It strikes me that this, my first decade as an adult and my first as a self identifying cinephile, has been a particularly strong decade for the movies. The films below can’t possibly represent the best films of the decade, but they are the ones that spoke the most to me. They were each made by an artist that made me feel a little less alone.
1. There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2007)
Towering performances, a catalogue of the history of cinematic styles, a personal story of fathers and sons. It’s the most transfixing film I saw this decade, and the one that made me most drunk on film.
2. Silent Light (Carlos Reygadas, 2007)
Masterful use of quiet and non-actors define Reygadas’ subtly powerful examination of religion and human connection. The most beautiful film of the decade.
3. Yi Yi (Edward Yang, 2000)
A Taiwanese family drama that emphasizes the universality of the human experience. The shortest three hour film ever made.
4. In Praise of Love (Jean-Luc Godard, 2001)
What more can I say about Godard? A bitter yet sweet examination of art and loss in the age of globalization.
5. Dancer in the Dark (Lars von Trier, 2000)
Formal rigidity belies emotion power. Perhaps the manipulative trickster’s biggest joke is that he actually is serious.
6. The Son (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, 2002)
A treatise about forgiveness.
7. Songs from the Second Floor (Roy Andersson, 2000)
Black comedy, artificial beauty and a mournful Tati-esque story about the disconnections of modernity.
8. Hunger (Steve McQueen, 2009)
A brilliant debut and a daring piece of structure.
9. Syndromes and a Century (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2006)
An experiment in offscreen space, both narrative and emotionally.
10. Head-On (Fatih Akin, 2004)
A punk song about religion, sex and second chances.
Also: 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days (Cristian Mungiu, 2007), 24 Hour Party People (Michael Winterbottom, 2002), All The Real Girls (David Gordon Green, 2003), The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Andrew Dominik, 2007), The Bourne Supremacy (Paul Greengrass, 2004), Caché (Michael Haneke, 2005), Che (Steven Soderbergh, 2008), The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (Cristi Puiu, 2005), Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry, 2004), A History of Violence (David Cronenberg, 2005), Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang (Shane Black, 2005), I’m Not There (Todd Haynes, 2007), Irreversible (Gaspar Noe, 2002), Morvern Callar (Lynne Ramsey, 2002), Mulholland Drive (David Lynch, 2001), The New World (Terrence Malick, 2005), Paranoid Park (Gus van Sant, 2008), Revanche (Gotz Spielmann, 2009), The Royal Tennenbaums (Wes Anderson, 2001), Shaun of the Dead (Edgar Wright, 2004), Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki, 2001), The Squid and the Whale (Noah Baumbach, 2005), Summer Hours (Olivier Assayas, 2008), This is England (Shane Meadows, 2007), Triplets of Belleville (Sylvain Chomet, 2003), The World (Jia Zhang Ke, 2005), Zodiac (David Fincher, 2007)
Also: everything else that should be here that I didn’t see…