The 20 Best Films Before 2020

The movies that moved me the most during the course of ten years.

 

 

Now that the 2010s has come to a close, it gives me great honor to present to you my 20 favorite films over the course of a decade. This is my 20/20 vision. 

20.) “Guardians of the Galaxy” (2014)

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Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, and the vocal talents of Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper are all top notch, emotional, and brilliant in one of Marvel’s funniest and most visually stunning films. Writer/director James Gunn has spared no expense with all the classic hits (Jackson 5, Rupert Holmes, Redbone, etc.), nostalgia, and colorful make-up. 

19.) “Inside Out” (2015)

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Director Pete Docter and producer Jonas Riveras have examined the life of our emotions, the same way they explored an old man’s odyssey on a floating house. The animation allows the characters to be flexible, the messages are honest and true, and the voice work (Amy Poehler, Bill Hader, Phyllis Smith, Lewis Black, and Mindy Kaling) is exceptionally fine. 

This is a Pixar classic that ranks with the giants. 

18.) “12 Years a Slave” (2013)

Steve McQueen’s Oscar-winning journey of torture, betrayal, and kidnapping of African American slaves reminds us of how horrible the Nazis were to the Jews in Steven Spielberg’s “Schindler’s List.” The best stars in this movie are Chiwetel Ejiofor as a free man wrongfully brought back into slavery, Michael Fassbender as his sadistic slave master, and Lupita Nyong’o as a female slave who gets the most whipping. 

This will beloved for years to come, because of all the hatred, fear, and liberty this autobiography provides. 

17.) “Interstellar” (2014)

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Christopher Nolan’s space opera possesses the qualities of Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey,” while struggling to solve mankind’s survival. Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, and Michael Caine all portray their character with powerful emotions and vulnerability.

And just like “Gravity,” the space visual effects are so dazzling, I was running out of oxygen. It’s such an underrated motion picture. 

16.) “Midnight in Paris” (2011)

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Woody Allen has crafted a lovely and simple picture about a man from the present (Owen Wilson), who travels to Paris in the Roaring 20s, where and when he has a fling with a charming Frenchwoman (Marion Cotillard). Its ways of time travel and sense of style never condescends, and therefore Allen has taken his chances and made one of his most distinguished entries. 

15.) “Boyhood” (2014)

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Richard Linklater took 12 years to make a coming-of-age story with Ella Coltrane as the same kid and teenager. It’s a movie about reality, easy and difficult, and its different scopes match the time periods, because they were in those time periods. And you also have some fine supporting work from Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette as the boy’s divorced parents, who aren’t generic, but people who motivate him. 

Despite its R-rating, it should be watched by every kid, teen, and adult to give him a unique view of growing up. This is what maturity is all about. 

14.) “Moonrise Kingdom” (2012)

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Wes Anderson’s 2012 entry was his first PG-13 movie, and it offers a sweet little coming-of-age story, about two kids from different worlds (Jared Gilman and Kaya Hayward), who decide to run away and get married. And you also have an all-star cast with Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Frances McDormand, Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, Harvey Keitel, and Bob Balaban.

I just love the simple and stylish filmmaking that Anderson offers in his movies. You get silly and dazzling scenes that feel like something out of Vincent Van Gogh, and the actors are here as people, and not expensive motion picture stars.

13.) “Argo” (2012)

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Ben Affleck almost got a job in the White House, because of how he directed and starred in the movie about CIA agents, who must promote a fake movie in order to free people during the Iran hostage crisis. Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, John Goodman, and Tate Donovan all round up the cast with their own intentions.

But really, it’s non-stop thrill ride that keeps you at the edge of your seat rooting for our heroes to rescue the diplomats. Affleck is able to jump from Point A to Point B, and he give the movie a poignant balance of movies and politics. 

 

12.) “This is the End” (2013)

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Hands down, this is the funniest comedy I’ve seen this decade. Seth Rogen co-wrote, co-directed, and co-starred in this doomsday satire with himself, Jay Baruchel, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, and Danny McBride facing their impending doom, while revealing their true selves.

It all sounds stupid and they all act silly, but you’re admired at how the stars play out, and how their apocalypse changes their behavior. With all the pop culture, raunchy humor, and Rogen and co-writer/director Evan Goldberg’s own personal lampooning, get ready for the serious amount of laughs.

11.) “Roma” (2018)

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Alfonso Cuaron’s 2018 opus had every right to win the Best Foreign Language Oscar and Golden Globe. It’s a black and white Spanish film that shows us the poor realities of Mexico in the 1970s, and even introduces us to Yalitza Aparicio as a housekeeper with silent drama of her own. She’s pregnant, her boyfriend refuses to support her, and she has a family to help tend to in their own drama. But the matriarch (Marina de Tavira) supports her pregnancy. 

Because it’s about foreigners, and their harsh environments and true personas, this is probably the best movie of its kind since “Slumdog Millionaire.”

 10.) “Toy Story 3” (2010)

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Earning itself a spot in the Best Picture category at the Oscars, this sequel took many risks, and made itself an animated tour-de-force. Colorful characters, a complicated story, honest humor, and pure imagination-all the qualities that makes the “Toy Story” movies the best animated franchise, period.

You have Tom Hanks (as Woody), Tim Allen (as Buzz), Jodi Benson (as Barbie), and Michael Keaton (as Ken) providing the voices of these iconic Disney-Pixar characters, and you can easily tell the premise to committed to the strengths and weaknesses that made the first entry a breakthrough in animation. 

 9.) “American Hustle”

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David O. Russell’s 2013 crime drama is one of the most stylish, complex, and furiously entertaining movies I’ve ever seen. Christian Bale and Amy Adams as con artists, Bradley Cooper as an FBI agent, Jeremy Renner as a corrupt politician, and Jennifer Lawrence as Bale’s wife are all bold and daring. You even get support from the likes Louis CK, Robert De Niro, Jack Huston, and Michael Pena.

It’s loosely based on a true story in the 1970s, and the movie glamorizes it with honest humor, deceit, and music (Steely Dan, ELO, and Tom Jones). You have to see this more than once or twice. 

8.) “Spotlight” (2015)

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This is one of the most important movies I’ve ever seen, documenting on the Boston Globe out to expose the Catholic Church for all the abuse their priests have given little boys. Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, and Rachel McAdams all lead an exceptional cast in the Oscar winner for Best Picture.

Like “All the President’s Men,” “The Post,” “JFK,” and all the great newspaper dramas, these people are willing to expose the truth to the public. It’s supposed to be complicated to do so, because people are either too traumatized or committed to their own wicked sources. You watch it feeling sad and mad, and finish it feeling glad. 

7.) “The Social Network” (2010)

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David Fincher has done a provocative job retelling the story of how Facebook came to be, by greed, money, and a friendship destruction. Jesse Eisenberg, Justin Timberlake, Andrew Garfield, and Armie Hammer are the stars of the show, and you just love the scenes they’re written in.

People get insulted, betrayed, and deteriorated by Facebook’s demons, before and after the lawsuit, and it will always keep going. “The Social Network” is about losing and gaining your friends, as well as the choices made in side.

This is a Love Like for me. Remember that’s a new feature. 

6.) “The Irishman” (2019)

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Martin Scorsese’s last film of the decade is a masterpiece that loves organized crime and politics at the full throttle level of “Goodfellas” and “Mean Streets.” Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, and Al Pacino are all so immensely perfect in this nearly 4 hour epic.

The de-aging of De Niro’s face is well-done, the dialogue is daring, and each scene is tested by the limitations of time and narrative. If you saw this in theaters, you probably had to use the John, but if you saw this on Netflix, you wouldn’t need to worry about missing anything vital to the story. This ranks with some of the best longest movies in cinema history. 

5.) “The Grand Budapest Hotel” (2014)

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Wes Anderson’s 2014 hit is one I’d like to call whimsical, thrilling, and artistic. Ralph Fiennes and Tony Revolori lead an all-star cast, and they’re given some of the most memorable scenes I’ve seen this decade. The hotel manager Gustav (Fiennes) is framed for murdering an elderly dame (Tilda Swinton) and his most loyal companion-an immigrant bellhop (Revlori) must help clear his name.

The best scene in particular is a prison escape, given its 1930s time period, in which Harvey Keitel leads Gustav and a few inmates with a long ladder, crawling and hopping over sleeping guards, and then in a laundry chute with one hilarious twist. Wow, is this one of Anderson’s most distinguished tour de forces. 

4.) “Frozen” (2013)

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This began a franchise with shorts, toys, dresses, and a sequel, leaving some people cynical and accusing it of being a cash grab. I’m not one of those people, because I loved this Disney animated movie for giving its female characters Anna (voiced by Kristen Bell) and Elsa (voiced by Idina Menzel) their strengths and weaknesses, the animation in its most radiant form, the songs (written by Robert and Kristen Anderson-Lopez) worthy of a Broadway play (which happened), and for providing a goofy little Snowman like Olaf (voiced by Josh Gad).

I don’t care if you have a problem with this; this ranks with the very best like “The Little Mermaid” and “Beauty and the Beast.” 

3.) “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” (2017)

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Martin McDonagh has outdone himself with a movie with some of the most vulgar dialogue, the craziest situations, and the most sincere emotions I’ve ever seen. Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell, and Woody Harrelson all lead a great cast, and they portray characters who have their own poetic ways of expressing their anger and stress. 

The poetry inside the story involves rape, murder, racism, hatred, cancer, sympathy, and hope. Even if you see angry moments, there’s a tenderness inside them, the one thing certain R-rated comedies like “Tag” or “Dirty Grandpa” failed to provide. This is a see-it-twice piece of entertainment. 

2.) “The Wolf of Wall Street” (2013)

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Before “The Irishman,” Martin Scorsese has made a brilliant portrayal of Wall Street brokers, and their love for stolen money, which they use for drugs, parties, and mansions, etc., etc. Leonardo DiCaprio is flat-out fantastic as Jordan Belfort, who abuses the power inside the Ben Franklins; Jonah Hill is razor sharp as his business partner; and Margot Robbie has revealed herself as a talented young actress as Belfort’s wife.

Scorsese knows how to provide a narrative structure, as well as his ability to understand criminals and their goals and temptations. It was one of the best 3 hour films I’ve ever sat through.

1.) “Manchester by the Sea” (2016)

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The best movie of 2016 is also the best movie I’ve seen this decade. Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, and Lucas Hedges have given first-class performances in a masterpiece from writer/director Kenneth Lonergan. It has gripping and emotional drama, honest characters, and decent humor-all enough to hold my attention.

Affleck plays a handyman with a dark past, who becomes reluctant in taking in his nephew (Hedges), after the tragic death of his older brother (Kyle Chandler). Their relationship becomes tested, as Affleck wants to move out of the town that has haunted him, while Hedges wants to stay. This is a great film, combining the qualities of a coming-of-age story with a powerful family drama.

Lonergan has outdone himself. 

More Great Masterpieces

“Captain Phillips,” “Gravity,” “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” “Inception,” “Moonlight,” “127 Hours,” “The King’s Speech,” “Get Out,” “Green Book,” “Black Swan,” “The Fighter,” “Drive,” “Ted,” “The Artist,” “Widows,” “A Star is Born,” “Life Itself” (the Roger Ebert doc from 2014), “The Post,” “The Shape of Water,” “Coco,” “Wild Tales,” “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” “The Dark Knight Rises,” “The Favourite,” “Eighth Grade,” “Zootopia,” “Sully,” “Darkest Hour,” “Logan,” “Baby Driver,” “Ladybird,” “Leave No Trace,” “Hell or High Water,” “The Help,” “Us,” “The Avengers,” “Avengers: Infinity War,” “Avengers: Endgame,” “Toy Story 4,” “The Farewell,” “Birdman,” “La La Land,” “Whiplash,” “The Florida Project,” “Dunkirk,” “Gone Girl,” “Begin Again,” “21 Jump Street,” “22 Jump Street,” “The Lego Movie,” “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” “Isle of Dogs,” “Mission: Impossible-Ghost Protocol,” “Mission: Impossible-Fallout,” “Arrival,” “Fences,” “Mad Max: Fury Road,” “The Walk,” “The Martian,” “Despicable Me,” “Tangled,” “Big Hero 6,” “Django Unchained,” “The Hateful Eight,” “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?,” “Wreck-it-Ralph,” “Zero Dark Thirty,” “Hugo,” “The Town,” “Two Days, One Night,” “Nightcrawler,” “The End of the Tour,” “Steve Jobs,” “Marriage Story,” “Joker,” “Parasite,” “The Peanuts Movie” “Two Days, One Night”

If I’m missing anything, please let me know, because there were a lot of greats.

4 comments

  1. Wow. Forget what I said about the worst lists being better to write. I preferred this one, purely because I had seen 12 of them, rather than the 1 of your worst list.

    Great choices, I personally would have elevated the following from your honourable mentions to the main list
    The Help
    Gone Girl
    Zero Dark Thirty
    and I would have deleted from it A Star is Born (hated it)

    I would have bumped to make room with:
    This is the End (good but not one of my tops)
    Grand Budapest Hotel (as above, very good, but not top ten)
    Toy Story 3 (samereason again, and Inside Out was such a fantastic triumph, TS4 wouldn’t have been with is for me)

    Your choices I particularly strongly agree with:
    Spotlight
    Inside Out (in my opinions Pixars best ever)
    3 Billboards
    12 Years A Slave (possibly hardest most powerful film I ever saw)

    I would add from my own The Guard and (also from J M Mcdonagh) Calvary

    Thats the thing about lists of stuff like this, too much choice. You have to vary it. Which you did. I loved it. Would love you to guest review on my blog

    http://www.nicelyput.co.uk

  2. Agree with the vulgar dialogue in 3 Billboards. That line “Hey” (after daughter says c-word) “there are no cunts in this house” “Why? Are you moving out”
    Rodney Dangerfield for the millenials type dialougue. Love it
    What I paricularly loved about it was the revenge, in fact on my blog https://www.nicelyput.co.uk/post/dirty-dancing-best-left-to-get-cold
    I mention 3 Billiboards. I loved it because she got revenge. I hate in movies where the bad guy “learns a life lesson” (case in point the Malfoy family) I wanted to see Arthur Weasley stomp Lucius to death and Harry stab Draco with the splintered Elder Wand. Thats why I love FM in this. Those kids mouth off, she kicked them in the nads (or whatever), I am kind of a modern man, but not that modern. High Noon is still the way to operate

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