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Best Films of the 00’s

December 7, 2009

The Onion A.V. Club put out a list of the best films of the last decade according to a few people who write for them. It’s fully acknowledged to be quite arbitrary but it serves as a useful reminder for some of the early 21st century’s finest, especially for critically acclaimed movies that one may have missed (I still have to get on Punch Drunk Love, dammit!). A few friends and I have already engaged in some debate surrounding the choices which is, irrespective of the pointlessness and trivial nature thereof, precisely what such lists are for.

I can’t get behind the top slot going to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. That said, it is a fantastic film, one of those films that you have done yourself a disservice with if you have seen it merely once, way back when it was first released. I don’t agree with it at #1 but it definitely deserves to be up there. 25th Hour at #2 and The New World at #9 seem inexplicably high, especially the latter. Adaptation (#46) and Mulholland Dr. (#18) should be a lot higher. More controversial than the selection is what wasn’t chosen at all. The most glaring omission, in my view, would be The Lives of Others. In addition, it’s far too early to try and decide the best films of the last decade. The films of 2009 will need 12 – 18 months to properly percolate into people’s minds. This appearance of this list is at least a year premature.

However, the compilation of the list, and my reading it, accomplished one very important thing; it made me realize how much I’ve been slipping in my film viewing habits. 2009 has been a tough year in terms of watching films and I need to get off my ass and work my way through the following titles – District 9, The Hurt Locker, Inglorious Basterds, Thirst, AntiChrist.

In the interests of fairness, and seeing as how I’ve liberally criticized the efforts of others, I will present my own list of what I consider the best films of the last decade. My criteria for selection will be films that I have actually seen, how much I’ve personally enjoyed them and how I consider their wider cultural and cinematic impact. This will also be subject to review on completion of my above list of yet-to-be-seen, neglected titles of 2009.

D Wigfield’s Top Twenty Best Films of 00’s

The above proved far more difficult than I initially envisioned. Even looking at it now, I can barely bring myself to agree with half of it. Take it as a very, very loose ranking with the top four selections sharing the “best” spot, the next few sharing second place, etc. No doubt I have made quite a few glaring omissions of my own.

For my #1 choice I should offer a brief explanation. Mulholland Dr., David Lynch’s exploration of the “Hollywood Dream”, is a masterpiece. The hypnotic and timeless blend of noir and dream logic, the power of the imagination related to the essential illusory reality that lies at the heart of film and which constantly reinvents itself. It’s an astonishing film, and it’s best to first  feel it rather than concern oneself with trying to explicitly understand it. Naomi Watts was fucking incredible in Mulholland Dr., a tour-de-force performance for a terrific role which was, naturally, completely ignored by the Academy. The director himself fared better, earning many well-deserved plaudits and awards for what was instantly recognized as one of his finest works. David Lynch took us all on a trip down to the Club Silencio and it was one of the finest things to happen to film in the early 21st century. “No hay banda!”

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11 comments

  1. I definitely prefer your list to the Onions. Probably because we watch the same sort of movies. Also the Onion has some pretty average movies in there. The Prestige for example.

    I would have Lives of Others at the top of my list though, but that may be because I, shamefully, have still not seen Mulholland Drive. Despite owning it for over 2 years….


  2. I gave Mulholland Dr. the edge because it’s a movie about movies, viewed through Lynch’s own particular lens. Kinda like if Robert Altman’s The Player and Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard were sharing the same dark dream.


  3. Bless me, David, for I have cinned:

    I have yet to see MULHOLLAND DRIVE. Have had numerous opportunities throughout the years, but Lynch is one of those directors to whom I haven’t been properly introduced. May require a primer of sorts (although, I do still have Switters’ copy of Eraserhead in my possession). So, yeah. In addition to Mulholland Drive, there’s no Lost Highway, no Blue Velvet, no The Straight Story… When I was in school we watched one of his early short films, The Alphabet.

    Ditto, Zodiac and Downfall

    That being said, I really like your list. Also, while I feel that Pan’s Labyrinth is the superior film in every way, The Devil’s Backbone is the Guillermo del Toro fable from the ’00s I prefer.

    I’m going to try to compile my list of 20 as well, though it may look similar to yours. And I don’t doubt it’ll take me just as long and I’ll be equally dissatisfied with the results.


  4. For what it’s worth–and I guess it’s worth whatever the sake of argument is worth–here’s my list of Top 20. Which will surely change in a few hours. (I actually made a list of my Top 50, but I don’t want to take over here or anything.)

    20. Brokeback Mountain
    19. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
    18. Dirty Pretty Things (U.K.)
    17. Memento
    16. Bourne Supremacy

    15. Nobody Knows (Japan)
    14. In the Mood for Love (Hong Kong)
    13. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (China)
    12. The Lives of Others (Germany)
    11. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

    10. The Incredibles
    9. Wonder Boys
    8. Spider-Man 2
    7. Oldboy (S. Korea)
    6. The Devil’s Backbone (Spain/Mexico)

    5. Let the Right One In (Sweden)
    4. Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (S. Korea)
    3. Twilight Samurai (Japan)
    2. No Country for Old Men
    1. City of God (Brazil)


  5. Ah, this is the shit. I love this kind of thing for it doth reveal my cins also.
    A big one being Dirty Pretty Things, it still remains un-cine! (arf)

    Chiwetel Ejiofor can do anything and that was his breakthrough role, if I recall correctly.


  6. Chuck, my thing with David Lynch goes way back. I got to some of his films at key moments when I was young and they blew me away. I don’t know if I could, as an adult, appreciate Wild At Heart like I did as a 13-year-old (I think I was around that age) and I don’t know now if I could feel the genuine nauseous fear I felt at a scene in Blue Velvet when I was 16 if I watched it for the first time today.
    Also, watching Lost Highway in the cinema when I was 17 and trying to decorate my bedroom to look like Lynch’s house (which was used in the film).

    J G Ballard declared Blue Velvet the best film of the 1980s, incidentally, and he positively loathed Star Wars so ya know he knows what he’s talking about.


  7. Well, look at you with your House-of-Flying-Daggers-instead-of-Crouching-Tiger at the #12 spot. I applaud you. Not because I agree, but it is an interesting choice. Flying Daggers didn’t grab me as much, but I do have vivid memories of that incredible ending. Crouching Tiger would be my choice, though, if not for the beauty of its story and fight sequences, than definitely for the fact that it was my gateway to the wonders of foreign film. I’d seen some before, but I was young and had trouble finding them accessible. Crouching Tiger just blew those doors wide open. I think it was that way for a lot of people.

    I really wish I could profess my love for The Lives of Others with you guys. I mean, I watched it, liked it, got into it, but it didn’t stick. I can’t for the life of me explain why.

    Mulholland Dr. is begging for a revisit. I saw it when it came out on video… with my parents. I really, really, need to see it again. So it’s not a CIN, but it kind of is, actually.

    Blue Velvet is the perfect primer for Lynch newcomers. I think it’s the most tonally consistent of Lynch’s Nightmare Films, as I like to call them (Wild at Heart, Mulholland Dr., Inland Empire, maybe Lost Highway, but I haven’t seen it yet). It’s slightly off-kilter the entire movie and everything that happens – no matter how bizarre – feels like it would happen in that world. Those other Nightmare Films of his tend to dip into provocative, incomprehensible sequences at the drop of a hat – which works for me sometimes, but other times not so much.

    Eraserhead is like a bonus – strictly for people who want to crawl deep inside Lynch’s head and get a peek at the gooey innards. Dammit, James, I should’ve sent you Blue Velvet way back when.

    Anyway, David, this is a great list. You really do need to get on Punch-Drunk Love. And did you see There Will Be Blood? Or did it just miss your Top 20?

    My list is on its way.


  8. I did see There Will Be Blood, Josh, but I didn’t put it up there. I thought about doing so but I realized that, if I did, it would be because of the critical acclaim it had received only and not my own personal feelings about it. I can recognize it’s a very good film but it just didn’t resonate with me as strongly as I was expecting. Maybe another viewing, and a few years distance, and I will feel differently and throw it up on a revised list.


  9. I’ve just noticed that the image I chose for Mulholland Dr. above makes it look like Naomi Watts is staring at my list and is alarmed and distressed by what she has found there.


  10. David,

    Glad I’m not the only one who didn’t have There Will Be Blood in his top 20. (Or in my Top 50, as I discovered making my list.) Daniel Day-Lewis is stellar and it did sort of answer my secret wish when I first saw Gangs of New York: namely that I’d pay to see a whole movie about Bill the Butcher, and couldn’t be arsed with the DiCaprio/Diaz plot. But while I loved the performance, the rest of the film just didn’t speak to me like No Country or Assassination.

    I highly recommend you get yourself some Dirty, Pretty Things. And by that I mean the film and not one of Tiger’s ladies. (Zing!) Chiwetel Ejiofor needs to be in every movie. Even more so, he needs to be T’Challa in the inevitable Black Panther comic-to-film adaptation (he’s a great actor, he’s African and he can fight–as he did in David Mamet’s underseen Redbelt).


  11. I been itching to throw my two cents in here, or my twenty picks for the ’00s as it is. When I started thinking about all the stellar movies I saw this decade (and how many shit ones) I found it was difficult to remember most of them, save for those that really made me squirm or almost sink into a sobbing fit. So most of these are films that had a very visceral effect upon me.
    1) City of God
    2) Antichrist
    3) Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead
    4) Pan’s Labyrinth
    5) Old Boy
    6) Amores Perros
    7) Capturing the Friedmans
    8 ) Audition
    9) Mullholland Drive
    10) Apocalypto
    11) District 9
    12) Monster
    13) Bus 174
    14) Grizzly Man
    15) Let the Right One In
    16) Visitor Q
    17) There Will Be Blood
    18) Eternal Sunshine…
    19) A Very Long Engagement
    20) Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon…
    ok five more…
    21) Irreversible
    22) Adaptation
    23) No Country For Old Men
    24) Death Proof
    25) Zeitgeist
    already cringing at some of this, but had to open this can of worms.



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