The past decade has given us many great movies that I’d like to think will be remembered as instant classics. This may be a bold opinion, but I really think that the 2010s could be seen as a period that’s every bit as great as the 1980s, the 1990s, and even the 2000s for the movies. Here are the films, one from each year, that are the best from the 2010s. The Films of the Decade.
2010: The Social Network
The Social Network, released in 2010 by Sony Pictures, is a biopic about Mark Zuckerberg, and how he created Facebook while in college. The film begins in 2003 where we see a 19-year-old Zuckerberg write an angry post about a girl who dumped him and coded a new website called “Facemash” that allows Harvard students to rate the attractiveness of their fellow classmates. The site grows, and eventually is given the name “thefacebook” later “Facebook”, and gives access to students from other colleges.
While the site is growing, Zuckerberg meets up with Sean Parker, the founder of Napster, and gets assistance from him on improving the website. The film goes on to show the drama that happens between Zuckerberg and the Winklevoss twins, who both claim that Zuckerberg stole their idea and showed how the lawsuit went on. The epilogue of the film states that Mark Zuckerberg was the youngest self-made billionaire because of the website and that the site had over 500 million members as of the release of that film. “The Social Network” is an important film from this decade because it basically shows what relationships are like for Millennials in this decade.
The film takes place in the early 2000s but is very much relatable to teens and college students of the 2010s as it shows how complicated relationships are when technology is involved. It also can be seen as a period piece; at the time the film takes place, Facebook was only available to college students, the general public didn’t start using this until the 2010s. The film story about how the most popular website of the 2010s came to be, while also showing the different kinds of drama that the college students of that era dealt with, makes it a very relatable film, and one of the films of the decade.
The 2010s were also an interesting decade for experimental art films. Experimental films aren’t exactly the most popular but are still very much worth viewing because they mostly rely on aesthetics and symbolism over the story, which is possibly one reason why the general public isn’t crazy about it. Ron Fricke’s Samsara is one experimental film that I think is one of the films of the decade. Samsara is a non-lineral experimental film that takes the viewer on a spiritual journey around the world.
Fricke as done the cinematography for the cult classics Koyaanisqatsi (1982), Chronos (1985) and Baracka (1992), all of which show the world in slow motion and time-lapse photography. Some of the places that the film shows you are New Orleans Lower Ninth Ward neighborhood, the highways of Los Angeles, desert houses in Namibia, and the island monastery of Mont-Saint-Michel. The overarching theme is is that of samsara, or the cycles of birth, death, and rebirth.
One of the scenes that shows this is a group of Buddhist monks who create a sand mandala, and erase it shortly after, showing how nothing in this world is permanent. This timeless message, along with stunning imagery from around the world, makes Samsara one of the films of the decade, and my personal favorite choice for 2011.
2012: Wreck-It Ralph
A Disney animated film, Wreck-It Ralph shows you what daily life is like in the world of video games. In Wreck-It Ralph, we see game villain Ralph, known for taking down apartment buildings that the hero, Fix-It Felix, has to rebuild. He is not satisfied with always being the villain, which makes him explore other video games in the arcade, where he meets Vanellope von Schweetz in a racing game called Sugar Rush. Throughout the film, both characters learn about the importance of their roles in their video game society, and Ralph eventually comes to terms with his situation. We, the viewers learn what it truly means to be ourselves, which is why Wreck-It Ralph is one of the films of the decade.
2013: Escape From Tomorrow
This is another one of my favorite art house films of the decade. Escape From Tomorrow is a cult classic film that about a day at the amusement park gone horribly wrong. That park: Walt Disney World Florida. Yes, director Randy Moore filmed the movie on location at Disney resorts without their permission throughout the summer of 2012…and it doesn’t (completely) show the park is the best way possible! He actually had a timer on his official website counting down the days until Disney sued them. (They never did.)
So, what’s the big deal here? A father takes his family to Walt Disney World and is, for the most part, bored out of his mind…until he sees some lovely ladies at the park and tries to get with one of them, which is where the trip takes a dark turn. This surreal misadventure reveals strange conspiracies, dark secrets, and the bizarre activities the Disney mascots do when NOT in public! This neo-noir fever dream does not end well for this father and, without any spoilers, the Disney company covers it all up as if this strange trip never happened. This lawsuit-provoking film about the crazy secrets of Disney theme parks is a daring work of art that certainly deserves a spot as one of the films of the decade.
Another indie flick of the decade that I like. (See a pattern here?) But this piece of art also has a heart too, as this was filmed over a period of 12 years from 2001 to 2013 that’s about life as an American kid from elementary school to college. The film sort of makes it a point to give hints at when certain scenes take place (Obama posters, discussions about Iraq) but are for the most part timeless; it could take place at any time within the past century. The universal story of growing up in a changing world truly does make this one of the films of the decade.
2015’s Tangerine explores the events that happen when a transgender sex worker discovers that her boyfriend has been cheating on her with a cisgender woman while she was serving prison time shortly after she was released. The course of the film follows how she deals with this and goes on to find the truth about what has been going on while she was in jail. This topical comedy-drama was shot on location in Los Angeles with an iPhone camera to give it an intimate, up-close look at the lives of people in the LGBT community. This unique and timely film, which combines both the technology and the social issues of the day, makes this one of the films of the decade.
Do you have the ‘nerve’ to play the year’s most sensational game of digital ‘truth or dare’? The characters of the 2016 technothriller adventure ‘Nerve’ do! This film, which coincidentally was released during the height of ‘Pokemon Go’s popularity shows us what happens when a teen from Staten Island downloads this mysterious game from the deep web and gets involved. You have two choices: you either are a “watcher” or a “player” and once you choose, you are stuck with that role. The dares start out simple: they are the typical teen stuff like embarrassing a close friend or doing something silly, but they slowly grow into more intense challenges, challenges that can possibly end your life! And it’s up to the watchers who determines what challenges you do! This exciting thriller commentates on our obsession with internet challenges and social media, which makes it a perfect contender for being one of the films of the decade.
2017: Get Out
The most daring film of the year, possibly decade, would have to be Jordan Peele’s Get Out. This horror film follows a young African-American artist from New York City who visits his white girlfriend’s family in Upstate New York. He at first seems mildly bothered at how try-hard her family is when relating to blacks. Members of her family all make a big deal about having black friends, voting for Obama twice, and admiring black athletes. All of this seems to annoy him until he discovers a disturbing secret about this supposedly woke white family. The film has deep symbolism about race relations in America and is bold for taking on these relations in a disturbingly satirical way that’s both scary and even funny, but also thought to provoke. The film’s topical themes of race relations in the 21st century make this a bold contender as one of the films of the decade.
2018: Crazy Rich Asians
On the other side of the ethnic film spectrum is the romantic comedy Crazy Rich Asians. This film tells the story of an Asian-American immigrant who somehow manages to become part of the Singapore socialite scene. She ends up in a world of extravagant mansions, wild parties, and exotic luxuries after she marries into one of Southeast Asia’s richest families. The exciting, glamorous, life loses its appeal when it turns out that her lover’s mother might not accept her because of her status. These issues actually show how complex race and class are in Asia. In the book the film is based on, it even points out that the rich Singapore families hire Filipino servants to maintain their estates, showing that not all Asians are crazy rich. This film, which shows the realities of what it’s like being Asian or Asian-American in the present day, is another great one that’s one of the films of the decade.
Us is yet another future cult classic from the mind of Jordan Peele. This time, we see what happens when a family that’s on vacation gets attacked by a group of people that…for some strange reason…look like them. The story begins in 1986 when a young girl wanders away from her family at a popular seaside amusement park, where she sees a person that looks exactly like her. She is traumatized by this memory and hasn’t let go for over 30 years until her own family goes out to this same amusement park in the present day.
Her present day family -of course- gets attacked by these mysterious doppelgangers at the same amusement park and it’s up to them to take these strange people on. There are lots to unpack from this intriguing thriller. One interpretation I got out of it is that our own worst enemy is actually…us. One possible moral to take from this is that our own mistakes can come back to haunt us and it is up to us to take it on before you self-destruct. Another interpretation is that the doppelgangers represent the oppressed people of the US and that our privilege is based on the suffering of those who are not fortunate to live a good life. All these unique takes on this fascinating film make this another contender as one of the films of the decade.