As faithful readers of this spot, or those that follow me on social media, know I turned 40 this year. As part of that celebration, I’ve been looking at my favorite film from each year I’ve been alive. Earlier this year I chronicled the first three decades worth of selections and today I cover the fourth and final decade, from 2011 through 2020. Below are the films by year. Thanks for walking along this journey with me and know that in 2021 I’ll be going through two different year-long journeys that I’ll share weekly on social media and periodically through this space as well. Without further ado, on to the final list!
X-Men: First Class (2011)
About: This re-boot from Matthew Vaughn introduces the X-Men in the 1960s and serves as an origin story and kick-off to a new generation of X-Men films. I love the way this is put together and the rich performances, particularly from James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender. This is the best of the X-Men films and one of my favorite superhero films in general.
The Hunger Games (2012)
About: This was the first of a franchise, and while the final installments didn’t always go as I’d like, this first film was very moving. I love Jennifer Lawrence in the lead role but more importantly I love the big ideas that were tackled in this first film. It is a commentary on some of the media appetites of the public and it was one that stuck with me for quite some time after viewing it.
Man of Steel (2013)
About: This Zack Snyder film re-booted Superman and launched a new phase of D.C. films. I had mixed feelings when I first saw it, loving the first two thirds of the film while being a little unimpressed by the final act, especially the protracted battle between Superman (Henry Cavil) and Zod (Michael Shannon). However, it’s a film that has continued to grow on me over time and, surprisingly, when I looked at the list for 2013, it’s the one that stood out.
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
About: Another superhero film topping a year in this decade! The first Guardians of the Galaxy was a blast that captured my heart. Though the Marvel Cinematic Universe spans more than 25 films and more than a decade, this remains my favorite. It was an easy film to slot atop the year.
About: I still remember my first viewing of this film, in a tiny theater in downtown Colorado Springs. I sat there as the credits rolled with the list of those who’d been victimized and tears rolled down my cheek. It was a powerful film telling an important story. It was instantly my favorite of the year and one of the best Best Picture winners of the last decade.
About: This was tough. I LOVE La La Land, and at the time it was my film of 2016. Arrival was a close second. In the five years since, it’s continued to work its way up. I love the performance from Amy Adams and the beauty of this story. Denis Villeneuve does a beautiful job bringing it to life. It’s one of my favorites ever.
Star Wars, Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (2017)
About: This film from Rian Johnson is easily the most polarizing Star Wars film. It’s also the best for me. I love the performances here, particularly from Adam Driver and Daisy Ridley. There is an emotional weight to the story and a beauty to the craft that had me riveted. I love it.
Won’t You Be My Neighbor (2018)
About: I remember watching Fred Rogers on TV as a youngster. It was a part of my childhood journey. Seeing this documentary stirred all that and more. This is a love letter to a man who devoted himself to helping people feel loved and seen. It was easily my favorite film of the year and my favorite documentary ever. It’s a beautiful story.
Knives Out (2019)
About: Johnson strikes again, this time with a whodunnit that is beautifully crafted. This has a spectacular cast but I loved Daniel Craig in the lead role. The twists and turns worked, the humor keeps it all going and the truth of the story is a whole lot of fun. I saw it four times in theaters.
Promising Young Woman (2020)
About: I didn’t know what to expect from this film but what I got was a joy. Carey Mulligan gave THE BEST PERFORMANCE of 2020 in a film that was funny, moving and at times shocking. I loved Bo Burnham in support, but it’s the writing and directing from Emerald Fennell that gives this one its bite.
Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. He is a member of the FSWA. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast.