A lot has happened in the last decade. At the beginning of the 2010s, Netflix had only just started its streaming service. DVDs and Blu-rays still appealed to mainstream consumers (whereas today they’re supported by a lively collector market, myself included). Love it or hate it, everyone was talking about James Cameron’s Avatar, then the biggest box-office earner of all time. George Miller hadn’t yet returned to the post-apocalypse; he was working on a sequel to his animated dancing penguin movie. Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson weren’t yet considered two of the best young actors of our time; they were melting hearts in the Twilight franchise and earning enough to pay their way while making whatever passion project they wanted. The commercial juggernaut that would become the Marvel Cinematic Universe had only two titles in the can. Disney was just a regular conglomerate and not yet the scary, world-dominating force that today owns Twentieth Century-Fox, Lucasfilm, and Marvel. And perhaps most important of all, there were clear lines of demarcation between theatrical releases and other formats. Ten years ago, it was much easier to answer the question, “What is a film?”
Given all that’s changed (and remains in flux) since 2010, it’s particularly difficult to pinpoint the best films released since then. Compiling a Top 10 list for a single year is challenging enough. Looking back at an entire decade is downright tasking. I approached this list not with any idea of objectivity or standard definitions of greatness in mind; I also avoided simply regurgitating my past Top 10 lists by year. After all, my tastes have changed and matured since I was in my 20s and cramming out reviews as an online critic who tried to see everything. While bringing this list together, I’ve discovered that many of my number-one picks from previous years no longer hold such a high place in my mind—and, in some cases, I picked “best films of the decade” that weren’t even on my Top 10 list in their year. Some of them I haven’t even written about, as I didn’t discover them until later.
My sole criterion for this list is the degree to which a film has occupied my thoughts. These are films that I have spent hours thinking about and, in some cases, rewatched multiple times. They have proven themselves through their longevity and my enduring, ever-blossoming love for them. With that, I have avoided any titles that feel like obligatory inclusions based on critical consensus. I have also drawn a distinction between my favorite films and titles that I might consider to be a year’s best. In other words, I went with my gut.
With that in mind, take a look at my list, and share your own list of your favorites from the 2010s below.
10. Anomalisa (2015)
5. Another Year (2010)
1. Zama (2018)
For my list of the Top 25 Films of the Decade, complete with commentary and ten runners up, join Deep Focus Review on Patreon.