Without further ado.....
10. No Country for Old Men (2007): While not without its flashes of humor, this is perhaps the least jokey movie of the Coen Brothers canon. A tense-as-hell thriller that also happens to be about the nature of evil. Javier Bardem, as Anton Chigurh, creates one of cinema's greatest villains.
9. Junebug (2005): This movie is perhaps remembered for Amy Adams' outstanding breakout performance, which earned her an Oscar nomination, but that's only the beginning of its charms. A hilarious and touching portrait of a disconnected family in rural North Carolina and what happens when a wandering son and his new British wife visit. A beautiful film that perfectly captures family dynamics.
8. Memento (2001): Ingeniously plotted and directed by Christopher Nolan, it's about a man (Guy Pearce) with a disease where he can't remember more than a few minutes. All he knows is he is trying to find his wife's killer. Oh yeah, and the movie starts at the end and moves to the beginning. It may sound like a gimmick, but it works perfectly and gains in emotional power as the movie progresses.
7. Rachel Getting Married (2008): Another great movie about a broken family and what happens when one returns. Anne Hathaway plays Kym, a recovering addict who returns for her sisters' boisterous and extravagant wedding. Director Jonathan Demme used a semi-documentary style to film this movie, and you constantly feel as if you're in on the action. This is one that I've found elicits either a "Love It" or "OK, but don't see what the big deal is" response. I fell in unconditional love, and I hope you do too.
6. Lost in Translation (2003): Director Sofia Coppola perfectly captures the feeling of being lost in a foreign land, and in your own skin. There are really three main actors in this movies: Bill Murray, Scarlett Johannson, and Tokyo. They each perform their roles perfectly, and this movie includes one of the greatest ambiguous endings of all time.
5. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000): Director Ang Lee created pure movie magic with this Chinese fantasy where his actors and actresses guide through the treetops. Two great love stories and the most innovative action sequences of the decade.
4. Talk to Her (2002): I liked this movie when I first saw it, and on subsequent viewings its turned into one of my all-time favorites. I love director Pedro Almodovar, and I think this is his masterpiece. It's about many things, including bullfighting, ballet dancing, the meaning of love, the meaning of friendship, and fate.
3. Far From Heaven (2002): Director Todd Haynes recreates both the style and content of a 1950s-era weepie, but he adds a modern day subtext. The craft of this film is simply astonishing, and the performances could not be any better. I can't think of another film that simultaneously causes you to think so much about its craft while being completely moved by the story. Julianne Moore, Dennis Quaid, Dennis Haysbert, and Patricia Clarkson are all masterful.
2. Mulholland Drive (2001): David Lynch's weird/sexy/scary/sad dream of a movie demands repeated viewings. The great thing about this movie is that, as bizarre as it is, it's entirely possible to come up with a coherent emotional explanation for everything that occurs. Naomi Watts gives what I think is the female performance of the decade in a role that requires an enormous range. Absolutely stunning.
1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004): Charlie Kauffman wrote one of my favorite movies of the 90s (Being John Malkovich), and I think this is even better.I doubt that I've seen any other movie this decade as much as this one. A perfectly written, directed, and acted movie, and I'm sure most readers have seen it. Could Kate Winslet be any better as Clementine? As Jim Carrey ever given a better performance? Have you ever watched it and not thought about what you would use "Lacuna, Inc" for in your own life?
What do these movies all have in common? In my mind, they are all extremely close to flawless moviemaking. Looking at these movies, it's hard to pick out anything I would have changed. Several of my movies showed up on many critics end of the year lists- Eternal Sunshine, Mulholland Drive, Crouching Tiger, No Country. A few others-particularly Junebug and Rachel Getting Married-are more personal favorites. What do you think readers? Do you have a person 10 best?
Coming up soon in a future post: A recap and stats for my decade list.