In constructing this list, I also came across a glaring paradox. There are a disproportionate number of higher-ranking films that were made in the first part of the decade.The irony is that this part of the decade produced quite possibly the worst Academy Award winners and nominees of any other year I can remember.
But Mike, you forgot about….
Brief explanation on this one; there is a very good possibility I didn’t see the movie. I actually saw very few films between ‘06-08 – when my children were babies. The ink is still wet here – I will likely make changes based on new information.
Conversely, there is a good chance I did see it and thought it sucked – contrary to popular opinion.I will follow this one up with an “overrated list” too. I’ll offer up this teaser; just about anything that won or was nominated for an Oscar in 2000-2002 was utter crap.
So without further ado, here is my sort of definitive list of top 50 films of this decade.
1. Donnie Darko, 2001, Richard Kelly. Very few films have left me thinking more than this underground classic. A film that lacks a definable genre – the various thematic elements combine masterfully to make a truly beautiful, thought-provoking and haunting film. Rich with metaphor, this is one to watch a few times to try and unravel.
2. Sideways, 2004, Alexander Payne. Sideways is as intelligent and it is hilarious and features a wide range of emotions (particularly loneliness) with some very memorable performances. Paul Giamatti is brilliant and solidified himself as one of the better (and more underrated) actors in Hollywood.
3. Y Tu Mama Tambien (and your mother too), 2001, Alfonso Cuaron. This coming-of-age Mexican masterpiece explodes with poignancy and sexual expression in the narrative about two young men embarking on a life-changing road trip.
4. Snatch, 2000, Guy Ritchie Mr. Ex-Madonna scores huge in this jewel heist movie that blends some serious action, incredibly comical dialogue and a fantastic soundtrack. Ritchie is one of the best in the business in creating some memorable characters complete with some great monologues.
5. Habla Con Ella (Talk to her), 2002, Pedro Almodovar. This Spanish film is steeped in emotion. A beautifully-acted and incredibly powerful and sobering story that is guaranteed to captivate anyone who sees it.
6. Slumdog Millionaire, 2008, Danny Boyle. We waited 13 years for another masterpiece from the British director (last one was Trainspotting) and he delivers in this electrifying and ultimately mesmerizing film set to an incredible backdrop of the slums of India and capped with likely the best soundtrack of any film made this decade.
7. Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain (Amelie), 2001. Jean-Pierre Jeaunet. A genuine feel-good movie that will forever define Audrey Tautou’s brilliance.
8. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, 2004, Michael Gondry. The Academy isn’t ready to take Jim Carrey seriously, but this film did not go unnoticed by film critics. A movie that forces you to think deeply to uncover the meaning of things and examine the “what if’s” of life is always a good bet.
9. Cidade de Deus (City of God), 2002, Fernando Meirelles. A movie similar to Slumdog Millionaire in terms of the brutal realities of the slums comes a movie set in the slums of Rio, Brazil. The film is packed with heart-pounding pace and often disturbing images that provide a glimpse into gang life in the streets.
10. Star Trek, 2009, J.J. Abrams. Even if you’ve never seen the show or like me are only partially familiar with the TV series/films, this movie is just about guaranteed to blow your mind.
11. Gran Torino, 2008, Clint Eastwood. Dirty Harry meets Archie Bunker – simply awesome.
12. Let the Right One In, 2008, Tomas Alfredsson. This movie is beautiful and gory and endearing all at the same time. Take note, Twilight fans – this is what a good vampire movie looks like.
13. Ghost World, 2001, Terry Zwigoff. Wonderful film about alienation – intelligent and allegorical.
14. C.R.A.Z.Y, 2005, Jean-Marc Vallee. Time to give Canada some love here in this brilliant film that takes place over 2 decades about growing up trying to fit in.
15. The Incredibles, 2004, Brad Bird, My top-ranking animated feature that is fun through and through.
16. Inglorius Basterds, 2009, Quentin Tarantino. QT puts his signature on this epic film which features one of the best performances I’ve ever seen in a movie - Austrian actor Christoph Waltz.
17. El laberinto del fauno (Pan’s Labyrinth), 2006, Guillermo del Toro. A wonderful adult fairy tale.
18. Kill Bill Volume I, 2004. Quentin Tarantino. Samurai girls, comical violence, memorable characters and quotes - another day at the office for QT.
19. The Others, 2001, Alejandro Amenabar. Suspenseful, eerie and excellent.
20. Gladiator, 2000, Ridley Scott. This decades “Braveheart”.
21. Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, 2001, Peter Jackson. I know, I know – a film that is likely to be in the top 3 wasn’t as good as everybody thinks it was (in my opinion) but is good enough to be in the top 25.
22. Million Dollar Baby, 2004, Clint Eastwood. “Girly tough ain’t enough” for a top 10 but a wonderful film none-the-less.
23. Okuribito, 2008, Yojiro Takita. A very moving and beautiful Japanese film.
24. The Hangover, 2009, Todd Phillips, An outrageous and yet very intelligent comedy – one of the funniest I’ve seen.
25. Napolean Dynamite, 2004, Jared Hess. Original, funny - John Heder’s signature role.
26. No Country for old men, 2007, Joel and Ethan Cohen. Still have nightmares about Anton Shigurh.
27. Dark Knight, 2008, Christopher Nolan. Batman done right.
28. Crash, 2004, Paul Haggis. Second Canadian film on the list – very, very good film.
29. Love Actually, 2003, Richard Curtis. One of the better warm-and-fuzzies.
30. Monsoon Wedding, 2001, Mira Nair. Skip the Greek wedding and go Indian.
31. Bowling for Columbine, 2001, Michael Moore. Political views aside, this is a fantastic documentary.
32. Mystic River, 2003, Clint Eastwood. Should have won best picture. Dang hobbits.
33. Shrek, 2001, Andrew Adamson. Delightful for both kids and adults.
34. Catch me if you can, 2002, Steven Spielberg. Spielberg makes a rare appearance in this decade. DiCaprio and Scorsese were bombs together – this film is very good.
35. Kill Bill Volume II, 2004, Quentin Tarantino. A good sequel is rare but if anyone can pull it off it’s Tarantino.
36. Hotel Rwanda, 2004, Terry George. Finally Don Cheadle gets his due in a lead role of a feature film.
37. About a boy, 2002, Weitz Brothers. Funny and endearing.
38. Oh Brother Where art Though?, 2000, Joel/Ethan Cohen.
39. In her Shoes, 2005, Curtis Hanson. Surprisingly good, despite Cameron Diaz.
40. Bigger, Stronger, Faster, 2008, Chris Bell. One of the better docu’s of the decade.
41. Etre et Avoir (To be and to Have), 2002, Nicholas Philibert Touching French documentary about a retiring teacher.
42. Me, Myself and Irene, 2000, Farrelly Brothers. One of the funniest movies ever made.
43. Cold Mountain, 2003, Anthony Minghella. Great performances make up for craptacular ending.
44. Click, 2006, Frank Coraci. A thought-provoking movie… with fart jokes.
45. The life of David Gale, 2003, Alan Parker. Kevin Spacey’s best of this decade.
46. Spellbound, 2002, Jeffery Blitz. Riveting documentary on spelling bee’s.
47. Garden State, 2004, Zach Braff. I’m lukewarm on Zach Braff but he did well with this one.
48. Lost in Translation, 2003, Sofia Coppola. A little on the slow side but ultimately poignant.
49. Juno, 2007, Jason Reitman. Very smart film with and with all due respect to the young Canadian leads, the JK Simmons and Alison Janney are the glue behind this one.
50. Casino Royale, 2006, Martin Campbell. I’m coming around to the idea of Daniel Craig as Bond – this is the best bond film in many years.
Babel, Royal Tannenbaums, Life as a House, The Boys and Girl from County Clare, Iron Man, Batman Begins, High Fidelity, The Tao of Steve, Blame it on Fidel, After the Wedding, The Departed, Munich, Ray, Closer, A love song for Bobby Long.
What is your top picks for this decade?