Great movies of the 2010s

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This year film critics everywhere are being asked for something that happens at the end of the decade: What are the best of movies of the past 10 years? When it comes to personal taste, it’s hard to call any movie “the best” of anything. I’ve always felt there was something troublesome about the routine end of year lists that are expected of film critics, especially considering my distinctive taste. My picks have also changed depending what organization I was contributing to. We at the Florida Film Critics Circle are currently figuring out our top 10 movies of the decade, and the list I’m giving there is different from this one, which features 40 movies.

Here, at the end of the decade, this kind of list feels even more troublesome. I’m sure my number one choice will bother many (the list below is in reverse order for dramatic effect, titles I’ve opined feature headlines that are clickable hot links to original reviews were appropriate). I will admit that not all the movies that appear on this list are for everyone, least of all the casual movie-goer. I don’t share the same experience with such attendees of cinema. When one sees as many movies as I do, as a cinephile or film critic, your expectations and quirky affections shift from that of those who don’t take in cinema as thoroughly.

However, that being said, I still think this list has something for anyone who might know their own tastes for film. Please explore, some links also feature further reading, including interviews with such important filmmakers like Whit Stillman, Great Gerwig and Hou Hsiao-hsien. In the case of Embrace of the Serpent I link to an interview with director Ciro Guerra, but the interview features a link to my review of the movie in Reverse Shot. Finally, feel free to reach out in our comments section with your own opinions.

40. Under the Skin (Under the Skin proves sci-fi is a genre best served obtusely)

39. The Assassin (The Assassin tells moving story of humanity beyond martial arts)

38. Love & Friendship (Love & Friendship exposes the limits of manners in civility with unrelenting humor)

37. Moonrise Kingdom (Moonrise Kingdom: a different kind of Wes Anderson film)

36. Margaret – director’s cut (Margaret offers brilliant riff on human connection; see rare director’s cut screening)

35. 24 Frames (24 Frames offers revolutionary perspective on the ‘long take’)

34. Wuthering Heights (Andrea Arnold’s raw and impressionistic take on Wuthering Heights)

33. First Reformed (First Reformed is a soulful film)

32. Phantom Thread (Phantom Thread shows how love transcends tension of power dynamics)

31. Paterson (Paterson reveals bonds between the banal and the sublime)

30. Sunset Song (Sunset Song expresses the loveliness of impermanence in one of this year’s most moving films)

29. Mr. Turner (Mr. Turner is a gorgeous thing to behold)

28. The Souvenir (Best movies of 2019 – first half)

27. Heart of a Dog (Heart of a Dog turns cinema into philosophical poetry on life and death)

26. The Tree of Life (The Tree of Life is a cinematic symphony of sound and vision)

25. The Turin Horse (Béla Tarr’s The Turin Horse, the first masterpiece film of 2012)

24. Frances Ha (Frances Ha reveals Noah Baumbach’s luminous lighter touch)

23. Clouds of Sils Maria (Clouds of Sils Maria examines the layers of celebrity identity with powerful performances)

22. Embrace of the Serpent (Embrace of the Serpent director talks about casting Amazonian non-actors, cinematic mysticism and the unconscious influence of 2001)

21. Only Lovers Left Alive (Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive presents complex, enthralling portrait of the jaded vampire)

20. “Crème Caramel” (A short hilarious in its objectification of a woman with a sly payoff at film’s end. Watch it in its entirety below)

19. Blue Is the Warmest Color (Blue Is the Warmest Color and the pain of loving)

18. Amour (Amour captures poetry of confronting death in love)

17. The Death of Louis XIV (The Death of Louis XIV presents patiently beautiful portrait of death)

16. Brimstone & Glory

15. Shirkers (… An exorcism, a reincarnation and a reclamation)

14. The Act of Killing (An interview with the director of The Act of Killing)

13. Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (Film Review: Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives)

12. The Mill and the Cross (The Mill and the Cross, one of the most criminally underrated films of 2011)

11. Cold War (What to See and What to Skip at Miami Film Festival Gems 2018)

10. Take This Waltz

9. If Beale Street Could Talk (Highlights from The Key West Film Festival 2018)

8. Leviathan (Leviathan presents gritty visual poem of sea creature harvest)

7. Le quattro volte (Le quattro volte skips the dialogue to tell precise and profound story)

6. Beyond the Hills (Beyond the Hills offers one of the strongest long-form dramas of the year)

5. Scarred Hearts (Scarred Hearts or death in the time of nationalism)

4. Portrait of a Lady on Fire (IndieEthos podcast, Episode 9: Miami Film Festival GEMS preview; new indie music)

3. The Master (The Master harnesses cinema’s power to maximal effect)

2. Annihilation (Best movies of 2018 – first half with Annihilation leading)

TOPS: Twin Peaks: The Return (Best 20 Films of 2017 – part 2)

Hans Morgenstern

(Copyright 2019 by Independent Ethos. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)

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