The 30 Best Films of the Decade

10. Big Fish

Painting the 1980s in black and white, Tim Burton made his mark on this decade by discovering primary colors. Every corner of imagination is explored here in a film that has made me cry every single time even after 15 viewings. The magical realism and tall tales act as a mirror to how we all view life – a little more inflated, a little more fantastical than it really is. Plus, Danny Devito plays a werewolf ringmaster. If that doesn’t warrant placement, I don’t know what does anymore. -CA

9. Anchorman

Most quotable movie of the decade number two, and the movie that was the precursor to the Judd Apatow/Adam McKay takeover of great comedy that followed. Before there were old virgins, or Seth Rogen, there was Will Ferrell in his most impressive role to-date. He put the world in a glass case of laughter, delivering a character that will live on, and not just in frat circles, but also with those of us who enjoy a bit of intelligence in our absurdity. -NM

8. Spirited Away

It’s a fortunate thing in this art form that audiences often get to see a genius at his best. It was truly an achievement to see Miyazaki deliver his most creative-boundary-bursting story alongside some of the greatest hand-drawn visuals of the decade. Flawless and gloriously strange, it’s easy to see this film as the apex of the art form while still grinning and looking forward to seeing Miyazaki top himself. -CA

7. Old Boy

Despite art being completely subjective, you are wrong if you don’t like this film. Not content to tell a traditional story, Park Chan-wook celebrates revenge and taboo his own way. With a hammer. The story and Choi Min-sik’s grizzly acting is only matched by the beautiful look of the thing and a final act that drags you to the edge of your seat by your tongue. -CA

6. Almost Famous

Back in 2000, back in the 1970s, Cameron Crowe took us all on a journey across the country in a bus. It was his journey, and we all got to revel in the pure love and chaos of music. Each character sings – both from the writing and the acting – and made us wish we could reconcile with our friends by singing Tiny Dancer, made us wish Penny Lane was in our ears and in our eyes, made us wish that we had the coolest high school job of all time. -CA

5. There Will Be Blood

He was a simple oil man. A man whose keen eye for business opportunities led him across the west in a time when land and oil and opportunity were there for the taking. And while Daniel Plainview, the central character in Paul Thomas Anderson’s opus to an age, was all of these things, he was also something far more important. A vessel, through which the talent of Daniel Day-Lewis could thrive. It was the performance to beat all performances in this decade, a true showstopper. He drank our milkshake, and we loved every gritty, black gold-soaked minute of it. -NM

4. The Dark Knight

You can’t argue with the facts. And the fact is that with The Dark Knight, director Christopher Nolan did the unthinkable. He took a comic book hero, steeped in legend and an often silly history and gave him a rock-solid, earnest shot at being part of a grand, stunning and compelling detective story. The result is one of the most critically acclaimed and highest grossing films of the decade, beloved by fans, geeks and critics all around. Throw in a heart-stopping performance from the late Heath Ledger, the crafting of one of the most devastating forces this side of Hannibal Lector, and you’ve got yourself a truly unforgettable cinematic experience. -NM

3. Dear Zachary

There are two types of people in this world – and I don’t use that cliche lightly: those who have never curled up in a weeping, inconsolable ball on the floor and those who have seen Dear Zachary. Easily the best documentary of the decade, it’s impossible to over-hype it because it will deliver every time. With decidedly unpolished shots, and an amateur construction that actually adds to the tone perfectly, this letter to a young boy about the father he will never meet would rather see your heart thrown fastball-style against the nearest wall than beating safely and soundly in your chest. Just let it happen. The tears are temporary, but the effect is not. -CA

2. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

I double dog dare you to say anything negative about this film. Michel Gondry may very well be the only human being on the planet that understands Charlie Kaufman, but thank the Film Gods that he does. A science fiction film that could have easily felt too tangled, it’s putty in Gondry’s hands, and the result is a film that breaks up with you while showing you home movies from your childhood. This is the movie I imagine is playing around the clock in Heaven. -CA

1. Memento

Admit it. You had no idea what film could do until you saw this movie. You had a strong idea, but you never knew it could be like this, and you were kicked out of the theater by an irate manager who had no intention to let you sit speechless in the darkened theater a full hour after the credits rolled. But you would have sat there longer if he’d let you. Of course, that’s if you could figure out whether you needed to see it again immediately or needed some time alone to figure everything out. When examining the decade, this is a film that absolutely cannot be forgotten. -CA

For more of our picks of the aughts, head over to our Decade in Review homepage.

The FSR Staff is an author similar to Hydra. Its articles have many authors. It has many heads. Please don't cut off any of its heads, we're trying to work here.

Read More from FSR Staff
Get Film School Rejects in your email. All the cool kids are doing it:
Previous Article
Next Article
Reject Nation
Leave a comment
Comment Policy: No hate speech allowed. If you must argue, please debate intelligently. Comments containing selected keywords or outbound links will be put into moderation to help prevent spam. Film School Rejects reserves the right to delete comments and ban anyone who doesn't follow the rules. We also reserve the right to modify any curse words in your comments and make you look like an idiot. Thank You!