I look back on these ten years and find over 5000 movies have been released. I easily block out the trash and am left with the gold. But that's still over a hundred films that I must consider for top 10 candidacy. Soon I have it down to fifty, despite the fact that some cherished titles have been let go. Then I narrow it to twenty five, and then knock off ten. That leaves fifteen. I go with my gut feeling and select the ten that have left an indelible impression on me:
10. The Lives of Others. The tale of a spy assigned to monitor the lives of two lovers is one of the most poignant and provocative movies of all time. I knew the minute it ended I had just witnessed something that will never lose its power. It's message is profound and its story is timeless.
9. Ratatouille. Some say The Incredibles, others say Toy Story, others WALL-E, but for me, Pixar's finest creation is Ratatouille. It's one of the most entertaining and clever comedies I've seen.
8. Pan's Labyrinth. Guillermo Del Toro's classic fantasy is perhaps the most popular foreign movies of the decade with American audiences. It's also one of the best fantasy tales ever told because of how it mixes a young child's vivid imagination with a very dangerous real world. Emotionally it's powerful. Visually it's unprecedented.
7. Memento. Christopher Nolan was one of the most successful directors of the decade. Many will say The Dark Knight is his best work. But to me it's Memento, a mesmerizing psychological puzzle about a man with amnesia trying to solve a murder.
6. The Lookout. The Lookout was a late find for me, but after repeated viewings I realized that this one of the finest character-driven thrillers of the 2000s.
5. Zodiac. David Fincher's stylized story of the notorious Zodiac killer is a terrifying study of obsession and determination.
4. The Pianist. The greatest Holocaust movie of all time, 'The Pianist' is a haunting and beautiful movie from Roman Polanski.
3. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. This Homeric epic is a new classic of cinema as well as the best Western of the decade.
2. There Will Be Blood. Paul Thomas Anderson's brooding nightmare of a man's turmoil into the depths of the human corruption is already an iconic masterwork, even after just two years of its release.
1. Mystic River. There Will Be Blood may actually be the decade's best movie, but 'Mystic River' is my personal favorite. Clint Eastwood had an enormously successful 10 years, making several great films. None of them reached out to me more than Mystic River, a study of three men's psyches that are explored through an unfortunate death.
Here are some other titles that didn't make the list, but deserve being mentioned nonetheless: The Station Agent, 21 Grams, Inglorious Basterds, No Country for Old Men, The Departed, The Lord of the Rings, A History of Violence, Children of Men