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Saturday, September 12, 2020

100 Greatest Films of the 2000's

As we recently saw the end of one decade and the start of another, I decided to write my 100 Greatest Films of the 2010's article. After I completed that article, I was inspired to write my 100 Greatest Films of the 1990's post, as I personally think it was one of the greatest decades ever for the art form. As such, we are here so I can discuss the greatest films of the 2000's (films released from 2000 through 2009).

I was initially hesitant to do this list because I felt the decade didn't seem to stand for anything. In some ways, I found this to be true. The 1990's saw the rise of Independent Cinema and thus an overall increase in quality of films released. The 2010's saw the exact opposite of that approach with major studios spending more and more money on bankable franchises. The 1990's saw the rise of auteurs and the 2010's saw the rise of Disney with Marvel and Star Wars franchises dominating the decade. The 2000's were a transition between these two decades. The quality of prestige and Oscar films seem to drop as franchises started to gain steam. The 2000's not only brought us Iron Man, the literal start to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but it also brought us franchises like Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean, and The Dark Knight. Further, the quality of prestige and Oscar-worthy films seemed to dwindle in the 2000's. The 1990's gave us a murderer's row of excellent Best Picture Oscar winners such as Schindler's List, Unforgiven, and Forrest Gump. Even if the best film of the year didn't win the ultimate prize (as is often the case), the winner still felt deserved and had a long tail thanks to the quality of the film (for most of the decade's winners). The 2000's saw a drop in that as the decade went on. I purposefully left off many Oscar nominated and winning films in exchange for more interesting choices. 

That being said, the 2000's did give a rise in two areas: documentaries and comedies. The 1990's saw a rise in making cheap narrative films, and the following decade used that approach to make a wave of compelling documentaries. Starting with Michael Moore 2002's instant classic Bowling For Columbine, the 2000's gave us great doc after great doc. This list by far and away will have the most documentaries than either of my prior two Top 100 lists. Further, this decade saw the rise of Judd Apatow and Adam McKay. Anchorman was released in 2004 and The 40 Year Old Virgin was released in 2005. Both were critical and commercial hits which allowed the filmmakers to ascend to their apex to direct and produce even more comedy gold throughout the decade. 

Lastly, I found the 2000's to be the deepest list out of the three Top 100 movies lists that I have done so far. The 1990's were so good that I struggled to leave off good films from my Top 25 and felt that a handful of films outside my Top 10 would have been in it in any other decade. The 2010's weren't quite as strong, but I did feel confident in this films I chose for the top. However, with both lists, I felt that the Bottom 25 were fine, but not great films. I felt the opposite with this 2000's list. I don't feel the top is very strong, but struggled to leave off great films from making the Top 100. Again, this is part of the reason this list doesn't include many prestige and Oscar winning films. 

As always, I tried to make this list as objective as possible. Check out the introduction to either of my previous two lists to see how I tried to do that. Further, this post is organized like my 1990's post - at the top is the decade's Top 25 films, each one with a personal essay about it by me. As to not spoil the surprise, these films are ranked 25 to 1. Then, the remaining 75 films are ranked and listed while interwoven with a handful of mini lists such as the Greatest Documentaries of the Decade, the Greatest Animated Films of the Decade and the Greatest Comedies of the Decade That Didn't Make This Top 100 List. 

So without further ado, here is the list of the 100 Greatest Films of the 2000's:

25) Minority Report (2002)
Directed By: Steven Spielberg 
Written By: Scott Frank & Jon Cohen
Starring: Tom Cruise, Max von Sydow & Colin Ferrell
RT Score: 90%

Why It's Great: Adapted from a short story by legendary science-fiction Philip K Dick, Minority Report is the underrated gem for both Spiely and Cruise. Set in a futuristic world where a group of advanced humans called "Pre Cogs" can predict the future, Tom Cruise's Chief John Anderton leads a special police unit whose job it is to investigate and arrest murderers before the crime occurs. However, when the Pre Cogs predict Anderton is next going to commit a murder, he must go on the lamb and attempt to run out the clock to clear his name. Minority Report shows us the dangers of intrusive Government interference and surveillance mixed in with Steven Spielberg's excellent knack for suspense and adventure. In one of the most tense scenes in the films, electronic spider-like drones are sent into a building to find Cruise's character who is recuperating from a surgery. That's all the scene is, but the way Spielberg is able to fill it with tension and suspense proves why he's one of the greatest. 

24) Children of Men (2006)
Co-Written & Directed By: Alfonso Cuaron
Co-Written By: Timothy Sexton, David Arata, Mark Fergus & Hawk Ostby
Starring: Clive Owen, Michael Caine & Clare-Hope Ashitey
RT Score: 92%

Why It's Great: Another dystopian film on this list (although maybe that shouldn't come as too much of a surprise as films this decade were reacting to the George W. Bush presidency and the War on Terror/Patriot Act), Children of Men is auteur Alfonso Cuaron's masterpiece about a world where no new children are born. However, when Clive Owen's Theo stumbles upon Ashitey's Kee who is pregnant, he is tasked with helping her flee England for sanctuary. The film making is most notable for its handful of oners, including a mesmerizing car ambush sequence; however, it's Cuaron's attention to detail throughout that makes it arguably his best work. Unlike other Apocalyptic films, the cause of the dystopia allows Cuaron to delve deep into the human condition. As the world is only slowly dying (as opposed to say an immediate alien invasion), we see world that seems to be plagued by fright and despair, yet Cuaron manages to ultimately brighten the viewer with hope and faith.

23) The Departed
Directed By: Martin Scorsese
Written By: William Monahan
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon & Jack Nicholson
RT Score: 91%

Why It's Great: No one is going to suggest that The Departed is Martin Scorsese's best work, so the notion that Marty won his first Best Director Academy Award for this film is a tad ridiculous, but it's undeniable how awesome the film is and it can not be understated what a cultural impact this film had upon its release. Taking two of the generation's best movie stars in DiCaprio and Damon, adding in a heap of one of our greatest actors in Nicholson, and adding a dash of the scene-stealing and Academy Award nominated for this performance Mark Wahlberg, and you're left with a recipe for one of the most entertaining films of the decade; a perfect cat-and-mouse tale where both the police and the mob have infiltrated each other. 

22) Finding Nemo (2003)
Directed By: Andrew Stanton & Lee Unkrich
Written By: Andrew Stanton, Bob Peterson & David Reynolds
Voices Of: Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres & Willem Dafoe
RT Score: 99%

Why It's Great: As mentioned in the beginning, the 2000's saw a rise in quality comedies and excellent documentaries, but it also saw the rise in something else: Pixar. The animation company, now owned by Disney, revolutionized the animation game back in 1995 with its release of Toy Story, but the studio didn't really come into its own until the 2000's. The Nineties saw Pixar's next two films released: A Bug's Life and Toy Story 2, but it is its run in the 2000's that solidified it as The Champ. From 2001 through 2009, Pixar released the following films (in order): Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Cars, Ratatouille, Wall-E, and Up. That's a helluva run for any studio, but it's also one that set the bar so high for animated films, that few non-Pixar films have been able to reach it since. I don't think Finding Nemo is the best film Pixar has made, that selection will come later in this list, but it's probably the most universally beloved. Thanks to one of the best voice performances ever by DeGeneres as Dory, the forgetful fish that helps Marlin (Brooks) swim across the Ocean to help find his son, the titular Nemo, Finding Nemo is a beautiful story about family, and one that is loved by everyone of all ages. 

21) Zoolander (2001)
Co-Written & Directed By: Ben Stiller
Co-Written By: Drake Sather & John Hamburg
Starring: Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson & Will Ferrell
RT Score: 64%

Why It's Great: It's amazing how something so stupid can be so smart. Thanks to the inherent stupidity of the titular lead character, played brilliantly by Stiller himself, the audience is initially treated to a handful of slapstick gags and sophomoric jokes. Granted some of those jokes have now become iconic, such as, "What is this?! A center for ants!?" But, you know, the overall movie is pretty silly. However, as you peel back the layers, you're treated to biting satire about the fashion industry and how America treats "really really really good looking" people. Additionally, hidden behind the obvious is a handful of throwaway lines you don't catch until multiple re-watches. One of my favorites is Jerry Stiller's Maury Ballstein telling Zoolander, "What do we do when we fall off the horse?" and Zoolander sullenly responds, "I don't know Maury, I'm not a gymnast." I love it. Plus, you'll never be able to hear Wham's "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" ever again without thinking of Orange Mocha Frappuccinos.

20) Shrek (2001)
Directed By: Andrew Adamson & Vicky Jenson
Written By: Terry Rossio/Ted Elliot & Joe Stillman/Roger Schulman
Voices Of: Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy & Cameron Diaz
RT Score: 88%

Why It's Great: As previously mentioned, very few animated films could stand up to the creative juggernaut that is Pixar, and by extension Disney. However, as the winner of the first Best Animated Film Academy Award, Shrek is one of those films. Ironically, it's Shrek's subversion of Disney tropes, and outright potshots at the media conglomerate itself, that make this film so good. Traditionally, Disney films portrayed fairy tales as beautiful, charming men rescuing gorgeous damsels in distress. However, from the opening of the film where our main hero wipes his ass from a page of a literal fairy tale book, Shrek flips these traditional notions on its head. The dashing hero and prince of the land Lord Farquad (voiced by the always great John Lithgow) turns out to be the villain of the story and the monster obstacle (Shrek himself) turns out to be the hero. The beautiful princess needs true love's kiss to break the curse, but when she gets it, the beautiful princess we see throughout most of the film permanently transforms into an ogre. The "beautiful" princess she used to be was just superficial, and now she gets to be herself and spend her nights with her true love Shrek. And in the morning, Donkey is making waffles. 

19) Almost Famous (2000)
Written & Directed By: Cameron Crowe
Starring: Patrick Fugit, Kate Hudson & Billy Crudup
RT Score: 89%

Why It's Good: Because Bill Simmons said this was the best movie of the Aughts. I'm just kidding, Bill Simmons is cancelled by now. Almost Famous tells the story of an up-and-coming rock journalist (and high schooler) named William Miller (Fugit) who is hired by Rolling Stone magazine to write about an up-and-coming (fictional) rock band Stillwater. Miller goes on tour with band and falls in love with the band's number one groupie Penny Lane (Hudson, who's breakout performance earned her an Oscar nomination for this role). Almost Famous is about delusions of grandeur versus reality. It's about the image you want the world to see you as versus the way you actually are. Rock and Roll is treated as this glamorous forbidden fruit and this lifestyle is all William ever wants.  But the longer he's embedded with the band, the more he realizes Stillwater's public persona is just a  front for depressed normal guys. It's the same for Penny Lane. All she talks about is traveling to Morocco, but all she does in reality is follow the band around. This notion comes to a head in the movie's memorable climatic scene, after we get our "Tiny Dancer" fix, when the plane in which everyone's on seems to be crash landing, and everyone finally admits who they really are. As the late, great Philip Seymour Hoffman's Lester Bangs says, "We are uncool."

18) Iron Man (2008)
Directed By: Jon Favreau
Written By: Mark Fergus/Hawk Ostby & Art Marcum/Matt Holloway
Starring: Robert Downey Jr, Gwyneth Paltrow & Jeff Bridges
RT Score: 94%

Why It's Great: I remember being dragged kicking and screaming to the movie theater by my college roommate to see Iron Man opening weekend. The trailers made the movie look not great, and our only real reference point to this film at the time was the Jessica Alba Fantastic Four films. But after seeing how grounded and (relatively) relatable RDJ's Tony Stark was, and seeing him in that Afghani cave throughout the first act of the film, I was hooked. I didn't know superhero movies could do that. Twelve years later, it should not have been a surprise how good an MCU movie could be and how pitch perfect a sober Robert Downey Jr. was for this role and how great of an action director Jon Favreau was. It was an incredible risk that paid off handsomely for everyone involved. Not only is Iron Man one of the most influential movies of all time considering all movies now are basically Marvel movies, but it's an origin story that stands up on its own.

17) Superbad (2007)
Directed By: Greg Mottola
Written By: Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg
Starring: Jonah Hill, Michael Cera & Emma Stone
RT Score: 88%

Why It's Great: I probably can't say Superbad tops my list of favorite Judd Apatow films (The 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up are fighting for that with Forgetting Sarah Marshall hanging out by the ropes), but I cannot undersell just what a cultural phenomenon the film became. Released in August of 2007, the film was literally the talk of my college town at the beginning of my Junior year. While Apatow's previous two films (40 and Knocked Up) were rom-coms at its core, Superbad was a raunchy high school sex comedy with a heart of gold. This film also cemented Apatow as a Hollywood Super Producer, considering we still attribute the film to him despite him not writing or directing it. Yet his fingerprints are all over the film. The notion of imbuing the film with so much love and heart is one of the central tenets of a Judd Apatow film (that and having Apatow on set shouting hilarious dialogue for actors during filming). At its core, Superbad too is a love story about high school best friends Seth (Hill) and Evan (Cera) trying to have one epic night their Senior year and coping with the impending doom that college will separate them. Oh, and plenty of dick jokes as well. But as the film ends the next morning while the two best friends are at the mall with Seth riding down the escalator with Evan at the top slowly leaving the frame, you can't help but feel bittersweet, even through your stomach hurts from gut-busting hilarity. 

16) Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004)
Co-Written & Directed By: Adam McKay
Co-Written By: Will Ferrell
Starring: Will Ferrell, Christina Applegate & Paul Rudd
RT Score: 66%

Why It's Great: Will Ferrell is one of the most bankable comedy stars in Hollywood, but he didn't start off that way. Despite dominating Saturday Night Live, his movie career got a slow(ish) start thanks to his string of SNL films (A Night at the Roxbury, Superstar, Ladies Man). His breakout role soon came as Frank "The Tank" in Todd Philips' Old School, but it wasn't until Ferrell teamed up with his friend and former SNL writer Adam McKay where his career switched into a higher gear. That came as the result of Anchorman. The best Ferrell and McKay team up will come later on this list, because soon after this film they would make the greatest comedy film of all time, but Anchorman deserves its own spot for just how influential it was for comedies and just how good it is in its own right. Will Ferrell was always at his best on SNL when he played outlandish larger-than-life characters, and no character is as bombastic as Ron Burgundy. Adam McKay was able to tap into Ferrell's genius and always brought out his best work, and the pair helped catapult each other's careers. Just remember to stay classy San Diego. 

15) The Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001-2003)
Co-Written & Directed By: Peter Jackson
Co-Written By: Fran Walsh & Phillipa Boyens 
Starring: Elijah Wood, Sean Astin & Ian KcKellen
RT Score: 91%/95%/93%

Why It's Great: The Lord of the Rings trilogy is pure spectacle and imagination. Before we ever could have been immersed in the magical world of Harry Potter or the treacherous world of Game of Thrones, we were transported to Middle Earth. The film series based on the classic J.R.R. Tolkien taught us to believe in the underdog and root for the heroes to save the day, proving the haters wrong as they do so. Before GOT could subvert tropes, The Lord of Rings gave us the tropes to love. This franchise was some of the most fun we had in the theater, and the Battle of Helm's Deep in The Two Towers remains some of the the most awe-inspiring film making of the decade. 

14) Memento (2001)
Written & Directed By: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss & Joe Pantoliano
RT Score: 93%

Why It's Great: Christopher Nolan has an incredible ability to tie the subject matter of the film into the film making itself. The Prestige is about two competing magicians and centers around how a brilliant magic trick is completed, but what makes the film genius is that it's essentially a magic trick in its own right and doesn't tell you how the trick is completed until the film ends. This similar concept holds true for Memento. The films centers around Leonard (Pearce) who has the inability to form new memories. As such, the viewer is treated to Leonard's perspective as the scenes are presented in reverse order. With the help of his friend Teddy (Pantoliano) and the clues he tattoos on his body, Leonard searches for his wife's murderer, but by viewing the scenes in reverse chronological order, you get the disorienting sense of what Leonard must be going through. Though gimmicky, it is extremely effective. As such, the viewer is treated to a genius and unique modern noir that rightfully earned Nolan his first Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay.

13) Bowling for Columbine (2002)
Written, Featuring & Directed By: Michael Moore
RT Score: 95%

Why It's Great: It's unfortunate that school shootings seem so prevalent in America nowadays that the main thing that seem to cause their downturn was a pandemic where kids basically did not physically go to school. However, on that fateful April day in 1999, when two seniors of the Columbine High School brought guns to their school and murdered their classmates, it was a horrific attack that shocked the nation. Documentarian Michael Moore used this event as a jumping off point to discuss guns and the Second Amendment in the United States. While Moore already had a couple of documentaries under his belt, including his excellent debut Roger & Me, it wasn't until he made Bowling For Columbine that he put himself on the map. Upon its release, it became the highest grossing documentary of all time, and the film won the Academy Award for Best Documentary. As alluded to in the introduction, the film also helped spark an interest in documentaries and lead a wave of other great docs to follow suit. 

12) Black Hawk Down (2001)
Directed By: Ridley Scott
Written By: Mark Bowden
Starring: Josh Hartnett, Ewan McGregor & Tom Sizemore
RT Score: 76%

Why It's Great: Outside of having an underrated excellent deep cast, Black Hawk Down was one of the first war films to take us to the Gulf War. We've seen WWII and Vietnam films galore, but rarely had we seen a war film like this. Thanks to acclaimed director Ridley Scott's realistic visual style and Pietro Scalia's Academy Award winning propulsive editing, you feel like you're a soldier in the disastrous mission in Mogadishu, Somilia in 1993 to save two U.S. lieutenants from Somali war lords. Released soon after 9/11, the film became eerily prescient as The United States was about to send troops back into the region (ish) in our supposed fight in The War on Terror. For all of the soldier's heart and patriotism in Black Hawk Down, the mission was a failure. Same too on the War that George W Bush started in 2001. That ultimate sense of defeat, while depressing upon reflection, helped turn Black Hawk Down into one of the best war films of all time. 

11) No Country For Old Men (2007)
Written & Directed By: The Coen Brothers
Starring: Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem & Tommy Lee Jones
RT Score: 93%

Why It's Great: No Country For Old Men tells the story of Llewelyn Moss (Brolin) as he stumbles across two million dollars lying in a field after a Mexican stand off gone wrong (or I guess right depending on how you look at Mexican stand offs) and goes on the lamb to elude the hitman Anton Chigurh (Bardem) and the local Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Jones) coming after him and the money. The story we think we're following is that of Moss. He is presented as a stand up guy and the protagonist we want to win in the end. The classic Western White Hat trope. On the other side is Chigurh, the classic charming Black Hat. Though Javier Bardem imbues Anton Chigurh with so much charisma and personality (so much so that Bardem won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance) that many of us want him to win, it is ultimately the story Sheriff Bell; the aging Western police officer who comes to realize he's on his last legs. The title suggests that the world is young man's game and its Moss' and Chigurh's to win or lose. In the face of random death, we must risk playing if you want to succeed. Tommy Lee Jones' lawman days are over and he chooses to sit out playing all together, because after all, there is no country for old men. 

10) Wall-E (2008)
Co-Written & Directed By: Andrew Stanton
Co-Written By: Jim Reardon
Starring: Fred Willard & Jeff Garlin
RT Score: 95%

Why It's Great: Finding Nemo might be Pixar's most beloved film, but Wall-E is their best. The movie tells a story about a robot named Wall-E who is the sole inhabitant on Earth left to clean up the garbage and pollution that humans left behind. One day, a robot named Eve appears to search the planet and runs into Wall-E. The first half of the film is these two robots falling in love, and it's basically a silent movie (since the robots can only say their names). It's a work of pure brilliance to captivate and engage kids of all ages with only action. The second half of the movie isn't as strong as the first as Eve gets transported to The Axiom, the spaceship inhabited by humans who left Earth and is theoretically waiting for robots like Wall-E to clean the planet up in order to return, and Wall-E follows her, but the statement the film makes about what will happen to humans if we continue to our addiction to technology is fascinating. Wall-E is about ecologically protecting our planet from climate change and enjoying the company of others without being inhibited by technology- a pretty ballsy claim from our corporate and merchandising overlords at Disney. 

9) Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Directed By: Michel Gondry
Written By: Charlie Kaufman
Starring: Jim Carrey & Kate Winslet
RT Score: 93%

Why It's Great: The film's title is a line from a poem written by Pope Alexander, sorry, Alexander Pope, that's quoted by Kirsten Dunst's Mary. It's a beautiful evocation of what's happening on screen. A company called Lacuna is in the process of erasing Joel Barish's (Carrey) ex-girlfriend Clementine (Winslet) from his memory. The couple had a bitter split after being together for two years. Lacuna is literally giving Joel a spotless mind - removing all the negative spots or traces of Clementine from it - in order to give Joel "eternal sunshine" or happiness. However, in the middle of the process, Joel realizes he doesn't want to forget his relationship, and he attempts to hide Clementine deep into his subconscious to preserve her memory. Ultimately, the title becomes ironic, because 'Tis better to have lost and lost, than never loved at all. We may think that a spotless mind will cause eternal sunshine, but happiness lies in the misery as well. It's important we have those negative memories as well because it makes those positive ones so much better. The film has a wonderful story thanks to Charlie Kaufman's Academy Award winning script made better by Michel Gondry's haunting and cerebral direction.

8) Mean Girls (2004)
Directed By: Mark Waters
Written By: Tina Fey
Starring: Lindsay Lohan, Rachel McAdams & Lizzy Caplan
RT Score: 84%

Why It's Great: Between her time as a head writer on Saturday Night Live, her shows 30 Rock and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, her book Bossypants, and of course Mean Girls, Tina Fey arguably is going to go down as the greatest comedy writer of her generation. Mean Girls is so damn well-written as not only a teen comedy, but as a satire on the way our society raises modern girls. It's not only laugh-out-loud funny and immensely quotable ("Stop trying to make 'Fetch' happen! It's not going to happen.") but a wicked smart commentary. As Cady Heron (Lohan) begins her time in a public high school for the first time in her life, she's indoctrinated into The Plastics, a group of ... well ... mean girls ... who "run" the social order of the school thanks to the group's manipulative leader Regina George (McAdams). However, Cady is working with outcast Janis Ian (Caplan) to take down Regina and The Plastics in order to create a social utopia for the school. At the end of the film, as Cady gives her speech to the class after winning prom queen, she breaks the plastic tiara awarded to her which symbolizes the end of Regina'a reign and allows the female student body to act like themselves instead of how society wants them to. You go Glen Coco! 

7) Pan's Labyrinth (2006) 
Written & Directed By: Guillermo Del Toro
Starring: Ivana Baquero, Meribel Verdu & Sergi Lopez
RT Score: 95%

Why It's Great: Guillermo Del Toro is at his best when he can tell fairy tales using creatures of his own imagination. He and his film The Shape of Water won Academy Awards for doing this in 2017, but it's his 2006 masterpiece Pan's Labyrinth where Del Toro shined the brightest. Set in 1944 during Spain's civil war, young Ofelia (Baquero) and her mother (Ariadna Gil) move in with her sadistic new stepfather, Captain Vidal (Lopez), leader of the fascist army fighting to eliminate the surrounding rebels of the area. In order to escape from the horrors of both the war and her new father, Ofelia is introduced to the creature Fauno (Doug Jones), who tells her she is the reincarnated Moon Princess and must complete three tasks in order to return to her throne. However, these tasks are not Disney-esque. Ofelia encounters grotesque creatures such as the the iconic Pale Man (the creature with eyes on his hands- again played to perfection by Jones) and a disgusting frog. Part of the genius of the film is Del Toro's dark and fantastical vision of Ofelia's imagination. Ultimately, the film is about moral disobedience. Captain Vidal's main housekeeper Mercedes (Verdu) is a double agent working with her brother and rebel army to take down the evil Captain which parallels Ofelia's journey with her tasks. Pan's Labyrinth extols the virtues of thinking for yourself and doing what is right, even in the face of danger and the safety not to act. 

6) Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006)
Directed By: Larry Charles
Written By: Sacha Baron Cohen, Anthony Hines, Peter Baynham & Dan Mazer
Starring: Sacha Baron Cohen & Ken Davitan 
RT Score: 91%

Why It's Great: Ostensibly, Borat is a mockumentary about a native from Kazakhstan who takes a film crew to the United States of America in order to document its culture - which then devolves in an attempt to meet Pamela Anderson in order to make the former Baywatch star his wife. But at its core, the movie is Cohen using his Borat alter ago as a satire to show the truth and ugliness that exists in America. Long before Donald Trump allowed racists and xenophobes to make their views mainstream and public, Cohen showed these peoples true colors. Whether he was having a conversation with a RV full of frat boys or singing "Throw The Jew Down The Well" to a rodeo crowd, Cohen elicited reactions from people that many parts of this country were either ignorant of, or turned a blind eye towards. On top of everything, the film is gut-bustingly funny. I'm still laughing at Cohen's Borat and Davitan's Azamat naked fighting throughout the hotel. 

5) Requiem For A Dream (2000)
Co-Written & Directed By: Darren Aronofsky 
Co-Written By: Hubert Selby Jr. 
Starring: Jared Leto, Ellen Burstyn & Marlon Wayans
RT Score: 79%

Why It's Great: Addiction is bad. A pretty obvious Afternoon Special lesson that basically anyone who watches this movie already knew. But Holy Fucking Shit is addiction bad after you watch this stylized classic from 2000. Centered around the heroin addiction of Harry Goldfarb (Leto), his best friend Tyrone (Wayans), his girlfriend Marion (Jennifer Connelly) and the uppers addiction of his mother Sara (Burstyn), Aronofksy delves into the bleak and interesting lives of his four main protagonists. These characters all start off enjoyable and upbeat, but the further their addiction takes them, the worse they go down the Rabbit Hole. Requiem For A Dream is dark and grim filled with incredible performances. Jared Leto and Jennifer Connelly are unsurprisingly great, but Marlon Wayans surprisingly is, and Ellen Burstyn earned an Academy Award nomination for her performance. Aronofsky sense of mood and the audience reaction he wants to elicit throughout the film is unparalleled lead by one of the best movie scores of the decade. If you ever, for some reason, wanted to try drugs before watching the film, you'll certainly never start afterwards. 

4) Step Brothers (2008)
Co-Written & Directed By: Adam McKay
Co-Written By: Will Ferrell
Starring: Will Ferrell & John C Reilly 
RT Score: 55%

Why It's Great: As previously alluded to, Step Brothers is the greatest film that Adam McKay and Will Ferrell made together as it is the greatest comedy movie ever made. Admittedly, this film is as high as it is on this list as a result of my personal bias, but it is undeniable what a cult cultural force of nature the film has been, especially for my generation, in the twelve years since its release. I like to throw around the phrase "gut-bustingly funny" but few films actually literally earn the title like Step Brothers does. Unlike a lot of other comedies on this list like Borat or Mean Girls that have deeper significant meaning, or even a Judd Apatow production that's imbued with an incredible amount of heart behind its profanity, Step Brothers is just absurd and riotous. It's Will Ferrell playing his best man-child ever and John C. Reilly out-Will-Ferrelling Will Ferrell. It's just fucking funny - even upon your 11th rewatch of the film. Ultimately, that's all we should want and expect out of our comedies. 

3) There Will Be Blood (2007)
Written & Directed By: Paul Thomas Anderson
Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis & Paul Dano
RT Score: 91%

Why It's Great: Loosely based on the Upton Sinclair novel Oil!, There Will Be Blood tells the story of a capitalist named Daniel Plainview (Day-Lewis) as he buys up land from a small Californian town in order to drain the area for oil, and the local preacher- aptly named Eli Sunday (Dano)- who opposes him. You can enjoy the film at its face value, and marvel in the incredible performances that Anderson brings out of both Day-Lewis and Dano, but like the oil underneath the land, there's gold when you dig underneath the surface. Religion plays an important role in the film. Money is Daniel Plainview's religion and oil is his religion's Blood of Christ. Early in the film, a man dabs a slick of oil on Daniel's adopted son's head to symbolize his baptism into the world, and when an oil rig leaks and blows up in the middle of the movie, Daniel is doused in oil to represent his rebirth into this capitalistic world. Though this religion is a false one, Eli Sunday's pastor character is no choir boy either. Eli is a charlatan and uses the Church he creates in town to up his brand and eventually leave town. Ultimately, each man must confess their sins to each other in order to reveal who they truly are. If you've never seen There Will Be Blood before, you're in for a treat. Strap in, drink up your favorite milkshake, and enjoy the ride. I'M FINISHED!

2) Inglorious Basterds (2009)
Written & Directed By: Quentin Tarantino
Starring: Brad Pitt, Christoph Waltz & Melanie Laurent
RT Score: 89%

Why It's Great: Inglorious Basterds delivers on what Quentin Tarantino does best: indelible, fun characters, quippy dialogue, and prolonged, tense scenes punctuated by quick, bloody violence. But like most Tarantino films, it's the meta-text about the power of movie making that brings Basterds to life. The introduction of Lt. Archie Hicox (and my personal introduction to Michael Fassbender) and his conversation with General Fenech (Mike Myers) is his discussion of Goebbels' success in using films as Nazi propaganda. The climax of Basterds occurs during the premiere of one of Goebbels' film - a semi-autobiographical telling of the success in battle of Private Frederick Zoller (Daniel Bruhl) - where our protagonists, The Basterds and Shosanna (Laurent), coalesce to take down the Nazi elite. Not only is it fun to see Nazi being burned alive, gunned down, and beaten with a baseball bat, Inglorious Basterds uses the power of movies to defeat the Nazis. Literal Nazis are killed during a movie screening, but the also shows how the power of movies themselves can defeat fascism. Unfortunately, proving to be untrue in today's America climate, QT's film shows how the power of film and storytelling can be effective on how we view evil. It's not a coincidence that after Lt. Aldo Raine (Pitt) concludes the film by looking into the camera and saying "I think this just might be my masterpiece". 

1) The Dark Knight (2008)
Co-Written & Directed By: Christopher Nolan
Co-Written By: Jonathan Nolan
Starring: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger & Aaron Eckhart
RT Score: 94%

Why It's Great: A lot of what makes movies truly great is the director's ability to show you something you've never seen before; to make you say "wow, I didn't know a movie could do that." Many films on this list embody this notion, and The Dark Knight is no exception. We didn't know superhero and comic book movies could be this good. From masterful film making techniques, to world-class acting, to engaging story-telling, Christopher Nolan's masterpiece was able to deliver a blockbuster spectacle while also being a piece of fine art. From themes of escalation, duality, and order vs. chaos, The Dark Knight  was able to be richer and deeper than both its comic book predecessors as well as its progeny. But truthfully, all of these bullet points would have made The Dark Knight a good to great movie, but a large reason it's the best film of the decade is thanks to one of the greatest acting performances of all-time - Heath Ledger's portrayal of The Joker. Your brain knows its Heath Ledger under the make up, but your eyes and heart deceive you. Ledger didn't just play The Joker, he became him. And for that, we burnt the forest down. 

And now, the rest of the Top 100 films from 26-100. Along the way, please enjoy mini Top 10 lists for the decade that I have created. Reminder, here is a list from 1-25:

1) The Dark Knight (2008)
2) Inglorious Basterds (2009)
3) There Will Be Blood (2007)
4) Step Brothers (2008)
5) Requiem For A Dream (2000)
6) Borat: The Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006)
7) Pan's Labyrinth (2006)
8) Mean Girls (2004)
9) Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
10) Wall-E (2008)
11) No Country For Old Men (2007)
12) Black Hawk Down (2001)
13) Bowling For Columbine (2002)
14) Memento (2001)
15a) The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
15b) The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)
15c) The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
16) Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004)
17) Superbad (2007)
18) Iron Man (2008)
19) Almost Famous (2000)
20) Shrek (2001)
21) Zoolander (2001)
22) Finding Nemo (2003)
23) The Departed (2006)
24) Children of Men (2006)
25) Minority Report (2002)

26) Spirited Away (2001)
Written & Directed By: Hayao Miyazaki
Voices Of: Daveigh Chase, Suzanne Pleshette & Miyu Irino

27) Mulholland Drive (2001)
Written & Directed By: David Lynch
Starring: Naomi Watts, Laura Harring & Justin Theroux

28) Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Directed By: Ang Lee
Starring: Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal & Michelle Williams

29) Knocked Up (2007)
Written & Directed By: Judd Apatow
Starring: Seth Rogen, Katherine Heigl & Leslie Mann


10) Pineapple Express (2008)
9) Undeclared (TV) (2001)
8) Funny People (2009)
7) Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2007)
6) Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2006)
5) The 40 Year Old Virgin (2005)
4) Knocked Up (2007)
3) Superbad (2007)
2) Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004)
1) Step Brothers (2008)

30) Gladiator (2000)
Directed By: Ridley Scott
Starring: Russel Crowe, Connie Nielsen & Joaquin Phoenix

31) Sin City (2005)
Written & Directed By: Robert Rodriguez & Frank Miller
Starring: Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis & Clive Owen

32) Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
Directed By: Ang Lee
Starring: Michelle Yeoh, Ziyi Zhang & Chow Yun-Fat

33) Moulin Rouge! (2001)
Co-Written & Directed By: Baz Luhrmann
Starring: Nicole Kidman & Ewan McGregor

34) 25th Hour (2002)
Directed By: Spike Lee
Starring: Edward Norton, Barry Pepper & Philip Seymour Hoffman

35) Spider-Man 2 (2004)
Directed By: Sam Raimi
Starring: Tobey Maguire, Kristen Dunst & Alfred Molina

36) Y Tu Mama Tambien (2001)
Co-Written & Directed By: Alfonso Cuaron
Starring: Gael Garcia Bernal, Diego Luna & Ana Lopez Mercado

37) The Notebook (2004)
Directed By: Nick Cassavetes
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Rachel McAdams & Gena Rowlands

38) Napoleon Dynamite (2004)
Co-Written & Directed By: Jared Hess
Starring: Jon Heder, Efren Ramirez & Tina Majorino

39) Saw (2004)
Co-Written & Directed By: James Wan
Starring: Cary Elwes, Danny Glover & Tobin Bell

40) The Incredibles (2004)
Written & Directed By: Brad Bird
Voices Of: Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter & Jason Lee


7) Cars (2006)
6) Ratatouille (2007)
5) Up (2009)
4) Monsters, Inc. (2001)
3) The Incredibles (2004)
2) Finding Nemo (2003)
1) Wall- E (2008)

41) Legally Blonde (2001)
Directed By: Robert Luketic
Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Luke Wilson & Jennifer Coolidge

42) Donnie Darko (2001)
Written & Directed By: Richard Kelly
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone & Drew Barrymore

43) The 40 Year Old Virgin (2004)
Co-Written & Directed By: Judd Apatow
Starring: Steve Carrel, Paul Rudd & Seth Rogen

44) Supersize Me (2004)
Written, Featuring & Directed By: Morgan Spurlock

45) Dogtooth (2009)
Co-Written & Directed By: Yorgos Lanthimos
Starring: Christos Stergioglou, Angeliki Papoulia & Hristos Passalis

46) Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
Directed By: Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris
Starring: Greg Kinnear, Abigail Breslin & Alan Arkin

47) Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Co-Written & Directed By: Edgar Wright
Starring: Simon Pegg & Nick Frost

48) Juno (2007)
Directed By: Jason Reitman
Starring: Ellen Page, Michael Cera & Jason Bateman

49) Sideways (2004)
Co-Written & Directed By: Alexander Payne
Starring: Paul Giamatti, Thomas Haden Church & Virginia Madsen

50) The Hangover (2009)
Directed By: Todd Phillips
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms & Zach Galifianakis

51) Oldboy (2003)
Directed By: Chan-wook Park
Starring: Min-sik Choi, Ji-Tae Yoo & Hye-jeong Kang

52) Casino Royale (2006)
Directed By: Martin Campbell
Starring: Daniel Craig, Eva Green & Mads Mikkelesen

53) Before Sunset (2004)
Co-Written & Directed By: Richard Linklater
Starring: Ethan Hawke & Julie Delpy 

54) Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father (2008)
Written & Directed By: Kurt Kuenne
Featuring: Shirley Turner, David Bagby & Kathleen Bagby

55) The Devil Wears Prada (2006)
Directed By: David Frankel
Starring: Anne Hathaway, Stanley Tucci & Meryl Streep

56) American Psycho (2000)
Directed By: Mary Harron
Starring: Christian Bale, Justin Theroux & Jared Leto

57) Training Day (2001)
Directed By: Antoine Fuqua
Starring: Denzel Washington & Ethan Hawke

58) Amelie (2001)
Directed By: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Starring: Audrey Tautou, Mathieu Kassovitz & Rufus


10) A Prophet (2009)
9) City of God (2002)
8) Amelie (2001)
7) Oldboy (2003)
6) Dogtooth (2009)
5) Y Tu Mama Tambien (2001)
4) Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
3) Spirited Away (2001)
2) Pan's Labyrinth (2006)
1) Inglorious Basterds (2009)

59) Traffic (2000)
Directed By: Steven Soderbergh
Starring: Michael Douglas, Benicio Del Toro & Catherine Zeta-Jones

60) Ocean's Eleven (2001)
Directed By: Steven Soderbergh
Starring: George Clooney, Brad Pitt & Matt Damon

61) Erin Brokovich (2000)
Directed By: Steven Soderbergh
Starring: Julia Roberts, Albert Finney & Aaron Eckhart

62) The Royal Tennenbaums (2001)
Co-Written & Directed By: Wes Anderson
Starring: Gene Hackman, Gwyneth Paltrow & Owen Wilson

63) Love, Actually (2003)
Written & Directed By: Richard Curtis
Starring: Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson & Emma Thompson

64) Snatch (2000)
Written & Directed By: Guy Ritchie
Starring: Jason Statham, Dennis Farina & Brad Pitt

65) Elf (2003)
Directed By: Jon Favreau
Starring: Will Ferrell, Zooey Deschanel & James Caan


10) Last Holiday (2006)
9) Four Christmases (2008)
8) The Family Stone (2005)
7) The Harry Potter franchise (2001- 2011)
6) Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)
5) How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
4) The Holiday (2006)
3) Bad Santa (2003)
2) Elf (2003)
1) Love, Actually (2003)

66) Gangs of New York (2002)
Directed By: Martin Scorsese
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Cameron Diaz & Daniel Day-Lewis

67) Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008)
Directed By: Nicholas Stoller
Starring: Jason Segel, Kristen Bell & Mila Kunis

68) City of God (2002)
Directed By: Fernando Meirelles & Katia Lund
Starring: Alexandre Rodrigues, Leandro Firmino & Matheus Nachtergael

69) Adaptation (2002)
Directed By: Spike Jonze
Starring: Nicholas Cage, Meryl Streep & Chris Cooper

70) Collateral (2004)
Directed By: Michael Mann
Starring: Tom Cruise, Jamie Foxx & Jada Pinkett Smith

71) Overnight (2003)
Written & Directed By: Tony Montana &Mark Brian Smith
Featuring: Troy Duffy

72) Monsters, Inc. (2001)
Directed By: Pete Docter, Lee Unkrich & David Silverman
Voices Of: Billy Crystal, John Goodman & Steve Buscemi 


10) The Triplets of Belleville (2003) 
9) The Princess and the Frog (2009)
8) Kung Fu Panda (2008)
7) Chicken Run (2000)
6) Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005) 
5) The Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)
4) Waltz With Bashir (2009)
3) Coraline (2009)
2) Spirited Away (2001)
1) Shrek (2001)

73) Bring It On (2000)
Directed By: Peyton Reed
Starring: Kirsten Dunst, Eliza Dushku & Jesse Bradford

74) Unbreakable (2000)
Written & Directed By: M. Night Shyamalan
Starring: Bruce Willis & Samuel L. Jackson

75) District 9 (2009)
Co-Written & Directed By: Neill Blomkamp
Starring: Sharlto Copley

76) Best In Show (2000)
Co-Written & Directed By: Christopher Guest
Starring: Eugene Levy, Catherine O'Hara & Christopher Guest

77) Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
Directed By: Gore Verbinski 
Starring: Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom & Keira Knightly

78) Vanilla Sky (2001)
Written & Directed By: Cameron Crowe
Starring: Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz & Penelope Cruz

79) Capturing The Friedmans (2003)
Directed By: Andrew Jarecki
Featuring: Arnold Friedman, Seth Friedman & David Friedman

80) The Wrestler (2008)
Directed By: Darren Aronofsky
Starring: Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei & Evan Rachel Wood

81) My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002)
Directed By: Joel Zwick
Starring: Nia Vardalos & John Corbett

82) The Hurt Locker (2008)
Directed By: Kathryn Bigelow
Starring: Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie & Brian Geraghty

83) 8 Mile (2002)
Directed By: Curtis Hanson
Starring: Eminem, Brittany Murphy & Kim Basinger

84) Up (2009)
Directed By: Pete Docter & Bob Peterson
Voices Of: Ed Asner, Jordan Nagai & Christopher Plummer

85) Garden State (2004)
Written & Directed By: Zach Braff
Starring: Zach Braff, Natalie Portman & Peter Sarsgaard

86) A Prophet (2009)
Directed By: Jacques Audiard
Starring: Tahar Rahim, Niels Arestrup & Adel Bencherif

87) The Squid and the Whale (2005)
Written & Directed By: Noah Baumbach
Starring: Jeff Daniels, Jesse Eisenberg & Laura Linney

88) Wedding Crashers (2005)
Directed By: David Dobkin
Starring: Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson & Rachel McAdams


10) Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004)
9) Wet Hot American Summer (2001)
8) Hot Fuzz (2007)
7) Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle (2004)
6) Miss Congeniality (2000)
5) Idiocracy (2006)
4) School of Rock (2003)
3) Team America: World Police (2004)
2) Old School (2003)
1) Meet The Parents (2000)

89) 28 Days Later (2002)
Directed By: Danny Boyle
Starring: Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris & Christopher Eccleston

90) Up In The Air (2009)
Co-Written & Directed By: Jason Reitman
Starring: George Clooney, Anna Kendrick & Vera Farmiga

91) Super Troopers (2001)
Co-Written & Directed By: Jay Chandrasekhar
Starring: Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan & Brian Cox

92) Frost/ Nixon (2008)
Directed By: Ron Howard
Starring: Michael Sheen, Frank Langella & Kevin Bacon

93) Jesus Camp (2006)
Directed By: Heidi Ewing & Rachel Grady
Featuring: Becky Fischer, Levi O'Brien & Andrew Sommerkamp

94) Inside Man (2006)
Directed By: Spike Lee
Starring: Denzel Washington, Jodie Foster & Clive Owen

95a) The Bourne Identity (2002)
         Directed By: Doug Liman
95b) The Bourne Supremacy (2004)
95c)  The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
          Directed By: Paul Greengrass
Starring: Matt Damon

96) This Film Is Not Yet Rated (2006)
Featuring & Directed By: Kirby Dick

97a) 300 (2006)
        Starring: Gerard Butler, Lena Headey & Dominc West
97b) Watchmen (2009)
         Starring: Patrick Wilson, Jackie Earle Haley & Billy Crudup
Directed By: Zach Snyder

98) The Mist (2007)
Written & Directed By: Frank Darabont
Starring: Thomas Jane, Andre Braugher & Marcia Gay Harden

99) Murderball (2005)
Directed By: Henry Alex Rubin & Dana Adam Shapiro
Featuring: Mark Zupan, Joe Seares & Keith Cavill


10) Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (2005)
9) Man on Wire (2008)
8) Murderball (2005)
7) This Film Is Not Yet Rated (2006)
6) Jesus Camp (2006)
5) Overnight (2003)
4) Capturing The Friedmans (2003)
3) Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father (2008)
2) Supersize Me (2004)
1) Bowling For Columbine (2002)

100) The Butterfly Effect (Director's Cut) (2004)
Written & Directed By: Eric Bress & J. Mackye Gruber
Starring: Ashton Kutcher, Amy Smart & Elden Henson