Sunday, January 3, 2010

The 10 Best Films of the Decade

10) The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) dir: Wes Anderson

the royal tenenbaums

Seeing The Royal Tenenbaums in theaters, it was like a new genre was invented. Wes Anderson's most notable influence was Truffaut, but Anderson's style in Rushmore and again in Tenenbaums paved the way for a whole bunch of shitty knockoffs, including Napoleon Dynamite, Garden State, and everything Jason Reitman has ever done. They want Anderson's style, but nobody does it quite as well. Tenenbaums is hilarious, gorgeous and touching. The only recent film to have captured this same magic is Anderson's own Fantastic Mr. Fox.

9) The Aviator (2004) dir: Martin Scorsese

leonardo dicaprio the aviator

With all the news made by Gangs Of New York and The Departed, Scorsese's best film of the decade may wind up a bit overlooked. This was the movie that made me say, "Wow, that DiCaprio is actually a pretty great actor." The expansive, otherworldly story of Howard Hughes, his eccentric projects and eventual surrender to dementia, is chronicled impeccably. It's a long movie, honored for its craft and performances, but what I think gets lost to modern audiences is what a broad entertainment it is. It never wavers or bores -- and by the end we feel like we knows Hughes, as well as anyone now living can say they know him.

8) Match Point (2005) dir: Woody Allen

match point

Who knew Woody Allen still had it? Match Point is a sumptuous thriller, full of wit and surprises, and the best film Allen made since Manhattan. Jonathan Rhys Meyers plays Chris Wilton, a working class, former tennis pro in London who befriends the wealth Tom Hewett, played by Matthew Goode. Wilton is embraced by the affluent Hewett family and eventually married Tom's sister Chloe. Of course, Wilton didn't count on Tom's sexy ex-girlfriend Nola to come into the picture, and throw his perfectly constructed future into chaos. When Tom wants to break up the affair and Nola gets hysterical, what lengths will Wilton go to to keep his structured life in place? If you've seen Allen's Crimes And Misdemeanors, you can probably guess, but the outcome of events in Match Point is too clever for even 1987 Woody Allen to have put together.

7) Requiem For A Dream (2000) dir: Darren Aronofsky

requiem for a dream

Requiem For A Dream should be required viewing for all 12 year olds. If you want to show a young person that they should never touch heroin, I think this will beat them into submission. Requiem is a tough film to watch, and runs with the pace of Aronofsky's tornado-like editing. We see the effects of drug abuse on a mother, her son, his girlfriend, and their companion. The tone is set right from the beginning. The outcome will not be good. Though Jared Leto's fate is physically the harshest, Ellen Burstyn's miraculous performance as Sara Goldfarb is a knockout punch. This film will emotionally drain you like few others do, but it really is a must-see. You've been warned.

6) Lord Of The Rings (2001-2003) dir: Peter Jackson

grima wormtongue

This isn't cheating. All three of these films are masterpieces of the imagination, Tolkein's novels brought to life and crisply realized. Waiting for each new film to come out must have been what it was like waiting for The Empire Strikes Back in the late 70s. The excitement at the unfolding for the story, the wonder at seeing more of this breathtaking world, the anticipation of the inevitable victory by the Hobbits. (Sorry, did I blow it for you?) It's a shame that a Lord Of The Rings film can't come out every year, but it's a testament to the longevity of Jackson's films, that I still frequently hear about people holding all-day-extended-edition marathons. It would be hard to garner as much excitement for screenings of any other films.

5) Children Of Men (2006) dir: Alfonso Cuaron

children of men

I don't think anyone expected this film upon its release. A surreal and breathtaking action epic, Children Of Men was released on a limited run in December 2006, when it should probably have opened on 3,500 hundred screens in July. Children Of Men is, quite simply, awesome. It begins with a bang (literally) and holds you in its grip for two hours. Another classic film whose written inspiration I haven't read (this one by mystery writer P.D. James), it's hard to imagine the same wallop contained on the page. Alfonso Cuaron shows himself as a master with this film. Del Toro and Amenabar, take note.

4) City Of God (Cidade de Deus) (2002) dir: Fernando Mereilles and Katia Lund



Often referred to as the Brazilian Goodfellas, City Of God follows a young photographer from childhood through adolescence, growing up in one of the most dangerous slums in the world, a run-down area outside Rio de Janeiro. We follow his acquaintances as they fall into the drug trade and take over an area of the city. We see the hotheadedness of L'il Ze, one of the great characters of the decade (think The Joker, but somehow more violent and wild-eyed). We see the lives most of the world's young people lead, and the difficulty in stopping a system that's out of control with excess and violence. Despite all this, City Of God is a really fun movie, and one that can be revisited several times.

3) There Will Be Blood (2007) dir: Paul Thomas Anderson

daniel plainview

Wow. Can P.T. Anderson remake The Jungle next? There Will Be Blood is notable for a few reasons. One: It contains the best performance of the decade, by Daniel Day-Lewis. Two: It is one of the most beautifully shot films that I've ever seen. The sequence where Plainview carries his unconscious son to safety, then runs back to stare at the fire that his discovery has birthed, is perfect. Three: It takes you exactly where it should, but never where you think it will. I thought Punch-Drunk Love would be Anderson's masterpiece, but he makes a definitive statement with There Will Be Blood.

2) Kill Bill (2003-2004) dir: Quentin Tarantino

beatrix kiddo

Again -- not cheating. Volumes 1 and 2 should probably be watched back-to-back, if you've got a free four hours. Volume 2 makes you realize just how brilliant Volume 1 really is. The character of Beatrix Kiddo is fully realized, though you don't fully realize it at first. Tarantino's attention to detail and willingness to go off on tangents has never worked better, but it's the pacing of Volume 2 that really drags you in and helps you understand the story as a whole. There's a long sequence in Volume 2 where The Bride is buried alive, and the audience is kept in suspense through a flashback involving the teachings of a mysterious martial arts leader. Perhaps the greatest triumph of Kill Bill, is that he's setting us up for a huge payoff without evening knowing it.

1) Mulholland Drive (2001) dir: David Lynch

Rita Mulholland Drive

After I first saw Mulholland Drive, I was talking with my friends about how amazing it was, and I said I didn't know if I'd see a better film the rest of the decade. It got a laugh at the time, but honestly, I never did. In 2001, I had perhaps the greatest film-viewing experience of my lifetime. I sat in complete awe of what Lynch is able to pull off. Mulholland Drive is a film that makes perfect sense, after maybe the third viewing, and takes you along for a whirlwind tour of madness, through the dark recesses of the human mind.

Here is a plot summary from IMDb:

After a brutal car accident in Los Angeles, California, Rita is the sole survivor but suffers mass amnesia. Wandering into a stranger's apartment downtown, her story strangely intertwines with Betty Elms, a perky young woman in search of stardom. However, Betty is intrigued by Rita's situation and is willing to put aside her dreams to pursue this mystery. The two women soon discover that nothing is as it seems in the city of dreams.

Um...yeah...right. You can't really summarize anything about Mulholland Drive. That's why it's a movie.

You may notice that Lynch's INLAND EMPIRE is not on this list. That's also a great film, but is such a harrowing descent into insanity that I would never recommend anyone see it, and if they did I would not blame them for one minute if they told me that it was a useless piece of shit. That's completely fair.

Mulholland Drive, however, is everything film should be. It's exciting, intriguing, never boring, fascinating, surreal, and a joy to be immersed in. No film since has been as relentlessly enjoyable.

Read the complete list:
50-41
40-31
30-21
20-11

1 comment:

BC L√ČTOURNEAU said...

hello there
I really enjoyed number 2 and number 5 (which is funny cuz im clownnumber5.com). seriously, mulholland drive is sexy, especially naomi, but kill bill is better.
what you think of my suggestions CC?