The tenth anniversary is considered the aluminum or tin anniversary and serves as a significant milestone for pretty much anyone or anything especially films. As a new year begins I usually take this time to explore films celebrating an important anniversary and in honor of the dawn of the 2020s I decided it’s time to pay homage to the most memorable and iconic features that defined the first year of the last decade. Whether due to Academy Award success or fan support, the films I’ll be discussing today served as a fitting start to a decade focused on franchises, CGI versus practical effects, and the decreasing line between art-house and popular films. So lets flashback to a decade ago, these are my picks for the Top 10 Films Turning 10 in 2020.
For this list I went back to the year 2010 and looked at films that left an impact that has lasted the entirety of the last ten years. This isn’t a list of the best movies of 2010 necessarily, just the ones that ten years later we are still looking back on proudly that set the standard for what would be expected from viewers in the decade that followed. In some ways these were films that sparked entire franchises while in others they were one-off features that left an impression or franchise continuations that became among the most iconic films in their series. Any and all movies released in the 2010s could be considered but films that were released in limited theaters in 2009 and expanded in 2010 were not applied to this list. Sorry “Avatar”.
What is your favorite movie turning ten years old in 2020? Let me know in the comments below. Let’s celebrate some anniversaries!
10. “Hot Tub Time Machine”
There are few simple comedies that are fondly remembered from the 2010s, but one that seems to have stood the test of time the most is “Hot Tub Time Machine”. Focusing on a group of friends who find themselves revisiting their younger years after setting off a chain reaction in a hot tub sending them back in time, “Hot Tub Time Machine” became somewhat of a surprise hit in 2010 grossing $64.6 million and earning a sequel released in 2015. While there were bigger comedy films with bigger names released during the year “Hot Tub Time Machine” appeared to be the must-see film of the genre and it’s the one that most remember fondly as a cult classic. Today the film has become a science fiction comedy must-see even earning a reference in “Avengers: Endgame” among a list of iconic time travel movies from years past.
9. “The King’s Speech”
While not many people’s favorite movie from 2010, it’s hard to leave “The King’s Speech” off this list especially since it grossed over $414 million at the global box office on a $15 million budget and earned four Oscars: Best Picture, Best Director for Tom Hooper, Best Actor for Colin Firth and Best Original Screenplay. It’s lack of a larger lasting impact since then puts it lower on this list since most people remember it for the films it defeated rather than its own merit. Still “The King’s Speech” left its own lasting impressing as a stylish historical feature that has helped influence filmmakers to add their own personal touches to similar stories incorporating artistic quality beyond just the story, sets and costumes. Most of all though, “The King’s Speech” has aged very well and remains a pretty solid viewing experience even after ten years.
8. “Black Swan”
Psychological thrillers are often hit or miss but few over the last decade matched the impact of “Black Swan” which, being categorized in part as a horror film, became one of the very few movies of that genre to earn a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars. It also earned Natalie Portman a Best Actress win in a performance that has since become legendary and helped the film become a lasting example of how much horror would up the ante in the 2010s. It was a box office smash as well earning $330.4 million worldwide on a measly $13 million budget and its symbolic look at the dueling personalities of its main character during her accent to artistic perfection using the legendary “Swan Lake” as its inspiration continues to make it a major topic of discussion among film analysts to this day.
“Tangled” is arguably the film that started Disney’s resurgence in the 2010s. Disney struggled in the 2000s ending the decade with “The Princess and The Frog” which failed to impress at the box office, at least by Disney’s standards. “Tangled” was released a year later in 2010 and officially announced Disney’s commitment to computer generated animation similar to Pixar. It was a hit earning over $591 million worldwide and setting the stage for what would come to be considered the Disney Revival, the second renaissance of the animation giant. While features like “Frozen” and “Zootopia” would go on to overshadow “Tangled” in years to come it was this adaptation of the story of Rapunzel that renewed interest in the studio’s works and has become one of those films everyone knows but only the great few respect properly.
6. “Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World”
The words “cult classic” get thrown around a lot these days, including by myself, but this film, “Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World”, is the absolute definition of the term. A box office bomb, “Scott Pilgrim” took time to earn respect garnering a massive fan base upon home release and making Edgar Wright, previously only known for “Shawn of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz”, a household name. Part of its popularity stems from its effective utilization of video game concepts and themes to tell its story in a era when video games and movies mixed like oil and water. The 2010s would go on to include many films embracing unique and quirky visual styles and “Scott Pilgrim”, along with another film I’ll touch on later, were heavily responsible for inspiring that wave of creativity. On a personal level, despite first seeing it two years after its release, “Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World” stands as one of my personal favorite movies ever.
5. “Despicable Me”
Disney wasn’t the only animation studios to find its footing in the first year of the decade. One studio, Illumination Entertainment, made its debut that year with a little hit known as “Despicable Me”. The first release of a decade-long partnership with Universal Pictures, “Despicable Me” was an instant classic becoming the ninth highest grossing film of the year worldwide with over $543 million in global earnings and establishing Illumination as a contender. The studio would go on to produce three more films in the series over the rest of the decade, including a “Minions” spinoff film which is still today in the top five highest grossing animated features of all time. It’s impossible to deny this film’s legacy as it kicked off one of the defining franchises of the entire decade. Speaking of which…
4. “How To Train Your Dragon”
The year 2010 was a big one for DreamWorks Animation as well. The studio had become known primarily for its “Shrek” franchise during the 2000s which came to an end in 2010 with “Shrek Forever After” and the “Kung Fu Panda” series. But in 2010 the “How to Train Your Dragon” series was born with the first film becoming the studio’s landmark release of 2010. Sparking an entirely new franchise, “How to Train Your Dragon” was critically lauded and became an instant fan favorite leading to television spinoffs and two sequels throughout the decade. “How to Train Your Dragon” as a standalone movie was an enjoyable and well animated feature and would kick off another animated franchise that would define the 2010s producing a near perfect trilogy in the process.
The fourth highest grossing film of 2010, “Inception” was directed by Christopher Nolan and proved without a doubt that he was a master of his craft. Using an ensemble cast and practical effects to tell the story of dream thieves attempting to implant an idea into a target’s mind, “Inception” was inventive, visually stunning and cleverly filmed. The trailer itself introducing what has become known as the “Inception horn” which has since become a staple of the industry. It went on to win four Academy Awards for its cinematography, sound editing and mixing and its visual effects and played a direct role in ushering in a demand for more realistic films without dependence on computer generated imagery. What “Scott Pilgrim” did for CGI visuals this movie did for realism and the debate between the two styles resonated throughout the decade. It has since becomes one of Nolan’s signature movies and an iconic product of the 2010s.
2. “Toy Story 3”
There are a lot of animated films on this list, but none have left the impact of this Oscar-winning feature that served as the initial end to Pixar’s “Toy Story” franchise. Considered by many among Pixar’s very best films and even among the best animated movies in history, “Toy Story 3’s” legacy is beyond compare and has never really been matched even after ten years and a fourth film in the series in 2019. It became the highest grossing movie of 2010 and for good reason. Almost every animated feature from Pixar and beyond has been held to a new standard because of the quality animation and storytelling in this movie. While many studios, including Disney, were looking to establish their footing in 2010, Pixar kept doing what they do best and provided a masterpiece that ten years later is nothing short of an absolute classic.
1. “The Social Network”
This movie was going to be at the top because whether the list was about lasting impact or quality “The Social Network” happens to have both. After ten years the impact of social media has only continued to grow so a film about the birth of Facebook remains relevant pretty much by default, but the quality acting, directing, writing and its legacy as a robbed Oscar contender many felt should have earned Best Picture have helped it develop in 2010’s most iconic film. In the years since its release it has even gone on to be considered among the best films of not just its decade but the 21st century which is quite the deserving compliment. “The Social Network” is even credited with directly impacting the rise of start ups in the 2010s making it not just a cinematic wonder, but a feature of true cultural influence for Millennials and Generation Z. How many films can claim they not only defined a generation, but helped completely change how the world works? Very few indeed.