We already know what the Tomatometer has determined to be the best movies and best TV of the decade. And fans have been pretty vocal on their picks for the best of the 2010s, too: see their TV picks and movie picks. But what does the RT staff think were some of the best films and series of the last 10 years? We asked a number of staffers on our content team to pick one – yes, just one! – movie and TV show from the 2010s as their favorite. It didn’t necessarily need to be the best-reviewed (though all just happen to be Fresh) or the award-winningest, just the single thing they loved the most. Below, in the movie picks, you’ll find two groundbreaking superhero movies – one Marvel, one DC! – two off-beat vampire flicks, along with an era-defining action film and a period piece to break the heart of anyone who lives far, far from home.
If you had to pick just one favorite movie from the 2010s, what would it be? Let us know in the comments.
For me, Brooklyn is basically a perfect drama and the finest period piece we’ve had all decade. And while it kills me not to name Hereditary my favorite film of the decade (that underrated Toni Collette performance!), or to give the honor to Gone Girl (do thrillers come any better?), or Burning, Boyhood, Animal Kingdom, or Inside Out (Bing Bong!), no other film hit me square in the guts the way director John Crowley and writer Nick Hornby’s adaptation of Colm Toibin’s novel did. The story is incredibly simple: It’s 1951 and Ellis (Saoirse Ronan at her best) emigrates from Ireland to Brooklyn to find work; there she meets and marries a plumber, but finds her heart eventually pulled back towards her hometown across the ocean. Yet Brooklyn’s simplicity is its power – for anyone who’s moved away from home, and from family, and felt that same pull that Ellis feels, regardless of where you left and landed, it’s an incredibly moving watch. – Joel Meares, Editor-in-Chief
Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman arrived at a time when women are standing up against injustices against our sex more than ever before. It’s nice to have a demigoddess-warrior on our side. The film’s arrival invigorated the dialogue, as well as longtime fans of the character, who made her first comic-book appearance in 1941. Though Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) may not have been able to dodge rampant sexism, she became an idol to women of all ages by letting verbal barbs bounce off her while staying true to herself and charging into the fray with grace and kindness. Wonder Woman has so far earned $821.8 in the worldwide box office – not bad for a 78-year-old – and we can’t wait to see more in next decade’s Wonder Woman 1984 and beyond. – Debbie Day, Sr. TV Editor
Drive‘s neon, ’80s-inspired aesthetic may be everywhere now – highlighting the arthouse action-drama’s influence on pop culture since its release – but back in 2011 it was an utter revelation. Looking to the past as it careens headfirst into the future, the film’s pulsating synth score and eclectic, frequently electronic song choices, its taciturn getaway driver hero navigating love and a heist gone horribly awry, and director Nicholas Winding Refn‘s churning long takes built a primal, elemental mood. It’s been imitated, even by NWR himself, but never matched. Perhaps most admirable about Drive is that it’s a Los Angeles story not about fame or celebrity, but one that mythologizes the city’s day-to-day mood: Sitting behind the wheel in a hypnotized haze, dazed by the lights, where pop songs become your guardian angels in-between the violence and silence. – Alex Vo, Editor
In the 2010s, everything old was new again. Not that that was necessarily a bad thing; some of my most pleasurable movie experiences of the decade (the new Star Wars movies, The Muppets, Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest) were like reunions with old friends. So when I saw A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, I felt the shock of the new: Here was a film that felt like a visit to unexplored territory. Director Ana Lily Amirpour doesn’t hide her influences (Nosferatu, the films of Jim Jarmusch and Sergio Leone), but she creates a haunting, hypnotic mood that’s one of a kind. Set in Iran but made in California, boasting vivid black-and-white photography (any single frame is poster-worthy), it’s the tale of a lonely hipster vampire (played by Sheila Vand), swooping on a skateboard like a bat in flight, an avenging angel for a particularly grim town. (Prepare to jump when she first bares her fangs.) Beneath its cool veneer – and seriously, veneers don’t come much cooler than this – is the beating heart of the film: our heroine’s tentative romance with Arash (Arash Marandi), a James Dean-type with a troubled home life. (Their first meeting – he’s wobbling down the street, drunk and dressed like Dracula; she pushes him home on her skateboard – is both poignant and deadpan funny.) It’s probably the movie I’ve recommended the most over the past few years, mostly because there’s nothing else quite like it. – Tim Ryan, Review Curation Manager
Moonlight is a once-in-a-generation film. A masterpiece. And yes, we know the word is thrown around liberally, but in this case it is the only word that can aptly describe Barry Jenkins‘ sophomore work. Under his direction, from a screenplay he co-wrote, three actors masterfully embody Chiron, a young Black boy – and then man – from South Miami. The cinematography paints a color story that is as compelling as the narrative itself, with Nicholas Britell’s masterful score tailored to enrich every moment, and Moonlight’s delicate screenplay carefully masks its intentions for much of the runtime. The audience is halfway through the third act before it even reveals itself – this is not just a slice of life story about a young Black boy from the hood, this is a love story. Jenkins may have been robbed of his moment by the infamous envelope fiasco at the 2017 Oscars, but nothing can rob the film of its legacy as one of the best films of the decade – arguably, of all time. – Jacqueline Coley, Editor
Michael Fassbender took on a lot of roles this decade, but my favorite by far was in 2014’s Frank. Based on a newspaper article by Jon Ronson, Frank follows Jon (Domhnall Gleeson), an aspiring musician scraping songs together in a small town in England. After witnessing a tragic scene at the beach, Jon meets Don (Scoot McNairy), who invites him to come play with his band, Soronpfbs, that night at a local club. Jon agrees, and quickly finds himself swept up in the off-kilter world of Don, Clara (a terrifically terrifying Maggie Gyllenhaal), and Frank, an eccentric musical genius who dons a paper-mâché head at all times. From recording an epic album to inadvertently (or perhaps all too intentionally) destroying the first thing he has ever truly come to love, Jon finds himself the villain of his own story and must figure out how to make things right. What makes Frank so effective is the way it portrays the creative process – at once rationality and utter insanity – and the bonds forged in those moments of pure creation. And through it all, Frank is confident and complicated and utterly compelling, thanks to Fassbender’s masterful performance. His physicality conveys much, but his voice does a lot of the heavy lifting, taking Frank from childlike wonder to sage wisdom and powerful force of nature with ease. The music, written by Irish musician Stephen Rennicks, is the perfect blend of avant-garde and earwormy. It’s a beautifully bittersweet film worth checking out, but fair warning: it doesn’t make great family holiday viewing (sorry, mom). – Haña Lucero-Colin, Review Curation Manager
When I’m tasked with picking a favorite movie within any criteria, I naturally gravitate towards something I deem a little more unknown or under-appreciated. On my shortlist I had things like Stephen Chow’s artful Journey to the West, action-packed horror Train to Busan, and heartbreaking Bolivian drama Tu Me Manques, and yet I picked Avengers: Infinity War. Here’s why. Infinity War is one of the few superhero movies I occasionally revisit just to be delighted by its impressive accomplishments. In a little bit over 150 minutes of runtime, the Russo brothers brought together 10 years of stories with a multitude of characters into what became arguably the biggest event movie ever, when combined with its second and final part. It successfully delivers in excitement and cohesiveness, and makes history with the biggest movie cliffhanger of the decade. Sure, Endgame is great, but Infinity War is to the MCU what Empire Strikes Back was to Star Wars. – Julio De Oliveira, Director of Production
David Mackenzie’s Hell or High Water is one of my favorite movies of the decade, and to me transcends the limits of what most think a western or heist film should be. This refreshingly honest tale about two estranged brothers played by the charming Chris Pine and the never-better Ben Foster has left a lasting impact on me after years of forgettable reboots, remakes, and re-imaginings have faded away. The poignant portrayal of the brothers’ relationship is set against the backdrop of a Recession-hit East Texas, where they team up in true Robin Hood style to steal from the small-town banks that are foreclosing on their family’s farm. In pursuit are two no-nonsense Texas Rangers – played by Jeff Bridges, who inhabits the role like a well-worn pair of cowboy boots, and Gil Birmingham – who just want to shut the brothers down before someone inevitably gets hurt. In lesser hands, this premise could have come across as a preachy political sermon, but thankfully, writer Taylor Sheridan (Oscar nominated for this screenplay) has no interest in playing the blame game, only in depicting what he calls “the death of a way of life” in a land where everything will either bite you or stick or you or sting you. – Jennifer Jevons, Sr. Social Media Strategist
I probably became a Jim Jarmusch fan when I randomly caught Night on Earth on cable as a teenager during the mid-’90s and instantly fell in love with it. And when I say I’m a fan, I mean that, while his films can be a little hit-or-miss for me, there is a certain mood – let’s call it a sort of romantic melancholy – his work evokes that always hits me where it counts. The first film he directed in the 2010s, Only Lovers Left Alive, ratchets that mood up to 11 and sustains it through a leisurely, dreamlike love story… about bloodsuckers. Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton are magnetic as Adam and Eve, a pair of centuries-old married vampires who live halfway across the world from each other but reunite when one of them, the brooding musician Adam, becomes despondent and suicidal. It’s a mostly quiet, contemplative film that finds its two stars cruising the streets of a decrepit Detroit in the middle of the night and languishing in a Victorian house littered with antiques, vintage musical instruments, and outdated recording equipment, all set to an ethereal soundtrack composed by Jarmusch himself. But it’s also full of clever little touches that reference the history between Adam and Eve, and it features an outstanding supporting cast that includes John Hurt, Mia Wasikowska, Anton Yelchin, and Jeffrey Wright. The 2010s boasted a lot of fantastic releases, but this is the film that touched me in the most personal way, even if O negative isn’t my drink of choice. – Ryan Fujitani, Sr. Editor
Thumbnail image: ©Kino Lorber, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, Richard Foreman Jr/©FilmDistric/Courtesy Everett Collection
From critically acclaimed indie flicks to Oscar-nominated dramas and superhero blockbusters, Michael Fassbender has put together an enviably eclectic filmography — one that adds a chilly murder mystery this weekend with Tomas Alfredson’s adaptation of the Jo Nesbø bestseller The Snowman. We’re taking the opportunity to look back at Fassbender’s career and pay tribute to some of the movies that best exemplify his talents, and whether your tastes run to period pictures, quirky dramedies, or even blockbuster action films, we think you’ll find something here worth adding to your queue. It’s time for Total Recall!
From critically acclaimed indie flicks to Oscar-nominated dramas and superhero blockbusters, Michael Fassbender has been on a roll lately — and given that we’re entering a cinematic season in which he’s starring in not one but two awards contenders, it seems safe to predict he’s really only just hitting his stride. Fassbender returns to theaters this weekend in Steve Jobs, so we’re taking the opportunity to look back at his filmography and pay tribute to some of the movies that best exemplify his talents, and whether your tastes run to period pictures, quirky dramedies, or even horror, we think you’ll find something here worth adding to your queue. Without further ado, here’s the Definitive Michael Fassbender!
Plenty of actors have horror movies lurking in the far corners of their filmographies, but unlike most, Fassbender can actually claim to have starred in one that earned a fair amount of critical acclaim: 2008’s Eden Lake, a twisted little British thriller about a pair of young lovers whose camping trip is ruined by the arrival of a pack of violently aggressive teens. It’s the type of story we’ve seen unfold plenty of times, with extremely variable results, but happily — which is to say very, very uncomfortably — this excursion into grisly backwoods territory hews closer to classics like Straw Dogs and Deliverance than the dozens of klutzy imitators they left in their wake. It definitely impressed the Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw, who wrote, “This looks to me like the best British horror film in years: nasty, scary and tight as a drum.”
Fassbender and writer-director Steve McQueen make great films together, but they aren’t necessarily fun, and their first collaboration, the hard-hitting historical drama Hunger, is a perfect example. To dramatize the last months of Bobby Sands, a soldier in the Provisional Irish Republican Army who led a hunger strike while imprisoned in Northern Ireland in the early ‘80s, Fassbenderdropped an alarming amount of weight by subjecting himself to a 600-calorie-a-day diet — yet still managed to bring an incredible amount of energy to bear on a performance that earned him a British Independent Film Award for Best Actor. Although Hunger wasn’t Fassbender’s first film, it was the first to really demonstrate what he could do if given the chance, and after the closing credits rolled, plenty of casting directors were willing to do just that. “Imagine how most filmmakers would tell this story and then see Hunger,” challenged Time Out’s Dave Calhoun. “The differences are bold and powerful and restore faith in cinema’s ability to cover history free from the bounds of texts and personalities.”
American filmgoers received their first real exposure to Fassbender in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, a gleefully violent and profane World War II revenge fantasy in which a squadron of Jewish-American soldiers (led by Brad Pitt, natch) plow through Nazis behind enemy lines while plotting the fiery assassination of Adolf Hitler. Appearing as Lieutenant Archie Hicox, a British film critic with a background in German cinema, Fassbender is the focus of a brief but memorable sequence in which the Basterds meet up at a tavern and draw an inordinate — and eventually rather explosive — amount of suspicion from the Gestapo. While he certainly isn’t the star of the show, Fassbender’s Inglourious turn offered proof that he didn’t need a ton of screentime, or shocking weight loss, to exert a commanding presence, and helped move the Independent’s Jonathan Romney to decree, “Personally, I wearied of Tarantino’s breathless shtick long ago, but I must admit I enjoyed Inglourious Basterds more than anything he’s done in years.”
As he’s demonstrated repeatedly throughout his career, Fassbender is gifted when it comes to making audiences identify with irredeemably skeevy characters — and it doesn’t get much skeevier than starting a sexual relationship with your girlfriend’s teenage daughter, which is exactly what he does as Conor O’Reily in writer-director Andrea Arnold’s 2009 Cannes Jury Prize winner Fish Tank. Not content to settle for exploitation, Arnold effectively sets the stage for how and why her young protagonist (brilliantly played by newcomer Katie Jarvis) might be drawn to O’Reily; Fassbender, meanwhile, invests a potentially two-dimensional part with a fascinating blend of danger and allure, putting the audience in Jarvis’ shoes even as they’re urging her to run away. “Fish Tank digs around in its protagonist’s psyche, unafraid to explore,” wrote Steven Rea for the Philadelphia Inquirer. “It’s oppressive and claustrophobic, confused and scary in there. But it’s also compellingly real.”
After the sour taste left by 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand and 2009’s standalone Wolverine movie, many filmgoers were rightfully cynical about Fox’s decision to reboot the franchise with 2011’s X-Men: First Class, an origin story that sent filmgoers back in time to the superpowered team’s early ‘60s beginnings. But whatever the original X-Men trilogy’s problems might have been, casting was rarely one of them, and with First Class, director Matthew Vaughn found himself wielding an impressive collection of top-shelf talent that included Fassbender as Erik “Magneto” Lehnsherr and James McAvoy as his lifelong frenemy, Charles “Professor X” Xavier. Following the warm critical and commercial reception afforded First Class, the team stepped up its game with 2014’s X-Men: Days of Future Past, which managed to take an impossibly convoluted time-travel story and use it as an effective means of bringing back original cast members while definitively rebooting the canon established with The Last Stand and still offering the new trilogy’s stars plenty of time to shine. Unless things go horribly awry with X-Men: Apocalypse in 2016, Fassbender will have been an important component in one of the most successful cinematic overhauls in recent memory.
He received plenty of prurient interest for his full frontal nudity in the film, but it was Fassbender’s nakedly emotional performance in Shame that truly mattered — and landed the movie on a stack of critics’ year-end Top 10 lists while earning him another British Independent Film Award. While definitely not a movie for everyone, Shame was 100 percent for Fassbender; in fact, director/co-writer Steve McQueen considered no one else for the part of the protagonist, the emotionally twisted sex addict Brandon Sullivan, after working with Fassbender on Shame. Paired with Carey Mulligan in a decidedly dark drama about secrets, lies and addiction with overtones of implied incest, Fassbender let it all hang out in more ways than one, and was rewarded with some of the best reviews of his career — including a few from critics who didn’t even like the film. “There’s a misery in Fassbender that’s spellbinding,” wrote the Boston Globe’s Wesley Morris. “I rolled my eyes for most of Shame. But never at him.”
In between blockbusting with X-Men: First Class and reaping critical acclaim for Shame, Fassbender also visited cineplexes in 2011 as Edward Rochester in Cary Fukunaga’s critically acclaimed adaptation of the Charlotte Brontë classic Jane Eyre. A perennial filmmaker favorite dating back to the silent era, Eyre wasn’t exactly crying out for another trip to the big screen, but Fukunaga’s version managed to set itself apart with loads of dark, artfully composed atmosphere that emphasized the darker elements of the story and draped a layer of gloom over a story often treated as a gauzy period romance — and with a tremendous cast that also included Judi Dench, Sally Hawkins, and Mia Wasikowska in the title role. “True aficionados will doubtless wish the film etched every aspect of the Brontë experience,” warned the San Jose Mercury News’ Karen D’Souza, “but that’s a quibble in light of the movie’s intoxicating charms. It’s impossible not to fall in love with this Jane.”
Fassbender reunited with his Hunger and Shame director Steve McQueen for 2013’s 12 Years a Slave, a harrowing adaptation of memoirs written by former slave Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor). Playing Edwin Epps, the brutal and none-too-bright master of the plantation where Northup ends up, Fassbender could easily have slipped into horrific caricature, but he instead strove to locate the humanity buried beneath Epps’ depraved actions; in the process, he helped elevate one of the year’s most important films into even more of a gripping, well-rounded drama than it otherwise might have been — and earned himself a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination along the way. “12 Years a Slave is likely the most painful, clear-eyed feature ever made about American slavery,” wrote the Atlantic’s Christopher Orr. “In that light, it almost seems faint praise to add that it will also likely prove to be the best film of the year.”
It takes a special kind of actor to be able to shoulder the burden of leading a movie even under ordinary circumstances, so it’s really saying something that Fassbender managed to exert his unique influence over Frank even while spending most of his screen time under a giant papier-mâché mask. An artful blend of comedy and drama loosely inspired by outsider artists like Chris Sievey (who really did wear a giant head while performing as a character he dubbed Frank Sidebottom), Frank dabbles in themes that might have sent a less disciplined filmmaker tumbling headlong into indie quirk, but in director Lenny Abrahamson’s hands (and with a cast that also includes Domhnall Gleeson, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Scoot McNairy), it’s as affecting as it is refreshingly offbeat. “That Fassbender plays the role of the disguised rocker fits well with the movie’s tone,” pointed out NPR’s Tomas Hachard. “Putting one of the biggest actors in Hollywood behind a mask lends a further rebellious streak to an already sardonic film.”
He’s made indie favorites, superhero blockbusters, award-winning prestige pictures — and with 2015’s Slow West, MichaelFassbender even got to make a well-reviewed Western. Starring alongside Kodi Smit-McPhee as a mysterious bounty hunter who aids a young man (for a price) on his quest across the 19th-century American frontier, Fassbender got to saddle up as the strong, silent type while sharing screen time with a talented posse of supporting actors that included future Star Wars spinoff headliner Ben Mendelsohn — all in service of a strong script and confidently mounted picture from debuting writer-director John Maclean. “It’s the rare western that invites you to imagine what life then and there might actually have felt like, sight gags and all,” mused the Village Voice’s Alan Scherstuhl. “Maclean is a supremely promising talent.”
Awards season is on, and with everything that is going on from December through February, it’s difficult to keep track of who is getting what. To help you with that, we created the Awards Leaderboard, a ranking of movies by the number of awards won and their respective categories. Read on to find out where your favorite movies stand, and who is leading the pack.
Like the Independent Spirit Awards in the US, the British Independent Film Awards (BIFA) honor outstanding achievements in cinema outside the major studio system. Read on for the full list of winners, announced December 7.
Like the Independent Spirit Awards in the US, the British Independent Film Awards (BIFA) honor outstanding achievements in cinema outside the major studio system. Yann Demange’s historical action thriller ’71 earned a total of nine nominations, including Best Film, Best Director, and Best Screenplay, while Matthew Warchus’ based-on-true-events comedy Pride racked up seven of its own. Read on for the full list of nominees, and check back after December 7 to find out who took home the trophies.