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Editor's Note 03.23.11: Top 50 Films of the Decade (2000-2009)
Posted by Chad Webb on 03.23.2011


I know you might be thinking "Why now?" with this list. I wanted to let my thoughts digest a bit, to really have the films of 2009 sink in, and to revisit my rough list after about a year to see where certain titles then fell. I am not making this to argue that my list represents the true best films of the decade. Some of the titles below will surprise you of course, but these films made the biggest impact on me, and they are also the ones I have watched again and again.

Don't attempt to look at my past top 10 lists and try to figure out why my number one for 2009 didn't make it as high as my #? for 2006, and so on and so forth. I tried not to think that hard about it. I just let the films flow naturally as I was compiling them. Hopefully I didn't miss anything big, but it is possible, and I'm sure you'll let me know.

This actually began as a top 20 list, but I kept thinking of random films, and they added up fast. I knew I could never limit my list to 10 or even 20 because I'd be leaving out so many titles that deserve mentioning. 

Five That Almost Made It: Minority Report, Downfall, Millennium Actress, Superbad, Adaptation

50. Pan's Labyrinth - Superb fantasy from Guillermo Del Toro.
49. The Death of Mr. Lazarescu - Overlooked Romanian black comedy.
48. Catch Me If You Can - Hanks, DiCaprio, Spielberg...Nuff Said.
47. The Last Samurai - Best score in many years.
46. Super Troopers - Broken Lizard grows mustaches.
45. Casino Royale - Bond rebooted into awesomeness.
44. Brokeback Mountain - The love story that got rereeobbed at the Oscars. 

43. Amelie - Audrey Tatou and Jean-Pierre Jeunet charm us all.
42. City of God - Searing Brazilian crime drama.
41. Cinderella Man - Russell Crowe as boxer > Mark Wahlberg as boxer.

40. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - Fincher's reverse aging dazzler.
39. No Country for Old Men - You fear Chigurgh and his cattle gun.
38. Sin City - Hypnotizing adaptation from Miller and Rodriguez.
37. The 40 Year-Old Virgin - Judd Apatow ruling comedy
36. Cache - Hitchcock via Haneke.
35. Yi Yi - Edward Yang's last gift.
34. United 93 - Greengrass' emotional masterpiece. 

33. The Incredibles - The unstoppable Pixar train.
32. Werckmeister Harmonies - 39 shots, 1 astonishing film.
31. Requiem for a Dream - Arnonofsky's uncomfortable portrait of drug addiction.

30. The New World - Malick turns Pocahontas upside down.
29. Lord of War - Cage owning as an arms dealer.
28. In the Mood for Love - Wong Kar Wai shows how music can control a film.
27. Syriana - All you need to know about the oil industry.
26. King Kong - Jackson's epic remake.
25. Batman Begins/The Dark Knight - Nolan's breathtaking re-imagining.
24. Memento - The mind fu**s we love. 

23. Once - A relationship built by a great soundtrack.
22. Spirited Away - Miyazaki's best.
21. Munich - A Spielberg thriller that deserved more attention.

20. Hero - Shakespearian Zhang Yimou.
19. Avatar - James Cameron cements his box office king status.
18. Inglourious Basterds - Tarantino destroying Nazis 

17. Ratatouille - More Pixar. Moving On.
16. Before Sunset - Conversational romance.
15. V for Vendetta - Bald Portman >Bald Demi Moore.
14. The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - Gondry's exciting and artful love story.
13. Almost Famous - Kate Hudson's only good role. Thanks Mr. Crowe. 

12. There Will Be Blood - "I Drink Your Milkshake!"
11. The Lives of Others - An undeniable masterwork.

10. Kill Bill: The Whole Bloody Affair - I've combined them, but that should be expected right? I wasn't doing top 10 lists when these films hit theaters, but rest assured they would have held a high spot for their respective years. I am a sucker for revenge films, and this saga absolutely never gets old. Quentin Tarantino's love letter to martial arts films provides ample amounts of bloody merriment. Uma Thurman and David Carradine give what is arguably their finest performances in a cast with so many unforgettable roles. Tarantino's encyclopedic knowledge of film is evident throughout this tale, but he never lets that get in the way of crafting beautifully superlative shots. In terms of sheer entertainment value, Tarantino is the master, and this offers a bit of everything people love about the movies. Hopefully they are released as one on Blu-Ray some time down the line.

9. Gladiator - Ridley Scott's epic is still one of the best movies I've seen. Now we're really starting to see the imitators come out and try to replicate it's success. Is it historically accurate? No, but then again, who gives a shit? Go rent a documentary for historical accuracy. Whenever I think of Russell Crowe, Maximus still springs to mind before any other role. He leads an amazing cast with Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Oliver Reed, Richard Harris, Derek Jacobi, and of course Djimon Hounsou. Every element of this production is flawless: the direction, acting, music, costumes, action, drama, and anything else you can think of. Like all of the titles in my top 10, I watch this regularly.

8. Wall-E - It's safe to say that Pixar had themselves a good decade. Just about every year, they delivered another animated classic for generations to cherish. The best of them was a story of a little robot named Wall-E. It's hilarious, heartfelt, suspenseful, and moving. Andrew Stanton and the geniuses at Pixar really created something special. I have happily re-watched many of the Pixar efforts, but this is at the top. I always gravitate towards silent comedy, and this has plenty of it. Over the years I have said enough about Pixar and my love for their films that probably don't need to explain this choice any further.

7. C.R.A.Z.Y. - If there is one film I have praised and tried to spread the word about, more so than any other I have seen, it is C.R.A.Z.Y., a Canadian coming-of-age tale with a matchless soundtrack, heartfelt performances, and a story that will knock your socks off. Yes, I meant to use that cliché. Director Jean-Marc Vallee would go on to make the under appreciated Young Victoria in 2009, but C.R.A.Z.Y. is still his crown jewel. The cast is uniformly brilliant, and even though stories like this are not entirely unique, the manner in which this film is handled is distinctive and incredibly compelling. For those who keep a regular eye on the IMDB top 250, you might have seen this on there from time to time. That's how I discovered it. I hope I'm not over praising it for those reading, but it represented one of those wonderful cinematic surprises. I expected good things from it, but never thought it would be endearing as it was.

6. Blow - Audiences have seen lots of films and biopics about drug dealers, drug kingpins, and so forth. Blow is my favorite by far, and it has to be one of the most underrated films of all-time. It is about George Jung, one of the main architects who introduced cocaine to the United States. In a sad bit of irony, Director Ted Demme, who left us too soon, died of a cocaine-induced heart attack. Still, he left us this amazing piece of work, featuring what I consider to be Johnny Depp's best and most fully embodied performance. Watch videos of the real guy for proof. Demme balances the style and substance like a veteran, and his use of music is outstanding since the soundtrack is filled with great tunes. I can only imagine how much better Demme could have gotten had he lived. I've seen this film many times and it never ceases to move or thrill me. And it really happened. This is another that I wish more people saw.

5. The Departed - Martin Scorsese has never stopped making great films, but his remake of the Infernal Affairs trilogy finally brought him the awards recognition that he warranted so long ago. This is a mobster/cop thriller that was definitely not new territory to Scorsese, but that didn't make it any less mind-blowing. Leonardo DiCaprio and Jack Nicholson lead an exceptional cast through an immersive, gritty, and mesmerizing web of cops, criminals, and parties with secret agendas. Everything here clicks from the music and the acting to the editing and the plot development. Add this to the long list of Scorsese titles that are immensely watchable. He is one of our greatest filmmakers for a reason.

4. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy - Perhaps this is a cheat in the eyes of some, but I don't care. I can't watch just one of these films without the other two. To me, it is one epic tale. Of course I should add that these are the extended editions. Peter Jackson's accomplishment with these three adaptations is unparalleled. The use of special effects here is off the page, the enormous cast is uniformly excellent, and the story is completely invigorating. This trilogy took the fantasy genre to another level, and I think everyone viewed it differently from then on. It is an incredible journey from start to finish, and I can't wait for The Hobbit.

3. Old Boy - Sometimes one movie can cause the viewer to instantly fall in love, and in my case, Director Park Chan-wook became an instant obsession. This is the most exhilarating film of the decade, so full of intensity, suspense, and masterful filmmaking that it will make your head spin. After I was finished with this, I immediately picked up the other two installments of his revenge trilogy (Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Lady Vengeance). Choi min-sik gives an unbelievable turn as Oh Dae-su, and by the time the story was over, my jaw had hit the floor. This is the type of foreign film that will cause those who dismissed subtitled pictures in the past, to have a change of heart. Chan-wook is the greatest director no one has heard of. If you haven't seen this yet, do yourself a favor and devote 2 hours to its greatness. You won't be sorry.

2. Cast Away - Tom Hanks did not win an Oscar for this film, but I would argue that it is his finest performance to date. Of all the movies about isolationism, this is easily one of the best. Robert Zemeckis teamed up with Hanks for a second time after Forrest Gump and crafted a picture that is endlessly fascinating despite the fact that the majority of the running time centers on one man and his volleyball. This is an increasingly moving film that did not need any shocking twists, but stuck to the main character and how he dealt with the situation. It also has one of the best open endings I have ever seen, and they don't always work, but this one did.

1. Sideways - Many of the films on this list have gotten better with age, but none more so than Alexander Payne's hilarious and poignant drama about two friends, Miles and Jack, who go away to California's wine country before one ties the knot. This gets funnier and more touching every time I watch it. The characters are so profoundly executed and so brilliantly played that you feel like you know them. This movie single-handedly made me a wine-lover, and the fact that I have visited the area the characters did, caused me to connect to it on different level. This is a masterpiece, one whose reputation will only improve. For those who own the DVD, I recommend the commentary track.


I'm as much a lover of music as I am movies, and I listen to anything and everything so I love making a list of my favorite albums. I have reviewed a few CDs in the past, and hope to do more in the future. I gather my list of best albums similar to that of my list of films. The goal is to incorporate many diffent styles of music. I'm always eager to hear new stuff and discover bands that I have not heard of before, so if you have any suggestions you think should have appeared below, feel free.

10. Robyn - Body Talk - This is a combination of multiple EP's, but it is the best pop album of the year from someone who doesn't sound generic and is not shoved down our throats. It's a shame Robyn is not more popular in the US because she makes her female competitors look feeble by comparison. I've read she'll continue to release music in the form of EP's. I'll keep listening as long as she produces songs that this witty, lingering, and fun.

9. The Roots (and John Legend) - How I Got Over/Wake Up! - Not only are The Roots fun with Jimmy Fallon, but in 2010 they put out two fantastic records. One was a 70's soul tribute with John Legend, and the other was a studio effort. Both accentuate how skilled the band truly is. The covers on Wake Up! are faithful to the original songs, but woven with a new spin, which is all I ask for in a cover. How I Got Over moves along quickly, but the lyrics are poignant, the sound is restrained, and the band is totally in sync.

8. LCD Soundsystem - This is Happening - I joined the LCD Soundsystem bandwagon once critics started heaping praise on Sound of Silver and 45:33, but This is Happening, James Murphy's final studio outing, is an endlessly gratifying funky dance delight. I am happy to recommend LCD Soundsystem to more folks. I am also going to their final show at Madison Square Garden, which should be worth the steep price of the tickets.

7. Arcade Fire - The Suburbs - Arcade Fire had a difficult mountain to climb after masterpieces like Funeral and Neon Bible, but here they confronted the task of improving from their previous work and succeeded handsomely. This is an intelligent and audacious album that only heightens my fondness for the band. I'm not sure I like this better than their previous releases, but I would say this flows better than the other two.

6. Sevendust - Cold Day Memory - Having listened to Sevendust since their career began, I've been proud to be a loyal fan through their highs and lows. I picked up this album mainly because I have everything else, but the result was surprisingly sensational, more than I anticipated. This is some of the band's best work in years. Here they sound energized, motivated, intense, and consistent. Lajon reminds all metal/rock fans why he has one of the most distinct voices around, and when he and the rest of the band bring their A-game, they can hold their own with anyone. "Splinter" is simply an outstanding opener, and kicks the 12 songs off with raw passion. Every aspect of the album clicks from the guitars and drums to the lyrics and overall flow.

5. Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy - My comments will largely be the same as most writers. As a person, I can't stand Kanye West, but it is impossible to deny his talent when you listen to this album. It is arguably his best offering to date, and is filled tracks that fit the "dark" and "twisted" in the title. Sometimes people that are crazy and irritating behind the scenes can be near geniuses at their craft, and for this record, Kanye shines for sure.

4. The National - High Violet - This is one I sought out because it ended up on so many critics best of the year lists. This is a great album where every track is emotionally fulfilling and musically superb. This rock group is from Brooklyn, and need to be bigger than they are. This is a mature, yet bold collection of magnificent music that I have played numerous times since I purchased it.

3. Jamey Johnson - The Guitar Song - I'm much more of a classic country listener, so when fans of the genre recommended this to me, I was skeptical, but after racing through both discs, I found this to be one of the most rewarding country albums in years. I had never heard of Johnson before this, but I plan on getting some of his other material soon. I would definitely urge anyone to check this out, even if country is not your favorite style of music.

2. The Black Keys - Brothers - I must admit this is the disc that introduced me to The Black Keys, but since then I've bought many of their previous efforts. This two-man band supplies so many memorable tunes here that are catchy, rich, and versatile. I'm glad more people are discovering them now.

1. Elton John & Leon Russell - The Union - I was already a big Elton John fan, but when I heard of this project, I was somewhat indifferent to it. After Rolling Stone afforded it one of their rare 5 star reviews, I became intrigued, and damn if it didn't deliver from start to finish. Every track is terrific and these two have such smooth chemistry.

Honorable Mention - Beach House - Teen Dream, Talib Kweli & Hi-Tek: Reflection Eternal - Revolutions Per Minute, Neil Young - Le Noise, The Dead Weather - Sea of Cowards, Robert Plant - Band of Joy

The Editor's Compilation Disc
In past years this was just a list of songs you can probably fit onto one CD-R. Since iPods and iPhones are more popular now, my limit of 20 songs doesn't seem so important to adhere to. The tracks are from artists you will not find in my top 10.

1. Weezer - "Memories"
2. Bad Religion - "Avalon
3. Brian Wilson - "The Like in I Love You"
4. M.I.A. - "Born Free"
5. Cee Lo Green - "Bright Lights Bigger City"
6. Plan B - "The Recluse"
7. Alter Bridge - "Ghost of Days Gone By"
8. Elvis Costello - "Jimmie Standing in the Rain"
9. Big Boi - "General Patton"
10. MGMT "Flash Delirium"
11. Eric Clapton "Rocking Chair"
12. The Gaslight Anthem "Boxer"
13. Take That "What Do You Want From Me"
14. Joe Satriani "Premonition"
15. Godsmack "Crying Like a B**ch
16. The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger "Dark Matter White Noise"
17. Gorillaz - "Rhinestone Eyes"
18. Deerhunter "Helicopter"
19. Nas & Damian Marley "Strong Will Continue"
20. Ryan Adams & The Cardinals "Typecast"
21. Deftones "Diamond Eyes"
22. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers "I Should Have Known It"
23. Bruno Mars "Grenade"
24. Sade "Soldier of Love"
25. Avenged Sevenfold "Welcome to the Family"
26. Spoon "Written in Reverse"
27. Vampire Weekend - "Holiday"
28. Daft Punk - "Derezzed"
29. Eminem - "Cold Wind Blows"
30. Weezer - "Ruling Me"


I tried to exclude blockbusters and films that we all know about like the comic adaptations, Cars 2, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, or Super 8. I was close to putting on Hobo with a Shotgun on here, but opted not to. I'm still hoping its good. Werner Herzog's Cave of Forgotten Dreams documentary was on here too, but that should be out fairly soon from what I read.

In perusing the list of upcoming films, I had to be aware of which ones were just speculated to be released this year and which ones were close to definite. There are so many films I'm interested in, and I could not fit them all below. I will also make an early prediction that Pixar could be beaten at next year's Oscar ceremony for Best Animated Film. The competition is stiff this year, as I will explain with some of my picks below.

13 Assassins A samurai film from Japanese filmmaker Takashi Miike. He's not everyone's cup of tea, but this supposdly has a 45 minute battle sequence. Word is that magnet is releasing this on VOD and in theaters in the coming months.

30 Minutes or Less - Ruben Fleischer, the man who gave us Zombieland, returns with this comedy of two bumbling criminals that kidnap a pizzar delivery boy an force him to rob a bank. This has Jesse Eisenberg, Danny McBride, and many more. I have high hopes for this.

The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn - I'm not familiar with Tintin,ut this is the first animated film from Steven Spielberg, so I'm intrigued. The voice cast includes Daniel Craig, Jamie Bell, and Simon Pegg just to name a few. You have Spielberg as director, Edgar Wright as co-writer, and Peter Jackson as producer (also lined up to direct the sequel), so yeah this is a big release.

Arthur Christmas - A Christmas film from the guys at Aardman (with Sony Picture Animation). Their previous collaboration, Flushed Away, was underrated. Any time Aardman throws their hat into the ring of animation, you can bet the deck is stacked for Pixar. The teaser for this is already out, and is very funny.

The Borrower Arrietty - So not only do you have Spielberg and Aardman, but also a new release from Studio Ghibli. They are using another first time director, Hiomasa Yonebayashi, so this is hit or miss, but Ghibli rarely delivers duds. This is supposed to be released soon.

Space Battleship Yamato - This is a futuristic sci-fi film from Japan, and based on the foreign trailer I saw late last year, it looks all kinds of awesome. It takes place in the year 2199 where Earth is under radioactive siege from aliens. The story follows the last battleship that travels to obtain a device that can heal the Earth before it's too late.

Damsels in Distress - This is the new film from Whit Stillman (Metropolitan, The Last Days of Disco, Barcelona). I'm a big fan of his work, and here he has Adam Brody as his star. Indii fav Greta Gerwig is also involved.

The Future - This is the first film from writer/director Miranda July since her popular indie hit Me and You and Everyone We Know. I tought that film was pretty good, not perfect, but still, I'm anxious to see what else she has to offer. The plot concerns a couple getting a cat, which in turns alters the course of time. Odd.

The Guard - Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle team up as an Irisih cop and an FBI agent to investigate a drug ring. This is from first time director John Michael McDonagh. Gleeson and Cheadle don't normally pick weak material, so I have faith in this.

Jeff Who Lives at Home - Jason Segel in a Duplass brothers comedy. Yes, I'm in. Cyrus was the duo's finest work to date, so they have a lot of momentum for this. Ed Helms, Judy Greer, Susan Sarandon, and yes, Rae Dawn Chong also star. This is about a guy who leaves his home on a bland errand only to think the universe is sending him signals about his destiny.

Larry Crowne - This is Tom Hanks' second job as director, and he's starring along with Julia Roberts. My fondness for Hanks is not a secret, and he has been asbent from the big screen for far too long. It's about a guy who loses his job and reinvents himself by going back to college.

Melancholia - There is no release date confirmed yet, but anything by Lars von Trier is worth noting. Anti Christ certainly divided audiences, but he is one of the most daring and fascinating filmmakers alive. It's about two sisters who find their relationship challenge when a nearby planet threatens to collide with Earth. Oh boy.

Movie 43 - I guess this is the title for now, who knows? This is anthology film comprised of comedy shorts. 9 directors are on boards with a gargantuan cast including Elizabeth Banks, Emma Stone, Kate Winslet, Hugh Jackman, Richard Gere, and on and on. I love anthology films, so I will definitely be seeing this.

Moneyball - Bennett Miller (Capote) returns with Brad Pitt, Robin Wright, Jonah Hill, and the man he led to an Oscar, Philip Seymour Hoffman. The plot is as follows: "The story of Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane's successful attempt to put together a baseball club on a budget by employing computer-generated analysis to draft his players."

My Idiot Brother - Who doesn't love Paul Rudd? He's one of the more consistent comedy stars around these days, and here is an idealist who interupts the lives of his sisters. The cast includes Elizabeth Banks Zooey Deschanel, Emily Mortimer, and Steve Coogan.

Other titles I'm looking forward to: Bad Teacher, Bernie, The Killer Elite, Killer Joe, and Crazy Stupid Love.


1. Albert Nobbs - Glenn Close portrays a man in 19th century Ireland who keeps the disguise to get the luxuries a male has. This has a good cast with Michael Gambon, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, and more. It is also directed by Rodrigo Garcia (Nine Lives, Mother and Child). I'd say this has a chance.

2. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel - John Madden directs this drama about British retirees outsourcing their retirement to less expensive, yet more exotic India. The cast includes Bill Nighy, Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson, Maggie Smith, and Dev Patel. The only thing that will stop this is if it doesn't come out in time.

3. Coriolanus - Ralph Fiennes makes his directing debut in this modern-day adaptation of Shakespeare's play. The cast has Gerard Butler, Ralph Fiennes, William Hurt, Eddie Marsan, and Brian Cox. Honestly, I'm not sure about this one, but the pickins are slim, so I have faith in Ralph Fiennes and Shakespeare.

4. A Dangerous Method - David Cronenberg directs this story about turbulent relationships between fledgling psychiatrist Carl Jung, his mentor Sigmund Freud, and Sabina Spielrein, the troubled but beautiful young woman who comes between them. The cast has Viggo Mortensen, Michael Fassbender, Keira Knightley, Vincent Cassel, and Sarah Gadon. Cronenberg has really reinvented himself in recent years, and this seems right up the Academy's alley.

5. The Descendants - Alexander Payne's first film since Sideways in 2004. His work is commonly up for awards. This stars George Clooney, Judy Greer, Beau Bridges, and Robert Forster. It's described as a family drama with comedic touches.

6. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - After The Social Network, I learned not to doubt David Fincher. The original Swedish film was snubbed in every manner possible, so if this is good, look for the Academy to honor it up the ying yang with noms. We'll see.

7. The Impossible - From Juan Antonio Bayona, director of The Orphanage, comes a story about family caught in the tsunami off the coast of Thailand in 2004. Now, normally I would have looked past this, and I feel a bit guilty choosing it here, but in light of the events in Japan, if this is a good film, it could gain a lot of awards attention. It stars Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor, Tom Holland, and more.

8. The Ides of March - George Clooney directs and stars in this obvious awards contender about a staffer for a Presidential candidate who gets educated on dirty politics on the campaign trail. The cast also has Ryan Gosling, Evan Rachel Wood, and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

9. War Horse - This is another film from Steven Spielberg, and it hits theaters around Christmas time. You know what that means? He is aiming for gold statues. The plot involves a young man named Albert and his horse. Their bond is broken when the horse is sent to World War I and Albert goes after him.

10. Tree of Life - Terrence Malick's film, which he has worked on for years, was due out last year, and was on my list last year, but it got delayed. Now it's hitting theaters at the end of May, and I can't wait. Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, and Jessica Chastain star about a family in the 1950's. I really hope this is good. Malick deserves his time in the sun.

Other Possibilities

- Live with It - This is from the director of The Wackness, Jonathan Levine. It's about a guy diagnosed with cancer who recognizes what he has in life and what he took for granted. The cast has Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anna Kendrick, and Bryce Dallas-Howard.

- Black Gold - I have a strong feeling about this one. This is about a young Arab prince who is torn between his allegiance to his conservative father and his liberal father-in-law after oil is discover in the Gulf. The cast includes Mark Strong, Antonio Banderas, Tahar Rahim, and Freida Pinto. Jean-Jacques Annaud is directing.

- Salmon Fishing in the Yemen - Not totally sure if this is even coming out in 2011, but it follows Dr. Alfred Jones, a scientist who is bringing salmon fishing to the highlands of Yemen, and it changes the course of british history. The cast as Emily Blunt, Ewan McGregor, and Kristin Scott-Thomas. Lasse Hallstrom directs this, and he can always be a contender.

Thanks for perusing all these random lists. Make sure to check out my ongoing Nether Regions column every Tuesday!


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