Best of the 2000s

I guess it took me long enough, but now that New Year’s is nearly upon us and I’ve gone through a number of Top 50 lists for previous decades, I couldn’t hold off any longer and yielded to pressure to participate in the ‘Best of the Aughties’ list-making frenzy. The two top spots in my list are pretty much interchangeable: both brilliant variations on the themes that have run through Lynch’s career, and both focusing on issues of gender and cinematic representation. Having recently re-watched both films, it’s not so much a question of finding one film better than the other, but more the issue that Inland Empire can only be accessed as a companion piece to Mulholland Dr., whereas the latter makes sense (more or less) on its own.

Looking down the rest of the list, it would seem that most choices reflect a sustained and tragic sense of loss, with life, love, and family all slipping away on the “dismal tide” that was emphasized so eloquently in the Zeitgeist-channeling favorite No Country for Old Men. Even the comedies (Adaptation., Ratatouille, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou) seem marked by their poignant sense of melancholy that overshadows their technical virtuosity and moments of joyous abandon, while spectacular action movies like Kill Bill and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon never let us forget that we are watching stories of violence, betrayal, and doomed lovers.

Hard to say whether themes such as these truly typify that arbitrary ten-year period we now haltingly call ‘the aughties’. Whether it’s all post-9/11 malaise, a bad case of the George W. Bush blues, or the result of our growing awareness that ecological, geographical and financial systems all seem to be crumbling as we watch, the decade has in any case produced a large number of stunning films, to which the following list aims to testify. And what better way to testify to these strange times than with the stunning end credits of Inland Empire?

1. Mulholland Dr. (David Lynch, 2001)
2. Inland Empire (David Lynch, 2006)
3. Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino, 2009)
4. Synecdoche, New York (Charlie Kaufman, 2008)
5. Eastern Promises (David Cronenberg, 2007)
6. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (Wes Anderson, 2003)
7. The New World (Terrence Malick, 2005)
8. Ratatouille (Brad Bird, 2007)
9. Miami Vice (Michael Mann, 2006)
10. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Spike Jonze, 2004)
11. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (Tim Burton, 2007)
12. Death Proof (Quentin Tarantino, 2007)
13. Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki, 2001)
14. The Royal Tenenbaums (Wes Anderson, 2001)
15. The Man Who Wasn’t There (Joel Coen, 2001)
16. 25th Hour (Spike Lee, 2002)
17. Kill Bill (Quentin Tarantino, 2003/2004)
18. Zodiac (David Fincher, 2007)
19. Keane (Lodge Kerrigan, 2004)
20. No Country For Old Men (Joel Coen, 2007)
21. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Andrew Dominik, 2007)
22. Pan’s Labyrinth (Guillermo del Toro, 2006)
23. About Schmidt (Alexander Payne, 2002)
24. Stevie (Steve James, 2002)
25. The Darjeeling Limited (Wes Anderson, 2006)
26. Adaptation. (Spike Jonze, 2002)
27. Save The Green Planet (Jun-hwan Jeong, 2003)
28. The Devil’s Rejects (Rob Zombie, 2004)
29. Children of Men (Alfonso Cuarón, 2006)
30. Memento (Christopher Nolan, 2000)
31. Grizzly Man (Werner Herzog, 2004)
32. The Incredibles (Brad Bird, 2004)
33. Sympathy for Lady Vengeance (Chan-wook Park, 2005)
34. Public Enemies (Michael Mann, 2009)
35. The Squid and the Whale (Noah Baumbach, 2005)
36. A History of Violence (David Cronenberg, 2004)
37. United 93 (Paul Greengrass, 2006)
38. Let The Right One In (Thomas Alfredson, 2008)
39. Cloverfield (Matt Reeves, 2008)
40. Good Night, and Good Luck. (George Clooney, 2005)
41. Paprika (Satoshi Kon, 2006)
42. 28 Weeks Later (Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, 2007)
43. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Ang Lee, 2000)
44. Before Sunset (Richard Linklater, 2004)
45. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (David Yates, 2007)
46. Gone Baby Gone (Ben Affleck, 2008)
47. The Bourne Supremacy (Paul Greengrass, 2004)
48. Dig! (Ondi Timoner, 2004)
49. Observe And Report (Jody Hill, 2009)
50. Star Trek (J.J. Abrams, 2009)

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