New from Every Movie Has a Lesson by Don Shanahan: COLUMN: My Top 100 Movies of the 2010s

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As a guy who turned 40 this past year, the reality of 2020 sounds like the absolute future, like something out of science fiction.  Alas, here we are. 2020 marks the 10th year of Every Movie Has a Lesson. Hundreds of thousands of pageviews and visitors later, what started as a harmless blog and an outlet to flex the creative muscles has turned into something far more connected and viable than I ever imagined.


Ten years ago, this was a hobby to fiddle with in my spare time.  I never dreamed of being published in print as I am on Southland Voice or featured on websites with international reach like The Examiner and 25YL.  Ten years ago, I would have told you reaching a press level of access to movies was a pipe dream.  Here I am today card-carrying credentials from recognized awards-voting critics organizations, including one I helped found, and approval all the way to Rotten Tomatoes.  The movies come to me instead of me going to the movies, and it’s a truly amazing and fulfilling blessing.  I can’t wait to see what happens in a new decade for Every Movie Has a Lesson. Before we step further in the science fiction era of our times, allow me one more reflection step back.  


In my review work, I tend to rate about a dozen five-star movies a year.  Creating a “Best of the Decade” list from 2010-2019 means I have over 100 movies receiving my highest score to sort. Trimming or ordering them can be like choosing among your own children.  The 100th movie could be a good as #1. I wanted this discerning and massive challenge.

To build a master list, I turned to the Pub Meeple Ranking Engine.  I entered a list of just under 200 five-star and high four-star movies and let the hundreds of clickable “versus” matchup permutations slot everything.  It’s really a slick tool, and it nailed my results. The cream of the rose to the top, just as they should. I’ve said this before on other lists, but this is more about “best” than “favorites.” Also, I did not include documentaries.  Quality edges easy entertainment more often than not. Here are the results with a little commentary here and there in between. Links are posted and all slideshow posters are from IMDb. Enjoy!













1. Whiplash

2. Room

3. La La Land

4. Spotlight

5. Her

6. Inception

7. Toy Story 3

8. If Beale Street Could Talk

9. 1917

10. 12 Years a Slave

I knew going into this that it would become a battle between Whiplash and Room for the top spot.  When I put those two against everything else, both casually in the Pub Meeple tool, their opponents never win.  The fascinating thing for me became where #3-10 would fall and wondering if they would or would not match my annual year-end lists.  Sure enough, five of those eight movies (La La Land, Inception, If Beale Street Could Talk, 1917, and 12 Years a Slave) were my #1 picks of their given year and the other three (Spotlight, Her, and Toy Story 3) were #2s.  I’m not saying I’m a pillar of consistency, but I’ll pat my integrity on the back for those Top 10 winners.  I have no problem personally putting If Beale Street Could Talk over Moonlight, even if Moonlight was the bigger winner and considered historically more important film. Toy Story 3 might be the only animated film in the entire Top 100.  I’ll take all the recency bias you want to shovel with 1917.  The movie is that damn good, and you’ll see two more 2019 films next.












11. The Descendants

12. Brooklyn

13. Searching

14. The Way Way Back

15. Zero Dark Thirty

16. A Monster Calls

17. Jackie

18. Little Women

19. Marriage Story

20. Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World

I love the eclectic mix of these next ten!  Two more year-end top picks (The Descendants and Zero Dark Thirty), three second-places (Searching, Jackie, and Little Women), and two super high third-placers (Brooklyn and The Way Way Back) shine here.  Like with Barry Jenkins, I’m comfortable having Little Women over Lady Bird (#21) when it comes to Greta Gerwig. The surprise climbers from the ranking tool battles were A Monster Calls and Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World.  By these measurements, the latter technically counts as my #1 comic book movie of the decade and I’m completely fine with that, Captain America: The Winter Soldier (#32), Logan (#44), Black Panther (#51), Joker (#56), The Avengers (#81), and Avengers: Infinity War (#100) be damned.

With Room and Spotlight above at #2 and #4 overall and Brooklyn here at #12, 2015 is showing to be my top year of the decade.  You’ll find nine more 2015 titles below: Sicario (#30), The Martian (#33), The Big Short (#45), Star Wars: The Force Awakens (#65), Creed (#72), Far From the Madding Crowd (#82), The Revenant (#84), Inside Out (#88), and ‘71 (#94).  


(because, damn, that’s a whole bunch of links to dig up under here…)


21. Lady Bird

22. Moonlight

23. The Social Network

24. Skyfall

25. First Man

26. Wonderstruck

27. Life of Pi

28. Boyhood

29. Selma

30. Sicario

31. A Star is Born

32. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

33. The Martian

34. Gone Girl

35. Short Term 12

36. Flight

37. Silver Linings Playbook

38. Pete’s Dragon

39. The Grand Budapest Hotel

40. Luce

41. Paddington 2

42. Hearts Beat Loud

43. Roma

44. Logan

45. The Big Short

46. The Artist

47. Beautiful Boy

48. The Place Beyond the Pines

49. Phantom Thread

50. 50/50

51. Black Panther

52. War for the Planet of the Apes

53. The Perks of Being a Wallflower

54. Eighth Grade

55. The Farewell

56. Joker

57. Argo

58. Get Out

59. I, Tonya

60. Source Code

61. Parasite

62. Black Swan

63. The Peanut Butter Falcon

64. The Big Sick

65. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

66. Jojo Rabbit

67. Knives Out

68. The Light Between Oceans

69. Midnight in Paris

70. War Horse

71. American Sniper

72. Creed

73. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

74. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

75. Clara

76. Booksmart

77. Shame

78. The King’s Speech

79. Manchester By the Sea

80. Moonrise Kingdom

81. The Avengers

82. Far from the Madding Crowd

83. Before Midnight

84. The Revenant

85. Man of Steel

86. Lucky

87. The Florida Project

88. Inside Out

89. Nocturnal Animals

90. Gravity

91. I Kill Giants

92. The Wolf of Wall Street

93. Hugo

94. ’71

95. The Shape of Water

96. Loving Vincent

97. The Great Gatsby

98. Interstellar

99. A Quiet Place

100. Avengers: Infinity War

Go ahead.  Take attendance after all that.  Plenty of five-star reviewed films still fell off this list, (most notably Lincoln, Carol, The One I Love, Steve Jobs, Birdman, Southside With You, Coming Through the Rye, and Prometheus).  The cinephile integrity questions will now start.  I can feel it.  

There’s not a single Quentin Tarantino or Terence Malick film in sight. The first and only Steven Spielberg movie finally lands at #70 and it’s not Lincoln, Bridge of Spies, orThe Post.  Woody Allen (#69) and Clint Eastwood (#71) only appear once.  Rip up my movie snob card if you must because it took until the nineties to finally have a Martin Scorese film (The Wolf of Wall Street and Hugo) and a second movie from Christopher Nolan (Interstellar).  I’m clearly transitioning to become a new school guy with someone like Damien Chazelle having three films in the Top 25, including #1 and #3.  I’m at peace with that. There’s room to love the present and the past.  

If anything all of this should demonstrate how deep this decade was for quality. This is all me and to each their own. This is “MY” list, not “THE” list.  I’m content to value what I value and grade how I grade. Let the life lessons reign. Pass me the sunglasses GIFs and celebratory drinks!




from REVIEW BLOG – Every Movie Has a Lesson

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