Top 10 Best Years For Film In The 2010s

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A decade full of drama, innovation and laughs, the 2010s have had everything you could ever want when it comes to the movies. But looking back at each year individually, which one stands out above all the rest?

Here’s my ranking for the best years for film in the 2010s.


10. 2018

Best Picture: Green Book

Highest-grossing film: Avengers: Infinity War ($2.04bn)

Every year this decade has been filled with brilliant films, but if there was one year that left us feeling frustrated and uninspired come New Year’s Eve, it was 2018.

Culminating in a soul-destroying awards season that saw the mediocre likes of Bohemian Rhapsody and Green Book fight it out for Best Picture at the Oscars, 2018 never really gave us that stand-out masterpiece that stormed the whole world.

Couple that with a total over-saturation of superhero movies, with no less than eight comic book blockbusters hitting the big screen through the year, and 2018 really felt lacking in originality and ingenuity from January to December.

On the plus side, though, 2018 proved an outstanding year for animation, with the likes of Into The Spider-Verse, Incredibles 2, Ralph Breaks The Internet and more drawing plaudits from around the world, while a number of independent gems including Eighth Grade, Roma and Support The Girls made headlines.

Some of the best: Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, Annihilation, Roma, Incredibles 2, Go-Go Sisters, Support The Girls, Mission: Impossible – Fallout, Eighth Grade, First Man, Ralph Breaks The Internet, The Hate U Give, Love, Simon, Avengers: Infinity War


9. 2015

Best Picture: Spotlight

Highest-grossing film: Star Wars: The Force Awakens ($2.07bn)

Undeniably the year of the blockbuster, 2015 was a bumper year at the box office that saw five films break the $1bn barrier for the very first time in just 12 months.

Unfortunately, while action, superhero and sci-fi movies were all the rage, independent and international films were rather crowded out, with the industry’s focus squarely on the big-budget likes of Avengers: Age of Ultron, Mad Max: Fury Road, Minions and most of all, Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

That resulted in an awards season seriously lacking in quality, with the battle for Best Picture between The Revenant and Spotlight proving to be an uninspiring game of one-downsmanship, with little to really celebrate over the year past.

On the plus side, though, a number of sleeper hits have come to the fore in later years, with the likes of Anomalisa and Me And Earl And The Dying Girl standing as modern cult classics. And of course, the year saw Pixar’s long-awaited return to form with the beloved Inside Out.

Some of the best: Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Inside Out, Me And Earl And The Dying Girl, The Revenant, Spotlight, Kingsman: The Secret Service, Beasts Of No Nation, The Lobster, Amy, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, The Martian, Anomalisa, Mad Max: Fury Road


8. 2011

Best Picture: The Artist

Highest-grossing film: Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows – Part 2 ($1.34bn)

2011 was a strange year for film. On the one hand a disheartening display for general audiences with a stream of disappointing blockbusters, but on the other hand considered one of the most unique years in modern cinema.

On the surface, there really isn’t much to write home about with 2011. Its box office top 10 makes for grim reading, with a slew of dull franchise sequels including Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Kung Fu Panda 2, Twilight: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 and worst of all, Cars 2.

The few bright sparks for general audiences were the strong finale to the Harry Potter saga in The Deathly Hallows – Part 2, as well as the beginning of two legendary franchise resurgences in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol and Rise of The Planet of the Apes.

But with few films capturing the imagination of the world, the year came to an underwhelming conclusion, with an uninspiring awards season that saw countless snubs and undeserving nominations.

In hindsight, though, 2011 was a great year for offbeat, independent and international cinema. Silent French comedy The Artist winning Best Picture was the highlight, but the year produced a number of unique and powerful gems that are still acclaimed to this day, including Drive, We Need To Talk About Kevin, The Intouchables, The Skin I Live In and A Separation.

Some of the best: Drive, We Need To Talk About Kevin, Girl Walk // All Day, The Grey, The Artist, The Intouchables, My Week With Marilyn, Crazy, Stupid, Love., The Help, Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, The Skin I Live In, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows – Part 2, A Separation


7. 2012

Best Picture: Argo

Highest-grossing film: The Avengers ($1.52bn)

Although far from an exhilarating run-in when it came to awards season, 2012 was full of surprises wherever you looked.

The arrival of the unprecedented shared universe came in the shape of Marvel’s The Avengers, there were a number of unique and memorable blockbusters including The Hunger Games, Skyfall and Jack Reacher, and we began to see the first real birth of genre-breaking experimental sci-fi in the form of the excellent Looper, Chronicle, Dredd and Prometheus.

Disney, too, brought us their best animated film in years with the delightful Wreck-It Ralph, and we saw some great coming-of-age films like Moonrise Kingdom and The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, meaning that there was something for anyone to enjoy in 2012.

The awards battle between the less-than-stellar Argo, the dull Lincoln and a number of others put a sour finish to the year, but in hindsight, it’s difficult to look past the diversity and quality that was on display back in 2012.

Some of the best: Django Unchained, Life Of Pi, The Hunger Games, Looper, Dredd, Skyfall, Moonrise Kingdom, The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, Wreck-It Ralph, Kahaani, Chronicle, The Hunt, Prometheus, Searching For Sugar Man, Jack Reacher, The Avengers, Silver Linings Playbook


6. 2013

Best Picture: 12 Years A Slave

Highest-grossing film: Frozen ($1.28bn)

A bumper year for Hollywood that saw two billion-dollar blockbusters in Frozen and Iron Man 3, as well as an awards season jam-packed with quality and excitement that had been missing in previous years.

Although 12 Years A Slave was a runaway winner from the beginning of the season, there was a fervour and passion for the best films of 2013 that the last two years didn’t have, with 9 excellent Best Picture nominees featuring no less than the likes of The Wolf Of Wall Street, Gravity, American Hustle and Dallas Buyers Club.

Couple that with a number of excellent smaller hits in the shape of Prisoners, Begin Again, Blue Jasmine and the independent gem Short Term 12, and everything was rosy for American cinema in 2013.

The year’s only real shortcoming was a lack of great international films. Director Bong Joon-ho’s English-language sci-fi Snowpiercer, the acclaimed Blue Is The Warmest Colour and Jia Zhangke’s A Touch Of Sin aside, there really wasn’t much to shout about beyond American shores – a rare exception for what has been a stunning decade for international cinema.

Some of the best: The Wolf Of Wall Street, Under The Skin, Frozen, Short Term 12, Snowpiercer, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, American Hustle, Blue Jasmine, 12 Years A Slave, Gravity, The Great Gatsby, Prisoners, Begin Again


5. 2010

Best Picture: The King’s Speech

Highest-grossing film: Toy Story 3 ($1.07bn)

Kicking the decade off with a bang, 2010 was an explosive year in every sense of the word. Filled with stunning blockbusters, independent gems, international favourites and even a few modern classics, it’s easily one of the decade’s most memorable years for film.

It brought us Christopher Nolan’s decade-defining Inception, the insightful and deeply relevant The Social Network, the psychotic thriller Black Swan and many, many more now-legendary awards contenders that are considered by many to be some of the very best films of all time.

And beyond the world of awards, 2010 was full of quality, from gorgeous animations like Chico And Rita, The Illusionist and The Secret World Of Arrietty, to genre-breaking surprises including Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Never Let Me Go, Kick-Ass and Easy A.

Although not a gold mine for international classics, the year was so jam-packed with critically-acclaimed masterpieces that it’s difficult to forget, even if it’s already been 10 years since it all happened.

Some of the best: Inception, Senna, The Social Network, Black Swan, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Four Lions, Flipped, 127 Hours, Never Let Me Go, Kick-Ass, Confessions, Toy Story 3, The Secret World Of Arrietty, Easy A, Chico And Rita, The Illusionist, Shutter Island


4. 2019

Best Picture: TBC

Highest-grossing film: Avengers: Endgame ($2.79bn)

Just as 2010 kicked off the decade in style, 2019 is bringing it to an end with a flourish, featuring a wide array of massive blockbusters, stunningly beautiful masterpieces, international gems and high-quality awards contenders.

The polar opposite to the barren wasteland of 2018 in awards season, 2019 has no less than five spectacular films in the running for Best Picture, with Parasite, The Irishman, Marriage Story, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood and 1917 all providing a captivating and inspiring battle to finish the year off in thrilling fashion.

And although the biggest blockbusters of the year haven’t been as stellar as we’ve come to expect, with big box office numbers overshadowing less-than-impressive critical reception for the likes of The Lion King, Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker and Spider-Man: Far From Home, the year has been full of surprises in independent and international spheres.

Parasite leads the charge with its glowing reception all around the world, but the likes of France’s Portrait Of A Lady On Fire and I Lost My Body, as well as an excellent Australian duo in Judy & Punch and The Nightingale have impressed far beyond their borders, while Joker broke all the rules with its exceptional critical acclaim and unprecedented $1bn box office run.

Some of the best: Parasite, Marriage Story, Joker, 1917, The Irishman, Portrait Of A Lady On Fire, Ad Astra, Rocketman, Bombshell, Knives Out, I Lost My Body, Judy, The Farewell, Le Mans ’66, John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, Jojo Rabbit, Judy And Punch, Toy Story 4, Booksmart, The Nightingale


3. 2017

Best Picture: The Shape Of Water

Highest-grossing film: Star Wars: The Last Jedi ($1.33bn)

If the 2010s were a high school class, then 2017 would be the weird, arty kid that nobody notices at the back.

Criminally overlooked in countless decade reviews, 2017 seemed to break every rule in the book, holding off the relentless domination of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with a stunning streak of genre-breaking, almost arthouse blockbusters, including (but not limited to) Blade Runner 2049, Logan, Star Wars: The Last Jedi and War For The Planet Of The Apes.

Even the Oscars went against type by awarding Best Picture to Guillermo del Toro’s dreamlike The Shape Of Water, after a thrilling, wide-open race that featured equally unique contenders like Get Out, Dunkirk and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

Pixar filled hearts with joy across the world with the delightful Coco, Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver gave the year a thumping soundtrack, and a number of brilliant international hits including Thailand’s Bad Genius and Germany’s In The Fade meant that there was immense quality wherever you looked that year.

Although not the decade’s very best year for me, 2017 is like a fine wine. It’s unique, offbeat and misunderstood at first glance, but will absolutely age better than most as we look ahead to the future.

Some of the best: Blade Runner 2049, Dunkirk, Baby Driver, Logan, War For The Planet Of The Apes, Get Out, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Coco, The Shape Of Water, Darkest Hour, Bad Genius, The Big Sick, Lady Bird, When Will You Return, In The Fade, Star Wars: The Last Jedi


2. 2016

Best Picture: Moonlight

Highest-grossing film: Captain America: Civil War ($1.15bn)

When it came to movies, there have been few years in history quite as spectacular as 2016. A stunning display of quality, innovation and passion for cinema at all angles, there’s an endless supply of classics from just this one year.

With two excellent blockbusters in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Captain America: Civil War topping the box office charts, and cult hits like Deadpool, The Nice Guys and 10 Cloverfield Lane wowing audiences across the globe, there was no shortage in accessible, high-quality entertainment in 2016.

But more than that, the year proved the best 12 months for international cinema of the decade, with so many already legendary hits from all around the world including The Handmaiden, Train To Busan, Perfect Strangers, A Silent Voice, Elle and smash anime hit Your Name.

And on top of so many fantastic foreign films, awards season was full of thrills and spills, with a tight, exciting and energising three-way battle for Best Picture between La La Land, Moonlight and Manchester By The Sea, which ended in that legendary mix-up at the moment of the big reveal.

Couple that with a number of stunning surprises that didn’t even pick up Oscars, including Arrival, Jackie, A Monster Calls, Lion, The Edge Of Seventeen and countless more, and it’s clear that 2016 was a stellar year for film, and one we won’t forget for a long, long time.

Some of the best: La La Land, Arrival, The Edge Of Seventeen, Moonlight, Manchester By The Sea, The Handmaiden, Elle, Nocturnal Animals, 10 Cloverfield Lane, Hacksaw Ridge, Deepwater Horizon, Patriots Day, Your Name., Jackie, The Invisible Guest, A Monster Calls, Don’t Breathe, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Captain America: Civil War, Deadpool, The Nice Guys, Eddie The Eagle, Lion, Perfect Strangers, Train To Busan, A Silent Voice


1. 2014

Best Picture: Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Highest-grossing film: Transformers: Age of Extinction ($1.1bn)

The year that had it all. 2014 was an incredible display of cinema right the way from January to December, exhilarating audiences across the globe with spectacular, powerful and unique films from every genre and every country under the sun.

Despite its box office charts being undeservedly topped by Transformers: Age of Extinction, 2014 is cinematic history – undeniably the best year of the decade for film and arguably one of the very best of all time.

The year kicked off with the biggest surprise of all, the now-legendary animation The Lego Movie blowing minds across the world by turning what was a feature-length commercial into one of the decade’s most impressive films. And from there, we never looked back.

From a stellar awards season that featured no less than five modern classics in Boyhood, Interstellar, Whiplash, Gone Girl and Birdman, to unique blockbusters like Guardians Of The Galaxy and Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes, and gorgeous independent gems like Song Of The Sea, Calvary and Clouds Of Sils Maria, 2014 never let up in its delivery of some of modern cinema’s greatest products.

And with a stunning collection of international hits including Force Majeure, Goodnight Mommy, Kumiko, Wild Tales and Two Days, One Night, it was clear that fever for great cinema had spread to every corner of the world in 2014.

Whether it’s great blockbusters, moving biographies, spectacular adventures, exhilarating thrillers, sobering dramas or hilarious comedies you’re looking for, 2014 has everything you could ever imagine and more, and that’s why it’s the best year of the decade for film in my book.

Some of the best: Boyhood, Interstellar, Whiplash, Gone Girl, Birdman, The Lego Movie, John Wick, The Theory Of Everything, Clouds Of Sils Maria, Fury, Calvary, American Sniper, Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes, Force Majeure, Guardians Of The Galaxy, Song Of The Sea, Pride, 99 Homes, Goodnight Mommy, Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter, Two Days, One Night, Nightcrawler, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Wild Tales

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About Author

The Mad Movie Man, AKA Anthony Cullen, writes articles and reviews about movies and the world of cinema. Since January 1st, 2013, he has watched and reviewed a movie every day. This is the blog dedicated to the project: www.madmovieman.com