Days of Heaven

Perhaps the real surprise was how poorly some alleged critics' favorites fared in the voting: Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine barely edged Gail Dolgin and Vicente Franco's Daughter From Danang (#62) for Best Documentary but finished in a tie for #22. Steven Soderbergh's Solaris wound up #31, Todd Solondz's Storytelling at #39, Paul Schrader's Auto Focus at #43, Henry Bean's The Believer at #51, Miguel Arteta's The Good Girl at #68, Steven Shainberg's Secretary at #75 (although Maggie Gyllenhaal gave the #6 performance). Most amazing: Curtis Hansen's Eminem vehicle 8 Mile turned up on only one ballot to finish tied for 99th place with 25 other movies (including Lilo & Stitch and Road to Perdition).

Dare we draw any conclusions? For the second consecutive year, American movies have dominated the leading vote-getters. Three of the four youngish independent or maverick Americans who finished in the top 10—Spike Jonze, Paul Thomas Anderson, and Alexander Payne—had their previous movies in the top 10 of our inaugural 1999 poll, in which Todd Haynes's Safe was voted the film of the decade. Grouping these men with the five mavericks (Terry Zwigoff, Christopher Nolan, Richard Linklater, Todd Field, and Wes Anderson) and two old masters (David Lynch and Steven Spielberg) who occupied the top slots last year, it would seem that, against all expectations and however far from heaven, U.S. movies are experiencing their best period since the mythologized early 1970s.

Domestic goddess: best performer Julianne Moore in #1 film Far From Heaven
photo: Focus Features
Domestic goddess: best performer Julianne Moore in #1 film Far From Heaven

J. Hoberman's Top 10

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