Best Films of the 2000's & 2010's

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  1. 9/10
  2. Inland Empire-Lynch (2006)

  3. 8.5/10
  4. Werckmeister Harmonies-Tarr (2000)

  5. 8/10
  6. Memento-Nolan (2001)
  7. Hero-Yimou (2002)
  8. 21 Grams-Inarritu (2003)
  9. Old Boy-Chan-wook (2003)
  10. Time-Ki-duk (2006)
  11. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind-Gondry (2004)

  12. 7.5/10
  13. The Willow Tree-Majidi (2005)
  14. Mulholland Drive-Lynch (2001)
  15. The Duchess of Langeais-Rivette (2007)
  16. The Tree of Life-Malick (2011)
  17. Synecdoche, New York-Kaufman (2008)
  18. Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring-Ki-duk (2003)
  19. Southland Tales-Kelly (2005)
  20. The Science of Sleep-Gondry (2006)
  21. The Beat That My Heart Skipped-Audiard (2005)
  22. There Will Be Blood-Anderson (2007)
  23. Cache-Haneke (2005)
  24. Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives-Weerasethakul (2010)
  25. Amelie-Jeunet (2001)
  26. Amores Perros-Inarritu (2000)
  27. Taxidermia-Palfi (2006)
  28. The Lives of Others-Donnersmarck (2007)
  29. Waltz With Bashir-Folman (2008)
  30. 2046-Kar Wai (2004)
  31. Dogville-Von Trier (2003)
  32. Adaptation-Jonze (2002)
  33. Poetry-Chang-dong (2010)
  34. Melancholia-Von Trier (2011)
  35. No Country For Old Men-Coen (2007)
  36. Requiem For A Dream-Aronofsky (2000)
  37. The White Ribbon-Haneke (2009)
Author Comments: 

My ratings and rankings for best films of this decade. Still have lots of films to view. Suggestions welcome.

I'm undecided about Southland Tales. On the one hand, a fascinating satire of pop culture; on the other hand, what seems like a needlessly convulted narrative with perhaps too many things it wanted to say. I do think Kelly was making some kind of "meta" statement having certain actors play against type (SNL performers as hardened, humorless revolutionaries) or beyond their abilities (Rock playing a serious lead, Timberlake). It's a very interesting film in any case. Like a beautiful wreck and the audience the rubberneckers.

I'd nominate Fog of War (2005), Adaptation (2002), Sin City (2005), and Sideways (2004) and maybe WALL-E (2008) for close to 7.5.

I think Southland Tales is both a fascinating satire and a needlessly convulted narrative with WAY too many things to say. That's what I love so much about it. It is totally brilliant, utterly ridiculous and completely, magnificently awful.

I really liked Sin City, which I'd probably rate a 7/10 (so if I get around to extending the list it will probably make it). And I also liked Sideways which I'd tag with a 6.5/10. I've seen some of Wall-E and it was interesting, but I'll have to finish it to give it a rating, and I don't think I've seen the other 2 yet. Thanks for the suggestions.

Fog of War is by the incomparable documentary filmmaker Errol Morris, arguably the finest talent working in his genre. His masterpiece and one of the greatest films of all time is Thin Blue Line, one of the few films that had demonstrable real world effects (and pioneered an abstract, meditative reenactment method). Ebert believes his first flick Gates of Heaven is one of the top 10 of all time. I'd rate that one at least an 8. Morris's gift (through years of being a private detective) is getting people to really open up on camera and start revealing all sorts of interesting things about themselves, other people, and life in general. Fog of War is an amazing interview with Robert McNamara, defense secretary under Kennedy and Johnson, who just died yesterday.

McNamara goes through his life lessons. From the film:

“We burned to death 100,000 Japanese civilians in Tokyo — men, women and children,” Mr. McNamara recalled; some 900,000 Japanese civilians died in all. “LeMay said, ‘If we’d lost the war, we’d all have been prosecuted as war criminals.’ And I think he’s right. He — and I’d say I — were behaving as war criminals.”

“What makes it immoral if you lose and not immoral if you win?” he asked. He found the question impossible to answer.

Adaptation is that Charlie Kaufman film about the scriptwriter writing himself into the movie. A great film about persona and fiction.

Inland
Empire.

I'm not even going to pretend that I fully understand it, but it's truly remarkable. Lynch's technique is flawless as he points the camera directly at his mind. Werckmeister Harmonies is a must see; I found Russian Ark to be very good; but my interest in the subject matter might make me biased; Children of Men had jaw dropping cinematography, A History of Violence and City of God are well worth watching...

I found Synecdoche to be terribly myopic, petty, egocentric and clueless. Kaufman seems to want to utter a universal truth, but he's completely hopeless in his cause. Caden's condition isn't universal, and that's why things fall apart. It doesn't explore the issue of misery; instead, the film is constructed from layers of self-pity. The premise is interesting, but the film is not.

Haven't found the time to finish Inland Empire yet but it was indeed fascinating, as Lynch always seems to be. Dern's performance was one of the greatest I've ever seen--but still, have to finish before I make my final ratings on it. Haven't sen Werkmeister yet but it's on my must-see list. Children of Men barely missed the cut. It would be one of the top 7's if I extended it (after all, it's no Nurse Betty! That one's for Parable). Another one that nearly made it was Pan's Labyrinth. Haven't seen History of Violence or City of God yet but I've heard great things about each.

Re: Synecdoche. I thought it was stunning, featuring the greatest ensemble acting in the history of cinema (with Hoffman's performance a serious contender for best performance ever). I thought Kaufman portrayed the inexplicable feeling of passing time and the odd experience of life, the desire for connection, for something more, to be felt, to be loved, brilliantly. Caden's condition isn't universal which is why he has such a difficult time creating those connections and getting those experiences out of life. I thought Hoffman's struggles were an extension of the director's personality, and the film itself as a struggle was merely an extension of this, not a flaw in particular. It only made it more powerful and strange and confounding and speechless to watch.

Memento is excellent, good choice. At the end of the film, there's absolutely no one you can trust (not even the crooked cop Teddy). What do you think of Magnolia? I think it's slightly better than Blood.

I really like Magnolia. About 8 or 9 years ago I had it ranked as one of the greatest films ever. It's funny you mention it because I've recently been having urges to revisit it, wondering if it could regain that distinction. Currently, in memory it seems better than my last rating of it from a few years ago (7.5/10).

If you're suggesting it for this list, it's from 1999, otherwise it would indeed place in the 7.5 range (and perhaps higher when I revisit it!)

It seems like just about everyone had a huge crush on Paul Thomas Anderson when they were 'younger' (I'm assuming on your part). I remember being tenderly, tragically in love with Punch Drunk Love a few years back (the colours, the music, Adam Sandler's isolation). He's a good director no doubt, but that was also back when I knew relatively little about cinema. And now I'm finding out I still know little, not being aware of Tarkovsky or Dryer or Welles for that matter, among many others. So many directors to check out, oi. Jeez, I sound like I'm complaining about great art that lays ahead, but it's really just kvetching. 7.5 sounds about right. O-ho, you're right I did not realize Magnolia was 90's, nor did I know that PTA is only 40 years old. Looks like he should be able to squeeze out at least another 3-4 films. By the way, did you Death Proof?

Nope. Is it good?

Yes, from what I remember it was Tarantino's best since Pulp Fiction. He did a great job of getting into the female psyche on that one.

And if you dig Kurt Russell, it's a must watch!

Very good call on Lives of Others! What an elegant film.

Considering the things here, I've got a suggestion for a recent film I think you might like (although you'll likely have to get a bootleg). Matthew Barney's "Cremaster 3: The Order". It's at least as innovatively insane and inventing-its-own-language as Inland Empire (which i am damn fond of myself). The Cremaster series is worth checking out as a whole, as well. Makes for an interesting five-act 7.5 hour movie 10 years in the making. But Cremaster 3 stands on its own pretty well, at least better than other chapters.

I just read some about #3 and the cycle itself and it sounds interesting, though admittedly more novelty than anything else. Are the films or any parts of it particularly emotional or are they merely very interesting for their novelty? Is there a building of impact, either via the characters performances or by the narrative pull, or both?

There is plenty of narrative and conceptual pull to it. They're just very very unlike most movies. The Art direction is more inspired by Installation Art than sets of films-- the acting is more inspired by Performance Art than Acting-- and so on. The films are for the most part somewhat abstract but often have a really exciting quality to them-- I've described them as "The big-budget action films of the Art world".
3, especially, is the most emotionally engaging (at the intermission I wanted to stand up and ROAR I was so excited about it), but I think they all become better (even the mediocre ones) when you watch them all in numerical order. 3 is the best, but they're all worth watching. 1 is something of a minimalist Busby Berkley musical. 2 is kind of a murder docu-drama. 3 is a silent dark comedy and action film. 4 is a motorcycle race. 5 is an opera. All of these things filtered through Matthew Barney's weird fascination with biology and the artistic process itself.
I don't think they're really novelty films at all-- as much of a novelty as David Lynch, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, or Terry Gilliam, or any number of other "WEIRD" directors.

don't listen to zac he is gay irl and thinks Gena Rowlands is a grade A actress. you're better off listening to Perez Hilton. I've described his anus as "the gaping black hole of the Downtown Eastside" really takes everything in. o wait u r a gay as well awkward.

Holy crap I just noticed this reply for the first time! Drunk people are howlingly funny sometimes! Especially being ridiculed by one!

Really? Southland Tales had something to say? I must have missed that part.

Yep, must've been too profound for you ( :

It may be a testament to my supreme egotism, but, I doubt that.

Well, the film is very laid back and tentative, it's meanings very hidden and elusive so...

( :

Very laid back....tentative...ha! It was a very decadent and excessive way to impart any kind of message. I think what turned me off most was it's blockbuster-style presentation. It's the kind of offensive film made by a "prophetic" crank who doesn't actually know much about the world around him. I found it incredibly juvenile, yet oddly alluring. I mean, it did have an absurd kind of seriousness to it. It was just overwhelmingly debauched. And even if that was his intention it certainly wasn't my cup of tea.

Irreversible?

Haven't seen it. How does it compare to Memento?

More intense, more philisophical. Equally brilliant in its development of character.

Thanks, I want to see it now.

I just saw Darren Aronofsky's 'The Fountain'. it was brilliant, currently a 8/10 for me.

I agree on its brilliance. Last I rated it I gave it a 7/10.

I recommend 'In the Mood For Love' as the top film of the decade, and only film I would give a 10/10 to. However, Wong Kar-Wai is not everyone's cup of tea, and I would recommend seeing Chungking Express (1994) or even the sequel to 'Mood' , '2046' before taking on his masterpiece - In The Mood For Love.

I'm with Elston on this one, for the life of me I can't figure out why Southland Tales makes the list, I'd say it's one of the worst films of the decade.

It's nothing more than a juvenile vanity project. You say it has "[way] too many things to say" like it's a good thing, and I can't figure that out. He seems misguided and appears to have confused "artistic ambition" with "more is better". Sure, if he was even a little coherent he might be able to carry out his sprawling vision (that isn't even strong to begin with), but as it stands he falls flat on his face. It's such a self-conscious, narcissistic work; and the fact that in order to make head or tail of the film you have to do your homework by reading three comic books beforehand is just the icing on the cake.

It's an irredeemable, puerile film in my eyes.

Amen, dude.

It's a good movie, but I don't connect with that guy. I will admit that he did an excellent job making it: you can tell he put a lot of work into that film. And for what it is, it does really work. A pretty cool film, just a little too silly for me to take it seriously.

I agree with everything you said...

I've seen it twice and it was even better the second viewing--one of the greatest crappy films of all time!

Can you let us know more about what you get out of it? What are some of the things it has to say, in your eyes? For example, the line "Pimps don't commit suicide" struck me as a nonsensical, failed attempt at depth, but is that something you found profound, and if so, why?

As a side note, it's possible that I've already recommended this to you, but have you seen Before the Devil Knows You're Dead? If not, think you might like it. Like 21 Grams, it features an intensely emotional narrative and fractured storytelling.

I don't think "profound" is the right word for Southland Tales.

I find it something close to awe-inspiring: almost frighteningly overblown and sensational and unrelentingly hilarious. It's frothing at the mouth with ideas and innuendos. I found it very inventive in it's visual presentation, like that of a webpage--surely a swipe at today's internet society. Everything about it is outrageously fanatical--it's like one big worship and ode to everything that is awful about our civilization--I love how it goes into so much depth and detail about nothing in particular but everything at once, about a tale that is so ridiculous and nonsensical. It pummels the viewer into submission, and for me it becomes amazing as futuristic comedy and parody. It knows it's a failure and that's exactly the point, because its subjects are too.

re: Before the Devil Knows You're Dead...I think I remember you or someone else mentioning it and it's one I've thought about renting a number of times when I occasionally grab something at the video store, so you could say I'm on the verge of seeing it in the not too distant future. Thanks ( :

just saw "The squid and the whale". an 8 in my book.

They certainly win Neurotic Family of the Year Award '07

Strangely, and I can't even remember how or why, I've seen the bulk of the film, but didn't finish--again I don't know why. It was very good...I would like to finish it one of these days. Thanks.

Primer?

Haven't seen it but according to Parable it is quite good. Any thoughts?

A.I. Artificial Intelligence is one of my faves of the decade. Have you seen that, AfterHours?

Yep I enjoyed it quite a bit. Has a certain eeriness to it - sweet and also quite unsettling.

I cannot remember for certain but I think you already had Requiem For A Dream on the list but further down. Any reason you now find it to be significantly better?

Yep, had it as an 8/10 before today. I rewatched (after not having seen it for years) and found it to be overwhelmingly powerful. The acting is some of the best ever, the editing is astonishing (not just the "drug montages" but also the pattern and structure and ingenuity of the different forms of cinematography and of the sequences of shots/scenes). The music is amazing, the thematic arc is devastating...etc...

I agree with all those points. I certainly think it is the most focused work of Aronofsky's that I've seen and that helps towards making it such a powerful experience.

Agreed

Another point, as an aside, is that I think the last 40-ish percent of the film is probably the closest cinema has come to a filmed equivalent of VU's "Sister Ray".

Wonderful to see The Tree of Life so high up. I haven't been able to stop thinking about it for the past few days. One of the most powerful experiences I've had in a theater.

Yea, isn't it? I've seen it 2 times now and may make it a 3rd before I run out of chances to see it on the big screen. It's definitely a prime example of a film to see in the theater...

I feel exactly the same way about Southland Tales as you do.

Yes, surely one of the most underrated films ever? :)

I would definitely describe it as under-appreciated, in that people are completely unwilling to give it the benefit of the doubt. I've seen it three or four times, and I am still finding things to admire/gawk at.

Me too :)

No love for The Fountain?

I really like it quite a bit, just not enough to make it on here. Though impressive in its own right (especially visually), I don't think it's as good as Aronofsky's best films: Pi (imo clearly his peak so far, 7.6/10) then Requiem for a Dream (7.3/10, the cut-off point to be on this list), then Black Swan (7.2/10) and then The Fountain (probably 7.0/10)

I'm surprised Angelopoulos' The Weeping Meadow isn't here, get on it!

How do you find Memento stands to rewatches? I recently saw it again (I wish I'd seen Eternity & a Day instead) and I struggled to find anything artistically redeeming about it. An enormously competent thriller that has nothing to say about life. The Prestige is probably my favorite Nolan, although maybe that would also fall flat if I were to see it again.

I can see ways of how to improve Memento - I mean, it's not a 10. On one viewing I thought of it more as a 7.5/10 but the rest have maintained anywhere from 7.8-8.2-ish. I think it's extremely important to put oneself in the shoes of the main character as the entire structure and themes of the film are his state of mind. I do think if it expressed this state more strongly in a visual sense, giving the viewer a more palpable experience of it in addition to what it already does, it would likely be one of the 30 or so greatest films ever made. But that's nitpicking on what is imo already an amazing film.

Haven't seen Angelopoulos' Weeping Meadow yet, though I'll get my sheeyit together! :-) If possible, I'll probably go with Beekeeper first (part of which I've seen and it was AMAZING), and Suspended Step of the Stork. Angelopoulos' catalog is on the verge of being fully remastered and re-released - and I can't friggin' wait. He could be one of the 3, 4 or 5 greatest directors ever. Already as it is, he is clearly top 10 and only rising in my estimation with each new viewing.

Yes, please see Eternity and a Day. It is Nostalghia's "kid brother" though don't take that statement too lightly - it's definitely one of the greatest films ever made, and I wouldn't be surprised at all if you rated it very highly.

How would you rate animated movies? Like, say, The Incredibles, Monsters Inc, Ratatouille, etc?

I rate animated movies on the same criteria as any other film, though I haven't seen the 3 you mentioned. The best I've ever seen is Waltz with Bashir (7.5/10), then Grave of the Fireflies (7/10), then probably Disney's original Pinnochio (7/10). Avatar and Waking Life are probably in that range. Bambi might be too, though I haven't seen it in ages so I'm not sure.

Oh boy, you should! Rango, How to Train Your Dragon, and Toy Story, if you haven't seen them already, are also recommended.

I have seen Pinocchio, it is great too!

And Fantasia, do you like that one?

Thanks, Toy Story and Fantasia are probably 7/10 as well.

You're welcome :)

The raid, solid 7.5

You're confusing the first and last names of some of the Asian filmmakers, because they say the last name first there. Wong Kar-Wai's family name is Wong. Lee Chang-dong's is Lee. Kim Ki-Duk's is Kim. Park Chan-Wook's is Park.

you Thank :)