The countdown continues! For 100-76, click here.
75) Match Point (Woody Allen, 2005): This highly plotted, thoroughly British morality play is the film that reminded everyone that Woody Allen’s best filmmaking days might not be behind him after all.
74) The Others (Alejandro Amenabar, 2001): For my dime, one of the scariest movies of the decade. Great Henry James-ish mood and a dynamo performance from Nicole Kidman.
73) Wendy and Lucy (Kelly Reichardt, 2008): Michelle Williams delivers one of the decade’s best, most under-appreciated performances in a tragic film that makes a little story go a very long way.
72) A Serious Man (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2009): A striking, complicated, “you’ll be thinking about this for a while” film about God, suffering, and having faith like Job. The Coens’ second best film of the decade.
71) Half Nelson (Ryan Fleck, 2006): Ryan Gosling delivers a surprising performance in this tiny little indie that manages to wrestle with big ideas (Hegel! dialectics!) even while it plays out on an intimate interpersonal stage.
70) The Proposition (John Hillcoat, 2005): Before he directed The Road, John Hillcoat made this moody, visceral, violent Australian western. Featuring an intense score by Nick Cave and great acting by the likes of Guy Pearce and Danny Huston.
69) Amores Perros (Alejandro González Iñárritu, 2000): Translation: “Love’s a bitch.” And that’s surely the takeaway from this dour film. But the execution is nothing short of cinematic genius.
68) Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino, 2009): As audacious as ever for Tarantino, with some of the tensest and most well-developed scenes he’s ever concocted.
67) Inland Empire (David Lynch, 2006): This all-digital, hallucinatory epic (it looks like a home video from hell) is a three-hour montage of nightmarish postmodern images and rabbit trails—an assemblage of 21st century anxiety and scatterbrained vignettes of the most mind-bending sort.
66) Donnie Darko (Richard Kelly, 2001): Richard Kelly’s auspicious sci-fi debut film has proven to be one of the decade’s major cult classics.
65) Finding Neverland (Marc Forster, 2004): As tear-jerkers go, this was one of the decade’s most palatable. A great story-behind-the-story with winning performances from Johnny Depp, Kate Winslet, and Freddie Highmore.
64) The Class (Laurent Cantet, 2008): This fascinating slice-of-life look inside a complicated social ecosystem (the classroom of a Paris working class public school) is as real as a non-documentary gets.
63) Grizzly Man (Werner Herzog, 2005): Was there a stranger, more compelling documentary character this decade than Timothy Treadwell, as portrayed through the fascinating lens of Werner Herzog? I don’t think so.
62) Personal Velocity (Rebecca Miller, 2002): The first and best film from Rebecca Miller (daughter or playwright Arthur Miller and wife to Daniel Day-Lewis) is an eloquent and subtle look inside the everyday struggles of three women.
61) Rachel Getting Married (Jonathan Demme, 2008): One of the best wedding movies ever made, with standout performances from Anne Hathaway, Debra Winger and Rosemarie DeWitt.
60) City of God (Fernando Meirelles, Katia Lund 2003): This harrowing look inside the urban nightmare of Rio de Janeiro’s slums is less flashy and yet more powerful than its Oscar-winning counterpart Slumdog Millionaire.
59) Collateral (Michael Mann, 2004): No film this decade has captured nighttime L.A. better than this thrilling look inside the criminal underworld of the City of Angels.
58) Yi Yi (Edward Yang, 2000): This sprawling family drama from the late Taiwanese director Edward Yang is a masterpiece of wonder in the mundane rhythms of life–a sort of Tokyo Story for Taipei.
57) Gladiator (Ridley Scott, 2000): This Oscar-winning film single-handedly revived the sword-and-sandal epic. Despite how it has been coopted by youth pastors and the like, Gladiator remains a stirring, well-acted adventure.
56) Me, You, and Everyone We Know (Miranda July, 2005): This quirky little film from artist Miranda July is all about the odd mutations of human communication and connection in a digital age. What happens when our computer-mediated relationships turn out to be less than appealing in the real world?
55) Best in Show (Christopher Guest, 2000): Most definitely one of the best flat-out comedies of the decade, this mockumentary features a superb and hilarious cast that includes Jane Lynch, Jennifer Coolidge, Parker Posey and Fred Willard.
54) Kill Bill Vol 2 (Quentin Tarantino, 2004): Most Tarantino films are about 80% ludicrous, violent pop art and 20% insightful and humane. In this film, the breakdown is more like 50/50. It’s a surprisingly affective piece of kitsch.
53) Munyurangabo (Lee Isaac Chung, 2009): Set in Rwanda, this is a film about the effects of genocide, tragedy, and war… but also about friendship and renewal and the life-giving purity of nature. It’s tender, mysterious, quiet, and one of the best films about Africa I’ve ever seen.
52) Flags of Our Fathers (Clint Eastwood, 2006): The first of a pair of films about WWII’s Battle for Iwo Jima, Flags of Our Fathers is a sobering look at the horrors of war, propaganda, and racism. Features a memorable, heartbreaking performance by Adam Beach as Ira Hayes.
51) Zodiac (David Fincher, 2007): There’s something deeply unsettling about this true-story film, creepily told with polished digital elegance by David Fincher. Great performances, striking visuals, and a mood that will make your skin crawl.