Best movies of the decade

Daniel Kaluuya and Allison Williams wear symbolic American flag colors in Jordan Peele’s “Get Out.” (Universal Pictures)
WTOP's Jason Fraley salutes the best movies of the decade

It’s hard to believe that another decade of movie history is coming to a close.

So, as film buffs love to do, it’s time to rank the best of everything we’ve seen.

What are the best movies of the past 10 years? To answer that, I compiled a Top 100, ranked with a special balance of Blockbusters on the Fives and Auteurs In Between. 

That means every five entries, you’ll get a beloved blockbuster crowd-pleaser. In between, you’ll get a taste of master artists that have shaped the medium.

So, without further ado, here are the best movies of the 2010s.

Top 100 movies of the decade

100. The Force Awakens (2015) – J.J. Abrams

The decade’s domestic top-grosser passed the torch to a new generation of “Star Wars” fans, building on nostalgia while creating compelling new heroes.

99. Inside Llewyn Davis (2013) – Coen Brothers

The Coens put Oscar Isaac on the map as a struggling busker trying to make it in Bob Dylan’s Greenwich folk scene.

98. Marriage Story (2019) – Noah Baumbach

Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver depict the most painful divorce since Bergman’s “Scenes from a Marriage.”

97. Lady Bird (2017) – Greta Gerwig

Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf believably bicker in Gerwig’s semi-autobiographical coming-of-age indie.

96. Ford v. Ferrari (2019) – James Mangold

Christian Bale and Matt Damon shine in this true story of Ford challenging Ferrari at the Le Mans race of 1966.

95. Bridesmaids (2011) – Paul Feig

Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Maya Rudolph, Rebel Wilson, Ellie Kemper and Jon Hamm delivered comedy gold.

94. Manchester By the Sea (2016) – Kenneth Lonergan

Michelle WIlliams shined as Lonergan’s Oscar-winning script unraveled the most horrific family tragedy imaginable.

93. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017) – Martin McDonagh

Frances McDormand won an Oscar as a grieving mother seeking revenge for the rape and murder of her daughter.

92. BlacKkKlansman (2018) – Spike Lee

Spike Lee finally won his overdue Oscar for co-writing this true story as John David Washington infiltrates the Klan.

91. The Farewell (2019) – Lulu Wang

After comedy in “Crazy Rich Asians,” Awkwafina turned introspective to hide her grandmother’s terminal diagnosis.

90. Trainwreck (2015) – Judd Apatow

Amy Schumer and Bill Hader crack us up with surprise turns by the NBA’s LeBron James and WWE’s John Cena.

89. Dallas Buyers Club (2013) – Jean-Marc Vallee

Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto won Oscars running experimental HIV drugs for the director of “Big Little Lies.”

88. The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) – Wes Anderson

Anderson won his Oscar after quirky comedies like “Rushmore,” “The Royal Tenenbaums” and “Moonrise Kingdom.”

87. Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012) – Benh Zeitlin

Child star Quvenzhané Wallis shines in this bayou coming-of-age fable that won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance.

86. Creed (2015) – Ryan Coogler

Michael B. Jordan resurrected the “Rocky” franchise across Sylvester Stallone in a tear-jerking comeback.

85. Skyfall (2012) – Sam Mendes

Adele’s Oscar-winning song kicks off this 007 favorite as Daniel Craig battles Javier Bardem’s maniacal Bond villain.

84. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) – Martin Scorsese

Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill overdose in Scorsese’s ode to excess that put Margot Robbie on the map.

83. The Big Short (2015) – Adam McKay

McKay’s Oscar-winning script breaks down the 2008 mortgage crisis using layman cutaways instead of jargon.

82. Margin Call (2011) – J.C. Chandor

Jeremy Irons leads a deep cast in this gripping take on the 2008 financial collapse that remains Chandor’s best.

81. The Way Way Back (2013) – Nat Faxon, Jim Rash

Allison Janney and Sam Rockwell are both at their comedic best in this star-studded coming-of-age family comedy.

80. Deadpool (2016) – Tim Miller

Ryan Reynolds’ raunchy superhero passion project hilariously broke the fourth wall like no X-Men film before.

79. The Greatest Showman (2017) – Michael Gracey

“Dear Evan Hansen” duo Pasek & Paul pen the songbook for Hugh Jackman’s dazzling circus biopic on P.T. Barnum.

78. Locke (2013) – Steven Knight

Tom Hardy rivets in this driving British mystery set entirely behind the steering wheel of a car using Bluetooth calls.

77. Drive (2011) – Nicolas Winding Refn

Ryan Gosling played a strong, silent type as a Hollywood stunt man turned getaway driver in this stylized art flick.

76. American Sniper (2014) – Clint Eastwood

Bradley Cooper showed his dramatic potential as the deadliest sniper in U.S. history in this complex post-9/11 biopic.

75. Wonder Woman (2017) – Patty Jenkins

Gal Gadot charmed while Jenkins directed precision action to prove the viability of female-driven tentpoles.

74. The Big Sick (2017) – Michael Showalter

Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter and Ray Romano yanked the rom-com genre right out of coma.

73. The Shape of Water (2017) – Guillermo del Toro

This bizarre Best Picture showcased Sally Hawkins as a mute janitor in an inter-species romance with a fish man.

72. Lion (2016) – Garth Davis

Child star Sunny Pawar was adorable as a lost Indian boy in this inspiring film starring Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman.

71. Roma (2018) – Alfonso Cuaron

Cuaron’s love note to his own childhood in 1970s Mexico City features gorgeous black-and-white cinematography.

70. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) – James Gunn

Chris Pratt and Zoe Saldana anchor this beloved superhero flick set to an awesome mixtape of classic rock tunes.

69. Silver Linings Playbook (2012) – David O. Russell

Jennifer Lawrence won her Oscar amid a dysfunctional football family the same year she played Katniss Everdeen.

68. Ex Machina (2014) – Alex Garland

An Oscar-worthy Alicia Vikander plays the most believable A.I. robot since Michael Fassbender’s “Prometheus.”

67. Carol (2015) – Todd Haynes

Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara forge a forbidden romance in this richly-colored tapestry of 1950s Manhattan.

66. Gone Girl (2014) – David Fincher

David Fincher cast Rosamund Pike as the most unforgettable femme fatale since Glenn Close in “Fatal Attraction.”

65. Joker (2019) – Todd Phillips

Joaquin Phoenix rivals Heath Ledger with a disturbingly realistic origin story that won the top prize at Venice.

64. Life of Pi (2012) – Ang Lee

Ang Lee deservedly won his second Best Director Oscar for this shipwreck adventure fantasy shown in magical 3D.

63. Son of Saul (2015) – Laszlo Nemes

Hungary’s Oscar-winning Holocaust drama uses its tight aspect ratio to hint at the horrors lurking just off screen.

62. Ida (2013) – Pawel Pawlikowski

Holocaust memories haunt this bleak black-and-white masterpiece by the stunning Polish director of “Cold War.”

61. Loving (2016) – Jeff Nichols

Joel Edgerton delivers his career-best role across Ruth Negga in a historic interracial marriage case in Virginia.

60. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014) – Matt Reeves

Andy Serkis deserved an honorary Oscar for his motion-capture ape Caesar in this stunning sci-fi prequel.

59. The Kids Are All Right (2010) – Lisa Cholodenko

Mark Ruffalo plays the biological father to Annette Bening and Julianne Moore’s children born via artificial insemination.

58. Blue is the Warmest Color (2013) – Abdellatif Kechiche

Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos rip our hearts out in this Cannes’ Palme d’Or winner about young lesbian lovers.

57. Love & Mercy (2015) – Bill Pohlad

John Cusack and Paul Dano portray Beach Boys genius Brian Wilson, loved unconditionally by Elizabeth Banks.

56. Snowpiercer (2013) – Bong Joon-ho

This South Korean sci-fi action flick comments on class divides as Chris Evans fights his way through train cars.

55. The Martian (2015) – Ridley Scott

A stranded Matt Damon cultivated the surface of Mars in the most rousing space rescue flick since “Apollo 13.”

54. Lincoln (2012) – Steven Spielberg

Daniel Day-Lewis won his third Best Actor Oscar teaching us Euclid lessons as the best president in U.S. history.

53. Dunkirk (2017) – Christopher Nolan

Nolan recreated the harrowing Dunkirk rescue by intercutting a week on land, a day at sea and an hour in the sky.

52. The King’s Speech (2010) – Tom Hooper

Colin Firth deservedly won a Best Actor Oscar as a stuttering King George IV on the brink of WWII in this Best Picture.

51. The Imitation Game (2014) – Morten Tyldum

Benedict Cumberbatch shines as math genius Alan Turing, who cracked the German Enigma code to help win WWII.

50. Avengers: Infinity War (2018) – Joe & Anthony Russo

The villain shockingly won as Thanos’ snap set up “Endgame” to become the top-grossing global blockbuster ever.

49. Short Term 12 (2013) – Destin Daniel Cretton

This SXSW champ launched Brie Larson, Rami Malek and Lakeith Stanfield in a center for troubled teens.

48. Green Book (2018) – Peter Farrelly

Viggo Mortensen & Mahershala Ali make buddy-comedy magic in this controversial Best Picture champ.

47. The Help (2011) – Tate Taylor

Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer carry this star-studded drama about house servants in the segregated U.S. south.

46. Hidden Figures (2016) – Theodore Melfi

Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monae and Octavia Spencer shine a light on the true story of unknown NASA heroes.

45. Coco (2017) – Lee Unkirch, Adrian Molina

Pixar’s groundbreaking Latino-voiced animation boasts wonderful music and builds to a tear-jerking “Remember Me.”

44. A Star is Born (2018) – Bradley Cooper

Lady Gaga belts the Oscar-winning “Shallow” as Bradley Cooper directs with symbolic background fatalism.

43. 1917 (2019) – Sam Mendes

Mendes pays tribute to his grandfather by filming the World War I trenches to appear as one immersive long take.

42. Fruitvale Station (2013) – Ryan Coogler

There would be no “Black Panther” without this Sundance indie about the shooting of an unarmed black man.

41. Hell or High Water (2016) – David Mackenzie

Jeff Bridges tracks Chris Pine and Ben Foster’s bank robbers with western echoes of “No Country for Old Men.”

40. Moana (2016) – Ron Clements, John Musker

“Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda pens a songbook of “How Far I’ll Go” and The Rock’s “You’re Welcome.”

39. Moneyball (2011) – Bennett Miller

Aaron Sorkin and Steve Zaillian adapt the hit baseball novel into a stat-crunching home run for Brad Pitt.

38. Captain Phillips (2013) – Paul Greengrass

Tom Hanks improvised PTSD after Barkhad Abdi’s sympathetic Somali pirate insisted, “I am the captain now.”

37. Nightcrawler (2014) – Dan Gilroy

Jake Gyllenhaal is a creepy TV news cameraman who gradually loses his morality by altering crime scenes.

36. Prisoners (2013) – Denis Villeneuve

Jake Gyllenhaal helps Hugh Jackman, Maria Bello, Viola Davis and Terrence Howard search for their abducted kids. 

35. A Quiet Place (2018) – John Krasinski

John Krasinski turns a creature feature into a silent horror masterpiece as wife Emily Blunt delivers a bathtub birth.

34. Whiplash (2014) – Damien Chazelle

J.K. Simmons won an Oscar as a brutal drill instructor for Miles Teller’s hungry drummer in this Sundance champ.

33. Django: Unchained (2012) – Quentin Tarantino

Jamie Foxx leads a slave revolt against Leonardo DiCaprio’s plantation in Tarantino’s Oscar-winning script.

32. Mudbound (2017) – Dee Rees

WWII buddies return to Mississippi to realize home is worse than the “why we fight” ideals that we project overseas.

31. Force Majeure (2014) – Ruben Ostlund

This Swedish gem explores a moral dilemma after an avalanche interrupts a family vacation in the French Alps.

30. Inside Out (2015) – Pete Docter, Ronnie Del Carmen

Amy Poehler leads a voice cast in Pixar’s Oscar-winning animation that creatively explores human emotions.

29. Amour (2011) – Michael Haneke

Haneke casts a pair of aging French legends to epitomize the marriage vow of “in sickness and in health.”

28. Captain Fantastic (2016) – Matt Ross

Viggo Mortensen shines as a single father raising his six kids off the grid in the woods of the Pacific Northwest.

27. The Descendants (2011) – Alexander Payne

George Clooney should have won an Oscar as a father raising daughters during his cheating wife’s coma.

26. La La Land (2016) – Damien Chazelle

Chazelle won Best Director in Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling’s bittersweet musical ode to the fools who dream.

25. Frozen (2013) – Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee

Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel flipped Disney princess conventions voicing independent sisters singing “Let It Go.”

24. Parasite (2019) – Bong Joon-ho

Korean master juxtaposes two families of different economic means in this twisted Cannes Palme d’Or winner.

23. The Artist (2011) – Michel Hazanavicius

Who would’ve thought that a French silent film could win Best Picture a full 84 years after the first talking picture?

22. The Master (2012) – Paul Thomas Anderson

Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams brainwash Joaquin Phoenix in this daring critique of religious cults.

21. The Tree of Life (2011) – Terrence Malick

Malick’s lyrical mood piece is the most ambitious film since “2001,” intercutting suburbia with the universe’s formation.

20. Black Panther (2018) – Ryan Coogler

Chadwick Boseman leads Marvel’s only Best Picture nominee in a watershed Wakanda moment for people of color.

19. Birdman (2014) – Alejandro G. Inarritu

Michael Keaton plays an ex-superhero star staging a Broadway play as Inarritu shoots in one continuous single-take.

18. Her (2013) – Spike Jonze

Joaquin Phoenix falls for Scarlett Johansson’s Siri in this Oscar-winning script on our digital dating culture.

17. Selma (2014) – Ava DuVernay

David Oyelowo brilliantly becomes Martin Luther King Jr. in his quest to pass the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

16. Argo (2012) – Ben Affleck

Alan Arkin, Bryan Cranston and John Goodman bolster this underdog Best Picture on the Iran hostage crisis.

15. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) – George Miller

Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron lead a feminist uprising in the best chapter of Miller’s dystopian action franchise.

14. Arrival (2016) – Denis Villeneuve

Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner communicate with aliens in this sci-fi gem that deserves repeat viewings.

13. American Hustle (2013) – David O. Russell

Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence expose the artifice of the American Dream.

12. Twelve Years a Slave (2013) – Steve McQueen

Chiwetel Ejiofor endured, Michael Fassbender terrified and Lupita Nyong’o earned an Oscar in this Best Picture.

11. A Separation (2011) – Asghar Farhadi

Few filmmakers have documented a crumbling marriage better than this Oscar winner by the Iranian master.

10. Inception (2010) – Christopher Nolan

Nolan explores dreams within dreams in this visionary sci-fi action blockbuster that left our heads spinning like a top.

9. Zero Dark Thirty (2012) – Kathryn Bigelow

Jessica Chastain hunts Osama bin Laden as Bigelow thrillingly directs a night-vision climax for SEAL Team 6.

8. Black Swan (2010) – Darren Aronofsky

Natalie Portman earned an Oscar in Aronofsky’s deadly duality thriller with the ballet backdrop of “Swan Lake.”

7. The Social Network (2010) – David Fincher

Aaron Sorkin caught the social-media zeitgeist with Jesse Eisenberg perfectly cast as a fast-talking Mark Zuckerberg.

6. Room (2015) – Lenny Abrahamson

Brie Larson won an Oscar as a captive woman raising her son with no concept of the outside world beyond their room.

5. Gravity (2013) – Alfonso Cuaron

Cuaron won an Oscar directing Sandra Bullock in this 90-minute panic attack where 3D made sense in zero gravity.

4. Spotlight (2015) – Tom McCarthy

This journalism Best Picture recounts the Boston Globe’s investigation into child sex abuse by the Catholic Church.

3. Moonlight (2016) – Barry Jenkins

Jenkins’ upset Best Picture artfully presents three stages of life to shatter stereotypes of race and orientation.

2. Boyhood (2014) – Richard Linklater

Linklater shot this longitudinal study in time-capsule snippets over 12 years to literally watch a boy grow up on screen.

1. Get Out (2017) – Jordan Peele

Suspenseful on first watch, this horror film reveals itself as a masterpiece of double meanings on repeat viewings.

Happy new year! Here’s to another decade of great movies.

Related Categories:

Entertainment News | Movie News | Movie Reviews

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