To commemorate the end of the decade 2010-2019 (any word yet on what we’re calling it?!), here is a list of my favourite movies from the last 10 years.
It’s a very personal selection, based on gut instinct and emotional reactions. There are undoubtedly plenty of fine films that haven’t made the cut, but these are the 75 that have given me – subjectively speaking – the most amount of pleasure and have impressed me the most. (Why 75? That’s just how many I jotted down on a shortlist.)
I’ve listed them alphabetically, but I’ve also picked out a top 10. Have I missed off your favourite?
TOP 10 CHOICE: The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn (2011, Steven Spielberg)
The finest animated film there’s ever been. A complete artificial world is created in CGI, and repeated viewings are a treat because you continually spot new things in the background of each shot. But, crucially, there’s real heart behind this movie too. You soon forget about the technology and instead get swept up in the story and charmed by the sheer talent behind it. The plot is simple but smart, with clearly defined characters. There’s wit, whimsy, danger, plenty of visual gags and madcap action – in other words, it’s very Steven Spielberg.
TOP 10 CHOICE: The Aeronauts (2019, Tom Harper)
A late entry, as I only saw this film a few weeks ago – but it was a magical experience. Watching it on my own on a cold Tuesday evening in an Everyman cinema in Crystal Palace, I was so enraptured that I felt like a child. The screen seemed enormous, I had a perfect view – level, central, not too close, not too far away – and I was totally caught up in the spectacle and the drama and the joy of a great movie. It’s a fictionalised account of a real-life scientific balloon accent in the 1860s, so this a story about reaching for the heavens in more ways than one. It’s stirring and sentimental and touching and full of wonder, while there’s a very good cast, tremendous incidental music, and a beautiful combination of cinematography and visual effects.
Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa (2013, Declan Lowney)
Attack the Block (2011, Joe Cornish)
Avengers: Endgame (2019, Anthony & Joe Russo)
Avengers: Infinity War (2018, Anthony & Joe Russo)
Bad Times at the El Royale (2018, Drew Goddard)
Baby Driver (2017, Edgar Wright)
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014, Alejandro González Iñárritu)
TOP 10 CHOICE: Blade Runner 2049 (2017, Denis Villeneuve)
Producing a sequel to a classic 35 years after the fact was something of a risk. Ridley Scott, the director of the first Blade Runner, had himself recently made two follow-ups to his other sci-fi masterpiece, Alien (1979), and both fell a very long way short of that movie’s seductive terror. Thankfully, Blade Runner 2049 is *at least* the equal of the 1982 antecedent. Made with an understanding of the original’s power but also with a distinct voice by director Denis Villeneuve, it’s a big film, a difficult film at times, but an engrossing and hugely rewarding experience.
Bone Tomahawk (2015, S Craig Zahler)
Bridge of Spies (2015, Steven Spielberg)
The Cabin in the Woods (2012, Drew Goddard)
Captain America: The First Avenger (2011, Joe Johnston)
TOP 10 CHOICE: Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014, Anthony & Joe Russo)
The decade’s finest superhero movie – and this has been a decade with a lot of superhero movies. Directors Anthony and Joe Russo make sure each element of the film is as sharp as it can be: it’s often funny, it’s often exciting, the story has a bit of substance, tension is built effectively, the incidental music is terrific, and the action scenes are sensational. There’s intrigue, espionage and mistrust. There’s wit, pathos and drama. There’s action, fun and Christopher Nolan-style theatricality.
Creed (2015, Ryan Coogler)
Crimson Peak (2015, Guillermo del Toro)
The Dark Knight Rises (2012, Christopher Nolan)
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014, Matt Reeves)
Deadpool (2016, Tim Miller)
Deadpool 2 (2018, David Leitch)
The Death of Stalin (2018, Armando Iannucci)
Django Unchained (2012, Quentin Tarantino)
Drive (2011, Nicolas Winding Refn)
Dunkirk (2017, Christopher Nolan)
TOP 10 CHOICE: Easy A (2010, Will Gluck)
A loving homage to the kind of teen comedies made by John Hughes in the 1980s, this drily funny and very smart film stars a terrific Emma Stone as a schoolgirl who becomes notorious after a rumour circulates about her sexual appetite. Made with both a real affection for those great old 80s movies and a modern freshness, Easy A also has two of the greatest ‘movie parents’ you could ever hope for: Patricia Clarkson and Stanley Tucci’s open-minded and carefree Rosemary and Dill. (No, honestly, those are their names.)
Evil Dead (2013, Fede Álvarez)
Ex Machina (2015, Alex Garland)
Fast & Furious 5 (2011, Justin Jin)
The Final Girls (2015, Todd Strauss-Schulson)
Gravity (2013, Alfonso Cuarón)
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014, James Gunn)
Halloween (2018. David Gordon Green)
Happy Death Day (2017, Christopher Landon)
The Hateful Eight (2015, Quentin Tarantino)
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013, Peter Jackson)
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012, Peter Jackson)
The Hunger Games (2012, Gary Ross)
Inception (2010, Christopher Nolan)
Interstellar (2014, Christopher Nolan)
Iron Man 3 (2013, Shane Black)
Joker (2019, Todd Philips)
La La Land (2016, Damien Chazelle)
The Lego Movie (2014, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller)
Logan (2017, James Mangold)
The Lone Ranger (2013, Gore Verbinski)
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015, George Miller)
The Martian (2015, Ridley Scott)
Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011, Brad Bird)
Mr Holmes (2015, Bill Condon)
The Nice Guys (2016, Shane Black)
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019, Quentin Tarantino)
The Post (2017, Steven Spielberg)
TOP 10 CHOICE: Robin Hood (2010, Ridley Scott)
Arguably (and I’m going to argue it) the most underrated film of the last 10 years, this kind of passed by without many people getting all that excited. The most newsworthy aspect of its release was lead actor Russell Crowe throwing a tantrum in a publicity interview because it was suggested that his ‘Nottinghamshire’ accent was perhaps not 100-per-cent authentic. (In truth, it’s not even *one*-per-cent authentic.) But that’s just a blemish. Essentially Robin Hood: The Origin Story, this movie ticks the usual boxes – the Crusades, King John, Marian, the sidekicks – but also weaves Robin’s story into a tapestry that involves palace intrigue, civil rights and a coming war. Beautiful to look at, well cast, exciting, funny, and with a fascinating backstory informing everything, this deserves to be much more liked.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016, Gareth Edwards)
Scott Pilgrim vs the World (2010, Edgar Wright)
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011, Guy Ritchie)
TOP 10 CHOICE: Skyfall (2012, Sam Mendes)
The best James Bond film of the decade (regrettably there have only been two) is tremendous entertainment, full of vim and zip and energy. It’s also an engaging character story that weaves Bond’s past with that of his boss, M. “Where are we going?” asks M at one point. “Back in time,” replies Bond… After the clean slate of Casino Royale and the po-faced Quantum of Solace, this movie gives us a new Moneypenny, a new Q, the return of an Aston Martin DB5, and even a belting title song sung by a large-lunged diva. It’s stylish and confident and slick and a lot of fun.
TOP 10 CHOICE: Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018, Ron Howard)
This was a huge ask. Huge. To take such a famous and beloved character as Han Solo and *recast* him could have gone catastrophically wrong. Thankfully, both lead actor Alden Ehrenreich and the film as a whole are wonderfully vibrant and entertaining. Being a prequel, simply filling out the spaces between established facts could of course become boring very quickly. Solo, however, has more than enough panache and humour to sidestep the issue. It’s full of vivid characters, exiting sequences, romance and adventure.
Spectre (2015, Sam Mendes)
Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017, Jon Watts)
Stan & Ollie (2019, Jon S Baird)
Star Trek Beyond (2016, Justin Lin)
Star Trek Into Darkness (2013, JJ Abrams)
TOP 10 CHOICE: Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015, JJ Abrams)
This movie looks like Star Wars, it sounds like Star Wars, and it feels like Star Wars. The new generation of characters – courageous Rey, headstrong Finn, dashing Poe, adorable BB-8, villainous Kylo – are charismatic, fun, interesting and worthy successors to Luke, Leia, Han and co. Speaking of those icons, they’re not just meaningless cameos. They’re integral to the story, and are found in instantly interesting situations. The Force Awakens might be a love letter to the first three movies, but it’s still a compelling drama. On a technical level, the film is even more impressive. For a start, it’s just so wonderfully *there*. It feels physical, palpable, with heft and weight and a sense of reality. After the cartoony artifice of the prequels, this makes a geek’s heart sing. It’s my favourite film of the whole decade.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017, Rian Johnson)
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019, JJ Abrams)
Super 8 (2011, JJ Abrams)
T2 Trainspotting (2017, Danny Boyle)
The Theory of Everything (2014, James Marsh)
True Grit (2010, Joel and Ethan Coen)
21 Jump Street (2012, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller)
Unstoppable (2010, Tony Scott)
TOP 10 CHOICE: The World’s End (2013, Edgar Wright)
This top-10 choice can be seen as standing in for all of director Edgar Wright’s classy and endlessly enjoyable work this decade; I could easily have chosen Scott Pilgrim or Baby Driver. The World’s End has the usual Wrightian tropes – great cast, huge smarts, laugh-out-loud comedy, a thrilling awareness of popular culture, first-rank cinematography and editing – but it edges the others because of two factors. It’s the finale of a thematic trilogy begun in 2004’s Shaun of the Dead and continued in 2007’s Hot Fuzz, and it caps off the series so superbly. Also, its exploration of nostalgia, for better and worse, really socks home.
X-Men: First Class (2011, Matthew Vaughn)
It turns out that 2015 is my favourite year of the decade with 12 films on this list. 2011 and 2017 have nine entries each; 2013 is on eight; 2012 and 2014 are on seven; 2010, 2018 and 2019 on six; and poor 2016 is the weakest showing with just five.
Two directors share the accolade of most films: JJ Abrams and Christopher Nolan, each with four. Anthony & Joe Russo, Steven Spielberg, Quentin Tarantino and Edgar Wright have three each; while the following directors appear on the list twice: Shane Black, Drew Goddard, Justin Lin, Phil Lord & Christopher Miller, Peter Jackson, Ridley Scott and Sam Mendes.
In terms of multiple films from the same series, we have seven Marvel Cinematic Universe movies. The next best-represented franchise is Star Wars with five; then there are four X-Men films and two each from Star Trek, James Bond and the Hobbit series.