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Nerdist’s 66 Favorite Movies of the Decade
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How do you perfectly encapsulate an entire decade of cinema? The short answer: we don’t know. But we tried anyway. We varied members of Team Nerdist pooled our favorite films to hit theaters between the beginning of 2010 and the end of 2019, amounting in the below list of 66 memorable features. The collection ranges from blockbuster to indie, from hilarious to devastating, from gruesome horror to Paddington 2. The one commonality: we’re still thinking about (and rewatching) all of them. Peruse below, and let us know some of our your own faves from the past ten years!

Black Swan

Kendall Ashley on Black Swan:Black Swan was such a brilliant blend of cerebral horror and a poignant look at the dark pit perfectionism can thrust you into. Seriously, the final moments of the movie where Natalie Portman talks about being perfect still give me chills. And nothing is creepier and more iconic than her transformation into the “Black Swan” at the end of the film.”

Drive

Kevin Kelly on Drive: “I had (unfortunately) dismissed Ryan Gosling as an actor who would make a series of movies like The Notebook before being relegated to Lifetime and Hallmark movies… until I saw Blue Valentine. That movie ripped me up in the wake of a bad breakup. When Drive was announced, I eagerly sought it out because: Cars! Los Angeles! Crime! But this movie is so much more. It’s both a love and a hate letter to the city it takes place in, a perfect crime drama with a mafia knife twist, and an absolutely killer soundtrack. Just go listen to ‘A Real Hero’ by College and Electric Youth and bear witness.”

MacGruber

Dan Casey on MacGruber:MacGruber transcends its Saturday Night Live source material to show us who Will Forte’s mulleted, vest-clad, multi-hyphenate badass with a penchant for jury-rigging household objects really is. MacGruber isn’t a badass; he’s a complete dirtbag who is wildly out of his element, which puts himself and his team in constant jeopardy. From using his teammate as a human shield to putting celery in his butt to distract armed guards, MacGruber is anything but conventional, and his willingness to debase himself to get the job done will have you laughing so hard it hurts. The only movie with two sex scenes as genuinely bonkers as The Room, MacGruber is an absolute must-see.”

Jim Broadbent and Ben Whishaw compose a sonata together at a 19th century piano.

Warner Bros.

Cloud Atlas

Mica Arbeiter on Cloud Atlas: “In both the spiritual and literal definitions of the word, Cloud Atlas is transcendent. It bounds across time, space, and genre in the most wonderfully convoluted of fashions to deliver the most beautifully simple of messages: we are all in this together, for better or worse. Exploits in unchecked bombast add up to something imperfect, but truly spectacular, and perhaps the purest distillation of Wachowskism yet to be set to the big screen.”

Moonlight

Gretchen Smail on Moonlight: “A tender portrait of masculinity and family, Moonlight is a challenging and devastating film. It’s also a perfectly crafted one. From the gorgeous lighting, to the acting, to the film being split into three complementary acts, everything breaks apart and comes together in such a satisfying, moving way.”

The Conjuring

Eric Diaz on The Conjuring: “Early 2000s horror delivered tons of ‘torture porn’ and remakes, making me wonder if horror’s best days were over. Then in 2013, James Wan delivered one of the best haunted house movies ever with The Conjuring. Whenever this exquisitely crafted ghost story plays on TV while I’m flipping through channels, I always get sucked in and must watch ’til the harrowing end.”

Inside Out

Lauren Cupp on Inside Out: “Emotions are not just black and white, but a complicated ordeal for any person. Pixar teaches us that in Inside Out. It’s okay to be sad, angry, or happy. Inside Out validates that experience in a beautiful way. I won’t forget the moments between Joy and Sadness, and of course Bing Bong. Never forget Bing Bong.”

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Kyle Anderson on The Grand Budapest Hotel: “Wes Anderson’s movies have always felt like profanity-filled picture books; with The Grand Budapest Hotel, he reached his pinnacle. It feels like a Tintin adventure with its intrigue and daring escapes, but with Anderson’s trademark awkward humor along for the ride. It’s a gorgeous looking movie, but the real hero might be Alexandre Desplat’s jaunty score which perfectly encapsulates the fake-European flavor of the caper at hand. How Ralph Fiennes didn’t win an Oscar for Gustave H. is the real mystery.”

Two sentient robots stare into each others eyes in a cold hallway.

A24

Ex Machina

Matthew Hart on Ex Machina:Ex Machina is one of the best science fiction films of the decade thanks to its portrayal of how artificial intelligence could manipulate people to do its bidding. The movie also features masterful performances from Oscar Isaac, Alicia Vikander, and Domhnall Gleeson, as well as an unforgettable robot dance scene.”

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Andrea Towers on The Winter Soldier: Captain America: The Winter Soldier didn’t feel like a typical superhero movie as much as it felt like a perfect action spy thriller. And a focus on the unlikely partnership between Cap and Black Widow (thanks for ten plus years of real friendship, Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson) helped elevate the story for both characters. Pacing-wise, the movie does a perfect job of balancing espionage, action, and iconic superhero moments and emotionally, it’s the Marvel film that does the best job of making you care about its characters by putting their relationships front and center.”

Hidden Figures

Tai Gooden on Hidden Figures: “I knew that Hidden Figures would resonate deeply with me when I saw it with my then seven-year-old daughter. This powerful film about brilliant and innovative Black women NASA mathematicians was another powerful thread in the fabric of our history and undeniable impact on society. What I didn’t expect was the impact on my daughter, who wants to follow in her hero Katherine Johnson’s footsteps and become an aerospace engineer. We celebrated her legacy in our city of Hampton for NASA’s hundredth anniversary, bought her Barbie doll, and attended a special robotics camp. Hidden Figures gave her a snapshot of the trials we have overcome as a people, the many powerful names we may never know, and how we make seemingly impossible dreams tangible.”

Blockers

Riley Silverman on Blockers: “If every decade has a definitive teen sex comedy, this Kay Cannon film is the one for the 2010s. Combining an incredibly insightful message with a highly charismatic cast and smart, tightly written jokes, Blockers manages to be crude and woke at the same time, without wearing either on its sleeve. But it’s the perfectly executed handling of its unexpected lesbian subplot that really made this into a classic for me. Teenage me would’ve felt very seen by it in her day.”

A punk band plays a rowdy room in a dive bar..

A24

Green Room

Rosie Knight on Green Room:Green Room is an unending anxiety attack of a movie and I mean that in the best possible way. When a young punk band ends up playing in a Nazi bar, the group quickly decides the best thing to do is let the patrons know exactly how they feel with a quick performance of ‘Nazi Punks F*** Off.’ Things quickly escalate from there, and when the crew sees something they shouldn’t, it becomes a fight for survival as they face off against Patrick Stewart’s Machiavellian fascist maniac. Directed by Jeremy Saulnier, Green Room is masterclass, terror, and killing Nazis.”

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Kelly Knox on The Force Awakens: “The movie that many Star Wars fans thought we would never see, Episode VII: The Force Awakens reunited audiences with Han Solo, Leia Organa, and Luke Skywalker, while simultaneously giving us new heroes (and perhaps a villain) to root for in a galaxy in turmoil. A new generation was introduced to Star Wars, who now had the chance to see a new entry in the franchise in the movie theater for the first time in their lives. And for many veteran fans like myself, The Force Awakens was the opportunity to share a new Star Wars movie in the theater with my own kid, a memory I will always hold dear.”

Margaret

Todd Gilchrist on Margaret: “Ostensibly the story of a young woman navigating her first steps into adulthood, Kenneth Longeran’s second film as a director offers an appropriately sprawling (not to mention devastating) response to dealing with incomprehensible trauma while continuing to live a semblance of a normal life—the jarring contrast Americans faced in the days, weeks, and years following 9/11. Mundane, melancholy and yet darkly funny, Margaret overcame a six-year delay to sort out legal issues related to its length to deliver a story that captures the feeling of a specific moment in time in an absolutely timeless way.”

Inception

Lee Travis on Inception: “Dreams hold endless opportunities. To think of the unexpected, unknown, to be free. Inception provides that freedom to director Christopher Nolan in creating a puzzling film that rewards rewatches and makes the viewer question their own reality. You’ve got to dream big to see what happens next.”

It Follows

Christy Admiraal on It Follows: “It’s difficult to describe It Follows—in which the monster is a figure or multiple figures dressed in white who shuffle behind you, stalking you until you’ve either passed them on to someone else through sex, STD-like, or get killed—without making it sound ludicrous. But it’s not. Instead, it’s harrowing, building a sense of creeping dread like no other horror film I’ve seen in the past ten years. Plus, it solidifies Maika Monroe’s scream queen status, and the Disasterpiece soundtrack is a perfect complement to David Robert Mitchell’s direction.

Paddington stares down a tough criminal in jail.

StudioCanal

Paddington 2

Meaghan Kirby on Paddington 2: “It was a great decade for one Peruvian-British bear. Paddington is great, but Paddington 2 is a masterpiece. While the entire star-studded cast is, as expected, fantastic, the true victor of the film is Hugh Grant, whose campy turn as the villainous Phoenix Buchanan belongs up there among his best roles. There’s a certain brightness to the film, in that even when the beloved bear is at his lowest, it still radiates positivity and light. Simply put, it’s difficult to watch Paddington 2 and not feel an inescapable joy. One can only hope, as we usher in the next decade, that we haven’t seen the last of the whimsical, magical world of Paddington Bear.”

First Reformed

Lindsey Romain on First Reformed: “I’ve thought about First Reformed every single day since I saw it last year. It’s almost impossible to shake. The film is centered on a priest played by Ethan Hawke, whose faith wavers as the threat of global warming and human extinction overwhelm his ideologies. Writer/director Paul Schrader offers both nihilism and glimmers of hope; the film forces us to reconcile our own loose grasp on the future of this planet. It’s not an easy or joyous watch, but it’s a riveting and deeply important one.”

Spotlight

Michael Walsh on Spotlight: “How do you tell a story about people who told one of the most important story? With quiet grace and deference. Spotlight’s deft handling of the Catholic Church’s sex abuse scandal and the people who reported it resulted in a beautiful and heartbreaking film about power and those who stand up to it.”

Booksmart

Erin Vail on Booksmart: “If I could go back in time and tell 14-year-old Erin, who was obsessed with Superbad at the time, that in 2019, a high school friendship/night-out comedy that centered on two badass, funny, awkward teen girls was coming out, 14-year-old Erin’s head would explode. Booksmart is the ultimate smart teen girl movie of my dreams, lovingly directed by Olivia Wilde and filled with hilarious performances by Beanie Feldstein, Kaitlyn Dever, Billie Lourd, and Noah Galvin. From the moment Dever and Feldstein danced their way onto the screen, I immediately felt the urge to text my best friend of life about how perfectly the film captures this very specific type of female friendship that totally felt like ours. Booksmart is feminist, raunchy, sex positive, electric, poignant, wordy, and very, very much fun.”

Furiosa kneels in the merciless desert surrounded by journeyers.

Warner Bros

Mad Max: Fury Road

Rachel Heine on Fury Road: Mad Max: Fury Road is an exhilarating, nonstop chase sequence that never takes its foot off the gas. It’s a vehicle for Furiosa, an unlikely leader and warrior that Max willingly hands the reigns to. It’s a technological marvel, with stunts and pyrotechnics that defy gravity and nature. It’s the story of a cog in the machine learning to go his own way. It’s still painfully relevant to see a few weak, cowardly men draining the life out of everything and everyone around them.”

T2 Trainspotting

Kevin Kelly on T2 Trainspotting: “Ironically, the success of Danny Boyle directing films like Shallow Grave and Trainspotting led to a rift between him and Ewan McGregor over The Beach, of all things, making a sequel to Trainspotting look like an impossibility. But fences were mended, wounds were healed, and T2 Trainspotting came to us in 2017 as an inexplicably fantastic followup. Loosely based on Irvine Welsh’s sequel novel Porno, T2 hands the storytelling baton from Mark Renton to Spud, with all of the major characters returning in a powerful look at what happens when you go back home. Let’s just pray that next they make another sequel focusing on Begbie, based on Welsh’s The Blade Artist.”

Lady Bird

Meaghan Kirby on Lady Bird: “There’s a reason Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut, a coming-of-age film following a spirited teen during her final year of high school, is so beloved. Anchored by a spectacular Saoirse Ronan in “the titular role!” and Laurie Metcalf, who shines as her weary mom, the film is a remarkable tour de force of stand-out performances. Gerwig (who also wrote the film) beautifully captures the tornado of complicated emotions Lady Bird cycles through as she dreams big and stumbles to find herself. But best of all, the film has so much heart—a moving love letter to both Sacramento and the end of youth.”

Toy Story 3

Lee Travis on Toy Story 3: “Looking back, becoming an adult comes out of nowhere. The moment when the innocence of childhood evaporates is like a haze in one’s mind. By the end of Toy Story 3, Andy has chosen to part with his boyhood but keeps the love for his toys alive when he passes them to Bonnie. This one moment of unbound joy between these two characters lingers in my mind the most and leaves me wanting to run back to my parents’ attic and say hi to my friends once more.”

Chadwick Boseman, Lupita Nyongo, and Danai Gurira walk in Black Panther.

Marvel/Disney

Black Panther

Tai Gooden on Black Panther: “An overwhelming joy and awe came over me when I saw Wakanda for the first time. What a beautiful paradise to imagine in a world filled with strife! It was mind-blowing to see a movie with dark-skinned Black women who were all things—leaders, scientists, warriors, agents of change, counselors, and dreamers—in a life-affirming way. Black Panther is hella Black, action-packed, visually stunning, and challenges the notion that a Black-led film wouldn’t be appreciated around the world. Black Panther shifted the culture in a major way and I’m so thankful that this film exists.”

Never Let Me Go

Riley Silverman on Never Let Me Go: “‘Science Fiction’ and ‘tear-jerker’ don’t often go hand in hand the way they do in this 2010 adaptation. Perhaps it’s because the genre elements remain sparse, tucked into the shadows of the story, a haunting, quiet tale of a life spent awaiting inevitable loss and grief. As a result, Never Let Me Go is a slow burn that has lingered in the back of mind for the entirety of the decade, like a record left on that makes its presence known only with the occasional skip or fuzzy pop of static.”

The Invitation

Rachel Heine on The Invitation: “Nearly five years later and I’m still thinking about The Invitation. A masterclass in suspense, Karyn Kusama’s thriller explores grief, trauma, and recovery through the lens of a seemingly harmless dinner party in the hills of Los Angeles. Is “the invitation” just another scam praying on those who’ve lost their loved ones, or is something more sinister at play? Kusama keeps the story simmering, slowly, until you’re hoping for some cult-like catharsis of your own.”

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

Lindsey Romain on Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again: “I had no expectations for this musical sequel when I stuck it on for a long plane ride. What a pleasant surprise. Pure, unadulterated joy from top to bottom. It’s one of those movies that picks you up and transports you to another world. A world of tanned legs and ABBA songs and crystal blue water. It’s a fairy tale, and a perfect respite from the horrible things we’ve collectively endured this decade.”

The Master

Todd Gilchrist on The Master: “As much a story of American self-determinism as the febrile, possibly futile clash between id and superego, The Master elicits mesmerizing, transformative performances from Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix alike as (respectively) Dodd, a control-seeking, ‘hopelessly inquisitive man,’ and Freddie Quell, the unpredictable disciple whose desperate impulse to yield to his leader and friend is repeatedly—and fatally—undermined by animalistic impulse.”

Scott Pilgrim looks at an animated version of his own head.

Universal Pictures

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Kendall Ashley on Scott Pilgrim:Scott Pilgrim was unlike anything I had ever seen before. From the visual gags to the brilliant ways video game and comic book style is brought seamlessly into the movie, this flick felt like something truly special and it will always be wonderfully weird (with a KILLER cast). Though I have to say it: Knives deserved better.”

Cinderella

Andrea Towers on Cinderella: “Fairy dust aside, is there any reason NOT to love Disney’s live action remake? With Lily James as the kindness filled Cinderella, Cate Blanchett as her vicious stepmother, and Richard Madden as the down-to-earth prince who just wants to find true love, the movie feels like a blanket that you can curl up with on the coldest days. The magic is really in Lily James, though. Her perfectly nuanced embodiment of Ella is the glue that holds the film together and what makes you believe fairy tales can be real.”

Midsommar

Christy Admiraal on Midsommar: “Midsommar was the first film that truly resonated with me this year, and after seeing it twice (first the theatrical cut, then the director’s), it became not just a decade favorite, but an all-time favorite. It’s best to go into Midsommar knowing nothing, except maybe that you’re about to dive into the world of folk horror, grad students are uniformly awful, and it’s probably best to ignore the bear.”

Skyfall

Meaghan Kirby on Skyfall: “While Casino Royale was certainly an exciting debut, Daniel Craig’s third outing as James Bond is his best (thus far). Featuring a compelling villain in Javier Bardem, Roger Deakins’ stunning cinematography, Adele’s titular track, and a stacked supporting cast, it captures the classic Bond aesthetic while planting the franchise firmly in the 21st century. But most of all, it’s a Bond film that is, in my opinion, truly about M. While not without its shortcomings, the film is a brilliant swan-song for Judi Dench, whose presence as M has loomed large for two eras—especially during the Craig era.”

Her

Andrea Towers on Her: “Spike Jonze’s love story between a lonely man and his automated Siri-like device pulls at every single emotion and leaves you breathless. From the muted color palette to the simple storyline, Jonze helps us observe the quiet, haunting relationship between Theodore and “Samantha”; Scarlett Johansson voicing the technological companion helps us understand how a movie about artificial intelligence can feel personal and real.”

A young Hailee Steinfeld wields a gun in the Old West.

Paramount Pictures

True Grit

Kevin Kelly on True Grit: “Charles Portis’ excellent novel True Grit was originally published in 1968, and just a year later it was adapted for the big screen and won John Wayne his only Oscar. So, it seemed like, ‘If it ain’t broke…’ However, the Coen Brothers thought it was broke, and they wanted to do a version that was more faithful to the novel. Thus, more than 40 years later, True Grit graced the screen again, with Jeff Bridges in the Rooster Cogburn role and a career-making performance from Hailee Steinfeld. It was nominated for ten Academy Awards, but won none. However, it’s a near perfect film and the gold standard for adaptations.”

Nightcrawler

Matthew Hart on Nightcrawler: “Nightcrawler is a twisted net-noir thriller that stands out from all the other ones produced during the decade because it pulls off a feat of storytelling magic that’s beyond rare: It makes us sympathize with a sociopath who has no regard for human life. That feat is possible thanks to writer-director Dan Gilroy’s masterful script, as well as Jake Gyllenhaal’s frighteningly believable performance.”

The Social Network

Christy Admiraal on The Social Network: “David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin took plenty of liberties in their spin on the birth of Facebook, but that’s all for the better. The combination of Fincher’s obsessively precise direction and Sorkin’s rapid-fire dialogue pouring out of Jesse Eisenberg’s and Andrew Garfield’s mouths is so seamless and satisfying, every bit as fun and absorbing to watch as any action movie.”

Annihilation

Lee Travis on Annihilation: “Nature can be cruel, horrifying, and incomprehensible at times, holding a sense of dread with creatures lurking in the unknown. Annihilation captures the cosmic horror of facing the physical embodiment of the unknown, as well as the unknown within ourselves. Who are we, really?”

What We Do in the Shadows

Michael Walsh on What We Do in the Shadows: “There aren’t many perfect movies in history. Even some of the unquestioned greatest films of all time have one performance, scene, or moment that doesn’t quite measure up to the rest. What We Do in the Shadows is a perfect movie. The premise, cast, jokes, direction—all of it is perfect. It isn’t just one of the best comedies of the 2010s, it’s one of the best comedies ever made.”

Keanu Reeves wears a black suit in a fancy room.

Summit Entertainment

John Wick

Kelly Knox on John Wick: “Gun-fu was back with a bang when John Wick took theaters by storm. The blood-splattering violence is both brutal and mesmerizing, with Wick moving with the confident grace of a dancer. While it’s certainly a flashy tale of satisfying vengeance, John Wick is also a story of love and grief with compelling world-building that creates an underworld with rules and its own warped sense of honor.”

Bridesmaids

Kendall Ashley on Bridesmaids: “The first time I saw Bridesmaids, my best friend and I spent the entire movie making comments about how similar our friendship was to Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph’s characters in the movie. It was the first time I really remember watching a movie and feeling like I saw myself on the big screen. Bridesmaids largely got female friendships right and highlighted women in a male-dominated genre while being a genuinely hilarious movie. Plus, it brought Wilson Phillips back to the mainstream, which is nothing short of a public service.”

Guardians of the Galaxy

Lauren Cupp on Guardians of the Galaxy: “Guardians of the Galaxy fully changed the definition of a superhero movie. Upbeat smartass Peter Quill and his team felt more familiar to me than any other hero I’d seen before. The idea that five ‘losers’ can band together, overcome cosmically impossible circumstances, and become a found family affected me in a way that few other films have. When a film ends in a dance-off to distract the destruction of an entire planet, it jump starts a whole new way of thinking about what a superhero movie should be.”

Personal Shopper

Mica Arbeiter on Personal Shopper: “Kristen Stewart anxiously texts a ghost, and along the way we’re invited into the most empathetic portrait of the loss of one’s self—to mourning, to age, to technology, to a world designed to suffocating queerness—that I’ve ever seen. Maybe my favorite movie of all time, Personal Shopper offers one of cinema’s all-time great lead performances and strikes more than a few resonant chords.”

An animated reindeer slips on ice.

Disney

Frozen

Riley Silverman on Frozen: “I never had my own Disney Princess growing up, and I was probably much too old for one when I finally found mine (technically my Disney Queen) while watching Frozen on an airplane months after it had become a worldwide phenomenon. It’s hard to find much to say about the movie that has become an institution of its own within Disney’s roster, but I keep coming back to it over and over due to the utter relatability of Elsa, and the way it jettisons Disney’s historical emphasis on romantic love in favor of the familial love between two sisters who desperately need each other.”

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Gretchen Smail on Beasts of the Southern Wild: Beasts of the Southern Wild is a film no one really talks about now, but it’s a fantastically relevant film for the decade. It tells the story of a young plucky female protagonist (Quvenzhané Wallis) learning how to be king of a land devastated by environmental collapse. It weaves magical realism in with very real concerns about the climate crisis, and the result is a visually interesting and timely film. Also the music is just whimsical fun.”

Halloween

Lauren Cupp on Halloween: “In 2018, Jamie Lee Curtis kicked ass again as Laurie Strode in Halloween. The franchise is revived in this iteration, now with three generations fighting Michael Myers. My favorite scenes are with the whole family fighting back together; mom, daughter, granddaughter. Their relationship is complicated, messy, and wholly relatable (sans the whole Michael thing), but it’s what makes this such a great new horror classic.”

Inside Llewyn Davis

Kyle Anderson on Inside Llewyn Davis: “The first time I saw Inside Llewyn Davis, I really disliked it. It’s such a downer, and despite a breakout performance from Oscar Isaac and a soundtrack full of gorgeous old folk songs, it didn’t win me over. But then I just couldn’t stop thinking about it. Its cyclical tale of a man constantly shooting himself in the foot because his partner, his artistic foil, is gone. He’s half the man he used to be and constantly gets in his own way. The Coen Brothers once again have given us a tale of consistent woe and suffering, but it might be their most achingly moving, too.”

Attack the Block

Rosie Knight on Attack the Block: “Joe Cornish’s searingly good sci-fi comedy about an alien attack that hits a London council estate is nothing short of brilliant. Not only did it introduce the world to John Boyega but it crafted a truly exciting new take on the sub genre that manages to be thoughtful, sweet, scary, funny, as well as one of the most authentic “London” movies ever made.

Ben Affleck poses merrily with a photo of his missing wife.

20th Century Fox

Gone Girl

Erin Vail on Gone Girl: Gone Girl is a cynical, thrilling portrayal of marriage, depression, suburban America, true crime, and family: a new American classic if I’ve ever seen one. Gone Girl encapsulates the desolation of the post-recession United States and the dissolution of a seemingly perfect marriage. I would argue Ben Affleck has never better as the skeezy, oblivious, frustrated, wrongfully accused husband Nick Dunne, a perfect target for Rosamund Pike’s sadistic Amazing Amy. With director David Fincher’s ice-cool color palette, the dark emptiness of a once great, but now down-on-its-luck small town in Missouri, the expert use of voiceover for Amy’s diary entries, Gone Girl is a borderline perfect movie.”

Under the Skin

Dan Casey on Under the Skin: “If the simple act of being alive in 2019 isn’t stressful enough, then may I recommend Jonathan Glazer’s supremely unsettling Under the Skin? Just watching this movie will make you feel at least 50% better about any real-world thing that’s stressing you out. Under the Skin recasts sexuality as something intimate and passionate and turns it into a weapon like we have rarely seen—something cold, contemplative, and eldritch—and does so without turning its main character (Scarlett Johansson) into a villain. Every quavering strain of composer Mica Levi’s score fills the viewer with existential dread as the being wanders through the surreal Scottish landscape, looking for its next partner. Under the Skin is a creepy, unnerving masterpiece of spartan sci-fi storytelling, and I can’t stop thinking about it—especially its haunting shot of a baby crying alone on a beach at night—six years later.”

Jackie

Erin Vail on Jackie: “Natalie Portman’s portrayal of Jackie Kennedy in the days following JFK’s assassination not only demands audience attention and sympathy, it also does what many other biopic performances fail to do: to say something about their subjects and the time in which they lived. Jackie deals with themes of grief and loss, but gives us a better picture of the concept of public vs. private life, how Jackie was forced to adapt to life in the spotlight, and how she was also able to manipulate public image to her advantage to secure the legacy of JFK’s presidency. Jackie is heartbreaking, funny, emotional, warm, and distant all at the same time, with every changing emotion scored perfectly by Mica Levi. As with most things in life, Jackie deserves more: more horses, more soldiers, more crying, more cameras.”

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Matthew Hart on Birdman:Birdman is one of those dark comedies that inspires every feeling from horror to hope as it glimpses the mind of a good man going mad. The film’s single-shot style also stands as a stroke of genius by director Alejandro Iñárritu, which helps to give the story an unprecedented sense of urgency and dizzying excitement.”

Toni Colette stares in horror as her husband is engulfed in flames.

A24

Hereditary

Gretchen Smail on Hereditary: “The genius of Hereditary is how the claustrophobic cinematography reflects the storytelling. I’ve seen arguments that Hereditary is boring, and I think that really misses the point of the film’s slowly building dread. As Toni Collette’s Annie builds dioramas to distract her from her grief, unseen forces work to manipulate her family. Much of the movie is purposely filmed so it’s like the viewer is looking into a dollhouse, which further reinforces how Annie and her family are just puppets in someone else’s game. It’s all very intelligent and unsettling, and Toni Collette is of course fantastic in it.

The Avengers

Kelly Knox on The Avengers: “If I had to pick a single film that shaped a decade for moviegoers, The Avengers would be at the top of the list. Movies that were considered blockbusters before were nothing compared to the sheer spectacle of bringing together Marvel’s biggest superheroes for one unprecedented team-up. In fact, The Avengers would go on to set the precedent for event Marvel movies, in which the stakes were high and the superhero rosters got bigger and brighter with even more star power. The Avengers also showed that audiences loved humor and heart with their heroics, setting the stage for actual character development for our beloved superheroes as the decade went on.”

The Handmaiden

Mica Arbeiter on The Handmaiden: “Has there been a more thrilling execution of twists and turns in any other movie this decade? I wouldn’t bet on it. But it’s not just The Handmaiden‘s gasp-inducing reveals that make it worth the watch; it’s the powerful love story, the immaculate design, and the bottomless treasure trove of weird-as-hell set pieces.”

Beginners

Rachel Heine on Beginners: “Why are we the way that we are? Why do we love the way that we love? Told through dreamy flashbacks and vignettes, Mike Mills’ Beginners is about everything important: relationships, trauma, memory. Reconciling your perception of a person with their own reality. Christopher Plummer is heartbreakingly tender as Hal, a 75-year-old man who comes out to his son Oliver (Ewan McGregor) after his wife dies. This revelation inspires Oliver across time and space, delving into his childhood with his mother (Mary Page Keller ), the time he has left with his father, and how to fall and stay in love with Anna (Mélanie Laurent). Beginners is messy, and melancholy, and joyful. So honest that it feels like you too can do anything. It’s never to late to start.”

Luke Skywalker and Rey stand solemnly on Ahch-To.

Lucasfilm/Disney

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Michael Walsh on The Last Jedi: “I became a Star Wars Fan with a capital F during the prequels era, but I think those movies are bad. I didn’t like The Force Awakens or Rogue One either. Somehow, I loved a franchise whose films I never liked. Then The Last Jedi knocked me on my ass. It was moving and beautiful. But most importantly it was original, in a way I didn’t think Star Wars even wanted to be anymore.”

Only Lovers Left Alive

Eric Diaz on Only Lovers Left Alive: “Jim Jarmusch”s 2014 vampire film Only Lovers Left Alive is one of the most rewatchable ‘hangout movies’ ever made. And it just happens to be about hanging out with pair of ancient vampire lovers played by Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton. They might be undead, but this movie’s immortal protagonists discuss all the things that make life worth living in its two-hour run time. You’ll never experience a more thoughtful and insightful movie about vampires living in Detroit.”

Parasite

Dan Casey on Parasite: “South Korean auteur Bong Joon Ho has created what may be has masterwork in Parasite, a pitch-black comedy about class struggle, wealth inequality, and single-minded ambition that morphs and contorts itself into something far more terrifying by the film’s end. Seeing the smoothness with which the impoverished Kim family hustles, scams, and ingratiates themselves into the lives of the wealthy Parks feels like watching a heist movie. But that roiling tension beneath the surface continues to bubble and fulminate until it explodes our preconceived notions of what is going to happen next. To spoil the big twists of Parasite should be a violation of the Geneva Convention because seeing this exquisitely crafted movie for yourself should be a human right.”

Phantom Thread

Rosie Knight on Phantom Thread:Phantom Thread isn’t the movie you think it is, but to reveal its true surprise is to ruin its magic. Paul Thomas Anderson paints a sumptuous picture of an arrogant and insular man, Reynolds Woodcock, who controls every segment of his life, from the dresses he painstakingly crafts to the women he allows in. When he meets a young working class waitress, Alma, his life is turned upside down in every sense. With stunning performances from Daniel Day-Lewis as Woodcock, Lesley Manville as his long suffering sister, and Vicky Krieps as Alma, Phantom Thread is a truly beautiful and subversive period piece about love in all its forms.”

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Todd Gilchrist on Into the Spider-Verse: “Using wonderfully vivid, inventive techniques that pile style like an anarchic collage of comics luminaries, directors Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey and Rodney Rothman, along with producers Phil Lord and Chris Miller, follow young Miles Morales, a hero whose story is simultaneously nothing and exactly like every Spider-Man origin you’ve ever seen, while a running voiceover joke—“Alright, let’s do this one last time”—commemorates the irreverent beginning of a bold vision not just for the future of heroes but for animation itself.”

Daniel Kaluuya stares into the camera in tearful horror.

Universal Pictures

Get Out

Tai Gooden on Get Out:Get Out addresses real-life issues like the lack of concern for missing Black people, slavery, systemic racism, organ trafficking, and the general envy of Black culture, and wrapped it up in a truly unique premise. There are so many great tidbits that play into the story: Missy using a silver spoon that’s essentially a representation of the Armitage family’s privilege to literally control minds; the microaggressive comments that Chris feels forced to brush off to avoid conflict; the use of colors to represent division; and the missing colloquialisms between Black people that alert Chris to impending danger. The film subverts harmful tropes like the ‘White savior’ and opts for nods to horror classics like Rosemary’s Baby. Get Out balances humor and horror in a way that makes the viewer feel unsettled, anxious, and completely immersed in the story up until the very last second.”

Call Me by Your Name

Lindsey Romain on Call Me by Your Name: “‘Is it better to speak or die?’ That’s the central question at the heart of Luca Guadagnino’s sensual coming-of-age masterpiece Call Me By Your Name. It’s a film about first love and bisexuality and the sickening pains of curiosity. It’s also so lush you can practically step into it and live out your own memories of summer. Timothée Chalamet gives a stunning breakthrough performance as Elio Perlman, a 17-year-old boy infatuated with his father’s visiting American student Oliver (Armie Hammer). It sucks you in, enchants you, and stays with you forever.”

The Babadook

Kyle Anderson on The Babadook: “Horror shifts and metamorphoses all the time, bringing with it new things to fear and new archetypes to exploit. While the ’80s had slashers and their Final Girl foils, horror in the 2010s has been about mature women and their fears of motherhood. To wit, the best of the bunch, Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook, maybe the scariest movie of the past 20 years. It’s at once a simple tale of a single mom who resents her child and an examination of the dark heart inside each of us. Forever. You can’t get rid of the Babadook.”

Wonder Woman

Eric Diaz on Wonder Woman: Wonder Woman waited a long time to finally receive her own film, but what Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot delivered in 2017 was well worth the wait. Wonder Woman is the perfect superhero origin movie, that honors the original comics at every turn, and is still a compelling action movie on its own terms. From the Amazons defending their home from invaders, to the wonderful chemistry of Gal Gadot and Chris Pine, to the truly stellar No Man’s Land sequence, Wonder Woman is insanely rewatchable. And it’s become my go-to ‘lazy Sunday movie’ of choice.”