Sunday, March 14, 2010

Top 25 Movies of the Decade

With a nod to Reel Fanatic's much more ambitious Top 10 Movies of each year of the 2000's, here's my list of top 25 movies of the decade. I thought about doing 10 for the decade, but you'd really have to cut out a lot of great movies.

Ultimately, for me, what make a movie great is that it sticks with me. There are a lot more movies than are not on my list that I really liked but I look back on them now and there just isn't something that strikes me as eternal. I'm all for mindless stuff but when it comes to my favorite movies, they have to say something about us as humans, good or bad. And being the movies of the decade, they need to define that decade to a certain extent.

And there are other movies that I may not have thought much about at the time or didn't get a chance to see until much later and now I appreciate their significance.

It was such an ordeal for me to trim it down to 25 that I'm not even going to try and put them in order. I'll just separate them into categories and chronologically within those categories.

Science Fiction:

Lord of the Rings (all of them) 2001 -- I realize I'm cheating a bit here, but it's really one story. A story that only 15 years ago, most people would have thought unfilmable.

V for Vendetta 2006 -- This movie does a remarkable job of pillorying the media and the American and British post-9/11 governments while not letting us, as citizens, off the hook. Those institutions only take those things that we give them willingly.

Children of Men 2006 -- Dark and relentless, set in the near future, also an indictment of our modern society much like ... Vendetta. Quite possibly the best sci-fi movie of the decade.

District 9 2009 -- I'm perhaps a bit too close to this to be objective, but a movie that surprised me and undoubtedly one of the best sci-fi of the decade. Like most of these sci-fi films, the genre is just the setting for much more serious political themes.

Politics & Race:

Slumdog Millionaire 2008 -- One of the more clever premises for a movie. Great music and beautiful despite the impoverished setting of Mumbai, India.

Crash 2005 -- The intersecting story-lines method of exposition has been criticized but I thought it worked and gave one of the most even-handed studies of race issues that I've ever seen.

Syriana 2005 -- If you need a primer of how oil and the Middle East drive our politics, this is it.

Good Night and Good Luck 2005 -- It may be set in the McCarthy era, but the politics of fear portrayed in the movie had a lot of parallels in our modern governments.

Hotel Rwanda 2004 -- How a whole country (a whole planet, really) could ignore the genocide of Rwanda in the 90's, who knows? This movie tells the story and exposes a new generation to what happened.

The Contender 2000 -- A very underrated political thriller with Joan Allen and Jeff Bridges. Gives a lot of insight into what the modern election/appointment cycle does to good people. Instead of electing true leaders with intelligence, we most often elevate those with vanilla resumes.

Traffic 2000 -- Stephen Soderbergh's best film, I believe. A great ensemble cast and beautifully shot (by Soderbergh himself).


There Will Be Blood 2007 -- A modern Citizen Kane. A stunning performance by Daniel Day Lewis.

No Country for Old Men 2007 -- I read the book after seeing the movie and I think I appreciate the movie even more now. One of the Coen brother's best movies. Javier Bardem's performance is one for the ages.

Into the Wild 2007 -- Most likely my favorite movie of the decade. Great music by Eddie Vedder, great cinematography and Sean Penn's best directing job. Says a lot about the emptiness of our modern materialistic society and how it drives us apart. But the irony is that our true salvation is not alone but with others.

Memento 2001 -- This one will tweak your head. This is a GREAT movie and holds up almost 10 years later.

Million Dollar Baby 2004 -- One of Eastwood's best acting and directing jobs. He is just consistently great.

Brokeback Mountain 2005 -- The late Heath Ledger's best acting performance, understated and deep. It's odd how often foreign directors (in this case, Ang Lee) seem to capture America in movies better than an American director would.

The Machinist 2005 - A haunting, scary performance by Christian Bale, perhaps taking method acting a bit too far. A psychological examination of the power of guilt.


Amelie 2001 -- I love this movie. Audrey Tautou is charming and cute, the story is clever, funny and touching. The look of the movie is vivid and inventive.


Where the Wild Things Are 2009 -- One of the best movies about what it feels to be a child.

UP 2009 -- Honestly, you could have put just about any Pixar movie of that decade here. Certainly Wall-E or The Incredibles. What elevated this one just a bit is the poignant montage near the beginning of the movie.


High Fidelity 2000 -- Coming from a person that is a little obsessive about making lists and loves music, this is nirvana (more than a little bit of a pun intended). Jack Black can be annoying in most films but is well-cast here. Cusack is made for his role.

Thank You for Smoking 2006 -- One of the best satires of the decade. Does a good job of making fun of both sides and captures the cynicism and sarcasm of the times.

O Brother Where Art Thou 2001 -- Coen quirkiness in spades. A modern interpretation of The Odyssey set in Depression-era Mississippi with arguably one of the best soundtracks of recent memory.


Inconvenient Truth 2006 -- You could make a case for any of the Michael Moore films. I really liked Shut Up and Sing (about the Dixie Chicks). But this movie will be the one that people are still talking about years from now because of where we are headed.

What just missed the list for me:

Gladiator 2000
Best in Show 2000
American Psycho 2000
Audition 2000
A Beautiful Mind 2001
Spirited Away 2001
A.I. 2001
Donnie Darko 2001
Ghost World 2001
Bourne Identity 2002
Minority Report 2002
Monster 2003
Incredibles 2004
Harry Potter: Prisoner of Azkaban 2004
Serenity 2005
The Sea Inside 2005
History of Violence 2005
Munich 2005
The Departed 2006
Pan's Labyrinth 2006
Michael Clayton 2007
Zodiac 2007
The Wrestler 2008
Iron Man 2008
Frost/Nixon 2008
Star Trek 2009


CyberKitten said...

Interesting list - most of which I agree are good/very good films.

I do think its very brave of you picking best films of the decade though!

Jewish Atheist said...

Good list. I *still* have to see District 9.

Some thoughts:

Did not particularly care for V for Vendetta. Are we supposed to identify with this guy?

Loved Traffic, but Crash felt trite and stale.

Into the Wild was fantastic, agreed.

Could not get into Up.

I couldn't imagine writing a list that included comedies and didn't include the brilliant but low-ball ones like Superbad (best comedy of the decade?), Harold and Kumar (1 only), Knocked up, and even I Love You Man. Thank You For Smoking was brilliant, too.


If you haven't seen Fog of War, go get it. It's right up your alley and it's awesome. Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room was great. You might like Trembling Before God, about gay Orthodox Jews, as well.

dbackdad said...

CK -- "Very brave" or very stupid. :-)

JA -- About V, I think that's the point. There is a lot of moral ambiguity in life. I think we are supposed to feel conflicted about identifying with him.

Comedies are really hard to identify. Those are all good. Even the Hangover this year was very good.

Enron and Fog of War are both fantastic. I'd add Who Killed the Electric Car?, The Corporation, and Food, Inc..

wunelle said...

Very interesting. I'm a little amazed at how many of these I've not seen.

I'd have trouble making a similar list, since so many of my favorite films are older--I do love noir and the old crime stories. (Plus, though I'm happy enough to put up my two cents' worth about a film, I'm always a bit unsure as to its greatness versus its resonance with my own tastes. So kudos for bravery!)

PS I'd love to see Fog of War.

dbackdad said...

Wunelle said, "I'm always a bit unsure as to its greatness versus its resonance with my own tastes" -- That's a very important distinction. By no means am I saying these are the "best" 25 movies of the decade. They are the 25 that had the most "resonance", as you say, with me. Certainly no one would call The Machinist one of the best of the decade, but for some reason, that movie stuck with me. It's images still haunt me almost 5 years after I saw it. And I feel it's themes say something about the decade as a whole.

wunelle said...

I think that's one of the qualities of art: an open-endedness that lets us plug our concerns and hopes and biases into the movie's structure (like an enzyme).

That's partly why I love the Coen Brothers' movies; you're often convinced that you're witnessing something deep and profound, though it's sometimes difficult to tell what the message is, exactly.

CyberKitten said...

JA said: Did not particularly care for V for Vendetta. Are we supposed to identify with this guy?

I did [grin].

"Life, being what it is, one dreams of revenge."

download movies said...

Thanks for sharing the great list. all the movies are looking to be superb..some of them, I watched already and rest will watch soon :-)