Holden Pike's Top 100 of the 2010s


We are now officially more than a year past the end of the previous decade. While eleven years probably isn't truly enough time to digest and mull over the thousands of titles released between 2010 and 2019 - even with the forced hibernation of 2020 - it is enough to at least take an honest shot at compiling such list. So without further a doo-doo here are my choices for the Top 100 films of that decade.

1. La La Land
2016, Damien Chazelle

In awards season terms it peaked just a smidge too early, which became evident after deciphering that envelope confusion on the stage of the Academy Awards. That blunder aside its Not-Best-Picture footnote did absolutely nothing to diminish my love for a flick I had already seen six times theatrically. From the opening freeway number to the wistful but celebratory speculative tour of what turn their relationship might have taken at the end I was instantly and intensely invested in the Musical romance between these two characters and the missive to both Los Angeles and the magic of the movies themselves. Highlighted by great songs, energetic and clever staging, and two endlessly charming movie star turns by Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling wrapped up in the fun and witty sensibility of Chazelle. La La Land is now firmly in place in the cinematic firmament with Singin' in the Rain (1952) and Pennies from Heaven (1981) as my all-time favorite Musicals and for me it all added up to being THE film of the past decade.

2. The Tree of Life
2011, Terrence Malick

Malick had set himself up as the J.D. Salinger of film. His first two projects as writer/director in the 1970s, Badlands (1973) and Days of Heaven (1978), had labeled him as the poet of his generation of filmmakers that included Coppola, Spielberg, Scorsese, Lucas, and Ashby. And then...he completely vanished from the scene. There was a twenty-year gap before he came roaring back with The Thin Red Line (1998) and "only" six year waits for his next two. His fifth feature The Tree of Life magnificently brings to the screen an impressionistic and dreamlike remembrance of growing up in rural 1950s Texas interspersed with visions of the modern world, the ancient world, the mystic world, and the imagined world. It has an audacious scope filtered through a beautiful lens that is grounded in the search for love and exalted by wonders.

3. The Social Network
2010, David Fincher.

Fincher made his splash in the business via slick, dark, and enormously compelling entertainments rooted in genre like SE7EN (1995), Fight Club (1999), Zodiac (2007), and Gone Girl (2014). Rightly so! He is a modern master of such cinematic tales. But his sensibility coupled with Aaron Sorkin's take on the meteoric rise of Facebook and the lawsuits among its Harvard student founders is also a perfect match. How historically accurate it all is I can't say, though certainly nobody really talks with as much clipped brilliance as Sorkin crafts his dialogue. Whatever inaccuracies and fictions there are along the way hardly matter as this tale of the personalities who happened to hit upon the engine that has become at least as much of a curse as it is a blessing before degenerating into jealousy and betrayals is tonally sharp, timely, often funny, and always clever. Watching Jesse Eisenberg's Zuckerberg turn hurt pettiness into an empire that he then defensively self-isolates within is a winner.

4. Incendies
2010, Denis Villeneuve

If Fincher has a successor in the generation of filmmakers who came to the fore in his wake it is arguably Villeneuve. He is also adept at perfect visuals utilized stunningly in many genres, but all while feeling as if they are being broadcast from his very own dark and perceptive universe. Incendies was not his first feature but it was the first to have an international presence, instantly moving him from a regional Canadian filmmaker to a new master who now gets to paint upon increasingly bigger and bigger canvases. Incendies is structured like a mystery with a daughter traveling back to her recently deceased mother's homeland in the Middle East after the reading of her will begins to uncover secrets of her past. The discoveries and flashbacks lead to a devastating and perfectly realized finale. I screened Incendies at a film festival and was simply knocked out. Clearly I wasn't the only one who was affected as the powerful little film lead directly to the run of Prisoners (2013), Enemy (2013), Sicario (2015), Arrival (2016), Blade Runner 2049 (2017), and now Dune (2021). Three of those subsequent films also appear on my list but it is Incendies with its smaller scale and rawer emotions that still rattles in my cinematic bones.

5. Take Shelter
2011, Jeff Nichols

Another of my favorite filmmakers to emerge in the past decade is definitely Jeff Nichols. That he usually pairs with Michael Shannon, one of my very favorite actors from this century, certainly doesn't hurt. Nichols' first film, Shotgun Stories (2007), was a nice introduction of a new voice on the landscape, but it was in this his second movie where that voice screamed and demanded to be noticed. Shannon plays a modest man who is increasingly beset by visions of apocalyptic terrors coming for him and his family. Is it paranoia or premonition? Are end times upon us or are these fears simply ripping his family apart? It is a small and very precise film with some dazzling crescendos all orchestrated by Nichols and performed by the symphony that is Michael Shannon. Two more of Jeff Nichols' films make my list further down but Take Shelter is the somehow hopeful nightmare I do not want to wake from.

6. The Artist
2011, Michel Hazanavicius

Hailed by some and denounced by others, I was totally transported by this loving homage to the Golden Age of Hollywood made mostly by Frenchmen. I was lucky to have caught the hysterical OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies (2006) at a film festival. It is a spot on spoof of 1960s spy flicks while sprinkled with some very smart satire. It also stars Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo. That movie broke box office records in France, and after the serviceable but diminishing returns of the sequel OSS 117: Lost in Rio I wondered what else Hazanavicius might have for the world. It turned out to be The Artist, and thank goodness! Plenty of audiences and critics dismissed it as gimmicky or hokey but I find it to be blissfully sincere and like the form it is briefly bringing back to life full of pathos and humor and humanity with its two stars sparkling on the screen. Three stars if you include Uggy the dog.

7. The Grand Budapest Hotel
2014, Wes Anderson

I connected with Wes Anderson in a massive way with Rushmore (1998). He instantly rocketed to the top of my favorites list and for me he can do no wrong. Each of his movies is a perfectly curated bit of cinema that I cannot get enough of. All three of his releases from this decade made my list but I find The Grand Budapest Hotel to be among his very best, yet. Punctuated by more casual cruelty than most of the others but still a bright fantasy that follows Ralph Finnes, in his best comedic performance to date, as a charming rogue of a concierge with some sex and death and love and prison and chases all baked into a perfect and delicious pastry. Pure movie joy for this lobby boy in training.

8. Silence

While Fincher, Wes Anderson, Jeff Nichols, Villeneuve, and Chazelle are all favorites and Malick an undisputed legendary master my favorite filmmaker among favorite filmmakers remains Martin Scorsese. Four of his five narrative features made my list for this period and the most impressive is Silence. Marty had been toying with adapting Shūsaku Endō’s acclaimed novel for close to thirty years before mounting the production. The story, which follows Jesuit Priests in 17th Century Japan who attempt to spread the Gospel at a time when Christianity was outlawed, makes a sort of informal trilogy of faith with The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) and Kundun (1997). Stunningly photographed, Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver are magnificent as the younger men sent to find what happened to Liam Neeson’s character who has vanished. The Catholic Scorsese never shies away from the examination of the power of faith, be it Mean Streets, The Last Temptation, or Silence, and the complexity and seriousness of the novel are very well translated to the screen. Beautiful, terrifying, and restorative. I hope Scorsese lives to be a hundred and ten and he makes moves all the while.

9. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
2014, Alejandro González Iñárritu

With all of the great directors working today, many of which I have already named above, it may be Alejandro Iñárritu who had one of the strongest outputs of the entire decade, and he only made three films. Birdman is the one that broke through to win Best Picture. Its experimental structure of long, uninterrupted takes designed by Iñárritu and cinematographer extraordinaire Emmanuel Lubezki with Michael Keaton’s stressed actor preparing for a play while battling his demons is a treat as well as a technical tour de force. Keaton is magnificent playing a funhouse mirror version of himself, an actor who became notable for playing a big screen superhero but longs to be regarded as an artist. It is dizzying and breathless and funny and weird and perfectly realized. All About Eve on acid.

10. The Revenant

2015, Alejandro González Iñárritu

Iñárritu and Lubezki immediately followed the triumph of Birdman by taking off to the remote wilderness with Leo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy to make a grizzly tale (pun intended) of survival and revenge. Magically capturing the awe-inspiring beauty and the crippling Hell of the frontier, the heightened but naturalistic prism elevates a fairly straight forward narrative into a bloody torrent of the will to live and the drive to punish those who deprive us of the simple yet endlessly powerful joy of love. DiCaprio earned his long overdue Oscar, Alejandro won his second Best Director trophy in a row, and Lubezki won his third Best Cinematography Academy Award in a row. Brutal and beautiful primal cinema.
"Film is a disease. When it infects your bloodstream it takes over as the number one hormone. It bosses the enzymes, directs the pineal gland, plays Iago to your psyche. As with heroin, the antidote to Film is more Film." - Frank Capra

11. The Favourite (2018, Yorgos Lanthimos)
12. A Hidden Life (2019, Terrence Malick)
13. Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016, Taika Waititi)
14. Nightcrawler (2014, Dan Gilroy)
15. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010, Edgar Wright)

16. Her (2013, Spike Jonze)
17. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013, Martin Scorsese)
18. Blade Runner 2049 (2017, Denis Villeneuve)
19. Silver Linings Playbook (2012, David O. Russell)
20. Blue Ruin (2013, Jeremy Saulnier)

21. Room (2015, Lenny Abrahamson)
22. True Grit (2010, Coen Brothers)
23. Paterson (2016, Jim Jarmusch)
24. Even the Rain (2010, Icíar Bollaín)
25. Get Out (2017, Jordan Peele)

26. Moonrise Kingdom (2012, Wes Anderson)
27. Hearts Beat Loud (2018, Brett Haley)
28. The Act of Killing (2012, Oppenheimer & Cynn)
29. The Irishman (2019, Martin Scorsese)
30. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015, George Miller)

31. Roma (2018, Alfonso Cuarón)
32. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019, Quentin Tarantino)
33. A Star is Born (2018, Bradley Cooper)
34. Hell or High Water (2016, David Mackenzie)
35. Jojo Rabbit (2019, Taika Waititi)

36. American Hustle (2013, David O. Russell)
37. The Lobster (2015, Yorgos Lanthimos)
38. The Florida Project (2017, Sean Baker)
39. Begin Again (2013, John Carney)
40. Anomalisa (2015, Charlie Kaufman)

41. Drive (2011, Nicolas Winding Refn)
42. Thor: Ragnorok (2017, Taika Waititi)
43. The Peanut Butter Falcon (2019, Nilson & Schwartz)
44. Whiplash (2014, Damien Chazelle)
45. The Arbor (2010, Clio Barnard)

46. The Isle of Dogs (2018, Wes Anderson)
47. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017, Martin McDonagh)
48. Midnight Special (2016, Jeff Nichols)
49. Only Lovers Left Alive (2013, Jim Jarmusch)
50. The Muppets (2011, James Bobin)

51. Black Swan (2010, Darren Aronofsky)
52. Hugo (2011, Martin Scorsese)
53. First Reformed (2017, Paul Schrader)
54. Django Unchained (2012, Quentin Tarantino)
55. Sing Street (2016, John Carney)

56. Gravity (2013, Alfonso Cuarón)
57. Loving (2016, Jeff Nichols)
58. In a World… (2013, Lake Bell)
59. Bone Tomahawk (2015, S. Craig Zahler)
60. First Man (2018, Damien Chazelle)

61. Pain & Glory (2019, Pedro Almodóvar)
62. 1917 (2019, Sam Mendes)
63. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014, James Gun)
64. Inherent Vice (2014, Paul Thomas Anderson)
65. Moonlight (2016, Barry Jenkins)

66. Young Adult (2011, Jason Reitman)
67. Jackie (2016, Pablo Larraín)
68. The Martian (2015, Ridley Scott)
69. The LEGO Movie (2014, Miller & Lord)
70. Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019, Céline Sciamma)

71. Jodorowsky’s Dune (2013, Frank Pavich)
72. Inside Llewyn Davis (2013, Coen Brothers)
73. Parasite (2019, Bong Joon Ho)
74. Enemy (2103, Denis Villeneuve)
75. Marriage Story (2019, Noah Baumbach)

76. It Follows (2014, David Robert Mitchell)
77. Brooklyn (2015, John Crowley)
78. Safety Not Guaranteed (2012, Colin Trevorrow)
79. The Edge of Seventeen (2016, Kelly Fremon Craig)
80. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016, Gareth Edwards)

81. The Lighthouse (2019, Robert Eggers)
82. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018, Coen Brothers)
83. The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017, Yorgos Lanthimos)
84. Lady Bird (2017, Greta Gerwig)
85. Wild Tales (2014, Damián Szifron)

86. Wind River (2017, Taylor Sheridan)
87. The Brand New Testament (2017, Jaco Van Dormael)
88. 20th Century Women (2016, Mike Mills)
89. Green Room (2015, Jeremy Saulnier)
90. Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter (2014, David Zellner)

91. Lady Macbeth (2016, William Oldroyd)
92. Tim’s Vermeer (2013, Teller)
93. Manchester by the Sea (2016, Kenneth Lonergan)
94. Four Lions (2010, Christopher Morris)
95. Spotlight (2015, Tom McCarthy)

96. The Last Black Man in San Francisco (2019, Joe Talbot)
97. Love & Friendship (2016, Whit Stillman)
98. The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) (2017, Noah Baumbach)
99. Prisoners (2013, Denis Villeneuve)
100. The Nice Guys (2016, Shane Black)

Nice list. There are a couple I haven't seen (The Revenant, Grand Budapest Hotel, and Silence), and I really should revisit The Artist (don't even remember it at all), but the others would probably make my list or close to it.
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I think I've assembled my 2010s Top 10 a couple of times, but here's more or less how the Top 5 is...
  1. Moonlight
  2. La La Land
  3. Phantom Thread
  4. A Ghost Story
  5. First Reformed

After that, it gets a bit blurry. I have about a dozen or two at the same level.

I never could get the hang of Thursdays.
Nice list - good to see The Lego Movie. No love for Phantom Thread though?

I'm also interested in how much some of these movie posters resemble each other, even when they are quite different films - Roma and A Star is Born for example or Enemy and Marriage Story.

I'm hoping we do a movieforums countdown of the 2010s at some point. I think we need to do the 2000s properly first, though.

Nice list! I'm happy to see The Tree of Life and Take Shelter so high. A couple of those (The Social Network and Incendies) have been on my watchlist for a while, so I may bump them a bit up the queue.

I think I've assembled my 2010s Top 10 a couple of times, but here's more or less how the Top 5 is...
  1. Moonlight
  2. La La Land
  3. Phantom Thread
  4. A Ghost Story
  5. First Reformed

After that, it gets a bit blurry. I have about a dozen or two at the same level.

Mine would read:

1. Boyhood
2. The Descendents
3. Four Lions
4. La La Land
5. The Florida Project
6. Whiplash
7. Zero Dark Thirty
8. The Arrival
9. Mad Max: Fury Road
10. Nebraska

A very fine decade for film.

Awesome list and we have a lot of cross-over. The ones you list that I haven't seen are ones that I know I need to get to.

I haven't actually seen La La Land and was trepidatious slightly because of my love for musicals like Singin' in the Rain and The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, but your enthusiasm for it makes me want to check it out now.

I'm also a big fan of Dennis Villeneuve so I can't really explain why his only major film I haven't seen is Incendies when all I hear is terrific stuff.

Love to see the two Jim Jarmusch films here, those two would definitely be in my top 50 too. Are you a fan of James Gray at all? He's a noticeable absentee for me here personally.

Might create my own thread inspired by this if I can muster up the effort

seen a few movies on here, loved Guardians of the Galaxy the most. Hopefully we decide to do a 2010-2019 Countdown list next, I mean yea we need another 2000 - 2009 list but that can wait after the 2010's one.
My 100 Favorite Movies

My 10 Favorite 70's Movies

Hey, Holden. How are your ratings spread out through your Top 100? Just to get an idea of whether you think, say, your #100 is crap or if it's just ok.

Cool list. My top ten:

Tree Of Life
The Master
Social Network
Inside Llewyn Davis
La La Land
The Revenant
The Turin Horse

I recently rewatched Silence, and I probably need to get that in my top ten. I had it at 19 when I made the list I don't think I realized you were suck a Malick fan. He has really become a favorite of mine the last two years. Hidden Life was amazing.

Haven't seen 8 of your 100: Begin Again, Arbor, In A World, Jodorowsky's Dune, Wild Tales, Kumiko, and I should work on my handwriting for the other two.

Haven't seen 8 of your 100: Begin Again, Arbor, In A World, Jodorowsky's Dune, Wild Tales, Kumiko, and I should work on my handwriting for the other two.
Just did a count and I'm slacking, only 50/100 I think. Surprised how low that is. I did take a few years out where I didn't watch many films though.

Welcome to the human race...
I count 93/100. Hopefully the remaining seven aren't as basic as like half the list.
I really just want you all angry and confused the whole time.

seen a few movies on here, loved Guardians of the Galaxy the most. Hopefully we decide to do a 2010-2019 Countdown list next, I mean yea we need another 2000 - 2009 list but that can wait after the 2010's one.
Exactly the opposite of that, I expect.

Hey, Holden. How are your ratings spread out through your Top 100? Just to get an idea of whether you think, say, your #100 is crap or if it's just ok.
I don't have them rated by stars or points or anything. But I absolutely do not think the bottom of my list is crap. Just less good than the top of the list. If for a ten year period you are including movies you don't even like just to reach a hundred that isn't a Top 100 list that's just a list of what you have seen, I would posit.