Mike’s Top Ten of 2010-2019

This decade is the first decade where this site existed while I was watching all the films. 2010’s list was the very first thing I posted on this site. So it’s the only Decade I’ve compiled in real time. And I really haven’t had a lot of time to consider just how I feel about it as a cohesive decade, since each year feels like it’s own entity to me (since I treated them as such for the past decade). But I can say, compiling this list was both pretty easy and pretty tough. Because it finally forced me to come to terms with certain films and say, “No, I truly like this movie over this other one, even though I spent the majority of the past decade saying otherwise.” But you know what? It was nice to do. I like that I’ve done it and can now live my truth.

My big takeaway from this past decade in terms of industry/history purposes — this is really the decade where the DVD market dried up and streaming services came about, PVOD became a thing and the theatrical experience became much more about niche art films or giant tentpoles with really no middle ground. But even despite all that, it still made me realize — no matter how they distribute the films, there’s still a baseline of directors and styles/genres that I will always gravitate toward, and this list is gonna reflect that.

For methodology purposes, the way I compile these Top Tens of the Decade lists: I take my top ten for each year of the decade, throw them all together, and simply whittle it down until I find what I feel are my ten favorites from that decade. Not the best, my favorite. That’s really all it is. I feel like if I can figure out what my favorite films of all time are, then I can figure it out by specific decades.

Top Ten of the Decade (2010-2019)

The Artist (2011)

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014)

Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)

La La Land (2016)

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (2015)

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019)

Phantom Thread (2017)

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)

The Social Network (2010)

True Grit (2010)

The one absolute given for this list was Phantom Thread, which, within about 10 months of me seeing it in theaters 3 (or maybe even 4, I can’t remember) times, made my top 100 of all time list. So that was an instant on. In looking back at all my Top Ten lists for these years, I realized that True Grit also is a film I consider a top 100 film, given how often I rewatch it and think about it and reference it. It’s just a movie I feel comfortable with and love going back to. To the point where, even now, when tasked with reranking my favorites from 2010 (which you’ll see has three films on this list), that’s the one I put at #1.

And then — The Artist was a #1 for me in its year, as was Birdman, as was La La Land, as was Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, as was Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. So those were all easy adds. The only way they’d have been left off is if we had another year like 2010 where films like Scott Pilgrim and Social Network were there and were films I loved so much they had to make it on, even at the expense of films that made #1 for their year. But they were always gonna be on until they got knocked off. Circling back to those other two films — Scott Pilgrim was my 2010 #1 for a long time and is a film I adore. It was an easy add to this list. The Social Network is one where — it’s kind of a film of the decade. It’s one of the most important films to come out this decade, and I love it. So when thinking about what films would make that spot, it just felt like it outweighed everything else at this moment in time. Maybe in a few years I might feel differently, but we’ll see when that happens.

Now, the one major choice I had to make, which this list helped me do — I had to admit to myself that I truly liked Inside Llewyn Davis over Gravity for 2013. Gravity was my #1 in the moment for 2013 (just as Scott Pilgrim was for 2010), and I always loved Llewyn Davis. That was always right there in the top 3 and was a film I constantly rewatched and referenced and loved talking about. And gradually I just realized — it’s one of my favorite films. It’s one of my favorite Coen brothers films and straight up is just one of my favorite films. And once I came to terms with that, it was easy to put it on. And I think part of what was holding me back was the fact that I had the existing lists on the site and wanted to uphold what my opinions were. But also — both Llewyn Davis and True Grit are Coen brothers films. And with them — Fargo, Lebowski, Barton Fink, O Brother, No Country — they’ve got some real amazing films. And neither is a film you’ll see at the top of a consensus ‘best of the Coens’ list. But, I gotta go with my gut, and doing this list made me realize — I just really love those movies. So that’s how I made this list.

The two years not represented on this list are 2012 and 2018. Both are gonna be in the list below. 11-20. 2018 was a year I considered particularly weak at the time, so it missing doesn’t surprise me at all. And 2012, even my #1 doesn’t feel like a film I’d have put on here, even though there’s some amazing stuff that year, so I’m also not really surprised it missed. I thought about that year’s #1 for here, but in the end, I’m happy with the list I chose. Plus 2010 got three films on, which is pretty surprising, since if you asked me which year from this past decade I felt was strongest, I’d probably have told you 2015, 2017 or 2019. So it was a minor surprise that 2010 was the year with three, even though looking at all the films, it makes total sense.

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  1. Django Unchained (2012)
  2. Gravity (2013)
  3. Hugo (2011)
  4. Inside Out (2015)
  5. Moonlight (2016)
  6. The Revenant (2015)
  7. Roma (2018)
  8. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)
  9. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)
  10. Whiplash (2014)

So Django was my #1 for 2012 and sort of just missed making that top ten, even though looking at the rest of the films here, I’m not sure it actually stood much of a chance. And Roma is currently (though wasn’t when I first posted the list) my #1 for 2018. That’s a movie I won’t rewatch a ton but consider a straight up masterpiece that is honestly just worth being put on this list over all the other choices I could have in that one spot. I’d rather give that the play than anything else that could have made it.

Otherwise — Gravity was my #1 for 2013 for a long time and is just an incredible experience (even if those only seeing it at home and not as it was originally shown in a theater might not fully understand how great it is). Three Billboards was my initial #1 for 2017 before I realized just how much I loved Phantom Thread. So that was an easy add here. Whiplash was an obvious add, and were it not for my love of Birdman, probably would’ve been #1 for 2014. Inside Out was a #2 and is firmly in the running for my favorite Pixar film of all time (though it’s gonna be tough to beat Wall-E). Hugo was my #2 behind The Artist and is a film I continue to adore (and is one of the most underrated efforts of Scorsese’s career). Moonlight is a straight up masterpiece and was a no-brainer. The Revenant is just a film I love and keep going back to just to watch for the experience. Tinker Tailor is another one of those movies that still holds up for me and was instantly a classic/one of my favorites from the first moment I saw it. So that was an obvious add as well.

For full disclosure purposes — it was too soon for me to consider Ford v Ferrari for this list, even though I have rewatched that one a bunch over the past year. That one has a chance to maybe crack this list in a few years. I did strongly consider Room as well, and that was the one that did just barely miss this list. So I’m curious to see what happens with that film in a few years. That one seems like it has the most shot to crack this going forward. Otherwise, I think this list is pretty firmly what I’d consider my favorites for this decade. So feel good about it.

And then, for numbers purposes — every year of the decade is represented here at least once. Eight of the ten years made the actual top ten, with 2010 getting three films on to take up those last two spots. 2012 and 2018, the two years missing from the top ten, made 11-20. They’re both only represented the once, as is 2019, which, as I said, was probably too recent for me to have more than one film on there. Otherwise, with the 11-20, 2011 and 2015 both managed three total films on the list, joining 2010 (which has all its three in the top ten, whereas the other two have 1 in the top ten and two in 11-20). And then 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2017 all have two films total, one in the top ten and one in 11-20.

It’s a good decade. It’s weird to think about because I had this site for it, so it’ll be a while before I can think of it maybe as objectively as I do the other decades. But it’s a good decade with a lot of stuff I loved.

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