Here are my personal picks for the best films of the last decade; one film per director, documentaries excluded:
30. Jimmy Zip
A street kid is forced to hide out in a junkyard, and turns his damaged surroundings (both literally and figuratively) into a career as a junk artist, completing the living metaphor. This slab of wigger poetry sneaks into the list as the dark horse of the group.
29. Werckmeister Harmonies
A traveling carnival pays a visit to a small Hungarian town, and their main attraction is a dead whale, and this big fish tears the town apart somehow. It's probably a metaphor for something, or maybe an obtuse Sea World parody.
28. Wonder Boys
Michael Douglas in his best ever role as an english professor juggling a nonstop parade of problems over the course of a couple days. It's a drama about writing and writers that is consistently funny without betraying its characters and life lessons. Speaking of which, maybe these people would be more balanced and stable if they gave up drama altogether and got into comedy. Just a thought.
27. The Happiness of the Katakuris
A family runs a bed and breakfast where every customer ends up dying somehow, and they overcome these little tragedies through absurd musical stagings and a general sense of family togetherness. For instance, mom and dad rekindle their romance by staging a karaoke musical sequence. I guess that's how all young Japanese people fall in love, so maybe it's not so absurd after all that a couple would rekindle their romance through a karaoke machine.
26. Looking For Comedy in the Muslim World
A perfectly timely comedy that handles important issues (religious retards blowing stuff up) without resorting to hamfistedness, while finding genuine humor in our differences; broaching a common humanity. However, I doubt we'll ever see eye to eye on the whole "chicks wearing burkas" thing. That shit ain't gonna fly on Venice beach.
An unconsummated love affair is explored through song, and a series of mundane events becomes infused with emotion and meaning. I'm looking forward to the sequel, "Twice", where they boink for 90 minutes.
24. Pistol Opera
Untethered Suzuki is where its at, and here he reworks Branded to Kill as a pop kabuki stage show...or something. Who knew a movie about people trying to kill each other could be so nonsensically awesome.
23. Let the Right One In
An unlikely pair of outcasts join forces; a boy who is forced to acquiesce to violence (bullies use him to vent their frustrations about having small penises), and a girl who is forced into violent acts in order to survive (being that she's one of those vampire chicks). Against all odds, they ultimately find tenderness and strength in their relationship, like the lyrics to a Phil Collins power ballad.
Amelie is painfully shy (pointing to a potential host of self esteem related issues), and plays any number of elaborate ruses to run from this reservoir of horror. Also...it's cute! And it's French!
(dir-Lars Von Trier)
While usually a hackneyed device, John Hurt's voice-over narration here is the greatest in film history, guiding the viewer through a literary world while subtly providing searing ironic comment along the way. Von Trier also spices things up with one of the better rape scenes in his cannon.
20. Mulholland Drive
Inching out Inland Empire, although they could be considered two sides of the same coin, Mulholland Drive shows us what happens when a Hollywood dream (i.e. becoming a movie star) butts up against Hollywood reality (i.e. I live in a shitty studio apartment, and the streets are filled with hookers and drug dealers).
19. The Rules of Attraction
Takes a realistic base (spoiled assholes in college) and layers on a well executed avalanche of bold style. Imagine Godard filming the J Crew catalog, and achieving greatness against all odds, like a Phil Coll...er, I used that line already. Sorry.
18. Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter...and Spring Again
The greatest Buddhist-sploitation movie ever made, this Korean masterpiece shows us round-eyes how the whole Zen deal really works.
Maybe the best film ever made about the creative process of writing, pushing meta-analysis into slapstick territory. Charlie Kaufman does it again, fulfilling the old adage of "writing what you know" and, in this case, it's "knowing about writing".
16. Inglourious Basterds
For its minor flaws, Quentin does here what he partially failed with Kill Bill; that is, construct a cinema of set pieces that still retains a literary narrative. Christoph Waltz gives the greatest performance in Nazi-sploitation history, easily besting Liam Neeson as Oskar Schindler and Dyanne Thorne as Ilsa, she wolf of the SS.