RT's Best of the Decade!

We look at some of the top Tomatometers of the past ten years

by | December 23, 2009 | Comments

Just ten years ago, we were unearthing our analog phones and covering our heads with tin foil hats while listening to Matchbox Twenty and Creed to prepare for Y2K – the day electronics would turn against us. It’s true, the new decade will arrive with considerably less dangerous fanfare and hoarding of canned goods, but it should not and does not take away from all of the films that impressed not only audiences, but the Tomatometer as well over the past ten years. With our annual Golden Tomato Awards just around the corner, RT braved the mothball-scented digital cobwebs in our archives to find some of the very best the Tomatometer had to offer this decade.


Best Reboot/Remake



[tomatometer]MuzeID=1186973[/tomatometer]
In a decade filled with the return of iconic franchises, Star Trek went
from Impulse Drive to Warp 9 (too easy?) with both critics and audiences with
its reboot this year. When J.J. Abrams signed on to take the helm of the Star
Trek
franchise with a group of new faces taking on the roles of the
timeless Enterprise crew, little did we know that the blockbuster film would go
on to be one of the best reviewed movies of the year.

While film after film has
taken us forward with the voyagers of the Starship Enterprise, Star Trek was a
true origins story that wasn’t geared towards Trekkies, too simple for fans of
the show, or too complex for newbies. Star Trek delivered a visually
stunning brand of mainstream entertainment that propelled the series back not
only back into theaters, but the public consciousness. However, the movie had some stiff
competition, going up against the son of Mr. and Mrs. Bond and a man in a bat suit, amongst a number of others but its broad
appeal and ability to recruit a whole new generation of Star Trek fans
make it the Best Reboot of the Decade.

More Top Reboots/Remakes


Casino Royale


Casino Royale

94%


The Departed


The Departed

92%


3:10 to Yuma


3:10 to Yuma

88%


Batman Begins


Batman Begins

85%


Best Superhero Movie



[tomatometer]MuzeID=1138441[/tomatometer]
Why so serious? In an era where superhero movies have become defined by grim
angst, somber origin stories and dark nights of the soul, it might come as a
surprise to discover that a psychotic clown versus a bat-man didn’t top this
best-of-the-decade list. And yet, there it is — Pixar’s decidedly exuberant and
satirical superhero romp is the 2000s’ spandex-clad champ with movie critics,
edging out the list’s highest-grossing film at the box office, The Dark
Knight
.

We shouldn’t be surprised at all. Written and directed by Brad Bird — who showed
what he was capable of with the superb Iron Giant — The Incredibles is
a classic that succeeds in that rarest of ways; poking fun at the genre while at
the same time celebrating it and bringing something new and exciting to the
form. It’s almost like Bird read Watchmen and distilled the novel’s
premise to a pure comedic element. Fallen strongman Mr. Incredible and his wife,
Elastigirl, have been forced into a suburban life since superheroes have been
outlawed; only to return to action when crazed villain Syndrome — who’s the ultimate
fanboy — sets out to wreak revenge on those that created him.

With Bird’s impeccable sense of retro design writ colorfully in Pixar’s CG
world, The Incredibles is an artistic triumph as well as being a
dynamic action film and a seriously smart comedy — in any genre, really. It’s
an “unprecedented film that is not just a grand feature-length cartoon,” wrote
the Los Angeles Times, “but a grand feature.”

More Top Superhero Movies


The Dark Knight


The Dark Knight

94%


Spider-Man 2


Spider-Man 2

94%


Iron Man


Iron Man

93%


Spider-Man


Spider-Man

90%

Best Directorial Debut



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The best documentaries help us to see the world in new ways, and on that Afghan
Star
is an unqualified success. It gives us a look at an Afghanistan that
we rarely see on the news, and presents a nuanced portrait of a war-ravaged
nation that is looking for some measure of camaraderie and escapism. It also
proves that, no matter where you are, American Idol-style singing
completions make for compelling television.

Directing her first feature, longtime TV producer Havana Marking deserves credit
for shining a light on a cast of characters that don’t often have a voice in the
West. It’s a powerful, thought-provoking debut that’s tense, insightful,
inspiring, heart-wrenching…and true.

More Top Directorial Debuts


Anvil!


Anvil! The Story of Anvil

98%


Food, Inc.


Food, Inc.

98%


Finding Nemo


Finding Nemo

98%


Chicken Run


Chicken Run

98%


Best R-Rated Comedy



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R-Rated comedies made a strong comeback this decade, receiving a particularly
effective boost from films starring members of what has affectionately come to
be called the “Frat Pack” — people like Ben Stiller, Will Ferrell, Vince Vaughn,
and Owen Wilson — and Judd Apatow’s crew of jokesters (Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd,
Jason Segel). Having said all that, the highest rated of these starred none of
the aforementioned actors and featured far less bathroom humor than your average
man-child raunchfest.

A little less than halfway through the decade, indie director Alexander Payne
brought us a thoughtful and melancholy yet often hilarious road trip movie about
a failed writer (Paul Giamatti) and his soon-to-be-married college pal (Thomas
Haden Church). Miles Raymond (Giamatti) is the former of the two, a wine
enthusiast and divorcé pining for his ex-wife who decides to take his buddy Jack
(Church) on a weeklong trip through California wine country as a last hurrah
before Jack is married. The pair end up meeting a couple of women (Virginia
Madsen and Sandra Oh) along the way, and their short vacation quickly becomes
transformative for both of them. Praised for its outstanding performances and
intelligent script, Sideways was a sleeper hit, winning several awards
and helping to launch the mainstream careers of its stars.

More Top R-Rated Comedies


High Fidelity


High Fidelity

92%


Shaun of the Dead


Shaun of the Dead

91%


borat


Borat

91%


Knocked Up


Knocked Up

90%

Best Failed Franchise



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Look at those posters right below. Daredevil. Golden Compass. One of two Punishers released this decade.
They’re like gravestones marking the result of Hollywood folly, misguided and
frequently cynical efforts to open cash cow franchises. But rising above this
lot is 2003’s Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, and not just by
virtue of it having a fresh Tomatometer.

A lot of things turned audiences en masse away from Master and Commander when it
was theatrically released (where it didn’t even cross $100 million): its awful
title, its fondness for dialogue, and its lack of pirates. Naval officers on the
high seas? They don’t sell! Master and Commander is a lumbering character piece,
a literate blockbuster that preferred you get to know the characters before it
got into any sequel talk. It’s a movie that’s as much Russell Crowe’s as it is a
showcase for co-star Paul Bettany (who plays the temperate surgeon to Crowe’s
blustery captain), further dividing audiences who wanted simply a mindless
star-driven action flick.

More Top Failed Franchises


TheSpiderwickChronicles.jpg


The Spiderwick Chronicles

79%


Daredevil


Daredevil

44%


The Golden Compass


The Golden Compass

42%


The Punisher


The Punisher

29%


Best Martial Arts Flick



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Unfortunately, any Tomatometer-based list of martial arts movies is going to be
somewhat incomplete, as there are only so many such films that are made
available to a broader, international audience. Stars like Jackie Chan and Jet
Li are household names now, but before they made their US debuts in the mid-late
90s, both had already built sizable filmographies in Chinese cinema.
Additionally, crowning the “best” martial arts film of the decade is tough also
because most in the genre are purely about the action sequences, often
sacrificing compelling storylines and solid acting in favor of wildly
breathtaking fight choreography.

But in late 2000, director Ang Lee introduced the rest of the mainstream world
to the Chinese period epic with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and
suffice it to say that the world was immediately smitten. Truly only a “martial
arts” movie insofar as The Lord of the Rings is merely an “action
movie,” Crouching Tiger artfully blended its share of action with
gorgeous cinematography, heartfelt drama, and an epic historical setting to
craft a fully immersive tale that resonated even with those unfamiliar with the
genre. It went on to win multiple awards, including the Best Foreign Language
Film Oscar, and became the highest grossing foreign language film in American
history. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is the martial arts movie for
people who don’t watch martial arts movies, and it paved the way for other films
of a similar nature, such as 2004’s Hero and this year’s Red
Cliff
.

More Top Martial Arts Flicks


Hero


Hero

94%


shaolin Soccer


Shaolin Soccer

92%


Iron Monkey


Iron Monkey

90%


Kung Fu Hustle


Kung Fu Hustle

89%

Best Disaster Movie



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TIME magazine titled its end-of-the-aughts issue “The Decade from Hell,” and
although it wasn’t a decade without its jolly moments, Steven Spielberg’s War
of the Worlds
is as good a representation as any of just how dark things
sometimes felt. Spielberg, after all, was the director who did more than just
about anyone else to turn Hollywood space aliens from creepy crawlies into
benevolent visitors — and here he was doing an about face, crafting a
big-budget adaptation of the classic H.G. Wells novel about terrifying
interstellar conquerors rising from deep within the earth. The 9/11 parallels
were hard to miss, but Spielberg being Spielberg, War was still a
popcorn-gobbling good time; as Ken Tucker noted in New York Magazine, “Steven
Spielberg’s War of the Worlds is huge and scary, moving and
funny-another capper to a career that seems like an unending succession of
captivations.”

Worlds faced its toughest competition from The Road, where
Cormac McCarthy discovered you can wring Pulitzer-winning drama from the
post-apocalyptic aftermath — even without Kevin Costner or Mel Gibson around to
pump up the action. The Day After Tomorrow proved that nobody destroys
things with quite as much panache as Roland Emmerich. The Core combined
the dramatic might of Hilary Swank, Stanley Tucci, and DJ Qualls in a good old
fashioned blockbuster epic featuring a team of scientists, an early cameo
appearance by “unobtanium” and a daring plan to detonate nuclear bombs at the
center of the earth. And this year, Emmerich was back dreaming up new ways to
destroy the planet, turning the Mayan calendar for inspiration to use $200
million worth of state-of-the-art CGI to create its own brand of apocalyptic
charm.

More Top Disaster Movies


The Road


The Road

72%


The Day After Tomorrow


The Day After Tomorrow

45%


The Core


The Core

42%


2012


2012

39%


Best Children’s Book Adaptation



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Seems like it was a good decade to be an author of children’s books or YA lit.
Harry Potter raised a whole new generation of kids to come out of the living
room and into the theaters. Meanwhile, it was virtually guaranteed that at least
one of the books you read (or had read to you) as a tot was brought to the
multiplex. The one that’s found the most critical success this decade is also
the most recent: Fantastic Mr. Fox, the Roald Dahl classic work as adapted by
Wes Anderson, creator of new wave precious cinema.

While many elements of the story’s plot was altered or removed completely, and
the movie itself not necessarily geared towards children, critics responded to
the movie’s joie de vivre and surprisingly thoughtful meditation on how to grow
up and how to do it with style. Fantastic Mr. Fox hasn’t found its audience in
theaters, but expect a cult audience in coming years when it hits the home
market. Like a good classic book, this is something kids may want to cherish and
experience again as they grow.

More Top Children’s Book Adaptations


Coraline


Coraline

89%


Shrek


Shrek

89%


Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban


HP and the
Prisoner of Azkaban


89%


Harry Potter and the The Goblet of Fire


HP and the Goblet of
Fire


88%

Best Teen Movie



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What happens when you take a first time writer (Diablo Cody), add a director on
the upswing (Jason Reitman, who would later direct/write/produce Up in the
Air
), and give X-Men‘s Shadowcat the chance to play a super smart
sixteen year old that would put Dawson Leary and Joey Potter to shame? You get Juno,
the best reviewed teen movie of the decade.

At 93% on the Tomatometer, Juno also added four Oscar nominations to
its resume’, with one win going to Diablo Cody for her story about an unexpected
teen pregnancy. Not only was the story recognized, but the Juno role
ultimately catapulted Ellen Page to star status. Overflowing with wit and heart,
strong performances by Page, Jason Bateman, Jennifer Garner, and Michael Cera
(as the baby daddy) gave critics and audiences plenty to love. Beating out some
tough competition, Juno‘s preggers five foot frame stands
tall this decade.

More Top Teen Movies


Ghost World


Ghost World

92%


Hairspray

Hairspray

91%


Freaky Friday


Freaky Friday

88%


Superbad


Superbad

87%


Best WTF Movie



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Movie characters fall in love all the time, but it’s rare that a movie explores
both the joy and messiness of relationships in a way that seems organic and not
dictated by the demands of a formula. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless
Mind
is one such example; it’s a movie that dares to ask: if you knew how
an affair would end, would it be worth the trouble?

That’s the dilemma Joel (Jim Carrey) and Clementine (Kate Winslet) face in this
delirious, phantasmagoric feature, which blends science fiction, comedy, and
romance with director Michel Gondry’s gonzo aesthetic and Charlie Kauffman’s
thoughtful concepts. It’s one of the trippiest movies of the decade, and yet
it’s touching and poignant — the type of movie that rewards multiple watchings
and casts a personal spell on each viewer that sees it.

More Top WTF Movies


Memento


Memento

93%


Minority Report


Minority Report

92%


Adaptation


Adaptation

91%


Bad Education


Bad Education

89%




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