If instead of having 10 Best Picture nominees for 2009, the folks running the Oscars had decided to do a Ten Best list for the decade about to end, I doubt that many ’09 movies would be on it. And last year didn’t offer many legitimate contenders, either. It’s not just the economy that’s been in a recession lately.

But overall, the first decade of the new millennium has delivered plenty of first-rate motion pictures, including Peter Jackson’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy, for my money the greatest movie serial of all time (sorry ‘Star Wars’ fans, but George Lucas’ dreadful second trilogy tainted the franchise). It is also the decade in which computer-generated animation was perfected and which saw the resurgence of better-than-ever 3D.

1. ‘Lord of the Rings Trilogy’ (2001-2003)
Made during one long production shoot in director Jackson’s home country of New Zealand and released as back-to-back-to-back Christmas presents, this stunningly imaginative and faithful adaptation of J.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth masterpiece ranks as the most ambitious and most accomplished film series ever undertaken. Each of the movies — ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’ (2001), ‘The Two Towers’ (2002) and ‘The Return of the King’ — was as good as the one before or after it and fans coughed up more than $1 billion to see them in the U.S. and Canada.

The rest include:

10. ‘Almost Famous’ (2000)
9. ‘No Country for Old Men’ (2007)
8. ‘The Pianist’ (2002)
7. ‘The Dark Knight’ (2008)
6. ‘Sideways’ (2004)
5. ‘Brokeback Mountain’ (2005)
4. ‘Mystic River’ (2003)
3. ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ (2000)
2. ‘Chicago’ (2002)