Best Films of the 2010s: Part 1

The Social Network

Andrew Eaton, Writer

This is reporter Andrew Eaton’s first part of a six part series that discusses the best movies of the last decade!

The Social Network

Directed by David Fincher

The plot: Loosely based on a true story, this movie tells the story of Facebook creator and CEO Mark Zuckerburg (Jessie Eisenberg), from his college years to the lawsuits that were filed by his former friend and Facebook co-creator Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) against him.

What Makes It Great: I could call many elements of The Social Network the best part of the film. I could say it’s David Fincher’s laser-focused directing that is so good you almost don’t notice what he is doing with the camera. I could say it’s Jessie Eisenberg’s phenomenal performance in which he wears Zuckerburg’s cold and confident demeanor on his sleeve. But I believe the best part of The Social Network to be veteran writer Aaron Sorkin’s terrific screenplay. I think in any other screenwriter’s hands, this movie would be dull, disjointed and boring. However, thanks to Sorkin’s talent for writing well-paced scenes combined with his knack for writing incredibly witty dialogue, this film is engaging and masterful.


Directed by Daimen Chazelle

The plot: An aspiring drummer named Andrew (Miles Teller) enters a music school and finds that his teacher Mr. Fletcher (J.K Simmons) is a cruel and easily angered person who will stop at nothing till he pushes Andrew to the breaking point.

What Makes It Great: If I was told I had to describe Whiplash in one short phrase it would be this: a never-ending exercise in tension. The second our main character meets Fletcher, the intensity gets going. Due to terrific directing and acting, every scene feels filled with menace. Chazelle’s directing is so skillful as it makes the audience feel like they are with Andrew for every instant. This is helped by Miles Teller’s performance which is peppered with believable pain and agony from his drive to please his teacher. Speaking of his teacher, J.K Simmons gives one of the best performances I have ever seen in my life. His verbal (and sometimes physical) attacks on his students feel bombastic and loud but never over-the-top. His performance always feels believable and real. The film’s themes are also just as engaging. This is a story that asks how far is an artist is willing to push himself for success. What would an artist give up for success? These questions ring beautifully throughout the film. Whiplash is as tense and riveting as the most well-executed drum beats.


Directed by Alejandro G. Inarritu

The plot: A washed-up former superhero actor named Riggan Thompson (Micheal Keaton) tries to launch a play on Broadway as he battles critics, a flamboyant actor (Edward Norton), his disgruntled daughter (Emma Stone) and even the mocking voice of the superhero he once played, in his mind.

What Makes It Great: Birdman is a film with so much on it’s mind. It brings up everything from existentialism to duality to film critics to big blockbusters.  It’s a film that demands dissection and needs more than one viewing to comprehend. What I love personally about Birdman is its scathing satire of the entertainment industry. This movie brings up actors’ desperation for attention as well as how there is a fine line between making art and making an attempt to seem intelligent in film. As his daughter mentions, Riggan Thompson is not a man looking to make a play for any meaningful value but merely make an attempt to bring back his dwindling career and self-esteem. I should also mention that the character of Riggan Thompson is portrayed incredibly by Micheal Keaton. Keaton gives both the best performance in the film (which is saying a lot) and of his whole career. He brings so much depth and nuance to the role. When Riggan hallucinates his former role Birdman, it’s incredible to see him argue with himself and it’s mostly due to Keaton’s performance. The directing and editing are also jaw-dropping because of a trick this film pulls. Birdman is both directed and edited to make the whole film look like it happened in one take with no cuts. This is, of course, impossible, but this movie legitimately almost fooled me since it was so seamlessly done. Birdman is a fantastic and thought-provoking film.

Mad Max: Fury Road

Directed by George Miller

The plot: In a continuation of the classic action series set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, our protagonist Max (Tom Hardy) must help a group of women escape from a fanatical warlord named Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne). 

What Makes It Great: Despite this film’s universal critical acclaim and Best Picture nomination (which is incredibly rare for an action film), there are some naysayers who say that Fury Road is nothing more than a shallow explosion fest with no story and too little dialogue. In my opinion, these people miss the point of this film entirely. The minimal dialogue works to Fury Road’s benefit because of what the movie tries and succeeds to achieve: almost complete visual storytelling. Let me give an example: Immortan Joe’s followers called war boys spray a chrome substance on their mouths before they sacrifice themselves in battle. The origin of this is never explained in the film, yet the audience understands completely. It’s not that Fury Road has no story, it’s that the story is told in a different way than usual. Exposition which is normally the most bland and lazily handled part of most action films is almost gone in Mad Max: Fury Road. I doubt that this film has more than 20 pages of dialogue in it yet I understood every characters’ motivations and thoughts completely. The other extremely impressive feat that Fury Road achieves with flying colors is its minimal use of CGI and green screen. While most action films nowadays rely on computer-generated imagery to have intense action scenes, almost all of Fury Road is filled with practical effects. When a group of trucks and cars fly across the desert wasteland, they are all really there. When people are dangling on poles attached to said trucks and cars, they are real stunt people hanging on for dear life. This helps make everything in this hellish fictional world seem so real. Last but not least, this film’s themes while subtle are there. The movie has very feminist ideas as the post-apocalypse is portrayed as a man’s world where women are treated as slaves and are unjustly treated by an old and corrupt man whom young people foolishly die for. Mad Max: Fury Road is possibly the greatest action film of all time.