Top 10 movies of past decade

BY DI STAFF | DECEMBER 14, 2009 7:30 AM

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The DI Arts & Culture staff has gathered the best of the best of the past 10 years, starting with 2000.

Hours upon hours were spent gathered at apartments, houses, and various downtown locations arguing over the best and most quality pieces of art. In the end, surprisingly, no one was punched in the face, and agreement came peacefully.

And because the Arts staff is full of humble writers, it looked to the DI’s readership for their opinions and received more than 2,000 votes on the website.

Each day this week, the DI will present the best of the best of the past 10 years, ranging from the top albums to the best moments in pop-culture. Today, we begin with the films. Enjoy.


1. The Dark Knight

Moving Batman from comics to real-life, Christopher Nolan’s interpretation not only presented the best superhero movie of all-time but one of the greatest films. Heath Ledger’s haunting posthumous performance of the Joker played against Christian Bale’s Batman provided audiences with the most realistic view at Batman crime ever.

2. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

From the mind of Charlie Kaufman, Eternal Sunshine captures lost romance in a completely innovative way. Jim Carrey shows he can do more than make funny faces or voices, and Kate Winslet delivers her most original role to date.

3. Gangs of New York

Daniel Day-Lewis and Leonardo DiCaprio star in this terrific Scorsese film about the Civil War-era New York City gangs, or “Five Points.” Although not the most accurate historically, it was nominated for 10 Oscars and featured gruesome yet elegant violence, revealing the horrors of man.

4. No Country for Old Men

Two great directors adapt a novel by the greatest living author into a movie in which Tommy Lee Jones actually cares about his role (see: “Man of the House”). No Country’s plot may be deep and literary, but the film is still superficially enjoyable, and it’s hard to ignore the truckload of awards it collected in 2007.

5. Almost Famous

Kate Hudson — who became one of the decade’s romantic-comedy queens — broke out in this charming, Cameron Crowe-directed movie about an aspiring music journalist on the road.

6. There Will Be Blood

All the classic elements of a good movie are present in There Will Be Blood — suspense, good versus evil, incredible writing, and gorgeous cinematography. But it’s Daniel Day-Lewis’ frighteningly superb, Oscar-winning performance that makes this film so riveting. He drinks your milkshake, indeed.

7. The Departed

This epic tale of crime and corruption featured stunning performances from its lead actors and a story so full of twists that Cinnabon would be jealous. Plus, The Departed finally got director Martin Scorsese his long-awaited Academy Award for Best Director.

8. Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Director Peter Jackson’s award-winning film fulfilled every nerd’s desire of following studly hobbits, sexy elves, and sultry men around Middle Earth. His adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s revered trilogy broke boundaries in the world of filmmaking and made us appreciate food, pints, and hobbit feet.

9. Once

An innovative musical that took merely a month to shoot, set in Ireland. The film captures human essence through song and romance, without the stereotypes typically attached, reading worldwide success and an Oscar for Best Song.

10. High Fidelity

John Cusack stars in the Nick Hornby novel turned film as record-store owner Rob Gordon, whose life revolves around making Top-5 lists of everything in his life — albums, songs, and even breakups. Almost staying true to the book, the movie is an effective character examination of loneliness often dealt with by men.

11. Memento

Memento is the definition of the proverbial mindf---. Director Christopher Nolan unfolds the twisted plot in reverse, simultaneously changing the notion of the narrative arc and giving cinema majors everywhere a discussion topic for semester-end papers.

12. The Aviator

Two years before striking gold with The Departed, Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio created this touching, humanizing true tale of Howard Hughes, the reclusive 1930s billionaire film producer/airline mogul. Aside from the luscious vintage costumes and sets, Cate Blanchett delivers an eerily accurate (and Oscar-winning) portrait of the legendary Katharine Hepburn.

13. The-40-Year-Old Virgin

Not only did The-40-Year-Old Virgin introduce the world to Steve Carell’s hysterics, the Judd Apatow film presented a new style of comedy. It blended jock, perverted humor and yet enough sweetness to satisfy the woman’s appetite, a recipe followed by many comedy’s of the second half of the decade.

14. Little Miss Sunshine

Beautifully composed and wickedly funny, Little Miss Sunshine was “the little indie movie that could,” nominated for four Oscars (including Best Picture) and taking home two (including the coveted Best Original Screenplay trophy). The story of a charmingly dysfunctional family’s journey to a kiddie beauty pageant captured the hearts of audiences around the country and proved that “Super Freak” is still culturally relevant.

15. Gladiator

Russell Crowe is exquisite as Maximus, a vengeful Roman gladiator determined to take down the power-hungry emperor Commodus (an equally great Joaquin Phoenix). The winner of five Oscars, Gladiator’s ancient story found relevance in the modern world of political corruption.

16. The Royal Tenenbaums

Wes Anderson’s best film, introducing viewers to quirky, yet colorful dramedy. Sporting an all-star cast featuring Gene Hackman, Luke and Owen Wilson, and Ben Stiller, Anderson’s direction reveals the intimate love among family members and the struggles that come with it.

17. Lost in Translation

Director Sofia Coppola’s understated, beautiful film taught viewers that friendship can come at any moment and in any form — even between a washed-up movie star and a lonely newlywed both stuck in Tokyo. The movie, which put Coppola in the small club of female Best Director Oscar nominees, ended with one of the most-talked-about movie moments — Bill Murray whispering some sweet nothings into Scarlett Johansson’s ear.

18. Moulin Rouge

OK, so Nicole Kidman can’t sing her way out of Australia, but Ewan McGregor was really, really hot as a hopeless romantic poet who found himself trapped in the middle of the French Bohemian revolution. Full of sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll (belted Broadway style), Moulin Rouge reimagined the bond between film and popular music.

19. Good Night and Good Luck

Nominated for 6 Oscars, Good Night and Good Luck tells the tale of broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow’s crusade to bring down Sen. Joseph McCarthy and end the Red Scare. Featuring an all-star cast including Robert Downey Jr., Jeff Daniels, and George Clooney (in a dual role as Fred Friendly on screen and the film’s director off), Good Night and Good Luck is nothing short of a cinematic masterpiece — the perfect blend of visual artistry, compelling storytelling, and one of the best soundtracks of the decade (sung by jazz diva Dianne Reeves).

20. Garden State

Zach Braff shows his talent in writing, directing, and starring in this indie film about dealing with numbness. Natalie Portman helps as the quirky Sam, and Garden State provided a connection for young adults everywhere.


1. The Dark Knight
2. Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
3. The 40-Year-Old Virgin
4. Little Miss Sunshine
5. Moulin Rouge
6. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
7. Almost Famous
8. The Departed
9. No Country for Old Men
10. Garden State
11. The Royal Tenenbaums
12. High Fidelity
13. Gladiator
14. Memento
15. Good Night and Good Luck
16. There Will Be Blood
17. Lost in Translation
18. Once
19. Gangs of New York
20. The Aviator

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