Obnoxious naming of the decade aside, this was tough to trim to only ten (see: honourable mentions) and impossible to then place in any sort of order. So instead here they are, unsorted, with my reasoning for each choice:
Minimalist existential scifi in a single location, brilliant performances and enough philosophy to chew on for a decade. Oh, and that dance sequence **chef kiss**
SCOTT PILGRIM VS THE WORLD
The best choreography, editing and comedic cinematography probably ever. There isn’t a single wasted action, there’s hundreds of throwaway jokes, the soundtrack’s brilliant and the “hero” is kind of an asshole who doesn’t even really get his shit together in the end. Feels like being 23 even though I was older when it came out.
UNDER THE SKIN
Atmosphere first, then visuals, then narrative. As much a tone poem of humanity through the eyes of an alien interloper as anything else. Utterly hypnotic and unforgettable.
Changes tone and genre half a dozen times on the fly with an embarassing grace and ease. Beautifully animated, endlessly charming, funny and heartbreaking.
MAD MAX: FURY ROAD
An absolute masterclass in action direction, framing, visual storytelling, cinematography and VFX. The pinnacle of what all action films aspire to be and all while 90% of it is a frantic chase sequence.
BLADE RUNNER 2049
If I had to single out just one film for the whole decade, this would be it. Everything I wanted in a BLADE RUNNER sequel done so astoundingly well that it surpasses even the original. The visual design and soundtrack alone are incredible but Roger Deakins’ cinematography is the crown jewel of an illustrious career on full display – what he does with light and shadow is distilled, pure art. Far better than anyone could have expected, the only thing keeping it from perfection was David Bowie dying before he could play Niander Wallace. The best sequel to anything, period. This could have been six hours long and I wouldn’t have cared one bit.
CABIN IN THE WOODS
The horror movie that broke all horror movies: you must now be at least this self-aware to play. A joyful riff of tropes and meta-humour that is an absolute delight for genre fans and was so good at calling out horror movie bullshit that it made everyone have to lift their game.
WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS
A bunch of vampires in a Wellington sharehouse played with deadpan delivery. Hysterically absurd gags ranging from cheap visual jokes to deep genre cuts – if you can’t find something funny in here you have no sense of humour and I can’t help you.
Incredibly precise, pointed and razor-sharp. It’s rare to walk out of a film feeling as though you the audience were played so thoroughly like an instrument as director Bong Joon-Ho conducts you through tone and genre with such mastery that you barely even notice you’ve been lead into a completely different sort of movie until it’s too late.
THOR: RAGNAROK / AVENGERS: ENDGAME
It was too hard to split these two. On the one hand you have the epitome of Kirby-esque colourful cosmic comicbook stylings wrapped around a bonehead indie buddy comedy with a blockbuster budget, and on the other hand you have an absolutely triumphant culmination of a full decade’s worth of worldbuilding, a follow up to the most shocking end to a blockbuster of this generation and an absolutely insane logistical undertaking – never mind the fact that it’s also an incredibly fun and satisfying closer for such a beloved set of heroes that utterly dominated the last ten years of cinema. Both have their charms and I love them for different reasons. Don’t make me choose.
(a lot of) HONOURABLE MENTIONS:
10 CLOVERFIELD LANE
EDGE OF TOMORROW
WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES
TRAIN TO BUSAN
THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL
MIDNIGHT IN PARIS
DREDD / THE RAID
THE NICE GUYS
SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING / FAR FROM HOME / INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE
MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: FALLOUT
SORRY TO BOTHER YOU
Did I miss something you think was deserving? Did I rate something you thought was utter garbage?