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UNILAD’s Top 100 Films Of The Decade

by : Cameron Frew on : 15 Oct 2019 17:35
UNILAD's Top 100 Films Of The DecadeUNILAD's Top 100 Films Of The DecadeSony Pictures/Warner Bros.

Cinema, ‘like fashion, is never finished’. We applauded like thunder, yawned like hippos, condemned with wrath – for better or worse, the 2010s have changed movies forever. 

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The return to a galaxy far, far away; a Sunday drive down Fury Road; the idea to ‘bring together a group of remarkable people’ – for generations old and new, the decade has had no shortage of eternal cultural moments.

We’ve endured the greatest paradigm shift the industry has ever experienced, from the rise (and fall) of shared universes to the atomic levelling of Netflix. Who knows what worlds we’ll travel to by 2030 – as technology ascends, the idea of cinema being an essential escape is ingrained in progress.

Take stock of your tears, fears and cheers: these are the top 100 films of the decade.

100. Mandy

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Mandy Nicholas CageMandy Nicholas CageRLJE Films

A mind-bending phantasmagoria that sees a career-best Nicholas Cage tackle a cult in neon-smothered hell.

99. Midsommar

MidsommarMidsommarA24

A beautiful daymare that certifies Ari Aster as cinema’s next great master of horror.

98. Upgrade

Upgrade 2018Upgrade 2018OTL Releasing

Scrub away your memories of the Robocop remake with this deliciously violent cult favourite – it’s directed with bone-breaking, head-splatting moxie.

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97. Son of Saul

Son of Saul MozinetSon of Saul MozinetMozinet

An unshakeably harrowing cinematic experience beyond the human notion of mercy.

96. Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

Once Upon A Time In HollywoodOnce Upon A Time In HollywoodSony Pictures

Tarantino’s penultimate film is pure movie magic; a beautifully crafted, deliriously cathartic sonnet to Hollywood’s Golden Age.

95. Bridesmaids

BridesmaidsBridesmaidsUniversal Pictures

Feig’s A-class, feisty women shattered the glass ceiling with this uproarious, dirty, ultimately kind-hearted romp.

94. The Florida Project

The Florida ProjectThe Florida ProjectA24
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A gorgeous, sublime social insight into parental poverty and the remarkable ability of a child to make any kingdom magic.

93. The Avengers

The Avengers 360 GIFThe Avengers 360 GIFMarvel Studios

The trend-setter, the original, the one that changed the superhero game forever. Smaller in scale, but plentiful in sheer joy.

92. A Separation

A SeparationA SeparationArtificial Eye

It’s the acting that makes A Separation so tangible – in their missteps and honour, we’re fully engaged.

91. Roma

Roma NetflixRoma NetflixNetflix

Cinema doesn’t get much prettier than this – a devine, inspiring vision of Mexico’s cultural richness.

90. Dredd

Dredd 2012 gifDredd 2012 gifLionsgate

An immensely hyper-bloody feast – pure video game entertainment and a chant-worthy aptitude for dynamite visuals.

89. We Need To Talk About Kevin

We Need To Talk About KevinWe Need To Talk About KevinOscilloscope Laboratories

Lynne Ramsay channels trauma and disquieting inhibitions, providing a truly horrific drama you can’t look away from.

88. Birdman

BirdmanBirdmanFox Searchlight Pictures

A 17-shot satirical daydream, both hyperrealistic and increasingly surreal as the dated star at the story’s core takes flight.

87. Her

Her Joaquin PhoenixHer Joaquin PhoenixWarner Bros.

A.I. has never been as soulful than in Her, Spike Jonze’s poignant look at a future not too far from our present.

86. Room

RoomRoomStudioCanal

Brie Larson took home the Oscar for her role in this heart-rending mother-son drama, emotionally-charged from the first frame.

85. Inside Llewyn Davis

Inside Llewyn DavisInside Llewyn DavisStudioCanal

A real treat from the Coens – superbly staged and engrossing with a winning, musical turn from Oscar Isaac.

84. Skyfall

SkyfallSkyfallSony Pictures Releasing

If nothing else, it’s the most beautiful Bond film ever made, thanks to Roger Deakins’ devastating cinematography.

83. Sicario

SicarioSicarioLionsgate

Villeneuve’s third appearance on this list takes us to the heart of the US-Mexico border’s twisted underbelly, on both sides of the fence.

82. Captain Phillips

Captain Phillips Captain Phillips Sony Pictures Releasing

A mental game of cat-and-mouse between Captain and Pirate keeps you in its grasp in Paul Greengrass’s maddening true story.

81. Private Life

Private LifePrivate LifeNetflix

An impressive showcase of grounded, authentic performances. Delicate, really quite funny and built around the empathy of fertility uncertainty.

80. It Follows

It FollowsIt FollowsRADiUS-TWC

Come for Disasterpiece’s Carpenter-esque mastery of synth, stay for a creepily current, hugely effective ghost story.

79. Snowpiercer

SnowpiercerSnowpiercerRADiUS-TWC

A sleeper hit from 2013, now celebrated online – for the viewer, one big train is the world, and the fact it hits close to home is a testament to Bong Joon-ho.

78. 12 Years A Slave

12 Years A Slave12 Years A SlaveEntertainment One Films

The harrowing, remarkable story of Solomon Northup is brought to life with Steve McQueen’s stark Best Picture winner.

77. Mother!

Mother!Mother!Paramount Pictures

A brilliant piece of cinema that requires a certain level of patience to endure. Disgusting, pretentious, anxiety-inducing, breathlessly bold and unforgettable.

76. End of Watch

End of WatchEnd of WatchOpen Road Films

David Ayer’s first-person ride-along packs a gritty, f*ck-filled punch. However, the real success is how real it all feels.

75. Nightcrawler

NightcrawlerNightcrawlerOpen Road Films

Jake Gyllenhaal takes us to the root of darkness; a twinkly moonlit world ran by blood, a man driven by an insatiable need for power.

74. Chef

Chef Grilled Cheese GifChef Grilled Cheese GifOpen Road Films

Jon Favreau’s infectiously feel-good film earns a spot for its perennial ability to make you need a grilled cheese.

73. Moneyball

MoneyballMoneyballColumbia Pictures

Sorkin’s script leans more on sustenance than quickfire appeal to create a smart, entertaining sporting drama with a great Pitt performance.

72. The Cabin in the Woods

Cabin In The WoodsCabin In The WoodsLionsgate

The Evil Dead elements are delightful in their own right – it’s when The Cabin in the Woods cuts loose into something much, much different that you’ll find a new drug.

71. John Wick

John WickJohn WickSummit Entertainment

The first film of the series and still the best; the Keanussaince started with this canine-revenge tale you can’t help but chant for.

70. Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the GalaxyGuardians of the GalaxyMarvel Studios

The MCU’s little miracle; a nigh-on completely unknown superhero team are now a household name thanks to James Gunn’s triumphant effort.

69. I, Daniel Blake

I, Daniel BlakeI, Daniel BlakeEntertainment One Films

It’ll leave you whimpering, but I, Daniel Blake is more than a film – it’s a politically furious outcry.

68. Lady Bird

Lady BirdLady BirdA24

Gleeful, touching and outstandingly crafted, Greta Gerwig’s debut coming-of-age film is an all-timer.

67. Apollo 11

Apollo 11Apollo 11Universal Pictures

Places you in the orbit of mankind’s giant leap as an omniscient spectator – minimal hand-holding, no narration. Brilliant.

66. Gone Girl

Gone GirlGone Girl20th Century Fox

The fact that Rosamund Pike didn’t take home the Oscar for her mesmerising, shocking turn here should be a federal crime.

65. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Star Wars The Force AwakensStar Wars The Force AwakensDisney

A jolt of nostalgia unlike anything I’ve ever experienced – Star Wars‘ return to the big screen was event cinema at its best.

64. First Man

First ManFirst ManUniversal Pictures

What First Man does best of all, and most importantly, is inspire pure awe.

63. The Tree of Life

The Tree of LifeThe Tree of LifeFox Searchlight Pictures

One of the most powerful cinematic experiences humanity can relish – unparalleled in the intimacy of its ginormity.

62. A Star Is Born

A Star Is BornA Star Is BornWarner Bros.

Bradley Cooper managed to land a masterpiece on his first go. You could say, a star is born.

61. Chronicle

Chronicle Film GifChronicle Film Gif20th Century Fox

The superhero genre gets the found-footage treatment in Josh Trank’s extremely well-done origin story of good versus evil.

60. Phantom Thread

Phantom ThreadPhantom ThreadUniversal Pictures

With the fabulously performed Phantom Thread, Paul Thomas Anderson fashioned an expertly crafted, sadist period fantasy.

59. Call Me By Your Name

Call Me By Your NameCall Me By Your NameSony Pictures Classics

A relishing, bravura showcase of true love, Call Me By Your Name was the wistfully romantic showstopper of 2017.

58. The Big Short

The Big ShortThe Big ShortParamount Pictures

Adam McKay’s entry into the dramatic arena is financial, immoral ecstasy. Line it up.

57. About Time

About Time Universal PicturesAbout Time Universal PicturesUniversal Pictures

Its saccharine rom-com body is a vessel for a genuine tear-jerker, with Domhnall Gleeson and Rachel McAdams making for an effortless pair.

56. Inside Out

Inside Out DisneyInside Out DisneyDisney

Are there six other words that make you want to cry as much as: ‘Take her to the moon for me?’

55. Interstellar

Interstellar gifInterstellar gifWarner Bros.

Nolan’s wormhole space epic takes you on a breathtaking journey – with a hair-raising organ score from Hans Zimmer.

54. A Ghost Story

A Ghost Story A24A Ghost Story A24A24

A thoroughly bizarre but touching parable on grief. Beautifully observed from start to finish – like a tragic poem come to life.

53. Ex Machina

Ex Machina Universal PicturesEx Machina Universal PicturesUniversal Pictures

Unnerving and transfixing, Ex Machina is a not-so-futuristic morality tale with a real nasty edge and magnificent visual effects.

52. Hunt For The Wilderpeople

Hunt For The Wilderpeople Vertigo FilmsHunt For The Wilderpeople Vertigo FilmsVertigo Films

It’s not just the cheekiness, or Sam Neill’s grumpy oaf – Taika Waititi’s ‘gangsta’ film has a ginormous amount of unadulterated spirit.

51. Mission: Impossible – Fallout

Mission: Impossible - FalloutMission: Impossible - FalloutParamount Pictures

Fallout is a blockbuster beyond the standard pedigree – an absolutely triumphant feast of a stunt-strong action movie.

50. Four Lions

Four LionsFour LionsOptimum Releasing

Who knew a film about a group of wannabe suicide bombers could be so hysterical? The destination is bleak, but the journey is (mostly) joyous.

49. Blue Valentine

Blue ValentineBlue ValentineThe Weinstein Company

Quite simply, the most heart-breaking portrayal of the boy-meets-girl story to ever see the screen.

48. The Act of Killing

The Act of KillingThe Act of KillingDogwoof Pictures

A bizarre documentary that flies horrifyingly close to the sun – a truly shuddering portrait of evil without remorse.

47. The Babadook

The BabadookThe BabadookEntertainment One

The real impact of The Babadook lies in the days, months and years it pervades your imagination, irregularly but firmly.

46. Logan

LoganLogan20th Century Fox

Crestfallen and deliciously rabid – a Wolverine movie so pure, so poignant, the world doesn’t actually deserve it.

45. Dunkirk

DunkirkDunkirkWarner Bros.

A cinematic tour-de-force that shows the horror of war lies more in its thunder than the blood.

44. Avengers: Infinity War

Avengers: Infinity WarAvengers: Infinity WarMarvel Studios

Audaciously epic and gargantuan in scale, it’s a devastating, historic spectacle (emphasis on devastating).

43. Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

Scott PilgrimScott PilgrimUniversal Pictures

Scott Pilgrim operates on a different plane of visual existence: the flow between the grounded and zany is, in every sense of the word, inventive.

42. Game Night

Game NightGame NightWarner Bros.

Hectic, hilarious, blood-soaked pooch mayhem better than any game of Jenga.

41. Avengers: Endgame

Avengers: EndgameAvengers: EndgameMarvel Studios

A galvanising conclusion to more than 10 years of movies so massive that it knocked Cameron’s Avatar off the throne. A spectacular, truly once-in-a-lifetime epic. Avengers, dismissed.

40. The Martian

The MartianThe Martian20th Century Fox

When in doubt, Ridley Scott science’d the shit out of it – Damon’s yet-another-stranded-man tale puts the Starman into survival.

39. Ad Astra

Ad AstraAd AstraDisney

Toxic masculinity, daddy issues and mankind’s battle with existentialism make up the poetry of James Gray’s magnificent, beautiful space odyssey.

38. Get Out

Get OutGet OutUniversal Pictures

A wicked, imperative horror satire that showcased Jordan Peele’s film-making gusto – don’t Get Out, get in.

37. Joker

Joker 2019 2Joker 2019 2Warner Bros.

A mesmerising, incendiary portrait of villainy. Brutal, unforgiving and extraordinarily led by Phoenix, Joker is an absolute triumph.

36. Hell or High Water

Hell Or High WaterHell Or High WaterLionsgate

A somber and gripping neo-Western, built upon loyalty and the blurred lines of righteousness.

35. The Guest

The GuestThe GuestPicturehouse

Adam Wingard’s underappreciated, 80s-inspired pulp thriller is a simmering pot of intrigue and mayhem with a killer vibe.

34. Boyhood

BoyhoodBoyhoodUniversal Pictures

Filmed over 12 years, to call this an epic would be an understatement; rather, it is life in all its glory, mediocrity and shame.

33. Kill List

Kill ListKill ListOptimum Releasing

Both an innately chilling thriller and eerie study of British hitmen, Kill List‘s aura is all-consuming right to its mental end. You won’t see it coming.

32. Carol

CarolCarolStudioCanal

A dazzlingly delicate love story: two women tangled in class and taboo, brought to life by Todd Haynes’ sumptuous flair and Carter Burwell’s wonderful music.

31. Arrival

Arrival gifArrival gifParamount Pictures

As a hyperreal look at a close encounter’s effect on global cooperation, it’s strong. As a heart-wrenching allegory for grief’s debilitating grasp, it’s stunning.

30. Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse

Sony Pictures ReleasingSony Pictures Releasing

Beautiful, hilarious, enthralling, inspiring; everything Spidey stands for and more. Masterpiece.

29. BlacKkKlansman

BlacKkKlansmanBlacKkKlansmanFocus Features

An incendiary, essential movie for a dangerous time. Say what you want about the film, but the crux of it is this – Spike Lee is furious, and you should be too.

28. Eighth Grade

Eighth GradeEighth GradeSony Pictures Releasing

Bo Burnham gave audiences a vivid, genuine glimpse at today’s flossing, dabbing, snapchatting, and crucially, struggling teens. A really, really amazing film.

27. Citizenfour

CitizenfourCitizenfourRADiUS-TWC

A journalistic heist film injected with raw adrenaline – a day-by-day account of Snowden’s earth-shattering bombshell. A scandal to some, a victory to others.

26. The Wolf of Wall Street

Wolf of Wall StreetWolf of Wall StreetParamount Pictures

Scorsese takes a swaggering DiCaprio on a filthy, potty-mouthed, white-nosed, absolutely exhilarating exercise in indulgence. Villainy at its most seductive.

25. The Master

The MasterThe MasterThe Weinstein Company

Utterly fascinating from Paul Thomas Anderson’s first frame – sensationally performed also, the world isn’t the same without Phil Seymour Hoffman.

24. The Old Man & the Gun

The Old Man & the GunThe Old Man & the GunFox Searchlight Pictures

A unreserved, mellow tribute to a gentleman’s wistful love affair for crime that soothes the soul.

23. Hereditary

HereditaryHereditaryA24

An outstandingly horrifying achievement from a debut filmmaker, Hereditary is a classic in the making, built on rock-solid, terrifying, atmospheric terror.

22. Paddington 2

StudioCanalStudioCanal

Bottled happiness: there is simply no other film on the planet that makes people feel as sweet as Paddington 2.

21. Kick-Ass

Kick-AssKick-AssUniversal Pictures

Its charming humility is a guise for how f*cking awesome Kick-Ass really is: one only needs look at the film’s late ‘strobe’ sequence to see the epitome of superhero action.

20. Under The Skin

Under The SkinUnder The SkinStudioCanal

The nightmarish awe of Under The Skin is its hidden weapon: as Scarlett Johansson’s seductress collects tongue-waggling Scotsmen, fleeting moments of humour are distilled by genuine unease. At times beautiful, at others dumbfounding, you simply can’t turn away.

19. You Were Never Really Here

You Were Never Really HereYou Were Never Really HereStudioCanal

A visceral knockout from Lynne Ramsay. The excess is stripped but the violence is sore: a very personal tale of redemption (or the lack thereof) in a suffocating world.

18. Drive

Drive 2011Drive 2011FilmDistrict

A midnight movie reverie with an ultraviolent lick – it takes pleasure in hitting you like a bloody boot to the face, but also swoops you off your feet with its angelic elegance.

17. Zero Dark Thirty

Zero Dark ThirtyZero Dark ThirtySony Pictures Releasing

Kathryn Bigelow’s comprehensive report of the Osama Bin Laden saga is her best film: an emphatic procedural with its feet on the ground.

16. The Irishman

The Irishman Netflix 2The Irishman Netflix 2Netflix

An impeccable, near-perfect epic: Scorsese’s defining masterpiece of the millennium.

15. Inception

InceptionInceptionWarner Bros.

A life-changing blockbuster: the jaws of one’s imagination stay dropped after Nolan’s dream-chasing extravaganza latches its hooks.

14. La La Land

La La Land GifLa La Land GifLionsgate

An impressively crafted, moving take on the MGM musicals of old, equipped with toe-tappers and weepies. I am unashamedly, and unconditionally, in love with La La Land.

13. Moonlight

MoonlightMoonlightA24

Moonlight is nothing short of perfection. Tackling each chapter with a compelling, frightless gravitas, it’s insightful and impeccable. A landmark film for the ages.

12. The Shape of Water

The Shape of WaterThe Shape of WaterFox Searchlight Pictures

A dramatic, gorgeous parable on forbidden love and acceptance, with the strangeness of a B-movie horror and the swooning delights of a fairytale – The Shape of Water is why people go to the movies.

11. Before Midnight

Before MidnightBefore MidnightSony Pictures Classics

The final chapter in cinema’s greatest trilogy, Jesse and Celine’s climactic outing is a devout letter to love at its bittersweet brink.

10. Gravity

A visual effects spectacular and space tourism’s most terrifying deterrent: both an intense physical and emotional rollercoaster in orbit.

9. Spotlight

A hardline, heart-choking account of journos-in-action, told with pathos and respect, earning its chilling resonance as the credits roll.

8. Blackfish

An exposé with titanic stopping power. Tilikum’s plight is disturbing and unforgettable – which is exactly what the nature capitalists needed.

7. Blade Runner 2049

Not just the pinnacle of cinematic beauty, but an impeccably-realised sci-fi neo-noir more than worthy of the 35-year wait.

6. Prisoners

Dread permeates Villeneuve’s magnum opus – an hard-boiled, grim whodunnit that takes distressing turns to show just how depraved a desperate person can be.

5. The Raid 2

The most astounding fight cinematography ever filmed fills an old-school warring mobs saga – balletic and brutal, Gareth Evans is the artist of violence.

4. Whiplash

An anxiously-staged cage match of relentless, sweary torment and musical wills, Whiplash is a mighty, virtuoso psychological thriller.

3. Warrior

The underdog story has never been better; a rousing, enrapturing beast of a fighting flick. Muscular in every sense of the word; it packs a real tear-flooding punch too.

2. Mad Max: Fury Road

George Miller’s miraculous return to the post-apocalyptic wasteland is a pedal-to-the-metal cacophony of carnage. Junkie XL’s stirring score, unstoppable momentum, absolutely unreal stunt work – in the simplest of terms, it’s a beautiful monster.

1. The Social Network

‘You’re gonna go through life thinking girls don’t like you because you’re a nerd. And I want you to know, from the bottom of my heart, that that won’t be true. It’ll be because you’re an asshole.’

With this breathtakingly scathing incel-tailored put-down, and the switch from The White Stripes’ Ball and Biscuit to Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’s haunting score, The Social Network begins.

It was 2010’s improbable miracle: in chronicling the inception of the decade’s most prolific website, the film-making prowess is wicked and impeccable from beginning-to-end.

The Social NetworkThe Social NetworkSony Pictures Releasing

The delicious darkness of Fincher and ultra-lightning of Sorkin’s writing combine to make a film quite unlike any other: with background Tom Clancy shooters and gel-tipped peacock hair-dos, it’s a modern period piece, but its illustration of arrogance, ingenuity, friendship and corruption captures a magnetic, thrillingly contemporary snapshot.

The whole thing has a cocaine-momentum: the composing duo’s electric composition is an all-timer as experienced with ‘In Motion’; Sorkin cauterises wild, frenzied tangents mid-chatter and orchestrates near-terrifying monologues via the vessel of Jesse Eisenberg’s alien performance as Mark Zuckerberg (‘Do I have your full attention?’) and Andrew Garfield’s Eduardo Saverin, the emotional soul of the biopic.

Fincher imbues an almost dirty sense of revolution as their triumphant timeline escalates.

It is the defining film of an era shook to the core, for better or worse, by Facebook: a cautious celebration of unmistakeable intelligence but wary look at how our need to ‘be cool’ throws decency to the wind. It’s the paradox of social media: in our digitalisation of real life, people are driven apart rather than together.

A masterpiece of untouchable calibre – the best film of the decade.

If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]

Cameron Frew

After graduating from Glasgow Caledonian University with an NCTJ and BCTJ-accredited Multimedia Journalism degree, Cameron ventured into the world of print journalism at The National, while also working as a freelance film journalist on the side, becoming an accredited Rotten Tomatoes critic in the process. He's now left his Scottish homelands and took up residence at UNILAD as a journalist.

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