Best Films of the Noughties, Part 1: 1-25

So, with a new decade stretching before us, and a host of end of decade polls, I figured I’d add my own 2 cents on the subject. After scooting around, and reading various lists of the best films of the noughties (rubbish word for the decade, but it’s all we have), I noticed a few glaring omissions. The Times published a very popular list, which ranks highest in the google search. No 24 Hour Party People? No Igby Goes Down? Ahem. Ok, the latter is my a person fav of mine rather than a general classic, but a British list should surely include a film which documents the most important musical and cultural movement of the past 30 years in the post war UK. Anyway, this is my list of the best movies from the past decade, and in it I have tried to balance what I think are objectively the best movies, while adding a few of my own personal favourites, and including some of the incredible contributions of world cinema, the likes of City Of God, and Infernal Affairs (though to be honest, I’m still learning and discovering the wonders that foreign language films have to offer, and consider myself an ignoramus on the subject, despite knowing a bit). Bear in mind, this is IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER, and please feel free to let me know what you think, what I’ve missed and what I’ve clearly over-rated! Thanks guys… 1. The Departed: Scorsese direct, and an ensemble cast of amazing actors compete for his affections in a brilliant remake of the original Jap flick ‘Infernal Affairs’. The result finally got the veteran moviemaker his first Oscar, after 3 decades of trying. Watch out for a prequel in the pipeline.

2. Training Day: Denzel Washington gives an Oscar-winning performance as corrupt LAPD narcotics detective Alonso, uttering the immortal lines “King kong ain’t got shit on me”, and, my person favourite, “this shit ain’t checkers, it’s chess”. With a man shouting lines this good, it’s surely a Scarface for the 21st century? 3. The Beach. Essentially flawed, but I couldn’t help fall in love with this movie, as it captured a beautiful moment in the early noughties, when lots of young western people were discovering the wonders of South East Asia, and trying to capture a dream. I was one of them, so it meant something to me… 4. The Wrestler: It came late on, but Mickey Rourke’s career-reviving portrayal of a washed-up wrestler was both tragic and moving, with excellent supporting performances including Marissa Tomei as an ageing lap dancer with a heart. It was robbed at the Oscars. 5. Avatar: Not much needs to be said about this billion dollar epic, which came right at the tail end of the decade, and will probably go onto define Hollywood aesthetics and special effects for some time to come, in the way that the first Matrix movie did a decade earlier.  6. LOTR Trilogy: Another special effects extravaganza, Peter Jackson’s epic retelling of the J.R. Tolkien classic combined wonderful storytelling with compelling performances, and, erm, a little fella called Gollum. you’ll never look at New Zealand the same way again. 7. Amores Perros. 3 cleverly intertwined stories taking place in Mexico city, exploring the manifold ways that love is indeed a bitch, and including a wonderful performance by a young Gabriel Garcia Bernal.  8. Igby Goes Down. A personal favourite of mine, Kieran Culkin, Macaulay’s brother, in a brilliantly caustic social satire on the East coast upper classes, it has quite a resemblance to Catcher In The Rye, and a brilliant soundtrack. A cult classic of the decade, and one that it bound to be revived in the years to come. 9. In the Loop. Last year’s first cinematic effort by Armando Iannucci and the team behind BBC’s The Thick Of It. This has to have an award invented especially for it, for Best Swearing In A Movie Ever 10. Bowling For Columbine. The noughties was surely the decade of the documentary, and Michael Moore’s contributions were exceptional. Never less than highly polemical and partial, they drew criticism and praise in equal measure, but you could never doubt his sincerity. 11. There Will Be Blood. Young director Paul Thomas Anderson produced one of the greatest movies of the late 20th century when he made Magnolia, for me, and so it was always going to be a difficult job to top that achievement, but he managed it with this critique of American capitalism in the Wild West goldrush of the nineteeth century, with a brilliant performance from Daniel Day Lewis, and an approval rating of 91% on Rotten Tomatoes.  12. Pan’s Labyrinth. Guillermo Del Toro produces an exquisitely beautiful, dark fairytale of a movie, which works on so many levels, telling the story of a young girl who discovers a fantastic parallel world while in desperate circumstances after the Civil War in Franco’s Spain.  13. Ratatouille. A Pixar movie about a rat who dreams of being a Parisian Chef. It sounds insane, but as a story, it’s perfect, winning a near-perfect score of 96 on Metacritic.  14. City Of God: This 2002 movie took me to a world I’d never seen before, it’s gritty documentary style and gripping narrative reveals how desperate and dangerous life is in the favellas of Rio De Janeiro. Based on a 1997 book by Paolo Lins, it won several international film awards, and for me, it’s one of the best films of all time. 15. The Lives Of Others: This German-language thriller about life in Cold War East Germany deservedly won the 2007 Academy Award for Best Foreign Film. Based on a true story, it tells the story of playwrights, actors and creatives living under the scrutiny of the Stasi in East Berlin. Any resemblance that Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds has to it is purely coincidental, ahem. 16. Anchorman :The Legend Of Ron Burgundy: The tale of a pusillanimous 70s TV news anchorman played by the delightfully idiotic Will Ferrell, whose world it turned upside down when the first ever female news reporter (Christina Applegate) joins the team in the macho world of News.  17. 28 Days Later: Danny Boyle may have come to the attention of much of the world with his Oscar smash Slumdog Millionaire in 2009, but he was building a reputation well before that. This 2002 zombie / post apocalyptic movie became a sleeper hit, and was famous for it’s opening scenes, which show a deserted inner city London, and it’s pioneering use of digital video cameras. 18. Children Of Men: Clive Owen and Julianne Moore inhabit a London of the near future where there has been a world crisis of fertility, and the populace live in a totalitarian state, when an illegal immigrant suddenly, mysteriously becomes pregnant. This film is worth watching for the way it looks alone, with the constantly moving documentary-style camera work and rich detail of a dilapidated England of the future, as well as a mean-ass cameo from Michael Caine as a weed-growing hippie. 

19. The Dark Knight: Heath Ledger won all the plaudits for his disturbed, brilliant portrayal of The Joker in this Batman Begins sequel, but the film is so much more than that, including an interesting allegory with the War On Terror, and excellent direction from Christopher Nolan.  20. Lost In Translation: Romantic comedies are notoriously uncool, but Sofia Coppola’s dreamy story of 2 very different strangers who fall in love in Tokyo was entrancing and enchanting, and it was the film that turned Scarlett Johansson into a worldwide star. 21. Gladiator: Blade Runner director Ridley Scott revived his critical fortunes with this “swords and sandals” historical epic, which harked back to a golden age of movie making. Oh, and Russell Crowe shouts a lot and looks scary.  22. Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kaazakhstan: Sacha Baron Cohen’s comic creation Borat exposes bigotry and anti-semitism in this documentary-style comedy which was followed by a trail of lawsuits and controversy, which just added to its’ huge box-office success. 

24. Casino Royale: Daniel Craig’s ruthless, steel-eyed Bond swapped campness for killer instinct in this brilliant reboot of the indefatigable James Bond franchise, with a captivatingly seductive performance from Eva Green, though the follow up, the disappointing Quantum of Solace was more a coda than a movie of its’ own. 25. No Country For Old Men: the Coen brothers sucked hairy balls with their comedy Burn After Reading, but more than made up for it with this cat-and-mouse chase across the desert, with cold-blooded Javier Bardem managing to be menacing, despite having a silly Emo Philips haircut.

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