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`Casino Royale` ranked in The Times top-10 movies of the decade

08-Nov-2009 • Casino Royale

Daniel Craig's James Bond debut in "Casino Royale" (2006) bet out George Clooney drama "Syriana", Ridley Scott's blockbuster "Gladiator" and slap-stick "Borat" to be listed within the top 10 films in Times Online's 100 best movies of the 2000s (the "naughties").

1 Hidden (Cache) (Michael Haneke, 2005)
It is only as the decade draws to a close that it becomes clear just how presciently the Austrian director Michael Haneke tapped into the uncertain mood of the Noughties. The film’s twin themes resonate perfectly with the defining concerns of the time: tacit national guilt about a questionable foreign policy, in the film it’s France’s occupation of Algeria, but it’s not hard to piece together the parallels with more recent conflicts. Plus, as round-the-clock surveillance became a part of our daily lives, here was a film that captured the creeping paranoia that resulted from the eyes of unseen strangers invading private life.

Daniel Auteuil and Juliette Binoche star as Georges and Anne Laurent, the successful couple whose charmed life is disrupted by a series of covertly captured videotapes of their family and home. The campaign pertains to some unspoken and long suppressed event. Auteuil and Binoche are both excellent — their brittle, abrupt performances etch out the fracture lines in their crumbling relationship. But the film’s brilliance comes from two striking, perplexing moments in the film. The first is a shockingly violent suicide that catches the audience off guard. The second is the film’s ambivalent ending — a long shot of a meeting on some steps which could signal the end of the family’s torment, or the beginning of something worse. There have been rumours of an American remake with Ron Howard, of all people, directing. Hopefully common sense will prevail.

2 The Bourne Supremacy / The Bourne Ultimatum (Paul Greengrass, 2004, 2007)
The action movie is dragged, kicking and back-flipping, into the Noughties courtesy of Matt Damon’s amnesiac superspy and director Greengrass’s film-making élan. Marrying jittery docu-style camera work with healthy political cynicism, Greengrass transformed Bourne into an anti-Bond for the PlayStation generation.

3 No Country for Old Men (Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, 2007)
The alchemic combination of the Coen brothers’ eloquent precision and Cormac McCarthy’s vivid nihilism makes for a bleakly compelling cycle of violence. The only thing more terrifying than Javier Bardem’s haircut is the clinical efficiency of his murders.

4 Grizzly Man (Werner Herzog, 2005)
Party nature documentary, part philosophical tract, Herzog’s eerie account of the life and brutal death of mildly unhinged bear-watcher Timothy Treadwell is a monumental piece of cinema — emotionally satisfying, intellectually stimulating, but primal to the core.

5 Team America: World Police (Trey Parker, 2004)
The South Park creators launch an assault on pretty much everyone, from North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il to poor, hapless Matt Damon. It’s jaw-droppingly offensive and wildly funny.

6 Slumdog Millionaire (Danny Boyle, 2008)
Twelve years after Trainspotting, Boyle produces a dizzying Mumbai-set romance that redefines the possibilities of a progressive yet commercially successful national industry. Oscars abound.

7 The Last King of Scotland (Kevin Macdonald, 2006)
Forest Whitaker gives one of the great performances of the decade as Idi Amin. He nails the Ugandan dictator’s deadly charm — he’s a charismatic monster; part amiable buffoon, part stone-cold killer.

8 Casino Royale (Martin Campbell, 2006)
The high camp of the Brosnan era Bond is ditched, and Fleming’s hero returns rebooted (and Bourne-ified), with an intense turn from Daniel Craig, and some breakneck set-pieces. An opening parkour-style chase through Madagascar sets the tone.

9 The Queen (Stephen Frears, 2006)
Compassionate and intelligent, witty and wicked, this account of what happened behind the Palace gates after the death of the Princess of Wales is a crown jewel of a movie. Helen Mirren is a very human HRH.

10 Hunger (Steve McQueen, 2008)
Provocative London-born artist McQueen directs a revelatory Michael Fassbender in a movie that purports to tackle the infamous 1981 IRA hunger strikes but is actually a hypnotic meditation on the ineffable mystery of human life. Achingly profound.

Click here to browse #11-100 of the Times best movies of the 2000s.

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