Thursday, December 31, 2009

2000 - 2009 My Decade of Film

To celebrate the end of the decade I have listed here my 25 favorite films from the past 10 years. I had originally intended on coming up with 10 but I found it too difficult to eliminate films and to choose one great movie over another. So in the end I have settled on these 25 movies. You and the critics may not agree with all of them but they are the movies that I have loved and will love again.

Note that only 2 of my listed films are Oscar winners which makes me think that I need to re-watch all of the nominated movies from the past 80 years… but that will take the rest of my life so for now let’s be content with the winners.

Have a happy new year everyone and let’s raise a glass to another 10 years of film!

1. High Fidelity (2000)
Watching this film over and over again helped me become the man I am today, which is a combination of all four main characters -- Rob, Barry, Dick, and Laura! It also introduced me to the fine art of collecting records.

“I've been listening to my gut since I was 14 years old, and frankly speaking, I've come to the conclusion that my guts have shit for brains”

2. Gladiator (2000)
Rarely have I wanted a hero to kick the crap out of a villain as badly as in this film.

“What we do in life echoes in eternity”

3. Requiem for a Dream (2000)
If one of the goals of art is to elicit emotional responses then this film gets on my list simply because of the stunned emotional state it left me in. The last scenes represent the most visceral and intense movie experience of my life.

“Anybody wanna waste some time?”

4. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
A movie has to make my list once I have deliberately seen it over twenty times and I lost count with the number of Tenenbaum viewings a long time ago. This is my sick day, rainy day, bored day movie.

“I'm very sorry for your loss. Your mother was a terribly attractive woman.”

5. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings (2001)
Of the trilogy this will always remain my favorite. The final film, The Return of the King, won the Oscar for Best Picture two years later but this is a far better movie and should have beaten A Beautiful Mind to the gold. Whether you are a Tolkienite or not you have to admire this epic experience!

“The ring must be taken deep into Mordor and cast back into the fiery chasm from whence it came. One of you must do this.”

6. Minority Report (2002)
Spielberg and Cruise make a great action movie set against an impressive vision of a utopian society where murders are predicted and offenders punished before any act takes place. The concept works and this is one of Spielberg’s best science fiction films to date.

“Everybody Runs”

7. Spirited Away (2002)
I ended up seeing this movie alone as I could not convince any friends to come see a subtitled foreign animated film. Nowadays Disney may have made Mr. Miyazaki a household name but I will never forget seeing the beauty of this movie for the first time. It is a gorgeous experience.

“Once you do something, you never forget, even if you can't remember.”

8. Finding Nemo (2003)
Of all of the animated films released in the past decade Finding Nemo has to be the most accessible. It makes my list simply because I cannot find anyone who dislikes it, and for good reason too.

“I am a nice shark, not a mindless eating machine. If I am to change this image, I must first change myself. Fish are friends, not food.”

9. Lost in Translation (2003)
This movie is about two people who are a little lost in life. It is simple and goes out of its way to not be dramatic about it because life is not always dramatic. And I loved it because I could relate to it. It also gets bonus points for starting a personal obsession with one Miss Scarlett Johansson.

“You're probably just having a mid-life crisis. Did you buy a Porsche yet?”

10. Mystic River (2003)
This is a little sucker punch of a film that has some of my favorite performances of the decade from Sean Penn and Tim Robbins. It is a heartbreaking story and I dare you to be unaffected at the end.

“We bury our sins here, Dave. We wash them clean”

11. The Machinist (2004)
I did not know whether to respect or fear Christian Bale after seeing him take method acting to the extreme for his role in this film. His physical appearance is harrowing as is the story he plays out. I was awestruck.

“If you were any thinner, you wouldn't exist.”

12. Capote (2005)
This movie follows Truman Capote as he researches his second book, In Cold Blood. I had read the book which told the story of how two men broke into a Kansas family farm and murdered all four members and was aware of how brutal a story it was. I was not however prepared to see the impact the research had on Truman, to see his decline as a socialite and celebrity, and to watch his emotional struggle as he becomes attached to the killer.

“It's as if Perry and I grew up in the same house. And one day he stood up and went out the back door, while I went out the front.”

13. The Last King of Scotland (2006)
Forest Whitakers deserves massive praise for his portrayal of the real life monster Idi Amin. The story is told through the eyes of a Scottish doctor who gains the trust of the ruthless dictator but it really is Forest who steals the show.

“I am the father of this nation, Nicholas. And you have most... grossly... offended your father.”

14. The Queen (2006)
Michael Sheen plays Tony Blair to a tee but is overshadowed by the amazing Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II. After the death of Princess Diana the royal family came under increasing public scrutiny for their apparent lack of any emotional responses. This is a great film that looks at what happens when the traditional clashes with the modern and the struggle that ensued as the Queen tries to come to terms with the tragedy.

“Elton John wishes to sing at the funeral. Should be a first for Westminster Abbey.”

15. El Laberento del Fauno (Pan’s Labyrinth) (2006)
I have always found that most traditional fairy tales have an underlying darkness to them, as if our more dangerous histories were escaped from into fanciful but still dangerous stories. And that thought is exactly what happens in Pan’s Labyrinth where a young girl runs from her dangerous life and escapes into a dangerous fairy tale. The end result is a beautiful and terrifying film.

“A long time ago, in the underground realm, where there are no lies or pain, there lived a Princess who dreamt of the human world…”

16. Das Leben Der Anderen (The Lives of Others) (2006)
This movie follows a secret police agent in the socialist East Berlin state circa 1984 as he is assigned to observe the lives of a prominent writer and his lover who are suspected of not being completely loyal. But as he listens and watches the agent begins to grow more and more attached to the individuals and begins to struggle with his assignment. Fascinating film!

“You don't know me, but I know you. Many people love you for who you are.”

17. The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
Typically the more a franchise continues the worse it gets but The Bourne series is the exception… a trilogy that gets better and better until it culminates in this explosive film, my favorite action movie of the decade.

“This is Jason Bourne, the toughest target that you have ever tracked. He is really good at staying alive, and trying to kill him and failing... just pisses him off.”

18. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)
It may not be the fastest moving film ever made but there is no doubting that it is beautifully shot and excellently acted. I have been very impressed with the ability of Casey Afleck but he really shines here. By the end he even manages to outshine Brad Pitt!

“He suspected no one in history had ever so often or so publicly recapitulated an act of betrayal.”

19. No Country for Old Men (2007)
One of the Oscar winning movies of the decade that I am in complete agreement with. Most people walked away with the same reaction that I had… a complete fear towards one Anton Chigurgh who may well go one to become another celebrated film villain.

“Some of the old time sheriffs never even wore a gun. A lotta folks find that hard to believe.”

20. Juno (2007)
There is no doubt that this movie is funny but it is far from being just another comedy. There is real heart to be found here, real emotion, and the result is an endearing movie that sticks with you.


21. The Dark Knight (2008)
Batman Begins was a fantastic film and would have made my list if it was not for the over achieving sequel we see here. Unless you have been living under a rock these past few years you will know all about the breathtaking performance by Heath Ledger as The Joker. The Joker was always Batmans greatest villain and it was fantastic to see the two duke it out for a few hours. Throw in a convincing Two Face and you have the best superhero movie in a decade that was overflowing with superhero movies.

“Because some men aren't looking for anything logical, like money. They can't be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.”

22. Låt den rätte komma in (Let the right one in) (2008)
Let the Right One In is my favorite Swedish film of the decade bar none! No, all joking aside this is a great film that reinvents the vampire mythos. What I like so much about it is that in the end I am not sure how I feel. I cannot tell you if the ending is upbeat or not, whether it is good or bad! I am disappointed that there is a remake in the works as I feel that American audiences should just deal with the subtitles and watch this excellent movie.

“It's just I've been twelve for a very long time.”

23. Rachael Getting Married (2008)
Two reasons this gets on my list: The first is because it has the coolest wedding I have ever seen and I wanted the entire time to be a part of it. And the second is for the story that overshadows the exuberant wedding. This family was torn apart by a tragedy and Anne Hathaway plays the guilt racked sister responsible for it. She thoroughly deserved her Oscar nomination. I was into this film from scene one and it just never let go.

“And I struggle with God so much, because I can't forgive myself. And I don't really want to right now. I can live with it, but I can't forgive myself.”

24. The Wrestler (2008)
This is the second Darren Aronofsky film on my list but a much more accessible film than Requiem for a Dream. Mickey Rourke makes quite the comeback as a failed professional wrestler who must retire but finds it difficult to leave the ring. You cannot help but like him as you feel extremely sorry for him.

“The only ones gonna tell me when I'm through doing my thing, is you people here. You people here... you people here. You're my family.”

25. Avatar (2009)
I hesitated before adding Avatar to my list only because the film is still so fresh in my mind that I feel that it may have an unfair advantage over the others. But while I may be unsure about its lasting appeal as a story I can say that in IMAX 3D this film represents the future. And as such I feel it is the only choice to end my list with because based on the evidence presented here the future looks beautiful in all its high-def three dimensional glory!

“You are not in Kansas anymore. You are on Pandora, ladies and gentleman.”

Honorable Mentions
Memento, Oceans 11, A Beautiful Mind, Pirates of the Caribbean, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgandy, Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind, Spiderman 2, Hitch, Der Untergang (Downfall), Kingdom of Heaven, Brokeback Mountain, Little Miss Sunshine, Batman Begins, Blood Diamond, Letters from Iwo Jima, The Good Shepherd, Transformers, Gone Baby Gone, Charlie Wilson’s War, El Orfanato (The Orphanage), In Bruges, Burn After Reading, Milk, Star Trek

And some of my worst of the decade
Mission to Mars, The Perfect Storm, Hollow Man, Bedazzled, Dude Where’s My Car, A.I., Dreamcatcher, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Paycheck, Alien vs. Predator, Blade: Trinity, The Brothers Grimm, The Constant Gardener, Doom, King Kong, Superman Returns, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Mans Chest, Lady in the Water, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, Ghost Rider, Shooter, Spiderman 3, Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End, Fantastic Four: The Rise of the Silver Surfer, I am Legend, Be Kind Rewind, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Max Payne, Synecdoche: New York, Watchmen, Knowing, X-men origins: Wolverine, Transformers II: The Revenge of the Fallen