The last decade inarguably brought tremendous change to the Nigerian film industry. From the quality of production to the scripting and even acceptance among movie watchers, the movies of the 2010s marked a great decade for Nollywood.
As we usher in this next decade, we take a look at some of the movies that defined the 2010s. With their excellent production quality, gaining international recognition and shattering box office records, these 10 movies redefined the Nigerian movie landscape, with several available for streaming on Showmax.
1. Anchor Baby (2010)
Kicking off our countdown at the turn of the decade is Anchor Baby. Starring Omoni Oboli, the Canadian/Nollywood collaboration was one of the pioneer Nigerian movies to receive major international attention. The movie won a Best Film and Best Actress award for Omoni Oboli at the 2010 Harlem International Film Festival.
Anchor Baby told the story of a married Nigerian couple living illegally in the United States who are ordered to leave the country by US immigration. They decide that they will leave, but only after the wife, who is five months pregnant, delivers her baby in the United States to guarantee automatic US citizenship for their child.
The movie made 18 million at the box office, a feat at the time. It also received an Award of Excellence from the 2010 Canada International Film Festival and three Nigeria Entertainment Award nominations. It also screened at the Pan African Film Festival, San Diego Black Film Festival and the prestigious Cannes Film Festival.
2. The Mirror Boy (2011)
Coming on the heels of Anchor Baby is The Mirror Boy, which told the story of a young teenage African British boy who is taken back to the land of his mother’s birth, but then gets mysteriously lost in a foreboding forest and embarks on a magical journey that teaches him about himself and the mystery of the father he has never seen.
Starring Nollywood sweetheart Genevieve Nnaji, and Osita Iheme, the movie was shot in England and Gambia, and held the record of hosting the biggest United Kingdom premiere of an African film at the world-famous Empire Leicester Square, as well as being the widest released Nollywood film in the UK across 10 Odeon cinemas in 2011.
Mirror Boy, which is currently streaming on Showmax, earned Genevieve Nnaji the Best Breakthrough Performance (female) at the 2011 Monaco Charity Film Festival for her role.
3. 30 Days In Atlanta (2014)
30 Days in Atlanta holds the record of being the first Nollywood movie to cross the 100 million-Naira mark at the box office. The movie also boasted an ensemble cast including Ramsey Nouah, AY Makun, Richard Mofe Damijo, Desmond Elliot, Omoni Oboli and Hollywood’s Vivica Fox and Lynn Whitfield amongst others.
The movie told the story of Akpos (AY Makun), an impulsive but funny young man and his more reserved, learned cousin Richard (Ramsey Nouah), who both journey to Atlanta after winning an all-expenses-paid trip at a luxurious real estate showcase party. While in Atlanta, the pair get into all manners of hilarious mischief.
In addition to shattering box office records by earning 137 200 000 million Naira, the movie received 10 nominations at the 2014 Golden Icons Academy Movie Awards.
4. October 1 (2014)
October 1 gained critical acclaim for its effective use of costumes in depicting the 1960s as well as the scripting and acting. Props including television sets and shotguns from the 50s were brought in from the United States and the United Kingdom, and a 1964 Morris Minor was also restored specially for the movie.
Set against the backdrop of Nigeria’s independence day, 1 October 1960, the movie told the story of Danladi Waziri (Sadiq Daba), a police officer from Northern Nigeria who is posted to a remote town of Akote in Western Nigeria to investigate the female murder cases in the community, and is tasked with solving the mystery before the Nigerian flag is raised on 1 October.
October 1 was screened at several film festivals including the 2014 Cultural Confidence, New York, 2014 Africa International Film Festival and the 2014 Film Africa Festival in London, and opened the 4th Africa Film Week in Greece. The movie earned numerous awards including the Best Fiction Film Trailer award at the 2013 International Movie Trailers Festival Awards, and three awards at the 2014 Africa International Film Festival, including Best Feature Film, Best Screenplay and Best Actor for Sadiq Daba.
Also, at the 2015 Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards, October 1 won nine awards out of 12 nominations, including Best Movie of the Year, Best Movie Director and Best Actress for Kehinde Bankole.
5. 93 Days (2016)
93 Days centred around the sacrifices made by the men and women who risked their lives to make sure the Ebola virus was contained before it became an epidemic when it was imported into Nigeria by a Liberian American diplomat.
The movie starred veteran Hollywood actor Danny Glover, Tim Reid (Ray Campbell from Sister Sister) and Alastair Mackenzie. It also had Nollywood veterans like Bimbo Akintola, Bimbo Manuel and Keppy Ekpeyong-Bassey.
In many ways, 93 Days could be regarded as Nollywood’s first major biopic. It also became the first Nollywood movie to premiere at the 52nd Chicago Film Festival, in addition to having its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).
The movie earned over 50 million Naira at the box office and a total of eight nominations at the 2017 Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards (AMVCA). It also earned the highest number of nominations (seven) at the 2017 Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA). 93 Days is currently streaming on Showmax.
6. ‘76 (2016)
Starring the timeless Rita Dominic and Ramsey Nouah, ‘76 is set against the backdrop of the unsuccessful 1976 military coup and assassination of General Murtala Mohammed.
The movie earned critical acclaim for its depiction of the 1970s and was described by the Hollywood Reporter as “a worthy effort, striking a healthy balance between educating and entertaining.”
The movie went through a seven-month approval period at the Nigerian Military before filming started and was in production for about five years, a record feat for a Nollywood movie. Eight period cars from the 1970s were also refurbished for use in the movie.
‘76 was screened at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival and the 2016 London Film Festival. It also won Best Movie, Best Actress award for Rita Dominic and Best Director award for Izu Ojukwu at the 2017 AMVCA.
7. Alter Ego (2017)
Alter Ego saw the return of Nollywood queen Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde to the big screen after a three-year break. The movie explored largely unchartered territory in Nollywood – the sexual abuse of children.
Centred around Ada Igwe, a successful lawyer who dedicated a great part of her professional life to prosecuting sex offenders, the movie detailed the lengths the protagonist would go to to ensure that sexual offenders were jailed. But Ada had secrets of her own which came to a jarring head after her relationship with a charismatic billionaire philanthropist ended.
Alter Ego earned several awards, including Best Actress Award for Ekeinde by the Nollywood Travel Film Festival in Toronto, 2018 AMVCA Best Writer Movie/Series award for
Patrick Nnamani/Koye O/Moses Inwang and a Best Actress award for Omotola. Alter Ego is currently streaming on Showmax.
8. Banana Island Ghost (2017)
With its crisp cinematography, visual effects and stunt scenes, Banana Island Ghost earns a place on our countdown. The movie delivered stunt scenes that hadn’t been seen in a Nollywood movie at the time. In an interview with Bounce News, producer Biola Alabi said that professional stunt people had been brought in to Nigeria.
The movie kicks off with a man who is scared to go to heaven because he does not have a soul mate. He negotiates with God, who gives him three days to go back to Earth and find one. He is then paired with Ijeoma, who has three days to keep her father’s house in Banana Island from being reclaimed by the bank.
Banana Island Ghost emerged as one of the highest-earning movies of 2017 with 60 million Naira and also won the Tony Elumela AMAA 2018 Award for Best Comedy. The movie is currently streaming on Showmax.
9. The Wedding Party 1 & 2 (2016/2017)
From its star-studded cast with the likes of Sola Sobowale, Alibaba, Banky W, and Adesua Etomi, to the huge marketing effort and colourful premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, the Wedding Party movies were undoubtedly one of the most defining movies of the decade. Earning 522 million at the box office in 2017, Wedding Party 2 holds the record as the highest Nigerian earner closely followed by Wedding Party which earned 453 050 000 in 2016.
Wedding Party centres around the wedding ceremony of a young couple, Dunni Coker and Dozie Onwuka, and the attendant drama that comes with the day – bickering between the mothers-in-law, a vindictive ex and an overwhelmed wedding planner. The second installment of the movie focuses on the wedding ceremony of the older Onwuka brother and his British bride with the party moving to Dubai this time.
Aside from showing in Nigeria, both Wedding Party movies were screened in cinemas across the UK and US, and according to Variety, Wedding Party grossed 3.5 billion Naira in 2016, with nearly 30% coming from local screenings.
10. King of Boys (2018)
Directed by the iconic Kemi Adetiba, King of Boys defied every Nollywood cinema norm with its length – the movie is around three hours long. It is also not a comedy unlike the other Nigerian box office hits. Regardless, the movie went ahead to top box office charts earning 245 011 757 million in 2018. The movie also maintained the number-one spot at the cinemas for seven weeks.
Boasting an ensemble cast that includes Sola Sobowale, Adesua Etomi, Jide Kosoko and hip hop acts Reminisce and Ill Bliss, the movie is a political thriller that tells the story of Alhaja Eniola Salami, a businesswoman and philanthropist with a promising political future. She is drawn into a struggle for power that, 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.
King of Boys nabbed the highest number of awards at the 15th edition of AMAA this year. The film got nine nominations and won three awards – NFVCB Best Nigerian Film, Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Adesua Etomi and Best Actress in a Leading Role for Sola Sobowale.