Continuing down the line with numbers 7 and 6:

Year: 2006
Director: Spike Lee

Why it’s one of the best: Spike Lee’s absorbing, infuriating, extraordinary 255-minute HBO documentary about Hurricane Katrina-ravaged New Orleans bristles with outrage and stands as the pinnacle of ten fine years of documentary filmmaking. Consisting of news footage and interviews with residents, politicians, and journalists, it describes in great detail the inadequacy of the levees that allowed storm surges to flood the city and the deplorable failure of the federal government to respond to its displaced citizens; FEMA, it is shown, didn’t arrive until after the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The level of mismanagement and malfeasance Lee observes is astonishing, as is the indefatigable spirit of New Orleans, evoked by Terence Blanchard’s score and a symbolic jazz funeral staged in the final act. It’s essential viewing for Americans.

Year: 2001
Director: Steven Spielberg
Writer: Steven Spielberg, Ian Watson (from the short story Supertoys Last All Summer Long by Brian Aldiss)
Cast: Haley Joel Osment, Jude Law, Frances O’Connor

Why it’s one of the best: Not only one of the best films of the last ten years, but possibly the most misunderstood. Spielberg took over the project from Stanley Kubrick, who died before he could direct it, and the marriage of Kubrick’s cold alienation and Spielberg’s warm sentimentality, though jarring to many, in my opinion produced a sublime artistic balance. The story that resulted — a dark and frequently disturbing fairy tale about a robot boy (Haley Joel Osment) desperate to be human after being abandoned by his adoptive parents — is compassionate but unblinking, chilling but redemptive, and visionary from beginning to end.

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