30. "Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter ... and Spring" (2004)

The cycles of nature provide structure and beautiful backdrops for Kim Ki-duk's extraordinary portrait of the life cycle of one Buddhist monk.

29. "A Serious Man" (2009)

It can be very dark and frustrating, but the Coen brothers' latest is hilarious too, and despite a certain "Barton Fink"-ness, it's really one of a kind.

28. "Man on Wire" (2008)

French aerialist Philippe Petit, a natural-born storyteller, helps turn James Marsh's documentary about wire-walking across the Twin Towers into a thrilling, rip-roaring yarn.

27. "Wall-E" (2008)

Charlie Chaplin meets "Idiocracy" and "Hello, Dolly!" in Pixar's eco-friendly spotlight on cinema's history and the planet's possible future.

26. "Donnie Darko" (2002)

Richard Kelly's turbulent ride on the temporal plane is smarter and crazier than your average teen movie, and that creepy rabbit man refuses to go quietly from my memories, much like Sparkle Motion.

25. The "Lord of the Rings" trilogy (2001, 2002, 2003)

OK, so each of the films in Peter Jackson's record-breaking trilogy could stand on its own in this list, but I couldn't justify bumping two other movies for parts of a whole. Besides, you just know that Jackson would've liked to present the three as one, 10-hour running time notwithstanding.

24. "Hidden" (2006)

It's always interesting to watch how Michael Haneke's vocation for upending assumptions about film viewing manifests. His approach has never been more smooth or sly, however, than in this examination of watching and being watched.

23. "A History of Violence" (2005)

After years in the good graces of gorehounds, David Cronenberg boldly turned his clinical, critical eye toward their very bloodlust, and the results are chilling.

22. "Pan's Labyrinth" (2006)

Uniquely quirky and uncommonly beautiful, Guillermo Del Toro's fantasy is also distinguished by one of the most terrifying scenes of the decade (think a skin-dripping monstrosity with eye sockets in its hands).

21. "Dancer in the Dark" (2000)

Lars von Trier's tragic, soul-searing musical is one of the best movies I never want to see again.