I don’t know why it happens this way. I try to put together a “Best of …” list through methodical and reasonable means. I let it stew for month after month, taking the time every once in a very long while to try and find spots for my new darlings and justify the ones that stubbornly hang onto their spots, all the while never making much actual progress towards finishing it.
And then, somehow, usually at 2:00 AM on a night that I really have to be asleep, everything falls into place. The final list reveals itself to me in the dark, and I go scrambling for my notebook and pen. That’s how it happened with my first All Time Favourites List, which (completely unexpectedly) solidified one night in December, and now it has happened once more with my long-frustrated attempts to figure out my absolute favourite films of the last ten years.
What sets these films apart? They all have one thing in common: My experiences of watching these films went deeper than any other experiences of films made between January 1, 2000 and December 31, 2009. By “deeper,” I mean this: of the responses that plenty of good and great films from this period have stimulated within me – passion, worship, reflection, revelation, a heightened awareness of being alive – everything that passes between the viewer and the screen, and remains with the viewer for the rest of their lives; the richest and most powerful of these exchanges found me while sitting and watching each of these ten films, and realizing in real-time or soon thereafter, that something truly amazing was before me, and changing me. All of these films strike me as vitally alive in ways that their contemporaries are not. All of these films have blessed me richly.
My ten favourite films of the Aughts:
1. Children of Men (Cuaron, 2006)
2. Munich (Spielberg, 2005)
3. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (Jackson, 2003)
4. Birth (Glazer, 2004)
5. Sophie Scholl: The Final Days (Rothemund, 2005)
6. Moolaade (Sembene, 2004)
7. Speed Racer (Wachowskis, 2008)
8. The Twilight Samurai (Yamada, 2003)
9. Silent Light (Reygadas, 2008)
10. Once (Carney, 2007)
Too Good To Be a Runner-up, But I’m Not Sure If I’m Ready For It To Be on the Big List:
- The Gleaners and I (Varda, 2000)
- The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford (Dominik, 2007)
- Gosford Park (Altman, 2002)
- Grizzly Man (Herzog, 2005)
- Hero (Yimou, 2004)
- A History of Violence (Cronenberg, 2005)
- I’m Not There (Haynes, 2007)
- In Bruges (McDonagh, 2008)
- Public Enemies (Mann, 2009)
- Ratatouille (Bird, 2007)
- There Will Be Blood (Anderson, 2007)
I hope to come back and elaborate on my reasons for these choices, but I’m away for most of this week for my brother’s wedding and need to keep this brief. I’m very happy with this list, though. It will be revised in the years to come; I’ve only scratched the surface of this past decade’s great cinema. Several of my top picks are in need of revisiting, but the strength of their first viewings, years ago in some cases, remain too powerful to ignore. Until the next batch of great discoveries, these will do nicely.