Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Top Ten Movies of the Decade, So You Know


Since I would be hard pressed to find even five movies I liked this year, I will instead focus my energies on writing about movies that I love, which comprise a seemingly-mandatory and far grander list--The Best of the '00s.

The Double-Zeros might not have been as rich a decade as the 1990s, which, to refresh your memory, brought us Goodfellas (1990), The Silence of the Lambs (1991), Terminator 2 (1991), The Player (1992), Unforgiven (1992), Husbands and Wives (1992), Dazed and Confused (1993), What's Eating Gilbert Grape? (1993), Red/White/Blue (1993/93/94), Clerks (1994), Natural Born Killers (1994), The Professional (1994), The Shawshank Redemption (1994), Pulp Fiction (1994), Leaving Las Vegas (1995), Braveheart (1995), The Usual Suspects (1995), Toy Story 1+2 (1995/99), Mars Attacks! (1996), Boogie Nights (1997), Run Lola Run (1998), Rushmore (1998), The Thin Red Line (1998), The Big Lebowski (1998), My Best Fiend (1999), Fight Club (1999), and The Matrix (1999), but it was still pretty good.

Don't believe me? Well, read through my list and then let me know what you think.

Without further ado and in no particular order, here are my top ten movies of the decade:


The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
Wes Anderson didn't exactly have me at hello, as I am not a Bottle Rocket fan, but he wowed me with Rushmore and then topped that teenage-angst gem with easily the most quotable, humorous, beautiful, never-tire-of-watching-it movie of the decade--a true litmus test in terms of cinematic taste. Gene Hackman, Anjelica Huston, Bill Murray, and Owen Wilson in particular shine as part of an ensemble cast most directors would never even dream of chasing, which just goes to show you that good material in clever hands will attract the right talent. This movie is not only hilarious, intelligent, emotional, unpredicatble, and entertaining, but will stand the test of time as one of the most enduringly beloved portraits of an American family.


The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)
In the richest year of the decade, the only awards this movie won were Longest Title and Most Ignored Film of the Year. Going one step further, I would say this movie is easily the most underappreciated movie of my entire lifetime; almost nobody I know has even seen this movie and it stars Brad Pitt. Why? How? Because it is the kind of movie Hollywood has either forgotten how to make or chooses to deprive us of. It is long and dreamy, a delectable character study about two complicated men that unfolds at a glacial pace, contains no love story, and relies on subtleties almost unheard of these days, especially in this country. It might as well be an Italian Western from the 1970s, were it not also gorgeously lush, replete with midnight-blue moonlit prairie landscapes and the gentle roar of endless flora heaving in the wind. The studio wanted to cut it, to change it, to make it more palatable to the Middle American who reads through the paper while he watches a movie and still expects to follow along. Luckily, Brad Pitt was in a position and of a mindset to stand by the director, Andrew Dominik, and the movie remains as it should be. Unluckily, the studio got pissed off and decided to dump the movie into a handful of theaters (only 301 at its peak), with little or no advertising. How did the market respond? A per-screen average of $29,562 in its first week of release; as a comparison, Avatar only averaged $22,313 per screen in its opening week. $3.9 million later, it was pulled from the box office and declared a failure due to its $30 million cost. This movie should have won Best Picture and it wasn’t even nominated; Brad Pitt wasn’t nominated for Best Actor and his performance was right up there with those of Daniel Day-Lewis and Casey Affleck (in Gone Baby Gone); Casey Affleck lost Best Supporting Actor to Javier Bardem for his bone-chilling turn as Robert Ford, in one of the lesser slights. The sad reality is that now there is 'proof' these movies will not work and there may never be one again, short of some kind of game-change that is hopefully on the horizon and will usher us into a modern-day auteur period similar to the 1970s. But I ain't holdin' my breath. In the meantime, see this movie if you haven't already.


The Incredibles (2004)
Pixar has put out some fantastic movies, but The Incredibles is the best because it truly had it all. It was a heartwarming family movie that still kept an edge to it, a successful comedy, and a riveting superhero movie all rolled-up into one lightning-fast, easy-to-swallow, computer-animated package. Brad Bird’s finest effort, although I also loved Iron Giant and portions of Ratatouille--especially the moment where the evil food critic flashes back to the kitchen of his provincial youth.


Gone Baby Gone (2007)
I hate Ben Affleck. Or so I thought until I saw his first directorial effort, which also featured one of the best performances of the year from his brother Casey, who rivaled only himself in Jesse James and Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood. The movie is a straightforward, intriguing Boston mystery with a likable sleuth in a very believable and sympathetic struggle to prove himself to those around him. A good movie is easy to make if you just let a handful of talented artists make it happen, without the meddling of nervous financial-types bungling things up at every turn--are you listening, studios?


Dogville (2003)
What a performance by Nicole Kidman--one of the best of the decade. I generally find her unlikable, but the mixture of glamour and vulnerability she brings to the rich character of Grace is captivating. Lars von Trier's conceit in this movie--no real sets, just white lines on a black floor in a huge soundstage--succeeds on the strength of the acting and the writing and is as good a tale as any of the hypocrisy that forever weighs down the otherwise lofty American dream. Essentially, what he says in Dogville is that a large part of why the country is where it is today is because we just can't help ourselves, we become our own worst enemies, despite our fervent claims of goodness and morality (sound familiar, Republicans?). When I left the theater afterwards, I had one of those heady evenings where anything was possible and everything was beautiful in its tragedy. If only Nicole Kidman hadn't spent the entire marketing budget on her hair/make-up/food/hotel in Cannes, maybe others would have been able to share that magical feeling...


Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Easily my favorite of Charlie Kaufman’s unique and complex scripts (although I did have a soft spot for Synecdoche, New York), directed beautifully by Michel Gondry. The story is interesting--a woman erases her ex-boyfriend from her mind without telling him and he has to figure this out for himself since she no longer knows who he is--and its unique structure and occasional dreamlike quality keep you on your toes as the blanks are only gradually filled in. Jim Carrey shines in a serious role, proving he’s got chops, and Kate Winslet is her usual Best-Actress self. Proves that a romance can be compelling, visually interesting, emotional, funny, and hip. And that Mark Ruffalo and David Cross are still great.


There Will Be Blood (2007)
I’m a huge fan of P.T. Anderson and even thought of placing Punch-Drunk Love on this list, but while I enjoyed that movie considerably, it didn't have the lasting impact of There Will Be Blood. There is something fascinating and attractive about a tale of unfettered American greed played out on the rough-and-tumble vast frontier, the rise and fall of a flawed dreamer who isn’t afraid to lie and cheat to get what he wants, to build a good life for him and his son at any cost. Daniel Day-Lewis’ performance is one of his best (up there with My Left Foot) in large part because the role had meat, baby--meat. Add to that a fine portrayal of the lip-service business pays to religion, in order to peacefully rape the people, and you've got yourself a goddamn epic.


Che, Part One: The Argentine (2008)
I watched the two-part, traveling-roadshow version of Che and was very impressed. A long time in the making, its future forever in doubt, I wasn’t sure what to expect and was therefore doubly impressed by Steven Soderbergh and Benicio Del Toro’s understated character study of an indelible figure I knew little about. Soderbergh’s decision to end Part 1 before the revolution rolled into Havana for a victory lap was bold, but commendable because while it withholds that moment of exultation from the audience, it reminds you that this is not a movie about the Cuban revolution, Fidel Castro, or war--it is a movie about Che and he was a man who cared more about the actual cause, improving the fate of the impoverished and abused everyman, than he did about wealth and glory, pomp and circumstance. Part 2 was not as enjoyable as the first mostly because it is a darker, colder movie about Che’s failure to perform the same miracle in Bolivia, about the deluded Bolivian peasants unwilling to risk anything for a better life, about how and why The Man stays in power; it is far more depressing than the triumphant opening half and grew almost excruciating to watch, although that is more due to the subject matter than any filmmaking choices.


Lost in Translation (2003)
As formless as this movie is, as annoying as it is to try to identify with a main character who seems to do little but sit on windowsills in her underwear and think about her future, the undeniable truth about this movie is that I always enjoy watching it and will continue to enjoy watching it every so often for the rest of my life. A big reason for that, of course, is the career performance from Bill Murray, but another is the crafty direction by Sofia Coppola that matches the formless, adventurous exploration of everyday Tokyo with the formlessness of Charlotte's (Scarlett Johansson) life. Ultimately, all we really know about her is that she is a smart young girl in Tokyo with her absent boyfriend, unsure of what to do with her life, with herself, and befriends Bill Murray, who is in a similar boat. Together they wander through an enchanting foreign city falling into an impossible, unspoken love. As frustrating as it is to not know what Mr. Murray whispers to Scarlett at the end, I think it’s better that way, since I believe the message of the movie is that we shouldn’t be so concerned about how our lives measure up against our dreams--we should simply take the time to enjoy everything the world throws at us and carry on with a smile. Sometimes you don’t get to hear what other people whisper to each other and sometimes you don’t get your movie tied up with a bow at the end--that doesn’t mean it wasn’t an enthralling experience you should savor.


Kill Bill (2003/04)

I hesitated about putting this on the list for two reasons:

1. They are two separate movies that I think should have remained one long one, as written

2. Regardless of that, I'm still not sure if it is good enough, but I can't think of anything else I would rather put here

Pulp Fiction is one of my all-time favorites, but other than that, I’m not the biggest fan of QT. Here's why: Reservoir Dogs ain’t my cup of tea, Jackie Brown bored me, Inglorious Basterds was tremendously flawed and tremendously borrowed (with a particularly great debt to Leone)...and I have read some rather compelling evidence that much of the writing of Reservoir Dogs, True Romance, and Pulp Fiction was actually that of his former writing partner, Roger Avary, who was often uncredited or under-credited and never allowed to share the stage or accolades with Tarantino. After Pulp Fiction, he finally told Tarantino to go fuck himself and now has a complex about talking to people about anything at parties, in case they steal his thoughts. Avary went on to write and direct The Rules of Attraction and Glitterati (both adapted from Bret Easton Ellis books), and did a pretty damn good job, so it seems unlikely that he is some lightweight whining about credit where it isn't due. Is this dissolved partnership the reason why Tarantino's movies aren’t that good anymore? Probably. The same could be said for Wes Anderson post-Owen Wilson collaboration (they co-wrote Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, and The Royal Tenenbaums), since his movies now lack a lot of the humor Wilson clearly brought to the table. All that aside, Kill Bill was pretty enjoyable. I love Uma Thurman and she shines in the role of an ass-kicking jilted bride out for revenge. There's just enough comedy, action, tongue-in-cheek excess, and crudeness to hold my attention and make me smile. My favorite parts are probably the training she undergoes with Pai Mei in Vol.2 and the two lush versions of the wedding in the remote chapel. And the part in the beginning where she discovers a male nurse has been selling her pussy while she was in a coma.


Okay, and now for the Honorable Mentions:

Mulholland Drive (2001)

The first half of this movie--when it was a compelling mystery involving an amnesiac victim and an impossibly sexy actress-cum-detective (Naomi Watts, in her finest performance)--should have won Best Picture that year. However, once the characters flip-flopped for the third time and the story scattered in the air like so many dandelion seeds, I stopped giving a shit and just wanted it to end. That is why it did not win, was not even nominated, and why I do not care for David Lynch.


V for Vendetta (2005)

A bit heavy-handed, yes, but that's kinda how dystopias work, wouldn't you agree? I enjoyed this movie both times I watched it and I think it deserves more credit than it gets--especially in these hard times when the middle finger of The Man has never been more apparent and because of the really cool posters that owe a great debt to communists. Hugo Weaving (in a mask the whole time) and Natalie Portman are both great in their roles as subversives fighting a 1984ish regime in England and the ending is supremely satisfying. Check it out on Netflix!


Zoolander (2001) + Superbad (2007)

Ah, the oft-ignored comedy. Always overlooked by Oscar, but never by audiences. These two are my two favorite comedies of the decade but, alas, neither was good enough to make the top ten of the decade (we're not talking about The Big Lebowski here, are we?). Superbad is thus far the only movie to take full advantage of the supremely-talented, if a bit one-dimensional, Michael Cera (aka George Michael, may he rest in peace for the timebeing) and uses co-writer Seth Rogen the way he should be used--as a fat guy in a supporting role whose only job is to deliver some laughs, not carry the emotional weight of the movie. Jonah Hill is also good, if way-too-unbelievable as a boyfriend to the sexy girl in the end, and I enjoyed supporting turns from Bill Hader and Joe Lo Truglio, as well; the McLovin dude can go to hell, if you ask me. Zoolander, meanwhile, is a brilliant send-up of the fashion world featuring perfect performances from Owen Wilson, Will Ferrell, Jon Voight, Jerry Stiller, and, yes, Ben Stiller. The orange mocha frappuccino scene is one of my favorites.


Hancock (2008) + Iron Man (2008)

My two favorite blockbusters of the decade. In fact, 2008 was the year of “the blockbuster that was worth a damn,” as far as I’m concerned (in this decade, anyway--neither of them can hold a candle to Back to the Future, the best blockbuster of all time). Why? Because they focused on interesting characters that were played by charming, talented actors well-suited for the roles. Iron Man would not have worked without Robert Downey Jr, just as Hancock wouldn’t have worked without Will Smith, as much as I generally loath that guy post-Fresh Prince. [Notice neither of these films employed hacks like Shia LeDoof] The effects, the action, the predictable plots...whatever--the movies held my attention, made me laugh, had me rooting for the characters, and I enjoyed the ride. Wish I could say the same for the other several dozen bloated blockbuster bags of shit...



Thoughts?

_

12 comments:

LiteralDan said...

Our tastes diverge wildly as often as they completely overlap, and while I would generally consider your Netflix list a punishment over the long haul, I've seen all these movies except Dogville, Che, and Mulholland Drive (all already on my list, though), and I was distinctly surprised by how much I agreed with this list.

I'd have to think a lot harder and do a little mind-refreshing to really argue any omissions, but all of these would definitely be up toward the top of my own list.

Oh, I'm sorry, was I supposed to leave an interesting comment? Here goes: "Your list sux, you suck, and you forgot the best moviez of all tiiiiimme!!! pS Shia rulezzzzz!!"

marthe said...

Having known you for most (!) of the decade, the list doesn't contain many surprises. Intersting though, that we saw at least three of these films together - which means, I guess, that the year 2003 is somewhat overrepresented -- Dogville (in Oslo, no less), Lost in Translation and Kill Bill (both in that place in Silver Lake across from my favourite boutique.

The list does slightly diverge from what my list would look like, but not that much.

Jambone said...

This was a tremendous read. I am surprised at how much I agree with nearly all of your selections, and your summaries are on the money. I have excitedly moved Che and Gone Baby Gone up my netflix queue.

The only movies that occur to me as possible omissions - though I realize as I type them that I'm not sold on any as definitely deserving - are two Coen brothers efforts (No Country for Old Men; Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?), Christopher Nolan's pre-Batman headspinner Memento; The Bourne Ultimatum, a personal favorite; or even the Cameron Crowe quirky nostalgia-thon Almost Famous, if for no other reasons than the divine performances of Billy Crudup and Frances McDormand.

The one movie that I AM sold on for inclusion would be Moulin Rouge, Baz Luhrmann's opulent postmodern orgiastic pop-love story that was among the first couple I saw in theaters this decade.

Also, Hancock?!? Really, Charlie? Really?! There's a reason people refer to baby food as formula.

June said...

you have a serious lack of foreign cinema in there. First off, City of God. Hands Down. Sex and Lucia. Brilliant. Bad Education. The Lives of Others.

Goodtime Charlie said...

marthe: i think the implication here is simply that we both have very good taste and 2003 was a pretty good year (as was 2007). i'd love to read your list if you get a chance to make one...

jambone: i enjoyed 'moulin rouge' and 'almost famous' but couldn't get myself to put either of them on the list; they remained in the 'maybe' column with 'children of men,' 'the departed,' 'last king of scotland,' 'the queen,' 'punch-drunk love,' and a few other really good movies. i mean, i couldn't pick 'em all, right?
and of course 'hancock' is formulaic! it's a blockbuster! but it was still fun.

june: i love foreign cinema! but mostly the older stuff ('60s italian, '70s french/german). i enjoyed 'the lives of others' but would never watch it again, which says something, and 'city of god' was good but did not have a very lasting effect on me. in retrospect, i maybe should have put 'let the right one in' on this list, but i forgot all about til just now. perhaps i should do a "favorite foreign film" list next...

literaldan: i would love to punish you with my netflix list someday. perhaps once i finally catch you at the conclusion of this cat-and-mouse game, i can prop open your eyelids and make some torture happen!

thanks for reading, everybody

greaseball said...

Thanks for the list, Chuck! Great work.

According to both you and Ebert, I've gotta see "Synecdoche, New York," if for no other reason than to learn how to pronounce it. Excited for that.

Ebert liked "Crazy Heart" though. 1st time I've run out of a packed theater due to unstoppable giggling.

Excited to see "Dogville." Just read your blog aloud to Mom, and she was right there with ya on that one. I spared her the end of your "Kill Bill" review though.

"City of God" was awesome. I can't wait for the Olympics.

For blockbusters, I didn't see "Hancock," but did it really edge out "The Dark Knight?" I hope our hometown comic fave at least made your long list.

I'm glad "Almost Famous" almost made the list, and would've taken issue if it had edged out "High Fidelity," a music fandom movie that turned out cool, but not too cool. Just right. "Almost Famous"...talk about a movie wrapped up in a lil' bow. I betcha Cameron Crowe wears bowties.

Glad Wes Anderson was represented in your list, although, I LOVE "Bottle Rocket." Wore out my VHS copy. That film worked best for Anderson because he was starting out, and had to figure out how his (and Owen Wilson's) quirky characters could fit into bland reality. "Rushmore" was awesome, because Max Fischer was a playwright, same as Anderson. The further along we get, the more it seems Anderson's films are crafted for the stage, instead of the screen. By the time we got to "Tenenbaums," Anderson's overly art-directed, snappily dialogued style pretty much stopped working for me. I'll be first in line for any Wes Anderson play though.

Crap though...just realized "Bottle Rocket" is from '96! Guess that explains the VHS. Jeeze...OLD!

For fun: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_twg7Jj_mqQ

Drive safe in Ought-Ten, Charlie!

Goodtime Charlie said...

greaser--glad you're excited to watch a few of the movies mentioned. i think you'll like them if you can stay awake!

As for 'The Dark Knight,' I was not a fan. I love Heath Ledger's performance as the Joker, but I found his character just WAY too impossible.

1. How does his character ever get anywhere when he constantly kills everybody who works with him?

2. How does he obtain a mind-boggling number of drums of gasoline/explosives and then distribute them to a ferry and a huge warehouse on the outside of town, all at the same time, immediately after masterminding an infiltration of the trusted police guarding the mayor?

As far as the story goes, I found the Joker of Jack Nicholson's days much more realistic because he was always CREATING foot soldiers and accomplices by gassing them; therefore, all his exploits, no matter how grand in scope, were believable because we knew he had an army behind him toward the end.

...and don't get me started on Christian Bale's voice and wooden performance, much less Maggie Gyllenhaal's horrible outing (and i love her!) and the absurdity of Two-Face's too-sudden about-face at the end.

Verdict: No thanks

unstadt said...

(Sorry this got long)
I agree with many of your selections, and would probably put "There Will Be Blood" at the top of my own list. I managed to catch the “Che” roadshow when it was in Chicago, and had the same response to Parts 1 & 2 - though I think the fact that Part 2’s color palette is desaturated, so the visuals aren’t as lush, also contributed to it not being as pleasurable to watch.

Some additions/changes I would make to your list:

I haven’t seen “Kill Bill Pt. 2” (because I didn’t like Pt. 1 and have lost my earlier enthusiasm for Tarantino), “Gone Baby Gone,” or “Dogville” - though I’d like to see the last two. I didn’t like “Jesse James”, but maybe seeing it as the second half of a double feature with “Michael Clayton” (which is awesome) was the wrong way to approach it.

“Wall-E” instead of “The Incredibles” – both are great movies, but I think “Wall-E” gets the edge for filmmaking craft and satiric content.

"Children of Men" - a dystopian thriller that incorporates many timely thematic elements (terrorism, immigration & ethnic class conflicts, ecological collapse, etc.) into an exciting journey through a richly detailed, uncomfortably plausible near-future world. Great performance by Clive Owen, and unbelievable bravura filmmaking by Alfonso Cuaron (whose "Y Tu Mama Tambien" might sneak in to the "also-ran" category).

“Spider” - little-seen but great Cronenberg film with Ralph Fiennes as a mumbling schizophrenic recently released from a hospital who wanders through his old neighborhood, trying to reconstruct the traumatic memories of his childhood. Deliberately paced but engrossing mindfuck of a movie, with great performances by Fiennes (doing the antithesis of a typical Hollywood, “Beautiful Mind”-style crazy person), and Miranda Richardson, who plays two different characters (though you might not realize it on first viewing). Specially recommended for lovers of Freud.

“Minority Report” - I haven’t seen “Hancock” or “Iron Man”, as most recent blockbusters have left me cold (“Superman Returns”? “The Golden Compass”? “Indiana Fucking Jones”?), but this would get my vote in that category. Some of it can be a little cheesy after repeat viewings, and neither Tom Cruise nor Colin Farrell is what I would consider a great actor, but damn if the action scenes aren’t thrilling, and the comic relief isn’t bad either. The script is slyly thought-provoking, and though most audiences seemed to feel like the movie should’ve ended at what is actually the 2nd Act break (judging from the palpable restlessness I felt around me on two theater viewings), I find it nicely structured and intellectually satisfying.

Others receiving consideration:
“Waking Life” & “A Scanner Darkly” – Richard Linklater’s trippy, sort-of animated films are engrossing even when not under the influence of certain herbs.

“Knocked Up” and “Juno” - great comedies seemed to be in short supply this decade, but these were very funny, while still being emotionally true.

“Borat” - probably the hardest I’ve laughed at any movie that I can remember. An invigorating tonic to George Bush’s America.

“I’m Not There” - not sure how well this translates for the non-Dylan-obsessed, but great fun anyway.

“Angels in America” - if its status as an HBO movie doesn’t disqualify it on a technicality, the writing and performances of this are first rate.

“Talk to Her” - it's been a long time since I’ve seen this so it’s hard to analyze, but I remember thinking at the end of 2002 that it might’ve been the best film of the year.

Goodtime Charlie said...

unstadt--thanks for the thoughtful, lengthy opinion. I enjoyed many of the movies you mention (haven't seen "Spider" but saw the rest, will have to check that out) and here is my response to them, for the record:

"Children of Men" - I liked this movie a lot, but ultimately found it disappointing. I forget now what my problem with the ending was, but I remember it was a big one. I also thought it was ridiculous that Clive Owen's character would stop to watch his friend get killed, considering this friend sacrificed his life to buy him some time. Time which he then wasted.

"Wall-E" - I thought the opening for intelligent critique of humanity was there in "Wall-E" but poorly explored. The human element of the movie was fairly half-baked and it was clear their focus was more on the robot love story, which I enjoyed for a while but ultimately it couldn't sustain my interest for the entire film.

"Minority Report" - I really wanted to love this movie, because the concept (courtesy of Philip K. Dick) was awesome. However, there were just WAY too many ridiculous plot points to allow myself to get sucked in. For example: Tom Cruise needs to have his eyeballs removed so that nobody will be able to find him, since cameras everywhere are set to scan for his retinas, yet he is able to use his surgically-removed eyeballs to gain access to the most secure room in the entire government/military headquarters? As if they wouldn't have blocked his access to that as soon as he became a fugitive? It makes no sense and is one of many examples of logic falling victim to the engine of the increasingly ridiculous plot.

"Borat" - Loved it. I forgot about that movie and should have at least included it on the Maybes.

"Juno" is a piece of shit, in my opinion, but that's mostly because Diablo Cody's faux-witty, laughable dialogue makes my skin crawl.

"Knocked Up" was incredibly boring. I saw it long after it left the theaters and wanted to like it, but ultimately just couldn't believe that Katherine Heigl would want to be in any kind of relationship with Seth Rogen's character. I'm not saying she wouldn't have maybe gotten so drunk she had sex with him at some point, since that is the conceit of the movie, although it IS stretching believability to its threshold. Once she even considers having a baby and making it work with him, falling for him a little bit, you've lost me--not so much because of the way he looks as because of the way he ACTS in that movie. He is a total loser and that woman would never have wanted anything to do with him. In my opinion, "40 Year-Old Vrigin" is much better, as are "Superbad" and "Pineapple Express," although upon repeat viewing, I think I was way too stoned to correctly judge "Pineapple" the first go-round...

"I'm Not There" was far better than I expected, particularly the performances of Cate Blanchett and Heath Ledger and the covers of the Dylan songs, but I don't know that I would put it in the top ten. Good call bringing it up, though.

"Angels in America" had me for maybe the first 3 parts or so, then my interest started to wane. As much as I liked Prior, the Pitt couple, and Roy Cohn, I couldn't fathom why anybody would want to spend any amount of time with Louis. Once he became one of the main characters, romantically involved with the two male leads, it lost me--that guy is SERIOUSLY annoying.

"Talk to Her" - Loved it. Would probably be on my Top 20. I still need to see several of Almodovar's movies, though--I am embarrassingly ill-informed when it comes to his work (I've only seen 2 or 3 of his movies).

Not sure why I feel the need to respond to everybody, but I guess it's okay. It's a conversation, right? Thanks for participating.

And keep your eyes peeled for my 'Best 13 Foreign Movies Ever' list coming out tomorrow...

Karl said...

I'm kinda shocked how much I agree with your Top 10 list (actually, I'm kind of shocked you found 10 movies you *liked* this decade.) You know about the intensity of my love for "Jesse James," obviously we both love Tenenbaums because we still quote from it all the time, etc. etc.

I find your argument about Wes Anderson losing his way after Owen Wilson decided it was more important to become a multi-millionaire star of shit than to continue one of the hottest hot streaks of recent memory in co-writing movies with Anderson. Anderson's obviously flailed around looking for a replacement and hasn't found it yet (not a big surprise, I guess). I find intriguing your argument about Tarantino. I'd love to hear this evidence of (murderer) Roger Avary's importance that you speak of. But in putting the post-Avary Kill Bill on your best-of-decade list, aren't you disagreeing with yourself? Though I think big chunks of both movies could (and should have) been cut, the parts of Kill Bill's 1 and 2 that work work amazingly well.

Couple headscratchers on your Honorable Mention. "V for Vendetta?" Where did that come from? I assume you put "Hancock" there as part of some sick joke on humanity, but "V for Vendetta?" That's not even funny.

The most fascinating inclusion on your list has to be "Gone Baby Gone." I thought it was a surprisingly assured directorial debut for Affleck, but I thought the twist-y script got in its own way and eventually sunk the movie. For a guy who A) hates the over-privileged with the fury of 1000 suns and B) prizes story logic and believability almost above all other cinematic virtues, I can't believe you let "Gone Baby Gone" slide.

Finally--I know the world's dying to know--movies you didn't mention that I'd include on a top 20, maybe some on a top 10:

The New World--the director's cut on Blu Ray is stunning. This movie has grown on me amazingly--I can't believe I didn't cum myself silly the first time I saw it.

Zodiac.

Bourne--maybe?

Beau Travail

Silent Light--you need to check this out.

No Country

Something by Michel haneke, perhaps several things ("The White Ribbon," "Cache," "Funny Games" "The Piano Teacher" are all in contention.)

-Diving Bell and the Butterfly

-"Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance"... maybe "Lady Vengeance" and "Oldboy" sneak into the top 30.

-The Squid and the Whale--Saw this with you, I think. I have to believe you forgot to include it. That's the only belief keeping me sane at this point.

-Maybe "Bloody Sunday"?

Goodtime Charlie said...

For the record, I don't think "Hancock" is a good movie, which is why it had no place in the Top Ten. I thought it worthy of an honorable mention in the blockbuster category because I laughed quite a few times when watching it, which is more than I can say for most blockbusters of the '00s.

I don't understand your comment about Wes Anderson--maybe you forgot the last phrase of your sentence?

I agree that "Kill Bill" should have been treated to a samurai sword in the editing room (and at the script stage) and I stand by my opinion that QT isn't as good since parting ways with Roger Avary. But, just like I enjoyed "Life Aquatic" and "The Darjeeling Limited," I enjoyed "Kill Bill" despite the fact that I think all three should have been much better.

I LIKED "V for Vendetta." Am I really the only one?

I liked "The New World" quite a bit, although I found Christian Bale's performance pretty wooden. I also liked "Zodiac," "No Country," and "Diving Bell," but not enough for any of them to make the list.

I didn't like "The Squid and the Whale." Ditto for all of Baumbach's movies (I'm convinced he was a big reason Life Aquatic sucked and HATED "Margot at the Wedding" and "Kicking and Screaming" probably more than any other movie I saw that year). I liked the art direction and the music and Jeff Daniels' performance, but found the movie boring, predictable, and empty.

Please don't send me another mail bomb...

LiteralDan said...

Reading these comments makes me wish I had more time to sit back and thoughtfully watch/re-watch all these movies.

My list of "movies to watch" seems to grow much, much faster than I could ever keep up with.