10. Lost in La Mancha (2002)
For anyone who's ever thought about changing careers into the film industry, you may want to watch this cautionary tale. An exciting rollercoaster and my documentary pick for the aughts.
9. Day Watch (Dnevnoy Dozor) (2006)
Yes, the past ten years gave us better movies in the "syfy" genre, but given this cult-flick pic's mix of pyrotechnics, intricate plot, derivative stylings and kitsch, you really should check out this epic fight between light and dark.
8. Time Out (2001)
Man loses job, hides it from family. Director Laurent Cantet creates these beautifully devastating films about being in post-industrial France. Released shortly after 9/11, I found the film especially poingant, as a depressed NYC saw small businesses closing and large firms threatening relocation.
7. The Wrestler (2009)
Beautifully acted, Mickey Rourke and Marisa Tomei transcend Darren Aronofsky's hallmark violence and dialogue that, in others' hands, are gratuitous and sardonic.
6. Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006)
The movie that elevated Sacha Baron Cohen from a UK import on HBO to a US household name. While still controversial and often vulgar, Cohen's dedication to his role and method put this movie in a comedic class all its own.
5. Dogville (2003)
While so critical of the US that even that ISO-organizer-squatter-girlfriend of yours takes pause as she watches it by the light of a burning flag, Dogville is a great film and another example that Nicole Kidman may be one of the most underrated actresses of the 90s & the aughts.
4. A History of Violence (2005)
So you thought you'd see Viggo Mortensen on this list for one of those three Middle Earth releases? To really see him shine, check out his recent Cronenberg collaborations, starting with this one.
3. The Girlfriend Experience (2009)
While appreciating the irony, I say without any of my own: this is the healthiest film I've ever seen about brand and client management. Familiar with her...performance art? I attest this is Sasha Grey's best work. It will be interesting to see if she is cast in other films and if she reveals enough range to sustain critics' interest.
2. 2046 (2004)
If you love Wong-Kar Wai, you won't be surprised, as he continues to obsess over political economy and desire. My heart aches at the slightest remembrances of light, color and line in 2046's compositions. Ziyi Zhang never looked lovelier than as the jilted lover, and, though his character is cruel in this sequel, is any actor cooler than Tony Leung?
1. Talk to Her (2002)
Fantastic film about men - whether you read it as buddy film, a study in homo-social exchange, or something else. Though I have a bunch more to see, this is the best Almodovar I know (despite Penelope's absence). My top pick.