In 2008, we were basically living in another world. The Marvel Cinematic Universe didn’t exist, we were still recovering from George Lucas’ Star Wars prequilogy, and Fantastic Four was—okay let’s be honest, in about the same place it is now. These years have seen a renaissance in comic book films, along with a surge of high-concept science fiction and fantasy. In celebration of a decade covering the best in genre films, these are io9's greatest movies of the past 10 years.
Note: This video reflects the collective opinion of io9's team. Our staff members each took a list of all notable genre films from 2008 to now—both blockbuster and indie—and gave every movie they’d seen a rank between one and 10, then we rounded out the averages to come up with each movie’s final score. You can see the results in the video below!
Want more? Here are some of our favorite moments and memories from each of the films listed above.
Joe Cornish’s Attack the Block premiered at SXSW in March 2011. I remember because I didn’t get to see it for several months after that. To know there was this science fiction action comedy about kids fighting aliens in London, produced by Edgar Wright, out there and I hadn’t seen it was excruciating. But it was it worth the wait. The film is simply an awesome time at the movies, filled with all those emotions the best ones engage with. It introduced us all to a new director in Joe Cornish, a new star in John Boyega, and many people’s first look at Jodie Whittaker, who’s now the newest Doctor Who. As time moves on, Attack the Block only becomes better and more important. And I think I knew that would be the case from the very first viewing. -Germain Lussier, Staff Writer
I watched the first 20 minutes of this movie in awe. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was all-around great, but the moments we got to see Caesar and his family, especially witnessing the birth of his son, were impeccable. The film did a great job at showing how apes had evolved to create their own society—complete with rituals, adornments, and customs—but it also opened the door to a new caliber of storytelling. The only dialogue was sign language, with the occasional grunts, and all the acting came from motion capture. But these weren’t just CGI animals. I think Philip Pullman’s The Amber Spyglass put it best when describing what this moment felt like: “These beings weren’t human, but they were people.” -Beth Elderkin, Staff Writer
The most haunting moment is when Eli—an ancient vampire who looks all for the world like a 12-year-old girl—exacts brutal revenge on the schoolyard bullies who’ve been terrorizing her only friend, a timid kid named Oskar. Held underwater by a sadistic older boy, Oskar soon begins to fade away. But though the camera’s focused on his face underwater, we’re made aware of a ruckus topside: Feet skim through the water in an impossibly eerie motion, then a severed head plops in. When the gasping Oskar surfaces, Eli’s eyes are the first thing he sees. He thought she’d left town, but it’s instantly clear that she couldn’t flee without making sure he was safe. A big part of the magic of Let the Right One In is that from the moment you meet her, you never once think of Eli as a villain. Much like Oscar, the audience can’t help but fall in love with her, despite knowing her terrible secret. -Cheryl Eddy, News Editor
No one sets a scene quite like Christopher Nolan, and the beginning of The Dark Knight is still one of the best openings of a superhero movie—not to mention one of the best introductions to a character I’ve ever seen in any movie. The intricacy of it, the tension, the betrayals as each member of the heist team acts out their part and then meets a swift end, all building up to the dramatic crescendo of the Joker’s reveal. It’s the perfect encapsulation of everything you need to know about this version of the character. The theatricality, the cruelty, the unpredictability, the humor, and even the sickly, weird charm—and it’s done with a handful of lines, and only a few of which are actually the Joker’s. The stage is set perfectly for one of the great comic book movie performances of all time, and it still wows me every time I rewatch the movie. -James Whitbrook, Staff Writer
If you attend a film festival, you end up seeing so many movies that it can be hard to remember them all—sometimes you may even forget them the minute you walk out of the theater. But I’ll never forget seeing The Girl With all the Gifts. It was at a festival, but it was after a late night of my fellow journalists partying. The next morning most of us came to the film with hangovers, nursing coffees and headaches... which were instantly forgotten when the movie began. A true reinvention of the zombie genre, full of powerful storytelling and fantastic performances, including Glenn Close! Glenn Close was in a zombie movie! How was everyone not talking about this? How are they still not? -GL
This film put me in a claustrophobic mindset fairly quickly thanks to its setting, score, and overall mood. I was tremendously concerned for Caleb, but as soon as we were introduced to Ava I wanted her to gain her freedom. And she did. And it was terrifying and beautiful. -Jill Pantozzi, Managing Editor
Wonder Woman was inspirational for millions of women, but the one who mattered to me the most was my mother. I remember talking with my dad on the phone after he and my mom saw the movie, asking what they thought (neither of them are comic book fans). He told me my mom burst into tears watching the film—not during Steve Trevor’s goodbye, or even the No Man’s Land scene, but when the camera was flying over Themyscira. My mom looked out at the hundreds of Amazons, fighting, laughing, and living their lives, and said: “Look at all those women. I’ve never seen anything like this in my entire life.” Wonder Woman was the movie millions of women were waiting for, including the most wondrous woman I know. -BE
Going into Arrival, I knew that I’d be seeing a first-contact movie. But nothing prepared me for how well-executed the first in-person encounter with the Septapods would be. When gravity gets re-oriented for main character Louise Banks and her cohorts, it was just the first wonderful visual signifier of a new way to understand things. With its mix of fear, curiosity, and fragile trust, the entire scene is about dropping protections and preconceptions, preparing both the characters and audience to enter into a challenging yet fulfilling new headspace. After seeing that sequence, I knew I had to follow wherever Arrival took me. -Evan Narcisse, Senior Writer
Toward the end of the film, when Logan and Laura are trying to make their way north into the mountains to catch up with the other runaway mutants, there’s a scene in which Logan repeatedly passes out, forcing Laura to take the wheel of their truck. It’s in that moment that Logan wakes up and realizes what’s happened that we really get a sense of what Logan is: A somber, reflective story about its titular X-Man at the end of his life. It isn’t the implausibly heroic death and passing of the baton that we see later in the movie, but it’s a quiet and tender moment that telegraphs Logan’s goodbye beautifully. -Charles Pulliam-Moore, Staff Writer
I wasn’t sure what to expect from Fury Road, but what I got was more than I ever could have dreamed. Seeing a badass female protagonist take over the franchise, and do so while supporting a group of women, was extraordinary. As someone with a disability, the fact that Furiosa had her arm amputated piqued my interest—but I wasn’t prepared for just how emotional I would get watching her fight for her life with and without her prosthetic. Of course Hollywood has a long way to go in casting actors with disabilities, but this specific vision was a big deal for me. -JP