Before you say it, I know.
Another ranking, really? And with 88 films, no less!
For those of you who struggled through my Top 50 Films of the Decade list, you’ll know that I love lists. I love ranking things, and I love order. Oh, and I love films. That too, I suppose.
As the Oscar nominations were not long announced, I thought that I would see how this latest crop of nominees shapes the decade of film as a whole. I know we’re almost a month into 2020, but I’m still trying to understand a lot of what happened in the 2010’s, so give me a little time to adjust.
This isn’t going to be a thing where I do a big list of films with paragraphs about why I like them or dislike them, I’m going to just leave my overall impression about how I feel about it within the criteria of it being a Best Picture Nominee.
As always, my lists are subjective, but I am going to be doing them by quality rather than personal affiliations. So when you don’t see Joker anywhere close to the Top 50, don’t be alarmed. Obviously my personal feelings will dictate whether I think a film is ‘good’ or not, but I’m trying to be as objective as I possibly can.
From going through these films, I have noticed that there is a lot of junk and a lot of quality. Stick with me while I sort through the rubble and present a somewhat cohesive ranking order of the Best Picture nominees from the expanded-lineup era, 2010-2019.
Sidebar: Fun drinking game! Take a sip every time you see the word “great”.
88. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2011) dir. Stephen Daldry
Because did you expect anything else, honestly? Viola Davis was in this movie and even she couldn’t save it.
87. Midnight in Paris (2011) dir. Some Guy.
Oof, 2011 was ROUGH. Including this completely uninspired drivel. A waste of Rachel McAdams and Marion Cotillard.
86. Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012) dir. Benh Zeitlin
Three entries in and already a hot take…I’m outdoing myself. I just couldn’t get behind this, though Quevenzhané Wallis did give a terrific performance. Might be a rewatch down the line and I may feel different, but right now it does nothing for me.
85. Darkest Hour (2017) dir. Joe Wright
I’m probably being harsher on this that is necessary, but Wright can do better than this and it’s only worth watching for Bruno Delbonnel’s beautifully-lit photography.
84. Philomena (2013) dir. Stephen Frears
I have nothing against this movie, I just found it awfully boring. Performances are good, writing is fine, it just did nothing to capture me.
83. The King’s Speech (2010) dir. Tom Hooper
Ignoring its role in the egregious Oscar snub of that year, I’ve seen 4 Tom Hooper films now and I’ve decided that he can’t make films that I’m going to enjoy and this one is no different. It just feels flat and devoid of any passion. Good performances, though.
82. Dallas Buyers Club (2013) dir. Jean-Marc Vallée
Just don’t get the hype with this one, it’s aggressively average to me and I don’t even enjoy the performances. Justice for Chiwetel Ejiofor!
81. Joker (2019) dir. Todd Phillips
Oh you had to know it was coming. I have plenty of explanations in my review if you missed it and interesting in what I actively loathe this movie.
80. Green Book (2018) dir. Peter Farrelly
Two Best Picture winners in the bottom 10? Say it ain’t so! This film just screams “Misguided Intentions” and literally the only thing keeping it afloat is Mahershala Ali who continues to be a delight to watch. Everything else is quite frankly terrible.
79. Hugo (2011) dir. Martin Scorsese
Again, don’t have anything against this movie and it’s competently directed of course, just didn’t sit right with me. May be another due a rewatch somewhere down the line, but as for now I don’t feel favourably about it.
78. Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood (2019) dir. Quentin Tarantino
This movie is lucky the other 10 are more memorably bad. As soon as Twitter stops buzzing about this movie, I’m going to actively forget it exists, I’ve just never cared less about a movie before in my life. More thoughts in my review.
77. The Theory of Everything (2014) dir. James Marsh
Was surprised to find out that this wasn’t a Tom Hooper film. Redmayne is bad-to-fine, Jones is good, but Jóhann Jóhansson saves this with his delightful score.
76. Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) dir. A Bad Man
Rami Malek being good doesn’t make your movie good! Rocketman outsold!
75. War Horse (2011) dir. Steven Spielberg
Thus continues the trend of 2011 Best Picture nominees being so average it hurts. This one is only slightly propped up by its execution and very nice score.
74. Lion (2016) dir. Garth Davis
Davis has a clear vision, but the pacing is all over the place and lacks focus to grab me through a run-time that even though it’s only slight more than two hours is more than it requires. Well-shot, though!
73. The Descendants (2011) dir. Alexander Payne
2011 is that one child that you have to love even though it’s a huge disappointment. 5 nominees in the bottom 15…I usually really like Payne’s movies but only the screenplay and the performances can slightly save this messy film.
72. Les Misérables (2012) dir. Tom Hooper
Tom Hooper strikes again. Way too long and mostly miscast in my opinion. Barks and Tveit keep this one running for me, which is why the first act is a drag. It gets points for having the actors sing live.
71. American Hustle (2013) dir. David O. Russell
If you’d have asked me 5 years ago this would’ve been Top 25 easily, but several rewatches have tainted its legacy. The cast is excellent, but it’s so scattered and doesn’t ever seem to be about anything, rather just a depiction of events with no meaning.
70. The Imitation Game (2014) dir. Morten Tyldum
I’ve warmed to this a lot over the years, from initially hating it to now somewhat liking and respecting it, but it’s still relatively by-the-numbers and it’s disappointing considering the good performances and great writing on display.
69. The Martian (2015) dir. Ridley Scott
Honestly, if Interstellar hadn’t come out the previous year, I probably would have enjoyed this a lot more. Even though the two have differing approaches to the science-fiction, there’s only so much of Matt Damon in space that I can handle.
68. Captain Phillips (2013) dir. Paul Greengrass
Hanks and Abdi give excellent performances, and the editing is masterful in building tension, but it’s just not one that I’ve really thought about lots afterwards. Perfectly fine in the moment, but somewhat forgettable personally.
67. The Fighter (2010) dir. David O. Russell
Let’s call this what it is. An average-to-good film boosted by impeccable performances from its cast. I would weirdly like to see this as a play, I think it would do well.
66. The Artist (2011) dir. Michel Hazanavicius
I don’t hate this film, but I also don’t love it. I respect it a lot and it’s not the worst Best Picture winner we had last decade (see the two I’ve listed below), but there’s something that makes me not really want to watch it again. Dujardin is great, though!
65. 127 Hours (2010) dir. Danny Boyle
James Franco carries this well, but I feel as though once you’ve seen this film once, it loses its value upon rewatches. The initial shock and terror of the situation soon gives way to repetition and any rewatch value. Could have been a truly incredibly short film, I feel.
64. Fences (2016) dir. Denzel Washington
Want to learn how to act? Watch Fences. Washington and Davis give two of the best screen performances of the last ten years. It’s this plus the transcendent writing from August Wilson’s source material that gives this its edge. It’s visually a little predictable and sometimes mishandled in terms of blocking, But the performances alone are thrilling and perfect.
63. Bridge of Spies (2015) dir. Steven Spielberg
Mark Rylance won the Oscar for a quiet, subtle performance and deservedly so, but there’s not too much here that I even remember. Again, perhaps a rewatch is in order, but it doesn’t tell me great things about a film when I can’t remember many details after having watched it twice.
62. Hell or High Water (2016) dir. David Mackenzie
Featuring a trio of great performances and a thrilling script, Hell or High Water gained a lot of praise and several Oscar nominations. And while I really enjoyed it, I don’t think it brought anything particularly special to the genre or the year in film itself and it becomes a little forgettable in the mix of the other Best Picture nominees from that year.
61. Argo (2012) dir. Ben Affleck
And here we have our fourth Best Picture winner on the list and we’re still in the bottom 30…just goes to show how much I hate a lot of the Academy’s choices. Then again, 2012 wasn’t the best year for the nominees considering I’ve already mentioned a few of them and none of them (spoiler) rank particularly high in this list. Affleck directs it solidly, but the script/story just doesn’t do it for me, particularly concerning the characters who you barely get to know. Quite average, if I’m honest.
60. Nebraska (2013) dir. Alexander Payne
I’m a big Payne fan, despite The Descendants being so low on this list, and Nebraska is one of his I very much enjoyed. Great performances, loved the B&W cinematography, and the script is tight. Seems like a conventional film for Payne, but it’s completely solid nonetheless.
59. Winter’s Bone (2010) dir. Debra Granik
The first of only SIX Best Picture nominees directed by a woman (something I hope changes in this new decade), Winter’s Bone caught everyone by surprise. Granik’s raw talent combined with a star-making breakout performance from Jennifer Lawrence tapped into the steeliness of having to fend for yourself, and made one of the humblest nominees on this list. Still think this is great and a rewatch should be on the cards should for me soon.
58. Hidden Figures (2016) dir. Theodore Melfi
Okay but imagine if this was directed by a woman! Not that I don’t really like this film, I just like to have hope for the future. Everyone gives a great performance, the writing is stellar, and it’s such a crowd-pleaser but in the best way. The direction was a little straightforward, perhaps due to letting the script do the heavy-lifting but it got across its messages and gifted us with Taraji P. Henson’s powerful lead performance.
57. Life Of Pi (2012) dir. Ang Lee
I don’t like this film. The reason it’s so high up is because it’s visually breathtaking and if I ever watch this again, I would watch it on mute if it wasn’t for Mychael Danna’s luscious score. Lee’s films are hit or miss with me and this one is a definite miss in almost every other aspect, but its strength of craft is undeniable.
56. The Help (2011) dir. Tate Taylor
Not to get TOO repetitive but why was this directed by a white man? If you were to get a black woman to direct this, it would undoubtedly have been much better. Taylor did a decent job, even though he’s carried by how incredible this cast is and they are the reason it works. Davis, Spencer, Chastain, Stone, Janney, Dallas-Howard, the list goes and they are all really great. Viola Davis in particular gives an exceptional performance as usual. It’s these performances that shoulder the movie’s conventional burdens and take it to heights of actually being any good.
55. Django Unchained (2012) dir. Quentin Tarantino
It’s absolutely no secret to anyone that I’m not Tarantino’s biggest fan, but there are things about this I actually like! The performances, certain moments of the scripts, and the editing to name a few. Even though it remains one of his strongest works, I’m still relatively ambivalent to it. It neither has my curiosity or my attention.
54. The Revenant (2015) dir. Alejandro G. Iñárritu
Basically just re-read my thoughts on Life of Pi. This film is visually incredible, but what else do you expect from Lubezki at this point? I’m not a huge enthusiast of DiCaprio’s performance and it’s a shame he won his Oscar for something so basic and repetitive. The craft of this movie stands on its own though, and Iñárritu’s directorial prowess is something to be admired.
53. Amour (2012) dir. Michael Haneke
I love that this film is a Best Picture nominee. I’m not even totally sure why but I really like that it got nominated that year. It’s very solid, even if it’s something I’m not sure I’ll ever rewatch again unless I’m doing a big Best Picture nominee marathon or something. Haneke directs this so so well and Emmanuelle Riva is pretty brilliant in this.
52. Dunkirk (2017) dir. Christopher Nolan
Herein lies a problem with this sort of film: it has little rewatch value. My experience watching this in an IMAX cinema was breathtaking and I instantly hailed it a masterpiece of filmmaking. Subsequent rewatches outside of that finely tuned space suggest that I was wrong. It’s still technically impressive in just about every way, but has Nolan’s signature hollowness that I’m hoping he works on in time for Tenet. Even with films like Interstellar, I don’t feel anything emotional when I watch a Nolan film and even though this time it was intentional, it’s still a problem for me with this movies.
51. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) dir. Martin Scorsese
Very, very good, it’s so needlessly long in my opinion. Unlike another one of Scorsese’s BP nominees of this decade, Wolf manages to be bold and thrilling yet it takes a lot to actually sit down and watch it. Boasting great performances and an awesome script, it could have been much higher if I didn’t have to sit through three hours of it. Sometimes, it’s just excessive.
50. American Sniper (2014) dir. Clint Eastwood
Yes, I actually like this movie. Cooper gives a great performance, the sound work is impeccable, and seeing the fake baby always brings a smile to my face. I’ve read up on the controversies and they’re valid, but this is still Eastwood’s best filmmaking in a very long time. Sienna Miller also doesn’t get enough overall praise, not just for this movie but in general, so I like to mention her.
49. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017) dir. Martin McDonagh
For a while, this was our presumed Best Picture winner, and everyone had something to say about it. I think McDonagh tackles a lot of things in a not-so-great way but his character work is pretty spot on. While I think a lot of the script is very good, some of it does fall a bit flat and some of the subplots don’t always work well. But overall it’s a pretty good black-comedy/drama with some great performances. It’s not anything groundbreaking, but a pretty good movie.
48. Ford v Ferrari (2019) dir. James Mangold
The next 2019 nominee is one that a lot of people predicted, but nobody was really quite sure why. It didn’t seem to have been inundated with passionate support, but it’s just a very solid movie. Bale and Damon have great chemistry, Noah Jupe is also there which a bonus to any movie, and the driving sequences are truly stellar. The craft on display is commendable, even if this movie failed to hit most of its emotional beats for me.
47. Vice (2018) dir. Adam McKay
Now here’s another controversial one that I actually like. McKay alienates a lot of people with his work but, so far, I’m on board with what he does. It’s bullish, arrogant filmmaking depicting bullish, arrogant characters. I always love when the style of the film matches the tone of the characters and the situations. It’s unsubtle, a little cringeworthy at times, but displays sharp writing and great performances. I had a surprisingly great time at the cinema for this one, even though most people around me despised it/fell asleep.
46. The Kids Are All Right (2010) dir. Lisa Cholodenko
Domestic dramedies seem to be my thing, and this one is pretty great. Featuring great performances, a solid script, and an energy that manages to be warm and slightly hostile at the same time, Cholodenko hits every nail on the head. Annette Bening’s lesbian energy is truly thrilling to behold, and a lot of the questions and themes presented in this make for great viewing and rewatches.
45. Selma (2014) dir. Ava DuVernay
Helmed by one of the most impressive filmmakers we have today, Selma is a powerful look at a powerful story, and it was directed perfectly. David Oyelowo is stunning and absolutely should have been nominated. While it has all the ingredients of a biopic, it never truly feels like one, better resembling a portrait of a life rather than a preachy, over-the-top mess as it could have been in less capable hands.
44. Jojo Rabbit (2019) dir. Taika Waititi
“But Jamie, you love this movie! Why is it so far down?”
Because although it rocked me emotionally, there is an embarrassment of riches to be found on this list and I still need to rewatch this to really nail down how I feel about it. Recency bias is real and while I love it, I know there are “better” films on this list. Still tonally ridiculous in the best way and Thomasin McKenzie is a treasure.
43. Get Out (2017) dir. Jordan Peele
Here we have the converse of the above problem. I don’t personally love this film but I recognise its brilliance, both in terms of the filmmaking and its road to becoming a Best Picture nominee and a potential winner. It’s a horror film released in February that managed to be so objectively good that it stayed with voters for eleven months and became a dark horse contender. For me personally, the third act unravels a perfect first and second act, but it can’t be denied praise for how good it is. Even though I prefer Peele’s follow-up, Us, this is one of those Best Picture nominees that defied the odds and holds up completely on rewatches. Can’t go wrong, really.
42. Moneyball (2011) dir. Bennett Miller
A 2011 picture so high up? Yes, I’m serious. I’m a huge Bennett Miller fan, and Aaron Sorkin is one of my heroes, so the two of them teaming up to give me a genuinely great Brad Pitt performance based on a subject I have no interest in but yet remained engrossed and compelled for the entire runtime? Yeah, that’s gonna be a win from me.
41. Lincoln (2012) dir. Steven Spielberg
Daniel Day-Lewis unsurprisingly gives one of the best performances of his career in a beautifully written and designed movie that really should have been quite dull but manages to be really great. The supporting cast are wonderful too, and honestly there’s not much more I have to say about this one. Just really good Spielberg.
40. The Post (2017) dir. Steven Spielberg
Speaking of really good Spielberg with a great ensemble cast in a a movie that really should have been quite dull but manages to be really great? Sensing a theme? It’s The Post! With a really great script, and a third-act that employs some of the oddest tension I’ve ever seen in a movie that actually works, The Post is engrossing historical drama at its finest. And with such a satisfying ending!
39. True Grit (2010) dir. Joel & Ethan Coen
One of my favourite Coen brothers movies and I think one of their best technically. Great performances, editing, and cinematography. Shame it didn’t win anything at the ceremony.
38. Black Panther (2018) dir. Ryan Coogler
A genuinely great movie and also a really, really good pick for a Best Picture nominee. Not only did it defeat heavy genre bias, but this is a film heavily composed of people of colour on screen and off screen, which made it a step in a more inclusive direction for the Academy. And it’s a very well-made film to boot, can’t really go wrong.
37. The Big Short (2015) dir. Adam McKay
This late-in-the-race dark horse (after its PGA victory) alienated audiences with its brash filmmaking and almost obnoxious approach, but it’s a sharp script that is both entertaining and informative with a great ensemble. Perhaps not my personal pick for a nomination, but I won’t complain that it’s there.
36. Inception (2010) dir. Christopher Nolan
Despite problems I have with the characters and the third act, Inception remains a very well-made movie and fits right in with that year’s crop of nominees, even if some were perhaps more impressive. Nolan’s mind-bender is going to live in for a long time, and I think the Academy knew that and wanted to immortalise it in their own way.
35. Toy Story 3 (2010) dir. Lee Unkrich
While not my favourite of the quadrilogy (that honour remains with Toy Story 2), the third instalment of this beloved franchise had the honour of being the third and most recent animated film to be nominated for the Academy’s highest honour. An acclaimed fan-favourite with a gut punch of an ending, Toy Story 3 remains one of the landmarks of animated feature films and rightfully earned its place in that year’s line up.
34. The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) dir. Wes Anderson
One of the night’s big winners in the technical categories, and Anderson’s first and only (so far) inclusion in the Best Picture and Director categories, The Grand Budapest Hotel is one of his best films and makes for a really fun and quirky addition to the mostly super-serious Best Picture line-up of that year. Think about this film vs. American Sniper and you’ll understand the tonal dichotomy.
33. Hacksaw Ridge (2016) dir. An Anti-Semite
Created with such brilliant craft elements and a dynamic lead performance by Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge is the exact type of war movie the Academy would typically eat up. It’s a proficiently made war film that doubles as a biopic of a man of faith. What more could they have wanted? The story might be a little simple, but the immense sound and editing design is enough to carry this film into greatness.
32. A Star Is Born (2018) dir. Bradley Cooper
Speaking of typical nominees, A Star Is Born is the fourth iteration of a multi-nominated story. And with two brilliant lead performances and a kickass soundtrack, this was never not going to be nominated. It may have slightly cooled due to becoming the very early frontrunner, and it may have had much more success at the Grammys, but one of the finest directorial debuts of recent memory deserved it’s place fully in the line-up. It’s just a shame they failed to nominate its director.
31. Brooklyn (2015) dir. John Crowley
I know most of you won’t agree, but I think this movie is brilliant. Perhaps a little more could’ve been put into the direction, but the script is gorgeous and Saoirse Ronan delivers perhaps her best performance (they’re all flawless so it’s hard to pick one) in a charming novel adaptation which feels like a strange choice considering the rest of the nominees, but it’s hard to knock the choice and the proof is in the pudding (or the emotional monologue).
30. The Irishman (2019) dir. Martin Scorsese
On the complete flip side to the last Scorsese entry, The Irishman more than earns its run-time, boasting terrific performances from everyone and a whip-smart editorial effort that really makes the movie breeze along. Everything lines up to create a truly brilliant films, and Scorsese’s handling of themes manages to make it more than just a greatest hits collection. Also, De Niro should have been nominated, end of discussion.
29. BlacKkKlansman (2018) dir. Spike Lee
Spike Lee’s best film in quite a long time was always going to be commended heavily, but it’s truly brilliant. It’s Oscar-winning script is faultless, and Lee handles it in such an excellent way with an ending that will absolutely stay with me until the end of my life. Haunting, timely, and a really well-executed film all around. Such a worthy nominee and I wouldn’t have complained if it had won.
28. Zero Dark Thirty (2012) dir. Kathryn Bigelow
If not quite as good as its predecessor, The Hurt Locker, Bigelow’s look into the hunt for Osama Bin Laden captures tension and unease unlike almost any other film I’ve ever seen. Featuring a boisterous performance from Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty manages to outweigh most of its controversies with really great filmmaking. In a relatively weak line-up (I only have one film left from that year), this was one of the standouts.
27. Boyhood (2014) dir. Richard Linklater
Definitely one of the most innovative directorial achievements of our time, Boyhood thrilled audiences with its unique perspective and execution on growing up. As with a lot of films that have “gimmicks” (I hate that word I just can’t find an appropriate stand-in), Boyhood has been criticised for being nothing more than its “gimmick” which I find correct as it has a lovely script, great performances and an emotional hook at its core that makes it one of the defining coming-of-age films of its generation.
26. Silver Linings Playbook (2012) dir. David O. Russell
Okay, maybe this is subjective and I’ve cheated a little bit, but when I thought about putting this any lower, it hurt. Russell’s best film by a long shot, Silver Linings Playbook has a cynical charm to it, capitalising on a smart script and great performances from the whole cast. The ending dance sequence will always one of my favourite moments, but I think it’s genuinely objectively great. It’s well-paced, performed, and edited. Doesn’t wholly feel like a Best Picture nominee but it’s definitely worthy.
25. The Shape of Water (2017) dir. Guillermo Del Toro
An enchanting look at the way we treat one another through similarities and differences, The Shape of Water is as beautifully written and acted as it is crafted. Featuring career-best work from Sally Hawkins and Richard Jenkins, Del Toro’s Best Picture-winning fantasy remains a high point of our awards system.
24. Gravity (2013) dir. Alfonso Cuáron
This might not be my favourite film on this list, but its prowess is undeniable. Cuáron displays complete command of his craft and unwavering skill as he achieves feats that had yet to be achieved by filmmakers. Gravity remains a technical marvel, boasting a terrific performance from Sandra Bullock.
23. Room (2015) dir. Lenny Abrahamson
Considering how small this movie was, I love that it was nominated. It’s also one hell of a good movie. With Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay providing some great acting moments as well as chemistry that’s rarely seen between children and adult actors. With one of the tensest scenes in recent memory, Room solidifies itself as one for all-time.
22. Marriage Story (2019) dir. Noah Baumbach
Emotionally devastating, flawlessly acted, and written with a rare sharpness that Baumbach has been working to master, Marriage Story will likely devastate you, while providing a rare look at marriage and divorce through the lens of love and timing and regrets.
21. Birdman (2014) Alejandro Gonzálex Iñárritu
I always think of this film as the Bertolt Brecht masterclass, and it’s an impeccable achievement – a somewhat strange pick for the Best Picture win, given its competition, but a worthy winner nonetheless. A truly great film.
20. The Favourite (2018) dir. Yorgos Lanthimos
I never knew a movie that uses the word “cunt-struck” would be nominated for Best Picture but here we are and I regret nothing.
19. Manchester by the Sea (2016) dir. Kenneth Lonergan
Representing a streaming service’s first big Oscar win in a major category, this film feels like both a typical and an atypical Oscar nominee, but I’m glad it made it. The performances and writing are the standouts of course, even if I wish Lonergan had directed a little more decisively.
18. 12 Years a Slave (2013) dir. Steve McQueen
Ranked this high due to being an almost perfect film, even though its rewatchability is very scarce. As harrowing as it needed to be and then some , 12 Years A Slave demonstrates how to tell a true story with grace and care but also the necessary emotional punches. Terrific performances from everyone, and Steve McQueen handles this film like a champ.
17. Phantom Thread (2017) dir. Paul Thomas Anderson
A somewhat surprise nomination on the day, but absolutely as deserving as the category’s front runners. Deliciously constructed and wonderfully acted, Phantom Thread is one of the best surprises in the major category for a long time now.
16. 1917 (2019) dir. Sam Mendes
A lot more than what it makes itself out to be. With heavy mention of the one-shot feature, it was a pleasant surprise when it turned out to be an engrossing, layered movie about survival and friendship, and a look at how we always have to keep going even in the darkest of situations.
15. Spotlight (2015) dir. Tom McCarthy
Quite possibly one of the best screenplays of the decade, Spotlight imbues its journalistic depiction of trauma and systemic abuse with a tenderness and grace that is rarely seen in these sorts of films. It doesn’t hide from the gruesome facts but it doesn’t use them for emotional payoffs either, which is a tricky tightrope to balance on. One of the best winners on the list.
14. Black Swan (2010) dir. Darren Aronofsky
A horror/thriller masterpiece where all of the elements line up pretty perfectly, including a performance by Natalie Portman that ranks up there with the decade’s best and displays such an impressive range of depth and emotion. Also, a perfect ending.
13. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) dir. George Miller
While admittedly not my favourite of my Top 20 here, the sheer level of technical mastery is impossible to ignore. This film is working so brilliantly on every level that it’s a thrilling, beautiful adventure that’s lovely to look at as well as being effortlessly entertaining. Charlize Theron also did not get enough credit for her performance here.
12. Roma (2018) dir. Alfonso Cuáron
A stunning personal exploration from Cuáron and actually a more impressive directorial feat than Gravity. It might not be as flashy, but the staging and the sound work are impeccable. One of the best ever.
11. Little Women (2019) dir. Greta Gerwig
Despite what some losers have said about the “confusing” timeline, Little Women remains a massively strong movie with a lot of heart and some interesting changes to the source material, which is shown through Greta’s perfect script and seamless direction, as well as a group of strong performances from its cast.
10. Arrival (2016) dir. Denis Villeneuve
Good god, even trying to talk about gives me a headache. Even though Amy Adams was SNUBBED, this film remains a sci-fi masterpiece and one of the best films of the last few years. You can find more intelligent, coherent takes on this film elsewhere, I’m too stunned by this film to comment.
9. Lady Bird (2017) dir. Greta Gerwig
Around 90 minutes of perfect filmmaking and a script that gets better on every rewatch. Saoirse Ronan yet again gives a terrific performance and made Lady Bird many people’s favourite film.
8. Call Me By Your Name (2017) dir. Luca Guadagnino
Okay but the last 10 minutes alone deserved to win Best Picture.
7. The Tree of Life (2011) dir. Terrence Malick
In a year of truly dreadful Best Picture nominees, this movie is the year’s crowning achievement. A truly masterful achievement in every way. Malick’s career-defining film in every way. And also the introduction of Jessica Chastain, which is an added bonus.
6. Whiplash (2014) dir. Damien Chazelle
Heart-stopping from beginning to end, showing the beginning of Damien Chazelle’s cinematic mastery. The best film of that year, should have been a bigger contender for the top prize.
5. Her (2013) dir. Spike Jonze
Go find my favourite films to the year post. That will explain a lot better.
4. La La Land (2016) dir. Damien Chazelle
Chazelle strikes again, but I genuinely hope this movie is remembered for more than its part of the Oscars 2017 envelope debacle. Despite its awards season backlash, it’s a genuinely wonderful movie.
3. Parasite (2019) dir. Bong-Joon Ho
Not much to say that hasn’t been said already but this might end up being the best film of the 2010’s, and I’m writing this before the Oscars ceremony so I’m just praying that it wins.
2. The Social Network (2010) dir. David Fincher
Probably the defining film of the 2010’s both in terms of what the decade offered and what it depicted – our relationship with social media innovation and how it affects our personal relationships. Eisenberg and Garfield kill it, and it has rewatch value like not many other films I’ve seen.
1. Moonlight (2016) dir. Barry Jenkins
Not only is this one of the best films of the decade, it’s also probably the best Best Picture winner we’ve ever had in terms of what it is. It’s a low-budget movie about a gay black man with a main cast comprised entirely of black people, as well as those behind the camera. A truly monumental victory at the Oscars that was not only full deserved, but a reflection of the potential the Oscars can have in terms of showcasing a range of voices in their represented works. A true must-see and I hope it’s something this new decade can continue.
Even though I may dislike a fair few of these films, it has been a brilliant decade for films. The Academy may not have always represented the best films, but I’m hoping that as more attention is brought to highlighting new voices rather than the same tired choices.
Thank you all for bearing with me through this fairly long post, and I hope you found at least something you agree with in this post.
PS: Parasite for Best Picture tonight!!!!