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Top 10 Best Geek Movies of the 2010 Decade

Following up on our "best of" podcast episode from August 23rd, the Geeks have compiled a list of the 10 Best Geek movies of the 2010 decade. Anything that was even remotely science fiction was fair game for a nomination, so long as it significantly exceeded our expectations. And where there were films from collections or trilogies involved in the nomination process, we decided to include them together as a single entry. With those loose ground rules laid out, we now present to you the What If Geeks Top 10 Best Geek Movies of the Decade:


10. Mad Max: Fury Road [2015]

Nominated by: Eric

Mad Max: Fury Road is a post-apocalyptic action film co-written, produced, and directed by George Miller (Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, Mad Max 2: Road Warrior). While it is the fourth installment of the Mad Max franchise, it is generally considered to be a reboot by critics and audiences alike. Miller, however, refuses to utter the term and refers to it only as a 'revisiting' of the original film franchise. Tom Hardy (Venom, The Dark Knight Rises) takes the lead role as Max Rockatansky, who joins forces with wasteland Imperator Furiosa, played by Charlize Theron (The Fate of the Furious, Prometheus). Together, they must flee from cult leader Immortan Joe and his army of men in armored vehicles.

Why it made the list: George Miller set a number of precedents for post-apocalyptic action movies in his earlier Mad Max 2: Road Warrior film, elements of which would be copied by dozens of writers and directors over the next few decades. But Mad Max: Fury Road took that original concept even further, with better scenery, better props, more interesting characters and a significant increase in the action movie antics. To be fair, Miller had 20-some years to develop this story and hash out all the cinematic details. But he clearly made ample use of that time to further perfect his model. If you're into car chases, wild stunts and a healthy dose of post-apocalyptic sci-fi mayhem, then this film is definitely made for you.

9. The Hobbit trilogy [2012, 2013, 2014]

The Hobbit series | Warner Bros. Pictures

Nominated by: Eric

Based on the 1937 by J.R.R. Tolkien, these films act as a prequel to the The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Peter Jackson, who wrote, directed and produced the original trilogy, also wrote, directed and produced The Hobbit trilogy. A number of actors also returned to the screen to reprise their roles in this latter trilogy, including: Ian McKellen as Gandalf; Cate Blanchett as Lady Galadriel; Orlando Bloom as Legolas Greenleaf; Ian Holm as the older Bilbo Baggins; Christopher Lee as Saruman; Hugo Weaving as Lord Elrond; Elijah Wood as Frodo Baggins; and Andy Serkis as Gollum. The films take place some sixty years before the beginning of The Lord of the Rings, and follow hobbit Bilbo Baggins, who is convinced by the wizard Gandalf the Grey to accompany thirteen dwarves on a quest to reclaim the Lonely Mountain from the dragon Smaug.

Why it made the list: Yes, the whole trilogy is making the list even if it may turn out to be one of our most contentious entries. A fair portion of the Tolkien fan-base have incredibly strong opinions about this trilogy (good and bad). We might agree with many of them that The Lord of the Rings is a better trilogy, overall, but comparing the two is asinine in the context of compiling a list of the Top 10 Geek movies in this decade. The Hobbit trilogy manages to weave together numerous seemingly disparate story lines, dozens of characters serving several different factions, and a vast fantasy world of Tolkien lore, into a cohesive story arc that even someone without knowledge of the novels can follow with ease. While many claim that three films is too lengthy for an adaption of such a short book, we appreciate the time taken to develop the characters and the setting, even if it slowed down the story telling pace a little. Tolkien's Middle-Earth was rich in fantastical lore and steeped in legend. Why should anyone be upset that these films try to honor that sentiment while retelling the story of The Hobbit?

8. The Martian [2015]

Nominated by: Paul

When astronauts blast off from the planet Mars, they leave behind Mark Watney, played by Matt Damon (Jason Bourne, The Great Wall), who was presumed dead after a fierce storm. With only a meager amount of supplies, the stranded visitor must utilize his wits and spirit to find a way to survive on the hostile planet. Meanwhile, back on Earth, members of NASA and a team of international scientists work tirelessly to bring him home, while his crew mates hatch their own plan for a daring rescue mission. This film was directed by Ridley Scott (Alien franchise, Gladiator) and adapted from a novel written by Andy Weir.

Why it made the list: What makes The Martian so clever and captivating is that it's more science than science fiction. As Paul has mentioned on the podcast, Weir went to great detail to make the events of the novel as realistic as possible, from an academic and scientific perspective. While that may seem rather boring at first, Ridley does an excellent job in keeping the content interesting without having the main character delve into 20-minute long diatribes about how potatoes could potentially grow on Mars. Beyond the gritty survival aspects of the film, it's made more inspiring because all of the technologies presented in the film represent those that we have already - or are at least within our grasp in the very near future.

7. Wonder Woman [2017]

Nominated by: John & Eric

Based on the DC Comics character, Wonder Woman follows Amazon Princess Diana as she sets out to stop WWI, under the belief that long-time Amazon enemy, Ares, is responsible for stoking the global feud. The film was directed by relative newcomer, Patty Jenkins (Monster), with Gal Gadot (Justice League, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice) reprising her titular role. This films serves as something of a loose prequel to Dawn of Justice, through the telling of the adapted Wonder Woman origin story.

Why it made the list: Gal Gadot certainly influenced this decision, but her phenomenal portrayal of the character and impossibly good looks are more of a tipping point than a driver in the decision making. The banter is actually funny, the characters are engaging, the romance aspects work in the context and the battle scenes are a fresh ballet-meets-combat mash-up that turn the typical superhero fight scene on its head. And to top it off, you get to watch a Woman save the world without feeling like you're being force-fed some subliminal (or more overt) anti-masculine messaging. It's a winning combination, all-around!

6. Logan [2017]

Nominated by: John

Starring Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, this marks the tenth film in the X-Men film series and the final installment in the Wolverine movie series. The screenplay takes some inspiration from the "Old Man Wolverine" character, which originates in an alternate future universe where supervillains have largely supplanted the superheroes. It is directed by James Mangold (The Wolverine, 3:10 to Yuma), who co-wrote the screenplay with Michael Green (American Gods, Kings, Heroes) and Scott Frank (The Wolverine, Flight of the Phoenix).

Why it made the list: This may very well be the most engaging, thrilling and emotional X-Men film to date. It's a bit more mature and slightly darker than the X-Men titles before it, but that's one of the reasons why we like it so much. The rest of the franchise can't seem to decide if it wants to be serious or silly - often awkwardly landing in a precarious teeter-totter between the two. Logan is a somber, R-rated take on the Wolverine character that plunges the audience into an alternate world full of violence and danger. And thankfully, that R-rating finally allows Wolverine to dispatch his rivals in a way you might expect from a gritty and short-tempered anti-hero with massive retractable claws.

5. Deadpool collection [2016, 2018]

Nominated by: John & Eric

It's a two-for-one! Based on the Marvel comics anti-hero created by Fabian Nicieza and Rob Liefeld, Deadpool tells the story of Wade Wilson, a dishonorably discharged special forces operative working as a mercenary. Both films put considerable focus on his relationship with Vanessa - played by Morena Baccarin (Firefly, V, Gotham) - a prostitute that eventually becomes Wade's wife, before he decides to leave her and spare her the grief of watching him die from a terminal illness.

Why it made the list: For starters, Deadpool became the highest-grossing R-rated movie of all time, the highest-grossing X-Men movie of all time and the ninth highest-grossing film of 2016. But we didn't pick it just because of its box office success. Ryan Reynolds' performance as Deadpool is superbly faithful to the comic character, as is the overall tone and style of the films. The unending jokes and breaking of the 4th wall might be over the top in any other movie, but Reynolds absolutely makes it work and it doesn't feel out of character in the slightest. As a result, these films deliver a hilarious, raunchy and oddly satisfying narrative, in a story that's absolutely loaded with action and adventure.

4. IT [2017]

Nominated by: John

IT, now retroactively called IT: Chapter One, is an on-screen adaption of Stephen King's 1986 novel of the same name. It is the second adaption of the book, following a mini-series in the 1990's. The film tells the story of seven, pre-teen misfit children in Derry, Maine - known as the "Losers' Club" - who must deal with an ancient, shape-shifting, malevolent being, while simultaneously facing their own personal demons.

Why it made the list: While IT may have a slight advantage in terms of special effects technology, the film stands out as one of the best Stephen King adaptions to date for a host of other reasons. It's not your typical horror film, somehow managing to combine scares, comedy and a coming-of-age story into a seamless on-screen tale. Although this is only the first of a two-part adaption, the film still feels complete by the end, with a climax that is well-earned.

3. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse [2018]

Nominated by: John & Paul

The first animated feature in the Spider-Man franchise, this film follows teen Miles Morales as he becomes the Spider-Man of his reality, while crossing paths with five counterparts from other dimensions to stop a villainous threat to all their realities. The saga is set in a shared multiverse called the "Spider-Verse", which has multiple alternate universes with wildly different versions of "Spider-Man."

Why it made the list: Producers Phil Lord & Christopher Miller (the production team behind The Lego Movie, Solo: A Star Wars Story & 21 Jump Street) wanted this film to have a unique style that combined Sony computer animation techniques with the hand-drawn artistic style of Miles Morales co-creator, Sarah Pichelli. It took about a year for two animators to create just 10 seconds of footage that reflected the producers' vision. But that vision - to make you feel as if you've been drawn into a comic book - is successful and well received. And it helps immensely that the film also features a tremendous cast of voice actors to bring all the Spider-Man-esque characters to life.

2. Star Wars sequel trilogy [2015, 2017, 2019*]

Nominated by: John & Paul

Yes, we're cheating here a little. Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker is obviously not going to be released until the very end of the decade (December 20, 2019). And it certainly has the potential to wreck the entire sequel trilogy - although, we have high hopes that won't be the case. Nonetheless, it was The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi that earned the nominations to our list. So if The Rise of Skywalker turns out to be a terrible catastrophe, we promise to come back and remove it from this list. But the other two parts of this saga are firmly cemented in their place.

Set 30 years after Return of the Jedi, the films follows force-sensitive Rey, former stormtrooper Finn, and rogue pilot Poe Dameron's search for Luke Skywalker. We then follow Resistance, led by General Leia Organa and veterans of the Rebel Alliance, as they fight against Kylo Ren and the First Order, a successor to the Galactic Empire.

Why it made the list: All the Geeks belong to a generation that grew up with the original Star Wars trilogy. To be clear, we're by no means suggesting that this trilogy is better than any previous one. It would be quite impossible for us to re-experience the nostalgia of Star Wars with the same wonder and awe that we did decades ago in our first viewing. However, this latest trilogy is responsible for a whole new generation of Star Wars fans who are experiencing that moment for the first time. And director J.J, Abrams, with the backing of the Disney conglomerate, has done an excellent job in trying to marry the old with the new in these films, while weaving their newest tale in the Skywalker saga. Familiar characters are abound in Han, Chewy, Leia, Luke, Threepio and Artoo, along with some familiar settings, which make these films easily relatable for "old fans" like us. But there's also more than enough new content and unfamiliar characters to keep it all very interesting.

1. The Avengers Infinity War Films [2018, 2019]

Nominated by: John, Paul & Eric

Our top pick is another two-for-one deal. We think it's fair since The Avengers: Endgame is essentially part two of the Avengers: Infinity War story. To make things slightly confusing, these films are actually based on the Infinity Gauntlet series from Marvel comics, rather than the Infinity War series. And we're going to confuse matters even further by explaining to you that the term "Infinity Saga" is used to describe the original 23 films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), since the characters all have some relation to the infinity stones at some point in their story arc. But our reference to the Infinity War films is only meant to imply the two films you see above. So, now that we have all that confusion out of the way (or in the way, perhaps)...

These films follow our host of superheroes as they attempt to stop the Titan Thanos from acquiring the all-powerful infinity stones - which he intends to use to wipe out half of the life in the universe. But when they don't foil his plans completely, they are left trying to right the universe in the aftermath of their collective failures.

Why it the made the list: While the Geeks unanimously agreed on many of the nominations in the 'best of' and 'worst of' compilation lists, there were only two films that were nominated by all three of us: Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. In many ways, these two films serve as the culmination of the story arc that has run from Phase 1 to Phase 3 of the MCU films, but they also bring closure to the backstories of some of the Avenger's most iconic team members. And it's done in a way that is unexpected and somewhat shocking, yet completely and utterly gratifying. It's a wonder how the studio will be able to keep up the same level of excitement and intrigue as they move into the next phase of film development.


Honorable Mentions

While these movies didn't make the cut for one reason or another, the Geeks think that they're absolutely worth watching if you haven't seen them yet. If nothing else, throw them on your "to stream later" list.

Snowpiercer [2013]

Based on the French graphic novel Le Transperceneige by Jacques Lob, Benjamin Legrand and Jean-Marc Rochette, the film stars Chris Evans (Captain America films), Tilda Swinton (Avengers: Endgame), Jamie Bell (Fantastic Four), John Hurt (Merlin) and Ed Harris (Apollo 13, The Abyss). The story takes place aboard the Snowpiercer train, operating on a massive global track, carrying the last remnants of humanity. Evans stars as Curtis Everett, a member of the lower-class tail section passengers as they lead a revolution against the elite of the front of the train.

Arrival [2016]

Linguistics professor Louise Banks, played by Amy Adams (Justice League), leads a team of investigators when massive spaceships touch down in 12 locations around the world. As nations teeter on the verge of global war, Banks and her crew must race against time to find a way to communicate with the extraterrestrial visitors. Hoping to unravel the mystery, she takes a chance that could threaten her life and quite possibly all of mankind.

Planet of the Apes trilogy [2011, 2014, 2017]

Gary Oldman (The Dark Knight Rises), Jason Clarke (Pet Sematary, Terminator Genisys), Keri Russell (Dark Skies, The Americans) and Andy Serkis (Gollum in The Lord of the Rings series) star in the next chapter of Planet of the Apes. Ten years after a deadly virus destroys most of humanity, the human survivors find themselves on the brink of war with a group of genetically enhanced apes led by Caesar. It's a war that could determine which species will dominate Earth.

Aquaman [2018]

The city of Atlantis is now an underwater kingdom ruled by the power-hungry King Orm. With a vast army at his disposal, Orm plans to conquer the remaining oceanic people and then move onto the surface world. Standing in his way is Aquaman, Orm's half-human, half-Atlantean brother and true heir to the throne. With help from royal counselor Vulko, Aquaman must retrieve the legendary Trident of Atlan and embrace his destiny as protector of the deep.

Shazam! [2019]

We all have a superhero inside of us - it just takes a bit of magic to bring it out. In 14-year-old Billy Batson's case, all he needs to do is shout out one word to transform into the adult superhero Shazam. Still a kid at heart, Shazam revels in the new version of himself by doing what any other teen would do: have fun while testing out his newfound powers. But he'll need to master them quickly before the evil Dr. Thaddeus Sivana can get his hands on Shazam's magical abilities.


If you want to know what films the Geeks felt were absolutely terrible, you can also check out our Top 10 Worst Geek Movies of the 2010 Decade.

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