Best Movies of the 2010s 

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As the decade winds down, let’s reflect on some of the best films released over the past 10 years. There were so many films to mention, however here are some movies that went above and beyond the standards of cinema. 

“You Were Never Really Here” 

Premiering in 2017 and later released in 2018, director and writer Lynne Ramsay made one of the most disturbing yet immersive films of the decade. Joaquin Phoenix gave a career-defining performance as a veteran-turned-hitman who saves girls from sex traffickers while dealing with his own traumas. Phoenix brilliantly walks the line between being cruel and caring as a tortured hitman. His performance was easily the most underrated of the decade. With Ramsay’s immaculate direction and Jonny Greenwood’s masterful score, “You Were Never Really Here” stands as a masterpiece.  

“Moonlight” 

Probably the best film of the decade, Barry Jenkins’ Best Picture-winning film “Moonlight” challenges everything you know about filmmaking. Released in 2016, “Moonlight” follows a young black man named Chrion over the course of his life. Jenkins has a precision to his characters unlike any director working today. His ability to take a character like Juan, a drug dealer, and make him sympathetic is magic. No words can describe the beauty “Moonlight” presents on screen and the lasting impact it left. 

“The Nightingale”  

Horror movies throughout the decade seemed to be based around jumpscares and technology. “The Nightingale” ignored all of the trends. Instead, writer and director Jennifer Kent focused on a 21-year-old woman who seeks revenge on an army lieutenant who raped her and killed her child and husband. Set in 19th century Australia, Kent made the decade’s scariest film by avoiding gimmicks and simplifying the story. Originally screened in 2018 and later released in 2019, “The Nightingale” is a case study on how to make a horror film.  

“Manchester by the Sea” 

When writer and director Kenneth Longeran released his drama “Manchester by the Sea” in 2016, he unleashed one of the best dramas of all time. The film stars Casey Affleck as a depressed janitor who has to visit his hometown after his brother dies. While there, he has to look after his nephew, which bothers him because of a traumatic experience. Affleck’s Oscar-winning performance was one of the most unique roles of the decade. His subdued acting reveals the pain that most people experience when revisiting tragedy.  

“Hugo” 

Throughout his career, Martin Scorsese has been best known for making ultra-violent character studies of tortured men. With his 2011 film “Hugo” however, he subverts expectations. The film is about a young boy named Hugo who lives in a Paris train station building a mechanical man while avoiding being sent to an orphanage. Scorsese’s foray into making a family film worked brilliantly, as he was able to tell a heartwarming story with breathtaking visuals. He adapted “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” by Brian Selznick and turned it into a love letter to early cinema and Paris. While Scorsese’s latest film “The Irishman” is a fantastic film, there’s something about Hugo that feels so different to other Scorsese films. It stands as the best family film of the decade. 

“A Fantastic Woman” 

Winning Best Foreign Feature at the 2018 Academy Awards, Sebastian Lelio’s  “A Fantastic Woman” explores a transgender woman’s life after her boyfriend dies and her experience in modern Chile. Daniela Vega’s powerhouse performance is a landmark achievement in cinema. Her use of emotion makes her character Marina a force to be reckoned with. Lelio’s use of music and editing is unrivaled in terms of pure beauty. Other films such as “Crown Heights” and “Columbus” were other masterful films released in 2017, but “A Fantastic Woman” was the best of an amazing year. 

“Birdman” 

Alejandro González Iñárritu is genius director. His one shot approach to his 2014 film “Birdman” was one of the most unique experiences of the decade. Featuring Michael Keaton as a washed-up actor looking for a comeback on Broadway, this black comedy is a brutal breakdown of celebrity culture, acting and staying relevant. Keaton gave the best performance of his career, and Iñárritu directed a visually complex narrative masterpiece. This Best Picture winner will stand as one of the best recipients of the award in the 2010s. 

Thumbnail Photo by Pinho . on Unsplash


Ian Ward is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at ian.ward@uconn.edu

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