2021 is like the flood after a storm. With the crazy year 2020 was, so much stuff was pushed in the hopes of finding an audience not fully burdened with the possible fall of democracy and a global pandemic and, as the year went on, they figured out how to keep working safely and things got back to being filmed. So we had not only all the stuff that was shot throughout the pandemic but also the stuff that was supposed to be released last year, which ended up giving us a real smorgasbord of films to pick from. And, for a change, I definitely didn’t feel worried I wasn’t gonna have enough stuff to put in my top ten.
One thing that will be interesting to look back on in regard to this year (much like last year) is what films people end up gravitating toward and/or discovering over time. Because with the shifting release schedule (most films this year either went day-and-date or went to streaming 30 or 45 days from their theatrical release date, as opposed to the 90 it used to be) and the already-present overabundance of content for people to watch, I haven’t gotten the sense that most people are aware of the a lot of these films. In the latter part of this year, I found myself as the only person in a theater to watch some of these choices. Which means that people either don’t know, don’t care or are waiting for the films to go streaming to see them (which is dicey for some of them because unless it’s a major title, it’s so easy to lose something in the shuffle). Which opens up a whole can of worms of questions in and of itself. But for my purposes here, I am curious to see what films end up later becoming hits when people actually get around to seeing them. And hopefully will do my part to get some people to watch a few of these.
One trend, though, that I think will be fairly uniform across the board for 2021: most people seem to be agreeing on the same crop of films as the best ones. Pandemic or no pandemic, the best filmmakers are still making the best films. (more…)
So these recent years are difficult to talk about because — I just talked about them. I only posted the original Top Ten list for this year last year. Only a year has passed and usually that’s not a whole lot of time to see how your opinion changes. Usually it’s only enough to see where you overreacted to certain films or maybe undervalued others. But I’m happy to say — I think I got this one right. At least for now. We’ll see what happens in 3-5 years, but at the moment, aside from some minor number shifting (which is meaningless anyway), I’m very happy with the films I chose to be on this list.
That’s the one thing I’m seeing as we move further from this year — it was an incredible year of film. I knew at the time the top ten list was strong, but I didn’t realize just how strong. I’m only liking these movies more as time goes on. And all up and down the line, there’s some fantastic and memorable stuff. It’s gonna hold up. Which is good, since the year after this is perennially gonna be a giant shit show, so at least we’ve got this one. (more…)
This… was a weird year. We had a global pandemic, brought on by a government that ignored it and abandoned people in need and we all ended up stuck inside for most of the year. I believe it’s been in the papers. All of this, of course, had a trickle-down effect on movies. Theaters were closed for the majority of the year, which forced most studio releases onto streaming platforms if not into 2021 entirely (especially awards-level films, which usually make up a good portion of this list). And so, while I was still left with some quality choices, I did feel like this year was a lot thinner at the top and more populated with stuff I’d consider ‘just okay’ rather than truly noteworthy. So I guess what I’m saying is — a government abandoning people during a crisis, trickle-down effects and a spate of mediocre movies — I’m just gonna go ahead and blame 2020 on Ronald Reagan.
This, above all other years around it, feels like a year that will only truly be understood over time. I don’t think any of us were in the right frame of mind to truly consider what this year had to offer in the moment. So of all my Top Ten lists, I expect this to be the one that undergoes the most scrutinization and change. I also expect this to be a year with an increased ratio of hidden gems for people, since I don’t even think people watched the stuff at the top, let alone looked for things beneath the surface. (more…)
As of the original postings of these lists, this is the most recent year. We’re under a year since my initial list has been posted, so not a whole lot of time has gone by for me to have changed my opinion from what it was then. Though I will say, enough time has gone by for me to call myself out on my bullshit and cut the pretense.
Though admittedly, I find that most of the time when things change on the lists, it’s not because I was forcing something on that shouldn’t have been there, it’s usually because I’m under the gun when I choose the list. I often have just finished watching mostly everything from the year (sometimes I don’t even get to do that) and some of the choices I have to decide on based on a single watch. I’m usually cramming second watches for things (if I even can) within a two day period, and usually I’m somewhere else, around friends or family and I have to do it all on the fly. So things end up on that are just easy choices that I don’t have to stress over. And most of the time they turn out to be the right choices over time. But sometimes I do admittedly need that extra space of a year or more to really know what my true feelings are. So as such, while you won’t see too many changes from the list you saw in December, some things will shuffle around a bit and what I kind of figured to be true at the time has held out to be true now. So really, the moral of this is — time wins out. The truth always gets revealed over time.
As for 2018 as a whole… I didn’t like it at the time. I thought it was an incredibly weak year without too much memorable stuff in it. Now, of course, having a year to let this movies sit, it feels like a really respectable top ten list that’ll hold up just fine. The lower tier stuff, it’s just gonna take time to figure out where that shakes out in terms of a strong or weak year. Ultimately, I’m pretty pleased with how these ones are holding up for me so far. (more…)
This is one of the strongest years of the decade. I wouldn’t have immediately pegged it as one of those, but it is. It’s deep. There’s a lot of great stuff here, and this top ten could easily have been swapped out for a bunch of the 11-20.
At the time of the initial posting of this list, we’re not that far removed from these films coming out, but it does feel like some of the choices on it are undisputed great movies. Some are films that people generally like, even if they won’t appear on everyone’s lists, and there’s maybe one or two that I know are gonna go down as the films of the decade over time even though they weren’t as universally well-received.
I will also say that this the only year of this decade that has, at this point, managed a film that has found its way to my list of all-time favorite films. It’s a good year. (more…)
I didn’t know what to write for 2016 for the longest time. But as I started writing up all the films, I realized what it is — this is a sneaky strong year. The top ten didn’t immediately strike me the way something like 2015 does as being the obviously strong year from an entire decade. But when I look at it… there are movies here that I love beyond words that, to me, are gonna stay among my absolute favorites. And the more I look at the lower tier stuff the more I realize there are some really amazing gems to be found here that deserve to be seen.
The year will always be remembered for the top two films, which will be forever linked in people’s minds, but really when you look at it… if you’re trying to find an amazing movie that might be slightly off the beaten path, 2016 is the place to look. There’s stuff up and down this list that’s just tremendous that it feels like almost no one knows about or bothered to see when it came out. This is my ‘drum beating’ year, with stuff that I’m trying to help get noticed and become a movie people either later realize is great or just get seen by more people.
Also what I love about this top ten list in specific is that it has a nice mix of obvious stuff that everyone loves, stuff that is slightly off the beaten path that makes you think ‘oh, that’s good, but top ten? Wow’, plus stuff that almost no one knows about and then stuff where you go, “You know what? That is a really great movie and I never considered it that way.” It’s a really eclectic list, and it’s another year that has an 11-20 (and even a tier two!) full of stuff that could also be in the top ten. I’m a huge fan of this year and it took me going back to reconsider it all to realize that. This is one of the strongest years of this decade. (more…)
2015 is one of the strongest years of this decade, if not the strongest year. I’ve got at least two separate legitimate top ten lists with the films of this year. If I took my 11-20 and presented it to you as if it were the list of another year, it would look totally fine and no one would even question it. That’s how strong this year is.
Though the one thing that has remained constant for me after all this time, despite how many amazing films there are and how easy it is for stuff to be swapped out for something else, is my #1. I don’t think anyone else would have it close to their #1 film of the year, and I was steadfast about it from the jump. I knew it was my #1 movie and nothing was able to change that. No matter what great other stuff there is and no matter how highly the rest of the films from this year are regarded over time, my #1 is gonna be my #1. And I take great comfort in that.
I should also mention how much other fantastic stuff there is this year in the lower tiers as well. This is a good place to find some great hidden gems to check out. Some years there’s only a handful. Here, you can throw a dart and pretty much whatever you hit is worth seeing. That’s a strong year. (more…)
2014 is kind of a patchwork year. There’s a small handful of films a lot of people will agree on, but past that it gets uneven. Though I think the great stuff does tend to rise to the top and the year does get weaker as it goes along. Which, I guess is kind of what one would hope for with any year.
Looking at my list for this year, every film in my top ten is by a director who has already had a top ten movie before (save one, which is by a director who would have later top ten movies, since this was his first major feature). Which, to me, marks it as one of the weaker years of the decade, with me going to the well of ‘old reliables’, knowing that the people who tend to make good films helped bail it out. Otherwise, it does tend to get thinner earlier than most other years do. (more…)
I don’t particularly remember 2013 in terms of my top ten list. I remember the year feeling like it was weak. Which I must say about almost every single year initially, which has to be because I’m forced to assess as year as a whole just as its coming to a close rather than having had the proper time to let stuff settle as it ought to.
This year in particular I know has a major change to it, which is that it’s the second time ever alongside the first list I ever posted on this site that a surefire top ten film didn’t get seen before the year was out. The first year, technically the list got posted after the year was over and I wasn’t as efficient in seeing things as I became over the course of the decade. Which is what makes it even more stunning to me. Even by 2013, I knew that if anything felt like it had a chance at the top ten, I made sure to see it. And yet, I posted 2013’s list and literally the next day I saw the movie. It’s the most significant top ten moment for me out of all the lists. It won’t seem so major on paper, since I quickly went in and made it my #11 for the year at the time, but that’s the biggest alteration in the history of the lists.
Aside from that, most of the list is basically the same as I had it. My “#11” and #12 moved up and other stuff moved down, which is par for the course. It feels like a generally pretty solid list of ten, and there’s some cool stuff down below. Overall this feels like one of the more average years for the decade. (more…)
2012 is the first (and perhaps only) year from this decade where the top ten list I posted at the time exactly matches my top ten now. I knew immediately what my ten favorite movies were that year, and that hasn’t changed. And, in all likelihood, that won’t change. These ten are pretty much my ten. My goal in writing up the list each year is to try to best guess what films are not only my favorite films at the moment, but also which ones are going to continue being my favorite films over time. Some years turn out better than others. And as it stands, this might be the only one of the decade where I ended up being completely right all the way through.
Which is impressive to me, because there are two choices on this list that are not mainstream choices for top ten films. I don’t think you’ll see those on most people’s lists. And if you do, chances are they won’t be around a lot of the other stuff I’ve also chosen. But I love them, and would 100% call them two of the top movies of the year.
I’m a big fan of this list. (more…)
Love me some 2011. I moved to LA midway through this year, so a lot of the movies in the top ten were ones I saw right as I got to LA, which gives them an extra sense of specialness to me.
As a year… I forget how strong it is at the top. It feels like just another year to me when I think about it in the abstract, but here, I could legitimately almost make two separate top ten lists with the movies in the top 20.
This was my first official top ten list created after this site was in existence. So in a way this was the one where my knowing it was gonna go on here affected the decision-making. For better or for worse, I guess. Mostly I’m just happy that a lot of my choices are still ones I would put on the list. But it’s also a strong enough year to where anything that got swapped out is basically a toss-up situation anyway. So it’s hard for me to be disappointed with anything that made it on. (more…)
The original 2010 Top Ten List was the very first article I posted on this site. So it’ll always be a special year for me. It was the year I really started taking movies (and watching new movies) seriously, and was the first time I really was prepared to pick my favorites for a given year because I watched the majority of stuff that came out.
Looking at the list for 2010 as it stands now… most of it’s the same. Which I like. I like knowing that my favorite films then are largely still my favorite films now. And the changes that were made were either minor or were things that were always gonna happen when time passed. Also, looking at this year, I’m fairly confident 90% of this list will remain as top ten films in perpetuity. It’s a real strong year at the top, and most of those top films are indisputable. (more…)
Out with a bang. The 2000s ends with some real great stuff. What I love most about this year is that, back then if you asked me what my top ten was, I’d have given you a very reasonable set of movies, with a very reasonable choice at #1 and things generally in the places you’d expect them to be based on some populist idea of what the best films were. Though deep down in my heart, I knew what would happen over the next few years. I knew which movies were gonna be my actual favorites and wind up becoming the real top choices. And lo and behold, a decade later, that’s what happened.
I feel like my list is very specific to me and my tastes, and while most people could agree that the majority of it is made up of good movies, I’m not sure most people would have this specific set of ten films. Though maybe I’m wrong. Honestly, all I care about is the fact that #1 is one of the most underrated films of the past 25 years, and I cannot stress how emphatically I have chosen it as my #1 film of this year. (more…)
The years only get better as this decade starts winding up. This year was so good it managed to get the Oscar voting procedure changed so it could include more than five films in the Best Picture category. (Most people assume The Dark Knight is the main reason for that change, but you also forget films like The Wrestler and Doubt and even Wall-E that probably would have made it if they had the spots for them.) It’s an incredible year. Plus there are some straight awesome movies here too. Some of them we all agree on… others are my own personal missions (that I think people might eventually be coming around on).
The tough thing for me about 2008 is, despite having a top ten list that’s top to bottom amazing… I really had trouble picking #1. It was easy to find the ten that I considered my favorite, but past that, actually ranking certain ones over others was incredibly difficult, which is not what I was expecting. And I’ll be honest… #1 did not go the way I’d have expected if you gave past me this list of ten and said, “Which did you put at #1?” (more…)
2007 is in the running for strongest film of the 2000s. Even in the old days of the site when I put up rudimentary versions of these lists, this was the year that always had the most stuff contending at the top. This is a year that I could legitimately create two separate Top Ten lists that each hold up. Even going down into tier two, there’s stuff that would go much higher in other years. Every decade has that year or two where it seems that all the greatest stuff comes out, and this is definitely one of those for this decade.
Though I will say, despite the amazing stuff that’s come out this year, this list in particular is a healthy dose of ‘me’. I’d say about half of it is stuff that would appear on most people’s lists near the top. And the other half is decidedly stuff that only I would ever put on my top ten list among the other ones there. One movie for sure is one that I’m pretty sure I’m one of the only people in the world who truly loves it as much as I do. The other stuff is just stuff I really adore. It’s all really personal to my tastes, and that’s what I love about this year — that I could have a list that’s so specific to me and yet have the leeway to have like thirty other movies that are all incredible around it.
But also, let me reiterate — this year is so strong. Like half of my tier three would be tier two and even have an outside shot at 11-20 in other years. If you wanted to pick randomly from this decade for some hidden gems to see, this is the year you want to look at. It goes about 60 deep on great movies. (more…)
Love me some 2006. This is a year that sort of falls out near the top of films that I love, but it does feature a return to form of having a lot of lower tier stuff I like a lot. Which is a stark contrast to 2005, which is solid at the top, but has almost nothing near the bottom to speak of. But that’s the beauty of the ebbs and flows of a decade.
This year in particular features three of my all-time absolute favorite films. Past that, it’s all really solid, but the thing that holds it up is those top three. (more…)
Every time I think about 2005, it feels like the “dark” year of this decade. Don’t know why (though I have guesses), but that’s what it’s always felt like.
It’s a solid year. There are a bunch of movies in this top ten that I love. Though admittedly the lower tiers are not as strong as some of the other years.
This is one of those years that feels most like a good indicator of people’s tastes. If I wanted to gauge the kind of stuff someone likes, this feels like a year to look at. Because there’s only a small handful of consensus movies this year, and a lot of the generally “liked” stuff feels like it could vary wildly from person to person. Which leaves open spots for people to put the films that matter to them. I know that I’ve got at least one movie on this list that would appear on very few top tens for this year and very much indicates who I am as a movie person. (more…)
2004. Quietly amazing year. I mean, yes, I’m partial to most of the years of the 2000s just because they were my teenage years and that’s when I was most impressionable. So I made the strongest connections to movies during these years. That said, there are some really awesome movies this year.
Part of the top ten list is a very consensus set of movies. But I guarantee there’s at least one almost no one’s heard of or would think to put on their list, one that is very specific to me that most people probably won’t agree with, and a third that I don’t think enough people get that most people wouldn’t have anywhere near their list. But that’s what makes my lists unique. You get my favorites, and not what everyone else would put.
Wouldn’t it be crazy, though, if my #1 movie was Welcome to Mooseport? Don’t laugh, I considered it. (more…)
Love me some 2003. This is the 2000s sweet spot for me, where I was really all in on movies and really understood everything I was watching, who was making them, and really felt fully aware for the first time.
This is an interesting list in that it’s got not one, not two, but three Christmas movies on it. It’s got one franchise that ends, one that begins, and part of a two-parter in it. It’s a very outlier kind of list. It’s hard enough to get a single Christmas movie, but three? In the same year? That’s nuts.
There’s also some really cool stuff in the lower tiers as well. A lot of hidden gems that I feel like not enough people go back to or never saw in the first place. It’s a good year. (more…)
This is one of my favorite years of this decade. This is quite possibly my strongest top ten list of the 2000s. I’m not gonna go so far as the proclaim it the strongest year of the decade (that’s probably 2007), but I think this is arguably the strongest of the top ten lists. Every movie on it is great.
What’s great to me about it is that almost all of it (save one) is something I saw right as it came out and loved from the jump. I always appreciate those lists, because it means I’ve lived with the films more and have a certain closeness to them that I don’t necessarily have with something I only came to later on.
What’s also great about this list — here are the directors in the top ten: Spike Lee, Spike Jonze, Doug Liman, Steven Spielberg (twice), Martin Scorsese, Peter Jackson, Roman Polanski, Paul Thomas Anderson and Sam Mendes. Not bad company, right? That’s why I think this might be the strongest list of the decade. (more…)
2001 is the turning point in my life when it comes to movies. It was the year I stopped regularly going to the movies and instead started branching out on my film education, and watching all those big early movies that every film person watches in the early days. It’s also the year I got into the Oscars in full. So for me, that stuff will always be the big takeaway from this year over any of the films.
Though I will say, there’s some great stuff that happened this year. What’s interesting to me is how the list is bisected between stuff I saw that year and loved immediately versus stuff I saw years later that became my favorites. What’s also interesting is that there are the starts of three franchises on this list, plus another that’s a kind of institution in its own right.
This is also one of the final years with what I call the ‘films of my childhood’, which is a lot of stuff that I remember very well from that age that defines my taste as a kid before I truly got into movies. So for that, I’ll always have an affinity for this year. (more…)
2000 is probably the height of my pre-teen movie-going years. I would say that I was probably at a movie theater with my friends almost every single week that year. I can go back and look at the release calendar and go, “Saw that, saw that, saw that, saw that.” And anything I didn’t see in a theater, I probably saw from my family’s wonderful “hot box” (which, for those young folks reading this, is slang term for illegal cable hookup that got you all the Pay Per View channels. Which… for you young folks reading this, is basically what would become On Demand on cable, only there were like five Pay Per View movie channels and they all played the same movie on a loop every single day for a few weeks until a new movie showed up).
I saw so many things from this year at age 11/12 that I probably shouldn’t have. But because of that, there’s a lot of stuff that has since stuck with me and become some of my favorite movies because of it. I can’t really gauge just how strong or weak a year this is for cinema, because there’s that whole “I was in middle school and almost all of it is now permanently engrained in my head as being a great time” thing.
But there is not a single movie in this Top Ten that I don’t love, and there’s a lot great stuff below too. So I think this is one of the stronger years of this decade. (more…)
In my mind, 1999 is one of the golden years of cinema. There are so many amazing movies that came out this year. And while it’s probably not all-time historically one of cinema’s absolute best years (though time is really the only judge of that), it’s the fact that it’s bolstered by a lot of movies from my childhood that makes me consider it as such.
This is also one of those years where I feel like most of us have at least 3-5 movies exactly the same on all of our top ten lists. Though I will also say, the other 3-5 are ones that feel hyper-specific to me and me alone. I doubt anyone but me would have this particular list as my top ten. Especially since you could go like 30 deep this year and get an amazing list out of it.
This is also one of the landmark years for a lot of reasons, most notably because the action genre was completely revolutionized this year and special effects took a giant leap forward. We also got a groundbreaking horror film, Star Wars came back, and, if you’re my age, there’s like 20 movies this year that you specifically remember from growing up that, in some way, had huge impacts on your life. It’s a really great way to end a decade/millennium. (more…)
This is such a great year. This year is right around when I started getting into step with movies and seeing stuff as it came out rather than later on. 1998-1999 are those years I culturally came into my own. So there’s stuff here I remember seeing at the time that… okay, maybe as a 10 year old I probably shouldn’t have been watching, but it helped turn me into the person I am today in regard to watching stuff. So there’s that.
There’s also some real heavy hitters this year. And a few that I just adore from having grew up with them that might not be consensus choices for “best films of 1998.” But that’s what makes the 90s so good. That’s the decade that’s most personal to me. 1995-2004 is probably the ten year stretch that’s most influenced by my growing up and most personal to me in terms of the choices.
This is also, now that I look at it, kind of a weird year. There’s a lot of mainstream studio stuff here that other people might not think is particularly good. So maybe it really isn’t that strong a year and just feels that way because it’s such a big part of my youth. Whatever. I love it, and that’s all that really matters. (more…)