So, this post from I *Heart* That Film on the best films of the 2000s (that is, 1st January 2000 to 31st December 2009) definitely got me thinking. For some reason, I’ve never considered the first decade of this millennium as a discrete time period, though to be honest the novelty of being in the 21st Century still hasn’t worn off for me.
Stacking these in any order was a bit of a challenge. Number one was pretty clear, as it's is one of all-time favourite movies – but 2-20 are interchangeable depending on time of day, wind direction etc.
Anyway - enougha my yackin:
20. Hot Fuzz
A superior spoof of action movies packed with gags and probably gave me more laughs than any other movie this decade. Pegg, Frost and Wright’s best work to date.
My favourite Pixar of the decade – admittedly perhaps not a real kids’ favourite but I loved its charm, subtlety and intelligence
18. A Serious Man
Oddly enough, probably my favourite Coen outing since Lebowski. Over time it has stayed with me in way that No Country For Old Men has not.
There were a number of very fine documentaries in the decade, but this ‘compare-and-contrast’ piece was as entertaining as any fictional feature. Not quite a real-life Spinal Tap, but close.
16. Spirited Away
This was my introduction to Miyazaki, and what a phenomenal work of the imagination it is. Gorgeous, of course, but counfounded expectations throughout with its bizarre and fascinating plot.
15. Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call, New Orleans
Nicholas Cage is given free reign by his equal-in-bonkersness Werner Herzog in this post-Katrina tale of corrupt coppers. Comically insane in the best possible way, a highly entertaining picture.
14. Sexy Beast
Endlessly quotable, directed with real style and played to perfection, this is a cut above the usual brit-gangster slags ‘n’ shooters fare.
13. Inglourious Basterds
Emphatically not a critic’s darling and clearly flawed but I love it nonetheless. Deceptively complex, it confirms Tarantino’s reputation as a master of suspenseful dialogue. Queue here to make the point that this undermines any critical opinion I make on any other film…
12. The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada
Superior to the similar-in-tone No Country for Old Men, Tommy-Lee Jones’s modern western didn’t get anything like the acclaim (or the box office) that it deserved.
11. Black Book
In which Paul Verhoeven applied his trademark dynamism to a more substantial subject matter than usual – Showgirls this ain’t – with this moving and compelling story of Dutch resistance (and collaboration) in WWII.
10. American Psycho
Much better than the book, Mary Harron hits all the right notes by playing this as a grotesque horror comedy. Always more Bateman than Batman, Christian Bale was born to play the titular lead, and the role continues to define him.
9. LOTR Trilogy
OK, so it’s perhaps overlong, there’s too much slo-mo and it’s very earnest – but this is the great fantasy epic of our time, eclipsing the likes of Star Wars in every single way.
Other movies on this list stand out as exemplars of a particular style or genre, or offer something unique. Not so The Hours – it’s simply a brilliantly crafted film, beautifully played, shot, scored and written.
Filming the last days of Hitler could be seen as an act of monumental hubris, but there’s no nemesis in sight for director Oliver Hirschbiegel, – it just worked. Bruno Ganz got the headlines for his uncanny performance but the film works because it is taut and suspenseful throughout – it’s rare that a film can truly justify a running time of over two and a half hours, but there’s not an ounce of excess flab here.
6. A History of Violence
A kind of Cronenberg-does-Hitchcock story of identity, perception and violence. Viggo Mortenson shows that he has something beyond Aragorn, Ed Harris is creepy and excellent and Cronenberg is nothing less than a poet of gore.
5. The Man without a Past
This sweet Finnish comedy-drama begins brutally and ends graciously. My favourite of director Kaurismaki's movies.
4. The Royal Tenenbaums
Still Wes Anderson’s crowning achievement; a wonderful ensemble piece that is moving, funny, entertaining and just quirky enough to work
3. City of God
OK, so the cognoscenti will point out that the past decade has been a high water mark for quality Latin American cinema, and it’s become de rigeur among some world cinema buffs to cock a snook at fans of City of God for their laughable ignorance. To such naysayers, I raise two crooked, defiant fingers – this is fine tale, told with panache, verve and elegance.
2. This is England
I think most would agree that this is a really excellent film, but having grown up in a nowhere Northern English town in the eighties, this has a personal resonance. It’s particularly noteworthy for its nuanced examination of skinhead culture, a long way from the sensationalism espoused in the likes of American History X.
1. Mulholland Drive
Yes, this is one of my favourite films ever, and I’ve written about it elsewhere so I won’t bore any further here; suffice to say it’s gorgeous, mysterious, funny and brilliant.
Honourable mentions aplenty, for Adaptation, Borat, 28 Days Later, No Country for Old Men, The Orphanage, Eastern Promises, Shrek, The Piano Teacher, The Incredibles, Capturing the Friedmans, Dodgeball, The Lives of Others, In The Mood For Love, Pan’s Labyrinth, The Darjeeling Limited, INLAND EMPIRE, Up and (yes!) Beerfest.
Not much love, though, for the bewilderingly obtuse Hidden, the overwrought There Will Be Blood, or (sorry) the new Batman movies. Spill your bile below.