Wednesday, 23 December 2009

20 Films of the 00s

There were many films I loved this decade, but, challenged to come up with 20 quickly, these are the ones that emerged.

Magnolia [dir. Paul Thomas Anderson]
Limbo [dir. John Sayles]
Topsy-Turvy [dir. Mike Leigh]
American Beauty [dir. Sam Mendes]

1999 releases strictly speaking, but since these movies didn’t reach this sceptred isle until 2000 they started the decade as far as I’m concerned. And what a start. For me, the 00s offered no better films than Paul Thomas Anderson’s thunderous yet tender emotional epic, John Sayles’s profound exploration of the concept of risk, Mike Leigh’s thrilling anatomisation of the collaborative creative process, and Sam Mendes’s soulful and subversive study of rebellion in the 'burbs. Provocative, intelligent, deeply felt movies all.

Under the Sand (Sous le Sable) [dir. Francois Ozon] (2001)
A classic of first-person cinema: Ozon’s haunting, anti-closure masterpiece of mourning and melancholia.

Talk To Her (Hable con Ella) [dir. Pedro Almodóvar] (2003)
One of Almodóvar’s finest: elegant, surprising, deeply moving, all-of-a-piece.

Uzak [dir. Nuri Bilge Ceylan] (2003)
Ceylan’s droll, sad portrait of two cousins (mis-)connecting in wintry Istanbul.

The House of Mirth (2000) [dir. Terence Davies]
Davies’s struggles with getting financing this decade were one of the sorriest indictments yet of that chimera known as the British film industry. But the two films he did manage to get made were both rewarding, in particular this masterful, subtle adaptation of Wharton.

Lost in Translation (2003) [dir. Sofia Coppola]
Pitching itself between apparent irreconcilables - humour and melancholy, connection and isolation, resignation and hope - Sofia Coppola’s lovely, atmospheric, invigorating movie is Brief Encounter for the 00s. Props, too, to the misunderstood Marie-Antoinette (2007).

Hidden (Caché) (2006) - [dir. Michael Haneke]
The best movie yet from cinema’s most rigorous analyst of what we watch, how we live, and the relation between the two.

Mad Hot Ballroom (2004) - [dir. Marilyn Agrelo]
In joyous tone and generous sprit, the perfect anti-Michael Moore documentary.

Gosford Park (2001) [dir. Robert Altman]
Altman’s final decade of film-making was an erratic one, as always, with as many lows as highs. But his sublime amalgam of country-house murder-mystery and Upstairs Downstairs social critique grows richer with every viewing.

The Village (2004) - [dir. M. Night Shyamalan]
Shyamalan’s odd, imaginative movies rubbed many people up the wrong way. Overlooking the paltry The Happening (2008), I think he’s a great artist, and The Village unfolds with the beauty, terror and dream-logic of a fairy-tale.

Dans Paris (2006)/ Les Chansons d'amour (2007) - [dir. Christophe Honoré]
Watching Honoré’s delightful movies I discovered that I preferred New Wave "homage" to the "real" thing.

The Child (L’enfant) (2005) – [dir. Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardennes]
For all its associated pain, the massive humanity of the Dardennes’s cinema makes me very happy indeed.

O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000) - [dir. Joel Coen]
"It didn't look like a one-horse town, but you try finding a decent hair jelly."

Dogville (2003) – [dir. Lars von Trier]
By the end of the decade, von Trier’s provocations seemed tired and tiresome. But the expert Dogville remains a great, gruelling work.

Far From Heaven (2003) – [dir. Todd Haynes]
Haynes’s ode to Sirk emerged not as a cold theoretical exercise, but rather a rapturous rediscovery of the rawness of melodrama, its depths of feeling, its social comment, and its humanity. Props to I'm Not There (2007) as well.

The Class (Entre les murs) (2008) - [dir. Laurent Cantet]
Cantet's riveting drama absorbs from first frame to last.


  1. Interesting list,
    I absolutely LOVED Gosforth Park ( a wonderfully generous ensemble piece) and TALK TO HERa is one of the best films EVER.....

    as for nearly pushed me over the edge.......I resembled Shirley Maclaine at the end of TERMS OF ENDEARMENT after I has sat through it!
    have a good Christmas.....I have enjoyed reading your reviews

  2. Thanks, same to you! Yep, Dogville's a love-it-or-loathe-it experience, no doubt about it ... Looking back I was surprised at just what a great decade it's been for films overall; could've easily added another 20 favourites to this list ...

  3. Great list! Loved the fact that you've found space for THE VILLAGE, UZAK (which I *adore*) and TOPSY-TURVY. Overall, the 00s were a rich decade. My list (in slight need of a revision as 2009 actually closed) is here: