The Top 8 Most Influential Films of the Decade

With just a few weeks left until the end of the decade, there is no doubt that the films that were released during the 2010s has not only been transformative for Hollywood and popular culture, but has also had a huge impact on social commentary, especially on issues related to race, gender, mental health, gun control, and more. This greatly represents the many political and social movements that define the decade.


Within the decade, we have witnessed the immense success of Disney due to the rise of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the renewal of the Star Wars franchise, as well as the releases of many beloved animated features. With its continued success, Disney sustained its domination of the box office throughout the 2010s which greatly impacted the culture of the masses.


Although there were many successful films released during this time, here are 8 films that, in my opinion, have had the greatest impact during the decade:

  1. 1. Black Panther (Ryan Coogler, 2018)

    Black Panther follows T’Challa’s (Chadwick Boseman) return home after the death of his father, so that he may claim his rightful place as the king of Wakanda, a technologically advanced, secluded, and fictional African nation. When a powerful, old enemy reemerges, T’Challa’s role as King and the Black Panther is tested as he is drawn into a daunting conflict that risks the fate of Wakanda as well as the world. T’Challa, who is faced with betrayal and danger, must defeat those who threaten his people, their way of life, and ultimately the world.


    Black Panther, which grossed over one billion dollars at the global box office, was an instant hit. The film which includes a predominantly African-American cast gained success not only because it was a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but also because it challenged the norms of Hollywood and portrayed a powerful black superhero alongside an intelligent woman, fierce female soldiers (who were not sexualized), and the beauty of African culture. Black Panther was also not afraid to dig a little deeper and portray significant issues such as race relations. It also focuses on modern political themes like whether or not to engage in worldly issues and maintaining connections with other nations.

  2. 2. Wonder Woman (Patty Jenkins, 2017)

    Diana (Gal Gadot), Princess of the Amazons, is trained to become an unbeatable warrior. As a child, she was raised on a paradise island that is shielded from the rest of the world. One day, she meets Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), an American pilot, who informs her of the massive war raging on in the outside world. Diana, determined that she can stop the threat and save millions, takes on the role as Wonder Woman and leaves her home for the first time. She fights alongside soldiers in the war to end all wars and in the process, she discovers her full potential as well as her true destiny.


    Wonder Woman quickly became the highest-grossing live-action movie directed by a woman. In an era full of movies featuring male heroes, Wonder Woman was a refreshing movie that portrayed a strong female hero along with powerful female warriors. This film was not only about ending the “war to end all wars”, but it was also about female empowerment and giving young girls a role model to look up to. The women portrayed in film were given proactive roles which is normally uncharacteristic for women in action movies. The film contained multiple women who embodied this role; not just Diana. Wonder Woman was, overall, a refreshing film in the superhero genre.

  3. 3. The Hate U Give (George Tillman Jr., 2018)

    The Hate U Give, based on the novel of the same name, follows a young girl named Starr Carter (Amandla Stenberg). When Starr is the only witness of the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil (Algee Smith), at the hands of a white police officer, she begins to face pressure from various sides of her community regarding the shooting. Starr must gain the ability to find her voice and make the decision whether or not she should stand up for what is right.


    This novel, published in 2017, along with the film which was released in 2018 has gained a lot of popularity over its powerful political focus on police brutality in the United States. In addition, it also focuses on the legally enforced and socially reinforced systematic racism faced by black families. The very title of the film which comes from Tupac Shakur’s song “The Hate U Give Little Infants Fucks Everybody” highlights the cycle of destruction caused by racism. This argues that racist attitudes and practices are the underlying mechanism of the problems faced by Starr in the film.

  4. 4. Inception (Christopher Nolan, 2010)

    Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a thief who has the ability to enter the dreams of his targets in order to retrieve secrets from their subconscious. His skill becomes highly demanded in corporate espionage; however, it cost him everything he loves. Dom is offered what seems to be an impossible task - planting an idea in the mind of someone, in order to get a chance at redemption.


    This mind-bending film does not just bring a thrilling cinematic experience, but it also suggests that large feature films can still contain big ideas as well as dangerous emotions. Christopher Nolan immerses viewers in an incredibly sophisticated, yet thoughtful, tale about the layers of reality in the mind that changes and collapses when constructed from raw emotions and memories. The film explores the mysteries of dreams as well as the complexity of the human mind.

  5. 5. Get Out (Jordan Peele, 2017)

    Chris (Daniel Kaluuya), an African-American man, decides to meet the parents of his caucasian girlfriend, Rose (Allison Williams). Chris and Rose make their way to upstate New York, where Rose’s parents live, as a weekend getaway. At first Missy and Dean, Rose’s parents, seem to just be overly accomadating for thier daughter’s interracial relationship. However, as the weekend progresses, numerous disturbing discoveries lead Chris to the unimaginable truth.


    Get Out is a social thriller about racism. In itself, racism is a scary concept; however, the racism portrayed in Get Out is not about the intense and blatant kind of racism. Rather, it depicts racist behaviour that tries to not be scary. But, this depiction is just as horrifying and the audience is able to feel that terror. Get Out looks at the inner meaning of being objectified by another consciousness while also drawing on the fear of having your body, mind, or personal space invaded by someone with an ill-natured goal.

  6. 6. Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015)

    Set in an apocalyptic future after the collapse of civilization, Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Bryne), an authoritarian leader, enslaves the survivors of the apocalypse inside the desert fortress called the Citadel. When Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) leads the five wives of Immortan Joe in a bold escape, she makes an alliance with former prisoner, Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy). Together, they take a massive, armored truck called the War Rig in order to attempt to outrun Immortan Joe and his henchmen in a deadly high-speed chase through the Wasteland. 


    The story of Mad Max: Fury Road is about war and its repercussions as well as slavery, PTSD, and the objectification of humans. The story of the film is essentially told through action as it challenges gender representation in the action genre. This is particularly seen through the character Furiosa. Max is never emasculated. Rather, Furiosa is made his equal if not better; she is shown to be a skilled and proven warrior. The film challenged the expectations from viewers by blending gender politics which gave new perspectives to a typically male-oriented genre. Through the various action sequences, the healing process of grief and trauma is constructed into an enjoyable movie.

  7. 7. Lady Bird (Greta Gerwig, 2017)

    This coming of age film follows a young teenager named Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson (Saoirse Ronan). Christine is a loving, independent, and deeply opinionated girl. The film follows Christine’s experiences as a senior in high school and the various ups and downs she faces along the way. 


    The relationship between Christine and her mother, Marion (Laurie Metcalf), is the primary focus of the film. Both women love their hometown, Sacramento; however, their goals are very different. Marion is perfectly content with her life despite her financial burden. On the other hand, Lady Bird longs to be her idealized self, but she cannot be that person if she stays in Sacramento. The film perfectly portrays the passive-aggressive hatred that both women have for one another as well as the immense love that they find so difficult to express due to their egos.

  8. 8. Moonlight (Barry Jenkins, 2016)

    Chiron (Ashton Sanders), who is a young African-American boy, receives guidance from Juan (Mahershala Ali), a drug dealer. Juan teaches Chiron to follow his own path; a piece of advice that Chiron keeps close to him as he journeys through his life in Miami. 


    During a time were gay culture is predominately white, Moonlight potrays the complexity and experiences of being a queer black person while also challenging masculinity. Chiron’s solitary experience as a queer black man is illustrated poetically across key moments in his life as he struggles with his sexuality and difficult family dynamic. The film is both a commercial and critical success as it wonderfully explores how the environment that surrounds someone as well as the experiences they face can shape the person they become - or it can shape how that person presents themselves to the world.

Although there are many more films that could be added to the list, these are films that I personally feel have had a cultural impact on the masses by straying away from typical Hollywood norms.