These are all movies that made an impression on me, especially after the first viewings. I'm not claiming they're the best movies ever made, but they hold a special place for me and I think they're some of the best films in their own genre. Yes, there are romantic comedies on this list! I am not ashamed!
25. The United States of Leland (2004)
This film is like the cinematical equivalent of a Douglas Coupland novel and I have a bit of a love-hate relationship both with Coupland and this film. On the one hand it's awfully self-pitying and it has Jena Malone in it, on the other it's very moving and Ryan Gosling shows amazing promise.
24. I Am Dina (2002)
Can you blame me, going by that picture? I've sat through some terrible films just to see my darling Hans Matheson, but I Am Dina was definitely worth it; amazing landscapes, a great unexpected story and Maria Bonnevie kicks ass and takes names as this film's off-beat heroine.
23. Lost in Translation (2003)
Watching this film now is so different to the way I felt when I first saw it; like Brokeback Mountain a lot of Lost In Translation's "cinematical language" has been endlessly copied. Still, Scarlett is breathtaking, so pure and inexperienced, and Bill Murray is so genuine and generous in his acting.
22. Moonlight Mile (2002)
I saw this film at 10 in the morning which is just the oddest way to experience a film like that. A lot has been said about Donnie Darko, but as far as Jake Gyllenhaal's career goes, I think this is a far more interesting role, as the fiance who goes to live with his parents-in-law in the aftermath of his fiancee's death. Sarandon and Hoffman are genius.
21. Shelter (2007)
Gay and Lesbian cinema can be frightfully hit-and-miss. Because they're usually low budget independent productions, they can come off looking terribly shoddy and sometimes the actors aren't up to much either (Coffee Date was cringeworthy), but with Shelter everything comes together. An original storyline, great actors (how much do I love Tina Holmes?) and a refreshing setting. Trevor Wright and Brad Rowe give all they're worth and it pays off.
20. Love Actually (2003)
Cheesy as all hell but definitely one of the most satisfying romantic comedies of all time. I quite like that some of the romances don't work out. There are few things I enjoy more than a good romantic comedy, it just makes me feel fuzzy.
19. Control (2006)
Emotionally shattering, the way Anton Corbijn portrays Ian Curtis is just gorgeous, he takes him away from that ridiculous live-fast-die-young rockstar image and shows him as what he was, a troubled young father who didn't know how to do the right thing anymore.
18. Mean Girls (2004)
Wickedly, wickedly funny, one of the most quotable films ever made. Amanda Seyfried and Lacey Chabert are little gems tucked away. Along with John Hughes' films, the only high school film you need.
17. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
Again, a film I don't like as much as I used to, but still it deserved a spot in my list because when I loved it, I watched it so many times a week.. I kind of stopped caring about Wes Anderson after The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou came out, but I do still very much like the story of the dysfunctional family and even in it's stylised manner, it makes more of an (emotional) impact than, say, The Squid and the Whale.
16. Atonement (2007)
The first time I saw this, I blubbered on for about an hour afterwards, Vanessa Redgrave kills me. Watching this now, for the third and fourth time, I can definitely see it's flaws but I think that's more down to Ian McEwan and director Joe Wright than the actors, who all give amazing performances.
15. Bend It Like Beckham (2002)
Parminder Nagra is pretty much the sweetest thing in the whole world and she and Keira Knightley kick this movie's butt, along with Juliet Stevenson as Keira's mum. It feels very honestly made and personal, which always great in feel-good comedies, there's always that threat of being too cutesy-wutesy.
14. Shaun of the Dead (2004)
I watched this in a cinema in Amsterdam with six other people and I was the only person laughing until it hurt at all the pop culture references. A zombie romantic comedy with Bill Nighy being evil and jokes about the Stone Roses' second album? Genius!
13. Zodiac (2007)
See, I'm not a fan of thrillers or long movies, but David Fincher made Zodiac's two-and-a-half hours absolutely fly by for me, it was just incredible. Definitely edge-of-your-seat viewing. The film starts out with the idea of finding this man committing gruesome murders, but ends up with incredible psychological insight into all these characters' minds, why they couldn't let it go after so many years. I slept with the light on after watching.
12. Venus (2006)
Hanif Kureishi, you marvellous bastard, how do you do it? My Beautiful Laundrette, The Mother, Venus, 'the Buddha of Suburbia'.. you could give Alan Bennett a run for his money. Peter O'Toole breaks your heart and is so criminally funny, it's a once-in-a-lifetime role.
11. The Family Stone (2005)
This has Luke Wilson and Rachel McAdams playing brother and sister, and the lovely Elizabeth Reaser as their older sister, how great is that casting? Basically, this is the loveliest family "dramedy" I've seen in a long time and the fact that it plays out over Christmas is just a bonus. The house is so well-lived in, the whole film feels really cosy and like a real family Christmas.
10. Milk (2008)
I read about Harvey Milk when I first heard that Gus Van Sant was planning a movie on his life, and was immediately intrigued. After watching 'The Times of Harvey Milk' I was completely taken in and my God, Van Sant did right with this movie, I can't tell you. There's so much love in this film, so much appreciation, but it doesn't turn soppy. James Franco and Sean Penn really love each other as Scott and Harvey, which is more than you can say about Heath and Jake as Ennis and Jack.
09. Me Without You (2001)
It's probably a personal thing, but this film's depiction of friendship rang so true with me. It's like someone wrote a romance novel with an idealised version of me in the lead: the music, the love interest, the steamroller-right-over-me-personality.. sadly, I'd be more like Holly than Scarlett O'Hara.
08. The History Boys (2006)
At times the actors fall into a stage-y kind of acting but it's no surprise since they played their characters around the world for.. nearly five years? The kind of familiarity it brings to the characters for the actors is amazing though, and in that way this movie is truly one of a kind. The characters of all these young boys, all the smartypants remarks and cultural references; just play-/screenwriting at it's very best.
07. Bobby (2006)
I should add that I'm judging this movie by feelings after I first watched it. I was blown away by it, of course it's a "who's who" of acting, with first-time director Emilio Estevez bringing in a lot of his old pals, but once you see past that, there's some amazing performances. The scene between Demi Moore and Sharon Stone is some of the best material I've ever seen both of them handle, and Laurence Fisburne is a powerhouse.
06. The Edge of Love (2008)
Maybe it's unfair to compare this film to Atonement, but this film is so much more about the characters, or even real people, with their flaws and quirks and insecurities. Vera and Caitlin were nowhere near as attractive as Keira and Sienna, but they nail it. It's not about getting people to look alike but to give the most sincere performances and Sienna Miller is beyond amazing. There's a look she gives Vera/Keira and it's heartbreak in one-two-three small steps.
05. An Education (2009)
Usually I only judge films after I've seen them at least twice, but I saw An Education in the cinema and I was just blown away by it. The odd thing was I didn't actually really care for Jenny, the lead character, because all the supporting characters were so strong. Her strict father, disappointed mother, disillusioned teacher and a new friend who's learnt that men will never be interested in her brains, just her looks. They were all far more interesting than Jenny and David, although their dynamic obviously was interesting enough to care enough about all these other people that somehow were involved.
04. 8 Femmes (2002)
There's two Francois Ozon films in my top five, he's my absolute favourite director of this decade. The detail to the costumes, the little references to other films (Sirk's All That Heaven Allows in this case), the over-the-top camp mixed in with really tender moments.. and eight of France's best actresses, this is a real treat.
03. The Mother (2003)
Again, Hanif Kureishi! Hanif Kureishi and Roger Michell made the Mother and Venus together, and the way the roles were written (and played) are unlike any other films I've ever seen. Really interesting character studies in both cases, but this film did more for me, maybe because I'm a woman? I wouldn't mind having Daniel Craig in my bed once I'm 60..
02. This Is England (2006)
To take on such a heavy subject, the skinhead National Front-type youth cultures in the early 80s, and show such different sides to it, was fantastically done. It starts out with little Shaun being "adopted" by a group of skinheads and it starts out as more of a fashion statement, hanging out in greasy spoons with Doc Martens and jeans rolled up. But then when Combo comes out of prison -- there's this one scene where the whole balance of the movie shifts and it's so superbly acted, it's immense.
01. Le Temps Qui Reste (2005)
Another Francois Ozon. I come off as a pretentious twat with two French films as my favourite, I don't know what happened. These two films are two of my absolute favourites, though, and Le Temps Qui Reste is refreshing in the way it handles death, disease and homosexuality. Only Ozon could make this film, so unapologetic and honest. Melvil Poupaud shines in this film, he's unbelievably good.
Ultimate favourite film of the 00s
Les Chansons d'Amour (2007)
Okay, so it's a top 25 with a seperate number one, so it's more like a top 26? I narrowed it down to 26 and then couldn't bear to take any of the movies off, so. When I watched this, I was expecting a fun musical about a young threesome-couple in modern day Paris; it started out that way but after about 20 minutes it turns into something completely unexpected. I don't want to spoil any of the film for anyone because it's great to just be taken on such a rollercoaster ride, but the actors are amazing, the songs are fantastic and the whole look of the film is just beyond beautiful.