Okay, here it is; the 175th Top 10 Movies of the Decade list. To be honest, I did this very quickly. Yes, I had a large list in front of me, but I made cuts fast. I wanted to go on gut reaction, which I think is always the truest test of what you really think. So here it is: Ten years…just ten movies.
(2000 through 2009 are eligible)
Honorable Mentions: The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Miracle, and Unbreakable.
10) Traffic (2000):
-Although now it seems like director Steven Soderbergh only makes Ocean’s 25 movies, 2000 was his time to shine. He released Erin Brockovich the same year as Traffic, another strong film. But Traffic is his crowning achievement. This movie has about 20 storylines going on from several points of view on the war on drugs, and they are all equally riveting. Also, let’s not forget an especially phenomenal performance from Benicio Del Toro.
9) Catch Me if You Can (2002):
-Talk about replay value. I can watch this movie all day. It’s very addicting. And every big scene is basically the same – Leonardo DiCaprio does something really bad ass to fake out Tom Hanks. You just couldn’t wait to see what con-artist Frank Abagnale did next. It’s a great performance by DiCaprio to keep the same shtick fresh throughout this 2 hour plus movie. Oh yea, and Christopher Walken is an added bonus.
8 – Batman Begins (2005):
-It revitalized a franchise that was on life support. After 1997’s Batman and Robin, considered one of the worst movies ever made, I had no expectations for this film. Yea, the trailers looked great, but I had no faith in Warner Brothers. I went to see it, and I left in total shock. Wow. (Spoilers Next) I also had never been more surprised when watching a movie when its revealed that Liam Neeson’s character turns out to be Ra’s Al Ghul. Great twist. And I was even more stunned when I saw a Joker card revealed at the end of the movie. Now that’s what I’m talking about!!! Great twists…Great movie.
7) The Wrestler (2008):
-Mickey Rourke…wow. Believe it or not, there are other things to talk about with this movie that are equal to Rourke’s performance. Darren Aronofsky’s direction is flawless from the opening credits to the chilling fade to black. Part of what makes a movie great are great scenes, and they come in bunches in the Wrestler. And no, you don’t have to know anything about wrestling to appreciate it.
6) Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005):
-Get over it. This is a phenomenal film. Let’s just think about this for a second. If Star Wars never existed and this was a movie that just came out under a different name, people would have gone ape shit over it. But because it holds the name Star Wars, people grudgingly accept the fact that Episode III is…not terrible. Not terrible! Yes, it has some dialogue and acting flaws here and there, but come on. People who say the duel on the lava planet was just ‘meh’ are in serious denial. Palpatine is a great villain, and wonderfully performed by Ian McDiarmid. This is one of the most entertaining films I’ve ever seen. What really grinds my gears is that people discredit the entire movie just because Darth Vader cries out “Nooooooooooooo,” at the end. Really? One word ruins the entire movie. Give me a break. Episodes I and II suck. But this movie has the emotional impact you crave. I will defend this as a great movie to the death.
5) The Departed (2006):
-Brilliantly acted and directed. It’s no surprise it’s a Martin Scorsese movie. There are so many memorable performances, but if I had to single out one, it would be Leonardo DiCaprio as Billy Costigan. This guy is just racked with pain and insecurities, yet he’s able to handle some serious pressure cooker situations. It’s the cops VS the mob, where the entire film centers on “rats” trying to fish out other “rats.” The tension in some of these scenes is some of the most intense I’ve ever experienced in a movie theatre. This is credit to the great actors, but its Scorsese who makes this film a classic.
4) The Aviator (2004):
-Hey, look at that, another Scorsese movie. Although as great as he is in the directing chair, this one is more DiCaprio’s show. He is holy shit good as genius/obsessive compulsive disorder victim Howard Hughes. For me it’s the second best performance of the entire decade. It’s hard to describe. The tone and control of his voice is nothing short of perfection of a man who is in control of everything but himself. The last few seconds of this movie sums up his performance in a nutshell. Please see this one if you haven’t.
3) Friday Night Lights (2004):
-Based on a true story. This is not some typical sports movie cliché bull shit. I am so fascinated with this film. We center on a high school football team in Texas, and although they are celebrities of the school and town, they are anything but happy. The entire weight of the world is on their shoulders. They don’t want to just “win the big one,” but they have to win it. Billy Bob Thornton as Coach Gary Gaines is outstanding, but I want to talk about Lucas Black as QB Mike Winchell. Whenever you see high school QB’s in a movie, they are on top of the world and loving life. This guy is the exact opposite and is just one giant ball of stress. It’s an outstanding performance. The line that really sums this film up though is when one of the characters asks, “Do you feel seventeen?” I guess a lot of the events in the movie I’ve read aren’t accurate. I don’t care. It makes for a great movie. Also, the score is flat out awesome.
2) The Royal Tenenbaums (2001):
-It’s depressing and hilarious at the same time, but unlike most dramedies, it works. Director Wes Anderson really does create his own little world around these eccentric, but insanely entertaining characters. It really feels like they are the only people who live on the planet. The performances here are second only to the Godfather movies. Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson for crying out loud are fantastic. Gene Hackman as Royal Tenenbaum is the most likable asshole I’ve ever seen in a movie. This really is like reading a book, but I mean that in a good way. Well, maybe more like listening to a book on tape because Alec Baldwin’s narration is damn good.
1) The Dark Knight (2008):
-As much as I love all the movies on this list, not only is the Dark Knight the best movie of the decade, it’s the best movie of the decade by far. Heath Ledger gives the single best performance of the decade. This is a movie that when I watched in the theatre, I really had no idea when or how it was going to end. This movie has been talked about to death, so I really have nothing more to say on the matter.