Here is my list of the movies from this decade which stay in my memory as the most enjoyable, inspirational and just entertaining films of the era. Forgive me for the ones I have left out, I can hardly forgive myself for some of them, but I haven’t seen everything that was made in that time and since late 2008 I haven’t been to the cinema at all because of the some of the side effects of my brain haemorrhage.
One of the things I am now most looking forward to is catching up on what I have missed.
Treat this list as a random selection in no particular order. They are some of my favourite films and if nothing else there isn’t a dud amongst them in an era where there was a load of bad cinema. It is great to look back and see just how imaginative, inventive, scary and fun the wonderful world of cinema has continued to be.
Sin City (2005) – the movie that really does succeed in turning a great graphic novel into a great film.
Spider-Man (2002) – the best of the super-heroes is an ordinary nerdy guy played for humour but also genuinely exciting special effects never over-done. There is hope for us all.
Mulholland Drive (2001) – surrealism, eroticism with touches of obscurantism from David Lynch, one of the great cinema masters.
Kill Bill ( 2003) – its best scenes are as great as the best from any other director,Quentin Tarantino is greater than the sum of his part. The two movies are always entertaining and Urma Thurman, for me, will never beat this performance. I want to be Bill when I grow up.
Donnie Darko (2001) – the film that makes you never want to grow up. Inventive, silly, moody and sad just like we all were once – or is that just me?
The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) – best ensemble cast of stars, even counting Gosworth Park (2001 – the late Robert Altman’s lovely movie which is just slightly too dull to include here), inspiring, funny, poignant and genuinely inventive filmicly. It kept coming off my list because it is so easy to underestimate.
Y Tu Mama Tambien (2001) – one of the best of all those wonderful films that blossomed in Mexico this decade. Coming of age, rites of passage, OK, call me adolescent, but this was sexy, hypnotic and the memorable making of one of the decades brightest stars, Gael Garcia Bernal.
Casino Royale (2006) – we got James Bond back from the hands of tired, camped out nice boys. A great new Bond and the best and longest action movie opening sequences since Saving Private Ryan. In the highly fragrant Eva Green, we were given simply the best Bond girl ever or maybe since Ursula Andress walked out of the sea all those years ago.
Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) – beautiful, artistic, heart-breaking. It is so powerful you almost wish you hadn’t seen it.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon ( 2000) – director Ang Lee brought Chinese martial arts into the mainstream with this beautiful epic adventure which still manages to capture some of the power of kung fu and the thrill of physical prowess.
Old Boy (2003) – Nasty, brutish and riveting…the ultimate revenge served cold.
Pirates Of The Caribbean ( 2003) – Johnny Depp has created one of the great Hollywood characters in Captain Jack Sparrow. The movies, stretched by the third one into very slight material indeed, are always fun when Mr. Depp is on screen even if his co-stars are as wooden as Long John Silver’s peg leg.
Capote (2005) – just brilliant. Creepy, moving, funny and containing one of the great screen performances of the decade in Philip Seymour Hoffman as the creepy, moving and funny Truman Capote.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) – achingly romantic, wittily visual and suspenseful with Jim Carrey showing that he is much more than just the best screen comedian of the decade – Kate Winslet is good too. There is even a good performance from that irritating little Hobbit, Elijah Wood.
Saw ( 2004) – terrifying and best watched through a crack between your fingers. This is classy horror, as were the sequels, with an intelligent underbelly but it is also really nasty, I am not joking, and the master criminal, Jigsaw, has me hiding as I write this.
Memento ( 2000) – Right up there near if not top of my list. Suspense, darkness and weird originality and, of course, an amazingly moody and athletic performance from the always excellent Guy Pearce.
Brokeback Mountain (2005) – another great film from director Ang Lee. Romantic and edgy enough to make homophobes uncomfortable about hiding those tears on the way out of the cinema. This is how I will remember the late and lamented Heath Ledger.
Amores Perros (2000) – wow! It has it all. Sex, violence, drama, romance and none of it is gratuitous and, if it is, who cares! Could it be number one?
Being John Malkovich (2000) – how could such a silly idea get made into such a brilliant film? It works on every level and makes you see the world differently directly you come out through those cinema’s doors.
Volver (2006) – if it wasn’t a brilliantly made movie by the great master director, Almodovar (at his most disciplined), and if it wasn’t a poignantly humane story ( it is but you laugh as much as you cry), you would just have to go see it for Penelope Cruz. If everyone doesn’t now recognise her as a screen goddess then I just don’t understand the world.
City Of God (2002) – This Brazilian movie is one of those films where you want to get up out of your seat, climb into the screen and try to do something about all those young dangerously-lived lives. Uncompromising, unpatronising, dramatic and tear-jerking – everything that Slumdog Millionaire was not.
If you want to give us your list, I would love you to post it on the comments window but if you have missed any of the films here, then I think they are all great viewing for the holidays.