Friday, December 18, 2009

Best of the Decade: Movies

Moving right along, our favorite movies of the decade...


10 Coffee and Cigarettes – OK, this pick is random, but I loved it. It’s a series of black and white vignettes with actors and musicians chatting over (you guessed it) coffee and cigarettes about odd topics. Cate Blanchett plays herself and her jealous cousin, Jack and Meg White discuss Nikola Tesla, Bill Murray serves coffee to the Wu Tang Clan, etc, etc. Probably not going to make a lot of “best of the decade lists,” but it was certainly a bright spot for me over the last few years.

9. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy – This was a decade clogged with movies about hilariously immature men and the horrible, bitchy women with the gall to want them to grow up. What I love about Anchorman is that it seems to realize its idiot male characters are idiots, rather than role models to aspire to. That, and its got more laughs per minute that pretty much anything released in the last ten years. “Sixty percent of the time, it works every time.” Priceless.

8. Before SunsetBefore Sunrise was a little movie about an American backpacker and a young French woman spending a special night together in 1995 Vienna. In 2004, director Richard Linklater picked the story back up, with the two meeting again after 9 years. While the first film is cute, the second has an emotional heft you don’t expect, and Linklater’s growth as a director is on full display. Before Sunset is what happens to rom-com characters after the credits role.

7. Persepolis – This is a movie about a young woman coming of age in Iran while the country is turning into a theocratic tyranny, and somehow I strongly related to it. Apparently growing up sucks everywhere, no matter what. Good to know.

6. There Will be Blood – A look at the two biggest forces in American history - capitalism and religion – and what happens when they collide. Radiohead guitarist Johnny Greenwood’s score aptly sounds like the music for a horror movie.

5. No Country for Old Men – Javier Bardem personifies death (and maybe the devil) itself as he stalks Josh Brolin across the southwest in this Cohen Brothers masterpiece. Who knew death looked like the Little Dutch Boy? Intense, funny and frightening, this was one of the most deserving Best Picture winners of the decade.

4. Kill Bill (I count Vols. I and II as one film. Suck it). In both sending up and paying homage to action movies of every stripe, Quentin Tarantino endows the violence with the kind of feeling and artistry that we’re not used to seeing in our roaring rampages or revenge. I guess it takes a woman’s touch.

3. Lost in Translation – Two adrift souls find each other in Tokyo, and discover confusion isn’t so bad when you’re not alone.

2. The Royal Tenenbaums – I love Wes Anderson as much as the next middle class college graduate, but sometimes his characters are less human beings than collections of affectations. In The Royal Tenenbaums, he struck the right balance, and made one of the greatest examinations of family I’ve ever seen.

1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – Jim Carrey proves he can act without ACTING!, Kate Winslet shows us the dark side of the manic pixie dream girl, and the film as a whole makes us ponder the meaning of love, memory and everything else that matters.


10. Sideways - Maybe it's because it takes place in California...or because it got me more interested in wine...or maybe it's because it let us all know just how amazing Paul Giamatti is, but I loved this story of love and friendship and wine and middle age. Endlessly watchable for the performances alone. I'm still not drinking any fucking Merlot!

9. Mean Girls - Everything about this movie is teen flick perfection. Penned by the genius Tina Fey, starring the pre-trainwrecky LiLo, and introducing us all to Rachel McAdams and Amanda Seyfried, it's one of my all time favorites.

8. High Fidelity - There are several irrefutable truths about me: 1. I love John Cusack with the fire of a thousand suns and 2. I will read just about anything Nick Hornby touches. Naturally, that makes HF a big hit in my heart. Plus, Johnny's love interest in the movie is named Laura...which may or may not have special significance to me. AND The Boss cameos! ALSO, Jack Black is hilarious. I think you get the point. This movie is awesome.

7. The Wes Anderson Collection - I tried (really I did) to choose one Wes Anderson film for this list, but I can't do it. I like them all equally. Even The Darjeeling Limited (which no one liked). Thank God this is my blog and I can do what I want!

6. The Station Agent - Who knew a movie about a dwarf, a grieving mother and a mouthy Cuban could be so damn entertaining and heartbreaking? Bonus points for Peter Dinklage and Bobby Cannavale looking so hott!

5. O Brother, Where Art Thou? - My favorite Coen movie of the decade (yes, I like it even more than NCFOM). It looks and sounds amazing, draws inspiration from Homer, and is really, really hilarious. Can't ask for more than that really.

4. The Dark Knight - Best. Comic book movie. Ever.

3. WALL-E - The star of a very bright Pixar galaxy and the best first half hour of cinema since Saving Private Ryan.

2. Lost in Translation - There is absolutely nothing I love more than movies about loneliness and no movie has ever captured it better. Sofia Coppola is a genius and I think we all thank God for Scarlett Johansson.

1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - I've seen this at the top of several Best of the Decade lists...especially those complied by 20/30-something bloggers. Charlie Kaufman and Michel Gondry obviously tapped into something profound and universal. And, like Liz said, the performances by Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet are just perfection.

Honorable Mentions - 28 Days Later, 4 Months 3 Weeks and 2 Days, The Departed, Once, Shawn of the Dead, Bowling for Columbine, The 40 Year-Old Virgin, Memento, Children of Men, Moulin Rouge

So, there's our 2 cents. Your thoughts on a decade of movies?


K and/or K said...

Eternal Sunshine is a true gem, and Darjeeling Limited was so boss!

BeckEye said...

I've only seen 1 1/2 movies from Liz's list and 5 from Red's. And I think, somewhere along the line, "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" replaced "Donnie Darko" as the movie that everyone yells at me that I MUST see.

red said...

Don't believe the people who tell you otherwise...Donnie Darko is really not that good.

Except for the line "Sometimes, I doubt your commitment to Sparklemotion!" That's pretty hilarious.

Liz said...

I liked Donnie Darko.

Check some of these out Becks! Hopefully you'll like at least a few.

Dr Zibbs said...

Nice list.

McGone said...

I really think we could all go to Blockbuster together and not have too much hassle on Blog Movie Night. ESotSM is also the top of my hypothetical "Best o' the 00s" movie list.

the iNDefatigable mjenks said...

Thank you for tossing in The Dark Knight, red. I might have to pop it in the player this evening while I'm wrapping my wife's presents.

Jon said...

Hmmm... You know, I didn't love Eternal Sunshine as much as everyone else apparently did. I thought it was okay, but nothing special. Maybe I need to watch it again.

Also, 3 of my all time favorite movies didn't make the cut here, so that means I'm going to have to make my own list.

Anonymous said...

How did Lord of the Rings not make this list? It was an epic endeavor and included some insightful lines into life: All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. There are other forces at work in this world Frodo, besides the will of evil. Bilbo was meant to find the Ring. In which case, you were also meant to have it. And that is an encouraging thought.

I love Kauffman so Eternal would be also my number one, but I also would include Adaptation. I would also have Lost in Translation somewhere.

Of course this is people's personal top ten lists. City of God would be on my list. The story telling is amazing, and the film making is innovative. It's my #2.

I'm a docu dork so I would have a bunch of docs on my list. Among them would be War Photographer (because of the innovative camerawork and i'm also a newspaper photog) and the Corporation because it opened my eyes.

Honorable mention docs include Born into Brothels, Word Play (about the annual NY Times crossword competition; I might include this on the list), King of Kong, and American Blackout.

I can relate to Sideways so it definitely can be on my list.

I really enjoyed Stranger than Fiction, it's Will Ferrel's Jim Carey moment from Eternal.

Slumdog may make the cut because of it's breathtaking visuals and use of a soundtrack to give the film such life and emotion.

HM include Meet the Parents, Dark Knight and Last King of Scotland had some riveting enemies, Little Miss Sunshine had the best dance scene (Napoleon Dynamite is a close second), Superbad because I'm Michael Cera.

red said...

CaptC - LotR would def be on the list if it was a true "Best of" rather than "Favorites of."

Liz said...

City of God is amazing, but like Red said about LotR, hard to include as a favorite. I'd never see it again. I can only handle so many child murders and rape scenes.

words...words...words... said...

I haven't made my list, but Lost In Translation is definitely #2 (behind Almost Famous. Oversight!)

Persepolis, Wall-E, High Fidelity, Before Sunrise, and every Coens movie mentioned all would have strong chances to make my list.

Garney said...

My list which I will be expanding on elsewhere later...
10. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
9. Requiem for a Dream
8. Children of Men
7. The Pianist
6. Far From Heaven
5. Letters from Iwo Jima
3. The Lord of the Rings
2. Memento
1. Traffic