Essay Question: best films of 2000-2009

OFCS members ponder the question:

“What are the best films of the decade 2000-2009?”

Answers after the jump.

Rob Gonsalves, eFilmCritic:

In chronological order:

Amores Perros (2000)
Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001)
The Rules of Attraction (2002)
American Splendor (2003)
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Sin City (2005)
The Fountain (2006)
No Country for Old Men (2007)
WALL•E (2008)
Antichrist (2009)

Dennis Schwartz, Ozus’ World Movie Reviews:

1. Spider (2002): An unforgettable masterpiece.
2. A History of Violence (2005): Should not only entertain but make your hair stand up.
3. Before Sunset (2004): Films about romantic relationships don’t get any better than this one.
4. Gosford Park (2001): An Anglophile’s delight.
5. Million Dollar Baby (2004): Leaves its mark not with a knockout blow, but with round after round of jabs that hit their mark until there’s nothing more left to save except one’s dignity.
6. Waking Life (2001): A non-stop idea fest told in the form of real conversations people have.
7. Eastern Promises (2007): Devilishly intelligent.
8. A Serious Man (2009): This is the brothers most personal and most Jewish film, which doesn’t stop it from being their most universal and one of their best.
9. The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (2006): One of the most remarkable medical dramas ever attempted.
10. Police Adjective (2009): Has a conscience.

Michael E. Grost, Classic Film and Television:

Many of my favorite films of the last decade were directed by women:

The Day I Became a Woman (Marziyeh Meshkini)
Les Glaneurs et la glaneuse (The Gleaners and I) (Agnès Varda)
Songcatcher (Maggie Greenwald)
Unbowed (Nanci Rossov)
All Over the Guy (Julie Davis)
Nirgendwo in Afrika (Nowhere in Africa) (Caroline Link)
The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg (Aviva Kempner)
Out in Nature: Homosexual Behavior in the Animal Kingdom (Stéphane Alexandresco, Bertrand Loyer, Jessica Menendez)
Shrek (Andew Adamson, Vicky Jenson)
Bend It Like Beckham (Gurinder Chadha)
In the Mirror of Maya Deren (Martina Kudlacek)
The Rosa Parks Story (Julie Dash)
At Five in the Afternoon (Samira Makhmalbaf)
February One: The Story of the Greensboro Four (Rebecca Cerese, Daniel Blake Smith)
Rosenstrasse (Margarethe von Trotta)
Bride and Prejudice (Gurinder Chadha)
Männer wie wir (Guys and Balls) (Sherry Hormann)
The Rape of Europa (Richard Berge, Bonni Cohen, Nichole Newnham)
The Singing Revolution (James Tusty, Maureen Castle Tusty)
Take the Lead (Liz Friedlander)
Caramel (Nadine Labaki)
The Jane Austen Book Club (Robin Swicord)

It is definitely time to cherchez la femme.

Sean Axmaker, Sean Axmaker:

I don’t think I’ll ever settle on a single list, but on January 6, 2010, here’s what I’ll stand by:

1. No Country For Old Men (Joel Coen and Ethan Coen)
2. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry)
3. Mulholland Drive (David Lynch)
4. A History of Violence (David Cronenberg)
5. demonlover (Olivier Assayas)
6. In the Mood for Love (Wong Kar-Wai)
7. The Hurt Locker (Kathryn Bigelow)
8. The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (Tommy Lee Jones)
9. A Christmas Tale (Arnaud Desplechin)
10. L’Intrus (The Intruder) (Claire Denis)

That’s slightly different from the list I published on MSN for their Best of the Decade feature.

Kevin LaForest, Montreal Film Journal:

Limiting myself to five titles, I’d start with Baz Luhrmann’s spectacular, spectacular Moulin Rouge! (2001), followed by Peter Jackson’s towering The Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001-2003), Paul Thomas Anderson’s absolutely brilliant There Will Be Blood (2007) , Lars von Trier’s gut-wrenching Dogville (2003) and finally, a very idiosyncratic pick, M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs (2002), not so much because it’s one of the scariest flicks I’ve seen, but because Mel Gibson’s Graham, Joaquin Phoenix’s Merril, Rory Culkin’s Morgan and Abigail Breslin’s Bo form one of the most convincing and endearing families I’ve ever seen on screen.

Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall:

My top five of the decade are all movies that got under my skin and stayed there — they’re films I can watch over and over again and never get tired of, catching something new with every viewing. Provocative, emotional, challenging, entertaining and, most importantly, films that stretch cinema as an art form…

1. Mulholland Drive (David Lynch, 2001)
2. Moulin Rouge! (Baz Luhrmann, 2001)
3. Paradise Now (Hany Abu-Assad, 2005)
4. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry, 2004)
5. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (Cristian Mungiu, 2007)

Anton Bitel, Channel 4 Film:

1. Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter… and Spring
2. Synecdoche, New York
3. Werckmeister Harmonies
4. In the Mood for Love
5. Spirited Away
6. Mulholland Drive
7. A Scanner Darkly
8. Southland Tales
9. The Beaches of Agnes
10. Audition

John J. Puccio, DVDtown:

1. The Lord of the Rings trilogy (Peter Jackson, 2001-)
2. Pan’s Labyrinth (Guillermo del Toro, 2006)
3. Stardust (Matthew Vaughn, 2007)
4. The Harry Potter series (Chris Columbus et al, 2001-)
5. Up (Pete Docter, 2009)
6. Iron Man (Jon Favreau, 2008)
7. Star Trek (J.J. Abrams, 2009)
8. Hero (Yimou Zhang, 2002)
9. Batman Begins (Christopher Nolan, 2005)
10. The Wrestler (Darren Aronofsky, 2008)

See “John J. Puccio’s 50 Favorite Films of the 2000’s” for more.

David N. Butterworth, OffOffOff:

In strictest alphabetical order:

Amélie (Le Fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain)
Being John Malkovich
City of God (Cidade de Deus)
Dancer in the Dark
Lost in Translation
Pride & Prejudice
Punch-Drunk Love
The Station Agent

Anvil: The Story of Anvil
Bowling for Columbine
Bus 174
Capturing the Friedmans
The Fog of War
Hands on a Hardbody, the Documentary
Lost in La Mancha
Super Size Me
Touching the Void
Winged Migration

A Scanner Darkly
Fantastic Mr. Fox
Finding Nemo
Spirited Away (Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi)
The Triplets of Belleville (Les
triplettes de Belleville)

Roderick Heath, Ferdy on Films:

4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days
Black Book
The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi
Boarding Gate
The Dreamers
Fat Girl
Femme Fatale
Gangs of New York
Grindhouse: Death Proof
The Lord of the Rings
Marie Antoinette
The New World
Pan’s Labyrinth
The Piano Teacher
Public Enemies
Team America: World Police
There Will Be Blood
Three Times
Y Tu Mama Tambien

See “Twenty-Five Essential Films of the 2000s” for more.

Felix Vasquez, Cinema Crazed:

Some of my favorites have been the more independent movies and less the big budget films. 28 Days Later was a real highlight of 2003, and I absolutely loved The Hurt Locker. Of course there’s been stuff like Donnie Darko and Before Sunset, a movie that surpassed the original in pure originality. This decade has produced movies that have earned a place as some of my favorite movies ever made.

Dave Johnson, DVD Verdict:

The thought of organizing my be-all and end-all Best Movies of the Decade is far too imposing for my small brain, so I thought I’d narrow things down a bit. Here are my five best “White-Knuckle Films,” bad-ass flicks that redefined the action/adventure genre in the ‘oughts.

Black Hawk Down: Ridley Scott’s harrowing dramatization of the cluster-F that was the carnage in Mogadishu is about as close to urban combat as you can get in your living room. As an added bonus, American troops aren’t portrayed as pathetic children or homicidal maniacs.

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World: A sweeping, exciting sometimes claustrophobic look at the brotherhood that exists on a 19th century ship of war. Crowe is at his Alpha-male best here, but it’s Paul Bettany who’s most memorable as the intellectually curious ship’s doctor who stills picks up a sword and gets to stabbing when he’s called upon.

The Lord of the Rings trilogy: Forget Avatar. Peter Jackson’s eyeball-nuking treatment of the greatest fantasy adventure ever conceived was the real game-changer in cinema. Gollum is still the gold-standard for CGI performance capture and no matter how many Huge Epic Battles Hollywood has churned out since, nothing has come close to the awesomeness of the Oliphaunt charge.

The Dark Knight: Probably my favorite overall film of the decade. Nolan delivered on the promise of Batman Begins with the greatest “comic book” movie ever made. But The Dark Knight goes so far beyond a simple genre category: meditations on the nature of terror and evil combine with spectacular action sequences, a pervasively ominous atmosphere and one of the greatest villains ever forged to create a true classic. I almost don’t want a third film, unsure of how this one could ever be topped. Almost.

300: Sure, it’s bombastic and hyper-stylized, but few films have got my blood flowing as much as Zack Snyder’s testosterone-injected treatment of Frank Miller’s graphic novel. The historical source material is genuinely compelling and Snyder brings an unforgettable visual aesthetic. Also, swords in the face!

Joe Lozito, Big Picture Big Sound:

1. The Lord of the Rings trilogy
2. Memento
3. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
4. Requiem for a Dream
5. The Incredibles
6. Crash
7. Letters from Iwo Jima/Flags of Our Fathers
8. Up in the Air
9. Juno
10. Moulin Rouge!

See “Joe Lozito’s Oughts of the Aughts” for more.

Karina Montgomery, Cinerina:

Heavens to betsy how the years do add up! I will definitely forget your favorite film, or some ridiculously obvious classic that I didn’t happen to see. These are just my thoughts that I hope spurs someone to pick up the video or catch it in a rerelease, just to know that these films spoke in a voice that I still hear today. They transported me, they got under my skin, and/or they blew my mind. They made me glad that I see as many movies as I do and they made my job that much more pleasurable. Five was an impossible distillation of fifty of over 500. So, here they are roughly in release date order. I hope you enjoyed them as much as I did, or at least in different ways.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl: Not since Clue has such an unpromising source delivered such fantastic returns. It’s got it all, action, romance, comedy, and a long-overdue Academy Award nomination for Johnny Depp.

Love Actually: A network of people connected in various ways find or explore love in various modes and crack us up and make me bawl every time. For me, a Christmas tradition, but also a movie that makes me feel good about people.

Finding Nemo: Pixar always wows me but Nemo had that certain extra something for me, whether it’s the doting parent/rebellious child, the glories of the ocean and Australia, or Dory’s simple hilarity with Marlin, this is still my favorite Pixar movie, which is saying quite a bit.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: My initial response to recitation of the title of this film is a visceral “oh” and a pressing of my hand over my heart. This movie is romantic, dreamy, funny, visually innovative and stunning, and makes you think about your whole life and all your feelings and memories. Always in my top-whatever lists and easily in my top 10 from this list.

Brokeback Mountain: A romantic tragedy set in gorgeous country bigger than any of us, with two men who are forced to hide a love that most people wish they could find and sing about.

Honorable Mention: Galaxy Quest (release date 12/25/99) is still one of the most rewatchable movies out there, and could easily bump any one of the above movies for sheer awesomeness. It’s clever and funny and walks a fine line between spoof and homage, and is rightfully beloved accordingly.

See “Cinerina’s Best 50 Of The Decade: The 2000’s” for more.

Jeffrey Chen, Window to the Movies:

It’s probably too tough to say which movies were the “best” of the decade, and everyone’s answers would be quite varied anyway. I would prefer to call such a list my favorite movies of the decade. My personal top five are:

1. There Will Be Blood (for one of the best movie characters written and portrayed)
2. Spider-Man (for the pure joy it gave me)
3. Up (my favorite title from a studio that has bottled creative success)
4. The Fog of War (for my fascination with human behavior — the analysis of the cost of destructive impulses on a national level)
5. The Prestige (for my fascination with human behavior — the cost of destructive impulses on an individual level)

See “Favorites of the Decade 2000 through 2009” for more.

Robert Humanick, Slant Magazine:

No film this decade penetrated deeper into our collective human desires than Wong Kar-wai’s ravishing In the Mood for Love< /i>, although David Lynch’s tragic Hollywood romance Mulholland Drive came close, with gonzo head-trip to spare. Terrence Malick, Sofia Coppola and Michael Mann wrestled with their worlds existentially, sensually and euphorically in The New World, Lost in Translation, and Miami Vice, while David Fincher bravely stared down the intoxicating rabbit hole of the unknowable in Zodiac. Steven Spielberg’s masterpiece Artificial Intelligence was doomed to confound most on first sight; ditto the pop profundity of the Wachowski Brothers’ marvelously realized Speed Racer. Lastly, few films this or any decade can rival the bittersweet reflections of Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, and for those craving pure chaotic upheaval, nothing satiated more than the inflammatory surrealistic firebomb Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters.

Mike McGranaghan, Aisle Seat:

When you see about 200 movies a year, it’s hard to choose just ten as the best of a decade; the fear is always there that one will be missed. That said, there are a few films from the time period that come to my mind quickly as being among the best. In no particular order:

Juno, for the truthfulness of its emotions
Requiem for a Dream, for sheer cinematic innovation
United 93, for giving a new perspective on a true-life event
The Dark Knight, for proving commercial genre movies can also be art
Precious, for dealing with the toughest of subjects in a head-on manner

And while it may not technically be one of the “best” movies of the decade, one of my favorites was Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, which brought my 30-year obsession with George Lucas’s sci-fi epic full circle.

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