By Phil Dzikiy<br><a href="mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org">E-mail Phil</a>
Best acting performance
“There Will Be Blood” (2007)
“There Will Be Blood” is the Daniel Day-Lewis show. Day-Lewis’ dominates the screen as Daniel Plainview, an oil man. It’s a solid story, and the cinematography is fantastic, but Day-Lewis is the reason the film captivates. He drank everyone’s milkshake. He drank them up!
An honorable mention to Johnny Depp as Capt. Jack Sparrow in “Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl.” Depp turned an otherwise humdrum movie into a fun blockbuster.
“The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (2003)
Despite all of the fake-out endings, the final part of the “Rings” trilogy was best. The first two parts of the story (and the first two films) had their fair share of action, but they often felt like setup pieces for “The Return of the King.”
Best zombie or vampire movie
“Shaun of the Dead” (2004)
Lots of competition in this decade between two of the most popular creatures on screen. But a comedy — a rom-zom-com (romantic zombie comedy) — was the best. “Shaun of the Dead” was gory at times, but hilarious? Always.
So much competition for this spot, but nothing was quite as memorable as the uproariously vulgar “Superbad.” Sure, the teens at a party thing has been done before, but never so well. A top “bromance,” as well.
Best computer-animated film
Computer animation isn’t a trend. It may not be the totality of the future, either, but it’s certainly here to stay. And so is Pixar, which finishes the decade wearing the same computer animation crown it claimed in the 1990s. The studio released a number of great films in the 2000s, but “WALL-E,” with its (often wordless) beauty, popping up in dystopia, takes the top spot.
Best animated film
“Spirited Away” (2001)
Also a perfectly reasonable candidate for best foreign film of the decade, Hayao Miyazaki’s “Spirited Away” is a dark, magical trip to another world. Possibly the greatest achievement from the Japanese master of animation.
Best superhero film
“The Dark Knight” (2008)
In blockbuster terms, this was the decade of the comic book movie. Comics supplied studios with hit after hit. Quality varied, but it hit a peak with “The Dark Knight.” Heath Ledger’s performance as The Joker somehow exceeded the massive hype as the film became the biggest box office hit of the decade.
Best ‘based on a true story’ film
“Zodiac,” (2007) and “American Splendor” (2003) — Tie
We realize a tie is a tremendous cop-out, but they’re so different: “Zodiac” is a riveting murder mystery that doesn’t feel long even at two-and-a-half hours and “American Splendor” is a biopic done in a whole new way — a way that doesn’t induce sleep.
Best for multiple viewings “Mulholland Drive” (2001)
You’re probably not going to come close to figuring out David Lynch’s “Mulholland Drive” the first time around. The second viewing may not solve things, either. In fact, it’s debatable whether this film is even a puzzle that can be solved. But it’s fun trying to pick up the twisted pieces.
“The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters” (2007)
Apologies to a number of films, including “Bowling for Columbine,” “Super Size Me,” “Food Inc.” and “Bigger, Stronger, Faster,” but this tale of two very different men battling for the “Donkey Kong” world record brings viewers deep into a subculture and proves endlessly watchable.
“No Country for Old Men” (2007)
Anton Chigurh is coming. And he won’t be stopped. Javier Bardem’s Chigurh is like a humanized horror villain, and in the same way, “No Country” is a twist on the traditional thriller: Sure, there was a great game of cat-and-mouse, and a case of “wrong place, wrong time,” but the vague ending left many moviegoers unfulfilled. They weren’t expecting the film to reveal itself as a mortality metaphor, but that didn’t make it any less suspenseful.
Best foreign film
“Amélie” (2001) and “Pan’s Labyrinth” (2006) — Tie
It’s a great, big beautiful world out there, and either one of these movies could top any best-of-the-decade list. “Amélie” is a romantic, life-affirming French film that feels timeless. Audrey Tautou stars as the most adorable heroine you’ve ever seen.
“Pan’s Labyrinth” is a fairy tale for adults. Both frightening and magical (and often both at the same time), Guillermo del Toro’s fantasy is unforgettable.
“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” (2004)
“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” is a film of the highest order. It’s bolstered by Charlie Kaufman’s best screenplay — a winding, trippy dance that never steps wrong. Michel Gondry’s direction, especially when dealing with the special effects, is spot-on. Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey both turn in great performances.
But the film’s grandest accomplishment is its ability to tackle a broad topic — memories — in a way that feels personal to every audience member. Carrey’s Joel Barish decides to erase the memories of Clementine (Winslet) from his life, before realizing he’s made a mistake.
While watching Joel hunt through the recesses of his past for Clementine, the audience starts asking similar questions. Are some things so painful that you’d rather have them wiped from your memory? Those decisions that you didn’t make — are those decisions that you would have ever made, if given another chance?
We are who we are, and this movie is the same: Bittersweet, personal, heartfelt and unique.