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See which films made trips to the theater worthwhile in the past 10 years

Shaun Harrison
topmovies-decade-departed8.jpg
1 of 18 courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures

The Departed

Martin Scorsese caught up to Three 6 Mafia's Oscar total, finally winning for this tale — based on the Hong Kong film Infernal Affairs — of corrupt cops in Boston. Scorsese aficionados would argue this was his fourth- or fifth-best film, but justice finally was done by the Academy. The 2006 outing, featuring a stunning cast that includes Jack Nicholson, Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio, also won three other Oscars.
2 of 18 courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures

The Dark Knight

Heath Ledger gave a bravura performance that earned him a posthumous Oscar. Christopher Nolan's 2008 film also won for sound editing, but it was snubbed by the Academy Awards in the best-picture category.
3 of 18 courtesy The Kobal Collection

Traffic

Steven Soderbergh's 2000 quilt of intersecting stories about America's war on drugs won four Oscars, including for best director and supporting actor Benecio Del Toro.
4 of 18 courtesy Focus Features

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

This 2005 film, directed by Michel Gondry, was written by one of the few Hollywood screenwriters with a marquee name, Charlie Kaufman, and this script may be his best: a universal story about two lovers so hurt by their breakup that they're willing to erase their memories to forget each other.
5 of 18 courtesy Miramax

Kill Bill (Vols. 1 and 2)

Quentin Tarantino's epic paean to martial arts classics, released in late 2003 and early 2004, brought us Uma Thurman as an avenging mother virtually back from the dead, intent on one thing: What's the title again? David Carradine was at his best as her philosophical ex-boss, who's part father figure, part killer.
6 of 18 courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures

Mystic River

Clint Eastwood's quietly assured direction in 2003 evoked superb performances from an all-star cast, including Sean Penn and Tim Robbins, who both won Oscars. Marcia Gay Harden, who took the best-actress Oscar for 2000's Pollock, also received a nomination here.
7 of 18 courtesy Warner Bros./Everett Collection

Ocean's Eleven

Steven Soderbergh enlisted George Clooney (in the Frank Sinatra role) and a rat pack of other Hollywood A-listers in one of the most satisfying remakes ever.
8 of 18 courtesy 20th Century Fox

Borat

Sacha Baron Cohen, in his alter ego as a journalist from Kazakhstan, travels across America in search of his beloved Pah-MEE-luh. Many people are skewered and angered along the way, as Borat's ignorance lulls them into revealing their own prejudices.
9 of 18 courtesy Dreamworks Pictures

Gladiator

The 2000 Ridley Scott sword-and-and sandals epic won the best-picture Oscar and four other statuettes, including the lead actor prize for Russell Crowe.
10 of 18 courtesy DreamWorks Pictures

Anchorman

If Ted Baxter were still alive, you know this would be his all-time favorite movie — even though he really wouldn't get it. Will Ferrell plays San Diego's top-rated newsman in the 1970s. When the ambitious Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) comes along to join the station, he's attracted to her, but doesn't want to treat her as an equal. Because she's a girl.
11 of 18 courtesy Universal Pictures

The 40-Year-Old Virgin

Steve Carell, among the several successful alumni of Comedy Central's The Daily Show, plays the title role in a film that's wonderfully silly, surprisingly sweet, and a little sick.
12 of 18 courtesy Universal Pictures

The Bourne Trilogy

Matt Damon proved his mettle as an amnesiac spook who always manages to stay two steps ahead of the CIA. The films proved to be a worthy 21st century update of Bond and other genre films.
13 of 18 courtesy New Line Cinema

Lord of the Rings Trilogy

Peter Jackson's stunning achievement in fantasy storytelling culminated in 11 Oscars for its final installment, including best picture and director.
14 of 18 courtesy Focus Features

Brokeback Mountain

Though it lost to Crash for the 2005 best picture Oscar, this beautifully shot, precisely told story of two gay cowboys won three statuettes and subtly showed how homophobia can destroy the lives of homosexuals and heterosexuals alike. Watching it again gives us even greater respect for Heath Ledger's range as an actor: The restrained, macho cowboy he played here couldn't be more different from The Joker.
15 of 18 courtesy Focus Features

Lost in Translation

The Coppola family officially became a dynasty as The Godfather director's daughter, Sofia, charmed audiences with this unconsummated romance starring Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson. Murray shone as a jaded actor, Johansson established herself as one of the most crushworthy women in the world, and Tokyo has never looked so lonely.
16 of 18 courtesy Sony Pictures

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Ang Lee's 2000 film epitomized the ascendancy of the influence of Asian cinema as the decade began, and won four Oscars. Lots of films succeed at sweeping romance, or jaw-dropping fight martial arts scenes. But try to think of another that does both as well as Crouching Tiger. Also, the ending is stunning.
17 of 18 New Deal Productions/The Kobal Collection

Hustle & Flow

Terrence Howard is compulsively watchable as a man hoping music can get him out of the pimp game, and this 2005 film cruises coolly along on the complexity of his performance and the quality of the songs. Three 6 Mafia won a well-deserved Oscar for "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp," which perfectly captured the plight of Howard's character.
18 of 18 courtesy Sony Pictures

The Lives of Others

Set in East Germany during the Cold War, the 2006 foreign-film Oscar winner told the emotionally wrenching story of a secret police agent who spies on a playwright and his actress lover, but can't resist inserting himself into their lives. Anchored by Ulrich Muhe's subdued performance as the spy, the film takes us to a place and time when people couldn't express their thoughts and dreams without facing the cruelest penalties.