2000 – 2010
Top 10sDoug Tilley
10. City of God (2002)
9. Shaun Of The Dead (2004)
8. In The Loop (2009)
7. Kill Bill: Volume 2 (2004)
6. Wall-E (2008)
5. There Will Be Blood (2007)
4. Paradise Now (2005)
3. No Country For Old Men (2007)
2. Children of Men (2006)
1. Oldboy (2003)
10. Children Of Men (2006)
9. Zodiac (2007)
8. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)
7. Moon (2009)
6. The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (2005)
5. Almost Famous (2000)
4. City Of God (2002)
3. Good Night, And Good Luck (2005)
2. There Will Be Blood (2007)
1. O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)
Honorable Mentions: No Country For Old Men, In Bruges, The Departed, The Royal Tenenbaums, Memento, This Is England, Blow, Millions, Brick, Traffic, Adventureland, Get Low, Crazy Heart, Wonder Boys, The Man Who Wasn't There, Sunshine, A Single Man
Der Baader Meinhof Complex (Edel, 2008)
One of the best political thrillers I have ever seen. Following the actions of the Red Army Faction from their formation in 1967 through to the brutal "German Autumn" of 1977, this film does a great job of capturing the idealism and intensity of a student movement turned bitter and fanatical in just a few years. While the RAF seemed glamorous to many at the time, the film doesn't fetishize them or romanticize them. Nor the opposition. Everyone is given a fair shake. The action sequences are intense and well-directed and there's lots of casual nudity (two things you don't see so often in American films anymore). Moritz Bleibtreu gives a really strong performance as Baader, demonstrating his powerful allure but not shying from his psychopathic tendencies. Martine Gedeck is brilliant as Meinhof, showing how a regular journalist and academic with no prior investment in revolutionary politics can become so absorbed in the movement she's studying as to quickly become one of its leaders.
Children of Men (Cuaron, 2006)
The most riveting film I saw all decade. An absolutely astounding vision of dystopian plausibility anchored in a monumental, hope-filled performance from Clive Owen. Also, some of the best single-shot action sequences ever filmed. Many people disliked the ending but the most profound films for me often deal in ambiguities (in fact, many of the films on this list are open-ended at the finish).
The Fountain (Aronofsky, 2006)
Though it hasn't held up to repeated viewing and scrutiny, The Fountain is still one of my favorite films of the decade, mainly because it risks so much, drawing up wells of heartfelt emotion and splashing them across the screen in some of the most innovative and imaginative sequences ever recorded on film. Where it risks and wins, The Fountain leaves you in awe. Where it risks and fails, it crashes spectacularly and yet still pulses with a life unfettered. We should be grateful that there are filmmakers out there willing to fight so recklessly for their visions.
Goodbye Lenin! (Becker, 2003)
As someone whose family's lives were sundered by the Berlin Wall, Goodbye Lenin! carries a particularly resonance with me, as does all German cinema from the 00's dealing with this topic (Der Tunnel; The Lives Of Others). At times both tragic and hilarious, this film actually helped me to understand the mindset of those who still missed the old East, who diligently clung to the principles of Communism and repudiated the materialism of the West. The film handles this issue deftly and fairly. Daniel Brühl's performance is remarkable given how much emotion he must both suppress and portray at once, stuck in a sticky web of liberation and suppression. As I've noted in previous posts, German Cinema in the 00s was uniformly amazing and Goodbye Lenin! is the lynchpin film for me.
Heaven (Tykwer, 2002)
Heaven, the last project of Krzysztof Kieślowski (finished by Tom Tykwer after his death), is a sublime meditation on the intertwining relationship between love and crime. Highly allegorical and languid in its disposition, the film struggled to find an audience despite insanely powerful and nuanced performances by Cate Blanchett and Giovanni Ribisi as outlaws on the lam in rural Italy. This is also a film for lovers of lush cinematography and elaborate staging, rarely does architecture play a more vital role in intimating a character's inner disposition. Connections to Dante's Divine Comedy are also inescapable.
Solaris (Soderbergh, 2002)
This film was so severely mismarketed that I avoided it for a long time. A Tarkovsky film remade as a sci-fi romance film? With George Clooney? Who wants to see that? Well, nobody it seemed. The film was a huge bomb. And I summarily forgot all about it. But somewhere in the intervening years, Clooney caught my attention, slowly revealing himself as one of the finest actor of the decade. So I went back and watched Solaris and was blown away by how good it was. Touching on themes similar to The Fountain, Solaris left me haunted and chilled, touching an emotional chord that both the novel and the original film failed to hit. Both the cinematography and Cliff Martinez's score add emotional weight and resonance. This is a film worthy of reevaluation.
28 Days Later (Boyle, 2002)
This film legitimately scared the holy hell out of me when I saw it in the theater. The woman in front of me actually fainted. Intense, visceral, horrible, believable. 28 Days Later delivers that pure adrenaline shot that most movies promise but fail to deliver.
The Town (Affleck, 2010)
I don't know when Ben Affleck decided to become a smart Hollywood cross between Michael Mann and Sidney Lumet but it was the best career decision he could take and we now have two great crime films to thank him for because of it. Both The Town and Gone Baby Gone resonate, pushing the crime film in new and interesting directions without discarding the emotional core that has kept this genre at the heart of my love for cinema. The Town has everything I want in an epic heist film: honesty, intelligence, toughness, grit mixed into a heady cocktail of violence, love, hurt, and redemption (both denied and achieved). While their are still some kinks to be worked out (his direction can be both overtly flashy and drearily dull at times), we are looking at the beginnings of what could be a very promising directing career.
Wall-E (Stanton, 2008)
Perhaps the most romantic, poetic, and thought-provoking film of the decade. The amount of emotion Pixar generates out of two robots who do not speak and have only minimal expressive features is staggering. The long near-silent stretches towards the beginning rival Chaplin in their broad comedy and ability to hold an audience rapt. An instant classic the moment it was released, Wall-E has only risen in my esteem.
We Don’t Live Here Anymore (Curran, 2004)
Adapted from two Andre Dubus short stories, We Don't Live Here Anymore quietly and poignantly captures the heart ache and knotty emotional conflicts of adultery without glossing over the issues or settling into cheap sentimentality. Mark Ruffalo, Peter Krause, and Laura Dern all give excellent, layered performances while Naomi Watts delivers one of her absolute best performances as Edith, a character so earnestly flawed as to be exacting. Little seen upon its release, this film deserves wider acclaim as it is every bit the equal of In The Bedroom, another Dubus adaptation that actually found a strong audience.
Honorable Mentions: Royal Tenenbaums, Closer, Amelie, Spirited Away, Lost In Translation, Before Sunset, Memento, Michael Clayton, Broken Embraces, Billy Elliot, Crouching Tiger, and Shaun of the Dead.
10. Super Troopers (2001)
For pure laughs, nothing by Apatow or his crew has come close to matching SUPER TROOPERS. Sadly, neither has anything else Broken Lizard has produced. This broad farce featuring the antics of bored Vermont state troopers has become a comedy staple is probably one of the few comedies that still has me laughing almost ten years later. The tight script, and the fact that the whole cast plays to his or her strengths, really helps. Also, what the fuck is Brian Cox doing here?
09. Pan's Labyrinth (2006)
Worth a mention for del Toro's dream aesthetics alone, PAN'S LABYRINTH manages to be both creepy and magical, frightening and wonderful. Life, from the point of view of a child, is made up of random, unexplainable rules; that's why fairy tales are full of them. Life, from the point of view of one living in a fascist state, is also made up of random, unexplainable rules; that's why it's so fucking awful. The need for fantasy is deep.
08. A Bittersweet Life (2005)
Watch this if you want to see your standard action/crime yarn, shot beautifully, with perfect acting, impeccable clothing, and nasty, nasty violence.
07. 25th Hour (2002)
Probably the best post-9/11 movie that isn't explicitly about the post-9/11 world. The strength of this film is that it's about individuals, their complexities, and their complex relationships, and the ways in which individuals resist the desire to be stereotyped or generalized. Everyone is great in this.
06. Inglourious Basterds (2009)
Hard to choose just one Tarantino film for a Top 10 (the only thing more annoying than blind Tarantino fanboy-ism is blind Tarantino bashing, but I digress). While KILL BILL VOL 1 seems like someone made a film with me, specifically, in mind as the target audience, I can't help but feel that both volumes of the film are somewhat bloated. Perhaps odd, then, that I'm going with INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS, which usually gets slammed for length. Really, it's just a pitch-perfect film in my book, with a monster performance by Christoph Waltz, and a really underrated one by Brad Pitt. I can't help but feel that this is Tarantino's THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY (with Shoshanna/Landa/Raine filling those roles, to a certain extent). I'm going to remember the basement scene of BASTERDS far after I've forgotten the House of Blue Leaves portion of BILL.
05. Gone Baby Gone (2007)
Not only one hell of a movie, but one hell of a moral quandary, one which Affleck is wise enough not to offer any way out of. Everyone loses. There is no win.
04. Hot Fuzz (2007)
HOT FUZZ is way better than SHAUN OF THE DEAD. It isn't even close.
More to the point, I've probably watched HOT FUZZ more than any other film in my adult life. This homage to action cinema doesn't feature a single misstep, while featuring some perfect performances from Jim Broadbent and Timothy Dalton.
03. Spirited Away (2001)
While CGI continues to improve, and show us worlds we never thought could be put on screen (think AVATAR), a film like SPIRITED AWAY continues to prove that there are some stories which only animation can properly bring to life. Miyazaki continues to be humane without being maudlin, and presents his fans with one of the most enchanting (that's right, I said "enchanting") world ever captured on screen.
02. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
The best movie based on a Philip K. Dick story, even if it isn't based on a Philip K. Dick story. Here, Charlie Kaufman and Gondry use the estranging effects of science fiction to make an intimate movie of love and loss, instead of an expansive movie of explosions and lazers. And it's the best sci-fi film of the decade. Carrey should be phoning up Gondry daily and asking for a new role to help is career.
01. Grizzly Man (2005)
It's hard to pick a #1 film of the decade. Perhaps it's because the decade is just ending, but so far, it seems more difficult to encapsulate. For the 90s, there are films that seem to capture the zeitgeist of the time (or at least the time's cinema), or to stand out as significant aesthetic landmarks. PULP FICTION and FIGHT CLUB are two such examples. But what film, from the last ten years, is really emblematic of its time? So anyway, I chose GRIZZLY MAN. It's a documentary without a political objective; in a decade of shouting voices, this, sir, is no polemic. What it is, is a stupendously beautiful portrait of the tragicomic life and death of Timothy Treadwell, self-proclaimed protector of the bears.
Herzog: "And what haunts me, is that in all the faces of all the bears that Treadwell ever filmed, I discover no kinship, no understanding, no mercy. I see only the overwhelming indifference of nature. To me, there is no such thing as a secret world of the bears. And this blank stare speaks only of a half-bored interest in food. But for Timothy Treadwell, this bear was a friend, a savior."
Honourable Mentions: Wall-E, The Hidden Blade, In The Bedroom
10. Shaun of the Dead (2004)
9. The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi (2003)
8. Ong Bak (2003)
7. Let The Right One In (2008)
6. The Incredibles (2004)
5. Spider-Man 2 (2004)
4. Oldboy (2003)
3. No Country For Old Men (2007)
2. Children of Men (2006)
1. The Dark Knight (2008)