A Decade of Film: The Top 50 Movies of the 2010s, Ranked


act of killing

Gideon Hamot, Maroon-News Staff

 1. The Act of Killing

What begins as Joshua Oppenheimer documenting Indonesian Genocide leader Anwar Congo’s recreation of murder, quickly descends into a two-and-a half hour meditation on morality, truth and what drives a person to commit such horrible acts. A rare look into the mind of a mass-murderer, The Act of Killing is unlike any other film of the past decade.

2. Whiplash

J.K. Simmons graduated from Farmers Insurance commercials to star alongside Miles Teller in Damnie Chazelle’s second film. A portrait of two men both maddeningly dedicated to their craft, Teller plays a drum student under the strict and often abusive command of Terence Fletcher (Simmons). An excellent portrayal of the push for perfection and its consequences, Whiplash was nominated for five Oscars. 


3. The Grand Budapest Hotel

Wes Anderson’s eighth film is his most complete, with Anderson’s witty humor, quirky characters and unconventional camera work doing the majority of the storytelling. The film follows lobby boy-in-training Zero and his concierge Gustave H. as they attempt to solve the murder of one of Gustave H.’s former lovers. The two galavant across 1930’s Europe searching for answers in a tale of loyalty, friendship and love.

4. Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Taika Waititi proved that he could be a successful comedy director with 2014’s What We Do In the Shadows, but 2016’s Hunt for the Wilderpeople showed Waititi’s ability to portray emotions on the big screen linked with his signature humor. Though initially overlooked, Waititi’s rise to fame over the past couple of years will likely make this an important piece of film buff’s collections in the coming years.

5. First Reformed

I will admit to initially disliking Paul Schrader’s 2017 effort. It took nearly eight months of reflection before I revisited the film and was convinced of the masterpiece that it truly is. Ethan Hawke is at his best as a small-town reverend struggling with tragedy and solitude, and the film’s environmentalist themes, which haunt Hawke’s Reverend Toller, keep the film feeling modern and relevant.  


6. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (OUTH)

In what can only be described as Tarantino pulling out every Tarantino-ism, OUTH is not only incredibly written and acted, with Brad Pitt likely securing an Oscar nomination, but it also feels as a fitting wind down to Tarantino’s nearly complete career. Having made his mark on the industry with witty dialogue, satirical violence and historical revisions, Tarantino’s latest includes all of his trademarks, as well as him perfecting the beautiful and complex cinematography he has spent the last decade attempting to master in Django and the Hateful Eight.  

7. Mad Max: Fury Road

Nearly twenty years in the making, Mad Max’s fourth installment is a weirdly environmentally-conscious, feminist, action film that manages to, despite the main character only having 63 lines, be one of the defining films of the decade. Unfortunately, it looks like similar problems to what kept Fury Road out of theaters for nearly two decades will also slow down the film’s sequel, as creator George Miller is currently engaged in a dispute with Warner Bros over payment. 

8. Manchester By the Sea

Kenneth Lonergan’s 2016 masterpiece won wide acclaim, both for himself as well as for leads Casey Affleck and Lucas Hedges. Set in the titular town, the film follows a 16-year old high schooler (Hedges) dealing with the death of his father and the troubles of adolescence while attempting to convince his uncle (Affleck) to move in with him and allow him to stay in Manchester. 

9. Get Out

Sure, Jordan Peele’s directorial debut became a cultural phenomenon, but it also managed to be one of the few films of the decade that featured a strong social commentary that didn’t come off overly preachy (looking at you, Elysium). An in-depth look at casual racism and police brutality, Get Out is a well-done mix of both horror and social reflection. 


10. Dallas Buyers Club

Few actors could give Ron Woodroof the portrayal that he deserves, but Mathew McConaughey’s heart-wrenching Oscar-winning performance will likely go down as one of the finest of any actors this century. The story of Woodroof, a straight man fighting HIV and the government in the mid-’80s, lends itself perfectly to director Jean-Marc Vallee’s signature motif of challenging relationships and the struggles that come with the unexpected.

Here are another 40 movies from the 

decade to watch during winter break:

11. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri

12. The Imitation Game

13. Rush

14. Black KKKlansmen

15. The Big Short

16. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

17. Moonlight

18. Spotlight

19. Nightcrawler

20. Moonrise Kingdom

21. Foxcatcher

22. Lincoln

23. Birdman 

24. Lady Bird

25. The Hateful Eight 

26. The Wolf of Wall Street

27. The Help

28. Snowpeircer

29. Roma

30. Theory of Everything

31. Call Me by Your Name

32. Silver Linings Playbook

33. Inception 

34. Struggle: The Life and Lost Art of Szukalsk

35. Gone Girl 

36. Frozen 

37. The Revenant

38. Twelve Years a Slave

39. Argo

40. Vice

41. Nice Guys 

42. Black Swan

43. Arrival

44. Tangled

45. Nebraska

46. A Ghost Story

47. Mollys Game

48. Django

49. Captain Phillips

50. How to Train your Dragon