So that’s that for the 2010s. The 21st century has survived its awkward teenage phase, and is now heading into its twenties. Whether they will be roaring or otherwise, remains to be seen (but so far, it ain’t looking good). What can be said with certainty, is that this past decade has been filled with some absolutely amazing media. In the cinematic realm we’ve seen the continued rise of the superhero genre, TV has shifted more and more towards streaming services, and in gaming we’ve borne witness to a new generation of consoles, and all the great new content that came with them. There’s been so much media advancement in the past decade that it seems silly to even try and pick out the best of them, and yet here we are. So let’s go, here is the best of everything that the 2010s gave us in film, TV and video games.
Winner – Ex Machina (2014) – The thought-provoking directorial debut of Alex Garland, EX MACHINA is a technological blend of Frankenstein and Bluebeard, wrapped up in AI philosophy and gender politics. With a tight, tense script and exceptional performances from the three lead actors (and one fervently entertaining dance number), this quietly disquieting film is a thrilling and surprising exploration of consciousness and empathy.
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) – Coming into an established world with a new man behind the wheel, MAD MAX: FURY ROAD is a breathless, action-packed road movie that brings the franchise back to basics. With spectacular practical effects and a score that captures the chaos, Max’s latest outing is endless fun, and an essential film in the action genre.
The Master (2012) – Anchored by the mesmerising, career-best performances of Joaquin Phoenix and Phillip Seymour Hoffman, THE MASTER is a measured and intense study of the ways in which a cult seduces and manipulates lost souls into zealots. Beautifully shot and eclectically scored, this is a ballad of yearning, for identity, acceptance and peace.
Shutter Island (2010) – A Film Noir detective story with a bit of psychological thriller thrown in for good measure, SHUTTER ISLAND is a dark and pulpy drama from Martin Scorsese. Featuring a phenomenal DiCaprio performance and plenty of shocking twists and turns, this is an utterly compelling mystery that only gets better on repeat viewing.
Best Comedy Film
21 Jump Street (2012) – With some fantastic chemistry between leads Tatum and Hill, a wonderfully subversive buddy cop/high school story, and endless hilariously quotable moments, 21 JUMP STREET is that rarest of creatures – a reboot that actually justifies its own existence, living up to, and in many ways surpassing, the original’s legacy.
The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) – Vibrant, elegantly framed, and dripping with Wes Anderson’s idiosyncratic dollhouse aesthetics, THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL is a droll and intricately constructed tale of camaraderie, with strong performances throughout, and plenty of absurdly sophisticated dialogue to augment the old hotel’s many charms.
Winner – Scott Pilgrim vs The World (2010) – A better video game film than most actual video game films, SCOTT PILGRIM VS THE WORLD wraps a manic-pixie-dream-girl love story in meta layers of references, comic and game-inspired visuals, and mid-2000s punk rock. The writing is witty, the action is slick and fantastical, and all of it is presented in a glitzy, surreal style that establishes each evil ex battle as its own uniquely cool spectacle.
What We Do in the Shadows (2014) – From oddball New Zealanders Taika Waititi and Jermaine Clement, WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS is a gleefully silly mockumentary, following a group of eccentric vampires. Lampooning vamps and werewolves alike, this off-beat comedy brilliantly blends the supernatural with modern day mundanity.
Best Superhero Film
Winner – Avengers: Infinity War (2018) – Sure, Endgame may be the biggest film of all time, but it only reached those lofty heights by standing on the shoulders of its game-changing predecessor. With an expansive, villain-centric story, tonnes of fun, unexpected character interactions, and that devastating, dusty ending, AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR is the MCU’s Empire Strikes Back, and an absolute landmark in event cinema.
Deadpool (2016) – A far cry from Fox’s more family friendly mutant fare, the Merc with a Mouth came onto the super-scene with a duffel bag full of violence, fourth-wall breaks, and dick jokes. Capturing the essence of the character like nothing before, DEADPOOL is a confident breath of fresh air, and a swaggering, sweary counter to serious super-flicks.
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) – Marvel’s biggest punt since the inception of the MCU (the cast does include a talking tree after all), GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY is a thrilling and irreverent space opera, built around a perfectly cast team of oddballs, outstanding sci-fi visuals, and clever integration of the awesome 60s/70s rock soundtrack.
Logan (2017) – An incredible swansong, for both Wolverine and Hugh Jackman’s 17-year tenure wearing the claws, LOGAN replaces the flashy action of the previous X-Men films with a thoughtful, western-inspired character study, bringing devastatingly emotional ends for both Wolverine and Professor X, alongside some brutal and bloody berserking.
Best Horror Film
A Quiet Place (2018) – A creature feature that hears then eats ya, A QUIET PLACE is an anxiety-inducing ordeal of a film, starring a believable, fantastically acted family trying to survive the super-hearing monsters. Proving that John Krasinski is more than just Jim from The Office, this film is an emotive, breathless tale of family, fear and endurance.
Winner – The Babadook (2014) – Delving into a mother’s breakdown while raising the absolute worst child in the world, THE BABADOOK is a tense and atmospheric horror, led by Essie Davis’ absolutely electrifying lead performance. With his nightmarish design and fairy-tale-gone-wrong origins, Mister Babadook gives the world a terrifying new boogeyman (not to mention accidental gay icon) to check for under the bed.
The Conjuring (2013) – The film that introduced the world to the horrifying Annabelle doll, and spawned an interconnected horror-verse, THE CONJURING takes the classic haunted house story and elevates it with strong performances, dizzying camerawork, and a rich, expansive mythology surrounding the ghost-hunting Warren family.
Get Out (2017) – Blending genuine scares with sharp social satire, GET OUT weaves racial politics and clever imagery into its tense story to create a deeply unsettling experience. Wringing terror through strong writing, jarring music and outstanding performances, this is an instant horror classic, and establishes Jordan Peele as a master of the genre.
Best Animated Film
Winner – Inside Out (2015) – Answering that age old question – what if our feelings had feelings? – INSIDE OUT is an inventive, affecting and altogether delightful exploration into the confused emotional mess that is a teenager’s mind. Boasting a spot on voice cast, deliriously creative visuals and plenty of tear-jerking moments throughout, this is Pixar at its very best, and a beautiful way for kids to better understand their emotions.
Moana (2016) – The latest in the new crop of Disney Princesses, and the most compelling so far, MOANA is a relentlessly charming oceanic adventure. The songs are distinct and catchy, the visualisation of Polynesian culture creates a unique and interesting aesthetic, and the story is an empowering journey that doesn’t rely on a love interest to function.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) – Proof that Sony can still pull off an amazing Spidey movie without Disney’s help, SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE spins up one of the best stories ever seen in a Spider-Man film, roping in multiple different versions of the webhead for a funny, heartfelt and visually spectacular multiverse mashup.
Toy Story 3 (2010) – Continuing the seemingly unstoppable success streak of Woody and his friends, TOY STORY 3 builds upon the themes of abandonment and identity, while further expanding the whimsical world. With fun new characters and plenty of heart-breaking moments, this excellent threequel rounds out a pretty much perfect trilogy.
Best Drama TV Series
Breaking Bad (2008 – 2013) – Giving the world one of its strongest and most compelling falls into villainy ever, BREAKING BAD’s Shakespearean character work and meticulous imagery elevate the tightly written material into mythical territory. Cleverly blending kingpin antics with Walt’s science, this series is a unique and captivating crime odyssey.
Daredevil (2015 – 2018) – A sharp tonal departure from the big screen installements into the MCU, DAREDEVIL is a grounded and gritty interpretation of the character worthy of Batman. With bone-breaking action, deft camerawork, and some fantastically realised versions of iconic characters, this series was the highlight of Netflix’s Marvel offerings.
Winner – Game of Thrones (2011 – 2019) – I know, I know, the last season was a massive let down, but before that, GAME OF THRONES was a television event, the likes of which we may never see again. From the richly developed characters and sprawling world lore, to the intricate political espionage and blistering medieval battles, GAME OF THRONES offers some of the most shocking and epic moments ever put to screen.
Sherlock (2010 – Present) – Reimagining Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic detective stories for the modern age, SHERLOCK’s 90 minute episodes allow for complex and intriguing mysteries to unfold at a natural pace, while still making time for plenty of easy chemistry and snappy dialogue between Cumberbatch and Freeman’s dynamic detectives.
Best Comedy TV Series
Barry (2018-) – Farcical and silly, with just enough edge to be dangerous, BARRY takes a simple but original premise – a hitman trying to become an actor – and wrings plenty of dark humour out of the clashing of the two worlds. With stark characters and surprising depth, this pitch-black crimedy is a high-speed romp as thrilling as it is goofy.
Community (2009 – 2015) – The joint venture of Dan Harmon and the Russo brothers, before they moved on to Rick and Morty, and the MCU, respectively, COMMUNITY is a self-aware, intelligent and witty show, at its best when the strong ensemble cast are put in themed episodes, drawing tropes from video games, westerns, procedurals, and more. We’ve had the six seasons promised to us, still waiting on that movie though.
Winner – It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (2005-) – On course to become the longest running live-action comedy series of all time, IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA has kept the same winning formula for fifteen years, and only seems to get better. The gang’s sociopathic attitudes keep mundane sitcom setups feeling fresh, and the simple, yet sharp writing carries the same sense of humour through each season effortlessly.
Parks and Recreation (2009 – 2015) –The perfect antidote to the toxic state of politics at the moment, PARKS AND RECREATION refutes the notion of emotionless governments, delivering a show that radiates warmth and earnestness. With sincere, often humorous writing, and a fantastic ever-growing ensemble cast, this is heartwarming TV at its finest.
Best Animated TV Series
Archer (2009-) – A lewd, irreverent and sweary spoof of classic Bond-esque spy thrillers, ARCHER quickly establishes its own strong identity, combining action-packed espionage missions with hilariously mundane office politics. Keeping things fresh, latter seasons approach different genres, turning the series’ signature snark to sci-fi, noir and more.
Bob’s Burgers (2011-) – Full of authentic family antics, dad-joke puns and catchy musical numbers, BOB’S BURGERS finds fresh ground in the animated sitcom arena with realistic stakes and offbeat, low-key humour. Sharp, earnest and witty, the series’ strong writing and stellar voice cast come together to draw plenty of comedy out of simple concepts.
Winner – BoJack Horseman (2014 – 2020) – As close to a perfect run as any animated series has ever come, BOJACK HORSEMAN’s six seasons present a rich, ever-deepening study of mental illness, narcissism and celebrity, wrapped up in clever animal jokes and slapstick silliness. With each season, layers of the titular horse and his supporting cast are drawn back, resulting in incredibly developed (and hilarious) characters throughout.
Rick and Morty (2013-) – Blending madcap sci-fi shenanigans and zany humour with moments of pathos and melancholy, RICK AND MORTY is the paradoxical centre-point between immature and mature. Add to this some grounded family dysfunction, and the series remains relatable while delivering plenty of exciting and imaginative adventures.
Game of the Decade
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (2011) – The game that brought the Elder Scrolls into the mainstream, SKYRIM encapsulated endless possibility from the very beginning. Giving players a huge open world filled with varied missions to pick up, beautiful landscapes to explore and endless lore to uncover, this is an adventure that is never the same twice.
Mass Effect 2 (2010) – Two words: suicide mission. The simple premise of MASS EFFECT 2 – recruiting the ultimate team for an impossible mission – conceals a galaxy of diverse and detailed characters, engaging missions and meaningful choices. This isn’t just one of the best sci-fi games ever, it’s an epic space opera on par with the original Star Wars.
Red Dead Redemption 2 (2018) – Somehow improving upon its bar-raising younger brother, RED DEAD REDEMPTION 2 pretty much perfects the wild west fantasy. Between the gorgeous frontier, layered characters and deeply affecting story of brotherhood and redemption, the dusty trails and open skies of the old west have never been so alluring.
Winner – The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (2015) – Another fantasy sequel that gained a wider appeal for its franchise, THE WITCHER 3: WILD HUNT presents a stunning, wide-open world, filled with mythical monsters, intricate politics, and some of the most mature and engaging story arcs in gaming. With tight combat, strong characters, and plenty of choice and consequence, this experience is one worth sinking hundreds of hours into.
Indie Game of the Decade
Winner – Firewatch (2016) – As pensive and beautiful as watching the sun set over the treetops (a feature of the game), FIREWATCH’s unique atmosphere and subtle gameplay make for both a compelling mystery, and an engrossing meditation on love and loss. The stylised world is a delight to explore, the characters are endearing, and the narrative creates an effective sense of isolated paranoia, while still bringing plenty of surprises.
Hotline Miami (2012) – Frenetic, chaotic and relentless, HOTLINE MIAMI’s simple top-down gun-play and instant revivals make for an incredibly addictive and entertaining formula. Combined with the pulsating soundtrack and trippy visuals, the end result is a hypnotic and challenging ride that always dares players to have just one more try.
The Stanley Parable (2011) – An experience unlike any other, THE STANLEY PARABLE is a walking simulator with a meta twist. The multiple branching paths for the silent Stanley to take invite plenty of replay, and Kevan Brighting’s hilarious, increasingly exasperated narration makes it a joy to repeatedly disobey, and explore all of the bizarre endings.
What Remains of Edith Finch (2017) – Blending surreal and stylised short stories into a quieter framing narrative, WHAT REMAINS OF EDITH FINCH is a varied experience, in terms of both the visuals and gameplay. As inventive as it is devastating, the integration of the stories flows naturally, delivering an overall experience that radiates emotion.
Up The Geek Legacy Award
Alan Rickman (1946 – 2016)
From the dastardly, sardonic Hans Gruber to the sneering and superior Severus Snape, Alan Rickman turned his wit, charm and singular vocal chords to all manner of iconic film roles across his varied career. Gaining a notoriety for villainy after his flamboyant turn as the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Rickman proved a success in that arena, going on to play many unsympathetic antagonists, with the aforementioned terrorist leader and potions master being arguably his most famous. Refusing to be typecast, however, he also turned his diverse talent to more comedic roles, such as Alexander Dane in Galaxy Quest, and Marvin the Paranoid Android in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. A far kinder man at heart than his filmography would suggest, the many stars who appeared alongside Rickman across his career revere him for his warmth, his wisdom, and of course, his incredible voice. He will be remembered, always.