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Dramas of the Decade

Movies, Year-End | By The Top 13 on November 23, 2009

With the 2000s coming to a close, The Top 13 is taking a look at the best movies of the decade. Earlier this month, we ranked the best comedies of the decade, and our readers followed suit and submitted their own lists. Today, The Top 13 counts down the best dramas of this decade. Most of the films that made our list are dark and gritty tales of crime, violence, and vengeance that will keep you glued to the edge of your seat. Do you agree with The Top 13?

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City of God

1

City of God

2001

Fernando Meirelles' City of God was the most riveting, unforgettable drama of the 2000s. Nominated for four Oscars but otherwise snubbed by the Academy, this violent and gritty tale about urban youth in Rio de Janeiro features some of the most electric direction, editing, and cinematography in recent cinema history.

Munich

2

Munich

2005

Munich is just another example of why Steven Spielberg should focus more of his attention on directing dramas. This controversial film about a team of Israeli special forces hunting down those responsible for the murder of eleven Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics in Munich is suspense at its best.

The Departed

3

The Departed

2006

Martin Scorsese's remake of the Chinese crime film series Infernal Affairs finally netted him his first Oscars, for Best Director and Best Picture. This bloody, ultraviolent film features excellent performances from virtually the entire cast, most notably Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, and Mark Wahlberg.

No Country for Old Men

4

No Country for Old Men

2007

Like The Departed, Joel and Ethan Coen's adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's No Country For Old Men brought them their long-overdue first Oscars for Best Direction and Best Picture. Javier Bardem's soon-to-be legendary performance as hitman Anton Chigurh drives this southwestern thriller.

Requiem for a Dream

5

Requiem for a Dream

2000

Requiem for a Dream is one of the hardest films to watch and, undeniably, one of the most affecting. This is one of the best films ever made about the perils of drug addiction and showcases the creativity and vision of director Darren Aronofsky.

Children of Men

6

Children of Men

2006

Alfonso Cuarón's Children of Men is one of the best science fiction films of the decade and is a thought-provoking vision of an earth where humans have lost the ability to reproduce. From a film study perspective, the hand-held camera work, long takes, and cinematography in this film are truly memorable.

Sexy Beast

7

Sexy Beast

2000

Featuring an absolutely fantastic supporting performance by Ben Kingsley, the British Sexy Beast does the gangster film right. Kingsley received Best Supporting Actor nominations from the Academy Awards and the Golden Globes for his violent but hilarious portrayal of a sociopathic London underworld figure who won't take no for an answer from a retired and reluctant safe cracker played by the underrated Ray Winstone.

There Will Be Blood

8

There Will Be Blood

2007

It is hard to imagine what kind of film There Will Be Blood would have been without the virtuosic turn by Daniel Day Lewis as Texas oilman Daniel Plainview. While this film lost out to No Country for Old Men for Oscar glory, Paul Thomas Anderson's nihilistic character study sticks with the viewer long after its chilling conclusion.

Slumdog Millionaire

9

Slumdog Millionaire

2008

Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire is an energetic portrait of the lives of children growing up in the slums of Mumbai. Many aspects of this film are reminiscent of City of God, from the styling of the narrative to the camerawork and direction, but the hopeful, life-affirming message of this film made it a crowd-pleaser the world over and helped it capture eight Oscars.

Million Dollar Baby

10

Million Dollar Baby

2004

Simply put, Million Dollar Baby is a downer. Hilary Swank and Clint Eastwood give stunning performances in this film about a female boxer and her trainer. The twist ending of this film, endlessly discussed at the time of its release and subsequent Oscar wins, is truly heart-wrenching.

Memento

11

Memento

2000

Some dismiss Christopher Nolan's Memento as a gimmick, a film made from the perspective of a man who cannot form new memories as he searches for his wife's murderer. To do so is to overlook one of the most innovative and best-constructed dramas of this decade and a career-defining lead performance by Guy Pearce. This film launched Nolan's career, which reached new heights after his 2008 blockbuster, The Dark Knight.

A History of Violence

12

A History of Violence

2005

Masterfully adapted from the graphic novel of the same name by Josh Olson, who was rewarded with an Academy Award nomination for Best Writing, A History of Violence is one of legendary horror/science fiction director David Cronenberg’s finest and most accessible films. This thriller focused on a diner owner (played by Viggo Mortensen) whose peaceful Midwestern existence is shattered by a violent attempted robbery. William Hurt received an Oscar nomination for playing Mortensen's brother despite only being in the film for eight minutes.

Donnie Darko

13

Donnie Darko

2001

After viewing Richard Kelly's follow-up bomb, Southland Tales, it's hard not to wonder if Donnie Darko was an accidental masterpiece. This film deftly tackles difficult existential questions while telling a compelling tale of the titular character, an emotionally troubled teen played by Jake Gyllenhall. The mystery of the theatrical cut of this film (as opposed to the more heavy-handed yet comprehensible director's cut) is its best aspect, as the viewer tries to understand if Darko truly sees the same things the viewer does or if they are only a figment of his troubled mind.

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Comments Leave a comment

PulpAffliction ★★

I seriously may have to kill you over your inclusion of Slumdog Shittionaire.

7:10 AM   Nov 23, 2009

PulpAffliction ★★

Also: After watching The Director's Cut of Donnie Darko, Southland Tales and The Box, I have absolutely zero doubt in my mind that Kelly made a great film completely by accident.

7:11 AM   Nov 23, 2009

oshoney 

great #1, and i love that you included Children of Men. that film is seriously underrated.

7:52 AM   Nov 23, 2009

ajay ★★

Other than Sexy Beast, which I have yet to see, I love every film on this list. Though, I might have knocked off Million Dollar Baby and A History of Violence for American Beauty and This is England (a regrettably unknown British film).

7:58 AM   Nov 23, 2009

brian 

american beauty came out in 1999, no?

8:42 AM   Nov 23, 2009

H8TVOTR 

This Is England is brilliant!

11:41 PM   Nov 30, 2009

ajay ★★

You are correct. I thought back to when it won Best Picture in 2000 and got confused.

8:57 AM   Nov 23, 2009

jasun 

I absolutely love 11 of the 13 movies on this list.

10:23 AM   Nov 23, 2009

zircona1 

I have eight of these films at home - great list!

8:42 AM   Nov 24, 2009

holmessss 

Wow, I actually disagree with many of these choices. I would like to nominate Pan's Labryinth, Wonder Boys, Black Hawk Down, Mystic River, Training Day, Venus, Eastern Promises, Hotel Rwanda, Chocolat, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Half Nelson, Rachel Getting Married, the Hurt Locker, 28 Days Later, Moulin Rouge, Sweeney Todd, Sin City, and American Splendor. These were all movies that afterwards actually left an impression. Though I also felt that way about 1, 5, 6, 9, 11 from the list.

3:00 PM   Nov 24, 2009

PulpAffliction ★★

I wouldn't exactly call 28 Days Later a drama...

7:09 PM   Dec 04, 2009

holmessss 

Oh, and 25th Hour. I forgot how great that movie is.

7:27 AM   Dec 03, 2009

ajay ★★

My list: Slumdog Millionaire, There Will Be Blood, Donnie Darko, Children of Men, City of God, This is England, Memento, Requiem for a Dream, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, No Country for Old Men, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Atonement, 21 Grams.

11:08 AM   Dec 04, 2009

PulpAffliction ★★

I'm having a really hard time deciding where to draw the Drama line for a number of my picks...

7:01 PM   Dec 04, 2009

PulpAffliction ★★

And what to do with foreign films made in '99, which were subsequently released in the U.S. in either '00 or '01? This is so effing difficult.

7:38 PM   Dec 04, 2009

PulpAffliction ★★

Ugh. I'm not sure how satisfied I am with my list, but here's the Top 13 out of my shortlist of almost forty:

Two hours, and a shortlist of thirty-seven films, here's what I came up with:

1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
2. No Country For Old Men
3. Lost In Translation
4. Children of Men
5. Mulholland Dr.
6. Adaptation
7. Bom yeoreum gaeul gyeoul geurigo boom (Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring)
8. A History of Violence
9. Caché (Hidden)
10. Punch Drunk Love
11. Hable con Ella (Talk To Her)
12. Fa yeung nin wa (In The Mood For Love)
13. Cidade de deus (City of God)

8:38 PM   Dec 04, 2009

stillathreat ★★

I guess he likes foreign movies. I haven't seen a bunch of these.

9:31 PM   Dec 04, 2009

KungFuJay ★★

My list:
1.City of God
2. Requiem for a Dream
3. Memento
4. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
5. No Country for Old Men
6. Mulholland Drive
7. Lost in Translation
8. A History of Violence
9. Pan’s Labyrinth
10. Talk to Her
11. Munich
12. Sexy Beast
13. The Lives of Others

12:19 PM   Dec 07, 2009

KingKrentist 

1. Children of Men
2. The Dark Knight
3. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
4. The Departed
5. There Will Be Blood
6. The Pianist
7. History of Violence
8. Lost in Translation
9. Memento
10. Eastern Promises
11. The Hurt Locker
12. Gladiator
13. Pan's Labyrinth

1:44 PM   Apr 15, 2010

bdouble 

First of all I thank everyone here for not putting in The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potters, Starwars, Pirates of the Carribeans, or Spidermans. At least I know I amoungst a respectable crowd. Now I tried my best but couldn't stop at 13, too many good movies could not be ignored. Here's my list.
13.The Constant Gardner
12.American Gangster
11.Rendition
10.Gangs of New York
9.Man on Fire
8.There Will be Blood
7.City Of God
6.Vanilla Sky
5.Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
4.The Lives Of Others
3.Blood Diamond
2.The Hurt Locker
1.The Departed and the rest of my list...

14.Traffic
15.Almost Famous
16.Adaptation
17.Crash
18.Runaway Jury
19.The Kings Speech
20.Mystic River
21.Spy Game
22.A Man Apart
23.Blow
24.The Count of Monte Cristo
25.Sin City
Honorable Mentions: The Beach, The Cell, Big Fish, The Life of David Gale, Tears of the Sun, and The Royal Tenembaums. Great Decade!

3:18 PM   Jan 04, 2012

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