The TONY top 50 movies of the decade

We count down the movies that mattered.



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  • Movies of the decade: Children of Men (2006)

  • Movies of the decade: Songs from the Second Floor (2000)

  • Movies of the decade: Before Sunset (2004)

  • Movies of the decade: Oldboy (2003)

  • Movies of the decade: Kings and Queen (2004)

  • Movies of the decade: Inglourious Basterds (2009)

  • Movies of the decade: I Heart Huckabees (2004)

  • Movies of the decade: The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (2005)

  • Movies of the decade: Synecdoche, New York (2008)

  • Movies of the decade: Brokeback Mountain (2005)

Movies of the decade: Children of Men (2006)


Children of Men (2006)

A stunner of immersive storytelling, Alfonso Cuarn's apocalyptic thriller plays out almost in real time, propelled by hypnotic long takes. In a future world where infertility has made the masses hopeless and the ruling class has exploited fear to divide and conquer, a band of British fugitives rally around the first baby in 18 years, breaking police barricades to reassert the very best of humanity.—S. James Snyder

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Songs from the Second Floor (2000)

Buster Keaton and Ingmar Bergman haunt Roy Andersson's comic dystopia, a series of absurdist vignettes set in an out-of-time Scandinavian civilization and shot completely on soundstages. Stiflingly artificial and yet thrillingly alive, the movie's stone-faced look at the human condition lurches from bellyaching laughter to stomach-churning despair—perfect for a decade of global unease.—Stephen Garrett

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Before Sunset (2004)

Nine years after their brief encounter, we return to Before Sunrise's Europass romantics—and how heartbreakingly fragile they seem. Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy turn in career-high work in this golden-hour Richard Linklater drama, the ultimate argument for sequels done right.—Joshua Rothkopf

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OLDBOY (2003)

Oldboy (2003)

Park Chan-wook's deliriously divisive fable is an escalating series of outrages, perpetrated against (and by) a hapless salaryman-turned-avenger whose quest is as romantic as it is perversely unforgettable. Park's beyond-the-pale sensibilities triggered the usual pop-culture alarms: Did Oldboy empower the Virginia Tech killer? How could Steven Spielberg and Will Smith have considered doing a U.S. remake? Now take a deep breath and step back: The movie that sparks such discomfiting thoughts is the movie you need to see.—Maitland McDonagh

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Kings and Queen (2004)

A kaleidoscopic reinvention of the domestic drama, Arnaud Desplechin's triumph takes a single mom, her bitter, ailing father and an unhinged ex-lover stuck in a mental hospital (the revelatory Mathieu Amalric) and weaves seriocomic gold. Woody Allen should have taken notes.—Joshua Rothkopf

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Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Making good on the promise of his pulp-transcending genius, Quentin Tarantino's WWII revenge fantasy delivers a sublime assault on the senses of sight, sound and morality, audacious at every step. To invoke a closing line that can't get invoked enough, his New Wave spaghetti Western "just might be his masterpiece."—Troy Patterson

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I Heart Huckabees (2004)

Combining French farce, psychedelia and Mark Wahlberg as a fireman on a dirt bike, David O. Russell covers every stage of the spiritually thirsty American's quest to tolerate mundanity without surrendering to it. This existentialist comedy, featuring Jason Schwartzman as a too-earnest environmentalist, proved downright anthemic in oddbot times, tossing about hard questions like a metaphysical pizza.—Lisa Rosman

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The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (2005)

The first volley of the decade's much-lauded revolution in Romanian cinema chronicles a pudgy retiree's fatal one-night journey through Bucharest's overburdened hospitals. Tinged with post–Soviet Bloc sarcasm but subtler than an anticommunist screed, Cristi Puiu's riveting drama features a protagonist who is unconscious half the time—an astonishing feat of orchestration and focus.—Nicolas Rapold

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Synecdoche, New York

Synecdoche, New York (2008)

Already one of the decade's most iconoclastic screenwriters, Charlie Kaufman upped the stakes with his directorial debut, a morose but playful psychological puzzle about the life of a tortured playwright (Philip Seymour Hoffman) that literally reconstructs reality as it grapples with issues of love, death and creation. A perfect snapshot of a midlife crisis, circa this very moment.—Andrew Grant

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Brokeback Mountain (2005)

Ang Lee's epic tale of a love affair between two male ranchers with big sky in their eyes was glibly labeled "the gay cowboy movie." But beneath its sweeping vistas and breathless melodrama, the film brilliantly calls the bluff of the Western, that most American of film traditions, in order to excavate the universal loneliness and longing at the core of this country's bluster.—Lisa Rosman

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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