We wrap up the decade with eternal sunshine, angry inches, Pixar superheroes, hobbits, the zed word, a hidden dragon, black gold, and Werner Herzog.
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1. "Wo Hu Cang Long" aka "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"
I grew up on a steady diet of Shaw Brothers movies and whatever other kung-fu films I could find, and there is a numbing repetition to the storylines that was made palatable by the individual fight scenes that were the real reason for watching. Still, some part of me always wondered what would happen if someone took the conventions of the genre seriously and tried to make something great using them. Ang Lee must have wondered the same thing, and the result is this lyrical, jaw-dropping film that tells not one but two great love stories, one about a couple afraid to follow their hearts, the other about a couple afraid not to. The fight scenes are intoxicating, the cinematography is lush and dream-like, and the cast is all spectacular. Chow Yun-Fat and Michelle Yeoh devastate me each time I return to this film, the model of lives lived for others at the expense of their own happiness, and Zhang Ziyi, with her combination of delicate beauty and stubborn strength, is my pin-up girl of the decade. By the time the film reaches its heartbroken conclusion, I find myself chemically buzzed each and every time I watch it. No other film this decade took flight this same way, and I would argue its influence on cinema around the world in the ten years since its release makes it an unarguable masterwork.