Ten Years, Ten Movies — the Films that Stole the 2010s

Based on the 1 billion votes on Ranker, we’ve made a list of the best movie of every year in the last decade. Take a look to see which movies made the cut — and which got swept under the rug — for every year from 2010 to 2019.

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As another decade comes to a close, critics everywhere are compiling lists of their favorite movies to come out in the last 10 years. There’s hardly a newspaper or blog out there that doesn’t have a handy “Best of the 2010s” list movie fans can look through, reference, and most important, argue about online.

Seeing as how we’re all about lists, Ranker is no exception to this rule. But we’ve got one thing all the other lists don’t — our list of the best movies this decade comes directly from readers like you.

2010Inception

Director Chris Nolan’s follow-up to 2008’s critically acclaimed The Dark Knight did not disappoint. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Ellen Page, this mind-bending sci-fi thriller won plenty of praise from critics for its original premise and complex logic (though some have argued that the logic holding the world of the movie together is less than rock-solid). Nipping at Inception’s heels on this list are Toy Story 3, The Social Network, and How to Train Your Dragon

Ranker Insights tells us that the people who voted this movie up on our list of the best movies of 2010 also loved Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island, another film released that year starring DiCaprio. More surprising, they were also 10 times more likely to love Easy A, a modern, comic retelling of the classic novel The Scarlet Letter starring Emma Stone.  

2011X-Men: First Class

First Class updated the X-Men series for a new era ushered in by The Dark Knight, using darker, grittier themes and introducing a new generation of young actors to tell this classic Marvel origin story. Following very close behind First Class is the modern classic Drive at No. 2, a rare example of a blockbuster crime thriller that still manages to feel artsy, intellectual, and cool.

It seems like First Class made it to the top spot largely on the backs of other Marvel fans, as the two movies these voters were most likely to also upvote were the original Thor (10 times more likely) and Captain America: The First Avenger (eight times more likely). However, these same voters were also 10 times more likely to vote for Wanted as the greatest movie of all time — a movie that’s still an action-packed, violent fantasy, but decidedly outside of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

2012The Avengers

With its reliance on big stars and tongue-in-cheek humor, The Avengers (along with 2008’s Iron Man) set the tone for the blockbuster Marvel movies that came to dominate the rest of the decade. The movie narrowly beat The Dark Knight Rises for 2012’s No. 1 spot, as well as Argo, that year’s winner for best picture at the Academy Awards. 

Those who voted up The Avengers on this list were also eight times more likely to consider Men in Black 3 and the James Bond movie Skyfall for the best movie of that year.

2013The Wolf of Wall Street

2013 was an incredibly good year for movies, seeing the release of crowd-pleasers like Frozen and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, as well as critics’ favorites like 12 Years a Slave and Dallas Buyers Club. But for Ranker voters, Scorcese’s The Wolf of Wall Street stole the show, followed by the space epic Gravity and Captain Phillips at Nos. 2 and 3, respectively. Incidentally, this is the only year for which a superhero movie never even cracked the Top 10. 

Among other movies released that year, Wolf of Wall Street fans were eight times more likely to also love the Simon Pegg/Nick Frost comedy The World’s End and Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Jersey Shore-style Don Juan adaptation, Don Jon. Fans of the 2013 runner-up Gravity, on the other hand, are bigger fans of Dallas Buyers Club and the Hugh Jackman drama Prisoners.

2014Guardians of the Galaxy

Based on a lesser-known series within the Marvel comic universe, Guardians of the Galaxy succeeds on the backs of its stars: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, and Dave Bautista. That being said, its killer soundtrack certainly didn’t hurt it, either. Other notable entries on the 2014 list include Interstellar, Edge of Tomorrow, and Grand Budapest Hotel

Again, it seems that Guardians is in 2014’s top spot thanks to passionate Marvel fans, since the people who upvoted it were 10 times more likely to also upvote Captain America: The Winter Soldier on the same list. That doesn’t mean their tastes are exclusively limited to the MCU, however. Those who think Guardians of the Galaxy was the best movie of 2014 are seven times more likely to upvote Sherlock on our list of the best TV shows of all time.

2015Mad Max: Fury Road

Audiences and critics tend to clash when it comes to the raft of reboots that hits theaters each year, but Mad Max: Fury Road is a rare example of the kind of movie that pleases both. It’s a gritty action movie that infuses the old ‘80s series with new life, thanks in large part to a killer performance by Charlize Theron. The movie blew out some stiff blockbuster competition for 2015’s title, including Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Avengers: Age of Ultron

But while the year was full of crowd-pleasing franchise installments and animated kids’ films, Fury Road fans preferred grittier, more violent fare. Those who upvote the Tom Hardy-led Mad Max movies are nine times more likely to also vote up The Hateful Eight and Ex Machina, and eight times more likely to love The Revenant and the bloody cartel thriller Sicario.

2016Deadpool

Another lesser-known Marvel Comics story turned into a blockbuster movie, Deadpool manages to stand out in a decade crowded with wisecracking superheroes. The movie that reminded us why we love Ryan Reynolds had to beat out Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Captain America: Civil War, and Moana

Interestingly enough, the movie Deadpool fans are most likely to upvote on our list of best 2016 movies is Lights Out, a supernatural horror movie that’s No. 47 overall on the list. Given the large share of overall voters who liked Deadpool, this suggests that the movie’sfans are coming to this list to vote for Deadpool and Deadpool only.

2017Logan

2017 continued a decade-long trend of comic book movies that set a radically different tone from others in the same franchise. Logan won praise from fans and critics alike for its emotional treatment of themes like death and parenthood, as well as for Hugh Jackman’s nuanced performance in his final turn as Wolverine. The 2017 list was absolutely dominated by superhero movies, with Wonder Woman, Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2, and Spider-Man: Homecoming all in the Top 5. 

Fans of Logan are also nine times more likely to vote up the considerably less story-heavy John Wick 2 as a favorite movie of 2017, as well as the jocular MCU flick Thor: Ragnarok. But while the movie may be named after the razor-clawed superhero, its fanbase is more likely to see Professor X as their favorite X-Men character than Wolverine, according to Ranker data.

2018Avengers: Infinity War

The second movie in the franchise to make it into our Top 10 list, Infinity War, was the Empire Strikes Back of the Avengers series: tragic, dark, and a favorite of critics. It won in another year chock-full of comic book movies, including Black Panther, Ant-Man and the Wasp, and the animated Into the Spider-Verse. At No. 2 in 2018 was the sleeper hit A Quiet Place, an inventive horror movie that marked the directorial debut of The Office’s John Krasinski.

Marvel fans again buoy this one to the top, as those who voted for Infinity War are 10 times more likely to vote up Black Panther, Ant-Man and the Wasp, and Deadpool 2. They’re also nine times more likely to vote up The Incredibles 2 and Venom on the same list. But only one Avengers actor is worthy of a truly high actor to these voters: Samuel L. Jackson, whom Infinity War fans are seven times more likely to upvote on our list of the greatest actors of all time.

2019Joker

(Note: this list is still heavily competitive, so it may have changed after the time of publication)

If you’ve made it this far, 2019’s entry should be no surprise: Joker won surprisingly good reviews at film festivals and was rewarded with domestic box office records. Consider the fact that it’s another gritty reboot of a comic book classic, and it was all but inevitable Joker would finish out the decade’s top movies for Ranker readers. Other contenders on the list include Endgame, the sequel to last year’s Infinity War, and the scrappy indie movie The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot

Much like the movie’s namesake, Joker fans are a little unpredictable. For instance, they’re 10 times more likely to vote up Toy Story 3 on our list of the best movies of all time, 10 times more likely to vote for the Fast and the Furious franchise as their favorite guilty pleasure movies, and 10 times more likely to see Detective Pikachu as the year’s best action movie.

What Does This Say About the 2010s?

As you’ve probably noticed, superhero movies completely dominated the decade, taking seven of the 10 available spots on the best movies of the 2010s. Add in the beloved reboot Mad Max: Fury Road, and you’ll notice only two movies on this list are original movies rather than remakes or installations in a franchise. Both of those movies, Scorcese’s The Wolf of Wall Street and Nolan’s Inception, come from fan-favorite directors. 

But before you start bemoaning the state of cinema, you should know this isn’t much different from fans’ favorite movies in decades past. Lord of the Rings, Batman, and Pixar cleaned up during the 2000s, for example. If you consider Pixar a franchise, the only two non-franchise movies to get No. 1 during that decade were The Departed in 2006 and Gladiator in 2000. Indiana Jones, Star Wars, and sci-fi sequels like Aliens ruled the 1980s, with original screenplays like Rain Man (1988) sneaking in the occasional win. 

All this goes to say that, while many criticize Hollywood for focusing too much on reboots, there’s been good reason to believe in this strategy for some time (we talk more about this inRanker CEO Clark Benson’s deep data story “We Made a Blockbuster Sequel Using Just Ranker Data — And So Can You!”. While there’s always room for a few indie originals in every year’s list, it’s nearly impossible to beat characters movie audiences already know and love.

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