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lotrCrazy as it seems, the first decade of the 21st century is about to draw to a close. Like every decade since the inception of the motion picture, there were some absolutely incredible films released.

The Inside Redbox team thought it would be fun to share with you our favorite films from the last ten years and today you get my picks.

Before we start, a caveat or two: This article is about my favorite films of the 2000s. It’s not a list of the highest grossing, best-reviewed, or most award-winning movies of the decade. Out of all the films released in the last ten years, the following are the ones that I’ll reach for first on a movie night.
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Michael’s choices will obviously differ from mine, as will yours. That’s part of the fun, see? Let us know in the comments which films you think we got right, which ones we got wrong and which ones we missed completely.

Let’s do it—here are my ten favorite films of the last decade, in no particular order:

aboutaboyAbout a Boy (2002)
Funny, poignant, a bit bleak at times and ultimately hopeful, this little comedy has it all. Based on an equally fine novel by Nick Hornby and featuring an impeccably cast Hugh Grant and Toni Collette, this may well be the best comedy of the decade. And to top it all off, the soundtrack is made up of fantastically hummable, original songs by Badly Drawn Boy that perfectly set the film’s tone. They don’t get much better than this.

aragornThe Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001, 2002, 2003)
For the purposes of this list, I’m going to count these three films as one epic piece of cinema. Never really having been a sci-fi or fantasy fan, I paid little attention to the hype surrounding The Fellowship of the Ring when it first came out. By the time The Return of the King was released two years later, however, I was one of the first in line.

What makes these movies so special is not that they are great fantasy movies—they are gripping, moving stories that also happen to have elves and hobbits in them. The timeless, powerful themes are just as resonant in our world as they are in Tolkien’s Middle Earth. Add in the majestic scope, stirring score and brilliant performances and you have one of the greatest achievements in motion picture history.

mementoMemento (2000)
Guy Pearce is absolutely riveting in this dark, twisty, backwards mystery thriller. Christopher Nolan’s direction is flawless and astonishing in its attention to detail—this is a movie that could have easily spiraled into chaos and incomprehension. Few films require so much of the viewer’s attention, and even fewer are as rewarding of that attention. Definitely worth a second, third and fourth viewing.

gladiator_lGladiator (2000) I’ll spare you the “Were you not entertained?” tripe and get right to the point: this some outstanding filmmaking.
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The long-dormant “sword and sandal” genre was almost single-handedly revived by Gladiator—Troy, Alexander, Kingdom of Heaven and others likely owe their existence to Ridley Scott’s bloody and bloody good tale of revenge and ambition.

It’s a toss-up as to who gave the better performance: Russell Crowe as the noble, wronged general-turned-slave Maximus or a pre-crazy Joachin Phoenix as the amoral, sneering Emperor Commodus. With a grandiose, if slightly sanitized, recreation of Rome at the height of its glory and gorgeous music and cinematography, Gladiator triumphs.

the_dark_knight_jokerThe Dark Knight (2008)
Christopher Nolan is seemingly incapable of making a bad movie. After de-Schumacherizing the languishing franchise with the excellent Batman Begins, Nolan knocked it out of the park with this smart, gritty thriller. Similar to my praise for The Lord of the Rings movies, this film is an exquisitely made crime drama that also just happens to have a superhero as the main protagonist. Heath Ledger’s portrayal of The Joker will be remembered as one of the all-time great cinematic villains. That laugh…

waitress_movie_image_keri_russell_and_nathan_fillion__1_Waitress (2007)
A charming little treat of a movie—I was completely surprised at how much I loved this film. It’s impossible not to fall in love with Keri Russell’s sweet, frustrated Jenna, and the incomparable Nathan Fillion gives a fabulously quirky, nuanced performance. Throw in some tart dialogue, southern charm and a perfectly cast Andy Griffith, and you’ve got a recipe for delicious filmmaking.

frost-nixon-langella-sheenFrost/Nixon (2008)
In contrast with some of the other huge, bombastic films on this list, Frost/Nixon is quietly stunning. The stellar duo of Michael Sheen and Frank Langella ware outstanding in their roles as the celebrity interviewer looking for legitimacy and the crafty, disgraced ex-president. Who knew Ron Howard could make such a fascinating and scintillating movie that mostly consists of two guys just sitting and talking? Brilliant.

ratatouille_002Ratatouille (2007)
It’s a testament to Pixar’s technical and storytelling prowess that this film just barely beat out The Incredibles, Wall-E, Finding Nemo and Up for its spot on the list. I had my doubts about this film when I first heard the concept, and would never have guessed that a movie about an olfactorily gifted Parisian rat would become one of my favorite films of this or any decade.

The animation is beautiful and painterly in this ode to the magic of food, love and Paris itself. The writing and voice acting are pitch-perfect—Peter O’Toole/Anton Ego’s monologue on criticism and creativity is a screenwriting master class. Lost composer Michael Giacchino also contributes one of the best musical scores of any film I’ve ever seen, animated or not.

o_brother_where_art_thou_002O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)
Coen brothers, how do I count the ways your movies please me? From its bleached out, Depression-era palette to its award-winning folk soundtrack, this eccentric take on Homer’s classic is one of the most entertaining films I’ve ever seen. Chock-full of tasty, quotable Coen dialogue and bizarre characters, there’s not an off-note in the entire film. George Clooney’s rascally Everett is hilarious and nefarious, while the supporting cast is one of the best of the decade. In the Coens’ oeuvre of great films, O Brother rises to the top like a Dapper Dan can in a Mississippi flood.

almostfamous1Almost Famous (2000)
As someone who loves music as much as movies, this film is pure nirvana for me (insert joke here). Cameron Crowe’s semi-autobiographical masterpiece is a love note to the pure bliss that rock and roll can give to its faithful. This is the movie that deservedly made Kate Hudson a star, and Philip Seymour Hoffman is spot on as a grungy music editor. If there was a formula for creating a near-perfect film, it could be based on Almost Famous. I dare you to watch the “Tiny Dancer” bus scene without singing along.

Honorable Mention:
The Prestige, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, V for Vendetta, Moulin Rouge, No Country for Old Men, Minority Report, 3:10 to Yuma, Twilight (just teasin’)

20 Responses to “(R)editorial: Top Ten Films of the 2000s”

  1. Member [Join Now]
    Shemp Howard [shemp-howard]

    Here are a few titles, in chronological order, that deserve consideration:

    -Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)

    -The Man Who Wasn’t There (2001)

    -The Pianist (2002)

    -Infernal Affairs (2002)

    -Munich (2005)

    -Syriana (2005)

    -Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)

    -Letters From Iwo Jima (2006)

    -United 93 (2006)

    -There Will be Blood (2007)

    -Let The Right One In (2008)

    • Member [Join Now]
      Shemp Howard [shemp-howard]

      Nice topic Shane…

      I hope you follow it up at a later date with similar “top” lists: Performer categories;
      Director, etc.

    • Visitor [Join Now]
      rb [visitor]

      Shemp…You’re top ten choices demonstrate that deep down, you’re very sophisticated! And to think that some posters relate you to one of the 3 stooges! Odd, just yesterday I got There Will be Blood out of the library AGAIN and actually watched it. Agree, it’s a very good movie. Got it out before but got busy, couldn’t watch it, and had to return it to the library before due. Agree with The Pianist, but not Munich, Syriana, United 93(maybe I watched it too soon after 911), and I think you mean Internal Affairs (Richard Gere?). Well, I’ll put the others on my list to watch when I can find them :-)

  2. Visitor [Join Now]
    Lala [visitor]

    I am pleasantly surprised that you included About a Boy on your list, as most people I know disagree with me about its charm. I also think your list is spot-on, particularly with recognizing Ratatouille and Almost Famous, since they’re not obvious first-choices. I enjoyed reading this and reflecting on these great movies!

  3. Visitor [Join Now]
    FesteAinoriba [visitor]

    The first decade of the 21st century doesn’t draw to a close until 31 December 2010. We are just about to start the tenth year of the century, not complete it.

    The Gregorian calendar, which we use, starts in AD 1 (there was no ‘Year 0 AD’). Thus the 1st millenium comprises years AD 1 THROUGH AD 1000 and the 2nd millenium comprised years 1001 A.D. through 2000 A.D. The beginning of the new millenium and century took place on 1 January 2001, and the end of the first decade will occur as we complete the 10th year (as we transition from 2010 to 2011).

    But who is counting – facts aren’t important when it comes to conventional thinking.

    • Administrator
      Michael [administrator]

      All good info, but when people talk about decades, they usually refer to things such as “the 80s” or “the 90s”. In this case, this post is referring to “the 00s”. :)

      Feste, do you have some favorite films you would like to share? We would love to hear from all!

      • Visitor [Join Now]
        rb [visitor]

        Beware , If Feste list his/her favorite films, it might started another feud between Feste and John Small regarding which films are worthy of the top ten. Right now, I foresee John Small coming back anyway to argue with Feste about the Gregorian calendar, etc.!!!

        • Visitor [Join Now]
          Bernie Madoff [visitor]

          Maybe Shane follows the:

          Chinese, Egyptian, Hebrew, Julian or Mayan calendar?

          Did I miss any? ;)

        • Visitor [Join Now]
          The Turnip [visitor]

          LMAO! I really don’t see John Small having ANY interest in this topic. I get the impression he has 0% interest in movies. To him the argument is important – and especially the illusion that he’s winning some goofy internet argument. As someone else astutely noted, the Feste/Small exchange has been very reminiscent of the Monty Python skit “Argument Clinic” – just not as funny (or even very interesting in any way.)

      • Visitor [Join Now]
        Feste Ainoriba [visitor]

        Here is a list of 10 or so of my favorite movies during the last 10 years. Not very avant-garde, but I generally don’t like the critic’s choices. I read for enlightenment but watch movies for entertainment.

        1. Alien Re-Release (2003) (since it was re-released, I figured it was fair game)
        2. The Patriot
        3. The Passion of the Christ
        4. The Family Man (or almost any other “wonderful life” story)
        5. I am Legend (and Shrek by incorporation)
        6. Any Lord of the Rings Feature
        7. The Dark Knight
        8. Terminator Rise of the Machines
        9. Pearl Harbor
        10. Star Trek
        11. The Matrix (DVD release in 2000)

        These are the “keepers” that I buy on DVD.

        • Visitor [Join Now]
          John Small [visitor]

          You will not be surprised to know that none of the films on Feste’s list would make my Top 10.

          I would have to go over my previous lists to see which one’s would but off the top of my head I would include:

          Battle Royale
          Kill Bill (Vol 1 if I have to choose one)
          Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
          The Royal Tennenbaums
          Spirited Away
          No Country for Old Men
          Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

          These are in no particular order and I’m sure there are 4 or 5 others that might bump some off of this list.

          Not bad for someone who “doesn’t even like movies” I guess.

  4. Visitor [Join Now]
    Rico [visitor]

    I am glad you included Almost Famous. However, Frost/Nixon and Waitress (however gripping/charming those two were) could have easily been replaced with something like Brokeback Mountain, Zodiac or The Royal Tenenbaums.

  5. Visitor [Join Now]
    rb [visitor]

    Have to agree with Frost/Nixon and Gladiator being on top 10 list. Waitress, Almost Famous, Rat, O Brother, Dark Knight…were good but not outstanding for me. Finding Nemo was way better/will be more of a classic than Rat. I saw Momento I just have to try to remember it… Lord of The Rings probably worthy of the top ten but only saw the first of the trilogy and it was way too long for me. Have to think about my top ten but I think I’d put the movie Crash on it just because of the social significance.

  6. Visitor [Join Now]
    The Turnip [visitor]

    Shane, I think the movies you listed are pretty terrific! I will say that if you reversed your “honorable mentions” with your “best of” we would be more compatible in our opinions. I thought Prestige, Master & Commander, V for Vendetta and Minority Report were the better movies, although I also love Almost Famous, Brother and the LOTR trilogy. Ratatouille just creeped me out due to the notion of a rodent anywhere near food preparation. Dark Knight was incredibly overrated due to the Heath Ledger over-hype.

    To add 10 more of my favorites that haven’t been mentioned yet:

    Batman Begins (2005)
    The “Bourne” series (2002 – 2007)
    Freedom Writers (2007)
    Ghost Town (2008)
    Grandma’s Boy (2006)
    Hellboy (2004)
    Hoodwinked (2005)
    The Incredibles (2004) BEST Pixar of them all in my opinion
    Lars and the Real Girl (2007)
    Shaun of the Dead (2004)

    And another 10 that fall within my beloved sci-fi genre:

    28 Days Later (2002)
    A.I.: Artificial Intelligence (2001)
    Cloverfield (2007)
    Fanboys (2008)
    Signs (2002)
    Star Trek (2009)
    Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith (2005) If you can ignore Hayden Christensen
    Wall-E (2008)
    War of the Worlds (2005) I know… I’m one of the very few who liked it
    X-Men (2000)

  7. Member [Join Now]
    Shemp Howard [shemp-howard]

    Here are a few more that haven’t been mentioned:

    High Fidelity (2000)
    Catch Me if You Can (2002) [available @ redbox Replay]
    City of God (2002)
    The Manchurian Candidate (2004)
    Eastern Promises (2007)
    The Hurt Locker (2009)

  8. Visitor [Join Now]
    Jeremy [visitor]

    How does no one mention Super Troopers? It’s got to be one of the funniest movies OF ALL TIME!

  9. Member [Join Now]

    My Top 10
    In no specific favorite order

    Monsters Inc (2001)
    The Dark Knight (2008)
    The Incredibles (2004)
    Star Trek (2009)
    The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001 to 2003)
    Harry Potter 2001 to 2009
    Wall-E (2008)
    Bourne Trilogy (2002-2007)
    Pirates of the Caribbean The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
    (the other two were ok, but they went overboard, some pun intended)
    Finding Nemo (2003)

    I know my top 10 includes series films that make the total more than 10, but some just needed to be bundled together. (IMHO)

  10. Member [Join Now]
    mc.incid [mcincid]

    Almost Famous shouldn’t be on the list. Almost Famous: Untitled should. It’s a shame Redbox stocked the theatrical release instead of the director’s cut because the extended film really is the superior experience.