Despite the excessive sequels, remakes, reboots and re-imaginings that we were given this decade, the aughts have brought us many more good things in film. From amazing individual performances to sweeping, epic storytelling, film soared to new highs in the ’00s. After much deliberation, here are the top 50 films of the decade (well, 55 if you count all the films in the two full trilogies and one two-parter we included). Here are the top 10:
10. “WALL-E”: Pixar’s string of home runs reached a whole new level
with this cute little robot. Though the latter half of the film gets a
bit bogged down with “the message,” the nearly silent first half is an
9. “Almost Famous”: Cameron Crowe’s autobiographic examination
of the rock star psyche is also a charming coming-of-age tale. “Famous”
is one of the most rewatchable and quotable films of the decade, but at
its center are heartfelt performances from Billy Crudup, Patrick Fugit
and Kate Hudson.
8. “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”: When the Coen brothers applied
their razor-sharp wit and over-the-top characters to create a
twang-tinged, toe-tapping twist on the epic tale of “The Odyssey,” The
results were impressively seamless. The combination of eye-popping
images and highly quotable dialogue helps this historical comedy hold
up against the writing and directing duo’s more serious cinematic
7. “Pan’s Labyrinth”: Guillermo Del Toro’s fantasy epic is a dark,
emotionally charged movie made possible by glorious set pieces,
enchanting cinematography, lush makeup and costumes, masterful puppetry
and above all, spot-on performances. The film is a powerful
representation of not just mythology but Spanish culture as well.
Despite the terror of the faun and the pale man, these images are no
6. “City of God”: If the test of a great film is the amount of
reaction it induces in a viewer, “Cidade de Deus (City of God)” is
truly great. Depicting the violent growth of gangs and organized crime
in Brazil, the film follows Li’l Ze, one of the most ruthlessly
depraved characters in film history, as he amasses control over the
city by killing all who stand in his path. “City” is like a war movie
but with children in place of soldiers.
5. “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”: The beauty of Michel
Gondry’s sci-fi love story, besides the strong performances from leads
Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet, is that it holds up to multiple viewings,
as the chronologically backward narrative begins to make more sense and
the attention to detail in storytelling can be more fully appreciated.
4. “There Will Be Blood”: In a crowded year for American masterpieces,
director Paul Thomas Anderson churned out what is almost certainly his
finest work yet with 2007’s “Blood.” Loosely based on the novel “Oil!”
by Upton Sinclair, the film could have been a mere vehicle for Daniel
Day-Lewis to deliver his most emotive performance ever, but instead it
is a beautiful, tragic and subtle piece of cinema.
3. “Inglourious Basterds”: Quentin Tarantino hits the mark in his
magnum opus, combining genres, cinematic throwbacks, complex narratives
and lots of violence to make one of the best movies of his career.
Enhancing the airtight production is Brad Pitt’s ability to spin his
quirkiness into Lt. Aldo Raine, Melanie Laurent’s fierce portrayal of a
vengeance-minded French Jew, and of course, Christoph Waltz’s brilliant
performance as the bloodthirsty “Jew Hunter” Col. Hans Landa.
2. “The Dark Knight”: The second installment of Christopher Nolan’s
Batman series was able to achieve what the Marvel movies had been
attempting the entire decade: bringing the superhero movie to the
common moviegoer. Staying true to the comics, Nolan perfectly pitted
the morality of a vigilante Batman against the responsibility of
defending the city.
1. “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy: A breakthrough in filmmaking, a cultural landmark and one of the few adaptations to be praised by critics, mainstream audiences and fans of the original work alike, “Rings” did it all, including snagging a Best Picture Oscar for “Return of the King,” an unheard of achievement in the fantasy genre. Massive in scope and scale, Jackson’s vision sets the standard for movie adaptations. From the screenplay to the acting to the cinematography to the effects and even the marketing, this franchise was flawlessly executed and truly ushered in the era of geek movies.