...and because my best-of-the-decade list of 70 slighted (inevitably, I insist) at least two dozen other worthy works, if not more, I hereby consider my readers' suggestions, and my own memory lapses, and give you thirty more outstanding motion pictures of the last decade.
Many of you might have intuited that, secreted somewhere within this list and the last, is my 10 best of 2009. You would be correct, but I will be posting that separately anyway.
Adventureland (Greg Mottola, 2009) Finally, an American coming-of-age comedy that wasn't rote, smug, or evasive but rather finely detailed and artful. Reviewed here.
All The Real Girls (David Gordon Green, 2003) I've come to love this film for many reasons, not the least of which being that it appears to have scared the living shit out of Anthony Lane.
The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford (Andrew Dominik, 2007) A visionary immersion.
Autofocus (Paul Schrader, 2002) A beautifully detached perspective on deeply repellent behavior indulged by desperate characters who can never quite understand how emotionally underdeveloped they are. Funsy!
Children of Men (Alfonso Caurón, 2006) A convincingly imagined dystopia and filmmaking that's both staggeringly virtuosic and emotionally involving. All this and early King Crimson on the soundtrack.
The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan, 2008) For its scale, its action, its convincing grafting of a noir (rather than a pop-surreal) sensibility onto a superhero picture. Best experienced in IMAX, I have to say.
The Death of Mr. Lazerescu (Critsti Puiu, 2005) My favorite of the new Romanian films, mordant and hilarious and then more mordant.
The Descent (Neil Marshall, 2005) Pretty much a perfectly calibrated scare-a-thon, something not to be deplored in this day and age.
Flags Of Our Fathers (Clint Eastwood, 2006) My preferred film in Eastwood's ambitious World War II diptych.
Flight of the Red Balloon (Hou Hsiao-Hsien, 2007) Boy, were my expectations low for this. As a result, the film's lyrical brilliance, coming in from an entirely unexpected angle, blew me away.
George Washington (David Gordon Green, 2000, pictured) Just beautiful. And troubling, and heartbreaking. But mostly beautiful—visionary widescreen imagery right outta the box, very impressive.
Gomorra (Matteo Garrone, 2008) This ultimate deglamorization of Mob rule gets stronger with every viewing.
Inland Empire (David Lynch, 2006) No, it doesn't hold together in quite the same way as Mulholland does, but it's incredibly vivid and disquieting and—there's no other way of putting this—fucked up. Maybe his most despair-filled picture since Eraserhead.
Kill Bill 1 &2 (Quentin Tarantino, 2003/2004) Cheating, I know. Won't be the last time.
Lord of the Rings Trilogy (Peter Jackson, 2001, 2002, 2003) See, told ya. Truth to tell, it took me a bit to warm up to this. I think at the time of the first one's release, I cracked that it looked like a Powerpoint presentation of Led Zeppelin album covers. But it built in momentum and emotional impact and sheer epic storytelling/presentation. A real achievement.
Master and Commander: The Far Side Of The World (Peter Weir, 2003) Virtuoso cinematic classicism.
Memento (Christopher Nolan, 2000) As fevered as it is convoluted.
Munich (Steven Spielberg, 2005) Not an exercise in moral equivalency or relativism, but a sober exploration of what killing does to a good man. Rather like a deep Anthony Mann Western in that respect... Reviewed here.
Pan’s Labyrinth (Guillermo del Toro, 2006) My favorite dis of this film from the late-coming nay-sayers was that it was unfair to fascists.
Paranoid Park (Gus van Sant, 2007) As taken as I was with the more putatively socially-conscious Elephant, I loved this enigmatic film more. Early review here.
Punch Drunk Love (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2002) Yes, this strange picture is more than an eccentricity, it's a full-fledged...something great. Reviewed here.
Ratatouille (Brad Bird, 2007) Reviewed here.
Shaun of the Dead (Edgar Wright, 2007) Or Hot Fuzz. Or Shaun. Or Hot Fuzz Or...
Spider (David Cronenberg, 2002) Literary language distilled into cinematic language with devastating, unique results.
Shotgun Stories (Jeff Nichols, 2007) A simple, moving tale, beautifully acted, and proof that the regional indie isn't quite dead.
Sweeney Todd (Tim Burton, 2007) A very grand guignol. Nice tunes, too,
Traffic (Steven Soderbergh, 2000) A tour-de-force of narrative-juggling.
24 Hour Party People (Michael Winterbottom, 2002) A very witty slice of pop culture history and pop culture criticism. Also, its New York premiere party was the site of my first sort-of date with my future Lovely WIfe.
2046 (Wong Kar-Wai) Less dazzlingly tragic than In The Mood For Love, but even more visually beautiful, and full of its own unique intrigue. Reviewed here.
Werckmeister Harmonies (Bela Tarr, 2000) Tarr keeping it real. Real slow. Which is how I like it. Also: cosmic, beautiful, funny.
I know, I know...Black Book, Control, Rescue Dawn, Persepolis; so many more could legitimately make a "best of the decade" list, which means we had a pretty good decade. Movies today aren't crap, after all!!!