The JumpCut team are reflecting back on the decade we just waved goodbye to and have come together to vote for their Top 50 films of the last decade. The team each compiled their own list of 50 films and, following a points based system and some spreadsheet wizardy, our ultimate list was created.
We have been sharing our list daily on Twitter this week and we’re proud as punch with its reception so far, especially given that the positions some of the film’s ranked in came as a surprise to many the team.
Below we’ve sectioned our list and you can click to reveal what ended up where. Whilst we know how tempting it is just to jump straight to see what made our #1, we would love for you to have a read through the full list as the team have written a short paragraph or two about each entry and why it deserves to be on our list.
- Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016) – Directed by Taika Waititi
As a Jewish New Zealander of Maori descent, Taika Waititi brings a unique perspective to the film industry. His films are incredibly accessible and Hunt for the Wilderpeople is no exception. Set in New Zealand, the film puts the concept of ‘found family’ at the forefront as delinquent teen Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison) flees from child welfare services with his new foster father Hector (Sam Neill) reluctantly in tow. What starts as a hostile relationship between the two develops into a close father-son bond as they learn to trust and rely on one another.
It’s a heart-warming story shot through with Waititi’s signature witty humour which Dennison, in particular, embodies perfectly. His performance is so naturally funny it seems effortless, which would be a huge feat for any actor, let alone one of his age. – Written by Holly Weaver
- Snowpiercer (2013) – Directed by Bong Joon-ho
With everyone going ga-ga for Parasite in 2019, this is hopefully leading people to discover Bong Joon Ho’s back-catalogue, including Memories of Murder, The Host, Mother and his two films which are mostly in the English language – Snowpiercer and Okja. Snowpiercer is set in the not-too-distant future. In an effort to curb global warming, a chemical was added to the earth’s atmosphere, but it went too far the other way and now the earth is a frozen wasteland. Now all remaining humans on earth are surviving on a train which hurtles around the earth at great speed, powered by an engine maintained by the mysterious Wilford (Ed Harris). A cult has grown up around Wilford, led by Tilda Swinton’s Thatcher-like fanatic Mason. At the back end of the train, the plebs are led by John Hurt’s Gilliam and his seconds Curtis (Chris Evans) and Edgar (Jamie Bell). Octavia Spencer and Parasite’s Song Kang Ho round out the cast. Curtis plans to led the common folk in rebellion all the way to Wilford at the front of the train. This film has it all – extreme violence, absolutely stunning production design and Chris Evans’ best and most surprising performance to date. – Written by Fiona Underhill
- It Follows (2014) – Directed by David Robert Mitchell
Following the story of an evil entity transmitted through sexual intercourse which then proceeds to haunt and brutally kill its victim unless it is transmitted on to another poor soul, this narrative was a step into a new foray in storytelling. Scratch away at the surface and It Follows offers a deep character study and deeper subtext of fear, intimacy and the complexities of sexual experiences. Director David Robert Mitchell serves up a complete package including some memorable jump scares that add to the movie’s tension and feel deserved and less a cheap horror tactic. Maika Monroe in the lead role as likable and relatable Jay soars throughout and watching the moral compass of her character alter as she progresses from manipulated to terrified then to desperate is nuanced and compelling yet all the while remaining relatable.
So, as a horror movie It Follows has much to offer, expertly directed, acted and scored it sits itself on a high pedestal when compared to other horror movies of the past 10 years and is deserved of its place amongst the JumpCut Top 50 movies of the decade. – Written by Chris Murphy
- The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) – Directed by Martin Scorsese
A masterclass in excess from top to bottom. Money, fucking, fucks, cocaine, adderall and more money – Wall Street villainy and corruption has never been so seductive, especially in the foolproof hands of DiCaprio and Scorsese. – Written by Cameron Frew
- Paterson (2016) – Directed by Jim Jarmusch
Jim Jarmusch’s soulful day in the life drama is every bit as wholesome as it is masterful. Showcasing a splendidly earnest turn from current Hollywood darling Adam Driver, it’s not hard to fall in love with how Jarmusch / Driver frame the intimacy of mundane life. Be it the conversations we overhear or the world passing us by in an instant, every day in Paterson’s life feels like a warm contemplative hug. “There’s always another day, right?”. – Written by Sam Comrie
- A Star Is Born (2018) – Directed by Bradley Cooper
Despite this being the fourth incarnation of the story, Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut still manages to offer something fresh and modern. Largely thanks to the powerhouse performance from Lady Gaga, who is undoubtedly the star of this film. The onscreen chemistry between Gaga and Cooper absolutely sizzles, and even through the tumultuous stages of their relationship, they are never anything less than completely believable. For a first directorial effort, Cooper’s film is remarkably accomplished. The stage scenes in particular are expertly directed and thrilling to watch. Of course, the film wouldn’t be the same without the incredible music, and ‘Shallow’ remains the standout. Just try not to get chills watching Gaga perform it on stage for the first time! – Written by Sarah Buddery
- Marriage Story (2019) – Directed by Noah Baumbach
It says a lot about Marriage Story that it features on this list even though it was only released by Netflix last month. As its name suggests, Noah Baumbach’s drama is about more than just a couple separating. It’s about the love that once was, and the love that remains despite the cold, unforgiving divorce process. Charlie (Adam Driver) and Nicole (Scarlett Johansson) are no longer in love, but their affection for each other as parents to their son and as flawed human beings still burns bright, and this is what makes the film so moving. Driver and Johansson give career-defining performances, bringing a genuineness to the staged, theatrical nature of divorce. The silent moments that pass between them are as striking as their heated arguments, showing that a single look can express as much as words. Randy Newman’s score for the film is without a doubt one of the best of 2019, if not the decade. It’s warm but full of melancholic longing, like the bittersweet feeling of an embrace that ends too soon. Newman captures the essence of Charlie and Nicole’s relationship so well that you’d think he’d written the film himself.
Oh, and if all of this wasn’t reason enough to induct this film into JumpCut’s Top 50, then it should also be mentioned that in one scene Adam Driver sings ‘Being Alive’ from Company. Enough said! – Written by Holly Weaver
- The Babadook (2014) – Directed by Jennifer Kent
On the surface, Jennifer Kent’s debut outing with The Babadook is merely another run-of-the-mill paranormal scare-fest. But upon further examination, Kent’s nightmarish portrayal of maternal grief treads more artistic territory. Undeniably an ode to the German expressionist horror, detected by visual cues in the monster’s ghoulish appearance (the slenderness of Nosferatu, the top hat of Dr. Caligari), The Babadook takes conventions of classical horror cinema and infuses contemporary anxieties. It tells the claustrophobic story of a grief-struck mother and her struggles with her erratic younger son following the death of her husband, a source of trauma that manifests into the haunting presence of The Babadook. The monster, then, is a demonic, perhaps Freudian, metaphor for internalised trauma – a subconscious fabrication that the mother and son have conjured to deal with the death of a loved one. As much as “You can’t get rid of the Babadook”, these characters cannot get rid of the sorrow that they feel. Like reality, we may find it in ourselves to accept and adapt to loss, but the inner torment that we feel will always remain. A timeless horror tale that fails to attract the widespread adoration it deserves. – Written by Corey Hughes
- You Were Never Really Here (2017) – Directed by Lynne Ramsay
Lynne Ramsay’s You Were Never Really Here speaks to a niche that’s always felt forbidding. It scopes the mentality of one hired gun, Joe (Joaquin Phoenix), who is also a veteran that lives with tormenting post-traumatic stress that comes in waves. He is hired by a private detective to rescue a senator’s daughter (Ekaterina Samsonov) from a sex trafficking ring, a task that brings him to his sanity’s edge. Yet, Ramsay’s film is a tight, nuanced portrait of this man’s relinquished realities told beautifully. He cares for his elderly mother with whom he shares a home. The next minute he is hammering down truly evil people. Ramsay wastes no time in alluding to the things that torment Joe, sizing his traumas in little sweet moments of silence, demonstrated all the more by Phoenix in one of his best performances to date. Jonny Greenwood’s searing score pushes things further. Ramsay’s film is tried and true, cementing an excellence that ruminates on the grim tenacity of oneself. – Written by Jessica Pena
- Prisoners (2013) – Directed by Denis Villeneuve
The big takeaway from Villeneuve’s slow-moving, excruciating nightmare isn’t just the pitch-perfect direction and blistering cast – it’s Jóhann Jóhannsson’s harrowing score. Tragedy practically sings from its bitter, wintery landscape. – Written by Cameron Frew
- The Raid (2011) – Directed by Gareth Evans
Welsh-born Gareth Evans cut his directorial teeth on this 2011 film, set in Indonesia, which sees rookie member of the special forces Rama (Iko Uwais) being left behind as his troop raid a tower block which is the home of drug lord Tama and his gang. Tama is given warning of the raid and mobilises all of the gangsters, drug dealers and general villains to murder the police, in time trapping them all on the seventh floor of the building. Rama then has to fight his way through the building, room by room and floor by floor, to carry out the mission.
Subtlety of character development and social commentary are not The Raid’s thing. Instead it concentrates on audacious set-piece after audacious set-piece of gloriously choreographed, brutal violence. In places the fighting in almost balletic, with Rama round-housing, punching and throttling his way through an army of villains carrying a variety of weapons. Evans and cinematographer Matt Flannery manage to bring to life some of the most impressive fight scenes to grace the screen in what was a landmark action film. – Written by Abbie Eales
- Room (2015) – Directed by Lenny Abrahamson
Room was one of 2015’s surprise hits as this quiet indie film broke into the mainstream and justifiably earned itself numerous award nominations. As harrowing as it is uplifting, Room tells the story of a young mother and her son being held captive for years and much of the acclaim was centred around its central performances from Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay. Tremblay was a mere 8 years old at the time of filming, but his inexperience doesn’t come across as he delivers a stunning performance. The innocence of youth trying to live a normal life despite the crushing reality around him is played with a heart-breaking tenderness. The star of the show, though, is the Oscar-winning Brie Larson who gave 2015’s best performance by some distance. Larson is astounding in the role, balancing the weight of keeping her son happy with losing her battle with her personal well-being as she strives for any semblance of hope in their dire situation. Larson had been on the map for a while, but Room is what elevated her to superstar level, and rightfully so. Watching Room isn’t easy; it’s emotional, it’s intense, it’s gut-wrenching, but it is also completely beautiful. Just don’t forget the tissues. – Written by Rhys Bowen-Jones
- Black Swan (2010) – Directed by Darren Aronofsky
Darren Aronofsky, who has acquired a reputation for his eagerness to confound and divide mainstream audiences, opened the decade with Black Swan; a darkly-twisted tale of jealousy, romance and obsession. Starring Natalie Portman in the leading role, Black Swan is somewhat of a coming-of-age story set against the cut-throat profession of mesmeric ballet. Yet the malevolence that lurks underneath results in a profound psychosexual-thriller experience, a juxtaposition in genre that has often been neglected in Hollywood. It is nowhere near as intentionally divisive as mother!, nor as thematically arduous as Requiem for a Dream, and in that sense Black Swan is perhaps Aronofsky’s most accessible art-house blockbuster. The performances on display (from both Portman and co-star Mila Kunis), and the sheer authorial confidence of it all was worth the price of admission alone. Some may even call it perfection. – Written by Corey Hughes
- The Avengers (2012) – Directed by Joss Whedon
After establishing the roots of a growing universe with 2008’s Iron Man, the Marvel Cinematic Universe spent the next four years in a crescendo towards the eagerly anticipated release of superhero ensemble, The Avengers. Directed with effervescent passion by Joss Whedon, fans of Marvel comics held their breath awaiting some of their favourite heroes to unite on the big screen in a huge budget production. The Avengers delivered on all levels and exceeded expectations of what was possible in a comic book universe. It became a benchmark, not only the superhero genre but in box office cinema in general. Seeing each of these characters lovingly replicated from the pages of the comic book world had fans chomping at the bit to see it on release and it made big money as a result, cementing the grip on box office statistics that Marvel still holds onto today. It was the movie we wished and hoped for as youngsters and were rewarded with a considerate and wonderfully exciting experience that, on reflection, was a mere taste of the wonder that we would come to expect in future efforts from the Marvel franchise. – Written by Chris Murphy
- Avengers: Infinity War – Directed by Joe Russo and Anthony Russo
For a film that ends on such a downer, Avengers: Infinity War is a lot of fun. The joy of Infinity War is seeing these characters who we’ve known and loved for years meet up and work together to fight against almost impossible odds. There’s Tony Stark and Peter Parker meeting the Guardians of the Galaxy, Thor teaming up with Rocket and Groot, and Bruce Banner finally reuniting with the Avengers – new and old ones. There are so many moving parts to Infinity War, with different groups of characters off doing different things, but it never feels arduous and each group is as entertaining as the last. There are so many memorable moments here, from the crowd-pleasing arrival of Thor in Wakanda, to the heart-wrenching. Poor Gamora. The whole MCU had been building towards Infinity War, and it did not disappoint. – Written by Elena Morgan
- The Florida Project (2017) – Directed by Sean Baker
Sean Baker’s 2017 opus The Florida Project follows 6-year-old Moonee (Brooklynn Prince) for one summer in her life, as spent in The Magic Castle Inn & Suites in Kissimmee, Florida. The Magic Castle is a gaudily painted purple motel, sitting just one town over from Disney’s very own magic kingdom. The divide between Moonee’s home and the wonderful magical world of Disney could not be wider. Motel Caretaker-Manager Bobby (Willem Dafoe) is the constant in Moonee’s chaotic life with her young mother Halley (Bria Vinaite). While Halley struggles to keep her and her daughter clothed, fed and with a roof over their heads she begins to go to increasing lengths to make ends meet. Meanwhile, Bobby is the very much earthbound fairy-Godfather, quietly watching over Moonee and her friends despite their pranks they play on him and flouting of the rules of the motel.
Shot largely from Moonee’s perspective (even down to the camera largely being low to the ground) what could have been a very bleak view of a child in poverty becomes and almost magical tale as she and her friends bond and invent their own protection from the harsh world around them. Raw, real and magical, The Florida Project managed to bring some colour and joy to the darkest side of society. – Written by Abbie Eales
- Inside Llewyn Davis (2013) – Directed by Ethan Coen and Joel Coen
With such an extraordinary back-catalogue of films in their oeuvre, the Coens’ contributions to cinema come range from the banal (A Serious Man) to the outlandish (Burn After Reading). Yet these two extremes meet in the middle with perhaps their most endearing work, their 2013 release Inside Llewyn Davis. There is a certain mundanity to it, both visually with its bleak grey palette and thematically with its introverted central character singing melancholic folk tales in crowded bars – yet it is also sweet and funny; a trademark Coens’ juxtaposition. Terrifically acted by Oscar Isaac and Carey Mulligan (with a wonderful cameo by Adam Driver), stunningly shot, and melancholically guided by a collection of heart-aching but personal folk tracks – Inside Llewyn Davis might very well be the Coens’ best. – Written by Corey Hughes
- Hereditary (2018) – Directed by Ari Aster
Ari Aster’s critically acclaimed debut doesn’t just sting with its brand of nightmare fuel, but more so in its anxiety laden observation of dysfunctional families. The manifestation of guilt, trauma and resentment bleeds from every crevice of the Graham family home. Long before the much discussed climax arrives, Toni Collette and co. deliver outstanding performances that add another layer of dirt to your uncomfort as they descend into both physical and mental madness. An essential addition to the recent movement of modern horror. – Written by Sam Comrie
- Interstellar (2014) – Directed by Christopher Nolan
People have long looked to the stars for answers about ourselves, but few films have focused on what those journeys make us feel. With Interstellar, Christopher Nolan created a space epic that is constantly looking inward; Matthew McConaughey’s Cooper might be light years away from Earth, but his heart is stuck there. While some may dismiss this film as over-sentimental and saccharine, its meditations on love, sacrifice, and hope have not diminished in importance. According to Interstellar, love is the only thing that matters at the end of the known universe. It’s a message of compassion and hope that sets it far above your standard sci-fi and asserts itself as one of the most essential films of the decade. – Written by Jeff Zoldy
- Ad Astra (2019) – Directed by James Gray
As you go forth and fly – to the stars – through James Gray’s endless void, time will often appear to stop. The beauty and grandeur of Ad Astra knows little bounds, complimented by Brad Pitt’s pure movie star charisma and Max Richter’s echoing, enchanting composition. Sit back and bask in the wonder it evokes. – Written by Cameron Frew
- Moana (2016) – Directed by Ron Clements and John Musker
In a decade defined by Disney domination, Moana stood out as being one of the company’s most unique stories. Set in a Polynesian village, the film follows Moana as she is chosen by the ocean to return a relic to the goddess Te Fiti with the help of the demigod Maui. Following in the footsteps of Frozen , Moana is one of the few Disney princesses who doesn’t have a love interest, and whose journey is about herself and the well-being of her people. Her story shines a light on aspects of a culture that most Western audiences likely know little about, which makes her a vital addition to Disney’s roster of predominantly white European princesses.
In addition to its cultural significance, Moana features some of the best animation and visual effects ever seen in a Disney film, as well as a distinctive soundtrack (written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Mark Mancina and Opetaia Foa’i) which features song lyrics written in multiple Polynesian languages. Highlighting non-English languages, as well as making appropriate casting choices to reflect the culture represented onscreen, is an important step in making these Disney films truly authentic. – Written by Holly Weaver
- Gone Girl (2014) – Directed by David Fincher
David Fincher has a solid track record of ventures into studying the darker side of human nature and Gone Girl is no different as he dissects a troublesome and dysfunctional American marriage.
The narrative centres around Rosamund Pike’s, Amy Dunne as she seeks revenge in the harshest way imaginable, unleashing an intricately planned system of events upon her adulterous husband Nick (Ben Affleck).
After disappearing and framing her husband for her murder, Fincher allows insight into the arc of Pike’s character beautifully. She is cruel and calculating, always one step ahead of her bumbling husband. Viewers sympathies shift throughout as characters change and flesh is added to their bones as the narrative unfolds. It is spectacular to watch as we witness the depth Amy is willing to go to ensure she is successful with her plan and when she is faced with obstacles that may derail them, for example a wonderfully oblivious Neil Patrick Harris, she deals with them.
An impeccably directed movie that sees the cast at their peak, all working away from typically associated type casting. It is Pike though who is the movie’s MVP, a powerhouse of dark humour and cruelty. She stands out as one of the greatest big bads committed to film. These wonderfully acted characters combined with Fincher’s trademark quality direction along with a dark dollop of humour deliver a thriller that delivers a tense and incredibly clever journey. – Written by Chris Murphy
- Paddington 2 (2017) – Directed by Paul King
If you look up the definition of ‘wholesome’ in the dictionary, you’ll find Paddington 2 there in all its glory. As the sequel to the critically-acclaimed Paddington (2014), it had a lot to live up to and writer/director Paul King more than delivered.
Paddington 2 has all the heart of the first film, and then some. As if his close shave with the taxidermist wasn’t traumatic enough, this time our little friend from Darkest Peru finds himself in prison after being wrongly accused of stealing a pop-up book that he had wanted to buy for Aunt Lucy. But in true Paddington fashion he makes the most of his time in jail, changing the lives of his fellow inmates one marmalade sandwich at a time. Of course, he drops nuggets of wisdom along the way, the greatest of which is: “If we’re kind and polite, the world will be right.” Has a sweeter statement ever been uttered onscreen? Probably not.
As much as we all adore Paddington, the real scene-stealer of this film is Hugh Grant’s thespian villain Phoenix Buchanan. He’s a caricature of a theatre actor, extremely melodramatic and egotistical, but it’s hard to hate him when you’re too busy laughing at him and his antics.
It’s unsurprising that Paddington 2 currently holds the highest approval rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, sitting pretty at 100% with 237 reviews. It’s going to take a lot for another film to overtake something so enjoyable, uplifting, and universally beloved. – Written by Holly Weaver
- Her (2013) – Directed by Spike Jonze
In a decade dominated by technology, Spike Jonze subverted the traditions of the romance genre with this beautifully tragic, guy-meets-gadget love story. A film is only ever as good as its script, and with Her we are treated to one of the most carefully crafted, most moving screenplays in recent memory, resulting in a film so poignant and so raw that you can’t help but feel every ounce of emotion on screen.- Written by Jakob Barnes
- Nightcrawler (2014) – Directed by Dan Gilroy
Jake Gyllenhaal, one of the most chameleonic actors working in Hollywood today, stars as Lou Bloom, an ambitious petty thief who stumbles upon an accident and witnesses the first reporters at the scene recording the footage in bid to sell to News channels. Armed with his camera and police scanner, Lou embarks on his own quest to be the first arrive to events, realising the more macabre the footage the more it presents the opportunity to satiate his entrepreneurial values. Bloom’s character, a chip off the Travis Bickle block, is devoid of morals as he ventures into the realm of psychopathy often, not showing empathy for those injured or in need, even when he is the culprit. It is Gyllenhaal that elevates this movie above all else. He is a sinewy man that would seemingly sell his soul to gain power over others. His delusion evokes pity and whilst he is unlikable it is difficult to not feel sad for Bloom – a testament to Gyllenhaal’s acting and the tight script from writer/director Dan Gilroy. As a neo noir with a central character that steers well away from usual expectations of heroism, in fact he is the antithesis of heroic, Gilroy serves up a stark and unforgiving look at the under belly of extreme journalism and ambition. – Written by Chris Murphy
- First Man (2018) – Directed by Damien Chazelle
Considering Damien Chazelle only has 4 directorial efforts to his name, the fact he has multiple entries in this list is quite an achievement (spoiler alert). Hot off his Almost-Best-Picture-Winning effort, La La Land, Chazelle turned his musically influenced and unique brand of filmmaking to a biopic about the, ahem, first man to set foot on the moon. You may question the credentials considering his previous efforts, but Chazelle’s style suits the film perfectly, holding back his more stylish moves in the first half before unleashing them in the second as the film leaves the atmosphere and becomes something truly special. Ryan Gosling’s performance as Neil Armstrong is criminally underrated as he delivers a quiet, reflective performance that contrasts terrifically against Claire Foy’s Janet Armstrong, Neil’s first wife. Foy delivers a firecracker of a performance, seemingly the only one speaking logical sense in a sea of data-spewing scientists. The film is constantly building towards the defining moment and Chazelle delivers the long-awaited moment with aplomb, forgoing the 16mm and 35mm film for much of the scenes on Earth for the hyper, crystal clear 70mm IMAX film for the Moon sequence which gives the scene the grandeur it truly deserves. I’m not sure I’ll ever forgive the Academy for snubbing First Man for so many of its deserved nominations, particularly Justin Hurwitz’s phenomenal score, but the JumpCut Online team picked up their slack and rewarded First Man with a truckload of wins at our own awards show, The Odysseys. – Written by Rhys Bowen-Jones
- BlacKkKlansman (2018) – Directed by Spike Lee
With BlacKkKlansman, Spike Lee tells the remarkable tale base on a based-on-a-true-story of black police officer who goes undercover with the KKK in 1970s Colorado. It features John David Washington (son of Denzel) in an utterly charming, star-making turn as Ron Stallworth, while Adam Driver brings depth to the role of Flip, the police officer tasked with playing the face of Ron Stallworth for in-person meetings with the KKK. It’s an angry but significantly more mainstream piece for Lee, who elegantly links together the Jim Crow era, civil rights of the 1970s, and the present day. He creates an uninterrupted thread of injustice and oppression for black Americans that shows how little things have changed, ending with a sobering montage of images from the tragic neo-Nazi marches in Charlottesville that is tonally jarring but deeply impactful. Does BlacKkKlansman celebrate a police force that it should perhaps be looking at more critically? Sure. Does some of its political commentary, particularly involving the white power movement finding a home in the White House, feel a little on the nose? Unequivocally. But BlacKkKlansman is nonetheless a powerful film that forces audiences to confront the malignant racism that exists barely under the surface for most of society not only in the 1970s, but today. And not for nothing, but Harry Belafonte as Jerome and Topher Grace as David Duke have never been better. – Written by Audrey Fox
- Moonlight (2016) – Directed by Barry Jenkins
It seems Barry Jenkins Oscar win for the sublime drama Moonlight might forever be overshadowed by that moment when Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty read out the wrong name and erroneously gave La La Land the 2016 Best Picture trophy. However, it will always be remembered, when so many other Oscar winners disappear in the popular memory.
A devastating drama following the story of Chiron, (played in the three chapters of his life by Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, and Trevante Rhodes) a gay, African-American living in poverty in Miami, Moonlight managed to bring an under-represented tale to the screen in transcendent style.
The story is one that might be unfamiliar to many viewers, with Chiron struggling to come to terms with his sexuality in an environment which positively rewards toxic masculinity. He goes from a bullied boy who is by turns smothered and neglected by his drug addict mother (an unforgettable performance by Naomie Harris) to being spotted by local drug dealer Jean (Mahershala Ali). Jean becomes Chiron’s surrogate father of sorts, teaching him to swim and offering some touching moments in what could otherwise have been a very bleak tale. However as Chiron struggles to hide his sexuality his becomes embroiled in some increasingly dangerous situations.
The script, acting, cinematography, sound and direction all come together to make this not only seem a very real experience, but one put together with such visual style and panache it is truly a work of art. – Written by Abbie Eales
- Call Me By Your Name (2017) – Directed by Luca Guadagnino
Luca Guadagnino’s sultry Italian 1980s Summer romance is a treat for the senses. Timothee Chalamet and Armie Hammer fall in love against a backdrop of peach orchards, rustic water troughs used as plunge pools, bike rides through the countryside and a melody of Elio’s piano-playing interspersed with Sufjan Stevens’ melancholic score. Chalamet gives an astonishing performance which rightly earned him an Oscar nomination – he absolutely convincingly plays a 17 year old with all the good and bad that entails – he veers wildly in his emotions from cocky confidence to intense vulnerability, sometimes within the same scene. Chalamet also brings interesting and surprising physicality to the role, with his body language constantly communicating his internal turmoil. Hammer’s performance shifts across the arc of the film, from American arrogance and swagger at the start to being completely undone and unhinged by the young man he falls for. This film rewards multiple viewings, as each frame is a gift. There will always be something new to discover. – Written by Fiona Underhill
- Sicario (2015) – Directed by Denis Villeneuve
Following the fiendish tension of both Prisoners and Enemy, Denis Villeneuve served us a blistering look at the modern war on drugs with Sicario, led by fabulous performances from Emily Blunt, Benicio del Toro and Josh Brolin. This film is an unflinching and unflattering look at U.S. drug policy and the government’s operations along the border rendered as a brutal and methodical stripping away of idealism. Simply put, it’s tense as hell, and features one of the most realistically horrifying dinner scenes ever put to film. And the worst part about it? For those involved, it’s just another day at the office. In the world of Sicario, as in our own, violence is just business. – Written by Jeff Zoldy
- The Shape of Water (2017) – Directed by Guillermo del Toro
Guillermo del Toro’s Best Picture winner is a poignant, brilliant fairytale that embarks on a remarkable narrative of love and acceptance. Set in the 1960s, Elisa (Sally Hawkins), a mute cleaner working at a restricted government facility, comes upon a peculiar creature kept under official experiment, one that is as curious of her as she is of the amphibian. They soon fall in love. Through del Toro’s affection and devotion to the folklore of his characters the script frames a beautiful understanding between this creature and Elisa, a woman that has for the majority of her life felt incomplete and dissatisfied with social prejudices against her and those around her. As the persistency of the government and big, bad guy Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon) threaten Elisa and the creature’s life, the film takes a dive into more exhilarating, scathing turns that satisfy in the end. At the heart of del Toro’s film is an outstanding experience that is impassioned and truly one and only.
With robust, sharp supporting performances from both Richard Jenkins and Octavia Spencer as Elisa’s close friends, there are even more technical adorations attached to this film. The gloomy aesthetic is dipped in wonderful dark colours and cinematography from Dan Laustsen and production design work. Perhaps a component just as lasting as the direction of the film is the wonderful score by Oscar winner Alexandre Desplat, which gives itself wholeheartedly to this beautiful film. The Shape of Water is an instant classic. – Written by Jessica Pena
- Phantom Thread (2018) – Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson
Apparently marking the last screen performance for Daniel Day-Lewis as he has chosen to retire from acting, Phantom Thread is quite the curtain call if that is the case. The performance from Day-Lewis is arguably one of the finest of his career, and it is simply a joy to watch him as the meticulous Reynolds Woodcock. Watching him spar with Lesley Manville is absolutely one of the best things about this film, and the pair have an unbeatable dynamic. Manville‘s wry and cutting comebacks will provide meme material for the next decade and beyond! Vicky Krieps as Alma is also excellent as Woodcock’s muse and lover, and her career should be one to watch with interest. With sumptuous costumes, decadent production design and a deliciously wicked, fetishistic undertone, Phantom Thread is a slow-burn masterpiece that really gets under your skin. – Written by Sarah Buddery
- Avengers: Endgame (2019) – Directed by Joe Russo and Anthony Russo
What more can you say about Endgame? This was the event of a generation, the end of an era, and became officially the biggest film ever made to the tune of $2.8 billion at the Box Office. The hype surrounding this film was like nothing we’d ever seen in Hollywood after that ending in Infinity War. The entire world was waiting to see what happened next, and it seemed the expectations would prove too big for brothers Anthony & Joe Russo to pull off. And what did they do? They did it. They delivered a film that was satisfying for its fans, delivered an emotional gut punch in its climax, and delivered a climactic final battle that gives moments in the spotlight for nearly all of The Avengers. Endgame is an awe-inspiring effort that will serve as a benchmark for this era of cinema that spanned the entire decade. What the Marvel Cinematic Universe achieved will never be repeated again, and Endgame was the perfect final chapter for many of its favourite sons and daughters. If we could nominate a scene for our favourite scene of the decade, Endgame’s Portals sequence is sure to be in the conversation as a scene that was visually stunning, had a gorgeous soundtrack overtop, and is one of the most euphoric moments I have ever experienced in all my years watching films. Avengers? Assemble. – Written by Rhys-Bowen Jones
- Hell or High Water (2016) – Directed by David Mackenzie
Directed by David Mackenzie and written by Taylor Sheridan, 2016’s Texan set Hell or High Water delivers a modern day Western, with echoes of Dog Day Afternoon and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
Chris Pine and Ben Foster play brothers Toby and Tanner Howard who have recently said goodbye to their mother after her long battle with illness. Toby had been caring for her during this time, while brother Tanner had been in jail, trying to balance his caring responsibilities with spending time with the sons from his previous marriage. On their mother’s death it emerges their family ranch in is massive debt and is at threat of being reclaimed by the bank, so the brothers take desperate measures and rob a bank in order to pay the bank.
They soon find themselves with Texas rangers on their tail (played by Jeff Bridges and Gil Birmingham) who push the pair into a corner from which they might not escape.
Hell or High Water blurs the lines between heroes and villains and takes the audience through twists and turns. The beautiful script by Taylor Sheridan (who also featured earlier in the list for his work on Sicario) and stunning cinematography coupled with some career-best performances truly made it stand out as one of the best films of the decade. – Written by Abbie Eales
- The Social Network (2010) – Directed by David Fincher
A generation-defining, ferociously watchable biopic with an icy, assured chill coursing through its veins. Sorkin writes modern history with lightning (alongside Reznor and Ross’ haunting, all-timer score) while Fincher paints the advent of Facebook with bittersweet, no-less empirical stature. – Written by Cameron Frew
- Inception (2010) – Directed by Christopher Nolan
I recently wrote an article outlining why I feel Inception is one of the best films of the decade, so I’m delighted to see it made it here. Christopher Nolan knows how to make a film, and with Inception he made one of the all-time greats. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page, Tom Hardy among many others in an all-star cast, Inception is that rare beast of an intelligent blockbuster. You have the enormous scale of a James Bond feature spliced with a sci-fi story that involves diving into others’ dreams within dreams. On top of these complexities you have a stunningly told story about a doomed relationship between DiCaprio’s Cobb and Marion Cotillard’s Mal, the various physics based quandaries created by the film’s events, spellbinding cinematography from Wally Pfister, and one of the decade’s finest scores from the living legend Hans Zimmer. Inception is a film that I will revisit time and time again, constantly in awe at what Christopher Nolan bestowed unto the world. See you in 2030 when I write a similarly effusive paragraph about Tenet. – Written by Rhys Bowen-Jones
- Dunkirk (2017) – Directed by Christopher Nolan
This is a war film without an enemy. Throughout Dunkirk’s runtime, you never see the Germans that are closing in on all sides. Instead, you’re left with a group of men struggling against the ticking clock. Christopher Nolan has always had a bit of an obsession with time, but it has never been more cleanly or intensely explored than it is in this ferocious World War II film. Dunkirk plays like Saving Private Ryan’s D-Day scene stretched over 107 minutes, a pulse-pounding and brutal race against time from an unseen and seemingly unstoppable enemy. Like many war films, the film ends on a note of hope, but carries a sense of loss and melancholy as well. Even if your enemies are unseen and an immediate threat, your real fight will always be against time. – Written by Jeff Zoldy
- Ex Machina (2014) – Directed by Alex Garland
Alex Garland, better known for his writing prowess, stunned the film world with his directorial debut back in 2015, a film which is widely regarded as a modern classic of the sci-fi genre. And rightly so! With top-drawer performances from Domnhall Gleeson and Oscar Isaac, along with breakout star Alicia Vikander, Ex Machina offers an ingenious concoction of humour, tension and mind-blowing conceptualism. – Written by Jakob Barnes
- Logan (2017) – Directed by James Mangold
Set in a future where mutants and the X-Men are becoming a thing of the past, Logan is a satisfying yet bleak end to a much-loved character. Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine has become synonymous with all things X-Men, having at least had a cameo in all the X-Men films since the first film was released in 2000. While the whole X-Men timeline is very confusing (even when they try and fix it, it doesn’t really work). The one constant was Hugh Jackman as Wolverine.
But with Logan, it was time to say goodbye to not only Jackman but Patrick Stewart’s Professor Charles Xavier. The two of them in this film are brilliant. They are both tired, weary, crotchety old men living out each day as quietly as they can. Enter Dafne Keen’s Laura. This trio of actors give the most thoughtful and amazing performances as these complicated and layered characters. Laura, Charles and Logan are all scarred by their experiences but together they form a family – albeit a dysfunctional and lethal one. With the 15 rating the violence is brutal with metal claws going into skulls and blood splattering everywhere. In Logan, you finally see the full-on berserker rage of the Wolverine. But in amongst all the stabbings and swearing, the characters and their relationships are never forgotten and there’s some truly touching moments. – Written by Elena Morgan
- The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) – Directed by Wes Anderson
Not a single frame is wasted in Wes Anderson’s magnus opus, a meticulously crafted euphoria of authorial expression that feels as delicately handled as Mendl’s drooling pastries. The Grand Budapest Hotel boasts everything wonderful that we have come to expect from Wes Anderson’s incomparable style: the vibrant colours, the swooning symmetry of Robert Yeoman’s camerawork, the tightness of its witty dialogue – but also the sense of unsettlement and melancholy that lurks in the shadows of his otherwise vibrant stories. Retrospectively narrated over three generations by a lobby-boy-turned-concierge of a once-prosperous hotel in a fictitious European country named Zubrowka. The Grand Budapest Hotel likewise looks back upon its legacy: the romances, the camaraderie, the tragedies, and finds solace in the beauty of memory. Endlessly quotable, visually delicious and thematically intricate, it is simply impossible not to fall in love with The Grand Budapest Hotel. – Written by Corey Hughes
- Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) – Directed by Rian Johnson
Although Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi is probably no longer the most controversial Star Wars movie ever made (thanks, The Rise of Skywalker!), it remains the most daring. With this second act of the sequel trilogy, Johnson holds a mirror up to the entire franchise and challenges the audience to consider the imperfections that it reflects. He shows us that the war between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ is not a black-and-white issue, and that even legends like Luke Skywalker are fallible and suffer from their own mistakes. He creates a physical and emotional bond between sworn enemies Rey and Kylo Ren, making them meet in the middle and empathise with each other. Never has a Star Wars film shown so much character depth or been so grounded in realism.
Beyond its narrative brilliance, the film boasts some memorable action sequences. Whether it’s the incredibly detailed and thrilling throne room scene which sees Rey and Kylo team up, or the Battle of Crait where the Resistance faces the First Order among red-and-white salt pans, the film stays loyal to the magic and fun of what came before it.
With The Last Jedi, Johnson took Star Wars to new heights by taking risks. It’s a stylish and thought-provoking instalment that truly stands out among the rest, and it should be remembered as such. – Written by Holly Weaver
9. Blade Runner 2049 (2017) – Directed by Denis Villeneuve
The original Blade Runner, directed by Ridley Scott and released in 1982 bombed at the box office and it took many years for it to be appreciated the sci-fi marvel it truly was. It is lauded contemporarily as a masterpiece of storytelling and a neon noir spectacle way ahead of its time. A sequel was in the works for years, but it took over 30 years to finally get one. What visionary director Denis Villeneuve gave us delivered far beyond expectations and many believe improved upon the original.
Following on from the narrative of the first movie, 2049 is a direct sequel albeit set 30 years from the events of Scott’s opus. Ryan Gosling is fantastic as ‘K’, the lead protagonist and follows his journey in an ‘is he, isn’t he’ quest to find the truth about his replicant status. His story crosses paths with grizzled skin-job, hunter Harrison Ford. The visuals are jaw dropping and offer some of the most beautiful imagery committed to film courtesy of cinematographic maestro Roger Deakins, who deservedly won an Oscar for his efforts. The colour palette of dusty oranges and neon, rain drop transparencies enrich the onscreen events as well as evoking memories of the original. Villeneuve’s impeccable and immaculately represented futuristic dystopia is rich with layered characters, stunning visuals and compelling narrative and the combination results in one of the greatest science fiction movies not just of the decade, but possibly of all time. – Written by Chris Murphy
- Arrival (2016) – Directed by Denis Villeneuve
A master of intelligent, esoterically-enhanced Blockbuster art films, Arrival perhaps epitomises Denis Villeneuve’s ability to redefine the parameters of genre movie-making. Much like Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind, this is a close-encounter sci-fi film that presents the foreign invaders as an aid to humanity. Ted Chiang, who wrote the novella that inspired Villeneuve’s vision, once said that the best science fiction stories are those which use science-fiction’s speculative ideas as a lens to explore the human condition. In Arrival, language is of the essence in this regard – the art of communication, whether it’s visual xenolinguistics (alien language) or human dialogue between countries. There’s a sense of idealism in Villeneuve’s message: that by dropping down our weapons and simply talking to each other we can live in peaceful harmony, but there is enough visual and narrative density to the piece to elevate Arrival into artistry. In my eyes, it is the most cerebral, provocative science-fiction think-piece since Kubrick’s 2001. If that isn’t high praise, I’m not sure what is. – Written by Corey Hughes
- Drive (2011) – Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn
Everything that you need to know about this cult classic has already been articulated by hundreds of superb writers out there. That’s just it with this movie, people are still coming back to it and discovering something new about Nicolas Winding Refn’s palm tree noir. From it’s pulsating ambient score, the gorgeously lensed compositions and Gosling’s stoic performance, Drive is undeniably engraved into cinematic life force of the last decade. – Written by Sam Comrie
- Whiplash (2014) – Directed by Damien Chazelle
What breeds obsession? In Whiplash, it’s the will to go beyond a ‘good job’, the bloody, blister-inducing, psychologically torturous climb to the realms of legends – Chazelle managed it on his first try. – Written by Cameron Frew
- La La Land (2016) – Directed by Damien Chazelle
Damien Chazelle’s sumptuous musical is perhaps most famous for its role in the most shocking Oscars moment of all time, but let’s not forget that this film is an absolute masterclass in so many different aspects of filmmaking. From its colourful cinematography and costume design, to its ambitious direction and inch-perfect sound and set design, La La Land is a meticulous love letter to Hollywood. – Written by Jakob Barnes
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) – Directed by J.J. Abrams
Regardless of your feelings towards the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy as a whole, particularly in the wake of The Rise of Skywalker, the impact of the franchise’s long-awaited return was felt world over. Earning more than $2 billion at the global box office, The Force Awakens reignited a franchise, brought back old fans, created new ones, and became one of the best entries in the entire series. With a stellar young cast at his disposal, JJ Abrams created a film that paid homage to A New Hope while updating it for a 21st century audience. The new characters it gave us – Daisy Ridley’s Rey, John Boyega’s Finn, and Oscar Isaac’s Poe – became fan favourites but it was Kylo Ren who became a Star Wars character for the ages. As a descendant of the fallen Darth Vader, Kylo Ren was as complex and intriguing a character as we’d ever seen in Star Wars, a role that 2019’s golden boy, Adam Driver, played perfectly. Combining these great characters with some of the best action set-pieces the series has ever had, The Force Awakens became a roaring, crowd-pleasing success that more than deserves its spot in our list. – Written by Rhys Bowen-Jones
- Get Out (2017) – Directed by Jordan Peele
Jordan Peele’s 2017 horror Get Out not only managed to give us all a new fear of teacups, but also held a mirror up to issues of contemporary racial discrimination, especially among woke, white liberals.
Daniel Kaluuya plays Chris, an African-American photographer who goes with his Caucasian fiancé Rose (Allison Williams) to stay with her family in upstate New York. As the family begin to spend more time with Chris some increasingly clumsy comments are made about his race, with seemingly throwaway asides such as “By the way, I would have voted for Obama for a third term, if I could. Best President in my lifetime, hands down” soon proving to be the precursor to something far more sinister.
Jordan Peele used his fine comic ear to careful juggle a film which was at once a biting satire, comedic gem and also a disturbing horror.
Made for a teensy $4.5million. it not only went on to gross over $255million but also garnered an impressive critical reception. – Written by Abbie Eales
- Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) – Directed by Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman and Bob Perischetti
This film is absolutely beautiful. As someone who generally only watches mainstream animation from the likes of Disney/Pixar and Dreamworks, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse was unlike anything I’d seen before. The colours are so vibrant, and each character has their own animation style meaning the visual storytelling is just as on point as the script. The whole film feels like a visual comic book with the way there’s words on the screen to emphasise a sound, and there’s moments where the screen is split up into comic panels. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse isn’t just style over substance, the story and its characters are beautiful too. It’s a story about figuring out who you are, leaning on the support around you, and finding your inner strength. Miles is the heart and soul of this film but Peter, Gwen and the rest of the Spider-gang are important too. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is the perfect film; it’s funny, touching and exciting, and it has so much heart. – Written by Elena Morgan
- Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) – Directed by George Miller
Not just one of the defining films of the decade, but arguably one of the greatest action films ever made, Fury Road not only elevated the Mad Max series, but it demonstrated what was possible in terms of stunt work. It’s admirable that the film wastes little time in world building and instead hurtles you headfirst and strapped to a speeding vehicle into the madness. Tom Hardy plays the near mute titular role, but this film is really all about Charlize Theron’s Furiosa; feminist icon and one of the all-time great female screen characters. It’s unique visual style from visionary director George Miller offers a highly saturated depiction of a future hell, with near monochromatic scenes providing some stark contrast. Fury Road is an unforgettable experience and one which brings fresh excitement and joy every time you watch it. What a lovely day indeed! – Written by Sarah Buddery
So there we have it! JumpCut’s official Top 50 of the last decade in all its glory.
Were you surprised by any of our entries? How does our list compare to yours? If you’ve done your own ranking on your site or Letterboxd, but sure to Tweet us a link or pop it in the comments below so we can take a look.