Movies of the decade

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 decadehere 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
Garden State
Gangs of New York
The Hours
Mulholland Dr.
Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
The Royal Tenenbaums
O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Wonder Boys
You Can Count on Me

Man on Wire
This Film Is Not Yet Rated
Inside Deep Throat
Capturing the Friedmans
Devil’s Playground

Tragically unsung and/or unwatched
In Bruges
3:10 to Yuma
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Marie Antoinette
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
Mozart and the Whale
Before Sunset
Stage Beauty
Auto Focus
The Secret Lives of Dentists
Series 7: The Contenders

Not really guilty about these pleasures
Inside Man
Sin City
The Family Stone
Bridget Jones’s Diary
Legally Blonde
Return to Me
The Whole Nine Yards

Spirited Away
Howl’s Moving Castle


  1. Melville says:

    Great list, though the movie that I think I would put at #1, Children Of Men, isn’t included.

    You’re right about Brick‘s staying power. I’ve probably seen it more times than any other film this decade (every time it would show up on cable I couldn’t resist watching again) and never tire of it.

  2. Deborah Lipp says:

    I didn’t like Children of Men; I found it heavy-handed and Allegorical with a capital “Look at me.” I’m willing to give it a second chance at some point. Sure do love the cast.

  3. Melville says:

    I have no problem with allegory, even when it’s obvious (though opening the movie on Christmas Day probably was a little toooo obvious 🙂 ) But it’s one of my favorite movie dystopias, and I thought the filmmaking was incredible. Also Clive Owen, Julianne Moore… and does Michael Caine ever give a performance where he isn’t great?

  4. Deborah Lipp says:

    Michael Caine was terrible in Cider House Rules, scooped up his Oscar for it, and went back to being extraordinary.

  5. Melville says:

    True, but he did give one of the best Oscar acceptance speeches ever for it:

  6. Deborah Lipp says:

    I loved that speech.

  7. Evn says:

    Me personally, I thought Spiderman 2 beat the hell out of Spiderman 1: Easily one of the Best Superhero Movies Ever Made. That said, yay for Secretary! Glad it made the list.