The Nigerian film industry witnessed some of its biggest achievements in the last decade - many thanks to the movies on this list as well as some others that didn’t make the list.
Between 2010 and 2019, the film industry witnessed a rehauling with many of its practitioners striving hard to make films that will stand the test of time and compete with some of its international contemporaries.
Some of these films broke records, won awards and made a tremendous impact on the international scene.
Sadly, movies from Asaba or Yoruba industries failed to make the list. This further gives credence to the notion that straight to DVD movies aren’t getting the attention they once commanded. Films going to the cinema are breaking records with the cinema culture in Nigeria growing by the day.
The 10 films on this list are picked and ranked based on commercial success, impact, critical acclaim, shelf life, and awards (an added advantage).
Here are the top 10 movies of the decade.
10. 30 Days in Atlanta (2014)
In 2014, Ayo AY Makun decided to join the movie industry as a big player and he produced his first film, which he also played the lead role alongside Ramsey Nouah. ‘30 Days in Atlanta’ was born and after its massive success - despite being marred with pirate activities - it became the yardstick for trending films in cinemas. Comedy dramas and romantic comedy took over the industry and AY kept milking the cow.
9. Lionheart (2018)
'Lionheart' by Genevieve Nnaji first made history when it was acquired by the global streaming platform, Netflix, hours before its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2018. The film became the first Netflix original from Nigeria. ‘Lionheart’ remains one of the major films from Nollywood that broke into the international market and getting submitted for the Oscars ahead of the 2020 edition. Though it was ultimately dropped for films that ticked more boxes - it was rejected for having more English language - ‘Lionheart’ and Genevieve created a buzz in the global film sector.
8. Picture Perfect (2017)
‘Picture Perfect’ was Biodun Stephen’s first solo effort as a producer and the film became the toast of fans and industry practitioners. The film gave Bolanle Ninalowo the desired break after putting in so much work since his entry at the beginning of the decade. The film went on to get award nominations though it premiered on ROK TV and Iroko TV. In ‘Picture Perfect,’ a posh tailor Kumbi, played by Mary Remmy Njoku, meets a notorious area boy, Jobe, played by Bolanle Ninalowo when her car breaks down in his hood. He saves her from his fellow thugs, watches over her car all night and is her knight in shining armor. Unfortunately, their brief friendship turns sour after she offers him a payment he considers cheap for all the stress he went through for her. They fell in love and the story is best left watched.
7. Mr and Mrs (2012)
‘Mr. and Mrs.’ is a 2012 hit movie that featured Joseph Benjamin and Nse Ikpe Etim. Directed by Ikechukwu Onyeka, the film created a lot of conversation around marriages and relationships. The story is woven around Susan, a wife with low self-esteem whom her husband undervalues. However, when she summoned the courage to face her fears, she found a new confidence that shocked her husband. It went on to pick up five nominations at the 2012 and 2013 AMAAs, one of which Nse Ikpe Etim won the award for Best Actress in a leading role.
6. Isoken (2017)
Jade Osiberu’s major effort after creating a stir in the industry with some web series is ‘Isoken’. And with ‘Isoken’, she made a name for herself in the Nigerian entertainment industry. One of the things that sold ‘Isoken’ was the relatability in the story. The 2017 romantic comedy written and directed by Jadesola Osiberu stars Dakore Akande, Joseph Benjamin, and Marc Rhys. The film served as a major comeback for Dakore, who had been away for some time. From winning three awards at the Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards to picking up two different awards at the AMAA.
5. Tango With Me (2010)
Mahmood Ali Balogun returned to film location with the 2010 blockbuster, ‘Tango With Me’ featuring Genevieve Nnaji and Joseph Benjamin. Scooping a total of 11 nominations at the Africa Movie Academy Awards, AMAA in 2011 and 2012 respectively, the film remains one of the best in the decade. The film received positive and mixed reviews from film critics. A beautifully shot movie with a soundtrack to compliment. Joseph and Genny look good together and have an easy chemistry.
4. Ije (2010)
The Nigerian film industry stood still for 'Ije: The Journey' in 2010 when Chineze Anyaene returned to the country to direct her major flick. Anyaene, who is the chairperson of the 2018 Nigeria Oscar Selection Committee, left fans and practitioners mouth agape when she featured Omotola Jalade Ekeinde and Genevieve Nnaji in the same film. For the film, both actresses played sisters and it cost $600,000 to make the production a success. ‘Ije’ tells the story of Chioma, who left Nigeria for the USA to help her sister that was accused of killing three people including her husband. She is determined to keep her from jail but requires the truth.
3. 76 (2016)
Nigeria’s history and people who made history have not been well documented in films or biopic - except recent with Imoh Umoren’s ‘The Herbert Macaulay Affair’. And that is what ‘76 did. The film was an audacious step by Izu Ojukwu and bankrolled by Prince Tonye Princewill. The 2016 hit relates the incidents of the 1976 military coup and was aptly interpreted by Rita Dominic, Ramsey Nouah, Chidi Mokeme, and Ibinabo Fiberesima. With an impressive record at the cinemas, the film goes down as one of the best films of the decade.
2. The Wedding Party 1 & 2 (2016/2017)
2016 will forever be the year that turned around the fortunes of the Nigerian film industry. Aside from having top films released in the year, it is also registered as the year of ‘The Wedding Party’ release.
Produced by four studios, Ebonylife Films, FilmOne, Inkblot Production, and Koga Studios, the film went on to become the highest-grossing Nigerian film with over N460 million in the box office. In the following year, the sequel went on to break the record with N1.1 billion in the box office, according to the cinema exhibitors association of Nigeria.
1. King of Boys (2018)
'King of Boys' is Kemi Adetiba’s comeback after her success with ‘The Wedding Party 1’. And no doubt it was a big comeback. The film changed the narrative and challenged the norm by putting a 2-hour long political thriller in the cinemas. It broke records and grossed over N200 million in 14 weeks. The film was further made lovable by the lead character, Alhaja Eniola Salami played by Sola Sobowale. The film shook Nollywood to its root and Adetiba got herself a seat at the table of the pathfinders.
‘Living in Bondage’ is the sequel to the 1992 blockbuster by Okechukwu Ogunjiofor and Kenneth Nnebue that became a cross-cultural phenomenon in Nigeria’s film industry. When Charles Okpaleke acquired the franchise in 2015, he had his eyes on shaking the industry to its roots with the mission. And to help achieve the mission, Okpaleke decided to work with veteran actor turned director, Ramsey Nouah to direct the sequel. Already the film broke the Nollywood weekend record in its first weekend in the cinema. The film displaced Hollywood productions from the chart to maintain the lead for two straight weekends. Though the film did not make the decade list, it will be one of the many films to consider for the next decade.