Friday, January 1, 2010

The 50 Best Films of the Decade (30-21)

30) The Wrestler (2008) dir: Darren Aronofsky

I was seriously worried about Aronofsky after The Fountain. But, once he got that bit of claptrap out of his system, he was ready to go back to some real filmmaking, and The Wrestler exceeded my expectations. A touching story about a man who does the only thing he knows how, and his attempts to connect to his daughter and a stripper. It's a fairly straightforward story, the kind of movie Capitol Pictures wanted Barton Fink to write. Aronofsky and Mickey Rourke make it genuine, though, and powerful.

29) 2046 (2004) dir: Wong Kar-Wai

That's right. Better than In The Mood For Love. Go to hell.

28) Amelie (Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain) (2001) dir: Jean-Pierre Jeunet

We should probably feature Amelie on HuffPost Impact, the message of this film is so pure and uplifting. French girl tries to pay it forward so she doesn't have to deal with her own life. Amelie introduced much of my generation to French cinema, though I doubt many went back to rent Delicatessen. Amelie is so fun and Audrey Tautou captures childlike innocence so well, you desperately wish these characters and this story were real.

27) The Departed (2006) dir: Martin Scorsese

From the opening montage to the closing bloodbath, The Departed is a good time. It looks like one of the funnest movies ever to make. Think about it: screenwriter gets to write fast, snappy, vulgar dialogue, actors like Alec Baldwin, Mark Wahlberg, and Jack Nicholson get to completely embody ferociously indulgent cops and robbers, and Scorsese gets to tie it all together, and nobody does it like him. I'm surprised how often I still watch The Departed and find new bits of dialogue to enjoy and new sequences to admire.

leonardo dicaprio in the departed

26) Sin City (2005) dir: Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller feat. Quentin Tarantino

Every other graphic novel (i.e. long comic book) adaptation after Sin City has attempted to recreate its dark, lush quality. The Watchmen didn't do it (and from what I've heard, The Spirit reaaallly didn't do it). Like The Departed, the Sin City is a violent, vulgar, destructive romp, with endless fun to be had in its two hours.

25) A History of Violence (2005) dir: David Cronenberg

Cronenberg's most accessible film still contains plenty of face-exploding eccentricities. It's like a more fun, more upbeat Straw Dogs, replacing Irish thugs with a fascinating William Hurt, and rape with unusually passionate stair sex. I also loved Eastern Promises, but History of Violence seemed to leave a more indelible mark on the decade.

24) SiCKO (2007) dir: Michael Moore

I think SiCKO is Moore's best film. He tells stories to get you emotionally involved, rather than relying solely on gimmicks. He presents an argument and avoids pandering. It's also both his funniest and most startlingly depressing film. With the debate from this past year still raging on, SiCKO may be more important now than it was even two years ago.

23) The Incredibles (2004) dir: Brad Bird

That the best action movies made these days are animated says a lot about the technology we're now working with. Unlike other faux-animated action movies like Transformers or Speed Racer, The Incredibles takes a simple story and engages audiences effortlessly. The second hour is pure excitement, and despite being a cartoon, it feels more real than any other action movie in a long time (with the possible exception of the recently released Avatar).

22) A Serious Man (2009) dir: Joel and Ethan Coen

Wow. The Coens have done it again. The best film of 2009 is also the Jewiest. This says nothing about me, I promise. You may need to have grown up going to synagogue to get all of the references, but the struggle faced by Larry Gopnik can be found in all religions and cultures. This is a man who strives to do as much good as he can, and is thwarted with misfortune at every turn. After a few minor mid-decade missteps, the Coens returned with some of the greatest entertainments of their careers.

a serious man

21) Zodiac (2007) dir: David Fincher

Zodiac is not your typical serial killer movie. There are very few moments when the protagonists are in any physical danger, and yet it rivals The Silence Of The Lambs for uneasiness and sheer terror. The story unfolds like the best true crime novels -- though we may never know for sure who the real Zodiac was, Fincher's film makes a very convincing argument, and stays chilling the more you think back on it.


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