The TONY top 50 movies of the decade

We count down the movies that mattered.



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  • Movies of the decade: Click to the next image to see our top 50 movies of the decade

  • Movies of the decade: The 40 Year-Old Virgin (2005)

  • Movies of the decade: Man Push Cart (2005)

  • Movies of the decade: Donnie Darko (2001)

  • Movies of the decade: 25th Hour (2002)

  • Movies of the decade: Turning Gate (2002)

  • Movies of the decade: Talk to Her (2002)

  • Movies of the decade: Syndromes and a Century (2006)

  • Movies of the decade: Silent Light (2007)

  • Movies of the decade: Head-On (2004)

  • Movies of the decade: Grizzly Man (2005)

Movies of the decade: Click to the next image to see our top 50 movies of the decade

Who knows what to call them: the Aughts, the Naughts, the "Double-Os." Actually, we prefer the Uh-Ohs, given the movies these ten years have produced. Looking back, we found mastery and mirth—but mainly a lot of pain. This makes perfect sense. Cinema reflects the age it's made in. We asked 14 of our contributors to provide a ranked ballot of their ten favorites. After tabulating the results (and engaging in some decidedly unscientific back-and-forth), Team Film arrived at a vivid picture of a troubled time. Did we miss anything? Let us know. You can click on any writer's byline to see their personal list.

Participants: David Fear, Joshua Rothkopf, Keith Uhlich, Stephen Garrett, Andrew Grant, Aaron Hillis, Kevin B. Lee, Karina Longworth, Maitland McDonagh, Troy Patterson, Nicolas Rapold, Lisa Rosman, Nick Schager, S. James Snyder.


The 40 Year-Old Virgin (2005)

Heartwarming raunch? The Farrelly brothers scored big in the 1990s with sweet-and-shallow larks but Judd Apatow spent the next decade making the formula downright deep. Virgin is his masterpiece: a hilarious rendering of bromantic insecurity surrounding one decent man's search for someone to fuck. Or even love.—Stephen Garrett

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Man Push Cart (2005)

For director Ramin Bahrani, magic comes in neorealist mosaics that hover inches from the hopes and hurts of his characters. His breakthrough film was a stripped-down, steadfast study of an NYC food-cart operator, slogging through Manhattan's canyons at dawn. A celebration of the daily routine of perseverance, it's a movie fascinated with the little guy.—S. James Snyder

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Donnie Darko (2001)

Disaffected suburban teen Donnie gets dire warnings about the future from a guy in a tatty rabbit suit: Is he losing his mind or is he the sole fixed point in a world whose center will not hold? The more often you revisit it, the better Richard Kelly's sly debut looks, and a 2004 director's cut takes the WTF trippiness to a whole other level.—Maitland McDonagh

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25TH HOUR (2002)

25th Hour (2002)

Two shafts of light pierce the sky above Ground Zero, lending a weighty sense of fatalism to this portrait of a convicted criminal's final night of freedom. It's the first and best of the 9/11-related movies, teeming with a bruised urbanity supplied by Spike Lee, who quietly topped himself.—Joshua Rothkopf

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Turning Gate (2002)

Though adored by critics, Hong-sang Soo's brutally honest exposs of masculine ego have yet to find commercial success. This 2002 drama about the romantic foibles of a washed-up actor is the Korean director's strongest and most erotic film to date. That it's never had a proper U.S. release is ridiculous—it made believers out of all who saw it.—Andrew Grant

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TALK TO HER (2002)

Talk to Her (2002)

Pedro Almodvar's brilliantly eccentric girlfriend-in-a-coma melodrama combines a female matador, silent-film dream sequences and an exquisite depth of insight into the male psyche (rare for this feminist auteur). In a decade of comparatively conventional efforts, it's easily the director's most challenging achievement.—Stephen Garrett

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Syndromes and a Century

Syndromes and a Century (2006)

Thai filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul turns the memories of his doctor parents into a narrative seed, planting it in both a jungle and a city hospital to see what will grow from each. Few recent films seem as driven by pure, organic intuition—and are as consistently sublime.—Kevin B. Lee

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Silent Light (2007)

Carlos Reygadas's visual masterpiece is the antithesis of what fellow Mexican filmmakers like Alejandro Gonzlez Irritu (Babel) have elevated into a cloying brand: sprawling meta-meditations on globally interconnected anxiety. More interested in mood and texture than didactic lecture, this Mennonite riff on Carl Dreyer's Ordet spins a crisis of faith and fidelity into an unforgettable, nearly psychedelic experience.—Karina Longworth

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HEAD-ON (2004)

Head-On (2004)

German filmmaker Fatih Akin's fatalistic tale of two beautiful losers who enter into a marriage of convenience is the best chronicle of a punk-rock romance since Sid met Nancy. It's also a wonderful ode to the modern Teutonic-Turkish diaspora experience, adding sociological depth to what's already a supernova melodrama.—David Fear

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Grizzly Man (2005)

Fearless auteur Werner Herzog wouldn't be content with a mere character portrait of eccentric environmentalist Timothy Treadwell, who cohabitated with grizzly bears before being eaten by one. Deepening the possibilities of documentary, Herzog inserts himself into the chronicle, canonizes Treadwell's accidentally poetic nature films and disagrees with his subject's invasion of nature.—Aaron Hillis

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  1. 50–41
  2. 40–31
  3. 30–21
  4. 20–11
  5. 10–1
  6. Ballots

Users say


Bruno Dumont's "29 Palms" in which a candy-apple red Hummer, an aimless and violently copulating couple, and the barren desert of Palm Springs, California acts as the searing, nightmarish allegory of George Bush's utterly mind, body and soul-dead America, circa 2004. My choice over MD and TWBB.

Shobhit Bhatnagar
Shobhit Bhatnagar

the movies which must be in list city of god, The Dark Knight, Lords of the ring , Departed, No Country for an old man the movie which must not be in list is AI Artificial Intelligence i love Steven Spielberg but it (AI) Is a weired and boring kind of Science fiction movie how ever in the beginning movie is good but after that movie is getting bore and pleasure less