a personal list. limited to one film per director.
1. inland empire – the culmination of david lynch’s work – all of his usual themes are present here, all the visual elements, all combined into one long, terrifying nightmare. laura dern owns.
2. mysterious skin – after spending the last-half of the nineties getting campier and campier (or better and better, same thing?), araki disappeared for a few years and then came out with this film – a surprisingly touching and intimate adaptation of scott heim’s first novel, culminating in the most honest portrayal of the aftermath of child sexual abuse i have yet seen.
3. the return – what a film! the children in this film are so intense and good, and the cinematography is phenomenal. i was shaken up.
4. gerry – the first in van sant’s “death trilogy” is also the best, and one of the finer things he’s made. haunting.
5. there will be blood – am i not the only one who just found no country for old men boring? it was a perfect movie, but fucking lifelessly perfect. i only compare the two because they were the two big cinephile films of 2007, it seems, but here we have another big beautiful mess of a film from ol’ PT to save the day. this is flawed, overwhelming, and at times ridiculous, but all the more interesting, and a better film in the end, because and in spite of its errors.
6. life during wartime – a fitting follow-up to happiness, but with an entire life of its own. i liked palindromes a lot, too, but the scene between the father and the son in the dorm room steals the show. my most uncomfortable cinema experience of the noughts.
7. innocence – gaspar noé’s wife, lucile, has all the talent if you ask me – at least on the basis of this film. the camerawork here (photographed by benoît debie, who has shot all of noé’s films as well) is just as mindbending as anything from noé’s films but without being as show-y; is just as uncomfortable without being so glorifyingly shocking. it’s a strange, dreamy film that makes me really glad i was never a young girl.
8. dancer in the dark – von trier may be the most emotionally manipulative director in the world, but bjork (like most of the leading women in von trier’s films, but i would argue that she does the most) brings so much humanity to the role, that any/all ridiculousness on von trier’s part (let’s get real here: the actual story of this film is ridiculous in it’s misery) is wiped out entirely.
9. the brown bunny – the most personal american film of the decade, and a frustratingly honest portrayal of hypermasculinity in a movie that only a self-absorbed republican artist could make and pull off, even if i want so badly to hate it.
10. shortbus – i saw this in the theater five times, and each time i was overcome with tears. i attended each screening with a different person and it opened up conversations that were incredibly necessary and affirming. i think i needed this movie to help heal some very deep-seated sexual wounds – and while it’s not as well-crafted or well-acted as many other films that could’ve made this list (including even mitchell’s other film from this decade, hedwig and the angry inch, which is superior in many ways), what this film said and did for me at the time really can’t be underplayed. it’s also really funny.Read less