I thought I’d wait a while to bombard you with another part of our Best of the Decade list. But inspired by The Onion’s AV Club, which posted a separate list of films each of its editors would have liked to see make the cut, we allowed ourselves a few “honorable mentions” outside the set fifty. They are:
American Gangster (2007)
I think this was the great, complex urban crime saga of the past decade and would have put it in at least the top 25. But it really didn’t do it for Russell for some reason, and he kept letting it slip down the list to ranks I was sad to see. So rather than fight, we made a trade—see his list below.
Hustle & Flow (2005)*
Like the others here with asterisks, this is one Russell somehow hasn’t seen. I plan to rectify this ASAP, but in the meantime we found these difficult to rank with him unable to give input. So I agreed to make honorable mentions of the best few, like this incredible, gritty underdog story with Terrence Howard at his best and rap music I actually like!
La Vie En Rose (2007)*
Hands down the best female performance—possibly the best performance, period—of the decade and a tear-jerking, beautifully musical story to boot.
Billy Elliot (2000)*
This quirky, tenderly acted story of one weird kid’s single-minded triumph over ignorance is one I could watch time and again and look forward to sharing with Russell.
Whale Rider (2002)*
An underdog like so many of my favorites, this small, beautiful movie from a remote location mixes girl power and the supernatural in ways I would have loved to honor.
The Matador (2005)*
Another major sleeper, this features Pierce Brosnan as a washed-up assassin and Greg Kinnear as his unwilling sidekick—top roles by far for them both. Between surprisingly touching reflections on age, talent, and purpose, it made me fall down laughing repeatedly. I couldn’t recommend it more.
Harry Potter films
These hold up increasingly well to one of the greatest series of books, and certainly one of the largest phenomena, of the decade. No Lord of the Rings by any means, but they have something special I would have honored given more space.
There Will Be Blood (2007)
I recognize that this is a good movie, but can’t understand why everyone is so crazy about it. The pacing is totally bipolar and the last half hour could have been completely cut. I kept doing to this movie, which Russell adored, what he kept doing to American Gangster. So we agreed to remove them both and battle it out in honorable mentions!
Friday Night Lights (2004)
I’m so glad Russell listed this, since it’s kind of an honorable mention for me also.
Some of my favorite acting of the decade, but facing hard choices I had to decide that didn’t cut it, and Russell agreed to move it here.
Rescue Dawn (2006)
Eastern Promises (2007)
District 9 (2009)
Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed reading these as much as we enjoyed assembling them. Back to law school, Cambridge, and—gasp—kitty news next time!