For Part 1 of The Best Films of the Decade, please click here.
The final half of the best films of the decade. As always, this list is alphabetical, not ranked.
The Love Witch (2016)
A film of singular artistic vision, The Love Witch is produced, written, directed, edited, AND scored by Anna Biller. Done in the style of early 1960s Technicolor films, and with nods to everything from exploitation cinema to Hitchcock, The Love Witch is critical examination of gender roles and the femme fatale trope. It is absolutely DIVINE to look at, but it will leave you with something to think about, too.
The Lure (2015)
The Eighties synth-pop cannibal mermaid musical you didn’t know you needed, The Lure reimagines The Little Mermaid as a cautionary tale for a world that preys on women, exploiting talent and sexuality for commercial gain. Honestly, this is the only live-action Little Mermaid we really need.
Will Forte (along with his writing partner John Solomon, and Jorma Taccone) turns his SNL character into an absurdist takedown of toxic masculinity, lampooning the kind of hyper-masculine patriotism and macho-worship that defined the conflict-ridden aughts. As America tired of endless war and bad men in the 2010s, though, MacGruber gained a devoted following, turning one of the decade’s biggest bombs into one of its biggest cult films.
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
One of the few things we can all agree on this decade is that Fury Road is AWESOME. One of the best crafted and executed films of the decade, with some of the coolest and most bonkers stunts, Fury Road is also a rare sequel that rethinks its own universe and updates its lore in meaningful, resonant ways. A beautiful action film, and a harrowing survival tale, Fury Road remains unsurpassed in its ambition and accomplishment.
A coming of age and coming out story, Moonlight is a sensitive portrait of queer black manhood that resonates with affection, romance, disappointment, joy, and an almost unbearably fragile feeling of hope. This film is so emotionally evocative it is almost impossible to describe, because it will touch every viewer in different ways, and hold such personal meaning for those who embrace Barry Jenkins’ multi-faceted storytelling style. Moonlight is one of the most powerfully affecting films of the decade.
The Nice Guys (2016)
A period piece that does not revel in nostalgia for its era, a buddy comedy about two guys who don’t really get along, and a father-daughter tale in which the daughter is more paternal than her dad, The Nice Guys is full of contradictions and escalating tension. Pound for pound one of the funniest films of the decade, it’s also a refreshing sleuth story where no one is a super genius Sherlock type. It’s just a good old-fashioned mystery with wit to spare.
The kindest, sweetest, most earnestly sincere family films of the decade, the Paddington films are also the only sequel pair so quality and thematically consistent they effectively register as one film. Paddington and Paddington 2 are also notable for their tremendous style and great comedy villains, particularly Hugh Grant’s definitive performance as Phoenix Buchanan.
It feels like all of Bong Joon-ho’s work this decade built to Parasite, a complex class parable that considers how impossible it really is to climb the socio-economic ladder. In turns a horror, comedy, thriller, and family drama, Parasite is one of the most unique visions of the decade from a master filmmaker.
Like MacGruber, Popstar bombed upon release, only to immediately develop a cult following. A pitch-perfect satire of contemporary pop music and the music industry itself, Popstar is This Is Spinal Tap for a new generation. It also doesn’t hurt that all of the original songs are signature Lonely Islands bops, equal parts funny and catchy. Style Boyz for life!
The Raid (2011)
This is the reason every action movie and TV show this decade has a hallway fight. Arguably the most influential action movie of the decade, with direct influence on some of the decade’s biggest movies, including Captain America: The Winter Soldier, John Wick, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Raid is single-handedly responsible for bringing back practical, hand-to-hand combat stunts in American action cinema.
Shin Godzilla (2016)
In the same decade that Hollywood struggled to understand Godzilla, Japan’s legendary Toho production house reinvented the kaiju for a new era of nuclear catastrophe. This Godzilla secretes radioactive waste and moves through cities like a tsunami wave, a clear allusion to the 2011 tsunami and ensuing Fukushima Daiichi reactor meltdown. Shin Godzilla also lampoons burdensome bureaucracy that is ill-equipped for fast-moving disaster, making it a sharp political satire as well.
The Social Network (2010)
David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin combine power to craft this loquacious but chilly drama about the founding of Facebook, one of the decade’s most influential media companies. This film stands the test of time less as a portrait of Mark Zuckerberg and more as a dire prediction for our future, in which social interactions happen online and a social media platform has the power to threaten democracy itself. The Social Network was originally dinged for inaccuracies about Zuckerberg, but it was scarily prescient about how Facebook would come to shape our world, for the worse.
Sorry to Bother You (2018)
Boots Riley blew the doors down with his debut film, crafting a scathing socio-political satire of racism and classism that is simultaneously funny and deeply upsetting. Riley pulls no punches in his multi-directional critique of corporate America, particularly how it exploits black excellence to maintain white supremacist ideals. This is a gonzo, bizarre, unforgettable film from one of the boldest new voices in America cinema this decade.
Under the Skin (2013)
A lonely film about what it is to be human, to be vulnerable, and the inherent unknowable nature of humanity, Under the Skin is film that evolves and shifts as we each apply our own understanding of ourselves to its blank-faced protagonist (a decade-best Scarlett Johansson). Chilly, abstract, and impenetrable, Jonathan Glazer gives us one of the most unique sci-fi visions of the decade.
What We Do in the Shadows (2014)
Just when you thought the mockumentary trend was dead, Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement deliver a mockumentary about the undead so perfectly constructed it accounts for the endangerment of the cameramen. This is one of the funniest comedies of the decade, but it also sneaks in a poignant love story and is a rare celebration of healthy male friendship. Also, it is stuffed to the brim with jokes, every one of which works. There isn’t a bad line in this entire film.
Young Adult (2011)
Young Adult unspools like a sour jaw breaker, both bitter in taste and difficult to digest as Mavis (Charlize Theron as one the decade’s great anti-heroines) rampages through the lives of her former classmates, trying to relive her high school glory days. Equal parts funny and challenging, Young Adult examines the challenge and necessity of growing up and letting go.