Movies Turning 10 This Year: Remembering The Hits Of 2010
Some of our favorite films, like Black Swan, The Social Network, Toy Story 3, and Iron Man 2 all came out a decade ago.
It's a new decade, which means it's the perfect time to do some soul searching and self-reflection about the critical things in life. You know, like all the movies you love and how it really has been ten whole entire years since they were released, somehow, even though that feels objectively impossible. Wasn't 2010 like, three years ago at most? We're pretty sure it was.
Ugh. We're all so old.
Anyway--existential dread notwithstanding, the GameSpot editorial team has compiled a list of our favorite 10-year-old films to ring in the new year, everything from Oscar-winning dramas to absurd comedies we really wish would have kicked off more successful franchises. Remember when The Social Network lost to The King's Speech? Or when Natalie Portman somehow terrified us all with ballet? How about the whimsical and inexplicably star-studded Scott Pilgrim vs. The World movie?
We sure hope you do--but either way, get ready to really lean into that nostalgia and, as always, share with us your favorite movies of 2010 in the comments below if you don't see them on this list.
1. The Social Network (October 1)
The idea of a movie all about the invention of Facebook seems pretty boring on paper, but in the hands of a director/writer team like David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin, the story behind the world's most ubiquitous social networking platform became an emotional, high stakes tour-de-force. Add to that a score from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross alongside the gut wrenching performances of Jesse Eisenberg and Andrew Garfield and you've got a recipe for one of 2010's best and most rewatchable movies. -- Meg Downey
2. Inception (July 13)
Christoper Nolan took a break from directing Batman movies to deliver this mind-bending thriller. Films such as Memento and The Prestige had shown Nolan's interest in unusual, non-linear narratives, and Inception was no exception. It combined the thrills of a heist movie with a cerebral sci-fi drama, and showcased some dazzling vfx, as Leonardo DiCaprio and his team (including Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Ellen Page) are hired to infiltrate a series of dreams. It's not always easy to follow--and the ambiguous ending is still being discussed today. But in terms of ambitious, original, and exciting sci-fi, it's one of the decade's best. -- Dan Auty
3. Black Swan (December 3)
Natalie Portman was the deserving winner for Best Actress Oscar in 2011 for her role in Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan. It's part psychological drama and part full-blown horror movie, with Portman as a ballerina who struggles against the pressure of her role in a production of Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake. It's a serious unnerving experience, with the jittery handheld camerawork mirroring the main character's deteriorating mental state, but also features some spectacularly shot and performed dance sequences. Mila Kunis is equally impressive as a rival dancer, and Aronofsky channels directors such as Roman Polanski, Dario Argento, and Satoshi Kon to striking effect. -- Dan Auty
4. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (August 13)
It's hard to hate Edgar Wright's movies. From Shaun of the Dead to Baby Driver, he's made some of the more memorable films of the last 20 years. However, it's his most underappreciated that may be among his best. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is a comic book adaptation that came along early in the rise of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, before every other movie at the theater was about a superhero. This isn't your run of the mill comic adaptation, though. Wright went out of his way to bring the visual style of the comics to life, setting the movie in a surreal video game-inspired world that looks a lot like our own, until dragons attack, the hero pulls out a pixelated sword, and extra lives are handed out. This is a weird and fun movie and, while it didn't do well at the box office, deserves to be talked about more often. -- Chris Hayner
5. Kick-Ass (April 16)
Scott Pilgrim wasn't the only non-mainstream comic book to get some big screen love in 2010. Kick-Ass, based on the comics from Mark Millar and John Romita Jr., told the story of a high school student that's fed up with being bullied and creates his own superhero persona. It goes about as well as you think it might, with the vigilate Kick-Ass getting the snot kicked out of him constantly. But along the way, it tells the story of a kid that doesn't give up and also manages to feature one of Nicolas Cage's best performances ever as a father and fellow vigilante, Big Daddy. -- Chris Hayner
6. Iron Man 2 (May 7)
Iron Man 2 probably doesn't top most people's lists of the best Marvel Cinematic Universe movies. But back in the MCU's early days, it was pretty dang exciting to watch this burgeoning shared universe evolve, and Iron Man 2 was an important step in the direction that eventually led to Avengers: Endgame. Tony's irresponsible lifestyle may have been a drag, but Mickey Rourke made a heck of a villain--and let's not forget that IM2 introduced us to Black Widow, as well. The credits stinger teasing Thor's hammer in New Mexico was the icing on top. Remember Agent Coulson? Man. -- Michael Rougeau
7. The Expendables (August 13)
The Expendables is a sort-of Avengers of action stars, a mix of older stars who can’t quite let go and (slightly) younger men looking to make a name for themselves. Clearly everyone signed on for the concept, because it wasn’t the script that won the cast over--The Expendables’ plot is forgettable, and you’re mostly there to see the big action stars try to one-up each other against a backdrop of incredible R-rated violence. The guns in The Expendables never need reloading, the film’s few women exist largely to be rescued, and everyone reacts to Jason Statham’s one-liners like he’s Bernie Mac at a Def Comedy Jam. Despite its faults, The Expendables is a fun, wild, silly time, although the formula wouldn’t be perfected until 2012’s The Expendables 2, which seemed far more in on the joke (Jean-Claude Van Damme stars as a bad guy named Vilain). -- James O’Connor
8. Hot Tub Time Machine (March 26)
Isn't it weird that there aren't more time travel comedies? Hot Tub Time Machine hit just the right blend of science fiction tomfoolery and comedy from heavy hitters including Craig Robinson, Rob Corddry, John Cusack, and others. The four doofuses accidentally go back in time to 1986, and that pretty much sums it up--the movie is mainly all the hijinks you'd expect. HTTM was even ahead of its time with its bevy of 1980s references--this was years before Stranger Things and The Americans. If you're looking for a solid trip back in time, consider taking another soak in the Hot Tub Time Machine. -- Michael Rougeau
9. Never Let Me Go (September 15)
With a screenplay by Alex Garland (Ex Machina, Annihilation) based on the novel of the same name by Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go was one of 2010's sleeper hits. The absolutely devastating story of a group of genetically engineered clones who were created and raised specifically to donate their organs once they reached adulthood until they "complete" (i.e. die), Never Let Me Go threaded the needle between grounded, emotional drama and sci-fi dystopia with the stellar performances of Andrew Garfield, Keira Knightly, and Carey Mulligan. Bring your tissues for this one. -- Meg Downey
10. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 (November 19)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows marked the seventh entry of eight into the Harry Potter franchise, with the film once again improving upon the previous films. At this point, David Yates - who had taken over directorial duties on the franchise after Mike Newell’s Goblet of Fire - had found his stride. Similarly, screenplay writer Steve Kloves had locked into how to successfully adapt and translate the books onto screen.
The film was controversial, choosing to turn “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” into two films instead of one, however, this turned out to be the best choice, allowing for much more of Harry Potter’s epic finale to see screen time. While there was no satisfying conclusion to the film, and audiences had to wait a year to see the conclusion, this pen-ultimate entry into the series still had critics buzzing with praise, and kept the magic of the franchise alive and well for fans. -- David Klein
11. True Grit (December 22)
Joel and Ethan Coen have spent their entire career moving between genres, and in 2010 they took on the western. It's a remake of the 1969 John Wayne movie, but unlike their previous remake (2003's The Ladykillers), it's a far superior film to the original. Jeff Bridges is on great form as "Rooster" Cogburn, an irascible veteran U.S. Marshal hired by a teenage girl (Hailee Steinfeld in her movie debut) to track down the outlaw responsible for killing her father. Although all the familiar Coen touches--surreal humour, bloody violence--are in there, it's also one of their most accessible and entertaining movies, and remains their biggest box office success. -- Dan Auty
12. Easy A (September 17)
While she had roles in Superbad and Zombieland previous to this, Easy A was the first movie to utilize Emma Stone as its central figure and star--and she's incredible in it. This modern day high school take on The Scarlet Letter isn't groundbreak and it didn't win anybody and Oscar. However, it's legitimately funny, filled with entertaining performances, and showed that Stone isn't just an actor, but the lead in almost anything she does. -- Chris Hayner
13. The Losers (April 23)
In the shadow of Captain America, it's easy to forget that Chris Evans actually carved out quite a niche for himself in comic book movies outside of the Marvel umbrella, but we could all do well to remember and respect The Losers. Based on the cult classic comic series about a Dirty Dozen-style group of mercenaries, it had everything you could want from an action movie--a found family, a team full of quirky specialists, hilarious comedy--you name it. -- Meg Downey
14. A Nightmare On Elm Street (April 30)
The reboot that never should have been. The new Nightmare on Elm Street was simply an awful product of its time. What made the original so creepy was how low-budget it was. There was a grime and a grit to the first Nightmare that made it so much more terrifying. The new take was loaded with a Freddy that looked like an actual burn victim, too much CGI, a cast of characters that weren't anywhere near as endearing, and a darkness that wasn't born out of horror, but rather trauma. Instead of a child killer going after the kids of the parents who killed him, new Freddy was a sexual predator who abused children at the preschool he worked at. So long, wise-cracking Freddy. -- Chris Hayner
15. MacGruber (May 21)
MacGruber was a Saturday Night Live sketch I didn't find too funny. He's a MacGuyver parody... got it. However, the feature-length film version of the character and his adventures was exceptionally funny. It was over-the-top, rude, crude, and in one scene, totally nude--with a celery stalk in the titular character's butt. The MacGruber movie ended up being so much funnier than the SNL sketch, as it didn't have to adhere to network TV's standards and practices, so it could push the limit with how far the comedy could go, and I'm glad the Peacock streaming service picked it up for a new TV series. One of my favorite moments is when MacGruber assembles an elite team of commandos, made up entirely of WWE wrestlers, who all die together in an explosion. Comedy brilliance. -- Mat Elfring
16. Jonah Hex (June 18)
The Jonah Hex comic by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray was one of my favorite on-going series during this time period. I loved the fact DC Comics had a great western series, so when there was going to be a live-action Jonah Hex movie, I was so pumped. Oh boy, I was in for a horrific ride. Jonah Hex is a terrible movie. Instead of doing a straight-forward western, like the True Grit remake, Jonah Hex added superpowers to the titular character and supernatural elements to the story, none of which was needed. The movie was just one giant blunder, which was a huge bummer since Josh Brolin being cast in the lead role was such a perfect choice. Can we get a redo on this one? -- Mat Elfring
17. Toy Story 3 (June 18)
If you sat in the theater for Toy Story 3, watching Woody, Buzz, and their band of misfit toys slowly inching toward an incinerator and weren't terrified, what on Earth is wrong with you? Toy Story 3 led us to believe it was the end of the road for Pixar's first hit creation and for those couple of minutes, the end couldn't have been bleaker. Ultimately, though, this was a movie about growing up. With Andy moving on to college, it was time for the toys to find new lives. It's the kind of thing every human goes through after high school, as you ponder what's next. That the story could be told in such a truthful manner through a bunch of action figures speaks volumes about the importance of the Toy Story franchise. -- Chris Hayner
18. Machete (Sept 3)
One of the main gimmicks of Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez's two-part ‘70s exploitation homage Grindhouse was a series of fake trailers for non-existent movies. The best was perhaps Machete, a trashy Mexican action-fest, starring Danny Trejo as the title character (who he had also previously played in the Spy Kids movies). The response to the Machete trailer was so positive that two years later, Rodriguez made the actual film--and it's an absolute blast. Rodriguez somehow managed to assemble a supporting cast that includes Robert De Niro, Lindsay Lohan, Jessica Alba, Steven Seagal, Michelle Rodriguez, and Don Johnson, and they all look like they're having a great time, as the bloody and bullets fly, and Trejo spits one-liners as the former cop-turned-mercenary out for vengeance. -- Dan Auty
19. Monsters (October 29)
Gareth Edwards is today best known as the director of 2014’s Godzilla remake and the Star Wars spin-off Rogue One, but before he was making huge blockbusters, he delivered this incredibly accomplished low-budget movie. Actually, you wouldn’t know that the budget was only $500,000 and shot with a tiny crew, since Edward’s background in VFX, combined with his decision to film on location across Central America, resulted in a movie that looks infinitely more expensive. It’s a romantic road movie set in a scary post-apocalyptic world, where huge tentacled creatures terrorize the surviving humans. Scoot McNairy and Whitney Able play a mismatched American couple attempting to get back to the US, and their winning chemistry (they were a real-life couple), combined with Edward’s visual and storytelling flair, resulted in a hugely enjoyable one-of-a-kind genre mash-up. -- Dan Auty
20. The Fighter (December 6)
When people think of great boxing films, it’s usually Rocky or Creed that’s the first to come to mind - but Academy Award nominee The Fighter should be up there with the greats. Mark Wahlberg portrays good guy boxer Mickey Ward - a boxer with great talent and potential who’s consistently held back by his overbearing and drug addled family. His brother, Dicky, in particular, struggles against substance abuse, and is fantastically portrayed by Christain Bale - earning him an Oscar, Golden Globe, SAG Award, amongst others for his spot-on performance.
The film is a true story, and all of it makes for the perfect boxing film, with every emotion culminating in a final fight, where, so-long as you don’t know the actual history, will have you on the edge of your seat. While The Fighter is a boxing film complete with matches and training, it’s really a film about the Ward family and the people around them. It’s a fantastic drama, regardless of if you’re a fan of the sport or not, and still holds up as one of boxing’s finest films. -- Dave Klein
21. Predators (July 9)
For a Predator movie not from 1987, Predators was actually pretty good (especially compared with the more recent entries). With an all-star ensemble cast that included Adrien Brody, Topher Grace, Alice Braga, Walton Goggins, and Laurence Fishburne, Predators turned many of the series' conventions on its head. It presented the titular aliens in a new, more literal light, as the human characters find themselves transported to the Predators' turf in a twisted take on The Most Dangerous Game. It didn't all totally work, but there's plenty to appreciate upon revisiting. -- Michael Rougeau
22. Valhalla Rising (July 9)
After the Pusher trilogy, then drawing attention to himself and actor Tom Hardy with the loud and over the top cult hit Bronson (2008), it would have been impossible to predict that Nicolas Winding Refn’s next film would be a grueling Crusade story starring Mads Mikkelsen in a speechless role as a one-eyed warrior. Mainly digestible by only the deepest Winding Refn fans, Valhalla foreshadowed his tendency to minimize dialogue in favor of visual storytelling as he would soon become known for back-to-back Ryan Gosling near-mute features Drive and Only God Forgives. -- Ryan Schubert
23. Unstoppable (Nov 12)
Following his serviceable remake of The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3, what would turn out to be the final film of director Tony Scott’s career is also his most poignant. A veteran train engineer and a young conductor happen to find themselves at the center of a daring operation to stop a runaway freight train that is hurtling at full speed toward a major metropolitan area. The action is remarkably riveting for an action movie with no villain.
The tension plays out in a cool, procedural way, but what holds the movie together are the quieter moments that develop the relationship between the two men, who with his own personal issues to sort out. Denzel Washington, a later-career Scott mainstay, and Chris Pine (fresh off of reprising William Shatner’s Captain Kirk) turn in the two most down-to-Earth and believably human performances of any Tony Scott film.
For a film by a director best known for Top Gun and True Romance, Unstoppable is satisfyingly simple and bereft of over the top action or edgey stylism (shoutout though to Domino, another Scott masterpiece). -- Ryan Schubert
24. Restrepo (June 25)
Films about war rarely capture the complicated nuances of the experience and its impact on soldiers who serve on the frontlines. Often this is because of a need to dramatize combat and the enemy in ways that tell a story to the audience which is never the reality of deployment. Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger’s co-directed feature documentary, Restrepo, is the unique exception. The two endured the longest sustained photo-journalistic embedding with American forces in history. Set in the Korengal Valley of Afghanistan, one of the most dangerous areas of operation of the war, the film captures the day-to-day anxiety of service as well as the deep brotherhood forged between Army Rangers in the environment of unrelenting stress.
25. Jackass 3D (Oct 15)
Believe it or not, Jackass 3D was one of the post-Avatar 3D films that best made an argument for the format being worthwhile. The grotesque stunts of the Jackass crew looked amazing in 3D, often played at ultra-slow-mo. Every ripple of hit flesh, every contorting face, every moment of realisation and panic was so perfectly realized that many left the cinema wondering if 3D was the future of documentary filmmaking. Beyond that, though, there’s a surprising pathos to Jackass 3D, a sense that these millionaire man-children have realized that they’re past their prime and are now, officially, too old for the wild stunts they’re subjecting themselves too. It makes for a more compelling film than you might expect. A fourth Jackass was recently announced for a 2021 release, but it’ll struggle to top Steve-O being launched into the sky in a port-a-potty full of human excrement. -- James O’Connor
26. Paranormal Activity 2 (October 22)
The second film in the Paranormal Activity series, which is a prequel to the original raised the stakes by giving the young couple at the movie’s center a baby. It’s a cheap trick, but it works--while few fans were too upset when Micah was put in danger during the original, introducing a cute, innocent little bub made for a much more palpable sense of menace, especially as the plot begins to focus more and more on the baby’s wellbeing. Paranormal Activity 2 might not be the most innovative horror film out there--it repeats many of the first film’s tricks, and was obviously made in a hurry to cash in on its box office success--but director Tod Williams manages to eke some effective scares out of the franchise’s found-footage gimmicks.It’s also neat how well it ties into the first film, even if the series would grow increasingly convoluted from there. -- James O’Connor
27. 127 Hours (November 5)
127 Hours is such a traumatic viewing experience that a friend of mine invented a whole new headcanon version of it--”it’s that movie where James Franco goes for a nice walk, briefly gets stuck, and then escapes without issue.” But lean into the claustrophobic horror of 127 Hours (it’s 2010’s second most claustrophobic movie, right after Buried) and you’ll be richly rewarded. The movie is based on Aron Ralston, a man who actually went through the ordeal the film captures--he was trapped in a canyon for six days, his arm pinned in place by a giant rock. The movie flits between flashbacks, video diaries, and the realities of Ralston’s situation, and culminates in an amputation sequence that is equal parts horrific and triumphant, with sound design that we still squirm at the memory of a decade later. -- James O’Connor
28. The Other Guys (August 6)
So many buddy-cop movies are unremarkable, but the pairing of Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell sets The Other Guys apart as a hilarious genre spoof. Even for those who don't care for Wahlberg's usual shtick, he makes for a perfect match with his perpetually angry but softie character, Terry Hoitz. With support from the likes of Michael Keaton (a police captain who moonlights at Bed, Bath, and Beyond) and scene-stealing performances by Rob Huebel and Brett Gelman, The Other Guys is packed with quotable lines and a distinct sense of energy that holds up even after multiple rewatches. -- Chris Pereira
29. Alice in Wonderland (March 5)
Of the 46 movies in history to have grossed over $1 billion, Alice in Wonderland might be the worst one. You’d be forgiven for having forgotten that the movie achieved this milestone, or indeed that it exists at all--Tim Burton’s aggressively awful adaptation landed soon enough after Avatar to take advantage of an audience that craved more 3D cinema, but made no cultural contribution of its own. The film was mostly well cast, with Mia Wasikowska being a good fit in the weirdly thankless role of Alice and Helena Bonham Carter more-or-less committing as the Red Queen, but Johnny Depp is so odious as the Mad Hatter that it’s hard to get past his grating performance. The film won an Oscar for Art Direction, which is strange, as it has none. The film’s nadir is the much-hyped Futterwacken sequence, in which Depp performs a low-energy CGI-powered dance to the delight of the film’s assembled cast--ten years later, we’re still cringing. Once again, this movie made $1 billion--in fact, it was only the sixth movie ever to do so. We know better now. -- James O’Connor
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