It’s the final day of the 2010s, and since it’s a special occasion we’re going to take one last look at the decade’s best films (according to us, anyway).
For the last ten years, we have had ten #1s in both our best and worst lists, but which ones out of them hold up the most? Which ones do we like to look back on fondly (or not so fondly) more than any other? Well, today we’re going to find out!
We’re going to start, as always, with the 10 worst films of the last decade, which were, in chronological order:
- The Last Airbender (2010)
- Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)
- A Fantastic Fear of Everything (2012)
- Diana (2013)
- Annie (2014)
- Pan (2015)
- Grimsby (2016)
- The Emoji Movie (2017)
- Status Update (2018)
- Head Full of Honey (2019)
Out of that lot, which one is the ultimate bad film of the decade? Let’s find out, right now…
10 – A FANTASTIC FEAR OF EVERYTHING
Honestly, there’s not much to say about this one, largely because I barely remember anything about it.
At the time, I just remember it being a pretty nasty and mean-spirited movie that left me with a rather rotten feeling inside, but then again that was one of the years where I did not actively go and see many of the other bad movies like Keith Lemon: The Film or That’s My Boy, so I feel like this was just the first bad movie that popped into my head when I made 2012’s list.
It’s still a bad movie, but its overwhelming forgettability as a bad movie is why it’s probably the lowest-ranking movie on this list…
9 – ANNIE
2014 was another year where I made the conscious decision to not see any movies that I didn’t really want to see, and in hindsight it’s one of my biggest regrets since starting the site in 2013. I missed out on real stinkers like Mrs. Brown’s Boys D’Movie or A New York Winter’s Tale, leaving me with only this embarrassing new version of the popular musical Annie as my de facto #1 pick for the year’s worst.
Much like with A Fantastic Fear of Everything, it claimed the top (or bottom) spot simply because it was the freshest bad movie in my memory, and if I had seen any of the other horrible movies that year it probably wouldn’t have even made the top five. Yet, I remember cringing so hard at the soullessness of this remake – from the forcibly updated story to Cameron Diaz’s awful singing voice – that it would have been a worthy contender even if I did end up seeing the Mrs. Brown’s Boys movie.
It ranks at #9 only because I remember being a lot more negative towards it than A Fantastic Fear of Everything, but luckily those were the only two personal disappointments I experienced with bad movies this decade…
8 – THE EMOJI MOVIE
Yes, the movie that everyone in 2017 agreed was terrible is also a low-ranking entry on this list, but that should not undermine its truly horrific nature (and it should also prepare you for the movies to come on this list).
This was Sony Pictures (a studio that has three entries on this list alone) at its most cynical, and that’s saying a lot about Sony Pictures; it took a zeitgeisty trend such as emojis and turned them into the most uninspired, laziest, pandering dreck that no parent should force their kids to watch under any circumstances. It was a massive embarrassment that rightfully earned the #1 spot on our Worst Of list that year.
I think we all know which emoji we would use to describe this utter turd of a movie (hint: it’s voiced by Sir Patrick Stewart)…
7 – PAN
People like to dog on Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland (and rightfully so), but I guarantee those same people would be even harsher to Joe Wright’s insultingly nonsensical origin tale for Peter Pan – at least, they would if anyone actually saw it.
Mercifully, it bombed at the box office – $128 million worldwide against a $150 million budget – although those unfortunate enough to see it experienced an expensive fever dream, bungling an intriguing premise with insane imagery, embarrassing over-acting by the likes of Hugh Jackman and Garret Hedlund, and a complete disregard for the timeless appeal of J.M. Barrie’s classic story.
It left me feeling rather angry as well as completely confused about what they were doing to this character and the world of Neverland, and that’s before people randomly start singing Nirvana out of nowhere…
6 – TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON
It is now widely accepted that Michael Bay’s Transformers movies are utter robo-shite, but the third one is not only the worst one out of the lot, but it’s also the most forgettable.
With some of the others, you can single out at least one thing about their badness, whether it’s the racist Twins from the second one or the fact that Anthony Hopkins stops in the middle of a dramatic monologue to talk about Mark Wahlberg’s sex life in the fifth movie, but the third? There is barely anything to it that sticks out other than just an endless parade of incomprehensible imagery and some of the most irritating human characters the series has produced (Deep Wang, anyone?). It’s unbearable to witness, but even harder to remember, and that’s why it ranks as the worst in an already dire film franchise.
In the words of Juno, “it sucks, it’s just noise”…
5 – THE LAST AIRBENDER
Although in recent years M. Night Shyamalan has crawled back into people’s good books (just about), some will understandably still find it hard to forgive him for the complete disaster that was this adaptation of the hit Nickelodeon cartoon series.
If you’ve ever seen the show Avatar: The Last Airbender then you will know that there is an entire world of creativity and passion that could have easily been translated into live-action film, but Shyamalan took none of that and instead turned beloved characters into blank-faced bores, incredible action into laughably bad CGI fests, and deep mythology into lengthy exposition scenes that will bore even the biggest fan of the show.
It was recently announced that Netflix is developing a new live-action version of the series – as long as they keep Shyamalan far away from it, then maybe it has a chance…
4 – HEAD FULL OF HONEY
This one will be brief, because everything I could possibly say about how awful this movie is, from its incompetent filmmaking to its disgusting treatment of old-age dementia, has already been talked about in this year’s Worst Of list.
Just know that it is a horrendous movie that anybody who’s ever experienced first-hand what it’s like to have someone succumb to dementia should never see, and that it’s an utter catastrophe on a filmmaking level that it’s hard to believe it comes from an actor like Til Schweiger, who has done and will do better things than this.
If you want more on this film, just check out this year’s Worst Of list, because I feel like I’ve said everything I can about it right there…
3 – DIANA
A reject from Lifetime’s line of original movies that had no business being made, let alone released theatrically, this insultingly simplified look at the later life of Diana, Princess of Wales was a misguided and cloying attempt to show the humanity behind the tragic public figure, but ended up making the late former royal look like a spiteful and inhumane psychopath that rivals Twilight’s Bella Swan in terms of unlikability.
Naomi Watts is certainly trying in the lead part, but all her efforts are wasted in a script that gives her a couple of ill-defined romances where you are rooting for neither party, some of the decade’s most heinous dialogue, and filmmaking that feels alarmingly lazy and cheap considering the amount of talent involved. It did nothing but tarnish the legacy of a beloved figure who was taken from us way too soon, which I remember left me feeling really mad at a film for the first time in many years at that point.
In a way, I feel that it should be talked about more than it is, just to show budding filmmakers how not to write a biopic, but that would mean more people watching it than it deserves…
2 – STATUS UPDATE
Of all the films on this list – even the one that ranks above this movie – Status Update left me feeling the angriest.
This was for many reasons, from its complete lack of empathy towards characters who are written as vapid stereotypes or unlikeable douchebags, to its cringe-worthy pandering to millennials with its constant references to social media and other zeitgeisty topics, to the fact that absolutely nothing in this plot made any sense nor did it ever seem like it was going to. I remember sitting there watching it in utter disbelief that there were people out there who had made something so intolerable that it legitimately made me want to throw something at the screen, just to make it shut the hell up.
To give you an idea of how awful this movie was, I saw it on the same day that I saw both The 15:17 to Paris and Fifty Shades Freed; all of them made my list that year, but out of that one solitary day the least-awful one was Fifty Shades Freed. Yup, THAT bad…
1 – GRIMSBY
I still get Vietnam flashbacks about this film. There are nights when mere images from this film randomly pop into my head, and I do my best to shake them off but try as I might they still linger, and my subconscious is forced to remember something that I am fully convinced came from the pits of Hell.
This movie is not only the worst of the decade, but it is seriously one of the worst movies that I have ever seen. I’ve thought about it long and hard since placing this at #1 in 2016, but I can say without a shred of doubt that this was by far the toughest theatrical experience I have ever gone through, because half the time I had to shield my eyes from the absolute horrendousness being laid out in front of me, and I almost considered walking out because I realized that it was never going to get better but was only going to get worse and worse, from THAT elephant scene onwards.
It was also the only film that I can remember to completely and utterly break me. As soon as I bolted out of the auditorium I had to collect myself for a good five or ten minutes to let reality catch back up with me, and once it did I had to learn to live with the fact that at one point in my life, I sat through 80 minutes of Sacha Baron Cohen’s worst material play out in such a numbing way that it leaves one speechless once it finally finishes. I remember feeling so utterly broken in every way shape or form, my already-weak confidence shot to pieces and leaving me with very little desire to ever watch a film again. Of course, I quickly got over the latter, but the effects of this movie have left a permanent scratch on my soul, and no matter how hard I scrub it will never wash away.
In a sick way I hope that there is something in the next ten years which ends up being worse than this, because right now I cannot think of something lower that whatever in the name of all that is good and pure this was…
And with that, our retrospective of the decade’s worst films comes to a close. But before we can close the chapter on the 2010s entirely, we must take one final look at the ten best films to emerge from the last ten years. Those were (once again, in chronological order):
- Toy Story 3 (2010)
- Drive (2011)
- Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
- Gravity (2013)
- Calvary (2014)
- Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
- Captain America: Civil War (2016)
- The Disaster Artist (2017)
- Roma (2018)
- The Peanut Butter Falcon (2019)
Which one of these will end up as the greatest film of the decade? Let’s find out how they rank against each other…
10 – CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR
The only MCU entry to feature on this list, the third and what would later turn out to be final entry in the Captain America series of films was, at the time, the biggest achievement that the series had achieved. Here was a film that not only served as a satisfying Cap solo movie, but also a strong ensemble flick with familiar faces such as Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark as well as new arrivals including Black Panther and Spider-Man making their MCU debuts, and featured some of the most visceral and even emotional action of the series to date.
Yet, my choice for that year didn’t seem entirely right. Sure, it was and still is a great movie, but that year had a list that included other films like Paterson, Hell or High Water and Arrival, so in retrospect maybe I shouldn’t have let my inner fan boy get the better of me and put that movie over films which would go on to become Oscar contenders.
Then again, this is my own personal list, so sorry if you don’t agree but I will not apologize for my choice for 2016’s film of the year, nor should I for holding a Marvel movie in the same high standards as a Denis Villeneuve flick…
9 – MOONRISE KINGDOM
It’s been a banner decade for Wes Anderson, between The Grand Budapest Hotel earning wide critical acclaim and several accolades, including four Oscars, and becoming a first-time father in 2016, but his 2012 film Moonrise Kingdom often gets lost in the mix, which I feel is a shame because it’s one of the filmmaker’s sweetest works.
A tale of young love told in Anderson’s signature quirky style, it won me over with its light sense of humour, its eye-opening visuals, and the oodles of charm from its ensemble cast, from Anderson regulars Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman to newcomers like Bruce Willis and Frances McDormand. Some tend to see it as one of his lesser films, or at least the one that many people think of when they imagine a Wes Anderson movie, but I always felt that this was a funny, sad, delightful and underrated film of his that perhaps needs a bit more love.
If nothing else, it did give us the immortal sight of Edward Norton in scout master shorts…
8 – CALVARY
Not many films in 2014 stood out as much as John Michael McDonagh’s follow-up to The Guard, or at least they didn’t leave as much an emotional impact on me.
There was something to McDonagh’s pitch-black moments of comedy mixed in with some truly gut-wrenching scenes that oddly worked for me, and I remember being left an emotional wreck after seeing it because its handling of some pretty heavy themes really struck a chord, far more than even I was expecting them to. This was the same year that Boyhood came out, and while that movie was certainly great on its own terms – it even made it to the #2 spot, just behind this one – this one just felt more engaging on an emotional level.
Plus, I even got a chance to interview McDonagh about the film, which in and of itself was pretty awesome…
7 – THE DISASTER ARTIST
Again, I feel like I let my inner film geek get in the way of my judgement by choosing this as 2017’s top film instead of Get Out (which came in at #2), and if I could wind back the clock I would probably switch both of them around.
Even so, I did find this to be a rather special movie, one that celebrated one of the most popular so-bad-it’s-good films of all time, as well as the incredibly eccentric masterminds behind it. As a massive fan of The Room, it was delightful to see director-star James Franco completely recreate some of the movie’s most memorable moments in full guise as Tommy Wiseau, and if you’ve ever read the book that it is based on – written by The Room co-star and personal friend of Wiseau’s Greg Sestero – then you’ll be just as fascinated with the bizarre journey that led both of them to creating a major milestone in cult cinema.
Say what you will about The Room itself, but there is no denying its cultural impact, and this film celebrates that fact with complete joy…
6 – ROMA
Alfonso Cuarón is the only director to have two films be the #1 movie of their respective years this decade, and his most recent was a visually breath-taking and extremely personal account of a very special person from his own youth.
Told with crisp black-and-white cinematography that Cuarón also provided, the movie’s slow pace and matter-of-fact delivery didn’t exactly sit well with everybody – especially anyone wanting a nice film to cosy up to on its signature platform Netflix – but those with a strong patience and will to let the camera guide them through the world of 70s Mexico City that the filmmaker provides, they were rewarded with a remarkable technical achievement that also hit hard right in the feels, especially as one or two gut-punches of tragedy befell the likeable and well-layered characters.
Although a wondrous film in more ways than one, Roma didn’t end up being the stronger Alfonso Cuarón film on this list…
5 – GRAVITY
Coming right after Roma is Cuarón’s second film of the decade to make our #1 spot, and between the two it is honestly the one I would prefer to re-watch over and over again.
It’s a simple survival story told so beautifully that it transcends the fact that the plot is rather thin; if anything, that works in the film’s favour since it doesn’t get bogged down too hard by needlessly complicated side-quests or too many characters – the duo of Sandra Bullock and George Clooney is more than enough for this kind of story – and just focuses on the situation at hand, complete with breath-taking cinematography and stunning visual effects.
A blockbuster with both brains and brawn, it certainly leaves you feeling lighter than air…
4 – TOY STORY 3
More than ten years after we last left them in Andy’s room, Woody and Buzz and the rest of the gang made their triumphant return in a sequel that made us laugh, cry, and feel all sorts of good feelings inside.
It was as if the series had grown up at the same time as we all did, because this represented the first time that the Toy Story saga truly represented some mature, thoughtful and extremely poignant themes about coming of age and learning to let go of the past (something that Toy Story 4 would later expand on even more). Beyond that, though, it provided us with some of the funniest characters and set-pieces the series has yet to offer, from Michael Keaton’s insecure Ken doll to Mr. Potato Head’s transformation into a tortilla, as well as some of the most memorable moments in Pixar’s entire filmography – seriously, we cannot get that furnace scene out of our heads, no matter how hard we try!
This was a damn fine film to crown as our first #1 film of the decade (and our first overall), and it marked the beginning of a strong ten years of highly sophisticated entertainment…
3 – THE PEANUT BUTTER FALCON
Once again, I shall be brief with this one because there’s not a whole lot left to add about this film that I didn’t already say in this year’s Best Of list.
Maybe it’s because I’m still on a high from how uplifting and wonderful this movie is, but The Peanut Butter Falcon ranks as far up on this list as it does because, unlike a lot of other movies on here, it truly left me feeling so happy and optimistic about life that it simply had to be high-ranking. It was certainly the most overwhelmed I felt watching a standout movie this decade, because not even in the ones above this film have I smiled so consistently throughout, and the beautiful charisma from actors Shia LaBeouf, Dakota Johnson and Zack Gottsagen is so strong that I could not will myself to part from their world once the movie is over.
If you want more on why this movie is so great then please see our summary on the Best Of list for this year – anything else would just be me repeating myself…
2 – DRIVE
Nicolas Winding Refn’s 2011 thriller was a very different kind of Hollywood movie, one that certainly had many mainstream tropes such as the lone hero and the damsel in distress, but went in completely unexpected directions that made it a true standout in that year.
Though he may have been a man of few words, Ryan Gosling’s mysterious Driver quickly became one of the actor’s most iconic roles, right down to that striking scorpion jacket of his, and together with Refn – who picked up the Best Director prize at Cannes that year – they shocked audiences with the film’s brutal violence, unexpected twists and sinister turns by a career-best Albert Brooks, all with an arthouse mentality that a lot of mainstream cinema releases at the time wouldn’t even dare to tackle, lest they intend to risk alienating the widest possible audience.
Oozing with style, sophistication, and a sense of just being so damn cool, Drive was certainly the decade’s most outlandish film – until this next one arrived…
1 – MAD MAX: FURY ROAD
Not even five years on from its 2015 debut, George Miller’s magnum opus is now considered to be one of the greatest action movies of all time, if not the greatest. I tend to agree with those statements, as well as the fact that it is also the defining film of the 2010s.
From the very first second, you’re revved up for an epic unlike any other, one that never lets up in the intensity or the carefully calculated craziness. It has everything from post-apocalyptic cars to cancer-ridden cult followers to electric guitar flamethrowers to a one-armed Charlize Theron screaming in the desert, and all of it is beautifully executed by Miller who, at 74, shows up the many, much younger action filmmakers out there by delivering a pure adrenaline rush of a movie without skipping over the more essential ingredients such as story and character. You completely feel for not just Tom Hardy’s Max Rockatansky, who in typical Mad Max fashion has found himself caught between the insanity of this dystopian future, but also for Theron’s Imperator Furiosa whose earnest mission to liberate a ruthless dictator’s many wives resonates far greater than some of the far less subtle pro-feminist movies released this decade (Black Christmas really ought to have taken a page or two from this movie’s book). It’s a two-hour movie that feels like it goes by in half the time, all because you are left so breathless by the fantastic stunt work, iconic characters, simple but effective storyline, and some of the most colourful cinematography that this decade has offered.
It’s rich in both action and pure entertainment, but its deeper themes of objectification and humanity are what cause it to be truly representative of the last ten years. This has been a decade where sexual harassment has become a trending topic, with powerful figures like Harvey Weinstein crumbling in the wake of #MeToo, something that this film seems strangely prophetic about with its own fat, gross person of power preying on young and beautiful women who are more keen to live their own lives instead of under the current male-dominated patriarchy. Likewise, as we’ve seen politics succumb to controversial topics such as Brexit and nationalism, it’s easy for our empathy to become lost in the blind fanaticism of it all, but again this movie shows – with Nicholas Hoult’s character Nux having his own redemptive arc – that losing sight of who one truly is can be the craziest thing of all.
It’s a poignant film on many other levels, and I’m probably not doing any of them justice in this brief paragraph, but for me it’s the film that I feel most represents the weird, strange and – yes – mad times that we are currently living in, and is by far the best film to emerge this decade…