Okay, everyone! In this post I’m putting a Netflix movie review on hold and am going to present what I think were my top 10 films of that last 10, yes 10 years! As we’ve reached 2019, this will cover films from 2009 through 2018. Before I reveal what I thought were my top 10, a few explanations are in order first, so let me briefly explain. Or, feel free to jump down to my list! Lol.
In making such a list with only 10 films, I understand that like any decade, there were many, many great films that were released during this period. As making a top 100 list would be daunting for me to compile, and too daunting for some of you to look through, a top 10 list is much more feasible.
Secondly, a movie is a form of art. As art, there will be great subjectivity as to what one person deems as a “good movie” and what another deems as an “awful movie.” The only objectivity I can really state about a film is to say, for example, Sandra Bullock is acting in the movie, Gravity. Or, the color green has been used in every scene that I’ve noticed. But did such examples help make the movie a good movie, or help to make it worse? This is where subjectivity, like any form of art, comes in.
As a result, my top 10 may be more similar for what some would say, and very different from others. As far as criteria I kept in mind while evaluating my choices, I formed three areas. First, did I find this movie to simply be a very good or well-executed movie, from a filmmaking standpoint? Secondly, was I entertained throughout the film, keeping my attention? And lastly, if I wasn’t as much merely “entertained,” did I find it to have great and profound thematic material that added to its cultural impact and historical significance? Some of my selections fell more easily into two of these three areas, but all in my evaluation were greatly executed and had at least one of the second or third criterion.
Finally, though I probably don’t need to mention this, I will say that I did consider many other movies not listed. Most of the movies not listed I still have seen, while a few that I considered I have not seen, but are seen by some to be one of the greats. Keeping in mind that judging art is a subjective (and very personal) reality, let me now present my top 10 films of the last 10 years (2009-2018)! Hope you enjoy!
(In no specific order)
1. The Social Network (2010)
With amazing writing from Aaron Sorkin, carried through in acting by a brilliant young cast, and an almost haunting but substantial musical score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, The Social Network is a must-see film for those interested in viewing the dramatized origins of what would easily become one of the most influential and popular realities of the early 21st century.
2. Gravity (2013)
Starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, Gravity is a gripping portrayal, essentially, of what it means to let go, to enjoy life, and move on from past hurts and regrets. Director Alfonso Cuaron directs a 90-minute survival story in space with spectacular visuals, suspenseful music (with every pivotal decision that Bullock’s character makes), and a central theme that is universally relevant to those of us living in the Western world.
3. Roma (2018)
If I were the Academy, I would vote for Roma as best picture this year. Though it may lose to some other contenders, the cinematography, creative screenwriting with usage of motifs and foreshadowing, and ultimately the hero’s journey that the protagonist goes through all are areas that are amazingly executed in a unique way I rarely ever saw for the past decade.
In light of controversial issues in America related to the gender gap, Roma is also a timely look at something so culturally significant right now in America.
4. Inside Out (2015)
I absolutely love Inside Out! Like other films I have on the list, the rewatch ability this film carries for me is pretty strong. As someone with a good amount of informal education about personality theory as something I enjoyed for a few years, I probe Inside Out to try to make connections with what’s going on inside the mind of the little girl the story revolves around (even though experts I know enjoy critiquing the accuracy or lack thereof). From the minimalist piano melodies, to the beautiful visuals, to the emotional weight of the story, Inside Out is my favorite animated film of the decade and was worthy of its inclusion as one of my top 10 greatest films.
5. 12 Years a Slave (2013)
In my estimation as comparable to Schindler’s List, there was no hesitation or question to placing 12 Years a Slave as one of the best ten films of the last ten years. For me, this is a must-see film for anyone who has yet to see it. Though it won’t be for the faint of heart, 12 Years a Slave takes a brutal but real look at American slavery during the 1840’s in the American South. As a film that delivers in every cinematic area applicable, it’s also a story with essential and educational value, such a central and influential reality that somehow is still ignored in American history classes.
6. Zero Dark Thirty (2012)
Covering a spectrum of ten years in the post-9/11 era, Catherine Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty is, what one of my most like-minded movie reviewers called, “the masterpiece of 9/11 cinema we’ve been waiting for.” Though it cooked up much controversy over multiple issues, Zero Dark Thirty brilliantly observes the ambition, trauma, persistence, bravado, and secrecy that went into the manhunt for kingpin Osama bin Laden.
Jessica Chastain, in her portrayal of Maya, an ambitious CIA agent, embodies such ambition, persistence, and even obsession that were traits of the American government, as it sought to climb its way back up the proverbial ladder proudly as the superior superpower. Such a film is immensely significant historically for the 2000s and the early part of the period that this post covers.
7. The King’s Speech (2010)
Perhaps the film on this list with the greatest aesthetic pleasure through its cinematography, The King’s Speech centers around the future King George VI, played by Colin Firth. The excellence for me in this story, in part, is the primal relationship that the Duke of York (Firth) has with his family and the struggles that come along with that. Additionally, for a historical drama with such emotional weight, it surprisingly also delivers laughs that some may see as something absent in a historical look at British royalty. As I recently rewatched this film on Netflix, it’s a story I think that has held up against the test of time (now over eight years) as one of the decade’s best.
8. Whiplash (2014)
Somehow, during my time as a musician and as a 20-something, I completely missed seeing Whiplash. Sure, it was a limited release, which would be the main reason as to why I missed it, but having since seen the film, it conveys a story that is just too relevant for singers and musicians alike that have fallen into the phantom of perfection and excessive ambition.
Even for many of us who may never have had an abusive, strict and insulting conductor or teacher, many of us will relate to the desire of wanting to be the best in our field that the world has ever seen. The relationship between the lead characters, the music (which goes without saying), the inspiration, and intensity all lead to a thrilling story of a student, his sacrifices, and a villainous jazz instructor!
9. The Shape of Water (2017)
Though some disagreed with the win for Best Picture last year going to The Shape of Water, my wife and I left the film last year in love with it. Even for films of the last ten years, I think Guillermo del Toro brought something unique in terms of color and visuals rarely seen in other films. Along with a solid performance by Sally Hawkins and rich themes as part of an emotionally moving story, The Shape of Water earns its spot for me as one of the best of the best.
10. Inception (2010)
Rounding out my list for the top 10 films of the last ten years is Christopher Nolan’s direction of Inception. Along with Inside Out, and probably others on this list, Inception is a film I don’t sense I could wear out it’s watchability. Each time, I’m always seeing the story from a new perspective, analyzing different parts of the visuals or dialogue expressed.
As a film critiqued by some for intellectual ability Nolan apparently demanded by the audience, I rather see this is a challenge and positive trait in filmmaking. Nolan challenges us to better understand the world of dreams and the relationships they have with reality. Bringing spectacular visuals, an amazing cast, a moving premise, a primal dilemma we can relate to, and a monumental score from Hans Zimmer, Inception goes down for me as one of the best of the 21st century so far.
There you have it! I hope you enjoyed my list; feel free to share your favorites I may have considered but didn’t list here or on Facebook! Below are five more that I had to mention! Cheers.
- Toy Story 3 (2010)
- Spotlight (2015)
- Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 (2011)
- First Man (2018)