Top 100 Films Of The Decade: Top 20

I took about a six month break before I finally got around to finishing this list.  Don’t get me wrong, I had the list itself done, but for anyone who had read my first 4 installments you know I write a paragraph and add a screen shot for each film.  I made the 1-100 list in about 20 minutes in december but didn’t finish it until now…so without another six month delay…here is the complete list for my top 100 films of the last decade…

100-81
80-61
60-41
40-21

Now here they are…my top 20 movies from 2000-2009…through the link

#20 The Pianist (2002)

Starring: Adrien Brody, Emilia Fox Director: Roman Polanski

As someone who reveres Schindler’s List and statutory rape (kidding on the last part) I admire films like The Pianist.  Call this the launching pad for Adrien Brody if you want…but you cannot deny the power of this film.  Yeah Polanski is a creep…but personally…I’m not one to talk.  I never broke any laws like he did…but I “get it.”  That said, The Pianist is POWERFUL.  It doesn’t just stay with you it kicks your ass in the process.  We have all seen depictions of Nazi cruelty in WW2 but this film takes it to another level.  While Schindler’s List used a single Nazi commander as its villain The Pianist uses the entire movement to make its point.  It’s a film that may be remembered more for its director than its message…which is a shame.

#19  LOTR: The Fellowship Of The Ring (2001)

Starring: Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Ian Holm Director: Peter Jackson

The film that started it all.  Once upon a time about a decade ago I heard about an upcoming film trilogy called The Lord of the Rings.  I had no idea what this was…apparently it was some famous fantasy book written by a man long since dead.  Ok…a new Neverending Story I thought…well I would be wrong.  This was The Neverending Story on steroids.  Substitute flying carpet dogs for evil skeleton riders and a mountain of doom and you get the idea.  The first Lord of the Rings film was not only groundbreaking it its scope…but it was revolutionary as a film.  Sure the subject matter could be considered childish at first glance, but what Peter Jackson was able to create on celluloid is something that was unrivaled until Avatar.  A groundbreaking film, while not the best of the decade.

#18  Pan’s Labyrinth “El laberinto del fauno” (2007) 

Starring: Ivana Baquero, Maribel Verdu Director: Guillermo del Toro

Probably the most commercially successful foreign film of the last 10 years.  Guillermo del Toro, who also directed the Hellboy movies shows his true talent with this gem of a film.  He is a mexican director who has nothing but promise ahead of him.  He is one of those rare filmmakers that carries a unique style with him wherever he goes.  You can watch a film and know he directed it without being told.  That said, Pan’s Labyrinth is a singularly unique experience.  There has been nothing like it made before.  It is a story about a military conflict not well known in America but is told by through the imagination of a little girl.  The ending is one of the great “what do you think it means?” endings that will stay with you for a long time.

#17  V For Vendetta (2006) 

Starring: Natalie Portman, Hugo Weaving Director: James McTeigue

You remember the guys who made The Matrix?  Well while they were in the middle of making the god awful Matrix sequels they found the time to produce this really really good flick called V For Vendetta.  Now as someone who is absolutely OBSESSED with Natalie Portman I was gonna like this film regardless.  However, the film turned out to be amazing and easily cracks my top 20.  Great story, awesome action sequences, and an ending that makes you want to come back and re-watch it all, add up to a movie that is one of the best of the decade.

#16  Master and Commander: The Far Side Of The World (2003)

Starring: Russell Crowe, Paul Bettany Director: Peter Weir

THIS is a film for the ages.  One of the most underrated masterpieces of the last ten years.  I will defend the merits of this film to my death…that’s how good it is.  I think what hurt this film is that it came out during the time of Pirates of the Caribbean.  So our ADD afflicted movie goers couldn’t handle an authentic movie about high seas piracy during all the days of Johnny Depp being awesome.  Now keep in mind I’m not discounting POTC since I ranked it at number 27 of the decade…but this film is so much better.  Give Peter Weir credit for not cheapening this tale by making it flashy.  The story was great as is and the movie is one of those that grows on you with each viewing.

#15  Ratatouille  (2007) 

Starring: Patton Oswalt, Ian Holm Director: Brad Bird

My second favorite Pixar film of the decade is also hands down one of the best films period.   How can these geniuses turn a seemingly idiotic story about a rat that loves to cook into such an amazing piece of emotional cinema??  I guess this should be expected by now…since these same people made us care about toys with problems…twice!  (now apparently three times if advanced reviews are to be believed).  I’m always amazed by the emotional response I get from Pixar films.  I don’t know if this makes me a bad person or not but I cry more during these films than I do during films about real life events.  I’m gonna say they are more master story tellers than master manipulators.  And I am glad to be taken for a ride by these people every time.

#14  Almost Famous (2000) 

Starring:  Kate Hudson, Billy Crudup, Patrick Fugit  Director: Cameron Crowe

One of the first films of the decade is also one of the best.  I may have a soft spot in my heart for this film because it came out during my “defining” years in high school.  I was a sophomore when this was released and it definitely hit home with me.  Not just the simple yet effective plot, but it was the music.  The soundtrack of this movie defined by young life as a filmmaker.  I remember hunting for all the songs in the days when Napster was tops.  Trying to find a way to work them into my own films.  The scene on the bus when the entire band sings “Tiny Dancer” will forever live as one of the great feel good moments in cinematic history.  If you can watch that scene and not  at least crack a smile…there is something wrong with you.

#13  Black Hawk Down (2001) 

Starring: Eric Bana, Josh Hartnett, Sam Shepard  Director: Ridley Scott

Now we’re getting down to the nitty gritty of my personal taste in films.  I am a HUGE Ridley Scott fan so be prepared to see a shit load of his films in the top 13.  And by shit load I mean three but that’s still more than most people.  Black Hawk Down is by far the best modern war film of the decade.  It is a film about a conflict that is overlooked and shouldn’t be.  You want an uncompromising look at our special forces?   Look no further.  That being said it is also one of the most visually stunning war films of the last 20 years.  When I think great movies about combat I think of two…Saving Private Ryan and Black Hawk Down….no joke it is that good…So if you haven’t seen it you need to get off your ass and do so.

#12  The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007) 

Starring:  Brad Pitt, Casey Affleck  Director: Andrew Dominik

Ok…think of these last twelve movies as your education in film.  Some of them you may know and love, some of them you may know and hate, some of them you may never have heard of…and the only option is the first one…you should know and love these films.  And we’re gonna start at number 12 with the underrated masterpiece by Andrew Dominik.  The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, is…simply put…genius.  It is one of those modern classics that was completely overlooked at the time of its release, but 50 years from now will be remembered as one of the best examples of filmmaking from our time.  The cinematography in this film is to say it simply…perfect.   The pacing is methodical and builds the tension until the climax.  Brad Pitt is great as usual.  However, this film marks the arrival of the one Affleck that can act…Ben’s younger brother Casey, who also appeared on this list in Gone Baby Gone at #55.

#11  There Will Be Blood (2007) 

Starring:  Daniel Day-Lewis Director: Paul Thomas Anderson

This is the first and only movie of the top 100 that I will only list one actor.  That is because this movie is only about Daniel Day-Lewis.  Now, some of you who have seen this will argue that Paul Dano should be given credit for his turn as Paul and Eli Sunday.  But I don’t think so.  Dano was great, however this film belonged solely to Lewis.  Without him this movie is barely a footnote in the list of the decades best.  And honestly that is a shame for Dano, because if not for Daniel Day’s performance he would have easily been the standout…but such is life…the goods are always overshadowed by the greats.

#10  The New World (2005) 

Starring: Colin Farrell, Christian Bale, Q’orianka Kilcher  Director: Terrence Malick

Easily the most underrated film of the last ten years The New World is a modern day masterpiece.  As far as I am concerned it is the single most emotionally haunting film I have ever seen.  After I was done watching this for the first time I could not stop thinking about it for months.  The cinematography is unrivaled.  I have no idea where they filmed this but I was transported back to colonial America right from the start.  The other great thing about this film is the pacing.  Some may say it’s slow and boring…I call it deliberate and beautiful.  The film is haunting in the best possible way.  It tells the story of Pocahontas and John Smith which is a story we all know, but we have never seen it like this.  It removes the fairy tale and gives us a heart wrenching unflinching account that will inspire and crush you all at the same time.  One of the most tragic films I have ever seen.

#9  No Country For Old Men (2007) 

Starring: Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, Tommy Lee Jones  Director: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen

Anton Chigurh…might be the scariest son of the bitch to be captured on film.  Sure Hannibal Lecter is a freak but at least he’s behind bars and only kills intellectuals.  Chigurh will kill a random passer by without a second glance.  And he won’t shoot you with a gun…he’ll use a god damn cattle gun to end you.  Now that’s a villain.  And make no mistake Bardem’s Chigurh is the star of this movie, but that doesn’t mean the romp isn’t just as appealing.  Goonies’ star Josh Brolin busts back into the limelight as an unfortunate hunter who comes across a desert drug deal gone wrong.  As a result he becomes the target of the aforementioned crazy mother fucker/hitman Chigurh who is essentially an IRS agent with a license to kill.  The movie is an intense game of cat and mouse anchored back to earth by Tommy Lee Jones who is a small town cop caught up in all the nonsense.  The movie is slow, methodical and tense…it’s an experience anyone who claims to love great films can’t miss.

#8  Kingdom Of Heaven: The Director’s Cut (2005) 

Starring: Orlando Bloom, Liam Neeson, Eva Green Director: Ridley Scott

Now we have a rarity.  This film is not the film that was released in any theatre anywhere on earth.  The version that was released was widely regarded as a failure.  It was Gladiator without the soul.  However, when the greatest filmmaker on the planet releases HIS version of the film, the version that hadn’t been raped by studio executives who wanted a nice short “family friendly” version for the multiplex, the true genius of the film came out.  It isn’t very often that a movie can be universally panned then universally praised…but Kingdom of Heaven was able to accomplish that feat by showing up in a four disc director’s cut that blew people away.  Critics who had rated the theatrical release as a 2/5 were quickly upping their rating to 4.5/5 or even 5/5 after the new version hit the shelves.  It just goes to show that you let Ridley Scott do what he wants because the master knows best.

#7  Team America: World Police (2004)

Starring: Trey Parker, Matt Stone Director: Trey Parker

Puppets and terrorism from the guys who created South Park?  Yes please!  By far the funniest movie of the decade, Team America: World Police is far more than that.  It is a satirical masterpiece.  There are so few films that have the courage to lampoon the Hollywood elite, but this film does it at every turn.  Nobody is safe.  They find a way to turn the war on terror around on the self-important Hollywood grandstanders who use any international crisis as a way to get their names in the paper.  Add to that the crass sense of humor of South Park and you have one of the funniest movies of all time, although not everyone will think so…just ask Matt Damon.

#6  Up (2009) 

Starring:  Edward Asner, Jordan Nagai  Director: Pete Docter

And here it is…the best Pixar movie of the last decade is also the most recent.  Now I know that some of you are thinking that I ranked this so high because I just recently saw it…well that’s bullshit!  I ranked this so high because it’s that good.  Pixar has a talent for turning what might seem on the surface to be a kids movie into something that is actually more poignant for adults.  Sure they dress it up with child characters, bright colors, talking animals, but at the heart of every Pixar film is a message that those of us who have forgotten how to dream can relate to.  Pixar films wake up the child in the adult in us.  I’m 26 but I still look forward to the next Pixar film with more anticipation than I do any other film from any other filmmaker.  It’s because Pixar does what no one else can…make me feel like a kid again…without the guilt or blemishes.

#5  Garden State (2004) 

Starring: Zach Braff, Natalie Portman Director: Zach Braff

And here is my film school/I’m from Jersey pick, except this movie is awesome and deserves this spot regardless.  Ok…I love this film…I love this film for three reasons.  Number one is Natalie Portman…honestly…I fell in love with her character in this.  Number two, the setting…I grew up in Jersey so I love how the “unseen” parts of the state are captured here.  However, my third reason is the real reason why this film is number five.  It is so god damn authentic I don’t even know where to begin.  Everything about this movie is real…the mood, the atmosphere, everything.  The house party Braff’s character goes to in the beginning is almost identical to every party I went to in high school…the only thing missing was the Beirut tournament.  Whenever I need to be inspired this is the first dvd I throw into my player.  So for inspiration alone Garden State easily earns the 5 spot.

#4  United 93 (2006)

Director: Paul Greengrass

So you may have noticed I didn’t include any actor names for this.  That’s for a reason.  The names of the actors are irrelevant.  This film isn’t about them…it’s about the people they are portraying.  Now I’m not a big political guy…I don’t much care what your beliefs are in that arena…what I do care about however is the lives of those who die defending our way of life…whether those people die in uniform on foreign soil or jeans and t-shirts going on vacation.  That’s why the events of the one plane that didn’t hit its target on 9/11 get to me.  This is a movie that is almost entirely fiction…once the plane door closed the only thing we know for sure about Flight 93 is what came from the cockpit and calls from the passengers.  Because of that this movie could have been cheapened, but it wasn’t.  It is one of the most honest, unrelenting looks at the events of that day and should be required viewing for every citizen of this great country.  No matter what your political views…you cannot deny the power of United 93.

#3  25th Hour (2002)

Starring: Edward Norton, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rosario Dawson
Director: Spike Lee

This pick might surprise some people.  Some of you may think “yeah 25th Hour was good…but third best of the decade?”  And I agree with you…I might be the only one to have this at number 3.  However, until you come up with your own list you just have to sit back and take it.  I rank this film as high as I do because I can watch this movie at any time of any day no matter what mood I am in.  It is one of those perfectly told tales that is infinitely re-watchable.  Is is award winning?? No!  However I’m the guy who ranked a movie about puppets who shit on each other at #7.  Spike Lee has done something with this film that I love, he has told a story without any bullshit attached.  This movie is simple…it’s about what you think it’s about…it is carried by the performances.  You come to know and care about the characters because you can relate to them.  Sure you may not be able to relate to their decisions…but you definitely can to their nature.  And don’t tell me any of you aren’t rooting for Norton to go west at the end.

#2  Spirited Away (2001) 

Starring: Rumi Hiragi, Miyu Irino Director: Hayao Miyazaki

All my east coast english speaking friends can thank liberal film school for this choice.  Not many best of the decade lists made by kids who grew up in north jersey and went to top notch private high schools would have a japanese animated film at #2.  Maybe a few of my friends would have guessed it but it’s not the type of anime you think.  Spirited Away is quite simply…perfect.  If Ridley Scott had directed it I would have it at number one on my list without question.  I really don’t know how to describe this film to anyone who hasn’t seen it without giving it away…but I’ll try.  The film is a dream…think of the craziest fever dream you’ve ever had, one you’ve woken up from and thought…”wow…kinda wanna fall back asleep and finish that”  Well that’s what this movie is…it’s your craziest dream but on steroids.  Anything else would do this experience a disservice…find a way to see it…and open your mind…if you can remember what you were like when you still believed in Santa Clause that is a good mind set to be in when you see this.

#1  Gladiator (2000) 

Starring: Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen Director: Ridley Scott

SOOOOOOOOO many of you will have a problem with this.  I can hear an army of film school rejects (like myself) calling me a hack…saying I don’t know what great art is.  Well…I don’t give a shit because Gladiator is an amazing piece of pop-art.  Not everything that’s good has to be obscure.  For Christ sake I have Spirited Away at #2…you assholes have to give me Gladiator.  For starters I worship at the alter of Ridley Scott…the man hasn’t made a single film I didn’t think was at worst “good.”  For crying out loud I can watch A Good Year whenever it’s on.  I thought White Squall was amazing.  So for anyone who knows me you shouldn’t be surprised I have a Ridley film at #1.  All that said…this movie needs no defending…it won best picture for Christ sake.  Now I know winning any academy award is the kiss of death for most film geeks but I make an exception here.  This is a superior piece of work that also happened to be popular so whiney little fan boys can’t claim it to be overrated and “rage against the machine.”  For me, this is the perfect blend of visuals and entertainment…it’s Ridley at his best.

***Thank you all for bearing with me while I put off the last 20 films on my list until June…I hope you enjoyed my take and will go out and pick up some of the films you haven’t seen or even heard of.  I promise you’ll find something worthwhile in every film on my list if you keep an open mind.  And especially if you follow my main rule when watching a great film…have a drink and watch it alone.  Works every time.***

The links for the rest of my top 100 are at the beginning of this blog…enjoy.

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  2. bmqyanksfan Says:

    ratoutille and up dont deserve to be here imo…

  3. The_Creator Says:

    bmq…I’m a Pixar fanatic…I get more satisfaction out of their films than I do out of 99% of live action films…they are here because they are examples of pure story telling…something that is lost in most of the other efforts of the decade

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