The TONY top 50 movies of the decade

We count down the movies that mattered.

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  • Movies of the decade: The Mad Songs of Fernanda Hussein (2001)

  • Movies of the decade: I'm Not There (2007)

  • Movies of the decade: Femme Fatale (2002)

  • Movies of the decade: Gosford Park (2001)

  • Movies of the decade: Punch-Drunk Love (2002)

  • Movies of the decade: Domestic Violence (2001)

  • Movies of the decade: Trouble Every Day (2001)

  • Movies of the decade: Inland Empire (2006)

  • Movies of the decade: American Psycho (2000)

  • Movies of the decade: Spirited Away (2001)

Movies of the decade: The Mad Songs of Fernanda Hussein (2001)

20
THE MAD SONGS OF FERNANDA HUSSEIN (2001)

The Mad Songs of Fernanda Hussein (2001)

A milestone for American independent cinema, this deeply affecting cri de coeur against Iraq War I, from experimental writer-director John Gianvito (who'd follow up with 2007's Profit Motive and the Whispering Wind), interweaves three New Mexico–set tales. A woman with the surname Hussein is the victim of a horrible attack; a passionate high-school activist protests the war to his family's chagrin; and a shell-shocked soldier struggles to survive upon returning home from the battlefield. Gianvito clearly leans left, but his movie rises above any encumbering ideological slant, especially in an illuminating finale in which all the characters euphorically gather at a communal effigy burning.—Keith Uhlich

19
I'M NOT THERE (2007)

I'm Not There (2007)

In mining Bob Dylan's rich catalog of aliases rather than pinning him to one identity, this movie captures how the "1960s" really meant everything from Woody Guthrie's 1940s to Vietnam's 1970s—and how it was arguably the last time you could show your love for this country by trying to change it. Todd Haynes achieves the seemingly impossible: a truly great music biopic as wistfully singular as its subject.—Lisa Rosman

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18
FEMME FATALE (2002)

Femme Fatale (2002)

After double-crossing her partners in crime during a film festival heist, a jewel thief goes on the run to Paris. Her adventures unfold with a sensual dream logic that shows writer-director Brian De Palma operating at peak form. Rife with sleaze and showboating (split screens galore; a tantalizing third-act striptease), Femme Fatale is also a playful inquiry into one of the oldest noir archetypes (see the title).—Keith Uhlich

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17
GOSFORD PARK (2001)

Gosford Park (2001)

Set at an English country house, Robert Altman's last great film is both a scabrous class study and a whodunit that makes "Who am I?" a central question. Working from Julian Fellowes's consummately witty screenplay, the director revisits his fascination with hierarchies of power and rewrites the rules of the game.—Troy Patterson

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16
PUNCH-DRUNK LOVE (2002)

Punch-Drunk Love (2002)

Feted by Cannes but ignored by audiences and the Oscars, Paul Thomas Anderson's cracked ode to the transformative power of love in a world that actively mocks sensitivity is perhaps his most original work. Starring Adam Sandler as a tantrum-prone man-boy whose unlikely bond with a luminous Emily Watson gives him strength, it may be the only romance to fully skirt clich.—Karina Longworth

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15
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE (2001)

Domestic Violence (2001)

A hardy perennial across decades of top-ten lists, vrit auteur Frederick Wiseman again disproved stereotypes of his work with this heartrending look at a battered-women's shelter. Amid a resurgence of documentary filmmaking that saw numerous formulaic social-interest pictures, Wiseman achieved devastating emotional impact with his tried-and-true approach.—Nicolas Rapold

14
TROUBLE EVERY DAY (2001)

Trouble Every Day (2001)

A vampire tale soaked in unnerving silences and flesh-eating feasts, Claire Denis's inversion of the traditional horror movie creates an indelible portrait of sexual compulsion. Infused with melancholy (exuded by its gloomy score by alt-rock band Tindersticks), the film makes its STD undercurrents hauntingly romantic. Even a crazed Vincent Gallo works.—Nick Schager

13
INLAND EMPIRE (2006)

Inland Empire (2006)

David Lynch inverts the arc of his great Mulholland Drive: Instead of following an actor swallowed whole by tragedy, he follows one who blazingly overcomes it. Shot on consumer-grade camcorders over several years and through several countries, this is one of Lynch's deepest delves into the subconscious. Holding it all together is the great Laura Dern, who turns on a dime from a naive little-girl-lost to a hardened former vamp—and ultimately, a beatific savior.—Keith Uhlich

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12
AMERICAN PSYCHO (2000)

American Psycho (2000)

Made during the dot-com boom and a shrewd comment on capitalist appetites, Mary Harron's comic-horror take on the Bret Easton Ellis novel styles a serial-killing banker as the embodiment of the Gordon Gekko '80s. Star Christian Bale goes over the top and takes flight like a winged demon, delivering one of the decade's most memorable performances.—Troy Patterson

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11
SPIRITED AWAY (2001)

Spirited Away (2001)

It's easy to be impressed by vivacious animation, but Japanese master Hayao Miyazaki's timeless fantasia—about a ten-year-old girl who moves to a town inhabited by beasts and specters—also entrances with Shakespearean wit, brothers-Grimm--like folklore and more emotional complexity than most year-end prestige pictures.—Aaron Hillis

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Users say

3 comments
anonymous
anonymous

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