This seems like a strange year, now that I am looking over my choices.
1) 25th Hour
After 9/11, only Spike Lee could shoot a movie like this in the middle of the real New York City. Even overlooking Ground Zero in one scene, it is as much a love letter to his city as it is. But its about the potential for people to move forward even in the worst of times. The last scene where Brian Cox, playing Edward Norton (who is stunning in this) weaves a fantasy of what Norton's life could be if he skips out on going to jail is amazing.
2) 28 Days Later
Technically, those aren't zombies, they aren't the walking dead but infected by a contagion. The opening scene where Cillian Murphy walks through the deserted streets of London, while just the beginning of an amazing, scary journey, is pretty breathtaking.
3) About A Boy
This shouldn't work but it does. Maybe losing it a bit in the end, but the story about a pampered man and troubled kid is pretty amazing. Sure the story is the same, man learns how to live life from young boy. But in this case 1) its the journey and 2) they both are benefited from this friendship in the end. Hugh Grant hasn't been this good since. He plays a perfect self-absorbed d-bag, who knew?
Some people feel this and "Eternal Sunshine..." are Charlie Kaufman being too clever by half. I can see their point, but its the type of thing that doesn't bother me. It actually took me a few viewings of this to really get into it. Nicholas Cage's best movie of the 00's and a great Chris Cooper. Who is always reliable. It falls apart some in the end when Charle's brother takes over in the writing of the screenplay. My only qualm might be the movie doesn't become ENOUGH of an action-adventure thriller, but compared to the rest its relatively minor thing.
5) The Bourne Identity
The Doug Liman-directed, first movie in the best trilogy of the 00's. Thats right, I said it. I don't think anyone, before seeing this, thought Matt Damon would make such a great action hero, as the man trying to figure out who or what he was. I always forget that Clive Owen was in this too, as an assassin. They rarely make action movies as good as this. (Oh and Chris Cooper's in this one too!)
6) Bubba Ho-Tep
Adapted from the Joe Lansdale story, my favorite movie of the year. Weird, I know, but true. Whats great about this movie is it is pretty wacky genre/horror movie, but it has an underlying commentary on aging and getting older which is actually pretty moving.
Gritty, violent "cop-on-the-edge" thriller, starring Ray Liotta as Bad Lieutenant-esque out-of-control cop, and Jason Patric as the guy assigned to try and get him. A lot better than my description makes it sound-Liotta's best role since "Goodfellas".
8) Panic Room
Superb David Fincher potboiler, brings the technical prowess he brought to "Fight Club" here, and ups the ante with twist upon twist. Probably shouldn't work as well as it does, but it does.
You never know when you are going to find the right person for you. It just might be at your place of business. Its basically a two person show with great performances from James Spader and Maggie Gyllenhaal, exploring a different side of relationships and sexuality then are usually shown in movies. Shows there is someone out there for everyone. Its a nice notion, its oddly touching, and even funny.
10) Y Tu Mama Tambien
Speaking of love and/or sexuality, this is kind of a miracle or even a curveball, because it could have easily been unbearable: following two privileged, oversexed guys on a cross country trip with an older woman. All three leads are awesome, particularly Maribel Verdu as Luisa, as the melancholy older women. Alfonso Cuaron's direction, particularly with the handheld camera is spot on, if that makes sense. Whats also interesting is this movie is that is honest and explicit about sex while still being really sexy, without trying too hard to be sexy.