The 20 Best Movies of the 2010s

Oscar Isaac stars in Joel and Ethan Coen's Inside Llewyn Davis (2013).
Oscar Isaac stars in Joel and Ethan Coen's Inside Llewyn Davis (2013).
CBS Films

The feature-length narrative film as we know it turned 100 years old in the 2010s. Moviemakers marked the centennial by finding new ways to amuse, shock, and thrill us (and bore us, but those movies aren't on this list). Herewith, a highly subjective rundown of the decade's best movies.

1. The Social Network (2010)

This exhilarating account of how a total jerk started Facebook is even more alarming given what we've learned about Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook since then. Jesse Eisenberg's crisp lead performance, Aaron Sorkin's verbose dialogue, and David Fincher's energetic direction combine to make this a cautionary tale of Shakespearean proportions. It might be the best document of how the internet and social media have fundamentally changed us.

2. Toy Story 3 (2010)

We see action movies all the time whose flesh-and-blood characters never convince us they're in any real danger, and existential dramas where we just wish people would shut up about their problems. Yet here we are wide-eyed with giddy tension over the fate of some toys—and not even actual toys, but cartoon drawings of toys! This was the apex of Pixar's creative abilities, brilliantly funny and sophisticated, yet accessible to 5-year-olds.

3. The Tree of Life (2011)

Terrence Malick's rumination on the purpose of life, the meaning of suffering, and the nature of God is as poetic and philosophical as you'd expect a movie about those subjects to be, yet it's as down-to-earth and unpretentious as possible. Malick uses the gentle rhythms of poetry and the majestic images of the natural world to put us in a meditative state. It's a movie that wants us to ponder the big questions.

4. Drive (2011)

On paper (like in the pulp novel it's based on), Nicolas Winding Refn's tale of a taciturn getaway driver whose life spins out of control is familiar. But on the screen, the combination is uniquely intoxicating—a fresh, lurid, melancholy neo-noir with a hint of existential crime thriller and, for some reason, an '80s-ish techno-pop soundtrack. Spinning its uncommonly entertaining yarn out of perilous characters and nightmarish scenarios, it feels dazzlingly original.

5. Holy Motors (2012)

It is gratifying to discover, at this late stage of human society, that mankind is still capable of finding new ways of being weird. Leos Carax's loopy, non-literal discussion of the past, present, and future of cinema is fascinatingly strange and creative. With an outstanding lead performance by Denis Levant (whose character transforms himself into many other characters), it's both a tribute to and an example of the unlimited potential that movies have to expand our imaginations.

6. Kill List (2012)

Ben Wheatley's ominous, sinister murder-for-hire story is unlike any you've ever seen, alternating between scenes of straightforward brutality (hard to watch but easy to understand) and moments of disquieting eeriness (easy to watch but hard to understand). There is some ambiguity to its deeper mysteries, but more important than absolute clarity is the feeling, when it's over, that you've experienced something profoundly unsettling.

7. 12 Years a Slave (2013)

Steve McQueen's artfully directed depiction of slavery is full of haunting beauty, forcing us to consider the actual, literal, day-to-day monstrousness of it in a way few things have. Yet it has an undercurrent of hope, too, as Chiwetel Ejiofor's Solomon Northup refuses to give up. It's exactly the sort of thing we mean when we talk about the arts reflecting, ennobling, and strengthening a culture.

8. Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)

Like many of Joel and Ethan Coen's films, this one—about a struggling folk singer in 1961 determining once and for all whether he's cut out for this—has a dark whimsy to it, peculiar and funny but run through with deep melancholy. Oscar Isaac's heartfelt turn in the lead role is one of the best the Coens have ever directed, and memorable performances by Adam Driver, Carey Mulligan, and John Goodman help it along.

9. Whiplash (2014)

Damien Chazelle's unusually unromantic approach to the "music teacher inspires a student" formula is funny, exhilarating, and almost works as a psychological thriller as a talented young drummer (Miles Teller) with a chip on his shoulder butts heads with a drill sergeant of a teacher (Oscar-winning J.K. Simmons). The film's many explosive rehearsal and performance scenes are fraught with nerve-wracking intensity, sure to send you out on an adrenaline high.

10. Under the Skin (2014)

This uniquely surreal and understated film by Jonathan Glazer was based on a novel, but Glazer revised it into something you can scarcely imagine existing in book form at all. Scarlett Johansson plays a nameless extra-terrestrial roaming the streets of Scotland looking for humans to feed on before starting to develop empathy. Unnerving and unforgettable, the film is frequently mesmerizing, using sound, music, and silence to great effect.

11. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

Nothing this decade made us stare goggle-eyed at the screen more than George Miller's reboot of the post-apocalyptic franchise that launched his career. It's essentially a feature-length car chase, most of the action taking place in, on, and under speeding vehicles; amazingly, Miller paces it so it doesn't get tiresome, and the spectacular stunts and intricately choreographed fights are always easy to follow. It's easily the best action movie of the decade, and one of the best of any genre.

12. Moonlight (2016)

Barry Jenkins's quiet, poignant Best Picture winner is about identity, race, sexuality, poverty, and masculinity (among other things)—several movies' worth of themes, all considered in a single, deeply felt drama of elegant, heartbreaking simplicity. The main character is played at different ages by Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, and Trevante Rhodes, each giving a delicate performance that seems to borrow from and influence the other two.

13. Green Room (2016)

Here's a film that starts with an uncomfortable arrangement (a young punk band has booked a gig for a den of Nazi skinheads) and descends from there into expertly crafted cold-sweat terror. Though it's primarily a siege scenario, the band barricading themselves in the dressing room after witnessing a skinhead-on-skinhead murder, the story goes in more directions (figuratively and geographically) than you'd expect. Writer-director Jeremy Saulnier never lets it get stagnant. He barely lets you catch your breath.

14. Arrival (2016)

This is optimistic, life-affirming science-fiction of the highest order, using an alien first-contact scenario to tell a wholly engrossing story in which mankind's worst tendencies—selfishness, suspicion, aggression—threaten to overtake our best ones. Directed by Denis Villeneuve and starring Amy Adams, it's a steadily paced drama of discovery that makes us feel more hopeful about humanity.

15. Dunkirk (2017)

Christopher Nolan's account of the World War II evacuation isn't as viscerally harrowing as some war movies, but it packs the punch of something far more graphic. With a God-like view of time that sees three parts of the story happening at once, Nolan keeps it from building to a climax in the customary way; instead, the movie feels like one slow, sustained climax, urged onward by Hans Zimmer's tick-tock musical score.

16. Call Me By Your Name (2017)

A sunlight-drenched gay coming-of-age drama that transcends boundaries of sexual orientation, Luca Guadagnino's adaptation of André Aciman's novel is built on glances, implications, and indirect acknowledgements. Timothée Chalamet's sensitive performance captures the awkwardness and exuberance of unexpected love with devastating accuracy, while Armie Hammer adds a layer of tenderness to his foundation of natural charisma. It's a beautiful, deeply erotic film.

17. Hereditary (2018)

The best horror movie of the decade, Ari Aster's astonishingly confident feature debut offers a number of eerie possibilities—it's not just one kind of hell that's threatening to break loose—and a performance by Toni Collette that would have won awards if it hadn't been from a lowly horror movie. At its core, though, it's about a disintegrating family haunted by the traumas that pass from one generation to the next.

18. The Favourite (2018)

This immensely entertaining, roughly fact-based story about two women vying for the affections of England's Queen Anne (an Oscar-winning Olivia Colman) in the early 1700s offers the pleasure of watching the bad behavior of corrupt, vain characters without our having to suffer the consequences of it. Elites are reduced to pathetic figureheads, the behind-closed-doors absurdity showing them to be no better than the rest of us, all in a package of dark comedy with an undercurrent of real pathos.

19. Roma (2018)

Alfonso Cuarón's semi-autobiographical story of growing up in an affluent Mexico City home in the early 1970s is a tribute to the women who shaped him, told through the eyes of a live-in housekeeper and nanny who comes from a much poorer stratum of society. Impeccably, affectionately crafted, the film breaks down the language and class barriers that divide us to deliver an emotionally powerful story.

20. The Irishman (2019)

The culmination of themes that Martin Scorsese has addressed throughout his incredible five-decade (and counting) career, this gangster story stars Robert De Niro as a man reflecting, at the end of his life, on the multitude of regrets he refuses to acknowledge, the apologies he should have offered, and the loneliness that has always plagued him. It's sad, thrilling, funny, and introspective, with outstanding performances by De Niro and Joe Pesci.

11 Fascinating Facts About Mad Max

Mel Gibson stars in George Miller's Mad Max (1979).
Mel Gibson stars in George Miller's Mad Max (1979).
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.

What began as director George Miller's ambitious action film about a solitary cop (Mel Gibson) on a mission to take down a violent biker gang has evolved into a post-apocalyptic sensory overload of a franchise that now has four films to its credit—Mad Max (1979), The Road Warrior (1981), Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985), and Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)—and additional sequels in the works. So let's obsess over Miller’s masterpieces even more with these 11 things you might not know about the franchise.

1. Director George Miller worked as a doctor to raise money for Mad Max.

Mel Gibson in Mad Max (1979)
Mel Gibson in Mad Max (1979).
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.

Since the film only had a budget of $350,000, Miller scraped together extra money as an emergency room doctor to keep the movie going. “It was very low budget and we ran out of money for editing and post-production, so I spent a year editing the film by myself in our kitchen, while Byron Kennedy did the sound,” Miller told CraveOnline. “And then working as an emergency doctor on the weekends to earn money to keep going. I’d got my best friend, and friends of friends of friends of his, and Byron ditto, and I thought, ‘Oh my God, we made a film and it won’t cut together and we’re going to lose all their money.’”

Miller’s medical training is all over the film: Max Rockatansky is named after physician Carl von Rokitansky, a pathologist who created the Rokitansky procedure, a method for removing organs in an autopsy.

2. Mel Gibson went to the Mad Max audition to accompany his friend, not for the part.

Gibson was black and blue after a recent brawl with “half a rugby team” when his friend asked him to drop him off at his Mad Max audition. Because the agency was also casting “freaks,” they took pictures of Gibson, who was simply waiting around, and asked him to come back when he healed. When he did, Miller gave him the role on the spot. In a clip for Scream Factory, Gibson recalled the moment: “It was real weird. [Miller] said, ‘Can you memorize this?’ and it was like two pages of dialogue with a big speech and stuff. I was like, ‘Yeah, sure.’ I went into the other room and just got a gist of what it was and I came out and just ad-libbed what I could remember. I guess they bought it.”

3. George Miller paid Mad Max crew members in beer.

With barely enough money to finish the original film, Miller offered to pay ambulance drivers, a tractor driver, and some of the bikers on set with “slabs” (Australian for a case of 24 cans) of beer, according to The Guardian.

4. Real-life motorcycle club the Vigilanties played Toecutter’s gang for Mad Max.

Forget the money required to train stuntmen; Miller and crew hired real bikers to professionally ride into production. In an interview with Motorcyclist Online, actor Tim Burns said about working with them: “[The Vigilanties] all wanted to ride the bikes as fast as possible, as often as possible, by their nature. Their riding was individually and collectively superb.” Additionally, stuntman Dale Bensch, a member of The Vigilanties, recalled seeing the ad for the shoot at a local bike shop, and took a moment to clarify a mishap that had happened during production. Bensch said, “There’s an urban myth that a stuntman was killed, and that was me. The scariest thing was dropping the bike on that bridge. They took the speedo and tach off because they didn’t want to damage more than they had to. They wet the surface to make it easier, but I hung onto the bike too long and it flipped me over with it; that’s why it looked bad. But it’s a famous scene, so it worked out all right!”

5. Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior was inspired by the oil crises of the 1970s.

During an interview with The Daily Beast, Miller discussed the making of The Road Warrior. Of its inspiration, he said, “I’d lived in a very lovely and sedate city in Melbourne, and during OPEC and the extreme oil crisis—where the only people who could get any gas were emergency workers, firemen, hospital staff, and police—it took 10 days in this really peaceful city for the first shot to be fired, so I thought, ‘What if this happened over 10 years?’”

6. Mel Gibson only had 16 lines of dialogue in The Road Warrior.

Upon Fury Road’s release in 2015, social media lit up with complaints that Tom Hardy was underutilized, only there to grunt and utter a couple of one-liners. But just to remind you, in Mad Max 2, Mel Gibson only has 16 lines of dialogue in The Road Warrior.

On his use of sparse dialogue, Miller told The New York Times, “Hitchcock had this wonderful saying: ‘I try to make films where they don’t have to read the subtitles in Japan.’ And that was what I tried to do in Mad Max 1, and I’m still trying to do that three decades later with Fury Road.”

7. Mel Gibson says The Road Warrior is his favorite movie in the original trilogy.

Once upon a time Mel Gibson enthusiastically spoke about Beyond Thunderdome, telling Rolling Stone, "[The films are] a sort of cinematic equivalent to rock music. It's something to do with the nihilistic sentiments of the music of the ’80s—which can't continue. I say, let's get back to romanticism. And this film [Thunderdome] is actually doing that. It's using that nihilism as a vehicle, I think, to get back to romance.”

Years later, he told Playboy what he really thought of the films, namely that The Road Warrior was his favorite. “It still holds up because it’s so basic,” Gibson said. “It’s about energy—it didn’t spare anyone: people flying under wheels, a girl gets it, a dog gets it, everybody gets it. It was the first Mad Max, but done better. The third one didn’t work at all.”

8. Beyond Thunderdome was inspired by Lord Of The Flies.

Mel Gibson and Tina Turner in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985).
Mel Gibson and Tina Turner in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985).
Warner Home Video

Even though Miller and his producers were on the fence about a third Mad Max, they couldn’t help but give in. "George was sitting and talking to me about … quantum mechanics, I think," Miller’s co-writer Terry Hayes recalled to Rolling Stone. "The theory of the oscillating universe. You could say he's got a broad range of interests. And I said something about ‘Well, if there was ever a Mad Max III ...' And he said, 'Well, if there was ...'"

In a 1985 interview with Time Out, Miller recalled the story himself. “We were talking one day and Terry Hayes started talking about mythology and how where people are short on knowledge, they tend to be very big on belief. In other words, they take a few fragments of knowledge and, if you take like the Aboriginal tribes of Australia, they just take simple empirical information and using those little bits of the jigsaw construct very elaborate mythological beliefs, which explain the whole universe,” Miller said. “Terry was saying if you had a tribe of kids after the apocalypse who had only a few fragments of knowledge, [they would construct] a mythological belief as to what was before. And what would happen if Max or someone like that [came in] ... and it kicked off the idea of kids who were Lord of the Flies-type kids, and that led to this story.”

9. Tina Turner was cast in Beyond Thunderdome because of her positive persona.

According to Rolling Stone, Tina Turner beat out Jane Fonda and Lindsay Wagner for the role of Aunty Entity. On her casting, Miller told Time Out, “One of the main reasons we cast Tina Turner is that she’s perceived as being a fairly positive persona. You don’t think of Tina Turner as someone dark. You think of the core of Tina Turner being basically a positive thing. And that’s what we wanted. We felt that she might be more tragic in that sense. But more importantly [when] we actually wrote the character, as a shorthand way of describing the character we said someone ‘like Tina Turner’—without even thinking of casting her. We wanted a woman ... we wanted someone who had a lot of power, charisma, someone who would hold a place like that together—or build it in the first place. And we wanted someone who was a survivor.”

10. Mad Max characters’ names hint at their backstories.

One of the most peculiar quirks of Miller’s franchise has to be his bizarre character names. In an interview with Fandango, Miller explained exactly how he comes up with them: “One of the things is that everything in the story has to have some sort of underlying backstory. Not just every character, but every vehicle, every weapon, every costume—and the same with the language. So [the concept] was always found objects, repurposed. Immortan Joe is a slight adjustment to the word 'immortal.' The character Nux says 'mcfeasting' instead of using the word 'feasting,’” Miller explained, adding that his favorite name of all is Fury Road’s The Dag (played by Abbey Lee). “In Australia, the dag is sort of a goofball-type.”

11. George Miller is a proud feminist.

Director George Miller, recipient of the Feature Film Nomination Plaque for “Mad Max: Fury Road," poses in the press room during the 68th Annual Directors Guild Of America Awards at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza on February 6, 2016 in Los Angeles
George Miller poses with the Feature Film Nomination Plaque for Mad Max: Fury Road during the 68th annual Directors Guild Of America Awards in 2016.
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Perhaps evidenced by Charlize Theron’s scene-stealing role as Imperator Furiosa, Miller is a proud, outspoken feminist. He told Vanity Fair, “I’ve gone from being very male dominant to being surrounded by magnificent women. I can’t help but be a feminist.” That female influence even stretched behind the scenes, with Miller asking his wife Margaret Sixel to edit Fury Road. “I said, ‘You have to edit this movie, because it won’t look like every other action movie,” Miller recalled. Moreover, feminist activist Eve Ensler also consulted on the film to offer, according to Ensler herself, “perspective on violence against women around the world, particularly in war zones.”

What Happens During a Jeopardy! Commercial Break?

Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek chats with the show's contestants.
Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek chats with the show's contestants.
Getty Images Entertainment

Jennifer Quail:

Typical Break One: First, if there are "pickups" (re-recordings where Alex misspoke or coughed or stuttered, or Johnny mispronounced someone’s name or hometown) to record, they do those. A stagehand brings water bottles for the contestants. The production team who wrangles contestants comes over and gives their pep talk, makes any corrections, like if someone is consistently buzzing early; and keeps you quiet if there are pickups. Alex gets the cards with the "fun facts" (there are about three, one highlighted, but which one he goes for is ultimately up to Alex alone) and when the crew is ready, they come back from commercial to Alex’s chat with the contestants.

Typical Break Two: If there are any pickups from the second half of the Jeopardy! round they do those, the water gets distributed, the production team reminds the contestants how Double Jeopardy! works and that there’s still lots of money out there to win, and Alex comes over to take a picture with the two challengers (the champion will have had their picture taken during their first match.) Then we come back to Double Jeopardy!.

Typical Third Break: This is the big one. There are pickups, water, etc. and they activate the section of the screen where you write your wager. One of the team members brings you a half-sheet of paper ... and you work out what you want to bet. One of your "wranglers" checks it, as does another production team member, to make sure it’s legible and when you’re sure that’s what you want, you lock it in. At that point you can’t change it. They take away the scratch paper and the part of the board where you write your answer is unlocked. Someone will tell you to write either WHO or WHAT in the upper left corner, so you do know at least whether it’s a person or thing. They make sure the "backup card" (a piece of card stock sitting on your podium) is turned to the correct who or what side, just in case your touchscreen fails. If everything’s ready, then as soon as the crew says, they come back and Final Jeopardy! starts.

There are breaks you don’t [even know about, too]. If there is a question about someone’s final answer, they will actually stop tape while the research team checks. Sometimes if something goes really off, like Alex completely misreads a category during the start of a round, they’ll stop and pick it up immediately. Those [are breaks] you’ll never notice because they’ll be completely edited out.

This post originally appeared on Quora. Click here to view.

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