Wednesday, 16 June 2010

My top 10 films of the 2000s...

It struck me the other day that I haven't picked my list of the top 10 films of the last decade (2000-2009). Therefore, here is a list of my favourite films of the last ten years. Note that these are the ones I enjoy the most rather than the "most significant". These films have affected me the most emotionally and given me the most pleasure over repeat viewings. There is certainly a Hollywood dominance over this list with all but two of the films being from the US. There are two Charlie Kaufman screenplays in there and two films at least co-written by Noah Baumbach.

However, the main thing I've noticed from this list is that (with the possible exception of one or two films) all these movies have protagonists many have described as unlikeable. I suppose I like flawed characters, often socially awkward, damaged people. There are plenty of them in this list from Leonardo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes to Adam Sandler as Barry Egan.

Anyway, here they are:

10) The Aviator
Martin Scorsese/USA/2004

Controversially, this is my favourite Scorsese film. DiCaprio is great as Hughes in this humanistic, non-judgemental portrait of a flawed genius now best known as a reclusive freak. There is more subtlety here than I usually associate with Scorsese (or Michael Mann who produced the film and started the project) with a detailed and slow development of Hughes' ticks and eccentricities. Also, the film is replete with immaculate period detail.

9) A Serious Man
Joel and Ethan Coen/USA/2009

A slow burner this one. I was unsure after my first viewing of this Coen Brothers' film. However, after seeing it a second time it went straight to the top of last years "best of" poll. Stage actor Michael Stuhlbarg is great in the central role as Larry Gopnik in this rich and funny film which is probably the duo's most cerebral since 'Barton Fink'.

8) Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Michel Gondry/USA/2004

A brilliant screenplay which has a lot to say (as you'd expect from Charlie Kaufman) about memory, regret and human relationships. As with all Kaufman films, there is much to be sad about and plenty of bleak, somewhat depressing ideas, but the conclusion is hopeful and beautiful. The second Kaufman screenplay directed by Michel Gondry, this film is certainly an improvement on the 2001 film 'Human Nature' (which is very good, but not great).

7) Spirited Away
Hayao Miyazaki/Japan/2001

The only animation on this list, this Japanese film from Hayao Miyazaki proved that Studio Ghibli are at least as good as Pixar in terms of being the best animators in the world today. Joe Hisaishi's score is genius and compliments a really heart-warming human story in an imaginative fantasy context.

6) The Dark Knight
Christopher Nolan/USA/2008

Easily the most exciting blockbuster of the last decade, Christopher Nolan's Batman sequel is an intelligent summer movie with a top ensemble cast and jaw-dropping stunts. If Nolan makes another Batman it will easily be the film I am most excited about seeing. I'm even excited about the Superman film he is producing!

5) The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
Wes Anderson/USA/2004

All of Wes Anderson's 00's output could be on this list (but I thought that's be boring) so I struggled and chose this one because I probably find myself quoting it the most. Plus, it's really emotional at times and Murray is great as Zissou.

4) Happy-Go-Lucky
Mike Leigh/UK/2008

Mike Leigh really did something special with this one (which I wrote about recently on this blog). A terrific character study from Sally Hawkins as Poppy in a film which is as much an allegory for differing philosophies on education as anything else.

3) The Squid and the Whale
Noah Baumbach/USA/2005

I recently reviewed Noah Baumbach's latest film 'Greenberg', but before I loved that film I loved 'The Squid and the Whale'. Baumbach co-wrote 'The Life Aquatic' with Wes Anderson and Anderson returned the favour by producing this film which is note perfect in its depiction of the relationship between Jeff Daniels and Jesse Eisenberg as a pretentious father and his admiring son.

2) Adaptation
Spike Jonze/USA/2002

Before the recent films 'Kick-Ass' and Herzog's 'Bad Lieutenant' Nicolas Cage's last film to be proud of was this Spike Jonze/Charlie Kaufman (again) film in which he plays the author and his fictitious twin brother "Donald". Brian Cox is just as great in an almost film-stealing role as a screenplay writer giving a seminar on the craft. His character perfectly sums up artistic pretension (something done less well in the Kaufman directed 'Synechdoche, New York' in 2008). Also, Donald's monlogue near the end moves me to tears every time.

1) Punch-Drunk Love
Paul Thomas Anderson/USA/2002

I won't write anymore about this film as I am always going on about it. Here is my detailed retrospective look from a few weeks back.

Honourable mentions got to the following films which almost made the list. In no particular order here are 15 other great films from the last decade:
Grizzly Man (2005)
Lilo & Stitch (2002)
Up (2009)
There Will be Blood (2007)
No Country for Old Men (2007)
The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
Y tu mamá también (2001)
Humpday (2009)
Amelie (2001)
City of God (2002)
Team America: World Police (2004)
Runnin' Down a Dream (2007)
The Motorcycle Diaries (2004)
This is England (2006)
In Bruges (2008)


  1. shame on you. No Michael Mann?

  2. Do a list like this on your blog, then we could podcast about it. No?