This gooey-hearted, sharp-scripted sorta-indie earmarked Abigail Breslin, Steve Carell and Paul Dano as performers to follow under any and all circumstances. Toni Collette, Greg Kinnear, a cameo by a pre-Breaking Bad Bryan Cranston and a to-die-for talent show finale carried it the rest of the way to greatness. It went on to snag four Oscar nominations and two wins, for Alan Arkin's supporting performance and that sterling screenplay from Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3).
Somehow another go-round in the organized crime department didn't see Martin Scorsese losing any air from the tires that drove him through greats like Goodfellas, Casino and Gangs of New York. Scorsese may have gotten the final unmissable performance out of Jack Nicholson, and he cemented his relationship with Leonardo DiCaprio as one that'll go down as memorably as his work with Robert De Niro.
The one truly essential onscreen Beyoncé performance thus far came in the form of a Broadway adaptation that introduced movie audiences to Jennifer Hudson and scored Eddie Murphy his first (and so far only) Oscar nomination. J-Hud's performance of "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" is up there with the most emotional moments of the decade in film.
Eleven years after Pierce Brosnan became James Bond—magazine-cover slick, entirely unshakable, center of at least a couple very messy movies—Daniel Craig presented us with a grittier, more flawed 007. The world of the franchise followed suit, going darker and realer, stripping away the camp and marking possibly the biggest reinvention the series had seen since its 1962 debut. (The fact it came just one year after Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins makes a lot of sense in retrospect.)
Hot off Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Michel Gondry linked up with Dave Chappelle to improvise an adventure in Brooklyn. The concert footage—Kanye West doing "Jesus Walks" with a marching band, the Fugees reuniting, Jill Scott bringing down the house, Erykah Badu slaying, etc. etc.—is utterly incredible, but it's easily rivaled by Chappelle's off-the-cuff warmth, humor and curiosity.
A post-apocalyptic film to judge all others against, Children of Men had the perfect synthesis of performances (newcomer Clare-Hope Ashitey, Michael Caine, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Julianne Moore and Clive Owen, never better), story (adapted from P.D. James' novel about a world deep into an impenetrable human infertility crisis) and directorial derring-do. Y Tu Mamá También auteur Alfonso Cuarón and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki (who has since done The Revenant and Birdman) served up an epically long single-take action sequence midway through that singlehandedly makes the altogether excellent movie worth revisiting.
Former Vice President Al Gore and his documentary slideshow helped wake the world up to the realities of global warming. For an educational call-to-action to become one of the biggest documentaries in history (it currently stands at No. 11 on the all-time doc chart) was remarkable and heartening.
Sacha Baron-Cohen's blockbuster-scale commitment to his Da Ali G Show character shocked nervous systems and realigned the movie-quoting culture. Its influence on the mockumentary-made-in-the-real-world format still reverberates through TV and cinema a decade later.
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