Anthony’s Top 10 Favorite Films Of The Past Decade: 2010-2019

Just last week, LRM posted its article covering the favorite and most impactful movies of the decade, where LRM news staff and contributors each posted their favorite movie over the last ten years. This was easily the most difficult, film-related choice I have ever had to make–right up there with favorite movies of all time. If you read the article, you are already aware of my favorite film of the decade. In case you haven’t, check the link below:

Related – Here Are Some Of Our Most Favorite And Impactful Films Of The Decade

While you are already aware of my favorite (and you’ll see it again on this list), I wanted to include the others that made my list during my selection process. These are films that I watched repeatedly throughout the decade, will continue to do so this coming decade, and highly recommend to those I meet. They are films that when they are on television, I set the remote aside and enjoy the ride once again–or I locate my own personal copy and press play. They cross genres and themes, but they all have one thing in common: they will always have my attention. Before I break down my top ten list for you, here are my honorable mentions.

Honorable Mentions:
CreedThe Social NetworkMad Max: Fury RoadInside Out, and Toy Story 3.

The five films mentioned above in the “Honorable Mentions” categories are all so good. Creed added a compelling chapter in the life of Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky Balboa, but this time as a supporting character as he trains the son of Apollo Creed, played excellently by Michael B. Jordan, in Ryan Coogler’s beautifully-executed evolution of the classic franchise. The Social Network is screenwriter Aaron Sorkin and director David Fincher at an elite level of storytelling, pulling back the curtain on the creation of Facebook. Mad Max: Fury Road is a full-throttle epic powered by the direction of George Miller, talents of Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron, and a stunt crew that deserves life-long praise. In animation, Inside Out and Toy Story 3 are as exciting as they are emotional, each with key memorable moments in their stories that pull at the heart strings of any child or adult. The mere mentions of Bing Bong’s sacrifice, Riley breaking down to her parents, the incinerator scene, and saying goodbye to Andy will always make me choke up.

Yet, this is a top ten list. I had to cut it somewhere and as painful as it was, that’s where the line is drawn. So, without further ado, here are my top ten favorite films of the decade.

10. The Dark Knight Rises

Is it considered the best in the franchise? No. Many give that title to The Dark Knight while I continue to give my undying love to my favorite origin story, Batman Begins. However, The Dark Knight Rises gave audiences a first in the cinematic history of the Caped Crusader: defeat. Eight years out of the “watchful protector” game and a growing divide between the haves and the have-nots, Bruce Wayne/Batman (Christian Bale in his third outing in the cape and cowl) is put out of commission by the ruthless and seemingly unstoppable Bane (Tom Hardy). With Gotham under siege, Bruce must build up the will to resurrect himself, both physically and mentally, and reclaim his mantle in his home city.

Balancing between comic book movie and a reimagining of Charles Dickens’ A Tale Of Two Cities, filmmaker Christopher Nolan presented a chapter in his Batman story filled with pain and hope. A story where a hero can be broken, but can also be reborn. A study on class warfare and how a society can be lead to revolt, while extremists can contort a legitimate stance into their own twisted ideology. Additionally, I am a fan of Anne Hathaway’s “real world” Selina Kyle, the enemy-turned-ally who hates the rich but it isn’t sold on the Bane revolution.

Is it a perfect film? No. Yet, I was thoroughly entertained by it and will never change the channel when it’s on.

 

9. American Sniper

I read Chris Kyle’s American Sniper before going to see Clint Eastwood’s adaptation. I prepared myself for what I was about to experience on screen… or so I thought.

While I was prepared for what Kyle had written, I was not prepared for how strong of a performance Bradley Cooper was about to deliver as Kyle. Cooper literally became Kyle, in what I believe will go down as one of his greatest onscreen roles. This Oscar-nominated performance made Cooper evolve from the comedy star in Wedding Crashers and The Hangover to the Academy darling he is today. Cooper makes you feel every bit of anxiety, joy, and heartbreak that his real-life character endures both in combat and at home. Eastwood’s impeccable cinematic vision provides a close-up on the horrors of war and how it impacts those who live with the after-effects. Additionally, Sienna Miller gives a heart-wrenching performance as Kyle’s wife Taya, who is committed to the obstacles that come with being a Navy SEAL’s wife.

8. The Wolf Of Wall Street.

Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio. When these two are working together, the end result is typically high quality entertainment. While The Departed is one of my favorites of all time, there is no denying the excellent work by DiCaprio in front of the camera and Scorsese behind the camera in The Wolf Of Wall Street. Telling the tale of wealthy stock broker Jordan Belfort and his adventures in crime, corruption, and ultra-capitalism, DiCaprio pours his heart and soul into this performance. From delivering Patton-like speeches to his employees to laughing off FBI investigations to crawling on the floor due to a Quaalude overdose, DiCaprio doesn’t hold back in showing every dirty, rotten side of Belfort. Additionally, Scorsese reminds the viewer how amazing a storyteller he is, once again delivering a three-hour production that flies by at neck-breaking speed.

Partnered with the exquisite talents of Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Kyle Chandler, Jon Bernthal, Rob Reiner, Jon Favreau, and Matthew McConaughey, The Wolf Of Wall Street is a constant reminder of what unbridled excess can lead to–and I love being taught that lesson over and over with each viewing.

7. Black Panther

While Tony Stark is my favorite Marvel character, I became very intrigued with T’Challa when he appeared in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War. I began reading the recently released (at the time) Ta-Nehisi Coates run on Marvel’s Black Panther comics to research for the character’s upcoming solo film. I was seated comfortably in the theater in February on that opening night when T’Challa’s story was told–and I adored every second.

Black Panther isn’t the first black superhero story ever told, but it is hands down the best. Directed and co-written by California State University Sacramento alumni Ryan Coogler (I throw in his university because I, too, am a Sac State graduate and yes, it does make me feel real special), Black Panther presented the kingdom of Wakanda, a young king who discovers a family secret, and an antagonist who’s plan is fueled by a legitimate grievance. The performances by Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Sterling K. Brown, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Martin Freeman, John Kani and Andy Serkis are nothing short of top-notch. Coogler and co-writer Joe Robert Cole developed an emotionally-driven family story in the middle of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and Coogler gave it the cinematic touch it rightfully deserved. This film, in my opinion, is one that shows the MCU at its best.

6. Get Out

Who would have thought that Jordan Peele, one-half of the hilarious Comedy Central duo Key & Peele and MadTV alumni, would go on to become one of the great visionaries in horror and suspense? Not this guy.

Yet, that’s exactly what Peele became with his tale of a young African-American man (Daniel Kaluuya) who finds himself mentally imprisoned by a white family with diabolical intentions. Blending classic suspense filmmaking with the elements of race and cultural appropriation, Get Out grabs your attention from the start. From its haunting score to its eerie forrest setting to the lingering gazes from questionable strangers, Peele’s breakout directorial debut is one deserving of equal comparison to the works of Alfred Hitchcock. A present-day horror worthy of the Twilight Zone with a building suspense equivalent to John Carpenter’s Halloween. Earning Peele an Academy Award for his screenplay, Get Out not only revolutionized the thriller, but it opened the door to his shocking follow-up.

5. Us

This one stuck with me. When a film leaves me not only mouth agape, but with the urge to start over and immediately watch it again, to say it has left an impact on me is an understatement. That is what Us did to me upon my initial viewing.

First off, thanks to this film, I will never hear the Luniz hit “I Got 5 On It” the same way again. A simple song about buddies trying to go 50/50 on a bag of weed will forever send a slight chill up my spine because of Jordan Peele’s sophomore outing as a director, where he presents a middle-class family terrorized by… themselves. I can go on and on about how Peele creates a chilling environment out of the beautiful Santa Cruz area. How his stunning visuals place the audience in the middle of the tension, as if the viewer is right along side the cast. How he brilliantly ties in small elements in the opening minutes into a jaw-dropping finale. How he once again blends classic horror filmmaking with present day analogies for the whitewashing of history and the class separations of those who have it all and those who are denied everything.

Tie all that together with a stellar, commanding performance by Lupita Nyong’o, along with a strong supporting cast including Winston Duke and Elizabeth Moss, and you have another prime example of why Jordan Peele is this generation’s next great filmmaker.

4. Inception

During that time after The Dark Knight and before The Dark Knight Rises came the Christopher Nolan film that solidified him as one of my all-time favorite filmmakers. While he resurrected my favorite DC character from the ashes and delivered one hell of a magic trick with The PrestigeInception is the first original project of his that left my mind in a whirlwind.

Directed by Nolan and co-written with his brother Jonathan, Inception delves deep into the human mind and the dream world. At its core, it is a heist movie featuring a flawed protagonist who can’t let go of the death of his wife. The complexity of the story comes from the setting the Nolans build–an endless, world-altering maze and an ever-threatening subconscious. Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy, Ken Watanabe, Cillian Murphy, Marion Cotillard, and Michael Caine are brilliantly cast in this mind-bending adventure that leaves you second-guessing what is real and what is a dream.

3. The Big Short

If someone were to tell me that a movie about the housing market crash and the recession of 2008 would leave me shocked, educated, and highly entertained, I would not believe them. But then I went and saw The Big Short. Then, I watched it again and again and again. In fact, in its final week on Netflix, I watched it every night until it was gone… then I bought the book it was based on. That’s how much I adore this film.

The Big Short details how the severely unregulated housing market and unbridled extreme capitalism of the 2000s lead to the biggest financial crash in American history since the Great Depression, presents the few people who saw it coming, and how they profited from it. Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, and Brad Pitt are just a few of the stars in this astounding docudrama documenting how the banks literally screwed over the American people, and how the few who dared to bet against the market made a killing–while millions were left homeless. Director Adam McKay–yes, Will Ferrell’s creative partner who directed a number of his films–blends his unorthodox comedic methods with a true story that doesn’t make you laugh because it’s slapstick, but makes you laugh because you can’t believe this really happened. And happen it did. The end result was a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for McKay and his co-writer Charles Randolph, as well as a special screening for all members of Congress in Washington, D.C.

One would think this film would be a constant reminder to never follow the steps of the past. Sadly, banks are starting to revert back to their pre-recession ways as we speak.

 

2. Django Unchained

Quentin Tarantino. Jamie Foxx. Christoph Waltz. Samuel L. Jackson. Kerry Washington. Leonardo DiCaprio. Don Johnson. What more is there to say?

In my opinion, Django Unchained is Tarantino’s masterpiece, with Inglorious Basterds a very close second. I know the Pulp Fiction crew won’t agree with my stance and I am willing to receive their criticism, but this film connects on so many levels for me. It is equal parts love story, revenge tale, pre-Civil War epic, and badass Western. Django, a freed slave taught the ways of the bounty hunter by Dr. King Shultz (Waltz), attempts to rescue his beloved Broomhilda (Washington) from the clutches of Calvin Candie (DiCaprio). Earning Tarantino his second Oscar for Best Original Screenplay as well as Waltz’s second Best Supporting Actor Oscar, Django Unchained is filled with memorable scenes (Django’s vengeance with a whip, the moronic klansman criticizing their hoods, Candie’s anatomy lesson, Schultz’ sacrifice, Django’s bloody shootout, and the finale) that deserve a place in cinematic history.

1. Interstellar

I could go into detail about my admiration for director Christopher Nolan and his entire filmography. I could nerd-out over the film’s well-balanced delivery of sci-fi adventure with gravitational and astrophysical theories. I could glorify the outstanding performances from a superb cast that includes Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, David Gyasi, Michael Caine, John Lithgow, and so many more. Yet, there is one very important element in this film that pierced deep in my chest and grabbed a hold of every emotion inside me: the love between a parent and their child.

While I am a father of only boys, the bond between McConaughey’s Cooper and his daughter Murph immediately struck a chord. Cooper’s drive to do everything in his power to find a way to save humanity—therefore saving his family—is the heart of this very film. A father’s undying love for his children, and the heartbreak he suffers when over two hours spent on a distant planet equates to missing out on two decades on Earth, is a piece of this film I was not expecting upon my first viewing. Yet it is that element of the story that made such an impact on me, both as a film lover as well as a father.

Interstellar is an emotionally-driven, science-fueled, rollercoaster epic. It appeals to my wonder of space and time, my admiration for cinema, and my duty as a parent. And that is what makes this my favorite film of the past decade.

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Anthony Esteves

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