10. The Wind Will Carry Us (Abbas Kiarostami)
After I finished watching this film, I thought to myself, this is probably what a filmed poem looks like. The title is from a line of a poem so I guess it's only appropriate. The film is about a group of journalists who try to document a small village's ceremony anticipating the death of an old woman who still continues to live. Like the previous film of Kiarostami's which I've placed in my Top 10, this film though technically about death is positively life-affirming.
9. Ratcatcher (Lynne Ramsay)
This is the film which introduced the film world to the major filmmaking talents of writer-director Lynne Ramsay. A beautiful but bleak film about a young boy in a low-class housing project in Scotland who tries to keep it together as he watches his family, friends and loved ones struggle.
8. Three Kings (David O. Russell)
This could have been a tonal and thematic mess. But it's amazing that it wasn't. This film combines satirical dark comedy, action-adventure and war drama and blends them all quite naturally together. The film is about three American soldiers near the end of the first Gulf War who decide to steal some gold belonging to Saddam Hussein. The film is endlessly watchable, alternately thrilling, thought-provoking and really funny.
7. Topsy Turvy (Mike Leigh)
I know next to nothing of Gilbert and Sullivan when I first saw this film but I found myself actually fascinated and enraptured by it all just the same. This is director Mike Leigh's film about Gilbert and Sullivan conceiving and creating one of their most famous works, The Mikado. Make no mistake, this film is quite a joy to watch and you need not be a fan of Gilbert and Sullivan to like it.
6. The Talented Mr. Ripley (Anthony Minghella)
Anthony Mingella may have won the Best Director Oscar for The English Patient but this is the film which I thrilled me more. Tom Ripley is a ne'er-do-well-ish young man who is given the task to bring home a spoiled son of a ship-builder who mistakenly thought he was a friend of his son's. He goes to Italy and things get complicated to say the least. This is wonderfully creepy and thrilling piece of film. This is the film that probably sealed Matt Damon's as one of his generation's finest actors.
5. Being John Malkovich (Spike Jonze)
This is probably one of the more bizarre, wacky and very original mainstream films you would ever see. How it got made is amazing. It's about puppeteer who works in the 7 1/2 floor of a building who discovers a portal into the mind of actor John Malkovich. The film defies explanation. It must be seen to be believed.
4. Eyes Wide Shut (Stanley Kubrick)
This was the great Stanley Kubrick's final film. Many critics have given it a mixed review. Some detractors have accused critics who praised it as blind allegiance to Kubrick. However, years has passed and this film has aged like fine wine. I personally thought it was a great film when I first walked out of the theater and now after seeing it again relatively recently, it's still a great film. It features then husband-and-wife Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman who both give some of their best acting work in this film.
3. All About My Mother (Pedro Almodovar)
After her son dies in a car accident while chasing after his favorite actress for an autograph, a woman goes on a journey to meet his biological father, transvestite and along the way she befriends a motley crew of women including a pregnant and a transsexual prostitute. This film is the first in writer-director Pedro Almodovar's Golden Age where he kept on making one really great film after another. This film also shot Penelope Cruz to international stardom.
2. Toy Story 2 (John Lasseter)
This was originally conceived as a direct-to-video sequel but early footage was so good, Disney very wisely decided to make it into a theatrical release. It is just as good, if not better, than the 1995 original which is no mean feat. It has the PIXAR formula of visual delights, laughs, emotional heft all wrapped up in a great story. What more can you ask for in a movie?
1. The Sixth Sense (M. Night Shyamalan)
The top 3 films on this list are a virtual tie so they're practically interchangeable, just an FYI. But I digress. Did you know M. Night Shyamalan used to make really great films? Yes, he did. This is one of them. Even if you already know the famous twist, this film still has a lot to offer. Great performances by Haley Joel Osment, Toni Collette and even Bruce Willis, the atmospheric cinematography, the beautiful score, etc. A film which makes you scream in one moment and touch your heart the next. This film actually makes me angrier at M. Night Shyamalan because I know that douchebag has talent. Oh, well. It's a testament to how great this film is that despite making a bunch of turkeys, people are still giving him money to make films.
Runners-Up: Election (Alexander Payne); The Iron Giant (Brad Bird); Magnolia (Paul Thomas Anderson); South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut (Trey Parker); The End of the Affair (Neil Jordan).