Be warned: This is not a list of the BEST films of the last ten years, but a personal view of my favorites.
10. IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE, 2002. Wong Kar-Wai's ravishing tribute to unrequited love. Two of the most talented and attractive film actors in the world, Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung, play sad, longing lovers whose own spouses have betrayed them. Set against lush color pallettes, this is a film to savor.
9. HOTEL RWANDA, 2004. Terry George's gripping fact-based narrative about the Rwandan genocide with powerful imagery and a haunting performance from Don Cheadle, one of our most underrated actors. Unforgettable.
8. ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND. Michel Goundry and Charlie Kaufman co-wrote
and Goundry directed this surreal love story about a woman who has her love affair erased from her memory. In his best role, Jim Carrey is the man who tries to get her back. The blend of sci-fi, longing, and comedy is irresistable.
7. CHILDREN OF MEN, 2006. Alfonso Cuaron's brilliant adaptation of P.D. James' dystopian nightmare novel keeps the core ideas but expands the novel into a thrilling story of redemption and salvation. Clive Owen and Michael Caine give beautifully drawn performances.
6. CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON, 2000. Ang Lee's epic tale of martial arts, honor and desire tackles a tired genre of Chinese movies and elevates it into both art and entertainment. The use of color, editing, and stunt work enhance an intensely tangled web of love and violence in a mythical China.
5. MEMENTO, 2000. Christopher Nolan's remarkable puzzle in which Guy Pearce plays a man with short term memory who must solve his wife's murder through clues he writes on mirrors, his body, anywhere before they slip away. A tour de force in narrative technique which reminds us of the fun house sequence in Orson Welles' THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI...but better!
4. You can take NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN and BARTON FINK to the cleaners after you see the Coen Brothers' uproarious, deliciously clever '30's romp O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU. Who would have guessed you could take Homer's THE ODYSSEY and make it this hilarious without losing the meaning. Whether it's the sirens or the lotus eaters or Polyphemus himself, they are all here in high comic form as Mississippi gospel singers, klan members, and gangsters. The music alone makes this wondrous, but add performances from George Clooney and a great cast and you have a classic comedy.
3. BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, 2005, Ang Lee. Perhaps the most heartfelt and personally wrenching movie of the decade. Ang Lee's directing Oscar was more than deserved, but the film and Heath Ledger were sadly overlooked. Beyond the hype and cheap jokes about gay cowboys, this is love story about two people who cannot deny their love for each other, despite their attempts to be apart. Ledger's expressions and voice are remarkabe and haunting.
2. PAN'S LABYRINTH, 2006, Guillermo del Toro. An allegorical tale that combines social realism, myth, and fairy tales, PAN'S LABYRINTH is set in Facist Spain. A highly imaginative girl escapes her brutish step-father by entering a world of fantasy inspired by Lewis Carroll and especially nightmarish mythical characters. Del Toro has created an astonishing world of crafty fauns, insect-like fairies, and one of the ghastliest creatures ever seen--all in the service of an heroic stand against facism and human cruelty.
1. MOULIN ROUGE, 2001, Baz Luhrmann. This movie single-handedly revived the movie musical by plundering Elton John, the Beatles, the Police, and loads of other pop icons and placing them in Paris at the end of the 19th century in the Paris netherworld of Moulin Rouge. Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor bring both comic and tragic talents to this wild update of CAMILLE. The sets, photography, choreography, and acting are all amazing and all the genius of Baz Luhrmann.
Honorable Mention: MYSTIC RIVER, TALK TO HER, HIGH FIDELITY, IN AMERICA, DONNIE DARKO, GOSFORD PARK, A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE, HALF-NELSON, THE DARK KNIGHT, CITY OF GOD. Let me know what you think: firstname.lastname@example.org.