The 38 Most Influential Movies of the Last Decade

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The Most Influential Movies of the Decade - T&C


The Social Network

The 38 Most Influential Movies of the Last Decade - The Social Network

This really was the beginning of the end. We had some idea of how the future would play out. We were already willingly enslaving ourselves to technology and using it as a substitute for real life everyday communication. What we didn’t know, however, was just how much of a shitshow it would become. Fincher and Sorkin use the Facebook origin story as a magnifying glass, examining the small and finely detailed aspects of who we are as a society and what we were about to be. It is honest. It is witty. It is prescient. It is the first portrait of this era in which social media has become more popular than… well… everything.

Toy Story 3

The 38 Most Influential Movies of the Last Decade - Toy Story 3

There are few franchises as smart as this one, with each and every movie (Toy Story 4 included) being, by themselves, a justification for their existence. The best Toy Story of them all is also an incredible cinematic feat. Built over 15-years, this is a franchise that has grown-up with its audience and utilizes that to great effect in telling a truly moving story of displacement, loss, and the impermanence of love. 


The 38 Most Influential Movies of the Last Decade - Inception

The first and last wholly original movie of the decade, Inception stands out in an era that has come to be defined by sequels, remakes, reboots, and franchises. (There are quite a few on this list.) Christopher Nolan structures his screenplay like a Rube Goldberg machine, so pristinely and intricately plotted that every moment has a place and every moment is in its place. It is a breathtaking act of craftsmanship. (The movie also introduced the phrase “to incept” into the pop-culture vernacular, redefining as the act of “subversively planting an idea in someone’s head”.)



The 38 Most Influential Movies of the Last Decade - Bridesmaids

Paul Feig, Annie Mumolo, and Kristen Wiig take every chick-flick cliché and subvert them in what is arguably the funniest comedy of the decade. A deeply profound take on female friendship, it somehow manages to pull of heartfelt, smart, and gleeful crudeness all at the same time. 

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

The 38 Most Influential Movies of the Last Decade - The Rise of the Planet of the Apes

A genius reboot of the long running franchise that defies expectations by telling its story from the point of view of a sentient ape. It is a fantastic setup for a trilogy. It is a worthy spin-off to the Charlton Heston classic. But the real star here, however, is Andy Serkis and the sheer magnificence of his motion capture performance. From the Lord of the Rings, to King Kong, to this, Serkis establishes himself as a true master of the art. You will believe that an ape can strategize, organize, and ultimately lead a revolution. 

Midnight in Paris

The 38 Most Influential Movies of the Last Decade - Midnight in Paris

The last great Woody Allen joint, Midnight in Paris is one of those rare films that is actually for everyone. There is nothing to hate here. The story of a jaded Hollywood screenwriter who travels back in time to encounter F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Cole Porter, and falls in love with Picasso’s mistress, is pure unadulterated wish-fulfillment. Steeped in fantasy and nostalgia, it is the absolute pinnacle of a career of witty and graceful filmmaking. It captures a feeling. It channels a mood. It is timeless. 

A Separation

The 38 Most Influential Movies of the Last Decade - A Separation

Asghar Farhadi uses the complex and heartbreaking portrait of the breakup of an unhappily married couple as a metaphor to examine the economics of class and the politics of sex, theocracy and its influence on the home, as well as gender and alienation in middle-class Iran. It is powerful in its ability to work within and around the strictures imposed on filmmakers in the Islamic republic. And is a lesson in how great limits can inspire great storytelling.



The 38 Most Influential Movies of the Last Decade - Skyfall

With Skyfall, Sam Mendes performs the most significant reset in the history of the franchise. This movie is a triumphant reinvigoration of a character that had long been showing signs of wear. By substituting campiness with complexity, by respecting history and tradition but still being of the moment, Mendes imbues Bond with a new sense of purpose. 

The Avengers

The 38 Most Influential Movies of the Last Decade - The Avengers

The first Iron Man may have been the movie that started it all, but The Avengers was the movie that laid out the blueprint on how it could be done. This really was the foundation for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Joss Whedon pulls off the impossible, deftly balancing action and humour, plot and fan service, screen time and egos, all the while telling one cohesive story and setting up a dozen more. It is miraculous.


The 38 Most Influential Movies of the Last Decade - Looper

I thought that everything that needed to be said about time travel had been said. At least until I saw Rian Johnson’s Looper. You know that expository moment in every time travel movie in which someone has to explain the logical impossibility of what’s going on to the protagonist? Well, this is a movie that avoids the paradoxes of the genre by shamelessly embracing them. Rian Johnson’s Memento meets The Terminator meets 12 Monkeys is a movie that builds atop foundations already laid out and crafts something altogether new. The result of which is a witty, violent, and obscenely clever take on a science fiction concept that has oft proven to be a problematic narrative device.



The 38 Most Influential Movies of the Last Decade - Her

Where The Social Network gave us a glimpse at how civilized society comes to an end, Spike Jonze’s postmodern parable shows us just how capable we are as human beings of shameless and sincere love. His unusual love story in Her is one that seems to become realer with each passing day as we become more and more alienated from one another and turn to alternative comforts. An artificial affair can be as sensual and as heartbreaking as the real thing.

Before Midnight

The 38 Most Influential Movies of the Last Decade - Before Midnight

The modern love story, 18 years in the making, Richard Linklater give us one last voyeuristic look into the lives of Jesse and Celine, as they flirt and fight, as they build each other up and tear themselves apart. By doing so, he holds a mirror up to each and every one of our own relationships, past and present, and forces us to examine that lofty, splendid, perverse, and ultimately reckless thing we call “love”. 

The Act of Killing

The 38 Most Influential Movies of the Last Decade - The Act of Killing

Joshua Oppenheimer’s strange and surreal investigation into the alleged genocide of communists in Indonesia truly is a heartbreaking work of staggering genius. It is, at once, a condemnation of the endemic violence and evil that pervades society and an indictment of itself as a piece of cinema that both reflects and informs said violence and evil. A case-study on what it means to be self-aware, this is, hands down, the documentary of the decade.

12 Years A Slave

The 38 Most Influential Movies of the Last Decade - 12 Years a Slave

Never has there been a movie that so expertly employs existing public knowledge on the history of slavery and uses it as a framing device to convincingly portray the experience. It is brave. It is painful. It is unshrinking in its savagery. It is so acutely attuned to the plight of souls in despair. Steve McQueen pulls no punches in showing the audience the social, economic, and political consequences of slavery, in presenting the brutal truth that ownership over another human being means an unchecked authority and complete dominion.


Guardians of the Galaxy

The 38 Most Influential Movies of the Last Decade - Guardians of the Galaxy

With Guardians of the Galaxy, James Gunn made a movie based on a comic book that only the nerdiest of nerds had heard of, fronting it with a guy best known for a schlubby supporting role on a sitcom, featuring a trigger-happy racoon and a talking alien tree who only says three words, and somehow ended up with well over 700 million dollars at the global box-office. It was a cunning play. One that mixed the clever humour of Joss Whedon’s Firefly with the high adventure of Indiana Jones and the swashbuckling action of Star Wars. He wrote the playbook on how to create something from so much nothing. He performed the alchemical feat of turning lead into gold. 

John Wick

The 38 Most Influential Movies of the Last Decade - John Wick

Back in 1999, the Wachowskis changed the face of action cinema with Keanu Reeves and The Matrix. 15 years later, Keanu once again redefined the genre, this time by abandoning the computer generated “bullet-time” and embracing instead a more traditional, physical approach. John Wick is the perfect antidote for our superhero-studded 21st century. This throwback to the analogue traditions of the action genre struck a chord with its simple tale of revenge set in an underworld with profound mythology. It quickly became the movie by which all other action movies were judged. It marked the beginning of the Keanussance.

The Babadook

The 38 Most Influential Movies of the Last Decade - The Babadook

The first truly provocative horror movie to emerge in the 21st century – The Exorcist holds the honour of being the last century’s best – The Babadook successfully captures both the terrors of childhood and the terrors of parenting. Where most horror movies pull off one or the other really well (HereditaryThe Shining, etc.), Jennifer Kent – who is an absolute marvel as a director – provides exciting and energetic scares that build off both points of view. 


The 38 Most Influential Movies of the Last Decade - Chef

After the critical disappointment of Iron Man 2, the outright flop that was Cowboys & Aliens (the use of an ampersand in the title definitely had something to do with its box-office failure), and before becoming Disney’s golden boy, Jon Favreau wrote and directed this self-conscious and intensely personal look at what it means to be an artist. It is about falling down and getting up again, chastened, and with renewed purpose. It laughs in the face of Fitzgerald and his misplaced belief of there being no second acts in American lives.


The 38 Most Influential Movies of the Last Decade - Boyhood

Filmed over 12 years to depict a boy growing up in real time, Richard Linklater’s Boyhood is an achievement of a lifetime. Calling this a bildungsroman feels woefully inadequate. Yes, it deals with one boy’s formative years. Yes, it’s the story of his spiritual and philosophical education. But mostly, it is about the length of time it takes for us to mature and realize that we are the protagonists of our own life stories. Filmmaking of such extraordinary grace such as this can only occur with time, patience, and commitment.



The 38 Most Influential Movies of the Last Decade - Spotlight

It is nearly impossible to make a compelling movie about nitty-gritty journalism. How do you capture the frustration of seeking out sources, investigating leads, and breaking a story? How do you make it compelling? All the President’s Men did it first. Spotlight does it better. What begins as the investigation into a single priest’s sexual assault against children balloons into a story about truth, about power, and about religion and the changing role of the church in society.

Mad Max: Fury Road

The 38 Most Influential Movies of the Last Decade - Mad Max: Fury Road

George Miller’s fourth Mad Max movie is an absolute marvel. Literally the best chase movie in decades. It is non-stop. Barely catching a breath, it moves at a breakneck speed, building an intricate world through its incredible attention to detail and building complex characters through action. This is a masterclass in show don’t tell. It is so perfect in its execution that it makes other filmmakers seem like they just aren’t trying hard enough. Mad Max: Fury Road is everything cinema should be. 


The 38 Most Influential Movies of the Last Decade - Sicario

Is there any movie that speaks to the issues of our decade more than Sicario? Terrorism. Government corruption, neglect, and malfeasance. State sponsored violence. The consequences of American imperialism makes for a devastatingly effective meditation on the blurring lines between good and evil and the disillusionment that stems from discovering that the world is, in fact, a hopeless place. After one of the tensest moments in modern cinema, after American agents kill eight suspected cartel operatives in broad daylight near a border checkpoint, Emily Blunt’s naïve FBI Agent Kate Macer speaks for all of us when she cries out: “Fuck are we doing?”

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

The 38 Most Influential Movies of the Last Decade - Star Wars: The Force Awakens

This was it. This was the movie that, for better or for worse, set us down our current path of seemingly endless Star Wars. J.J. Abrams was given the task of restarting a film franchise that was all but dead. The discourse around Star Wars had, for well over a decade, degenerated to debates over just how George Lucas had ruined our collective childhoods – either by making Greedo shoot first or by creating the horror that is Jar Jar Binks. And so, Abrams applies his steady workmanlike approach to making a movie that manages to recapture the spirit of the original trilogy. He paid homage. He took very few risks. And ultimately, he delivered what was akin to a familiar and comforting embrace.

Inside Out

The 38 Most Influential Movies of the Last Decade - Inside Out

Pixar continues its streak of making cartoons that cause grown-ups to weep uncontrollably in cinemas. Inside Out goes places that other animated films dare not venture. Drifting deeper and deeper inside the dark recesses of a child’s mind, and made with their trademark visual magic, this is a movie that approaches the mental health of minors with a level of approachability and an emotional sensitivity that’s unheard of in modern cinema. The way the movie employs metaphor and memory to probe life’s meaningful questions makes its screenplay a one-of-a-kind masterpiece.



The 38 Most Influential Movies of the Last Decade - Arrival

There is barely any action in Arrival. Denis Villeneuve takes his time with everything. The pacing is thoughtful and deliberate in a way that reflects the philosophical themes of the movie. The story of a linguist trying to decipher an alien language should be a tedious bore, but Villeneuve approaches the movie with so much cinematic literacy that he elevates it to one of the most emotionally rewarding sci-fi experiences since Contact


The 38 Most Influential Movies of the Last Decade - Moonlight

Barry Jenkins channels Wong Kar Wai in making a movie that is both epic and understated. We follow the journey of a young black man as he struggles with being gay in a world obsessed with race and class and identity. Moonlight is, at its heart, a mood piece unlike anything to come out of American cinema. It is a document of despair, of hope, and of yearning that examines what it means to be marginalized while reassessing what it means to be male and black. Punctuated by stunning imagery, quiet moments of reflection, and tender exchanges, Moonlight is a testament to our troubled times.


The 38 Most Influential Movies of the Last Decade - Deadpool

Superheroes cursing? Say it ain’t so! Who knew that what the comic book movie needed to keep it fresh was for Deadpool to call Colossus a “big chrome cock-gobbler!” ‘Nuff said.


Get Out

The 38 Most Influential Movies of the Last Decade - Get Out

In Get Out – 2017’s best movie – debut director Jordan Peele leans heavily on horror tropes and thriller beats and uses them to tell a meta-tale of what it means to be a black man in America. He cunningly shoots the white experience through the eyes of Daniel Kaluuya as foreshadowing to the movie’s ultimate twist. He utilizes his keen comedy chops to brazenly lampoon liberal sensibilities. This is as much a study on the varying strains of racism as it is a whip smart horror comedy. We’ve been waiting a long time for a modern-day Alfred Hitchcock. And I for one didn’t expect that it would be Jordan Peele.

Call Me by Your Name

The 38 Most Influential Movies of the Last Decade - Call Me by Your Name

Late in the movie, after everything is said and done, Michael Stuhlbarg’s Professor Perlman sits down with his son, Timothée Chalamet’s Elio, and talks about what has occurred. You’re not sure what to expect, but a confession isn’t it. “I envy you,” he says. “We rip out so much of ourselves to be cured of things faster than we should that we go bankrupt by the age of thirty and have less to offer each time we start with someone new. But to make yourself feel nothing so as not to feel anything – what a waste!” The ensuing monologue, lifted almost in its entirety from André Aciman’s novel, is the moral center of the movie. It is as close to cinematic and literary perfection as anyone could ever hope to achieve.


The 38 Most Influential Movies of the Last Decade - Logan

A superhero movie that spends almost all of its time on character is truly something to behold. James Mangold understands Wolverine better than most and taps into the character’s core conflict of being a near-immortal warrior who yearns for the peace and quiet of home. Wherever that may be. Hugh Jackman is at his growly best. Patrick Stewart is a blessing. And Dafne Keen is prodigious. A meaningful mediation about loss and redemption, this is the first superhero movie that transcends the genre.

Wonder Woman

The 38 Most Influential Movies of the Last Decade - Wonder Woman

Forget the uninspired sludge that was Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Gal Gadot’s turn as Wonder Woman is a revelation. What makes her so refreshing is how believable she is as a character with a legitimate and relentless drive to make the world better. In an age so steeped in grey, it was a delight to see a hero hell-bent on the good. Patty Jenkins brings smarts, sentiment, and spectacular action to the DCEU. She takes the unfortunate hand she was dealt by Zack Snyder and uses it to craft a far superior popcorn movie.


Black Panther

The 38 Most Influential Movies of the Last Decade - Black Panther

With Black Panther, Marvel raised the bar once again for what comic book movies could be. After spending a decade showing us that the superhero was an idea that could be transposed onto an infinite number of genres, they assemble what can best be described as the Avengers of black actors and creators from all over the world, to give us an epic that is both an Afrofuturistic superhero adventure and a deeply political philippic on the consequences of slavery and colonialism.

The Hate U Give

The 38 Most Influential Movies of the Last Decade - The Hate U Give

Roger Ebert once said that the purpose of civilization and growth is to be able to reach out and empathize with other people. He said that movies are like machines “that generate empathy”. That they let “you understand a little bit more about different hopes, aspirations, dreams and fears.” He was right. And The Hate U Give is one hell of an empathy machine. It is a sophisticated and deeply nuanced look at race, identity, and activism that transcends the confines of the black community that it represents and speaks to the minority experience across the world. It’s overarching message that there is no one experience that represents or defines who we are is a powerful one. It shows us, without preaching or grandstanding, that all of our stories are unique and important and deserve to be heard.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

The 38 Most Influential Movies of the Last Decade - Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

The best thing about Into the Spider-Verse is how hard it leans into the fact that it is an animated movie. It is bracingly bright and unapologetically colourful, and uses every aspect of the medium, merging varying styles and moods to represent the multiple universes that are colliding into one. What really sets it apart from all the other Marvel movies made in the last decade is how it pulls from elements across Spider-Man’s history to create a story that reinforces the driving ethos behind the character: that all of us are just one radioactive spider bite away from being a superhero. No other superhero movie made in the last decade comes close to connecting on such a personal level.



The 38 Most Influential Movies of the Last Decade - Parasite

A daring examination on the economic inequity that has come to plague the world, Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite is a story that takes place in South Korea, but could as easily happen in Malaysia, or South Africa, or India. This is one of those clever, squirmy, twisty movies that speaks in service of human dignity. It is most definitely a conversation starter. It is a reminder that Bong Joon-ho is one of the cleverest directors of our generation. Just give him all of the Oscars already.

Avengers: Endgame

The 38 Most Influential Movies of the Last Decade - Avengers: Endgame

In a year full of monumental endings to pop-culture stalwarts, the only one that proved worthy was Avengers: EndgameGame of Thrones showed us that Weiss and Benioff really didn’t know what they were doing, and The Rise of Skywalker felt like Disney was just trying to get things over with so they could move on to the next thing. Avengers: Endgame, however, was something altogether divine. Tying up a story arc that spanned 11 years and 22 movies is no easy feat, but the Russo brothers managed to pull it off with humour, emotion, and just enough fan service. They managed to balance the screen time of dozens of actors and characters. They managed to craft a moving story about loss and hope, about friendship and family, without getting bogged down by the machinations of plot. But more than that, the Russo brothers did something far greater in giving audiences an actual, honest-to-God ending. 


The 38 Most Influential Movies of the Last Decade - Joker

It’s easy to compare Joker to Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy. It’s easy to only speak of it as being derivative of other, more seminal, works. Doing so, however, is a failure to acknowledge its place in our pop-culture canon. Yes, Todd Phillips pays a heavy homage to Martin Scorsese, but what he also does is utilize that narrative style to get to the core of a character who is wholly without redemption. This version of how the Joker came to be is an exploration of the idea that there is real evil residing within all of us and that all it takes are specific circumstances to set it free. It is an unforgiving and deeply cynical point of view. But a fitting one given the character in question. Hollywood has spent the last decade taking a look at what makes superheroes tick. Joker may trigger the next wave of examinations into the inner lives of the bad guys. Which might just be a lot more interesting.

American Factory

The 38 Most Influential Movies of the Last Decade - American Factory

Gung Ho this isn’t. The story of the clash of cultures when a when a Chinese company takes over a closed General Motors factory in Ohio is also the story of unrestrained capitalism, Chinese national propaganda, and worker’s rights. American Factory isn’t the best documentary you’ll see this year, but it is nevertheless a compelling watch. This movie is more important for what it symbolizes. The Obamas’ first feature for Netflix as film producers, this marks the beginning of their inserting themselves into our pop-culture lives.

Uma has been reviewing things for most of his life: movies, television shows, books, video games, his mum's cooking, Bahir's fashion sense. He is a firm believer that the answer to most questions can be found within the cinematic canon. In fact, most of what he knows about life he learned from Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. He still hasn't forgiven Christopher Nolan for the travesties that are Interstellar and The Dark Knight Rises.

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