By HANNAH BROWN
This decade was dominated by forgettable big-budget films with increasingly sophisticated special effects. People tended to turn to television (particularly the HBO and Showtime networks) for intelligent dramas and sophisticated comedies, but a few high-quality, memorable films managed to find their way to theaters. So here's my 10 Best List for the past 10 years. It doesn't include Israeli films, however; there will be a list of the decade's top 10 Israeli movies in this weekend's Magazine. So, in chronological order:
You Can Count On Me (2000)
Playwright Kenneth Lonergan directed this moving story of a single mom (Laura Linney) and her troubled younger brother (Mark Ruffalo) in a small town. It may not sound earth-shaking, but it's so real and so intense that whenever I catch a minute of it on TV, I end up watching the entire film again.
In the Mood for Love (2000)
Wong Kar-Wai's sensual and romantic story of repressed love in a crowded Hong Kong apartment block features memorable music, photography and sexy performances by Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung Chiu Wai.
The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
This funny, stylized dysfunctional family drama by Wes Anderson (co-written by Owen Wilson) gave Gene Hackman his best role of the decade, and features wonderful ensemble acting by Gwyneth Paltrow, Ben Stiller, Luke Wilson, Anjelica Huston, Bill Murray, Danny Glover, Seymour Cassel and Owen Wilson.
The Son (2002)
This story of a father faced with a terrible dilemma after the murder of his son is bleak but very, very moving. The Belgian Dardennes brothers have made several memorable films during this decade, including The Child and Lorna's Silence, but this one is their strongest.
The Lives of Others (2006)
A tragic, intricate and suspenseful story of espionage, love and betrayal in Cold War-era East Germany. It tells the story of a brilliant spy with no real life who is assigned to monitor a passionate playwright and his girlfriend, a beautiful actress.
Set in Dublin, this gentle romance stars Glen Hansard as a street musician and vacuum cleaner repairman who falls for a young Czech immigrant (Marketa Irglova). She, in turn, helps him focus on his music. The film featured the Oscar-winning song "Falling Slowly."
No Country for Old Men (2007)
The Coen brothers' quirky sensibility brought out the black humor and stark suspense in this adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's novel. Javier Bardem gives an iconic performance as this decade's most memorable psycho-killer, and he had quite a bit of competition for this title. Brilliant storytelling by the Coens, who allow McCarthy's dialogue to speak for itself.
Into the Wild (2007)
Sean Penn directed this adaptation of a book by Jon Krakauer, a non-fiction account of a young man (played by Emile Hirsch) who gives up everything to try and live on his own in the Alaskan woods. It's a visually stunning film that will make you understand the hero's crazy determination, and features excellent performances by William Hurt, Hal Holbrook, Catherine Keener, Kristen Stewart, and Vince Vaughn.
4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (2007)
The title of this Romanian film refers to the length of a pregnancy its characters are trying to terminate in 1980s Bucharest, when abortion was illegal. This gripping film is a plea for mercy and a celebration of friendship, directed by brilliant young filmmaker Cristian Mungiu.
Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
Danny Boyle turned a novel about a street kid by Vikas Swarup into a movie that touched audiences all over the world and introduced a new phrase into the language. This fairy tale of urban horror and last-minute salvation made Dev Patel and Freida Pinto, its star-crossed lovers, into international stars.
Runners-up, in no particular order, are Whale Rider, Almost Famous, Little Miss Sunshine, United 93 and The Aviator.
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