If you missed the first half of my countdown then you better head back to Page 1!
5. Captain America: Civil War (2016)
There can’t really be any argument that with 21 films spanning the decade grossing over $21billion in total, the box office was owned by Marvel’s Cinematic Universe in the 2010s. We’ve covered the franchise as a whole in our boxset reviews of the three phases, but only one of those films made my top ten – the first film from Phase 3, which saw the Avengers become fractured into two opposing groups led by Captain America and Iron Man. They must also deal with an enemy who unearths secrets that change some of the heroes’ relationships forever. Featuring a huge line-up of characters, including the MCU debuts of Spider-Man and Black Panther, Civil War dispenses with the usual super-villain antagonist and instead pits characters we care about against each other. While there’s never any real chance of them killing each other, the film does have far more emotional engagement than any of the other films and also strikes a great balance between action and comedy, which many of the later Phase 3 films didn’t quite manage.
4. The Martian (2015)
Looking at his output in general, it wasn’t a great decade for Ridley Scott. When he wasn’t single-handedly ruining the Alien franchise with Prometheus and Alien: Covenant, he was getting poor critical reviews for the likes of Robin Hood and Exodus: Gods & Kings. There was one bright moment in his decade of disappointment though, and The Martian is it. The story of a lone astronaut marooned on Mars is pretty implausible but apparently the science that Matt Damon’s character employs to sustain himself is very plausible and helps add a convincing level of realism to the film. I’m no big fan of Damon but this was a real standout performance as he carries almost the entire movie on his own as his character uses his wits and creativity to sustain himself until help arrives. The result is an inspiring and gripping drama with moments that have you punching the air or even welling up as the hero battles his hostile environment but never gives up hope.
3. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)
Ten years after the end of the dismal prequel trilogy, the Star Wars saga came back with a bang under the stewardship of Disney and director J.J. Abrams, as a new group of heroes teams up with old favourites like Han Solo and Chewbacca to track down the missing Luke Skywalker. Some critics would complain that the film is little more than a reboot of A New Hope, but it features so many fantastic moments, emotional twists and lovable characters new and old that any lack of originality can be forgiven. I actually rate The Last Jedi higher in terms of story and character progression, but nothing beat the experience of sitting in a packed cinema watching The Force Awakens bring back the nostalgic warmth of a childhood spent with my intergalactic heroes. Disney has faced a lot of criticism over their handling of the franchise, but I’ll always be thankful to them for giving us this exhilarating return to that amazing galaxy far, far away.
2. Logan (2017)
As I’ve already mentioned, the last decade was dominated by superhero movies, many of which were very enjoyable with their blend of action, comedy and huge special effects sequences. Towards the end of the decade though, that formula was starting to get a bit tiresome and the idea of more mature offerings from the comic book genre was very appealing. 2016’s Deadpool was marketed as the first R-rated superhero movie from a major studio, but when you took away the gratuitous violence and language it was still a pretty straightforward comic book story. The same cannot be said for Hugh Jackman’s final outing as Marvel’s iconic X-Man.
Set in the near future when mutants are almost extinct, the aging Logan is losing his ability to heal and lives a low-profile life looking after the dementia-suffering Professor Xavier, but that all changes when he is asked to accompany a young mutant girl on a dangerous journey. To call Logan simply a superhero film would do it a massive disservice. This stylish, touching and violent road movie features incredible farewell performances from Jackman and Patrick Stewart in a fitting end to the Wolverine story that is exactly what many had been hoping for from this genre. Since then we’ve seen the likes of Joker move into even darker territory and a welcome era of serious stories inspired by comic book characters is now upon us.
1. BlackKKlansman (2018)
One of the most disappointing things about movies this past decade has been the lack of originality. There have been some very enjoyable exceptions of course, but the majority of modern movies are remakes, reboots, sequels or rehashes of older classics. As a result I’ve found myself drawn to movies and TV shows based on true stories over the last few years. As the saying goes, truth is stranger than fiction and there can be few stories stranger than the one told in Spike Lee’s BlackKKlansman, the amazing tale of Ron Stallworth, the only black man ever to join the Ku Klux Klan. Not all of the story is true – this is the movies after all – but having also read the book it was based upon, it’s amazing just how many of the outlandish scenes in the film really did take place.
This is a movie with a serious message, but it is delivered with a humorous edge to go along with the thrills and tension as undercover cop Stallworth attempts to infiltrate the KKK with the assistance of a white colleague, played brilliantly by Adam Driver. It would be a great film based just on the story alone, but Spike Lee has bigger issues to address, and the film’s conclusion drives his point home like a sledgehammer. Stallworth’s amazing story ends with one of the funniest scenes of the decade, which had me crying with laughter in the cinema, but those tears soon turn to ones of rage as we see the final scene of the film segue into the harrowing real-life footage of the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia from 2017. Lee’s message is clear – hatred and intolerance are just as prevalent now as they were in the 70s and America is a broken nation whose leader is as guilty of inciting hatred as any Klan member. It’s a shocking but absolutely necessary message that everyone should heed if they have any desire to make our slowly-disintegrating world a better place. This is a film the whole world should see and that’s why it is my movie of the decade.
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