Mike’s Top Ten of 2000-2009

The 2000s is really the prime film decade of my life. The 90s is me growing up, and the 2010s is me seeing everything. But the 2000s is when I was just getting into film and my tastes were starting to solidify, and it’s all the stuff that came out when I was at my most impressionable. And as such, there’s a lot of stuff that’s all-time for me, favorites-wise. And I’ll warn you now, which should be obvious if you’ve read anything on my lists… it’s all very specific to me. It’s not gonna be exactly what most other people would have on their list.

As a decade, the 2000s always struck me as the time when independent cinema folded into the mainstream (just like in the 80s when all the 70s directors all went into the system and those independent auteur films died down in favor of the blockbusters) and when special effects basically took over cinema. It’s a gestation period for what cinema would become in the following decade, culminating in the rise of Marvel at the end of the decade.

Picking this list was pretty easy for me. Really it just came down to logistics, since certain films were broken up into parts and I had thread that needle of picking my absolute favorites while also not splitting films that felt like they needed to go together. Honestly, I think the only real issue I had was figuring out what was gonna be the tenth and final film on the list and which were gonna just be in the 11-20. This one was pretty easy for me, because it’s just the films I truly, truly love the most.

For methodology purposes, the way I compile these Top Tens of the Decade lists: I take my top ten for each year of the decade, throw them all together, and simply whittle it down until I find what I feel are my ten favorites from that decade. Not the best, my favorite. That’s really all it is. I feel like if I can figure out what my favorite films of all time are, then I can figure it out by specific decades.

Mike’s Top Ten of 2000-2009

Almost Famous (2000)

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)

Bad Santa (2003)

Black Dynamite (2009)

Children of Men (2006)

The Departed (2006)

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004)

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium (2007)

There Will Be Blood (2007)

The Assassination of Jesse James is in my top 20 all-time, and on the right day, is probably a top ten. So that’s a given. Bad Santa, Black Dynamite, The Departed, Mr. Magorium and There Will Be Blood are all top 50. That’s six right there. And then there were an additional 12 films from the decade that are in the top 100. So really all I needed to do was figure out which four were gonna make the top ten and which 8 were going in the 11-20. But when you look at those numbers, the majority of this article was basically already done for me.

The four I ended up choosing as the final four were Almost Famous, Children of Men, The Life Aquatic and Fellowship. I had to put one of the Lord of the Rings movies in the top ten, but I also didn’t want to clog up the entire top ten with all three. I figure, having the one basically means the trilogy, since we all just kinda watch the trilogy as a whole thing anyway. Almost Famous is a film really near and dear to my heart and perfectly represents this decade for me, so that was an easy inclusion. Children of Men is just a masterpiece and felt like it needed to be in the top ten. And then the last one… I just really, really love The Life Aquatic, and I decided not to fight it.

The years not represented on this list are 2002, 2005 and 2008. 2002 just missed out and will be well-represented below. 2005 is the weakest year of the decade, so the lack of a film being in the top ten doesn’t surprise me. Though there was a chance for my #1 that year to hop up from the 11-20, so it almost got there. And then 2008… lot of strong films, but almost every single one of them managed to get squeezed out of this list, to the point where my #1 ended up being a late inclusion to the article as a whole. That was a minor surprise. 2008 felt like one of the stronger overall years. But 2007 managed to get three films on, which prevented a lot of other things from getting on the top ten. 2007 is the strongest film of the decade and it’s got three of my top 50 films of all time, so that’s just how that particular cookie crumbled.

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11-20:

  1. 25th Hour (2002)
  2. Adaptation (2002)
  3. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
  4. The Fountain (2006)
  5. Inglourious Basterds (2009)
  6. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)
  7. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)
  8. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
  9. Snatch (2000)
  10. Wall-E (2008)

All but Wall-E and Inglourious Basterds are in my top 100 films of all time. So I pretty much had it all done for me and the only decisions that really needed to be made were which ones made the top ten and which were here. Basterds is my way of including Quentin, since Kill Bill almost made this list, but I felt weird having to choose one film over another, and in the absence of being able to have both, I left them off. Wall-E manages to give 2008 its only film on this entire list, which I am fascinated by. I thought about leaving the other two Rings movies off, but those movies are just so important to me that I had to include them. The only decision I made was not putting all three on the top ten. But they had to go in the top 20 for the decade. Snatch was originally in the top 10 in the initial version of this article, and for a minute I flirted with some others like The Fountain or Adaptation or Eternal Sunshine in that final top ten spot that ended up going to Life Aquatic. But I’m happy with my choices. I love all these movies. I was so happy to manage to get both 25th Hour and The Fountain on here, because I really love those films and think they’re two of the most underrated of this entire decade.

Every single year of this decade is represented on this list at least once. Seven of them made the top ten and 2002 got its three films on the 11-20, while 2005 and 2008 snuck a film on in the 11-20, with 2008 being the one that just barely made the cut despite being one of the stronger years of the decade. 2001, 2005 and 2008 are the only years represented just once on this list, while 2000, 2003, 2004 and 2009 each have two films, while 2002, 2006 and 2007 each have three films on the list, with 2007 having all its films in the top ten and 2002 having all of its films in the 11-20.

I love this decade. There’s not a real disappointing choice in the bunch. If anything, this decade is an embarrassment of riches for me. If only every decade could have that problem.

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