The 50 Best Films of the Decade (So Far) #50 – #41

50 Best

The decade is a little over half way gone so I thought it would be fun to look back at the first five years and see what movies have stood out the most. It is also a good chance to see how the films stand up against each other as well as how they have stood up with the passing of time. Today we are starting off with #50 – #41. Let’s get going…

#50 – “Frances Ha” (2013)


The one film that perfectly encapsulates all that makes a Noah Baumbach movie special can be found in “Frances Ha”. Deliciously quirky and slyly intelligent, “Frances Ha” features Baumbach’s muse Greta Gerwig at her absolute best. Stylish black and white cinematography is an added treat.

#49 – “Contagion” (2011)


I’m a bit of a sucker for medical/virus thrillers and “Contagion” is one of my favorites. Dismissed by many as flimsy, I immediately was swept away by director Steven Soderbergh’s nervous, paranoid take on a worldwide viral outbreak. A great ensemble cast and truly intense pacing. “Contagion” is an underappreciated film.

#48 – “Calvary” (2014)


There is such an intensity boiling under the surface of every single scene of “Calvary”. John Michael McDonagh writes and directs this story of a troubled priest (played perfectly by the always magnificent Brendan Gleeson) and the dark situation he finds himself in. A wonderful supporting cast flesh out an assortment of despicable characters at the core of this uncomfortable but hypnotic picture.

#47 – “127 Hours” (2010)

127 hours

The incredible true story of Aron Ralston was ripe for a movie adaptation but only with the right people involved. Danny Boyle and James Franco proved to be the right people. Franco gives a truly eye-opening performance and Boyle’s energetic visual style is a perfect fit. Also features a wonderful soundtrack.

#46 – “Alamar” (2010)


With its small 73 minute package, “Alamar (To the Sea)” says more about a father/son relationship than most ‘bigger’ films ever accomplish. That relationship mixed with the fascinating depiction of life on the Banco Chinchorro coral reef makes for a truly beautiful experience. “Alamar” didn’t get much attention but it still deserves an audience.

#45 – “The Avengers” (2012)


Speaking of bigger movies, there were so many ways “The Avengers” could have failed. It was the project that the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe was heading towards. With so many links to other films and so many characters to juggle, this could have been a disaster. Instead Joss Whedon created an incredibly fun superhero concoction that was better than most people ever expected.

#44 – “The Kid with a Bike” (2012)


Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne have established themselves as naturalistic filmmakers who examine the human experience from the most honest of perspectives. “The Kid with a Bike” is a brilliant example. It’s a story of a troubled 12-year old boy who is let down by the most important people in his life. But grace comes from an unexpected source. It’s a heartbreaking yet beautiful drama.

#43 – “Phoenix” (2015)


While watching “Phoenix” you can’t help but notice the absurdity of what you’re seeing. Yet at the same time the story is so keenly written and heart-shattering that you can’t help but invest in it. This stinging German drama features three characters brought to life through three superb performances. And then there is the crushing ending – one of the most powerful I have seen in years.

#42 – “Skyfall” (2012)


Daniel Craig brought me into the James Bond franchise. 007’s adventures became important to me starting with “Casino Royale”, but “Skyfall” may be his very best so far. Everything about it hit its mark. Great action, fun villain, and a delightful use of its many entertaining side characters. This was Bond done right.

#41 – “Beasts of No Nation” (2015)


Great movies aren’t always easy to watch especially when dealing with disturbing subject matter. Such is the case with Cary Fukunaga’s intense “Beasts of No Nation”. It is a sometimes brutal exploration of child soldiering that visualizes it through the eyes of a young boy. Idris Elba gives the best performance of his career and young Abraham Attah is something to behold.

That’s it for now. Follow along and look for #40-#31 tomorrow. And be sure to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

30 thoughts on “The 50 Best Films of the Decade (So Far) #50 – #41

  1. What a fine start, Keith. ‘Contagion’ truly was nerve-wracking, ‘Calvary’ soul-searching, and ‘127 Hours’ namedropping (by ‘Deadpool’, at the very least 😉 ). And even ‘The Avengers’ proved how well a comic book superhero movie could be epic, in the best sense. I really do have to finally catch up to ‘Beasts of No Nation’. Thanks for this, and for the reminder.

    • Thanks for the comments my friend. This thing has been fun to put together. But it hasn’t been easy. Once I started looking back over the movies I’ve seen I realized I have a ton to narrow down to 50.

      Definitely see “Beasts”! Can’t recommend it enough.

  2. With the exception of Alamar, Phoenix, and Beast of No Nation as I haven’t seen those 3, I’m on board with this list as I hope to do a rough list of the films of 2010-2019 soon.

    • Awesome! Stay tuned to it. It’s been fun but difficult to put together. It’s amazing how many movie you can see in a five year period.

      Be sure to check out Alamar, Phoenix, and Beasts. Big fan of each!

  3. Nice list Keith. Been meaning to write something similar myself. I’ve seen most of the movies you’ve mentioned here and with the exception of The Avengers I’ve liked them all. Beasts was a incredible film for sure and Idris Elba hasn’t been this good since he was in The Wire.

  4. Haven’t even heard of Alamar, but it sounds like I need to. Thanks for bringing that to my attention. Haven’t seen Phoenix and Kid With a Bike yet, either. Six of the other seven would have a strong chance of making my own list. Really glad to see Skyfall, Contagion, and Beasts of No Nation make the list. Not a big fan of Frances Ha, but that’s a rant for another day. Great start. Looking forward to the rest of the list.

    • Thanks Wendell. I think Frances Ha probably requires a weird taste 😉 Glad to hear many would be considered for your list as well. Alamar is such a wonderful little film. I think it is still on Netflix. Otherwise it may be hard to find.

  5. Well the seven I’ve seen here are all pretty good, so I’m keen to see what you come up with next! How are you going to pick a number one?!!
    I’ve been meaning to watch Contagion for a while, and would like to see more of the Dardennes.

    • How to pick #1? Isn’t that the question? I have all of the list done except the final one. I have looked at the Top 10, tossed movies around, moved them here and there. Can’t even settle on a top 10 much less a number one. It has been a fun project though.

      Contagion is a lot of fun. Soderbergh’s touches on the viral outbreak idea. And I’m a huge fan of the Dardennes.

      • It’s a good idea to do. I saw a great list of films from the first decade of the millennium the other day, on Tumblr. It turned me on to so many things that I’ve missed!

      • That is one of the reasons I love lists like that. Over the years I have had so many movies introduced to me that way.

        By the way, have you seen Alamar? I am such a fan of that film yet it has become clear to me that not many people have seen it.

  6. Never even heard of Alamar, but I’m certainly intrigued. Going to need to check that one out for sure!

    Nice start. Can’t wait to see where it all goes!

    • Thanks man. I really want more people to see Alamar. I actually discovered it by complete accident. So glad I did. It was streaming on Netflix for a while. Its a quick watch.

    • Lots of fun aren’t they? Skyfall may be the best of Craig’s Bond films. And didn’t you think The Avengers was a great accomplishment? It really could have been a huge mess. Instead Whedon really pulled it off.

      • Totally! After Green Lantern and Catwoman I swore off comic book movies but Avengers brought me back into the fold

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