The TONY 50 Best Films of the Decade List

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Damien
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Postby Damien » Wed Nov 25, 2009 12:24 am

Sabin wrote:
Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind is illustrated in the dictionary next to "putrid"

Ha! No it's not! I just checked and you're wrong! There is nothing illustrated in the dictionary next to putrid.

I say it's the best film of the decade.

Damn, i just looked up "insane" and there was your picture. But, Josh, you know I love you beaucoup.
"Y'know, that's one of the things I like about Mitt Romney. He's been consistent since he changed his mind." -- Christine O'Donnell

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Postby Sabin » Tue Nov 24, 2009 7:20 pm

Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind is illustrated in the dictionary next to "putrid"

Ha! No it's not! I just checked and you're wrong! There is nothing illustrated in the dictionary next to putrid.

I say it's the best film of the decade.
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver

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Postby Damien » Tue Nov 24, 2009 7:01 pm

Another List:

November 23, 2009
Thai film tops TIFF list of decade's best
By CBC Arts


A Thai arthouse film is the most respected movie of the decade, according to a poll of film curators, historians and festival programmers.

A survey of film curators, historians, and festival programmers has chosen a Thai art-house movie to top the list of the decade's most respected films.

Syndromes and a Century by Apichatpong Weerasethakul heads the tally of more than 50 films chosen as the best of the 2000s by TIFF Cinematheque, the year-round screening program of the Toronto International Film Festival.

The film about a husband and wife working as doctors in rural Thailand has two stories set 50 years apart and is an examination of memory and the desire to become better people.

Two films by Chinese director Jia Zhang-ke took the second and third spots on the list ? Platform and Still Life.

The list includes works by Agnes Varda, Ingmar Bergman, Jean-Luc Godard, Pedro Almodóvar, Gus Van Sant and David Lynch.



Canadian filmmakers on the list include David Cronenberg for A History of Violence, Guy Maddin for The Heart of the World and My Winnipeg, and Zacharias Kunuk for Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner.

The list has 21 films from France, nine from the U.S., seven from Germany, six from Taiwan, and four each from Japan, China and Italy. Canada had three, as the Cronenberg film was categorized as an American production.

The rankings are based on a poll of more than 60 film experts around the world, with films that got equal votes sharing a ranking.

The list:

Syndromes and a Century (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Thailand).

Platform (Jia Zhang-ke, Hong Kong, China/China/Japan/France)

Still Life (Jia Zhang-ke, China).

Beau travail (Claire Denis, France).

In the Mood for Love (Wong Kar-wai, Hong Kong, China),

Tropical Malady (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, France/Thailand/Germany/Italy).

The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (Cristi Puiu, Romania)

Werckmeister Harmonies (Béla Tarr, Hungary).

Éloge de l'amour (Jean-Luc Godard, Switzerland/ France).

4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days (Cristian Mungiu, Romania).

Silent Light (Carlos Reygadas, Mexico/France/Netherlands).

Russian Ark (Alexander Sokurov, Russia/Germany).

The New World (Terrence Malick, U.S.)

Blissfully Yours (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, France/Thailand).

Le Fils (Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne, Belgium/France).

Colossal Youth (Pedro Costa, Portugal/France/Switzerland).

Les Glaneurs et la glaneuse (Agnès Varda, France

In Vanda's Room (Pedro Costa, Portugal/Germany/Italy/Switzerland); Songs from the Second Floor (Roy Andersson, Sweden/Denmark/Norway).
Caché (Michael Haneke, France/Austria/Germany/Italy); A History of Violence (David Cronenberg, classified as a U.S. film despite the director's Canadian nationality.); Mulholland Drive (David Lynch, France/USA); Three Times (Hou Hsiao-hsien, Taiwan).

Rois et reine (Arnaud Desplechin, France).

Elephant (Gus Van Sant, U.S.)

Talk to Her (Pedro Almodóvar, Spain).

The Wind Will Carry Us (Abbas Kiarostami, Iran/France); Yi Yi (A One and a Two) (Edward Yang, Taiwan/Japan).

Pan's Labyrinth (Guillermo del Toro, Spain).

L'Enfant (Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne, Belgium/France); The Heart of the World (Guy Maddin, Canada); I Don't Want to Sleep Alone (Tsai Ming-liang, Taiwan/France/Austria); Star Spangled to Death (Ken Jacobs, U.S.)
The World (Jia Zhang-ke, China/Japan/France).

Café Lumière (Hou Hsiao-hsien, Japan); The Headless Woman (Lucrecia Martel, Argentina/Spain/France/Italy); L'Intrus (Claire Denis, France); Millennium Mambo (Hou Hsiao-hsien, Taiwan/France); My Winnipeg (Guy Maddin, Canada); Saraband (Ingmar Bergman, Sweden); Spirited Away (Hiyao Miyazaki, Japan); I'm Not There (Todd Haynes, U.S.)

Gerry (Gus Van Sant, U.S.).

Distant (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Turkey); Dogville (Lars von Trier, Denmark/Sweden/UK/France/Germany); The Royal Tenenbaums (Wes Anderson, U.S.);

Alexandra (Alexander Sokurov, Russia/France); Demonlover (Olivier Assayas, France).

Atanarjuat, The Fast Runner (Zacharias Kunuk, Canada); Goodbye, Dragon Inn (Tsai Ming-liang, Taiwan).

Longing (Valeska Grisebach, Germany); Secret Sunshine (Lee Chang-dong, South Korea); Vai e Vem (João César Monteiro, Portugal); Far From Heaven (Todd Haynes, U.S./France).
"Y'know, that's one of the things I like about Mitt Romney. He's been consistent since he changed his mind." -- Christine O'Donnell

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Postby Damien » Tue Nov 24, 2009 6:46 pm

There's a lot of nonsense here -- Songs From The Second Floor is probably the most insufferable film of the decade NOT directed by Paul Thomas Anderson and Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind is illustrated in the dictionary next to "putrid" -- but some lovely surprises, most particularly Femme Fatale, Before Sunset, AI: Artificial Intelligence and especially Lilya 4-Ever.



Edited By Damien on 1259106517
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Postby Sabin » Tue Nov 24, 2009 5:21 pm

Film
The TONY top 50 movies of the decade
We count down the movies that mattered.


Who knows what to call them: the Aughts, the Naughts, the “Double-Os.” Actually, we prefer the Uh-Ohs, given the movies these ten years have produced. Looking back, we found mastery and mirth—but mainly a lot of pain. This makes perfect sense. Cinema reflects the age it’s made in. We asked 14 of our contributors to provide a ranked ballot of their ten favorites. After tabulating the results (and engaging in some decidedly unscientific back-and-forth), Team Film arrived at a vivid picture of a troubled time. Did we miss anything? Let us know. You can click on any writer’s byline to see their personal list.

Participants: David Fear, Joshua Rothkopf, Keith Uhlich, Stephen Garrett, Andrew Grant, Aaron Hillis, Kevin B. Lee, Karina Longworth, Maitland McDonagh, Troy Patterson, Nicolas Rapold, Lisa Rosman, Nick Schager, S. James Snyder.

50. THE 40-YEAR-OLD VIRGIN (2005) (stay with them)
Heartwarming raunch? The Farrelly brothers scored big in the 1990s with sweet-and-shallow larks but Judd Apatow spent the next decade making the formula downright deep. Virgin is his masterpiece: a hilarious rendering of bromantic insecurity surrounding one decent man’s search for someone to fuck. Or even love.—Stephen Garrett

49. MAN PUSH CART (2005)
For director Ramin Bahrani, magic comes in neorealist mosaics that hover inches from the hopes and hurts of his characters. His breakthrough film was a stripped-down, steadfast study of an NYC food-cart operator, slogging through Manhattan’s canyons at dawn. A celebration of the daily routine of perseverance, it’s a movie fascinated with the little guy.—S. James Snyder

48. DONNIE DARKO (2001)
Disaffected suburban teen Donnie gets dire warnings about the future from a guy in a tatty rabbit suit: Is he losing his mind or is he the sole fixed point in a world whose center will not hold? The more often you revisit it, the better Richard Kelly’s sly debut looks, and a 2004 director’s cut takes the WTF trippiness to a whole other level.—Maitland McDonagh

47. 25TH HOUR (2002)
Two shafts of light pierce the sky above Ground Zero, lending a weighty sense of fatalism to this portrait of a convicted criminal’s final night of freedom. It’s the first and best of the 9/11-related movies, teeming with a bruised urbanity supplied by Spike Lee, who quietly topped himself.—Joshua Rothkopf

46. TURNING GATE (2002)
Though adored by critics, Hong-sang Soo’s brutally honest exposés of masculine ego have yet to find commercial success. This 2002 drama about the romantic foibles of a washed-up actor is the Korean director’s strongest and most erotic film to date. That it’s never had a proper U.S. release is ridiculous—it made believers out of all who saw it.—Andrew Grant

45. TALK TO HER (2002)
Pedro Almodóvar’s brilliantly eccentric girlfriend-in-a-coma melodrama combines a female matador, silent-film dream sequences and an exquisite depth of insight into the male psyche (rare for this feminist auteur). In a decade of comparatively conventional efforts, it’s easily the director’s most challenging achievement.—Stephen Garrett

44. SYNDROMES AND A CENTURY (2006)
Thai filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul turns the memories of his doctor parents into a narrative seed, planting it in both a jungle and a city hospital to see what will grow from each. Few recent films seem as driven by pure, organic intuition—and are as consistently sublime.—Kevin B. Lee

43. SILENT LIGHT (2007)
Carlos Reygadas’s visual masterpiece is the antithesis of what fellow Mexican filmmakers like Alejandro González Iñárritu (Babel) have elevated into a cloying brand: sprawling meta-meditations on globally interconnected anxiety. More interested in mood and texture than didactic lecture, this Mennonite riff on Carl Dreyer’s Ordet spins a crisis of faith and fidelity into an unforgettable, nearly psychedelic experience.—Karina Longworth

42. HEAD-ON (2004)
German filmmaker Fatih Akin’s fatalistic tale of two beautiful losers who enter into a marriage of convenience is the best chronicle of a punk-rock romance since Sid met Nancy. It’s also a wonderful ode to the modern Teutonic-Turkish diaspora experience, adding sociological depth to what’s already a supernova melodrama.—David Fear

41. GRIZZLY MAN (2005)
Fearless auteur Werner Herzog wouldn’t be content with a mere character portrait of eccentric environmentalist Timothy Treadwell, who cohabitated with grizzly bears before being eaten by one. Deepening the possibilities of documentary, Herzog inserts himself into the chronicle, canonizes Treadwell’s accidentally poetic nature films and disagrees with his subject’s invasion of nature.—Aaron Hillis

40. FIVE DEDICATED TO OZU (2003)
The best of Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami’s shot-on-video features strings together five hypnotic long takes of the seashore. Whether gazing at a waddling group of ducks or listening to the harmonizing sounds of frogs by moonlight, the director uncovers the profound poetry underlying the natural world.—Keith Uhlich

39. DANCER IN THE DARK (2000)
Björk’s screen debut and probable swan song (Oscar-dress pun intended) perfectly encapsulates director Lars von Trier’s genius—and his faults. A multiple-camera experiment that obscures as much as it reveals, this often atonal musical about a innocent woman railroaded onto death row remains, in spite of (or maybe because of) its contradictions, deeply affecting.—Karina Longworth

38. CACHÉ (2005)
Someone is terrorizing Juliette Binoche and Daniel Auteuil by delivering videotapes on which they are the secretly filmed subjects—but who’s the culprit? A squirmy, jigsaw-puzzle allegory about guilt and revenge, Michael Haneke’s icy masterpiece points his camera and finger at the audience, forcing us to question our own unresolved bloodlusts.—Aaron Hillis

37. THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS (2001)
Encapsulating both Wes Anderson’s idiosyncratically mannered style and his unjustly underrated humanism, this Salingeresque storybook of familial genius and dysfunction stands as his most majestic film. Led by Gene Hackman’s regally flawed patriarch and electrified by bountiful pop songs, it’s a dreamy tapestry of misery, regret and joy.—Nick Schager

36. PAN’S LABYRINTH (2006)
Monsters are everywhere in Guillermo del Toro’s dark fairy tale, set in post–Civil War Spain. Dreamy 11-year-old Ofelia retreats into an imaginary world of feral fauns and fairies rather than face the Fascist in her mother’s bed. But her fantasy world proves as brutal as the real one; the uses of enchantment have never seemed so bleakly powerful.—Maitland McDonagh

35. MIAMI VICE (2006)
Writer-director Michael Mann brilliantly rethinks the seminal 1980s TV series on which he made his name. The hi-def videography gives a tactile, scorching sense of the characters’ surroundings, and Colin Farrell and Gong Li’s doomed love affair bears the full tragic brunt of Mann’s mesmerizing on-the-fly narrative.—Keith Uhlich

34. LILYA 4-EVER (2002)
She wanders the post-Soviet slums, dreaming of America. But after a brutal parental abandonment, this teen falls deeply into a trap. Young Oksana Akinshina gives the performance of a lifetime, worthy of Mouchette; her director, Sweden’s Lukas Moodysson, was, at this moment, the world’s most compassionate filmmaker.—Joshua Rothkopf

33. 4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS AND 2 DAYS (2007)
Young Gabita needs an abortion in 1980s Romania, where such things are illegal, and her roommate helps her scrap together cash to pay a man with questionable credentials. When things go terribly wrong in a hotel room, these women find a means to grit their teeth and survive. Cristian Mungiu’s pressure cooker of a drama, widely praised upon its release, is an unflinching journey into the waking nightmare of an oppressed people.—S. James Snyder

32. EUREKA (2000)
With its four-hour running time, Shinji Aoyama’s sepia-toned road movie (indebted to the work of John Ford) lacked mass appeal—that’s fair. But as an exploration of the post-traumatic effects of a violent bus hijacking, it was a powerful and eerily prescient metaphor for the fear culture that plagued the decade.—Andrew Grant

31. AI ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (2001)
Steven Spielberg inherited Stanley Kubrick’s project about a robot boy’s quest to become human, furthering his own descent into dark, challenging entertainment. Met with exasperation upon its release, it’s the rare superbudgeted spectacle that’s ambitiously provocative, using jaw-dropping special effects to probe the nature and future of humankind.—Kevin B. Lee

30. CHILDREN OF MEN (2006)
A stunner of immersive storytelling, Alfonso Cuarón’s apocalyptic thriller plays out almost in real time, propelled by hypnotic long takes. In a future world where infertility has made the masses hopeless and the ruling class has exploited fear to divide and conquer, a band of British fugitives rally around the first baby in 18 years, breaking police barricades to reassert the very best of humanity.—S. James Snyder

29. SONGS FROM THE SECOND FLOOR (2000)
Buster Keaton and Ingmar Bergman haunt Roy Andersson’s comic dystopia, a series of absurdist vignettes set in an out-of-time Scandinavian civilization and shot completely on soundstages. Stiflingly artificial and yet thrillingly alive, the movie’s stone-faced look at the human condition lurches from bellyaching laughter to stomach-churning despair—perfect for a decade of global unease.—Stephen Garrett

28. BEFORE SUNSET (2004)
Nine years after their brief encounter, we return to Before Sunrise’s Europass romantics—and how heartbreakingly fragile they seem. Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy turn in career-high work in this golden-hour Richard Linklater drama, the ultimate argument for sequels done right.—Joshua Rothkopf

27. OLDBOY (2003)
Park Chan-wook’s deliriously divisive fable is an escalating series of outrages, perpetrated against (and by) a hapless salaryman-turned-avenger whose quest is as romantic as it is perversely unforgettable. Park’s beyond-the-pale sensibilities triggered the usual pop-culture alarms: Did Oldboy empower the Virginia Tech killer? How could Steven Spielberg and Will Smith have considered doing a U.S. remake? Now take a deep breath and step back: The movie that sparks such discomfiting thoughts is the movie you need to see.—Maitland McDonagh

26. KINGS AND QUEEN (2004)
A kaleidoscopic reinvention of the domestic drama, Arnaud Desplechin’s triumph takes a single mom, her bitter, ailing father and an unhinged ex-lover stuck in a mental hospital (the revelatory Mathieu Amalric) and weaves seriocomic gold. Woody Allen should have taken notes.—Joshua Rothkopf

25. INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS (2009)
Making good on the promise of his pulp-transcending genius, Quentin Tarantino’s WWII revenge fantasy delivers a sublime assault on the senses of sight, sound and morality, audacious at every step. To invoke a closing line that can’t get invoked enough, his New Wave spaghetti Western “just might be his masterpiece.”—Troy Patterson

24. I HEART HUCKABEES (2004)
Combining French farce, psychedelia and Mark Wahlberg as a fireman on a dirt bike, David O. Russell covers every stage of the spiritually thirsty American’s quest to tolerate mundanity without surrendering to it. This existentialist comedy, featuring Jason Schwartzman as a too-earnest environmentalist, proved downright anthemic in oddbot times, tossing about hard questions like a metaphysical pizza.—Lisa Rosman

23. THE DEATH OF MR. LAZARESCU (2005)
The first volley of the decade’s much-lauded revolution in Romanian cinema chronicles a pudgy retiree’s fatal one-night journey through Bucharest’s overburdened hospitals. Tinged with post–Soviet Bloc sarcasm but subtler than an anticommunist screed, Cristi Puiu’s riveting drama features a protagonist who is unconscious half the time—an astonishing feat of orchestration and focus.—Nicolas Rapold

22. SYNECDOCHE, NEW YORK (2008)
Already one of the decade’s most iconoclastic screenwriters, Charlie Kaufman upped the stakes with his directorial debut, a morose but playful psychological puzzle about the life of a tortured playwright (Philip Seymour Hoffman) that literally reconstructs reality as it grapples with issues of love, death and creation. A perfect snapshot of a midlife crisis, circa this very moment.—Andrew Grant

21. BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN (2005)
Ang Lee’s epic tale of a love affair between two male ranchers with big sky in their eyes was glibly labeled “the gay cowboy movie.” But beneath its sweeping vistas and breathless melodrama, the film brilliantly calls the bluff of the Western, that most American of film traditions, in order to excavate the universal loneliness and longing at the core of this country’s bluster.—Lisa Rosman

20. THE MAD SONGS OF FERNANDA HUSSEIN (2001)
A milestone for American independent cinema, this deeply affecting cri de coeur against Iraq War I, from experimental writer-director John Gianvito (who’d follow up with 2007’s Profit Motive and the Whispering Wind), interweaves three New Mexico–set tales. A woman with the surname Hussein is the victim of a horrible attack; a passionate high-school activist protests the war to his family’s chagrin; and a shell-shocked soldier struggles to survive upon returning home from the battlefield. Gianvito clearly leans left, but his movie rises above any encumbering ideological slant, especially in an illuminating finale in which all the characters euphorically gather at a communal effigy burning.—Keith Uhlich

19. I’M NOT THERE (2007)
In mining Bob Dylan’s rich catalog of aliases rather than pinning him to one identity, this movie captures how the “1960s” really meant everything from Woody Guthrie’s 1940s to Vietnam’s 1970s—and how it was arguably the last time you could show your love for this country by trying to change it. Todd Haynes achieves the seemingly impossible: a truly great music biopic as wistfully singular as its subject.—Lisa Rosman

18. FEMME FATALE (2002)
After double-crossing her partners in crime during a film festival heist, a jewel thief goes on the run to Paris. Her adventures unfold with a sensual dream logic that shows writer-director Brian De Palma operating at peak form. Rife with sleaze and showboating (split screens galore; a tantalizing third-act striptease), Femme Fatale is also a playful inquiry into one of the oldest noir archetypes (see the title).—Keith Uhlich

17. GOSFORD PARK (2001)
Set at an English country house, Robert Altman’s last great film is both a scabrous class study and a whodunit that makes “Who am I?” a central question. Working from Julian Fellowes’s consummately witty screenplay, the director revisits his fascination with hierarchies of power and rewrites the rules of the game.—Troy Patterson

16. PUNCH-DRUNK LOVE (2002)
Feted by Cannes but ignored by audiences and the Oscars, Paul Thomas Anderson’s cracked ode to the transformative power of love in a world that actively mocks sensitivity is perhaps his most original work. Starring Adam Sandler as a tantrum-prone man-boy whose unlikely bond with a luminous Emily Watson gives him strength, it may be the only romance to fully skirt cliché.—Karina Longworth

15. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE (2001)
A hardy perennial across decades of top-ten lists, vérité auteur Frederick Wiseman again disproved stereotypes of his work with this heartrending look at a battered-women’s shelter. Amid a resurgence of documentary filmmaking that saw numerous formulaic social-interest pictures, Wiseman achieved devastating emotional impact with his tried-and-true approach.—Nicolas Rapold

14. TROUBLE EVERY DAY (2001)
A vampire tale soaked in unnerving silences and flesh-eating feasts, Claire Denis’s inversion of the traditional horror movie creates an indelible portrait of sexual compulsion. Infused with melancholy (exuded by its gloomy score by alt-rock band Tindersticks), the film makes its STD undercurrents hauntingly romantic. Even a crazed Vincent Gallo works.—Nick Schager

13. INLAND EMPIRE (2006)
David Lynch inverts the arc of his great Mulholland Drive: Instead of following an actor swallowed whole by tragedy, he follows one who blazingly overcomes it. Shot on consumer-grade camcorders over several years and through several countries, this is one of Lynch’s deepest delves into the subconscious. Holding it all together is the great Laura Dern, who turns on a dime from a naive little-girl-lost to a hardened former vamp—and ultimately, a beatific savior.--Keith Uhlich

12. AMERICAN PSYCHO (2000)
Made during the dot-com boom and a shrewd comment on capitalist appetites, Mary Harron’s comic-horror take on the Bret Easton Ellis novel styles a serial-killing banker as the embodiment of the Gordon Gekko ’80s. Star Christian Bale goes over the top and takes flight like a winged demon, delivering one of the decade’s most memorable performances.—Troy Patterson

11. SPIRITED AWAY (2001)
It’s easy to be impressed by vivacious animation, but Japanese master Hayao Miyazaki’s timeless fantasia—about a ten-year-old girl who moves to a town inhabited by beasts and specters—also entrances with Shakespearean wit, brothers-Grimm–like folklore and more emotional complexity than most year-end prestige pictures.—Aaron Hillis

10. FRIDAY NIGHT (2002)
At decade’s end, French director Claire Denis stands tall as the respected purveyor of a signature sensibility: gauzy, intimate, suspended in time. (Her most recent stateside release, 35 Shots of Rum, might be too fresh for this poll, but you can expect it on several year-end lists.) Could it be that her sexy 2002 hotel-room romance, at the time considered minor, is actually her most profound and expressive work? Friday Night takes only the merest steps toward plot—in a cacophonous Parisian traffic jam, a young woman picks up a handsome stranger. Together, they are cocooned in a private spell that enraptures them; the evening is young. Lush imagery by Denis’s cinematographer, Agnès Godard, brings tears to any movie lover’s eyes as the amorous duo slips between the sheets, into each other’s consciousness and then, as these things go, apart. There’s not a false note here.—Joshua Rothkopf

9. A CHRISTMAS TALE (2008)
Anybody can make a movie about how miserable holiday family get-togethers are; it takes a filmmaker like Arnaud Desplechin (Kings and Queen; see also No. 26), however, to turn this premise into a sprawling, free-form meditation on morality, mortality and unresolved matters of the heart. The Vuillard clan’s matriarch (vive Catherine Deneuve!) has been diagnosed with leukemia, which killed her firstborn ages ago. The resident black-sheep son (Mathieu Amalric) is an eligible donor, though not even his good bone marrow can cure the bad blood between them. That’s only one of several stories in Desplechin’s novelistic take on the ties that bind and gag, which follows various siblings, grandchildren and cousins as they trade barbs and deal with age-old baggage. This French drama’s subversion of the usual seasons-gratings conventions is enough to make it unique, but it’s the graceful, organic way that the director lets these characters interact—and his refusal to pander with easy emotional resolutions—that make this movie such a rich, rewarding gift.—David Fear

8. ZODIAC (2007)
Has a director ever grown up so well in the limelight as David Fincher? Starting with platinum-tinted Madonna videos, he matured by millennium’s end into a Hollywood subversive with style to burn. And still, no one—not his critics nor his fans—expected the shockingly intelligent exploration of obsession that Zodiac appeared to be. On its surface, Fincher’s subject was California’s notorious late-’60s serial killer, a vague memory from the filmmaker’s own Marin County youth. But the movie’s real power came in its latter scenes, the police leads running dry, our heroes unable to drop their quest even as it ruins them. Directorially, Fincher was transformed. Gone was the gruesome prankster who made 1995’s Seven. Instead, here was a cynical heir to Billy Wilder and Fritz Lang. Zodiac presents a city haunted by a ghost: We float high above nighttime San Francisco as voices whisper. It was way too close for comfort.—Joshua Rothkopf

7. DOGVILLE (2003)
Call it Our Town’s evil twin: Lars von Trier’s Brechtian takedown of hypocrisy, Amerikkkan-style, turns chalk outlines on a sparsely furnished stage into a full-fledged version of a typically quaint burg. It also allows the Danish enfant terrible to engage in his two favorite pastimes—bashing the USA’s penchant for pious facades and dragging his hapless heroines through hell and back. For once, the stars perversely align, and Von Trier delivers what may be his funniest, most savage satire. The odd coupling of minimalist theatrical techniques and high-melodramatic grandstanding is the perfect pomo combination. A once-in-a-lifetime cast—Lauren Bacall, Ben Gazzara, Harriet Andersson, James Caan, Udo Kier—complement the material, but it’s Nicole Kidman as the avenging angel who wins the MVP award, proving that she doesn’t need a prosthetic nose to give a great performance. Those end credits also qualify as the best parting flipped bird to an audience ever conceived. Check and mate.—David Fear

6. YI YI (A ONE AND A TWO…) (2000)
Too often, we critics will celebrate a movie’s foreignness, forgetting that even curious viewers need a passport. So let’s go the opposite way with Yi Yi, a masterful Taiwanese family drama that was certain to place in this poll. The movie, set in a present-day city, is about every extended family you know. It’s Rachel Getting Married and the Cosbys and Hannah and Her Sisters. The Jiangs, a middle-class clan of Taipei urbanites, are pivoting in transition: There’s the long-foreseen death of their elder; a teenage love triangle preoccupying Sis; and a naughty younger brother who should study more. (These people are your neighbors.) Soulfully at the center of the whirlwind is the Jiang patriarch, played by the magnificent Nien-jen Wu, straining under the weight of his business. (He’s your dad.) Director Edward Yang—lost to cancer in 2007—struck a note of such universal clarity, his movie became instantly recognizable. To explore his legacy is to come home.—Joshua Rothkopf

5. IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE (2000)
The consummate unconsummated love story of the new millennium, Wong Kar-wai’s masterpiece fetishizes early-’60s fashion more thoroughly than several seasons of Mad Men (how many cheongsam dresses can one person own?) and turns Nat King Cole’s Spanish balladry into the official soundtrack of lonely hearts. Yet it isn’t the nostalgia factor, pop-culture appropriation or even Wong’s color-drunk visuals, courtesy of cinematographer Christopher Doyle, that makes the movie such a metaphysical aphrodisiac. His tale of two neighbors—the stately Mrs. Chan (Maggie Cheung) and would-be pulp writer Mr. Chow (Tony Leung)—who obsess over their spouses’ affair in lieu of their own attraction works its spell by perpetually keeping passion at bay. Glances are exchanged, bodies brush against each other in hallways, hands are tentatively held…and then their buildup simply fades away before our very eyes. Thanks to Wong and his leads, both of whom give career-best performances, such small gestures turn unfulfilled longing into hothouse eroticism. The director himself would spend the rest of the decade burning out, and not even a sequel—the sci-fi-inflected 2046—could help him find his mojo again. This peerless ode to snuffed desire, however, still makes our hearts pitter-patter.—David Fear

4. THE NEW WORLD (2005)
All of Terrence Malick’s characters—from the romantic couple on the run in Badlands to the ruminating soldiers in The Thin Red Line—seem to spring from some Edenic source, only to be trumped by the indifference of the cosmos. So it was inevitable that the writer-director’s lyrical eye would find its way to America’s origin myth. Captain John Smith (Colin Farrell) and the Indian princess Pocahontas (Q’Orianka Kilcher) frolic through Malick’s trademark fields of wheat, their intimate snatches of voiceover as deeply rooted in the landscape as the trees. It’s always clear that history is not on the side of their love affair, yet while tears are shed, melodrama is never indulged. The particular power of this tone poem comes from how quietly resigned both characters are to their fates, as if they sense a guiding hand in their every action. The final passages of Malick’s idyll, after Pocahontas takes a fateful ocean journey, are the finest work of his career, most notably in his portrayal of the princess’s death and transfiguration—a shattering five-minute sequence that never fails to move.—Keith Uhlich

3. ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND (2004)
If you’d had your heart broken, would you erase part of your consciousness? For Joel (Jim Carrey), the question’s a no-brainer: He’s so devastated over being dumped by his darling Clementine (Kate Winslet) that he’ll have his remembrances of her wiped clean. Until, of course, Joel decides that a mind full of memories really is a terrible thing to waste. In the past, both director Michel Gondry’s kindergarten arts-and-crafts aesthetic and Charlie Kaufman’s Möbius-striptease scripts have come off as insufferably twee and gimmicky. So why does this existential meta-rom-com always leave us teary-eyed and genuinely moved? That fact that it isn’t simply McSweeney’s: The Movie is faint praise. Rather, the duo finally finds the right combination of high-concept and humanity here, taking the what-if idea of a company that lobotomizes the lovelorn into territory that’s funny, painful, poetic and unsettlingly weird. (That midnight parade of elephants marching through midtown Manhattan!) Sunshine is the rare mind-fuck that never takes its eyes off that aching, wounded organ beating away in your chest. It’s a work whose oddball, off-kilter romanticism and bruised ideas about beginning again make it feel both of its moment, and somehow, eternal.—David Fear

2. THERE WILL BE BLOOD (2007)
A man strikes a pickax against a stone wall. Later, after this same enterprising individual has found black gold, taken over a small town, gained the world and lost his soul (assuming he had such a thing to begin with), we watch him do the exact same gesture—only this time he’s grasping a bowling pin, and that isn’t rock he’s bashing. Paul Thomas Anderson’s revision of Upton Sinclair’s Oil! jettisons the source material’s muckraking in favor of something far more ambitious: mapping the moment that our nation’s bootstrap mentality curdled into a cutthroat corporate culture. Credit goes to Oscar winner Daniel Day-Lewis, who transforms the movie’s inscrutable gargoyle, Daniel Plainview, into the very embodiment of American rot; he even makes a ridiculous non sequitur (“I drink your milk shake!”) sound terrifying. But this is Anderson’s film, and his black-hearted epic proves that the New Hollywood acolyte deserves a seat in the pantheon. As an oblique critique of Bush II’s self-made power brokers and winner-take-all capitalism, There Will Be Blood cuts to the bone. As the work of a visionary artist, it’s truly sui generis.—David Fear

1. MULHOLLAND DRIVE (2001)
At the top of our poll is a film split in half: a glamorous romance that suddenly morphs into bitter rejection, a Hollywood mystery that plunges into doom. Can there be another movie that speaks as resonantly—if unwittingly—to the awful moment that marked our decade? Viewers grappled over the meaning of the movie’s “blue box,” finding little purchase. But in the troubled autumn of this psychodrama’s 2001 NYC release, we might have understood it all too well. Mulholland Drive is the monster behind the diner; it’s the self-delusional dream turned into nightmare. The triumph belongs to David Lynch, who could have rested on the laurels of his three landmarks, Eraserhead, Blue Velvet and Twin Peaks. Creatively, though, he saved this project (originally a misunderstood TV pilot) from dismissal, retooling it and extending his story into complexity. Along the way, a star was born: the extraordinary Naomi Watts, whose fearless double performance wrecked all who submitted to its spell. Is the movie too dangerous and surreal to be our champion? Hardly. It was, after all, a dangerous and surreal decade.—Joshua Rothkopf
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver


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