Decalogue: Evaluates Films From 2000 to 2009

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly versionE-mail page to friendE-mail page to friendPDF versionPDF version
No votes yet

CHICAGO – In developing Top Ten film lists every year, the “critic” tends to move on and simply forget what they said in previous annual evaluations. Patrick McDonald of looks back, with less fear than expected.

The following list is a little different from the typical film decade analysis. There will be a showcase of all number one films in each of the decade’s years, according to McDonald, and then a reassessment as to if that film still belong in that top spot. If it doesn’t, another film from that year will replace it. Hindsight rules!

So rev up the flux capacitor and pilot the DeLorean back, as Patrick McDonald studies the effects of the number one films of the last ten years.

StarThe Year 2000: ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’

Bring it On: Zhang Ziyi in ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’
Bring it On: Zhang Ziyi in ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’
Photo credit: © Sony Pictures Classic

Why it Was Picked: Director Ang Lee’s martial arts classic made quite a splash as the millennium rang in. With passion, magical realism and awesome fight sequences, it simply outshown anything that was in the film landscape that year.

Replacement? None for this year although some strong candidates whose reputations have survived the years include “O Brother, Where Art Thou” and “Dancer in the Dark.”

Forgot About This One “Timecode,” the strange, grand experiment using early high end video.

Star2001: ‘In the Bedroom’

Drive, They Said: Naomi Watts & Laura Harring in ‘Mulholland Drive’
Photo credit: © Universal Focus

Why it Was Picked: Probably because it was a late entry, and made a histrionic impact with all the high drama and familial breakdowns. Tom Wilkerson, Sissy Spacek and Marisa Tomei were all nominated, with no wins.

Replacement? In review, a very strong Top Ten including the Coen Brothers “Man Who Wasn’t There” and the weird “Sexy Beast.” But there is a willingness to replace Bedroom with David Lynch’s wild and creepy “Mulholland Drive.”

Forgot About This One Remember the Sean Penn directed, Jack Nicholson starring “The Pledge.” Yeah, me either.

Star2002: ‘Spirited Away’

That’s the Spirit: Scene from ‘Spirited Away’
That’s the Spirit: Scene from ‘Spirited Away’
Photo credit: © Studio Ghibli

Why it Was Picked: No doubt this is animator Hayao Miyazaki’s masterpiece, yet to be supplanted even though he’s been fairly busy since then (”Howl’s Moving Castle,” this year’s “Ponyo”). There is simply an epic, sweeping beauty to both the passionate animation and the story. For the kids and the kid inside, Miyazaki delivers.

Replacement? No way, but some strong candidates include the underrated films “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind” and “25th Hour.”

Forgot About This One “Heaven,” the final script of legendary director Krzysztof Kieslowski (”The Decalogue”), brought to conclusion by director Tom Tykwer and starring Cate Blanchett and Giovanni Ribisi.

Star2003: ‘School of Rock’

Thrill Bill: The Late David Carradine in ‘Kill Bill Vol. 1’
Thrill Bill: The Late David Carradine in ‘Kill Bill Vol. 1’
Photo credit: © Miramax Films

Why it Was Picked: Was swept up in the hijinks and vivacity of the human tornado Jack Black and Richard Linklater’s don’t-take-this-too-seriously direction and story line. Doesn’t hold up to multiple viewings, but probably it isn’t that type of film.

Replacement? Well, to play it better, especially since it is still enjoyable and fun to watch, “Kill Bill, Vol. 1.” But not Vol. 2, please not Vol. 2. Not many others stand out, in the year of “The Station Agent” and the sumptuously gratuitous “Swimming Pool.”

Forgot About This One Remember Disney’s “Holes”? Remember Uranus as a whole?

Star2004: ‘Fahrenheit 9/11’

Family Affair: The Superhero Clan of ‘The Incredibles’
Family Affair: The Superhero Clan of ‘The Incredibles’
Photo credit: © Walt Disney Pictures

Why it Was Picked: The excitement of seeing this film in a packed house of fellow travelers maintained itself until the end-of-the-year assessment. As a film, it is only as good as its sense of documentary, but as a flamethrower its impact cannot be denied.

Replacement? I have no problem putting “The Incredibles” to replace Michael Moore. Over the years it has always delivered. I noticed Brad Bird (creator of The Incredibles), a former producer of “The Simpsons,” made sure he had The Incredibles family in figurines around him when he was on The Simpsons 20th Anniversary Special. Take that, Matt Groening!

Forgot About This One The dishwatery remake of “The Ladykillers” starring Tom Hanks.

Star2005: ‘Match Point’

Eye4Eye: Eric Bana & Geoffrey Rush in ‘Munich’
Photo credit: © Universal Pictures

Why it Was Picked: What the hey, it was easy to get caught up in Woody Allen’s best film in years, especially as a fan. It doesn’t hold up to now, and the ghost sequence as the end seems to be a mistake. It still has a great ending line.

Replacement? So many great ones in ‘05. How about “Caché,” “Brokeback Mountain,” “Pride and Prejudice” and “Crash”? Wow. And there is no problem replacing Match Point with “Munich,” Stephen Spielberg’s subtle masterpiece.

Forgot About This One “Zathura.” Gesundheit.

Star2006: ‘Little Children’

Starz: Kate Winslet & Patrick Wilson in ‘Little Children’
Photo credit: © New Line Cinema

Why it Was Picked: There is something very American about this morality story, as in the American Dream, the American Lies and the American Nightmare, all rolled up in a neat little judgmental package. Also the acting in this was absolutely top drawer, up to and including a rarely acknowledged Patrick Wilson.

Replacement? Can’t find a better one, but nods to Altman’s last, “A Prairie Home Companion” and David Lynch’s “Inland Empire.”

Forgot About This One It lived up to its name and forgettability, “Lost City.”

Star2007: ‘The Savages’

Rebel, Rebel: Scene from ‘Persepolis’
Rebel, Rebel: Scene from ‘Persepolis’
Photo credit: © 2.4.7.Films

Why it Was Picked: As a redemption story – a particular favorite genre – there was a natural rhythm in The Savages that was instinctually portrayed by greats Philip Seymour Hoffman and Laura Linney. It was enjoyable again in multiple views, but…

Replacement? “Darjeeling Limited,” “The Host” and “My Best Friend” are worthy competitors, but in hindsight it is the animated “Persepolis” that still continues in memory.

Forgot About This One She ain’t nothing but a “Waitress” on the screen.

Star2008: ‘Lakeview Terrace’

Cop Rocker: Samuel L. Jackson in ‘Lakeview Terrace’
Cop Rocker: Samuel L. Jackson in ‘Lakeview Terrace’
Photo credit: © Overbrook Entertainment

Why it Was Picked: What would this be like in multiple viewings? Would its passionate, surprising turn of events in exploring race relations in America still as incendiary as the impending wildfire. Why can’t we just get along?

Replacement? No change, despite the weather. Though “Redbelt,” “Teeth” and “The Visitor” did rock that year.

Forgot About This One Yeesh! “Hell Ride”

Star2009: ‘(Untitled)’

Galleria: Marley Shelton in ‘(Untitled)’
Galleria: Marley Shelton in ‘(Untitled)’
Photo credit: © Samuel Goldwyn Films

Why it Was Picked: Not much else to say on this, see last week. In addition, it takes on the broad subject of art evaluation and compacts it into an accessible and philosophic narrative. Exceptional.

Replacement? Of course not, way too fresh, ask in ten years. Worthy contenders include “Where the Wild Things Are” and the just-released-on-DVD “In the Loop.”

Forgot About This One It’s hard to do in the same film year, but “Brothers” is instantly forgettable.

Read Patrick McDonald’s 2008 interviews of Neil LaBute on Lakeview Terrace and and Richard Jenkins regarding The Visitor. senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

Senior Staff Writer

© 2010 Patrick McDonald,

robert517's picture

Hey that’s a fantastic

Hey that’s a fantastic list, you have chosen the best of mine. I like most 2006: ‘LIttle Children’ in which I loved the role of Kate Winslet. She is really hot and wonderful actress.

ajnrules's picture

Great list

Kudos for the list, especially the decision to keep Spirited Away as the #1 film of 2002. I watched it a few days ago, and it was just as fresh as it was the first time I saw it seven years ago.

Garrett S.'s picture

Fahrenheit 9/11?????

Are you drunk?

Julian's picture

Horrible List

What about “The Dark Knight” for 2008

“Inglorious Basterds” for 2009

“The Prestige” for 2006

“The Wrestler” 2007

This is one of the worst lists I have read.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

User Login

Free Giveaway Mailing


  • Ms. Marvel

    CHICAGO – Patrick McDonald of appears on “The Morning Mess” with Scott Thompson, WBGR-FM (Monroe, Wisconsin), on June 23rd, 2022, reviewing the new streaming series “Ms Marvel,” a new kind of Marvel Universe superhero now streaming on Disney+.

  • YippieFest 2022

    CHICAGOYIPPIE! It’s back. Coming off two years of cancellations, the performance event YIPPIE FEST 2022 will take place from Friday, August 19th through Sunday, August 21at at the Den Theatre, 1331 North Milwaukee, Chicago. Currently, the Fest is calling for acts, with music and stand up comedy slots already filled, but any other type of performance, sketch, improv or theatre. This is your opportunity to perform, so sign up by clicking YiPPIE FEST 2022.

Advertisement on Twitter

archive Top Ten Discussions