Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Best Films of the Decade: 2003-12

Compiling a best of the decade list using only top 10 film lists from 2003-12 resulted in omissions from many of the best directors in the world. That meant no films from Claire Denis, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Pedro Costa, Béla Tarr, Manoel de Oliveira, Wang Bing, Terrence Malick, Hou Hsiao-hsien, Jia Zhangke & Nuri Bilge Ceylan. In most cases, it took me a few years to catch up with the forenamed auteur’s work thereby making the film ineligible from an end of the year list. On a few occasions, worthy films narrowly missed out on the top 10. For example, Syndromes and a Century placed #12 in 2008, Uncle Boonmee.. was #15 in 2010 and The Turin Horse grabbed #18 in 2011.

In order to come up with a more complete best of the decade list, I put together a collection of stellar films that I caught a few years after the film’s release. Also, I included some films that were initially cut from my top 10 but placed in an end of the year list. The final tally of this collection ended up being a staggering 181 titles. These 181 titles combined with the original 100 more accurately reflects some of the best films of 2003-2012.

List 1 (reproduced here): 100 films from 2003-2012 top 10 lists

List 2 (in alphabetical order below): 181 films that were delayed viewing or narrowly missed out on the top 10.

12 (2008, Russia, Nikita Mikhalkov)
12:08 East of Bucharest (2006, Romania, Corneliu Porumboiu)
15 Park Avenue (2005, India, Aparna Sen)
2046 (2004, Hong Kong co-production, Wong Kar-wai)
35 Shots of Rum (2008, France, Claire Denis)
4 Months 3 Weeks 2 days (2007, Romania, Cristian Mungiu)
5x2 (2004, France, François Ozon)
A Town Called Panic (2009, Belgium co-production, Stéphane Aubier/Vincent Patar)
A Useful Life (2010, Uruguay, Federico Veiroj)
After this our exile (2006, Hong Kong, Patrick Tam)
Agrarian Utopia (2009, Thailand, Uruphong Raksasad)
Alamar (2009, Mexico, Pedro González-Rubio)
Alexandra (2007, Russia/France, Aleksandr Sokurov)
Apocalypto (2006, USA, Mel Gibson)
Applause (2009, Denmark, Martin Zandvliet)
Attenberg (2010, Greece, Athina Rachel Tsangari)
Avenida Brasilia Formosa (2009, Brazil, Gabriel Mascaro)
Away from Her (2006, Canada, Sarah Polley)
Baixio das Bestas (2007, Brazil, Cláudio Assis)
Ballast (2008, USA, Lance Hammer)
Before I Forget (2007, France, Jacques Nolot)
Between Two Worlds (2009, Sri Lanka, Vimukthi Jayasundara)
Black Butterfly (2006, Peru, Francisco J. Lombardi)
Blind Shaft (2003, China co-production, Yang Li)
Blockade (2006, Russia, Sergey Loznitsa)
Broken Flowers (2005, USA, Jim Jarmusch)
Bug (2006, USA, William Friedkin)
Café Lumière (2003, Japan/Taiwan, Hou Hsiao-heien)
California Dreaming (2007, Romania, Cristian Nemescu)
Carcasses (2009, Canada, Denis Côté)
Certified Copy (2010, France/Iran/Italy, Abbas Kiarostami)
Children (2006, Iceland, Ragnar Bragason)
Chronicles of an Escape (2006, Argentina, Adrián Caetano)
Citizen Havel (2008, Czech Republic, Miroslav Janek/Pavel Koutecký)
Climates (2006, Turkey, Nuri Bilge Ceylan)
Closer (2004, USA/UK, Mike Nichols)
Colossal Youth (2006, Portugal, Pedro Costa)
Continental: A film without guns (2008, Canada, Stéphane Lafleur)
Crane World (2003, Argentina, Pablo Trapero)
Crime and Punishment (2007, China, Zhao Liang)
Crimson Gold (2003, Iran, Jafar Panahi, Writer -- Abbas Kiarostami)
Curling (2010, Canada, Denis Côté)
De Muze (2006, Holland, Ben van Lieshout)
Delta (2008, Hungary, Kornél Mundruczó)
Departures (2008, Japan, Yôjirô Takita)
Dirty Carnival (2006, South Korea, Ha Yu)
Dogtooth (2009, Greece, Giorgos Lanthimos)
Dogville (2003, Denmark co-production, Lars von Trier)
Duck Season (2004, Mexico, Fernando Eimbcke)
Election (2005, Hong Kong, Johnnie To)
Elephant (2003, USA, Gus Van Sant)
Enter the Void (2009, France co-production, Gaspar Noé)
Euphoria (2006, Russia, Ivan Vyrypaev)
Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010, USA/UK, Banksy)
Good Bye Dragon Inn (2003, Taiwan, Tsai Ming-liang)
Happy New Life (2007, Hungary, Árpád Bogdán)
Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi (2003, India, Sudhir Mishra)
Helvetica (2007, UK, Gary Hustwit)
Hunger (2008, UK, Steve McQueen)
I Wish I Knew (2010, China, Jia ZhangKe)
Import Export (2007, Austria/France, Ulrich Seidl)
In Memory of Myself (2007, Italy, Saverio Costanzo)
Independencia (2009, Philippines, Raya Martin)
Inland Empire (2006, USA co-production, David Lynch)
In the Pit (2006, Mexico, Juan Carlos Rulfo)
Invisible Waves (2006, Thailand, Pen-Ek Ratanaruang)
Iraq in Fragments (2006, USA, James Longley)
It’s Winter (2006, Iran, Rafi Pitts)
I’m Not Scared (2003, Italy co-production, Gabriele Salvatores)
Japanese Story (2003, Australia, Sue Brooks)
Julia (2009, France/USA/Mexico/Belgium, Erick Zonca)
Khadak (2006, Belgium/Germany, Peter Brosens & Jessica Hope Woodworth)
Khamosh Pani (2003, Pakistan co-production, Sabiha Sumar)
Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003, USA, Quentin Tarantino)
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005, USA, Shane Black)
La France (2007, France, Serge Bozon)
Last Life in the Universe (2003, Thailand/Japan, Pen-Ek Ratanaruang)
Let Each One go Where He May (2009, USA/Suriname, Ben Russell)
Like you know it All (2009, South Korea, Hong Sang-Soo)
Lion's Den (2008, Argentina co-production, Pablo Trapero)
Look At Me (2004, France/Italy, Agnès Jaoui)
Los Angeles Plays itself (2003, USA, Thom Andersen)
Los Muertos (2004, Argentina, Lisandro Alonso)
Lourdes (2009, Austria/France/Germany, Jessica Hausner)
Love Exposure (2008, Japan, Shion Sono)
L’Appolinde (2011, France, Bertrand Bonello)
L’Enfer (2005, France co-production, Danis Tanovic)
L’Intrus (2004, France, Claire Denis)
Machuca (2004, Chile, Andrés Wood)
Manufacturing Landscapes (2006, Canada, Jennifer Baichwal)
Memories of Murder (2003, South Korea, Joon-ho Bong)
Miami Vice (2006, USA, Michael Mann)
Mildred Pierce (2011, USA, Todd Haynes)
Milk of Sorrow (2009, Peru/Spain, Claudia Llosa)
Mirage (2004, Macedonia, Svetozar Ristovski)
Mithya (2008, India, Rajat Kapoor)
Mo & Me (2006, Kenya, Roger Mills/Murad Rayani)
Moolaade (2004, Senegal co-production, Ousmane Sembene)
Moon (2009, UK, Duncan Jones)
My Joy (2010, Ukraine co-production, Sergei Loznitsa)
Mysteries of Lisbon (2010, Portugal/France, Raoul Ruiz)
Mystic Ball (2006, Canada/USA, Greg Hamilton)
Mystic River (2003, USA, Clint Eastwood)
No Smoking (2007, India, Anurag Kashyap)
Notes on a Scandal (2006, UK, Richard Eyre)
Of Gods and Men (2010, France, Xavier Beauvois)
Oki’s Movie (2010, South Korea, Hong Sang-soo)
Oldboy (2003, South Korea, Chan-wook Park)
Our Beloved Month of August (2008, Portugal, Miguel Gomes)
Oxhide (2005, China, Jiayin Liu)
Pan’s Labyrinth (2006, Mexico, Guillermo del Toro)
Paprika (2006, Japan, Satoshi Kon)
Paradise Now (2005, Palestine co-production, Hany Abu-Assad)
Paraguayan Hammock (2006, Paraguay co-production, Paz Encina)
Paranoid Park (2007, USA, Gus Van Sant)
Parents (2007, Iceland, Ragnar Bragason)
Poetry (2010, South Korea, Lee Chang-dong)
Putty Hill (2010, USA, Matthew Porterfield)
Rapt (2009, France/Belgium, Lucas Belvaux)
Requiem (2006, Germany, Hans-Christian Schmid)
Rhinoceros Eyes (2003, USA, Aaron Woodley)
Rumba (2008, France/Belgium, Dominique Abel/Fiona Gordon/Bruno Romy)
Secret Sunshine (2007, South Korea, Lee Chang-Dong)
Shame (2011, UK, Steve McQueen)
Shut up & Sing (2007, USA, Barbara Kopple/Cecilia Peck)
Siddharth: The Prisoner (2008, India, Pryas Gupta)
Sideways (2004, USA, Alexander Payne)
Silent Souls (2010, Russia, Aleksei Fedorchenko)
Songs from the Second Floor (2003, Sweden, Roy Andersson)
Spare Parts (2003, Slovenia, Damjan Kozole)
Still Life (2006, China/Hong Kong, Jia ZhangKe)
Summer Wars (2009, Japan, Mamoru Hosoda)
Sun Spots (2009, China, Heng Yang)
Syndromes and a Century (2006, Thailand, Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
Synedoche, New York (2008, USA, Charlie Kaufman)
Take Shelter (2011, USA, Jeff Nichols)
The Barbarian Invasions (2003, Canada/France, Denys Arcand)
The Box (2009, USA, Richard Kelly)
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007, France/USA, Julian Schnabel)
The Edukators (2004, Germany/Austria, Hans Weingartner)
The Ghost Writer (2010, France/Germany/UK,Roman Polanski)
The Girl Cut in Two (2007, France, Claude Chabrol)
The House of Sand (2005, Brazil, Andrucha Waddington)
The Inheritance (2003, Denmark, Per Fly)
The International (2009, multiple, Tom Tykwer)
The King and the Clown (2005, South Korea, Joon-ik Lee)
The Machinist (2004, Spain, Brad Anderson)
The Man’s Woman and other Stories (2009, India, Amit Dutta)
The Middle of the World (2003, Brazil, Vicente Amorim)
The Mosquito Problem and Other Stories (2007, Bulgaria, Director Andrey Paounov)
The New World (2005, USA/UK, Terrence Malick)
The Russian Dolls (2005, France/UK, Cédric Klapisch)
The Strange Case of Angelica (2010, Portugal co-production, Manoel de Oliveira)
The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (2005, USA, Tommy Lee Jones)
The Tiger Factory (2010, Malaysia/Japan, Woo Ming Jin)
The Tree of Life (2011, USA, Terrence Malick)
The Turin Horse (2011, Hungary co-production, Béla Tarr/Ágnes Hranitzky)
The Wind Journeys (2009, Colombia co-production, Ciro Guerra)
The World (2004, China co-production, Jia Zhang ke)
The Wrestler (2008, USA, Darren Aronofsky)
The Year My Parents Went on Vacation (2006, Brazil, Cao Hamburger)
There Will be Blood (2007, USA, Paul Thomas Anderson)
Three Times (2005, France/Taiwan, Hou Hsiao-hsien)
Tinker Tailor Sailor Spy (2011, UK co-production, Tomas Alfredson)
Todo Todo Torres (2006, Philippines, John Torres)
Tony Manero (2008, Chile/Brazil, Pablo Larraín)
Torremolinos 73 (2003, Spain, Pablo Berger)
Tropical Malady (2004, Thailand, Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010, Thailand co-production, Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
Undertow (2009, Peru co-production, Javier Fuentes-León)
United 93 (2006, USA co-production, Paul Greengrass)
Used Parts (2007, Mexico, Aarón Fernández)
We Own the Night (2007, USA, James Gray)
West of the Tracks (2003, China, Wang Bing)
Whisky (2004, Uruguay, Juan Pablo Rebella, Pablo Stoll)
White Material (2009, France, Claire Denis)
Win/Win (2010, Holland, Jaap van Heusden)
Woman on Fire Looks for Water (2009, Malaysia/South Korea, Woo Ming Jin)
Woman without a Piano (2009, Spain, Javier Rebollo)
You, the Living (2009, Sweden, Roy Andersson)
Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession (2004, USA, Xan Cassavetes)

Top 10 of the decade, 2003-12

1. L’Intrus (2004, France, Claire Denis)

2. Tropical Malady (2004, Thailand, Apichatpong Weerasethakul) 

3. Colossal Youth (2006, Portugal, Pedro Costa) 

4. West of the Tracks: parts I, II, III (2003, China, Wang Bing)

5. Crimson Gold (2003, Iran, Jafar Panahi) 
6. The Strange Case of Angelica (2010, Portugal co-production, Manoel de Oliveira) 
7. The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (2005, Romania, Cristi Puiu) 
8. Three Times (2005, France/Taiwan, Hou Hsiao-hsien) 
9. Foster Child (2007, Philippines, Brillante Mendoza) 
10. Los Muertos (2004, Argentina, Lisandro Alonso)


Cinema, Aspirins and Vultures (2005, Brazil, Marcelo Gomes)
Liverpool (2008, Argentina, Lisandro Alonso)
Syndromes and a Century (2006, Thailand, Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
My Joy (2010, Ukraine co-production, Sergei Loznitsa)
The Turin Horse (2011, Hungary co-production, Béla Tarr/Ágnes Hranitzky)
Climates (2006, Turkey, Nuri Bilge Ceylan)

The comparison of List 1 & List 2 is further proof that it often takes a few years to catch up with all the worthy films from one calendar year. And I am certain the above 278 titles still don't cover everything. I have missed many films over the last decade, including those by Lav Diaz, and need to catch up with a few 2011 & 2012 titles. So the above best of decade could still change in 2014.

Update Log

Entry #1, Feb 13: Less than a few hours after posting this list, I realized that I left out The New World from the above list. So List 2 grew from 178 titles to 179. I am certain the list will grow in upcoming weeks, so I will gradually update this page and modify the top 10 as needed. But for now, the top 10 stays unchanged.
Entry #2, Feb 16: Hard to imagine I left out the wonderful Mexican documentry In the Pit. Also, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly deserves its place. Total titles in List #2 have been modified from 179 to 181.


Sam Juliano said...

Sachin, I applaud this comprehensive revision/clarification. Now there are many great films that otherwise may have been left off with the previous ground rules.

We have one title of common ground, in that it makes the top ten list of this period for us both: Apichatpong Weerasethakul's TROPICAL MALADY.

Some others that either make my own top ten or make an expandsed 20. Note that I go from 2002 to 2012

Far From Heaven
Son Frere (Chereau)
The Fountain (Aronofsky)
The Artist (Hazanavicious)
The Turin Horse (Tarr)
Moolaade (Sembene)
WALL-E (Stanton)
Bright Star (Campion)
Kings and Queen (Despletchen)
Talk To Her (Almodovar)
Elephant (Von Sant)
The Last Mistress (Denis)
Fateless (Koltai)
Dogville (Von Trier)
Downfall (Hirschbiegel)
Atonement (Wright)
Assassination of Jesse James (Dominick)
The New World (Malick)
The Lives of Others (Von Dannersmark)
In the Mood For Love (Kar-Wai)
Vera Drake (Leight)
Children of Men (Cuaron)
Once (John Carney)
Brokeback Mountain (Lee)
The Return of the King (Jackson)
Nobody Knows (Kore-eda)
Cache (Haneke)
4 Weeks 3 Months and 2 Days(Mungiu)
Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Schnabel)
Inland Empire (Lynch)
10 (Kiarostami)

We do agree on a great number of films in your remarkable alphabetical list!

Sachin said...

Sam, I know all about your love of FAR FROM HEAVEN :) It would have been on my long list if I went to 2002, as would have been Ceylan's DISTANT.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly finished #11 in 2008 and I should have included it in this long list as well.

Thanks for sharing your wonderful list Sam. We do share some favorites. And your list is another reminder about how I am still missing some films such as Catherine Breillat's The Last Mistress which I have still not seen. Also, missing is Fateless.

I have included The New World in my long list as I had forgotten that.