21 Best Popcorn Motion pictures of the 2010s


We’ve come to the end of the decade. It’s been a decade full of a great many developments in the movie world. Streaming asserted its dominance. Physical media began dying a slow death. Superheroes took over the worldwide box office and Hollywood became more franchise obsessed than ever. Some of that was for the better. Some of it, not so much. But we’re here to look at some of the highlights in that arena from 2010 to 2019, as we’re counting down the 21 best popcorn movies of the decade.

But what is a popcorn movie, exactly? Popcorn movies exist to entertain above all else. Plain and simple. They can span many genres and vary greatly in scope, from the small indie flicks to the big studio offerings. To be clear, the following list is just the opinion of one man. But as a movie lover, this is what I live for. I value cinema primarily as entertainment and make no apologies about it. Some of your favorites probably didn’t make the cut. I did attempt to use objectivity here, but at the end of the day this is my list and I’m just hoping to shine a light on some of the many cinematic endeavors that brought me joy over the last ten years.

From slashers to superheroes, and from aging action stars to revamped franchises, the 2010’s had it all. But what made the cut? What rose above the noise to become the cream of the crop? The butteriest popcorn on the top of the bucket. While there is sure to be much debate about these movies (and many others that didn’t make the list) for years to come, here is our list of the 21 best popcorn movies of the decade.

RELATED: Terry Gilliam Slams Black Panther Hard as He Jumps Into Anti-Marvel Fray<strong><em>Magic Mike</em></strong>“/></p>
<p>Starting off, it’s not so much that this is one I feel personally passionate about, in terms of including it on this list, but I think it’s a movie that was brilliantly marketed and surprised a lot of people, myself included, by being so much more than a male stripper movie. This marked Steven Soderbergh’s very welcome return to the world of directing features, as well as something of a major starring turn for Channing Tatum. But the surface level entertainment value here for many moviegoers is hard to deny. 2012’s <strong>Magic Mike</strong> became a thing. It was a true moment in pop culture. It’s quite unique and has earned its place as a memorable blockbuster moment in a decade that was otherwise dominated by large-scale movies, of one sort or another.</p>
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2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger, in my eyes, remains the single most underrated movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Even when taking that into account, it was hard to imagine that Chris Evans’ second solo outing as Steve Rogers, 2014’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier, would turn into something so unexpectedly spectacular. I’ve always described it as a James Bond movie wrapped in a comic book. While the movie certainly deals with the larger MCU, part of the reason The Winter Soldier is so great is that stands on its own two feet so well. But, most importantly, man oh man does this deliver in the action department. Directors Joe and Anthony Russo seemed like an unlikely duo to bring us one of the better action movies of the 2010’s comic book adaptation or otherwise, but as they’d prove with Captain America: Civil War, and a couple of other Marvel movies we may be talking about in a bit, they were just getting started. Quite a few people still put this at the very top of the Marvel Cinematic Universe rankings, and it’s tough to argue against.

<p>Sometimes, the third time really is the charm. Ryan Reynolds had two cracks at the superhero genre previously with Green Lantern and, more importantly, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which is where the actor made his unceremonious debut as <strong>Deadpool</strong>. In 2016, he got another crack at it in the character’s first solo movie and, not to overstate things, but this was a game-changer. Conventional wisdom was that superhero movies needed to be PG-13 to attract large audiences. <strong>Deadpool</strong> was R-rated through and through. Between Reynolds, director Tim Miller and writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, they crafted a bloody, unbelievably entertaining and hilarious, faithful adaptation of Marvel’s Merc With a Mouth that resonated with audiences worldwide. This is not only one of the best blockbusters of the decade, it’s also one of the most important.</p>
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I found myself in a tough spot here. Tom Cruise starred in three truly awesome Mission: Impossible movies during the last decade. Ghost Protocol, Rogue Nation and Fallout all have their merits. Though, in narrowing it down to one to single out for this list, I couldn’t stop myself from singling out 2018’s Mission: Impossible – Fallout. What director Christopher McQuarrie and Cruise accomplished was nothing shy of a minor miracle. How is it more than two decades into this franchise’s run they managed to deliver something so stylish, massive and truly thrilling? I’d argue that putting the epic bathroom fight, perhaps one of my favorite single action sequences of the decade, right after the insane halo jump scene is evidence enough that this movie deserves recognition is high-value popcorn entertainment. Also, not for nothing, this is the movie that gave us Henry Cavill’s legendary mustache.

<strong><em>Edge of Tomorrow</em></strong>“/></p>
<p>Speaking of Tom Cruise, it turns out that his greatest contribution to movie-going during the 2010s was not as Ethan Hunt. Rather, that honor goes to his turn in Doug Liman’s delightfully inventive time-bending 2014 sci-fi flick <strong>Edge of Tomorrow</strong>. At a time when video game movies simply weren’t working (and one could argue they still aren’t), Liman and Cruise made a movie that feels more like a video game brought to life than anything we had seen before or since. Emily Blunt shines here as well, and we get a memorable performance from the late, great Bill Paxton to ice the cake. Unfortunately, <strong>Edge of Tomorrow</strong> was stifled by a botched marketing campaign at the time of its release. But cream rises to the top and the cinematic ride that this movie ended up being couldn’t be ignored. It’s a blast, plain and simple.</p>
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Here’s my first real cheat on this list. Anyone who has seen director Gareth Evans’ The Raid: Redemption and The Raid 2 will surely attest that there are few better options in cinema when it comes to watching people just beat the ever-living crap out of one another with style. The movies feel like two parts of a whole and picking just one over the other feels like a sin to me. So view it as a cop-out if you will, as if I’m saying “pick which cake you like best.” That having been said, The Raid: Redemption is a blistering, brilliantly simple, impeccably executed action extravaganza that defies comparison. The Raid 2 is a continuation of that same story, but takes the action outside of a single location and proceeds to deliver some of the most memorable fight scenes ever. The mud fight, for example, is what martial arts movie lovers dream of. Few movies that make the action and combat feel so real. So visceral. Evans has a gift and Iko Uwais deserves to be a global action star on par with the greatest.

<strong><em>Baby Driver</em></strong>“/></p>
<p>Director Edgar Wright, the filmmaker behind comedies such as Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, made his true crossover into mainstream Hollywood with 2017’s <strong>Baby Driver</strong>. Heist movies have always made for good entertainment, but something about Wright’s distinctive style meshed so well with the genre and it delivered something that felt truly original in an industry dominated by not-so-original content. An A-list cast led by Ansel Elgort in a star-making turn as Baby, a great soundtrack and several pulse-pounding chase sequences make for nothing shy of a pure, smile-inducing joyride.</p>
<h2><span class=11IT (2017)

<p>Stephen King’s works have been adapted for the screen for nearly as long as he’s been a best-selling author. But 2017’s <strong>IT</strong> was on another level. Director Andy Muschietti, in his first part of a two-part adaptation of King’s beloved work, exceeded all expectations to deliver something that wasn’t just scary, but was filled with heart and, most surprisingly, lots of laughs. The charismatic cast of youngsters brought this book to life in a way that felt truly impossible before this movie’s release. But the real MVP here is Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise. There is still a great deal of love for Tim Curry’s version of the child-eating clown, but Skarsgard, not to overstate it, cemented himself as a modern horror icon here. Horror movies have always made for some of the best communal theatrical experiences and <strong>IT</strong> was a bright, shining example of that.</p>
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There was a moment when it was revealed that Sony was going to make an animated Spider-Man movie shortly after it was revealed that Peter Parker would be joining the MCU. That seemed like a cute idea. Oh, how wrong I was to underestimate the power of bringing this world to the big screen in animated form. 2018’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse finally brought the beloved Miles Morales version of the character to life, offering an entirely fresh perspective on a familiar tale. As a die-hard Spidey fan, nothing has felt so true to the character as this. It provides that true comic book feeling more than anything else that came along in the last ten years. It’s hopeful. It’s emotional. It’s inspiring. And, most importantly, it’s an absurd amount of fun. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is hands down one of the greatest comic book movies of the 2010s.

<strong><em>John Wick</em></strong>“/></p>
<p>Let’s rewind the clock to 2014. Keanu Reeves is starring in a minimally advertised action flick called <strong>John Wick</strong>. Innocuous title and nothing in the marketing made us believe that we were about to be gifted one of the biggest surprises of the decade. Directors Chad Stahelski and David Leitch used every lesson they learned working in the business as stuntmen to bring us the gold-standard in modern action flicks. Reeves hadn’t been this good in at least a decade and a half, if not ever. <strong>John Wick</strong> is an unrelenting, bullet-filled thrillride that breaks so many rules (like killing the dog) and makes the audience root for, and sympathize with, one of the most brutal killers ever brought to life in mainstream cinema. It also spawned perhaps one of the greatest action trilogies in history, with a fourth entry on the way. There’s no two ways about it, <strong>John Wick</strong> is about as good as it gets in the action movie landscape.</p>
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And we come to yet another one of my cheater moments. But hear me out. What started promisingly with Rise of the Planet of the Apes fleshed itself out in almost impossibly great form with Matt Reeves’ subsequent entries, 2014’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and 2017’s War for the Planet of the Apes. Andy Serkis’ character arc and performance as Caesar is truly stunning. Serkis, I would argue, deserved a Best Actor Oscar for his work. It’s that good. Reeves, meanwhile, fleshed out the world set out before him in truly brilliant fashion. Visually, these movies are downright breathtaking. Not just the mind-melting CGI and motion-capture work that brings these apes to life, but the landscapes and action sequences are top-notch as well. It’s an embarrassment of riches. It’s what sci-fi can and should be when it’s firing on all cylinders. There were so many ways a new Planet of the Apes trilogy could have gone wrong. Reeves, taking risks and, against all odds, turning CGI apes into real characters, elevated it to greatness. I personally feel this is the decade’s greatest trilogy and can stand alongside some of the greatest trilogies of all time. Both Dawn and War are equivalently excellent parts of a larger, exceptional whole. Don’t make me choose.

Avengers Endgame

This is my last cheat, but one I hope people will understand. How can one possibly separate these movies now that we’ve seen how it all plays out? It is very much a part 1 and part 2 situation, even though both movies are quite different. For that reason, I decided to lump them together. By the time Avengers: Infinity War hit theaters in 2018, the MCU was a global juggernaut. Everyone was wrapped up in this story and we were finally going to see Thanos make his big debut. Directors Joe and Anthony Russo pulled out all the stops, making what is essentially The Empire Strikes Back of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That paved the way for Avengers: Endgame, which had to satisfy one of the biggest cliffhangers in cinema history. These movies are two halves of a massive, unprecedented cinematic achievement. Love it or hate it, Marvel pulled off an epic conclusion to a full decade of cinematic storytelling on a level nobody would have thought possible at the beginning of the 2010s. Infinity War and Endgame were true pop culture phenomena and events not to be missed. If Marvel ever tries to do something like this again, they’re going to have one heck of a high benchmark to clear.

<p>People who argue comic book movies are all the same should try to compare something like <strong>Avengers: Endgame</strong> to <strong>Logan</strong>. It is damn near impossible. But, at the end of the day, James Mangold’s inspired 2017 movie that brought Hugh Jackman’s legendary tenure as Wolverine to a close is going to go down as one of the best comic book movies ever made. <strong>Deadpool</strong> paved the way for R-rated comic book movies, but <strong>Logan</strong> came in and did something next level with it. Mangold crafted a visually unique, deeply emotional and thrilling X-Men flick the likes of which we had never seen. Jackman and Patrick Stewart give their respective best performances as Wolverine and Charles Xavier, which is truly saying something. And let us not forget about Dafnee Keen’s star-making turn as X-23. <strong>Logan</strong> feels like an auteur western that just so happens to have a guy with claws coming out of his hands, instead of a guy with six-shooters. <strong>Logan</strong> is not just a great comic book adaptation, it’s a damn fine piece of cinema of any kind.</p>
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