Top movies of the decade

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The 2010’s brought many iconic films that made history. Here are the top 5 movies of the decade, as voted by the Towsend Harris community. Criteria include content and quality, cultural impact, and lasting popularity. 

     1.  Marvel Cinematic Universe (Avengers Endgame, Avengers Infinity War, Black Panther)

Black Panther (2018) Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%

Avengers Infinity War (2018) Rotten Tomatoes Score: 85%

Avengers Endgame (2019) Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94%

Marvel Studios started the decade strong with Iron Man 2, which is now arguably one of the least popular movies of their franchise. However, the company released several other critically acclaimed films: Avengers (2012), Black Panther (2018), Avengers: Infinity War (2018), and Avengers: Endgame (2019). These films focused on various superheroes from Marvel Comics and created a crazed international following while also holding the titles for 4 out of the top 6 highest-grossing films of the decade. The franchise brought unprecedented attention to action-comedy comic book films and defined a decade of entertainment. 

Sophomore Cate Nguyen thought that the last two films in the Avengers franchise were especially unique because “unlike classic movies where the villain loses and the hero saves the day, Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame both… have bittersweet endings.” 

     2.  Inception (2010)

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 87%

In Inception, director Christopher Nolan creates another boundless, critically acclaimed story, in which Leonardo DiCaprio plays a man whose ability to enter other people’s dreams and extract secrets from their mind is in high demand in the corporate world. His next mission to plant an idea in someone else’s brain seems nearly impossible, but completing it will finally allow him to reunite with his family.

Critics noted that the film effectively balances a complex narrative with creative, captivating storytelling. It is an interesting and imaginative story with impressive twists that make the movie like a two-and-a-half hour trip, in the best ways possible. Freshman Arietta Xylas admires the film’s “mind-blowing” plot.  “The whole movie is beautifully shot [and]… every scene is strategic[ally placed],” she said. 

     3.  Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%

A film that was in the works for almost 20 years, Mad Max: Fury Road is a fast-paced, action movie that shows the journey of several women as they escape from their tyrannical ruler and “husband” who enslaved the survivors in their post-apocalyptic world. During the film, they, with the help of another former captive, race through the Wasteland to get away from their dictator. 

Critics often note director George Miller’s excellent execution of a high-stakes thriller, that packs humor, breathtaking fight sequences, and moving acting in a short two hours. Senior Natalie Sokolow praised the film’s “amazing special effects,” which “made the movie seem so much more real and exciting.” Mad Max is more than just a car chase, with prominent themes of feminism, solidarity, and survival throughout.

     4.  Spider-man: Into the Spiderverse (2017) 

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%

Spider-Man Into the Spiderverse (2017) is remarkable for its animation style. The film follows a young, Afro-Latino superhero, Miles Morales, who learns how to use his powers from the many others just like him, like Spider Gwen, Spider-Ham, Peter Parker, and several others. Together, as heroes often do, they save the world. 

Arietta agreed with critics who loved the animation style, and said, “[It was] one of the most beautifully animated films I’ve seen.” Reviews consistently highlight the movie’s humor, sense of adventure, and fresh take on an overdone storyline. Spider-Man: Into the Spider Verse was also revolutionary because it gave young audiences a hero of color to look up to long before Black Panther made it to theaters. There’s so much to love between the diverse characters, and themes of family, selflessness, and self-confidence. 

     5.  Crazy Rich Asians (2018)

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91%

Crazy Rich Asians follows the story of native New Yorker Rachel Chu as she navigates the world of love, family, and drama while accompanying her longtime boyfriend, Nick Young, to his best friend’s wedding in Singapore. After discovering that Nick is the son of one of the country’s wealthiest families, Rachel faces a disapproving mother and jealous socialites on her journey to discover her own sense of self and place within the family. 

The movie was well-received by critics and audiences alike as it was one of the first high-grossing films to feature such an extensive Asian cast. Senior Samantha Yu said, “There aren’t that many big movies that represent Asian culture in the way that [Crazy Rich Asians] has.” The film’s cultural and societal impact as the first Hollywood movie with a majority Asian cast since The Joy Luck Club (1993) helped propel its success. The film was even nominated for Golden Globe and Screen Actors’ Guild Awards, and other critics praised its careful balance of traditional romantic comedy themes with original storytelling that brings a new take on the “fish-out-of-water” romantic story.

Additional reporting from Allen Babakhanov.

Photo by Sharon Li.