The 2010s were a great decade for movies. The Marvel Cinematic Universe hit its stride, 3D and IMAX became an industry standard and streaming services shook up the playing field. Old franchises came back and new ones emerged. There were reboots, sequels, soft-remakes and complete re-tinkering of our old favorites. We laughed, we cried, we were let down and we were pleasantly surprised.
As we look back on the best films of the decade, it's time to think of the movies that polarized audiences. The ones that have defenders and detractors that will be debated into the next decade. Here are 10 movies that will be argued about online for years to come.
10 The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
The conclusion to Christopher Nolan's critically acclaimed trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises was one of the most hyped movies of 2012. With so much anticipation, there was no way the movie could've pleased everyone, and that's exactly what happened when the film was released in that summer.
Despite strong reviews, the movie attracted criticism from a vocal group of detractors. Critics of the film attacked the movie's unconventional narrative structure, pointing out a number of plot holes that seemed to run under the filmmaker's radar. The villain Bane was criticized for being too difficult to understand, and a latter stage plot twist left some fans fuming. Despite this, fans loved it, and it's still one of the highest rated movies on IMDb.
9 Godzilla (2014)
The second time an American studio attempted to make a Godzilla movie, the monster flick got a warm reception when it was released. Fans mostly enjoyed it, and it made enough to justify future sequels in the series. At the same time, though, the film incurred backlash from longtime G-fans. The biggest criticism was that the movie didn't have much Godzilla in it, instead focusing on the M.U.T.O monsters that acted as the film's antagonists. Let's hope that this year's King of the Monsters has more of what fans expect.
8 Gravity (2013)
The Sandra Bullock/George Clooney space thriller from Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity left many people reconsidering their dreams of becoming astronauts. A simple movie with beautiful cinematography and innovative use of CGI, Gravity received critical acclaim and was nominated for a few Oscars. Yet, that didn't stop detractors from lashing out at the otherwise stellar sci-fi tour-de-force.
While most would agree that Gravity was visually excellent, detractors felt that the movie's writing wasn't up to par. Further, some viewers were disinterested by the story, and a plot twist towards the end seemed to contradict the movie's dedication to scientific accuracy. It probably didn't help either that the movie was hyped into the cosmos by the glowing reviews and Oscar buzz.
7 Iron Man 3 (2013)
The last solo Iron Man film, number 3 was generally loved by critics, but hated by fans. That's not to say that all fans despised this installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, however, the movie's biggest plot twist seemed to divide audiences right down the middle. The revelation that Iron Man's arch-nemesis, the Mandarin, was actually a bumbling drunk that was set up as a fall-guy, left some fans enraged. This didn't seem to affect the franchise's future too much, so it's probably safe to say that Marvel fans have long since moved on from their bitterness.
6 The Hobbit Trilogy (2012-2014)
Peter Jackson's return to Middle Earth was a once-in-a-lifetime event that no one wanted to miss. Based on the Lord of the Ring's predecessor, The Hobbit, its sequels were poised to crush the Christmas box office for the next three years. And while it was successful financially, audience and critical reception were decisively mixed.
Nearly every aspect of the films was picked apart by detractors. From the copious CGI to the prolonged scenes, to Jackson's insistence on shooting the movie in 40 frames a second, film journalists and the internet chewed the movies to shreds. Still, many fans enjoyed The Hobbit movies, and wherever it's debated online, there will be Tolkenites ready to defend it to the last breath.
5 Man Of Steel (2013)
Directed by Zack Snyder, this darker take on the typically cheery Superman franchise was initially met with excitement. After all, the movie was produced by Christopher Nolan, who had previously just wrapped up the ultra-successful Dark Knight trilogy. What could possibly go wrong?
A lot, apparently, according to those who disliked it. While many fans enjoyed this grittier take on the Superman mythos, others were put off by the movie's wanton destruction and violence. Most of the debate focused around Superman's decision to kill the movie's enemy, General Zod. While some fans insist that it was warranted, others claimed that the act went against Superman's pacifist morals.
4 Green Book (2018)
The story of jazz singer Don Shirly's tour around Jim Crow south, and the white driver Tony Lip who chauffeured him, had all the makings of an ideal historical drama. Critics and viewers were mostly kind to the movie, and it managed to snag the best picture award at the 2019 Oscars. So why has it become such a flashpoint of debate among the film press?
It likely has to do with the movie's tone and subject matter. In a society rife with racial tensions, the movie's feel-good message on race relations was problematic. The so-called 'white redemption' dynamic was denounced as hollow, and Green Book is already considered by some to be the worst Best Picture winner since Crash (2006).
3 American Sniper (2014)
The story of the deadliest sharpshooter in American history, American Sniper revolved around Chris Kyle, a man who has become one of the most polarizing figures in recent years. While the movie was praised for its unflinching look at military life, American Sniper was condemned by those who disagreed with Chris Kyle's actions.
While the late soldier is hailed as a modern military hero, his alleged Islamaphobia and supposed love of killing has been a topic of fierce debate. While the movie mostly overlooks these less-than-savory aspects of Kyle's life, many felt the movie didn't do a good enough job at being impartial and felt instead that it was a piece of pro-war propaganda.
2 Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)
Depending on the fan, The Last Jedi is a groundbreaking installment in the Star Wars franchise, or an unmitigated disaster that forever tarnished the brand. While the movie as a whole is the subject of fierce online debate, it's the radical re-characterization of Luke Skywalker that was viewed by some as a disservice to the iconic hero. Fan outrage blew up online, with defenders and detractors debating the film's merits and/or faults. Then, of course, there were less savory individuals who used the film as an excuse to spread toxic racist and misogynist ideals. If anything, the backlash it sparked was worse than any of the film's proposed imperfections.
1 Zero Dark Thirty (2012)
The story of the CIA's hunt for Osama Bin Laden, Zero Dark Thirty was one of the highest rated films of 2012 and is considered a masterpiece by fans of military history. While the film itself is well acted and precise in its depiction of military protocol, the film's depiction of torture divided audiences from the moment it launched.
Some critics felt that the movie implied that 'enhanced interrogation', mostly by way of waterboarding, was instrumental in helping the CIA locate and kill Bin Laden. Already a dubious theory for obvious reasons, the idea that the movie was pro-torture angered many viewers. Despite the filmmaker's arguments to the contrary, numerous high profile journalists and politicians condemned the movie, and a number of senators led by the late John McCain sent a letter to the film's distributor voicing their disapproval.