Ranking the Highest Grossing Films 2010-2019
It seems to me that I never really did a piece around the beginning of January about my thoughts on the decade of films. But to be fair, it’s a lot harder to do a ‘Best of’ anything of the decade because, especially with films, you’re dealing with thousands and thousands of movies. It’s really hard to narrow it down and, fortunately, that was because there were a lot of great films that came out in the last decade. It really seems like we’re living in an age where we have a lot of choice of films and, while a majority of the films I see and review are simply okay or mediocre, the great ones have really stood out. So I’ve decided that until cinemas reopen, while I still want to talk about a large variety of films, every two weeks I’m going to be doing a list commenting on some aspect of film throughout the decade where I’m giving the ten films that triumphed in a certain category each year and ranking them. Thus, I’ll probably get to a lot of different films to talk about. And when the time comes, I will eventually talk about my best films of the decade.
For now, I’m going to start by looking at the films that you all went to see the most. While not every highest grossing film of the year would necessarily be in the same category as the highest grossing films of the decade list, I decided to take this approach because it allowed me to talk about a wider variety of films and meant that at least 1 film would be represented for each year of the decade. So, this list might not be the most accurate, but it does allow for a wider range of talking points. Now, for this list I’m talking about the UK box office which means a couple of films that didn’t do as well in America will be on this list. It also means that some films which were the highest grossing worldwide will not make this list – the most prime example being that Star Wars: The Force Awakens was worldwide the highest grossing film of 2015, but it was not the highest grossing film in the UK box office alone that year, so it is not on the list. I know that sounds like a weird cop-out but I chose this one because this is the film market that I am paying money into to see the films and, more to the point, most of the people that read these reviews are from the UK so chances are that if these are the highest grossing films in their respective years, over the last 10 years you would have seen a good majority of these films. Also, this does not take inflation into account so, as far as I can tell, DVD sales have not impacted their place on the list.
So I took each of the highest grossing films on the UK box office for each year, starting with 2010 and ending in 2019, and then ranked them on my personal opinion on which film I though was the most deserving of being the UK’s most viewed film in cinemas this year, compared to which one was the weakest one of the bunch and I have no idea why we paid so much money for it. Trust me, there’s a few films in this bunch which seemed like bizarre choices to be the highest grossing film, or just weren’t to my taste.
highest grossing film 2010
We can start this list with one of the most unpopular film opinions: I don’t like Avatar. It’s bad enough it takes its name from one of my favourite Nickelodeon series ever and one of my favourite animated series of all time, but man is James Cameron’s supposed epic one of the most overabundant films of style over substance. I just don’t connect with this film. I’ve seen this plot point 100 times – it’s a very cliché plot with some really bad dialogue and it really wasn’t an enjoyable experience. This film really made a lot of its money based on the fact that it was one of the first widely-released digital 3D films to come out and probably made a lot of its money on the IMAX 3D experience. This film was a cultural phenomenon. But this film had to have one of the most ham-fisted environmental messages I’ve ever seen, and it’s really bizarre that people are still demanding sequels at this point. James Cameron is still pushing for Avatar 2 to come out but really, at this point it’s been more than 10 years; the audience for that film have pretty much moved on to other things. And I think it’s rather telling that out of all the films on this list, this one has the worst dialogue. Yeah, I’ve mentioned this in previous reviews, but I have to agree with film critic Matthew Buck: Cameron definitely writes women better than he writes men. Not sure why but it just seems to be better with his wheelhouse, especially if you compare a character like Sarah Connor or Ripley with a character like Jake in Avatar.
highest grossing film 2015
After a long gap, we finally got back to the Jurassic Park franchise… And I’m not the biggest fan of this one. I made it clear in my review at the time that this was a film that kind of disappointed me and felt like it had a really boring first act with a second act that kind of made up for it, and I stand by that opinion. I think a lot of people that really like this film kind of forget its first act is really all over the place. And I still stand by the whole thing of the Indominus Rex, that it’s kind of misses the point on several occasions about what makes the dinosaur be both scary and a sense of awe. More to the point though, this film is very cynical. One of the early lines in the film is that no one is interested in seeing a dinosaur anymore, which is a rather tone deaf critique on audiences being comfortable with special effects in films like these, and as a result it doesn’t really feels like one of the better nostalgia-baiting films of the last few years. I’m not surprised that this was the highest grossing film of 2015 – we hadn’t had a Jurassic Park film in over a decade, and I think people wanted to see more of that. Plus, it came out in the summer after Avengers: Age of Ultron had come out and the next Marvel film was Antman, which there wasn’t a lot of hype for. People who had enough money had probably already seen Age of Ultron and saved up enough money to go see Jurassic World, and they probably would have picked it over the film that was obviously going to be a filler movie. Let’s face it, we all really like Antman – Antman is a way better film than Jurassic World – but we did not go into it with the most amount of hype, which was probably to its benefit. Now, is there anything I do like about Jurassic World? Oh, hell yeah. There are some things I like about Jurassic World, and that’s not just the fact that I gave a terrible review to Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. Seriously, Jurassic World 4 and Kingdom is the worst Jurassic Park movie by far. For one thing, the dinosaur fights and sequences at the end of Jurassic World are phenomenal. This film really makes up for its boring first act with an excellent second act, and I mean it. And what’s more, I quite like Chris Pratt’s character, even if he got a bit overbearing towards the end of the film. Plus, I must be honest, I did like the whole factor of seeing what the theme park now being open looks like; it was the one thing we all speculated on since the original Jurassic Park.
highest grossing film of 2013
Yeah, the first Marvel movie to get on this list, and be prepared, there’s a lot more on this list. Marvel, as you expect, really dominated the decade. Iron Man 3 is not a bad film. In fact, I actually like Iron Man 3 as a whole. Yeah, I’m one of the rare people that really kind of likes that film. It actually is pretty well-made, and it probably has some of the best sequences of any of the original Iron Man films. I think the change of director to Shane Black was probably one of the better decisions made. Jon Favreau is a good director but if Iron Man 2 proved anything, he was struggling to come up with where to go with the Iron Man franchise. I think bringing a fresh person onto the franchise made a bit of sense. Now, Iron Man 3 has some cool special effects and I actually like the story arc for Tony Stark in this film. It wouldn’t be his best moments, but it was certainly there. Why is it not higher on the list? The villains. The Iron Man films have never had the strongest villains in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. For example, Iron Man 1 only had its villain appear at the very end – he doesn’t really do much and is bland and forgettable, and if you want to challenge me, tell me what his villain name is without looking it up. And Iron Man 2 had Whiplash, but really the only reason you remember him is because Mickey Rourke played him. I will say that the Mandarin is probably the most memorable of the Iron Man villains but that’s just for the dumbass twist that they pull later down the film. It feels like a real waste of Ben Kingsley in the role. Plus, I think the film’s a little too long – I think they should have shaved 15 minutes off this film and it probably would have been for the better. The Iron Man films have never been the most compelling in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But overall, I actually really like Iron Man 3, I would recommend it. Again, I’m not surprised it was the highest grossing film of 2013 – this was post-Avengers and it was the first film to come out after that massive crossover event. I think we were all wondering what the Marvel Cinematic Universe was going to be like in a world that’s now had both an alien invasion and the coming together of the Avengers and how that was going to affect all the different franchises.
highest grossing film of 2017
Yeah, this surprised me: Last Jedi is the only film of the new sequel trilogy that was the highest grossing film in its respective year. It doesn’t surprise me – Force Awakens blew our minds and Rogue One actually has some good feedback so I think people were genuinely excited to see where the franchise was going. I’ve heard a lot of people complain about Last Jedi and I actually quite like Last Jedi. Yeah, it’s a bit of a meandering film and some plot points aren’t as strong as others, but as a whole, I actually quite like the film. I think that Rian Johnson really brings some interesting ideas to the plate and its biggest errors now, in hindsight, are the fact that many of them aren’t expanded upon later on down the line. In fact, in most conversations I’ve had with people that don’t like Last Jedi, most of the points they bring up are that these things were pointless but they’re only pointless because of future films. If you look at the film in a bubble, it actually works quite well. I say works quite well, but the things that don’t work do kind of drag it down. For one thing, everyone acting stupid on the plotline of being pursued by the first order’s ship is kind of dumb, and the casino’s subplot goes on a little too long, but as a whole I kind of like this film. The things that made me really happy were the subplots involving Rey, Luke and Kylo Ren. So yeah, not an awful film but I think it’s weaker points don’t drag the film down the same way that the Iron Man 3’s weaker points drag it down.
highest grossing film of 2011
This is where the UK box office definitely plays a factor. Deathly Hallows was the final film in the Harry Potter franchise – of course everyone wanted to see it in cinemas. This is actually one of the few films on this list that I didn’t go to see in a cinema, surprisingly. Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is a decent conclusion. I know a lot of people have their problems with it, potentially considering it’s a kind of a cop-out ending, but I would say I actually though it was a pretty good conclusion to the franchise. It’s really propped up by excellent performances from both Maggie Smith and Alan Rickman who really steal the film, and as someone who hadn’t read the books, it actually really surprised me just how brutal the film got at times. It’s a film however that is not without its faults. For one thing, it’s definitely not great that they split this film into two parts. This wasn’t two books, and as a result, from what I can establish from people that had read the books, they had to condense the plot of the book in certain areas and speed up certain moments that the book took a bit more time to flesh out, but that’s what happens when you adapt into a visual medium. Though I do not find it acceptable that so many films did this Part 1/Part 2 business; only one film actually did it to a tremendous effect and we’ll get to that later. There’s also the fact that there’s not much intrigue this time. This one’s basically an action film for the most part since, well, the first film seemed to get out all the mystery aspects of Harry Potter, though given how the Fantastic Beasts films have turned out, trust me, I don’t want more ret-cons or shocking moments for shocking moments’ sake that JK Rowling’s going to pull out in the future. So maybe overall it would have been better if we had actually concluded, even though I kind of think that Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is a conclusion that kind of rushes along through most of its plot points. Still, I actually like Deathly Hallows: Part 2 as a whole, although, when I judge the Deathly Hallows as a film, I tend to push both Part 1 and Part 2 together so that might be clouding my judgement.
highest grossing film of 2016
Yeah, this one surprised me. I had no idea Finding Dory would have been the highest grossing film of 2016. This is especially surprising considering it came it in a year which had Batman vs Superman, Deadpool, Suicide Squad and Captain America Civil War just to name a few. You would have sooner expected one of them to top the list but apparently more people in the UK went to see Finding Dory than any other film. Finding Dory is actually one of the few Pixar sequels I’ve actually genuinely enjoyed, I think it’s quite good on the whole. It actually went in areas I wasn’t quite expecting it to and I think it changed a lot of the heart and charm that Finding Nemo had, something that I think a lot of the Pixar sequels kind of fall down. I’m looking at you, Incredibles 2. And especially you, Monsters University. I’m also genuinely surprised that more people went to see this than Inside Out which seemed to have a much bigger marketing campaign. It does have its issues, however – there are quite a few massive product placements, particularly SeaWorld, that are rather distracting, and I did find it repeated quite a few too many things from Finding Nemo. But as a whole, it’s a genuinely nice and charming movie and I really enjoy it. High praise from me.
highest grossing film of 2018
Yeah, this one really shocked me. I was really expecting Avengers: Infinity War to be the highest grossing film in the UK in 2018, but it was pipped by one of the other Marvel films that came out that year, Black Panther. Black Panther though is a very worthy film of that title, but it is a much better film than I was expecting. For one thing, it’s amazing how they use the special effects to imagine Wakanda for these movies. It really is a marvel. And they did a really good job building up these characters from the ground up which, considering the stage it was coming out in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, was a real challenge. Special note should definitely go to Chadwick Boseman and Lupita Nyong’o in their excellent performances, but I think the standout performance was Michael B. Jordan as Killmonger who played one of the best Marvel Cinematic Universe villains. Seriously, Killmonger is really impressive in how he is characterised in this movie, and Michael B. Jordan really brings it. He’s really proved over the years that he is probably one of the better actors working right now, and between this film and the Creed movies, it really made me want to see virtually anything he was in. But special commendation as well to Ryan Coogler who’s doing an excellent job directing this film and I’m glad he’s going to be directing the sequel down the line. And I am actually really annoyed he wasn’t nominated for Best Director considering just how many Oscar nominations – including Best Picture – Black Panther got. Seriously, check out Black Panther if you haven’t already, it’s an excellent superhero movie and there aren’t many other films that look and feel like it. It’s really excellent.
highest grossing film of 2014
You guys know how much I love Guardians of The Galaxy and I’m not surprised that it was the highest grossing film of 2014, but what amazes me the most is that Guardians of The Galaxy kind of did it on word of mouth alone. It didn’t have the greatest marketing campaign and it was not based on a particularly popular comic series that Marvel had, and at the time it felt like it was really only serving as a way to bring in the space elements of the Marvel Universe, the knowledge that Thanos was a factor. GOTG though really proves how you can take any concept but if you get the right person behind it you can make a truly excellent action film around it with some light-hearted moments that connect with multiple audiences, and GOTG really did that with good reason. James Gunn does an excellent job writing and directing these films. You can really tell between this and the second one how much he cares about these characters, and it makes me really glad he’s going to be able to now finish the story he wants to tell with the third movie. Seriously, I was genuinely considering not seeing GOTG 3 after he was fired. It’s weird because GOTG 2 probably on a technical level is the better film but I think I enjoy GOTG 1 more. And if there’s anyone that really lets GOTG down it’s the villain. Ronan the Accuser might be an interesting choice to be a villain but he’s also kind of bizarre in how dull he is as a villain – he doesn’t really do all that much as a whole, and I get a sense Lee Pace was doing more with the character than was given to him, like he had some extra motivation that only he knew about. Still, really good movie. You really should check it out, but you probably have already.
highest grossing film 2012
This was one of the biggest cinematic events at that time. It was hardly not going to be the highest grossing film of 2012, the first film that finally brought together all the characters of the Marvel Cinematic Universe into one movie. It was the promise that had been set out since the post-credits of Iron Man and it had been fulfilled. And man, is Avengers an excellent film. Even with everything that’s happened in the MCU, I think you can still go back and watch that movie and enjoy yourself. It does a really excellent job with balancing all the characters and the motivations, and it really delivers as an excellent high-pace action film and I still really love this movie. This is one of the highlights of any marvel movie marathon. You have excellent performances from Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L Jackson, Chris Hemsworth, and of course the debuting Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner and the Hulk, still the best actor to ever be in that role. And you have an excellent film overall. I also think this is the film that really proved to me that Chris Evans really was the right choice to play Captain America – you can tell with this film that he really can nail almost every aspect of the character. But it’s still not quite as good as…
highest grossing film of 2019
What is now the highest grossing film ever and rightfully so. I really, really like Endgame in just about every way. It feels like the perfect conclusion to this era of Marvel. It has an amazing fight scene, amazing moments, and it really feels like an excellent character piece for virtually everyone involved. This is the film that we had wanted since the beginning of the Marvel Universe and we finally got it; it’s proof that patience pays off because it took 11 years to get to this, and trust me fellow DC fans, the Snyder cut will not make up for the lack of patience that producing the Justice league film did. I really like a lot of aspects of Endgame but I think it’s most of the central performances that really do it for me, particularly that of Robert Downey Jr – who should have been up for best actor – and his interactions with Chris Evans playing Captain America again. This is the first time they really had the two coming together since Civil War and it really paid off. You can tell the Russo brothers were planning out this story arc well in advance and it has really paid off. Endgame was my favourite film of 2019 and I stand by it. It’s a marvel – no pun intended – of what you can achieve when you have the right writers, the right directors, the right actors and the best special effects people all in the same place. It’s fan service at its best.
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