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100 most critically acclaimed movies from the last decade you can catch up on

  • 100 most critically acclaimed movies from the last decade you can catch up on

    The landscape of film has changed significantly during the 2010s, with streaming services and large, cinematic universe franchises taking hold of Hollywood. At the same time, the growing internet has allowed a larger number of people to make their film criticism heard, with some rising YouTube and Twitter critics gaining larger followings—while other cases have brought bad faith harassment campaigns against filmmakers and actors.

    Even amongst the new media landscape of the past decade, filmmakers have still created films that cut through all the noise. There is still the traditional “Oscar movie,” prestige dramas that incite intrigue, perhaps providing a bold new creative vision or maybe throwing back to a cinematic era of yore. Some of the best films of the past decade are large-scale epic historical movies, while some are deeply intimate and personal.

    The top films of the 2010s span different genres, from drama to comedy and musical; some are animated as opposed to live-action, some are documentaries rather than scripted, and many of these films are made outside of Hollywood and the United States as a whole. Even with Netflix and large franchises like the Marvel Cinematic Universe and “Star Wars,” audiences and film buffs, in particular, are still drawn to prestige and independent fare.

    In that spirit, Stacker has compiled data from Metacritic (recent as of November 2019) on the best-reviewed films by critics throughout the 2010s; Metacritic is the most popular review aggregator, other than Rotten Tomatoes, with the site averaging critic scores to come up with a Metascore.

    To qualify, the film had to be released in the U.S. theatrically or on streaming services between Jan. 1, 2010, and today, and have at least four reviews from critics writing for significant publications. Films are ranked by their Metascores (out of 100), #1 being the best. Initial ties were broken by IMDb user rating (out of 10), and secondary ties were broken by the number IMDb user votes (data not presented).

    At a time when up to 97% of Americans are under stay-at-home orders, the arts—whether music, film, or visual arts—have served as a welcomed distraction and even a therapeutic relief during the COVID-19 pandemic. We hope you'll take some comfort in reviewing the most highly regarded films of the 2010s and catching up on the ones you missed.

    Editor's note: During the COVID-19 pandemic, we at Stacker understand the difficult adjustment to isolation as well as the severe impact on many readers' lives and families. We acknowledge this list is not a solution. We do hope it provides at minimum some reprieve.

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  • #100. Manuscripts Don't Burn (2013)

    - Director: Mohammad Rasoulof
    - Metascore: 88
    - IMDb user rating: 7.2
    - Runtime: 125 min

    Independent Iranian filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof wrote and directed “Manuscripts Don’t Burn,” a film based on a real-life bombing attempt on Iranian journalists. The film depicts the would-be perpetrators and the censorship from the oppressive regime. The film never received a wide international release, but Rasoulof received honors at the Cannes Film Festival.

  • #99. The Arbor (2010)

    - Director: Clio Barnard
    - Metascore: 88
    - IMDb user rating: 7.3
    - Runtime: 94 min

    This experimental movie is part documentary and part narrative film, depicting the life of the late playwright Andrea Dunbar. Actors lip-sync over interviews and footage of real-life subjects, with the film depicting the relationship between Dunbar and her daughter. Director Clio Barnard won the BAFTA award for Outstanding Debut by a British Director for her work.

  • #98. A Film Unfinished (2010)

    - Director: Yael Hersonski
    - Metascore: 88
    - IMDb user rating: 7.4
    - Runtime: 88 min

    As the name may imply, Yael Hersonski’s documentary “A Film Unfinished” examines the historical context and background of an unfinished film. The film in question is a Nazi Germany propaganda film depicting the Warsaw Ghetto, with the documentary featuring interviews with several survivors. The film premiered at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, winning an award for “World Cinema Documentary Editing.”

  • #97. Selma (2014)

    - Director: Ava DuVernay
    - Metascore: 88
    - IMDb user rating: 7.5
    - Runtime: 128 min

    One of the most pivotal and iconic events of the American civil rights movement was revisited in Ava DuVernay’s “Selma.” David Oyelowo portrayed civil rights icon Martin Luther King, Jr., one of the many leaders of the 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery for voting rights. The film’s critical success raised the profile of DuVernay, who made the documentary “13th” for Netflix and “A Wrinkle in Time” for Disney.

  • #96. Blue Is the Warmest Color (2013)

    - Director: Abdellatif Kechiche
    - Metascore: 88
    - IMDb user rating: 7.8
    - Runtime: 180 min

    Based on a graphic novel, this three-hour-long epic French romance film depicts a love story between two teenage girls (Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos). “Blue is the Warmest Color” focuses on Exarchopoulos’ character as she grows up and matures, with a blue-haired painter (Seydoux) entering her life. The film was highly acclaimed and won the Palme d'Or, but some controversy was raised regarding the allegedly poor working conditions on set, particularly due to the behavior of director Abdellatif Kechiche.

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  • #95. The King's Speech (2010)

    - Director: Tom Hooper
    - Metascore: 88
    - IMDb user rating: 8.0
    - Runtime: 118 min

    Colin Firth won his first Academy Award for acting for portraying King George VI. After he is thrust into the throne in the midst of the Second World War, George VI, with the help of his wife Queen Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter) seeks out speech therapy from a language therapist (Geoffrey Rush) to deal with his stuttering. Sentimental and inspirational, this light-hearted historical drama ended up taking the Academy Award for Best Picture, amongst other trophies at the Oscars.

  • #94. Inside Job (2010)

    - Director: Charles Ferguson
    - Metascore: 88
    - IMDb user rating: 8.2
    - Runtime: 109 min

    This timely documentary from Charles Ferguson released at the beginning of the decade, explaining the financial crisis that had rattled the end of the previous decade. “Inside Job” is narrated by actor Matt Damon, and the film unloads details of what led to the recession in five different parts. The film was heavily praised for its pacing and research, winning an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

  • #93. Western (2015)

    - Directors: Bill Ross IV, Turner Ross
    - Metascore: 89
    - IMDb user rating: 5.8
    - Runtime: 92 min

    While not exactly a prolific film, critics who saw the documentary “Western” were compelled. Directed by brothers Bill Ross IV and Turner Ross, this film depicts the many troubles that inhabitants in border towns undergo. Critics praised “Western” for its atmosphere and poignancy.

  • #92. Zama (2017)

    - Director: Lucrecia Martel
    - Metascore: 89
    - IMDb user rating: 6.7
    - Runtime: 115 min

    Argentine period piece “Zama” takes place in 18th-century South America, with a Spanish corregidor named Zama growing impatient while waiting on a transfer out of his colony. Zama finds himself in an increasingly delicate situation, toeing the line with his superiors in Buenos Aires. Critics found the film to be both haunting and funny, while also delivering scathing critiques on colonialism.

  • #91. Elle (2016)

    - Director: Paul Verhoeven
    - Metascore: 89
    - IMDb user rating: 7.1
    - Runtime: 130 min

    Director Paul Verhoeven, previously known for dark satirical sci-fi films like “Robocop,” “Total Recall,” and “Starship Troopers,” made one feature film in the 2010s in “Elle.” Isabelle Huppert portrays a woman who is raped in her own home but does not report it to the police because of her previous experiences with authorities. Huppert was nominated for an Academy Award for her acting in this thriller. Verhoeven was missed by critics.

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