Best Films of the 2010s (pt. I)

I’ve finally got around to it, counting down my favorite films of the decade. I figure Filmspotting is doing their March Madness bracket to determine what movies were the best, so I can release mine now without feeling too dumb.

These are the best movies of the decade according to me. It’s some combination of what I enjoyed the most during the decade, feel best represents the height of movies during this time period, and what I think are just pure achievements that will hold up for all time. It’s a ridiculous list, filled with a fairly wide-ranging amount of directors and styles and acclaim. Hope you hate it!

101. Chef

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Early conflict leads to what ends up being a pleasant ride focused on the pleasures of food, friends, and family. What a joy.
100. Embrace of the Serpent

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A dark and strange depiction of the effects of colonialism in South America.
99. Declaration of War

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Declaration of War is a heartbreaking movie about choosing to fight for what you love, it’s a battlecry for hope and goodness even when the darkness surrounds.
98. Toy Story 3

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A brilliant conclusion that gives characters we grew up with the perfect send off as the reality of growing old and useless rears its head.
97. It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

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Marielle Heller puts its lead character into an episode of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood to teach lessons of forgiveness and learning the discipline of kindness.
96. Winter’s Bone

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A tense backwoods thriller was a star making turn for Jennifer Lawrence who scavenges to ensure her family’s survival in a world that would just as soon leave her for dead.

95. Phantom Thread

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Phantom Thread may grow on a second watch (I’ve only seen it once), but Paul Thomas Anderson’s tale of a controlling creative genius and their being forced to humility is a true and necessary critique as well as the most unique love story of the decade.
94. Midnight Special

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Another one that could go up or down on a rewatch, but Jeff Nichols’ tale of a family trying to protect their son who seems to have special powers is one of the most underrated of the decade.
93. If Beale Street Could Talk

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A beautifully crafted movie tackling racial injustice while celebrating love, family, and Brian Tyree Henry’s ability to act.
92. 10 Cloverfield Lane

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One of the best surprises of the decade, a satisfying thriller that mixes sci-fi and horror with a perfect sense of dread.
91. A Prophet

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This modern day crime flick has one of the most tense inductions into the crime world ever.
90. Her Smell

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Alex Ross Perry delivers an unsettling character study on the self-destructive creative, hammering it home with redemption and grace.
89. The Kid on a Bike

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The Dardennes’ are known for their neo-realistic portraits of working class Europe, throwing their characters into impossible struggles and showing their responses. Here, the beauty of compassion wins out in the midst of life’s difficulty.
88. The Babadook

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Jennifer Kent uses horror to tackle trauma, twisting her story around, and throwing in a Home Alone-esque homage to deliver scares and a fight to survive in more ways than one.
87. I Am Love

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The first movie to put Luca Guadagnino on the international map is just pure aesthetic pleasure.
86. Everybody Wants Some!!

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Richard Linklater’s fairly subdued baseball movie has only grown on me, I think it’s up there with the greatest baseball films of all time as far as capturing the joys of playing the sport.
85. Drive

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I haven’t seen the whole thing a second time, but that opening car chase sequence is one of my favorite theater experiences of the last decade.
84. Edge of Tomorrow

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Another movie whose legend has only grown, Edge of Tomorrow is a near perfect genre movie, the kind that when it shows up on TV years from now you won’t be able to resist it.
83. Star Wars: The Last Jedi

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After watching a third time earlier this year I can truly call this one of the best Star Wars movies. There are just so many moments that I love, proving that having a real talent behind the camera and letting them go to work can make all the difference.
82. Roma

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Alfonso Cuaron’s tale of a young housekeeper in Mexico City is at once heartbreaking and beautiful, highlighting the joys and struggles of the era in which he grew up.
81. Something in the Air

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One of my favorite depictions of the restlessness of youth, the passion of activism, and the arbitrary walls that get built within movements, something that perhaps can speak to our current political moment.
80. Logan Lucky

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Soderbergh’s latest heist film hasn’t gotten the most love, but I find it hilarious and fun, a movie that I will be going back to for years.
79. Everyone Else

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Everyone Else perfectly captures the insecurities that lay at the heart of fragile relationships, the fraught comparisons that can occur, the small lies, the role playing, and pettiness.
78. Drinking Buddies

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A modern day, mumblecore When Harry Met Sally, can men and women have a friendship where they don’t fall for each other? Olivia Wilde gives her best performance in a movie I love way more than anyone else in the world.
77. Diary of a Teenage Girl

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A disturbing movie about an inappropriate relationship, turns itself upside down by telling the story through the perspective of through Bel Powley’s charming, lustful, and confused Minnie.
76. 12 Years a Slave

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Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave is absolutely devastating while featuring enough heart and characterization to never feel exploitative or of a genre.
75. Dunkirk

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With Dunkirk Christopher Nolan may have made the only war movie that prizes the act of surrender. In doing so he’s made a movie that’s anti-war without making a deliberative statement–we’re all trying to survive in this absurd world where we’ve resorted to killing each other.
74. Good Time

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I avoided this movie for a while because I thought it would be too stressful. It’s certainly tense, but is actually more fun than anything. The Safdie’s cemented themselves as much watch directors here.
73. The Fighter

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This may rise or lower with another watch, but I loved the fast paced dialogue of the script, the Eklund’s sisters coming in and out of the story, and found the boxing scenes thrilling.
72. The Descendants

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I loved this movie so much I went and bought the book afterwards. George Clooney discovers his wife who’s in a coma was cheating on him, while simultaneously figuring out what to do with the land his family has inherited that is technically but not rightfully there’s. Shailene Woodley cemented herself as a serious actor here in a performance she has (unfortunately) not lived up to again.
71. Captain Phillips

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This movie became a meme, but is actually a deft tale of the injustice at the heart of globalism with a fantastic Tom Hanks performance.
70. Oslo August 31

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Anders leaves his rehab center looking to start his new life, but is met by the barrage of life for a recovering addict. One of the best scenes of the decade is Anders sitting at a cafe as Joachim Trier zooms out focusing on the conversations surrounding him, a life of normalcy that Anders doesn’t know if he can ever achieve again.
69. Anomalisa

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Charlie Kaufman’s R-rated stop motion movie wrestles with mid-life crisis and the arrogance at the heart of our white male protagonists that so often are portrayed going through them.
68. Jackie

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I found every inch of Jackie to be gorgeous and heart wrenching in its portrayal of grief in the aftermath of one of our nation’s most famous and tragic deaths.
67. The Nice Guys

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The Nice Guys is a throwback to two classic genres, melding noir and screwball comedy in what is a pitch-black delight.
66. The World’s End

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As you can probably tell, I love a movie that uses genre conventions to deliver emotionally resonant statements about humanity. Edgar Wright’s love of genre enables him to do this brilliantly and The World’s End showcases this.
65. Interstellar

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A flawed movie to be sure, but one that features so many unique ideas and beautiful moments that elevate it to greatness.
64. Knives Out

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Rian Johnson crafted one of the best whodunnits of all time while speaking into modern politics and advocating for kindness! A master.
63. Our Little Sister

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Koreeda’s Our Little Sister is quiet and tender, telling of three sisters welcoming in their father’s daughter from an affair into their lives. It’s Koreeda’s ability to focus in on the small moments that make him the king of the family drama.
62. Only Lovers Left Alive

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Vampires have always been cool, but never quite like this as Jim Jarmusch turns them into aging bohemians lamenting modern culture.
61. Mother

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The first Bong Joon-Ho movie I ever saw was 2010’s brilliant multi-genre story about a mother’s hellbent desire to protect her son, a story that really highlights the hell in hellbent.
60. Once Upon a Time in Anatolia

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A group of police and judges and a criminal search for a body in the sparse wilderness of Anatolia. A slow rumination on the question of inherent evil, humanity’s motivations, and whether the light can overcome the dark.
59. Sing Street

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A coming of age story through the lens of pop music and creativity, Sing Street is a modern John Hughes film.
58. Exit Through the Gift Shop

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Riding the Banksy obsession of the early 10s, Gift Shop was made to seemingly highlight the burgeoning street art movement, but comically twisted and turned until it was questioning the very definition of art itself.
57. Hail, Caesar

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This Coen’s movie is in love with early Hollywood exemplifying the great romance that people have with it through a dazzling Scarlet Johansson swimming sequence and a tap dancing Channing Tatum. Yet the film does more than recreate nostalgia, at its heart it asks if the movies can lead us into goodness, even in the midst of capitalistic corruption and political nefariousness.
56. Call Me By Your Name

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Guadagnino once again demonstrates his ability to capture hedonistic pleasures, but this time does it by telling the story of forbidden summer love. Desire blooms into romance, cut short as the summer fades, the sun sets, and an eras cultural inhibitions tragically kick in.

55. The Favourite

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A wickedly funny period drama where power, seduction, and greed form a love triangle that showcases how darkness can overcome the human spirit.
54. La La Land

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Damien Chazelle’s modern musical throwback will likely seem cornier and cornier as time goes on, but watching people break out of the cars to dance in the midst of LA traffic and the this-could-never-be dream ending are just too much fun for me not to love.
53. A Ghost Story

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An aesthetically sparse reflection on grief in which Rooney Mara sits down to eat a whole pie and Casey Affleck sports a white sheet as a ghost, what else can you ask for?
52. Inception

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I’m still enraptured by the world of Christopher Nolan’s Inception, a cultural phenomenon that’s become somewhat eye-roll inducing ever since, it’s still thrilling to watch DiCaprio, et al lay out the stakes of this world and imagine its 2010 all over again.
51. Moonlight

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I didn’t completely fall for this the first time around, but on a rewatch for this list, I fully succumbed to Barry Jenkins ability to shoot movies. Moonlight is just incredible to look at and the combination of heart, hope, and sorrow that lie within its story bring all the feelings that the greatest films do.

Best Albums of the 2010s

Any ranked list is an exercise in absurdity. To rank pieces of art is futile. To rank them across a decade is impossible. But it’s oh so fun and that’s why we’re here. When I came up with this list I ranked according to three pieces of logic.

1. It has to be something that represents my taste across the decade.

2. It has to represent music in the decade.

3. When I listen to it now I have to enjoy it just as much.

These 50 albums do that for me. Some have grown in estimation since they were first released like Manchester Orchestra’s “A Black Mile to the Surface”. Others have dropped a little but still find their way into the top 50 (Lady Lamb the Beekeeper). Most of the critical favorites are represented in some way, though the order in which I ranked them is certainly more personal than the general consensus (and is missing one huge artist, sorry Frank Ocean).

When I look at this just seconds before posting the list, I doubt the order that I’ve put them in, but at some point you just have to put things in stone.

As a writing exercise, I put reasons why you should listen to the top 10 which will certainly include something you haven’t heard or should give another chance.

50. Manchester Orchestra “A Black Mile to the Surface”

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49. David Bowie “Blackstar”

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48. D’Angelo “Black Messiah”

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47. The War on Drugs “A Deeper Understanding”

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46. Earl Sweatshirt “Doris”

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45. Janelle Monae “Dirty Computer”

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44. Julien Baker “Turn Out the Lights”

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43. Anohni “Hopelessness”

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42. Carly Rae Jepsen “Emotion: Side B”

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41. Frightened Rabbit “The Winter of Mixed Drinks”

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40. Right Away, Great Captain “The Church and the Good Thief”

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39. Grimes “Art Angels”

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38. Lady Lamb the Beekeeper “Ripely Pine”

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37. Sufjan Stevens “Age of Adz”

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36. American Football “III”

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35. Priests “Nothing Feels Natural”

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34. Kendrick Lamar “Good Kid, MAAD City”

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33. Titus Andronicus “The Monitor”

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32. The Tallest Man on Earth “There’s No Leaving Now”

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31. Arcade Fire “The Suburbs”

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30. No Name “Room 25”

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29. Beyonce “s/t”

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28. Snail Mail “Lush”

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27. Run the Jewels “2”

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26. Chance the Rapper “Coloring Book”

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25. Kendrick Lamar “Damn.”

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24. Soccer Mommy “Clean”

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23. Idles “Joy As an Act of Resistance”

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22. Vampire Weekend “Contra”

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21. Japandroids “Celebration Rock”

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20. Kanye West “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy”

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19. Car Seat Headrest “Teens of Denial”

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18. Carly Rae Jepsen “Emotion”

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17. Vince Staples “Summertime ’06”

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16. Bon Iver “22, A Million”

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15. Chance the Rapper “Acid Rap”

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14. Cloud Nothings “Here and Nowhere Else”

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13. Parquet Courts “Light Up Gold”

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12. Makthaverskan “II”

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11. Lana del Rey “Norman Fucking Rockwell”

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10. Courtney Barnett “Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit”

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Courtney Barnett is perhaps the funniest person in indie rock. Her sound is driven by wry witticisms and keen observations. Her songs are full of life and energy as she brings you along on her train of thoughts, consistently redirecting to observe some new detail you would have never expected.
9. The Beths “Future Me Hates Me”

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The Beths’ created a perfect summer album that grows with every single listen. It’s so well produced and the band adds layers of melody to match their tight sound. It’ll be a mainstay in by May to July rotation for years to come.

8. The War on Drugs “Lost in the Dream”

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The War on Drugs’ psychedelic Americana is absolutely beautiful. It slowly unveils piece by piece of subtle melody, occasionally meandering for several minutes on a musical idea Adam Granduciel has. It’s quietly upbeat, like the sunset on a long summer’s day.
7. Tame Impala “Currents”

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Perhaps the spiritual, psych-pop sequel to Post-Merriweather Pavilion, Kevin Parker’s work on Currents showcases pop-genius underneath warbles and extended bits of noise.
6. Florence + the Machine “Ceremonials”

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I may be the biggest fan of this album in the entire world. It’s a bold and bombastic pop effort featuring all the drama of an eleventh hour Broadway ballad for 12 tracks straight. For some it’s a little too much, for me it’s perfect.
5. Bon Iver “s/t”

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Bon Iver went from the hipster folk favorite to bona fide production genius with his (their?) sophomore album. The woodsy folk vibes are still there, but here he amps up production with layered falsetto and 80s effects.
4. The National “High Violet”

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My favorite of The National’s sad-sack indie rock albums which are always a variation of that theme. Matt Berlinger’s wrestling with demons never spoke more to me than here, whether it be his confession that he’s “Afraid of Everyone” or the time “England” shuffled onto my iPod after one of the worst flights of my life and I was about to land in London. If you find beauty in the melancholic this is for you.
3. Kendrick Lamar “To Pimp a Butterfly”

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Kendrick proved himself to be the most talented rapper of the decade, his technical brilliance and lyrical poignance are unmatched. With To Pimp a Butterfly, he proved he could push the genre forward, melding together hip hop, jazz, and R&B connecting with experimental producers to make the decade’s best rap album.
2. Vampire Weekend “Modern Vampires of the City”

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Ezra Koenig’s existential crisis pulls together the weight of death and God to create Vampire Weekend’s masterpiece. It’s fun (“Diane Young”), but features what may be the best religious song writing of the decade in songs like “Obvious Bicycle”, “Ya Hey”, and “Everlasting Arms” (a play on the old hymn), as the band wrestles through faith and doubt and growing old.
1. Sufjan Stevens “Carrie and Lowell”

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Carrie & Lowell saw Sufjan settle back into singer-songwriter mode after years of big and bold experimentation. I am a huge fan of the experimentation, but Carrie & Lowell showcased what caused his rise to fame and is the best album of his career. Here he too deals with death and doubt and faith, brought to reflection by the death of his mother. It’s a tragic record to be sure, but one in which Sufjan reaches into the depths of his soul to find and create something beautiful.

Top 100 Songs of the Decade

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Throughout the next few weeks I will be releasing my favorite things of the decade. I’m launching it with my favorite songs of the decade, a big mix that is representative of what I was into most in the last ten years. I wanted to write a little bit about some of these songs but ended up not having the time or energy, having a two-year old who is currently draped over me as I am writing this certainly makes it difficult. I attached a video of each song–its own time consuming process–so if you’re interested you can listen to each song. If you’re really interested, and you have Apple Music, I can send you the playlist. I haven’t posted it because nobody has Apple Music. Go ahead and comment if you do and I’ll post it.

100. “Bad and Boujee” by Migos

99. “Cut to the Feeling” by Carly Rae Jepsen

98. “no tears left to cry” by Ariana Grande

97. “Mean” by Taylor Swift

96. “Do Not Let Your Spirit Wane” by Gang of Youths

95. “O.N.E.” by Yeasayer

94. “So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings” by Caroline Polachek

93. “Rill Rill” by Sleigh Bells

92. “Someone Like You” by Adele

91. “Blackstar” by David Bowie

90. “Nonstop” by Drake

89. “Swimming Pools (Drank)” by Kendrick Lamar

88. “Justice Delivers Its Death” by Sufjan Stevens

87. “Really Love” by D’Angelo & the Vanguard

86. “Blissth” by Sorority Noise

85. “All Night” by Beyonce

84. “Uncomfortably Numb” by American Football (feat. Hayley Williams)

83. “Birth of Creation” by The Comet is Coming

82. “Turn Out the Lights” by Julien Baker

81. “Family Don’t Matter” by Young Thug

80. “Ya Hey” by Vampire Weekend

79. “Continuous Thunder” by Japandroids

78. “The Coming” by Jesca Hoop

77. “Nikes” by Frank Ocean

76. “It’s Okay to Cry” by SOPHIE

75. “Ghost Town” by Kanye West

74. “The Mother We Share” by Chvrches

73. “Perth” by Bon Iver

72. “Four Bulbs” by Admiral Fallow

71. “Pusha Man” by Chance the Rapper

70. “Venice Bitch” by Lana del Rey

69. “Harmony Hall” by Vampire Weekend

68. “Sprinter” by Torres

67. “Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales” by Car Seat Headrest

66. “Virgin” by Manchester Orchestra

65. “Up in Hudson” by Dirty Projectors

64. “Sunday Candy” by Donnie Trumpet & the Social Experiment

63. “Manchester” by Kishi Bashi

62. “An Introduction to the Album” by The Hotelier

61. “Futile Devices” by Sufjan Stevens

60. “Eventually” by Tame Impala

59. “Night Shift” by Lucy Dacus

58. “King Kunta” by Kendrick Lamar

57. “Back for More” by Justine Skye (feat. Jeremih)

56. “Persephone” by Sidney Gish

55. “Deer” by Manchester Orchestra

54. “Part From Me” by The Avett Brothers

53. “Don’t Save Me” by HAIM

52. “Humble.” by Kendrick Lamar

51. “Drunk In Love” by Beyonce (feat. Jay-Z)

50. “Dance Yrself Clean” by LCD Soundsystem

49. “In the Evening” by Half Waif

48. “Groovy Tony/ Eddie Kane” by ScHoolboy Q

47. “Never Let Me Go” by Florence + the Machine

46. “Impossible Soul” by Sufjan Stevens

45. “Asleep” by Makthaverskan

44. “Q.U.E.E.N.” by Janelle Monae (feat. Erykah Badu)

43. “Lord Knows”  / “Dreams and Nightmares” by Meek Mill

42. “Fineshrine” by Purity Ring

41. “Play By Play” by Autre Ne Veut

40. “Call Your Girlfriend” by Robyn

39. “Love on Top” by Beyonce

38. “Pristine” by Snail Mail

37. “Motion Sickness” by Phoebe Bridgers

36. “Chum” by Earl Sweatshirt

35. “A Candle’s Fire” by Beirut

34. “I Bet” by Ciara

33. “Hold Up” by Beyonce

32. “Say You Love Me” by Jessie Ware

31. “DNA.” by Kendrick Lamar

30. “Everlasting Arms” by Vampire Weekend

29. “So Afraid” by Janelle Monae

28. “Nosetalgia” by Pusha T (feat. Kendrick Lamar)

27. “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)” by Arcade Fire

26. “Latch” by Disclosure (feat. Sam Smith)

25. “Mirrors” by Justin Timberlake

24. “Under the Pressure” by The War on Drugs

23. “Push Pull” by Purity Ring

22. “Crying in Public” by Chairlift

21. “Hannah Hunt” by Vampire Weekend

20. “Run Away With Me” by Carly Rae Jepsen

19. “Bright Whites” by Kishi Bashi

18. “Dancing On My Own” by Robyn

17. “Tightrope” by Janelle Monae (feat. Big Boi)

16. “Flawless” by Beyonce

15. “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen

14. “Architect” by Frightened Rabbit & Manchester Orchestra

13. “Flesh Without Blood” by Grimes

12. “Blockbuster Night Pt. I” by Run the Jewels

11. “Life” by The Avett Brothers

10. “Your Best American Girl” by Mitski

9. “Climax” by Usher

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8. “Cold War” by Janelle Monae

7. “Afraid of Everyone” by The National

6. “Monster” by Kanye West (feat. Jay-Z, Rick Ross, Nicki Minaj, Bon Iver)

5. “I’m Not Part of Me” by Cloud Nothings

4. “All of the Lights” by Kanye West (feat. Rihanna)

3. “Thinkin Bout You” by Frank Ocean

2. “The Only Thing” by Sufjan Stevens

1. “Ultralight Beam” by Kanye West (feat. Chance the Rapper, Kirk Franklin)