The end of the 2000s saw Nollywood go from being mostly direct-to-video to making stuff that was worth watching in cinemas. Movies like 2009’s The Figurine showed that audiences were willing to pay for quality movies and this made (some) movie makers step their game up.
It’s been a long-ass decade but we’ve put together a list of what we think were the best (and most influential) films of the 2010s, and we’ve brought you all here today to look at that list and hopefully disagree with it in some way.
Let’s get into it:
1) Ijé: The Journey (2010)
This film reunited the dream team of Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde and Genevieve Nnaji (for the first time since 2003’s Blood Sisters). The story of Chioma (Genevieve) travelling to the US to help her sister, Anya (Omotola) – who is being charged with the murder of her husband and two other men – addressed important themes such as love, racism, culture, stigma, and life as an immigrant in a foreign country.
2) Phone Swap (2012)
Using a simple premise, Kunle Afolayan made one of the best romantic comedies in Nollywood’s history without all the tired tropes. Mary, a warm-hearted fashion designer (played by Nse Ikpe Etim) and Akin, an arrogant and bossy business executive (played by Wale Ojo) accidentally switch phones at a busy airport, leading to a swap in their flight destinations. They realize this too late and spend the movie working together to complete each other’s important assignments, which leads to a lot of personal growth for both of them.
3) Mr & Mrs (2012)
Sorry, Scarlett Johannson and Adam Driver. But Nse Ikpe Etim and Joseph Benjamin were the first to hurl insults at each other in this romantic drama film that chronicled the crumble and eventual rehabilitation of the most troubled marriage this side of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolfe. The film started much-needed conversations about relationship dynamics and picked up five nominations at the AMAAs.
4) Isoken (2017)
This romantic comedy is about a beautiful and successful woman named Isoken (played by Dakore Egbuson) who unfortunately lives in Nigeria (i.e a marriage-obsessed society), meaning that she’s constantly reminded that she’s an unmarried 34-year-old. At her younger sister’s wedding, her mother tried to matchmake her with Osaze (Joseph Benjamin) but she meets and quickly falls for a white guy named Kevin (played by Marc Rhys). While exploring cultural expectations and racial stereotypes, hilarious hijinks ensure.
5) October 1st (2014)
A dark thriller period piece, this film about a police officer posted to a remote village to solve the mystery behind a string of female murders was met with critical acclaim for its costumes and production design. It was also praised for how it tackled themes like tribalism, western imperialism, and Nigeria’s unification.
6) King of Boys (2018)
“King of Boys tells the story of Alhaja Eniola Salami (played by Sola Sobowale), a businesswoman and philanthropist with and a promising political future. She is drawn into a struggle for power which in turn threatens everything around her as a result of her growing political ambitions. To come out of this on top, she is caught up in a game of trust, not knowing who to really look up to and this leads to her ruthlessness.”
Not many people would tackle a three-hour-long political thriller for their sophomore directorial effort but Kemi Adetiba did and crushed it. Along with an ensemble cast who brought its A-game and a captivating story, Adetiba made a movie that has no doubt secured its place in the halls of Nollywood classics.
7) Lion Heart (2018)
Overly familiar storyline aside, Genevieve’s directorial debut was a masterclass in filmmaking. Terrific performances and strong messages about family, perseverance, and female empowerment are also cherries on top of the delightful sundae that is this film.
8) Living in Bondage: Breaking Free (2019)
We already said all we could about this movie in our official review.
9) Wedding Party (2016)
The makers of the Wedding Party must’ve done something right because it quickly became the highest-grossing Nollywood movie of all time, a record which was then broken by its sequel a year later. It single-handedly kick-started the “ensemble rom-com” trend in Nollywood and we haven’t heard word since.
10) 76 (2016)
“Set six years after the civil war, a young officer from the Middle Belt gets into a romantic relationship with an O-level student from the South-eastern region. However, their relationship is strained by constant military postings. The soldier gets accused of being involved in the unsuccessful 1976 military coup and assassination of General Murtala Mohammed, and the heavily pregnant wife gets entangled in an emotional dilemma.”