November 19, 2009

1. Letters From Iwo Jima -- Top Movies of the Decade

Hollywood has been making war movies since D.W. Griffith, but you seldom if ever get a sense of how it feels. You may in the first 20 minutes of Spielberg's "Saving Private Ryan"; then that movie reverts to genre form. But Clint Eastwood's "Letters From Iwo Jima" accomplishes this feat: You get war in all its horror, boredom and grit--and from the point of view of our country's enemy, so any empathy is hard-earned. With unsettling brilliance, the film captures war as experienced by soldiers lost in its fog, as a grinding, sickening, numbing death machine. In Eastwood's version, heroism and cowardice are two sides of the same coin, and glory a concept best left to generals and historians.

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This list is awful. Even for an insider in the world of international releases, this is an obscure and irrelevant list.

Ron, how can you not agree with Iwo Jima? That is a great film noquestion

Two glaring ommissions: Brockeback Mountain and Juno!

Oh dear, these lists are still so useless... Why put numbers against movies, instead of just offering it as 10 movies you think your readers may have missed but should have seen...

can't believe-'' the pan's labyrinth'' is not in the list....

What about Mulholland Drive, In The Mood For Love, Yi Yi, Eternal Sunshine, There will be blood, Spirited Away or any Pixar?

Bad list... sorry

This list & writer are trying to be a little too "smart for the room."

No Broke Back Mountain, Boys Don't Cry, Million Dollar Baby, Iron Man, The Departed, Ray, The Pursuit of Happyness, The Dark Knight or any of the Lord of Ring movies?

I know this column was on the high brow end of films, but the movies I mentioned were fantatic works of art that resonated with audiences.

Just because a movie makes a lot of money does not mean it can not be considered one of the decade's best.

Kevin Lockett

Quite possibly the most pretentious and useless list I have ever seen

Some good movies on the list, but the greatest? Harder to say. For a top 10, maybe it'd be better to do one for domestic releases and one for foreign.

What about Zodiac? Children of Men? The Incredibles? The Station Agent? Viggo Mortensen's work with David Cronenberg in Eastern Promises and A History of Violence also deserves a special little shout-out. Still, some good movies on the list. A fun topic to debate.

obscure, useless, this should have been here, but not this one, bla bla...

people commenting here are clueless..

nice list, great decade.

Reads like someone is trying to show how highbrow they are, instead of a useful list.

If you find this list to be "high-brow," I'm assuming that means you haven't seen most of these films.

But instead of whining, why don't you watch them first and THEN form your opinion??

This is a brilliant list, Mr. Honeycutt. I don't agree with 'Letters' being on top, but I do recognize the film as a staggering achievement. Every film on the list is a masterpiece in some form or another (though I personally did not ultimately love 'Far From Heaven'), and it's refreshingly untarnished by "popular" choices or films that pander to a more mainstream point of reference.

Well done!


My #1 would be 'City of God.' But I think Kirk Honeycutt had a more tepid take on that film.

United 93 is a TERRIBLE movie. It's almost as bad as World Trade Center (one of the worst movies EVER). People making money off of misfortune... shame.

Not suprised with the top 10 worst movies being compared to their box office and the top 10 just held to your so called standards of great movie making !

Just because no one's ever heard of a movie doesn't make it good.

Horrible. Atrocious list.

Ive only seen 3 of those and none of them would be in my top 10. But to each their own.

United 93 sucked.
Just cos it's based on the saddest day in America's last decade doesn't make it a good movie.

Honestly, maybe the worst top 10 list I have ever seen.

I loved Letters from Iwo Jima, and I liked No Country For Old Men. I am not familiar with most of the other films.

this list is horrible. it is totally a critic's type of list and what's worse it's a critic who only watches artsy movies list. worst list ever and will not be reading this blog again.

This is one of the most considered and thoughtful best-of-decade lists I have yet seen. Although I don't agree with all of your picks--while both great, "Letters from Iwo Jima" and "United 93" would not make my personal list--your arguements are intelligent and concise. My hat is off to you. And to everybody who is trashing the author simply because they have not seen all of the films, I must ask, when did intelligence become something to be derided? I cannot believe that anybody would complain that a film critic would write a "critic's type of list." Critics get paid to critique. That is their job. Maybe the people who would try to tear down this list should see some of the films before they judge. Oh, and lastly, I'd like to suggest my personal pick for film of the decade: Gus Van Sant's "Elephant." Masterful.

Jesus, can we just drop 'no country for old men?' not only was it not the best film of the decade, or of 2007, it wasn't even the best film about violence and/or the american west of that year - that would be 'there will be blood,' if we're talking just about american films, and this was in many ways is a much much more honest and accomplished movie. 'no country' yes has great sound design, high production values, great editing, etc. but that doesn't prevent it from being a small movie in the worst sense; it's limited in scope, yet not terribly intimate either. It says absolutely NOTHING revelatory about violence other than that it sounds super neato when coming out of silenced shotguns and that murder scenes can perfectly shot and edited, but still be nothing more than that.

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Recent Comments

  • "10. The Incredibles
    9. Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
    8. District 9
    7. Lord of the Rings Trilogy
    6. King Kong
    5. Transformers
    4. Spider-Man 2
    3. Star Trek
    2. Iron Man

    Now, this is definitely the worst list ever. "Iron Man" is the second best film of the decade? Really, are you that dumb? The Dark Knight is cool, but definitely not the best one ever. Transformers absolutely sucks too. Next time, don't comment please.

    Now, as for this list, I think that In the Mood for Love should have been picked, but I can't really say that the list was bad. No Country is quite good, Far from Heaven too and I'm quite interested in Cache, gotta watch it soon.

    nhorf on 1. Letters From Iwo Jima -- Top Movies of the Decade
  • this is the worst top 10 list ever!! WHO THE HELL PICKED THIS MOVIES? your 80 year old GRANDMOTHER!!! All i have to say is BORRING!!!

    archie on 1. Letters From Iwo Jima -- Top Movies of the Decade
  • Pretentious.

    Nate on 1. Letters From Iwo Jima -- Top Movies of the Decade
  • I agree with you Letters From Iwo Jima wasthe best film of the decade.

    edkargir on 1. Letters From Iwo Jima -- Top Movies of the Decade
  • Dear Lisa-

    I agree with you: I can't believe United 93 is on this Top 10 list (or even a top 100 list), however it's not at #1, it is #2. Furthermore, the reason Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, Boys Don't Cry are not on this list is because they were not made in this DECADE.
    Congrats, you're more embarrassing than whoever created this list in the first place.

    Kristina on 1. Letters From Iwo Jima -- Top Movies of the Decade
  • that whole list sucked. no country for old men was the cherry on top of a big banana suck split.
    Better list:
    10. sideways
    9. brokeback mountain
    8. pride & prejudice
    7. shaun of the dead
    6. o brother where art thou
    5. lost in translation
    4. amorres perros
    3. pirates of the carribean 1
    2. LOTR Two towers
    1. pan's labyrinth

    man that was tough but..
    my list wins!

    steve on 1. Letters From Iwo Jima -- Top Movies of the Decade
  • These lists are always subjective. They become even more so when you actually rank them, rather than bunch them into a pool of movies that might constitute a top ten, for instance.

    That being said, I (and it seems many on here agree) that this list is of the pious, artsy, I'm-a-critic-so-I-know-only-excellent-movies type of list. I've seen eight of the ten, and maybe No Country for Old Men (IMO) might be in a pool for top ten (but it's a stretch; it's a decade afterall).

    Too many of the movies are the low budget, foreign flicks that get so much buzz from critics, but much of the love is unfounded. As a side note, I still have no idea how 4 months, 3 weeks, and 2 days has so much acclaim. I thought it was good, but that good? It is such the critic feel good film.

    Ultimately, it feels like this list just denies a lot of the really powerful films, even if they are (gasp) mainstream. I think it is evident in that the only ones that had wide-release appeal are ones that were good, but were never huge to the general movie populous (Letters from Iwo Jima, United, NCFOM).

    mycenaeanapollo on 1. Letters From Iwo Jima -- Top Movies of the Decade
  • I can't believe united 93 is on there LET ALONE #1. What about The Departed? Goodfellas? Mystic River? Slumdog Millionaire? Requiem for a Dream? Boy's Don't Cry? Brokeback Mountain? Taxi Driver? I'm surprised at least of of those movies are not on the list

    Lisa on 1. Letters From Iwo Jima -- Top Movies of the Decade

    Jason on 1. Letters From Iwo Jima -- Top Movies of the Decade
  • My list goes like this...for now:

    10. Sin City
    9. The Road
    8. Children of Men
    7. There Will Be Blood
    6. Mystic River
    5. Pan's Labyrinth
    4. Slumdog Millionaire
    3. Minority Report
    2. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
    1. The Departed

    Ron Rapoport ( on 1. Letters From Iwo Jima -- Top Movies of the Decade