Trying to create a list of the 100 best films within a 10 year span is a daunting task. I have been working on this post for the past 8 months, and I will continue to tweak it as the year goes along (as I consider your feedback as well as to include more films from 2019 on the list). However, it is not the inherent time it takes to think and rank and write about 100+ films, it's knowing that you're going to be inherently wrong. Even when I floated my top 10 to my friends, people with similar movie tastes to me, I couldn't get a consensus. Yet despite this, I persevered, and moved forward. Every year I create my own personal Best Of lists, but that's not what I wanted this list to be. I wanted this list to be as objective as possible. I wanted to rank films solely on their quality and how well they've pierced our pop culture. I included my own biases of course, but I looked at many outside factors as well. How well received and talked about is the film on Twitter? Are YouTube videos or podcasts made to discuss the film? How often is it a cable rewatch? What did critics think of the film? What did the Academy Awards think of it? My friends? My parents? All of this went into consideration in trying to determine the absolute best films of the decade. Although I know you think I'm wrong, we're going to give it a shot anyways.
1) The Social Network
Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, & Armie Hammer
Why It's Great:
It's pretty easy to have a great film when it's written by the premiere screenwriter of our time and directed by one the greatest working directors of our time. That collaborative marriage of David Fincher's perfectionism pushing Aaron Sorkin to justify his script and snappy dialogue helped create probably the best work each of them has ever done. The Social Network
is a master class in writing, directing, acting, editing, and score. If you needed proof of that, just look at the film's best scene - a regatta race between the the Winklevoss twins and the Dutch. The way the cuts get quicker and the tempo of Trent Reznor's and Atticus Ross' score builds to create a mesmerizing scene on its own and to show how this is partly a story of how the brothers Winklevii are always a step behind is mesmerizing. It's no surprise that Sorkin, Reznor, Ross, and editors Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall all won Academy Awards for their work.
I'm impressed with the film's casting choices as well. At the time, Andrew Garfield (Eduardo Savarin), Armie Hammer (Winklevoss twins), Rooney Mara (Erica Albright). Max Minghella (Divya Narendra), and Brenda Song (Christy) were all relatively unknown, and have all since gone on to various levels of fame and fortune. Even Eisenberg, who had a few films under his belt at the time, wasn't a household name at the time, is now one thanks to this film. It's even fun to see Fifty Shades of Grey
star Dakota Johnson pop in for a brief cameo. The film's cast had aged beautifully over time, but The Social Network's
ability to have its themes and story be so resonant ten years later about the preeminent company of our generation is what separates this great film from the rest. A movie about Facebook's expansion and need for growth, despite the harms that come in its wake, is sadly still just as relevant now in 2020 as it was when it came out in 2010. Because The Social Network
is the perfect emblematic representation of the 2010's, it's the #1 film of the decade.
2) Mad Max: Fury Road
Co-Written & Directed By:
Charlize Theron, Tom Hardy, & Nicholas Hoult
Why It's Great:
I have only seen this film once, and I was not the biggest fan of it, but even I can marvel at its technical brilliance and realize how Mad Max: Fury Road
has cemented this film as probably the best film of this generation. The film is basically one giant car chase scene, but it's so much more than that. Miller is able to introduce us and immerse us in this patriarchal world. The film is a feminist anthem about destroying a system and starting anew. We know so much about this world system without any overt exposition dialogue or clunky narratives. Miller shows us bits and pieces and nuances together to create something fully formed yet brief. It just is, and then we're thrust into action. It's no surprise this film took home 6 Oscars, because it is a technical sensation. Just a treat all around.
3) The Wolf of Wall Street
Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, & Margot Robbie
Why It's Great:
Whether it's the excess run time of the film, or the excess, abhorrent lifestyle of the real life of the main character (played by DiCaprio in the film) and how he's portrayed in The Wolf of Wall Street
, you can't say that Jordan Belfort isn't at least interesting. I understand the criticisms, and truthfully they are all pretty much valid, but Martin Scorsese has created such a brilliant work of art that the film he gifted to us that we need to treat it like the bona fide masterpiece that it is. There have been so many films that have tried to be Scorsese (like Todd Phillips' War Dogs
or Craig Gillespie's I, Tonya
) or many films that would have been improved had Scorsese been behind the wheel (like Scott Cooper's Black Mass
) that we need to reward Scorsese when he creates a quintessential classic for his oeuvre.