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Pajiba’s Favorite Movies of the 2010s

By The Pajiba Staff | Film | December 24, 2019 |

By The Pajiba Staff | Film | December 24, 2019 |


It’s that time of the season when everyone is coming out with this, that, and the other Best of the Decade list. A few of our favorite of those include the Film School Rejects 100 Best Movies of the Decade, Polygon’s Best Comics of the Decade, IndieWire’s Best TV Shows of the Decade, and The A.V. Club’s 100 Best Movies of the 2010s.

But. While our hot-take culture loves declaring things the Best (and the Worst), we’re side-stepping the declaratives as we look back on the decade in movies. Many of the movies on our list may just be the best, but that’s not why they’re here. They’re here because we love them. The best movies we may watch once and then never again. But our favorites? These are the movies we’ll be watching forever.

Over the next two weeks, we’ll be updating this list as we reveal our Top 20, along with a series of great pieces on those and some other movies that made our favorites list. How did we come up with this very serious and important ranking? Well, sixteen of our writers gave us their lists, which included 175 different films ( in fact, only 59 of those movies appeared on two or more lists — the other 116 were only a favorite of just one writer). Then we applied some spreadsheet magic and witch hazel to winnow that down to this Top 100. Let’s get to it:

1. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) “Female leadership. Female partnership. Female companionship. Female camaraderie. Female mentorship. Female power. Furiosa’s War Rig always in motion, always pushing forward, always dreaming of a better reality than the one in which these women are trapped. Hope, and the willingness to do whatever necessary to make that hope real.” —Roxana Hadadi

2. Get Out (2017) “…Peele upended white audience expectations by giving us a horror film in which the sweet and smiling white girl, who often is stalked by a masked killer, uses her smile as a mask to hunt Black victims. He gave us a film about Black/white race relations, where there is no White Savior, but a bait-and-switch villain whose duplicity makes a rewatch savagely scary.” —Kristy Puchko

3. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) “I see it in my son’s eyes, and I see it in the parents who’ve stopped by the comments: Miles Morales is the future of Spider-Man.” —Mike Redmond

4. Moonlight (2016)Moonlight was one of the rare transformative experiences, a film so gorgeously filmed, so emotionally resonant, so damn perfect that it changed the way I see movies. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve watched it, always catching something subtle and beautiful that I never noticed before….” —TK Burton

5. Logan (2017) “…with this final chapter, Jackman gets to deliver his best performance in something altogether different, a contemplative Western about a broken man who has succumbed to the inevitability of his pain, not realizing that there’s one more redemptive story left to tell.” —Seth Freilich

6. Take Shelter (2011) “Introspective journeys starring white guys have a way of being some of the whiniest navel-gazing you could ever have the misfortune to come across … but Take Shelter avoids all the typical pitfalls and pratfalls as it’s not a film about blaming the world or expecting women to do all the emotional heavy lifting….” —Ciara Wardlow

7. Short Term 12 (2013) “…a beautifully wistful film, and Brie Larson is quietly commanding and serene, a damaged angel trying to rescue her flock.” —Dustin Rowles

8. Paddington 2 (2017) “…Paddington shows us how one act of good will might spark another, building a community where people care for each other and can enact great good together. Though it’s about a little bear, Paddington 2 entreats us to remember our humanity and that of others.” —Kristy Puchko

9. Sorry to Bother You (2018) “The movie offers a nuanced argument about the way capitalism exploits and dehumanizes workers for profit, using a little dystopian sci-fi, a little magical realism, a bunch of witty dialogue and some expert visual humor to construct a story that is as entertaining as it is opinionated.” —Tori Preston

10. The Handmaiden (2016) “…The Handmaiden isn’t just a movie about characters lying and falling in love despite, or even because of, those lies. The movie itself is a carefully crafted deception, a lie of omission spun out into a three-act structure, manipulating and unwinding our own expectations every step of the way.” —Tori Preston

11. Boyhood (2014) “…the one thing I’m looking for in a film more often than anything else is quite simple: A confirmation. An experience that tells me, ‘You are not alone.’” —Petr Knava

12. Hell or High Water (2016) “Shit, for a second, a very brief second, it almost made me think about robbing banks with my own estranged, Trump-loving brother, the Tanner (Ben Foster) to my Toby (Chris Pine). But then that ending….” —Mike Redmond

13. Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016) “…Hunt for the Wilderpeople is an odd-couple buddy outlaw dramedy set in New Zealand that features haikus, wild hogs, and jokes about why leaving a paper suicide note isn’t very effective when faking your death by fire. It’s a casually profound work of humanism about getting lost and finding belonging in the process that’s equally admirable as a work of art and entertainment.” —Ciara Wardlaw

14. Lady Bird (2014). “…[Lady Bird has] the kind of detail that can only come from experience, and for me, that authenticity helped to inform everything else about that funny, aching, defiant, wonderful and honest coming-of-age film.” —Dustin Rowles

15. Mudbound (2017) “Consider Mudbound as a classic that, like The Grapes of Wrath and Days of Heaven, upholds portions of the American dream while also underscoring the need to criticize it….” —Roxana Hadadi

16. Only Lovers Left Alive (2013) “…Only Lovers Left Alive is a film awash with ideas and philosophies and a deep-seated adoration for the art and culture humanity has created since time began. If that’s not enough reason to keep on living, what is? Who said vampires were done?” —Kayleigh Donaldson

17. Ex Machina (2014) “Alex Garland’s vision and deft hand behind the camera created a gorgeous movie full of exciting and disturbing visuals that allows creative insanity, body horror, and sci-fi questions of morality and responsibility to flow over the audience in a cacophonic symphony of genius….” —Jodi Smith

18. John Wick (2014)John Wick fucks.” —Kate Hudson

19. A Separation (2011) “One of those questions that is always floating around Film Twitter is, “What movie do you love that you’ve never been able to watch more than once?”, and whenever I see that question, I think of A Separation….” —Roxana Hadadi

20. Annihilation (2018) “…It’s a very well-done meta exploration of the idea that you might not be who you think you are, and the combination of Garland’s confident direction, Rob Hardy’s trippy cinematography, Ben Salisbury and Geoff Barrow’s mind-melting score, and Portman’s committed performance elevates Annihilation into cult classic territory.” —Roxana Hadadi

21. Arrival (2016)
22. The Raid: Redemption (2011)
23. Blindspotting (2018)
24. What We Do in the Shadows (2014)
25. Us (2019)
26. The Babadook (2014)
27. Gone Girl (2014)
28. Parasite (2019)
29. Drive (2011)
30. The Cabin in the Woods (2011)

31. Ruby Sparks (2012) “…But we no longer need the words [manic pixie dream girl] themselves because the more important and crucial piece is for women to tell our own stories, calling out the trope ourselves and dismantling the notion that we don’t get to be people, that we are relegated to love interests and girlfriends and wacky best friends in someone else’s story.” —Courtney Enlow

32. The Nice Guys (2016)
33. Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018)
34. Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
35. Room (2015)
36. Attack the Block (2011)
37. High Flying Bird (2019)
38. Train To Busan (2016)
39. Nightcrawler (2014)
40. Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010)
41. Moneyball (2011)
42. Inception (2010)
43. You Were Never Really Here (2017)
44. Winter’s Bone (2010)
45. The Martian (2015)
46. Anna Karenina (2012)
47. The Lighthouse (2019)
48. Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
49. Captain Marvel (2019)
50. True Grit (2010)
51. Mandy (2018)
52. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
53. Obvious Child (2014)
54. About Time (2013)

55. Inherent Vice (2014) “Close to five years following its release, Inherent Vice is finally getting the respect it deserves and, yes, it remains the real masterpiece of Paul Thomas Anderson.” —Kayleigh Donaldson

56. The Favourite (2018)
57. Certified Copy (2010)
58. Pain and Gain (2013)
59. Yakuza Apocalypse (2015)
60. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)
61. Moana (2016)
62. Crimson Peak (2015)
63. Zama (2017)
64. Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

65. Bridesmaids (2011) “… I don’t feel the need to knock The Hangover any further, but if we’re going to say two movies are the same because they’ve got some people doing something very vaguely related to each other, we should at least be referring to The Hangover as “Dude Bridesmaids.”” —Emily Chambers

66. The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (2015) “Sure, it wasn’t a film anyone was asking for at the time but it’s one we eagerly needed once we realized just how bloody good it was….” —Kayleigh Donaldson

67. Toni Erdmann (2016)
68. The Florida Project (2017)
69. Pain and Glory (2019)
70. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
71. Snowpiercer (2013)
72. Inside Out (2015)
73. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)
74. Midsommar (2019)
75. Booksmart (2019)
76. Take This Waltz (2011)
77. Creed (2015)
78. I, Tonya (2017)

79. Deadpool (2016) “The Deadpool movie gave me Ryan Reynolds in a role that he was honestly born to play. It also took the essence of the character and his origins and kept them intact while playing around with other aspects to make it work. The fourth wall was broken multiple times and in such a seamless, fantastic way….” —Jodi Smith

80. Transit (2018)
81. The Social Network (2010)
82. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012)
83. Eighth Grade (2018)
84. War For The Planet of the Apes (2017)
85. The Lure (2015)
86. Carol (2015)
87. Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)
88. Diary of a Teenage Girl (2015)
89. 50/50 (2011)
90. Hugo (2011)
91. Free Solo (2018)
92. Blackkklansman (2018)
93. The Big Sick (2017)
94. The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
95. Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)
96. Atomic Blonde (2017)
97. Wonder Woman (2017)
98. The Big Short (2015)
99. O.J.: Made in America (2016)
100. Belle (2013)

Seth is a Senior Editor and sometime critic. You may email him here or follow him on Twitter.

Header Image Source: Official Movie Posters