A while ago a friend and I were discussing the somewhat persistent belief that recent films just don’t match up to those from previous decades. It’s been a while since we talked about that, which has given me plenty of time to compile this list of my pick of the best films from 2003 onwards. Before we get to the Top 10 however, here’s a handful of films that came very close to making the list, but which ultimately didn’t quite reach it. Here are the runners up:
OK, and now for the actual list. In tenth place is…
10. Oldboy (2003) – This is the first of several revenge films that have made this list, but Oldboy must be the most extreme of them all. This Korean film can be tough to watch at times but is definitely worth the effort. The upcoming American remake has a lot to live up to, and I’m doubtful that it will match this one if I’m going to be honest, despite Josh Brolin being cast as the lead. My advice is to see this one first, then catch up with the remake once its released.
9. Black Swan (2010) – Featuring Natalie Portman’s best performance, Black Swan is a bold film and it’s easy to see why some people didn’t get along with it. For me though this is easily one of the most impressive films that I have seen over the past ten years, and it instantly jumped to mind when compiling this list. Also, be sure to check out Cinematic Corner’s post here if you have already seen the film. It’s a pretty eye opening page that demonstrates just how many hidden images, and subtle tricks are present in this film. It’s definitely worth a look!
8. Volver (2006) – I’m still discovering Almodóvar but I saw Volver very recently and it’s already become one of my all time favourite films, let alone one of my favourites from this decade. I want to say very little about this one for fear of spoiling anything, but if you haven’t already seen this then I do urge you to seek it out. I’m confident that you won’t regret it.
7. Biutiful (2010) – Javier Bardem has quickly become one of my favourite actors working today, and this is the film which introduced me to him. Simply said he is phenomenal here, and that performance alone would be enough to put this film in my top ten, but the rest of the film’s elements also hold up and make for powerful, difficult viewing.
6. I Saw the Devil (2010) – Another revenge film on this list, I Saw the Devil is a pretty outstanding take on the classic theme of a good man potentially becoming as monstrous as the monster that he is hunting. I actually came to this film very recently, after having read many comments and posts about it on other blogs, and I was so glad that I did chase it up. Everything about this film is handled very well, and it just demands to be watched.
5. Kill Bill (2003) – Kill Bill is easily one of my all-time favourite films, it’s so much fun, and the final showdown is in my opinion perfect cinema. The amazing craft that went into making this film is beyond impressive, and the result is a movie which I can see endless times and still thoroughly enjoy!
4. No Country for Old Men (2007) – The second Javier Bardem film on this list, No Country made quite an impression on pretty much everyone when it was first released, and it still holds up now. Bardem’s terrifying presence in this film helps to make this the huge success that it is, but there is fantastic work put in by everybody else from the Coen brothers, Josh Brolin, Tommy Lee Jones, Kelly Macdonald and others, which all come together to make what’s easily one of the best films from this last decade.
3. Lost in Translation (2003) – I can re-watch this film endlessly; Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson both give great performances here, to the point where it’s now a joy just to see the film again in order to revisit Bob and Charlotte. It’s perhaps easy to joke that this is a film where very little happens, but really it’s rare to see such a well observed and acted onscreen relationship develop, and the film is far stronger for focusing on this, rather than throwing in unneeded big plot developments. Lost in Translation is a special film.2. Drive (2011) – This Ryan Gosling film just gets better with every re-watch, and after every discussion. It very nearly made the top spot on this list, and a large part of my brain keeps screaming that it should be there. Still though, second place is a good spot for Drive to occupy. It’s not the slick car chase film that it was advertised as, but instead is more of an exploration of the action film genre. If you go into it with an open mind, then it’s pretty likely that you’ll end up loving Drive.
1. Inception (2010) – It was tough to make this decision, but after a lot of thought I decided that Inception is my pick for top film from this decade. It’s the best heist film for years, the best sci-fi film, it has a fantastic cast, a completely immersive concept, and it’s executed nearly perfectly. I’ve written before about how this film is largely nothing but exposition, and yet it somehow manages to make that compelling to watch. I can shower this film with praise for a long time, so I’m going to hold back now, but if you disagree with me then let’s argue it out in below!
Thank you for reading through this list, which films would make your top ten? Let me know below!