Best Movies from Each Decade

Ever since I started this website back in 2020, I’ve been tracking and scoring every movie I watch. It sounds like a chore, but it’s really more of a combination of two different things. I need to create content for the site so why not track everything? The other reason is that I’m a huge data geek. I love finding trends and experimenting with data. As I was reviewing my Notion Database trying to think about what the heck to write about for the usual Friday Special Feature, I saw something. I saw that I have tracked and scored over 175 movies. Those 175+ movies are spread out across 90 years of the over 120 years of current film history. One important caveat to keep in mind is that I have obviously seen more than these 175 movies, but I have not scored every single one. Unless I’ve re-watched it in the past two years, it’s not on this list because I wanted to keep it legit with actual scores. So for this week’s Special Feature, I have created a list of what I consider to be the best movies from each decade. I’m totally aware that I’m missing some key blockbusters from each decade but I’ll have to re-watch them to include in the next iteration that I plan on doing next year to see where things move so keep an eye on this one :). 

 The 1940’s

The 1940s is the slimmest decade for me regarding the number of movies I’ve seen (and tracked) from that era. That’s ok though because the main one I have seen and scored is Casablanca. This beautiful movie is an all-time classic and has influenced countless dramas ever since its release in 1942. I adore a good love story as much as anybody else and Casablanca is one of my favorites.

  1. Casablanca

The 1950s

The 1950s are fascinating to me. I may have a permanent pair of rose-tinted glasses when I look at 1950s America due to my love of the Fallout games and the movies from this era. However, my absolute favorite movie from the 50s has nothing to do with American culture. That movie is Akira Kurosawa’s magnum opus (in my opinion) Seven Samurai. The iconic story, soundtrack, and unmatched visual techniques make Seven Samurai one of the best movies of the 1950s. A close runner-up is Vertigo, an awesome Hitchcock thriller.

  1. Seven Samurai
  2. Vertigo

The 1960s

There are so many things that happened in the 60s that could inspire somebody to make a movie. You’ve got the space race on one hand that symbolizes hope for the future and pride in our country. And then on the other hand you’ve got the Cuban missile crisis which is a blemish on America’s history and our relationship with other world superpowers like Russia. As it happens, my favorite director from this decade, Stanley Kubrick, was inspired by all of these events. I think that 2001: A Space Odyssey is a perfect movie and is one of the best movies from the 60s. Doctor Strangelove is right behind it as my second favorite movie from the decade.

  1. 2001: A Space Odyssey
  2. Doctor Strangelove

The 1970s

The 70s is when my catalog starts to pick up. The influence that 2001 had on the industry cannot be understated. I believe that without the work done by Kubrick, we wouldn’t have gotten movies like Alien or Star Wars as they exist today. Speaking of Alien, it is my favorite movie from the 70s. For those that have read my reviews for the past few years, you’ll notice that it’s not Star Wars. I’m trying my best to stay neutral and not let my fanboy nature cloud my judgment. Neither are perfect movies, but I think that Alien is objectively better. Also, I’ve never even scored Star Wars so it can’t be on this list. The runner-ups for the 70s are a Robert Redford classic in Three Days of The Condor and the original summer blockbuster Jaws.

  1. Alien
  2. Three Days of The Condor
  3. Jaws

The 1980s

Ah, the 80s. What a time to be alive (I’m assuming). The 1980s are going through a resurgence with the explosion of pop culture media based on and drawing from the decade for inspiration. CGI was just starting to become more accessible to filmmakers and practical effects were starting to reach their peak. The movie that stole my heart from the 80s though is probably one of the least technically impressive movies ever made. That movie is The Princess Bride and it focuses on incredible story and emotion over the effects and visuals. The runner-ups for the 80s are The Thing, an incredible horror sci-fi masterpiece from John Carpenter, and the dreary cyberpunk drama Blade Runner. It should be noted that I prefer The Final Cut version.

  1. The Princess Bride
  2. The Thing
  3. Blade Runner

The 1990s

The 90s, was an era of grunge and curiosity as the internet became a staple of modern life. It’s also the decade I was born so it’s kind of cool. One of the best performances ever put to film was released in the 90s and that is Tom Hanks as the titular Forrest Gump. It’s one of my fiancé’s favorite movies and it’s only because of her that I ever bothered watching it. Honorable mentions for best 90s movies include Twelve Monkeys and The Matrix, both of which compete for the award for most horrifying dystopian future.

  1. Forrest Gump
  2. Twelve Monkeys
  3. The Matrix

The 2000s

The 2000s is where my movie tastes were formed. These are the movies that I grew up with and the catalog starts to grow exponentially from here. In my opinion, the franchise that rocked the entire decade is Harry Potter. Sure Lord of The Rings had a strong start in 2001-2003, but Harry Potter had consistency across more movies throughout the decade and was more accessible to a dumb kid like me. I know that JK Rowling sucks and whatnot, but I can separate her from these movies to a certain extent. I also know that The Order of The Phoenix is considered to be one of the least popular ones, but I love it regardless. It really shows the transition from young witches and wizards into adults with the death and destruction in the latter half of the book. I’ve not done a full review on any Harry Potter movie before and I fully intend on getting around to it eventually. I have a draft on my WordPress site that’s been half complete for over 6 months now.

  1. The Order of the Phoenix
  2. The Half-Blood Prince
  3. The Goblet of Fire

The 2010s

While I had to rely on my parents to fund my movie watching for the 2000s, the 2010s changed all that for me. I got my license and my first job so I was able to get to the theater and buy my own movies as I pleased. I was able to see all sorts of different movies and my preferences continued to be refined as I explored more genres and directors. The 2010s saw the conclusion of the Harry Potter franchise (with Deathly Hallows part 1 being the best) and the rise of the MCU and quality comic book movies. There are lots of great movies from the 2010s, but there’s nothin like the satisfying conclusion to a franchise I literally grew up watching in my opinion.

  1. Deathly Hallows part 1
  2. Deathly Hallows part 2
  3. Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse

The 2020s (So Far)

And now we reach the present decade. The 2020s are host to the most technologically advanced movies ever made and it’s only going to get better from here. Some would argue that there’s something lost with the over-reliance on technology and I would agree in some instances. The CGI riddled messes with more focus on set pieces than quality stories would indicate we’re trending backwards in terms of mastery over the medium. However, there are some bright spots like Dune and the runner-up for best movie of the 20s (so far) in The Tragedy of Macbeth and Everything Everywhere All At Once. I’m excited to see what the rest of the 20s hold.

  1. Dune
  2. The Tragedy of Macbeth
  3. Everything Everywhere All At Once

So there they are, the movies I consider to be the best movies from each decade. Remember, I only included movies I’ve watched or rewatched in the years I’ve been running this website. Everything I’ve seen before that point can’t be fairly quantified because I haven’t scored it. I fully recognize I’m missing things like The Godfather and Pulp Fiction. When I update the list next year, I am sure they’ll be on it. With that said, how did the list stack up? What else am I missing? What are your favorite movies from each decade? Let me know! 

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