Everywhere I turn, it seems that I’m reading someone’s list of the best movies or songs or albums (etc) of the decade. So, I thought that I would join in on the fun starting with my favorite movies of the past decade.

Overall, I’d say the 2000s have been a good decade for films. While there are lots of great movies to choose from, my list is of my twenty twenty-five favorite movies. I’m not necessarily saying that they’re the best; they’re the ones I’ve enjoyed most in the past ten years. Usually they’re the ones I want to see again (and again). I’ll start with number one and work my way down the list. The top ten are more or less in order; after that, it’s less specifically in order.

1. Kill Bill Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 (2003, 2004)

My favorite movie of the past decade is Quentin Tarantino’s epic revenge thriller, which I’m treating as one movie even though it’s divided into two as a release. I love everything about this movie: the direction, Uma Thurman, the fights, the unbelievable soundtrack. Everything. This is the movie that, if I see it on TV, I can’t help but sit down and watch it.

Elle Driver is, of course, my favorite of the “bad guys:”

2. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)

Number Two is also a martial arts film, but it’s also more than that. It’s a beautiful, multidimensional love story as well as tale about the destructive arrogance of youth. I love that its central question is whether its better to be conservative, to wait and not really push boundaries in order to be or have what you want, or to be aggressive in your pursuit of happiness, careless about the consequences for other people. Not surprisingly, the answer is somewhere in the middle, but the journey to that answer is beautiful, poignant, and ultimately tragic.

Here’s another great fight scene between female warriors:

3. Shortbus (2006)

Shortbus is the feel good adult movie of the decade. It made headlines for its explicit depictions of actual sex (rather than simulations), but it won me over for its heart. I love its hopefulness and desire for connection, community, and love. Here’s brief clip that features a different kind of feminism (maybe):

4. Y Tu Mama Tambien (2002)

This Mexican film examines the friendship of two guys and is a great cinematic exploration of Eve Sedgwick’s notion of triangulated desire between men. It’s sexy, funny, and beautiful to watch. For its time, it also pushed the limits of depictions of sex on film. It (along with Amores Perros, which is also a great film) was also the movie that brought Gael Garcia Bernal to everyone’s attention. It deserves high praise for that alone! Later viewings also impressed me with how wonderful Diego Luna is in this movie. It’s a rich, complex depiction of young male desire, as shown in this clip:

5. Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)

Even though I treated Kill Bill as one movie, I’m treating the three parts of Lord of the Rings as three individual movies. This is mostly because I think they’re rather uneven. The Two Towers is definitely the best of the three, in part because Peter Jackson and his collaborators manage to make Gollum such an affecting character in this movie. This character is really the first time we saw the full potential of CGI effects and their use in creating fully fledged characters.

6. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

That this movie wasn’t even nominated for every Oscar possible and then didn’t win them all just astounds me. It is a brilliantly executed film from its editing to its story to its acting. This is certainly Jim Carrey’s best performance to date, and Kate Winslet was robbed (though I also appreciated Hillary Swank’s performance in Million Dollar Baby). I like its take on whether we’re destined to be with the one we love and whether erasing that person and our memories of him or her would ever be the right thing to do. And the title comes from Alexander Pope!

Here’s a sample:

7. Before Sunset (2004)

This sequel to Before Sunrise (1995) is almost all talking, which is rare in a movie. Basically, the two main characters, played by Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, walk and drive around Paris while discussing their past, present, and future. There are no bombs, no drug dealers, no special effects, no one dies. It’s just 80 minutes of two characters sorting out their lives, talking about the world’s problems, and wondering if they — and everyone else — are just stuck or if they can change things.

Here’s a key moment, when they stop beating around the bush and confront some of their big issues:

8. Les Chansons d’Amour (2008)

This French film has been steadily rising in my affections. When I blogged about my favorite films of 2008, Les Chansons d’Amour wasn’t my top film of the year. After seeing it a couple more times, however, it’s become one of my favorite films of all time. A former student and now friend recommended that I watch the classic French film The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, since this movie is a kind of response to that film. Having seen that film, I love Les Chansons d’Amour all the more.

Part of what I like about this movie is its queer themes — the lead character goes from a relationship with a woman (and another woman) to a relationship with a man. I also love Louis Garrel as an actor. And I’m a sucker for musicals. Here’s one of my favorite numbers from this movie:

9. Gosford Park (2001)

This wonderful film masquerades as a murder mystery set in an English country house, but it’s really a study of class in 1932 England. As an Anglophile, I love this movie’s attention to detail in critiquing this class system. And so many of members of this Robert Altman directed ensemble are at the height of their craft: Maggie Smith, Helen Mirren, Jeremy Northam, Kristen Scott Thomas, Eileen Atkins, Clive Owen, Derek Jacobi, Michael Gambon, Alan Bates, Kelly MacDonald, Emily Watson, James Wilby, Ryan Phillippe, and so many more.

This clip reveals who gets murdered, but that part of the movie really doesn’t matter much. What’s really important is the why, which isn’t revealed here at all:

10. Mutual Appreciation (2006)

I love mumblecore as a genre, and Mutual Appreciation is my favorite example of the genre. Mumblecore tends to be rather plotless, allowing its characters to simply meander through their lives while we watch them talk about their feelings, activities, and opinions. I’m attracted to its sense of realism, and I love the often nihilistic narrative style.

In this case, Justin Rice stars as the lead singer in a band, and the movie follows him around while he tries to sort out his life. Rice is the singer in Bishop Allen, one of my favorite bands, so I also love the music in this film. Here’s the trailer:

11. House of Flying Daggers (2004)

Another romance disguised as a martial arts movie, House of Flying Daggers is more a cinematic opera than anything else. I love its grand sweep across Ninth Century China. Takeshi Kaneshiro and Zhang Ziyi are great as the star-crossed lovers at the heart of the film. And Andy Lau is equally wonderful as the police chief who is more than he initially seems. Like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, this movie has some amazing fight sequences. It also has great music, as in this sequence:

It also has one of my favorite theme songs ever, so I’ll include that too:

12. Death Proof (2007)

I love this movie’s brand of feminism as filtered through the mind of Quentin Tarantino. It’s the perfect blend of action, talk, and violence, like so many of Tarantino’s movies. And the soundtrack is killer, as seen in this scene:

13. Billy Elliot (2000)

This is the best I-just-want-to-be-a-ballet-dancer-and-not-a-miner movie ever! Who can resist Billy’s quest to boogie? And the stage musical is wonderful too!

14. Moulin Rouge (2001)

Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor are radiant in this crazy, unconventional musical. It’s frenetic pace paired with a fairy tale love story is unbeatable. Here’s my favorite song, “One Day I’ll Fly Away:”

15. Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001)

Like so many great films, this movie doesn’t add up to a simple little point that can be easily summarized. I’m not sure if it’s because it’s actually a little bit of a mess or because I’m just not getting it, but either way I love it. It’s a great critique of gender and sexual norms. And John Cameron Mitchell demonstrates how much promise he has as a director. (And his singing ain’t bad either!) Here’s my favorite song, “Wicked Little Town:”

16. Paris, je t’aime (2007)

This anthology of short films that all take place in Paris is a wonderful ode to one of the world’s greatest cities. I love it more every time I see it, and it could easily move up my list of favorite movies with another viewing or two.

Here’s one of my favorite chapters (Cyril Descours is so cute!):

17. Pride and Prejudice (2005)

PJ keeps asking me if there are other gay men in the world who are as much of a Pride and Prejudice queen as I am. While I don’t know if there are, I readily admit my total love for almost all things Pride and Prejudice. As as devoted to it as younger men are to Britney Spears or older men are to Judy Garland. Sure there are more of us out there?

While, like all Janeites,  I have some problems with the 2005 adaptation of this novel, the scene that follows is not one of them. When all of the other people disappear leaving  Elizabeth and Darcy alone, I can’t  help but be swept off my feet with its romanticism.

18. No Country for Old Men (2007)

Simply the greatest modern western. A brilliant film.

19. You and Me and Everyone We Know (2005)

This is a beautiful little quirky film. It’s about various people finding each other despite all of the weirdnesses in their lives. I also love that the lead actress is also the writer and director. This clip demonstrates how smart and sweet it is:

20. Lost in Translation (2003)

I’ll admit that what I love about this film is that it’s about two people who sort of fall in love but don’t sleep with one another. It just seems so grownup and perfect. I’d like to think that this sort of thing can happen. And it makes Japan look like a place I’d like to visit.

21. Entre les murs,  or The Class (2008)

Another French movie, though not the last. This movie is about a teacher and his complicated relationship with the students in his grammar class. I saw and reviewed this movie a couple of months ago. You can read my review here.

22. Presque rien, or Come Undone (2000)

One more French movie, this time another gay one. I have a decade-long relationship with this movie. I tried to see it in the theater when it first came out. However, some older man sat right next to me in an almost empty theater (clearly a come on). Torn about how quickly to move to another seat — I didn’t want to seem rude! — I was relieved when the movie suddenly stopped and the usher announced that the light bulb had gone out on the projector. So, our money was refunded, and I hightailed it out of the theater! I then bought the DVD when it came out. I watched the whole movie then and didn’t really care much for it. At some point I lent it to a friend, who kept it for several years.

Having recently gotten it back from him, I watched it last week and loved it. I think I wasn’t experienced enough in watching foreign films or narratively complex films when I first watched this movie. Now I love its back and forth between the past and present. I also love its elliptical, almost lyrical quality. And it was rather daring in its depiction of gay sex for 2000 (even for a French film!). With another viewing or two, this one could also move up the list quickly. If I get a chance, I may write a longer review sometime in the next week or so.

I couldn’t find a good clip from the movie on YouTube, so here’s the trailer:

23. Brokeback Mountain (2005)

I need to watch this movie again. It’s a beautiful, tragic movie, one that feels difficult to watch now, especially since Heath Ledger’s death. It was totally robbed at the Oscars!

24. Once (2006)

This beautiful little film is also kind of bittersweet. I really loved it when I first saw it, but Paul thought it was just one long music video. I don’t see anything wrong with that. And “Falling Slowly” is one of the great movie songs of all time.

Here are random scenes from the movie set to “Falling Slowly” that I found on YouTube:

25. Door in the Floor (2004)

This family drama is about a children’s author, Ted, played by Jeff Daniels, who hires an assistant for the summer, played by Jon Foster. Daniels’ character is married to Marion, played by Kim Basinger. Their marriage is on the rocks, one of the consequences of a tragic accident that has left them and their daughter, played by Elle Fanning, scarred. It’s a quiet film that explores the affects of tragedy in interesting ways, not the least of which is the married couple’s disfunctional sexual activities. It, too, should have received Oscar attention, I think. Here’s the trailer:

Honorable Mention: Stage Beauty (2004)

This movie gets a lot wrong about the court of Charles II and I still question its gender and sexual politics to some degree, but I love it anyway. I think it’s the best depiction of the 1660s to date. And has there ever been a better line about Pepys: “If two mice were fucking in a nutshell, he’d find room to squeeze in and write it down”?

Here’s a little taste:

So, what do I conclude about myself after reviewing this list? I guess I love martial arts movies, French films, and hopelessly romantic stories. And a little sex, some violence, or a musical number every now and then doesn’t hurt! Apparently Ang Lee and John Cameron Mitchell were my favorite directors of the past ten years. And I believe that Elijah Wood appears most frequently in the movies on this list (3 times).