In the realm of cinema, the 2010s were a remarkable decade filled with cinematic masterpieces that left a lasting impact on viewers. From epic adventures to thought-provoking dramas, the 2010s delivered a wide array of unforgettable films.
In this article, we’ll talk about the top 10 movies that defined this transformative decade in the film industry.
Top 10 Movies of the 2010s
The 2010s marked a period of immense creativity and innovation in the film industry. From groundbreaking technology to compelling storytelling, these movies entertained, moved, and inspired us.
- Inception (2010)
- The Social Network (2010)
- Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
- Get Out (2017)
- The Shape of Water (2017)
- Parasite (2019)
- The Avengers (2012)
- La La Land (2016)
- Interstellar (2014)
- 12 Years a Slave (2013)
Let’s take a closer look at the top 10 movies that defined this decade.
1. Inception (2010)
Christopher Nolan’s “Inception” stands as a testament to his mastery of the cinematic medium. This mind-bending journey through dreams within dreams is a cinematic marvel. The film revolves around Dom Cobb, portrayed by the charismatic Leonardo DiCaprio, who is a skilled extractor, a person who enters the dreams of others to steal their most intimate thoughts. With a complex narrative that blurs the line between reality and the dream world, “Inception” kept audiences on the edge of their seats.
Nolan’s storytelling is a labyrinth of interconnected dreams and layered plots, skillfully woven together to create a narrative that demands the viewer’s full attention. The stunning visual effects, such as the folding cityscape of Paris, the gravity-defying hallway fight, and the mesmerizing climax set in limbo, added to the film’s unique appeal. It’s a visual spectacle that not only entertains but challenges the viewer’s perception of reality.
The cast, led by DiCaprio, is a testament to the film’s excellence. His portrayal of Dom Cobb is captivating, showcasing the character’s inner turmoil and complexity. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Tom Hardy, and Marion Cotillard deliver exceptional performances that further elevate the movie.
“Inception” left an indelible mark in the film industry, earning four Academy Awards and numerous nominations. It redefined the science fiction genre and set a high bar for intellectual thrillers.
2. The Social Network (2010)
Directed by David Fincher and penned by Aaron Sorkin, “The Social Network” delves into the fascinating and tumultuous origins of Facebook. The film explores the complexities of human relationships, ambition, and the impact of social media on society. Jesse Eisenberg’s portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg is nothing short of exceptional, capturing the character’s brilliance, arrogance, and inner conflicts.
The film’s narrative primarily focuses on the early days of Facebook, the legal disputes, and the personal dynamics that led to its creation. It brilliantly captures the energy and spirit of the startup world, making it a compelling story not just about a social media platform but about the human desire for connection and recognition.
Sorkin’s sharp and witty dialogue keeps the audience engaged, as we witness the rapid rise of Facebook and the challenges faced by its founders. The film’s dark and moody cinematography, combined with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’s haunting score, creates an atmosphere that perfectly complements the dramatic narrative.
“The Social Network” masterfully explores themes of friendship, betrayal, and ambition, earning three Academy Awards and widespread critical acclaim. It’s a film that not only reflects the era of its creation but also provides a timeless examination of human nature and the digital age.
3. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
“Mad Max: Fury Road” is a cinematic masterpiece that redefined the action genre. Directed by George Miller, this dystopian adventure takes place in a desolate wasteland where humanity is on the brink of collapse. With a relentless pace and breathtaking practical effects, the film is a high-octane thrill ride.
The heart of the film lies in the characters, especially the fierce Furiosa, played by Charlize Theron, and the enigmatic Max, portrayed by Tom Hardy. Theron’s Furiosa is a strong and determined character leading a group of oppressed women to freedom, while Hardy’s Max is a man of few words, battling both inner demons and the unforgiving post-apocalyptic world.
What sets “Mad Max: Fury Road” apart is its dedication to practical effects and stunts. The chaotic and explosive car chases are a visual spectacle, with real vehicles crashing and exploding, creating a visceral and authentic experience. The film’s use of vibrant colors and stunning cinematography in the midst of the barren wasteland is both striking and unique.
“Mad Max: Fury Road” is not just an action movie; it’s a visual and auditory masterpiece that defies traditional storytelling. It challenges the conventions of action cinema with its feminist undertones, addressing themes of power, survival, and redemption.
The film earned six Academy Awards, including Best Director for George Miller, and is hailed as one of the greatest action films of all time. It left a lasting impact on the genre, inspiring future filmmakers to push the boundaries of what is possible on the big screen.
4. Get Out (2017)
“Get Out” is a groundbreaking horror film directed by the multi-talented Jordan Peele. The film made waves for its unique approach to horror, merging social commentary with intelligent storytelling. Peele’s directorial debut was nothing short of remarkable, showcasing his ability to blend genres and craft a thought-provoking narrative.
At its core, “Get Out” is a psychological thriller that explores the insidious nature of racism in modern America. The film follows the experiences of Chris, a black man played by Daniel Kaluuya, who visits his white girlfriend’s family in a seemingly idyllic suburban town. As the story unfolds, the audience is drawn into a world where microaggressions, prejudice, and disturbing secrets come to the forefront.
Peele’s clever storytelling and subtle symbolism contribute to the film’s depth. It’s not merely a horror film; it’s a social critique that invites viewers to confront their own biases and assumptions. The film’s use of the “sunken place” as a metaphor for the suppression of marginalized voices struck a chord with audiences.
“Get Out” received widespread acclaim for its smart, timely commentary on race and its ability to create suspense and horror while addressing relevant social issues. It won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and earned a nomination for Best Picture. Peele’s work with “Get Out” opened doors for more diverse voices in the horror genre, making it a pivotal moment in cinema.
5. The Shape of Water (2017)
Guillermo del Toro’s “The Shape of Water” is a visually stunning and emotionally resonant fairy tale for adults. This film stands out for its unique blend of fantasy, romance, and social commentary, creating a captivating and unforgettable cinematic experience.
Set during the Cold War era, the story revolves around Elisa, a mute woman portrayed by Sally Hawkins, who works as a janitor in a high-security government laboratory. She forms an extraordinary and heartfelt bond with a mysterious amphibious creature being held captive in the facility. What unfolds is a tale of love and acceptance, defying societal norms and expectations.
Del Toro’s direction is a testament to his craftsmanship, creating a visually immersive world filled with rich, aquatic symbolism. The film’s visual effects and production design are nothing short of breathtaking, with the underwater sequences being particularly noteworthy. Alexandre Desplat’s musical score adds an enchanting dimension to the narrative.
Sally Hawkins delivers a remarkable performance, relying on her expressions and body language to convey her character’s emotions. Her portrayal of Elisa is both tender and powerful, and it earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress.
“The Shape of Water” explores themes of isolation, communication, and the beauty of being different. It won the Academy Award for Best Picture, highlighting its universal appeal and artistic excellence. Del Toro’s creation is a testament to the power of cinema to create unique, emotionally resonant stories that transcend boundaries.
6. Parasite (2019)
Bong Joon-ho’s “Parasite” is a cinematic masterpiece that made history by winning the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and later the Academy Award for Best Picture. This South Korean film is a compelling blend of dark comedy, social commentary, and suspense, set against a backdrop of class disparity.
The film tells the story of two families from different social classes whose lives become intricately entwined. The Kims, a lower-class family, deceive their way into becoming employed by the wealthy Park family. What ensues is a brilliant exploration of societal hierarchies and the blurred lines between right and wrong.
Bong Joon-ho’s direction is masterful, with each scene carefully crafted to convey a deeper message. The film’s dark humor, clever dialogue, and plot twists keep viewers engaged while addressing issues of inequality and the consequences of greed.
The ensemble cast, including Song Kang-ho, Lee Sun-kyun, and Cho Yeo-jeong, deliver exceptional performances that breathe life into their respective characters. The film’s cinematography and production design also play a vital role in creating a visually striking world that mirrors the disparities between the rich and poor.
“Parasite” transcends cultural boundaries and challenges the conventions of traditional storytelling. It is a brilliant commentary on class struggle and the consequences of societal inequality, earning its place as a cinematic milestone. Bong Joon-ho’s work continues to inspire filmmakers worldwide and demonstrates the power of storytelling to drive social change and awareness.
7. The Avengers (2012)
Joss Whedon’s “The Avengers” is a landmark film in the history of cinema, especially within the superhero genre. This epic crossover brought together beloved Marvel superheroes, including Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) to form the ultimate superhero team. The film was not just a movie; it was a cinematic event that set the standard for modern superhero films.
“The Avengers” was the culmination of a multi-film effort known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), where individual superheroes’ stories intersected and led to the formation of this supergroup. Whedon’s masterful direction and writing ensured that each character had their moment to shine. The film was a perfect balance of action, humor, and character development, with each Avenger contributing their unique skills and personalities to the team.
The battle scenes, particularly the climactic showdown in New York City, were groundbreaking. The film seamlessly integrated CGI with practical effects, making the superhero battles feel both epic and grounded. The dynamic between the characters, their banter, and the camaraderie that developed during the film endeared them to audiences worldwide.
“The Avengers” was a commercial and critical success, grossing over $1.5 billion worldwide and earning widespread acclaim. It revolutionized the way cinematic universes were created and laid the foundation for a decade of interconnected superhero storytelling. The film was a game-changer, not only for the MCU but also for the entire film industry, demonstrating the immense potential of combining iconic characters into a single narrative.
8. La La Land (2016)
“La La Land,” directed by Damien Chazelle, is a modern musical that celebrates the magic of Hollywood. The film captured the hearts of audiences with its dazzling musical sequences, breathtaking cinematography, and the enchanting chemistry between its leads, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. It’s a love letter to both the city of Los Angeles and the golden era of musical cinema.
Chazelle’s direction brought a nostalgic touch to the film, as he paid homage to classic musicals like “Singin’ in the Rain” and “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg.” The film’s opening sequence, set on a Los Angeles freeway, is a mesmerizing single-take musical number that sets the tone for the entire movie. Chazelle’s decision to blend the old with the new, modernizing the musical genre, was a bold and innovative move.
The film’s success largely rested on the charismatic performances of Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. Their on-screen chemistry was palpable, and their portrayals of struggling musician Sebastian and aspiring actress Mia were both endearing and relatable. Their duets and dance numbers, including “City of Stars” and “A Lovely Night,” were beautifully choreographed and captured the essence of budding romance.
“La La Land” was not just about its technical brilliance but also about its emotional depth. The film explored the sacrifices and choices people make in pursuit of their dreams and the impact these decisions have on their relationships. It was a bittersweet ode to the pursuit of art, love, and the unique charm of Hollywood.
The film’s artistic achievements were celebrated with numerous awards and nominations, including a record-tying 14 Oscar nominations and six wins, including Best Director for Damien Chazelle. “La La Land” proved that the musical genre was not only relevant but also capable of resonating with contemporary audiences, and it left an indelible mark on the cinematic landscape.
9. Interstellar (2014)
Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar” is a cinematic journey of cosmic proportions that takes audiences on an unforgettable odyssey. This mind-bending science fiction epic seamlessly blends scientific accuracy with emotional depth, leaving a profound impact on viewers.
The story revolves around Cooper, portrayed by Matthew McConaughey, a former NASA pilot turned farmer in a world on the brink of ecological collapse. As the Earth faces a global food crisis, a mysterious wormhole near Saturn offers a glimmer of hope for humanity’s survival. Cooper embarks on a mission through this wormhole, alongside a team of scientists, to find a new habitable world for the human race.
Nolan’s direction and screenplay, co-written with his brother Jonathan Nolan, is a testament to his dedication to both storytelling and scientific accuracy. The film features complex scientific concepts, including time dilation and the theory of relativity, which were thoroughly researched to ensure a realistic portrayal of space and time. The visual effects, particularly the depiction of a massive black hole, were groundbreaking and earned the film an Academy Award.
What sets “Interstellar” apart is its ability to evoke deep emotions within the audience. Amid the grandeur of interstellar travel and the mysteries of space, the film explores the profound human connection between a father and his daughter. The film’s emotional resonance is underscored by Hans Zimmer’s powerful and emotive musical score.
The performances in the film, including McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, and Jessica Chastain, are outstanding. McConaughey’s portrayal of Cooper is both rugged and tender, reflecting the character’s inner conflict between duty and love. Chastain’s portrayal of Cooper’s daughter, Murph, is equally moving, as she embodies the sense of longing and sacrifice that is central to the narrative.
“Interstellar” is more than a space exploration film; it’s a contemplation of love, time, and the enduring human spirit. It challenged audiences to think beyond the boundaries of our planet and our existence, inviting us to contemplate our place in the universe. The film’s impact on both science and cinema is immeasurable, reminding us of the potential of storytelling to inspire and enlighten.
10. 12 Years a Slave (2013)
Steve McQueen’s “12 Years a Slave” is a powerful and harrowing portrayal of the life of Solomon Northup, a free African American who was abducted and sold into slavery in the pre-Civil War United States. This unflinching and emotionally charged film is an essential examination of one of the darkest periods in American history.
The film follows the journey of Northup, portrayed by Chiwetel Ejiofor, as he is abducted, stripped of his freedom, and subjected to the brutalities of slavery on a Louisiana plantation. The story is based on Northup’s memoir of the same name, providing a raw and authentic account of his experiences.
Steve McQueen’s direction is uncompromising, capturing the brutal and dehumanizing aspects of slavery. The film doesn’t shy away from the physical and emotional horrors endured by the enslaved people, making it a difficult but necessary viewing experience. McQueen’s use of long takes and the striking cinematography by Sean Bobbitt further emphasize the emotional weight of the narrative.
The ensemble cast, including Ejiofor, Lupita Nyong’o, and Michael Fassbender, deliver extraordinary performances. Ejiofor’s portrayal of Northup is filled with nuance and emotional depth, while Nyong’o’s portrayal of Patsey, a fellow enslaved woman, is heart-wrenching and earned her an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
“12 Years a Slave” is an unflinching exploration of the human capacity for cruelty and the resilience of the human spirit. The film’s powerful narrative, combined with its dedication to historical accuracy, earned it widespread critical acclaim and the Academy Award for Best Picture.
By depicting the horrors of slavery with unvarnished honesty, the film serves as a powerful reminder of the need to confront the dark chapters of history and work towards a more just and equal society. It’s a cinematic masterpiece that continues to be relevant and impactful, highlighting the enduring importance of storytelling in addressing social and historical issues.
The 2010s were a decade of cinematic brilliance, with each film on this list contributing something unique and extraordinary to the world of cinema.
These movies continue to captivate audiences and inspire new generations of filmmakers.