Yes, we are in the last year of this decade. That means it is the right time to start listing the greatest movies that have released in this decade so far. So, I did exactly that: put together a list of best movies of this decade. Obviously, I will update — and even expand — this list at the end of the year. There is no question the 2010s has been a good decade for cinema. We have seen a lot of progress in terms of female-centric films being made, as you would notice that trend in this list. You will also find a lot variety in this list; from action to musical, this list has everything. Obviously, 2020s is going to look a lot different, especially with exponential rise of Netflix. For now, let’s look at the list of top movies of the 2010s (2010-2019).
30. Dunkirk (2017)
Apart from sweeping, extraordinary camera work and heart-pounding background score what also makes ‘Dunkirk’ so immersive is the way Nolan chooses to tell the story — that is in non-chronoligical fashion. So, while you are gripped with all that’s happening on screen, you also have to be attentive so as to follow the three simultaneously occurring stories. Typically such an approach is reserved for science fiction movies or thrillers, but Nolan busts that notion too and effectively uses it for telling a war story. Talk about breaking new grounds!
29. Her (2013)
The idea of falling in love with an Artificial Intelligence may sound outright silly, but the way we are getting overly dependent on technology, that idea does not seem slightest bit inconceivable from realms of possibilities in near future. The true worth of ‘Her’ will be realized when the idea that it is based upon gets ultimately realized. Whenever that happens in future, I am sure people are going to look back at ‘Her’ and at Spike Jonze in disbelieved awe on foreseeing the future with such disarming precision . (Read more ..)
28. Call Me By Your Name (2017)
Director Luca Guadagnino directs the film with a confidence that is exciting to see in an emerging filmmaker. He gently guides the actors, encouraging them always to greater heights, keeps the sex scenes toned down, and allows the intense heat it sun dappled Italy to be a second character. A brilliant, daring film that is easily among year’s best and an Oscar contender in many categories.
28. Lady Bird (2017)
Greta Gerwig has already proved herself to be a great actress. With ‘Lady Bird’, she proves herself as a great director as well. A partly autographical story about a girl trying to break away from her family and find her own feet is told in a fashion that is instantly charming and cathartic. In a year that can easily be termed as “the year of strong women”, ‘Lady Bird’ stands out as the film that represents 2017 the best. And that’s why I have no hesitation in proclaiming it the best film of the year.
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27. Blue Jasmine (2013)
Sly and darkly funny, ‘Blue Jasmine’ works both as a satirical commentary and a character study. It’s a showcase of Woody Allen’s glibly amusing writing. It also proves that why you shouldn’t write-off Woody Allen yet. Every once in a while he will surprise you with such an effortlessly amusing and supremely clever work. And let’s not forget Cate Blanchett’s performance, which in my opinion, is the best by any actor this decade so far.
26. The Perks of Being Wall Flower (2012)
The biggest achievement of the film is how beautifully it captures the rich tapestry of growing up experiences soaked in lessons learnt for lifetime. There are very few films made nowadays that have the power to take you back through time and leave you with nothing but pleasant, feel-good memories, and may be a drop or two of tears in your eyes. ‘The Perks of Being Wallflower’ is one of them. Read more..
25. Somewhere (2010)
The story of father-daughter bonding is quite apparently auto-biographical to Sofia’s own childhood when she used to accompany her father, the legendary Francis Ford Coppola, to different hotels and film sets. ‘Somewhere’ is one of the films that doesn’t astonish you instantly, but slowly grows upon you as you start thinking about it. Basically, it stays with you, especially after 2nd viewing. It touches the themes of solitude and loneliness — similar to ‘Lost in Translation’ in that aspect — but it will move you more because of the father-daughter chemistry, which is central to the film. To put it in short: the best father-daughter bonding movie ever made.
24. Interstellar (2014)
Replete with some of the best images you would have ever seen on-screen, ‘Interstellar’ is visually breathtaking and technologically awe-inspiring. I was dazzled, amazed and challenged by ‘Interstellar’ in equal measure. ‘Interstellar’ is flawed. But it’s beautiful too. And it is also what Nolan ultimately wants it to be : A token of love from a father to his daughter. Read more..
23. Burning (2018)
‘Burning’ is not your typical run-of-the-mill thriller drama. It is one of those films that slowly but surely lures you into a slow-burning character study that ultimately rewards your patience — and in the process subverts many of your expectations. Korean cinema is clearly in its golden age. When you see ‘Burning’, you realize why. With bold storytelling and subtle but brave themes, ‘Burning’ epitomizes everything that is good with Korean cinema. The film paints vivid portraits of three distinct characters and inspires sympathy with an intriguing protagonist only to shatter everything you had assumed about each of the characters. Burning’s haunting ending leaves you with an everlasting impact that’s impossible to forget. ‘Burning’ is like a convoluted piece of puzzle with no easy answers.
22. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
Based on true-life events of stockbroker Jordan Belfort, ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ is so over-the-top wacky, that at times it’s unbelievable that what you are seeing on-screen may have actually happened. It is as much a daringly audacious film as it is deliriously funny. It never shies away going all the way out, even if that means going completely wild. After all, truth is stranger — and possibly — wilder than fiction. (Read more ..)
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21. Whiplash (2014)
Every once in a while, a movie comes along that completely takes you by surprise, and you come out of the theatre still charged up with what you just saw. ‘Whiplash’ is one such rare film. It follows a narrative that you usually get to see in sports based dramas: an underdog, a tough task-master, cut-throat competition, and the big climactic pay-off. In fact, it is more adrenaline-inducing than most of the sports-based movie I have ever seen. (Read more ..)
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20. Room (2015)
An overwhelming tale of escape, surprise, discovery, mourning and reawakening, ‘Room’ is easily one of the most emotionally-wrenching movies (Read: where I shed the most tears) I have ever seen. An ode to the strongest bond that there can be, that of between mother and her child, ‘Room’ is as much touching as it is harrowing. Simply put, ‘Room’ is a film that you won’t be able to forget for a long, long time.
19. Ida (2014)
‘Ida’ is such a beautifully complex, yet simplistically told story that it affects in ways more than one. A story of a young nun in 1960s Poland, ‘Ida’ is about contradictions: contradictions in religion, contradictions of principles, contradictions that life itself presents to everyone. ‘Ida’ is also about choices. And the repercussions of those choices. It is the only film on this list that I just liked — and not loved — on first viewing. But as I thought more about the film and re-watched it, I was completely besotted. (Read more ..)
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18. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ is such a thrilling piece of work not because of its action scenes, but due to the ideas that it tries to propagate. Chief among them — apart from the brilliantly conceived apocalyptic world itself — is that in an apocalypse like scenario, or even otherwise, would women as nurturers, survivors and protectors be able to take much better care of the world than men ? It is an idea that will be difficult for misogynists to come to terms with. But nevertheless, it is a good food for thought. (Read more ..)
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17. Before Midnight (2013)
Before series of films are one of the greatest trilogies made in all of cinema and what makes it so great is that each of the films apart from being romantic, funny, enlightening and heart wrenching, are about us, and who we are — love seeking and insecure. ‘Before Midnight’, like its predecessors, is talky, witty and funny — in fact funniest amongst all — but it’s more matter of fact or pragmatic in its approach, shedding the mushy romanticism for bare truths about love and life. It adds a chapter to the lives of Jesse and Celine, only to leave us wanting more. (Read more ..)
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16. Amour (2012)
‘Amour’, a french word, means love. And no film this decade depicted the pain and the suffering that comes along with love in such a poignantly touching way than ‘Amour’. It is a story than can be difficult to sit through, but the payoff — if you want to call the emotionally devastating climax that — is huge. You will be left thinking about the movie for days, even weeks. Such is the impact of Michael Haneke’s ‘Amour’.
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15. Drive (2011)
Let’s say this and put all the arguments to rest: ‘Drive’ is quite simply the most stylish film to have released this decade. Be it the retro music, the unorthodox cinematography, the languid pace of dialogues or the always “cool” Ryan Gosling, ‘Drive’ has style and chutzpah written all over it. That one “kissing inside elevator” scene alone is enough to convince me how unconventionally brilliant ‘Drive’ is. And to be honest, ‘Drive’ feels like a 1970s gangster movie that somehow was sent on a time machine to be released in 2011.
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14. Roma (2018)
After making an almost perfect space film in the form of Gravity, Cuaron could have very easily helmed a studio film and cashed a fat check for himself. But instead he went in diametrically opposite direction and made his most personal film till date. A film so personal that it feels as if Cuaron has shot a vivid slice of his childhood memories and offered it to us. ‘Roma’ will startle you with its honesty. ‘Roma’ follows Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio), who works as a live-in maid and nanny for an upper-middle-class family in Mexico City’s Roma district. In a way, ‘Roma’ is how Cuaron remembers Cleo and her struggles to not only support the family, but also deal with her own personal tragedy. Apart from the masterful storytelling, the technical aspects of ‘Roma’ also stand out. Shot on 65mm in black and white, Roma is immersive and beautiful. The images in the film are meticulously crafted and will remain indelibly etched on your mind. Cuaron has once again proved that he is both a gifted technician and a master storyteller.
13. Gravity (2013)
‘Gravity’ is solely on this list because no film this decade, or even this century so far, will give you the thrill and the grandiosity of movie-viewing experience like this film does. Breathtaking, visceral, visually awe-inspiring (more than anything on-screen till date) and a technological marvel in every aspect, ‘Gravity’ set a new standard for every other film that comes after it. While the film itself may be forgotten as technology makes advancements, but its contribution to cinema cannot and shouldn’t be denied. (Read more ..)
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12. Inception (2010)
Do we need to talk about this ? Or should we let the top spin ? Nolan’s best film since ‘Memento’ is a delight to all those who love cinema as fodder to their brains.
11. Birdman (2014)
Bursting and bristling with raw energy, ‘Birdman’ plays around with the art of movie-making as you know it, and gives a new dimension to it. A caustic and darkly funny look at the instant fame culture and celebrityhood in this day and age of facebook and twitter, it mocks at those who are prisoners of their own image. It surprises, challenges, and dazzles; sometimes all at once. It is zany, exhilarating, and an experience that you, in all likelihood, would have never had at cinemas. Truly, a film for generations. (Read more ..)
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10. Carol (2015)
Watching ‘Carol’ is like experiencing this an amalgamation of feelings: deep, inescapable sadness combined with unceasing, triumphant elation. The vastness of the characters’ relationship and the intimacy of their isolation from the world surrounding them is what makes the film so special. It’s an extraordinarily beautiful film that explores love in its most vulnerable form. Very few films are this honest in its rendering. The final scene of the movie is the most impact-fully overwhelming ending I have seen in a while.
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9. Certified Copy (2010)
‘Certified Copy’ is easily one of the most original and interesting films I have seen this decade. The idea that it is based upon is endlessly fascinating, and that idea is: In life, we are slaves to our desires & wishes, in effect, mostly trying to be someone else. We create a perception of reality around us that may or may not exist. But does that mean we cease to be originals ? Or are we certified copies of the person we want to be ? (Read more ..)
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8. Shame (2011)
How often do we try to masquerade our own inner fears and weaknesses under the veil of addiction ? ‘Shame’ deals with that urge to hide your inner shame by trying to immerse yourself in something so much that you end up obsoleting your real self. ‘Shame’ is a phenomenal achievement in film-making. It disentangles an aspect of human behavior like no film this decade has managed to do. Read more
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7. Manchester by the Sea (2016)
There are films that you love. Then, there are films that you never forget. ‘Manchester by the Sea’ is certainly one of those rare films that stay with you all your life. Apart from fluid storytelling what is so striking about the film is how it manages to make you laugh and cry at the same time — often in the same scenes. Director Kenneth Logan has taken everyday moments of a tragedy-striken family and created a singular piece of art that is richly nuanced and humane and humorous. Read more..
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6. A Separation (2011)
‘A Separation’ doesn’t shy away from taking a difficult journey to your mind and heart, even if that means making you feel uncomfortable as it unfolds in one daring scene after another. It’s an insurmountable feat what ‘A Separation’ in a running time of just 2 hours manages to achieve and show: the brittleness of a marriage, the contradiction of religious beliefs, the painfulness of old age, and even the sly reference to Iranian political double standards. The best non-english film of this decade.
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5. La La Land (2016)
‘La La Land’ is the epitome of what a musical should look and feel like. The trick with making a successful musical is to hold no bars. Damien Chazelle does exactly that, while simultaneously ensuring that his film tells a moving story that everyone who has ever been in love can relate to. That’s why ‘La La Land’ is quite possibly the best musical made since ‘Cabaret’. Replete with eye-popping song and dance numbers, ‘La La Land’ is a mesmerizing and emotional tale of aspirations in a world where success is both the best friend and the worst enemy. I can’t recall the last time I enjoyed watching a film so much in a movie theater.
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4. Zero Dark Thirty (2012)
Clinical and procedural in its approach, and yet as much riveting, evocative and fulfilling, ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ is the pinnacle of cinematic achievement. While it provides dramatic thrills in abundance, it is also about a woman’s will and her strength of character in pursuing a target, which begins as her job, but ends up as the sole purpose of her life. Forget superhero films. There is no film about heroism better than ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ to have come out this decade. (Read more ..)
3. Upstream Color (2013)
Lyrical, mystifying and at the same time deeply philosophical, ‘Upstream Color’ is as much a meditative and contemplative piece of art as it is a technical wizardry. It’s a rare cinematic commodity that inspires individuals to push the boundaries of imagination and creativity. If ever the art of cinema required a reason or a proof to corroborate that its purpose of existence is much more than mere entertainment, then you don’t have to look any further than this film. (Read more ..)
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2. Boyhood (2014)
‘Boyhood’, more than just a film, is an observance. An observance of a 6 years old boy growing up to become an 18 years old adult. An observance of what a mother has to go through to raise children. An observance of what a father means to his children and vice-versa. An observance of a family and their struggles, their joys, their sorrows. Basically, an observance of a life or rather, lives. ‘Boyhood’, in a way that very few films do, transcends the boundaries of cinema and becomes a tiny part of your own existence and experience. (Read more ..)
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1. The Tree of Life (2010)
‘The Tree of Life’ is a cinematic poem of extraordinary scope and ambition. It doesn’t just ask its audience to observe, but also, reflect and feel. At its simplest, ‘The Tree of Life’ is a story of the journey of finding oneself. At its most complex, it is a meditation on human life and our place in the grand scheme of things. In the end, ‘The Tree of Life’ might change the way you look at life (It changed me). How many films have the power to do that ? All said and done, it is quite simply the greatest film of this decade so far. (Read more ..)
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