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The 100 best movies of the decade

40. Toni Erdmann

(Image credit: Thunderbird Releasing)

Year: 2016 | Director: Maren Ade

A German-Austrian comedy-drama pushing three hours was the unexpected toast of Cannes 2016 – pity no one told the jury. Excruciatingly funny (and sometimes just plain excruciating), Ade's tale of an estranged father (Peter Simonischek) posing as a fright-wigged 'life coach' to clumsily reconnect with his workaholic daughter (Sandra Hüller) confounded expectations at every turn. Hüller's tour-de-force performance was the crowning glory of a tender cringe-com with an embarrassment of riches. Chris Schilling

(Image credit: Film4)

39. Kill List
Year:
2011 | Director: Ben Wheatley

Brit director Wheatley's sophomore feature (after Down Terrace) struck like a hammer to the head, as two hitmen (Neil Maskell, Michael Smiley) hired to murder a priest find themselves swirling down a dark rabbit hole to be confronted with horrors that are beyond their bleakest comprehension. If Mike Leigh were to make a naturalistic folk-horror movie with enough splashes of violence to make Takashi Miike wince, it might look a bit like Kill List. Jamie Graham

(Image credit: Film4)

38. Carol
Year:
2015 | Director: Todd Haynes

After riffs on classic melodrama (Far From Heaven) and film noir (HBO's Mildred Pierce), director Todd Haynes mounted a ravishing romance in a vintage mould with his adaptation of the Patricia Highsmith novel originally titled The Price Of Salt. As desire emerges from a grey '50s backdrop to consume lovers Therese and Carol, leads Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett's character studies tremble with contained yearning. Every glance means something, no strain shows: it's filmmaking as natural as breathing. Kevin Harley

(Image credit: A24)

37. Lady Bird
Year:
2017 | Director: Greta Gerwig

Actress Greta Gerwig's first turn behind the camera was a resounding triumph. An affecting story about the intense and infuriating bond between mothers and daughters, it was also a sensitively observed coming-of- age drama and a quirky indie comedy. Saoirse Ronan lovingly brought to life with magnetic warmth the spiky titular character, while the witty dialogue always felt authentic. Lady Bird's heartfelt portrayal of the growing pains of female adolescence was nothing less than luminous. Ann Lee

(Image credit: Blumhouse)

36. Get Out
Year:
2017 | Director: Jordan Peele

Who would have thought it of sketch-show star Jordan Peele? His post-Obama riff on submerged racial tensions was wry, wise and wiry: a jagged rebuke to America that made the writer/ director one of the hottest helmers on the planet. When you add the taut economy of his direction to his Oscar-winning screenplay, it's clear that Peele has some serious genre creds. Indeed, he might just prove to be this generation's heir to Alfred Hitchcock or John Carpenter, as underlined by Us and his gig presenting The Twilight Zone. Simon Kinnear

35. Joker

(Image credit: Warner Bros)

Year: 2019 | Director: Todd Phillips

Heartbreaking, humanist, disquieting and game- changing are not the descriptors we're used to bandying around on DC movies – but Phillips' inspired social commentary grit, Trojan-horsed via the Clown Prince of Gotham, is arresting, satisfying cinema. Following mentally ill wannabe-comedian Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix), as society, the system, his own mother and the media shatters him and galvanises a true disruptor, Joker is thrilling drama, keen character study and a telling document of our times. Heath who? Jane Crowther

(Image credit: Canal+)

34. Amour
Year:
2012 | Director: Michael Haneke

After the likes of Hidden, Funny Games and The White Ribbon, no one expected Michael Haneke to go and make a love story. Without any cut throats or clubbed dogs in sight, German auteur Haneke warmed his chilly heart to tell the tale of Anne (Emmanuelle Riva) and Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant), a Parisian couple who carry on loving each other through the toughest trials of old age. Masterfully made, it's a rare and beautiful ode to the things that matter most. Paul Bradshaw

(Image credit: Marvel/Disney)

33. Avengers: Infinity War
Year:
2018 | Director: Anthony and Joe Russo

Six reasons why Infinity War is such a gem. 1) It put its mind to keeping the sprawl of superheroes and sub-plots perfectly balanced. 2) Some got more screen time than others, but everyone shone. 3) It was a long exploration of the ultimate power play – one man taking everyone's fate into literally his own hand – that never tipped into overkill. 4) It was spectacle with soul; every death hurt... 5) ...despite the reality that many of the dusted already had sequels slated. 6) That 'Space' caption. Hilarious. Neil Smith

(Image credit: Silerwood Films)

32. Blue Valentine
Year:
2010 | Director: Derek Cianfrance

Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams gave career-best performances in this riveting dissection of a disintegrating marriage, a study in both dissolution and disillusion lent almost heartbreaking poignancy by its use of flashbacks to detail the relationship's optimistic early stages. Inspired in part by his parents' divorce, writer-director Derek Cianfrance made his leads live together for a month so that they could accurately simulate the tensions that tear their characters apart. Neil Smith

(Image credit: France 2)

31. Blue Is The Warmest Colour
Year:
2013 | Director: Abdellatif Kechiche

Following a relationship from tentative first glance to devastating break-up, Abdellatif Kechiche's coming-of-age love story captured the heady highs and destructive lows with unflinching honesty and stifling intimacy. There was furore over the protracted, graphic sex scenes – actresses Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux later said they felt humiliated, forced to play out a male fantasy – but it was the raw performances, all tears, snot and gut- wrenching anguish, that lingered. Ann Lee

30. The Grand Budapest Hotel

(Image credit: Fox Searchlight)

Year: 2014 | Director: Wes Anderson

Anderson answered his critics in the best way with his eighth feature: by making the most Anderson-esque film imaginable. Meticulous tracking shots, deliciously mannered performances (Ralph Fiennes, especially), elegant score... The trademarks were present and exquisitely correct in his period caper, extravagantly art-staged in the titular resort. Best of all, its spry self-awareness came marinated in that crucial Anderson ingredient: a seductive ache of nostalgic melancholy for good times passing. Kevin Harley

(Image credit: Columbia/Sony)

29. The Social Network
Year:
2010 | Director: David Fincher

Even a long way from Fight Club, David Fincher (with screenwriter Aaron Sorkin) teased the dark stuff of dysfunctional man-boyhood, existential anxiety and provocative cultural resonance from Facebook's origin tale. As Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross' score threw shadows, Fincher laid bare the irony of a "semi-asocial" man changing the way we communicate. Not content to merely lacerate Jesse Eisenberg's Mark Zuckerberg, The Social Network tapped into his flawed humanity to expose the Zuckerberg within us all. Kevin Harley

(Image credit: Screen Australia)

28. The Babadook
Year:
2014 | Director: Jennifer Kent

Widowed mum Amelia (Essie Davis) and introspective son Samuel (Noah Wiseman) battled a snaggle-toothed monster in an Aussie horror- fantasy that artfully bled the lines between reality and fantasy, the psychological and the supernatural. The Babadook was scary, sure, but most of all it was affecting, offering a heartfelt study of grief and mental illness. "It's the way the film works slowly but inevitably on your emotions," said super-fan William Friedkin. Jamie Graham

(Image credit: A24)

27. Hereditary
Year:
2018 | Director: Ari Aster

Several film journos declared Aster's debut as this generation's The Exorcist, but its domestic drama and shattering grief was closer to Ingmar Bergman's Cries And Whispers and Nicolas Roeg's Don't Look Now. Watching a family torn asunder by not one but two deaths was a truly disturbing experience, but more ghastly still was seeing lead Toni Collette, who gave a career-best performance, being snubbed by Oscar. Now that's diabolical. Jamie Graham

(Image credit: Warner Bros)

26. Interstellar
Year:
2014 | Director: Christopher Nolan

Nolan channelled his love of 2001 into this sci-fi opus, in which Matthew McConaughey's Cooper leaves a dust-storm ravaged Earth for the furthest reaches of space (and time). The wormhole physics are intense but always anchored in feeling, as Cooper has to decide, to quote Brand (Anne Hathaway), "between seeing your children again and the future of the human race." Visually epic and emotionally complex, it's richer on every revisit. Matt Maytum

25. Ex Machina 

(Image credit: Film4)

Year: 2014 | Director: Alex Garland

After the taut convulsions of his Dredd script, Garland delivered a tighter-still exercise in speculative sci-fi. AI paranoia, Frankenstein, Dr. Moreau and toxic masculinity provided fertile seedbeds for a conceptual chamber piece, in which Domhnall Gleeson's naïve coder discovers dark truths about hipster-creator Oscar Isaac and his AI invention, played to slippery perfection by Alicia Vikander. Tense and teasing, Garland's directorial debut established him as a modern master of literary genre head-scramblers. Kevin Harley

(Image credit: Sony/Columbia)

24. Blade Runner 2049
Year:
2017 | Director: Denis Villeneuve

In a decade that saw many belated sequels miss the mark, Denis Villeneuve's sensational Blade Runner follow-up was well worth the 35-year wait. A 164-minute, thematically rich neo-noir detective story that deals with melancholy musings on isolation, identity and humanity, it was the polar opposite of what audiences wanted in the midst of the superhero boom (no wonder it bombed at the box office). But, like 2049's seminal predecessor, it's a film that's only improving with age. Jordan Farley

(Image credit: Bold Productions)

23. Nightcrawler
Year:
2014 | Director: Dan Gilroy

Jake Gyllenhaal re-embraced the dark side in Gilroy's debut, oozing a feral intensity as Louis Bloom, a sociopathic news cameraman prowling small-hours LA for crime footage. "Lou is capitalism gone amok," said Gilroy. Sharp, stylish and savage, Gilroy's self-styled "cautionary tale" re-sharpened its lead's edge in the service of a '70s antihero movie for increasingly content-hungry times. Kevin Harley

(Image credit: RADiUS-TWC)

22. It Follows
Year:
2014 | Director: David Robert Mitchell

As a kid, debut writer-director Mitchell repeatedly dreamt of being pursued by something slow and implacable. Which is exactly what happens to Jay (Maika Monroe) after her boyfriend gives her a walking, stalking STD – a spirit that absolutely will not stop, ever, until she is dead. Relentlessly, poundingly scored by Disasterpeace and boasting some of the best widescreen horror-lensing since Carpenter, It Follows thrills and chills from first frame to last. Jamie Graham

(Image credit: Universal)

21. Bridesmaids
Year:
2011 | Director: Paul Fieg

Despite its numerous gross-out aspects, puke and profanity were not all this energetically lewd marital comedy had to offer. Co-written by star Kristen Wiig, the sly, saucy script teased deceptively character-rich pickings from the premise of two women (Wiig, Rose Byrne) warring over Maya Rudolph's bride-to-be. The result emerged as an uplifting love letter to thirty-something female friendship, with Melissa McCarthy earning her Best Supporting Oscar nom in every terrifically unrestrained outburst. Kevin Harley

20. Drive

(Image credit: FilmDistrict)

Year: 2011 | Director: Nicolas Winding Refn

"I'm a fetish filmmaker," said Refn, a description borne out by his lush valentine to cars, crime and romance. Between Ryan Gosling's laconic driver, Carey Mulligan's dreamy mum- next-door and the sudden eruptions of violence, his eighth feature revelled in heightened cine-fantasy. While Gosling's Driver says little, the style speaks volumes: between Cliff Martinez's swooning electro-score and DoP Newton Thomas Sigel's hyper-expressive images, Drive delivered a pure, immersive art-pulp high. Kevin Harley

(Image credit: Sony)

19. Call Me By Your Name
Year:
2017 | Director: Luca Guadagnino

Based on the first part of André Acimen's bestseller, this James Ivory-penned mood-piece became a cult film and awards darling thanks to a dreamy sense of time and place, and two electrifying lead performances. Following precocious teen Elio (Timothée Chalamet) as he falls for his professor father's summer intern, Oliver (Armie Hammer), during a 1983 summer in Italy, Call Me By Your Name even managed to make a potentially ridiculous peach-defiling scene beautiful. Mysteries of love, indeed. Jane Crowther

(Image credit: Columbia Pictures)

18. Zero Dark Thirty
Year:
2012 | Director: Kathryn Bigelow

After their Oscar-winning war picture The Hurt Locker, journalist-turned-screenwriter Mark Boal and genre-director- turned-political filmmaker Bigelow made this propulsive procedural thriller chronicling the decade-long hunt for Osama Bin Laden. CIA Agent Maya (Jessica Chastain) led the pursuit with guts and intelligence, but this was no jingoistic, simplistic, feelgood thriller – it made for troubling, even sickening, viewing, its detailed narrative full of dead ends, knuckleheads and torture. Jamie Graham

(Image credit: Universal)

17. Frances Ha
Year:
2012 | Director: Noah Baumbach

Mumblecore graduate Greta Gerwig gave a fully fledged crossover performance as a half-fledged dancer/dreamer in her second film with co-writer/ director (and partner) Baumbach. Less a story than a chic, loose character piece, Frances Ha occupied a persuasively depicted world of floundering late-twentysomethings, navigating flaky romances and transient flatshares. As its characters awoke blinking into adulthood's glare, Gerwig's joyous, blithe and thoroughly, messily relatable lead gave post-collegiate flux a good name. Kevin Harley

(Image credit: Warner Bros)

16. Gravity
Year:
2013 | Director: Alfonso Cuarón

Despite his blast-off into the realms of James Cameron-approved FX miracles, Cuarón remembered to honour survivalist cinema's raw verities in his Oscar-winning space trip. Cuarón's airborne ballet raised the CGI bar so high that audiences got dizzy looking up. But Sandra Bullock's bravura performance as a grieving woman lost in orbit hit us as hard as the 3D shrapnel, lending Cuarón's self-styled epic of "adversity and rebirth" its charge of emotion. Rob James

15. Star Wars: The Force Awakens 

(Image credit: Disney/LucasFilm)

Year: 2015 | Director: J.J. Abrams

"Luke Skywalker has vanished..." But Star Wars was back, with an invigorating presence we hadn't felt since the early '80s. Sure, Abrams relied heavily on Lucas' original template. But few of the decade's many reboots/relaunches played the nostalgia card so effectively, from the fanfare- blasting reveal of a familiar freighter to a melted mask that still had the power to chill. The new hopefuls shone, too: Ridley, Driver, Boyega, BB-8... Matthew Leyland

(Image credit: XYZ Films)

14. The Raid
Year:
2011 | Director: Gareth Evans

While western cinema was still (poorly) imitating Bourne's shaky- cam scraps, Welsh writer/director Evans and his awe-inspiringly athletic Indonesian action men showed the rest of the world how it should be done with The Raid. The simple set-up (SWAT team is trapped in a drug dealer's deadly block of flats) is nothing to write home about, but as a showcase for a series of breath- snatching, bone-breaking punch-ups, nothing this decade comes close. Jordan Farley

(Image credit: Universal)

13. Phantom Thread
Year:
2017 | Director: Paul Thomas Anderson

Anderson's movies are set in California and chronicle the sad, secret life of America. What a shock, then, that his eighth movie was a love story located in '50s London. Daniel-Day Lewis and Vicky Krieps turned heads as monomaniacal fashion couturier Reynolds Woodcock and his unyielding new muse Alma, but PTA was belle of the ball, here trying on Hitch's Rebecca and Vertigo but altering them into a gothic romance all of his own: fastidious, funny, fucked-up. Jamie Graham

(Image credit: Fox Searchlight)

12. Black Swan
Year:
2010 | Director: Darren Aronofsky

Before 'elevated horror' became a thing, classy, awards-baiting genre movies were labelled 'psychological thrillers'. By being positioned as such, Aronofsky's horror flick (it's essentially a were-swan movie, with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Dario Argento also in its DNA) won Oscar nods for Best Film and Director, while Natalie Portman took home the Best Actress gong. And deservedly so – she dazzles as a ballet dancer who loses her sanity as she quests for perfection. Jamie Graham

11. Son of Saul

(Image credit: Mozinet)

Year: 2015 | Director: László Nemes

Debut director Nemes' description of his Holocaust drama as "immersive" barely conveyed its harrowing force. With tight framing and textured focus, Nemes brought a wrenching immediacy to the hell endured by a Hungarian Jew in Auschwitz intent on giving a dead teenager a Jewish burial. Saul's mission seems to occupy a pure present, without past or future. There is no catharsis: just an unyielding, in-the-moment intensity, handled with moral authority and control. Kevin Harley