The Best of the Decade – Poll Results

29 March 2010

You, the Midnight Eye readers, have spoken... These Japanese films are your favourites of the first decade of the 21st century.

Below are the final results, plus your personal comments and reactions. Many thanks to everyone who voted!

Check our Best of the Decade feature to find out which films are Midnight Eye's favourites.

Ranking Title Original title Director
1. (12.09%) LOVE EXPOSURE Ai no Mukidashi Sion Sono
2. (7.58%) Audition   Takashi Miike
3. (5.77%) Eureka   Shinji Aoyama
4. (4.33%) Battle Royale   Kinji Fukasaku
5. (3.97%) Nobody Knows Dare mo Shiranai Hirokazu Koreeda
Spirited Away Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi Hayao Miyazaki
6. (3.61%) Ichi the Killer Koroshiya 1 Takashi Miike
7. (2.88%) Adrift in Tokyo Tenten Satoshi Miki
The Taste of Tea Cha no Aji Katsuhito Ishii
Tokyo Sonata   Kiyoshi Kurosawa
8. (2.52%) All About Lily Chou-Chou Lily Chou-Chou no Subete Shunji Iwai
Still Walking Aruitemo Aruitemo Hirokazu Koreeda
9. (2.16%) Pulse Kairo Kiyoshi Kurosawa
A Snake of June Rokugatsu no Hebi Shinya Tsukamoto
Twilight Samurai Tasogare Seibei Yoji Yamada
Zatoichi   Takeshi Kitano
10. (1.80%) Blue Spring Aoi Haru Toshiaki Toyoda
Strawberry Shortcakes   Hitoshi Yazaki
11. (1.44%) Avalon   Mamoru Oshii
Bright Future Akarui Mirai Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Departures Okuribito Yojiro Takita
The Hanging Garden Kuchu Teien Toshiaki Toyoda
Memories of Matsuko Kiraware Matsuko no Issho Tetsuya Nakashima
United Red Army Jitsuroku Rengo Sekigun Koji Wakamatsu
12. (1.08%) Dead or Alive 2 Deddo oa Araibu 2 Tobosha Takashi Miike
Innocence Inosensu Mamoru Oshii
Linda, Linda, Linda   Nobuhiro Yamashita
Versus   Ryuhei Kitamura
13. (0.72%) 9 Souls   Toshiaki Toyoda
Dainipponjin   Hitoshi Matsumoto
Dark Water Honogurai Mizu no Soko kara Hideo Nakata
Electric Dragon 80,000 V   Sogo Ishii
Gozu   Takashi Miike
Hana and Alice Hana to Arisu Shunji Iwai
Josee, the Tiger and the Fish Joze to Tora to Sakanatachi Isshin Inudo
The Hidden Blade Kakushi Ken: Oni no Tsume Yoji Yamada
Millennium Actress Sennen Joyu Satoshi Kon
Suicide Club Jisatsu Circle Sion Sono
Survive Style 5+   Gen Sekiguchi
Tekkon Kinkreet   Michael Arias
Vibrator   Ryuichi Hiroki
Visitor Q   Takashi Miike
14. (0.36%) 20th Century Boys Niju Seiki Shonen Yukihiko Tsutsumi
Ain't No Tomorrows Oretachi ni Asu wa Naissu Yuki Tanada
Body Drop Asphalt   Junko Wada
Canary Kanaria Akihiko Shiota
Dead or Alive Deddo oa Araibu Hanzaisha Takashi Miike
Dear Doctor   Miwa Nishikawa
Dolls   Takeshi Kitano
H Story   Nobuhiro Suwa
The Happiness of the Katakuris   Takashi Miike
Harmful Insect Gaichu Akihiko Shiota
Hula Girls   Lee Sang-il
It's Only Talk Yawarakai Seikatsu Ryuichi Hiroki
Kamikaze Girls Shimotsuma Monogatari Nakashima Tetsuya
Kiss Seppun Kunitoshi Manda
Mind Game   Masaaki Yuasa
The Most Beautiful Night in the World Sekai de Ichiban Utsukushii Yoru Daisuke Tengan
Noriko's Dinner Table Noriko no Shokutaku Sion Sono
Now I... Ima, Boku wa... Yasutomo Chikuma
Paprika   Satoshi Kon
Retribution Sakebi Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Sukiyaki Western Django   Takashi Miike
Swing Girls   Shinobu Yaguchi
Tokyo Godfathers Tokyo Goddofazasu Satoshi Kon
Vengeance for Sale Sukedachi-ya Sukeroku Kihachi Okamoto
Vital   Shinya Tsukamoto
Warm Water Under a Red Bridge Akai Hashi no Shita no Nurui Mizu Shohei Imamura
Waterboys   Shinobu Yaguchi

Comments and reactions

On 29-03-2010 'Martin Kolk' voted for 'The Hanging Garden'

I really like the dysfunctional family genre that Japanese directors are so good at and this is my favourite.

On 29-03-2010 'mauro' voted for 'Audition'

simply perfect; more stunning and more mysterious each time i watch it

On 29-03-2010 'logboy' voted for 'The Hanging Garden'

it fascinates and depresses me in equal measure that a director as prolific & widely dubbed in English as takashi miike is so apparently & frequently dismissed, misunderstood and appreciated for such trivial reasons, belittled for being entertaining, ignored despite the imagination and vibrancy, and generally badly served by so many that would have many believe they understand & appreciate Japanese film because they go along with the general concensus.

I've seen all on this list officially released somewhere with subs - and I'd like to se the rest, especially hiroki's "it's only talk" - but I give my vote to toyoda's "hanging garden" even though I might have picked "mind game", but I would say the greatest value of the decade came from miike's work made both in this decade & the last, even though I think more recent work clunks a little, I'm glad I got so much of it, even if the reasons for licensing might have been as misguidec as so much of the appreciation for it frequently seems to be...

On 29-03-2010 'Eddie Kasica' voted for 'other'

Why is Zatoichi on this list instead of Dolls??? Ridiclulous!

On 29-03-2010 'Dejan Ognjanovic' voted for 'Battle Royale'

Movies don't get much better than BATTLE ROYALE - and it has everything a great movie should have in it: love, romance, betrayal, suspicion, suspense, violence, bloodshed, friendship, action, SF, horror, drama, thrills, stunning unforgettable imagery, superb music, memorable characters and great acting, anthological set-pieces... and what not! Just perfection.

On 29-03-2010 'Claude Leblanc' voted for 'Tokyo Sonata'

Great film. Wtach it and you'll see today's Japan. I love how Kurosawa is using lines in this movie.

On 29-03-2010 'Christopher Bourne' voted for 'Nobody Knows'

If I'm going to be forced to pick one (the epic films Eureka, United Red Army, and Love Exposure were also in a fierce battle for supremacy), I'll have to go with Nobody Knows, Kore-Eda's best of the decade, and an indelible work of great artistry and potent, devastating social critique.

On 29-03-2010 'Rob' voted for 'Blue Spring'

One of the greatest opening sequences ever!!!

On 29-03-2010 'anonymous' voted for 'other'

Nobuhiro Suwa, H Story

On 29-03-2010 'anonymous' voted for 'other'

9 Souls

On 29-03-2010 'Todd' voted for 'Ain't No Tomorrows'


On 29-03-2010 'Rich' voted for 'Electric Dragon 80,000 V'

Luckily, I saw Electric Dragon 80,000V in theater with incredible surround sound. No one in attendence knew what they were in for. Shown with Stereo Future and Samurai Fiction, that night I became dedicated fan of Japanese cinema.

On 29-03-2010 'kballweg' voted for 'Spirited Away'

One of the best on the list, and massively effective out of proportion to all the others for bringing Studio Ghibli to the west.

On 29-03-2010 'Mathis Gasser' voted for 'Avalon'

together with Paprika, Tokyo Sonata and A Snake of June

On 29-03-2010 'Swim Stigter' voted for 'Nobody Knows'

The best Japanese film of the decade, sadly, is missing in this list: Distance by Kore'Eda. So as a tribute I vote for his second-best.


On 30-03-2010 'anonymous' voted for 'other'

Swing Girls

A movie that makes me smile just thinking about it. Always gets me in good mood.

On 30-03-2010 'Joshua Smith' voted for 'other'

Mind Game

On 30-03-2010 'toni' voted for 'Vibrator'

I cried.

On 30-03-2010 'joey' voted for 'Adrift in Tokyo'

Adrift in tokyo is the kind of movie that can bring a smile to your face by just thinking about it wherever you are. i never laughed so much in my life. Just Brillant

On 30-03-2010 'Jasper' voted for 'Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence'

The best of the decade - this is a tough one! Well, it had to be a Mamoru Oshii film, for the singleness of his vision and the aplomb with which he carries it off, and there's parts of Innocence that made my spine tingle with glee.

On 30-03-2010 'Christine' voted for 'other'

I vote for Waterboys which always cheers me up, but could've equally had Shinobu Yaguchi's other lovely happy film, Swing Girls

On 30-03-2010 'Petter Holme' voted for 'other'

Junko Wada's "Body Drop Asphalt"

at the same time funny, deep, poetic and . . . very amateurish (which I completely ignored while watching it). A runner up is Hideaki Anno's "Ritual" (which I kinda expected to see on this selection)

On 30-03-2010 'Tom Vincent' voted for 'Audition'

It was Miike's decade; Audition stands for a truly extraordinary body of work in the late 90s and early 00s.

On 30-03-2010 'jt' voted for 'Suicide Club'

I am outraged at all the Tokyo Sonata love. It's not even the best family drama film on the list! That honor goes to The Hanging Garden.

On 30-03-2010 'Hayabusa' voted for 'Love Exposure'

My top 10 of 2000 - 2009 (so far):

Love Exposure (Ai no mukidashi)

Eureka (Yurika)

Ritual (Shiki-jitsu)

All Around Us (Gururi no Koto)


Be With You (Ima, ai ni yukimasu)

Harmful Insect (Gaichu)

Tokyo.Skies (Tokyo.sora)

Tony Takitani

Who's Camus Anyway? (Kamyu nante shiranai)

On 30-03-2010 'anonymous' voted for 'other'

Warm Water Under a Red Bridge

On 30-03-2010 'alexbuk' voted for 'other'

Sukedachi-ya Sukeroku (2001) - Kihachi Okamoto

On 30-03-2010 'anonymous' voted for 'Visitor Q'

congrats on a fine decade!

On 30-03-2010 'Akira' voted for 'Battle Royale'

I kinda feel torn between Battle Royale and Love Exposure. Love Exposure is pretty much my personal favorite of the decade, but I feel BR had the biggest impact or brought the most attention to Japanese film.

On 30-03-2010 'Ryan R' voted for 'other'

Josee, the Tiger and the Fish"

On 30-03-2010 'David Harry' voted for 'Zatoichi'

A close call with Audition which must have done the most to introduce newcomers to Japanes cinema, but I've opted for the film that I found to be the most manic, riotous fun, that I would happily turn to again and again, and that was a surprise hit when it appeared in UK cinemas in 2004. Viva Takeshi.

On 31-03-2010 'Richard W' voted for 'Audition'

This film jumped into our lives and made us all jump up and take notice!! Men's view of women laid bare, and the a gentleman!! Fine Film indeed.

On 31-03-2010 'Jorge' voted for 'Pulse'

I was willing to vote for "All about Lily Chou Chou", but here it is a film which I'm afraid to rewatch (I loved it the first time, and I want it to rest that way). My vote goes for "Pulse". Kurosawa is for me the best japanese director of the decade.

On 31-03-2010 'Ben B' voted for 'Tokyo Godfathers'

This is probably my favourite Christmas movie ever! Satoshi Kon is a worthy successor to Hayao Miyazaki

On 31-03-2010 'Willis Williams' voted for 'Audition'

I give it a slight edge over Pulse and Battle Royale but it's Audition, nuff said.

On 31-03-2010 'kriskars' voted for 'Pulse'

best horror film ever

On 31-03-2010 'Linda Crisan' voted for 'Adrift in Tokyo'

It's a tough call. Japanese cinema is too versatile, as I've discovered in the past years, to pick just one. But I chose Adrift in Tokyo anyway. It's in the same vein as a few others on the list, but with a perfect balance of nostalgia and quirky comedy, that sets it apart. Nobody Knows and Spirited Away are also close contenders. Fish Story isn't mentioned, but I will mention it because I totally fell into the experience of that film, reminding me why cinema is so fantastic. Great storytelling, acting, and music.

On 01-04-2010 'Adam' voted for 'other'

9 Souls

Toshiaki Toyoda

On 01-04-2010 'D.White' voted for 'Love Exposure'

Closely followed by Blue Spring, The Taste of Tea and Linda, Linda, Linda

On 02-04-2010 'Marc' voted for 'Pulse'

Kurosawa did what only the very best directors can do. Takes one idea and creates a journey that takes you far from the starting point, yet never forgets where it came from. Comparable to Vertigo in it's feeling of revelation through apparently minor incidents and concepts, orchestrated with great precision and skill. Leaves you contemplative and yet excited.

On 04-04-2010 'yamasaki' voted for 'other'

Kiss (Seppun) by Kunitoshi Manda

On 04-04-2010 'Muffy' voted for 'other'

Although I almost hit Taste of Tea, for me it still has to be The Happiness of the Katakuris for opening the door for me. It was not the first Japanese film I'd ever seen of course, having been raised on foreign films thanks to my crazy artist mum, (favourite Japanese movie of ALL time for me has to be Dreams) but going on a whim to see it with Mum to our local worn out art house theatre in Edmonton, Alberta, back in 2002 (?) made be say wha?! and began my voracious appetite for all things Miike and everything else behind that door. Including a possibly unhealthy middle aged crush on Shinji Takeda, and of course your amazing website - thank you so much. xo

On 05-04-2010 'Berend Jan' voted for 'other'

Vital by Shinya Tsukamoto!

On 05-04-2010 'Melvin' voted for 'Audition'

Nothing beats the first viewing experience I had with Audition. It's beautifull, haunting, bizarre and grotesk. Simply the best horrorfilm of the decade...hell ...even the best Japanse film of the decade.

On 06-04-2010 'Peter Nellhaus' voted for 'Hana and Alice'

Aside from being a sweet and funny film, Anne Suzuki and Yu Aoi could well be the two female stars to watch as the new century progresses.

On 06-04-2010 'Dan Asenlund' voted for 'Pulse'

It's hard to find a definite film symbolizing the best of the last decade in Japanese cinema, but Kurosawa Kiyoshi's "Pulse" brilliantly portrays the fear of a Japanese society slowly alienating its inhabitants through modern technology on its way to a social apocalypse.

On 07-04-2010 'jamie ellis' voted for 'Pulse'

One of the most impressive nuanced films I've seen in a long time very beautifully structured in a genre piece; staggering and apocalyptical movie making

On 07-04-2010 'Hummy' voted for 'Blue Spring'

Blue Spring was the film that really turned me on to Japanese cinema. It has a glorious soundtrack and a mesmerising performance from Ryuhei Matsuda. It's the one film I show my friends to encourage them to share my passion.

On 07-04-2010 'tim t. ' voted for 'A Snake of June'

tough to pick just one... but, I'll go with Shinya Tsukamoto. this film has stayed with me for a long time - time to see it again!

On 10-04-2010 'Ken Dobb' voted for 'other'

Dear Doctor

On 13-04-2010 'Arek from Poland' voted for 'Nobody Knows'


On 13-04-2010 'Scott' voted for 'other'

ummm...... i know this is all in fun and everything, but should movies be treated like politicians? Film-makers are in enough combat already - for box-office share, for financing - does the essence of their work also need to be thrown into the arena? I realize too that most people are complete philistines when it comes to such things.

On 13-04-2010 'Calum Gunn' voted for 'Love Exposure'

Just incredible.

On 15-04-2010 'DRP' voted for 'other'

Actually, I'd like to vote for several, in separate categories, but ... Kamikaze Girls (Shimotsuma monogatari), 2004, by Nakashima Tetsuya. A funny, charming, poignant satire that has much more to say about certain Japanese subcultures (and cinematic cliches) than first appears. Ranks with Itami's Tampopo, etc., in my opinion. Could only be made in Japan, I suspect.

On 16-04-2010 'Goran Zrncic' voted for 'Audition'

After all it is Ryu Murakami's script

On 16-04-2010 'Robson' voted for 'other'


On 18-04-2010 'Pete' voted for 'other'

Ping Pong

On 18-04-2010 'insomniac' voted for 'other'


it's impossible to choose just one, so here is my list of best japanese films of the decade that I have seen so far (a top 7 ... and 4 others I've enjoyed)

1. Josee, The Tiger & The Fish 2003

2. Hana & Alice 2004

3. Love Exposure 2008

4. All Around Us 2008

5. Moon and Cherry 2004

6. Nobody Knows 2004

7. A Long Walk 2006

To explain why these 7 and not others - well for a film to be in my 'top 10 of the decade', first and foremost it has to be a good solid film. If it leaves a lasting impression on me, or is one that I have enjoyed immensely on several occasions, then it's likely to be included. I was glad to have the opportunity to see Tokyo Sonata and Still Walking this year. Both are strong films, but they did not have the same impact on me as say A Long Walk or All Around Us. I have watched my dvd of Josee, The Tiger & The Fish, and of Hana & Alice each on 5 separate occasions since purchasing them. I have enjoyed them as much, if not more, than when I first saw them, on each of these occasions. I treasure films like these and believe their sheer entertainment value over the decade, plus the fact they are very good films in their own right, warrants their inclusion.

Though I personally wouldn't rate these 4 films as worthy of the tag of 'top 10 movies of the decade', I also quite enjoyed:

Linda,Linda,Linda 2005

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time 2006

Funuke, Show Some Love, You Losers 2007

Adrift in Tokyo 2007


On 27-04-2010 'James Porter' voted for 'other'

The Most Beautiful Night in the World by Daisuke Tengan