The best movies of the 2010s

Celebrating the best movies released between 2010 and 2019

When 2010 began, only comic-book geeks knew who the Avengers were. However, with the rise of the Marvel Cinematic Universe came the rise of franchises in general. Star Wars returned, as did Jurassic Park, Ghostbusters, Men in Black, Planet of the Apes, Terminator, and Mad Max. Universal tried to launch their own Monsters Universe, and Warner Bros likewise failed to bring their planned King Arthur series to fruition.

What hadn't changed over those years was the quality of movies. Never before had there been such an array of diverse stories being told on screen, with LGBTQ+ cinema blossoming and horror filmmakers scoring huge box office hits. To celebrate this decade, we have gathered together to create this list of the best movies of the 2010s.

By Total Film staff

A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night

Year: 2014 | Director: Ana Lily Amirpour

This decade saw a rise in female-directed horror movies – standouts include The Babadook, Honeymoon and Raw – but it was this Iranian vampire western that most mesmerised. With its throbbing monochrome images and tremulous guitar soundtrack, it's scary and sexy, as a vampire cloaked in a chador (Sheila Vand) lures men to their deaths. Debut director Amirpour poured new blood from old bottles, melding Lynch, Jarmusch, spaghetti westerns, '50s teen movies and more.

(Vice Films)
The Shape of Water

Year: 2017 | Director: Guillermo Del Toro

Musical. Thriller. Melodrama. Love story. Creature feature. Only Guillermo Del Toro could have so effectively gelled such a seemingly unwieldy mash-up of tones and genres in his Oscar-winning passion project. Much magic was generated through the relationship between Sally Hawkins' mute cleaner and an amphibious humanoid creature (Doug Jones), but every character was treated with empathy and the film overruns with feeling. A masterclass in turning the unique into the universal. 

(Fox Searchlight)

Year: 2019 | Director: Olivia Wilde

It might have shared its potty mouth and penchant for gross-out, but Olivia Wilde's barnstorming directorial debut was much more than a feminist Superbad. Following two likeable nerds as they belatedly decide it's time they became too cool for school, Booksmart found the perfect pair in Beanie Feldstein's gobby Molly and Kaitlyn Dever's introverted Amy. Smartly reconfiguring teen- movie tropes (the bad-trip Barbies are a hoot), it set a new standard for the modern high-school movie. 


Year: 2010 |Director: Asif Kapadia 

You didn't need to be a petrolhead to enjoy this fascinating portrait of Brazilian Formula One star Ayrton Senna, thrillingly brought back to life 16 years on from his death with the help of vast reams of previously unseen footage and touching testimonies from those who loved him. Amy and Diego Maradona saw Kapadia repeat the same trick, with arguably more finesse. For pulse-racing, adrenal chutzpah, though, Senna takes pole. 

Attack The Block

Year: 2011 | Director: Joe Cornish

British sci-fi tends to revolve around Doctor Who, so when Joe Cornish's teenagers versus aliens tale arrived, roaring out the block(s), it felt box-fresh. Setting it on a south London housing estate added a dose of kitchen sink realism, while the black spiky creatures were genuinely scary. Factor in future Star Wars star John Boyega and a pre-Tardis Jodie Whittaker and this urban comedy- horror was way ahead of the curve. 


Year: 2017 | Director: Robin Campillo

Inspired by Robin Campillo's time as a member of '90s activist group Act Up Paris, this hard-hitting, chest-swelling drama was propelled by lived-in performances by Nahuel Pérez Biscayart and Arnaud Valois as protestors fighting state apathy regarding the Aids crisis. Searing in its condemnation of authoritarian negligence, 120 BPM hit where it hurt during its emotional high points while uncovering the joyful camaraderie of its tight-knit LGBTQ+ community. 

(Memento Films)
Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

Year: 2010 | Director: Edgar Wright

Whatever the MCU has achieved, nothing has come closer to a true "comic-book movie" than Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World. Blurring the lines between the panel and the screen, Edgar Wright went to Hollywood and took his amphetamine arcade style with him – levelling up the indie comedy genre with a barrage of roundhouse teenage kicks. It bombed at the box office, of course, but that's all part of the charm now. 


Year: 2012 | Director: Pete Travis

Long after Stallone's diet-Dredd violated helmet laws, Travis and writer Alex Garland gave 2000AD's neo-fascist Judge, jury and executioner the tight, hard and stylishly brutal treatment he deserved. As every opportunity for morally shady, drug-enhanced violence is extravagantly indulged, the tower-block lock-down set-up brooks no plot flab. Karl Urban clearly got the memo with his ego-free title-turn, while Lena Headey banked a sado-villain for the ages in Ma-Ma. Sequel, please? 

(DNA Films)

Year: 2017 | Director: Darren Aronofsky

Following Biblical epic Noah, Aronofsky returned to questions of faith with this divisive fever dream as J-Law's house was invaded by outsiders worshipping her poet husband Javier Bardem. Containing possibly the single most upsetting sound effect of the decade (clue: snap), the escalating panic, religious symbolism and sexualised violence prompted walkouts from some, but for those tuning into the Possession-like madness, it was an exhilarating discourse on the dark heart of man. 

(Warner Bros)
The Wailing

Year: 2016 | Director: Na Hong-Jin

With its slow-creeping dread, echoes of The Exorcist, and disarmingly goofy sense of humour, this South Korean genre- blender (but let's call it horror) took your standard ghost-zombie-infection storyline and turned it into a genuinely epic fable unlike anything else made this decade. Kwak Do-won endeared as the bumbling cop attempting to save his daughter, while director Na Hong-jin charted his descent into hell with visual flare. Magnificent. 


Year: 2015 | Director: Denis Villeneuve

It would have been a great thriller in anyone's hands, but Denis Villeneuve turned Sicario into something much more than the sum of its perfectly assembled parts. Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro have never been better, Roger Deakins' cinematography is Biblically bleak and the sound design still rings in the ears, but it's Villeneuve's assault on our nerves that hit hardest – with dread turning to tension like little else before or since. 


Year: 2015 | Director: John Crowley

Saoirse Ronan's elevation from prodigiously talented child star to fully fledged leading lady was triumphantly confirmed by this affecting drama about a young immigrant torn between her new life in America and the ties that bind her to small- town Ireland. Domhnall Gleeson and Emory Cohen impressed as her transatlantic beaus, while Julie Walters was a landlady to treasure. Yet only Ronan could have made such a quiet story resound so powerfully. 

Mission: Impossible – Fallout

Year: 2018 | Director: Christopher McQuarrie

McQuarrie became the first person to direct two Mission: Impossible movies, and outdid himself in the process. Defying gravity (and the laws of diminishing returns), he and Tom Cruise reunited for the sixth (and yes, best) M:I movie so far. Bringing back characters from Ethan Hunt's past to boost the emotional impact, and throwing in a superb antagonist in Henry Cavill's moustachioed Walker, Fallout delivered standout set-piece after standout set-piece. The only problem is, how will McQ & Cruise top it in the next two instalments?

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Year: 2017 | Director: Rian Johnson

After Star Wars: The Force Awakens eased us cosily back into the Skywalker saga, Rian Johnson boldly yanked the comfort blanket away, with Luke himself re-emerging not as a twinkly Obi-Wan type, more Uncle Owen 2.0, scratchy and anti-Jedi. Some fans (and bots) took umbrage, yet Johnson set out not to kill Star Wars' past, but to question and explore it in rigorously thoughtful fashion. "Beautifully made," was George Lucas' verdict, and who are we to argue?

Paddington 2

Year: 2017 | Director: Paul King

In a decade of national turmoil, one bear was a beacon of Britishness. Paul King's follow-up to his 2014 crowdpleaser doubled down on the charm as Paddington's quest to get Aunt Lucy a birthday present landed him in the slammer. With grade-A script work from Simon Farnaby and a stellar cast including Hugh Grant's delicious baddie and Brendan Gleeson's cuddly crim, the result was a disarming delight of heart-rending kindness. 

Leave No trace

Year: 2018| Director: Debra Granik

Perhaps the Academy's most scandalous snub in recent times, Debra Granik's low-key drama about a father and daughter living off the grid may have dropped off Oscar's radar, but stole plenty of hearts besides. Making the urban feel alien, Granik brilliantly brought us onside with these outsiders. Between Ben Foster's tamped-down trauma and Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie's innocent inquisitiveness, her film delivered a heartfelt portrait of two people seeking different kinds of escape.

(First Look Media)

Year: 2018 | Director: Lee Chang-Dong

Haruki Murakami's work hasn't always translated well from page to screen, but that all changed with Lee Chang-dong's wonderfully languid – slow-Burning, if you will – neo-noir. Smouldering quietly before catching fire in its final act, Lee's film offered a captivating, enigmatic study in obsession, male desire and class envy, with a trio of terrific central performances – particularly Steven Yeun's against-type turn as a smirking sociopath.

(Pinehouse Films)
Inherent Vice

Year: 2014 | Director: Paul Thomas Anderson

Paul Thomas Anderson's masterful adaptation of Thomas Pynchon's 'unfilmable' stoner-noir novel left many befuddled and bemused, as it should. Repeat viewings clear the fug that's deliberately engendered by the wacky (baccy) tale of a shambolic PI, Larry 'Doc' Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix), who investigates the disappearance of his former girlfriend Shasta Fay Hepworth (Katherine Waterston) only to find his country is lost and broken-hearted, too. A work of great mirth and greater melancholy.

(RatPack/Dune Entertainment)
Once Upon A Time In Anatolia

Year: 2011 | Director: Nuri Bilge Ceylan

Police procedurals don't ever come like this. Turkish auteur Ceylan's ensemble about men searching for a buried body in the Anatolian steppes reeks of atmos. Set across one long night, as the camera probes the equally craggy faces and landscapes, the result is a profound look at truth, beauty, ugliness and pain. Inspired by Leone and Chekhov, the terrain has never seemed so bleak.

(Turkish Radio and Television Corporation)
The Turin Horse

Year: 2011 | Director: Béla Tarr

An old man (János Derzsi) and his daughter (Erika Bók) go about their day-to-day tasks over a week-long period as the wind howls outside their desolate shack, and their horse refuses to eat. That was about it for Tarr's mesmerising ninth feature, a black- and-white parable set in the 19th Century and consisting of just 30 shots in 155 minutes. "An experience of exaltation," enthused the New York Times. 

(Cirko Film)
A Quiet Place

Year: 2018 | Director: John Krasinski

Krasinski proved he was more than 'Jim from The Office' when he directed and starred in this powerfully affecting sci-fi horror. Teamed with real-life wife Emily Blunt, the multi-hyphenate (he also co-wrote) made lethally effective work of a potentially hokey premise – a family must stay silent to survive the sound-seeking aliens wiping out humanity – and proved as confident with the pin-drop set-pieces as the emotionally charged moments. Great monsters, too.

Before Midnight

Year: 2013 | Director: Richard Linklater

Nine years after Jesse and Celine were reunited in Paris (nine years after they met in Vienna), we caught up with them again in Greece, parents to twin girls. The future hadn't quite turned out as they might have imagined in their lovestruck youth. Stars Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy vitalised the film with their achingly believable chemistry, and shared an Oscar nom with Linklater as co-writers.

(New Line)
The Wolf of Wall Street

Year: 2013 | Director: Martin Scorsese

Wall Street player Jordan Belfort's outrageous memoir of money, drugs, girls and, well, more money, got the big-budget Scorsese treatment in this exhilarating study of capitalism at its most out of control. Leonardo DiCaprio shone as Belfort and Jonah Hill brought the funnies, while then-newcomer Margot Robbie stole every scene she was in as Belfort's better half. Undoubtedly the most fun Scorsese's had in the cinema in years, it's deliriously entertaining.


Year: 2010 | Director: Gareth Edwards

Nuneaton lad Edwards grew up on a diet of Spielberg and Lucas, and his $500,000 debut, a road movie/love story set six years after an alien invasion, throbs with the kind of wonder that those movie brats made their stock in trade. Monsters is most of all a human story (leads Scoot McNairy and Whitney Able are ace), but the tentacular creatures inspire awe. Not bad considering Edwards birthed them on his laptop.


Year: 2013 | Director: Pawel Pawlikowski 

Carved out of the traditions of Polish cinema, this artful tale of a novice nun digging into her past manages so much in its 82-minute running time. Stark black-and-white cinematography and spot-on production design spirits audiences back to 1962, while Agata Trzebuchowska and Agata Kulesza are tremendous as the nun and her aunt, on the quirkiest of road trips as Pawlikowski boldly explores Catholicism and anti-Semitism in his native country.

(Opus Films)
The Great Beauty

Year: 2013 | Director: Paolo Sorrentino

Sorrentino echoed Fellini without suffering by comparison with his symphony of high-life ennui. A dapper Toni Servillo nailed its slick, soulful measure as 65-year-old Jep, a likeable libertine and lapsed novelist who glides from profane parties to sacred spots in grief-haunted existential freefall. DoP Luca Bigazzi's intoxicating images swooned in sympathy, braiding eye candy with sun-soaked melancholy. Raving against the dying of the light rarely looked so lush, or cut so deep.

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Year: 2012 | Director: Benh Zeitlin

Social realism presented as dystopian fantasy, Zeitlin's debut feature, a response to Hurricane Katrina, packed a serious emotional punch. Quvenzhané Wallis rightly earned an Oscar nom playing Hushpuppy, a six year old on a journey to find her mother while dealing with the decline of her tough-love father's health. The use of non-actor Louisiana natives brought a brilliant authenticity to this divisive yet tender Americana tale of family, resilience and survival.

(Journeyman Pictures)
Thor: Ragnarok

Year: 2017 | Director: Taika Waititi

The God of Thunder finally found his tone in his third solo outing – somewhere between the earnest mythology of the first two and the sci-fi goofiness of Guardians Of The Galaxy. Thor was always at his best when he was allowed to play it for laughs, and Taika Waititi's neon-washed ode to serial sci-fi gave him the perfect stand-up stage... in an alien space arena, right in front of a giant hologram of Jeff Goldblum.


Year: 2017 |Director: Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina

In a decade where it relied rather too heavily on cash-cow sequels, Pixar showed it could still knock us for six with this visually ravishing postcard from the afterlife. Inspired by Mexico's Day of the Dead festivities, this tale of a young boy (voiced by Anthony Gonzalez) obsessed with a fabled guitarrista packed heart, humour and heroism into every macabre frame – and it managed to beat The Greatest Showman to the Best Song Oscar. 

12 Years A Slave

Year: 2013 | Director: Steve McQueen

Based on the real-life horrors that befell Solomon Northup, a free black man who was kidnapped from Washington DC in 1841 and sold into slavery, McQueen's devastating biopic saw the artist-turned-director break through from indie acclaim (Hunger, Shame) to Oscar success. Unblinkingly brutal in its portrayal of plantation life, Chiwetel Ejiofor's shattering performance offered an insider's view of one of the cruellest chapters in modern American history.

(Film 4)
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives

Year: 2010 | Director: Apichatpong Weerasethakul

After the trippy wonders of Tropical Malady and Syndromes And A Century, Thai free-thinker Apichatpong Weerasethakul's fever-dream of animism, reincarnation and lewd catfish spun wondrous twists on his whacked-out mystique. A man close to death revisits his past lives in the country; loved ones and 'monkey ghosts' join him. Odd though it sounds, the result emerged as a mesmerising, moving and slyly amusing play on slow-burn cinema, alchemised for sublime returns.

(Kick the Machine)
Guardians of the Galaxy

Year: 2014 | Director: James Gunn

They said it wouldn't work, but boy did director James Gunn (also on co-writing duty) prove them wrong with this deliriously Technicolor deep-space excursion for Marvel, complete with talking raccoon and sentient tree. Setting up much of the MCU's Phase 3 arc, it also boasted a hero-making turn from Chris Pratt as intergalactic Indiana Jones Peter Quill ("It's Star-Lord, man"), Zoe Saldana vs Karen Gillan, and an effortlessly cool mix-tape OST (Bowie, Jackson 5, Marvin Gaye). All together now, "Ooga-chaka ooga-ooga ooga-chaka..."

The Favourite

Year: 2018 | Director: Yorgos Lanthimos

The decade delivered a slew of female-led, regal dramas but none quite so deliciously impressive as Lanthimos' deadpan comedy about 18th Century monarch Queen Anne and the two ladies she favoured most. As Anne, Olivia Colman was on heartbreaking, hilarious and Oscar-winning form, while Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone's ruthless machinations as Sarah and Abigail, respectively, were a delight to watch. Not since Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette (2006) has a period movie felt so modern.


Year: 2014 | Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu

Iñárritu's exhilarating Oscar- winner was a wonder of execution, boasting meticulously planned tracking shots filmed (partly) around New York's St. James Theatre by DoP maestro Emmanuel Lubezki. But it also wowed as a showbiz satire, led by a soul-baring Michael Keaton as fading star Riggan Thomson, still tormented by the titular superhero he once played. A visceral, vital exploration of mental illness, with Emma Stone and Edward Norton among the sizzling support.

(New Line)
The Artist

Year: 2011 | Director: Michel Hazanavicius

Charming audiences and critics alike, Hazanavicius' love letter to silent cinema hoovered up all the awards and delivered one of the decade's top dog performances to boot. Meticulously replicating the tropes of silent melodrama (original Academy ratio 1.33:1; intertitles), the tale is equally timeless, as ailing movie star Valentin (Jean Dujardin) falls for up-and-comer Peppy (Bérénice Bejo), his career waning with the advent of talkies even as hers is taking off.

(Warner Bros)
Inside Llewyn Davis

Year: 2013 | Director: Joel and Ethan Coen

Looking like a Bob Dylan cover come to freewheelin' life, Inside Llewyn Davis saw the Coens step away from whimsy and take a more melancholic look at the myth of Greenwich Village, in a rare film about starving artists that actually makes them seem hungry. A period piece with an uncanny sense of modern mood, a comedy that feels tragic, and a real-life musical full of made-up songs, it stands as one of the most deftly told fables in the Coens' catalogue.

The Lobster

Year: 2015| Director: Yorgos Lanthimos

A dystopian romance that injected its allegorical tale about the brutality of dating with the blackest of humour. Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz were on deadpan form as the singletons under threat of being transformed into animals if they couldn't find a partner. They were the heart of Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos' English-language debut. Absurd, but with real tenderness.

The Lost City of Z

Year: 2016| Director: James Gray

From Good Time to High Life to Maps To The Stars, Robert Pattinson's post-Twilight career choices have been thrillingly unpredictable. Witness his boozy, beardy performance as explorer Henry Costin in this recreation of Percy Fawcett's attempt to find El Dorado, an epic adventure conveyed with affecting humanity in James Gray's classy period piece. Charlie Hunnam, Sienna Miller and Tom Holland padded out its Brit-heavy ensemble.

(Plan B Entertainment)
Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Year: 2014 | Director: Anthony and Joe Russo

How do you solve a problem like Captain Earnest? By plunging his resolute patriotism into the genre world of a '70s-style political-paranoia movie, complete with corridors of corruption and Robert Redford. Using drone warfare nods to modernise the retro-murk, the Russos also refuelled the MCU's post-Dark World momentum. Chris Evans/Scarlett Johansson's banter anchored the conspiracies in character chemistry.

You Were Never Really Here

Year: 2017 | Director: Lynne Ramsay

Jonathan Ames' brutally spare same-titled novella was faithfully adapted with bonus pockets of poetry by Scottish director Lynne Ramsay. It gave Joaquin Phoenix one of his best roles yet, as traumatised veteran Joe, who tracks down missing girls for a living - usually while wielding a hammer. Taxi Driver comparisons were there for the taking, but this soiled, soulful drama featured staccato rhythms, and occupied a damaged headspace all of its own.

The Master

Year: 2012 | Director: Paul Thomas Anderson

Another heavyweight turn from Joaquin Phoenix, playing another damaged veteran - his Freddie Quell arrives home from World War 2 feeling discombobulated and disturbed, then gravitates towards Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman), the leader of The Cause. Director Paul Thomas Anderson naturally denied it, but The Master surely riffed on Scientology to embark on an emotional and psychological journey sure to, well, discombobulate and disturb.

(Annapurna Pictures)
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Year: 2018 | Directors: Peter Ramsey, Bob Persichetti, Rodney Rothman

We thought we didn't need another Spidey. Turns out we needed several. With support from producers Lord and Miller (The Lego Movie), Ramsey, Persichetti and Rothman were emboldened to take risks. The result: a glorious hymn to creative possibility. The story's multiverse-smashing 'whatiffery' was matched by graphical boldness and deft juggling between action and comedy.


Year: 2011 | Director: Steve McQueen

Reuniting after IRA drama Hunger, McQueen and Michael Fassbender delivered a searing portrait of sexual addiction. The Fass' Big Apple bachelor Brandon is pure damaged goods, but McQueen finds poetry and poignancy in his internal agonies – notably when Carey Mulligan's torch singer sister turns up for a slow-burn rendition of 'New York, New York'. As McQueen noted, it got right under Fass' skin. "I think he went a bit doolally!"

Toy Story 3

Year: 2010 | Director: Lee Unkrich

The first two Toy Story films are nigh on perfect, so expectations – and anxieties - were high when Pixar's threequel came out to play. Joy of joys, then, that this trilogy closer (as it was then) more than delivered, both as riotous prison-break movie and Citizen Kane-like meditation on childhood's end, with Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) and gang escaping daycare lockdown to return to Andy before he leaves for college, and adulthood.

Four Lions

Year: 2010 | Director: Chris Morris

Morris utilised his brand of satirical black humour to tell the story of Islamic radicalism through the inept actions of three British-Pakistani jihadis from Sheffield. In a breakthrough turn, Riz Ahmed commanded respect and empathy, despite his straight-man character Omar's terrorist plot, while Kayvan Novak, Nigel Lindsay and Adeel Akhtar demanded your laughter at every idiotic turn. An explosive comedy that humanises the realities of extremism better than most dramas. 


Year: 2016 | Director: Barry Jenkins

Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders and Trevante Rhodes worked understated magic charting the youth, adolescence and adulthood of Chiron, a Miami native neglected by his drug-addict mother (Naomie Harris) and part-raised by a kindly drug dealer (Mahershala Ali, exceptional). Adapting Tarell Alvin McCraney's play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue, director Barry Jenkins peeled back the many layers of black masculinity to emotional effect, sensitively handling Chiron's homosexuality to deliver a drama full of hurt and tentative hope. 


Year: 2015 | Director: Lenny Abrahamson

Based on Emma Donoghue's novel about a Josef Fritzl-esque crime, the plot of Room reads as unbearably bleak: Ma (Brie Larson, bagging an Oscar) and Jack (Jacob Tremblay) are imprisoned in a 10ft- by-10ft space, held captive by "Old Nick" (Sean Bridgers), who enslaved Ma years ago into sexual servitude. But Abrahamson's film found the grace notes as Larson sheltered her son to preserve his childhood while dreaming of a life without walls. 


Year: 2012 | Director: Sam Mendes

Four years on from Quantum Of So-Lame, Sam Mendes got the Bonds back on track with a thrilling, ambitious instalment that proved a fitting accompaniment to 007's 50th anniversary. Daringly dripping with intimations of obsolescence, decrepitude and death, the 23rd (official) Bond had Daniel Craig face both his strongest adversary to date (a shamelessly scene-stealing Javier Bardem) and the grinding horror of the London Underground. It also killed off M. 

(Eon pictures)
The Dark Knight Rises

Year: 2012 | Director: Christopher Nolan

Nolan calls Rises the "historical epic" of the Dark Knight movies. The trilogy-capper feels like a relic from a time when superhero sagas were allowed definitive endings, the finality amplifying the dramatic heft. Batman faces his most physically challenging opponent yet – Tom Hardy's loquacious Bane – and the sense of stakes and sacrifice are keenly outlined in Christian Bale's farewell to the cowl: Rises is as much about the feels as the thrills.

(Warner Bros)

Year: 2012 | Director: Rian Johnson

The gig that got Johnson The Last Jedi, Looper blends dangerous DIY time travel, assassin subcultures and burgeoning superpowers so that it feels like three (great) films for the price of one. Johnson doesn't skimp on indelible imagery: young assassins ritualistically executing their future selves, a man falling apart in front of your eyes as he's tortured in the past, and who can forget Joseph Gordon-Levitt's dodgy prosthetic nose? Ahem. Even Bruce Willis brings his A-game – a rare sign of quality.


Year: 2016 | Director: Bertrand Bonello

Bertrand Bonello's nihilistic thriller followed a gang of hipster terrorists from successful Paris bombings to post-attack hideout in a luxury department store. What are they rebelling against? As Marlon Brando once replied, "What have you got?" Nocturama so confused distributors it was smuggled straight onto Netflix without a UK cinema release. But Bonello's disturbing vision of millennial malaise demands attention for its provocative lashing together of surreal satire and designer style.


Year: 2017 | Director: Kogonada

Video essayist Kogonada's confident feature debut gave us one of the decade's most appealing pairings. As two strangers discussing life, architecture and the picturesque Indiana town of the title, John Cho and Haley Lu Richardson delivered revelatory performances: Cho relaxing his comedic chops to emerge as a leading man of real warmth, and the effervescent Richardson sparkling in a star-making display. A masterpiece of restraint.

(Sundance Institute)

Year: 2010 | Director: Olivier Assayas

Released as both a miniseries and a movie, Assayas' staggering five-and-a-half-hour drama about Venezuelan terrorist Carlos the Jackal is a masterful study of one man's impact on geo-politics and world history. In a career-making role, Édgar Ramírez shines as Carlos, but it's the sheer scope of the globe-trotting, decades-spanning film – made for just $18 million – that truly impresses. Forensically researched, it's unquestionably the most ambitious French film of the decade.

The Revenant

Year: 2015 | Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu

Tough to watch, even tougher to make. Every frame of Iñárritu's ferocious frontier survival epic bore the frost-bitten fingerprints of a crew that had put themselves through the wringer in the remote Canadian wilderness. The result is the kind of film that makes most others look like they're not really trying. It might have almost killed Leonardo DiCaprio, but at least he finally got an Oscar out of it (as did Iñárritu and DoP Emmanuel Lubezki).

(New Line)
Toni Erdmann

Year: 2016 | Director: Maren Ade

A German-Austrian comedy-drama pushing three hours was the unexpected toast of Cannes 2016 – pity no one told the jury. Excruciatingly funny (and sometimes just plain excruciating), Ade's tale of an estranged father (Peter Simonischek) posing as a fright-wigged 'life coach' to clumsily reconnect with his workaholic daughter (Sandra Hüller) confounded expectations at every turn. Hüller's tour-de-force performance was the crowning glory of a tender cringe-com with an embarrassment of riches.

(Thunderbird Releasing)
Kill List

Year: 2011 | Director: Ben Wheatley

Brit director Wheatley's sophomore feature (after Down Terrace) struck like a hammer to the head, as two hitmen (Neil Maskell, Michael Smiley) hired to murder a priest find themselves swirling down a dark rabbit hole to be confronted with horrors that are beyond their bleakest comprehension. If Mike Leigh were to make a naturalistic folk-horror movie with enough splashes of violence to make Takashi Miike wince, it might look a bit like Kill List.


Year: 2015 | Director: Todd Haynes

After riffs on classic melodrama (Far From Heaven) and film noir (HBO's Mildred Pierce), director Todd Haynes mounted a ravishing romance in a vintage mould with his adaptation of the Patricia Highsmith novel originally titled The Price Of Salt. As desire emerges from a grey '50s backdrop to consume lovers Therese and Carol, leads Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett's character studies tremble with contained yearning. Every glance means something, no strain shows: it's filmmaking as natural as breathing.

Lady Bird

Year: 2017 | Director: Greta Gerwig

Actress Greta Gerwig's first turn behind the camera was a resounding triumph. An affecting story about the intense and infuriating bond between mothers and daughters, it was also a sensitively observed coming-of- age drama and a quirky indie comedy. Saoirse Ronan lovingly brought to life with magnetic warmth the spiky titular character, while the witty dialogue always felt authentic. Lady Bird's heartfelt portrayal of the growing pains of female adolescence was nothing less than luminous.

Get Out

Year: 2017 | Director: Jordan Peele

Who would have thought it of sketch-show star Jordan Peele? His post-Obama riff on submerged racial tensions was wry, wise and wiry: a jagged rebuke to America that made the writer/ director one of the hottest helmers on the planet. When you add the taut economy of his direction to his Oscar-winning screenplay, it's clear that Peele has some serious genre creds. Indeed, he might just prove to be this generation's heir to Alfred Hitchcock or John Carpenter, as underlined by Us and his gig presenting The Twilight Zone.


Year: 2019 | Director: Todd Phillips

Heartbreaking, humanist, disquieting and game- changing are not the descriptors we're used to bandying around on DC movies – but Phillips' inspired social commentary grit, Trojan-horsed via the Clown Prince of Gotham, is arresting, satisfying cinema. Following mentally ill wannabe-comedian Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix), as society, the system, his own mother and the media shatters him and galvanises a true disruptor, Joker is thrilling drama, keen character study and a telling document of our times. Heath who?

(Warner Bros)

Year: 2012 | Director: Michael Haneke

After the likes of Hidden, Funny Games and The White Ribbon, no one expected Michael Haneke to go and make a love story. Without any cut throats or clubbed dogs in sight, German auteur Haneke warmed his chilly heart to tell the tale of Anne (Emmanuelle Riva) and Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant), a Parisian couple who carry on loving each other through the toughest trials of old age. Masterfully made, it's a rare and beautiful ode to the things that matter most.

Avengers: Infinity War

Year: 2018 | Director: Anthony and Joe Russo

Six reasons why Infinity War is such a gem. 1) It put its mind to keeping the sprawl of superheroes and sub-plots perfectly balanced. 2) Some got more screen time than others, but everyone shone. 3) It was a long exploration of the ultimate power play – one man taking everyone's fate into literally his own hand – that never tipped into overkill. 4) It was spectacle with soul; every death hurt... 5) ...despite the reality that many of the dusted already had sequels slated. 6) That 'Space' caption. Hilarious.

Blue Valentine

Year: 2010 | Director: Derek Cianfrance

Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams gave career-best performances in this riveting dissection of a disintegrating marriage, a study in both dissolution and disillusion lent almost heartbreaking poignancy by its use of flashbacks to detail the relationship's optimistic early stages. Inspired in part by his parents' divorce, writer-director Derek Cianfrance made his leads live together for a month so that they could accurately simulate the tensions that tear their characters apart.

(Silerwood Films)
Blue Is The Warmest Colour

Year: 2013 | Director: Abdellatif Kechiche

Following a relationship from tentative first glance to devastating break-up, Abdellatif Kechiche's coming-of-age love story captured the heady highs and destructive lows with unflinching honesty and stifling intimacy. There was furore over the protracted, graphic sex scenes – actresses Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux later said they felt humiliated, forced to play out a male fantasy – but it was the raw performances, all tears, snot and gut- wrenching anguish, that lingered.

(France 2)
The Grand Budapest Hotel

Year: 2014 | Director: Wes Anderson

Anderson answered his critics in the best way with his eighth feature: by making the most Anderson-esque film imaginable. Meticulous tracking shots, deliciously mannered performances (Ralph Fiennes, especially), elegant score... The trademarks were present and exquisitely correct in his period caper, extravagantly art-staged in the titular resort. Best of all, its spry self-awareness came marinated in that crucial Anderson ingredient: a seductive ache of nostalgic melancholy for good times passing.

(Fox Searchlight)
The Social Network

Year: 2010 | Director: David Fincher

Even a long way from Fight Club, David Fincher (with screenwriter Aaron Sorkin) teased the dark stuff of dysfunctional man-boyhood, existential anxiety and provocative cultural resonance from Facebook's origin tale. As Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross' score threw shadows, Fincher laid bare the irony of a "semi-asocial" man changing the way we communicate. Not content to merely lacerate Jesse Eisenberg's Mark Zuckerberg, The Social Network tapped into his flawed humanity to expose the Zuckerberg within us all.


Year: 2018 | Director: Ari Aster

Several film journos declared Aster's debut as this generation's The Exorcist, but its domestic drama and shattering grief was closer to Ingmar Bergman's Cries And Whispers and Nicolas Roeg's Don't Look Now. Watching a family torn asunder by not one but two deaths was a truly disturbing experience, but more ghastly still was seeing lead Toni Collette, who gave a career-best performance, being snubbed by Oscar. Now that's diabolical.


Year: 2014 | Director: Christopher Nolan

Nolan channelled his love of 2001 into this sci-fi opus, in which Matthew McConaughey's Cooper leaves a dust-storm ravaged Earth for the furthest reaches of space (and time). The wormhole physics are intense but always anchored in feeling, as Cooper has to decide, to quote Brand (Anne Hathaway), "between seeing your children again and the future of the human race." Visually epic and emotionally complex, it's richer on every revisit.

(Warner Bros)
Ex Machina

Year: 2014 | Director: Alex Garland

After the taut convulsions of his Dredd script, Garland delivered a tighter-still exercise in speculative sci-fi. AI paranoia, Frankenstein, Dr. Moreau and toxic masculinity provided fertile seedbeds for a conceptual chamber piece, in which Domhnall Gleeson's naïve coder discovers dark truths about hipster-creator Oscar Isaac and his AI invention, played to slippery perfection by Alicia Vikander. Tense and teasing, Garland's directorial debut established him as a modern master of literary genre head-scramblers.

Blade Runner 2049

Year: 2017 | Director: Denis Villeneuve

In a decade that saw many belated sequels miss the mark, Denis Villeneuve's sensational Blade Runner follow-up was well worth the 35-year wait. A 164-minute, thematically rich neo-noir detective story that deals with melancholy musings on isolation, identity and humanity, it was the polar opposite of what audiences wanted in the midst of the superhero boom (no wonder it bombed at the box office). But, like 2049's seminal predecessor, it's a film that's only improving with age.


Year: 2014 | Director: Dan Gilroy

Jake Gyllenhaal re-embraced the dark side in Gilroy's debut, oozing a feral intensity as Louis Bloom, a sociopathic news cameraman prowling small-hours LA for crime footage. "Lou is capitalism gone amok," said Gilroy. Sharp, stylish and savage, Gilroy's self-styled "cautionary tale" re-sharpened its lead's edge in the service of a '70s antihero movie for increasingly content-hungry times. 

(Bold Productions)

Year: 2011 | Director: Paul Fieg

Despite its numerous gross-out aspects, puke and profanity were not all this energetically lewd marital comedy had to offer. Co-written by star Kristen Wiig, the sly, saucy script teased deceptively character-rich pickings from the premise of two women (Wiig, Rose Byrne) warring over Maya Rudolph's bride-to-be. The result emerged as an uplifting love letter to thirty-something female friendship, with Melissa McCarthy earning her Best Supporting Oscar nom in every terrifically unrestrained outburst.


Year: 2011 | Director: Nicolas Winding Refn

"I'm a fetish filmmaker," said Refn, a description borne out by his lush valentine to cars, crime and romance. Between Ryan Gosling's laconic driver, Carey Mulligan's dreamy mum- next-door and the sudden eruptions of violence, his eighth feature revelled in heightened cine-fantasy. While Gosling's Driver says little, the style speaks volumes: between Cliff Martinez's swooning electro-score and DoP Newton Thomas Sigel's hyper-expressive images, Drive delivered a pure, immersive art-pulp high.

Call Me By Your Name

Year: 2017 | Director: Luca Guadagnino

Based on the first part of André Acimen's bestseller, this James Ivory-penned mood-piece became a cult film and awards darling thanks to a dreamy sense of time and place, and two electrifying lead performances. Following precocious teen Elio (Timothée Chalamet) as he falls for his professor father's summer intern, Oliver (Armie Hammer), during a 1983 summer in Italy, Call Me By Your Name even managed to make a potentially ridiculous peach-defiling scene beautiful. Mysteries of love, indeed.

Zero Dark Thirty

Year: 2012 | Director: Kathryn Bigelow

After their Oscar-winning war picture The Hurt Locker, journalist-turned-screenwriter Mark Boal and genre-director- turned-political filmmaker Bigelow made this propulsive procedural thriller chronicling the decade-long hunt for Osama Bin Laden. CIA Agent Maya (Jessica Chastain) led the pursuit with guts and intelligence, but this was no jingoistic, simplistic, feelgood thriller – it made for troubling, even sickening, viewing, its detailed narrative full of dead ends, knuckleheads and torture.

(Columbia Pictures)
Frances Ha

Year: 2012 | Director: Noah Baumbach

Mumblecore graduate Greta Gerwig gave a fully fledged crossover performance as a half-fledged dancer/dreamer in her second film with co-writer/ director (and partner) Baumbach. Less a story than a chic, loose character piece, Frances Ha occupied a persuasively depicted world of floundering late-twentysomethings, navigating flaky romances and transient flatshares. As its characters awoke blinking into adulthood's glare, Gerwig's joyous, blithe and thoroughly, messily relatable lead gave post-collegiate flux a good name.


Year: 2013 | Director: Alfonso Cuarón

Despite his blast-off into the realms of James Cameron-approved FX miracles, Cuarón remembered to honour survivalist cinema's raw verities in his Oscar-winning space trip. Cuarón's airborne ballet raised the CGI bar so high that audiences got dizzy looking up. But Sandra Bullock's bravura performance as a grieving woman lost in orbit hit us as hard as the 3D shrapnel, lending Cuarón's self-styled epic of "adversity and rebirth" its charge of emotion.

(Warner Bros)
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Year: 2015 | Director: J.J. Abrams

"Luke Skywalker has vanished..." But Star Wars was back, with an invigorating presence we hadn't felt since the early '80s. Sure, Abrams relied heavily on Lucas' original template. But few of the decade's many reboots/relaunches played the nostalgia card so effectively, from the fanfare- blasting reveal of a familiar freighter to a melted mask that still had the power to chill. The new hopefuls shone, too: Ridley, Driver, Boyega, BB-8...

The Raid

Year: 2011 | Director: Gareth Evans

While western cinema was still (poorly) imitating Bourne's shaky- cam scraps, Welsh writer/director Evans and his awe-inspiringly athletic Indonesian action men showed the rest of the world how it should be done with The Raid. The simple set-up (SWAT team is trapped in a drug dealer's deadly block of flats) is nothing to write home about, but as a showcase for a series of breath- snatching, bone-breaking punch-ups, nothing this decade comes close.

(XYZ Films)
Phantom Thread

Year: 2017 | Director: Paul Thomas Anderson

Anderson's movies are set in California and chronicle the sad, secret life of America. What a shock, then, that his eighth movie was a love story located in '50s London. Daniel-Day Lewis and Vicky Krieps turned heads as monomaniacal fashion couturier Reynolds Woodcock and his unyielding new muse Alma, but PTA was belle of the ball, here trying on Hitch's Rebecca and Vertigo but altering them into a gothic romance all of his own: fastidious, funny, f*****-up.

Black Swan

Year: 2010 | Director: Darren Aronofsky

Before 'elevated horror' became a thing, classy, awards-baiting genre movies were labelled 'psychological thrillers'. By being positioned as such, Aronofsky's horror flick (it's essentially a were-swan movie, with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Dario Argento also in its DNA) won Oscar nods for Best Film and Director, while Natalie Portman took home the Best Actress gong. And deservedly so – she dazzles as a ballet dancer who loses her sanity as she quests for perfection.

(Fox Searchlight)
Son of Saul

Year: 2015 | Director: László Nemes

Debut director Nemes' description of his Holocaust drama as "immersive" barely conveyed its harrowing force. With tight framing and textured focus, Nemes brought a wrenching immediacy to the hell endured by a Hungarian Jew in Auschwitz intent on giving a dead teenager a Jewish burial. Saul's mission seems to occupy a pure present, without past or future. There is no catharsis: just an unyielding, in-the-moment intensity, handled with moral authority and control.


Year: 2017 | Director: Christopher Nolan

Nolan brought his unique perspective to this WW2 epic, tackling the turning- point evacuation of the titular French beach. Examining the action from air, land and sea, Dunkirk had a complex but elegant structure based around three timelines. The practical approach to the effects (real boats, real planes, real beach) popped on IMAX, and Hans Zimmer's tick-tock score cranked up the gut-churning tension, but heartfelt performances provided emotional heft beneath the carnage.

(Warner Bros)

Year: 2016 | Director: Denis Villeneuve

Proof that smart cerebral concepts and heart-tugging emotion can sit side-by-side, Arrival was a grippingly intelligent sci-fi drama following linguist Louise Banks' (Amy Adams) attempts to break down the language barrier with an alien species that communicates in circular symbols. Understated but ambitious, Arrival made sentence structure as gripping as intergalactic warfare. When Banks' immersion in the alien language alters her perception of time, minds were blown and hearts were broken.

Inside Out

Year: 2016 | Director: Ronnie Del Carmen

Pixar's 15th feature was quite the head trip, as the emotions of Joy (Amy Poehler), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), Disgust (Mindy Kaling) and Sadness (Phyllis Smith) fought for control over the mind of 11-year-old Riley (Kaitlyn Dias). And if that wasn't enough to noodle the noggins of viewers of all ages, we were taken into every corner of Riley's brain, including Abstract Thinking, Facts, Opinions and Dreams.

The Tree of Life

Year: 2011 | Director: Terrence Malick

"Ambitious" doesn't quite cut it. Not content with making a film about life, the universe and everything – from the Big Bang to the end of the world – Terrence Malick used his epic canvas to paint a tender family portrait around a single moment of grief. It might be known as one of cinema's loftiest displays of philosophic grandstanding, but the real staying power of Malick's film lies in its humanity.

(Plan B Entertainment)
Mad Max: Fury Road

Year: 2015 | Director: George Miller

The action spoke much, much louder than the sparse dialogue in Miller's loooong-awaited fourquel, an adrenaline-fuelled chase movie that never once took its foot of the gas. Hardy comfortably filled the leather jacket vacated by Mel Gibson, but the real standout was Imperator Furiousa, a brand-new character played by Charlize Theron on bada** form. Iconic imagery abounds, but it's the jaw-dropping stuntwork that really lingers. The greatest action movie of the decade, bar none.

(Warner Bros)

Year: 2014 | Director: Richard Linklater

A coming-of-ager like no other, Linklater's experimental drama charted the life of Mason (Ellar Coltrane) from 6 to 18, as he aged in real-time. Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke were career-best as Mason's divorced parents. Zooming in on the smaller moments, the epic structure allowed for character development on a massive scale, cyclical behaviour that felt painfully authentic, and one of the best expressions of adolescence ever captured on film.

(Universal Pictures)

Year: 2014 | Director: Damien Chazelle

Snare-drum tense and pounding at a restless tempo, Whiplash was more thriller than music movie, as prodigious drummer Andrew (Miles Teller) clashes with merciless band leader Fletcher (J.K. Simmons, on Oscar-winning form). No interest in jazz was needed to be utterly gripped, as Andrew finds his dedication to music strained by Fletcher's psychotic methods. The musical performances thrilled, but the ambiguous ending left you evaluating the cost of untrammelled ambition.

La La Land

Year: 2016 | Director: Damien Chazelle

Chazelle's heartfelt update of the Golden Era musical utilised Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling's electric chemistry to charming and heartbreaking effect. An aspiring actor and wannabe jazz club owner, fall in love, and spur each other on to achieve their ambitions, even if the price paid is a heavy one. The superlative songs (by composer Justin Hurwitz and lyricists Benj Pasek and Justin Paul) underscore the drama perfectly. Pure magic.


Year: 2010 | Director: Christopher Nolan

Conclusive proof that blockbusters can respect their audience's intelligence while also thrilling with spectacular set-pieces, Inception was a truly remarkable achievement. Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is an 'extractor' who normally steals sensitive ideas from his targets' minds but must now must plant an idea in the head of his latest mark. As the narrative operated on several levels simultaneously, so did the filmmaking, layering metaphysical ideas with startling visuals and a grippingly propulsive narrative. Inception is a film not afraid to dream much, much bigger.

(Warner Bros)

Celebrating the best movies released between 2010 and 2019