Well, here is my final post in this series on my Best 40 Movies of the Decade (2000-2009). While making this list and writing these short reviews, I realized that there are a lot of other 5 star movies that I would recommend without hesitation that didn’t make the cut, so I’ve added a list down below of the ones I could think of. Also, as I said at the beginning of these posts, this list is based only on movies that I have seen – there are a number of other movies that are sitting in my Netflix queue (and a couple of flicks that are still in theaters) that I haven’t seen and from what I’ve heard a couple of them at least might have made this list, so I’ve also listed those down below as well. But let’s get to it. At #10…
#10 Letters from Iwo Jima
Clint Eastwood directed a war movie that is nearly entirely in Japanese that won a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film. Let that soak in for a minute. Any director that could produce such a deeply felt and noble movie in their own language would be considered a great director – that Eastwood could wring such emotion out of his actors in a language he doesn’t even speak – it may be the best directing job of the decade.
Better known now for Batman Begins & The Dark Knight, director Nolan (based on a story by his brother) started out the decade with his best film, which boasts one of the best screenplays of all time. Guy Pierce is very good, but Nolan (who also wrote the screenplay) is why you watch this movie.
When I saw this Pixar film in the theater, I remember my jaw literally dropping at some of the artistry in which Paris is displayed. Brad Bird was brought in to save this movie from another director, and the result was the best animated film of the decade.
#7 Old Boy
I really don’t know how to explain this movie. How director Chan-wook Park packed as much as he did into two hours I don’t know, but what an intense two hours it is. You will never look at an octopus the same way again, that’s for sure.
I doubt that this nearly three hour epic made many people’s best of the decade lists, and that is a shame. David Fincher’s methodical narrative does almost nothing wrong – every character seems real, every detail is explained, and every shot in the movie feels like Fincher spent days perfecting it.
#5 Touching the Void
I’m a rock climber and I read this book about 15 years ago, so when I heard that they were finally going to make a movie out of it (and thankfully that Tom Cruise would not be playing Joe Simpson) I wondered if there was any way that they could possibly translate the drama of the book onto screen without it feeling cheesy. Director Kevin Macdonald (who a few years later directed the very good Last King of Scotland which is in my 5-star-but-didn’t-make-the-cut-list below) figured it out, making it a documentary starring Joe Simpson plus an actor double. The results of Joe Simpson returning to the mountain that nearly killed him made this the best documentary of the decade.
#4 There Will be Blood
From the moment the film starts to the very last scene, it is impossible to not be riveted to the screen. There is something elemental about this film, something that goes beyond “the American experience” to a much darker place – if I were to compare this to any other movie, I would probably say Apocalypse Now. Daniel Day-Lewis seems almost possessed in this movie (he is famous for never breaking character while filming – not sure I would have wanted to be alone with him off set), turning kind of an extended version performance of his other great role of the decade from Gangs of New York.
#3 Twilight Samurai
There is so much soul in this movie that it is a bit hard to believe that it was made in these (let’s face it) shallow times. Twilight Samurai is barely about samurai – it is about family above all else and how life continually conspires to try to tear us from the people that matter the most to us.
#2 The Lord of the Rings Trilogy Extended Version
The nearly 12 hours that it takes to watch the extended version of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings Trilogy is certainly not something that everyone will do all in one sitting. If, however, you are able to sit through it, you will simply marvel at how Jackson was able to bring so much scope, action, acting and special effects together for 12 hours of movie making (that is six 2 hour movies, more than most directors ever make) so seamlessly. No trilogy has ever been so complete, epic or entertaining.
#1 Children of Men
Few movies that I’ve seen have been able to instill in me the feeling that I was watching the a reasonable rendition of the future unfold on screen, but Alfonso Cuarón’s masterpiece Children of Men is one. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t want this future, and I honestly don’t think that our future will be so bleak. That said, the chaos that reigns in Cuarón’s England feels very real, and every character carries enough baggage to weigh down a tank (of which there are many in the film). Also, and this is without a doubt, Children of Men contains the best action sequence of any movie since perhaps Taxi Driver. In a decade when terror and the threat of terror caused wars and the fear of a new pandemic health event took hold, Children of Men – more than any other film of the decade – portrayed the mood and warned of the possible consequences if we don’t get out act together.
Best Director of the Decade
Best Actor of the Decade
Tie: Daniel Day-Lewis & Leonardo DiCaprio
Best Actress of the Decade
Great movies I saw this decade that didn’t make the cut
In no particular order: The Last King of Scotland, Mystic River, Wall-E, Black Hawk Down, Gladiator, Amelie (very hard to leave off), Bourne Identity, No Country for Old Men, The Assissination of Jesse James, Good Night and Good Luck, Frost/Nixon, An Inconvenient Truth, Sideways, City of God, Catch Me if You Can, Little Miss Sunshine, Spiderman 2, Superman, Babel, Gone Baby Gone, Million Dollar Baby, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Adaptation, Hero, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Juno, Into the Wild, Persepolis…
…and I am sure many more that I’ll add as I think of them (and please feel free to suggest)
Probably Great Movies That I Haven’t Seen That Might Have Made My Top 40 (and yes, I know, I know, I need to watch them already)
4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days; King of Kong; Man on Wire; The Royal Tenenbaums; Before Sunset; The Lives of Others; Waltz with Bashir; Up; Let the Right One In; The Diving Bell and the Butterfly; Sexy Beast…again, suggestions welcome
The rest of the movies on my top 40 of the decade: