Friday, January 8, 2010

STL #93: Films of the Decade.

Top 25 movies of the decade: The first ten are ranked; the rest are roughly ranked but with the combinations there's some obvious slippage. All told I mention 35 movies: 22 date from 2000-2004, 13 from the second half of the decade. The top four years are 2001 (6), 2000, 2003, and 2009. The number from 2009 is probably due to recency inflation, and only Rachel Getting Married is a top 25 film overall. So was the first part of the decade better, am I seeing fewer movies, or does the retrospective nature of such a list privilege the earlier material? Another option is that I wrote more regularly about movies in 2003-4, and perhaps those movies have an advantage.

  1. In the Mood for Love (2000). The most beautiful movie I ever saw, in depth and on surface.
  2. Kill Bill (2003-4). Part 1 reviewed previously in STL #16.
  3. Lost In Translation (2003). Reviewed in STL #14
  4. Royal Tenenbaums (2001). I would like, sooner or later, to take on Anderson's work. This to me is not only the best of the decade but better than Rushmore. At face value, it seems to be an ambitiosly art-directed adaptation of Salinger's Glass family, but every time I watch it I get a little bit more out of it.
  5. Almost Famous (2000). Pure charm.
  6. WALL-E (2008). Completely unexpected--I simply had not liked the big animated movies of the preceding 10 years. In retrospect, Ratatouille's solidity was the beginning of a now 3 movie streak for Pixar.
  7. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) Reviewed (poorly) in STL #38.
  8. Etre et Avoir (2002) In STL #35 , my top 10 films of 2003, I said of this and Spellbound "some of the best movies of the last 10 years have been documentaries, because real life has a way of bucking against cliche and histrionics. Note the vivid personalities in these movies are achieved without actors."
  9. Children of Men (2006). Has the gravity and composition comparable to any canonical classic. I would like to see this again.
  10. The Wrestler (2008). Just like I lauded Lost In Translation's use of music, the music here is heartbreaking for its faded glitzy fragility: "Round and Round" in the bar, and the final entrance to "Sweet Child O' Mine" as a valediction/elegy.

Volver (2006)/Talk to Her (2002). Two Almodovars linger like dreams.
Amelie (2001): Its cuteness, which draws you to it at first, might be a liability.
Team America World Police (2004)/Borat (2006). They bring the funny, and they question the whole notion of taste. Team America might want to be in the top 10, but I couldn't quite get it there. Borat is fine with the lower 20's.
Momento (2000)/JCVD (2008): Two action-movies with fascinating formal features. Both cause us to question what we're seeing: Momento through the structure, JCVD by enlisting our own capacity for illusion.
Rachel Getting Married (2009)/Monsoon Wedding (2001). Both have great ensembles. Both are smart enough to let the intricacies of the occasion generate the action.

Up (2009)/ Waking Life (2001): Up gets it for the first 10 minutes, while Waking Life unfolds over the length of the movie, and even beyond a bit.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)/Goodbye Dragon Inn (2003). Two Asian movies with "Dragon" in the title. One is beautiful and orchestrated and rapid, the other beautiful in its glacial slowness.
Ocean's 11 (2001): In terms of attitude alone it makes the list.
A Christmas Tale (2008) The last of these that I watched so I'm a little wary of it. Seems like it might want to gravitate up the list in time.


Honorable Mention: Lord of the Rings and Napoleon Dynamite. In there different ways, both are two "big" to be ignored. Certainly impressive in their own ways, but neither are standing up for themselves and making a pitch in the way that the listed movies are.

Sundry lists:

Top 5 comedies
Team America
Borat! Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006)
Napoleon Dynamite (2004)
The Aristocrats
Zach and Miri Make a Porno

Action/Thriller
Kill Bill
Children of Men
Memento
Torque
Borne Identity

Documentaries
1.Etre et Avoir
2. Waltz with Bashir
3. Man on a Wire
4. Anvil:The Story of Anvil
5. Spellbound

Animated
1. WALL E
2. The Fantastic Mr. Fox
3. Up
4. Triplets of Bellevue
5. Spirited Away
6. Waking Life
7. Millennium Actress?
8. Waltz with Bashir
9. Chicken Run
10. Kill Bill

Romance
1. In the Mood for Love (2000)***
2. Eternal Sunshine
3. WALL-E
4. Almost Famous
5. Before Sunset

Top 5 Performances of the Decade
1. Bill Murray in Lost in Translation
2. Heath Ledger in Dark Knight and Broke Back
3. Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler
4. Anne Hathaway in Rachel and Brokeback
5. Sasha Baron-Cohen in Borat

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