TL;DR – I countdown all of my top 100 films shown throughout the decade from Chappie to Roma to Paddington and more.
The end of the year is rapidly approaching and as it is also the end of the decade it means reflecting back on the past. With this in mind, I have been thinking back to the hundreds and probably thousands of films that I have watched and boy was it quite a decade. We got to see a conclusion of a twenty film franchise, solid trilogies appear, and new filmmakers explode onto the stage with unique voices. While there was also a lot of rubbish and more than a few franchise false starts today we are going to focus on the positive and explore my personal top 100 films of the decade. Now all films are subjective, so our list might look completely different than yours, also we didn’t get to see every film this decade so we may have missed some that ended up on your list. We’ll be going over the whole 100 in one list with a little blurb as to why it is there. If there is a banner picture it means that we have reviewed the film and if you click on the banner it will take you to the article.
Now without further preface let’s dive into the wonderful world of film and see if my top 10 is the same as yours?
100) Chappie (2014)
Yes, this is a film that a lot of people bounced off, but the story of Chappie trying to find his place in a world that just wants to exploit him really resonated with me and I still adore it.
99) Zootopia (2016)
A film that explores how people can be turned against one and another by outside forces trying to manipulate the situation for their own power … a very timely film.
98) Knives Out (2019)
Knives Out is a film that beautifully deconstructs an entire genre of films and does it with wit and charm. Also, it is on this list because of Chris Evans’ chaotic energy, Daniel Craig’s bonkers accent, and its peak knitted sweater game.
97) Looper (2012)
Looper is a film that tried to make Joseph Gordon-Levitt appear to be a young version of Bruce Willis, which is bonkers, thankfully so is the rest of the film so you just go with its beautiful oddness.
96) X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
A film that bridges timelines, casting, trilogies, and told a story that paid off both sides of the series but also was a great story in its own right.
95) Sicario (2015)
This is a film that worked by revelling in the grey area between what should and was actually happening, majestically shot and scored, it brings tension to the foreground and leaves you breathless.
94) 21 Jump Street (2012)
There have been a lot of adaptations of old TV series that were turned into films during the decade, but none of them does it quite as well as the Jump Street films. Full of humour, a great pairing of the leading cast, it is a joy to watch.
93) Mirai (Mirai no Mirai, 未来のミライ) (2018)
Miria could have just been an exploration of what happens when child number 2 comes on the scene, but it is that and so much more as it delves into what makes family and why it should be treasured.
92) Kingsman: The Secret Service (2015)
There have been a lot of films trying to unseat the Bond franchise, but none of them has been quite as good as this little film. It had a star-making turn in Taron Egerton, told the world that Mark Strong is here to play, and also made everyone revel at action star … checks notes … Colin Firth.
91) Edge of Tomorrow (2014)
While it might have had an unhelpful title, this little gem in which Tom Cruise dies over and over again while Emily Blunt commands every scene is one of those movies I will always sit down to watch when it is on.
90) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 (2011)
The end of a franchise, the end of an era, and unlike a couple of franchises that would follow it would actually stick the landing. It didn’t get everything right, but it got the emotion, and I will never not cry at that scene in The Great Hall
89) Train to Busan (Busanhaeng,부산행) (2016)
The 2010s if nothing else had an oversaturation of zombie films, so when this came out from South Korea, I didn’t give it much pause, what a mistake. This was a film about real people not carbon cutaways and every death had meaning because of it.
88) Your Name (Kimi no Na wa, 君の名は) (2016)
A film where time becomes unstuck, and people slip back and forth between places and people is a concept that is used to the best in this beautiful film out of Japan. Every reveal comes with a gut punch and it had me on the edge of my seat.
87) Big Hero 6 (2014)
If the 2010s will be known for anything it will be for the superhero genre, and while there are a lot of them on this list, this might be the one with the most heart, and also the most devastating death.
86) Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)
A lot of superhero films have been super serious, but sometimes it is nicer to have something a little lighter and letting Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly have fun on the stage from start to finish is always a plus in my books.
85) Lady Bird (2018)
A beautiful exploration of the often fraught relationship between a mother and a daughter that shows the gamut of emotions from anger to love and pain.
84) Hidden Figures (2016)
While there were clearly some creative liberties around the story, it was good to see more widespread recognition of the work of Katherine Goble, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson to the world.
83) The Hate U Give (2019)
This is one of those films that feels like it could not be more relevant, there is deep pain on show here, but also strength.
82) How to Train Your Dragon (2010)
A spoiler alert because all three of the films from this trilogy are on this list and each of them is a wonderful joy, seriously all of these films are worth your time and you should go watch them now.
81) Kung Fu Panda 3 (2016)
From one joyful animated franchise to the next and this was the decade that Dreamworks Animation found their voice and shouted it from the rooftops, and I am here for it.
80) Gravity (2013)
There was a lot of hype behind Gravity, and all of it was worth it. It explored space in a way we had not seen, and was one of the few films during the resurgence of 3D that was actually worth the price of the glasses.
79) Hacksaw Ridge (2016)
I may have cooled a little on Hacksaw Ridge since I first watched it, but nothing can take away from that emotional response it elicited from me in those moment of hope among the carnage.
78) Fury (2014)
War is a messy unpleasant thing, but when exploring WW2 often we try to gloss over that messiness. Well, Fury goes, no, we are not going to do that.
77) Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
The next trilogy that all makes an appearance on this list is the epitome of everything America could be, which strangely shines a light on everything it is not. Casting Chris Evans might be one of the best choices Marvel made in Phase 1 and it still shows.
76) I Am Mother (2019)
The first but not the last scifi flick out of Australia, it explore the bond between a girl and her robot mother as the world collapses around them
75) Creed II (2018)
While feeling a little bit more like a Rocky film than a Creed, it still comes out swinging as it looks at the pressure of the past and expectations and the damage that it can do to you
74) Call Me By Your Name (Chiamami Col Tuo Nome) (2018)
Love in all its forms, from joy to pain and everything in between. It also catapulted Timothée Chalamet onto peoples radar and made more than a few people to long from a summer in the Italian countryside.
73) Moonlight (2016)
Growing up in a world where everything and everyone is trying to tear you down is a struggle that is captured in this hauntingly beautiful film that shows the power of light and composition in framing a story.
72) Upgrade (2018)
It has been a long time since and action sequence made me sit up and go wow that is something new. We got a bit of it in John Wick, but the standout this decade was Upgrade that might also take the cake for using every dollar of its budget to its best.
71) Cargo (2018)
Cargo is the second zombie film on this list, and like the latter, it uses its setting to tell human stories, that being of a father getting his daughter to safety before he turns and because the very thing he is trying to protect her from.
70) Guardians of the Galaxy (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1) (2014)
This film is a fever dream that became manifest and brought to life and we are the better for it. It was Marvel’s first big standalone ensemble film and every part of it works and these scrap balls try to find salvation and instead find a family.
69) Ad Astra (2019)
While bleak and unsettling at times, it explores the human condition in all its flaws and what happens when we come up to the wall of knowledge and not like what we see on the other side.
68) Wreck-It Ralph (2012)
Films about video games have a history of failing to translate to the big screen, however Wreck-It Ralph might be the first film that really understands video games and the drive behind them and presented it in all the beauty available.
67) Pete’s Dragon (2016)
At the end of this decade we have seen Disney make bank by bringing some of their old animated films into the live action realm. However, for me only one of these remakes actually held water because it took time to explore a new story and bring it to life. This is why Pete’s Dragon is here.
66) The Lego Movie (2014)
You can make a film out of anything if you have the talent and the heart and few things show this as well as the delightful joy that was The Lego Movie that could have been just a simple corporate cash in but was instead an exploration of what it means to play with Legos.
65) Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
A lot of people have their favourite incarnation of Peter Parker, but for me 2017 solidified it with Tom Holland’s first solo outing. It was a film about finding yourself and struggling with the weight of expectations and an unhelpful father figure.
64) The Revenant (2015)
2015 was the year that Leo finally secured his Oscar and he had to almost self-flagellate himself in order to do it. This is a film that is as bleak as it is beautiful as it explores the harshness of living on the edge.
63) How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014)
I liked the HTTYD films but nothing quite prepared me for the emotional gut punch that was HTTYD2. It could have been a silly animated film with a great cast, but they went for emotion and it worked.
62) John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum (2019)
Our first John Wick film on this list might be the latest in the franchise but that does not take away from how kick ass these films are. Every moment in this film is gorgeous and it is a franchise that knows if you see John running through a horse stable, those horses are about to kill some fools.
61) The Tale of Princess Kaguya (Kaguya-hime no Monogatari, かぐや姫の物語) (2013)
Studio Ghibli is a studio that is known for its excellence in animation, with Princess Kaguya we get a film that follows a lot of the familiar pattern that we have come to expect. However, it then also presents it in a way that I have not seen the studio venture in before, like the whole film is one large water colour painting.
60) Django Unchained (2012)
From one extreme to another, we jump to Quentin Tarantino western about a slave reclaiming his life and finding a purpose and that is rescuing his love from the evil hands of Monsieur Candie. Part exploration of slave controlled south, part blood soaked escapade, part love story, all fascinating.
59) Pokémon: Detective Pikachu (2019)
As a rule I try to avoid trailers for films because I don’t want to be spoiled, I didn’t do that with Detective Pikachu because I didn’t think it would amount to much. This might be my biggest mistake of the decade. It is a film that intimately understands the subject material, but also how to translate that to a live action setting and it all slaps.
58) Sweet Country (2018)
For a long time Australian cinema has had a hard time breaking out of its shell, but all of that changed with Sweet Country. It shines a light on modern society by comparing it to the past and showing how we have not changed as much as we would like.
57) Deadpool (2016)
Deadpool is a case study in perseverance and also in perseverance through adversity. Given its box office, it feels funny to think it took years to greenlight and even then the company baulked at the last moment slashing its budget. However, rather than kill it, it made the film stronger … much like the titular character.
56) Wonder Woman (2017)
There were many franchises trying to chase that Marvel money, most of them were failures or at least did not live up to expectations. There was so much pressure riding on Patty Jenkins’ shoulders and she nailed it at every moment. This is the only one of the DC Extended Universe films on this list and it earned its place.
55) Lion (2017)
Turning real life stories into films can be a very fraught process, because life rarely lines up with a nice neat three-act structure. However, where it can work, is when you can focus on the emotion, and here is where Lion excels. There was not a single dry eye in the house in my screening.
54) God’s Own Country (2017)
I was expecting bleak in God’s Own Country, and there is of course bleakness throughout. But what sets it apart is that even with all the bleakness there is a kernel of hope. It is that hope that shines a light in the narrative.
53) Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018)
I honestly, didn’t know what to expect with the latest Mission: Impossible bar the fact that at some point Tom Cruise would do some crazy stunt like to an actual HALO drop. I did not expect Henry Cavill re-loading his fists, the best use of a mask so far, and some of the greatest fight sequences of the decade.
52) Deadpool 2 (2018)
They really could have phoned Deadpool 2 in, make a couple of fart jokes and then cash those checks, and to be fair there are more than a few fart jokes here. However, what gives this film a little leg up on its meta first outing is the addition of the notion of family and an end credit scene that might have changed everything … or not … maybe.
51) Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)
2019 was a big year for Marvel and a defining moment in some regards, the epitaph for that and for the decade was a deeply personal exploration on the effects of grief. How do you go on when someone sacrificed themselves for you? Can you live up to his image? Is there no end to Jake Gyllenhaal’s energy when he is channelling weird?
50) Creed (2015)
This was the other big mistake of the decade, honestly I did not give a spinoff of a boxing film franchise that had not been relevant in years. How wrong was I. This film brings a dated film into the 21 century by giving it real stakes for the first time in a while. It also showed that Michael B. Jordan has amazing dramatic chops and why are you not casting him in all the films.
49) Weathering with You (Tenki no Ko, 天気の子) (2019)
Animation can bring beauty into the world, and this is one of the most beautiful animated films I have seen. There were some moments that brought emotions to my eye just because of the sheer beauty of it all. That is the power of film.
48) 10 Cloverfield Road (2016)
Is the man a creep, or are there actually aliens attacking, or are there aliens attacking and this man is also a creep? What is the answer, and I sure as heck didn’t know where this film was going to go on my first viewing. I don’t think I will ever look at John Goodman in quite the same way again.
47) Star Trek Beyond (2016)
For many people, me included, the re-boot Star Trek film franchise has been a bit hit and miss. However, Beyond nails it right from the start. Every character gets a moment to shine, and for the first time it really felt like a crew. It was bonkers at times, heart-warming at others, and always Star Trek.
46) The Shape of Water (2018)
Even having watched The Shape of Water, I am not quite sure how to explain this film in any way that would give it justice. It is a modern day monster film or modern day fairy tale, all of which is right up Guillermo del Toro’s alley and it is those things but also something more.
45) Pacific Rim (2013)
Our second Guillermo del Toro film in a row, but this one is much easier to explain. In it at one point a giant mech picks up a cargo ship to use as a cricket bat to take down a giant monster stomping its way through Hong Kong and it is as awesome as it sounds.
44) Crazy Rich Asians (2018)
2018 was finally the year where the world was reminded how awesome Michelle Yeoh is and part of that came from CRA. It is a film that is, I want to say quirky, but then that does not quite cover it. It is silly at times yes, but also deadly serious at other times. It is a film about family, but then also the struggle to be accepted in that family. It also threw another Chris into the ring of hot-Chrises with Chris Pang.
43) John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)
The second film in the franchise may not have the same punch as the first but then nothing is ever going to hit as hard as that first film. It builds the underworld up, puts John in an untenable position, and then has a rock opera across the world.
42) Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
The first film might have codified just who Captain America/Steve Rodgers was, but it was the second film that fully tested him on his values. Tested him on what it meant to be a soldier, what it meant to be a hero, and what it meant to be a friend. Also it had one of the best lines of the decade “before we start, does anyone want to get off”
41) A Quiet Place (2018)
The tension of everything failing because you made a single sound is one that is expertly focused in this film. Every moment could be your undoing, and we see the damage of that right at the start. But you still have to live and this is where the film shines, in all the little features of life.
40) First Man (2018)
It is one of the great shames of the decade that a lot of people missed this film when it first came out in cinemas. It is heartfelt, even in its coldness. It is a master of using sound to bring you on to the edge of your seat, and the amount of film they shot in camera is mind boggling. If you did miss it, treat this as the recommendation that you should give it a second look.
39) Black Panther (2018)
If there was one major problem that Marvel has had (and this is not just with the films) is that while it has great heroes, the villains are all a bit one-note. Well in 2018 Ryan Coogler showed that this did not always have to be the case with a film that is full of conflict, compromise, and conviction. It is said that the greatest villain is the one who thinks they are the hero in their own story, and Black Panther showed this in spades.
38) Dredd (2012)
Another film that I am really sad that people missed at the cinemas because it slaps at almost every level. Karl Urban is the best cinematic Dredd by a country mile and he can act his arse off with just his mouth showing. The use of slow-mo is not just a gimmick as it plays into the core of the story. The contained nature of the film also helped elevate it just as the cast if driving to the top of Peach Trees.
37) Captain America: Civil War (2016)
The man bench presses a helicopter, what more do I have to say. Okay yes there is a big fight scene at an airport that we have all been waiting for, and the ripples of this film was felt throughout the MCU. But like that helicopter man, did you see that?
36) Guardian of the Galaxy: Vol 2 (2017)
There have been few films that I have been more concerned about whether or not they will stick the landing the second time out than Vol 2. And yes I know for many this film did not stick that landing, but for me it did. Coming together as a family is one thing, but living as one is completely different and this is what Vol 2 explored. Who do you forgive for the past and who do you cut off? I can’t help but cry at the ending every time.
35) Cloudy with the Chance of Meatballs 2 (2013)
For many this might be an odd entry on the list, but I can’t help it, I just love this film to its core. It is a joyous celebration of the absurd while exploring the bonds of friendship and family (you may be seeing a trend develop). Also it has this moment “There is a leak in the Boat” the anthropomorphised Leak “Ahhhhhhhhh”
34) Avengers: Endgame (2019)
For better or worse (it depends who you ask) if there was one film that defined the decade, it would have to be Avengers Endgame. It took everything that had been building for years and gave mostly good pay offs to those moments while being a launching pad for going forward. More than that, it is a strong film in its own right and one that will be the focus of study for years to come.
33) Roma (2018)
When putting this list together I didn’t set out to sandwich Roma in-between the two Avengers, but this is where we are. This is a film that every move of the camera can leave you breathless. It lingers when you want it to move and moves when you want it to linger. It also is the master of the slow burn as it reveals itself over its run time. Beautiful, haunting, and deeply impactful.
32) The Avengers (2012)
There are moments when you sit back and wonder, can they really pull this off. I know that was my feeling walking in and sitting down, and boy did they ever. I don’t think I have ever felt the same level of sheer joy than when the big circle moment happened. It was like we had all been holding our breath and could finally let it go.
31) Logan (2017)
There was a lot of trepidation going into Logan, the X-Men films can soar but they can also fail, and nowhere had we seen that as bad than with the Wolverine spin-off series. I was not expecting that we would get the best X-men film so far, and by a country mile. It was full of pathos, full of regret, full of guilt, but then also hopeful, hopeful for a promise that one girl provided.
30) The Dressmaker (2015)
While The Dressmaker might be known more for its almost nude Liam Hemsworth or the impeccable dresses that Kate Winslet wears throughout. But for me, it is known for the emotional slap to the face it contains, and also for the most bonkers third act I have put to screen, and yes I have seen Parasite.
29) Dunkirk (2017)
I have always have an interesting relationship with war films, but when then capture me that can take me away. Christopher Nolan’s look at the chaotic evacuation of Dunkirk during WW2 is just one such example. Its use of time to tell the different stories makes it all feel almost overwhelming but it just holds back from taking you over the edge. Another film whose ending wrecked me.
28) Inside Out (2015)
Pixar is a studio that is known for not resting on its laurels and always trying to take things to the next level, as long as we don’t mention Cars. No better place can we see that than with Inside Out that explore the potentially crushing depression that comes when everything you know is changing around you. It is an internal exploration that sometimes sadness is needed in life and this is in a kids film.
27) War of the Planet of the Apes (2017)
The Planet of the Apes reboot films have always been strong, but in their conclusion they showed just how good they could be. Actions have consequences, loss has meaning, and there be a lot of damned dirty stinking apes. This is the first fully CGI character that has made my cry through their acting and that is a credit to both Andy Serkis and the entire visual effects team, and yes this was Oscar nomination worthy.
26) Okja (2017)
I mentioned a while back about Jake Gyllenhaal’s weird energy but nowhere is that shown more than in Bong Joon-ho exploration of capitalism and the negative effects on the world (a description that will come up again). I’m not sure any film has ever come close to making me a vegetarian, but boy did this one come close. It is beautifully acted and has a wonderful story even with all the weirdness going on.
25) Tangled (2010)
Sometimes in life you just need to sit back and enjoy a film that is full of charm from start to finish and with Tangled that is exactly what you get. The songs are great, the animation is fluid, you get not one but two adorable animal sidekicks, and yes in the year of our Lord 2019 we get a new baby Yoda every week, but not so at the other end of the decade. It is just a joy to watch from start to finish.
24) 22 Jump Street (2014)
When it comes to a sequel, just getting it in the same ball-park as the original is a great achievement, but to surpass the original is something only a few films do and one of them is a silly comedy about how silly sequels are. This kind of meta humour is not to everyone’s tastes, but it kind of my jam and I am here for it.
22-23) Paddington (2014) & Paddington 2 (2017)
It was only after I had finished my list that I realised that both the Paddington films had ended up right next to each other. Then I was daunted with the task of picking which one would be just above the other. Well after pulling out my hair out for more time than I care to admit I realised, wait I don’t have to pick at all.
Both films are a pure joy from start to finish, like they took everything that is good in the world and made it better by just existing. These are films that can have an evil taxidermist as a villain and you go sure, of course, you would. Or have an entire prison rejuvenated by the power of marmalade, of course, they would. Please let the new decade bring a new Paddington film.
21) 1917 (2019)
1917 is the newest film on this list, and I think it does not even technically come out with its full release until the New Year. However, nevertheless, it felt compelled to be on this list through its shear strength of will. The shooting of the film in the style of one-take is something that is not just there for a gimmick, but instead it draws you into the lives of the two soldiers on their mission.
Like many films on this list, it shows the power of Roger Deakins to capture light and create beauty out of disaster. It is expansive and then also claustrophobic, it explores the many sides of France in WW1, many of them not pretty, and it shows the cost of war.
20) Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World (2010)
Scott Pilgrim is the rare thing that can make us want to back the main protagonist even when he procrastinates more than Hamlet. But you do out of the sheer earnestness that the whole cast brings to the proceedings. That’s even before we get to the battles, or the songs, or the fact that the cast in this film is stacked. There are the wonderful editing moments throughout and all the small touches that make even multiple repeat viewings a joy. A film for the ages.
19) Skyfall (2012)
It has been a bit of a mixed decade for Bond, but one film still stands out from among the rest and that is Daniel Craig’s third outing. It starts with Bond blasting his way through Istanbul and it does not stop from there.
18) How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (2019)
Look, if I have not convinced you to go watch the HTTYD films by now, then I don’t know what more I can do. Watch their beauty, their world-building, John Powell’s majestic score, and heartfelt story. And more than any other thing, find yourself in tears at the end as they perfectly bring it all to a close.
17) Get Out (2017)
Not much can prepare you for what you are about to see when you sit down and watch Get Out. It is a film that presents itself as one thing but it is always something else entirely. That moment when the curtain is revealed and you see everything for just what it is, oh boy that might be the biggest ‘oh crap’ moment that I had this decade.
16) Gurrumul (2018)
One of the things that I have become more okay with over the years is crying in the cinemas. I don’t try to hold it back any more, I just let them flow, but even in that renewed vigour, I don’t think I was prepared for the emotional toll Gurrumul would take on me.
This is a film that explores the life of Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu an Indigenous artist from Arnhem Land as told by his Aunty Susan Dhängal Gurruwiwi. It goes into his life, his music, his health, and the struggles he faced. It is at times heart rendering in its raw depiction of life in its highs and lows. It is an important documentary about life and I would recommend everyone watch it.
15) Coco (2017)
From one film that left me in tears in the cinema to another film, which well also left me in tears in the cinema. It is a film which is a visual masterpiece from start to finish, with the marigold bridge being one of the cinematic highlights of the decade. It is a celebration of Mexican culture and is steeped in visual references. At its core, is a story of family, and how we are remembered, indeed the main song from the film is literally called Remember Me.
It is this exploration of family and the damage of the past that can be carried forward into the future that makes this film more than a simple exploration of the afterlife if an exploration of the afterlife could be simple. It gives the film thematic weight and makes that ticking clock sound with every click. A beautiful, if emotionally devastating film, and one where you see the joy even in the tears.
14) Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016)
Never in my days have I come across a film that encapsulates the term quirky and then uses if for good throughout the film. This is Hunt for the Wilderpeople, it can be irreverent and silly and then has you in tears as you grieve a loss. It is a film about the oddballs in society and finding a place for themselves and going on a nation-wide manhunt and becoming celebrities in the process. Also, everyone in the world needs to know how amazing Rachel House is.
13) The Australian Dream (2019)
If there is one documentary I would like all Australians to watch at the moment, well actually it would be one about climate change as our country burns around us, but next, it would be this exploration of the moment all our pretences are lowered and we reveal just who we are.
It removes the veneer we put up as a society through the lens of sport and what led to the booing of Adam Goodes. It is a documentary that made me angry, it made me sad, it made me frustrated, and wishing I could do more.
12) Moana (2016)
There is a whole world of mythology out there that we have not explored in cinema and one of those areas that is criminally underused is those of the Pacific Islands. This is where Moana shines as it dives into the world of Polynesian mythology and uses it to explore the nature of leadership.
This is such a beautiful film, look at that water, I mean just look at it, and I mean it takes your breath away. It has some of the best songs that Disney has produced in a long time and which really ground the movie even when you are signing to the ocean and your dead-grandmother that is now a manta ray. This is a story about Moana finding who she is inside, not what others label her as, finding strength in places she didn’t know she had, and calling people who should have known better about their rubbish and I love it.
11) Parasite (Gisaengchung, 기생충) (2019)
I had absolutely no idea what to expect when I sat down to watch this film and if I did take a stab at it I would not have seen this coming at all. This is a film that gives you a whole range of broken people all doing something slightly shady and then makes you wonder who you are going to support. Parasite spends its runtime building a deck of cards where literally a single moment can cause it all to fall apart. So you spend the whole film on the edge of your seat waiting for that moment.
It explores the stratification of South Korean society that is both uniquely Korean but also something you can see almost everywhere. Which makes this film something that is both very different but also immediately relatable. It is also the second film on this list that will make you look at peaches differently.
10) The Farewell (Bié Gàosù Tā, 別告訴她) (2019)
Would you like to know you have cancer or to live in ignorant bliss, and I do not know the answer to that question. Well this is what The Farewell explores and that would be enough for it to end up on this list, but it is not just this. It explores the way China has changed over the years, the dislocation of not knowing where you belong, and more than anything the role of family in our lives.
It is honestly hard to put in words the effect this film had on me, it reached into my heart found something that had been locked away for a very long time and shone a light onto it. I have never had a film do that to me before and it was completely overwhelming. Awkwafina is a revelation in this film and I deeply hope that it is recognised come awards season.
9) The Martian (2015)
Adapting a novel into a film is not an easy prospect and all the time you see films that either lose the essence of what made the book work or fail as a fail because they stick to rigidly to the book. The Martian is one of those rare films that both nails the heart of its source material but then presents it in a way that works in the cinematic medium.
It is crazy just how good this cast is, and Ridley Scott brings out the best in all of them. It conveys some deeply technical processes with effortless joy. When it needs to hit on that emotional moment it is there and also it might be one of the funniest films I have seen. Also props for creatively getting around only being able to use a handful of curses.
8) Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
If you had asked me even a couple of years ago what would be the Marvel film that would make it to the top of my list I would have never thought it would be one of the Thor films, but here we are and I am glad for it. Thor Ragnarok is a technicoloured fever dream of synth, odd shapes, and so much leather.
This is a film that captures the whole gamut of the MCU in one moment. There is beauty, there is humour, there is action, there is loss, and then there is Jeff Goldblum. But more than this, it is a deconstruction of a film franchise and what it means. This teardown could have just been about the Thor character but the writers and Taika Waititi use it to explore the legacy of post-colonial societies. It has a little something for everyone.
7) Toy Story 3 (2010)
Few films make it to that coveted trilogy status, even fewer still get to make a good third film, and rarer still is the series that saves its best for last, well almost last. Death is a concept that Pixar has not shied away from in their movies, but what about obsolescence. What happens to toys when no one wants to play with them? Well, we were teased with that in Toy Story 2 and then it becomes the reality in 3.
It is a story about finding your family no matter where you might live, about one grand rescue, and the longing guilt of being forgotten. Watching this in cinemas I was emotionally broken at multiple parts, like is Pixar really going to kill them all off in a smelter, for a few moments there that is what I thought they would do. Well just when you think you have cried all the tears you have, Andy gives all his toys away and you find out there were more to give.
6) Inception (2010)
If there is any one factor which Christopher Nolan likes to play around with in his films it would have to be the concept of time. Time is an immutable contestant feature of the universe, so what happens when we play around with it? Well if we are going to mess around with time, why not make it a heist film while we are at it, and oh have that heist be not taking something but putting something in, and oh just one more thing, the heist is inside someone head … while they are asleep.
This is one of those films that nearly every single moving part has to work for it to come together at all. The cast has to be there for it, the music has to be the right accompaniment, the sets have to blend with time and motion, the story has to be informative but fast-flowing, all of it. In the end, this film may be more known for its open ending, of which you can tell me what you think happened in the comments below. But for me more than that it is an excellent example of filmmaking that I enjoy every time I watch.
5) John Wick (2014)
Action films can be really quite personal, a lot of people like the muscle filled adrenalin of the 80s. However, for me, I am a kid of the 90s, and I grew up in the era of The Matrix. So when I heard that Keanu Reeves was coming back for another action film I was excited, even when I had to wait a good six months after the rest of the world thanks to its release schedule here in Australia.
However, no matter my expectations, nothing prepared me for just how hard this film was going to hit. The mobsters gave the world the simplest justification for John’s rampage, they killed his dog and that was how a dynasty crumbled. The action beats flow like a coursing river as he washes them all away with surgical precision. Beware the Baba Yaga.
4) Tron: Legacy (2010)
This film is entirely my jam, from start to finish it is a highly stylised high-octane ride across a digital frontier. This is one of my go-to films when I am feeling sad (so it got a lot of run time in 2019) because at the core of it is a hope. A hope that we can be better, a hope that family will triumph, that evil will be overcome, a hope, a pure hope.
This film works on so many different levels. The musical score from Daft Punk is one of the best examples of combining traditional orchestral sounds with electronic synth. Garrett Hedlund is a revelation, Olivia Wilde steals every scene, and I don’t know what Michael Sheen was doing, but whatever it was it was gold. Also just putting it out there, if someone wants to hook me up with one of the light robes Jeff Bridges wears at the end I am here. This is one of those films that after writing about it, I kind of want to go and immediately watch again.
3) Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)
The third Spider-Man film on this list and frankly one of the best-animated films I have ever seen and that is only just the start of the joy that is Into the Spider-Verse. There is, of course, Daniel Pemberton’s majestic score that continues to grow and develop as Miles does. There is the animation that more than anything I have seen captures the feeling of a comic book on the big screen and then they said after creating this very beautifully stylized choice that they were also going to have a character that is just in black-and-white and more.
More than this, it is the story that captures you by nailing what it means to be a hero, and one of the big joys of Spider-Man is that it could be anyone under that mask. Miles Morales might be the best superhero to ever grace the screen with his pure desire to do what is right. All the main characters have great arcs, the visuals are a real treat, and more than anything else this film has real heart.
2) Arrival (2016)
We’re getting down to the pointy end of the list and this is where I really struggled to decide which one was going to be 2 and which one was going to be 1. I went back and forth, so many times before calling it and I may change it again tomorrow. But whatever the case there is no denying that Arrival was one of the cinematic marvels of the last decade.
It should come as no surprise that Arrival is on this list given it is an impeccable filmed science fiction story focusing on how we as a society would react to a bunch of alien ships just appearing over us one day. It is a story about the power of language and how it can be used for good in a world where everyone is champing at the bits to use a military option. It is a story about how global cooperation is better than shutting ourselves off. More than anything it is a story about motherhood and how that shapes us.
To add to this, the film is spectacularly beautiful, from those first moments when you see the ship in the valley to those last moments when they leave, you just sit there in awe. It also has one of the best musical scores of the decade with Jóhann Jóhannsson’s haunting work. It has a story that rewards multiple viewings and gives Amy Adams the canvas to explore some really complicated emotions. A real masterpiece of cinema.
1) Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
Why is Mad Max number 1? Well, let me describe just one scene from the film. We see a bunch of car racing across the desert of post-apocalyptic Australia. Then in front of us is a large truck that has a bunch of guys smashing large drums on the back. As we pull forward we see on the front of the truck is a myriad of speakers blasting out the sounds of a manic guitar player in a mask strums a chord while attacked via bungee cords, as the full view of the armada comes into sight. Then and only then when you think it can’t get any more epic Fire Explodes Out Of The Guitar!
This is just the start because then we have chainsaw-wielding poll cat acrobat flying through the air. Grand tornadoes of sand a fire, shoot outs in narrow cannons with motorbikes, and third act action scene that elevates all of this and more. The level of detail in this film is a sheer delight to find, even on multiple rewatches, I was still finding something new to marvel at. I’m glad the craftsmanship in this film was rewarded by the academy.
One of the most interesting things about this film is that while it is one of the best action films of the decade by a country mile, it was not content to just rest on its laurels, it wanted to mean something. “Who Killed the World?” is the accusation delivered throughout the film, and it is not shy about giving an answer. It is a film that explores violence at its root level and is prepared to offer alternatives. One of the great joys of the past decade was leading a discussion on this film for the School of Politics that I used to work for and getting to see some of the filmmakers discuss how the film got made live at Brisbane Supanova.
It is one of the best films from this decade, one of my top films ever made, and one that will continue to resonate throughout the century.
And with that our list comes to an end, so here is for a new decade of film and the wonders it might bring!
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
What are your favourite films from the past decade?, let us know what you thought in the comments below, feel free to share this review on any of the social medias and you can follow us Here. Check out all our past reviews and articles Here, and have a happy day.
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