Top 10 Movies of the Decade

by Eric Melin on December 29, 2009

in Top 10s

This decade was a great one for genre films. If anything, it could be remembered as the decade that fantasy/sci-fi/action films really grew up. Of course, Peter Jackson created the critically and commercially successful “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, capping it all off with the first Best Picture win for a fantasy movie ever in 2004. Looking back at the best films from 2000 – 2009, there are plenty of films that creatively combined genre elements to reach a higher cinematic truth.

mulholland-dr-2000It was extremely hard to pick just 10. Impossible, even. That’s why I have 20 runners-up. Then we get to the list and right off the bat, I’m cheating. This list is really a Top 11, but I grouped the first two together by director. Take your pick which one is which. Most of all, enjoy this list of the best movies of the decade.

20 Runners-up: “Mulholland Dr.” (2001),“24 Hour Party People” (2002), “Inglourious Basterds” (2009), “The Pianist” (2002), “American Splendor” (2003), “Pan’s Labyrinth” a.k.a. “El Laberinto del Fauno” (2006), “Road to Perdition” (2002), “Spider-Man 2” (2004), “Moulin Rouge!” (2001), “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” (2000), “Dancer in the Dark” (2000), “Ghost World” (2001), “Fahrenheit 9/11” (2004), “The Dark Knight” (2008), “Knocked Up” (2007), “City of God” a.k.a. “Cidade de Deus” (2003), “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” (2007), “X2: X-Men United” (2003), “Synecdoche, New York” (2008), and “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan” (2006).

munich.-a.i.-artificial-intelligence10. Munich (2005) and A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2002)

Steven Spielberg made both of these soul-shaking films in the first half of the decade. Not bad. “Munich” is set in the early 1970s, but grapples with the still unsolvable Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Rather than give us a civics lecture (like Robert Redford in “Lions for Lambs” or Paul Haggis’ overwrought “Crash,” which unforgivably beat “Munich” for Best Picture), Spielberg uses his skill at concocting thrillers to put the viewer under severe duress along with Eric Bana and his conscience-stricken team of Israeli assassins as they violently avenge the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre. Concurrently, he challenges the viewer to weigh the human consequences of an escalating terrorist war. “Munich” is mature, thought-provoking work from a director who, despite complicated turmoil from his own political/religious camp, is not afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve. With “A.I.,” Spielberg put the viewer in another pair of unlikely shoes—those of a robot boy (Haley Joel Osment) programmed to give unconditional love. Spielberg finished an ambitious project that was originally started by Stanley Kubrick, plumbing the depths of despair and joy all in the same picture. “A.I.” was marketed as a summer blockbuster, but remains a rumination on the lengths at which people will go to counter a devastating loss. The tricky (and often misunderstood) ending theorizes that trying to remedy the situation with technology could result in heartbreak a million fold.

where the wild things are desert 20099. Where the Wild Things Are (2009)

Spike Jonze’s adaptation of the controversial Maurice Sendak children’s book turned out to be—guess what?—controversial. Jonze and co-writer Dave Eggers re-imagined the mysterious “wild things” as tightly wound balls of insecurity and brought them to life with a combination of giant furry costumes, wonderful computer-generated facial expressions, and expressive voicework. After lashing out as his mother and sister, 9-year old Max spends his time on the island confronting his own feelings and doing some growing up of his own, especially after realizing how hard it is to be a leader. While they may not understand the storytelling devices used in the movie, children will understand the raw emotion and relate to a kid who’s just trying to figure out the world he lives in. Also—parents, be warned: There are some moments that may frighten small children, just like other classic children’s movies such as “Bambi” and “The Wizard of Oz.”

the aviator 2004 dicaprio8. The Aviator (2004)

Martin Scorsese’s detailed and epic biopic of Howard Hughes’ early years in Hollywood is a love letter to a real maverick (Let’s take that word back!) and the early go-for-broke spirit of cinema. The movie is filled with all the glitz and glamour of Tinseltown in its heyday, but profiles a larger-than-life public figure whose daring and confidence were soon to be destroyed completely by mental illness. Leonardo DiCaprio is so restrained and natural as Hughes that it’s easy to overlook the magnitude of this performance—the actor is in virtually every scene in the two-and-a-half hour film and undergoes a thorough transformation. Cate Blanchett earned a well-deserved Oscar for channeling screen legend Katherine Hepburn, and Scorsese is at the top of his game, juggling one historic event after another while keeping the story rooted in Hughes’ growing alienation. The elaborate look of the film changes slightly to match the decade of filmmaking that the scenes take place in, but it’s that personal focus that gives “The Aviator” an emotional wallop that’s quite unexpected.

The Wrestler (2008) ropes rourke7. The Wrestler (2008)

Here’s a film that hinges on the authenticity of its main character even more than “The Aviator.” Since director Darren Aronofsky went for an ultra-realistic narrative style with point-of-view camerawork, the actor who played pro wrestler and 80s has-been Randy “The Ram” Robinson had to be thoroughly convincing. Luckily, the director won his fight to cast an 80s has-been in his own right: actor Mickey Rourke. The result was one of the most poignant films of the last 10 years, even if it does revolve around a big guy in green tights who gets beat up for a living. “The Wrestler” chronicles his attempts to connect with a single-mom stripper (Marisa Tomei) and his struggle to come to terms with his wreck of a life. Rourke makes “The Ram” eminently likable, and his formidable charisma also results in some unexpectedly funny and tender moments as well. “The Wrestler” comes with all Rourke’s hard-scrabble emotional baggage, and it feels so real, it doesn’t even look like acting.

memento 2000 pearce moss6. Memento (2000)

How often does a thriller come along that feels like a reinvention of the genre? Apparently, the answer is no more than once a decade. Before he reinvigorated the superhero movie as a serious crime drama in “The Dark Knight,” Christopher Nolan helmed this ingenious low-budget head-spinner about Leonard Shelby (Guy Pearce), a man who is trying to solve the murder of his wife but has no short-term memory. In order to similarly handicap the audience, Nolan tells Leonard’s story in reverse-order 10-minute snippets while also advancing a flashback memory chronologically. Believe it or not, for all its structural gimmickry, “Memento” delivers in spades. Nolan exploits the idea for suspense, mystery, and (in one memorable scene) laughs—but he also does something else. He explores the ultimate reason for memory’s existence and how it relates to our identity as human beings. Another movie on this list has similar ideas about memory and its significance, but arrives at them in a completely different way. (See #1.)

no country for old men bardem 20075. No Country for Old Men (2007)

Joel and Ethan Coen return to the familiar theme of chaos in the universe with a film that’s both a white-knuckle suspense movie and an existential discourse. Adapting Cormac McCarthy’s novel, the Coens and expert cinematographer Roger Deakins use the widescreen pallet of the Old West as a backdrop to sustain a pit-in-your-stomach feeling of unpredictable dread. Tommy Lee Jones’ philosophical musings anchor the film as he searches for meaning in life through the actions of his father and Texas lawmen of the past. Enter Javier Bardem’s pageboy from Hell—Anton Chigurh—who besides being the scariest movie character since Hannibal Lecter, also represents the whole of that uncaring universe. When the plot goes off the rails towards the end, it is nothing less than the destruction of the suspense movie. There is no final showdown. The main character is dispatched offscreen, and it throws the audience off completely. Don’t worry. Jones’ Sheriff Bell is confused too, and the only thing he can do is stick to the code of justice that he’s familiar with. It’s that uncertainty that drives the entire movie.

almost-famous-plane-20004. Almost Famous (2000)

Whenever I need to explain to someone my fanatical devotion to all things rock n’ roll, I lend them my copy of “Untitled,” the extended-length DVD version of Cameron Crowe’s semi-autobiographical masterpiece “Almost Famous.” Set in the 70s, the film is brimming to the top with perfectly realized period detail and authenticity, but its story is timeless. A budding teenage rock journalist (Patrick Fugit) learns some hard truths about friendship, loyalty, and being true to oneself when he goes on the road with Stillwater, a “midlevel band struggling with their own limitations in the harsh face of stardom.” Crowe received a richly deserved Oscar for the ambitious screenplay—which contains some of the funniest, smartest, and most quotable lines of any movie in recent memory—and elucidates the both blissful transcendence and pitiful ironies of rock n’ roll. Let’s not forget the actors who round out the movie’s amazing ensemble: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Kate Hudson, Jason Lee, Frances McDormand, Billy Crudup, Zooey Deschanel, Anna Paquin, Noah Taylor, and Fairuza Balk. Plus, a first: Even Jimmy Fallon is great in this movie.

There Will Be Blood (2007) day-lewis oil3. There Will Be Blood (2007)

From the first “silent” reel of Paul Thomas Anderson’s epic paean to corrupted American ambition, “There Will Be Blood” is a uniquely gripping experience. Anchored by an Oscar winning tour-de-force performance from Daniel Day-Lewis as turn-of-the-century oilman Daniel Plainview, the film is a disturbing and darkly funny portrait of a man who slowly and completely loses his humanity. Plainview’s cutthroat competitiveness and inability to feel anything for other human beings makes for an uncompromisingly bleak vision. The aesthetically-pleasing factor comes from director of photography (and Oscar winner) Robert Elswit, whose gorgeous 35mm cinematography makes the sprawling desert and spurting oil rigs come alive. “There Will Be Blood” is also shot with enough “magic hour” natural light to rival even Terrence Malick’s famously ethereal “Days of Heaven.” Anderson’s script explores and sometimes celebrates (in its own twisted way) the unchecked ambition of extraordinary men. When Plainview’s insatiable greed meets the driven appetite of a young preacher (Paul Dano), it brings out the worst in both men and sets up a classic conflict of the ages.

children of men 2006 owen human project2. Children of Men (2006)

Alfonso Cuaron’s stirring sci-fi drama has in spades what many of its contemporaries lack—a sense of immediacy. This comes partly from an apocalyptic setting that’s 20 years in the future but doesn’t seem too far from today. It’s also because it sports the most visceral action scenes in years. Cuaron’s single-take, single-camera point of view during two remarkable sequences keep the audience rooted in the urgency of the crisis while the film’s setting keeps the audience thinking about today. The human race’s sudden, unexplained infertility is the device used to plunge the world into chaos, but it’s just a more aggressive extension of modern issues. Clive Owen is the perfect modern hero—a cynical, emotionally bruised man who must rise to the occasion when a huge responsibility comes out of nowhere. A shell-shocked former political activist, Owen’s Theo carries the burden with the rugged determination of someone who hasn’t had a reason to live in years. It may have been filmed during a time of political upheaval, but with new worldwide economic and environmental directions being plotted every day, Cuaron’s exceptional piece of pure cinema is a timely plea for rational thought and hope against all odds.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) ice carrey winslet1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

Director Michel Gondry and screenwriter Charlie Kaufman collaborated to put together that rare film that fits easily into no genre and intrigues both the mind and the soul. Repeated viewings only increase the notion that this movie is an undisputed classic. Through a broken-up couple that wants to “erase” each other from their memories, the film poses many questions about love, fate, and memory while teasing the viewer with a narrative that gives new meaning to the word “fractured.” The most impressive part? It all makes clear emotional sense. Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet are the perfect complicated couple—they fight just as much as they love, experiencing the highs and lows of their time together. “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” reminds us that even the bad memories are key to our very sense of being. As Carrey struggles to regain his memories, they disappear before our very eyes with unmatched creativity. Gondry’s endless bag of lo-fi visual tricks is right in line with the idea that a mechanical device the shape of a carburetor could suck the memories related to one person right out of your head forever. But don’t let the inventive special effects fool you. “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” is as honest and true an examination as you’ll ever get about the intricacies of romantic companionship, and it is the best film of the decade.

Eric is the Editor-in-Chief of Scene-Stealers and regular critic for KCTV5. He’s a member of the BFCA, VP of the KCFCC, and drummer for The Dead Girls and Ultimate Fakebook. He is also the current 2013 Air Guitar World Champion Mean Melin. Eric goes to 11. Follow him at:

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{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Xavier December 29, 2009 at 1:39 am

great list I liked all the entrances on it, although I haven’t seen memento yet, this would have to be mine
1. There Will Be Blood
2. Traffic
3. Before Night Falls
4. The Aviator
5. Garden State
6. Munich
7. Million Dollar Baby
8. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
9. Lord of the Rings
10. Almost Famous
runners up for me would be the wrestler, collateral, requiem for a dream, children of men, no country for old men, everything is illuminated, eastern promises, inglourious basterds and capote

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2 Xavier December 29, 2009 at 1:43 am

oh and how did I forget About Schmidt that would tie for number 10 actually for me with almost famous, I loved it, also I think the most criminally underatted and overlooked film of the decade has to be before night falls

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3 Dana December 29, 2009 at 10:02 am

ETERNAL SUNSHINE is the first movie I ever went and watched by myself at the theatre. VERY good choice for #1. I’m glad other people appreciate the film as much as me!

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4 Bill Heinen December 29, 2009 at 12:34 pm

Totally agree on the top 2, buddy, but Children of Men is still my favorite film of all time, Eternal being a close runner up. Both are so fantastic. Great list!

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5 Jim December 29, 2009 at 2:03 pm

Oh, no top 10 list of 2009 from J.D? Damn, but this is just as good.

Great list. I got nothing to add, you said it perfectly. I think there is certainly a reason why films like these will show up on several top tens of decade.

I don’t know mine, but films like

There Will Be Blood
No Country for Old Men
Memento
Mulholland Dr.
Lord of the Ring Series
A History of Violence
In Bruges
Pan’s Labyrinth
Sideways

so on and so forth. So ends a great decade, with I must confess plenty for me to see. I’m sure we will have plenty of crap to come out in this next decade, but with hopefully just as more enjoyable works as well. Personally I’m excited to see Scorsese take on a genre film like Shutter Island next year.

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6 hellohawk December 29, 2009 at 3:32 pm

Very nice list! Completely in agreement on your #1.

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7 Sean December 29, 2009 at 4:00 pm

My Top 10 Best Films of the Decade (in order of release):

Almost Famous Bootleg Edition
The Lord of the Rings Extended Editions
Gangs of NY
Mystic River
The Incredibles
The Departed
Let the Right One In
Wall-e
The Wrestler
Watchmen: Ultimate Edition

I consider LOTR as one movie split up into three parts (filmed concurrently, same director/writer, intended to be one long story).

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8 Xavier December 29, 2009 at 9:11 pm

@ sean I know what you mean about lotr I always feel like they are the one movie in three parts its hard to put just one on the list, but actually the first one was filmed seperately to the last two which were filmed at the same time. I do think that starting out with the intent to do three films with the same writers/director does show and elevates the series beyond any other trilogy probably in the history of film.

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9 Bill Heinen December 29, 2009 at 9:34 pm

Sean,
Let the Right One In is such a great fucking movie! I know people who LOATHE horror films and loved that one. Nice move; I think I’ve met like eight people who have seen it. I liked Pan’s Labyrinth but it shouldn’t have won Best Cinematography at the Oscar’s that year. Children of Men should’ve taken that one…but that’s just my opinion.

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10 Kenny December 30, 2009 at 1:53 am

Very nioe list. Nice props to the Traffic nod, it definitely got lost in the horde of interweaving story movies that followed, but it was one of the first that did it flawlessly and I also included it in my list.

1. Children of Men
2. City of God
3. The Dark Knight
4. Good Night and Good Luck
5. Adaptation
6. The Departed
7. Caché (Hidden)
8. The Proposition
9. Spirited Away
10. Babel/Syriana/Traffic

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11 wayne swab December 30, 2009 at 2:17 am

Scorcese had 3 potentials for this list, and The Departed was the best of all three. Departed should have been in the top 5. The Aviator was excellent, and Gangs was pretty damn good too. Probably not top 10 material, but top 30, yes.
The Wrestler was good not great. Loved the grittiness and documentary style camera work, but bringing Mickey Rourke back from the dead should not be triumphed. Just like Travolta, Rourke is now slated to be in at least 10 awful movies, and unfortunately he has already started.
The movies that I immediatly rewatched this decade: City of God and The Pianist. City of God was the best film I had seen since Pulp Fiction. And The Pianist blew me away.
The Charlie Kaufmann films I can live without. I am convinced the reason Kaufmann repeats himself so much in all of his films, is because he came up with only one good idea. Then when he tried to pen it, he had nothing else. Hence all of his films are essentially a 1 act play, repeated through acts 2 and 3.
Mulholland Drive was awesome the first time, when I was stoned. The next time I saw it, pretty useless.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was pretty badass; the audience broke into applause 4 times in the theatre.
Kill Bill has to be in the top 10. I am guessing the only reason it isn’t, is because you have seen it too many times and are sick of it. But think back to the first time you saw it.
Memento, Munich, No Country all deserve to be there.
And are you gonna snub Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later? Scary as hell.

Thank god you didn’t include Lord of the Rings. Those were the worst films of the decade, next to Star Wars. All six films were boring and childish. Let’s face it, if you are above the age of 12 and liked any of those movies, I am assuming you are still dating the first girl you kissed, or living in your mother’s basement.

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12 ewrann December 30, 2009 at 9:47 am

My *favorites* of the decade….

District 9
Mulholland Drive
The New World
Memento
Before Sunset
The Prestige
Unbreakable
Blade Runner (The Final Cut…Nyaah Nyahh!)
28 Days Later
Delirious

Runner Up – Food Inc. Everyone should see this.

I JUST saw Avatar and am unsure how it fits into the decade…I need to see it again. It’s certainly mind blowing visually but I…just need to see it again.

Eric – Almost Famous….bah. Your A.I. and Munich combo is interesting. I recently re-watched A.I. and while it has a lot of beautiful things about it I think there’s a huge chunk of garbage in that movie. I wanted to have it in my top ten but just can’t. The last 15 minutes are amazing. This has inspired to me to plan on watching Minority Report again which nobody has mentioned. I remember liking it but wonder why it didn’t leave an impression on me….

E.Wrann

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13 Shane December 30, 2009 at 12:27 pm

Really surprised that a Pixar movie didn’t make the list. It could have been any number of choices: Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Wall-E.

Avatar would be on my list. I know that’s probably a little early to say, but I can’t remember something blowing my mindhole like that movie did in a long time.

The one on this list that I can’t reconcile is The Wrestler. I thought that was way overrated. Great performance by Rourke, but overrated. I mean, if we’re going to put a movie on here for a performance, I think The Dark Knight should be considered because of Ledger.

Moulin Rouge! would definitely be on my list. As would your #4 and #1. As for the rest…I gotta think about it. It’s tough to pick just 10. Plus, there’s too much that I still haven’t seen.

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14 Eric Melin December 30, 2009 at 1:01 pm

Xavier-
Before Night Falls…good choice. Notice I had Diving Bell and Butterfly to represent Schnabel…

Jim-
Sideways and A History of Violence almost made my runner-up list as well…JD doesn’t really contribute much anymore. I need to change the design to reflect that, but I keep getting behind.

Sean-
I’d love to rent Watchmen: Ultimate Edition and give that film another try. I think Snyder missed the point by shooting them with slo-mo and fetishizing all the violence, but I’m willing to try again!

Kenny-
Nice list! Combining Babel/Syriana/Traffic, though, speaks volumes, and you’re doing that kind of explains why none of them made mylist.

Wayne-
Wow, harsh words for LOTR. I like those movies a lot and recognize a massive achievement in adaptation, but don’t find myself returning to them often, like I probably won’t with Avatar. Kill Bill should probably be on my runner-up list, but 20 films is just not enough…

EWrann-
I like your list a lot too– it’s just hard to narrow down. I love that The New World is on there. scores of people hated that film and a small minority of us just adored it. http://www.scene-stealers.com/top-10/top-10-overlooked-movies-of-the-last-five-years/ You are cheating with Blade Runner, but it makes me happy nonetheless. Also love Before Sunset and The Prestige.

Shane -
It would have been tough to pick one Pixar film. It would have been Wall-E, though.
Avatar is a very good fantasy blockbuster a la Lord of the Rings, but doesn’t have the juice to make the list. Honestly, each one of these Top 10 movies produced a deep emotional response. That is why The Wrestler is on here. Moulin Rouge! was very close in that regard too…

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15 Xavier December 30, 2009 at 2:29 pm

I did notice the Diving Bell and the Butterfly on there which I also really enjoyed but I liked Before Night Falls better and Javier Bardem is amazing in that film, very subtle work. I also think that traffic stands above the rest of those civics lecture/political films like syriana, babel and certainly crash, I love the style its shot in and I think its engaging emotionally rather than just berating you for a couple of hours

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16 Dan December 30, 2009 at 10:38 pm

Urgh. I can’t believe how The Departed could be mentioned even once, let alone by multiple people. That movie has always annoyed me. I can’t believe it even won an award for best director. The Departed is a remake, the name is the only thing that’s changed. Other than that it’s the exact same film scene for scene, only with an american cast instead of asian. How does that deserve any credit at all? Let alone the amount that it got. None of the parties involved deserved awards for it, in school if you copy someone else’s work, do you get the marks? No, you get a big fat zero, why should this be any different?

Give your praise to Infernal Affairs (2002), not The Departed. >_>

The only other thing I have a problem with is There Will Be Blood. 10 minutes in I was bored out of my mind but thought “No, it’s only 10 minutes, I’ll give it a chance.” Same thing for 20 minutes, and then 30. By 40 minutes STILL nothing had happened and I was going out of my mind with boredom. I physically couldn’t watch anymore of that drivel.

I’ve just bashed two of the “popular” movies here so I guess my opinion accounts for next to nothing now, but for what it’s worth, my favourites of the decade would consist of:

Red Cliff (the full 4 1/2 hour version, not the half-assed edit)
Snatch
The Dark Knight
Up
House of Flying Daggers
Harry Brown (Maybe just because I saw it recently and it’s fresh in my head? I’m not sure yet)
Superbad – my immature comedy pick.

It seems it’s too late in the night and I’ve forgotten what actually came out in the last 10 years o.O

I’m all for originality, emotionally connections and art in movies, but not at the price of sheer entertainment value.

The comments in here did remind me to get off my ass and watch The Wrestler, I totally forgot to watch that one!

Happy new year (Y)

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17 Reed December 31, 2009 at 10:48 am

Well done, Eric. Well-written as always, too! My list is going to look a helluva lot like yours. I still think that 2007 will go down as one of the great years in movie history. A ton of impressive outputs that year. I did a review of that year here (and that was before I saw Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead or The Diving Bell and the Butterfly – both superb films):
http://fightingtheyouth.blogspot.com/2008/03/2007-films-in-review-part-5-of-5.html

Looking at the decade’s best, (both your list, mind, and everyone else’s on here), it seems clear that even though we assume studios are pumping out derivative junk that is not meant to be truly artistic, we’ve just finished a decade with some profound creative output. Yeah, maybe we’re all kind of film geeks or snobs or whatever. But these are films we’re going to go back to again and again for the rest of our lives. It’s important to note that there are people out there feeding the artsy set with sustenance as well.

My top ten (and this was really freaking hard):
10) Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
9) American Splendor 8) 21 Grams
7) Children of Men
6) The Wrestler
5) Ratatouille
4) Brokeback Mountain
3) Mulholland Dr.
2) The Pianist
1) There Will Be Blood

My “honorable mentions”: Aberdeen, Amores Perros, Borat, Collateral, Hotel Rwanda, Amelie, The Diving bell and the Butterfly, Monster, O Brother Where Art Thou, The Fog of War, Lord of the Rings 3, The Man Who Wasn’t There, Whale Rider, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Zodiac

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18 Xavier December 31, 2009 at 9:58 pm

@ dan although I agree with you that the departed was not scorsese’s best film of the last decade and that it should not have been the one to finally win him a best director oscar (I think that one was more a career award and to say sorry for knocking him back al these years) I still did like it and as for originality, again the dark knight was awesome and I loved it but it was hardly the most original movie to have been released. Also I can understand why some people may not like or understand there will be blood it does have a very slow pace but it worked for me and I absolutely loved it, however I could also see that it would not be for everybody.

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19 ChrisKnudsen January 1, 2010 at 8:15 pm

I still need to watch somethings but here is my list so far:
1. Yi Yi (HAVE YOU WATCHED MY COPY I LEANT YOU YET ERIC? Haha)
2. Four Months, Three Weeks, and Two Days
3. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
4. The Piano Teacher
5. My Winnipeg
6. The American Astronaut
7. Breathless
8. George Washington
9. Happy Go Lucky
10. Fat Girl

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20 Charles January 5, 2010 at 1:40 pm

Wow, United 93 isn’t mentioned once in the Runners-Up, Top 10, or comments. Every moment of this film is masterful and it should be included if not near the top of the list. LOL @ film snobs stumbling over themselves to completely dismiss it and come up with more and more obscure indie/arthouse schlock from the aughts. I have a feeling that merely the subject matter of United 93 causes people to ignore it or downplay how good it really is, when in fact the film stands on its own as an incredibly finely crafted and intense work of art. The last few seconds of the film are as haunting as anything you’ll ever see in cinema. It’s really pretty silly that it’s not mentioned at all.

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21 Eric Melin January 5, 2010 at 4:10 pm

Charles- “United 93″ was my #6 of 2006. Read about it here: http://www.scene-stealers.com/top-10/this-is-a-test/

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22 L. Keene January 5, 2010 at 6:36 pm

I hate to admit it, but I think I’ll remember the decade’s funny films more than anything. Maybe because it was a tough time, real job and mortgage, war and economic catastrophe. I needed to laugh. Anyway: Superbad and Napoleon Dynamite and Office Space and Best in Show and The Life Aquatic and the Hangover and Shaun of the Dead and Anchorman and on an on. Wes Anderson made me laugh. The Coen brothers made me laugh. I love the funny/sad ones the most, like Ghost World and Lost in Translation. I don’t even know if these are good movies. I just love them.
This decade…
I was moved by Once.
I was floored by The Pianist.
I was amazed by City of God.
I saw great animated movies like Persepolis
I saw great documentaries (where to start? Capturing the Friedmans, Spellbound, Waltz with Bashir, King of Kong, Born into Brothels, No End in Sight, The Fog of War, Man on Wire, Grizzly Man, and on and on)
My votes for most overrated: The Wrestler, Million Dollar Baby, Lord of the Rings movies, There Will Be Blood.
Underrated/forgotten: Gosford Park, The Aviator
I think it’s funny I’m not the only one who remembers Minority Report and AI favorably. Ha.
I don’t know why everyone’s so aggravated with Crash. Um, it was a good movie. Some movies are very divisive (See Wes Anderson. See Martin Scorsese.)
I remember how Tarnation was going to change movies forever. Not really. But it sure was something else.

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23 cece January 19, 2010 at 2:21 pm

1. In the wild,
2. Veronica Decides to Die
3. The blind side
4. Precious
5. The boy in striped pyjamas
6. Little miss sunshine
7. Slumdog millionaire
8. The edge of Heaven (yasamin kiyisinda)
9. the Diving bell and the butterfly
10. Crash (the new version, not old)
11. Up in the air
12. Persepolis

Classics (all time favorites)
1. Reservoir Dogs
2. Requiem for a dream
3. Memento
4. Le fabuleux destin d’Amelie poulain
5. Fight Club
6. Spun
7. CRAZY
8. Local Color
9. Transamerica
10. Towelhead

Other philosophical movies:
1. Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind
2. Science of Sleep
3. Waking life
4. I heart Huckabees
5. Sideways

Political Movies:
1. Invictus
2. Hotel Rwanda
3. Babel
4. Lord of war
5. Talk to me
6. Garden State
7. Beyond Borders
8. History of Violence

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24 Bram January 27, 2010 at 3:18 pm

Nobody mentioned “Planet Terror” or “the Boondock Saints”
Shame on all of you… LOL

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25 Brian March 4, 2010 at 12:24 am

Lord of the Rings should be on that list, I do like the list though.

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26 rob the sheath March 10, 2010 at 6:14 am

The ones you got right:
Eternal Sunshine
Children of Men
There Will Be Blood

The rest don’t belong

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27 Stig March 25, 2010 at 2:44 pm

Why is Martin Scorssese’s The Aviator in this list?

If I picked any 2004 film over The Aviator it would be The Polar Express. Robert Zemeckis was the most ambitious director of 2004 as nobody had ever done a motion capture animated feature before.

Clint Eastwood shouldn’t have won Best Director for Million Dollar Baby. It was a disgust that Robert Zemeckis wasn’t even nominated that year.

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28 Eric Melin March 25, 2010 at 7:41 pm

Stig- Thanks for your comment!

That’s an interesting take on The Polar Express. Innovation certainly has its place and should be recognized, but on a Best of the Decade list? Even if the technology wasn’t quite there yet?

About The Aviator: It’s everything an epic and a biopic should be, because it does an excellent job of lovingly capturing time/place while keeping the story personal and tying in all the themes of Hughes’ life with what was happening culturally. In short, it did what every other epic/biopic during the oughts strived to do but couldn’t quite muster. Give it another chance; you may be surprised to find how much the detail adds up to a very emotional story…

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29 Stig March 26, 2010 at 5:22 am

In that theory Martin Scorsese and Robert Zemeckis are equally ambitious The Polar Express was an experement for Robert Zemeckis. The sucess of the “experement” prompted him to use the same technique on Beowulf and A Christmas Carol.

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30 ArmondWhite March 26, 2010 at 11:04 am

I would rather have Avatar on my top 10 of the decade list than the “innovative” aka uncanny valley/calamity canyon/freaky as fuck animation pioneered by Robert Zemeckis and I really despise Avatar. Why did a 300 million dollar movie have to have like only a 100 dollars spent on title screens made on Final Cut Pro? Lame. Not to defend Martin Scorsese here either, I don’t think he has made a good movie since the Bring Out the Dead.

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31 Eric Melin March 26, 2010 at 2:31 pm

Uncanney valley is right, but concerning Scorsese, tread lightly, “ArmondWhite,” aka Chris!

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32 Zack April 12, 2010 at 7:23 pm

it`s great that A.I. is in the top ten! great movie! many people didn`t really unerstand it at the time it came out, but if it was in theaters now! it would be a hit!

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33 Stig April 28, 2010 at 10:07 am

Inovation does have its place. Robert Zemeckis is practically the Miyazaki of Motion Capture.

Animation has changed for the better

Walt Disney pioneered cell animation
Nick Park/Aardman pioneered stop motion animation
Miyazaki pioneered Animie
Pixer pioneered Computer animation
Robert Zemeckis pioneered Motion Capture

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34 Jezza June 4, 2010 at 10:28 am

Shawn of the Dead would have been a better pick than The Aviator

Firstly Shawn of the Dead introduced non-brits to Simon Pegg and Nick Frost

Secondly it was a fun comedy movie from the “Blood and Ice Cream” Trilogy (the others are Hot Fuzz and the soon to be filmed The World’s End). It’s called that because each film features a different flavour of Cornetto ice cream.

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35 Eric Melin June 4, 2010 at 2:18 pm

It’s hard to narrow down to 10, but Shawn of the Dead is surely one of the best and most influential of the decade. I don’t want to take anything away from that.

The Aviator may have its day soon. I think as far as “personal” epics, go, it’s one of the best. And it’s gorgeous to look at…

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36 Alexander June 17, 2010 at 3:33 pm

Glad to see that I’m not the only one that think that “Avatar” is overrated.. Great list, anyways.

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37 Bob June 19, 2010 at 8:53 pm

Very good list, mine is:
10.Catch Me if You Can
9.The Dark Knight
8.No Country for Old Men
7.The Departed
6.Mystic River
5.WALL-E
4.Pan’s Labyrinth
3.Memento
2.There Will Be Blood
1.Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

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38 Andy July 13, 2010 at 10:37 pm

I would put ichi the killer on the list. I thought it was the best foreign film I had seen in a really long time and Miike’s strongest film

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39 Layne September 4, 2010 at 8:19 pm

My personal list:

The Pianist
City of God
Munich
25th hour
The Prestige
Persepolis
Everything Illuminated*
In Bruges
Goodbye, Lenin!*
Eternal Sunshine…
V for Vendetta*

* = i’m a bit shocked nobody mentioned this, probably i’m the only who like it.

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