Favourite Films of the Decade

Since this is the end of the decade, I thought it would be fun to go over my top 10 favourite films of the decade. Whilst there are still loads of films that I haven’t seen and there are some notable blindspots in the things I have seen, I am fairly confident in my top 10 favourite films of the decade. Now this will cover films released in the UK between January 1st 2010 and December 31st 2019 so there are films that I’ve already reviewed that do not count for this list, as I explained in my recap of films from 2019. For me personally, this has been a great decade for film. I’ve been to a few film festivals, including the Toronto Film Festival, London Film Festival, Glasgow Film Festival and Birmingham Flatpack Film Festival and through becoming more active on the LAMB I’ve made some lifelong friends, had some brilliant times meeting people I know through the LAMB in person. Without further ado, here are my top 10 favourite films of the decade.

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10. Three Identical Strangers

As I said when I reviewed it, this documentary hit me like a tonne of bricks. Being a twin myself and having taken part in twin related research, I saw a lot of myself in the brothers the film focused on and seeing the tragedy of the separation and the moral repugnance of using separation for research purposes, which undoubtedly caused long term mental health issues in the brother created one of the most anger inducing films I’ve seen. At the same time, the love the brothers have for each other and the power of the families created shines through and allows for the film to be equal parts touching and infuriating.

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9. Hugo

I’ve made it clear numerous times in the past that I am a massive fan of Martin Scorcese and here I think Scorcese made one of his most personal works. Whilst being a multi-million dollar 3D blockbuster, this is also a film showcasing the power of cinema and the importance of silent cinema and the need to preserve films so that they are never forgotten. Scorcese uses the most cutting edge technology available to him to create a film which celebrates the roots of cinema and if there is any scene that encapsulates the power of cinema it can be found here, when we see Asa Butterfield and Chloe Grace Moretz watching Safety Last and we see looks of pure joy and wonder on their faces. Not since Cinema Paradiso has a film captured the power of watching films for the first time and leave it to Scorcese to create this powerful imagery.

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8. The Red Turtle

Probably the most beautiful film I’ve seen this decade, Michael Dudok de Witt has crafted a stunning piece of animation. Through the animation and music, with no dialogue at all, De Witt has made a beautiful tale of love and survival, showing great love and compassion coming from acts of cruelty and the creation of a family in even the harshest and most remote environment. Every single frame of this film is a work of art and shows the power that animation can have over live action films.

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7. The Social Network

I was incredibly sceptical about this film when I first heard about it. I didn’t think there was a way to make a film about Facebook engaging and boy was I proven wrong. What David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin have created here is a defining film for the 21st Century. To misquote Mark Kermode, this is not a film about Facebook. It’s about how the online world changes friendships and how greed and the desire for legacy can destroy friendships. As we’ve learned more about Mark Zuckerberg, this film has become even more relevant and Fincher’s direction and Sorkin’s script makes scenes showing coding tense and exciting with the performances from Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake and Armie Hammer adding to the power of the film. This is a film that gets more relevant with each passing year and is a perfect encapsulation of this part of the century.

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6. Eighth Grade

As I put Eighth Grade at number one of my favourite films of 2019 I won’t go too in depth to avoid repeating myself. What I will say is that this is one of the rare films that understands social anxiety and has empathy for those with it, rather than pity. It truly understands what life is like in a world of social media (making it a perfect counterpoint to The Social Network) with Elsie Fisher’s excellent performance making her such a relatable character with Bo Burnham’s script allowing this powerful sense of empathy to pervade throughout the film.

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5. Inception

Throughout the past 20 years, Christopher Nolan has established himself to be one of the most important and influential figures in modern cinema, helping to define this century of film-making and with Inception, Nolan was able to bring the themes and ideas he has shown throughout his career to a mainstream audience. Nolan has always been focused on the power of story and of the comforting lie and the way we fool ourselves into creating a better reality and with Inception he placed these ideas front and centre. Inception is a metaphor for film-making itself, the dream being how Nolan views film, it’s no coincidence that elements of Leonardo DiCaprio’s look seem inspired by Nolan himself. If you’ve not seen it, I highly recommend Kyle Kallgren’s video on Inception that goes into these ideas better than I ever could. This is also a tense, exciting film with a brilliant mix of practical and CG effects to help make the world of the dream feel real, putting the viewing audience in the role of the dream’s audience. Nolan has created an excellent piece of work which demonstrates the power of dreams and cinema as being one and the same.

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4. Mad Max: Fury Road

As a purely visceral experience, no film has been as strong as Mad Max: Fury Road this decade. Taking it on a purely sensory level this is an absolute triumph. The dedication of George Miller and his creative team in making sure the film was done right, with strong use of practical effects, having the film focused on centre frame to avoid disorientation, with the excellent editing ensuring this and having a heart-pounding score from Junkie XL, this would be worth watching for the visual skill alone. What makes it a classic though is the level of visual storytelling in the film. Everything we need to know about the characters of Max and Furiosa is told through subtle body language from Tom Hardy and Charlie Theron and excellent costume design and make-up and the character development we see for Nux is a perfect showcase of setup and payoff. The whole world of the film is defined in the background details and elements that you would not necessarily pick up on without subtitles whilst the subtext of the film makes this one of the most explicitly feminist action films that has been made. You can teach classes on how to craft action scenes using Fury Road and is a reminder that just because you are making a big, loud over-the-top action film, you don’t have to make it stupid.

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3. Guardians of the Galaxy

In terms of pure fun, the first time I saw Guardians of the Galaxy was one of the best cinema experiences I’ve had this decade. I saw this film with my dad and when I had ended we both immediately wanted to see the film again. In terms of fun sci-fi, this is pretty much everything I love, the characters and the world are fun, the soundtrack is incredible and there’s this joyous feeling throughout the film. James Gunn’s sense of humour is present in every minute of the film and I just had a blast watching this film. Everything about this film felt tailor made to what I like to see in films and I wouldn’t change anything about it.

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2. Arrival

Where Guardians of the Galaxy has everything I want to see in fun sci-fi, Arrival has everything I love in serious sci-fi. When I first saw this at the Toronto Film Festival I was blown away. Pretty much everything about this film is perfect. The performances, especially from Amy Adams, are perfect, the score is perfect, the effects are perfect, the sound design is perfect, the direction is perfect, I can’t think of any area where this film stumbles. If we’re going by what I think the best film of the decade is, then Arrival would be number one without a doubt, everything about the film works and the theme of the power of language is such a powerful idea that I’m amazed it hasn’t been explored in film to the extent that it was in Arrival before. However, for as incredible as Arrival is, it is not my favourite film of the decade.

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1. Cloud Atlas

Whilst Arrival is more of a perfect film, and there are more faults in this film that most of the other films in my top 10, going by favourites, no question this is my favourite film of the decade. The epic scope of the film allows for themes of love, loss, exploitation, slavery and hope to be explored in multiple contexts and the make-up work, whilst distracting for a lot of people, works for me on a Brechtian level, the artifice of the make-up allowing the thematic weight of the film to have more power. The direction by the Wachowski’s and Tom Tykwer is excellent, giving each story its own unique feel and the editing for the film allows for the power of the themes and the way history repeats and descendants atone for the sins of their ancestors to shine through. This is not a perfect movie and I can see why some people don’t like it but I just adore this film and every time I watch it I find a new reason to love it. Cloud Atlas is my favourite film of the past 10 years.

So those are my top 10 favourite films of the decade, but I thought it would also be fun to share what my top 100 favourite films of the decade have been. Now I will not go into depth with these ones, these are just my favourite films of the decade. Without further ado then, here are numbers 11-100 of my favourite films of the decade.

11. Kick-Ass

12. True Grit

13. Black Panther

14. Senna

15. Moonlight

16. Toy Story 3

17. Avengers: Endgame

18. This is Not a Film

19. Get Out

20. Little Women

21. The Avengers

22. The Lego Movie

23. 12 Years a Slave

24. Inside Out

25. Fruitvale Station

26. Whiplash

27. It’s Such a Beautiful Day

28. American Animals

29. Son of Saul

30. What We Do in the Shadows

31. If Beale Street Could Talk

32. Argo

33. Django Unchained

34. The Lego Batman Movie

35. Girlhood

36. Pride

37. I, Daniel Blake

38. Logan

39. The Martian

40. Looper

41. The Witch

42. The Irishman

43. Paddington 2

44. A Royal Affair

45. Snowpiercer

46. The Shape of Water

47. Scott Pilgrim vs the World

48. The Breadwinner

49. Creed

50. Song of the Sea

51. Captain America: Civil War

52. Blinded by the Light

53. Selma

54. The World’s End

55. Apostasy

56. Sightseers

57. Your Name

58. Apollo 11

59. Tyrannosaur

60. Short Term 12

61. Before Midnight

62. Boyhood

63. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

64. Captain Phillips

65. Dunkirk

66. Avengers: Infinity War

67. Swiss Army Man

68. The Miseducation of Cameron Post

69. Taxi Tehran

70. The Grand Budapest Hotel

71. War for the Planet of the Apes

72. Sorry To Bother You

73. Paddington

74. Marriage Story

75. Ad Astra

76. Professor Marston and the Wonder Women

77. BlackKklansman

78. Frank

79. The Death of Stalin

80. The Disaster Artist

81. Kubo and the Two Strings

82. Lady Bird

83. Pain and Glory

84. Four Lions

85. Coco

86. Mudbound

87. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

88. Thor: Ragnarok

89. Super 8

90. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

91. Arthur Christmas

92. The Wolf of Wall Street

93. The Babadook

94. Room

95. Nightcrawler

96. Only Lovers Left Alive

97. Robot and Frank

98. They Shall Not Grow Old

99. Roma

100. No

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