20 of the Best Movies of the 2010s

Damarys Ocaña Perez | Dec 27, 2019 Movies
20 of the Best Movies of the 2010s

Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga in A Star Is Born
Warner Bros./Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Though we're looking forward to welcoming the roaring '20s -- and can't wait to see upcoming movies that the new decade has lined up for us -- we're not about to kick the flicks of the 2010s to the curb. The past 10 years have produced gems in all genres that will always be worth watching over again, and some of them should even be considered classics. 

After all, this was the decade of huge change in Hollywood. It was a decade in which movies and those who make them became more diverse, and when women broke through big time, when streaming services like Netflix brought world-class filmmaking into our living rooms, to the delight of everyone -- but especially moms everywhere, who know how hard it is to get out to the theater when we have little ones relying on us. All of this change made the film landscape all the richer. 

The 2010s definitely broke lots of barriers. 

Remember when Hollywood thought that a female filmmaker couldn't make a thriller or draw a wide range of movie fans to the theater to watch an action film with a female lead? Remember when horror movies relied heavily on jump scares and had nothing to say about race and class, let alone manage to also be funny? Remember when Disney acted like it couldn't figure out how make a great, inoffensive animated flick with a non-white character as a lead? 

Yeah, all those things went straight out the window when great movies of the 2010s proved them wrong. 

The 2010s were also a decade in which a big crop of great actresses and actors came into their own, making movies that entertained or shocked us, and becoming favorites that we love onscreen as well as off. We can't wait to see what they do next, but for now, let's look back at 20 of the best movies of the past 10 years.

  • 'Arrival' (2016)

    1

    In a refreshing and smart departure from action-packed and fanboy sci-fi flicks, Amy Adams gives a compelling performance as a linguist named Louise Banks who tries to communicate with plant-life aliens who have landed a pod in the middle of a field. Even more interesting than that central mystery is the exploration of Louise and her young daughter's relationship, which has a heart-rending twist. Adams wasn't nominated for an Oscar, but she should have been.

  • 'Hidden Figures' (2016)

    2

    Movies rarely come more uplifting, entertaining, and necessary than this one -- which is based on the true and overlooked story of how African American female mathematicians helped NASA send John Glenn into orbit, a crucial step in winning the space race against Russia. Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monae are perfectly cast as three of the mathematicians who broke racial and gender barriers to help ensure that the mission was a success. 

  • 'Brooklyn' (2015)

    3

    Such an underrated but powerful movie. Saoirse Ronan plays a young Irish immigrant in Brooklyn who comes to New York in the 1950s and begins making a new life away from family -- including falling in love with an Italian American man. When she visits her old village in Ireland, though, and is charmed by a local, she has to choose which life she wants for herself. 

  • 'Finding Dory' (2016)

    4

    Finding Nemo was a great movie, but Dory (voiced by Ellen DeGeneres, of course) flat out stole the movie. So it was no wonder that a sequel was in order, which made many a fan of the chatty fish with the faulty memory, very happy. We finally learn her backstory and find out why she has amnesia -- but not before she and friends break out of an aquarium.

  • 'The King's Speech' (2010)

    5

    Queen Elizabeth II's father had a stammer so bad that he dreaded making speeches. But as king, speaking in public was part of the gig, so he employed a speech therapist ahead of an important speech -- and this simple but touching movie is all about his reaching across class lines to forge a relationship with the therapist and get over his impediment. Colin Firth and Helena Bonham Carter (who played Princess Margaret in The Crown) gave fantastic performances as the king and queen.

  • 'Coco' (2017)

    6

    Disney hasn't always gotten it right when it comes to treating different cultures and ethnicities accurately and respectfully. But it did just that with Coco, a heartwarming story about a Mexican boy who yearns to be a musician despite his family's ban on music. He then travels to the Land of the Dead to find his great grandfather, a famous musician, and finally understand his family's history, and his place in it.  

  • 'Gravity' (2013)

    7

    The special effects are breathtaking in this drama but even more so is Sandra Bullock's performance as an astronaut/doctor who gets stuck in space by herself after debris damages the space station. In order to get back to Earth, she has to overcome not just brutal odds and punishing elements, but the demons that haunted her before she ever left home.   

  • 'A Star is Born' (2018)

    8

    It has been made three times, but we can't imagine A Star in Born being made again after this latest film. As a gifted singer and songwriter who is discovered and mentored by an alcoholic singing star (Bradley Cooper), Lady Gaga shines on the big screen -- and her onscreen and IRL chemistry with lead actor (and director) is now the stuff of legend. 

  • 'Room' (2015)

    9

    Not only was this one of the most gutting but ultimately uplifting stories ever to hit the big screen, but Room also announced to the world that a little known actress named Brie Larson was a major talent. The future Captain Marvel earned a best actress Oscar to prove it, for her searing performance as a mom who, along with her young son, was held captive for seven years. 

  • 'Zero Dark Thirty' (2012)

    10

    Based on the true story of the female CIA operative who found Bin Laden, this controversial thriller will make anyone's stomach drop to the ground because of its unrelenting intensity. And that's thanks in large part to Jessica Chastain's tour de force performance as the dogged operative who went down some very dark alleys in her search for the terrorist. 

  • 'Crazy Rich Asians' (2018)

    11

    The sheer amount of swag in this movie is enough to keep us entertained, but it is also a funny, sweet, and eye-opening glimpse of a privileged world that few people have experienced. Constance Wu plays an Asian-American professor who goes on a trip to Singapore to meet her fiance's family -- after he's just confessed that they're super rich -- and she is definitely fish out of water until she wins them over.

  • 'American Hustle' (2013)

    12

    The cast is a 2010s acting dream team, comprised of Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Adams, Christian Bale, and Jeremy Renner. The movie itself is outrageously entertaining, from the slinky '70s clothes to the plot itself, which is basically a tour of the New Jersey criminal underworld.

  • 'Roma' (2018)

    13

    Movie magic doesn't happen that often, but when it does, it's special. This Best Picture Oscar nominee, shot in gorgeous black and white, tells the story of a year in the life of a live-in maid who works for a family in Mexico City and keeps the family together when it starts coming apart at the seams. Yalitza Aparicio, who trained as a teacher, landed the lead role in Roma when she accompanied her sister to the auditions. She became the first Mexican indigenous woman to be nominated for an Oscar.

  • 'Wonder Woman' (2017)

    14

    She's statuesque, strong, and beautiful. Gal Gadot was basically born to play Wonder Woman. This first movie of a reboot is satisfying -- from the depiction of the bada--ery of the Amazonian women on Wonder Woman's native island, to the action sequences in which Gadot more than held her own. The flick became the highest-grossing movie ever that was directed by a woman (Patty Jenkins).

  • 'Get Out!' (2017)

    15

    This movie became a cultural touchstone, and it's no wonder. Get Out is pitch perfect in the way it handles tone that shifts from horror, to comedy, to social commentary. When a black man and his white girlfriend visit her parents house in the country, he is not prepared for the amount of evil he encounters.

  • 'The Favourite' (2018)

    16

    This is not our grandma's period movie. The Favourite is a sharply written, well-acted, and in some ways, thoroughly modern account of Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) and the quasi-love triangle she partakes in with a close friend (Rachel Weisz) and a servant (Emma Stone). It's an unexpectedly fun movie, and a great opportunity to watch three actresses at the top of their game.

  • 'Spotlight' (2015) 

    17

    One of the biggest scandals to emerge in the past 10 years, scores of victims came forward to say that Catholic priests abused them for years. The paper that broke that story was The Boston Globe, and this riveting movie traces how a team of investigative reporters found victims and published a series of articles that would bring attention to the issue and consequences to perpetrators.

  • 'Moana' (2016)

    18

    Disney added more melanin to their princess lineup with Moana, a royal who is an explorer at heart and has the courage to leave the island where she grew up in search of a way to save it. A great model for kids, the movie also features the Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as Maui, and music by Lin-Manuel Miranda.

    So all around, it's a winner.

  • 'The Martian' (2015)

    19

    Pretty hard to beat a movie about the unbreakable human spirit. Imagine getting left behind on Mars, a world filled with nothing but rocks. Earth is 150 million miles away, and the only option is survival until rescue comes. That's what happened to Matt Damon's character, and the plot in The Martian makes for some serious, edge of the seat movie watching. 

    Very satisfying.

  • 'Guardians of the Galaxy' (2014)

    20

    The Avengers movies are all must-sees, but Guardians of the Galaxy is really special among them, in part because it's not as bloated with noise and unrealistic fights as the others. Guardians is funny, has plenty of action and great special effects, plus an actual romance (between Chris Pratt's and Zoe Saldana's characters), and several interesting female characters.

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