The beginning of an era is the perfect time in which to look back critically upon the previous era. Many film critics have been making best-of-the-decade lists over the last month. In turn, here is the Akron Movie Examiner’s list of the ten best films of the past decade:
10. Brokeback Mountain (2005) – Ang Lee’s beautifully photographed epic is a mesmerizing love story and an important step in the assimilation of queer cinema into mainstream culture. The film features performances that will be remembered for decades to come.
9. No Country for Old Men (2007) – Dividing critics and audiences alike, those who love No Country praise its gorgeous cinematography and the filmmakers’ ability to integrate shocking violence into the serene backdrop of the Midwestern United States. This contrast is one of many which drive the narrative to its unique and controversial conclusion.
8. Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) – Guillermo del Toro crafts a gripping period piece set during the Spanish Civil War that is exceptional because a dark and vivid children’s fantasy story has been seemlessly intertwined with the main narrative.
7. The Wrestler (2008) – A swansong to the physical entertainers of yesteryear, The Wrestler is as much a comeback for the talented Mickey Rourke as it is another solid entry in the filmography of Darren Aronofsky.
6. Donnie Darko (2001) – Richard Kelly’s feature debut is an intellectual feast, incorporating elements of science fiction, philosophy, and loads of symbolism. The film is also a detailed period piece set in the lead up to the 1988 presidential election complete with an ‘80s soundtrack.
5. Up in the Air (2009) – Visually exciting and tightly written, Jason Reitman’s latest film serves as a critique of the isolating and self-destructive nature of the business world. George Clooney and a number of supporting actors deliver career performances.
4. Memento (2000) – Christopher Nolan expertly constructs an absorbing film that leaves audiences as puzzled and discombobulated as its protagonist. Guy Pearce delivers a breakout performance that has cemented his status as a Hollywood star.
3. Amores Perros (2000) – A standout work in the “connectedness” sub genre (Magnolia, Crash), Amores Perros also serves as the breakout work of acclaimed director Alejandro González Iñárritu (21 Grams, Babel). The film’s visual style and cast of talented, yet mostly unknown actors contribute to the sense of realism and overall emotional impact of the piece.
2. City of God (2002) – A documentary-style depiction of two boys’ passage into manhood that is as sprawling as the ghettos of Rio de Janeiro. The film excels in every technical category, but really succeeds on an emotional level documenting human struggle and triumph.
1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) – Brilliantly written by the eccentric Charlie Kaufman, the film is balanced visually by visionary director Michel Gondry. The film is one part romantic comedy, one part sci-fi morality tale, and all parts spellbinding. The best film of the decade, Eternal Sunshine is also in the running for the most unique film of all-time.