Movie Lists

Best Movies of the Century, Year by Year

Looking back over my ten-best lists for the past decade, I see that my tastes are slightly out of the mainstream, at least as far as my fellow reviewers and the number ten itself are concerned.

Mike’s 9 Top Ten of 2004

Mike’s 9 Top-Ten of 2004

Million Dollar Baby. Clint Eastwood and Hilary Swank resurrect the boxing movie.

Kill Bill, v.2. Quentin Tarantino’s conclusion is one of the great action films.

Sideways. Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church turn the tale of two losers into a wonderful adventure.

A Very Long Engagement. Audrey Tatou in an epic World War I romance

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Romantic comedy/drama told with fractured time. Fine performances from Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet.

Hero. Jet Li leads a fine ensemble in a grand historic epic of China.

Shrek 2. A sequel that’s almost as good as the wonderful original.

The Incredibles. Animated superheroes with family problems.

Garden State. Zach Braff and Natalie Portman in a tricky tale of a guy who tries to go home again.

Mike’s 11 Top Ten of 2003

Mike’s 11 Top Ten movies of 2003


The Swimming Pool. Enigmatic, erotic, and very very French.

School of Rock. Wry, smart comedy with heart.

Capturing the Friedmans. Unsettling documentary leaves you wondering exactly what you just saw.

The Cooler. William Macy’s is a loser who gets one last shot. The gritty side of Vegas has seldom been shown so well.

In America. A family of illegal Irish immigrants finds a beautiful new life in a squalid enchanting New York.

Seabiscuit. A horse racing tale with heart and a fine evocation of Depression-era America.

Mystic River. Clint Eastwood’s adaptation of Dennis Lahane’s novel is complex and serious with a first-rate ensemble.

American Splendor. Paul Giamatti is writer Harvey Pekar in a defiantly quirky biopic.

Master and Commander: Far Side of the World.
One of the best seafaring adventures ever, with another strong performance by Russell Crowe.

House of Sand and Fog. A truly tragic drama about willful people and a house. Fine work from Jennifer Connelly, Ben Kingsley and Shohreh Aghdashloo.

The Station Agent. Peter Dinklage inherits a railroad stationhouse and deals with his own loneliness. With Patricia Clarkson and Bobby Cannavale.

Mike’s 13 Top Ten of 2002

Mike’s 13 top ten of 2002

About a Boy.  Hugh Grant proves that he really can act in a remarkably moving comedy/drama.

Insomnia.  The 2nd best Robin Williams movie of the year. Director Christopher Nolan proves that he’s for real.

Frailty. Bill Paxton’s brilliant directorial debut is the year’s best horror.

Undisputed. Walter Hill/Ving Rhames/Wesley Snipes boxing/prison drama. Sleeper of the year.

One-Hour Photo. The finest acting Robin Williams has done; superb work manipulating a familiar formula.

Standing in the Shadows of Motown. Terrific documentary about the Funk Bros., the backup band that contributed so much to the music of the 1960s.

Spirited Away. Hands down, the year’s best animation from Japan. Worthy of comparison to Pinocchio & The Wizard of Oz.

Gangs of New York. Martin Scorsese’s historical epic is likely to win him Oscar. (Oops, got that wrong.)

Brotherhood of the Wolf. Your basic 18th century French political-conspiracy martial-arts horror special effects epic, with a spaghetti Western sensibility.

Y tu Mama Tambien. Striking Mexican road/sex/political comedy/drama.

24 Hour Party People. Curious reworking of Citizen Kane (sort of) set in the world of British music & clubs.

Barbershop.The year’s funniest comedy marks the arrival of producer/star Ice-Cube as a force to be reckoned with.

Road to Perdition. The year’s best film is far more ambitious, controlled and moving than anything else released in 2002.

Mike’s 11 Top-Ten of 2001

Mike’s 11 Top-ten of 2001

Enemy at the Gates. Superb war movie about the siege of Stalingrad.

Christopher Nolan’s stylish thriller is more than a memory-loss gimmick.

Amores Perros. Brilliantly constructed drama of contemporary Mexico.

With a Friend Like Harry. French thriller with a strong, dark sense of humor.

Shrek. Wit, romance, great animation. One of the all-time best.

Ghost World. Off-beat comic book adaptation.

Deep End. Unpredictable mystery about mom Tilda Swinton protecting her son.

Go Tigers! Wonderful documentary about high school football in Massillon, Ohio.

Training Day. Oscar winning vehicle for Denzel Washington as charismatic corrupt cop.

Donnie Darko. Is it s-f? Fantasy? A journey into the disturbed psyche of teen Jake Gyllenhaal?

Ocean’s 11. First rate caper flick with top drawer ensemble cast.

Books by Mike Mayo