The Decade's Best: Movies of 2000s
50. “The Dark Knight” (Christopher Nolan, 2008)
The comic book film as morally ambiguous drama, “The Dark Knight” soars on Nolan’s confident direction and Heath Ledger’s twisted turn.
49. “Waking Life” (Richard Linklater, 2001)
Rotoscoped philosophical ponderings offer plenty to chew on in this thematic bookend to Linklater’s debut feature, “Slacker.”
48. “Rachel Getting Married” (Jonathan Demme, 2008)
Demme’s Dogme 95-like naturalism injects incredible energy into this tale of family healing.
47. “The Man Who Wasn’t There” (Joel Coen, 2001)
The Coens do noir with a dash of alien invasion, and typically excellent results ensue.
46. “The GoodTimesKid” (Azazel Jacobs, 2005)
There’s whimsical heartbreak and plenty of drawn-on mustaches in this Tati/French New Wave smashup.
45. “Little Miss Sunshine” (Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, 2006)
The dysfunctional family gets a facelift in the best road film of the decade.
44. “Interior Design,” part of “Tokyo!” (Michel Gondry, 2008)
Alienation in the big city finds unexpected resolution in this enchanting short film from Gondry.
43. “Chicago” (Rob Marshall, 2002)
Marshall’s whiz-bang direction finds a home, and the musical is reignited.
42. “United 93” (Paul Greengrass, 2006)
Sober realism ensures there won’t ever be a need for another 9/11 film.
41. “Hot Fuzz” (Edgar Wright, 2007)
Undeniably fun parody and a superbly executed action film for a movie that’s making fun of the genre.
40. “Best in Show” (Christopher Guest, 2000)
Guest gives us his most neurotic characters yet.
39. “WALL·E” (Andrew Stanton, 2008)
The nearly wordless first act represents a new tier of filmmaking for Pixar.
38. “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” (Michel Gondry, 2004)
Gondry and Charlie Kaufman spin a winning and heartbreaking tale of love lost.
37. “The Visitor” (Thomas McCarthy, 2007)
Character actor Richard Jenkins engulfs the screen with quiet warmth and understanding as a leading man.
36. “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” (Peter Jackson, 2002)
The best of Jackson’s trilogy, this is the ultimate in experience filmmaking.
35. “The Royal Tenenbaums” (Wes Anderson, 2001)
It boasts both a killer ensemble and the perfect distillation of the strengths and style of Anderson.
34. “Children of Men” (Alfonso Cuarón, 2006)
Cuarón’s ambitious direction guarantees our dystopian future has never been framed so beautifully.
33. “About Schmidt” (Alexander Payne, 2002)
Payne’s story of a man re-discovering his life is resoundingly real and profoundly affecting.
32. “Man on Wire” (James Marsh, 2008)
Poetic and enthralling, just the way a story about a man walking across the sky ought to be.
31. “Shaun of the Dead” (Edgar Wright, 2004)
Sharper than the stake you need to put through a zombie’s heart. That’s a vampire? Whatever. You don’t need to know the genre to love “Shaun.”
30. “The Lives of Others” (Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, 2006)
A secret police officer becomes engrossed in the lives of the couple he’s doing surveillance on. We follow suit.
29. “Ratatouille” (Brad Bird, 2007)
The folks at Pixar spin gold from a story of a vermin chef. Of course they do.
28. “A Mighty Wind” (Christopher Guest, 2003)
Proving that you can love something and still make fun of it, Guest takes aim at folk music.
27. “Grizzly Man” (Werner Herzog, 2005)
Herzog’s doc is gripping and permeated by the tragedy of the inevitable.
26. “Zodiac” (David Fincher, 2007)
The most finely detailed and impeccably paced film from a director who knows a fair amount about both.
25. “Adaptation.” (Spike Jonze, 2002)
Charlie Kaufman bares his neuroses to the world, and Nicolas Cage does the only thing he does well.
24. “Amelie” (Jean-Pierre Jeunet, 2001)
Good luck not falling in love with Audrey Tautou.
23. “Pan’s Labyrinth” (Guillermo del Toro, 2006)
Del Toro clearly has imagination to spare, and it seems like a darkly beautiful place.
22. “Saraband” (Ingmar Bergman, 2003)
Bergman’s swan song returns him to familiar territory and proves that he never lost the touch, even at the very end.
21. “A Serious Man” (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2009)
A Coen film for the Coen diehards, this rumination on the woes of life stands tall among their oeuvre.
20. “I’ve Loved You So Long” (Philippe Claudel, 2008)
The emotionally devastating turn by Kristin Scott Thomas is the engine of this finely tuned human drama.
19. “Almost Famous” (Cameron Crowe, 2000)
At once a love letter to rock ’n’ roll and to the idealism of youth, “Almost Famous” can’t help but provoke a smile.
18. “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days” (Cristian Mungiu, 2007)
Spare and haunting, this thriller is packed with moral issues, but it’s the faces that stick with you.
17. “Once” (John Carney, 2006)
The indie musical triumphs thanks to brilliant songs and sweetly touching romance.
16. “Spirited Away” (Hayao Miyazaki, 2001)
The master of animation is at the top of his game here in this fully realized fantasy world.
15. “Synecdoche, New York” (Charlie Kaufman, 2008)
Kaufman’s directing debut is astonishing for its massive scope and intensely personal reflection on the nature of art.
14. “Let the Right One In” (Tomas Alfredson, 2008)
This is the vampire movie of the decade that matters.
13. “Up” (Pete Docter, 2009)
Pixar’s storytelling prowess is at its apex with the first 15 minutes of this film.
12. “Punch-Drunk Love” (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2002)
Anderson coaxes Adam Sandler away from brain-dead comedy long enough to reveal something special.
11.“Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead” (Sidney Lumet, 2007)
This ferocious melodrama belies the age of the brilliant Lumet — 83 — at the time of filming.
10.“The Pianist” (Roman Polanski, 2002)
Polanski’s intimate approach ensures the most moving fiction film about the Holocaust ever.
9. “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” (Julian Schnabel, 2007)
Schnabel locks us in with a man who’s only able to blink an eyelid, and then he tears the lid off the beauty of life.
8. “Talk to Her” (Pedro Almodóvar, 2002)
Almodóvar clearly knows how to give us moving female characters, but it’s his tale of friendship between men that may be his finest work ever.
7. “In the Mood For Love” (Wong Kar-Wai, 2000)
It’s a beautifully textured and rhythmic exploration of an impossible love, and it aches with the longings of an era past.
6. “There Will Be Blood” (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2007)
Daniel Day-Lewis towers over his peers, and Anderson cements his reputation as a premiere American filmmaker.
5. “Mulholland Dr.” (David Lynch, 2001)
Lynch’s twisted vision makes for an engrossing mystery that grabs you by the collar for a weirdly intense 2 ½ hours.
4. “Yi Yi” (Edward Yang, 2000)
Yang explores the moments of life we’re not prone to really see, and finds rich human experience therein.
3. “Into the Wild” (Sean Penn, 2007)
A brash college grad rejects society, but finds plenty of people along the way to share life with in this deeply affecting film.
2. “No Country for Old Men” (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2007)
The Coens don’t make a misstep, and the film works equally as well as a pulpy western thriller as it does an exploration of the changing of times.
1. “25th Hour” (Spike Lee, 2002)
Lee’s best film ever and the best film of the decade, “25th Hour” has career performances from Edward Norton, Barry Pepper and Philip Seymour Hoffman, and its story of the last hours of a man’s free life gets more impacting with every viewing. The ending monologue by veteran actor Brian Cox is one of the best ever to be put on film.