Top 50 Films of the 2000s

Welcome to Top10Films’ Top 50 Films of the 2000s. This is like the amp from “This Is Spinal Tap” – but we’ve gone even further. We haven’t just cranked it up to ’11′, we’re all the way up to ’50′.

Throughout the decade we were wowed by fantasy, thrilled by action, and frightened by horror, all the while being annoyed by remakes and endless sequels. We had everything turned on its head with numerous twist endings and welcomed new and old Superheroes. New directors entered the scene (Christopher Nolan, Guillermo Del Toro) and others were finally recognised by mainstream audiences (Peter Jackson, Alexander Payne), while older pros continued to make great movies (Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg).

Looking back at the decade it’s easy to see there were some fantastic movies made. Many of which will live long in the memory.

Over recent weeks I have taken a more in-depth look at each year, focusing on 10 of the best. Next to every one of my Top 50 choices you can see where that film finished in the top 10 for that year.

Discover more: Top 10 Films of the 2000s:
2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009

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50. Best In Show (Guest, USA, 2000)
Position in Top10Films’ Top 10 of 2000: #8
Christopher Guest and his usual band of character-actors aim their collective improvised comedy routine at obsessive dog owners. “Best In Show” is one of the funniest films of the decade and a true indication that Christopher Guest is one of comedy’s modern geniuses. He brings together a fantastic cast of characters played by a wonderful ensemble of talented actors.

49. Remember The Titans (Yakin, USA, 2000)
Position in Top10Films’ Top 10 of 2000: #7
“Remember The Titans” might be sentimental but its important message of integration and multicultural understanding isn’t preached or over done. Crucially, Yakin tells us a enchanting and thoroughly engaging story of an American high school football team and their rise to glory with all the blood, sweat and tears you’d expect from a sports movie. Coupled with that is the underlying but ever present racism that has been magnified by the school system’s recent abolishment of segregation. As two of the team’s best players – one white, one black – come to find friendship in each other, and a renewed strength of character on and off the field, the racial boundaries crack throughout the team and the local community.

48. Son of Rambow (Jennings, UK, 2007)
Position in Top10Films’ Top 10 of 2007: #6
Garth Jennings’ brilliant depiction of childhood friendship in 1980s Britain. It’s the uplifting antidote to Shane Meadows “This is England”. In many ways it’s a British Goonies with the adventure taking place in a realistic but idealised and almost magical world that exists within a child’s mind. Neil Dudgeon and Bill Milner are thoroughly enchanting.

47. Juno (Reitman, USA, 2007)
Position in Top10Films’ Top 10 of 2007: #5
Jason Reitman’s edgy film about teenage pregnancy is notable for the performance of Ellen Page. Page quickly became a household name following the film’s wide popularity, playing the sort of cocky, hard-nosed teenager that so many films targeted at the demographic dare not portray. Jason Reitman also proved he was a talented filmmaker who could work with scripts other than his own.

46. Unbreakable (Shyamalan, USA, 2000)
Position in Top10Films’ Top 10 of 2000: #6
“The Sixth Sense” was good, this is a masterpiece. You won’t see the ending coming. Ultimately the film completely strips a tired genre of its conventions and puts them back together again in a reenergised, reconstituted way. It’s best to know as little as possible about the film before seeing it.

45. 24 Hour Party People (Winterbottom, UK, 2002)
Position in Top10Films’ Top 10 of 2002: #4
Michael Winterbottom turns back the clock and points his camera lens at a significant period for British music – most notably, the northern English city of Manchester. Told from the perspective of real life influential music guru Tony Wilson (played here by I’m Alan Partridge actor Steve Coogan), the film charts the rise and fall of Madchester – a punk and post-punk era categorised by bands such as Joy Division, New Order and The Happy Mondays. The film inter cuts archive footage into the narrative of the film, and breaks the fourth wall with Wilson often speaking to camera. It’s richly detailed, funny, features some great music and fine performances.

44. A History of Violence (Cronenberg, USA/Germany, 2005)
Position in Top10Films’ Top 10 of 2005: #7
David Cronenberg’s twisty, violent thriller features some top-notch performances and a great script. You won’t forget the shocking violence on offer but Cronenberg delivers a unique story with Viggo Mortensen’s dominant performance at the centre of it.

43. Atonement (Wright, UK, 2007)
Position in Top10Films’ Top 10 of 2007: #4
A sumptuous tale of romance and regret with Keira Knightley, Saoirse Ronan and James McAvoy delivering stellar performances. Based on Ian McEwan’s novel of the same name, Joe Wright’s film tells the story of 13 year old Briony and the lie that sends an innocent man to jail and stalls the passionate relationship he has with Briony’s older sister. The ending will have you teary eyed but undoubtedly uplifted.

42. Donnie Darko (Kelly, USA, 2001)
Position in Top10Films’ Top 10 of 2001: #4
Richard Kelly burst onto the scene with this Lynchian science-fiction mindbender. Many people quickly described it as the best film ever made but after the initial hyperbole and attention wore off it can be quite positively talked of as one of the better films of the decade. It isn’t perfect but it sure is different. Director Kelly has struggled to emulate the promise shown here since.

41. The Descent (Marshall, UK, 2005)
Position in Top10Films’ Top 10 of 2005: #6
The best horror film of the year. Director Neil Marshall proves once again that he’s a master of suspense even if he borrows heavily from the horror films he loves. “The Descent” is great for trying to spot the homage reference.

40. A Cock and Bull Story (Winterbottom, UK, 2006)
Position in Top10Films’ Top 10 of 2006: #5
Said to be an un-filmable novel (and probably rightly so), approaching the movie adaptation of The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy you’d be forgiven in wondering just how the hell director Michael Winterbottom pulled it off. Well, he didn’t, exactly. It isn’t that the film doesn’t look at both the ‘life’ and the ‘opinions’ of Laurence Sterne’s titular character, it’s more that it rolls it all up into a bite size bundle of non-linear narration, film-within-a-film-within-a-film invention, and wry satirical asides, the sum of which celebrate the originality, humour and post-modern techniques of the original literature. So how do you adapt a selection of books that cannot be cinematised – you don’t. You use the books as inspiration for a film that is as unique, as weird, and as funny for a 21st century audience as the books were to 18th century readers.

39. Spellbound (Blitz, USA, 2002)
Position in Top10Films’ Top 10 of 2002: #3
Jeffrey Blitz’s observational documentary about the over-achieving social outcasts competing in the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee is an interesting and well put together film focusing on both the children and the parents involved. What becomes apparent is how these children appear to play out the fantasies of overzealous parents who, rightly or wrongly, believe that extreme educating is the key to a better life. In some ways, the children (who are all exceedingly intelligent) become the unfortunate pawns in their parent’s stop-at-nothing approach to achievement.

38. Dead Man’s Shoes (Meadows, UK, 2004)
Position in Top10Films’ Top 10 of 2004: #5
Shane Meadows’ best film is a tale of revenge and redemption. Paddy Considine is strong in the lead role, and is ably supported by the rest of the cast. Meadows finds a sense of gritty realism that makes the film’s brutal scenes more affecting.

37. Little Miss Sunshine (Dayton/Faris, USA, 2006)
Position in Top10Films’ Top 10 of 2006: #4
Some have called this the live-action version of “The Simpsons” – it isn’t really but it does give you a good indication of the film’s sense of humour as well as its depiction of a large, dysfunctional family having to come to terms with spending time together.

36. Vera Drake (Leigh, UK, 2004)
Position in Top10Films’ Top 10 of 2006: #4
Mike Leigh took his unique storytelling technique back to the 1950s with this period film about abortionist Vera Drake. Imelda Staunton delivers a wonderful performance.

35. District 9 (Blomkamp/Gerber, USA/New Zealand, 2009)
Position in Top10Films’ Top 10 of 2009: #2
Original, funny, frightening, and infinitely rewatchable. It also features South African actor Shalto Copley firing out the word ‘fuck’ a thousand times with the strange undertones of a disgruntled Liverpool football fan. Peter Jackson may be caught up in his overlong fantasy movies but at least his eye for new material and new filmmaking talent is still keen and alert. “District 9” came about after Jackson’s failed attempt to bring video game “Halo” to the big screen left collaborator Neill Blomkamp to search for alternative ideas. The two decided extending Blomkamp’s successful short film “Alive in Joburg” which formed the basis for the “District 9” film we see today.

34. No Country For Old Men (Coen/Coen, USA, 2008)
Position in Top10Films’ Top 10 of 2008: #3
Dark and violent but like all Coen Bros. films “No Country For Old Men” features characters that you won’t forget with any great haste. If you’re looking for light-hearted Coen seek out “Burn After Reading”, if you’re in the mood for “Blood Simple”-style thrills look no further.

33. Control (Corbijn, UK, 2007)
Position in Top10Films’ Top 10 of 2007: #2
Beautifully photographed by director Anton Corbijn this is a touching portrait of Joy Division singer Ian Curtis. What Corbijn does with the story is to not over-sentimentalise Curtis short life. It isn’t a tale of rock super stardom and a hero lost. It’s down and dirty, it’s hard work. It’s familial pressure underpinned by English kitchen sink drama and Manchester’s cloudy skies. It’s tough, moving, and poignant.

32. Children of Men (Cuaron, UK/USA, 2006)
Position in Top10Films’ Top 10 of 2006: #3
Alfonso Cuaron’s bleak look into Britain’s future is a frightening depiction of one possible outcome. Read my full review HERE

31. Kill Bill: Vol 1 (Tarantino, USA, 2003)
Position in Top10Films’ Top 10 of 2003: #5
Quentin Tarantino finally returns to the director’s chair after a six year hiatus with “Kill Bill: Vol. 1”. Originally, “Kill Bill” was a single movie but Tarantino had so much material to work with and the creative indiscipline to cut his own work the film was split into two. Volume 1 turns out to be the better of the films – it is more purposeful and although it lacks a completely satisfactory conclusion due to the fact this part was never meant to start and finish, it has a the biggest set-piece which makes it that bit more memorable.

30. Erin Brockovich (Soderbergh, USA, 2000)
Position in Top10Films’ Top 10 of 2000: #5
Steven Soderbergh brings Erin Brockovich’s real life tale of unemployed, single mum turned ace investigative lawyer to the big screen with the style we’ve come accustomed to. It’s a very uplifting film, injecting new life in the little guy versus big bully plotline.

29. Punch Drunk Love (Anderson, USA, 2002)
Position in Top10Films’ Top 10 of 2002: #2
Adam Sandler proved he was more than just a lightweight comedy actor with Paul Thomas Anderson’s dark romantic comedy. Anderson had shocked many when he stated after previous film “Magnolia” that he wanted to work with Sandler. The comic actor was known for his box office comedy hits such as “Big Daddy” and “The Wedding Singer” but seemed like a strange match for Anderson who was conversely known for the hard-hitting and often downbeat, ensemble epics “Boogie Nights” and “Magnolia”. However, credit to both actor and director for pulling off what is arguably their best work.

28. Big Fish (Burton, USA, 2003)
Position in Top10Films’ Top 10 of 2003: #4
“Big Fish” is Tim Burton’s dreamlike adaptation of Daniel Wallace’s book about the eager imagination of Edward Bloom, played in the film by Albert Finney as an old man (with Ewan McGregor taking up the role in the old man’s recollections of his younger days). Burton is the perfect director to bring to theatrical life a book that celebrates imagination and childhood fantasy set against the backdrop of a weird yet wonderful world of huge fish, giants, and witches.

27. Sin City (Rodriguez, USA, 2005)
Position in Top10Films’ Top 10 of 2005: #5
Based on Frank Miller’s graphic novels Robert Rodriguez’s “Sin City” is arguably his best work. The film features four inter-weaved stories of murder, revenge, and police corruption. It’s brilliantly photographed using the new digital backlot technique which puts all the actors against a green screen and adds setting detail and special-effects in post-production.

26. Ocean’s Eleven (Soderbergh, USA, 2001)
Position in Top10Films’ Top 10 of 2001: #3
Ocean’s Eleven was one of the most purely enjoyable films of 2001 thanks largely to a wonderfully assembled ensemble cast and Steven Soderbergh’s sprightly direction. Its fast-pace, comedy and slick heist scenes made it a favourite with audiences around the world.

25. Murderball (Rubin/Shapiro, USA, 2005)
Position in Top10Films’ Top 10 of 2005: #4
Rubin and Shapiro’s documentary film focuses on the quite brutal sport of wheelchair rugby – dubbed Murderball. It follows an assortment of men – most suffering from spinal injuries and some just coming to terms with life in a wheelchair – in the lead up to the 2004 Paralympics in Athens. It’s a hard hitting film – literally and metaphorically – which sheds light on a culture most people will be lucky enough to avoid in their lifetime. But what it does so well is to investigate how these courageous people find wisdom and friendship in each other, and a common goal that gives them renewed motivation in their lives. It’s a fascinating film.

24. Downfall (Hirschbiegel, Germany/Italy/Austria, 2004)
Position in Top10Films’ Top 10 of 2004: #4
Oliver Hirschbiegel’s film was one of the most popular European films of 2004. It tells the story of Traudl Junge’s account of Hitler’s final days in the Berlin bunker where he would take his own life. Very realistic depiction of the final days of the World War II.

23. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (Black, USA, 2005)
Position in Top10Films’ Top 10 of 2005: #3
“Lethal Weapon”-writer Shane Black writes and directs this smart, quick-witted detective story that melds Los Angeles pompousness into the trappings of a gritty film noir. It’s Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer who make it work though with fabulous comic performances.

22. American Psycho (Harron, USA, 2000)
Position in Top10Films’ Top 10 of 2000: #4
Christian Bale became an instant superstar as murderous sex fiend Patrick Bateman. Mary Harron’s film brilliantly investigates the obsessive nature of corporate upper-class America in the 1980s with suave sophistication and brutal violence.

21. Mulholland Dr. (Lynch, USA, 2001)
Position in Top10Films’ Top 10 of 2001: #2
David Lynch took his audience on another mind-bending, reality-twisting thrill ride with the beautiful Naomi Watts in the role of aspiring actress Betty Elms. Originally conceived as an open-ended television pilot, Lynch has characteristically left the resulting feature film without a proper conclusion. That’s not to say the film isn’t worth seeing – it’s a journey of self-discovery into a nightmarish world of reality and unreality. That it doesn’t have an easily definable conclusion makes it that much more interesting – everyone has their own idea of what the film is about. Ultimately, no one is wrong.

20. Lord of the Rings : Return of the King (Jackson, New Zealand, 2003)
Position in Top10Films’ Top 10 of 2003: #4
Peter Jackson concludes his mammoth adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings story with arguably the best film of the trilogy. Again, it’s a three-hour plus epic that was released later on DVD with even more additional material that was cut from the final theatrical release. Some criticised the overcooked finale but few argued about the breathtaking battle at Minas Tirith which combined seamless special effects with top performances that was all expertly executed by a director at the top of his game.

19. Tell No One (Canet, France, 2008)
Position in Top10Films’ Top 10 of 2008: #3
Based on the Harlan Coben novel this French take on the twisty thriller is edge-of-the-seat stuff. It’s surprising, given the sheer quality of Coben’s novels, that Hollywood hasn’t made its own interpretations.

18. Almost Famous – Director’s Cut (Crowe, USA, 2000)
Position in Top10Films’ Top 10 of 2000: #3
Cameron Crowe has made some of the most iconic movies of the past 30 years as writer and/or director. It mustn’t be forgotten he wrote “Fast Times At Ridgemont High” way back in the early 1980s – the film was directed by Amy Heckerling and released in 1982. He followed up that success with the seminal “Say Anything”. He has always had a knack of writing great young characters – he has a passion for youthful misadventure and growing up through life experience. Most of his films are informed by his own experiences as a young writer. “Almost Famous” is his finest film as it brings all that together. It’s a loose biography of his own young life and a homage to rock n roll, youthful exuberance and everlasting friendship.

17. Looking For Eric (Loach, UK, 2009)
Position in Top10Films’ Top 10 of 2009: #1
Uplifting and heart-warming with the character-driven social realism (albeit with an added fantasy element) that Ken Loach does so well. It might switch tones too easily but this is Loach at his most accessible and his most fun.

16. Batman Begins (Nolan, USA, 2005)
Position in Top10Films’ Top 10 of 2005: #2
Thank goodness for Christopher Nolan – along with Alexander Payne – he’s the best director working in Hollywood at the moment. “Batman Begins” does what all the waste-of-space Superhero movies of the decade have failed to do – entertain, be original, breathe new life into the genre, bring the comic-book stories into the modern era, feature strong scripting and credible, authentic storytelling. Head and shoulders above “X-Men”, “Spiderman”, “The Hulk” and all the rest.

15. About Schmidt (Payne, USA, 2002)
Position in Top10Films’ Top 10 of 2002: #1
Director Alexander Payne firmly established himself amongst the Hollywood elite with Jack Nicholson-starring “About Schmidt”. The film, about a lonely retiree who travels to his daughter’s wedding following the death of his wife, is a tale about appreciating the past while embracing the future. Told from the perspective of a bitter old man, it is a story about the inevitability of life. But, in what could be a dark, pessimistic tale Payne gives the film a vitality in the new found freedom of Warren Schmidt – where the inevitability of life promotes a sense of adventurism in a man who once took things for granted but has quickly had to re-evaluate his priorities. Jack Nicholson is fantastic as Schmidt.

14. Memento (Nolan, USA, 2000)
Position in Top10Films’ Top 10 of 2000: #2
One of the most original films ever made, Christopher Nolan’s masterpiece tells its intriguing murder mystery backwards.

13. Finding Nemo (Stanton, USA, 2003)
Position in Top10Films’ Top 10 of 2003: #3
In 2003 Pixar released “Finding Nemo”. It is their best movie to date. Warm and funny, brilliantly constructed, original, fabulously designed and brought to life. Like their other movies it is the perfect film for adults and children to watch together because it has something for everyone. Pixar also made further gains in their animation techniques – the depiction of the sea and being underwater looks at times like it has been actually photographed rather than digitally recreated.

12. Bad Santa (Zwigoff, USA, 2003)
Position in Top10Films’ Top 10 of 2003: #2
When talking about Terry Zwigoff’s “Bad Santa” I feel need the swear. And swear. And swear. And swear again. I wonder why? Zwigoff’s film is, without any doubt at all, one of the funniest films ever made. Coupled with Billy Bob Thornton’s drunk Santa performance, the film is about as darkly comic as comedy can get without been depressing. It’s built on Glenn Ficarra and John Requa’s terrific script which marries character study with wall to wall gags. The dialogue sizzles with anger and disillusionment but there’s a heart at the centre of it. Thornton’s relationship with the character only known as The Kid is one of the oddest you’ll ever see but it’s unique and strangely sweet-natured. It takes a certain mindset to warm to a film like “Bad Santa” but once you become accustomed to the humour you’ll be hooked by the oddball but big-hearted, cigarette-smoking, binge-drinking, foul-mouthed Bad Santa.

11. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Gondry, USA, 2004)
Position in Top10Films’ Top 10 of 2004: #2
Jim Carrey has made a couple of classic movies and perhaps this is the last one he’ll ever make. Michel Gondry’s mind-bending film is darkly twisted and infuriatingly incomprehensible. It’s also brilliant, funny and uplifting.

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10. The Dark Knight (Nolan, USA, 2008)
Position in Top10Films’ Top 10 of 2008: #2

the dark knight, joker, heath ledger,

Christopher Nolan continues to show the rest of Hollywood how to make Superhero films. “The Dark Night” charts Batman’s continued war against crime in Gotham City now that a new foe has entered the scene. The late Heath Ledger turns up as The Joker (in one of the best screen performances of any actor during the decade) and delivers a turn that is as menacing as it is darkly amusing. Christian Bale is again great as the caped crusader with the really, really, really gruff voice, and director Christopher Nolan manages to do that almost impossible feat by improving upon the original.

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9. Gran Torino (Eastwood, USA, 2008)
Position in Top10Films’ Top 10 of 2008: #1

gran torino clint eastwood

What a great year it has been for Clint Eastwood. He gets older but seems to work more. “Gran Torino” is one of his finest films as director. He also gives one of his best performances as a Korean War veteran who is forced to question his own prejudice as he unwittingly becomes the hero of his Hmong neighbours. The friendship he discovers with Thao, his young neighbour, is considered and unique. This is an important film and one that will no doubt be talked about for years to come.

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8. Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (Jackson, New Zealand/USA, 2001)
Position in Top10Films’ Top 10 of 2001: #1

lord of the rings, fellowship of the ring, peter jacson, film, movies,

When the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy was originally announced cinemagoers eagerly anticipated the first instalment. Director Peter Jackson definitely delivered on all the promise. The first film, like the subsequent sequels, is a gloriously realised telling of J.R.R. Tolkien’s books. Action and adventure collide in a sumptuous tale of good versus evil. The other films are great too but this one stands out as the best of the three – it was our introduction to Middle Earth and I won’t forget seeing this for the first time in the cinema, when, believe it or not, I was still a teenager. Blimey, doesn’t time fly!

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7. The World’s Fastest Indian (Donaldson, New Zealand, 2005)
Position in Top10Films’ Top 10 of 2005: #1

world's fasted indian, motorbike,

Meet Burt Munro – a mild-mannered New Zealander who loves his 1920s Massachusetts-made Indian motorcycle – who has a single dream: to set the world speed record. The only way he can do it is to travel from his New Zealand home half way around the world to compete on the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, USA. He meets lots of people along the way, comes up against the prejudice of those that think an ‘old’ man like him (Munro was 68) couldn’t possibly ride a motorcycle at world record speeds, let alone an old machine like the Indian, and learns plenty of lessons to take back to his hometown.

It is a film brimming with joy and optimism, wonderfully uplifting comic moments and an ending to make your heart melt. Anthony Hopkins as Burt Munro provides one of the best performances of his life. This unassuming film will take you on a journey of self discovery and make you smile for days. See it, watch it again, repeat!

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6. Wonder Boys (Hanson, USA, 2000)
Position in Top10Films’ Top 10 of 2000: #1

wonder boys, curtis hanson, film, movies, top 10, michael douglas,

Curtis Hanson has remained the quiet genius amongst Hollywood directors, releasing films infrequently over a career spanning nearly 40 years. In the late 1980s he’s remembered for the Hitchcockian “The Bedroom Window” and pot boiling thriller “Bad Influence” by those lucky enough to see them. More people caught “The Hand That Rocks The Cradle” and “The River Wild in the early 1990s. But he finally received the recognition his directing prowess deserved when he released the massive critical hit “L.A. Confidential”. This was followed three years later with “Wonder Boys” which, for me, is his greatest achievement. Michael Douglas has rarely been better in the role of disgruntled writer Grady Tripp who has to deal with the various social problems of his friends and associates while trying to come to terms with his own neurosis. The film features a great script by Steve Kloves who brings Michael Chabon’s characters to vivid life. Robert Downey Jr.’s small but perfect performance is worth the price of admission alone.

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5. The Prestige (Nolan, USA, 2006)
Position in Top10Films’ Top 10 of 2006: #2

prestige, nolan, bale,

Any other year and Christopher Nolan would have the best film of the last 12 months award from us. However, the brilliant “The Prestige” deserves to be on anyone’s top 10 of 2006. Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman deliver top performances as magicians who will go to any length to better the other’s tricks – regardless of how dangerous they may be to carry out. Look out for a great cameo from David Bowie. Nolan should also get plaudits for the wonderful set design and location filming.

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4. City of God (Meirelles/Lund, Brazil, 2003)
Position in Top10Films’ Top 10 of 2003: #1

city of god, brazil,

“City of God” was originally released in the UK at the beginning of January 2003 but received little attention. Critics started to pick up on this little Brazilian movie when it was re-released in time for the Academy Awards, and word of its hard-hitting portrayal of Rio’s violent slums began circulating. A cult following grew.

The film is a brutal but humane depiction of a society shunned and dismissed by those that don’t live in it and endured by those that do. It’s moving, authentic, and important.

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3. Pan’s Labyrinth (Del Toro, Spain, 2006)
Position in Top10Films’ Top 10 of 2006: #1

pan's labyrinth, del toro,

Guillermo Del Toro’s magical fantasy about the adventures of a young girl set against the backdrop of post-civil war Spain beats the Hollywood competition for Best Film of 2006. It’s perhaps fitting that director Del Toro who has made some excellent english-language Hollywood films should return to Spain to make arguably his best film. It’s more impressive that he writes and directs the film. What makes it so good is the authentic human story at the heart of it. Del Toro creates a dark, beautifully realised dreamland around the brutality of the real world, taking the viewer into an otherworldly kingdom that is unique and inspired.

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2. There Will Be Blood (Anderson, USA, 2007)
Position in Top10Films’ Top 10 of 2007: #1

there will be blood, film, paul thomas anderson, daniel day-lewis, paul dano,

Powerful and haunting, Paul Thomas Anderson’s masterpiece stood head and shoulders above everything else in 2007. This tale of oil prospector Daniel Plainview who sells his soul to fill his pockets by purging the earth of its natural resources is telling of humanity’s own inherent greed, and certainly a backhanded slap in the face of corporate America. Daniel Day-Lewis is astonishing in the role of Plainview, and he’s ably supported by two-faced preacher Paul Dano. Dano’s Eli Sunday is the extension of Plainview’s own hypocrisy – the two men are only interested in extending their own status. One physically steals from the earth, the other from God. The devastating climax is at once a damning indication of the inevitability of life, and a suitably open-ended question of their actions.

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1. Sideways (Payne, USA, 2004)
Position in Top10Films’ Top 10 of 2004: #1

sideways alexander payne film best 2004

Alexander Payne’s majestic character study of disillusioned teacher/writer Miles (Paul Giamatti) and his friend Jack (Thomas Haden Church) is a funny, touching and life-affirming tale of lust, love, sex and wine. The scene in which Miles and Virginia Madsen’s Maya discuss why their favourite tipple – wine – plays such an important role in their lives is one of the best written, perfectly judged and acted scenes of the last decade. It’s a superb use of relevant metaphor and character revelation. “Sideways” is a wonderful movie – it isn’t just the best film of 2004, it is the best film of the decade.

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Top 50 Films of the Decade (2000 to 2009):
Fantastic Voyages: There Will Be Blood
David H. Schleicher: There Will Be Blood
Paste Magazine: City of God
Wonders In The Dark: Far From Heaven
Movie Mobsters: The Lord of the Rings trilogy
Anomalous Material: Mulholland Dr.
Andrew at the Movies: Children of Men
Let’s Go To The Movies: Million Dollar Baby
Times Online: Hidden
Film Junk: The Wrestler
Supercords: City of God
Alternative Chronicle: City of God
Too Much Cinema: Memento
Cinema Door: Almost Famous
Earl’s Blog: The Dark Knight
Movie Retriever: The Lord of the Rings
Cinematic Passions: Closer
Notes of a Film Fanatic: Mulholland Dr.
Crash Landen: Adaptation
Cinema Autopsy: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Cinemascope – No Country For Old Men
Too Much Cinema: Memento
Movie Hole: Almost Famous
The Joshua Centre: Almost Famous
No Cure For That: The Royal Tenenbaums
The Movie Examiner: The Lord Of The Rings trilogy
Good News Film Reviews: The Lord Of The Rings trilogy
We Are Movie Geeks: Kill Bill Vol 1
Hugo Stiglitz Makes Movies: Inglorious Basterds
Mo’ Better Blogging: Match Point
Magic Lantern Film Blog: Almost Famous
No Cure For That:The Royal Tenenbaums
Average Film Reviews: The Royal Tenenbaums
PB and J Strike Back: (no order listed)

Anomalous Material: Top Female Performances of Decade
Anomalous Material: Top Male Performances of Decade

If you would like me to link to your top films of the decade list (whether it is a top 10/20/50/100 or whatever) please drop me an email. Click the ABOUT link at the top of page for email address.

About the Author
Editor of Top 10 Films, Dan Stephens is usually found pondering his next list. An unhealthy love of 1980s Hollywood sees most of his top 10s involving a time-travelling DeLorean and an adventurous archaeologist going by the name Indiana.

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  1. James Ewing Reply

    You’ve got a lot of great stuff on there, but I’ve gotta ask: Gran Torino, top 10? Really?

    What am I missing here?

    Although seeing There Will be Blood, Pan’s Laybrinth, The Prestige and The Fellowship of the ring all in the top 10 makes me happy.

    But Gran Torino? Really?

    Okay, okay, so even with that you’ve got a good list going.

  2. Olive Reply

    Great list man! The noughties really wasn’t a bad decade for movies really when you think about it. I loved Gran Torino too, think it’s completely underrated. Sideways was a great movie, but probably wouldn’t have put it at Number 1 though. Glad to see that you have Downfall in there, may have slotted The Lives of Others in there too, loved that film.

  3. Heather Reply

    Sideways. I hate it.

    Similar top twenty to mine as well. I was missing a few that I either forgot (wonder boys) and I had not yet seen The Prestige, which would definitely be on the short list.

  4. Dan Reply

    @James Yeah, as you can see I really liked Gran Torino. I thought it had the best ending of the decade and one of the best I’ve maybe ever seen. I just thought it was so subtle, very affecting, perfectly paced, and you don’t expect it. The finale also leaves a lasting effect – one that I was thinking about for quite a while after the film had finished. Aside from that, I think it’s a perfectly mannered performance from Clint Eastwood both in terms of acting and direction. Some of his ‘grumpy old man’ characterisation comes across as a little cartoonish but I grew to like it – it was at times amusing while he still maintained that air of authority. I also thought it was an original look at an important area of American society (something that extends to any multicultural community).

    @Olive Cheers Olive, I’m glad you like Sideways (nearly) as much as me!

    @Heather I know you’re not a fan of Sideways! What can I say – it has actually become one of my favourite films of all time. Definitely check out The Prestige – it’s another cracking film from Christopher Nolan.

  5. Peter E. Reply

    This was my Top 10 for the decade!

    Some great titles here. Have never seen World’s Fastest Indian, but will queue it now. A nice, eclectic list of films here….

  6. JasonW Reply

    Great top 10. I haven’t seen the World’s Fastest Indian but it’s now on my to-view list! Love Sideways, such a fantastic, funny, well-scripted movie.

  7. rtm Reply

    WOW, this is an immense list, Dan, and it took some dedication to write a blurb for each of ‘em. I agree with Unbreakable, D-9, Atonement, though it might be rated higher on my list. As for your Top 10, I’d probably switch the order of LOTR Return of the King and Fellowship, same with Batman Begins and TDK. Haven’t seen Sideways but wow, you like it THAT much huh? I have to see Gran Torino and There Will Be Blood soon, they’re on my to-see list.

  8. Castor Reply

    Ahaha Sideways at first?! Glad to see you sticking to your convictions although I can’t say I agree with the pick ;) Glad to see The Prestige ranked all the way at #4, definitely one of those twisted mindf*ck movies that are so awesome when well-made. Also quite a bunch of movies that I haven’t seen so those will make nice additions to my netflix queue!

  9. Dan Reply

    I will probably have to write a review one of these days to explain my reasoning why I hold Sideways with such high regard. It’s just such a fascinating movie that is both funny and touching.

  10. Shubhajit Lahiri Reply

    Interesting list there. I might not agree with all your choices, but ain’t that the real fun part of the exercise of making lists? Though comprising mostly of English-language films, this is a well-rounded list containing a number of movies that I’ve really liked. And great that you mentioned the rank of each movie in your yearly top 10 lists. That shows how each year fared in your final list.

    By the way, thanks a lot for mentioning and cross-linking my Top 100 list.

  11. This Guy Over Here Reply

    You’ve got quite an eclectic list here! Can I just say that I love that Sideways is getting some love? I feel like cinephiles have a vendetta against that film. Alexander Payne rocks. Same can be said about The Prestige. I’m not one of those anti-hype-ites that have to take an opposite stance from the crowd, but I love this film more than The Dark Knight (which IS as awesome as its made out to be.)

    There were also a few films I’d never heard of, which is the great part about lists :) Consider them added to my Netflix queue.

  12. Fitz Reply

    Would have had to include Eternal Sunshine in the top ten along with No Country for Old Men. Good list!

  13. Roger Dale Reply

    I was a big fan of Sideways too. Is it the best film of the decade? I think so, however, for me The Prestige runs it close. Love that movie. Like This Guy Over Here, I think it’s better than The Dark Knight.

  14. Danny King Reply

    I completely agree with “Gran Torino.” I’m not sure where it would be on my decade list at this point, as I still have many films to catch up on, but it was in my top 3 of 2008. The fact that this film didn’t receive a single Oscar nomination will always leave a sour taste in my mouth.

  15. Dan Reply

    Thnaks for the comments guys!

    @Danny I’d say Gran Torino is one of Eastwood’s best films as actor/director. It’s a shame it didn’t get Oscar recognition.

    @Roger & The Guy Over Here Yeah, The Prestige is excellent. I had no trouble placing it higher than The Dark Knight.

    @Fitz Leaving Eternal Sunshine outside the top 10 was difficult but that’s one of the reasons these lists are so enjoyable to compile.

  16. Fitz Reply

    I wondered how many others like The Prestige more than The Dark Knight. Nice to see that there are others.

  17. Corey Reply

    Great list. I’m glad to see There Will Be Blood at #2…Daniel Day-Lewis’ performance is one of my all-time favorites. And I’m also glad to see that so many people loved The Prestige as much as I did. That’s one movie that deserved way more recognition than it received.

  18. Rodney Reply

    Not sure I agree with you about a fair portion of this, but my biggest concern is the lack of “Blood Diamond” being omitted completely. And “District 9″ deserved a far higher position IMHO.
    And unlike the majority of human beings I was completely underwhelmed by “There Will Be Blood”. It did absolutely nothing for me. That’s okay though, because I’m capable of accepting that my taste may different from others!
    I also struggle to see how “Bad Santa” keeps getting good things written about it: I enjoyed it, thought it was a good film, but better than some of the others here? Hmmm. Dubious.
    And lastly, “Sideays”. Yep, it’s a good film, but better than every other one? Including “The Dark Knight” (which is probably the decade’s best film off the top of my head)?? I love me some Paul Giamatti (recently had the chance to watch “Duplicity” and was completely amazed by his performance) but “Sideways” isn’t the best film of the decade. Still, you got a fair spread of films into this list. Oh, and I’m more than impressed with you managing to get Neill Marshall’s “The Descent” on there too….. oh man I loved that film. Pity he followed it with “Doomsday”, however.
    Peace!

  19. Pingback: Movie News Weekly Round-Up: July 03, 2010

  20. Dan Reply

    @Fitz I thought The Prestige was sensational. I didn’t know what to expect and it just continues to twist and turn the whole way through. It’s also great on repeat viewing – and like Memento, it works even better when you know what is going on.

    @Corey Cheers Corey. There Will Be Blood is one of those films that come along once in a blue moon. It’ll start appearing on scholars film polls in the near future I bet. The Citizen Kane of the 2000s.

    @Rodney Thanks for the comment Rodney. Maybe give There Will Be Blood another go, see if it improves. It gets better every time I watch it. Similarly, so does Sideways, which quickly became one of my favourite films ever made.

  21. Marshall Reply

    Interesting list. Not a huge “Sideways” or “Pan’s Labyrinth” fan, but maybe I’ll watch them again to see what everyone else is so in love with.

  22. Dan Reply

    Thanks for the comment Marshall. I think both the films you mention are an acquired taste but if you can find the heart of each movie you’ll start to enjoy them both a lot more.

  23. gerry Reply

    Completely agree with your top 2 films still hard to believe you didn’t include Half Nelson

  24. Supercords Reply

    Thanks for including my Top 50 on your page. (Supercords) My pick: City of God.

    For those interested, I post my movie reviews at Movie Worship: http://movieworship.blogspot.com/

    Come check them out and leave your opinions.

    Thanks,

    Supercords

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