Here we go… my picks for the top 10 films of the last decade.
All films on this list, barring 10th place, got a solid 5/5 from me. 10th gets a 4.5/5, but was pretty borderline – had it’s first hour been as good as its second, it would have got full marks.
10: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story: Of the five Star Wars films released in the last decade, Rogue is the only one universally liked by critics and fans. Darker and more intelligent than Force Awakens, more action-packed than Last Jedi, less of a garbled mess than Rise of Skywalker and with more compelling characters and plot than Solo, this is a proper Star Wars film that has a story to tell and gets on with telling it. With lashings of humor throughout to alleviate its darker tone, Rogue One finds the balance between Light and Dark. The action scenes look amazing, particularly the combined space and ground battle on Scarif at the climax. But ultimately, its the characters that make this work so well. Jyn Erso is arguably the best female character the Star Wars franchise has ever given us, thanks to her key role in events and Felicity Jones’ wonderful acting. The supporting characters, such as K2S0, Cassian, Saw Gerrera and Krennic are all memorable – to the extent that you will care when they die (and its not a big spoiler to say most of them do) – this film does what few action films do – portrays a suicide mission realistically – the rebels know that they probably aren’t making it out, but risk their lives anyway. The villains are also a cut above, with Krennic a much more interesting character than say, General Hux or Captain Phasma, while Darth Vader gets two brilliant scenes which reaffirm why the character is such an iconic villain. Ultimately, this should be in everyone’s top 5 Star Wars movies – and i’ll wouldn’t blame you if it was your favourite.
Highlight: With major character deaths, space battles, AT-AT attacks and THAT Vader scene, The Battle of Scarif is thrilling from start to finish.
9: Avengers: Endgame: It was inevitable… that this made my list. While I still wish Thanos got more screen time in this one, the finale to the first 11 years of the MCU was everything fans could have wished for, with an epic storyline, great performances from Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth and some awesome action scenes. Throw in fan-pleasing moments like Tony spending time with his father in the past, Cap lifting Thor’s hammer and Thor finally getting to say a proper goodbye to his deceased mother, and you have a classic. The humour is dialed down but still present (fat Thor threatening a video gamer was hilarious), the script finds a way of giving all its characters something to work with and the special effects are awesome from start to finish – great job Marvel – this was a hell of a send off for some of your most loved characters – we can only hope phases 4, 5 and 6 can live up to it.
Highlight: The Portals scene. Had to be. Seeing every single hero onscreen at once… epic. Hard to see Marvel ever outdoing it. The final battle which follows is the icing on the cake.
8: Logan: The best film from the X-Men universe (narrowly eclipsing First Class) and Hugh Jackman’s last performance in the role of Wolverine had to be on this list. A dark glimpse into a future where mutants have been all but eradicated, Logan has a distinct western vibe of ‘old gunslinger taking up arms for one last battle’. Hugh Jackman puts in one of his best performances as a world-weary, bitter, more vulnerable version of Wolverine. Patrick Stewart and Stephen Merchant are good value as Xavier and Caliban, two of the only other surviving mutants, but the real plaudits must go to Dafne Keen as Laura, a young mutant who forms a bond with Xavier and Logan and brings them back into action. With some truly brutal yet epic fights scenes, this is the Wolverine film we always deserved – and probably the darkest one we’ll ever get now X-Men has gone over to Marvel.
Highlight: The final scene between Logan and Laura is utterly heartbreaking and features a great pair of performances from Hugh Jackman and Dafne Keen. If you don’t cry at this, your heart is made of stone.
7: Skyfall: After the disappointment of Quantum of Solace and a 4 year break from screen, the next Bond needed to be good. Craig, the writers and director Sam Mendes duly delivered with this back to basics approach. Introducing new versions of Q and Moneypenny was done seamlessly, and both are perfectly cast. After the forgettable Bond girls in Quantum, this film puts Judi Dench’s M front and centre of its female characters, and is far better for it. Meanwhile, Javier Bardem’s Raoul Silva makes for one of the most memorable villains in Craig’s run (so far anyway – come on Rami Malek). Skyfall also takes its time whether other Bond’s might have rushed from action scene to action scene – it feels like a more realistic, plausible spy film than most Bonds – probably as an apology for what seemed like a bunch of action scenes that had been randomly plastered together with the first plot that came to hand in Quantum. It was also refreshing to have Bond have an adventure mostly set in the UK, which is extremely rare in Bond films. There are a few plot holes, but overall, this still stands as the best of Craig’s 4 films – and boy, what an opening number from ADELE!!!
Highlight: The climatic attack by Silva’s men on the Skyfall estate. Given the overblown finales Bond films can sometimes get drawn into, this is refreshingly smaller scale, with real tension. The effects are pretty good too (now that is how you do a helicopter crash Suicide Squad!).
6: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire: Catching Fire is the best of the Hunger Games films, with a more engaging plot than Mockingjay’s two parts and better direction and set design than the first film. The core cast of Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth are all settled into their roles, while newcomers like Sam Claflin and Jena Malone add a lot to proceedings. The special effects, music and direction are all solid, and overall this is an extremely enjoyable adaptation which actually outdoes the book its based on, which is very impressive. Overall, its one of the most enjoyable films I’ve seen this decade, and one I’m more likely to re-watch than the previous 3 on the list, hence its position.
Highlight: The Victory Tour scene in district 11. From Katniss’ tribute to Rue to the show of solidarity by the citizens (and the guards ruthlessness execution of a dissident), this scene is heartwarming, emotional and brutal all in one go, and gives Jennifer Lawrence some great stuff to work with.
5: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2: Once I remembered this came out in this decade, I knew it had to make this list. With all the weaker parts of JK Rowling’s book out the way in Deathly Hallows Part 1, Part 2 is free to give us a spellbinding depiction of the best two bits of the novel: i.e. the raid on Gringotts Bank and the Battle of Hogwarts. Both are vividly brought to life and the cast and crew all give their best at making this a memorable send-off. Alexandre Desplat provides a great soundtrack that’s up there with the best efforts of Williams and Hooper, while the special effects, particularly for the scenes in the Room of Requirement, are superb. Few film franchises have ended on the best film in the series, but this is perhaps a rare exception to the rule.
Highlight: While the action scenes may be more memorable, my favourite scene is still Harry and McGonagall confronting Snape in the great hall and forcing him to flee Hogwarts. Daniel Radcliffe in particular is at his absolute best during this scene.
I couldn’t split the next three films no matter how hard I tried, so they are all coming in joint second. All three are DC movies I rate extremely highly, but all offer something different in their approaches, styles and themes.
2= Man of Steel: The only film on this list that wasn’t critically renowned, but I make no apologies – I bloody love it. Henry Cavill makes a great Clark Kent and superman, and the supporting cast is excellent, particularly Amy Adams as Lois Lane an Michael Shannon as General Zod. A shade darker than most superman films but still light in tone compared to Batman, this equals Batman Begins as an origin story and features some epic action scenes, particularly Superman’s clashes with the Kryptonian warriors. As for the controversial choices the film makes in its final third – this is an origin story – Superman is going to make mistakes – it makes narrative sense to show something that instills his disdain for killing, even as a last resort, and his desire to save people above all else – and the destruction of much of metropolis and Zod’s fate set that up perfectly.
Highlight: There’s a lot of good scenes here, but Jonathan Kent’s death is one of the most dramatic and heartbreaking, backed up perfectly by ‘Tornado’ one of Hans Zimmer’s most emotionally wrenching tracks. Also features Cavill’s strongest acting in the whole movie – I really don’t get why he comes in for so much criticism.
2= The Dark Knight Rises: Nolan makes it three out of three with this epic conclusion to the Dark Knight Trilogy. Tom Hardy’s Bane does the near impossible job of following Heath Ledger’s Joker as a main villain, while Anne Hathaway and Marion Cotillard make the most of their roles as Catwoman and Talia. The action scenes are probably the best in the whole trilogy, particularly Batman’s two bouts with Bane and the final chase sequence. Hans Zimmer’s bombastic soundtrack really adds to the intensity, while the story neatly ties all three films together in a way few trilogies manage. Its spirit is closer to Batman Begins than the Dark Knight, but that’s no bad thing in my book. All are five star films, and this one was a fine send-off.
Highlight: The scene where Bruce finally climbs out of the pit. Backed by one of Hans Zimmer’s best tracks (that’s saying something!) and the catchy as hell Deshi Basara chant its a epic scene that kicks off the films final act on a real high.
2= Joker: Todd Philips broke all the rules of comic book movies with this intense, character focused tale where there are no heroes, just villains and victims, and cinema is all the better for it. Joaquin Phoenix gives an Oscar worthy turn as the man who becomes the Joker, and interprets the role in a way even Hamill and Ledger would be proud of – and one that hopefully relegates Jared Leto’s version to the scrapheap. With superb supporting actors like Robert de Niro and Zazie Beetz backing up Phoenix, there isn’t a weak link in this whole film. While it may not be to everyone’s taste, its a remarkable achievement which doesn’t shy away from important themes, brutal violence and stark messages about mental health. It’s one of the most intense films you’re ever likely to see, but I’d encourage everyone to do so.
Highlight: Arthur’s climatic interview with Murray. A masterclass in scripting, creating tension and acting from Phoenix and de Niro, who help the scene build to a brutal kick in the teeth for the audience. Amazing stuff.
1: Rush: The story of James Hunt’s (Chris Hemsworth) battle with Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl) for the 1976 F1 World Championship is my film of the decade. As biopics go it takes a few liberties, but crafts a very compelling story of rivalry, tragedy and triumph as the arrogant but passionate playboy (which Hemsworth excels at playing) clashes with the methodical, socially awkward Lauda. If it wasn’t for Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker, I’d have given my best actor award to Daniel Bruhl, who owns this film as Lauda and increasingly wins your support as the film goes on. The racing scenes are vividly recreated, backed up by some of Hans Zimmer’s best work from the past decade, but the character stories and recreation of the 70’s atmosphere is where this film’s heart truly is, and it couldn’t be any better – its the only one on this list which I can watch and not highlight a single thing, however small, that I’d change. The best film Ron Howard has ever directed, and not one only F1 fans or car nuts can enjoy. Puts other racers like Ford vs. Ferrari to shame.
Highlight: The horrifying depiction of Lauda’s Nürburgring crash and its aftermath has to be the films strongest segment – you will definitely flinch at both the accident and the treatment Lauda has to go through afterwards.
My Film Awards 2010-2019:
Best Actor: Joaquin Phoenix (Joker)
Best Actress: Felicity Jones (Rogue One)
Best Supporting Actor: Josh Brolin (Avengers Infinity War)
Best Supporting Actress: Judi Dench (Skyfall)
Best Young Actress: Dafne Keen (Logan)
Best Director: Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight Rises, Dunkirk)
Best Composer: Hans Zimmer (The Dark Knight Rises, Inception, Interstellar)
Best Animated Film: Toy Story 3
Best Comedy: Kingsman: The Secret Service
And on the other side of things…
Worst Film: The Last Airbender
Worst Actor: Miles Teller (Reed Richards – Fantastic Four)
Worst Actress: Julianne Moore (Poppy – Kingsman: The Golden Circle)
Worst Supporting Actor: Mickey Rourke (Whiplash – Iron Man 2)
Worst Supporting Actress: Leslie Jones (Patty – Ghostbusters)
Worst Young Actor: Noah Ringer (Aang – The Last Airbender)
Worst Director: David Ayer (Suicide Squad)
Worst Script: Suicide Squad
Worst Composer: Alan Silvestri
Worst Soundtrack: The Rise of Skywalker (John Williams)
Worst Reboot: Fantastic Four/Ghostbusters
Worst Sequel: The Rise of Skywalker
Worst TV Adaptation: The Last Airbender
That’s it, the last of my ‘best of the decade’ articles done. Hope you found them interesting, and hope this decade’s highlights will be even better!
I’ll take a break from blogging for a while now – I’m still mired in a job search now into its fourth month – but i’ll be back later in the year with reviews of the new Bond and Wonder Woman films, along with any other films, TV or games that catch my eye – see you all then.