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The 20 best films released since 2010, according to critics

Time to catch up on those you've missed

The 20 best films released since 2010, according to critics
Tom Victor
08 November 2017

Look, right, I know what you’re thinking here.

You’ve read the title and thought it sounds familiar, as if we’ve done something like this before.

You couldn’t be more wrong.

We’ve gone through IMDb’s top films of the century, but those were voted on by the general public, and as we all know, the general public can’t be trusted.

Instead we need to listen to critics, who have sat in darkened rooms for long enough that they cease to become regular members of the public and suddenly become people we should listen to.

Citizen Kane, a regular choice for critics’ best-loved film

In the age of the sequel, it’s easy to forget how many great original movies have come along this decade.

So we’ve gone over to Metacritic to pick out the best-reviewed films released from 2010 onwards.

For those unfamiliar with the site, it aggregates reviews and gives them an average score, with a maximum of 100.

In case you were wondering, the worst film of the decade according to Metacritic is United Passions – starring Tim Roth as Sepp Blatter – which gets a score of 1.

On to the top 20, though, and we’re excluding any entries yet to receive a full UK release.

  1. 1.'Boyhood' - 100

    The only 2010s film with a Metascore of 100, Richard Linklater’s magnum opus is as good as it is long. Writing forTheHollywood Reporter, Todd McCarthy said: “There is little doubt that, over time, Boyhood will be seen and deeply appreciated by viewers young and old on various formats and in different ways, with the end result that it will endure.”

  2. 2.'Moonlight' - 99

    The Best Picture Oscar winner was a near-perfect film, with Mahershala Ali winning the Best Supporting Actor award. Ty Burr’s Boston Globe review described it as a film that leaves you “feeling dazed, more whole, a little cleaner”.

  3. 3.'12 Years a Slave' - 96

    Steve McQueen’s Oscar-winner, which introduced Lupita Nyong’o to Hollywood audiences, rounds off the podium. The film might not have a perfect score, but, as the San Francisco Chronicle’s Mick LaSalle noted: “The ways in which this film is true are much more important than the ways it’s false.”

  4. 4.'Manchester by the Sea' - 96

    In other years, Manchester by the Sea would have been a lock for Best Picture, but it ultimately suffered from being released in the same year as Moonlight. “An emotional tour de force” and “A film you get socked in the chops by”, was how Empire’s Phil de Semlyen described the Casey Affleck vehicle.

  5. 5.'Gravity' - 96

    Ironically, Gravity has dropped in the rankings since its 2013 release (yes, it’s a science joke), though admittedly that’s because other films have risen up to overtake it. “Words can do little to convey the visual astonishment this space opera creates,” the Los Angeles Times’ Kenneth Turan wrote of the Sandra Bullock film.

  6. 6.'Carol' - 95

    Carol might not have received a Best Picture Oscar nomination, but the critics loved it upon its 2015 release. Writing for the Seattle Times, Moira MacDonald explained: “The film is less about telling a story than creating a mood; letting us wallow in the way Blanchett’s voice, low and carefully placed, makes you think of pearls dropping onto a carpet; or how Mara’s face seems to open up and her breathing changes when Carol is nearby; or how the whole movie, with its burnished colors and city lights, looks like a Hopper painting come to life.”

  7. 7.'Call Me by Your Name' - 95

    The most recent addition to the list, Call Me by Your Name has risen towards the top almost instantly. Starring Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet, it has been described by the Telegraph’s Robbie Collin as “[Director Luca Guadagnino’s] best to date – teasing, ravishing and just a little arch, but with an open-heartedness that makes you ache”.

  8. 8.'The Social Network' - 95

    David Fincher’s film about the early years of Facebook and its creators was recognised with Fincher and lead actor Jesse Eisenberg both picking up Oscar nominations. “This is restrained, understated Fincher,” Mike Scott wrote for the New Orleans Times-Picayune, “so rather than hitting his audience over the head (or poking them), he lets the story flow on its own mesmerizing path.” 

  9. 9.'Faces Places' - 95

    Faces Places (or Visages Villages in the original French) is the highest-ranking documentary on the list. Vox’s Alissa Wilkinson was especially complimentary, calling it, “A playful, surprisingly powerful document of an attempt to understand France by looking closely at its people”.

  10. 10.'I am Not Your Negro' - 95

    Raoul Peck’s powerful James Baldwin documentary was released to great acclaim in late 2016, winning a People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival and earning an Oscar nomination. “It’s an enormously resonant work of cultural history that should do much to renew attention to the lonely, prophetic voice of James Baldwin,” according to Salon’s Andrew O’Hehir.

  11. 11.'Zero Dark Thirty' - 95

    Some will claim 157 minutes is too long for a film, but Kathryn Bigelow proves them wrong with her film about the search for Osama Bin Laden. The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Stephen Rea called it: “A monumental achievement that documents a coordinated and complicated response to a monumental tragedy, Bigelow’s film leaves us with a question that resonates long into the night.”

  12. 12.'A Separation' - 95

    Iranian drama A Separation landed itself in countless end-of-year lists, and the New Yorker’s Anthony Lane said: “The miracle of [the film] is that it doesn’t spare any of its characters, nor does it seek to indict them.”

  13. 13.'Before Midnight' - 94

    The second Linklater film on the list scores higher than the other two parts of the director’s ‘Before’ trilogy, starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. “Delpy and Hawke have never been more persuasive. Nor has the series,” wrote NPR’s Bob Mondello.

  14. 14.'45 Years' - 94

    It almost seems surprising that there’s only one Charlotte Rampling film in this top 20, but 45 Years is a fantastic film all round. Writing for Entertainment Weekly, Leah Greenblatt noted: “In a quiet, beautifully calibrated performance completely stripped of actressy tricks, [Rampling is] a revelation.”

  15. 15.'Dunkirk' - 94

    Another 2017 entry, Christopher Nolan’s war film might not be everyone’s favourite from the British director, but it ticked all the right boxes for the watching critics. Guardian reviewer Peter Bradshaw described it as “a visceral piece of film-making” and “Nolan’s best film so far”.

  16. 16.'Mr Turner' - 94

    Timothy Spall’s highest-rated film on Metacritic, Mr Turner always had the ingredients to be a fantastic film, but also achieved more mainstream popularity than we maybe expected upon its 2014 release. The Washington Post’s Ann Hornaday wrote that the film is, “As suffused with watery light, ethereal feeling and striving for the sublime as one of its subject’s paintings”.

  17. 17.'Inside Out' - 94

    Inside Out might be the only children’s film on the list, but it makes the cut by appealing to more than just a young audience. Matt Zoller Seitz of said: “The best parts of it feel truly new, even as they channel previous animated classics (including the works of Hayao Miyazaki) and explore situations and feelings that everyone has experienced to some degree.”

  18. 18.'We Were Here' - 94

    A documentary about the AIDS epidemic in the United States, Bill Weber and David Weissman’s film may well be one of the best you’ve never seen. “We Were Here is an unblinking chronology of the epidemic, recounted by five people who lived through it and watched countless friends and lovers die,” Stephen Holden wrote for The New York Times.

  19. 19.'Carlos' - 94

    The longest film on the list, you may have given Carlos a miss at the time due to its five-and-a-half hour running time, but the reception it received from critics may be enough for you to go back and give it a try. As the Globe and Mail’s Liam Lacey wrote: “Both spare and sprawling, Carlos is a long and complex film… that seems to go by in a series of vivid flashes.”

  20. 20.'Amour' - 94

    In a list of Best Picture nominees including Zero Dark Thirty, Lincoln and eventual winner Argo, Amour stood out as the only foreign-language inclusion. Michael Haneke’s work won the award for Best Foreign-Language Film, and it was described by Empire’s David Hughes as, “Not only one of the greatest films ever made about old age, but a love story for the ages”.

(Feature image: A24/Plan B Entertainment/Pastel Productions; all other images: Rex Features)