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15 Best Crime Movies of This Decade

October 17, 2019
12 min read

There is a fascination surrounding crime that will never die down. As humans have developed, the extent of their crimes has evolved too. There is nothing that they can’t stain with their wickedness, and despite all the intellectual, philosophical and scientific leaps made by them, this delinquency is something that they can’t let go of. Perhaps, this is because it is one of the basic elements of their configuration. And maybe, this is why we are attracted to the stories of crimes with such interest.

The past decade has seen a re-invention of this genre, with the stories turning darker, the crimes more sinister. Moreover, the filmmakers have changed the rules by focusing the story not just on the perpetrators but also on the ones who are on the receiving end of it. The psychology of the victims, as well as the criminals, has become an important part of the conversation, which is what makes it an exciting time to be a fan of crime films. Here is the list of the best crime movies of the 2010s:

15. Widows (2018)

Widows’ has an all-star cast of Viola Davis, Elizabeth Debicki, Michelle Rodriguez and Cynthia Erivo. The film also stars Colin Farrell, Daniel Kaluuya, Jon Bernthal and Liam Neeson. It follows the story of a group of widows who come together to pull an elaborate heist. It begins with the death of their husbands and the entry of a dangerous crime lord demanding the money that their husbands stole from him. In order to pay off this debt, Veronica (Davis) gets in touch with the wives of her husband’s gang. The idea is to execute the last robbery planned by her husband, the masterpiece he could never actually perform.

14. Foxcatcher (2014)

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Starring Steve Carell, Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo in the lead roles, ‘Foxcatcher’ is loosely based on a true-crime story in the late 80s. At the centre of it are the Schultz brothers, Mark and Dave. While both of them are wrestling champions, the younger one feels overshadowed by his older brother’s fame. Things take a different course when John E. du Pont, a wrestling enthusiast approaches Mark with the offer of joining his team Foxcatcher at a private training facility. Soon, Dave, too, gets involved in it and tensions rise in the trio, and soon takes the form of a horrible tragedy. ‘Foxcatcher’ was one of the best films of the year and was nominated in various categories at the 2015 Academy Awards.

13. Good Time (2017)

With Robert Pattinson in the lead role, ‘Good Time’ follows the story of a man who is forced to take a journey through the criminal underworld in order to secure the freedom of his brother. The protagonist of the story is a man named Connie Nikas. He has a brother, named Nick, whose help he employs to commit a bank robbery. While Connie is more experienced, his brother suffers from a disability that doesn’t make him suitable for the job. After the robbery, things go wrong and Nick is arrested while Connie flees. Riddled by the guilt of having drawn his brother into such a situation, Connie comes up with various ideas to break him out of jail but meets with unexpected difficulties in the process.

12. The Old Man and the Gun (2018)

Based on the true story, ‘The Old Man and the Gun’ follows career criminal and prison-escape artist Forrest Tucker, who loves to rob banks — not that he needs money but because he has so much fun doing it. Forrest successfully escaped incarceration 18 times. This cat-and-mouse movie is comical and affecting in equal measure. ‘The Old Man and the Gun’ is a film that Hollywood stopped making long back. Heist movies are now more about the violence, the blood, the thrill etc. That’s why Lowry’s film is such a stand out; he relies on the charm of his subject to tell a story that is infused with a sprinkling of humor, romance and nostalgia.

11. Nocturnal Animals (2016)

There are two sections of ‘Nocturnal Animals’. It is a story within a story, both of them working so seamlessly in conjunction with each other that by the end, you’ll be left with a restlessness and a sense of dread. It stars Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal in the lead roles, with the supporting cast of Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Armie Hammer. Adams plays the role of Susan Morrow, an art gallery owner who receives a manuscript of her ex-husband’s new novel. The story plays in two parallels, wherein one is the real life of Susan, and the other is the events in the novel. And it is this second part that contains a deeply troubling story of a man who loses his wife and daughter to a heinous crime.

10. Animal Kingdom (2010)

Directed by David Michôd, ‘Animal Kingdom’ stars Ben Mendelsohn, Guy Pearce, James Frecheville, Jacki Weaver and Sullivan Stapleton with Joel Edgerton. It follows the story of a young man who discovers a completely different side of his extended family after a tragedy. The protagonist of this film is 17-year-old Joshua, who is left with no other option, but his grandmother, after his mother’s death. While grandma is loving, it turns out that she is the matriarch of a criminal enterprise. One of her sons deals in drugs, while the other takes care of armed robberies. However, it is her eldest son who is the most precarious member. The cops have been on a lookout for him, and are closely watching the house that Joshua now lives in. After one of the important members of the gang is shot down, the tension between the gang and the cops gets even thicker and the teenager finds himself smack in the middle of it.

9. Wind River (2017)

Starring Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen, ‘Wind River’ is written and directed by Taylor Sheridan, known for writing films like ‘Sicario’ and ‘Hell or High Water’. Set in the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming, it begins with the death of an 18-year-old girl. Cory Lambert finds her body frozen body in the snow, and considering the suspicious circumstances surrounding her death, Jane Banner, a rookie FBI agent is sent to solve the case. Banner uses the help of Lambert to understand the geography of the place while conversing with the locals, who don’t warm up to her so easily. Bit by bit, the story begins to come together as the brutality of the crime comes forward and the investigators come to a startling revelation.

8. Blue Ruin (2013)

‘Blue Ruin’ follows the story of a man who embarks on a journey of revenge when he finds out that the murderer of his parents is out and about in the world. Dwight Evans’ parents had been shot dead in their car. Their murderer, Wade Cleland, is caught and sent to prison. Dwight spends his days living aimlessly as a vagrant, but finds a sudden purpose twenty years later, when Wade is released from prison. This stirs long subdued feelings of anger and hatred in him, and he decides to track down Wade. A confrontation leads to Dwight murdering Wade, and he tries to run away from it, but Wade’s family is hot on his heels. This starts a cycle of revenge that each party wants to inflict on the other. In the end, everyone understands why they ask to dig two graves before embarking on the road of revenge.

7. Hell or High Water (2016)

This Oscar-nominated film stars Chris Pine, Ben Foster and Jeff Bridges in the lead roles. Pine and Foster play the roles of two brothers who commit a series of robberies when they run out of money to pay the mortgage for the ranch, after their mother’s death. Toby, the younger one, is the planner and is more contained than the older, Tanner, who is hot-headed. His recklessness leads a perfectly well-executed plan into trouble, which gives two Texas Rangers, Marcus Hamilton and Alberto Parker, a chance to finally catch up with them. While the rangers inch closer to them, the brothers have to find a way to lead them off their trail and keep their heads low as much as possible. But Tanner’s mistakes stir trouble and a game of cat-and-mouse ensues.

6. Prisoners (2013)

Denis Villeneuve’s first English-language feature stars the ensemble cast of Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis, Maria Bello, Paul Dano and Terrence Howard. It begins with the abduction of two young girls who are taken away not far from their house. Detective Loki begins the investigation that leads him to a man named Alex Jones. Due to the lack of any evidence or argument against Jones, Loki lets him go. Keller Dover, the father of one of the girls, is enraged by this act and decides that if the police are not going to do something about it, he will. The film builds on this mystery to deliver a story that is driven further by the characters who go through a complicated arc in their moral standing.

5. Sicario (2015)

Written by Tyler Sheridan and directed by Denis Villeneuve, ‘Sicario’ is a crime drama that benefits from the star cast of Emily Blunt, Benicio del Toro, Josh Brolin and Victor Garber. Blunt plays the role of Kate Macer, an FBI agent who leads a raid on the safe house of a Mexican cartel only to discover their unimaginable brutality in the form of dozens of corpses in its walls. Soon, it comes to light that a joint task force from Department of Justice and Department of Defense is ready to take action against the cartel and are targeting its lieutenant. Kate is invited to be a part of the team, and believing that she will be bringing the perpetrators of the safe-house victims to justice, she doesn’t think twice about it. However, soon, she discovers that justice comes at a price and that this time, she is the one chosen to pay for it.

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4. Gone Girl (2014)

No one understands or depicts crime quite like David Fincher. The director delves into the psychology of his criminals to a disturbing extent and bends the character of his protagonists quite close to the dark side. In ‘Gone Girl’, he uses the twisted tale of love presented by Gillian Flynn in the eponymous novel. It follows the story of Nick Dunne and his wife Amy. They had been in a loving relationship that turned sour over time. After an endless tussle between them, Nick begins to think about their future and how he can escape it. But then, Amy disappears. He has no idea where she went and what happened to her, but it gets problematic for him when all the evidence begins to point towards him as the perpetrator.

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3. Drive (2011)

Starring Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan in the lead roles, ‘Drive’ is a crime drama directed by Nicolas Winding Refn. The supporting cast includes actors like Oscar Isaac, Bryan Cranston, Christina Hendricks and Ron Perlman. Based on the book of the same name by James Sallis, it follows the story of a man who works as a stunt driver by the day and a getaway driver at night. He falls in love with his neighbour, Irene, and develops a close connection with her son. However, their relationship is threatened with the return of her husband. Owing to some previous problems with an Albanian gangster, the husband is forced to carry out a robbery and the driver gets involved in it. When the robbery goes terribly awry, the situation takes a drastic turn for everyone involved.

2. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

Based on the novel of the same name by Stieg Larsson, ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ is another crime drama directed by David Fincher. It stars Daniel Craig as Mikael Blomkvist, a journalist who is called to look into the mystery behind the disappearance of a woman, which took place over four decades ago. Blomkvist takes help of a computer hacker, Lisbeth Salander, played by Rooney Mara. With both of them going through a difficult time in their lives, they become more and more involved with the case and discover that is has a connection with a series of similar murders that took place over the course of a couple of decades. The danger surrounding them increases as they come closer to solving the mystery.

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1. The Irishman (2019)

There are only a handful of directors who have succeeded in carving out a genre of their own. Martin Scorsese has done the same thing with crime films. In crime, he has delivered some of his best works, diving into the underbelly of the criminal world with the characters that refuse to leave the recesses of your mind. With ‘The Irishman’, he does it again, this time on a grander scale than before. The star-cast itself is something to applaud and the drama is as gritty and engrossing as you would expect from any Scorsese film. Based on the memoir by Charles Brandt, it stars Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci in the lead roles. De Niro plays the role of Frank Sheeran, a mob hitman who recounts his involvement with the Bufalino crime family in the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa.

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