As much as people bemoan Hollywood being devoid of ideas, the truth is that major studios and independent filmmakers alike continued to push the boundaries of what you could do with film in the 2010s. From small-scale projects to blockbusters that doubled as art, movies delivered in this last decade. If you’ve been following StudioBinder’s latest series, then you should have a good idea of what movies you can expect to see on this particular list. Let’s get into it.

Best Movies of the decade

A Word About "Best Of" Lists

“Best of” lists tend to generate a lot of controversy. Even if you make a list of 100 of the decade’s best movies, there will still be people who say, “Well, what about X?” There are plenty of fantastic movies released every year, and StudioBinder’s lists in this series are just one movie fan/critic’s opinion.

Additionally, I’d be remiss to not mention the subjectivity of certain films. While some movies withstand the tests of time, others age horribly. Tastes change, and my opinion on the best movies of the last decade will probably be vastly different a year from now when I have even more perspective.

So don’t view any of these lists as a definitive, “These are the movies you must watch.” Instead, you should view them as a guide. If you only have time to watch a few movies each year, then hopefully these lists point you in the right direction of what deserves your attention. These lists are a celebration of movies and all that filmmakers have accomplished in the last 10 years. So with that, let’s dive into the best films of the 2010s.


20. Drive (2011)

“I drive.”

There’s a serene beauty to Drive. It’s an ideal action movie with brutal moments of violence. But it’s also a love story of unrequited love and a man who can never be with the woman he’s fallen for. It’s tragic but director Nicolas Winding Refn brings a stylistic, visual flair to make it one of the prettiest things put to film in the 2010s. 

Drive transcended expectations, something movies shouldn’t be afraid to do more often. It will draw you in with the promise of car chases and fight scenes, but it will stick in your memory long after with Ryan Gosling’s brilliant performance as a loner masking his emotions.



  • Personal Award: Best movie to watch when you want to listen to a poppy synth score.
  • Tomatometer: 92%

    19. Dunkirk (2017)

    “Seeing home doesn't help us get there, Captain.”

    There are a lot of great actors in Dunkirk. However, the film is firmly Christopher Nolan’s show, expressing why he’s one of the best directors working today. High-octane set pieces and three separate timelines could’ve easily become convoluted, but Nolan never leaves his eye off the story he’s determined to tell. 

    The soundtrack and cinematography tell the story where dialogue is sparse. It feels like the kind of war film you would’ve found decades ago but with a modern 21st century sensibilities. It’s ambitious filmmaking at the very finest and shows what you can do when you have a true artist at the helm.

    2010 IN REVIEW


    • Personal Award: Best movie to watch when you want to feel anxiety for 107 minutes. 
    • Tomatometer: 93%

    TOP MOVIES 2010S

    18. Hugo (2011)

    “Isabelle... do you want to have an adventure?”

    Hugo may be a children’s film, but that doesn’t make it any less significant. In fact, it may just make it all the more vital in the grand scope of cinema. The movie has a profound love of movies, delving into the fantastical history of filmmaking. My hope is that the film inspires a generation of young people to pursue careers in film to bring their own stories to life. 

    Not only is the story important, but the film has the best use of 3D technologies put to film. It shows that after all of these years, Martin Scorsese still has not lost his love for filmmaking.

    2010 IN REVIEW


    • Personal Award: Best movie to actually pay extra to see it in 3D.
    • Tomatometer: 93%


    17. John Wick (2014)

    “It's okay. Let's go home.”

    John Wick is the kind of movie that makes you angry at other action flicks for not trying as hard. While at first glance it’s a simple revenge story, it’s so much more nuanced and layered underneath the surface. It can be seen as the modern equivalent of a mortal man storming Mount Olympus. You could also view it as a descent into Dante’s Inferno. Or you can just see it as an awesome action movie with some of the best fight scenes put to film.

    John Wick is popcorn entertainment at its very finest. It’s thrilling and kinetic, and it carries on that same energy throughout the sequels. It may have turned into a franchise, but the original was a breath of fresh air in an overcrowded and oftentimes stagnant movie landscape.

    2010 IN REVIEW


    • Personal Award: Best movie you can watch over and over and over again.
    • Tomatometer: 86%


    16. Green Room (2016)

    “I am Odin himself!”

    For any filmmakers who want to learn how to shoot for suspense, Green Room is a masterclass. The editing and pacing is top-notch, bringing you into the claustrophobic world. Green Room excels in holding your attention the entire runtime.

    While it’s a thriller, it never loses its humanity. Our ragtime group of heroes are not just characters. They are fully fleshed out. It’s superb screenwriting. You should watch it for no other reason than to see the talents of the late, great Anton Yelchin.

    2010 IN REVIEW


    • Personal Award: Best movie for reminding you of why Dead Kennedys are awesome. 
    • Tomatometer: 91%


    15. Whiplash (2014)

    “I’ll cue you.”

    Whiplash may not be as much of a crowd pleaser as Damien Chazelle’s other movie about a jazz lover who goes to great lengths to make his film come true, but it’s the far better one. It’s the ultimate portrayal of needing to suffer for your art.

    The film is all the better due to is ambiguous ending. We’re left wondering whether all this pain and suffering will be worth it in the end. It’s a dark portrait about the codependent nature between teacher and student. There may not be monsters of hitmen, but it’s one of the tensest moviegoing experiences you can witness.

    2010 IN REVIEW


    • Personal Award: Best film to feature a 15-minute drum solo at the very end. 
    • Tomatometer: 93%


    14. Knives Out (2019)

    “I suspect foul play. I have eliminated no suspects.”

    Knives Out proves there’s still plenty of life in the whodunnit genre. Not only does it set up a brilliant murdery mystery, but there’s ample social commentary to make it feel right at home in the 2010s. This film has a lot on its mind, and it’s never content with playing it safe. 

    Rian Johnson is a master of turning conventions on their head. Whether he’s deconstructing time travel plots or Star Wars films, he’s always looking for a way to captivate an audience. Knives Out will keep you guessing until the very end.

    2010 IN REVIEW


    • Personal Award: Best movie to hopefully spawn a franchise going into the 2020s. 
    • Tomatometer: 96%


    13. Ex Machina (2015)

    “What was the real test?”

    Ex Machina is a sci-fi thriller for the ages. It masterfully weaves together themes of artificial intelligence and gender dynamics. Every twist and flourish is earned through brilliant camerawork, leading to an intense finale that will leave you reeling. 

    Ex Machina helped make smart science-fiction stories cool again. Everything from the minimalistic production design to the haunting score help tell a story that will never truly leave your psyche. It’s a puzzle the filmmakers are in no hurry to solve, but it all leads to a captivating filmgoing experience.

    2010 IN REVIEW


    • Personal Award: Best disco scene in a 2010s film. 
    • Tomatometer: 92%


    12. Moonlight (2016)

    “So where you gonna stay tonight, man?”

    Moonlight is without a doubt one of the most important films to come out of the 2010s. It shows the story of a black, gay man in three different stages of his life. It instills a sense of empathy within the viewer, showing how connected we all are, regardless of where we come from in life. 

    Moonlight feels like poetry in motion. Every frame is important. The colors and the stillness of the world we’re placed in paint a gorgeous picture among the pain Chiron goes through in life. Now that we’re a few years removed from the big Oscar debacle, I can safely safe Moonlight is the rare film that deserved to win the Best Picture prize, and it is, indeed, a far better film than La La Land.

    2010 IN REVIEW


    • Personal Award: Best film for when you need a good cry.
    • Tomatometer: 98%


    11. The Master (2012)

    “When we're in love we experience pleasure, and extreme pain.”

    The Master has become known as Paul Thomas Anderson’s allegory to Scientology, but there’s so much more going on than that. It’s a story about a man and, in a larger sense, America trying to find an identity in the aftermath of World War II. It travels through themes of trauma and lust with ease, proving Anderson is a master of his craft. 

    The writing and directing are superb, but what will make this film stand the test of time is the performances at play. Joaquin Phoenix is a revelation, and Philip Seymour Hoffman proves he was one of the finest actors of his generation. Their performances could be studied for ages for how excellent they play off one another.

    2010 IN REVIEW


    • Personal Award: Best movie that would definitely piss off L. Ron Hubbard. 
    • Tomatometer: 85%


    10. Inception (2010)

    “What is the most resilient parasite?”

    Cerebral action movies hit an apex at the beginning of the decade with Inception. A group of thieves pull of a heist inside the mind, leading to some of the most wonderful shots ever put in an action movie. Watching the behind-the-scenes featurette of Joseph Gordon-Levitt during the hallway fight scene will never cease to amaze me. 

    Inception is a film that encourages debate and analysis. Much like the dreamscapes, the film itself has numerous layers you can dive into. It’s a brilliant feat of moviemaking and imagination that shows just what you can do with a unique, innovative idea.

    2010 IN REVIEW


    • Personal Award: Best film to cause endless debates with your friends. 
    • Tomatometer: 87%


    9. Gravity (2013)

    “Listen, do you wanna go back, or do you wanna stay here?”

    Transposing a survival story into outer space could have been overly goofy. However, Alfonso Cuarón knows precisely what he wants to achieve. What followed was an incredible exercise in sound design, cinematography, and VFX to create a film that encourages aspiring filmmakers to reach for new heights. 

    Gravity is a genuine technical marvel. It doesn’t deal with lofty themes. Instead, if takes you on one woman’s journey to survive in the most devastating environment imaginable and holding onto your sense for 91 minutes.

    2010 IN REVIEW


    • Personal Award: Best movie on the biggest screen possible. 
    • Tomatometer: 96%


    8. Arrival (2016)

    “Memory is a strange thing.”

    Arrival is unique in that it is a sci-fi film that does not paint a bleak portrait of the future. The movie brims with heart and optimism. There’s conflict for sure, but the film raises deep ideological questions and will leave you reeling from the final scene. 

    Beauty and bombasity come together magnificently. The cinematography, score, and performances, particularly from an outstanding Amy Adams, are all as close to perfection as you can get. It’s a sci-fi film for the ages that will leave you hopeful for the future.

    2010 IN REVIEW


    • Personal Award: Best movie to remind yourself that Amy Adams still hasn’t one an Oscar, and that’s a tragedy.
    • Tomatometer: 94%


    7. Nightcrawler (2014)

    “The price hasn't been negotiated yet.”

    At its core, Nightcrawler is a sick joke. It lampoons both the media circuit as well as the television viewers who watch a bit closer any time something gory comes on. But the film is also an indictment on the current cutthroat landscape of landing a job and going to dark, perverse places to get ahead in a career. 

    As a modern noir, Nightcrawler films modern Los Angeles with the same grimy appreciation it has toward its protagonist. It’s the kind of film that has you looking inward because there’s a good chance you’re more like Lou than you’d care to admit.

    2010 IN REVIEW


    • Personal Award: Best role to remind you why Jake Gyllenhaal is great. 
    • Tomatometer: 95%


    6. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)

    “It always fits. Eventually.”

    The best superhero movie of the last decade isn’t an Avengers team-up or a grim DC flick. It’s a wonderfully animated Spider-Man movie about someone else other than Peter Parker. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is precisely what the superhero genre needed right at that moment. 

    The film feels like a rejuvenation for a genre that people always talk about a bubble bursting. As long as there are creative teams that are willing to infuse their movies with as much joy and creativity as this one, then there should be plenty of amazing superhero movies to come out in the 2020s.

    2010 IN REVIEW


    • Personal Award: Best film that’s better than it had any right to be. 
    • Tomatometer: 97%


    5. BlacKkKlansman (2018)

    “Power to the people.”

    BlacKkKlansman may be a period film, but it never feels like you’re just watching a history lesson. The horrors and atrocities you see in the film feel like they should be a distant memory, but not only did they happen not too long ago in America’s past, they continue to happen today. 

    BlacKkKlansman is one of the timeliest movies to come out in recent memory. It expertly ties together themes of racial division. It shows us that the rise in the alt-right and white supremacy in America is not a recent phenomenon. It’s been in the making for decades, and most white Americans were just too bling to see it.

    2010 IN REVIEW


    • Personal Awards: Best movie that will make you want to pay attention more.
    • Tomatometer: 96%


    4. Get Out (2017)

    “I mean, I told you not to go in that house.”

    Get Out is many things to many people. It marks a new direction for the horror genre to take and proves that black filmmakers can indeed make critical and commercial successes. It’s also bitingly entertaining, being satirical, surprising, and horrifying, sometimes all at once. 

    Get Out is the kind of film destined to be the subject of college theses for decades to come. Jordan Peele proves himself to be an excellent director in his feature-length debut, and he’s destined to become one of the great voices in the horror genre for quite some time.

    2010 IN REVIEW


    • Personal Award: Best movie to inspire endless debates.
    • Tomatometer: 98%


    3. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

    “My world is fire and blood.”

    It’s a two-hour long car chase that’s somehow the most entertaining and most important films to come out of the last decade. In a world of soulless reboots designed to cash in on existing properties, Fury Road leaves everything in its dust, leading to one of the most enthralling spectacles ever put to film. 

    It helps to go into the film knowing virtually everything you see is a practical effect. It’s impressive how everything came together so fluidly, and at the same time, they were able to weave together a timely parable on femininity and gender roles. George Miller has achieved something truly remarkable here, and Fury Road has more than earned its spot among arthouse pieces as one of the defining films of the decade.

    2010 IN REVIEW


    • Personal Award: Best movie that will get you out of your seat cheering. 
    • Tomatometer: 97%


    2. Parasite (2019)

    “They are nice because they are rich.”

    It may be one of the more recent entries to come out in theaters, but I’m confident Parasite will stand the test of time and come to encapsulate so much of the thematic resonances prevalent throughout the 2010s. With another potential economic disaster just around the corner, Parasite will sadly likely become all the more relevant. 

    It’s a modern parable on the inherent inequities existent within capitalism. It shows how the only way to succeed is to step on the backs of others. And the entire story is filmed beautifully with particular attention to designing and lighting the central house. And this message is told with an expertly crafted high-wire act of tension that feels right at home in a Mission: Impossible movie.

    2010 IN REVIEW


    • Personal Award: The best movie to make you want to eat the rich. 
    • Tomatometer: 99%

    Up Next

    The Best Movies on Netflix (Dec 2019)

    A lot of these movies we just ranked are available for streaming. If you're ready to watch some amazing movies right now, head over to this post for a curated list of the best movies on Netflix for December 2019. 

    Up Next: Best Movies on Netflix →
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