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Ten best movies of the decade

The best of the decade include foreign fare and some American classics such as ‘Sideways’ and ‘No Country for Old Men.’

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No Country for Old Men

Joel and Ethan Coen are perhaps the most polarizing of contemporary American filmmakers, but in this adaptation of the Cormac McCarthy novel, they had their greatest critical and popular success. (It won the Academy Award for best picture of 2007.) It’s about the human response to death and dying as embodied in three men – a thief-hunter (Josh Brolin), a lawman (Tommy Lee Jones), and a terminator (Javier Bardem) – and it has an allegorical power that at times is close to biblical.

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The Pianist

Roman Polanski drew deeply on his boyhood experiences as a Jewish child being hunted down in World War II Poland in this poetically stark adaptation of the wartime memoir of Polish pianist and Holocaust survivor Wladyslaw Szpilman, played with unerring grace by Adrien Brody.

Sideways

For pure unalloyed pleasure, few Hollywood movies of the decade could touch this bittersweet Alexander Payne film about an oenophile (Paul Giamatti) whose crankiness is the thinnest of veneers covering his sadness. It’s a comedy about how we all make it, somehow, through life, and it’s so sharply observed and deeply felt that, in the end, it also seems, of all things, wise.

Spirited Away

This is the best film from the world’s best animator, Hayao Miyazaki. A 10-year-old girl, moving to the suburbs with her parents, discovers a tunnel leading to a world that might have astounded even Lewis Carroll. Miyazaki creates wondrously mysterious effects in almost every hand-drawn frame.

Time Out

Laurent Cantet’s 2001 movie about a husband and father, suddenly unemployed, who pretends he has a lucrative new job, seems doubly prescient these days. As the harrowed, deluded protagonist, Aurélien Recoing gives a withering portrait of a man who is trying to do right by everybody – and nobody. Although set in a very different time and place, this film has some of the spookiness of a Hawthorne story.

Waltz With Bashir

Filmmaker Ari Folman was a 19-year-old Israeli soldier in the 1982 war in Lebanon, from which he fashioned this one-of-a-kind animated memoir that, in the end, unforgettably breaks into live-action footage of the sorrows of war.

Y Tu Mamá También

Alfonso Cuarón’s road movie is about two frisky Mexican teenagers (Diego Luna and Gael García Bernal) who team up with the wife (Maribel Verdú) of one of their cousins. Exhilaratingly comic and sexy, it registers, finally, a note of rapturous melancholy.

The Wind Will Carry Us

Abbas Kiarostami is Iran’s greatest director and this is, arguably, his finest film. A documentary filmmaker from Tehran, posing as an engineer, arrives with his crew in a remote mountain valley in Iranian Kurdistan to record the impending ritual funeral ceremony of an ancient woman near death. The slow deliberateness of Kiarostami’s style is so rich and lyrical that the imagery seems suspended in time forever.

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