As promised, here are my picks for the best movies made between January 1, 2000 and the present day. Not surprisingly, most of these titles have appeared on my year-end Top Ten lists, but you might notice a few surprises mixed into the bunch…

The Top Ten

1. Yi Yi
Okay, so no surprise here. I’ve seen a lot of great films over the past seven years, but this is the only one I’d definitively label a masterpiece.

2. Spirited Away
It’s cooler to pick one of Hayao Miyazaki’s more obscure animated features as your favorite (I know a lot of people who swear by Porco Rosso) but personally I keep returning to this beautifully rendered coming-of-age story, which is arguably the master’s most satisfying and complete film.

3. Before Sunset
Speaking of satisfying and complete, Richard Linklater’s ten-years-later sequel to 1995’s Before Sunrise remains one of the most joyous moviegoing experiences I’ve had so far this decade.

4. The New World
Colin Farrell’s droning narration aside, this exquisitely shot re-telling of the Pocahontas myth (and, make no mistake, this is history-as-myth) may be my all-time favorite Terrence Malick film. It also features the remarkable debut of Q’Orianka Kilcher, who has sadly been MIA since shooting wrapped.

5. Los Angeles Plays Itself
I wish this three-hour documentary, which recounts the history of Los Angeles through the movies, could be released in an expanded edition on DVD, but the cost of licensing the numerous film clips used in the movie would probably be prohibitively expensive. It’s a shame, because this is a doc that all movie lovers, not to mention history buffs, would go crazy for. I feel fortunate to have caught the film during its brief release at Manhattan’s Film Forum and I can only hope that another repertory house picks it up in the near future.

6. The Matrix Reloaded
The most misunderstood blockbuster of the past twenty years. While it’s true that the Wachowski’s stumbled with the third entry, Revolutions, it doesn’t detract from the mind-boggling ambition of Reloaded. I’ve argued about the merits of this film at length in the past, so I’ll just say that it’s the only film I’ve seen about one man’s quest to find God that actually ends with him finding God. That said man also happens to be a computer program with Superman’s powers only makes it cooler.

7. Lilo & Stitch
I feel like I should be putting a Pixar entry like Finding Nemo or The Incredibles in this slot, but when I really think about which American animated film I’ve enjoyed the most in the past seven years, Lilo & Stitch is the one that springs immediately to mind. It’s also one of the few movies that makes me tear up every time I watch it, no matter how much I’ve attempted to steel myself against any waterworks.

8. Children of Men
Alfonso Cuaron’s dark, challenging sci-fi drama is a visual stunner and perhaps the most potent end-of-days story ever committed to the screen. It’s also a movie that gets better and better with successive viewings as you can look beyond the revolutionary camerawork to pick up on the small details about this world that Cuaron has built into every frame.

9. Lost in Translation
Sofia Coppola’s sophomore film has been the subject of some brutally harsh critiques, but I stand by it as a beautifully observed character piece in the tradition of Wong Kar-Wai, Edward Yang and Jim Jarmusch.

10. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Perhaps the defining romantic drama of this generation, Eternal Sunshine is Charlie Kaufman’s most overtly emotional film and great showcase for Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey.

And The Rest (In Order of Release Year)

The Virgin Suicides
Sound and Fury
The Emperor’s New Groove
Gosford Park
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
Punch-Drunk Love
Capturing the Friedmans
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
Finding Nemo
Shaun of the Dead
The Incredibles
Broken Flowers
Tristram Shandy
A Prairie Home Companion
The Descent
Pan’s Labyrinth
Hot Fuzz
After the Wedding
The Lives of Others