I’ve been working on this list for over a week! It’s totally personal and utterly not comprehensive, since I’ve missed more movies than I’ve seen, hated movies everybody loved, and loved movies despite themselves. But that’s me. Original reviews are linked where available. Boy THAT took time.
The movie of the decade
Brokeback Mountain: Structurally, visually, emotionally; in every way, a perfect movie, with a wrenching romantic ache and a deep understanding of what it’s like to have no place and seek to find one. Few movies have moved me more. And really, this has got to typify the decade, doesn’t it? The great acting, the emergence of amazing young talent, including the loss of that talent, the internationalism of the production (a Chinese director and an Australian star) in a quintessentially American milieu, and of course, the importance of gay themes in this decade.
Top ten (with two cheats) favorites of the decade—here are movies that don’t need a decade-end list for me to list them as favorites; they’ve moved to my permanent favorites list (long though it is):
Casino Royale—a phenomenal “reboot” that surprised everyone. Especially me. Do we even *remember* the anti-Craig blowback?
Adaptation—one of the most brilliant examinations of a writer’s process, and the heart of creativity. Great performances all around too.
49 Up—The only “Up” entry of the decade, this is the most compelling documentary series ever conceived, and 49 was a particularly fascinating and surprising entry.
Murderball & Trembling Before G-d—Perhaps the biggest impact Netflix has made in my life (and the lives of many movie viewers) is the accessibility of documentaries. These two stand side-by-side as my personal favorite documentaries; I am deeply moved by both.
Once—I cannot explain this movie, it is glorious for reasons that elude words.
Brick—Whereas this one is all about words; the extraordinarily clever language and brilliant conceit of having noir take place in a high school, and a breathtaking performance by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. I’ve seen it again and again and it loses none of its power.
Kissing Jessica Stein—Of all of these movies, perhaps KSJ is the most precious and personal to me. Like Wendy Wasserstein’s work, this explores the gray place between love and friendship, between love and “love,” and it’s full of heart. Another one I’ve seen again and again.
Monsoon Wedding—Joyous, full of life, love, pain, loyalty, betrayal, beauty, and family.
The Station Agent—I kind of fell in love with Peter Dinklage in this movie about misfits finding one another. Plus movies set in New Jersey have a special place in my heart.
The Incredibles & Monsters, Inc.—The aughts were definitely the decade of Pixar. These are the ones I find flawless.
Other favorite movies of the decade:
Mainstream movies or huge indies that everyone loved & got awards and DUH of course they’re movies of the decade
Little Miss Sunshine
Good Night, and Good Luck.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Gangs of New York
Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
The Royal Tenenbaums
O Brother, Where Art Thou?
You Can Count on Me
Tragically unsung and/or unwatched
3:10 to Yuma
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
Mozart and the Whale
The Secret Lives of Dentists
Series 7: The Contenders
Not really guilty about these pleasures
The Family Stone
Bridget Jones’s Diary
Return to Me
The Whole Nine Yards
Howl’s Moving Castle