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10 Movies from The 2010s That Are Destined To Be Classics

04 February 2016 | Features, Film Lists | by Alexandra Gandra


What defines a movie as classic is a familiar discussion to be had by cinema fans. There isn’t an authoritative definition for it, although many institutions have shared their own insight on the matter, making it a fairly personal opinion in today’s postmodern age. However, some points have been made that were coincidental in opinions.

For once, a film must tear our expectations as viewers, adopting an entirely different approach, or including memorable performances that push boundaries and pull off unexpected but great results. Also mentioned is the fact that the film must be so captivating that it demands to be watched again. It does not, however, have to be a box-office hit. In fact, many of the currently named classic films were unpopular at the time of their release.

Sometimes, a film is ahead of its time, which means it will probably become more impressive and treasured as time passes. In addition to these elements, a film must also be quotable – as incredible performances are usually associated with specific scenes and masterful line delivery.

Although it might be too soon to tell, several films from this demi-decade have already given us the sense of potential that is required in the making of a classic. Here, in chronological order, are 10 of them.


1. The Social Network (2010)

The Social Network

Known to most as “The Facebook Movie,” it is the perfect example of what we’re going to remember years from now when the next genius, the next major sociological and/or technological advances come into play. Mark Zuckerberg was only a Harvard undergrad when he first started the war on face-to-face contact. In 2004, at Harvard, there were only a few hundred users. By the time this film was released, it became half a billion worldwide.

As the director, David Fincher makes it obvious that he’s behind the camera, pulling visual stunts that make it even more captivating than it was to begin with. But his work here can mostly be seen as a great adaptation of Aaron Sorkin’s script (which won the respective Academy Award) and brilliant, original shot at a facts-based story that makes the film unforgettable as a perky metaphor for this decade.


2. Dogtooth (2010)


Dysfunctional families have nothing on this film. For many, it was seen as a dark comedy. For others, a psychological family horror. The story of a father, a mother, their 20-something son and two daughters, all characters with no given name, who live in a large home behind a great wall and a gate and aren’t allowed to leave it – except for the father, who goes to work. The children have no clue of the outside world and submit to their parents’ version of things, obliging to their truth of things and unusual requests.

In an art-house manner, Greek director Giorgos Lanthimos shoots most of the film with a fixed perspective. The colors are bland but each character framing is effective, giving it an extra appeal. Taking home-schooling to its most bizarre possibilities, Dogtooth appeared as one of the most special European efforts of the last 5 years, and there’s no way that it won’t be remembered years from now by its viewers.


3. Drive (2011)

Drive (2011)

Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn makes his Hollywood debut with this slick sensation, reminiscent of an 80s LA noir in character build, visual effects, and soundtrack. He keeps it simple, too, which adds a lot to the feature.

Ryan Gosling plays The Driver, an unnamed protagonist who participates in robberies at night and works as a stuntman by day, doing the same job in both – driving. He’s quiet and enigmatic, and seemingly untainted by emotions at first. Later supported by an array of incredible performances by the likes of Carey Mulligan, Christina Hendricks and Bryan Cranston, violence and a fair share of intrigue are thrown into the mix, making this a magnetizing experience.

Aside from the visual mastery and compulsive eye for detail now associated with films by the same director, “Drive” has divided viewers from the start. Liked or disliked, it constitutes the definition of iconic in its use of image and sound as pure storytelling techniques.


4. The Tree Of Life (2011)


The epic naturalism of Terrence Mallick is something no avid film fan is a stranger to, nowadays. The story of a family in the 1950s in Waco, Texas, portrayed by Brad Pitt as the father, Jessica Chastain as the mother, plus their three boys, has been compared by critics to Kubrick’s “2001”.

At its premiere in Cannes, the film’s final moments were nearly eclipsed by the multitude of spectators booing and giggling, calling it a boring Christian movie. This was a story about a tormented middle-aged man, and that itself might not seem fascinating, but the comparisons it earned were triggered by its bold vision of our universe. It’s as personal as it gets in filmmaking while comparing family life to the creation and evolution of our world.

Emmanuel Lubezki has one of his greatest achievements as a cinematographer in this film, capturing both passionate and more serious moments with equal grace. Mallick conducts five editors and Alexander Desplat’s spiritual score with a sincerity that was clearly too strange to the brutal eyes that first saw it. It became one of the most well-regarded films of this demi-decade and its magic is perpetual.


5. Shame (2011)

Shame opening

The portrayal of sexual addiction in films is limited in quality, but this demi-decade has already graced us with the story of Brandon (Michael Fassbender) as an unequivocally sad man in his early 30s, who works in a cubicle in front of a computer and happens to be a sex addict. It isn’t ever a joyful thing. Brandon turns sex into just another chore, another part of his routine. He doesn’t show any emotion or particular pleasure in it, but his emptiness is overwhelming.

Exploring the dark corners of human nature comes easily to Steve McQueen, the director of this film as well as of the earlier feature “Hunger” (2009). He guides Fassbender into apathy, but underneath it is the title of the film. It’s a tough watch, and one won’t easily repeat it, precisely because it causes such deep impact. As a seemingly simple however complex human story, it succeeds in leaving a mark for this generation and the next to come.



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  • Julio D’avila

    Fantastic List ( Except for Holy Motors)

  • Dogtooth, The Tree of Life, Holy Motors and Blue is the Warmest Colour are great selection!

  • Aashis Vijayakumar

    Hard to be a God, The Dance of Reality, Only God Forgives, Winter Sleep, Goodbye to Language, A Separation, Melancholia, Upstream Color, Nymphomaniac, Two Days One Night…

    • Joel Zachariah

      i dont think people will learn to appreciate the beauty that ‘Only God Forgives’ was …

  • Henrik Vinther Sørensen

    Great list! Have yet to watch Dogtooth.

    Some other ones:

    The Great Beauty
    A Separation
    The Past
    The Turin Horse
    Winter Sleep
    We Need to Talk about Kevin
    Passion (Maybe not so likely, but I certainly hope!)

    • Ricardo Pereira

      You must see Dural, if you liked leviathan!

      • Henrik Vinther Sørensen

        Thanks for the recommendation! I’ll look it up!

        • Ricardo Pereira

          Sorry i meant to say Durak with K.

    • Aleksandar Šurbatović

      Dear, dear, your list is so much, I mean soooo much serious…. (+ El secreto de sus ojos and Un prophete, if we add year or two ;))

    • Brian Berta

      I really like your list. You have numerous films from numerous countries mentioned. Nice job!

  • Wyatt W.B

    The Revanvent, Whiplash (hopefully)

    • Funwithguns11

      If they cut 1/2 hour out of the Revenant I’d agree. Whiplash was great though.

  • frank mango

    i absolutely hate how this sight never mentions the place beyond the pines.

    • Δαρείος Καρπαθάκης

      It’s site* mate. Sight is the sense that uses your eyes.

  • Chrisychipz

    How about A Separation and Melancholia?

  • Xanian

    10 movies from 5 years is being pretty unrealistic. Every movie on this list is stupendous, but to play devil’s advocate, Blue is the warmest color, inside llewyn davis, dogtooth, social network and shame might not become classics. Holy motors as well. The other four will keep growing in status IMO.

    • Thawed Cave Bear

      They all might not. History is only understood in retrospect–no one knows how what art from today will be valued by the future. Period.

  • chaneldeschanel

    It’s a crime that Under the Skin isn’t in this list!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Add Ex-Machina for that matter)

  • I can agree to this list. I’d also add Somewhere by Sofia Coppola into that list.

  • Hernan Paz

    My additions:

    The Double
    Take Shelter
    Martha Marcy May Marlene

    • Cinar

      Boyhood should definitely be in.

  • Anton Chigurh

    A Separation (2011)
    Winter Sleep (2014)
    Locke (2013)
    Nebraska (2013)
    Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)
    The Hunt (2012)
    Leviathan (2014)
    Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014)
    Amour (2012)
    Inside Out (2015)
    Wild Tales (2014)

  • sailor monsoon

    Son of saul.
    Absolute masterpiece

  • Abhishek Mondal

    Instead of Drive I would put Nightcrawler in its slot. An overall better representation of the mysterious line wolf.

  • Esdras Castiliano

    Incredible list! <3

  • Still D.R.E.


  • G V

    show some love for Bollywood…… Add Gangs of Wasseypur

  • Paesito Paez

    Spring Breakers and SCRE4M are mising

  • Funwithguns11

    The Social Network was extremely boring. While finding out how FB was created was interesting, the tone and pacing of the movie just fell flat.

    • Thawed Cave Bear

      That’s not how FB was created. It’s highly fictionalized.

  • Alvaro J. Nieto Alvarez

    A girl walk’s home alone at night

  • Paesito “Martin Paez” Paez

    Spring Breakers, 10 Cloverfield Lane, The Neon Demon, Under the skin, Only God Forgives and The Cabin in the Woods are missing here

  • Mortimer

    Great list ! I’ll add Black Swan, Carol, Her and Birdman.

  • Flávio St Jayme

    I still don’t get why people think “Blue is the warmest color” a great movie.

  • Miroslav Maric

    Nice list! The Master is masterful masterpiece. Every movie here is awesome.

    • Lothar the Flatulant

      I would have thought The Master was one of the best movies of this century if a ruthless editor had chopped the last 45 minutes off of it. If it had ended with Joaquin Phoenix riding the motorcycle away and leaving PSH behind, I would have sung its praises, but the last half hour or so of that movie just buries the themes and impact on search of some sort of proper ending that it never achieves.

      • Miroslav Maric

        I am gonna watch it again, so I can properly reply on this remark; but thanks for a comment 🙂

  • Requiem

    Inside Llewyn Davis i dont know….

  • Michele Casartelli

    I agree with everyone else’s additions, but i also believe Inherent Vice should be included as well.

  • Lothar the Flatulant

    I don’t understand the inclusion of Shame. By your own definition, a classic is something that will be re-watched often in the future. Shame is a fine film and an acting tour de force, but I can’t imagine anybody wanting to see it more than once. You make good cases for many of the other movies on this list, even though they aren’t my favorite films of the last five years. My list would be:

    The Social Network
    Force Majeure
    The Intouchables
    Mad Max: Fury Road
    Take Shelter
    The Attack

    • I have seen Shame three times…

    • Veronica V.

      I’ve also watched Shame three times and I’d gladly watch in again in a couple of years.

    • Ricardo Correia

      “The Intouchables”?

      • Lothar the Flatulant

        Really charming French comedy with a fantastic performance from Omar Sy.

  • Brian Berta

    I’m not sure if all of these films will become classics, but I agree with some of them. Good list.

  • Kosta Jovanovic

    Great choices

  • Bullet-Tooth Tony

    The only film I can think of that absolutely shits on 2001 a space odyssey in every way imaginable is Aronofsky’s The Fountain. I will love that movie till the day I die.

  • Stephus

    Probably half of these movies will make it the other half are either overrated or they don’t work very well.