The 2010s are coming to an end and, in memento to those past ten years, it’s important to recognize which films defined the very start of the decade. The following five films debuted at the cusp of 2010 and helped influenced hundreds of movies that would follow. It’s only fitting then that we go through and discuss their lasting impact.
This thriller, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, revolves around a group of professionals in the business of manipulating dreams and stealing secrets from people’s minds. Using dream technology, the team is able to build worlds within their target’s subconsciousness and create layers, like dimensions, inside the mind. In the film DiCaprio’s character, Dom Cobb, is tasked with planting a specific thought within a CEO’s mind, in order to pull of a crime so contrived it’s perfect. Inception soon reveals, however, that the only thing powerful enough to stop Cobb from achieving his goals is a flaw in the otherwise immaculate structure of his own mind: the memory of love.
Dealing with the concepts of time and reality, Inception definitely bent the minds of audiences everywhere when it came out in 2010. The narrative is complex and throughout its duration viewers find themselves jumbled up in the chaos and individual layers of the heist being committed. Yet we’re led through the braided plot to an ending that unravels the complexity of the worlds and situations Cobb traverses.
Director Christopher Nolan did not fail to produce another thrilling film, with Inception telling a compelling presentation of time and memory. The film started off this decade with an engaging and compelling structure that twists the typical Hollywood narrative unlike anything seen before. Inception incited films for the rest of the decade to push and challenge viewers without making the twist inaccessible to a public audience.
2.) Black Swan
In Black Swan, the line between passion and obsession is blurred to a point of indistinguishability. Nina, played by Natalie Portman, is a ballerina who has committed her entirety to the art. She’s cast in the production of Swan Lake as the white swan, while another dancer named Lily, played by Mila Kunis, stars as the black swan. Their relationship grows increasingly complex and sexually charged as the life-or-death competitive nature of this dance school overwhelms its characters.
As the audience watches Nina’s journey leading up to the final performance, her mind seems to grow more and more deranged. Her passion seems to be driving her insane. The film’s inherent darkness is captivating and viewers cannot help but wonder at which point will the steady beat of madness come to an inevitable crescendo?
Black Swan was a landmark of the 2010s with its emphasis on darkness and strong focus on the female identity. Many films since have verged on the brink of horror through their utilization drama, suspense, and psychological-thrills. Nowadays, psychological thrillers are ragingly popular. Additionally, the 2010’s saw many more female-led films with enter the spotlight, and Black Swan was one of the first of the decade to lead the way.
3.) The Social Network
This biographical film set out to outline the career and success of Mark Zuckerberg, played by Jesse Eisenberg, creator and CEO of Facebook. Starting off during Zuckerberg’s college days, the narrative tracks his development of the site into a mega social media network. It then goes on to highlight the legal troubles Zuckerberg later found himself embroiled in with the Winklevoss family and his friend Eduardo Saverin.
The Social Network was inherent to a decade that grew to be dominated by social media and technology. It comments on the way in which social media has become such a prominent institution within modern culture that such a film could even be made. Not just Facebook, but Instagram, Snapchat, etc have played a key factor in how we receive information with The Social Network rightfully taking place as an important media text at the 2010’s start.
Even to this day the film considered revolutionary in how the film uses audio to emphasize realism by not cutting ambient sound. Film studies and production classes are still learning about the filming techniques David Fincher utilized for The Social Network even ten years down the road.
4.) Shutter Island
Leonardo DiCaprio stars again in this action-packed film by Martin Scorsese, which revolves around two US Marshals who travel to an island in the Northeast where one of the most renowned asylums is located. Their mission is to investigate the case of a missing inmate who disappeared under mysterious circumstances. The facility, as well as its supervisors, quickly turn out to be more than they seem and DiCaprio’s character, Teddy, is forced to grapple with the concept of truth.
Shutter Island is interesting for the way in which it plays into various genres simultaneously. Without much context beyond the trailers, it seems to present itself as horror-based with a few hints at possible supernatural intervention. Instead, Scorsese reveals his film to be a period piece heavily reliant on psychological drama, conflating its initial impression. This dynamic nature surely influenced the way in which future films attempted to retain fluidity and flexibility within their complexity.
Shutter Island continues with the psychological thriller theme seen in both Inception and Black Swan from this year. The twist delivered at its end is one of the most heartbreaking and fascinating ones out there and definitely left a lasting impression on audiences.
5.) Scott Pilgrim vs The World
Of any film on this list, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is surely the most fun and light-hearted. The story tracks the life and romance of Scott Pilgrim, the titular bassist in a rock band, and mysterious Ramona Flower, the new girl in town. With their relationship blooming, it is soon revealed that Ramona has a league of “evil exes” which haunt her love life and demand her new suitor defeat them in order to become her romantic partner. The film chronicles Scott’s journey to win Ramona’s love, while in the midst of a competition between bands for a record deal.
The film uses quirky stylized graphics to integrate the feel of a comic book into the narrative, since its plot is based on a graphic novel. Edgar Wright’s colors and aesthetics are undeniably charming and the dialogue serves as a witty and fun compliment to his film’s look.
Scott Pilgrim gave the first year of the decade a unique and entertaining start, but not in a way that proved superficial. Throughout the decade quirky films such as this have become more and more popular, with many making lasting impacts on the industry and the public perspective. Not to mention its cast featured a surprising number of future stars and superhero actors. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World lead the decade in this trend and eventually garnered a cult following, proving its ability to garner value with the passing of time.