Re: Peter Travers' Ten Best Films of the Decade
With the end of 2009 and the beginning of 2010 approaching, several film critics and movie aficionados alike are starting to compile their lists for the best films of the decade. Most are sticking with ten, although some are going as high as 100. I might have attempted the latter, were it not so time-consuming.
Over the years, I've agreed more often than not with one film critic the most: Rolling Stone's Peter Travers. He recently crafted his list for what he considered to be the ten best films of the decade, and they read as follows:
1. "There Will Be Blood" (2007)
2. "Children of Men" (2006)
3. "Mulholland Dr." (2001)
4. "A History of Violence" (2005)
5. "No Country for Old Men" (2007)
6. "The Incredibles" (2004)
7. "Brokeback Mountain" (2005)
8. "The Departed" (2006)
9. "Mystic River" (2003)
10. "The Lord of the Rings" (2001-2003)
I can't really call any of his choices bad; they're all great films. You will notice, though, that he doesn't have any foreign films on his list. In my opinion, some of the best titles over the decade came from films spoken in other languages.
I would add that picking the best of the best is a little difficult, considering how many excellent films there were. You're likely to ignore a lot of worthy movies.
For instance, I, myself, don't have any documentaries or animated films on my list, though there were several movies from both categories that were just as good as the regular, live-action dramas and comedies. (Lake of Fire was the best documentary I saw, and WALL-E was the best animated film).
So, without further ado, here are my picks for the ten best movies of the decade:
#10. ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND (2004) - Even though I have it in the tenth place slot, this is actually my favorite film from the decade. It boasts one of the most imaginative, original scripts (maybe Charlie Kaufman's best) from any year, along with some really fantastic direction (Michel Gondry) and acting, particularly from Jim Carrey (his best role) and Kate Winslet. Nice to see a romantic comedy that isn't formulaic and forgettable.
#9. ALMOST FAMOUS (2000) - Best movie about rock 'n' roll ever. As good as Jerry Maguire was, this was (and still is) Cameron Crowe's best film. For all those who forgot what it felt like to be a kid hoping to one day be a rock star, this brought all those memories back, even if you weren't around in the '70s. Great dramedy about a would-be journalist trying to make it at Rolling Stone magazine. Kate Hudson has never done anything this good, or this consistently watchable.
#8. MEMENTO (2001) - To this day, I've never been as wowed by an ending to a film as I was here, not because it has a huge explosion or some awesome death scene, but because you realize in the last few minutes of the movie that you have been seriously, seriously played (a la The Usual Suspects). Christopher Nolan had another film a few years prior (Following), but this was the one that really put his name on the map as an expert director and screenwriter, and for good reason.
#7. THE DARK KNIGHT (2008) - But great as Nolan's aforementioned picture was, he outdid himself in a big way several years later, taking what he had begun in 2005 in reviving a dying franchise, and putting to rest any and all doubters who viewed films based on comic books as lowbrow. The film's box office numbers may have broken records thanks in large part to Heath Ledger's brilliant turn as The Joker, but his contribution wasn't the only thing the movie had going for it. It was just plain good.
#6. THE DEPARTED (2006) - If nothing else, this will probably be remembered as the film Martin Scorsese finally won Best Director for at the Oscars, and the good thing is, while the award is late, he actually deserved it. It has the distinct honor of being an extremely entertaining mainstream film that's likewise intricate and intelligent. Not to mention, every single one of its principal actors turns in some of their career-best performances.
#5. CITY OF GOD (2003) - When the nominees for the 2003 Academy Award best directors were announced, I had no idea who Fernando Meirelles was, or where his film came from, but I decided to look into it. And I'm glad I did. This is one of the most disturbing, grittiest movies you're likely to ever come across that deals with the issue of gang violence head on. It's one of the few titles from any time period that I can all but guarantee will leave a lasting impact on you long after you've seen it.
#4. NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN (2007) - A hapless sort of anti-hero being chased by an evil bad guy isn't anything new to movies, and yet, here it felt like a fresh, altogether different experience. Next to Fargo, this is the Coen Brothers' best film. It's very nicely paced, extremely well-written and directed, gorgeously shot by cinematographer Roger Deakins, and acted to perfection, with the lion's share of the acclaim rightfully aimed at Javier Bardem.
#3. THERE WILL BE BLOOD (2007) - It's rare to sit through a film and, in the first few minutes, realize that you're probably watching a future classic. But that was definitely the case with this film. You might think a nearly three-hour movie about oil set in the late 19th/early 20th century would be boring, but you'd be wrong. At least, you would be with Paul Thomas Anderson writing and directing, and Daniel-Day Lewis doing what he does best in front of the camera.
#2. THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY (2007) - In case you couldn't tell by the back-to-back-to-back rankings, 2007 was a good year, and the best thing that came out of it was this. If you've ever doubted the visual creativity of cinema, or whether or not a film spoken in another language could move you just as easily as one in English, this is the picture that restores your faith in moviemaking. I can't say enough about this, except that you owe it to yourself to see it. Immediately.
#1. PAN'S LABYRINTH (2006) - If you can think of a more imaginative, innovative, visually creative, entertaining piece of cinema from the past decade, I'd be very interested, because I can't. This blew me away when I first saw it, and more than three years later, it hasn't lost any of its magic. If you know someone who's on the fence about acquainting themselves with movies in other languages, I'd introduce them to this, because chances are, once the story sucks them in (which won't take long), they won't even notice.
More by this Author
Agree with film critic Roger Ebert's best posters of the decade? I sure didn't. Here I lay out my personal picks. . .
On June 23rd, TIME movie critic Richard Corliss published an article detailing what he felt to be the twenty-five best animated films ever made. His piece can be read here. It's an interesting compilation. While he...
Want to know what it's like to be an extra on a Tyler Perry movie? I document my experience here.