The Frida Cinema

Orange County's Year-Round Film Festival

The Writer’s Room: Top 10 Films of the 2010s

Drive

As another decade has come and gone, we here in The Frida Cinema Writer’s Room have been reflecting on the past ten years in film. The assignment was simple: give us your top 10 movies of the 2010s. Everyone in the room has their own, distinct tastes and we express them when we meet up each month. That being said, film fans love two things without fail: making lists and forcing their taste onto others. Let’s find out what our writers loved from the second decade of the 2000s!


Anthony Drake, Writing Team Member

The Social Network

I carefully chose these ten films as my favorite from the past decade. It wasn’t easy to pick only ten after going over about 50 movies, but I think it just goes show that this was one of the better decades we’ve had in film. These are all films I have seen over five times so I am pretty sure that my mind is clear on what I really like. These are also films that influenced me a lot as a filmmaker and some films I believe did not get enough attention this decade.

  1. First Reformed (2017)
  2. The Social Network (2010)
  3. Mother! (2017)
  4. The Tree of Life (2011)
  5. Mad Max : Fury Road (2015)
  6. Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)
  7. Moonlight (2016)
  8. Drive (2011)
  9. The Master (2012)
  10. The Florida Project (2017)

Isa Bulnes-Shaw, Writing Team Member

Isle of Dogs

I started out the decade at the age of twelve, so most films I saw throughout the period were movies my whole family wanted to see. Those restrictions aside, my adoration for animation means I heavily lean towards children’s films anyway since that’s the genre that rules the medium. This taste is pretty amusing when laid out next to my love of horror, which makes it an absolute delight when those two elements meet! Also: special thanks to the 2010s for bringing Robert Eggers into the world of writing and directing, and bringing out the history and symbolism geek in me full-force!

  1. ParaNorman (2011)
  2. The Babadook (2014)
  3. The Book of Life (2014)
  4. The VVitch (2016)
  5. Moonlight (2016)
  6. Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)
  7. The Shape of Water (2017)
  8. Isle of Dogs (2018)
  9. Steven Universe: The Movie (2019)
  10. The Lighthouse (2019)

Logan Crow, Executive Director

Get Out
  1. Get Out (2017)
  2. Moonlight (2016)
  3. Drive (2011)
  4. The VVitch (2015)
  5. Mid90s (2018)
  6. Searching (2018)
  7. Hereditary (2018)
  8. What Keeps You Alive (2018)
  9. Honeyland (2019)
  10. Lucky (2017)

Justina Bonilla, Writing Team Member

The King's Speech

As a fan of classic films, I tend to not watch contemporary movies. To me, many modern movies seem too generic and processed, lacking in the authenticity and passion of older films. However, I did manage to find some unique films that stood out to me over the decade. Some movies were deeply moving, others very creative, and some just wonderfully enjoyable.

  1. The King’s Speech (2010): As a disabled person, I deeply related to King George’s struggle trying to function physically and emotionally as well as perform daily tasks in a world that’s not always understanding towards people with special needs. It was wonderful to see the King succeed and prove the naysayers wrong.   
  2. BlacKKKlansman (2018): Now my favorite Spike Lee film, this film analyzes the struggle people of color face when trying to change an established system and how racism adapts to stay alive.
  3. The Book of Life (2014)/Coco (2017): Beautiful representations of my Mexican heritage, they present a refreshingly authentic view of Hispanic culture and family values.
  4. Ted (2012)/A Million Ways to Die in the West (2014): Two hilarious movies I’ve watched many times with my little brother, who absolutely loves them. Every time I see them, I can’t help but think of him and the joy they give him.
  5. Blancanieves (Snow White) (2012): A visually stunning and creative interpretation of the Snow White story set in 1920’s Spain. My favorite interpretation after the classic version from Disney. 
  6. Bombshell – The Hedy Lamarr Story (2017): A fascinating and in-depth documentary about the lesser known scientific achievements of one of the most beautiful classic film starlets in Hollywood history.
  7. Get Out (2017): Its critical, metaphorical take on American racial issues is deeply disturbing yet visually striking.
  8. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016): Undoubtedly one of the quirkiest, most underrated films of the decade, with an original spin on an over-done classic that’s very entertaining.
  9.  Christopher Robin (2018): I love Winnie the Pooh and the message of taking time to enjoy your life before it’s gone.
  10. The Muppets (2011): I loved the Muppets growing up, so seeing this movie do a wonderful job keeping that signature warm, fuzzy Muppet feeling made the little girl in me very happy!

Trevor Dillon, Programming Director

Spring Breakers

I usually tend to favor genre films. I think it’s the evergreen way to get your message across to the masses: packaging it in something fun! So my list is not going to have as much “indie cred” as you’d expect from someone who programs at an art house, but these are my favorite films from the last decade: ones I can watch over and over. Also, a lot of them are part of the new cult canon we are trying to establish here at the Frida. They’re numbered but not in any particular order because I’m a coward.

  1. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
  2. It Follows (2014)
  3. Ex Machina (2014)
  4. Drive (2011)
  5. Scott Pilgrim vs The World (2010)
  6. Annihilation (2018)
  7. The Social Network (2010)
  8. Uncut Gems (2019) 
  9. Spring Breakers (2013)
  10. The Master (2012) 

Adrienne Reese, Writing Team Member

Parasite

I tend to stumble upon movies by chance or suggestion and so because of this my taste in film genres is varied. What keeps me coming back to a movie is whether it left an impression on me: that can be by its narrative (the more existentially-minded the better), its acting performances, whether its message resonated within me, or whether scenes are so memorable that they replay in my mind as if they were a memory of my own life. I’m pretty big on films that try to innovate and build on existing conventions but tried-and-true techniques can go a long way with me if they’re executed well. While I don’t believe these movies are flawless, they have the aforementioned elements and, on top of that, redefined their respective genres and shaped the decade’s cinema.

  1. Hereditary (2018)
  2. Snowpiercer (2013)
  3. Django Unchained (2012)
  4. The Social Network (2010)
  5. Parasite (2019)
  6. Her (2013)
  7. Get Out (2018)
  8. The Invitation (2015)
  9. Moonlight (2016)
  10. Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2010)

Sammy Trujillo, Writing Team Member

Mad Max Fury Road

The following are in order of the year they were released: it was simply too hard to rank them! I saw nine out of ten of these in theaters, which goes to show a theatrical experience really does enhance one’s view of a film. 

  1. The Social Network (2010)
  2. A Separation (2011)
  3. The Master (2012)
  4. Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)
  5. Whiplash (2014)
  6. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
  7. Green Room (2015)
  8. Detroit (2017)
  9. Blindspotting (2018)
  10. Parasite (2019)

Honorable mentions:

  • Birdman (2014)
  • The Revenant (2015)
  • A Taxi Driver (2017)
  • Coco (2017)
  • 12 Years A Slave (2013)

Ryan Williams, Written Content Intern

Climax

Making this list was especially hard for me. Not only because so many great, varied films came out this past decade but because so many of my favorite filmmakers also released multiple incredible projects. For the sake of fairness and my own sanity, I’d chosen to include only one film per a director on my list. While I realize it’s almost entirely comprised of the stuff that film students just absolutely eat up (Quentin Tarantino, Wes Anderson, A24, etc.), there’s a reason for this. Firstly, I am a film student! That, and each of these films both moved me deeply and emotionally and delivered something to continue to push the cinematic medium forward. If art’s goal is to communicate – be it an idea, an emotion, an experience, anything – then these ten movies perfectly encapsulate that mission in that they changed my perspective, as an individual, and the perspective of the culture going forward.

  1. Climax (2018)
  2. Good Time (2017)
  3. Parasite (2019)
  4. The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
  5. The Favourite (2018)
  6. Drive (2011)
  7. Raw (2016)
  8. Birdman (2014)
  9. Ex Machina (2014)
  10. Django Unchained (2012)

Reggie Peralta, Content Editor

Godzilla

For someone who watches as many movies as I do, I actually had a hard time making this list. The fact that I tend to usually watch older movies certainly contributed to this difficulty, but I think it’s also because I try to be very specific whenever compiling lists of this nature. “Top” in this context could mean anything from the most artistically compelling films of the decade to merely my favorites, so I decided to split the difference and pick the movies (ranked in chronological order) that provoked strong emotional reactions from me. 

Looking at my list, it seems that I largely gravitated towards spectacle-heavy genre films and indie dramas with punchy dialogue. A surprising combination to say the least, but there’s a lot more overlap between the two than one might think. For example, while Black Swan and The Demons are driven by the desperation of their characters and Godzilla and Rogue One focus on action and apocalyptic imagery, all four cultivate in viewers a similar sense of despair. This can take the form of the titular spirit of A Ghost Story watching helplessly as his wife meets another man and leaves their home or the heroes of Rogue One, seeing the Death Star gearing up to destroy the planet they’re on, bravely resigning themselves to their fate, but the sentiment remains one of smallness in the face of forces beyond one’s control or understanding. This hopelessness can also be heard in dialogue, such as when First Reformed’s Pastor Toller ruminates in his diary about whether God will forgive mankind for what it’s done to his creation or Charlie and Nicole of Marriage Story drag absolutely everything they can about each other out during that movie’s climatic argument.

I could go on about how the other entries in this list fit or don’t fit into this analysis but for brevity’s sake, I will just say that, one way or another, they spoke to me and leave it at that. 

  1. Monsters (2010)
  2. Black Swan (2010)
  3. Godzilla (2014)
  4. The Demons (Les Demons) (2015)
  5. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)
  6. Endless Poetry (2017)
  7. A Ghost Story (2017)
  8. First Reformed (2017)
  9. Marriage Story (2019)
  10. The Wave (2019)

Sean Woodard, Writing Team Member

The Grandmaster

The films I have selected can be considered an interesting assortment. Ranging from genre fare to high art, I felt the best way to approach this list was to consider the lasting impact each film has had on me.

To begin from the number 10 spot, while not as grand in scope as Martin Scorsese’s quiet meditation on faith, Silence, Maggie Betts’s Novitiate spoke to me in a deeper manner as a Catholic while also detailing the effects of the Vatican II Council in a manner that can be seen as educational to those not familiar with the Church’s reforms. Winner of the German Film Awards for Best Picture, Director, and Actor, A Coffee in Berlin was the first film on young adult ennui that I related to; I saw the film three times during its theatrical run.

In 2016, I named Train to Busan as my number one film of the year. It was more than a riveting zombie film: it truly captured what it means to be human in its depiction of our relations to other people of different social classes. Likewise, Fruitvale Station (which I saw at its 2013 Sundance premiere) was one of the most compelling debut films I’d seen in recent years, in terms of emotionality and its sociably conscious message.

While I could have chosen any of Hayao Miyazaki’s films, I ultimately decided upon The Wind Rises. The first of his films I saw in theaters, its animation and story impacted me in a way no other animated film had to that point; in many ways, The Wind Rises seemed to me an elegy of sorts and, arguably, a fitting swan song to Miyazaki’s career.

I saw Carol theatrically with my mother. What particularly stood out was the purity displayed on screen, colored by Todd Haynes’ throwback to Technicolor masterpieces of the 1950s, as well as the respectful adherence to Patricia Highsmith’s source novel. Although the love story in Carol won me over, my affection for and awe for Saoirse Ronan won out in Brooklyn. A period piece that not only showcases Ronan’s best acting to date, it also sweeps you up in the bittersweetness of tragedy and innocence of first love.

While John Gallagher Jr., Brie Larson, and Point Loma Nazarene University alumnus Destin Daniel Cretton have moved on to larger projects, the quiet and emotionally moving film Short Term 12 earns its place as one of the best ensemble pieces. As a PLNU graduate, I feel especially connected to this film. Although I’m not particularly a fan of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s other work, Endless Poetry encapsulated the necessity of art and embodied the creative spirit in a way I have not seen since. Incorporating music, theater, painting, and other forms of artistic expression, Jodorowsky’s film is one of the most unique visions ever captured on celluloid.

And now I come to my best film of the decade. No other film in the past ten years has been able to indelibly impact me to the point where it becomes a defining part of my identity as has Wong Kar-Wai’s The Grandmaster. I have poured over each frame in all three of its versions (each one a separate impactful experience in its own right). Wong Kar-Wai’s film is deceptively not a film about martial arts or Bruce Lee’s teacher, Ip Man. Those elements are present on the surface, but the story is concerned with more pressing concerns.

With the assured pacing of an elegy – for cultures lost, for missed opportunities, for views of honor, duty, and being that radiate from the core of your being – the movie deftly explores the secrets that protect the heart and encourage us to keep living through the meaning of a phrase, a glance, a quiet motion. By its conclusion, we feel as if we’ve lived a lifetime and have been gifted some great understanding about life, however cryptic it may seem at first. In a sense, the wisdom of Wong Kar-Wai’s film transcends its worldly origins and gently assumes its own spiritual plane. There has not been a moment where I have not been transfixed in wonder at this filmic achievement; as I grow older, I expect The Grandmaster will never cease to impart to me new lessons with each subsequent viewing.

  1. The Grandmaster (2013)
  2. Endless Poetry (2016)
  3. Short Term 12 (2013)
  4. Brooklyn (2015)
  5. Carol (2015)
  6. The Wind Rises (2013)
  7. Fruitvale Station (2013)
  8. Train to Busan (2016)
  9. A Coffee in Berlin (2012)
  10. Novitiate (2017)