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My Top 10 Films of the Noughties

May 14, 2013

In alphabetical order….

Before Sunset (Richard Linklater, 2004) 

Before Sunset

A lovely adult counterpoint to Before Sunrise. Linklater takes that film’s de facto real-time structure of a day in Vienna and makes it even more pronounced and emotional here: having Jesse and Celine traipse through Paris in a single afternoon, creating a poignant and transient undertow to their dwindling time together….

Full Review:

L’enfant (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, 2006)


The Dardennes made a series of memorable films across the noughties, but this was perhaps their best. A Palme d’Or winner and pitch-perfect exhibition of marrying a social conscience to classic genre storytelling.

Full Review:

Caché (Michael Haneke, 2005)


Superb in just about every respect: as a thriller, character study, political parable, and truly brilliant discourse on the power of the filmed image.

Full Review:

In the Mood for Love (Wong Kar-wai, 2000)

In the Mood for Love

I’ve never seen mise en scène, cinematography and music used to such moving effect. Wong Kar-wai finds the “substance” in “style”, and makes an aesthete’s ode to love.

Memento (Christopher Nolan, 2000)


A phenomenally intelligent deconstruction of narrative theory and classic identification structures – just who is the ‘hero’ in this film? Memento is also extremely humane, funny, and features one of my all-time favourite musical scores.

Full Review:

Mulholland Drive (David Lynch, 2001)

Mulholland Drive

The greatest technical exhibition of filmmaking I’ve perhaps ever seen. It’s a lesson in cinematography, editing and sound design – and don’t get me started on the story….A mesmeric deconstruction of narrative cinema, amazing discourse on the nature of dreams, a love letter to film noirand a gorgeous ode to the wonder/horror dichotomy of Hollywood.

Full Review:

The New World (Terrence Malick, 2005)

new world

Gorgeous, romantic, rapturous filmmaking. It contains one of the most lyrical voiceovers in the history of cinema, and has a gorgeous, transcendent musical score. It’s a soaring, poetic treatise on the profound tragedy of the colonisation of the American continent.

Full Review:

Tropical Malady (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2004)

Tropical Malady

Cinema as poetry and folklore. Thai landscape and culture is lovingly honoured here by perhaps the greatest atmosphere-maker in contemporary cinema.

Full Review:

Uzak (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2002) 


An absolute gem from Ceylan – one of the best European auteurs to emerge this decade. It’s one of the most painterly films imaginable with Ceylan making great use of a glum Istanbul location. It’s also one of the great cinematic portraits of existentialist detachment.

Full Review:

Wonder Boys (Curtis Hanson, 2000)

Wonder Boys

A cracking, warm-hearted Hollywood screwball comedy. Featuring perhaps my all-time favourite ensemble cast; it’s a gentle, sardonic love-letter to writing and campus life.

Full Review:

Honourable Mentions:

Far From Heaven was a gorgeous homage to Douglas Sirk and ’50s melodrama. Sixteen Years of Alcohol was perhaps my favourite British film of the decade. The Prestige – maybe Christopher Nolan’s second best film after Memento, was – to me – much more interesting than the Dark Knight trilogy. Irréversible is an unbelievable piece of technical cinema from the great Gaspar Noé. Sunshine State was a fascinating piece from John Sayles on the socio-history of Florida. Brokeback Mountain was one of the great love stories of the decade, and Infernal Affairs perhaps the best action movie. Miami Vice was probably Michael Mann’s strongest and most underrated film in a decade of uniformly great work, and Russian Ark and The Sun were two fantastic films from brilliant Russian filmmaker, Aleksandr Sokurov. When the Levees Broke was one of the great documentaries of the decade, and shed an uncomfortable mirror to the awful social injustices in the US. It was also a fine decade for Latin American cinema, with many great films and filmmakers emerging. I particularly enjoyed the work of Argentinian, Lucrecia Martel, and her excellent La niña santa and La mujer sin cabeza. (May 2013)

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