twin peaks is good
i would recommend wild at heart, blue velvet and then lost highway
“yeah, i also don’t understand the praise for ‘The Hurt Locker’
Hurt Locker gets praise because critics can eat their own shit AND because they never dared to say how much they either love Bigelow’s action or hate her feminine outcast persona, so who wins in the end?
fuckin’ Iraqi war as always…
Indiewire’s list is as conventional as the Greek ones.
TIFF’s is the SOLE interesting because it’s not so academic like the rest but the BEST LIST from the whole pile up above is the OP’s.
bravo S_Y (seriously, his is the best)
The Elephant Man
Wild at Heart
Wild at Heart
The Elephant Man
They’re all good though.
I guess I’m pretty conventional.
The Straight Story
Wild at Heart
Twin Peaks Fire Walk With Me
He is even better as author. HIs book on meditation is a helpful read.
russian ark didnt make any lists?
Den, Russian Ark made the top ten of the TIFF list I posted on Page 2. It is the best list out there so far, largely because it polled 60 curators and festival organizers from around the world.
2009 top 10 by NPR
1 Summer Hours
3 Everlasting Moments
4 Fantastic Mr Fox
6 A Serious Man
8 Food Inc
9 of Time in the City
10 Where the Wild Things Are
Dimitris- After reading your comments, I’d really like to see your top 10 films of the decade list
Las Vegas Weekly-
Best films of the Decade
1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind(2003)
2. Almost Famous (2000)
3. Zodiac (2007)
4. Before Sunset (2004)
5. About Schmidt (2002)
6. The New World (2005)
7. Bring It On (2000)
8. Margot at the Wedding (2007)
9. Memento (2000)
10. Come Early Morning (2006)
2. The Man Who Wasn’t There (2001)
3. Afterschool (2008)
4. Dogville (2003)
5. Silent Light (2007)
6. State and Main (2000)
7. In the Mood for Love (2000)
8. The Prestige (2006)
9. 25th Hour (2002)
10. Primer (2004)
Best films of 2009-
1- A Serious Man
4- The House of the Devil
5- The Road
6- Star Trek
7- The Square
8- Drag Me To Hell
4- Lorna’s Silence
8- Sita Sings the Blues
9- The Headless Woman
strange list from the new yorker 10 best of 09
•The Hurt Locker”: Kathryn Bigelow understands that an action movie has to be coherent in space—you have to know where the American soldiers are in relation to the bombs that they’re trying to defuse. Hair-raising. With a great performance by Jeremy Renner.
•“The White Ribbon”: The dread-master Michael Haneke’s portrait of a guilty Northern German town just before the First World War. The long takes and crisp black-and-white cinematography produce an aura of vague but sinister stillness. You come out of it feeling bruised and contented at the same time.
•“The Messenger”: Oren Moverman’s affecting account of the lives of two very different soldiers—Woody Harrelson’s lifer and Ben Foster’s guilty war hero, easing back into civilian existence—who have to bring the bad news to the parents and spouses of soldiers killed in Iraq. It sounds grim, I know, but it’s so bracingly written and played that it’s completely absorbing.
•“Funny People”: Judd Apatow’s intricately woven portrait of a lonely and miserable comic actor (Adam Sandler, playing a nasty version of himself) turns into an examination of the specialness of comics and a funny-mournful lament over their distance from ordinary life. The happy jeers aimed at the movie’s weak box-office performance were a perfect example of how bizarrely values have gone askew for the people who do nothing but count the change.
•“Adventureland”: Greg Mottola’s lovely memory of a misspent summer at a tacky Pittsburgh amusement park in the early eighties. Kristen Stewart turns those eyes on Jesse Eisenberg, a toothless non-vampire, as he struggles toward manhood.
•“Up”: Pixar’s latest triumph. Touching, exhilarating, hilarious. Who can forget “the cone of shame”?
•“The Last Station”: Christopher Plummer as Leo Tolstoy at eighty-two and Helen Mirren as Sofya, his wife of forty-eight years, fighting over the great man’s will. Elemental and grand, without a trace of stiffness. Michael Hoffman wrote and directed.
•“Me and Orson Welles”: Christian McKay is mesmerizing as the twenty-two-year-old theatrical genius, a vaunting, bombastic son of a bitch who galvanizes the new-born Mercury Theatre company in 1937. Zac Efron is not bad as the cocky kid from New Jersey who bluffs his way into the company. Animated by Richard Linklater’s obvious love of the theatre. Who knew?
•“Fantastic Mr. Fox”: The look of it is enchanting—intentionally creaky stop-motion with puppets posed against a crafts-fair mock-up of downtown Bath, England. A combined caper movie and art-history triumph.
•“Up in the Air”: The movie’s many ambitions (to be utterly cool and all heart) don’t quite mesh together, and the last third is actually a little boring. But what’s good in Jason Reitman’s adaptation of Walter Kirn’s novel is very good—especially George Clooney and Vera Farmiga as two pros in business and in bed carrying on an affair in blank airport hotels and talking as dirty as Bacall and Bogart in “The Big Sleep.”
Miguel Marías, from Spain
1. Independencia — Raya MartinHistorias extraordinarias — Mariano LlinásTwo Lovers - James Gray
4. Vincere - Marco BellocchioNe change rien — Pedro CostaUn lac — Philippe GrandrieuxMorrer Como Um Homem — João Pedro RodriguesA Religiosa Portuguesa/La Religieuse portugaise — Eugène Green
9. Yuki & Nina — Suwa Nabuhiro & Hippolyte GirardotSingularidades de uma Rapariga Loira — Manoel de Oliveira
11.Yumurta — Semíh Kaplanoğlu
12. Merde (in Tokyo!) — Leos CaraxBellamy — Claude ChabrolJal aljido mothamyeonseo (Like You Knew It All) — Hong Sang-soo
15.La Danse-Le Ballet de l’Opéra de Paris — Frederick WisemanNiupi er (Oxhide II) — Liu Jia YinLa Fille du RER — André TéchinéJuego de escena – Jogo de Cena (Scene Playing) — Eduardo Coutinho
^^-seen in 2009
J. Hoberman’s Favorite Films of 2009 (that half of them are not that 2009)
1. The Hurt Locker (Kathryn Bigelow)
2. Hunger (Steve McQueen)
3. Police, Adjective (Corneliu Porumboiu)
4. I’m Gonna Explode (Gerardo Naranjo)
5. Coraline (Henry Selick)
6. The Sun (Aleksandr Sokurov)
7. The Beaches of Agnès (Agnès Varda)
8. The Headless Woman (Lucrecia Martel)
9. Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino)
10. Red Cliff (John Woo)
11. The Girlfriend Experience (Steven Soderbergh, U.S.)
and, tied for 12th, 11 more honorable mentions: Antichrist (Lars von Trier, Denmark), Afterschool (Antonio Campos, U.S.), The Baader Meinhof Complex (Uli Edel, Germany), Brüno (Larry Charles, U.S.), Fantastic Mr. Fox (Wes Anderson, U.S.), The Limits of Control (Jim Jarmusch, U.S.), Me and Orson Welles (Richard Linklater, U.S.), Tony Manero (Pablo Larrain, Chile), Tulpan (Sergei Dvortsevoy, Russia), 24 City (Jia Zhangke, China), and The White Ribbon (Michael Haneke, Austria).
I don’t really get the praise for the Hurt Locker either. It’s not a bad film, but I find it rather like your regular type war movie that we have seen before with the macho guy like you have in other movies like Platoon with the Tom Berenger character and Animal Mother character in Full Metal Jacket. There’s the ambush and the tense standoff with a bomb that might blow off at any moment, but it just seems like a lot of the other war movies we’ve seen before. It’s still good and I think the characters are well thought out, but it just seems kind of formulaic. As far as 25th Hour goes, I thought that was a rather stupid film with just the obligatory scenes of Edward Norton having one last fling at a club before going to jail. It didn’t seem that it brought anything fresh to the table.
entertainment weekly best of decade
1. Far From Heaven (2002) The movies that have always spoken most to me are the ones that cast a spell, and no film I saw in the last 10 years was as meaningfully mesmerizing as Todd Haynes’s delectable and haunting masterpiece. A voluptuous soap opera that’s also a
dizzying hall of cinematic mirrors, it’s about the late 1950s, and it’s also about today — which makes it sound a bit like Mad Men ahead of its time, which it sort of is. Except that Haynes, in re-creating the look and mood of a Douglas Sirk melodrama down to the dialogue beats and purplish noir lighting, goes Mad Men one better by refracting the suburban life of 50 years ago through the pop looking glass of Old Hollywood. In Haynes’ film, the ’50s merges with our image of the ’50s, which merges with our own brave new traditional world. Far From Heaven is really the greatest David Lynch film that Lynch never made — a lusciously dark dream of movie-fed desire and romantic dread. Dennis Quaid, as a closeted gay husband stuck, hypnotically, in the wrong movie era, might be enacting a nervous breakdown in slow motion, and the relationship between Julianne Moore, as a proper housewife just waiting to bloom, and Dennis Haysbert, as the gardner who tends to her affections but can’t remove her racial blinders, has a tender heartsick rapture that echoes tellingly across the decades. For even as their “forbidden” love is portrayed as the relic of a bygone era, Far From Heaven forces us to ask: How often, even today, do we get to see a love like this one reflected in our own Hollywood looking glass?
2. Sideways (2004) The most exquisite comedy of the decade is also the most finely tuned neurotic love story since Annie Hall. Not too long after Alexander Payne’s movie was released, a joke started to make the rounds: that film critics all loved it because all film critics look like Paul Giamatti. (The joke was actually borrowed from an old one about rock critics and Elvis Costello.) My first reaction was to say, “You got me — touché!” But I’ll add that what we critics really cherished about Giamatti’s Miles, with his love of wine, women, and more wine, is that he’s such a recognizably messed-up, completely unglamorous, blessedly real person. That, along with its perfect-pitch writing and directing — I’m tempted to call it a new classicism — is what makes Sideways an achingly funny, timeless, and lived-in tale of an ordinary geek dreamer’s redemptive romance.
3. The Century of the Self (2005) I see great documentaries every year, and the best of them (like Capturing the Friedmans) turn the investigation of reality into an art form. But Adam Curtis’s four-part nonfiction epic is the one documentary I’ve seen in the past decade that literally reshaped the way I look at the world. It’s a vast and searching essay-mosaic, made in a pop-collage style that might be described as Marshall McLuhan meets Natural Born Killers, that explores how the consumer culture recoded the nature of who we are inside. Curtis takes us back to the primal seed of modern marketing: the creation of public relations in the 1920s by Sigmund Freud’s nephew, who drew on his uncle’s theories to envision a new kind of human being — not a rational citizen but an irrational consumer, enslaved by the appetite of unconscious forces. Curtis makes connections — between advertising and psychiatry, the counterculture and the corporate culture — that reveal how “individuality” in our society came to be the ultimate conformist desire.
4. Gladiator (2000) What I first saw Ridley Scott’s Roman Hollywood spectacular, I totally dug it, but it just missed making my 10 Best list that year, because I had (foolishly) compartmentalized it in my mind as a Well-Made Genre Film. Then I saw it again, and loved it even more, and then I watched it again and again — and I realized that what happens in this movie, and what I got hooked on, goes deeper than a mere famous-general-turned- anonymous-slave-fights-and-slaughters-the-brutes-of-Rome action film. The majesty of Gladiator is that it’s a myth of masculinity that glints like a slashing broadsword. Russell Crowe’s performance, which I consider up there with the best of Mitchum, Wayne, Bogart, and Douglas, takes off from Maximus’ radically existential attitude: After finding his beloved wife and child murdered, he has no more desire to live and, in fact, never regains it — he just wants to join them in Heaven — and so he’s literally a man without a fear of dying. Crowe, who glowers at his enemies with unabashed homicidal cool, makes every line burn with the heat of delayed-vengeance-as-grace-under-pressure. In Hollywood, they really don’t make ‘em like they used to. Except that this one time, they did.
5. Chuck & Buck (2000) When I chose this as my number-one film of 2000, it provoked more reaction than any other number-one choice I’ve ever made. Granted, it’s not your ordinary movie of the year: a shot-on-video homoerotic arrested-development stalker comedy, starring squishy, pale-lashed Mike White (who also wrote the astounding script) as a shrinking-violet man-child who hunts down the former grade school pal he used to…uh, play games with, all to try and make their fun bloom again. But this portrait of cracked love is really a profound story of how the reveries of childhood can hold us, shape us, and rule us as adults. White’s performance is a revelation, and so is the astonishing intimacy of Miguel Arteta’s direction. Chuck & Buck makes you laugh and squirm at the same time, but it never condescends to anyone on screen. It’s a tribute to the freakishness of humanity, and vice versa.
6. Moulin Rouge! (2001) I’m asked all the time if I ever change my mind about a film. Well, here’s my greatest flip-flop in the 20 years I’ve been at EW. I originally gave Moulin Rouge! a B-minus, and though I did like parts of the film, I found much of it (especially the first 45 minutes) brittle, strange, fractious, and all over the place. A year later, I saw it again and swooned over every minute of it — though I now understand what initially put me off. Baz Luhrmann’s visionary musical obeys a kind of yin-and-yang pleasure principal: Whenever Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman are singing “Your Song” or “Come What May,” we’re carried aloft, but the rest of the film needs to be a little harsh, in order to make us long, almost physically, for those moments when the movie explodes into a pinwheel aria of rapture. In a decade that saw the rebirth of the musical, Moulin Rouge! is the one that recaptured the audacity of what musicals really are: pop passion plays of faith in a world that’s forgotten how to believe.
7. Requiem for a Dream (2000) The lure, and peril, of addiction may be the story of our time, and Darren Aronofsky’s mind-blowing, soul-shattering film is probably the greatest movie ever made about what addiction really is: what it looks like and feels like, its power and terror, the
places it drags you to. The virtuosity of Aronofsky’s camera and editing techniques (the rapid-fire shooting-up montages, the wide-angle claustrophobia) would mean little if the director didn’t work with a spiraling ferocity that heightens the emotions of his characters, even as they lose their minds to drug highs so scary-vivid they’re almost tactile. When I emerged, shaken, from the first time that I saw Requiem for a Dream, I knew that the purity of Aronofsky’s intensity reminded me of another filmmaker. In a short while, I realized that it was the young Martin Scorsese.
8. Munich (2005) Steven Spielberg’s engulfing drama about the aftermath of the massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympic games is one of his most brilliant and hypnotic films, but it may also be one of his most elusive. The attempt by a team of Mossad agents to hunt down the terrorists who planned the Munich madness starts out as a movie staged with gripping procedural violence. But then the plan of vengeance begins to come apart — and it’s the way (or interlocking ways) that it comes apart that lends the drama its uniquely queasy, inside-the-heart-of-an-assassin suspense. In Munich, the attacking agents, led by a forcefully spooked Eric Bana, do the wrong thing precisely because they do the right thing, and that gives the movie a moral vertigo that sucks you in, and down, like a whirlpool. Spielberg has made a mythological thriller, a tragedy in which action loses its meaning even as it finds its target.
9. Lilya 4-Ever (2003) In the past decade, the greatest filmmaker to come to prominence outside these shores is Sweden’s Lukas Moodysson, but his films are so shaggy and low-key, so free of hooky pretensions, that he has never attained much visibility in America. Still, you have to wonder how the art-house audience could have ignored Moodysson’s great, transporting, agonizing drama about one of the reigning worldwide evils of our time: the sexual slavery that thrives just blocks from anyone who lives in, say, a major U.S. city. Moodysson follows a teenage girl (Oksana Akinshina), living in the post-Communist ruins of Eastern Europe, as she’s drawn to a human Venus Flytrap in the form of a pimp — then flown to Sweden, where, like thousands of other girls, she is caged and terrorized into a life of prostitution. The subject may be brutal, but Moodysson treats it with the humanity of Jean Renoir. His filmmaking is lyrical, open-eyed, devastating, and Lilya herself, even when her soul and body have been crushed, is never just a number. Lilya 4-Ever is a call to arms from a quietly wrenching artist who, mark my words, will speak far louder in the coming decade.
10. Casino Royale (2006) Another movie that provoked a bit of shock and awe, if not outright head-scratching, when I chose it as the best film of the year. I mean, the oddity of it all — a critic actually singling out for the highest praise… a movie that was intended to be entertaining. But who says that great entertainment can’t, or shouldn’t, be as artful as this? The James Bond movies — the great early ones, with Sean Connery — weren’t just based on the novels of Ian Fleming. They also took off from a movie that, in its action extravagance and globe-trotting man-pursues-man excitement, became the formal template for the entire Bond series: Hitchcock’s North by Northwest. And this glorious stab at re-launching the series harkens right back to the merry dark existential playfulness of Hitchcock’s mastery. As Daniel Craig’s brutally sharp, ruthlessly charming, sandpaper-rough Bond maneuvers through a sensationally plotted labyrinth of high-flying action, elaborate double-crosses, the greatest poker game in movie history, and the most dangerous game of all — namely, love — we’re plugged into the moment only because we know that so much more than the moment is at stake. Will Craig, as Bond, ever be this good again? It would be a shame if they let the character’s complexity drop, because in Casino Royale he’s magic: a spy discovering who he is, which is why he can be all of us.
I keep meaning to check out some of Adam Curtis work, though I am wary of some of his themes. Too bad his stuff is sparsely available, if I remember correctly.
Okay, scratch that. Turns out The Century of the Self and his acclaimed The Power of Nightmares are both readily available as of August 09. I’ve got some catching up to do.
SuicideGirls’ Top Ten Films of The Decade:
1. Before Sunset
2. Three Times
4. Donnie Darko
5. Marie Antoinette
6. The Death of Mr. Lazarescu
7. The New World
8. Wendy and Lucy
9. There Will Be Blood
10. Vanilla Sky
Honorable Mention: Two Lovers, Waking Life, Killer of Sheep (US release), Son Frere, Millennium Mambo, Home, Sweeney Todd, Julia, Inland Empire, Atonement
Roger Ebert’s Top 10
1. Synecdoche, New York
2. The Hurt Locker
5. Me and You and Everyone We Know
6. Chop Shop
7. The Son
8. 25th Hour
9. Almost Famous
10. My Winnipeg
this the top 10 list of the decade from another magazine, which primarily focuses on aspects of Athenian artistic and social life:
Top 10 of Athinorama Magazine
2. The White Ribbon
3. The Return
4. Million Dollar Baby
5. No Country for Old Men
7. Brokeback Mountain
8. The Class
10. Let the Right One In
Honorary Mention to:
Dancer in the Dark
I’m Not There
The Barbarian Invasions
Top 3 Greek Films
3. One Day in August
Top 4 Directors
1. Clint Eastwood
2. Pedro Almovodar
3. Michael Haneke
4. Ang Lee
as you can see, if one excludes the less predictable honorary mentions, the rest of the choices are as conventional and preposterous as with many critical lists around this thread and Greek critics (like Jake posted before) are as mindless and devolving as the foreign ones.
indiewire best 10 of the decade
1 Mulholland Dr.
2 In the Mood for Love
3 Yi Yi
4 There Will Be Blood
5 Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
6 The New World
7 Before Sunset
10 A.I.: Artificial Intelligence
and the critics of culture vulture have their best of decade
My first thought in compiling any ten movies to stand in for the decade’s best is that ten is way too few. This list could easily extend to fifty and I’d be happy with every film on the list. 2009 itself has been a pretty poor year quality-wise, but the decade as a whole was bountiful and there will be no hyperbolic “death of cinema” claims coming from this direction. Here are my favorites listed with year of release and director. Get ready for a bunch of superlatives.
Yi Yi (Edward Yang, 2000): For cinephiles, the July 2007 deaths of Ingmar Bergman and Michelangelo Antonioni on the same day was of great significance but right up there should be director Edward Yang’s passing a month earlier at age 59. Yang was not as influential as Bergman or Antonioni (actually Antonioni made a huge impact on Yang), but Yang’s aesthetic achievements are in the same ballpark. That’s largely unrealized because Yi Yi is his only film ever to get an American release theatrically and on DVD, but Taipei Story and A Brighter Summer Day are monumental achievements right up there with Bergman and Antonioni’s best. So is Yi Yi, an exquisitely made, contemplative opus about the travails of a Taipei family. I go on at length about the film here.
Y Tu Mamá También (Alfonso Cuarón, 2001): This decade, Cuarón made the best Harry Potter movie so far, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and the flawed but impressive Children of Men. By far his most astounding accomplishment though was Y Tu Mamá También, a film that is just so fun, sexy, sad, and poignant and as rich with human experience as movies come.
Morvern Callar (Lynne Ramsay, 2002): I’ll just say it here-Samantha Morton is the most wondrous actress currently working. She’s fearless, immersive, and luminous to watch, and that’s all on display in Morvern Callar, an expressive tone poem about a woman traipsing through various emotional states-some intense, some playful-after the suicide of her boyfriend. Ramsay insightfully gets inside the mind of her protagonist by making her environment mirror her moods. The film doesn’t tell you anything; it emits an ambiance beyond words.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry, 2004): With Adaptation and Synecdoche, New York, Charlie Kaufman is the screenwriter of the decade and Eternal Sunshine is his peak. Director Gondry can be too cute and arch, but all his significant talent is tempered to this story about a man who wishes the memories of his failed romance erased from his brain until he suddenly changes his mind mid-procedure. How moving and enlightening is it to realize the pain in our lives is as indispensable as everything else that make us who we are and that we can sustain hope even when failure is preordained?
Talk To Her (Pedro Almodovar, 2002): Almodovar finally combines all the myriad aspects of his sensibility – the quirk, the melodrama, the sensuality, and most importantly the compassion – into a seamless balance. Javier Cámara gives one of the best performances of the decade, Caetano Veloso sings “Cucurrucucú Paloma,” and with one particular metaphorical dream sequence, we get one of the most audacious scenes in the history of movies.
Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (Tom Tykwer, 2006): I was put off by the insubstantial flashiness of Tykwer’s Run Lola Run, but he more than made amends with Perfume. A lush period fairy tale about a poor young man gifted, or cursed as the case may be, with an extraordinary sense of smell, the movie is a dazzling display for all the senses. This is a film that has the courage of its convictions and Tykwer takes its premise all the way to its astonishing “I can’t believe they pulled that off” conclusion.
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (Peter Jackson, 2003): I was entertained yet underwhelmed by the first two Lord of the Rings installments in the theater. Only on the extended-version DVDs did these films get their proper pacing and dramatic buildups. That was not the case for the third and final film in the series, which was near perfect as released even despite its multitudinous endings. The Two Towers’ Battle of Helm’s Deep was only a warm up for the Battle of Minas Tirith here. No film has ever fit the description of “eye-popping” spectacle better.
Lost in Translation (Sofia Coppola, 2003): Rare is the film that viscerally captures that “stranger in a strange land” feel, but Lost in Translation gets it just right. When this film came out, Scarlett Johansson was still keeping up her part as one of the most promising young actors of her generation. If Bill Murray was worried about never being seen as more than a “mere” comedic actor, this film put that to rest once and for all. Also Lance Acord + Tokyo = Wow.
Edge of Heaven (Fatih Akin, 20007): It may be prosaic to say life is full of regrets and decisions not fully thought out, but Akin’s movie is anything but. As the characters deal with such issues, they weave a complex web of relationships that wouldn’t be out of place in Victor Hugo or Charles Dickens. The story progresses toward a state of grace culminating in one of the great final shots in the movies. As the credits rolled, no one in my audience wanted to leave the theater.
A Cock and Bull Story (Michael Winterbottom, 2005): Steve Coogan had a good decade having appeared in another lauded Winterbottom film, 24 Hour Party People, and even having played another amusing version of “himself” in Coffee and Cigarettes. However he was most impressive here as the vain “Steve Coogan” while filming the “unfilmable” Tristram Shandy. The first part of the movie is a hilarious, exuberant take on just how this Tristram Shandy film might appear. The rest is an insightful behind-the-scenes look revealing how egos clash among the cast and crew from costume designer to historical expert. Rob Brydon and Coogan make a great comedy team while Naomie Harris steals scenes as an ardent cinephile.
Honorable Mentions: It was very difficult to cut Jonathan Demme’s Rachel Getting Married, Abedel Kechiche’s The Secret of the Grain, Bong Joon-Ho’s Memories of Murder, Guy Maddin’s Dracula: Pages from a Virgin’s Diary and Cowards Bend the Knee, Gus Van Sant’s Last Days and Paranoid Park, Lars von Trier’s Dogville, Lee Chang-Dong’s Secret Sunshine, Shinji Aoyama’s Eureka, Arnaud Desplechin’s Kings and Queen, and David Lynch’s Mulholland Dr.
Finally, I can’t finish without noting some small underrated gems that deserve attention: Jeffrey Blitz’s spelling bee documentary Spellbound, Peter Sollett’s comedic take on Lower East Side love Raising Victor Vargas, Yee Chin-Yen’s tender teen-crush film Blue Gate Crossing, Corey Yuen’s super sexy actioner So Close, Kinji Fukasaku’s riveting and audacious Battle Royale, Jennifer Baichwal’s stunning-looking doc on photographer Edward Burtynsky Manufactured Landscapes, Loretta Alper and Jeremy Earp’s scathing political documentary War Made Easy, and last but not least, Sex and Lucía, in which Julio Medem made the hottest movie of the decade.
I admit to a feeling of unease about sweeping through a whole decade to choose its ten best films. Being only a part-time film reviewer, I simply haven’t seen enough films to make such grand pronouncements. Even though I do spend a lot of time thinking about movies, and therefore do a lot of conscious weeding out of lesser films by simply NOT seeing them (eschewing quantity for quality), I don’t see even half of the movies I would like to see-movies that I think have the potential to be great. Because of this, I could never presume my list to be an honest rendering of the best of the decade.
But “Ten best” lists aren’t really meant to be definitive anyway. “Best of” lists are inevitably influenced by personal choice, and say as much about the moviegoer’s taste, inclinations and fetishes as they do about a film’s worth. Every time the subject of the “ten best films of all time” comes up at a cocktail party, I invariably mention my devotion to The Hustler, a film that struck a chord that was waiting to be struck when I was a teenager. Is it a great film? No. Is it on my list? Yes.
With that caveat in mind, I happily submit my contribution to Culturevulture’s Ten Best Films of the Decade. Just remember: It’s not business; it’s personal.
Code Inconnu (Michael Haneke, 2000): There is something so pure about Haneke’s vision of cruelty and its handmaiden, compliance, both integral parts of our social fabric. He has made several devastating films on this subject, the latest of which, The White Ribbon, won the Palme d’Or in 2009, but has yet to reach American theaters. I’ve chosen to honor Haneke’s relentless vision with his 2000 film, Code Inconnu, less artistically wrought than The White Ribbon or his more popular Caché, but its fragmented structure and medley of a narrative makes it more realistic, and to me, even more accusatory.
4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days (Cristian Mingiu, 2007): This movie is just great cinema, hands down. Conceived around a social issue (abortion), it takes us on a terrifying and emotionally wrenching journey that reminded me more of a Hitchcock thriller than an Eastern European social drama set in Romania during the Ceauseu regime. Never have I felt so physically drained by a movie.
Kings and Queen (Arnaud Desplechin, 2004): French director Arnaud Desplechin is a true auteur, and of the eight wonderful films he has made, this is his most fully realized. Brimming with wit, philosophical interrogation, slapstick comedy and profound insight into the human condition, it feels like a film Wes Anderson would have made if he were French, and had a PhD. Simply delightful.
Adaptation (Spike Jonze, 2002): Charlie Kaufman is a genius, and I’d put any of the last three films he wrote on this list. Many have chosen Kaufman’s treatise on love and memory, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, for their lists, but I can’t resist taking a stand for Adaptation, his examination of the creative process, the art versus industry of cinema, and the anxieties and longings-both sexual and psychic-of the male gender. Spike Jonze directs the whole affair with perfect understanding.
51 Birch Street (Doug Block, 2005): This low-budget documentary unfortunately passed under the radar, and I put it here as a testament to what great films can be made out of the stuff of ordinary life. After his mother’s sudden death, freelance wedding videographer Doug Block decided to re-examine his parents’ 54-year marriage, and stumbled upon a story for the ages, complete with a disillusioned housewife who could have come straight out of Flaubert.
Three Times (Hou Hsiao-hsien, 2005): Where most films compress space and time, Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao hsien’s films expand these two elements. He makes you feel like you’re suspended in time and you can see everything more clearly. An extraordinary magician, he turns everything into gold filigree. Three Times does just that, taking three extremely diverse love stories and making each into the stuff of myth.
Spirited Away (Hayao Miyasaki, 2001): The Japanese master of animated film is a god in our household, which includes two young girls who have watched Princess Mononoke at least 20 times between them. Spirited Away was the first film of his I saw, and it is still my favorite. The sight of its young heroine’s parents transformed into fat, gorging pigs is only the beginning of the terrible enchantments that intrigue as well as horrify. Miyasaki allows us entry into the world where magic and reality converge, and it is mesmerizing.
Pan’s Labyrinth (Guillermo del Toro, 2006): The visual imagination of Guillermo del Toro’s fantasy film is grounded by the timeless story of how the veil of ideology hides the inherent evils of mankind. Such beauty, such creative imagery, such awful truths, and such everlasting hope.
Talk to Her (Pedro Almodovar, 2002): Almodovar’s ode to desire speaks eloquently of the longings of the heart, and yet does so with a certain detached, at times humorous regard. The film is also bathed in the rich heritage of Spain’s culture and landscape, making it even more passionate and allegorical to my suburban eyes.
Paranoid Park (Gus Van Sant, 2007): A tour de force in the experimental reworking of the language of cinema, from the brilliant soundscape, the non-sequential editing, to the blatant misappropriation of everything-genre, mood, tone-you name it, and Gus Van Sant will bend it to serve his artistic sensibility. Only the greatest artists are driven to break the rules, and only the best of these do so with such brilliance.
The first year of the new decade was profoundly transitional for me, marking one of the best years of my life, and the worst. In 2000 I completed a long-time, overdue academic goal. It was also the year I forged new personal and professional roads in a new city- NYC! Unfortunately, it was also the year I experienced a medical crisis with one family member, and the loss of another. (A year after my arrival to the Big Apple, the tragedy of 9-11 took place- the world as everyone and I knew it would never be the same. Although it’s not reflected in my list, per se, I think that universal tragedy greatly impacted the landscape of American and world cinema.)
Being in NYC working and living among film geeks, film snobs and enthusiasts greatly informed my unofficial education in cinema as well as my interests in certain directors, writers and actors, both past and present. The upcoming list would not have come from the Paula of, say, 10 years ago:
The Lives of Others (Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, 2006): Who would think you could take yet another movie about post war Germany and do something creative, engaging and interesting? This may be an example of a perfect script, perfectly executed … by a first-time writer/director, no less.
Eternal Sunshine of Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry, 2004): At times, Gondry’s hyper creativity and quirkiness can work against him, but in this it all came together masterfully. A lot of this is due not only to the genius of Charlie Kaufman’s writing and Gundry’s directing, but also to a labyrinth of editing: back and forth, recoiled and reimagined, and to Jim Carey and Kate Winslet playing against type.
George Washington (David Gordon Green, 2000): In a genuine way, Green effectively creates a sort of postmodern neo-realism. This is a film using many non-actors from a small rural Southern town to convey a delicate story of young people uniting to cover up a tragic event. Simple, yet profound.
Caché (Michael Haneke, 2005): This is the first movie where when done viewing; I ended up in the theater lobby with a group of complete strangers from the audience discussing the ending. Intriguing, haunting on both personal and political levels. You can’t see it just once.
My Architect (Nathaniel Kahn, 2003): This was not just a well-made documentary, but a good movie, a good story too. While filmmaker Nathan Kahn searches to understand why his father, Louis Kahn, died the way he did, he reveals an interesting secret life of the talented, but under appreciated architect. A thoughtful documentary and touching film, with beautiful buildings and a haunting musical score.
Talk to Her (Pedro Almodovar, 2002): The prolific and unusual director’s second masterpiece (All About My Mother was first) deftly combines art forms in a eloquently beautiful story not overwrought with his trademark melodrama.
Sideways (Alexander Payne, 2004): No one combines drama and humor so seamlessly quite like Alexander Payne, as Sideways proves in spades. And in this case it’s drama, humor, mid-life crisis on the road. This was probably the best time everyone had at the movies in 2004, with a built in excuse to drink a fantastic glass of wine before, during or after.
Precious (Lee Daniels, 2009): Who would of thought that the same writer/director that gave us Shadowboxer, a movie flawed on so many levels, could give us this jewel of an urban drama. A wonderful cinematic surprise, which is both hard to watch and hard to resist in the portrayal of a young girl beat up by life, yet enduring.
(A Tie) Lost in Translation (Sophia Coppola, 2003)- It’s rare that an American director can so effectively and subtly do what foreign filmmakers do frequently-capture a movie about a mood and a strong sense of place, both within the characters and their environment. Y Tu Mama Tambien (Alfonso Cuaron, 2001): This movie raised the bar for two tired genres-road movies and coming of age movies.
Juno (Jason Rietman, 2007): I’ve got to have at least one comedy on the list. In a universe of silly, sloppy and predictable comedies, this was a breath of fresh air in the form of smart comedy. The bonus of discovering Ellen Page didn’t hurt either. Teen pregnancy and sass never came across so good.
Overall, the noughties didn’t prove to be a cinematic stellar decade compared to the likes of the 70s. It is, however, a decade that proved superior to the 90s, showcasing impressive Indy films while giving rise to the documentary feature, which broke box office records.
Emily S. Mendel
For my ten best of the decade, I chose films that have retained their emotional impact and uniqueness over the years. Listed chronologically, these are films that I love and have seen or would see again.
The Harry Potter Film Series (2001-2009)… The Sorcerer’s Stone (2001); … The Chamber of Secrets (2002); ..The Prisoner of Azkaban (2004):…The Goblet of Fire (2005); The Order of the Phoenix (2007); … The Half Blood Prince (2009): J. K. Rowling’s fantasy novels about the boy-wizard regenerated worldwide interest in reading, while the films became well-deserved box-office phenomena. Terrific acting, including delicious cameos by veteran British actors, fabulous production and design, a great series of directors, but most of all J.K. Rowling’s imagination, contributed to this unique film series.
Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki, 2002): The exquisite, imaginative and moving film that made Japan’s master of animation, Hayao Miyazaki, internationally known and admired.
Good Night and Good Luck (George Clooney, 2005): George Clooney directed this portrait the early days of broadcast journalism and the actual conflict between veteran television reporter Edward R. Murrow and Senator Joseph McCarthy. Also written by Clooney, with Grant Heslov, the film unnervingly focuses on media responsibility and the price of dissention from the government.
The Queen (Stephen Frears, 2006): Set in the week of Princess Diana’s sudden death in 1997, this character-driven docudrama explores the Royal Family’s cold response to the public’s mourning and contrasts it with newly elected Tony Blair’s more modern and savvy reaction. Blessed with an extraordinary and nuanced performance by Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II, The Queen is engaging, poignant and literate.
Little Miss Sunshine (Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, 2006): This offbeat indie comedy, enhanced by its appealing cast, Greg Kinnear, Alan Arkin, Steve Carell, Paul Dano and the delightful and talented Abigail Breslin, follows a dysfunctional family traveling to a macabre children’s beauty contest. Never hitting a false note, this comedy treasure is primarily about the American family, peculiar though it may be.
Ten Canoes (Rolf de Heer and Peter Djgirr, 2006): A fascinating film with universal themes, it transports its audience to the strange, yet entrancing world of the indigenous Yolngu tribe of Australia’s Northern Territory. Beautifully filmed on location, the movie’s heart is an ancient Yolngu myth. It’s a cautionary tale about the evil that can befall men when they let their passion and anger rule them. With lighthearted and earthy humor, Ten Canoes presents a unique glimpse at a world that would be lost but for the efforts of filmmaker De Heer and the exceptional Yolngu actors, for whom this movie is clearly a labor of love.
The Counterfeiters (Stefan Ruzowitzky, 2007): This dramatic depiction of the struggle for survival, honor and principle by a special unit of concentration camp prisoners explores complex moral issues, while it keeps our hearts racing with its suspense. The Counterfeiters combines brilliant nuanced acting by Karl Markovicsly and August Dieh, and masterful direction and writing by Stefan Ruzowitzky.
Up the Yangtze (Yung Chang, 2007): Yung Chang, writer and director of this enthralling and moving documentary, follows two local teenagers who are grateful to work on a “farewell cruise” ship that takes tourists to see the Yangtze River Valley before it is completely eradicated by the Three Gorges Dam. In personalizing Mao’s gargantuan eco-disaster by focusing upon the two teenagers, Yung Chang enables us to connect emotionally with the overwhelming human tragedy of the millions whose homes and livelihoods have been snatched out from under them.
Michael Clayton (Tony Gilroy, 2007): George Clooney, as a disillusioned fixer at a New York law firm, proves here that he’s a first tier movie star (Bogart, move over). Splendidly written and directed by Tony Gilroy, this literate thriller provides riveting entertainment for the mind and soul. No one is unscathed by the film’s surprising and spectacularly satisfying end.
Milk (Gus Van Sant, 2008): The life and legacy of gay rights activist Harvey Milk features Sean Penn’s often funny, sometimes incensed, but always compelling Oscar-winning performance. Milk succeeds brilliantly in capturing the political revolution in 1970s San Francisco that ultimately changed history.
When I was a kid, I always hated those critics who would fill out their Ten Best lists with obscure foreign films that almost nobody had seen. I’ve now become my most-hated nightmare. In my own pathetic defense, let me say that were this the 1990’s, I would be unable to construct anything less than a Top Fifty List, and it would be mostly English language films. From 1993 or 1995, or (especially) 1996, it would be easy to come up with a dozen American films better than almost anything made in this decade. It has been a truly shitty ten years for American films.
My cursory explanation is that the studios have become more conservative than ever, risking capital only on big budget, high concept sequels and safe bets. And the ten years of independent film that followed Sex, Lies and Videotape (1989) are long gone. The independent film renaissance that so excited filmmakers, critics, and moviegoers is over. Money for these types of films is scarce and the companies that distribute them are shrinking. The only silver lining I can see is that new technology makes it possible to produce high quality movies for very little money, and new methods of non-theatrical distribution are mushrooming. But like the kid who bemoaned those lists with foreign films, I’m also sorry to see films increasingly watched on television, computer screens, and even cell phones. The experience of going to a movie theatre and watching something of quality-whether art or escapism or both-is increasingly rare.
With due acknowledgement, then, of the lack of American films on the list, here are my top ten of the decade:
The Inheritance (Arven) (Per Fly, 2003): Per Fly has created the closest thing to a Shakespearean tragedy since, well, Shakespeare. Every human impulse, base and noble, is displayed in both the family and in business. A towering work of art.
Head-On (Gegen die Wand) (Faith Akin, 2004): I can’t think of another film that seemed so harsh and jagged in its unblinking look at its two protagonists, and yet there’s such deep humanity behind that gaze. This creates the paradoxical experience of being repulsed and yet unable to deny these people’s connection to our own selves.
This is England (Shane Meadows, 2006): Meadows’ look at why a decent kid would become a skinhead and why he would ultimately leave their world. As rich, textured, and compelling a look at a particular strata of society as I’ve ever seen.
4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (Cristian Mungiu, 2007): Mungiu looks at abortion, two women dealing with it, and structures his story like a thriller. Unsettling in the best of ways…pure cinema.
Talk To Her (Pedro Almodovar, 2002): Almodovar finally lavishes the compassion and complexity on his male characters that he has always had for women. A feast for the eye and a profound meditation on what men think they see in women.
Waltz With Bashir (Ari Folman, 2008): This powerful anti-war film looks at soldiers through the lenses of Freud, surrealism, existentialism, and a deep compassion. In form and content, a great work of art.
Caché (Michael Haneke, 2005): This is the best political film of the decade. Haneke explores how middle class France can and can’t come to terms with its racist and imperialist history. And the film is not didactic.
City of God (Fernando Meirelles, 2005): Meirelles’ grand epic. He has taken the film elements that go into great historical dramas and used them to dissect a class, a gender, a part of a city, and a culture of masculinity. It’s sweeping and subtle at the same time. A remarkable accomplishment.
The Lives of Others (Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, 2006): The director’s first film explored the quotidian elements of a police state, and gave us a totalitarian cog who surprises himself by finding his deepest humanity. The last ten minutes are the feel-good movie ending of the decade.
Persepolis (Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapi, 2007): Paronnaud and Satrapi use exquisite black and white animation to give us an irresistible, imperfect, feisty girl whose spirit of defiance and commitment to her own integrity make her someone we care about and admire. There for the grace of God go all of us.
(My apologies to Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Divided We Fall, Traffic, Capturing the Friedmans, The Squid and the Whale, United 93, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Little Children, Together, and Letters from Iwo Jima.)
All of the movies I have chosen were madly ambitious-in a couple of cases, insanely ambitious, very nearly unmake-able-and nearly all held autobiographical content for their directors or screenwriters or original inspirations, so were very directly personal in content. They also held break-out performances from great actors like Don Cheadle, Adrian Brody, Gael Garcia Bernal, Chris Cooper, Philip Seymour Hoffmann, Joaquin Phoenix, and Samantha Morton, actors who automatically raise the level of everything they touch and were the finest of their work.
Two exceptions: Gosford Park and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. But they are outstanding for their casts and for their daring and for everything else.
I would have included a Werner Herzog movie, To Be and To Have, a couple of French comedies like The Closet and another Ang Lee or two, Milk by Gus Van Sant, maybe Juno and Best of Youth, but I’ve run out of slots. Too bad this isn’t a Top Twenty list.
Almost Famous (Cameron Crowe, 2000): Crowe’s tender memoir of the glory days of Rolling Stone magazine at the end of the sixties, as told through his own 15 year old eyes, offers Kate Hudson as sweetest of groupies Penny Lane and Billy Crudup as wildest of rock stars, as well as a never-better Frances McDormand and Philip Seymour Hoffmann as Lester Bangs — as an insider’s look at the life of bands on the road, it’s as disillusioning as it’s sweet.
Traffic (Stephen Soderbergh, 2000): Soderbergh’s most successful movie is an untidy, imperfect, complicated, somehow sloshy movie that examines multinational drug trafficking on several levels, yet feels strangely earnest and has a range and cast of characters that includes some of Don Cheadle and Benicio del Toro’s finest performances. Perhaps the ending is a little bit pat with Michael Douglas’ melodramatic turn to save his errant daughter, but it’s an otherwise honest effort not to be simplistic and say a lot about everything.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Ang Lee, 2000): Lee’s ambitious flying epic soars in an unending arc, an introduction to the amazing grace of Asian martial arts and history and more or less everything else. Who can forget the two pairs of lovers: a headstrong, imperiously youthful pair and Michelle Yeoh and Chow Yun Fat as the older pair, and their sparring over the legendary sword Green Destiny? It has the quality of miracle as well as myth.
Gosford Park (Robert Altman, 2001): Altman’s period whodunit skewers the English class system between two world wars wickedly and delivers graceful ironies as well as delicious black comedy, a denouement, and brilliant star turns from Helen Mirren’s to Clive Owen’s; so it’s much, much more than a merely decorative “frocky” or another murder mystery … it’s a tour de force.
The Pianist (Roman Polanski, 2002): No matter what you think about Roman Polanski-and we do, you do-you can’t take this account of Nazi-occupied Warsaw away from him, or from the great Adrian Brody playing the desperate pianist in hiding. No other director has managed to give Brody the depth and breadth of performance that he enjoys here, and he more than inhabits the role. Like all the other films on my list, the movie has the truth of autobiography.
Adaptation (Spike Jonze, 2002): No matter what you may think about Nicholas Cage’s lesser roles, you can’t take this one away from him! In Spike Jonze’s best movie, Charlie Kaufman’s alter ego is a screenwriter working on a New Yorker story about rare orchids, with a bad case of writer’s block and an irritating brother who also writes … meanwhile lovely performances from Chris Cooper and Meryl Streep keep the whole thing intact somehow.
In America (Jim Sheridan, 2002): Sheridan’s wry and bleakly comic account of Irish immigrants coming to New York still rings true as a bell, and draws exquisite performances from everyone, particularly Samantha Morton as the mother and the two daughters. The scene where one of the girls sings “Desperadoes” at a talent show is unforgettable.
Hotel Rwanda (Terry George, 2004): This historic movie about the Rwanda massacres is taken from the real life story of a Belgian-educated hotel manager Paul Routabagina played by Don Cheadle, who put more than just his own fine performance into the movie, and single-handedly raised the level to searing and edge-of-the-seat tense as the Tutsis huddle together in his hotel from the attacking Hutus. Add to this the fact that many of the actors were locals who had never acted before, and the movie is indeed a testimony to tragedy, a miracle that speaks “truth to power” in the old phrase.
Capote (Bennett Miller, 2005): Philip Seymour Hoffmann as an unlikely but utterly convincing Capote with his childish and affected voice, and Catherine Keener playing soon-to-be-famous novelist Harper Lee, plus Clifton Collins Junior as one of the gunmen-each stellar in their own way. The chilling jail cell scenes when Capote realizes he may have a bestselling book and will not keep his promise to the soon-to-be-hung prisoner are unforgettable.
Y Tu Mama Tambien (Alfonso Cuaron, 2001): We are used to getting brilliant movie after brilliant movie from the Los Trés Amigos school of Mexican filmmaking; but Alfonso Cuaron’s masterpiece takes 17 year-old Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna from the protected enclaves of middle-class Mexico City and out on a crazy road trip with a cousin’s wife — an older woman and her secret, seeing and learning at every turn in the road until they find their ultimate destination of Boca del Cielo and lessons in manhood.
Walk The Line (James Mangold, 2005): Biopics are generally uneven melodramas with flatfooted scripts, particularly musical biopics. But out of several movies with Joaquin Phoenix, this one or Return To Paradise or Two Lovers would all make picks on his name alone, possibly even with Commodus in Gladiator, maybe the first of his troubled outsider roles. But his Johnny Cash is spot-on and so moving and utterly convincing that he earns this movie its place in the top ten, assisted by the Cash repertoire, which he plays and sings ably.
Interesting Best-of-Decade list from Lisa Schwarzbaum at Entertainment Weekly:
1. There Will Be Blood (2007), Paul Thomas Anderson. The entire decade, summed up in a singular American masterpiece.
2. Sideways (2004), Alexander Payne. The decade’s most adult film about men and women.
3. Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003), Peter Jackson. The grand conclusion to the decade’s best epic.
4. Yi Yi (2000), Edward Yang. The decade’s most beautiful family story.
5. The New World (2005), Terrence Malick. The decade’s most imaginative history lesson.
6. Zodiac (2007), David Fincher. The decade’s most unnerving crime story.
7. The Dark Knight (2008), Christopher Nolan. The decade’s best comic-book adaptation.
8. The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (2005), Cristi Puiu. The decade’s most profound expression of the personal as political.
9. Moolaade (2005), Ousmane Sembene. The decade’s most potent handling of terrifying material.
10. Sympathy for Lady Vengeance (2005), Park Chan-wook. The decade’s most thrilling tale of revenge.
@Eli Atkinson,“I really need to see a David Lynch film. I have Twin Peaks ordered.”
If you have never seen a David Lynch film, start with Erasure Head. I believe that it puts all his other films into context.
steven king best of 2009
09. Fantastic Mr Fox
08. THE TAKING OF PELHAM 1 2 3
07. LAW ABIDING CITIZEN
06. District 9
05. The Reader (tho it came out last year)
03. The Road
02. The Last House on the Left
01. The Hurt Locker
Film Comments Top 150 of the decade
Their Top 10:
1 Mulholland Drive David Lynch, U.S. 2001 2808
2 In the Mood for Love Wong Kar Wai, Hong Kong 2000 2687
3 Yi Yi Edward Yang, China 2000 1833
4 Syndromes and a Century Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Thailand/Austria/France 2006 1738
5 There Will Be Blood P. T. Anderson, U.S. 2007 1664
6 The Death of Mr. Lazarescu Cristi Puiu, Romania 2005 1407
7 A History of Violence David Cronenberg, U.S./Canada 2005 1303
8 Tropical Malady Apichatpong Weerasethakul, France/Thailand/Italy/Germany 2004 1301
9 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days Cristi Mungiu, Romania 2007 1249
10 The New World Terrence Malick, U.S. 2005 1223
Ralch: I really like that list from Miguel Marías. Thanks for adding it here.
S_Y: You probably already know this, but in case you don’t, Mr. Hoberman usually only selects from films that have had a certain number of screenings in New York during a given year. The Sun actually premiered back in ‘05, but it wasn’t distributed in the U.S. until last year.
Cahiers du cinéma
Best of the Decade:
1) Mulholland Drive
3) Tropical Malady
4) The Host
5) A History of Violence
6) The Secret of the Grain
7) Tie Xi Qu: West of the Tracks
8) War of the Worlds
9) The New World
*I am very pleased regarding the inclusion of the Wang Bing film.
This thread is incontrovertible proof that most critics can’t fucking distinguish pure gold from pure excrement.
metacritic compiles a list of films that appear the most in critics top ten of the decade lists: http://features.metacritic.com/features/2010/film-critics-pick-the-best-movies-of-the-decade/
Is there anybody here who would choose Sideways? If so, I want to hear someone make a case for that film. That appears on at least five critics’ lists, and I just don’t get that.
Village Voice’s best films of the decade (awesome picks by Scott Fundas)’
Dogville (Lars von Trier, 2004): For all its filmic, literary, and historical echoes, von Trier’s fierce jeremiad was immediately recognizable as something new — a work of sustained cinematic chutzpah, a testament to the power of the imagination, and a morality play that also concerns the moral responsibility of imagemaking.
Mulholland Dr. (David Lynch, 2001): Comic, sexy, surreal, self-reflexive, thrilling, and ludicrous by turns, Lynch’s exploration of the Hollywood dream factory was almost as much fun to write about as to watch — a voluptuous phantasmagoria with a two-part structure that suggests Buster Keaton’s Sherlock Jr. reversed so that the dream comes first.
A History of Violence (David Cronenberg, 2005): Consummate filmmaking, Cronenberg’s bleakly humorous, highly artful, deviously topical vigilante thriller is what used to be called a B movie — electrified by lightning. Together with Spider and Eastern Promises, it confirms Cronenberg’s status as the great narrative filmmaker of the ’00s.
The Devil Wears Prada (David Frankel, 2006): Mainstream as a mall and, now, a cable staple on par with Seinfeld reruns, which does nothing to diminish the accomplishment of wringing from a petulant best-seller the most delightfully wrenching movie about the workplace since, oh, last decade’s Office Space. Beneath its glamtastic facade (fashion! parties! champagne!) lurked a villain who was, in truth, the Hero; a protagonist in need of antagonizing; and sage advice from Stanley Tucci, who should always star in Meryl Streep movies.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry, 2004): In a decade populated by beloved head-scratchers (Memento, Mulholland Dr., etc.), this was the sole heart-breaker of the bunch. You could feel its ache; even now it still stings upon repeated viewings, which are necessary to untangle the before, during, and after of a love affair no amnesia could erase from the souls of two characters destined to come together and fall apart.
Unbreakable (M. Night Shyamalan, 2000): Years later, superhero movies got good and glossy (Iron Man, aces) and down and dirty (The Dark Knight, suckin’ in the ‘70s), but the first offering of the decade remains the best (ever?). Maybe that’s because it’s the most human of the lot, the Spandex-free story of a maritally challenged palooka reluctantly recruited into the crime-fighting business by — surprise! — the coldest, creepiest villain never to appear in the pages of a comic book. It’s Shyamalan’s best — no screwy twist, only devastating revelation.
The Wind Will Carry Us (Abbas Kiarostami, 2000): Screened in festivals in 1999, but not released in the U.S. until the following year, this fin de siècle/millennium fable by the great Iranian auteur seemed to anticipate many of the dramatic changes that would sweep through filmmaking over the decade to come. In it, an “engineer” (who turns out to be a kind of filmmaker) travels to a remote Kurdish village with the intent of photographing the funeral rites of a dying 100-year-old woman, and the witty, haunting, poetic film that follows is about his — and Kiarostami’s own — struggle to complete that mission, to capture something of real life on film without violating its essence. Kiarostami himself has not worked on film since, preferring the more portable and less invasive technology of video. Call it the first true movie of the digital revolution.
La Commune (Peter Watkins, 2000): An enormous work of the socially conscious imagination — a century-old story (the working-class uprising in Paris in 1871) presented as though it were a live television broadcast, hosted by two reporters who become accomplices to the events they are covering, and practitioners of the art of disinformation: cable news, avant la lettre. And then Watkins steps back, finding in the 19th century a microcosm of the 20th, from xenophobia to the looming menace of capitalism. A movie ripped from the headlines, then and now.
There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2007): A 21st-century Citizen Kane, Anderson’s freewheeling adaptation of Upton Sinclair’s Oil was a fever dream about the American dream, charting the infernal entanglement of money, power, and religion on an arid stretch of California land at the dawn of the 20th century. American movies rarely dream this big anymore, and with the wholesale shuttering of the studio-owned “specialty” divisions, it may be quite some time before they do again.
Fotogramas (42 critics)
1. In the Mood for Love
2. Kill Bill
4. Million Dollar Baby
5. Mystic River
6. Inland Empire
7. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotles Mind
8. The Lives of Others
9. Artificial Intelligence: AI
10. Mulholland Drive
Cahiers du Cinema España (15 critics)
1. In the Mood for Love
3. Mulholland Drive / Inland Empire
4. Regular Lovers
6. The New World
7. In Praise of Love
8. Kill Bill
10. Colossal Youth
Positif (no Cahiers without Positif):
1. Le Nouveau Monde (Terrence Malick, 2005)
2. Million Dollar Baby (Clint Eastwood, 2005)
3. There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderoson, 2008)
4. Mulholland Drive (David Lynch, 2001)
5. La nuit nous appartient (James Gray, 2007)
Still Life (Jia Zangke, 2007)
7. De Battre mon Coeur s’est arrêté (Jacques Audiard, 2005)
In the mood for love (Wong Kar Waï, 2000)
Sarabande (Ingmar Bergman, 2003)
Le Voyage de Chiiro (Hayao Miyazaki, 2001)
11. Elephant (Gus Van Sant, 2003)
Uzak (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2004)
13. A History of Violence (David Cronenberg, 2005)
Coeurs (Alain Resnais, 2006)
La graine et le mulet (Abdellatif Kechiche, 2007)
No Country For Old Men (Frères Coen, 2007)
Parle avec Elle (Pedro Almodovar, 2002)
Le Ruban Blanc (Mickael Haneke, 2009)
Yi yi (Edward Yang, 2000)
20. 2046 (Wong Kar Waï, 2004)
Kill Bill (Quentin Tarantino, 2003)
Nos Meilleures Années (Marco Tullio Giordana, 2003)
Un prophète (Jacques Audiard, 2009)
24. Les Climats (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2007)
Mystic River (Clint Eastwood, 2003)
Oasis (Lee Chandg-dong, 2003)
The Yards (James Gray, 2000)