Every decade has movies that, in a way, eventually come to represent it. The 90s had Pulp Fiction, Jurassic Park, The Matrix. The 80s had The Breakfast Club, Back to the Future, Raiders of the Lost Ark. The 70s invented the summer blockbuster with Jaws and Star Wars. You can go all the way back to the silent era of film and still learn a bit about life by looking at their movies (I gather it was very quiet).
I’m not going to try to guess which movies most deserve to represent the 2010s when our grandchildren look back at it; I can only tell you which ones I think sum it up best to me. There’s a bias here – this list is my personal opinion.
Here are four good movies future film studies teachers might reference to get a glimpse of our decade:
1. Frozen – Best Family Movie
In November of 2013, Disney released the best-selling young girls Halloween costume of the decade, as well as the most-insisted-upon-by-children-during-car-rides song of all time. If you are a parent of that age group, I don’t need to explain what I’m referring to. As tired and played out as it has become to many, underneath the hype was still an extremely well-made family film by the studio that invented what we think of as family movies.
Not to mention “Let it Go” was a BANGER the first 30 times you heard it.
2. Creed – Best Sports Movie
Sports movies fall into a lot of traps that can make the genre feel out of ideas. Creed is the seventh movie in the Rocky franchise and I don’t think it does anything new at all with the sports genre. It does prove though, that the formula still works when the right people execute it immaculately. Many great films take a formula that’s been used a million times and apply a mountain of the creator’s heart and soul to create something that somehow still moves you.
Creed is one such film.
Director and writer Ryan Coogler tells a story that mirrors how he felt coming up in the film industry, while Sylvester Stallone plays a Rocky who has to pass the torch to a new generation making the same mistakes he did. Some traditions are kept alive, some evolve and the decades keep going.
3. The Social Network – The most 2010s movie of the 2010s
David Fincher’s movie about Mark Zuckerberg creating Facebook in 2003 came out in 2010. It came out at the beginning of the decade yet it might be the best representation of it – specifically because it’s all about beginnings.
In 2010, Facebook was still cool and a lot of people were still just discovering it. Then this movie came out and showed us that the real person behind the website was kind of a jerk: capable of abusing power, of throwing his friend under the bus. Fast forward to 2018, and the same socially unaware founder is testifying in front of the U.S. congress about his website abusing power, even facilitating foreign interference in American democracy.
The movie shows the website begin to bring its users together, begin to make them crazy, begin to lead them to depression. The Social Network perfectly captured the beginnings of the 2010’s greatest problems and its greatest solutions.
4. Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Personal Favorite
This was a tough category and almost a 13-way tie between a number of great movies. To settle the dilemma, I decided I would pick the one I liked the most. I grew up loving Star Wars, so I was equal parts skeptical and excited at the thought of finally getting a new one. In 2015, The Force Awakens was everything that I wanted. Though the following Disney Star Wars movies haven’t quite reached the bar set by this one, nothing can take away from the fact that I loved this movie.
Like Creed, this is a movie about passing the torch – it’s also the seventh movie of the franchise. The 2010s had plenty of great original movies, but it also was saturated with older franchises attempting to revitalize themselves for a new generation. This movie succeeded where many of those failed.
Avengers more perfectly represents how ridiculously Disney dominated the theater this decade and how the company bought several other major movie studios to do it. Maybe I should have picked Avengers for how well it represented a decade-long phenomenon, but I loved this Disney billion-dollar-maker just a bit more.
The 2010s? We had the best of movies. We had the worst of movies. Future generations will forget most of them, but these are four I know I’ll always remember.