The 84* Best Movies of the Decade

So here’s what happened. From (roughly) January 1, 2000 to January 1, 2009, I saw hundreds of movies, probably half of them contemporary. After the new year, I decided that I would catch up on all the “great” movies I’d missed in the Oughts. I subscribed to Netflix, on the 3-movies-at-a-time plan. I was seeing at least 3 movies a week. “This plan will probably fall apart when I get a girlfriend,” I joked to my then-roommate. Then I got a girlfriend and the plan fell apart. Then I lost the girlfriend: Plan back on!

But those intervening months of happiness and fulfillment really took a toll. Right now I have 276 films in my Netflix queue. I have 3 such films at home — “Lilya 4-Ever,” “Amores Perros,” and “United 93.” But, look, I have to be at New Year parties in five hours, so I’m done. My quest to get to 100 “great” movies by decade’s end is a failure. So here are the 84 movies I’m comfortable bestowing greatness upon, with 14 slots for those lucky foreign films that may one day make it on.

One note: Listing “the Lord of the Rings trilogy” as one movie is cheating. Yes, I know the films were shot back-to-back-to-back. So were “Back to the Future”s II and III. Pick which movies you like best, people.

84. (500) Days of Summer
83. Team America: World Police
82. Star Trek
81. Shaolin Soccer
80. The Queen
79. Persepolis
78. Let the Right One In
77. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgendy
76. The Prestige
75. Juno
74. Encounters at the End of the World
73. Batman Begins
72. Hustle & Flow
71. Talk to Her
70. Kill Bill Volume One
69. Sideways
68. Y Tu Mama Tambien
67. Memento
66. O Brother, Where Art Thou?
65. District 9
64. The Invincibles
63. Wet Hot American Summer
62. Grizzly Man
61. Spider-Man 2
60. Hot Fuzz
59. The Barbarian Invasions
58. The Departed
57. I’m Not There
56. The Hurt Locker
55. Knocked Up
54. X-2: X-Men United
53. Finding Nemo
52. There Will Be Blood
51. A Serious Man
50. No Country for Old Men
49. Gomorrah
48. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
47. The Bourne Identity
46. A Mighty Wind
45. The Squid and the Whale
44. 28 Days Later
43. American Psycho
42. Ghost World
41. Children of Men
40. Iron Man
39. The Fantastic Mr. Fox
38. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
37. Casino Royale
36. A Scanner Darkly
35. Shaun of the Dead
34. 24 Hour Party People
33. Devils on the Doorstep
32. Synecdoche, New York
31. Me and You and Everyone We Know
30. Nobody Knows
29. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
28. Anvil! The Story of Anvil
27. The Wrestler
26. Battle Royale
25. Mulholland Drive
24. Milk
23. In the Loop
22. Once
21. A History of Violence
20. The Pianist
19. Before Sunset
18. Pan’s Labyrinth
17. The Dark Knight
16. Werckmeister Harmonies
15. The Fog of War
14. Brokeback Mountain
13. The 40-Year-Old Virgin
12. Downfall
11. In the Mood for Love

And now, the top 10!

10. Wall-E

9. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

8. City of God

7. Spider-Man

6. Best in Show

5. Hedwig and the Angry Inch

4. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

3. The Lives of Others

2. Yi Yi

1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind