Welcome to NerdyPoC’s Best of the 2010s series!
It’s been an eventful decade for media, entertainment and pop culture. Throughout December, we’ll be presenting our lists of favourites from the last ten years in a bunch of areas—TV, video games, books, music, pop culture moments and more!
Our Best of the 2010s series kicks off right now with movies! Without further ado, here are NPoC’s favourite films of the decade.
(Note: The list is presented in chronological order.)
1. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010) dir. Edgar Wright
Comic book movies weren’t always the juggernauts they are now. Edgar Wright’s 2010 adaptation of a cult classic comic book into a cult classic movie, was a game changer for a world that had previously only seen overly melodramatic movie adaptations of their favourite comic material. This video game-esque film is full of incredible Easter eggs and an amazing, talented cast having the time of their lives, led by a surprisingly versatile Michael Cera.
The movie was decidedly ahead of its time—for example, its core exploration of toxic masculinity almost makes it the anti-Fight Club—and its ambitious fun earns it a well-deserved spot on this list. As far as comic book movies go, Wright’s foray into the genre may not have broken any box office records or raked in billions, but it’s certainly one of the best.
(By Ariel Rada with Melissa Lee and Sabrina Fearon-Melville)
2. The Social Network (2010) dir. David Fincher
One of the most popular Oscar contenders of 2010, The Social Network won widespread critical acclaim and the loyal adulation of Tumblr users worldwide. The film is a departure from Fincher’s usual crime thriller fare; but that’s exactly what makes it so enthralling. Although it’s not a crime thriller, it’s constructed, presented, and even scored like one. All of these elements, mixed with an excellent cast and a sharp script by Aaron Sorkin, took a story that could have potentially alienated audiences with its technological subject matter and elevated it to a scathing examination of ambition, human connection, and self-image.
(By Melissa Lee)
3. Whiplash (2014) dir. Damien Chazelle
The phrase “practice makes perfect” is brought to life in Whiplash as an abusive music teacher (J.K. Simmons) drills down on a jazz drummer (Miles Teller) in his quest to perfect his craft. On the surface, this genre-defying movie tells the story of striving for success and recognition in a difficult industry, but proves to be so much more.
The film is a masterclass in music and sound editing. Its visceral soundtrack is juxtaposed with sharply performed and cut scenes to masterfully manipulate tension throughout the film. The best thing about this film is undoubtedly the drum solos; which fills the senses with raw emotion and drive. Whiplash is a thriller of the very best kind, one that leaves you reeling and questioning the very nature of human ambition, competition, and resilience.
(By Sabrina Fearon-Melville with Melissa Lee)
4. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) dir. George Miller
There aren’t any action movies like Fury Road. There just aren’t. The dialogue is sparse, and yet, few films manage to say as much with so little. The entire movie is, in essence, one great big car chase, and yet, writer-director Miller wastes neither a word nor a second. He packs layers of nuance into every last ounce of Fury Road’s 120-minute runtime. Amidst jumping from one crazy ‘how-did-they-do-that’ shot to another, Fury Road also tackles themes of humanity, feminism, and redemption, with a profound and introspective surety.
Without a doubt, Fury Road is a masterpiece in action—a car chase even Fast & Furious haters will love.
(By Melissa Lee with Ariel Rada)
5. Moonlight (2016) dir. Barry Jenkins
What? You guys, I’m sorry, no. There’s a mistake. Moonlight, you guys won Best Picture.
Awards show mishaps aside, Moonlight was the Black boy film we all needed in this decade. The film presents the life of protagonist Chiron in three stages: as a boy (Alex Hibbert), as a teenager (Ashton Sanders) and, finally, as a Black gay man (Trevante Rhodes). In his adult stage, Chiron seeks to navigate life to the fullest realisation and expression of his identity, in a world where being Black and gay can mean facing harsh pressures from society and ostracism from your family and friends.
Featuring masterful performances from Mahershala Ali and Janelle Monáe, this film ebbs and flows in what it means to be African-American, Black and gay. It’s a beautiful film that doesn’t shy away from violence. Instead, it uses pain and violence to create beauty in its purest form—the beauty of self-discovery, truth, and love.
(By Sabrina Fearon-Melville)
6. Get Out (2017) dir. Jordan Peele
It’s not every day that an established comedic creative puts out a horror movie, but Jordan Peele managed to not only succeed, but also turn the genre on its head. With Get Out, writer-director Peele showed the world just how fine the line between laughter and bone-chilling, skin-crawling fear really is. The film’s portrayal of a Black man (the incomparable Daniel Kaluuya) meeting his white girlfriend’s (Allison Williams) family in a weekend visit was something genuinely unique for the mainstream entertainment industry; an industry where only voyeuristic portrayals of Black pain were typically allowed to break through to higher, wider levels of acceptance and recognition (see: 12 Years a Slave).
Both eerie and funny, Get Out wore many hats—unsettling thriller, wry comedy, supernatural drama, and nuanced commentary on racial tension and violence in the modern age—and pulled them all off with a masterful, focused touch.
(By Melissa Lee and Sabrina Fearon-Melville)
7. Logan (2017) dir. James Mangold
There are few constants in the crazy continuity of the X-Men film universe, but Hugh Jackman’s performance as Logan is undoubtedly one of them. Logan is a simple but well-told story featuring award-worthy performances from X-Men veterans Jackman and Patrick Stewart, and an amazing debut by young actress Dafne Keen. Writer-director James Mangold evidently grasped what seems to have evaded so many of the creatives behind previous X-Men outings: that superhero movies work best when the spirit of the characters is put on full display. Like The Dark Knight (2008), Logan was a reminder that comic book films don’t just have to be flashy popcorn flicks.
(By Ariel Rada)
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) dir. the Russo bros
Black Panther (2018) dir. Ryan Coogler
If there’s room for one Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) entry on the list, it’s a tough fight between The Winter Soldier and Black Panther.
With The Winter Soldier, the entire MCU learned it could be so much more than the traditional capes, cowls and CGI fanfare. It was the perfect expansion upon the generic superhero introduction that 2011’s The First Avenger was. The Winter Soldier went faster, higher, and, most importantly, deeper with character and relationship development, plot layers, and wider narrative implications and consequences. On the action front, the Russo brothers brought with them an incredible style and choreography, vaulting Cap and his movies into the wider action movie pantheon.
As for Black Panther, this was the first truly unique MCU creation of its kind. Nearly flawless in every sense of the word—characterization, story, conflict, styling, action etc—Black Panther topped it all off by embedding itself deep with a thick, vibrant layer of cultural significance. It brought us instant fan favourites including Okoye (Danai Gurira), Shuri (Letitia Wright) and M’Baku (Winston Duke), and turned the token-character-of-colour-in-a-minimal-supporting-role trope on its head. With T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) and Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), Black Panther delivered perhaps one of the most complex hero-villain relationships ever played out in the entire MCU.
(By Ariel Rada and Melissa Lee, with Naomi Alexander)
9. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) dir. Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman
Miles Morales’ first big-screen outing changed the game for both superhero and animated films. Few mainstream movies would even dare consider introducing multiple forms of their protagonist within one movie, and Into the Spider-Verse did that with unflinching boldness, infectious enthusiasm and, best of all, genuine heart.
One of the best parts about the film is that the creative process of it is just as much a gift as seeing the movie on-screen. The animation work was nothing short of a masterpiece; every frame purposefully and carefully crafted to deliver stunning visuals exploding with vivacious colours and stylistic eye candy. The powerful “leap of faith” scene has been shared countless times across the Internet, as it should be. (But, honestly, that opening scene of Miles [Shameik Moore] not knowing the lyrics to his own theme song but singing along anyway should have won Into the Spider-Verse all the awards on its own.)
Animated superhero movies were never anything new, but Into the Spider-Verse put such a unique and fresh spin on the genre that it officially stands in its own league.
(By Melissa Lee with Sabrina Fearon-Melville and Naomi Alexander)
10. Parasite (2019) dir. Bong Joon-Ho
Upon its release, Parasite got everyone talking, and for good reason. The film is an absolutely scathing, unforgiving examination of class, tension and conflict, played out with dynamic cinematography and a scandalously sharp script by Bong and Han Jin-won. Every single actor gives a thoroughly absorbing performance, and it’s particularly hard to single out any individual for praise when everyone’s operating at such high levels of artistry. The movie is stuffed full of visual and literary metaphors, all of which are perfectly balanced—not too plain and simple, and not so complex that they become indecipherable or pretentious.
With each scene, Bong delivers his message with a deft balance of gravity and levity. Parasite is one of those films that comes along every once in a blue moon to remind viewers exactly why film, as a medium, is so powerful and important.
(By Melissa Lee)
Special mention: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018) dir. Susan Johnson
The last thing anyone expected in this decade was a revival of the teen romcom genre, but in the summer of 2018, Netflix led the charge with Set It Up, Candy Jar, The Kissing Booth and more. Of all these offerings, the film adaptation of Jenny Han’s bestselling young-adult romance series To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before (TATBILB) , remains the unrivalled champion, lauded for its heart-warming narrative and charming performances by leads Lana Condor and Noah Centineo.
But most noteworthy is its perspective; TATBILB is centered on Asian girlhood and, to an extent, womanhood. For the first time, a mainstream romantic comedy featured an Asian girl as the lead, not just the nerdy best friend or supportive classmate or coworker. Viewers spent time in Lara Jean’s (Condor) home, got to know her family, and even saw glimpses of her relationship with her Korean heritage. TATBILB is a coming-of-age tale imbued with a refreshing richness, and it manages to pull off its seemingly juvenile premise with lovely poise.
(By Naomi Alexander with Melissa Lee)
Edited by Abeer Khan