Sunday, January 17, 2010

Top Ten Films of the Aughts

#1. The Son. (2002)  Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne

A carpenter, a death, and the road to resurrection: The quietest of stories can also be the most tense.

Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne owned the decade in film. The Son is their parabolic ointment for grief.

#2. Code Unknown. (2000)  Michael Haneke

When language doesn't communicate, when words are fragmented like scenes on a cutting room floor:

"Morality," Cahiers du cinéma critic Luc Moullet famously said in 1959,"is a question of tracking shots."

And tracking -- understanding -- will win after the words.

#3. Dogville. (2003)  Lars von Trier

Through absurdist expressionism and a Brechtian minimalist stage, Lars von Trier brought us Grace, and Grace became grace --

And she entered the town of Dogville, where Law lay waiting.

Only the Father knows who won.

#4. In This World. (2002) Michael Winterbottom

An unclassifiable film that blends the borders between documentary and drama, you never quite know what you're watching.

And there are other kinds of blending borders and some will pay to be smuggled, some to rot on the trip, and some to die.

This riveting tale by Michael Winterbottom softens even the most hardened of hearts in the gun-em-down border guard patrol.

#5. Irréversible. (2002)  Gaspar Noé

The screen is meant for truth, and truth meant for the screen. Sometimes it attacks you, it rapes you repeatedly and beyond reason. Sometimes all you can do is look back and try to piece together what has happened.

These traumas in our lives are there for a reason. The hardships cannot be taken back. They are there to look back on as we set our feet to the journey ahead.

Is Noé a sadist for putting us through this torturous test? No more than he's an augur for asking us to look back before plunging ahead.

#6. Tarnation. (2003)  Jonathon Caouette

A tour de force from a brave and conflicted young man.

In the YouTube decade of self-made clips, Caouette battles with himself on full display. He's a Mac-loving cineaste in a generation of childish clipmakers.

#7. 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days. (2007)  Cristian Mungiu

The story that drills a hole in the heart of Vera Drake -- sometimes every path to go down is wrong. Sometimes every choice is the wrong one, and every ally a foe.

Romania has come alive and is to be celebrated with joy in their participation in the film party.

4,3,2, however, is like an entry on the Obits page. A sad, true tale of political and spiritual collapse, eyes for the blessing are blinded.

#8. Lilja 4-ever. (2002)  Lukas Moodysson

Outrage is the only expression for what we hear in the news every day. Lijla, as Ebert pointed out, is the human face that might rid us of callousness.

I will never forget the joy of the little Estonian, or the Lord's prayer that she prayed at night.

It is a true story in that sex slavery is still a constant in our world. We don't see it as often, but it's a constant in our midst. Moodysson serves an intention to help open our eyes. I know he widely opened mine.

#9. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. (2001-2003) Peter Jackson

I cannot separate the three films or it would be impossible to pick one for the Top 10. If one were left out it would be unfair to the others, but to not include any would be unfair to them all.

Quite simply, any notion of the "spiritual" nature of the stories set aside -- they are the greatest fantasy films ever made.

To be watched over and over again.

#10. The Passion of The Christ. (2004)  Mel Gibson

The brutal, terrifying ending to the Greatest Story ever told.

Accused of being sadistic, but no worse than other films on the list, Mel Gibson's version of the passion is violent, raw, bloody and revolting.

It's about time someone lent truth in image to Our Story.


  1. Perfect choice for #1. Ranking is quite the challenge for me, but I'm pretty sure this one would have landed at the top of my list, too.

  2. It is such a serious work in that it inspires me to want to be better, to honestly desire a heart for the reconciliation of all things. If you would've asked me a few years ago if I would have thought that the best film of the decade would be made by believers, I'd have laughed at the notion. I am so proud of such a high artistic and inspiring output by the Dardennes, in everything from Rosetta thru Lorna's Silence. The Son just seems like the best pick of the lot -- I honestly feel like most of their work could crack my Top 10.

  3. Lilja 4-Ever poster image from !


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