My Top 100 Films Of The Decade 2000-09

With only a couple more weeks left in the first decade of the 21st century a lot of people are making best of lists.  So since I have a background and passion for film I decided I would rank by favorite 100 movies of the last 10 years.  No easy task but one that I was happy to do.  I’m going to do this in 5 sections of 20 starting naturally from #100.  Now these are only movies I’ve seen, I’m sure there are movies that belong on the list but if I haven’t seen them I didn’t consider them…so without further delay here are films 100-81

# 100. The Beach (2000)

Starring: Leonardo Dicaprio, Tilda Swinton Director: Danny Boyle

The first entry in my top 100 could have been a lot higher on the list, it should have been higher.  The Beach was helmed by Danny Boyle who directed Trainspotting and later in the decade went on to do Sunshine and Slumdog Millionaire, bottom line he’s a talent and the first half of this film is nearly flawless.  The “young man in a foreign land” angle has been done before but Boyle captures the  mystery of Thailand in such a raw visceral way that it feels new.  The climax of the first act, seeing the actual beach, is one of the most beautiful locations ever exposed to film…it’s too bad that after this the film devolves into a poor man’s lord of the flies complete with a stupid videogame romp through the jungle…if only the film could have maintained the great first half then this movie would be in more people’s top 100.

# 99. Napoleon Dynamite (2004)

Starring: Jon Heder, Efren Ramirez Director: Jared Hess

One of the pleasant surprises from 2004.  Napoleon Dynamite is the story of an awkward high school outcast living with his grandmother in Idaho.  This film caught many people off guard since it was a low budget MTV production, but over the years has gained a huge cult following.  It’s a sweet story with a very simple message about love and friendship being more important than popularity.  It has added multiple phrases to the American lexicon including, “Vote For Pedro,” and “do the chickens have large talons?”  It’s the classic underdog story and has one of the all-time great feel good endings.

#98 Hulk (2003)

Starring: Eric Bana, Jennifer Connoly, Nick Nolte Director: Ang Lee

This movie is unlikely to be on many people’s top 100 of the decade lists, and I to this day cannot understand why.  Ang Lee’s Hulk is one of my favorite super-hero movies of all time (and I generally don’t like superhero movies)  It is the most creatively edited film I have ever seen and it feels like you are watching a live action comic, complete with the multiple boxes and page turns.  The acting is exceptional and the action is top notch.  I think this movie was a little long and in depth for many people who were just expecting a mindless superhero flick like 2008’s The Incredible Hulk, but Ang Lee delivered a beautifully shot epic adventure that also didn’t ask you to check your brain at the door.

#97 Thank You For Smoking (2006)

Starring: Aaron Eckhart, J.K. Simmons Director: Jason Reitman

The film about a big tobacco lobbyist takes the classic devil’s advocate approach and spins it so well that you almost begin to sympathize with the tobacco companies.  Aaron Eckhart’s best role to date has him playing a Washington wheeler and dealer, using his charm to lobby for his tobacco company clients in such a fun humorous way that you want him to succeed.  This movie is refreshing because it’s not the usual “tobacco companies are pure evil” message that is very common these days.  Standout performances from Rob Lowe, and Katie Holmes as well as Eckhart in the lead make this one of the lightest most enjoyable films about a cancer causing product ever.

#96 Hotel Rwanda (2004)

Starring: Don Cheadle, Nick Nolte Director: Terry George

Now this is where I’ll start to get into trouble.  Many people will think that this movie should be much higher on the list than 96th…while I admit that it was an outstanding performance from Don Cheadle, the rest of the film is paint by numbers.  Yes I am aware that this is based on the genocide in Rwanda and is a true story, but too many times people think this is a get out of jail free card, it isn’t.  As a film there is nothing new here, nothing surprising, nothing memorable, except Don Cheadle…and without his oscar worthy performance this film wouldn’t be close to my top 100.

#95 28 Days Later (2003)

Starring: Cillian Murphy, Brendan Gleeson Director: Danny Boyle

Danny Boyle’s second film in the top 100 is my favorite pure horror film of the decade.  When Cillian Murphy’s character wakes up in a hospital bed to find the entire city of London abandoned, it’s one of the coolest, creepiest things I have ever seen.  The atmosphere in the film’s first third is worth the price of admission alone, oh and then add the zombies and it becomes worth double.  One of the first films to use running zombies 28 Days Later is fantastically terrifying.  We’re used to the slow lumbering undead that we can easily outrun, not here.  This creates a film where anything can happen and anyone can die at any time, there are no rest breaks for the viewer until the final credits roll, and even then you won’t be able to shake that uncomfortable feeling in your stomach until a few hours later.

#94 The Passion of the Christ (2004)

Starring: Jim Caviezel, Monica Bellucci Director: Mel Gibson

Say what you want about Mel Gibson the man, but as a director he is one of the best.  Mel’s controversial film and his follow up to Braveheart is so rich in detail it’s almost too much.  The man has an eye for what makes a shot interesting and The Passion is full of beautiful cinematography.  The scenes of torture are incredibly graphic but not unnecessary.  Add to this the startling performance from Caviezel as the condemned Jesus and you have a haunting, and yes, polarizing portrayal of the final hours in the life of the Christian savior.  If you love great visuals and a movie experience that stays with you check this one out.

#93 Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

Starring: Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet Director: Michael Gondry

Another movie that film geeks will be up in arms over where I have it ranked.  This is no doubt a very good film, but to me it felt very gimmicky.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved the gimmick, the story of two people who have a history neither can remember is a frustratingly beautiful story telling device.  However, I felt overly manipulated by the way the story was told, whether is was in the script or the direction events didn’t seem to happen naturally or in the right order, almost like the filmmakers were trying desperately to hide the eventual reveal for as long as they  could and by any means necessary.  The acting is great and Jim Carrey might do his best work here, I just feel that the film was trying to be too clever and thus it sits at #93.

#92 The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004)

Starring: Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Cate Blanchette Director: Wes Anderson

The mind of Wes Anderson is an intriguing place that I am glad I get a chance to visit through his films.  His offbeat, random sense of humor combined with his utterly unique visual style make all his films multi-layered exercises in discovery.  You pick up something new each time.  His characters are always just out of reach but at the same time oddly identifiable, such is the case here.  It’s hard not to feel for Captain Zissou when he is staring at the shark at the end, the line “I wonder if it remembers me” is such a behind the curtain look at the character that it’s jarring and poignant all at once…a staple of Wes Anderson’s characters.

#91 Signs (2002)

Starring: Mel Gibson, Joaquin Phoenix Director: M. Night Shyamalan

In the world of gimmicks M. Night Shyamalan is the master.  Is there anyone better at setting up a surprise ending from the very first frame of a film?  Signs is the third major release for the director and my second favorite behind The Sixth Sense.  The film is eerie from start to finish but also has what I think to be M. Night’s best and most complete “surprise twist”  Mel Gibson does a great job as the Priest who has lost his faith, and what many originally thought was just another alien invasion flick turns out to really be about a man’s relationship with his god.

#90 Crash (2005)

Starring: Don Cheadle, Sandra Bullock, Matt Dillon Director: Paul Haggis

Yeah I know this won Best Picture at the 2006 Oscars, but I wouldn’t have voted for it.  That being said I do like this movie, a lot.  You don’t make #90 on my list easily.  This story about various lives “crashing” into one another literally and figuratively during a day in Los Angeles is very cleverly done.  The way the stories are intertwined is the result of some great writers (who also took home Oscar gold).  Though one of the downsides to this is that no character gets much attention, you get glimpses into all their lives and while they are very interesting glimpses you can’t help but forget them an hour after the film ends.  And again, just like Eternal Sunshine and Signs it is all very gimmicky.  Something that the film couldn’t have survived without.  It all comes to hilarious conclusion when two minor characters actually get into a car crash as the camera pans up to show the L.A. skyline…way to overdo it Haggis.

#89 The Incredibles (2004)

Starring: Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Jason Lee Director: Brad Bird

Oh Pixar, what would life be like without you?  Pixar’s first entry in the top 100 is the story of a family of superheroes battling an evil nemesis.  Sure that sounds like it could be the plot to any number of superhero flicks but this is Pixar we’re talking about.  There is no one better in the animation game of making fake characters come to life, they’ve done it time and time again and succeed brilliantly here.  The characters and the flawless animation combined with a touching story make this film a sparkling jewel in the world of animation.

#88 Wallace and Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005)

Starring: Peter Sallis, Helena Bonham Carter Director: Steve Box, Nick Park

In the world of clay animation there are few better than Steve Box and Nick Park.  Wallace and Gromit are a man and his dog who get into all sorts of wild adventures.  They began on the small screen as beloved British television characters and this film saw them arrive in theatres across America.  The story is a quirky blend of b-monster movie and awkward romance but it’s Wallace and Gromit who carry the show.  It’s hard to imagine a clay man and his clay dog could have such a genuine feeling relationship but the filmmakers did a great job making them come to life.

#87 Walk The Line (2005)

Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon Director: James Mangold

The man in black, Mr. Johnny cash…one of the great songwriters of our times and brought to the big screen with steely resolve by Joaquin Phoenix.  I must say I avoided this film for a while when it came out, it just looked really boring to me.  So I didn’t end up catching it until it came out on HBO and I must say, I’m glad I did.  Being only 26 I didn’t know much about the lives of Johnny Cash and June Carter but there story was one that I’m glad was told.  Reese Witherspoon was outstanding and deserved the Oscar for Best Actress and Joaquin did a great job in a role he could have easily hammed up.  His Johnny Cash was real and believable and was a great brooding foil to Witherspoon’s June.

#86 Michael Clayton (2007)

Starring: George Clooney, Tilda Swinton Director: Tony Gilroy

Another film I didn’t think I’d like very much so I didn’t go out of my way to see it.  Yet, just like Walk The Line I found myself face to face with it one night on HBO…damn HBO tried to get me to watch everything.  In any case Michael Clayton is one of those corporate thrillers along the lines of The Firm that relies heavily on the direction and performances.  Gilroy does a great job making nothing seem like something, and George Clooney is as always magnificent.  The final 15 minutes are some of the most satisfying in any movie and reward the viewer for sticking around, even though I had no problem doing so.

#85 Sideways (2004)

Starring: Paul Giamatti, Thomas Hayden Church Director: Alexander Payne

Two words, Paul Giamatti.  Is there a more underrated actor in Hollywood?  If he had Brad Pitt looks the guy might have 20 Oscars.  A simple story about a couple of guys on a vineyard tour leads to a tale of self acceptance.  It’s just a brilliantly executed mid-life crisis story that contains numerous amazing performances.  It’s hilarious and touching and leaves you with a feeling that you’ve just watched an experience that you will one day have to go through yourself.

#84 Munich (2005)

Starring: Eric Bana, Geoffrey Rush, Daniel Craig Director: Steven Spielberg

The true story of the Israeli response to the murder of their athletes at the 1972 Olympics in Munich.  The film follows a group of Israeli special forces commandos led by Eric Bana who work undercover to assassinate all those who had a hand in the massacre.  The line between victim and villain is expertly blurred here and becomes to main focus of the film as each man Bana’s men kill they themselves start to fear they are becoming just like those they are hunting.  Spielberg is at his best delving into the psyche of a trained killer and the effects killing has on the human spirit.  Not his best work, but some of his most powerful.

#83 Charlie Wilson’s War (2007)

Starring: Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Phillip Seymour Hoffman Director: Mike Nichols

One of my favorites from 2007, Charlie Wilson’s War is the true story of how The United States covertly funded the Afghan resistance to the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan.  The film is charming, funny, and most importantly aggravating as we see how our failures to secure Afghanistan led to what is currently going on there today.  Phillip Seymour Hoffman is absolutely brilliant as Gust Avrakotos and steals most of the scenes he is in, Tom Hanks holds his own as the playboy congressman after whom the film is named…and damn Julia Roberts still looks great in a bikini.

#82 Memento (2000)

Starring: Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss Director: Christopher Nolan

Now I’m really going to get killed for this one.  This movie is currently ranked at #26 ALL-TIME on IMDB.com but that doesn’t mean a whole lot.  It’s the ultimate gimmick film since the entire movie is backwards, yup it starts at the end and ends at the beginning.  It’s definitely a great movie and put Christopher Nolan on the map, but at the same time it’s just too much for me.  It’s not that it’s confusing it’s that it just doesn’t involve me like I want movies to do.  I don’t particularly care about Guy Pearce’s character or his relationship with Carrie-Anne Moss.  However, the direction and pace are first class and even if this film failed to impress me as much as it has others it’s still far better than most other films released in the last decade.

#81 Chicken Run (2000)

Starring: Mel Gibson, Julia Sawalha Director: Peter Lord, Nick Park

It’s the pinnacle in mainstream clay animation if there is such a thing, Chicken Run is one of the best times you’ll ever have watching a movie…it’s just plain fun.  The story follows a group of chickens (naturally) who are in a prison like setting on a farm.  It’s really just a chicken coup but for the birds it’s like an internment camp.  All their plans to escape have been foiled by the farmer and his dogs, until one day a rooster soars into camp and convinces all the ladies he can teach them to fly.  Mel Gibson does some fine voice over work as the playboy rooster but the real gem here is obviously the creativity of the animation.  This movie is in many ways The Great Escape with chickens and it’s the many homage to that great film which make this movie so enjoyable.  The level of detail the filmmakers can create using nothing but clay models is absolutely unmatched.  Chicken Run is my all-time favorite animated movie not made by Pixar.

Films 80-61

 

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7 Responses to “My Top 100 Films Of The Decade 2000-09”

  1. My Top 100 Films Of The Decade…Part 2 « The Loon Says:

    […] Well I got a great response from films 100-81 yesterday so today I bring you 80-61.  Again, I am only ranking movies I’ve seen so if there is a movie that should easily make the list but you don’t see it, it’s most likely because I never saw it…and if you are too lazy to scroll down two posts to see movies 100-81 here is a link… Films 100-81 […]

  2. My Top 100 Films Of The Decade…Part Three « The Loon Says:

    […] for the delay.  For those who didn’t read the previous two entries here are the links… Films 100-81 Films […]

  3. My Top 100 Films of The Decade…Part Four « The Loon Says:

    […] are the links for parts 1 through 3 Films 100-81 Films 80-61 Films […]

  4. Top 100 Films Of The Decade: Top 20 « The Loon Says:

    […] 100-81 80-61 60-41 40-21 […]

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