Determining the 10 best movies of the decade is a somewhat impossible task. For starters, there are thousands of movies to choose from so narrowing it down to 10 is not easy. That being said, a huge selection is a great problem to have. Think about how far movies have come in a decade. Who would’ve thought that streaming services would be winning Oscars? Maybe I’m the “old man yelling at cloud” but I didn’t think it would happen, but I’m glad it has.
When making my best of the decade list, I took into account the following factors:
- Do I rewatch the movie frequently and can I find something new every time?
- Do I think about it often?
- When I watch a film in the same genre, do I compare it to this film?
- Do I revisit scenes on YouTube?
- Was it a memorable theater viewing?
There were so many films I had to cut and if you talk to me in a few weeks, I’m sure I’ll adjust this list in some way, shape, or form. That being said, here are the 10 best films of the decade.
10. Free Solo
I watch movies to be inspired, and one of the most inspiring movies I’ve ever seen is Free Solo. I can’t remember leaving a theater saying “humans are awesome” until I saw Free Solo. Not only is the story of Alex Honnold’s death-defying climb inspiring, but it’s visuals are jaw-dropping. Even though I knew Honnold would complete the climb, my heart could not stop racing to the point where I debated on taking a xanax after it ended.
9. Get Out
By far, Get Out is the most memorable viewing experience I’ve ever had at a theater. I saw Get Out on a Sunday afternoon a few days after its premiere. The sold-out crowd was laughing, screaming, and cheering throughout the entirety of the film. I felt like I was at a basketball game. It’s an experience that will never be replicated. Get Out is one of the most unique pieces of social commentary I’ve ever seen. Jordan Peele is a genius.
Every year, you can make a case that X should have won the Oscar over Y. I understand it’s completely subjective and arguments can be made for or against every performance. That being said, one of the biggest crimes of the decade happened at the 2012 Oscars when Brad Pitt lost in Best Actor for Moneyball. Look at this category and make the case that any of these performances should have won over Pitt.
Billy Beane is my favorite Brad Pitt performance of all time. Pitt somehow made a movie about spreadsheets and on-base percentage so entertaining and riveting that whenever it’s on television, I stop everything I’m doing to watch.
A “Best of the decade” list without a film from Denis Villeneuve should be invalid. This is Villeneuve’s decade of movies since 2013: Prisoners, Enemy, Sicario, Arrival, Blade Runner 2049. Swap in any of those for Sicario and you won’t hear a peep out of me. However, I’m going with one of the most underrated films of the 21st century, Sicario. It’s a thriller that relentlessly punches you in the stomach and shakes you to your core for two hours. It’s terrifying but brilliant.
6. The Wolf of Wall Street
I’m not fucking leaving! I’ve done an entire 180 on The Wolf of Wall Street. When I first saw it in 2013, I thought it was over-the-top, long, and ridiculous. Now, it’s one of the funniest movies of the decade and I appreciate all the aspects that I initially believed held it back. It’s an adrenaline rush fueled by cocaine and quaaludes. Oh, it also has one of the greatest living directors, Martin Scorsese, and actors, Leonardo DiCaprio, at the top of their games.
Never in my wildest dreams did I expect a South Korean black comedy thriller from 2019 to be included in the best of the decade list. That all changed when I saw Parasite. I saw Parasite on a Friday afternoon in November, three weeks after it premiered in my local theater. The theater was packed. Parasite fever is real. Masterpiece is the only word that comes to mind when describing Bong Joon-ho’s film. Parasite successfully manages to be a popcorn thriller disguised as a social commentary piece on the wealthy versus the poor. Could this be recency bias? Honestly, who cares. Parasite is phenomenal.
Christopher Nolan is the greatest living director of mass spectacle. His ability to craft gigantic set pieces and enthralling action sequences is second to none. This spot on my list came down to Dunkirk or Inception. You can’t go wrong in my opinion. However, I went with his 2010 follow-up to The Dark Knight. Imagine directing the greatest comic book movie of all time and following that up with a film about the unconscious mind and our perception of what’s real and what’s a dream. That takes stones and Nolan has major onions. It’s a genius and innovative film that still keeps you guessing a decade later.
3. Mad Max: Fury Road
In an age where content is often rushed, Mad Max: Fury Road is the perfect example of when patience is rewarded. After a 30 year absence, Max Rockatansky returned to the big screen in 2015’s Max Max: Fury Road. This film is the greatest action film of the decade. From the exhilarating chase sequences to the spectacular performance from Charlize Theron, Mad Max: Fury Road proved that blockbusters can be both entertaining and thematically compelling.
2. The Social Network
The Social Network is a perfect movie. Having both David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin was a cheat code. Between Sorkin’s sharp script and Fincher’s keen direction, The Social Network is a spell-binding look into the mind of one of the most important minds of the 21st century. Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield Armie Hammer, and Justin Timberlake all give career-best performances. The score from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross is a triumph for cinematic music. How it lost Best Picture is beyond me. Spend your next two hours revisiting this 21st-century classic.
1. La La Land
This musical is a joy to watch. La La Land a love letter to all of the dreamers searching for a better life. The musical numbers are breathtaking and bring me so much joy. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone have so much chemistry together that it’s shocking to learn that they’re not a real-life couple. From Justin Hurwitz’s score to Damien Chazelle’s script and direction, La La Land is a film I find myself revisiting every week of my life. The ending is not your fairytale ending, but its sheer honesty is beautiful. Simply put, La La Land is why I watch movies.
What are your favorite movies of the decade? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet me, @danny_giro.