30. Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse (2018) – This movie surprised the hell out of me! It’s the first movie to win Best Animated Feature after PIXAR has won so many. Into the Spider-Verse is an eye-popping feast that feels like a comic book coming to life. With humor, colorful action, and a massive voice cast including Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali, Shameik Moore, and Nicolas Cage, this is the best mash-up of different Spider-Mans from different universes that I would be interested in exploring in the future (I think a live-action Spider-Man Noir would be fantastic). The post-credits sequence? Priceless!
29. Avengers: Endgame (2019) – This marks the end of an era for the MCU. Don’t get upset. There is plenty more in store for this ongoing franchise. Clocking in at three hours, Endgame goes by like a breeze. It has humor, heart, gut-wrenching emotion, action, and visual beauty. I couldn’t have asked for a better send-off for these characters.
28. Captain Phillips (2013) – Tom Hanks’ portrayal of Captain Richard Phillips has been debated whether he is considered a hero or not. My theory is that he is–more or less–a normal everyday person doing his job. However, he sacrificed his entire life to help the crew get out of harm’s way when Abduwali Muse (Barkhad Abdi, in an impressive acting debut) and his group of Somali pirates hijack the Maersk Alabama. The handheld camerawork can get a little distracting at first, but director Paul Greengrass knows a thing or two to keep the tension up. The fact that this movie is based on a true story makes it all the more incredible. The final act will leave you speechless.
27. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) – A lot of you might be surprised to see this ranked higher than Avengers: Endgame. I can’t help but love this movie. Co-writer/director James Gunn brings the most unusual band of misfits to life, which became one of the year’s biggest sleeper hits. The razor-sharp dialogue, slick sense of humor, wall-to-wall action, amazing soundtrack, and excellent performances by Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Michael Rooker, and a scene-stealing Dave Bautista all overshadow the otherwise fantastic visuals. Guardians of the Galaxy is a movie I would have seen a hundred times, if it came out when I was ten-years-old.
26. A Separation (2011) – Asghar Farhadi’s drama from his native Iran is a gripping outlook on the struggles of a middle-class family trying to do what’s right for their daughter. The acting feels incredibly real, Farhadi’s direction (through a series of long takes and behind windows) showcases the Iranian culture in the most subtle way. A lot of people might be thrown off by the film’s ambiguity, but it works for a movie like A Separation, one of the masterpieces in world cinema.
25. Boyhood (2014) – Richard Linklater’s 12-year odyssey of a boy growing up into a young adult in Texas is a miraculous achievement. He uses the same cast including Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke, different scenarios that are relatable and never feels manipulative, and self-referential. Clocking in at almost three hours, Boyhood goes by like a breeze.
24. If Beale Street Could Talk (2018) – Barry Jenkins adapts James Baldwin’s novel of the same name for his follow-up to Moonlight (which will appear later on the list). The result is a poetic, hard-hitting, and breathtaking movie where the characters’ expressions, at times, speak louder than words. Featuring a more diverse cast than his predecessor, everyone shines, no matter how brief their performances might be. Regina King steals the show as Tish’s (KiKi Layne) mother, who supports her daughter, although her lover is in jail for a crime he did not commit in 1970s NYC.
23. Cold War (2018) – Best known for the award-winning film Ida, Polish filmmaker Pawel Pawlikowski dedicates his latest film, Cold War, to his parents. Filmed in gorgeous black-and-white, this love story set over the course of fifteen years in Europe during the Cold War is nothing short of extraordinary. It captures love in the most realistic way. Tomasz Kot and Joanna Kulig are never better as the star-crossed lovers Wiktor and Zula, where their love story travels from the Polish countryside to a Paris jazz club. Great stuff!
22. Marriage Story (2019) – In my entire life, I rarely cry in movies. Noah Baumbach’s latest film destroyed me, and I mean it in the best possible way. Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver play Nicole and Charlie Barber, a couple fighting custody for their child while filing for divorce. The supporting cast, with the likes of Laura Dern, Alan Alda, Ray Liotta, and Wallace Shawn, is also memorable. There are plenty of scenes that should be studied in acting classes, especially the argument between Driver and Johannson. With a deadpan sense of humor, Randy Newman’s delightful score, and terrific editing, every bit of Marriage Story feels raw and relatable. This is the most mature movie Baumbach has ever made. I hope the Criterion Collection won’t overlook this one.
21. The Intouchables (2012) – If a lot of you thought The Upside was a complete waste of time, watch the original French film that started it all. I have never seen a more beautiful friendship portrayed in film over the past ten years. Francois Cluzet and Omar Sy have such terrific chemistry as paraplegic Philippe and ex-con Driss, who embark on a journey on what it means to be alive. This funny, uplifting film became a smash hit worldwide, it became the first film to be recognized at the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation. Well-deserved, to say the least!