With 2020 already here, it’s time to recap some of the best films from the last decade. Without further adieu, here are the top 25 American-made movies from the 2010’s.
25. Black Swan (2010)
Starting from the bottom, Darren Aronofsky gives a hallucinatory take on Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake in Black Swan. Nina (Natalie Portman), is gunning for the lead role in an upcoming ballet. So is another talented, and tattooed, dancer (Mila Kunis) who uses sex to get what she wants. But who will she seduce; Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel), the art director in charge of casting, or Nina herself? As the stress of auditions takes a toll on Nina’s physical, and mental, health, the line between real and surreal become blurred.
Steeped in obsessive one-upmanship and sexual tension, Black Swan demonstrates Aronofsky’s most mature filmmaking while earning Natlie Portman her first Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role. It also suggests that even in the best of us, a dark side resides.
24. The Social Network (2010)
The 2010’s saw more people interacting through a screen than ever before. How was this achieved? Two words; social media. From Instagram to Twitter, LinkedIn to Tinder, David Fincher’s The Social Network identifies the foundation of all these online applications. Adapted from Ben Mezrich’s bestselling book, The Social Network documents the advent of the world’s most popular social media platform.
23. Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)
A folk-singing couch surfer (Oscar Isaac) finds himself questioning his career in the Coen bros.’ Inside Llewyn Davis. After a cat runs away from its owner’s Greenwich Village apartment, Llewyn Davis, the former member of a popular duet folk group whose partner committed suicide, reluctantly assumes responsibility over it. He also discovers his angry ex-girlfriend is pregnant with his child and wants an abortion. Tired beyond belief, hitch-hiking his way across the state, Llewyn is about to throw in the towel. But if he does he may miss out on the opportunity of a lifetime.
Accompanied by the original song “Fare Thee Well” performed by Marcus Mumford from Mumford & Sons and Oscar Isaac himself, Inside Llewyn Davis offers invigorating insight into the life of a starving artist.
22. The Witch (2015)
Robbert Eggers caught audiences’ attention with The Witch set in 17th century New England. A christian father and his family are exiled and cast into the wilderness where they must fend for themselves. Finding refuge near a foreboding forest, what can only be attributed to witchcraft results in the disappearance of a newborn baby.
With tensions high and food in short supply the family begins to turn on each other, suspecting the eldest daughter Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy) to be in league with Lucifer. As the influence of black magic escalates, evil manifests itself in the form of a billy goat named Black Phillip who kills Thomasin’s father and recruits her into his coven. Juxtaposing Old English monologues with pagan folklore, Eggers first film is a force to be reckoned with!
21. It Follows (2014)
David Robert Mitchell directs a modern horror about a supernatural STD that stalks its victims in It Follows. After nineteen-year-old Jay (Maika Monroe) has sex with her boyfriend in the backseat of his car, a slow-moving entity that only she can see starts following her wherever she goes. To make matters worse, Jay must transfer the curse by sleeping with someone else otherwise she’ll die.
Where their parents’ teeth were chattering to Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street in their younger years, Mitchell places this millennial-drawn monster above the bed instead of beneath it. As convincing as it is ridiculous, audiences must decide for themselves whether It Follows is a scare tactic to discourage sexual activity among younger viewers or rather a campy horror, no more.
20. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
Having directed five films over the last ten years, it is difficult to choose which of Scorsese’s 2010-2019 releases most deserves to be on this list. Nevertheless, The Wolf of Wall Street seems like a pretty safe bet.
Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a New York City stock broker who will do just about anything to make money. This includes selling penny stocks with get-rich-quick promises and defrauding his investors. Hopped up on cocaine and quaaludes, Belfort indulges in $25,000 dinners and five-star escort services.
Catching the eye of F.B.I. Agent Patrick Denham (Kyle Chandler), Belfort can either cooperate with his investigation and inform on his accomplices or serve time behind bars. Supported by performances from Joah Hill, Margot Robbie and Matthew McConaughey and a budget of $100 million, The Wolf of Wall Street is an unfortunate true story about an industry that not only allows, but encourages, the same kind of recklessness that Belfort exemplified during the 1990’s.
19. Drive (2011)
Dialogue takes a backseat to an 80’s synthesizer in Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive. When he isn’t daylighting as a mechanic/stuntman, a mobster (Ryan Gosling) transports criminals in five minute increments. But as the little-to-say and less-to-lose stick shifter falls for his nextdoor neighbor (Carrie Mulligan), a robbery gone wrong sends apathy out the window. With on-screen contributions from Bryan Cranston and Oscar Isaac, Drive is high-octane action with a neon-noir twist.
Following his European crime series the Pusher trilogy featuring an up-and-coming Mads Mikkelsen, Drive is Refn’s second movie to make it to mainstream screens after Bronson (2008) and the first to be filmed in the U.S. With an affinity for graphic violence and drug smuggling, the Danish director would return to obscurity in 2013 with Only God Forgives, also starring Gosling, that centers around eye-for-an-eye crime in Thailand.
18. Get Out (2017)
After establishing himself as a talented stand-up comedian alongside Keegan-Michael Key on Comedy Central’s Key & Peele, Jordan Peele changed lanes for his directorial debut Get Out, a horror about brainwashing racists.
Chris (Daniel Kaluuya), an African-American black and white photographer, takes a trip with his girlfriend, Rose (Allison William), to meet her seemingly innocent, albeit ignorant, parents for the first time. Before he knows it, Chris is hypnotized and sitting at the center of a huge conspiracy. With nothing but cotton swabs to intercept his captor’s white-supremesist plans, Chris must defeat his girlfriend’s family and put an end to their Aryan ideals.
Given the prevalence of racial tension throughout the 2010’s, Peele takes this opportunity to make some unnerving observations about how a society treats people of color. Deeply embedded in behind-the-scenes bigotry, Get Out invites us to discuss these issues openly instead of masking our intolerance with insincere pleasantries.