We already know what the Tomatometer has determined to be the best movies and best TV of the decade. And fans have been pretty vocal on their picks for the best of the 2010s, too: see their TV picks and movie picks. But what does the RT staff think were some of the best films and series of the last 10 years? We asked a number of staffers on our content team to pick one – yes, just one! – movie and TV show from the 2010s as their favorite. It didn’t necessarily need to be the best-reviewed (though all just happen to be Fresh) or the award-winningest, just the single thing they loved the most. Below, in the movie picks, you’ll find two groundbreaking superhero movies – one Marvel, one DC! – two off-beat vampire flicks, along with an era-defining action film and a period piece to break the heart of anyone who lives far, far from home.
If you had to pick just one favorite movie from the 2010s, what would it be? Let us know in the comments.
For me, Brooklyn is basically a perfect drama and the finest period piece we’ve had all decade. And while it kills me not to name Hereditary my favorite film of the decade (that underrated Toni Collette performance!), or to give the honor to Gone Girl (do thrillers come any better?), or Burning, Boyhood, Animal Kingdom, or Inside Out (Bing Bong!), no other film hit me square in the guts the way director John Crowley and writer Nick Hornby’s adaptation of Colm Toibin’s novel did. The story is incredibly simple: It’s 1951 and Ellis (Saoirse Ronan at her best) emigrates from Ireland to Brooklyn to find work; there she meets and marries a plumber, but finds her heart eventually pulled back towards her hometown across the ocean. Yet Brooklyn’s simplicity is its power – for anyone who’s moved away from home, and from family, and felt that same pull that Ellis feels, regardless of where you left and landed, it’s an incredibly moving watch. – Joel Meares, Editor-in-Chief
Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman arrived at a time when women are standing up against injustices against our sex more than ever before. It’s nice to have a demigoddess-warrior on our side. The film’s arrival invigorated the dialogue, as well as longtime fans of the character, who made her first comic-book appearance in 1941. Though Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) may not have been able to dodge rampant sexism, she became an idol to women of all ages by letting verbal barbs bounce off her while staying true to herself and charging into the fray with grace and kindness. Wonder Woman has so far earned $821.8 in the worldwide box office – not bad for a 78-year-old – and we can’t wait to see more in next decade’s Wonder Woman 1984 and beyond. – Debbie Day, Sr. TV Editor
Drive‘s neon, ’80s-inspired aesthetic may be everywhere now – highlighting the arthouse action-drama’s influence on pop culture since its release – but back in 2011 it was an utter revelation. Looking to the past as it careens headfirst into the future, the film’s pulsating synth score and eclectic, frequently electronic song choices, its taciturn getaway driver hero navigating love and a heist gone horribly awry, and director Nicholas Winding Refn‘s churning long takes built a primal, elemental mood. It’s been imitated, even by NWR himself, but never matched. Perhaps most admirable about Drive is that it’s a Los Angeles story not about fame or celebrity, but one that mythologizes the city’s day-to-day mood: Sitting behind the wheel in a hypnotized haze, dazed by the lights, where pop songs become your guardian angels in-between the violence and silence. – Alex Vo, Editor
In the 2010s, everything old was new again. Not that that was necessarily a bad thing; some of my most pleasurable movie experiences of the decade (the new Star Wars movies, The Muppets, Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest) were like reunions with old friends. So when I saw A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, I felt the shock of the new: Here was a film that felt like a visit to unexplored territory. Director Ana Lily Amirpour doesn’t hide her influences (Nosferatu, the films of Jim Jarmusch and Sergio Leone), but she creates a haunting, hypnotic mood that’s one of a kind. Set in Iran but made in California, boasting vivid black-and-white photography (any single frame is poster-worthy), it’s the tale of a lonely hipster vampire (played by Sheila Vand), swooping on a skateboard like a bat in flight, an avenging angel for a particularly grim town. (Prepare to jump when she first bares her fangs.) Beneath its cool veneer – and seriously, veneers don’t come much cooler than this – is the beating heart of the film: our heroine’s tentative romance with Arash (Arash Marandi), a James Dean-type with a troubled home life. (Their first meeting – he’s wobbling down the street, drunk and dressed like Dracula; she pushes him home on her skateboard – is both poignant and deadpan funny.) It’s probably the movie I’ve recommended the most over the past few years, mostly because there’s nothing else quite like it. – Tim Ryan, Review Curation Manager
Moonlight is a once-in-a-generation film. A masterpiece. And yes, we know the word is thrown around liberally, but in this case it is the only word that can aptly describe Barry Jenkins‘ sophomore work. Under his direction, from a screenplay he co-wrote, three actors masterfully embody Chiron, a young Black boy – and then man – from South Miami. The cinematography paints a color story that is as compelling as the narrative itself, with Nicholas Britell’s masterful score tailored to enrich every moment, and Moonlight’s delicate screenplay carefully masks its intentions for much of the runtime. The audience is halfway through the third act before it even reveals itself – this is not just a slice of life story about a young Black boy from the hood, this is a love story. Jenkins may have been robbed of his moment by the infamous envelope fiasco at the 2017 Oscars, but nothing can rob the film of its legacy as one of the best films of the decade – arguably, of all time. – Jacqueline Coley, Editor
Michael Fassbender took on a lot of roles this decade, but my favorite by far was in 2014’s Frank. Based on a newspaper article by Jon Ronson, Frank follows Jon (Domhnall Gleeson), an aspiring musician scraping songs together in a small town in England. After witnessing a tragic scene at the beach, Jon meets Don (Scoot McNairy), who invites him to come play with his band, Soronpfbs, that night at a local club. Jon agrees, and quickly finds himself swept up in the off-kilter world of Don, Clara (a terrifically terrifying Maggie Gyllenhaal), and Frank, an eccentric musical genius who dons a paper-mâché head at all times. From recording an epic album to inadvertently (or perhaps all too intentionally) destroying the first thing he has ever truly come to love, Jon finds himself the villain of his own story and must figure out how to make things right. What makes Frank so effective is the way it portrays the creative process – at once rationality and utter insanity – and the bonds forged in those moments of pure creation. And through it all, Frank is confident and complicated and utterly compelling, thanks to Fassbender’s masterful performance. His physicality conveys much, but his voice does a lot of the heavy lifting, taking Frank from childlike wonder to sage wisdom and powerful force of nature with ease. The music, written by Irish musician Stephen Rennicks, is the perfect blend of avant-garde and earwormy. It’s a beautifully bittersweet film worth checking out, but fair warning: it doesn’t make great family holiday viewing (sorry, mom). – Haña Lucero-Colin, Review Curation Manager
When I’m tasked with picking a favorite movie within any criteria, I naturally gravitate towards something I deem a little more unknown or under-appreciated. On my shortlist I had things like Stephen Chow’s artful Journey to the West, action-packed horror Train to Busan, and heartbreaking Bolivian drama Tu Me Manques, and yet I picked Avengers: Infinity War. Here’s why. Infinity War is one of the few superhero movies I occasionally revisit just to be delighted by its impressive accomplishments. In a little bit over 150 minutes of runtime, the Russo brothers brought together 10 years of stories with a multitude of characters into what became arguably the biggest event movie ever, when combined with its second and final part. It successfully delivers in excitement and cohesiveness, and makes history with the biggest movie cliffhanger of the decade. Sure, Endgame is great, but Infinity War is to the MCU what Empire Strikes Back was to Star Wars. – Julio De Oliveira, Director of Production
David Mackenzie’s Hell or High Water is one of my favorite movies of the decade, and to me transcends the limits of what most think a western or heist film should be. This refreshingly honest tale about two estranged brothers played by the charming Chris Pine and the never-better Ben Foster has left a lasting impact on me after years of forgettable reboots, remakes, and re-imaginings have faded away. The poignant portrayal of the brothers’ relationship is set against the backdrop of a Recession-hit East Texas, where they team up in true Robin Hood style to steal from the small-town banks that are foreclosing on their family’s farm. In pursuit are two no-nonsense Texas Rangers – played by Jeff Bridges, who inhabits the role like a well-worn pair of cowboy boots, and Gil Birmingham – who just want to shut the brothers down before someone inevitably gets hurt. In lesser hands, this premise could have come across as a preachy political sermon, but thankfully, writer Taylor Sheridan (Oscar nominated for this screenplay) has no interest in playing the blame game, only in depicting what he calls “the death of a way of life” in a land where everything will either bite you or stick or you or sting you. – Jennifer Jevons, Sr. Social Media Strategist
I probably became a Jim Jarmusch fan when I randomly caught Night on Earth on cable as a teenager during the mid-’90s and instantly fell in love with it. And when I say I’m a fan, I mean that, while his films can be a little hit-or-miss for me, there is a certain mood – let’s call it a sort of romantic melancholy – his work evokes that always hits me where it counts. The first film he directed in the 2010s, Only Lovers Left Alive, ratchets that mood up to 11 and sustains it through a leisurely, dreamlike love story… about bloodsuckers. Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton are magnetic as Adam and Eve, a pair of centuries-old married vampires who live halfway across the world from each other but reunite when one of them, the brooding musician Adam, becomes despondent and suicidal. It’s a mostly quiet, contemplative film that finds its two stars cruising the streets of a decrepit Detroit in the middle of the night and languishing in a Victorian house littered with antiques, vintage musical instruments, and outdated recording equipment, all set to an ethereal soundtrack composed by Jarmusch himself. But it’s also full of clever little touches that reference the history between Adam and Eve, and it features an outstanding supporting cast that includes John Hurt, Mia Wasikowska, Anton Yelchin, and Jeffrey Wright. The 2010s boasted a lot of fantastic releases, but this is the film that touched me in the most personal way, even if O negative isn’t my drink of choice. – Ryan Fujitani, Sr. Editor
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Thumbnail image: ©Kino Lorber, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, Richard Foreman Jr/©FilmDistric/Courtesy Everett Collection