By Anna

Before you review my besties I want to say two things. 1. My picks are based on film quality, character development, human interaction, and personal interest. 2. This was one of the hardest decisions to make in my life. Please feel free to argue for or against any picks and add to the short list. Enjoy!

1. No Country for Old Men

I saw this film in the middle of my Texas/Mexico border era so it has a special place in the cowboy-film hole in my heart. Not only are the Coen brothers probably some of the best directors ever, but their attention to what film can do that books cannot resulted in a masterpiece of a film.

2. The Royal Tenenbaums

Wes Anderson’s third film is one of the best pieces of art this decade. The meticulous director shows dark humor better than anyone else. The family dynamics and individually developed characters are heartbreaking and hilarious. He overstates almost every human condition possible. As genius as you’ll get in the post-modern film world.

3. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

This film reveals more and more each time you watch it. It is a challenge to watch, but slowly works toward this fantastic idea of memories and human experiences not as casualties of life, but as significant monsters that cannot be tamed through erasure.

4. Marie Antoinette

Sofia Coppola makes beautiful films with full-bodied expression of the complexities of life without getting too serious. A friend of mine once told me that Coppola films the in between scenes of life, portraying the outcome or expression of what occurred and not necessarily the occurrence. The soundtrack portrays the exterior (lyrical, loud rock songs) and interior (quiet, subtle instrumental songs) developing of whom Marie Antoinette could have been.

5. The Dark Knight

Christopher Nolan made the best action film I’ve ever seen. It is an action film that cares about its characters, from the hero to the common man. The Dark Knight is a film about fear and community. Though Batman is still the hero, he is not the only hero, nor is he a perfect hero. The grayness of life that has long been ignored in the mythic hero films emerges in this hard-hitting film.

6. Lord of the Rings: Trilogy

Damn if I didn’t cheat in combining Peter Jackson’s three films into one. Justified by the fact that they were shot at the same time, I placed Lord of the Rings at number six, not just because I love these films more than most, but because they took on what had never been done before in the world of film. I am impressed with the magnitude and significance of these films.

7. Kill Bill Vol. 2

Though Kill Bill is not the best of Quentin Tarantino’s work, he is certainly a director who impresses me more than most. His consistent storybook telling style and glorified gore bring a sense of shock and mirth to the screen, which no other films do. Kill Bill Vol. 2 is highly entertaining.

8. I Heart Huckabees

I’ve seen this film more than most films on this list. Mostly because of Lily Tomlin and Mark Wahlberg, whose performances are not only better than the other actors in the film, but probably some of their personal best performances ever. The film is enjoyable because it’s existential without going too Waiting for Godot on you.

9. The Departed

The Departed is another impressive performance by Mark Wahlberg, but also from the entire cast. Martin Scorsese is a great director because he makes noteworthy films without limiting his audience. Also, he often works with Leonardo DiCaprio and that can’t hurt a guys’ reputation. This is a pretty badass film that everyone should see.

10. Man on Wire

I debated listing documentaries in my top 25, but Man on Wire was more suspenseful and entertaining than most films that came out this decade. Philippe Petit walked between the World Trade Center Towers for crying out loud. He’s not just a man with circus-like talents; he’s an entertainer with a justified ego.

11. Capote

Though I haven’t seen all of Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s films, I would still argue that Capote is his best performance to date. I love this film for its sincerity to In Cold Blood, but also for Catherine Keener.

12. The Station Agent

This is one of my most treasured films. The trio of characters is some of the most unlikely people to come together to compensate for suffering. They do not solve the problem of suffering and pain, but they share moments. It’s an atypical train story, not about the comings and goings of one’s life, but about the times of staleness in between.

13. Gangs of New York

In spite of my annoyance and dare I say, disgust, of Cameron Diaz, Scorsese created yet another impressive film this decade. The best parts: Daniel Day-Lewis, Leo, Brendan Gleeson and the soundtrack of course. The only flaw I see in this film is the limited screen time for Liam Neeson.

14. The Darjeeling Limited

All of Wes Anderson films are the best films of the decade for their decade because Anderson is one of a kind in approach and technique. The familial cast of characters (and actors) creates an impressive human quest for family connections in this age of lost families. Somehow in spite of what the characters know about themselves and their family, they still want and need each other. Every time I see this film I pay more attention to the details of my surroundings and the reasons for those details.

15. Little Miss Sunshine

Just thinking about this film makes me laugh. It is an impressive dysfunctional family film that draws on my childhood. The fried chicken and Burger King collectible cups in the dinner scene brought me back to my childhood. The dinner scene is by far the best scene of the film (and maybe of the decade) as it establishes who they are and what their journey will be about. The casting and music choice couldn’t have been better.

16. Adaptation

Being as it is a metafictional type film I am immediately interested because it is what film and language cannot do that we too easily forget. Charlie Kaufman writes great screenplays and develops interesting and a bit far-fetched characters. Adaptation makes you want to buy an orchid.

17. Atonement

The music makes the film. The love story isn’t as important as the redemptive story or lack of redemption paralleled with World War II. The anxious typewriter sounds drive the unsettling plot forward. Understanding that I picked yet another adaptation, this film is an exercise in brilliant editing and pacing.

18. Rachel Getting Married

I’m always interested when actors take part in a film that is uncharacteristic of their career. Anne Hathaway outperforms herself in this Jonathan Demme film. Though Demme’s films are hit or miss for me, he created a film slightly outside of the normal independent paradigm with its unique characters and edits. The loading the dishwasher scene is well worth an 18 rank.

19. Tokyo Sonata

This film takes the crisis the modernists so ardently portrayed and gave it hope. The story is about a Japanese family struggling between the old world traditions and the new world culture. I rarely experience tears of joy in film, but the final scene of Tokyo Sonata was a rare and beautiful coalescence.

20. Lost in Translation

What do we do with the small interactions we have with strangers that cannot be explained to anyone not present at the time? Coppola does a better job than most directors at articulating the emotions of subtle human interactions that lead to nowhere. These moments of unexplainable ecstasy and connection may best be left to the two strangers.

21. The Incredibles

Originally, Up was on my list, but The Incredibles pleases me ever so slightly more. Though heroic actions are more complex than this Pixar film shows, it is right to show that not everyone is destined for genius, but right and wrong still matter.

22. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

This film is what started Robert Downey Jr. on his way to “Entertainer of the Year.” He is the perfect choice for this clever dark comedy accompanied by Val Kilmer. It’s a hilarious film that echoes the 00s better than most films. I am still impressed by its clever quick-witted dialogue.

23. Pan’s Labyrinth

Guillermo del Toro is a fantastic mythic director. This film not only puts females at the forefront of powerful players, but also uses the coming of age story in a grotesque but beautiful way. The young actress, Ivana Baquero, excels on screen as an oppressed girl who refuses to submit to anyone and has no one to truly trust.

24. The Fantastic Mr. Fox

Having only seen this film once, I know it challenges most pastiche PG films. Following in Pixaresque adult and child humor, it is one of the most impressive cartoon films.

25. American Beauty

This film is about more than a mid-life crisis, but personifies the ideals of manhood embodied in a 40ish male. Kevin Spacey gives a great performance, but more impressively and importantly Alan Ball writes about what a past generation considers to be unspeakable, even though people think it. The film is living and pushing the mainstream out of its rut.

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