Without Question, the Definitive Top Films of the Decade

Written by  //  December 28, 2009  //  Cinematical, The Theatre  //  56 Comments

The most memorable event of the past decade is the day the Donnybrook Writing Academy opened its doors and began providing taste, culture and direction to a world wallowing in mediocrity. As the decade comes to an end, we feel obligated to enlighten the masses once again. We at the manor have put together the definitive best of the decade film list.  Through science, trigonometry, and a little black magic, we have calculated the ten best films of the decade and have employed the brightest minds on the planet to share our findings.  Enjoy the enlightenment.

Honourable Mentions

24 Hour Party People (2002) Michael Winterbottom

24hr 24 Hour Party People tells the story of Factory Records founder Tony Wilson and the legendary bands that populated its roster including Joy Division, New Order, and the Happy Mondays.  Wilson’s character, played brilliantly by Steve Coogan, is simultaneously endearing and enraging, as he speaks self-deprecatingly to the camera before blustering to his mates. The film speeds through the late ‘70s and early ‘80s as Wilson relives high points like the Sex Pistols’ first Manchester show, which was attended by about ten people, all of whom really did go on to start rock bands, or the opening of his first night club, the Hacienda. Wilson also endures the sadness of losing Joy Division’s Ian Curtis, producer Martin Hannett, several wives, and eventually his label and most of his money. Despite Wilson’s flaws and failures, 24 Hour Party People succeeds because it is about a man’s love affair with a music scene.  When Wilson couldn’t find the scene he wanted, he started one – in his spare time no less (he worked full time as a television presenter on the BBC).  He wanted nothing more than to disappear into the scene that he’d helped create, which is something the latent elitist hipster snob in all of us should be able to grasp. It’s fitting that a movie made about music fiends for music fiends is rife not only with deliciously juicy stories of excess, but also with cameos from real life rockers, including the Buzzcock’s Howard Devoto, the Fall’s Mark E. Smith, Happy Monday’s Paul Ryder, and, of course, the real Tony Wilson. - Mrs. Tansy Maude Peregrine

Children of Men (2006) Alfonso Cuarón

childrenofmen Children of Men has a reputation as an extremely cerebral film. And while it is exactly that, with its sharp intellect and careful consideration of every issue, it is also a devastatingly emotional and physical experience to view. While I am thrilled to write about and think about Alfonso Cuaron’s masterpiece, I found the idea of re-watching it daunting. I didn’t want to throw it back into the player. Not because I would mind watching it again, by any stretch. I was hesitant because it is a movie I can’t shake. I can’t think about anything else at all for days after I watch it, and the real world slowly seeps its way back in, colored and filtered by this film. It is a film that changes one’s view of the world. It is about a world that has lost hope in the most singular physical manifestation possible. No child has been born in eighteen years. This is not a Mad Max-style dystopia. And it is no slight against George Miller’s film. But this is an actual analysis of us. People are not largely animalistic, only in bursts. Cuaron gives us a world full of desperation and sadness–people doing their best to carry on and not give in to the despair. The roads and buildings are falling apart not because of some nuclear disaster, but because what is the point of upkeep? What is the point of maintaining something when there is no one to inherit them? It isn’t that the meek will inherit the earth; no one will. Then, one day, hope emerges. Fragile, small, delicate hope. And things are so bad that it is in danger of being extinguished before it even begins. Even so. This movie is an action-packed thriller, and what action it has. Each of the major set pieces is delivered in a single shot. Cuaron and his team devised and invented new ways of filming to immerse viewers in the action. It is not showy. It is engrossing. Only after does the viewer have a moment of ‘Wait a second. How the hell did they do that? What just happened?’ Instead, there is only the total conviction of the moment. And what hidden treats there are! The walls are covered with murals by Banksy. There are multiple references to Picasso and Greek Mythology. An homage to Pink Floyd shows up. But none of these references are needed to absorb the film completely. It is a complete animal made all the more lovely and enriching by its small details. It respects its audience. It expects our participation. And it rewards it. Children of Men is a film that I feel can confidently be spoken of as a film that will be remembered long after our children have inherited all these worries and rewards. - Irving J. Silvertoad

Inglourious Basterds (2009) Quentin Tarantino

inglouriousbasterds Inglourious Basterds is a triumph of boldness. I was just watching Wonder Boys today, and they talk about how writers make choices, sometimes difficult ones. While some movie plots seem to sniff their noses around the human psyche, fearful of making real plot choices, Inglorious Basterds paints one giant stroke of controversial genius with a fucking blowtorch. It’s about one thing: “Killin’ Nazi’s.” The entire viewing is spent in a state of giddy horror. You know what the climax will be, and you know that it will be terrifying, and that you will want to scrub your brain of the horrific mental image. Yet you punish yourself through the whole thing. Mélanie Laurent’s Shoshanna is a strong, deserving, sympathy-inducing protagonist-cum-mass murderer. Christoph Waltz’s Col. Hans Landa, a Nazi and a traitor, is one of the most charismatic evil guys I’ve ever seen. To me, that’s what Inglourious Basterds is about: subversion. Because really, we tell ourselves it’s okay to watch them blow up Nazis because, come on, aren’t they the most deserving? Isn’t it just a smidge satisfying to see the tables turned, after the debilitating life-sucking sadness we feel after seeing Schindler’s List and the like? It’s almost like Tarantino is trying to right it like an older brother, with that classic ‘I’ll beat up the sonofabitch’ therapy. Using the strong emotions we feel about the Haulocast, it becomes almost Hanekian: like 1997′s Funny Games, the voyeur feels just a bit too much like a participant for comfort. You’ll walk out of the theater with crazed eyes that have seen too much, morally confounded, but it’s okay, just remember the funny parts–the likable Bear Jew, for example, or Brad Pitt’s trashtastic accent (or even better, Brad Pitt’s trashtastic-accented character affecting an Italian accent). And you’ll be okay. - Angora Holly Polo

Oldboy (2003) Chan-wook Park

oldboy1 Before this gets to far in, let me just say: Fuck Bollywood! South Korea is this decade’s film champion and possibly the last place on earth where being an auteur is truly respected. Where Bollywood gets all the press for making entertaining movies, Korean films are just as entertaining without pandering to the lowest common dance number. An eight-minute tracking shot in Bong Joon-ho, Memories of Murder may be the shot of the decade. Chan-wook Park is the country’s preeminent filmmaker, and all of his work this decade rivals anything produced in this country. While at first glance Oldboy looks like a fanboy’s wet dream–violence heaped on violence tied together with slick visuals and twist ending–it’s Park’s examination of revenge that lands Oldboy on this list. He is so thorough in his examination, in fact, that he needed an entire trilogy to convey the complexity. He leads the characters and the audience into a maze of moral gray, and while the audience may be able to leave the theater or return the DVD, the characters are damned to their very souls.  The last twenty minutes of this film could be the period at the end of the revenge genre’s sentence. - Fritz Godard

Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001-3) Peter Jackson

lordoftherings The Lord of the Rings has given me no end of fits. As an absolute geek I had seen Bad Taste, Meet the Feebles, and Dead Alive. I had seen The Frighteners. And as much as I love all of those movies without shame and with a bursting heart, I will readily admit that all of them save Dead Alive are kind of pieces of shit. They are charming and lovely and offensive and gross and flat-out exploitation films. And kinda shitty. The acting is soft and the camera work is effective if kinda sloppy. The scripts are efficient and ugly. I say this with love. So when I heard Peter Jackson was making The Lord of the Rings with a budget in the hundreds of millions of dollars, I thought for certain it was a different Peter Jackson. Who in their right mind would give him this kind of money? I wouldn’t have trusted this man to meet my parents or go grocery shopping for me. He was being given the biggest chunk of change ever given to a director to make one of the most popular books of all time into three epic films on the other side of the world with an almost unknown cast. How the hell did this happen? However it did happen, it changed everything. Fast forward to a billion dollars, armloads of Oscars and the biggest film cult of all time. And it legitimized Fantasy as a genre. While there were Fantasy films before, none had ever reached serious critical or commercial success. What predecessors does it have? Krull? Conan the Barbarian? Jackson and his gigantic team managed to use every trick of filmmaking, from miniatures and forced perspective to the devising the most sophisticated computer imaging ever. The Director’s Cut of the three films runs a total of eleven and a half hours. But all of that time and energy still manages to resonate on a personal, intimate level. Writing about these films feels very much like an exercise in redundancy. At this point, no one will be convinced to see them who hasn’t already. It is re-watched endlessly by fans who dress up and recite every line. It gave us our greatest leading man in Viggo Mortensen. It changed the notion of Epic Film. One suspects that even hermits or the legendary aged Japanese soldiers on some lost atoll have all seen it. But the central reason it makes this list is what merits attention; why do we still love this movie? Titanic made more money as a single film and dominated popular culture for just as long. It ruled the music charts and swept the Oscars. Viewers can’t help but feel that The Lord of the Rings is about something, and that something can be anything at all. It is about the Second World War or the First World War. It’s about nuclear proliferation. It’s about the war in Iraq. It’s about the inherent good of the human spirit. It’s about the struggles of the “little guy” against corporate behemoths. It’s about love. It’s about . . . whatever. Insert an answer here–and feel absolutely right and justified in the answer. It is a film very much about all of us. A rare feat and a spectacular set of films. - Irving J. Silvertoad

Ten Films of the Last Decade that You’ll Tell Your Grandkids About:

10. No Country for Old Men (2007) Joel and Ethan Coen from a Cormac McCarthy Novel

nocountryforoldmen If audiences haven’t learned it yet, just trust the Coen Brothers. They know what they are doing. The Coens started this decade in full-on writing mode. They stunned with their first adaptation O Brother, Where Art Thou?, then took a pass at the Bad Santa script, a draft of Intolerable Cruelty–originally just an exercise in writing before Clooney decided to sign on–then a perplexing remake of The Ladykillers before a three-year hiatus from filmmaking. I’ll admit it, in a moment of weakness, I thought the Coens were past their prime. However, in retrospect, it looks like the first half of the decade was gearing up a masterwork. No Country for Old Men is the perfect interpretation of literature to celluloid. The Coens heighten the cinematic elements of the film while keeping the lofty literary ideas in focus. They’re able to see the big picture when it comes to adaptation in the same way they see it with their career. Now everyone else could do the same. - Fritz Godard

9. Lost in Translation (2003) Sofia Coppola

lostintranslation I once heard you had to be a Bill Murray fan to love Lost in Translation, because it’s pretty much just him riffing around through the disorienting world of Japan, having hilariously misguided and humbling experiences with say, Japanese exercise equipment and karaoke. And truth be told, I was initially thrilled just to follow his lovable self around Tokyo. But that’s only because Bill Murray is a show stealer wherever he goes. I also heard from those visiting Japan that the film captures the country really well. But that’s not what makes it amazing, either. Upon multiple viewings of the film, you discover so many more layers to it. At its heart, Lost in Translation is a very effective, gorgeous physical manifestation of being lost (as the title would suggest, natch). Two strangers who are floating through life find solace in the experience of being lost through an unlikely friendship. Scarlett Johanson’s character Charlotte is young and obviously smart, just not sure what to do with her life, so she follows her flashy photog boyfriend (played by one of my favorites, Giovanni Ribisi) to Tokyo for his job, spending hours watching the dazzling city in her underwear from the solace of the hotel room. Bill Murray’s character Bob Harris is an aging actor who is lost in his career, finding himself doing strange liquor ads and vibrantly ridiculous Japanese talk shows. One wonders how close the character is to the real life Bill Murray, as he’s been known to float around Williamsburg parties, almost equally out of place (like the time he partied with MGMT–I would have given my second manor to be there for that). It’s an unexpected friendship between them but it’s one that feels incredibly authentic, the scenes of them galavanting around Tokyo feeling like deja vu. And that’s just it; they’re in a completely foreign place, but Sofia Coppola has managed to make the scenes of them together, endearing but not flashily so, feel relatable. These moments aren’t mindblowing, but they are the moments to grab onto. The scene of Bill Murray singing Roxy Music’s “More Than This” karaoke is one of my favorite movie scenes, partially because I love the song but also because Bill Murray, with his humility, captures the moment so well: “You know there’s nothing more than this.” A message peeks out through the layers of dizzying Tokyo lights and endless maze of skyscrapers.  - Angora Holly Polo

8. Talk to Her (2002) Pedro Almodóvar

talktoher Almodovar’s storytelling sensibilities have come to define Spanish cinema. He is melodramatic and provincial. He is a playful realist, sensual and colorful, adapting the canvas of Spain to his visually-rich palette. He writes characters filled with pathos and strength, particularly his women, who defy the sort of shrill representation given them by his American contemporaries. All of Almodovar’s talents are in full force for 2002’s Talk to Her. He weaves a dense tale from the relationships of four people, two comatose women and the men who pine for them. To attempt a synopsis would be to abandon brevity, but the story surrounds the friendship the two men build from their unlikely circumstance as stewards of the sleeping love. Almodovar can be an infuriating director, a provocateur who pushes the bounds of our moral comfort, who rubs languidly against our social mores, especially when dealing with issues of fidelity and sex. His real talent, though, comes in nudging his viewers to question our rigidly and sometimes blindly-held beliefs. He deftly portrays people gripped in very real desire, people driven to obsession by loneliness, people who break and crumble against one another, vulnerable and full of wanting. As viewers, we find ourselves sympathetic towards situations we usually consider as inappropriate, an affront to our sense of right and wrong. Almodovar avoids gratuitous shock and instead tries to present the depth of human emotion with a deep understanding of what compels us to do the things we do for love. – Rbt. B Rutherford

7. Adaptation (2002) Spike Jonez from a Charlie Kaufman script

adaptation Over the years, we’ve seen Nicolas Cage chew up scenery as everything from a teenage vampire, a moronic goombah, a gun-runner, a ready-to-die alcoholic, a pure-hearted convict – even a bad lieutenant.  But we’d never seen him like this; in 2002′s best effin’ movie, Adaptation. Playing Charlie Kaufman [fat, bald, pathetic] locked in a battle with his own neuroses about how to adapt the popular, yet not-very-screen-friendly book, “The Orchid Thief.” His flummy, semi-tragic machinations are balanced with the goofy-fresh approach of his twin brother, Donald (whom he also plays) – who takes on screenwriting as a lark, with wild, undeserved success. Identical twins usually indicate audience-nudging insult a la [insert any Eddie Murphy film of the last 15 years] – yet Cage sells it in an understated, somehow lovable mess; we can tell the brothers apart, but neither is overplayed to affect that ‘division’ the actor needs to keep. But this isn’t why this movie rules. It helps, for sure. As does the spot-on Floridian megalomania of Chris Cooper’s LaRoche, Meryl Streep’s earnest intellectual on the brink, and Brian Cox’s profane take on real-life screenwriting seminar guru Robert McKee. However, the film’s power actually lies in the straight facts: this really, really *is* the script that Kaufman turned in as his hired-gun adaptation of Susan Orlean’s “sprawling New Yorker shit” book. The genius, the balls, the winking inside-out character study and the surreal fantasy of Kaufman’s twin brother (he has none in real life. Nor is he fat, bald or pathetic, BTW) – you are absorbed, bent around corners that Kaufman claims he doesn’t want at all – in his character’s telling – in his script; of his difficulties adapting the work. He manufactures a believable work in progress–’narcissistic, solipsistic’ to be sure–but by last call, the tale of LaRoche has more or less been told [with heavy embellishments and more than a few outrageous lies]. We’re pulling not just for the Kaufman Twins, but for Orlean, LaRoche, and for Kaufman, in the real-world, behind the scenes – to figure it out, to make good, to not “waste [our] two hours with [their] fucking movie!” The miracles of this film are many. Perhaps one of the most important does land with Cage, as Tom Hanks was originally slated to play the Kaufmans. I’m sure Gump would’ve done an admirable turn; but Cage’s sublimated mania seems the ideal anchor for this brilliant, completely original and impossible-to-believe-they-bought it adaptation. – Sid Pink

6. Amélie (2001) Jean-Pierre Jeunet

amelie Amélie makes the Donnybrook list not just for its critical acclaim, but because, quite frankly, it’s a feel-good movie that we don’t have to feel bad for loving. Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, who in 1991 made post-apocalyptic cannabilism seem hilarious in Delicatessen, Amélie shows us how a shy, awkward loner can become a hero by performing unconventional acts of kindness. The film kicks up the feel-good factor when along the way she finds love through an elaborate scheme that makes our inner stalker stand up and cheer. Audrey Tautou’s performance as the quirky ingenue is spot-on, making us fall madly in love with her and also kind of resent her for later taking part in the epic fail that was The DaVinci Code. We love Amelie because it’s like comfort food…the kind that even after hundreds of servings still gives us a deep down happy feeling. Oh, and also because Audrey Tautou is a total hottie. - Cap’n Colleen

5. There Will Be Blood (2007) Paul Thomas Anderson

therewillbeblood There Will Be Blood begins as grandly and audaciously as a movie could–short of physically assaulting the viewer. It is a huge, sweeping epic intimately told through one man. It speaks volumes and has enormous things to say. Even so, it begins and runs for twenty minutes without dialogue. A pure cinema. Just moving pictures and music so strained and noisy and chattering it seems to have bubbled up from cracks in the earth, perhaps to have been screamed by a swarm of locusts. It is old school. I can’t think of anything in the movie that couldn’t have been done without a computer. It is classic cinema. And it is as vibrant as anything that the glossiest technology could deliver. Except better. It calls to mind Malick’s Days of Heaven and Ford’s The Grapes of Wrath. They are somewhat obvious comparisons, given the periods portrayed, but there is something else. There is a patina of greatness, certainly but not just that. An intimate epic. Notice the shot of the young H.W. sitting on barren ground and trying to understand how a father could be mean to his daughter. It is perfectly still. Nothing happens. The boy does very little with his face. Just a slight scrunching of his nose, a wrinkling of his eyebrow. Such tiny movements and yet they had me trembling. I could go on and on about the extraordinary visuals (the oil well fire is as lovely and terrifying an image as I have ever seen) and the incredible acting (Day-Lewis giving what may be the best performance by anyone anywhere ever) and I could wax on and on about Johnny Greenwood’s score but I will not. Instead I will say without equivocation that P.T. Anderson managed to make a movie that takes place at the beginning of the 1900’s and yet is precisely about the world we live in today: a world ruled by greed, powered by an addiction to oil, and under threat by religious zealotry. For my money, not just the best movie of the last ten years, but in the conversation for the best movie ever. - Irving J. Silvertoad

4. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) Wes Anderson

royaltenenbaums There are three things we here at The Donnybrook Writing Academy know better than most: genius, eccentricity and assholery. So it seems only natural that we would be compelled by a movie in which the characters exhibit similar traits. Where our roads diverge, however, is in each character’s failure to live up to the expectations of their physical mental or emotional abilities. Not knowing what failure looks or tastes like, and having no experience with such things, I can only assume the cast has gotten it right…they sure look miserable and wasted. Coming face-to-face with the cold reality of their lives, each of the Tenenbaums experiences their own harrowing and soul-lightening breakdown, and in doing so, wrestles back control of their fate. Smart, dry and real, The Royal Tenenbaums is an important film to see for those who think that success and superior abilities lead to fulfilled lives. I mean… I’m happy, but when you’ve amassed as much wealth and personal property and as many accolades as I have, I suppose it would be difficult not to be. – Baron Chrysler LeBaron

3. City of God (2002) Fernando Meirelles

cityofgod City of God is a movie so alive, so vital, so real that it seems impossible during its runtime to not believe that it is actually occurring as you watch it. That even seems to be the case while Meirelles employs every trick of filmmaking. He jump-cuts, he cross-cuts and freeze-frames. He speeds it up and slows it down and drops frames and turns it inside out. He puts cameras up with the eye of God and drops them down into the characters’ shoes. Even so. Even with all the gimmicks and the tricks and the fireworks, Meirelles manages to make it feel as if none of them are over the top or unnecessary. The movie is vital. As in a strong heartbeat and as in of dire, unbending importance. The movie traces the rise from childhood into crime and would-be crime by two children in the slums of Rio. The paths they each follow have varying moralities, but it is clear that the outcome for everyone in the slum is bleak. However, it is not a dark, ugly depressing film. Yes, it is violent and brutal but also lovely and sweet and full of heart. It manages to do everything that Slumdog Millionaire tried to do and does so without pandering, condescending or using horrible musical numbers. See the genuine joy the teens take in listening to and dancing to and singing along to American disco songs with lyrics they couldn’t translate but feel that they perfectly understand. And see the return of the reality of their daily lives and troubles. It is a showy and glitzy set piece and leaps to mind for good reason. But then there are smaller moments. The two wives doing laundry and discussing what they would and would not allow their husbands to do in the bedroom. It is a nothing scene. No big shots or quick cuts, only natural lighting. But the lightness and the joy in their speech, the dread underneath about one of their marriages, the sweetness in their laughs—these are the kinds of nuances that make this movie much more than the sum of its parts, parts that are pretty amazing already. The nineties suffered from a glut of music video makers taking all of those new tools and not having a damned clue what to do with them. They became decorations. Triflings. Party tricks. Meirelles has finally found a way to make these things matter. And to communicate as urgent of messages as can be told. - Irving J. Silvertoad

2. Memento (2000) Christopher Nolan

memento Film is derivative, and crime films even more so. This is what makes Christopher Nolan’s Memento so special. He takes a storyline as old as cinema–husband-seeking revenge–then finds the perfect device to make it original. What happens is that husband has no short-term memory? But that isn’t enough; Nolan then develops the device so completely and integrates it into every aspect of the film that any attempt to use it again will only be seen a blatant rip off. - Fritz Godard

1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) Michel Gondry from a Charlie Kaufman script

eternalsunshine To remember the best and erase the rest. It’s no wonder Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind sits at the top of our heap of favourite films of the aughts. For this otherwise eclectic group of Donnybrook Writing Academy denizens remains united in illuminating what we like, and doing what we can to ignore the rest. But other than thematic resonance, Eternal Sunshine has more elements to admire than I’ll have room to list. But to rattle a few: a stellar cast of actors; Michel Gondry paired with Charlie Kaufman for a screenplay written to delight a writer; Kate Winslet’s colourful hair; childhood memories showing how real surrealism actually is; erasing Rain Dogs from your memory; winter; trains; jumping on beds; a Bollywood music cameo; crazy ideas you wish you had thought of; and without sappy sentimentality, reminding you that the good is inextricable from the bad. - the Truth

About the Author

Fritz Godard

Fritz Godard is Donnybrook's film columnist, world-renowned filmmaker, and reason behind Marilyn Monroe's demise.

View all posts by

56 Comments on "Without Question, the Definitive Top Films of the Decade"

  1. Heidi December 28, 2009 at 1:23 pm · Reply

    Now that’s a damn good list!

    I agree whole-heartedly with every pick except for #4. I know I’m suppose to like that movie, but I don’t.

    Okay, there.

    I’ve said it.

    I DIDN”T like The Royal Tenenbaums.

  2. Ethereal JB December 28, 2009 at 2:39 pm · Reply

    I didn’t like it either. I have a permanent point on my film school license for that, but I don’t care.

    I agree with about half of the list. While I think it’s incredibly tough to rank movies, LOTR, Children Of Men, Memento, Eternal Sunshine, Amelie, and City of God should not be left off any list involving the 2000′s.

    Some films I’ll be telling my grandkids about, in order of how old they get:

    The Incredibles
    Spirited Away
    Black Hawk Down
    The Departed
    21 Grams

  3. Irving J. Silvertoad December 28, 2009 at 4:14 pm · Reply

    I put in a vote for the Incredibles but it wasn’t enough to make the list.

  4. Team Donnybrook
    godonnybrook December 28, 2009 at 4:19 pm · Reply

    Oooh, the Departed. I should have put that on my list too.

  5. Ivyy December 28, 2009 at 4:30 pm · Reply

    Ok, I’ll be the asshole here.

    You left off The Departed but put on Amelie? You chose Adaptation over Being John Malkovich? Talk To Her, REALLY?!?! And in a decade of technological advance, not a single animated movie made it?

  6. Irving J. Silvertoad December 28, 2009 at 4:37 pm · Reply

    Being John Malkovich was made in 1999 and doesn’t qualify. And the Departed is horridly overrated. And there were animated films nominated, they just didn’t make the cut. See, what would be neat is to do a list for a decade ten years after it ended. A bit more hindsight could be helpful.

  7. Team Donnybrook
    godonnybrook December 28, 2009 at 6:32 pm · Reply

    You know what ELSE I forgot? PERSEPOLIS. Such a great film. There’s just too much out there. Also, I would argue that Amelie might have a lighthearted message, but stylistically it was such a departure from what else is out there, it definitely broke some ground.

    Ivyy, darling, weren’t you on the original selection committee for this list? Heehee!

  8. Lara December 28, 2009 at 7:06 pm · Reply

    Surely Mulholland Drive should be on here somewheres…

  9. Irving J Silvertoad December 28, 2009 at 7:50 pm · Reply

    Lynch should not appear on any list ever.

  10. Ivyy December 28, 2009 at 8:20 pm · Reply

    Yes I WAS on the original selection list and NONE of my movies made it on! So I am bitter, goddammit, and I’m going to shit-talk this column and feel no shame in doing so. So there.

    Also, I’m feeling contrary today so: 21 Grams? NO NO if you’re gonna do a movie by Innaritu (I can NOT spell his name), it has to be Amorres Perros. That movie opened the door for all the quirky 4-separate-storylines-coming-together-into-one that followed. Dammit, actually, now that I think about it, I should have put that one on my top ten list.

    That’s all- feel free to throw firebombs into my email inbox.

  11. Ethereal JB December 29, 2009 at 8:50 am · Reply

    Calling something horridly overrated and having Adaptation and The Royal Tennenbaums on the list seems a tad hypocritical.

    Why are people so quick to dismiss entertaining movies in their “best of” lists? Just because you leave the theater without feeling like you want to commit seppuku doesn’t mean the film wasn’t good (or great even). Films should (also) be a means to be entertained; to break free from our mundane lives! Look at this list Donnybrook! You’re so tortured! Where is the happiness in your life?! I mean, other than watching Audrey Tatou’s adorability in Amelie…

  12. Irving J. Silvertoad December 29, 2009 at 9:22 am · Reply

    Parts of JB’s comment are pretty legit. Anderson’s movies do get a ton of love just by being made by him. But then I am pretty sure The Departed was given the same benefit. And this list is a compiling and averaging of many different votes. I am certain that none of the voters had a list identical to the combination which resulted. Some, like Ivvy, were not even close.

    Having said all that, this is not a list of favorite films or the most fun films or even the films I would choose to watch most often. This is a list of the Best films of the decade. Among the qualities that I look for in declaring something the best film are having a definitive statement or point of view and presenting it in a compelling way. While the movie I have watched more than any other this decade is Hot Rod it just don’t belong on the list. It is why Coetzee got the Nobel Prize and Dan Brown didn’t. Now, this isn’t the Nobel (or even particularly noble) but it still has some loftier hopes.

    Speaking of seppuku, Criterion released Mishima’s short film Patriotism last year. That is a movie that will make you want to end it all. And it wouldn’t make the cut.

  13. Antoine von Frankenstein December 29, 2009 at 9:46 am · Reply

    I agree with the choice of movies. But, a few better films were overlooked.
    While I loved Lost in Translation, I think it is only great among American cinema of the decade. Definitely top 20, not sure about 9.
    Another movie that could drop from the top ten would be Adaptation. Your other Kaufman pick, Eternal Sunshine is too much of a better movie for them both to fit the list. And I might get grief for this at the manor when I return from my rugged Mexican treasure expedition, but was it really #1 worthy? I disagree.
    Glad to see There Will Be Blood on there. Daniel Day Lewis gets my vote for best acting of the decade.

    A few movies I would like to see on there, or at least mentioned:

    O’ BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU (2000) – I know I just said there couldn’t be two Kaufman films, but this Coen brothers film is completely different and just as amazing as their work on No Country.

    CROUCHING TIGER HIDDEN DRAGON (2000) Ang Lee – Most poetic action film. Little use of computer effects, the actors were flying through the trees on wires and it looked magical. Never again will I see American audiences so awed by a film with subtitles.

    THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY (2007) Julian Schnabel – Superb direction. Most creative use of the camera.

    Any of the great animations that came out this decade. Persepolis, Spirited Away, Wall-E

    THE THREE BURIALS OF MELQUIADES ESTRADA (2005) directed and starring Tommy Lee Jones written by Guillermo Arriaga (“21 Grams”)

  14. Antoine von Frankenstein December 29, 2009 at 9:57 am · Reply

    I am starting side with the ones questioning Tennenbaums. Rushmore (98) is his best, Tennenbaums was only Wes Anderson’s best of this decade. Not one of the best movies of the decade.

    Most Entertaining Films of the Decade would be a fun list.
    At the top would be Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans

  15. Ethereal JB December 29, 2009 at 10:04 am · Reply

    Therein lies the issue with making any sort of superlative list (which I fucking love doing, by the way). It’s all based on how an individual decides what makes a movie “best.” For me the question is: “How successful was this film in achieving its goal, whatever that goal may be?” In this respect, I’m more inclined to find merit in movies that succeed in entertaining me. If Hollywood has proven anything in the last 10 years, it’s that it has a difficult time doing that (Transformers, Watchmen, and OH GOD Indiana Jones IV to name a few…). It’s pretty easy these days to find films that make me feel like shit or reflect on how mundane my life is. I can watch the news or reality TV for that and save myself 10 dollars. I think it’s become increasingly frustrating to find a film that genuinely transports you for a couple of hours.

  16. Heidi December 29, 2009 at 10:11 am · Reply

    Ethereal JB, I whole-heartedly agree with your last comment.
    I wanted to shoot myself in the head after “The Road.” Seriously.
    Entertainment value cannot be underestimated when compiling these types of lists.

    And AVF, I also agree with CROUCHING TIGER HIDDEN DRAGON (2000) and THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY (2007). The Diving Bell is incrediable as a piece of movie-making and a truly intriguing story. Hidden Tiger definitely played a part in changing the way movies were made over the last decade (not unlike The Matrix, 1999).

  17. Irving J. Silvertoad December 29, 2009 at 10:14 am · Reply

    It is problematic, certainly. And it is clear that people feel very intensely about their favorite movies (I am feel sure no other donnybrook article has had as many or such interesting and thought out responses). Incidentally, I am sad Herzog is not on this list for Grizzly Man and that no documentary made the cut. I am sad Waltz with Bashir is not on here. And I am sad that the grand escapist films didn’t make the cut. But I can’t agree that bleaker films are not transportive. It is in a different way. It is closer to the idea of catharsis. These films may leave us in tears and wrecked, but I’ll be damned if I don’t feel better at the end of all that. And moved that someone managed to do that to a theater full of strangers. But we may have to agree to disagree.

    Memo to Fritz: Evidently we need to make another list to decide the most Entertaining. And Hot Rod better make the cut!

  18. The Baron December 29, 2009 at 11:07 am · Reply

    There were 79 movies that received votes in our poll. AVF, the three movies you listed (excluding your 4th choice, The 3 Burials…) were all included on the list of movies that received votes (ranked 15, 28 and 35, in your order). They just didn’t receive as many as the others. And while this list appears to show that we at Donnybrook are all ready for the big wristcut in the sky, many films on the list were quite lighthearted. For instance, we included such feelgood summer hits as OCEANS 11, ANCHORMAN and BORAT. (In hindsight, I should’ve included BORAT on my list, not because of the cinematic quality but because it served its purpose and accomplished exactly what it wanted to.) And there were many votes for cuddly animated favorites WALL-E, THE INCREDIBLES and MONSTERS, INC.

    It’s interesting to note that ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND received ZERO 1st place votes and only won because of point total. The only movie receivng more than one vote for the first place, A-1 badass, top film of the whole muthafuckin’ decade was THERE WILL BE BLOOD. And that only received two 1st place votes.

    There were 7,130 different films released from 2000-2009. Our list of 79 films represents 1.11% of all films released in the decade. Surely we’ve missed 1 or 2. So, I think the only way to PROPERLY devise a “Best Films of the Decade” list will be to invite folks for a little movie marathon screening in The Manor’s all-stadium seating IMAX theater and we’ll watch the other 7,051 films back to back to back to back to back to back to back to back to back to back to back to back to back to back to back to back to back to back to back to back to back to back to back to back to back to back to….well, you get the idea.

  19. Ivyy December 29, 2009 at 11:29 am · Reply

    Oooh boy. The Baron has bested us with numbers. Thank you for putting it in perspective, and I accept your invitation to the movie marathon. I’ll bring the Depends!

  20. Heidi December 29, 2009 at 11:32 am · Reply

    I can bring some Costco size bags of popcorn.

    Out of the 7,130 films, I think this list is pretty damn good.

  21. Antoine von Frankenstein December 29, 2009 at 11:34 am · Reply

    Can someone bring Meet the Spartans. I lost my copy.

  22. Team Donnybrook
    godonnybrook December 29, 2009 at 11:46 am · Reply

    Thank you, Baron, I wanted to explain our system but I become very bad at math after ingesting Quaaludes.

  23. The Baron December 29, 2009 at 11:53 am · Reply

    And still another way to look at it is: which films of the top decade were better than the other 99.86% of films released, as 10 films represent only 0.14% of the total film output. The top 0.14%? The last time I saw numbers like that I was opening my SAT scores when I was 12!

  24. Heidi December 29, 2009 at 11:58 am · Reply

    …and now I have a headache.

    God damn it Jim, I’m a write not a mathematician.

  25. Heidi December 29, 2009 at 11:59 am · Reply

    writer… I’m a writer.

    apparently not a mathematician or an editor.


  26. Guido Sarducci IV December 29, 2009 at 12:31 pm · Reply

    I really liked 21 Grams but I agree with Ivvy here. Amorres Perros was on my list. Maybe if you had included it we would have gotten it on here. Anyone else?

  27. Guido Sarducci IV December 29, 2009 at 12:39 pm · Reply

    Wow. A shit load of comments happened between the time I composed that last one and when I hit submit. I feel lost in a sea of commentators.

  28. Ethereal JB December 29, 2009 at 12:43 pm · Reply

    You art kids and your foreign films. This is a phenomenal debate. My only lament is that it has to happen in the infinite void of the Internet and not in a lavish banquet hall where we (the audience) can sip on St. Germaine cocktails and watch you (the Donnybrookers) order your servants to fight each other for the honour of your favourite filums.

    Next year. Promise me this.

  29. julio December 29, 2009 at 12:43 pm · Reply

    Amores Perros.

  30. julio December 29, 2009 at 12:51 pm · Reply

    Motorcycle Diaires

  31. Ethereal JB December 29, 2009 at 1:01 pm · Reply

    Someone’s got a man-crush on Gael García Bernal!

  32. TaylorJ December 29, 2009 at 1:20 pm · Reply

    I think Brick, the understated film noir starring J. Gordon Levitt needs to be on that list.

  33. Irving J. Silvertoad December 29, 2009 at 1:46 pm · Reply

    Boy! Having this chat over cocktails would be fantastic. Next year, sugar. Next year. In the meantime I feel like I should just jut out my chin and insist that I am always right.

  34. Ivyy December 29, 2009 at 2:25 pm · Reply

    AND OHMYGOD why hasn’t anyone mentioned Brokeback Mountain? I’m embarrassed for all of us.

    I’ll back Julio about Motorcycle Diaries, too.

    And Ethereal JB- YES we can do this, right? Angora, darling, we must make this happen!

    Gosh this is fun.

  35. Ethereal JB December 29, 2009 at 2:45 pm · Reply

    Brokeback had the best line of the decade…

    “I’m sick of beans.”

    SO TRUE.

  36. Val December 29, 2009 at 5:58 pm · Reply

    Its still 2009 so its still valid: Avatar in 3D. While this is the best “Top Films blah and etc” list I have ever seen, not having this cinematic masterpiece is a bummer.

  37. Team Donnybrook
    godonnybrook December 29, 2009 at 6:00 pm · Reply

    About JB’s next year plans: YES. I take every advantage to pit the servants against each other whilst also amusing myself–you can bet on it, yessireebob.

    The hot gay cowboy film was on our list, too. I had it in my top ten and I think so did Rbt. B. Rutherford….

  38. Irving J Silvertoad December 29, 2009 at 6:12 pm · Reply

    Ooo. I saw avatar and doubt it would make my top ten of 2009, much less the decade. I liked it better when it was called Dances With Wolves and didn’t like it very much even then.

  39. Antoine von Frankenstein December 29, 2009 at 9:08 pm · Reply

    Avatar was…pretty neat. WETA should get an award for the cool animation. The designer of those 3D ray ban knocks should get a gift card or something. James Cameron gets a thumb down for writing a terrible popcorn script and making a 3D movie with completely one-dimensional characters. Couldn’t spend another million on a writer?

    There was ONE great line from the movie. “Venezuela, now that was some mean bush.”

  40. Crawf December 30, 2009 at 11:25 am · Reply

    This is an excellent list! Thanks so much for posting it.

    Anyone see a film called “Yadon ilaheyya (Divine Intervention)” ? I think it’s from Palestine. It’s a challenging movie, but really really cool and great.

  41. Team Donnybrook
    godonnybrook December 30, 2009 at 12:52 pm · Reply

    Thanks, Crawf! I will definitely check out Yadon ilaheyya, we like challenges here!

  42. Ryan January 1, 2010 at 3:34 pm · Reply

    Excellent list, you adorable movie snobs. And I mean that sincerely. Quite a few of your picks are on my top 20 list (note: I’m an inveterate ditherer and lack the ability to mercilessly whittle things down to 10). Your one misstep was including MEMENTO so high. Despite its strengths, it was gimmicky, plain and simple. Perfectly executed, absorbing as hell, fun to watch, but still a 2-hour gimmick. For your consideration, I humbly submit these 12 chronologically ordered movies that could rightfully have made the cut for your list:
    YI YI: A ONE AND A TWO (2000)
    DOGVILLE (2004)
    MEAN CREEK (2004)
    PAN’S LABRYNTH (2007)

    And since cartoons and comedies and documentaries never make these lists (although the best ones should), here’re a few that deserve mention:
    Best Documentary: CHILDREN UNDERGROUND (2001)
    Best Comedy: tie between BEST IN SHOW (2000) and HOT FUZZ (2007)
    Best Animated Movie: tie between SPIRITED AWAY (2001) and HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE (2004)

  43. FLUCAS January 23, 2010 at 8:28 am · Reply

    American Gangster, Pan’s Labyrynth and Fight Club were suspiciously absent.

  44. Father Guido Sarducci IV
    Guido Sarducci IV January 25, 2010 at 12:58 pm · Reply

    Fight Club, the 1999 American film adapted from the 1996 novel of the same name by Chuck Palahniuk, was on our list of the Definitive Top Films of the Decade Before This Last One That Just Ended: The 90′s.

    American Gangster was pretty cool.

  45. vesey February 8, 2010 at 9:29 pm · Reply

    Was there 2 “Children of Men” ?? Because the one i saw sucked something terrible………………

  46. Tim the Tool Man Taylor March 18, 2010 at 8:38 pm · Reply

    yea good movies, but nowhere near the “definitive” top. Enjoy the enlightenment. pff nacho libre is not even on there.

  47. Ger Ryan July 19, 2010 at 5:10 am · Reply

    No Country For Old Men is cinematic brilliance.

  48. Christof September 28, 2010 at 3:51 pm · Reply

    To dust off a hackneyed expression: great minds think alike. Love that list. Here’s mine I did at the beginning of the year.

    1) Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind
    2) The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
    3) House of Sand and Fog
    4) Lost in Translation
    5) In Bruges
    6) Donnie Darko
    7) Wonder Boys
    8) Mystic River
    9) Into The Wild
    10) The Dark Knight

    I know some of you weren’t swayed by a sentimental Fincher but I was strangely hypnotized by Benjamin Button, I also think the scope of the film makes it more eligible for such a list. Memento, No Country For Old Men and Adaptation got cut at the very last stage (top 20 to top 10).

  49. Father Guido Sarducci IV
    Father Guido Sarducci IV September 29, 2010 at 10:54 am · Reply

    I was really surprised at how good In Bruge was but I think it’s a far cry from Top 10. I am surprised that Donnie Darko didn’t make our cut. One of the best movies. Ever! Wasn’t Wonder Boys in the 90s?

  50. Christof October 6, 2010 at 12:51 pm · Reply

    2000 actually. I still can’t see beyond the boredom in “Children of Men”. I wish I had an other argument to berate the film b/c I’ll get countered with the inevitable (and also boring) “low attention span” non-argument. It’s cinematography is stunning and it’s a good idea, but in the end a half-cooked and spit out again film. I think In Bruges was so unique, hilarious and dramatically accurate too, it was a no-brainer when I made up the list.

  51. alksdhg June 6, 2011 at 9:56 pm · Reply

    you have a low attention span (just to get that out of the way)

  52. Rtnlty July 19, 2011 at 8:26 am · Reply

    You are an unspeakably dumb person.

  53. Fritz Godard July 19, 2011 at 9:29 am · Reply

    Correction: Unspeakably dumb people.

  54. Rene Yearwood November 13, 2013 at 11:23 am · Reply

    Howdy. Simply wanted to ask a simple problem. I am just assembling my very own blog in addition to would like to understand wherever you’ve got your own topic? Has been this free? Or maybe seemed to be this paid for? I cannot often discover anything at all as effective as this one, thus preferably you can allow me to learn. Many thanks. PS, my own i’m sorry. Uk seriously isn’t the 1st terminology.

Trackbacks for this post

  1. The Top Ten Films of the Decade, according to the Mayor |
  2. gary craig

Leave a Comment

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.

comm comm comm