All would-be film critics like myself have a star rating system for films. The vast majority of critics use a rating of zero through four stars, I am no different.
Zero-star movies are rare. Sometimes I seek them out to see how bad they are. But they have to be devoid of any redeeming qualities and somehow offensive, insulting or otherwise achieving epic badness. I think “Gotti” with John Travolta (has a been able to sit through it all) may have been zero stars. It’s a rare 0% on Rotten Tomatoes
The late great Roger Ebert used the following basic system:
One star – A Poor Movie
Two Stars – A Fair Movie
Three Stars – A Good Movie
Four Stars – A Great Movie.
Of course, there are ½ stars in between. The majority of movies for me fall between 2 1/2 and 3 1/2 stars.
Any movie that makes a Top 10 of the year for me is 3 ½ stars or 4.
I consider a four-star film to be required viewing. They all strongly resonate with me. They are original, well written and acted and all have something unique that intrigued me.
About 5% of the movies I see I consider 4 stars. (James Berardinelli of reelviews.net – probably the best independent critic in North America – is more selective. Four-star films for him are rare. He hasn’t had one since 2017.)
This decade stayed along that pattern. I have pretty much seen everything that needs to be seen and I have a total of 28 four-star films. 2016 only had one. 2012 and 2015 had 5 each. 2019 – by my reckoning, there are three.
Listed below, alphabetically, are the 28 movies of about 550 seen this decade that made the biggest impact. I have seen 24 of them more than once and they all hold up to repeat viewings.
They cover a wide swath of entertainment. Western, Sci-fi, comic book, mob, drama, biopic, subtitled …
My Top 10 will come from this list. First, I will name my runners up, the films I would put in the 11-20 spots, then a review of each of my top 10 picks. I will also name my favourite acting performances.
The list below … if you are looking for something to watch, here is a start.
Alphabetically, my short list of the 28 films I most enjoyed from 2010 to 2019 along with the director and year of release. Rankings to follow. 10 of these will make my Top 10 of the decade, four will be in my Top 100
Argo (Ben Affleck – 2012)
Arrival (Denis Villenueve – 2016)
BlacKkKlansman (Spike Lee – 2018)
Django Unchained (Quentin Tarantino – 2012)
Dunkirk (Christopher Nolan – 2017)
Get Out (Jordan Peele – 2017)
Gravity (Alfonso Cauron – 2013)
Hell or High Water (David Mackenzie – 2016)
Inside Out (Pete Docter and Ronnie del Carmen – 2015)
Lincoln (Steven Spielberg – 2012)
Logan (James Mangold- 2017)
Mad Max Fury Road (George Miller – 2015)
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino – 2019)
Parasite (Boo Jonh Ho – 2019)
Prometheus (Ridley Scott – 2012)
Spider-man: Into the Spider-verse (Bob Perischetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman – 2018)
Spotlight (Tom McCarthy – 2015)
The Big Short (Adam McKay – 2015)
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (David Fincher – 2011)
The Hateful Eight (Quentin Tarantino – 2015)
The Irishman (Martin Scorsese – 2019)
The Social Network (David Fincher – 2010)
The Tree of Life (Terrance Malik – 2011)
The Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese – 2013)