Future Hollywood Classics of the 2010s | Awards Insights
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Future Hollywood Classics of the 2010s

Future Hollywood Classics of the 2010s

[Update: 6/11/21 – Due to a comment, I have added Ex Machina to the list as I realized that it perfectfly fits the criteria I have laid out and I can’t think of any reason it should not be included.]

What is a classic movie?

Classics aren’t always the greatest films and this is not a “greatest films of the 2010s list” (for that go here). My definition of a classic would be a film that has become a mainstay in popular culture either through widespread rewatches or through references in other forms of popular culture. They don’t necessarily have to be good films (even though for this list I’ll only focus on movies that are generally thought of to be good, sorry “Cats”), but usually the reason a film has staying power is because of it being either very entertaining, very successful, or very impactful (which is kind of vague, I know, but what I mean by this is that the film has a strong emotional impact).

I am only going to focus on films that are are “Hollywood” films made with Hollywood actors and/or at a Hollywood studio (so that excludes foreign-language films like ‘Parasite’, ‘A Separation’ or ‘The Hunt’ which all would have otherwise been on this list). Using all of the criteria that I have laid out so far some classics from the 90s would be: (in no specific order)

  • Goodfellas (1990)
  • Pulp Fiction (1994)
  • Schindler’s List (1993)
  • Fargo (1996)
  • Unforgiven (1992)
  • The Big Lebowski (1998)
  • Groundhog Day (1993)
  • The Matrix (1999)
  • The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
  • The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
  • Fight Club (1999)
  • Jurassic Park (1993)
  • Toy Story (1995)
  • Se7en (1995)
  • Saving Private Ryan (1998)
  • American Beauty (1999)
  • Forrest Gump (1994)
  • The Usual Suspects (1995)
  • Scream (1996)
  • Clueless (1995)
  • The Lion King (1994)
  • Reservoir Dogs (1992)
  • The Sixth Sense (1999)
  • Good Will Hunting (1997)
  • Titanic (1997)
  • Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)
  • Trainspotting (1996)
  • Beauty and the Beast (1991)
  • Edward Scissorhands (1990)
  • The Truman Show (1998)
  • Braveheart (1995)
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
  • Leon: The Professional (1994)
  • 12 Monkeys (1995)
  • Heat (1995)
  • Home Alone (1990)
  • A Few Good Men (1992)
  • Jerry Maguire (1996)
  • The Blair Witch Project (1999)

This, for example, would be my list if I was compiling the classics of the 90s as they are mix of blockbusters, dramas, and comedies that have persisted through time and remain a significant part of popular culture today as they are oft-referenced by the general movie-watching public.

With my list, I want to find movies from the 2010s that I believe are likely to have the same amount of popular culture significance that these films have had 20+ years after they were released.

So without further ado, here are my picks.

2010

Black Swan

‘Black Swan’ (Searchlight)

Directed by: Darren Aronofsky

Synopsis: “A committed dancer struggles to maintain her sanity after winning the lead role in a production of Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake”.” (From IMDb)

Other than featuring an Oscar-winning turn from Natalie Portman, inspired direction from Darren Aronofsky, and themes of self-destructive obsession, “Black Sawn” is also, far and away, the most well-known film that centers around ballet (its closest competitor is probably “The Red Shoes”). With that distinction, when many people think of ballet, they will think of this movie (for better or worse) and that, in addition to the film’s own merit, will sustain its popularity for years to come.

Inception

‘Inception’ (Warner Bros.)

Directed by: Christopher Nolan

Synopsis: “A thief (Leonardo DiCaprio) who steals corporate secrets through the use of dream-sharing technology is given the inverse task of planting an idea into the mind of a C.E.O (Cillian Murphy).” (From IMDb)

An amazing sci-fi thriller that stays in your mind long after the credits roll, “Inception” is a high-concept and ambitious film that achieves what it sets out to on multiple levels. The originality of the film’s conceit combined with its immense entertainment value will make sure that this film is well-remembered and still watched decades from now.

Shutter Island

‘Shutter Island’ (Paramount)

Directed by: Martin Scorsese

Synopsis: “In 1954, a U.S. Marshal (Leonardo DiCaprio) investigates the disappearance of a murderer who escaped from a hospital for the criminally insane.” (From IMDb).

A very memorable experience filled with mystery, “Shutter Island” will probably be remembered as a great thriller by a master of suspense filled with shocking twists and turns.

The Social Network

‘The Social Network’ (Columbia)

Directed by: David Fincher

Synopsis: “As Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) creates the social networking site that would become known as Facebook, he is sued by the twins (Armie Hammer) who claimed he stole their idea, and by the co-founder (Andrew Garfield) who was later squeezed out of the business.” (From IMDb).

A modern classic in every sense, “The Social Network” will continue to be relevant even if Facebook ceases to become the behemoth it is today as the film really could be applied to any story about greed and power. However, as the Internet age shows no signs of ending any time soon, this film will continue to have especially immense relevance.

Toy Story 3

‘Toy Story 3’ (Disney/Pixar)

Directed by: Lee Unkrich

Synopsis: “The toys are mistakenly delivered to a day-care center instead of the attic right before Andy (John Morris) leaves for college, and it’s up to Woody (Tom Hanks) to convince the other toys that they weren’t abandoned and to return home.” (From IMDb).

The best film from the greatest animated trilogy of all-time, “Toy Story 3” is a perfect coming-of-age movie that deals with growing up and letting go in a very intimate way. This is a movie that parents will be showing their kids for years and years so it is destined to become a classic (if it already isn’t one).

2011

Bridesmaids

‘Bridesmaids’ (Universal)

Directed by: Paul Feig

Synopsis: “Competition between the maid of honor (Kristen Wiig) and a bridesmaid (Rose Byrne), over who is the bride’s (Maya Rudolph) best friend, threatens to upend the life of an out-of-work pastry chef.” (From IMDb).

Of the pure comedies from this decade, “Bridesmaids” is probably the most fondly remembered. It is already an oft-referenced movie that launched the film careers of Melissa McCarthy and Paul Feig, two people who have cemented themselves as two of this decade’s biggest names in comedy.

Drive

‘Drive’ (FilmDistrict)

Directed by: Nicholas Winding Refn

Synopsis: “A mysterious Hollywood stuntman and mechanic (Ryan Gosling) moonlights as a getaway driver and finds himself in trouble when he helps out his neighbor (Carey Mulligan).” (From IMDb).

A film that is primed for strong cult classic status, “Drive” is a stylish film with a terrific synth-laden soundtrack that boasts a Ryan Gosling performance that catapulted him from indie darling to mainstream star. This adrenaline rush of a film will be a pop culture mainstay for all those reasons and more.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2’ (Warner Bros.)

Directed by: David Yates

Synopsis: “Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint), and Hermione (Emma Watson) search for Voldemort’s (Ralph Fiennes) remaining Horcruxes in their effort to destroy the Dark Lord as the final battle rages on at Hogwarts.” (From IMDb).

The satisfying final film of one of the most popular film franchises of all-time, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” is generally considered to be the best film in the franchise (I think ‘Prisoner of Azkaban’ is slightly better but…) and is a rare example of a franchise conclusion done in a way that appeases die-hard fans, casual moviegoers, and critics alike.

The Tree of Life

‘The Tree of Life’ (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

Directed by: Terrence Malick

Synopsis: “The story of a family in Waco, Texas in 1956. The eldest son (Hunter McCracken) witnesses the loss of innocence and struggles with his parents’ (Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain) conflicting teachings.” (From IMDb)

While it is seen as a quintessential “critics’ film” by the general public, “The Tree of Life” the divisive film will be remembered by those who have been profoundly affected by its’ stunning ambition, philosophical themes, and beautiful imagery. It is a pure art-house film made with A-list actors like Brad Pitt, Jessica Chastain, and Sean Penn and, as a result, it made over $50 million dollars worldwide, which is outstanding for a film like this. Critics will definitely remember this film and general audience will as well as, due to the A-list talent, many of them experienced a kind of film that was vastly different than anything they had seen before.

2012

Django Unchained

‘Django Unchained’ (The Weinstein Company)

Directed by: Quentin Tarantino

Synopsis: “With the help of a German bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz), a freed slave (Jamie Foxx) sets out to rescue his wife (Kerry Washington) from a brutal Mississippi plantation owner (Leonardo DiCaprio).” (From IMDb).

Quentin Tarantino’s revisionist western, “Django Unchained” is the best western of the decade and continues the sacred Hollywood tradition of the western into the future. The great cast is also full of performers that had great success during this decade and that could propel this film into the pop culture canon as well.

The Master

‘The Master’ (The Weinstein Company)

Directed by: Paul Thomas Anderson

Synopsis: A Naval veteran (Joaquin Phoenix) arrives home from war unsettled and uncertain of his future – until he is tantalized by the Cause and its charismatic leader (Philip Seymour Hoffman).

Led by two astonishingly intense performances from Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman, “The Master” is a deeply psychological exploration and character study that deals with cults (Hoffman’s character is based on Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard) and PTSD.

2013

12 Years a Slave

’12 Years A Slave’ (Fox Searchlight)

Directed by: Steve McQueen

Synopsis: “In the antebellum United States, Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery.” (From IMDb).

A movie that is starting to be shown in some high school history classes, “12 Years a Slave” is a brutally realistic and necessary film that will be looked at as the most important film about slavery.

Frozen

‘Frozen’ (Disney)

Directed by: Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee

Synopsis: “When the newly crowned Queen Elsa (Idina Menzel) accidentally uses her power to turn things into ice to curse her home in infinite winter, her sister Anna (Kristen Bell) teams up with a mountain man (Jonathan Groff), his playful reindeer, and a snowman (Josh Gad) to change the weather condition.” (From IMDb).

The highest grossing animated film that is not a sequel, spinoff, or remake, “Frozen” was by far the most popular movie among a generation of kids for a year. The film’s massive popularity and rabid fanbase is indicative of the fact that this film is a certified Gen Z classic.

Her

‘Her’ (Warner Bros.)

Directed by: Spike Jonze

Synopsis: In a near future, a lonely writer (Joaquin Phoenix) develops an unlikely relationship with an operating system (Scarlett Johansson) designed to meet his every need.

This decade’s “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”, “Her” (like that fellow romantic drama with a sci-fi twist) is destined to be a classic. This film will likely become even more relevant as its depiction of a man’s relationship with an operating system may be prophetic as advances in artificial intelligence continue.

The Wolf of Wall Street

‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ (Paramount)

Directed by: Martin Scorsese

Synopsis: “Based on the true story of Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio), from his rise to a wealthy stock-broker living the high life to his fall involving crime, corruption and the federal government.” (From IMDb).

An exhilarating portrait of the greed and excess seen on Wall Street, “The Wolf of Wall Street” has one of Leonardo DiCaprio’s greatest performances and is an exciting cautionary tale that keeps the audience’s attention for all three hours of its runtime.

2014

Birdman

‘Birdman’ (Searchlight)

Directed by: Alejandro G. Inarittu

Synopsis: “A washed-up superhero actor (Michael Keaton) attempts to revive his fading career by writing, directing, and starring in a Broadway production.” (From IMDb).

An artistic tour-de-force that is also a critique of the formulaicness of many modern Hollywood films, “Birdman” is a Best Picture winner that will age well due to its adventurous energy and creativity. This film is oftentimes very meta and features fantastic performances from Michael Keaton, Emma Stone, and Edward Norton.

Boyhood

‘Boyhood’ (IFC Films)

Directed by: Richard Linklater

Synopsis: “The life of Mason (Ellar Coltrane), from early childhood to his arrival at college.” (From IMDb).

This decade’s ultimate American coming-of-age film (with “Moonlight” being its closest contender), “Boyhood” is really a slice of life film that sheds a light on the maturation years of a generation. That factor ensures that the film will be a nostalgia trip for millions and what is a classic but a nostalgia trip?

Ex Machina

‘Ex Machina’ (A24)

Directed by: Alex Garland

Synopsis: “A young programmer (Domnhall Gleeson) is selected to participate in a ground-breaking experiment in synthetic intelligence by evaluating the human qualities of a highly advanced humanoid A.I. (Alicia Vikander)” (From IMDb).

As AI continues to become more prevalent and relevant in our society, “Ex Machina” will likely be deemed prescient which is an adjective that cements a sci-fi film’s place in the genre’s canon. The brilliant and thrilling story from Alex Garland is brought to life by a trio of great performances from Domnhall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac, and Alicia Vikander (in the performance that should of won her her Oscar instead of The Danish Girl).

Gone Girl

‘Gone Girl’ (20th Century Fox)

Directed by: David Fincher

Synopsis: “With his wife’s disappearance having become the focus of an intense media circus, a man sees the spotlight turned on him when it’s suspected that he may not be innocent.” (From IMDb).
Mystery thrillers often become classics because they are exciting films and are serious enough for people to feel proud that they enjoyed them. That pride often leads to mystery thrillers becoming classics through positive word-of-mouth from adult film enthusiasts. “Gone Girl” will likely follow this trend and become a classic through this word-of mouth.

The Grand Budapest Hotel

‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ (Searchlight)

Directed by: Wes Anderson

Synopsis: “A writer encounters the owner of an aging high-class hotel, who tells him of his early years serving as a lobby boy (Tony Revolori) in the hotel’s glorious years under an exceptional concierge (Ralph Fiennes).” (From IMDb).

The most accessible film from one of the most well-known indie directors, “The Grand Budapest Hotel” is (arguably) Wes Anderson’s masterpiece and boasts one of the most impressive casts ever put on screen.

Interstellar

‘Interstellar’ (Paramount)

Directed by: Christopher Nolan

Synopsis: “A team of explorers (Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Wes Bentley, and David Gyasi) travel through a wormhole in space in an attempt to ensure humanity’s survival.” (From IMDb).

An addition to the bounty of thought-provoking science-fiction films we saw this decade, “Interstellar” is an intelligent and emotional member of that canon. The novelty of some of the ideas in the film and their presentation in an accessible and entertaining way will make sure this film is remembered.

Nightcrawler

‘Nightcrawler’ (Open Road)

Directed by: Dan Gilroy

Synopsis: “When Louis Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal), a con man desperate for work, muscles into the world of L.A. crime journalism, he blurs the line between observer and participant to become the star of his own story.” (From IMDb).

Anchored by a manic performance from Jake Gyllenhaal and an intelligent screenplay from Dan Gilroy, “Nightcrawler” is a dark satire about the state of journalism today that cements itself as part of the LA-noir canon that includes such classics as Chinatown, Heat, and LA Confidential.

Whiplash

‘Whiplash’ (Sony Pictures Classics)

Directed by: Damien Chazelle

Synopsis: “A promising young drummer (Miles Teller) enrolls at a cut-throat music conservatory where his dreams of greatness are mentored by an instructor (J.K. Simmons) who will stop at nothing to realize a student’s potential.” (From IMDb).

An intense and unforgettable experience to behold, “Whiplash” is about a drummer’s quest to be the greatest but the themes can be applied to any person with a drive to be the best in their field.

2015

Inside Out

‘Inside Out’ (Disney/Pixar)

Directed by: Pete Docter

Synopsis: “After young Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) is uprooted from her Midwest life and moved to San Francisco, her emotions – Joy (Amy Poehler), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), Disgust (Mindy Kaling) and Sadness (Phyllis Smith) – conflict on how best to navigate a new city, house, and school.” (From IMDb).

With a coming-of-age story that will resonate forever, “Inside Out” teaches kids that it’s OK to be sad and the emotion that the film provides while delivering that message will ensure that parents that needed this film when they were preteens will share it with their kids when they need it as well.

Mad Max: Fury Road

‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ (Warner Bros.)

Directed by: George Miller

Synopsis: “In a post-apocalyptic wasteland, a woman (Charlize Theron) rebels against a tyrannical ruler in search for her homeland with the aid of a group of female prisoners, a psychotic worshiper, and a drifter named Max (Tom Hardy).” (From IMDb).

An action film that never stops and throws its audience through 120 minutes of top-notch action without taking a breath, “Mad Max: Fury Road” is one-of-a-kind experience that feels like a film that people will revisit over an over again in order to get that unique adrenaline rush you only can get from watching a great action film.

The Martian

‘The Martian’ (20th Century Fox)

Directed by: Ridley Scott

Synopsis: “An astronaut (Matt Damon) becomes stranded on Mars after his team assume him dead, and must rely on his ingenuity to find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive.” (From IMDb).

A movie that was applauded for its realism, “The Martian” will be remembered for that and more as it is a well-told story with a great central performance from Matt Damon. As space exploration becomes more advanced this film may become prophetic.

Spotlight

‘Spotlight’ (Open Road)

Directed by: Tom McCarthy

Synopsis: “When the Boston Globe’s tenacious “Spotlight” team of reporters delves into allegations of abuse in the Catholic Church, their year-long investigation uncovers a decades-long cover-up at the highest levels of Boston’s religious, legal, and government establishment, touching off a wave of revelations around the world.” (From IMDb).

A film that demonstrates the utmost importance of the free press, Best Picture winner “Spotlight” is a celebration of investigative journalism, and therefore truth.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ (Disney)

Directed by: J.J. Abrams

Synopsis: “As a new threat to the galaxy rises, Rey (Daisy Ridley), a desert scavenger, and Finn (John Boyega), an ex-stormtrooper, must join Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) to search for the one hope of restoring peace.” (From IMDb).

The least controversial chapter (and it definitely is controversial) of the sequel trilogy for Star Wars fans, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” remains the highest-grossing film in the United States which is a testament to the monumental impact it made back in 2015. It, more than any of the other films in the sequel trilogy, feels like a classic Star Wars film and that combination of nostalgia and new, dynamic characters will make this film persist for years to come.

2016

Arrival

‘Arrival’ (Paramount)

Directed by: Denis Villeneuve

Synopsis: “A linguist (Amy Adams) works with the military to communicate with alien lifeforms after twelve mysterious spacecrafts appear around the world.” (From IMDb).

A thoughtful scifi-drama with an emotional gut-punch of an ending, “Arrival” is quiet but engaging and contemplative but suspenseful. The attention to detail that went into the film (the filmmakers made a fully functioning alien language) is astounding and will likely be talked about as part of the film trivia canon for decades. Also, Amy Adams was massively snubbed by the Oscars that year.

Deadpool

‘Deadpool’ (20th Century Fox)

Directed by: Tim Miller

Synopsis: “A wisecracking mercenary gets experimented on and becomes immortal but ugly, and sets out to track down the man who ruined his looks.” (From IMDb).

The movie that catapulted Ryan Reynolds into the realm of near-universal likability, “Deadpool” is a hilariously vulgar take down of the superhero genre and features a hilarious turn from Reynolds and a smart screenplay from Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick. As this decade will likely be known as the decade where the superhero genre completely took over the mainstream, movies like “Deadpool” that subverted the genre while staying firmly inside of it will be remembered for being distinctive and successful.

 

La La Land

‘La La Land’ (Lionsgate)

Directed by: Damien Chazelle

Synopsis: “While navigating their careers in Los Angeles, a pianist (Ryan Gosling) and an actress (Emma Stone) fall in love while attempting to reconcile their aspirations for the future.” (From IMDb).

The greatest Hollywood film musical of the decade, “La La Land” is an emotional rollercoaster with stunning (and now iconic) imagery from Linus Sandgren and a fantastic musical score from Justin Hurwitz. The film harkens back to the classic Hollywood tradition of film musicals while adding satisfying contemporary touches: a combination that will make the film timeless.

Moonlight

‘Moonlight’ (A24)

Directed by: Barry Jenkins

Synopsis: “A young African-American man (Alex R. Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, and Trevante Rhodes) grapples with his identity and sexuality while experiencing the everyday struggles of childhood, adolescence, and burgeoning adulthood.” (From IMDb).

Evocative and lyrical, “Moonlight” is an astonishing film with incredible cinematography from James Laxton, an amazing score from “Succession” composer Nicholas Britell, and a bevy of marvelous performances from the whole cast (especially Mahershala Ali, Naomie Harris, and Trevante Rhodes). This film is a necessary addition to the coming-of-age canon and will persist for decades.

2017

Blade Runner 2049

‘Blade Runner 2049’ (Warner Bros.)

Directed by: Denis Villeneuve

Synopsis: “Young Blade Runner K’s (Ryan Gosling) discovery of a long-buried secret leads him to track down former Blade Runner Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), who’s been missing for thirty years.” (From IMDb).

The years-in-the-making sequel to what is arguably the most acclaimed sci-fi film of all time, “Blade Runner 2049” had impossible expectations to meet yet somehow managed to end up satisfying the majority of fans. That is a major feat that will help Villenueve’s film endure as an achievement on its own.

Call Me By Your Name

‘Call Me By Your Name’ (Sony Pictures Classics)

Directed by: Luca Guadagnino

Synopsis: “In 1980s Italy, romance blossoms between a seventeen-year-old student (Timothee Chalamet) and the older man (Armie Hammer) hired as his father’s research assistant.” (From IMDb).
A beautifully-shot (courtesy of Sayombhu Mukdeeprom) tale of young love, “Call Me By Your Name” is Luca Guadagnino’s masterpiece and features magnificent performances from Timothee Chalamet, Armie Hammer, and Michael Stuhlbarg. It also contains a few Sufjan Stevens songs, “Mystery of Love” being one of my all-time favorites.

Coco

‘Coco’ (Disney/Pixar)

Directed by: Lee Unkrich

Synopsis: “Aspiring musician Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez), confronted with his family’s ancestral ban on music, enters the Land of the Dead to find his great-great-grandfather, a legendary singer.” (From IMDb).

Probably one of the legendary animation studio’s more underrated films, “Coco” continues Pixar’s streak of effortlessly entertaining yet thoughtful original films. Films like “Inside Out”, “Coco”, and “Soul” bring that classic Pixar magic to a new generation of kids who will grow up and share those experiences with their kids.

 

Get Out

‘Get Out’ (Universal)

Directed by: Jordan Peele

Synopsis: “A young African-American (Daniel Kaluuya) visits his white girlfriend’s (Alison Williams) parents (Bradley Whitford, Catherine Keener) for the weekend, where his simmering uneasiness about their reception of him eventually reaches a boiling point.” (From IMDb).

Biting in its satire and shocking in its horror, “Get Out” has hilarious moments and just as often has moments of pure terror. This film from sketch-comedy master Jordan Peele is an accessible but intelligent examination of modern-day racism and fake “wokeness”.

 

It

‘It’ (New Line Cinema)

Directed by: Andy Muschietti

Synopsis: “In the summer of 1989, a group of bullied kids band together to destroy a shape-shifting monster, which disguises itself as a clown and preys on the children of Derry, their small Maine town.” (From IMDb).

The highest-grossing horror film ever, “It” made a surprise splash when it was released in 2017 and became the kind of pervasive cultural object that the annual Marvel film often is. Accessible but scary, was one of the most-talked about films of 2017 (“Get Out” would also fit this description, probably to a greater extent), something a horror film hadn’t been since “The Ring” in 2002.

Lady Bird

‘Lady Bird’ (A24)

Directed by: Greta Gerwig

Synopsis: “In 2002, an artistically inclined seventeen-year-old girl (Saoirse Ronan) comes of age in Sacramento, California.” (From IMDb).

Featuring spectacular and Oscar-worthy performances from Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf, “Lady Bird” is a poignant, hilarious, and beautiful portrait of a young woman’s coming of age. The ensemble is full of remarkable young actors (Timothee Chalamet, Lucas Hedges, and Beanie Feldstein) who are destined to become bigger stars in Hollywood.

Logan

‘Logan’ (20th Century Fox)

Directed by: James Mangold

Synopsis: “In a future where mutants are nearly extinct, an elderly and weary Logan (Hugh Jackman) leads a quiet life. But when Laura (Dafne Keen), a mutant child pursued by scientists, comes to him for help, he must get her to safety.” (From IMDb).

A “comic-book movie” that feels more like a Western, “Logan” is one of the most poignant superhero films of this century and features great performances from Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, and the newcomer Dafne Keen. Patrick Stewart was actually nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the Critics Choice Awards, something that is extremely rare for a superhero film performance to do (its only happened thrice, in 2017 for Stewart, in 2008 for Heath Ledger who won as well, and in 2018 for Michael B. Jordan’s performance in Black Panther, which happens to also be on this list).

2018

Black Panther

‘Black Panther’ (Marvel)

Directed by: Ryan Coogler

Synopsis: “T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), heir to the hidden but advanced kingdom of Wakanda, must step forward to lead his people into a new future and must confront a challenger from his country’s past.” (From IMDb).

A film that rises above its superhero movie trappings, “Black Panther” is a visionary Afrofuturist marvel that touched on socioeconomic issues while providing exhilarating action sequences. R.I.P. Chadwick Boseman.

Hereditary

‘Hereditary’ (A24)

Directed by: Ari Aster

Synopsis: “A grieving family (Toni Colette, Gabriel Byrne, Alex Wolff, Milly Shapiro) is haunted by tragic and disturbing occurrences.” (From IMDb).

A future cult classic, “Hereditary” will join the best of its genre with its top-notch supernatural horror empowered by Aster’s mastery of atmosphere. Toni Colette’s performance will also be remembered as a symbol of the Academy’s long-standing bias against horror film performances as she was not nominated even with dozens of awards accrued throughout the season.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ (Sony/Marvel)

Directed by: Bob Persichietti, Pete Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman

Synopsis:

Probably my personal favorite superhero film of the decade, “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” is a stunningly animated and emotionally impactful film that somehow finds a fresh way to tell the classic superhero origin story. Hilarious and heartwarming, this one of the best films of the decade, animated or not.

2019

1917

‘1917’ (Universal)

Directed by: Sam Mendes

Synopsis: “April 6th, 1917. As a regiment assembles to wage war deep in enemy territory, two soldiers (Dean-Charles Chapman and George MacKay) are assigned to race against time and deliver a message that will stop 1,600 men from walking straight into a deadly trap.” (From IMDb).

With stunning cinematography from the incomparable Roger Deakins, “1917” is an immersive and extraordinary war film that puts the audience in the shows of two World War I soldiers with the aid of long takes (the majority of the film is made to look like one unbroken shot), fantastic camerawork from Deakins, and solid performances from the cast.

Avengers: Endgame and Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

‘Avengers: Endgame’ (Marvel)

Directed by: Anthony and Joe Russo

Synopsis: “The Avengers and their allies must be willing to sacrifice all in an attempt to defeat the powerful Thanos (Josh Brolin) before his blitz of devastation and ruin puts an end to the universe. After the devastating events of ‘Avengers: Infinity War’, the universe is in ruins. With the help of remaining allies, the Avengers assemble once more in order to reverse Thanos’ actions and restore balance to the universe.” (From IMDb).

Both in the top 5 all-time when it comes to worldwide box office gross, “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Avengers: Endgame” were the biggest movies of the 2010s and that fact alone certifies their place as classics that will be oft-referenced and oft-discussed especially since the Marvel Cinematic Universe shows no signs of stopping.

Joker

‘Joker’ (Warner Bros.)

Directed by: Todd Phillips

Synopsis: “In Gotham City, mentally troubled comedian Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) is disregarded and mistreated by society. He then embarks on a downward spiral of revolution and bloody crime. This path brings him face-to-face with his alter-ego: the Joker.” (From IMDb).

A dark and gritty comic book film that draws more inspiration from Scorsese and Lumet than from Burton and Snyder, “Joker” was the origin story that the iconic villain deserved with an Oscar-winning performance from the chameleonic Joaquin Phoenix at its core.

Knives Out

‘Knives Out’ (Lionsgate)

Directed by: Rian Johnson

Synopsis: “A detective (Daniel Craig) investigates the death of a patriarch of an eccentric, combative family.” (From IMDb).

A throwback whodunit that touches on very current themes, “Knives Out” is a delightfully fun murder mystery that you’ll want to watch and watch again. The stacked ensemble cast are all in strong form crafting distinct and quirky characters that are a joy to experience.

Uncut Gems

‘Uncut Gems’ (A24)

Directed by: Josh and Benny Safdie

Synopsis: “With his debts mounting and angry collectors closing in, a fast-talking New York City jeweler (Adam Sandler) risks everything in hope of staying afloat and alive.”

As one of the stated requirements of this list is that a chosen film has to be “generally thought of to be good”, it maybe a surprise to some that an Adam Sandler film has been included. However, “Uncut Gems” is not a normal Sandler project and will be recognized as a fantastic departure from the norm for one of the most famous comedians working today.

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