The 2010s has been an interesting decade for cinema, with substantial superhero flicks of varying quality and smaller arthouse projects perhaps struggling to find the audience they may have found in previous years.

This period, particularly the latter half, has also seen the rise of streaming services who have muscled into the cinema arena, albeit with varying degrees of success as it competes against its film counterparts.

This year, particularly, has seen some very big-name Netflix releases in Martin Scorsese’s mob epic The Irishman and Noah Bambuch’s Marriage Story, while 2018 saw the media giant’s first Best Picture nomination for Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma.

It would be a big surprise if The Irishman and Marriage Story were not up for a considerable number of awards come January, but what classics has the last decade given us as we enter 2020?

Les Intouchables (2011)

It would be remiss to start anywhere other than the 2011 French film that took global cinema audiences by storm, which remains one of those rare foreign-language movies that managed to crack international audiences and inspire an English language reboot.

This film boasts an intriguing true-life story of a paraplegic millionaire art collector and his struggling carer, who comes from a Senegalese background. The chemistry between leads Omar Sy and Francois Cluzet is incredible and the film’s sense of fun, despite its subject nature, is what marks it apart.

It boasts a brilliant soundtrack and makes the most of its Paris setting. It is a fantastic advert for French cinema and, poignantly, the values of friendship.

Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

A heavily overlooked film in the context of this decade, the Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence starrer is, possibly, the best showcase of Lawrence’s talent. In the heady days of 2012, with her star firmly on the rise, she displays sizzling chemistry with Cooper and the two would also star in David O’Russell’s follow-up film American Hustle.

Old warhorse Robert De Niro’s eye still twinkle as he more than handles the father figure role, with the film balancing mental health issues yet retaining a sense of vibrancy and fun throughout, even in its more tender moments. Genre hopping soundtracks, which features Led Zeppelin, The White Stripes and Dave Brubeck, are always great fun too.

Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper in The Silver Linings Playbook
Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper in The Silver Linings Playbook C: The Weinstein Company

Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)

A late Coen Brothers piece of brilliance, partially inspired by Bob Dylan’s origins in the Greenwich Village folk scene of the early 1960s. This is perhaps the brothers’ best film of the period, in a decade which has seen varying quality of output. With 2010’s True Grit a hit and 2016’s Hail Caesar falling flatter.

Oscar Isaac is fantastic in the lead role as the troubled singer-songwriter, struggling to make it as a folk star. There is some great support work from Carey Mulligan, John Goodman and Adam Driver.

While not a musical, the stars do sing several of the songs in the film, Marcus of Mumford and Sons acted as a music consultant on the film and contributed to the soundtrack, perhaps strengthening the music on display (depending on your musical taste)

The film does also employ several Dylan tracks. Which begs the question, how could it possibly not?

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

From a completely different corner of cinema is Wes Anderson’s piece de resistance, The Grand Budapest Hotel, a film that could be the defining feature of his back catalogue.

Ralph Fiennes is a joy as M. Gustave, but the whole cast, which includes of Jude Law, Jeff Goldblum, Willem Defoe and Edward Norton among other Andersonites, are clearly having an absolute blast.

Anderson’s whimsical sense of humour, bleeds through, as does his visual calling cards. Moonrise Kingdom and Isle of Dogs were also met with acclaim this decade and whetting many appetites for next years The French Dispatch.

Saoirse Ronan and Tony Revolori in The Grand Budapest Hotel
Saoirse Ronan and Tony Revolori in The Grand Budapest Hotel C: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Arrival (2016)

Another director who left a lasting impact on this decade is Denis Villeneuve, the visionary behind films like Sicario and Blade Runner 2049. However, his sci-fi epic, Arrival, harks back to earlier works in the genre, such as Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind. A brooding and masterful work, it brings the focus onto the strength of its leads, with one of Amy Adams’ finest performances to date and stellar supporting work from Jeremy Renner.

While not having the action of your typical alien invasion film, a la Independence Day, the film is gripping throughout, with its unfolding narrative jumping between different time frames. It looks fantastic too, which gives us all hope as Villeneuve continues to dabble in the sci-fi theme with his adaption of the classic movie Dune due out next year.

Baby Driver (2017)

In many ways, Baby Driver is a surprise hit and is arguably director Edgar Wright’s strongest film to date. The score is orchestrated incredibly well, with many of its tunes choreographing action sequences, while the film boasts a fun lead performance from Ansel Elgort.

Strong support work comes in the form of Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx and Lily James, but the picture works so well as an original standalone story that talk of a sequel is worrying.

Wright’s body of work is exemplary, leading all the way back to Spaced and the Cornetto trilogy, with his upcoming, Last Night In Soho, slated to be released next year.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)

One of the most acclaimed films of the decade, perhaps controversially denied a Best Picture Oscar to The Shape of Water, it features some towering performances that may well go down as all-time great turns. Sam Rockwell deviates from his previous roles to slip into the psyche of a troubled, alcoholic cop who undergoes somewhat of a redemption story.

Frances McDormand is dynamite on the screen and you feel she could erupt at any moment. It is clear this film comes from the same mind as In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths (Martin McDonagh), with the dark humour of his two previous films shines through.

Frances McDormand in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Frances McDormand in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri C: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Dunkirk (2017)

Given Christopher Nolan’s recent filmography, it is hard to pick one of his films for this decade with Inception, Interstellar and The Dark Knight Rises all receiving acclaim and having merits of their own. However, Nolan’s most personal and affecting film to date is Dunkirk, a roller coaster of masterful suspense from its first shot to the last

Casting relative unknowns in the lead roles, with stars such as Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh, Tom Hardy and Cillian Murphy sprinkled throughout, gives it real heart and a pragmatic feel. The film really illustrates how hopeless those stranded on that French beach in 1940 were, with the heroism of everyday folk coming through.

BlacKkKlansman (2018)

Possibly hard done by at the 2019 Oscars, BlacKkKlansman is simply audacious filmmaking from veteran writer/director Spike Lee. It has an incredible set of lead performances from John David Washington and Adam Driver, with the latter arguably becoming one of the talents of the decade. 

The film is chock full of humour, but also boasts a clear sense of both the era it is reflecting and how the issues it addresses still resonate today. Undoubtedly an important cinematic milestone, it should be given the attention it truly deserves in years to come and is a sign of Lee’s importance to modern cinema.

John David Washington and Adam Driver in BlacKkKlansman
John David Washington and Adam Driver in BlacKkKlansman C: Focus Features

HONOURABLE MENTIONS KLAXON:

  • Lady Bird
  • Call Me by Your Name
  • The Nice Guys
  • The Martian
  • The Death of Stalin
  • Django Unchained
  • Midnight in Paris