40 Defining Movies of the Decade Ranked

If you remember correctly at the end of 2019, I compiled a list of 40 movies that I researched believing them to have helped defined the decade of the 2010s. All 40 movies I wanted to watch before the decade ended and I’m happy to say I did exactly that. I completed my own personal challenge, the only hard part being not knowing exactly would I wanted to express my thoughts on all the 40 movies. I decided the easiest and nicest way of talking about them all would be just to simply rank them from worst to best or my least favorite to most favorite and give my brief thoughts about them.

40. American Honey (2016)

A teenage girl with nothing to lose joins a traveling magazine sales crew, and gets caught up in a whirlwind of hard partying, law bending and young love as she criss-crosses the Midwest with a band of misfits.

This was not for me is the nicest way I can put why I didn’t like this movie. I know many people like this movie because they can relate to the characters and their struggles, but I couldn’t. This was one of the longest movies I have ever seen and it felt every bit of it. I was so bored, nothing happened, and I couldn’t wait for it to be over. It’s sucks too, because I was really looking forward to a coming of age story told about a young woman of color directed by a woman, but this was not for me at all.

39. Inherent Vice (2014)

In Los Angeles at the turn of the 1970s, drug-fueled detective Larry “Doc” Sportello investigates the disappearance of an ex-girlfriend.

Another one that was simply just not for me. It was too weird for my liking and I felt like I didn’t understand anything. It wasn’t all bad for, Joaquin was great (he’s always great) so it wasn’t a complete bust. Maybe I’ll rewatch it one day when I’m older and enjoy it more, but for now it wasn’t what I like right now in my life.

38. We Need To Talk About Kevin (2011)

After her son Kevin commits a horrific act, troubled mother Eva reflects on her complicated relationship with her disturbed son as he grew from a toddler into a teenager.

This should have hit all the right spots for me. A great cast, a wonderful director, a good plot with some twists thrown into the mix, but We Need To Talk About Kevin just didn’t do it for me. I can appreciate it, but I didn’t enjoy watching it and I don’t ever want to watch it again. How much is that due to the major reveal (which I guessed) I don’t know, but the movie as a whole didn’t do anything for me.

37. The Lobster (2015)

In a dystopian near future, single people, according to the laws of The City, are taken to The Hotel, where they are obliged to find a romantic partner in forty-five days or are transformed into beasts and sent off into The Woods.

The Lobster is another weird movie, but I liked this much more than Inherent Vice. Still, it might have been a little too weird for my taste. It blends a lot of genres, but it still manages to be cohesive movie. The Lobster is a movie I respect, but don’t love.

36. Beginners (2011)

Oliver meets the irreverent and unpredictable Anna only months after his father Hal Fields has passed away. This new love floods Oliver with memories of his father, who, following the death of his wife of 44 years, came out of the closet at age 75 to live a full, energized, and wonderfully tumultuous gay life – which included a younger boyfriend.

Beginners is a short, simple, and yet sweet film. Beginners didn’t do much to stand out among the other 40 movies I watched, but I enjoyed the movie while I watched it even if it wasn’t a complete knockout for me.

35. A Star Is Born (2018)

Seasoned musician Jackson Maine discovers — and falls in love with — struggling artist Ally. She has just about given up on her dream to make it big as a singer — until Jack coaxes her into the spotlight. But even as Ally’s career takes off, the personal side of their relationship is breaking down, as Jack fights an ongoing battle with his own internal demons.

This was fine. I neither loved or hated it. It’s full of great performances that hold the movie through it’s faults. Honestly there was no need for another version of this film. The movie doesn’t add enough to warrant it’s existence. I am going to stick with the Judy Garland version.

34. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)

Scott Pilgrim is a 22 year old radical Canadian wannabe rockstar who falls in love with an American delivery girl, Ramona Flowers, and must defeat her seven evil exes to be able to date her.

Yes it is as quirky and charming as I imagine it, but I wasn’t completely in love with as much as know a lot people are. No fault of the movie’s own, the movie is a blast. I enjoyed it a lot, but not in love with it.

33. The Master (2012)

Freddie, a volatile, heavy-drinking veteran who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, finds some semblance of a family when he stumbles onto the ship of Lancaster Dodd, the charismatic leader of a new “religion” he forms after World War II.

I really liked The Master, but it’s one I know I won’t fully appreciate until I have more time for it to settle and fully adsorb it’s message. However, this was probably the best cast I watch out of all the 40 movies I saw.

32. Straight Outta Compton (2015)

In 1987, five young men, using brutally honest rhymes and hardcore beats, put their frustration and anger about life in the most dangerous place in America into the most powerful weapon they had: their music. Taking us back to where it all began, Straight Outta Compton tells the true story of how these cultural rebels armed only with their lyrics, swagger, bravado and raw talent stood up to the authorities that meant to keep them down and formed the world’s most dangerous group, N.W.A. And as they spoke the truth that no one had before and exposed life in the hood, their voice ignited a social revolution that is still reverberating today.

Biopics aren’t my favorite for many reasons and though Straight Outta Compton does repeat the same things most biopics do, I enjoyed Straight Outta Compton more than I thought I would. One of more important biopics I seen.

31. Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014)

The story of a super-secret spy organization that recruits an unrefined but promising street kid into the agency’s ultra-competitive training program just as a global threat emerges from a twisted tech genius.

Talk about surprising really liking, Kingsman was a huge surpise. I didn’t expect to have as much fun watching Kingsman as I did. It’s not a masterpiece or anything, but it’s a lot of fun and that’s enough for me.

30. Shoplifters (2018)

After one of their shoplifting sessions, Osamu and his son come across a little girl in the freezing cold. At first reluctant to shelter the girl, Osamu’s wife agrees to take care of her after learning of the hardships she faces. Although the family is poor, barely making enough money to survive through petty crime, they seem to live happily together until an unforeseen incident reveals hidden secrets, testing the bonds that unite them.

Definitely the saddest movie of the 40 films, complete with twists in the second hand changing the film making it almost something different, but it still works nevertheless.

29. Her (2013)

In the not so distant future, Theodore, a lonely writer purchases a newly developed operating system designed to meet the user’s every needs. To Theodore’s surprise, a romantic relationship develops between him and his operating system. This unconventional love story blends science fiction and romance in a sweet tale that explores the nature of love and the ways that technology isolates and connects us all.

Her is unlike anything I have ever seen before and I mean that as the highest form of an compliment I could give a movie. Her is such a unique movie it feel sort of unreal. It’s shame how underrated it is by the mass public, but it’s a gem I can’t wait to rewatch soon.

28. First Reformed (2017)

A pastor of a small church in upstate New York starts to spiral out of control after a soul-shaking encounter with an unstable environmental activist and his pregnant wife.

An intense well-written, well-acted (Ethan Hawke should have won all the awards) character story. What the movie lacks in plot it more than makes up for it by developing such a fascinating character story I won’t ever forget.

27. Green Room (2015)

A punk rock band becomes trapped in a secluded venue after finding a scene of violence. For what they saw, the band themselves become targets of violence from a gang of white power skinheads, who want to eliminate all evidence of the crime.

Not only is Green Room one of the most brutal horror movies I seen in recent memory, it’s also one of the better ones as a whole as well. Green Room is not for the faint of hearts which made it perfect for me.

26. Looper (2012)

In the futuristic action thriller Looper, time travel will be invented but it will be illegal and only available on the black market. When the mob wants to get rid of someone, they will send their target 30 years into the past where a looper, a hired gun, like Joe is waiting to mop up. Joe is getting rich and life is good until the day the mob decides to close the loop, sending back Joe’s future self for assassination.

Looper is far better than people give it credit for. It blends being the time travel and action movie we all know love while also not becoming a rehash of anything we seen before. I really enjoyed it.

25. The Favourite (2018)

England, early 18th century. The close relationship between Queen Anne and Sarah Churchill is threatened by the arrival of Sarah’s cousin, Abigail Hill, resulting in a bitter rivalry between the two cousins to be the Queen’s favourite.

Period pieces typically aren’t my thing, but a gay period piece? Yeah, there wasn’t a way I wasn’t going to love this or at the very least like it. Glad to report I very much did indeed like The Favourite.

24. Eighth Grade (2018)

Thirteen-year-old Kayla endures the tidal wave of contemporary suburban adolescence as she makes her way through the last week of middle school the end of her thus far disastrous eighth grade year before she begins high school.

Eighth Grade hit far too close to home for my liking. If too relatable is a thing then Eighth Grade was it for me. One of the few movies on the entire list to make me cry.

23. Searching (2018)

After David Kim’s 16-year-old daughter goes missing, a local investigation is opened and a detective is assigned to the case. But 37 hours later and without a single lead, David decides to search the one place no one has looked yet, where all secrets are kept today: his daughter’s laptop.

Searching is by far the most unique movie on the list because the entire movie takes place on a desktop. Impressive and crazy, but mostly impressive. The movie itself is very good, but it’s better than most mysteries because of it’s format.

22. The Perks of Being A Wallflower (2012)

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1991. High school freshman Charlie is a wallflower, always watching life from the sidelines, until two senior students, Sam and her stepbrother Patrick, become his mentors, helping him discover the joys of friendship, music and love.

As a teenager myself, The Perks of Being A Wallflower resonates well with me. It’s not perfect, but if I’m crying at the end of film. It must have done something right.

21. Lady Bird (2017)

A California high school student plans to escape from her family and small town by going to college in New York, much to the disapproval of wildly loving, deeply opinionated and strong-willed mother.

Another movie that worked it’s magic on me because it resonates with me. Especially the mother daughter relationship reminded me of my own, flaws and all.

20. Enemy (2013)

A mild-mannered college professor discovers a look-alike actor and delves into the other man’s private affairs.

I didn’t know what to expect from Enemy and when I will admit it took a few minutes for me to get fully into it, but once I was I was really into it. The ending left me so dumbfounded, I needed to YouTube it to understand. Very good.

19. Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

Major Bill Cage is an officer who has never seen a day of combat when he is unceremoniously demoted and dropped into combat. Cage is killed within minutes, managing to take an alpha alien down with him. He awakens back at the beginning of the same day and is forced to fight and die again… and again – as physical contact with the alien has thrown him into a time loop.

Though it was strange to see Tom Cruise play a coward, I quickly ignored that and got invested into the film and the plot. It was the first movie I watched and it held up well once I finished the rest.

18. The Big Sick (2017)

Pakistan-born comedian Kumail Nanjiani and grad student Emily Gardner fall in love but struggle as their cultures clash. When Emily contracts a mysterious illness, Kumail finds himself forced to face her feisty parents, his family’s expectations, and his true feelings.

I figured I would like The Big Sick when I put it in the challenge, but I never expected to love it like I did. It was funny, it was sweet, sad, heartwarming, etc. It was everything I wanted and more.

17. Inception (2010)

Cobb, a skilled thief who commits corporate espionage by infiltrating the subconscious of his targets is offered a chance to regain his old life as payment for a task considered to be impossible: “inception”, the implantation of another person’s idea into a target’s subconscious.

It can’t be ignored how much an impact Inception left on movies not just of the 00s, but ever. It’s a phenomenal movie and a well deserved long lasting impact on film.

16. Popstar: Never Stop Stopping (2016)

When his new album fails to sell records, pop/rap superstar Conner4real goes into a major tailspin and watches his celebrity high life begin to collapse. He’ll try anything to bounce back, anything except reuniting…

This shouldn’t have been as good or as funny as it actually is. Quickly became one of my new favorite comedies that I will be watching for a long time.

15. Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)

In Greenwich Village in the early 1960s, gifted but volatile folk musician Llewyn Davis struggles with money, relationships, and his uncertain future following the suicide of his singing partner.

Inside Llewyn Davis took me aback at how much I loved it. I can’t explain it, but watching felt comforting even with all the struggles the main characters faces. Maybe it was just nice seeing someone else struggling other than myself. Either way, this film felt like a warm blanket I can’t wait to come back to.

14. The Handmaiden (2016)

1930s Korea, in the period of Japanese occupation, a young woman is hired as a handmaiden to a Japanese heiress who lives a secluded life on a large countryside estate with her domineering uncle. But, the maid has a secret: she is a pickpocket recruited by a swindler posing as a Japanese count to help him seduce the heiress to elope with him, rob her of her fortune, and lock her up in a madhouse. The plan seems to proceed according to plan until the women discover some unexpected emotions.

Beautiful in more ways than one. I was in love with the storytelling and the characters. Truly outdid itself by topping itself more and more as the movie went on.

13. Arrival (2016)

Taking place after alien crafts land around the world, an expert linguist is recruited by the military to determine whether they come in peace or are a threat.

I don’t even like sci-fi, but I can acknowledge the fact that Arrival is a sci-fi masterpiece through and through. Excellent.

12. 20th Century Women (2016)

In 1979 Santa Barbara, California, Dorothea Fields is a determined single mother in her mid-50s who is raising her adolescent son, Jamie, at a moment brimming with cultural change and rebellion. Dorothea enlists the help of two younger women Abbie, a free-spirited punk artist living as a boarder in the Fields’ home and Julie, a savvy and provocative teenage neighbor to help with Jamie’s upbringing.

This was stunning. I love the way the film was told and all the characters were well-developed. I love seeing their stories unfold. I can tell I’m going to hold this movie dear to me forever.

11. Drive (2011)

Driver is a skilled Hollywood stuntman who moonlights as a getaway driver for criminals. Though he projects an icy exterior, lately he’s been warming up to a pretty neighbor named Irene and her young son, Benicio. When Irene’s husband gets out of jail, he enlists Driver’s help in a million-dollar heist. The job goes horribly wrong, and Driver must risk his life to protect Irene and Benicio from the vengeful masterminds behind the robbery.

I’m a sucker for vapor wave and the entire aesthetic of the movie. I had the best time watching and enjoying Drive.

10. Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

Thirty years after the events of the first film, a new blade runner, LAPD Officer K, unearths a long-buried secret that has the potential to plunge what’s left of society into chaos. K’s discovery leads him on a quest to find Rick Deckard, a former LAPD blade runner who has been missing for 30 years.

Dare I say better than the first? Yeah without a doubt I prefer this over the first in just every single way. But, especially the story. I loved the story most of all.

9. Booksmart (2019)

Two academic teenage superstars realize, on the eve of their high school graduation, that they should have worked less and played more. Determined to never fall short of their peers, the girls set out on a mission to cram four years of fun into one night.

One of my favorite experiences watching a movie was watching Booksmart. I felt seen because the characters reminded me of me and my school. It reminded me on the best way possible to let loose every once in awhile and enjoy the time you have now.

8. Hereditary (2018)

When Ellen, the matriarch of the Graham family, passes away, her daughter’s family begins to unravel cryptic and increasingly terrifying secrets about their ancestry.

It’s a slow burn horror movie, but it is worth every minute it builds to it’s unforgettable ending. It made me uneasy, but in the way that I couldn’t help but appreciate.

7. Prisoners (2013)

When Keller Dover’s daughter and her friend go missing, he takes matters into his own hands as the police pursue multiple leads and the pressure mounts. But just how far will this desperate father go to protect.

One of the most well crafted thrillers I have ever seen with two of the best performances I have seen in a long time by Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhall. I couldn’t have asked for a better thriller if I wanted to.

6. Warrior (2011)

The youngest son of an alcoholic former boxer returns home, where he’s trained by his father for competition in a mixed martial arts tournament – a path that puts the fighter on a collision course with his estranged, older brother.

The most surprising movie of them. Warrior does nothing new with template of a sports movie and yes, it’s predictable. That being said, that doesn’t stop it from being my new favorite sports movie. It’s everything I could want from a sports movie and more. I truly loved it.

5. Birdman (2014)

A fading actor best known for his portrayal of a popular superhero attempts to mount a comeback by appearing in a Broadway play. As opening night approaches, his attempts to become more altruistic, rebuild his career, and reconnect with friends and family prove more difficult than expected.

I acknowledge that this movie is pretentious, because well it is. But, pretentious can be good sometimes and Birdman is exceptional. I couldn’t help but be drawn towards it.

4. Shutter Island (2010)

World War II soldier-turned-U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels investigates the disappearance of a patient from a hospital for the criminally insane, but his efforts are compromised by his troubling visions and also by a mysterious doctor.

I knew without the first 10 minutes I would be giving Shutter Island five stars and the rest of the film did nothing, but prove me right over and over again.

3. Blindspotting (2018)

Collin must make it through his final three days of probation for a chance at a new beginning. He and his troublemaking childhood best friend, Miles, work as movers, and when Collin witnesses a police shooting, the two men’s friendship is tested as they grapple with identity and their changed realities in the rapidly-gentrifying neighborhood they grew up in.

Blindspotting addressees social issues in the best way I have seen in a movie. It made me laugh while it also made me be filled with uneasiness from the tension on screen. Remarkable.

2. Whiplash (2014)

Under the direction of a ruthless instructor, a talented young drummer begins to pursue perfection at any cost, even his humanity.

I can’t explain how anxious this movie made me. I’m typically a anxious person in general, but movies have never made me more anxious than I usually am. All expect Whiplash, I was uncomfortable almost the whole film. That seems like a reason why I would hate this movie, but quite the opposite. A movie has never made me feel such a emotion so profoundly before. I’m not sure how many times I will revisit Whiplash in the future , but I am sure that no other film will ever recreate that same emotion Whiplash provoked out of me.

1. Call Me By Your Name (2017)

In 1980s Italy, a relationship begins between seventeen-year-old teenage Elio and the older adult man hired as his father’s research assistant.

I haven’t been able to get this film out of my head since I saw it. It already has a special place in my heart for a movie I seen once months ago. I can’t explain what exactly it is about Call Me By Your Name that makes me deeply love it. It’s just a feeling. A feeling of how have I not had this movie in my life until now? A feeling of I can’t wait to revisit this for the rest of my life. A feeling that can’t be recaptured or recreated, like lightning in a bottle.

What were your favorite movies of the 2010s? Were any of them on the list? Comment down below.


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