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"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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Is it time for best movies of the decade already?

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Yes it is, I'm afraid. Or almost. Good grief, I know, it's not even Thanksgiving yet and they've already got the festive "Best Of" decorations up in the stores! And I know lots of critics who've been told by their editors to start working on their big '00s lists -- so, reluctantly, I've begun to ponder mine, as well. I haven't even taken a first stab at it but I can tell you this: It will probably not resemble the Top 100 list published a few days ago in the Times of London. Oh, sure, I can conceive of putting together some kind of list that includes "Crash" (#98), "Bowling for Columbine" (#77), "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" (#28), "Slumdog Millionaire" (#6) and the like -- but such a ranking would not be comprised of movies that I hold in high esteem. (Have any of the decades' movies plummeted in reputation more dramatically than "Columbine" and "Crash"?)

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If you want to page through the Times' list, you can go ahead and start here. It's not all so bad. Meanwhile, here are the top 20 -- with links to things I've written about some of the titles:

1) "Caché" (Michael Haneke, 2005)

2) "The Bourne Supremacy" / "The Bourne Ultimatum" (Paul Greengrass, 2004 / 2007)

3) "No Country For Old Men" (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2007)

4) "Grizzly Man" (Werner Herzog, 2005)

5) "Team America: World Police" (Trey Parker, 2004)

6) "Slumdog Millionaire" (Danny Boyle, 2008)

7) "The Last King of Scotland" (Kevin Macdonald, 2006)

8) "Casino Royale" (Martin Campbell, 2006)

9) "The Queen" (Stephen Frears, 2006)

10) "Hunger" (Steve McQueen, 2008)

11) "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan" (Larry Charles, 2006)

12) "The Lives of Others" (Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, 2006)

13) "This is England" (Shane Meadows, 2007)

14) "4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days" (Cristian Mungiu, 2007)

15) "Downfall" (Oliver Hirschbiegel, 2004)

16) "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" (Michel Gondry, 2004)

17) "Brokeback Mountain" (Ang Lee, 2005)

18) "Let the Right One In" (Tomas Alfredson, 2008)

19) "United 93" (Paul Greengrass, 2006)

20) "Donnie Darko" (Richard Kelly, 2001)

PLUS: The Telegraph's "Decade-defining" 100 list here. ("Fahrenheit 9/11" is their top pick, followed by "Brokeback Mountain," "The Incredibles," "There Will Be Blood," "LOTR: Fellowship of the Ring," "Memento," "Borat," "Amores Perros," "The Passion of the Christ," "Slumdog Millionaire"...)

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