In Contention


Guy’s top 50 of the decade: #1-10

Posted by Guy Lodge · 1:29 pm · January 6th, 2010

Maribel Verdu in Y tu Mama TambienAnd then there were ten.

Before I wrap up the list that I’ve trickled out over the last five days, I suppose I should write a few words on the decade that was. I entered the 2000s as a 16 year-old boy in Johannesburg who thought he knew a lot about movies. I left it as a 26 year-old man in London who knows a lot more than he did then — but realizes that he knows a lot less. There is still so much to see that I’ve barely touched upon — from this past decade alone.

Probably no filmgoing decade in my lifetime will be as crucial to me as the one that passed, in terms of the shift and growth in my sense of how to read (and write) film.

I may have already known that I loved movies, but in the 2000s I gained a sharper sense of how to love them, what I really respond to in a film — and the 50 titles gathered here (along with many, many others) helped fine-tune that notion.

With that kind of personal learning curve attached to the decade, it’s hard to stand back and judge how it might stack against previous ones; strong, weak or average, it’ll always feel like my decade. As I compiled the list, however, did arrive at the conclusion that it started better than it finished. Sheer mathematics supports this personal view — the top 10 films I’m about to reveal all landed in the decade’s first half, and I don’t think that’s merely down to the advantage of distance.

One brand-new film, for example, could have broken that pattern in the top 10 — which is where I’d like to hand some sort of special citation to my #1 film of 2009, Claire Denis’s “White Material.” In my first draft of the list, it slid comfortably in at #9.

But after due consideration, I decided that, while could afford to be cheeky with my 2009 list, it would be cheating to put a film no one has yet seen outside of a festival environment in a survey of the decade’s greatest. If you’re not bothered by that, feel free to mentally adjust the list; otherwise, the “best of the 2010s” honors start here.

And with that, the Top 10:

#10

Spirited Away

“SPIRITED AWAY”
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki, 2002

After a decade that has seen such bold formal leaps in the medium of animation, I surprised myself a little by finding room for only one such film in the list. But for me, even the most sophisticated of Pixar’s works can’t compete with the storytelling breadth, and loopy visual extravagance, of Miyazaki’s new-standard fairytale. Narratively knotty where even more adult-oriented fantasy seeks short cuts, “Spirited Away” channels Lewis Carroll and “The Wizard of Oz” while remaining, surely and strangely, itself.

#9

Amores Perros

“AMORES PERROS”
Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu, 2000

For Iñárritu and writer Guillermo Arriaga, the repetition – to ever more complicated structural effect – of this film’s triptych narrative form through “21 Grams” and “Babel” reaped slightly diminishing returns. That, however, is no reason not to marvel at the density and dexterity of its execution in this sucker-punch of a debut. The key to its success lies in the wildly differing tonal and emotional textures of its three stories, spanning mournful character study, cruel social satire and fizzing urban thriller.

#8

Uma Thurman and Lucy Liu in Kill Bill Vol. 1

“KILL BILL VOL. 1”
Directed by Quentin Tarantino, 2003

A rollicking feat of high-wire filmmaking that has no right to work, and yet arrogantly, deliciously does: this in spite of a story that was seemingly plotted on a couple of dayglo Post-It notes, without so much as the courtesy of an ending. (Yes, yes, we get there in Vol. 2, and you know what? It’s not as much fun.) But the set pieces are so masterful as to render such technicalities trivial, while Uma Thurman’s graceful, ferocious and hilariously humorless Bride is a vital film-carrying creation.

#7

Gael Garcia Bernal and Maribel Verdu in Y tu Mama Tambien

“Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN”
Directed by Alfonso Cuarón, 2002

Between this film, “Children of Men” and the only “Harry Potter” film with an ounce of directorial personality, Cuarón undoubtedly enjoyed one of the most intriguing decades of any filmmaker. His masterpiece, however, lies in his most modest effort, a teen comedy with all the empathy, human interest and joyful dirtiness that tag so rarely promises. Breaks your heart when you least expect it, and then does it all over again in one of the most quietly shattering final scenes in all cinema.

#6

Nicole Kidman in Birth

“BIRTH”
Directed by Jonathan Glazer, 2004

Shamefully dismissed by critics upon its release, Glazer’s magnificently disconcerting psychological thriller represented a creative quantum leap from his more acclaimed debut “Sexy Beast.” Nicole Kidman’s monumental, career-best performance deserves its own tribute, but it’s only of a piece with the pristine craft on display here, from the minty chill of Harris Savides’ lensing to the hypnotic swirls of Alexandre Desplat’s score. It all comes to a head in that opera sequence, a small cinematic miracle in itself.

#5

Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

“ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND”
Directed by Michel Gondry, 2004

Regular readers will agree that any film that can unite Kris, Chad and me in agreement (hell, even a few Oscar voters, too) has got to be packing some special sauce. And “special” this bittersweet tale of hearts lost and found is, fleshing out the cold formal genius of its story architecture with a joyfully candid expression of what it means to be in love in the real world – or otherwise. Clever but never remote, fanciful but never fey, with two lead performances their creators will be lucky to surpass.

#4

Dancer in the Dark

“DANCER IN THE DARK”
Directed by Lars von Trier, 2000

The soaring high point of a productive decade for modern cinema’s most brazen experimenter, “Dancer in the Dark” put forth the most aggressive reimagining of the thematic boundaries of screen musicals since “Cabaret” 28 years before it. Foreshadowing the concerns of American community the outsider that would take hold in “Dogville” three years later, von Trier makes a stunning virtue of their incongruence with his lavish, ecstatic production numbers, aided immeasurably by the naïve wonder that is Björk.

#3

Talk to Her

“TALK TO HER”
Directed by Pedro Almodóvar, 2002

Spanish-language cinema has been in notably rude health this decade, but its crowning achievement was also that of a comfortably established auteur. At once comfortable in its impeccable polishing of long-practised manners of mise-en-scène, yet restlessly inquisitive about its own social, sexual and sensual statements, this is the emphatically identifiable work of an artist at the peak of his powers, a status since borne out by the soft, if not unenjoyable, slide towards “Broken Embraces.” Let’s see what the next decade brings.

#2

Rachael Blake in Lantana

“LANTANA”
Directed by Ray Lawrence, 2001

Oh, how I was tempted to console the commenters concerned that “Jindabyne” would be loris-like British-Australian director Ray Lawrence’s only entry in the Top 50. Just imagine if he deigned to make more than one film a blue moon. Would he maintain the searing insight and intensity of this rich, rewardingly tangled domestic thriller? A film that feeds not just my filmgoing passions, but my writing ones, too: a well-thumbed copy Andrew Bovell’s screenplay has a permanent place on my bedside table.

#1

Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor in Moulin Rouge!

“MOULIN ROUGE!”
Directed by Baz Luhrmann, 2001

What do they teach people Down Under? Luhrmann’s unruly, unhinged and thoroughly rhapsodic cinematic burlesque has rewarded me with more replay value than any film of the last ten years. If its overwhelming visual and sonic design keeps finding new ways to take your breath away before you’ve regained it, the sweet, giddy sincerity of its dime-store romance gives it a simple human core. A one-of-a-kind film that inspires a little more belief in it – and its corny, unimpeachable values – every single time I see it.

And there you have it. I only just noticed how nicely my #1 and #50 picks bookend each other stylistically, and I’m rather content with that. Thanks for your lovely response to my musings, but if you missed any of the write-ups, here are #41-50, #31-40, #21-30 and #11-20. Finally, in full, my top 50 films of the 2000s:

1. “Moulin Rouge!”
2. “Lantana”
3. “Talk to Her”
4. “Dancer in the Dark”
5. “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”
6. “Birth”
7. “Y tu mama tambien”
8. “Kill Bill Vol. 1″
9. “Amores Perros”
10. “Spirited Away”
11. “Far From Heaven”
12. “Before Night Falls”
13. “Time Out”
14. “Morvern Callar”
15. “Mulholland Drive”
16. “Dogville”
17. “Caché”
18. “This Is England”
19. “Heaven”
20. “Junebug”
21. “Brokeback Mountain”
22. “The Class”
23. “Beau Travail”
24. “In the Mood for Love”
25. “Jindabyne”
26. “No Country for Old Men”
27. “Once”
28. “Spider”
29. “The Departed”
30. “Wolf Creek”
31. “Last Resort”
32. “Wendy and Lucy”
33. “There Will Be Blood”
34. “Fish Tank”
35. “The Bourne Ultimatum”
36. “A Prophet”
37. “Moolaadé”
38. “Me and You and Everyone We Know”
39. “Intimacy”
40. “The Good Girl”
41. “The Hurt Locker”
42. “The Beat That My Heart Skipped”
43. “Lust, Caution”
44. “Iraq in Fragments”
45. “Jesus’ Son”
46. “Japanese Story”
47. “Saraband”
48. “City of God”
49. “Zoolander”
50. “Devdas”




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104 responses so far

  • 1 1-06-2010 at 1:35 pm

    Fitz said...

    I feel bad I haven’t seen 6 of your top 10. Very interesting assortment and I also have Eternal Sunshine at 5 on my countdown too.

    http://nevermindpopfilm.blogspot.com/2009/12/best-of-decade.html

  • 2 1-06-2010 at 1:37 pm

    Chad Hartigan said...

    Happy to see three top 10 overlaps. Great minds think alike!

  • 3 1-06-2010 at 1:37 pm

    cineJAB said...

    Guy I gave Birth a chance a few weeks ago and was blown away. Margot at the Wedding wasn’t bad either, and Dogville’s next on my list.

  • 4 1-06-2010 at 1:44 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Chad: All that … and Zoolander. Hurray for consensus!

    Just checked out your list today, now that I’m finally free of my own, and it’s great stuff. So many titles that almost made the cut for me.

  • 5 1-06-2010 at 1:45 pm

    Nigel Bridgeman said...

    Wow, I didn’t see Moulin Rouge! coming. I figured it was going to be another film I hadn’t seen (there are a lot of them in this list of 50 – I’ve only seen 18 of them).

    I can’t believe that I totally forgot Spirited Away in my top 24.

  • 6 1-06-2010 at 1:50 pm

    Chad Hartigan said...

    I took the liberty of combining Guys list with mine and Kris’s. A bit imbalanced since Kris only did 10, Guy did 50 and I did 100 but assuming Tapley’s honorable mentions count as a tie at #11, this would be our collective list (appearing on at least two of three being a must)

    10. Wendy and Lucy
    9. Punch-Drunk Love
    8. A.I.: Artificial Intelligence
    7. Cache
    6. Moulin Rouge!
    5. There Will Be Blood
    4. Dogville
    3. Y tu Mama Tambien
    2. Dancer in the Dark
    1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

  • 7 1-06-2010 at 1:52 pm

    Miguel said...

    Hi Guy, excellent list, I think is one of the most personal “decade best” lists I have read so far. I love the fact that two of the films in your top 10 where Mexican (I’m Mexican by the way) and that you made room for even some films that weren’t really the critics favorite choice (aka. Zoolander). I really enjoyed reading your list thru the week and can’t wait to see various of the films you mentioned. I have just a question: why didn’t you include Pan’s Labyrinth nor Babel? Hope you can answer my doubt.

  • 8 1-06-2010 at 1:55 pm

    Joel said...

    Guy, you’ll be mad at me and then happy with me two seconds later.

    I’ve never seen “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.” It was one whose greatness I doubted, even in the face of raves, due to a scathing review that a friend gave it. You know how it goes, I’m sure: a friend hates it, while critics love it, but you don’t see it because of the friend.

    Well, now that you’re mad at me, you’ll be glad to know that my brother, thinking I’d seen it and loved it, bought it for me as a gift for Christmas. My plan is to watch it this Friday as a reward for finishing Wintermester at my college. I’ll let you know what I think. :) I’m a Kaufman fan as of very recently, due to “Synecdoche, New York” being among the most haunting and perplexing films I’ve ever seen, so I count him as a great filmmaker, much like you, Kris, and Chad obviously do.

  • 9 1-06-2010 at 1:55 pm

    Ross said...

    That top 10 list is fantastic. I think pretty much all of those films would at the very least hit my top 50, most top 20 and at least half my own top 10. And I must admit I’m THRILLED to see Lantana there!

    Nice work.

  • 10 1-06-2010 at 1:58 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    In case you didn’t see Chad’s list:

    http://chadhartigan.wordpress.com/2009/12/31/best-films-of-the-decade-part-five/

  • 11 1-06-2010 at 1:59 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Oh and here’s a question: Did you have as much weird trouble finding a decent Moulin Rouge! photo as I did?

  • 12 1-06-2010 at 2:00 pm

    Maxim said...

    This list confirms everything I ever thought about your tastes, Guy.

  • 13 1-06-2010 at 2:01 pm

    Joel said...

    Oh and by the way, you somehow linked Chad’s 11-20 on your 11-20. Just thought I’d let you know.

  • 14 1-06-2010 at 2:02 pm

    Miguel said...

    Just one more question…where’s almost famous???

  • 15 1-06-2010 at 2:03 pm

    bill said...

    kris can you link us to your top 10?

  • 16 1-06-2010 at 2:05 pm

    kid said...

    It’s funny how you were a sixteen year old who thought you knew about film going into last decade, since I’ a sixteen year old entering this decade, I hope this one will be as monumental for me as it was for you. I tried to make a top ten list myself but it seems so unnecessary considering how little films I’ve seen that are on your list. If you have any interest in seeing it it’s here http://enoughtobeabuff.blogspot.com/2010/01/not-quite-best-of-decade-list-part-2.html

  • 17 1-06-2010 at 2:06 pm

    Aleksis said...

    Moulin Rouge! is a hideous mess, like all Lurhmann’s films. Why bother when Gene Kelly & various collaborators had far surpassed what he attempts in MR fifty years earlier?

    Dancer in the Dark is another horrible choice.

    I like 10, 9, 7, & 3. I used to love Eternal Sunshine but after rewatching all his films I’m convinced Charlie Kaufman – though clever and interesting – can’t write a decent piece of dialogue to save his life.

  • 18 1-06-2010 at 2:07 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Kris: YES. It took forever to find one even halfway usable. What’s up with that? I thought I’d have scores to choose from.

  • 19 1-06-2010 at 2:10 pm

    Clayton said...

    Interesting, given the arty bend (certainly nothing wrong with that) of most of Guy’s choices, how a really goofy, over-the-top melodrama with a serious case of ADD tops the list. So his favourite film of all time is Gone With The Wind, and his favourite of the decade Moulin Rouge. Curiouser and curiouser.

    That said, most of the films on the list would probably qualify as “mainstream art films”, so it’s nowhere near as obscure as some lists I’ve seen. But rest assured that next decade’s list will probably feature more lesser-known films. Guy will keep digging, as it were.

  • 20 1-06-2010 at 2:21 pm

    Jameson said...

    It’s so lovely to see Birth placed that high. I still find it baffling as to why it was torn apart by so many upon it’s release.

    It’s a small, quiet masterpiece in my book.

  • 21 1-06-2010 at 2:21 pm

    TWC said...

    GUY OMG I couldn’t agree with you more when you said that moulin rouge, ” has rewarded me with more replay value than any film of the last ten years.”

    Though I don’t know you I can tell you for sure we have a connection….LOL …even if it’s just moulin rouge.

    I have been obsessed with the movie since I first saw it. So obsessed I’ve thrown it away twice and bought it back twice. I know it sounds crazy but this movie has defintley had a lasting impact on my life and the stunning visual brilliance (and everything else this movie encompasses) that it is keeps calling me back to watch again and again. WOW GREAT CHOICE!

  • 22 1-06-2010 at 2:25 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Chad: For the most part, I can totally get with that combined list.

    Miguel: Glad you like the list so much. As for “Babel,” “Pan’s Labyrinth” and “Almost Famous,” I’ll be here forever if I detail why this or that film made the cut. Suffice to say I find the first two films problematic, though I still like them. “Almost Famous” I like a great deal but, well, 50 films is quite a small number.

    Joel: I envy you the chance to discover “Ternal Sunshine” with fresh eyes. In future, don’t listen to friends or critics. Just trust your instincts. (Oh, and the link is corrected. Thanks.)

    Maxim: I assume you don’t mean that in a good way.

    Aleksis: Because, for better or worse, he’s not attempting remotely the same thing that Kelly, Donen, et al were?

    Clayton: It’s others who have been calling the list obscure, not me! Personally, I don’t really take into into account the visibility of a film when I include it — I like what I like.

  • 23 1-06-2010 at 2:26 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    TWC: That doesn’t sound crazy. What’s crazy is that you threw it away twice!

  • 24 1-06-2010 at 2:28 pm

    Patryk said...

    Just wish “United 93″ made your list. For personal reasons, this film is the most important film of the decade. And personal reasons put aside, I still believe it to be one of the 10 best of the decate.

  • 25 1-06-2010 at 2:31 pm

    Adam Smith said...

    I’ve got to say, Guy, I am very surprised by your choice for number 1. But I can also say I’m absolutely delighted. Luhrmann’s film truly tests the audience for the first 15 minutes, but it’s built like a brilliant pop song, in the way it completely breaks through your defenses. I can always remember loving it, but rewatching it in the past month, I was in tears for about the first 5 or 10 minutes. It’s a very powerful experience, absolutely fearless.

    Also so glad to see Dancer in the Dark rank so high–Bjork’s is one of the finest performances of the decade, for my money.

    Lantana is the only one on your list I haven’t seen yet. Suffice it to say this is going on my Netflix queue right about…now.

  • 26 1-06-2010 at 2:31 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Patryk: Well, I wouldn’t (and couldn’t) dare argue with your personal reasons. But to be quite honest, I don’t much care for the film, immaculately crafted as it is.

  • 27 1-06-2010 at 2:32 pm

    Mr. F said...

    I totally did not see Moulin Rouge as your number one. I’m happy it is because I did not think there was anyone out there but me who would put it in that place.

  • 28 1-06-2010 at 2:35 pm

    Arlo said...

    What is it about Birth that keeps appearing on top lists and was dismissed when it came out? I guess I need to see it!

    Big fan of these choices though. Seeing Spirited Away in the theater is still one of my favorite movie-going experiences. Hadn’t seen a Miyazaki film before that.

  • 29 1-06-2010 at 2:37 pm

    Jim T said...

    Moulin Rouge!! In my top5 of the dacade for sure!

  • 30 1-06-2010 at 2:42 pm

    Chris138 said...

    Glad to see the mentions for Amores Perros and Y Tu Mama Tambien. I’d include both of those in my best of the decade list as well.

  • 31 1-06-2010 at 2:43 pm

    MattyD said...

    Guy, I love you. I absolutely love how much attention “Moulin Rouge!” is getting in all of these end-of-the-decade lists. And your #1 is a match to mine, and I couldn’t have put the reasons why more eloquently. Bravo.

  • 32 1-06-2010 at 2:45 pm

    Shelby said...

    Yay for Moulin Rouge. One of the very few DVD’s I’ve ever purchased…

  • 33 1-06-2010 at 2:49 pm

    Michael said...

    I wish Bjork did not have the reported meltdown while filming Dancer in the Dark and did not have such a bad relationship with Lars Von Trier b/c she is such an amazing actress that would have done great work if this film (and the Juniper Tree) are any indication. Oh well, at least she is an amazing musician and I look forward to every new album, music video, and tour that she does.

  • 34 1-06-2010 at 2:50 pm

    Michael said...

    Oh and I love your list Guy, there is about a 20 film crossover with my top 50 which is pretty damn good.

  • 35 1-06-2010 at 2:53 pm

    Patryk said...

    Nicole Kidman and Gael Garcia Bernal both make 2 appearances in the top 10. I must revisit both “Birth” and “Moulin Rouge” ASAP…

  • 36 1-06-2010 at 2:57 pm

    Patryk said...

    I might add that there is “a short wait” for “Lantana” on my Netflix queue right now!

  • 37 1-06-2010 at 3:01 pm

    Joel said...

    Guy: I learned not to wholly judge my opinion on critics’ a hell of a long time ago. :P Good advice, though, definitely. I think I’m the only one on this sight who loved “Fantastic Mr. Fox” so much as to award it a higher spot on my Top Ten of 2009 than “Up” (which didn’t make the list, by the way). For “Eternal Sunshine,” it was during a time where I, horribly and wrongly, DID judge my opinion on other critics’ or other people’s, something I now find to be ridiculous, i.e. hating “The Blind Side” when so many of my friends loved it or loving “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” when critics slammed it.

    Don’t mean to go on a rant here, but here goes: I’m not the critic I was in 2008, or even last March. Any other year, I would have praised “Avatar” as being the greatest thing to happen to movies ever OMG, but in truth, I found “District 9″ superior and more worthy. I think this dichotomy was sparked by seeing “Magnolia” this summer, the most haunting and emotionally resonant film ever made, in my opinion (and also the best directorial effort ever). Now I’m more intuitive about what emotions in every film I see are real and what aren’t. Another example: “Invictus.” In 2008, I would’ve championed it; in 2009, I thought it was sort of solid with great performances, but rather spineless and overly sappy.

    Guy, if I might ask, what was your “Magnolia” moment? Yours, Kris? Yours, Chad? Just curious.

  • 38 1-06-2010 at 3:01 pm

    Chad Hartigan said...

    Lantana almost made my list. I remember liking it very much in 2001 but in honesty, I couldn’t remember a thing about it. Even watching the trailer failed to trigger much so I couldn’t in good conscience include it.

  • 39 1-06-2010 at 3:06 pm

    Lev Lewis said...

    I’m starting to feel very alone in my dislike for “Moulin Rouge!”. All my favourite writers love it, and I just don’t understand why. Oh well. I was quite shocked to see it as your number one, though.

    Anyways, totally interesting list, Guy. “Lantana” was already one I knew I needed to see, but thanks for the reminder.

  • 40 1-06-2010 at 3:14 pm

    Billyboy said...

    Never thought of you as a Kill Bill-Moulin Rouge kind of guy…

    Oh, and it’s the first time in my life I read about a film called “Lantana”. Can’t wait to see that!

    Great top 50, Guy. Thanks for sharing.

  • 41 1-06-2010 at 3:18 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    bill: Here’s my list:

    http://incontention.com/?p=19637

  • 42 1-06-2010 at 3:19 pm

    a-mad said...

    Love that Moulin Rouge is tops… and appreciate the high placing of Eternal Sunshine…but…

    No Pixar in your top 50?

  • 43 1-06-2010 at 3:21 pm

    Raffi said...

    Okay, some excellent choices in the final 10 (Kill Bill, Sunshine, Amorres Perros).

    But I can’t forgive the omission of BEFORE SUNSET from the entire list. =(

  • 44 1-06-2010 at 3:22 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Joel: Good question. To be honest, I had a bit of a “Magnolia moment” myself when I saw that very film in my last year of high school.

    But my pivotal moviegoing moment happened a lot earlier. When I was 11, my parents took me to see “Three Colours: Red,” and from the opening shot, it blew my mind. I was into movies well before then, but that made me see them in a new way.

  • 45 1-06-2010 at 3:24 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    A-Mad: No, no Pixar. “WALL-E” would be closest (but probably still not that close).

    Raffi: I love “Before Sunset.” It was THIS close to the top 50 … cutting the list down was heartbreaking.

  • 46 1-06-2010 at 3:27 pm

    Me. said...

    Rock on on “Spirited Away”, “Kill Bill Vol. 1″, “Talk to Her” and “Eternal Sunshine”. Amazing movies. Amazing choices.

  • 47 1-06-2010 at 3:32 pm

    timr said...

    Well, I guessed your #1, which is a movie I dearly wish I loved as much as everyone else. But #2 blindsided me — at the moment I think I prefer Jindabyne, but this is reason enough to take another look. And I heartily echo your thoughts on #8, which is certainly my favourite Tarantino movie of the decade. It’s a brave pick, that — my favourite from your list that’s not on mine (though it maybe should be). Obviously, #3, #5, #6, #7 and #9 need no further defending — wonderful all.

  • 48 1-06-2010 at 3:51 pm

    N8 said...

    “Spirited Away” and “Moulin Rouge!” both crack my top ten too. Well done.

  • 49 1-06-2010 at 3:52 pm

    Robert Hamer said...

    Wow, a very admirable top ten, let’s see what you chose for number 1…NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!

  • 50 1-06-2010 at 3:53 pm

    Chad Hartigan said...

    Joel- My Magnolia moment was probably with “All the Real Girls in 2003.

    And Magnolia is not a directorial debut. Watch Hard Eight and Boogie Nights for more pure genius.

  • 51 1-06-2010 at 3:59 pm

    Cezar said...

    Glad to see so many Australian films peppered throughout the fifty.

    Really enjoyed your list and have a lot of watching to do. Thanks Guy!

  • 52 1-06-2010 at 4:03 pm

    Joel said...

    Chad: I didn’t say “debut”; I said “effort” in general. For me, as far as directorial choices overall in a film, “Magnolia” is unequaled. And I’ve been meaning to rent “All the Real Girls” for a while. I need to remedy this now.

  • 53 1-06-2010 at 4:04 pm

    Jim T said...

    Joel didn’t say Magnolia was a debut. Why did I find this important enough to comment on? :p

    Anyway, I want to thank Kris, Guy and Chad for their lists. Very interesting. It’s especially interesting and weird when I see some movies being in at least two of these lists and I have no idea what they are!

  • 54 1-06-2010 at 4:10 pm

    Erik 815 said...

    Really pleased to see ‘Birth’ and ‘Lantana’ on the list, two films that I have rewatched often since they first came out.

    ‘Birth’ was butchered by a lot of critics who did not understand it, and mistook it for a straight drama, when the director himself called it a fairy tale, except this one takes place in big expensive penthouses with upper class New Yorkers, who operate almost like a cult, and aim to mold the emotionally very unstable Anna into a good submissive trophy wife, while she tries to cling to a fantasy of an idealized husband (who was also sort of a dick). Much was made of Kidman’s ‘Mia Farrow’-haircut; try watching the enf of Rosemary’s Baby and then watching ‘Birth’ right after.

    That’s my interpretation anyway. Part of the allure of believing the kid was her husband was because it was the only realy escape from the life she was about to commit to. I’ll avoid major spoilers, but in the end the question “Was the kid Sean or not?” ends up being almost incidental to the actual story, which is entirely about Kidman’s character and what it is she loses or is cheated out of along the way.

    Oh, right, also: everyone see ‘Lantana’!

  • 55 1-06-2010 at 4:11 pm

    Chad Hartigan said...

    Indeed. I misread you Joel

  • 56 1-06-2010 at 4:17 pm

    Holden said...

    Not my top ten, but a good list.

    15. Paranoid Park (2008)
    14. Persepolis (2007)
    13. Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
    12. Slumdog Millionaire (2007)
    11. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
    10. The Departed
    9. Shattered Glass (2003)
    8. Elephant (2003)
    7. The Lord of the Rings (2001-2003)
    6. Traffic (2000)
    5. Memento (2001)
    4. Into the Wild (2007)
    3. Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
    2.The Dark Knight (2008)
    1. Once (2007)

  • 57 1-06-2010 at 4:20 pm

    M said...

    Wow haven’t seen so many of thsoe in your top 10, interesting list, makes me learn more about what’s out there.

  • 58 1-06-2010 at 4:27 pm

    BDM said...

    Your awesomeness went up by 110% the moment you put spirited away in your top 10.

  • 59 1-06-2010 at 5:13 pm

    /3rtfu11 said...

    I’ve never seen Moulin Rouge. I own Dancer In the Dark because I’m a Bjork fan. Screw the pretentious director!

    Mulholland Dr — should’ve been your number one. Best movie of the decade set in Los Angeles.

  • 60 1-06-2010 at 5:14 pm

    Jordan Cronk said...

    Well, I already knew “Yi Yi” wasn’t gonna make it, but I was holding out hope that you’d have a change of heart on that one Guy. Anyway, good stuff all around, and I too was a little surprised to see your #1.

  • 61 1-06-2010 at 5:32 pm

    Eunice said...

    Wow. I was surprised to see ‘Moulin Rouge!’ as your number one. It’s an original choice, really, and I laud you for that.

    I was surprised to see ‘Dancer in the Dark’ in here, but in retrospect, maybe I shouldn’t have been. ‘Dancer’ was the first, and to this day, the only von Trier film that I’ve seen, and in a word it’s haunting–but my goodness was it brillant. A hybrid of drama and musical, and so unlike any movie of the musical genre, it is one that would linger in the minds of many viewers, myself included.

    I was also glad to see ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’ so high up the list. The movie’s writing, acting, cinematography and direction make for a wistful, refreshingly modern love story that warms the heart while getting the brain cells up and running. It remains one of my all-time favorites, and for good reason too, I suppose.

    Also, I’m just glad I saw 3 out the top 5. All in all, great list, Guy.

  • 62 1-06-2010 at 5:47 pm

    Me. said...

    Also Guy, why didn’t “Where the Wild Things Are” appear in the top 50?!

  • 63 1-06-2010 at 5:51 pm

    Me. said...

    Again, here’s my top 15 in alphabetical order:

    “Amélie”
    “Babel”
    “City of God”
    “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”
    “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”
    “Hero”
    “The Lord of the Rings”
    “The Motorcycle Diaries”
    “Pan’s Labyrinth”
    “The Pianist”
    “Spirited Away”
    “Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter …and Spring”
    “The Triplets of Belleville”
    “Volver”
    “Water”

    Honorable Mentions:

    “Almost Famous”
    “Billy Elliot”
    “Chicago”
    “The Dark Knight”
    “The Lives of Others”
    “Talk to Her”

    and there’s plenty plenty more. Great decade.

  • 64 1-06-2010 at 6:07 pm

    R.J. said...

    Your number 6 and number 1 movies have me over-the-moon (and not just because I’m gaga over Nicole Kidman…well that might be a part of it)!

  • 65 1-06-2010 at 6:20 pm

    Pablo (Col) said...

    I have no idea if anyone has already said it but your top 10 is clearly foreign dominated (meaning that its outside UK/US somination).

    I am personally proud of it. The globe is shrinking , and so is the way the inhabitants of a country see the others culture.

    I am also proud that my language, spanish (español sounds better) is very present.

    I would never choose Moulin Rouge as #1 but its nice to see that surprise.

    Would i tbe a bother if i asked for a actors/actresses of the decade list ?

    That would be great. :)

  • 66 1-06-2010 at 6:34 pm

    Earl said...

    Good for you on producing a list. No one will agree with all of it. I think Adaptation is my favorite film of the decade. Actually I hated Moulin Rouge and so does everyone I know. Actors talking in song lyrics?
    Ditto on Junebug. Wolf Creek? Why?
    You might as well pick Saw or any other of the mindless horror crap.
    What about Juno or Little Miss Sunshine or Sideways?

  • 67 1-06-2010 at 7:01 pm

    Nigel Bridgeman said...

    “But my pivotal moviegoing moment happened a lot earlier. When I was 11, my parents took me to see “Three Colours: Red,” and from the opening shot, it blew my mind. I was into movies well before then, but that made me see them in a new way.”

    Totally agree, Guy, except that I was… gee, how old was I? 18 I guess. I saw it with my brother (we saw everything together, lots of art house stuff) and were both blown away by it. That changed everything for me when it comes to movies.

  • 68 1-06-2010 at 7:04 pm

    Andrew said...

    So great to see two Aussie films at the top. Lantana deserved a much better award showing than it had (excepting the Australian Film Institue ones)

  • 69 1-06-2010 at 7:24 pm

    Slayton said...

    I like your list on the whole – although there are many mentions of canonical films that I simply do not get the love for (Yi Yi, In the Mood for Love, Moulin Rouge!, Birth etc). However your mention of Lantana in #2 really surprised me. It’s quite a well-written film with some good performance (my favourites were Kerry Armstrong & Vince Colosimo) but on the whole it just seemed rather monotone and conventional to me. I’m surprised you put it ahead of films like Eternal Sunshine, especially.

  • 70 1-06-2010 at 9:28 pm

    Danny King said...

    Guy, a great conclusion to a great series of articles. I am particularly stunned to find the similarities between your list, Kris’ list, and Chad’s list. Decade lists are as personal as they get, and those types of similarities are symbolic of special films, as well as similar cinematic tastes in some aspects.

  • 71 1-06-2010 at 9:38 pm

    Glenn said...

    Wow. You’ve definitely impressed me, Guy! I didn’t expect “Lantana” and “Moulin Rouge!” (the two best Aussie films of the decade) to take out spots #1 and #2! The “Lantana” inclusion is such a beautiful surprise since it SHOULD be on so many more lists of these kind but some people seem to forget Australia makes movies.

    And the inclusion of “Birth” so high? It’s like you’re making a play for my heart! Plus “Sunshine”, “Dancer”, “Kill Bill”, “Spirited Away” and “Tambien” your top ten is DEFINITELY the best I’ve seen so far. Only “Amores Perros” doesn’t excite me, but it’d be tough to go 10 for 10.

    Amazing stuff. Loved it.

  • 72 1-06-2010 at 10:30 pm

    Ziyad Abul Hawa said...

    WOW! Moulin Rouge! I didn’t expect that AT ALL, totally agree. For me is the #3 movie of the decade (after Amelie and LOTR).

    Love the Spanish movie rudeness.

  • 73 1-07-2010 at 12:01 am

    Al said...

    Didn’t see Lantana figuring so high. Reckon The Boys, also Australian, tops it.

    Great list though. Thanks.

  • 74 1-07-2010 at 12:17 am

    Nigel Bridgeman said...

    The Boys was excellent. David Wenham’s performance is one of the most frightening I’ve ever seen.

    1998 was such a good year for Australian cinema. Surprised The Interview never got more love internationally. Same with Head On.

  • 75 1-07-2010 at 12:49 am

    Nick said...

    Congratulations on putting Moulin Rouge at the top of your list. A film that was ahead of its time and still is…..

  • 76 1-07-2010 at 2:00 am

    FrankieJ said...

    Love the Lars love! Fascinating list. DOGVILLE is my #1.

    http://www.newyorkcool.com/archives/2009/December/film-Frank_J_Avella.htm

  • 77 1-07-2010 at 2:09 am

    Andrew said...

    I don’t like your top 10 at all. Sorry. Birth is such a bad movie. The only people I know that like Birth are the crazy Kidmaniacs. Love Eternal Sunshine though, but not Y Tu Mama También or Amores Perros.

  • 78 1-07-2010 at 2:32 am

    Robert Hamer said...

    I guess I’m a crazy Kidmaniac, then. Not that I’m ashamed of such a label. Quite the opposite.

  • 79 1-07-2010 at 3:30 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    @Slayton: Look closer: “Yi Yi” isn’t on the list. And to be quite honest (lowers voice to a scared whisper), I don’t quite get it either.

  • 80 1-07-2010 at 3:56 am

    the other mike said...

    what a disgusting top 10. I only recognised 2 pictures mentioned, Eternal Sunshine, Kill Bill and a bunch of flicks neither I or regular people saw.

    this is just typical NY/LA centric elitist stuff. No bluckbusters no nothing, i bet Guy was educated at one of those elitist acting schools where everyone watches 60′s french cinema or something.

    PS, just joking, sort of. Goodish list.

  • 81 1-07-2010 at 4:35 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Even accounting for your joking, surely “Moulin Rouge” is a thoroughly mainstream pick.

  • 82 1-07-2010 at 5:00 am

    red_wine said...

    Great list Guy, and finally the only segment I can call kinda mainstream as in it contains widely seen movies. I’m afraid I’ll have to confess I first heard of Lantana through the course of some of the earlier segments. Call me ignorant but I hadn’t even heard of the movie let alone see it. But I’ll remedy that soon.

    I first got high on Pixar after Ratatouille and that was the first Pixar film I had seen. But it was definitely Spirited Away which put forth the notion that animated films can be much more than harmless entertainments. The thing that struck me most about Spirited Away (3 years before my love affair with Pixar began) was that people could write such an elaborate screenplay for an animated film. Needless to say my thoughts are considerably different now. Ghibli and Pixar are now event movies for me.

  • 83 1-07-2010 at 5:28 am

    JFK said...

    Guy, “Birth” is one of the worst films I have ever seen. Right next to the original “13th Floor.” The opening sequence is painful as is the scene in the opera.

    I didn’t hate it because the kid didn’t end up being her husband, I hate it because it was not a well-crafted work.

  • 84 1-07-2010 at 6:04 am

    Andrew said...

    What’s your favourite 2009 film, Guy?

  • 85 1-07-2010 at 6:30 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Andrew: “White Material,” though as I mention in the intro, it’s really a 2010 film.

    Of the films that received U.S. releases in 2009, my favourite is “The Hurt Locker.”

    More details in my Best of 2009 list here.

  • 86 1-07-2010 at 6:34 am

    JoninSTL said...

    Moulin Rouge = The worst piece of crap, bloated, self-important, arrogant movie I have ever had the misfortune of viewing. Too bad you think it is the best.

  • 87 1-07-2010 at 7:10 am

    Mickcke said...

    On a side note: just rewatched Jindabyne and it improved on a 2nd viewing. I know many will disagree with me, but i felt it should have been longer, as there were so many ideas that barely touched the surface.
    Thanks Guy, for selecting so many Australian films. But, there are many more which should track down.
    I’m a great fan of animation and Spirited Away would probably be #1 on my list of the decade. Probably one of the best decade lists i’ve seen.
    Thank you

  • 88 1-07-2010 at 8:43 am

    Harry said...

    are my comments showing up? I’ve tried posting twice but ANWAYS Guy, you’re inclusion of Birth, Moulin Rouge! and Lust, Caution makes me so HAPPY!! I made a top 50 list for my uni paper and it included all three. Now if anyone gives me shit, i have you’re list to guide them too. Props also to Y tu Mama, Mulholland and Spirited Away.

  • 89 1-07-2010 at 9:07 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Harry: Comments with links in them have to be approved before they show up, but I don’t see any of yours in the system. Anyway, you got there eventually!

    Glad my love for those films is shared.

  • 90 1-07-2010 at 10:27 am

    Sawyer said...

    Good list, although I think Lantana is rubbish.

    The most glaring ommission is no Aranofsky in the Top 50. No place for Requiem, The Fountain or The Wrestler?

  • 91 1-07-2010 at 10:32 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    “Requiem for a Dream” was VERY close.

  • 92 1-07-2010 at 11:32 am

    HarryB said...

    Not impressed. I know these things are meant to be subjective but my own subjective opinion is that for the most part Guy’s taste is very middlebrow.

    A lot of perfectly decent films are placing much much higher than they should while truly great works aren’t even mentioned. Too bad.

  • 93 1-07-2010 at 2:48 pm

    Filmoholic said...

    Guy, I’m baffled by the lack of love for Fincher’s Zodiac. And what do you think of Tykwer’s Perfume?

  • 94 1-07-2010 at 3:06 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    I like “Zodiac” very much indeed — it’d certainly be in a Top 100.

    I was distinctly disappointed by “Perfume,” I’m afraid.

  • 95 1-07-2010 at 7:43 pm

    PJ said...

    It’s been a very enjoyable and insightful list, Guy, and I really like how you blended the personal with the analysis. I want to watch the films I haven’t seen even more, which I think is the best compliment I can pay to your wonderful writing. Personally, I rate Cuarón very highly, and I’d place “Children of Men” alongside “Y tu mama tambien” in any ‘best of’ list, and “Spirited Away” is just stunning; the only animated work this decade to make me properly marvel at what I was seeing.

  • 96 1-07-2010 at 8:28 pm

    Robin said...

    Astounded and delighted that MR! came in even higher than on Tapley’s list here. It places at #3 on my decade list, but I thouroughly agree that it is by far the most rewatchable movie of the decade. Also as Aussie it’s great to see top 2 call outs to the Oz film industry.

  • 97 1-08-2010 at 6:25 am

    G1000 said...

    “Moulin Rouge”? You have to be kidding me. I think I’ve mentioned that I hate that movie, but if I haven’t: I HATE THAT MOVIE!

    I’m glad so many people got something out of it, though.

    Also, where’s “Finding Nemo”?

  • 98 1-08-2010 at 6:49 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Where’s “Finding Nemo”?

    Well below “WALL-E” and “Ratatouille” on my longlist, for starters ;)

  • 99 1-08-2010 at 8:19 am

    Liz said...

    You have some people complaining that Guy’s list is too elitist, and others like HarryB (who might just be trolling) say it’s middlebrow.

    Geez, can’t win around here.

  • 100 1-08-2010 at 8:13 pm

    Douglas said...

    Aussie love!
    Well done Guy.

  • 101 1-09-2010 at 6:16 am

    voland said...

    Guy, what about Chan-Wook Parks movies, especially Oldboy?

  • 102 2-27-2010 at 6:15 pm

    Sieben said...

    Guy, if you don’t mind my asking, what exactly does “lorus-like” MEAN? I suppose it’s a compliment, in which case I completely agree – Ray Lawrence hasn’t disappointed me yet – but it’s been bugging me ever since you posted this weeks ago.

    I love the list itself, although I was a touch surprised to see Moulin Rouge topping it; it doesn’t strike me as your cup of tea. Then again, your taste is laudably diverse.

  • 103 2-27-2010 at 6:43 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Wow, almost two months later, you’ve actually stumbled upon a careless typo, so thanks. I’ll correct it.

    That should read “loris-like,” referring to the very slow-moving, nocturnal primate — by which I merely mean that Lawrence, as brilliant as I think he is, isn’t all that productive. Three films in one quarter-century!