My Top Ten Films of the Decade

Inland Empire

For those who know me it should come as no surprise that there are two David Lynch films in my top ten. Inland Empire is in some ways a very confusing film, but one that is, perhaps, not intended to make sense. However it is a film that completely absorbed me and one that was visually like a dream (in various senses of the word) and took me on an emotional journey. Lynch’s use of sound is second to none here and the direction is, as usual, formidable.


It was hard to decide between this and La Pianiste. However, Haneke’s Cache was a film that I had to re-watch immediately, not just because of its terrific ending. A great meditation on guilt, history, and racism in France from one of the greatest directors working in cinema.


One of the hardest films to watch, but one that really questions why we view films – especially in relation to the film’s most notorious scene. It is a film that is a visual overload and one where the sound design really pummels the viewer into submission (or for some, revulsion). It analyses the relationship between sex and violence, yet within these there is a sense of beauty. Not a film for everyone, but one which will always remain with me. Another film that examines similar themes (although with a more religious slant) is the admirable Martyrs.

The Proposition

Written by Nick Cave, this is a great interpretation of the western genre. Beautifully shot, great performances from all the actors, a terrific score, and an appropriate sense of dirt throughout. I never thought a western this good would come from Australia!

Requiem for a Dream

I was always looking forward to this film. Aronofsky truly impressed me with his debut Pi, and Hubert Selby Jr is probably my all time favourite author. The film really delves into the effects different types of addiction can have on people’s lives and on those around them. It definitely does not leave the viewer on high note which is in keeping with the main themes. Visually it is a real treat and the editing is almost unsurpassed. Once again, Clint Mansell provided Aronofsky with a great soundtrack.

Let The Right One In

A great take on the vampire genre, but not as good as the terrific Near Dark. What I enjoyed about this was the theme of love and how it confronts some sensibilities of childhood innocence (another film that does this, in a different way, is Gilliam’s highly underrated Tideland). The theme of androgyneity was also a nice touch. The cold, white cinematography is a joy to watch. However, the film is, in my opinion, let down by its ending. But it definitely beats the hell out of that other teenage vampire movie!

Mulholland Drive

Another labyrinthine masterpiece by Lynch, one that delves into the state of Hollywood past and present. The performances by Harring and Watts are beautiful to watch and the film contains a darkly comic sensibility. Sexy, dark, confusing, and mysterious.


The apparently non-linear film that is actually linear! A wonderfully constructed piece of neo-noir cinema with fine performances from all involved. It is a film that will leave some questioning until the conclusion and is one that encourages the audience to understand Guy Pearce’s characters condition. Nolan’s direction is precise throughout and the film never fails to engage all that I show it to.

Sweet Sixteen

Why this film has an 18 certificate I will never understand. This film sums up what it means to be a teenager not only in Scotland, but throughout Britain, and should therefore be watched by teenagers! It is a touching story of hurt, love, and loss. Compston delivers a terrific performance as Liam and in typical fashion Loach reveals what it is wrong (and right) with modern day British society.

The Lives of Others

A subtle, brooding, and moving commentary on life under the Stasi. The narrative is excellent (with a convincing twist) and it does provide a real insight into recent German history. The cold performance by Muhe is fantastic and the film creates a true sense of paranoia and its effects. A terrific political drama.

What films would make your top ten of the last decade?


19 thoughts on “My Top Ten Films of the Decade

  1. excellent choices!
    Hidden really was fab – loved it! I haven’t seen Inland Empire.
    Memento was also a superb film, really love Guy Pearce. Sweet Sixteen and Mullholand Drive also excellent choices.

    Here are my top three, slightly more blockbuster material mind you:
    American Beauty
    Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon
    Bourne Ultimatum

    Happy New Year!

  2. Cheers Krysia. Wasn’t American Beauty 1999 though? If you like Guy Pearce, I think that you would enjoy The Proposition if you haven’t already seen it – a cracking take on the western genre written by Nick Cave.

    Happy new year to you too!

  3. Andy,
    Interesting choices. I must confess I haven’t heard of half of these but I will look out for them now that I know you rate them. The only one I share with you in my top ten is The Lives of Others which I thought was quite subtle and poignant. I’ll post my own top ten over on my blog – thanks for the inspiration.


  4. Thanks for the comments Armin and Bill.

    Armin – I haven’t seen American Cousins but will try to check it out. There have been so many good films this decade, you should try to watch some of them.

    Bill – look forward to reading your top ten. If you are to check out some of the films that you haven’t seen from that list, you might want to approach Irreversible with a lot of caution. it’s definitely not a film for everyone and is an extremely uncomfortable watch at times. However I found it to be a wonderful piece of challenging cinema and its images have remained with me. Like I say, not a film for everyone, and not one that can take repeated viewings – yes it’s that intense.


  5. It’s a toughie – and I haven’t seen Let The Right One In, which so many people have recommended to me…

    but in no order,

    Morir en San Hilario
    Talk to Her
    Man on Wire
    Kill Bill (it’s ONE film!)
    Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
    Lost in Translation
    Black Sun
    La Sombra Del Caminante (The Wandering Shadows)

    Reading this I really do need to learn Spanish. Perhaps @markpentleton can help! Claire

    PS – WordPress thinks my BBC email address is ‘invalid’!

    • Hi Claire

      Some excellent choices there, many of which I use in my teaching too (Amelie, Man on wire, Wall-E, and Eternal Sunshine). Had forgotten about Lost in Translation – such a beautiful film with a great score by Kevin Shields. Regarding Kill Bill, unlike a lot of people I actually prefer Part II; for me it has more subtelty to it, which isn’t really hard considering Part I is so in your face!!

      Many thanks for your response


      • I preferred Part II as well – but thought the two worked perfectly together; it’s Tarantino’s masterpiece for me. Saw Inglourious Basterds the other night and was really disappointed.

  6. Andy,
    Great list, and very interesting, not to say provocative. Did you set yourself any parameters in making the list? For example, no major studios, only independents, only certain budget? Or was it anything goes?
    One film I’d include would be ‘No Country for Old Men’ – I think it’s a great interpretation of a great novel, but also a great film. And both novel and film are very raw and honest portrayals of the causes, effexts and end of the American Empire.
    One I’d drop is Let The Right One In. A good (but no more) film spoiled by a silly ending. In my opinion!

    • Hi Gordon

      The list was in terms of anything goes really, those films that have remained with me for various reasons.

      I too really enjoyed ‘No Country for Old Men’, but it lacked something for me – I’m still not too sure what that something is. Maybe I’ll find out on a second viewing. Yes, the ending of LTROI was a complete letdown, however the film was beautifully constructed with a nice take on the vampire genre – although I do think that they could have done more with the theme of androgyneity.

      Will add some thoughts about each film in due course.

      Thanks for the comment Gordon and would love to know what your top ten films are!



      • Loved No Country For Old Men – was one of those books that you read in a xouple of hours straight. The film was very good although didn’t match up to McCarthys tight and very immediate prose. McCarthy for me, manages to get the image just right however the film felt somewhat distant.
        It will be interesting to see how The Road pans out.

        PS for the record swapped American Beauty for Donnie Darco

  7. I’d echo Claire on
    -Lost in Translation
    -Eternal Sunshine (one of my favourite movies ever)
    I’d add
    -The Motorcycle Diaries
    -Pans Labyrinth
    -Monsters Inc (sorry!)
    -Little Miss Sunshine
    -Donnie Darko
    -City of God
    -Hotel Rwanda
    -In Bruges (a film with Brendan Gleeson AND Raglan Road can’t be bad)
    I am sure there are more, but it’s late and my head is already sleeping

    • Thanks for including your topten Kenny – a cracking list, each of those films is perfect in their own way. I only picked up In Bruges last week – what a delightful and hilarious black comedy – a film that can put midgets, hookers, drugs and hitmen in the same room arguing about racism and make it seem entirely logical is is definitely a good un!


    • Hi Christian

      Many thanks for your comment and it’s great to see your list. I can’t believe I had forgotten about Oldboy, such a great film as is Wong Kar-Wai’s In the Mood For Love. I still haven’t seen There Will Be Blood – seems to have topped so many people’s lists.

      I came across your blog the other day, whilst searching for opinions about Man On Wire – nice blog and will add it to my blogroll

      Thanks again,


  8. I still haven’t watched Inland Empire, but I have a feeling it could qualify. Let the Right one in is a very good movie.

    Man on Wire is also brilliant.

  9. Sorry, real late reply.. finally got around to updating my blog.. thanks for the comment, I will add yours to my roll as well. Take care 🙂

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