a row. It is also the movie thanks to which Leonardo DiCaprio finally got his Best Actor Oscar, which is funny considering that he spends most of the movie grunting and drooling (but they're into this kind of stuff over there at the Academy).
Saul fia (2015)
It follows an Auschwitz’s prisoner who clean gas chambers and transports bodies from the chambers to crematoriums. This is one of the darkest movies I ever saw. I consider this viewing as useful since there is no other thing that has made me realize with such impact the sheer, indescribable horror of how death had been industrialized. But this was not, of course, a pleasant viewing by any measure. There are movies about the subject like Schindler’s List which are softer and enjoyable as a drama. But this made wonder: is this even legitimate to enjoy a movie about the subject? Aren’t neutrality and rawness the only responsible registers? I’m not sure.
The Martian (2015)
Three things I love with this movie:
- Matt Damon is such a likable actor (but this is old news).
- The scientific accuracy.
- The movie doesn't take itself seriously, at least enough to put some ABBA songs over some Mars exploration.
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
I remember an interview in which Georges Miller explains that in most action movies, there is an alternation between action sequences, and dialogs sequences, which tend to be well-separated from one another. And that what he tried to do with Fury Road is to blur this separation and just have a continuous flow of action of varying intensity (mostly of high intensity). I wholeheartedly agree with his assessment of action movies, and consider that he has completely reached his goal with Fury Road. What a wild ride!
The grown 26-years-old-ass man in me has tried to protest in order to forbid this movie from appearing in the list, but candor must prevail, so here it is: Cinderella is the best live-action adaptation Disney has made since they started making those adaptations. It is a wholesome feel-good movie with a perfect pace, and a mature, down-to-the-ground adaptation of the fantastic tale. It is the embodiment of goodness, and my go-to flick whenever I'm sick under the cover, or just sad, or just bored.
It Follows (2015)
I saw it only one time, and I don't know how it survives rewatches, but what struck me was how the incredible opening scene was able to set such a frightening mood that made any following scenes, including trivial ones, dreadful. This directing feat is then completed by the roll-out of a quite original concept.
La La Land (2016)
Damn, the colors in this movie. It is reminiscent of technicolor movies of the 60s. It is lovely. I just liked the long shots during musical sequences, particularly the very scene of the picture above. As for the romance story, it is simply cheating to hire Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone together and have their natural alchemy flash all over the screen.
Manchester by the Sea (2016)
For some reason I am fond of the deepest tragedies, and this big revelation over Albinoni's Adagio got me wrecked and hooked for the rest of the movie.
The Post (2017)
This is one of the most feminist movie I ever saw. This moment when Meryl Streep enters the board room and the door opens to a bunch of men all turning around to watch her.
Darkest Hour (2017)
Gary Oldman's performance as Churchill was much praised, but I have to admit that I find John Lithgow in The Crown even better. Nonetheless, this remains such an excellent history movie. Anything Churchill is so damn interesting to watch.
The on-site depiction of what happens backstage in Darkest Hour. True cinephiles know this is the best or close-to-the-best Nolan movie, although normies fond of Inception and whatnots will tell you it's his worse movie. Tarantino gets it.
I, Tonya (2017)
I, Tonya is Margot Robbie proving that she isn't just the hot blond from The Wolf of Wall Street; not because of her brilliant embodiment of Tonya Harding (although her acting should definitely be praised), but because she initiated the production of the movie with her own production company, after having read about the subject on Wikipedia. In an era of franchises and adaptations, an original movie about an ice skating scandal from the 90s is no safe bet in Hollywood, but the success of movie, commercially and critically, says Margot Robbie is killing it. I agree.
Phantom Thread (2017)
This movie feels like the cinematic equivalent of the work from the great novelists. It is elegant, grand, subtle, wonderfully crafted, and most entertaining at times.
The wildest movie of the decade, with the WTF/minutes-meter going off exponentially as it progresses. There are multiple levels of interpretations for what is going on in this mess, which correspond to the multiple references it is based on (Polanski's Rosemary's Baby being a significant influence), but the main reference becomes illuminating when you instruct yourself about it (I'll let interested viewers the pleasure of doing their own research). As for myself, I'm just impressed with the level of creativity that is displayed in the movie, in addition to its ability to create an intense sentiment of anxiety, as if I was riding a roller-coaster.
That ending tho 😭
Get Out (2017)
Jordan Peele has clearly a talent to:
- Stage some really frightening scenes
- Develop an original idea
- Add some delicious dark humour to it
Call Me by Your Name (2017)
What I like in this movie is that the only obstacle to love is the willing of the protagonists to agree to fall for it. Elio comes from an educated and tolerant background and suffers from no homophobic prejudices — if anything, he's supported in the discovery of his own sexuality. He lives in wealth, in idyllic Italy, and during his holidays, seems to have all the time of the world, in a paradise setting, to get to know more Oliver. The movie thoughtfully showcases love in all its natural freedom, when the resistance to it doesn't come from external factors, but from the ability of someone to have the courage to make himself vulnerable to his own sentiments.
Ready Player One (2018)
It didn't make that much of an impression on me at my first viewing, most likely because my expectations were too high. I rewatched it again later with more "calibrated" expectations, and I found it amazing. It's just so incredibly entertaining!
First Man (2018)
What an incredible portrait of Neil Armstrong. Not a space hotshot as you could imagine, but a thoughtful, introverted, sensitive father and husband. The movie shows its colors right at the beginning, with the death of Armstrong's youngest daughter, at 2 years-old, from cancer. From there, going to the Moon is as much as mission of international proportions, as a deeply personal journey for the captain of the mission. Add to that the accuracy of all the events depicted, and you have one of the best movie of the decade.
Green Book (2018)
Negative reviews insist it's an insensitive movie targeted to be entertaining for a white audience, which is some serious gate-keeping. This is the story of racist white man becoming a bit less racist after befriending a lonely black man becoming a bit less lonely.
Not gonna lie to you, you're gonna get bored for the first hour of the movie. That is, unless you like ASMR and especially watching the mundane, daily life of a maid, doing the laundry, taking care of the children, dating some guy on the side, etc. If you do stay focus during the first hour, though, then the second hour, where everything unrolls with a poignant intensity, will destroy you. It is a truly remarkable movie, with a passionate director behind the camera.
It is particularly interesting for fans of director Alfonso Cuarón, firstly because it is his most personal movie (about his own childhood), and secondly because in this personal telling, we can find traces of the inspiration behind some of his others movies, especially Children of Men and Gravity.
Vox Lux (2018)
Probably the most debatable movie in this list, but I still put it here because it somehow triggered an interest in me. It deals with a famous popstar whose private life is a wreck, and whose spitefulness for her entourage is a reflection of the weight she carries from her unfortunate past and her own haters. The movie went mostly unnoticed, but I think it raises some very interesting points about celebrity and the media, all that through Natalie Portman's brilliant acting.
Feels like some incredibly good serie B TV movie. Claire Foy showing she has range even when she goes out of Buckingham Palace.
Free Solo (2018)
Can't argue it's irrational to climb without ropes when the only thing that gets you off in life is climbing without ropes ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood (2019)
Yet another demonstration of the talent that Tarantino has to take some short segment of some characters' lives, and make it interesting. He deliberately chose to show a segment of Sharon Tate's life without making it interesting, which is the source of dissatisfaction for some spectators, but not especially for me. Other reproaches include waiting too much for the pay-off (sorry but it means you just didn't like the movie), and containing too much references obscure to the layman (I'm a layman, and the references were invisible to me, I just enjoyed the story as it is).
See my write-up about Get Out, but even better this time.
Apollo 11 (2019)
I was on the edge of my seat during the whole of it. I was so pleased with the absence of narration and interviews, which gives such a "raw" touch to it. Although this is clearly not optimized for conveying as much information as possible, it is the closest you can be from actually living the thing as it was happening. The documentary sets his own style and rules, inside which it is basically perfect.
Christopher Nolan: "Hey my Batman movies are realistic takes on the Gotham universe". Todd Phillips: "Hold my beer". This is a phenomenal telling of Arthur Fleck's (the Joker real name) fall into madness and violence. The movie starts so realistic and dark, it doesn't even feel like it is in any way connected to the DC universe. The connection to the universe is made as Arthur embraces his Joker persona, which is sort of an elegant progression. Pussies won't like the movie because they confuse ideological validation with the plausible depiction of an unfortunate mechanism (or they're condescending enough to think they're smart enough to make the difference, but others might not, and somehow this is the movie's responsibility). Instead of enjoying the irony of an applause sign blinking when the Joker is invited on a TV show, they would like a this is bad sign blinking at the screening of the movie.
The Irishman (2019)
Death has obviously always been a preponderant theme in all Scorcese's gangster movies, but we can tell that The Irishman is the first of the genre to be really shadowed by death. Long gone the glorifying days of Casino or Goodfellas.
Famously not included
A lot of famous and liked movies from the 2010s are absent from this list.
I did not particularly like any of the non-Dunkirk Nolan. Those are Inception, The Dark Knight Rises and Interstellar. To make it short (and salty):
- Inception is unfollowable for me, because I would like to pause the movie every 2 minutes and have a 2-hours chat with Nolan about some particular detail. The whole dreams system is based on a discover-as-you-watch axiomatic which is either inconsistent, too complex, or too arbitrary.
- All the dramatic tension in The Dark Knight Rises is based on the physical weakness of an aging Bruce Wayne, which is ridiculous because he is fucking batman and has gadgets and shit, but which is enabled by a not-using-guns-against-bad-guys policy. Ultimately the bad guy is killed by Batman's bike, so in fact the movie could have been settled in a few minutes from the beginning. (I spoiled you and I don't care.)
- Interstellar is a superficial starter pack for serious science-fiction, with a story which makes mostly no sense at all (Cooper, a retired fighter pilot, flies a rocket to another galaxy after a few weeks of preparation; sounds like the plot of some morning animated show for children), but everyone thinks it's some super intelligent stuff because high gravity makes high waves, and it makes time slower, which are concepts technical enough to be mind-blowing, apparently.
I did not like Her because the only implication of strong artificial intelligence that the stupid movie could figure out was the sentiments one could feel for it. For starters, you don't have a job writing letters if an IA can chat with you.
Whiplash felt way too exaggerated. I found the main character more stupid than likable (but honestly, it was fun to watch).
I fell asleep watching Into the Spider-verse.
Django Unchained left me indifferent. I have no strong opinion one way or another, and I have forgotten the movie. Not in the mood maybe.
And of course many others, that I have not seen.