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Reply #105 on: January 22, 2010, 07:12:30 AM
i just have 13 more descriptions to write for my top 50 list. it's become the longest thing i've ever written that isn't a script.

gonna be epic !!!

children with angels

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Reply #106 on: January 22, 2010, 07:38:17 AM
Election (fantastic film) was '99, so choose another one?

I think he probably means this Election:

"Should I bring my own chains?"
"We always do..."


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Reply #107 on: January 23, 2010, 12:02:45 PM
I don't know 17 of them (including that 2009 list)  :shock: I'd like some details on the why/how/who(?) of the titles!

Any in particular?

In general the films I like illuminate the humanity of the filmmaker, the psyche of the individual behind the giant orchestration of events that coalesce into a 90 or so minute piece of art.  I like the feeling of a human hand on every frame.  This I prefer to plot.  Although sometimes directors working within constraints can expose parts of themselves by the way they reach to overcome obstacles, this I also find very interesting.  My list reflects that.

bad call on inland empire and happy go lucky.

probably the worst films by their respective directors and easily among the 5 biggest disappointments of the decade (be kind rewind, darjeeling, lovely bones).

Happy Go Lucky as Leigh's worst film is a huge stretch, but I admit that it's not Leigh's filmmaking that makes the film shine for me, but Sally Hawkins' blissful performance.

i also have to call bullshit on Goodbye Solo. i honestly have no idea why people enjoy that movie. i hate every character, nothing happens, and every shot is held for at least 20 seconds longer than it ever deserves to be. i want to punch that movie.

I think that when you're flying next time and Solo is serving you your in-flight drink you won't be saying nothing happened.  Then you'll know.

Election (fantastic film) was '99, so choose another one?

I think he probably means this Election:


Yes, thank you.


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Reply #108 on: January 23, 2010, 03:24:28 PM
I think that when you're flying next time and Solo is serving you your in-flight drink you won't be saying nothing happened.  Then you'll know.
can you be more specific? did you meet the actor? ...were you depressed? i know depression/suicide is a deep dark dense issue, but i consider this movie really shallow in its treatment of that.

Captain of Industry

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Reply #109 on: January 23, 2010, 03:48:08 PM
I think that when you're flying next time and Solo is serving you your in-flight drink you won't be saying nothing happened.  Then you'll know.
can you be more specific? did you meet the actor? ...were you depressed? i know depression/suicide is a deep dark dense issue, but i consider this movie really shallow in its treatment of that.

I can't remember why I chose such an oblique phrase to represent my emotions regarding Goodbye Solo.  I don't think the film handles the issue of depression.  It's certainly not dark.  I think it is dense and deep.  I fucking love the tragic density, in particular, of its ultimate allusion:  the blowing winds, the stick being dropped, the force of the wind upon the stick and the possibility, romantic or realistic, of the stick flying upward.  Solo himself is the wind blowing back against the fall of William.  Solo himself wants to be an airline attendant.  This is great.  I'll admit that I don't have knowledge of the pay difference between a cab driver and an airline attendant, but I imagine the difference is very little.  The point is:  Solo wants to move.  He wants change, and he wants to be above his current position, he wants to see things differently.  He does see things differently, and his attempts at changing William parallel his attempts at changing himself.  He isn't a heroic or antiheroic character, he's simply a desperate fighter.  And I love the film for it.


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Reply #110 on: January 23, 2010, 05:10:53 PM
I think that when you're flying next time and Solo is serving you your in-flight drink you won't be saying nothing happened.  Then you'll know.
can you be more specific? did you meet the actor? ...were you depressed? i know depression/suicide is a deep dark dense issue, but i consider this movie really shallow in its treatment of that.

I can't remember why I chose such an oblique phrase to represent my emotions regarding Goodbye Solo.  I don't think the film handles the issue of depression.  It's certainly not dark.  I think it is dense and deep.  I fucking love the tragic density, in particular, of its ultimate allusion:  the blowing winds, the stick being dropped, the force of the wind upon the stick and the possibility, romantic or realistic, of the stick flying upward.  Solo himself is the wind blowing back against the fall of William.  Solo himself wants to be an airline attendant.  This is great.  I'll admit that I don't have knowledge of the pay difference between a cab driver and an airline attendant, but I imagine the difference is very little.  The point is:  Solo wants to move.  He wants change, and he wants to be above his current position, he wants to see things differently.  He does see things differently, and his attempts at changing William parallel his attempts at changing himself.  He isn't a heroic or antiheroic character, he's simply a desperate fighter.  And I love the film for it.

Excellent post  :yabbse-thumbup: That's the way I saw it, as well. I think it's only as dark as the viewer perceives it.
Let's go to a motel. We don't have to do anything -- we could just swim.


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Reply #111 on: January 23, 2010, 07:28:37 PM
spoils for goodbye solo!

yeah nice summary. i'm glad you got that out of it, but i still don't like Solo. i find him insensitive to the suicidal guy in a lot of ways. very imposing without emotionally empathizing (see the scene where he keeps grinning at him on the couch, never even acknowledging his rage/outburst, just brushing it off), which is not the way to talk someone down. and obviously, it even doesn't work in the movie. (it didn't have to work to be a good movie or anything though. that's not the problem.)


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Reply #112 on: January 31, 2010, 04:39:20 PM
i wrote this more for a facebook audience so if it feels like i'm overexplaining stuff that's the reason.

iím not sure if anyone will read this whole thing, but i had a great time writing it and trying to say things about these films that are more specific to my personal experience with them than what i might write in a typical review.

DISCLAIMER: just because a movie didnít make it to this list doesnít mean i donít consider it GREAT. 50 is a tiny number for any decade. particularly this one, with years like í07 and í09, both of which i had to extend my usual top tens for. if 1999 had happened a year later this list would have been damn near impossible. so donít feel left out, 25th Hour, Hot Fuzz etc. itís also important to note the lack of upper-level 2009 films. this is because i think generally a movie needs to survive a couple of grace years and still feel amazing before it can be on that level... and of course i havenít yet seen all the great movies this decade had to offer. iím sure if i wrote this list again in two years it would be different.

ALSO: i forgot American Psycho (barely) came out this decade. it would be in the 30s or 40s if only for containing one of my favourite performances ever.. but i canít bear to move everything around. i also maybe wouldíve liked to add An Education. but again. too much gut-wrenching moving around, and i only saw it after writing the list. honourable mentions, both.


50. The Dark Knight

itís flawed in many ways, but it still kicks you in the head. iíve never seen a superhero movie before where i actually felt like the characters were in real danger. the whole movie swells with a pulpy sense of dread. how can The Joker ever be topped as a Batman villain? i never understood before this movie how he is Batmanís PERFECT opposite from every angle. your move, Batman 3: The Darker Knight.

49. The Kill Bills

yes, it was the beginning of Tarantinoís decline. it was the first hint of not living up to the promise (putting it lightly) of pulp, jackie and dogs, and a regression into genre-remixes. itís nothing original, either. and donít get me started on Daryl Hannah. but kill bill proves that story itself is only a small part of the equation. itís all in the telling, and kill bill is, above all, EXTREMELY well-told. no one can deny Tarantinoís hyper-love of setting a scene and delivering a moment. he is a true master of holding the audience in his hand and flinging them in whichever direction he chooses, because he loves pretty much everything that has anything to do with the act of filmmaking. except for developing as an artist. but thatís another story for another time.. i think Basterds was a step in the right direction, i love it too and give it an honourable mention (it would be in the top 100) for most of the same reasons.

48. In the Bedroom

the amazing thing about this movie is how REAL it all feels. there are scenes that seem as though the camera was recording for hours and just happened to capture this particular moment. like Tomeiís confrontation with her ex-husband. his sudden banging of the table followed by a scarily calm exit.. it isnít filmed in a documentary style, with shaky-cam, or anything. far from it. itís just very well directed. Todd Field was an actor for many years before he was able to move behind the camera, and i think this experience has made him one of the best actorís directors working today. no matter the wrenching subject matter of his films, they remain intensely watchable in large part because the performances are so achingly real.

47. Two Lovers

the tone is as twisty, enigmatic and strangely inviting as Jaoquin Phoenixís character. case in point: a scene he describes moments afterwards as ďfuckiní weirdĒ, which is not only very accurate, but weirdly knowing and hilarious in its own right. the ending is also an amazingly double-sided moment... i STILL donít know how i really feel about it. and a dry-cleaning empire has never felt so sinister. itís also one of the least judgmental films of the decade.

46. Heima

this movie IS Sigur Ros and more.. perhaps the most obscure film on the list, so iím sure most people havenít seen it.. itís such a pure love letter to Iceland and.. people enjoying music. as broad as that sounds. Iceland is like a natural expressionist painting. the mountains arenít just mountains. theyíre like a dream version of mountains. extra twisty and with little spots of snow as though they were flick-painted on... such is the uniqueness of this film and Sigur Ros.. a band that has achieved fame in North America without a word of english in their music, and 11-minute songs. there are many great interviews between songs, but even if you donít speak english this movie will take you on a mesmerizing aural/visual journey.

45. Donnie Darko

Richard Kelly has since become the immature teenaged David Lynch of his generation who just needs to get his goddamned head on straight! but at this moment in time, before the far inferior directorís cut, the insanely terrible Southland Tales, and the alright with spots of good The Box, he was simply the young David Lynch of his generation. i remember jeff introducing me to the trailer/website and becoming obsessed with its mysteriousness and my inability to see it anywhere in Canada. when i was finally able to see it on dvd it revealed itself as the feature-length version of the trailer. ie just as obsessively intriguing. the thing i love most about Donnie Darko (along with most other fans) is how differently people can interpret it. itís a rorschach movie, dressed in 80s sci-fi teen drama garb.

44. Mulholland Dr.

speak of the devil! Lynch! this movie is the bible for dream logic movies. i admit iím not as devout a follower of it as most Lynch-lovers (in my defense, my imaginary 90s and 80s lists would include Lost Highway and Blue Velvet near the top) BUT itís hard to escape the power of this guilt-soaked nightmare. like most every Lynch movie, it is filled with moments of unexpected and unique hilarity (the key shoot-out, the use of the name ďWinkyísĒ), the inspiringly odd (..a lot), and the very scary (if youíve seen it you know...). they culminate in a profound vision of jealousy and lost love in Los Angeles... jeez. iíve got to watch this again immediately.

43. Monsterís Ball

i donít believe a better movie could have been made from this script. even Diddy works here. the thing iíve always admired about this is how internalized all the character development is, and yet how obvious it all seems. everyone changes before your eyes without a trace of typical subjective filmmaking tricks. it just. happens.

42. Traffic

Soderbergh has made a LOT of movies this decade, and most of them have been great. Traffic is a good representation of how adept at everything he can be. heís dealing with like 30 characters, however many subplots and settings (distinct colour schemes categorize them brilliantly), and somehow this movie remains coherent and compelling throughout. everyone gives a great performance. this is one of those movies where i marvel at how giant a task it must have been to pull off. simply making this script would be an epic accomplishment, but making it this well is something else.

41. Lost in Translation

another film that does a great job of letting the characters simply develop in front of you. but one of the characters happens to be Bill Murray. a sad film, but not just for the sake of sadness. funny, too.

40. Knocked Up

the finest Apatow (and there are a lot to choose from if you count movies like Superbad--which would be in the top 100--where he has clearly influenced so much as a producer). as usual he makes hilarity seem simple and easy and obvious, coming from every angle and encounter. and before you know it youíve got a deep emotional attachment to all the characters, even the ones that are only around for minutes. the ending sneaks up on you like that. whoa--this is beyond funny. itís actually moving in the way a great drama might be. i hope Apatow figures out the difference between this and Funny People for his next movie. or just gives in and makes a drama like he seems to want to. not that ďdramasĒ have to be unfunny.

39. Sideways

see? dramas can be downright side-splitting. this is one of those rare movies where the writer character is actually believable as a writer. Thomas Haden Church needs to be in so much more. what else to say? as Virginia Madsenís character points out: ďit tastes so fucking goodĒ... that wine speech is sublime.

38. District 9

where did this come from? iíll never forget the experience of busing from a sold-out theatre to another supposedly not sold-out one NEEDING to see this despite knowing so little about it. Sharlto Copley gives the improvised performance of the decade. this movie is TRULY dark. unlike most of those silly superhero movies that claim to be dark because people die and stuff. this is actually looking into the deep dark soul of humankind. the weapons testing scene is nightmarish because of how logical it all feels. cannot wait for District 10. ps. this movie also handles a lot of the same human/alien issues Avatar does, but far better.

37. King of Kong

the incredible thing about this documentary is its God-like repository of every. possible. piece. of footage. you could ever. have. i think this was filmed for years. i think they had a camera following everyone. and the result is a real WORLD of ugliness, hilarity, and the weird. itís not just about an incredible rivalry, but a community. it almost feels fake in how much everyone willingly and unintentionally reveals about themselves, but it canít be. because no one could write this. well. maybe Ricky Gervais. but no. too epic.

36. Mysterious Skin

how is a movie about child rape so watchable? performances. ambient score.. a vision of trauma and repression that is somehow.. luminous? the internal mystery of oneís past.. part of the wonder of this movie is its somehow accurate-feeling treatment of such horrendous moments and their aftermath. like a quiet nightmare you wake up from without discomfort, because you know deep down itís all part of the natural healing process.

35. The Aviator

strictly from watching it, this movie mustíve had one of the most uncompromised productions ever. it seems like Scorsese was able to make EXACTLY what he envisioned with absolutely no expense spared, down to the tiniest detail of, say, rotoscoping a skeleton over Dicaprioís body for a split-second during the taking of a photograph in court*, a painstaking detail almost impossible to notice. it simply screams epic. itís very long and it deserves to be. and its fascination, nay obsession with Hughes is infectious.


34. The Fog of War

First Person is one of my favourite television shows of the decade. this movie began as an episode of that, but Errol Morris realized heíd stumbled onto a film and recorded a longer interview. itís intermittently moving, fascinating, and scary as hell. McNamara sums up his painfully-realized life lessons with examples that stagger the mind again and again.

33. Sweeney Todd

a supremely underrated musical adaptation. the songs alone make it addicting, but on top of that you have classic Burton visuals (being used for good this time), wonderfully creepy performances from everyone, and a disquieting anti-revenge tale holding it all together. this is a great case of the right director matched with the right material. it almost feels like the story came straight from Burtonís mind by the gruesome end.

32. UP

a KIDíS movie about being able to let go of the past, including material possessions like your HOUSE, in order to move on to the next adventure in life... in many ways itís the most mature Pixar movie, but that doesnít stop it from also being one of the outright zaniest. people have criticized the dog collar squeaky voice gag for being too Dreamworksy but i say itís quality goofiness. how can one not be moved by this movie? it probably squeezes the hearts of adults and older people MORE than its ďintendedĒ audience. iím so happy i got the first Pixar movie as a kid, and they continue to stretch the limits of what constitutes a kidís movie.

31. A Serious Man

iím pretty sure this will leap up the list on further viewing, but from barely having met it i can say this: one of the best-executed movies of the decade. the pure technique at work is never anything but masterful. masterful of the camera, of the soundtrack, of the blocking, of the twitch of the right eyebrow on an actorís face. itís so precisely realized that it feels like a bob zemeckis motion capture thing, only without all the horribleness that entails (though iíve never actually sat through one of those). beyond that this movie is a fascinating loop of knowing and not knowing and the hilarity of incongruity and the randomness of existence. itís another one of those every-performance-is-amazing ones too.

30. Man on Wire

Philippe Petit is probably the single greatest documentary interviewee of the decade. he spins stories constantly as though they were magic coins appearing from nowhere and by mere association he brings out the magic in the people around him. the centerpiece of this movie to me is when a vacant-looking new york cop describes moment-by-moment the events of the morning Petit realized his dream and walked between the towers. itís a purely factual description from a no-nonsense guy just doing his job, but he canít stop himself from calling it one of the most amazing things heís ever seen in his life towards the end. itís a simple fact. the idea that people were plotting to do something wonderful to the world trade centers is a perfect counter to the grim associations we feel today and captures what they were meant to symbolize at best.

29. Anvil! The Story of Anvil!

this is a movie about what it means to really REALLY love your art. thereís something beyond touching about the image of these 50-year-old heavy metal rockers keeping on keeping on. keeping their spark under ENDLESS frustration and hardship and rejection. this is the audacity of hope. this is the true meaning of devotion.

28. The Pianist

one of those movies i can watch again and again despite its intense pain and tragedy. iím not an expert but it seems like the most accurate holocaust movie as far as the moment-to-moment feel of it, which is a gigantic feat. i find it very tough to reflect its many merits in words. most of the really powerful moments in this film are wordless. itís like a great thriller wrapped in an equally great tragic historical drama. the memory of Katie laughing uproariously at the jacket-confusion bit will always be part of watching this for me.

27. 21 Grams

again, a monumentally painful film that manages to stay incredibly watchable. partly because of the depth of the performances (even the tiny ones... lookin at you, Clea Duvall, Eddie Marsan, etcÖ), the writing, and its fragmented structure. making sense of the arrangement of those fragments is half the fun of rewatching it. the scene where Sean Penn squeezes Naomi Wattís face sticks like a thorn in my mind. the final answering machine message is a great, modern dramatic device, too. woulda been cool if this was coincidentally also #21. ah well.

26. In the Loop

underneath the frighteningly accurate satire, the thing that makes this movie so outstanding is its utter and unrelenting expressiveness. there are MANY great characters ranging from sane to the opposite of sane, and theyíre all constantly venting in their own wonderful ways. not since Groucho Marx have people been so effectively insulted on the screen... the unceasing slew of verbal carnage that makes up this film is so well-written that if you look at the imdb page of ďmemorable quotesĒ ( http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1226774/quotes ) youíll find practically the entire screenplay. Armando Iannucci is simply one of the funniest men alive.

25. Where the Wild Things Are

to me this is the purest movie representation of childhood. it actually managed to remind me of things iíd forgotten about when it came to being a kid. like how thereís no sense of clear narrative in your life. not enough stuff has happened yet. this is artfully reflected in this movieís structure or lack thereof. or the things you take SO seriously... making each wild thing represent a different aspect of Maxís psyche is a genius idea, and every actor nails their particular zone. Gandolfini as the mildly psychotic one is really good casting too.

24. Almost Famous

i think this movie may have the best end credits ever. looking over the polaroids you feel like youíve lived through a defining era in Croweís life. and for the most part you have because heís managed to perfectly distill and weave together his experiences as a rock journalist. this movie has so much genuine character.. ďask me againĒ is a famous moment of non-acting kept in the movie, but it still seamlessly blends with the rest of the dialogue. because itís that real.

23. Brokeback Mountain

this movie is more or less a perfect storm of tragedy, multiplying and compounding every minute until the final image. how is Ang Lee so amazing at handling such specific Western ideas time after time? i guess he taps into the universal ideas underneath, and repression is a tragedy anywhere. major props to Gustavo Santoalalla for the epic yet personal score, too (and back-to-back oscars.)

22. Gerry/Elephant

these sibling films redefined the act of ďpatientlyĒ watching a movie for me. after i saw Gerry for the first time i remember just standing around, looking at things with a newfound wonder.. it lengthens your attention span. but these movies arenít just a series of incredibly long shots. itís the content of these shots that truly warrant your thought and attention.. the literal, near-subconscious passing of night to day.. the creeping sense of death in the wilderness.. the living organism that is high school.. the sheer upsetting emptiness of Columbine. it took real courage and vision to make these kinds of sluggishly-paced movies at this particular time, reinvigorating an old style.. nowadays movies like ďGoodbye SoloĒ and ďHungerĒ have taken the idea the wrong way, turning the technique into something actually mundane and meaningless. Van Santís first two attempts got the idea of sloooooow photography right, and when done right, there are few things in cinema more invitingly profound.

21. Shaun of the Dead

Wright/Pegg/Frost are a powerful moviemaking trio, and this film represents the best of their abilities: flawlessly executed visual jokes, loving parodies, and characters you laugh WITH to the end. all within the parameters of a zombie movie. but how does a mere parody of something else manage to make it this high on the list? it doesnít exactly reinvent the genre. itís just so brilliantly made that i canít imagine a single element being improved. not a moment of timing, or a camera move, or a prop. anything. itís kind of perfect.

20. Fahrenheit 9/11

this movie manages to summarize possibly the most important and terrible chain of events of this last decade in a manner that is both concise (with expertly edited news footage and interviews) and detailed (using stories of specific individuals paying for those events in their own ways). it also suggests theories about why and where weíre headed. itís incredibly sad, but also somehow VERY entertaining. just what youíd expect from Moore, who has delivered this kind of America-spanning analysis not once but four times this decade.

19. Memento

i vividly remember an intense, somewhat new feeling walking out of the theatre after seeing this for the first time: the feeling of wanting to make films. i have studied this movie a LOT from a structural perspective (itís actually backwards AND forwards at the same time, a lot of critics fail to note) and i have come to the conclusion that there are no answers beyond a certain point. itís a riddle that isnít meant to be solved, AND YET it always seems like youíre on the verge and thereís a tangible solution hidden somewhere in there. just like how poor Lenny feels. one thing most people never mention is the power of the Sammy Jenkis scenes. so short, but they break me every time.

18. There Will Be Blood

i think this movie has become relatively overpraised (#1 on most decade lists apparently*). having said that, itís pretty fucking amazing. obviously it has one of the most amazing performances ever. obviously itís one of the most visually incredible films of the decade. obviously the score is on another level. obviously it manages to create a piercing, underlying mirror to where we find ourselves today without even really trying. i have no doubt pt's next film will shine further light on this. he is the master.

* http://gawker.com/5428998/there-will-be-blood-wins-the-decade

17. Synecdoche, New York

this movie is my ultimate case of not understanding upon first view (of this decade). i love Charlie Kaufman. i HATED this movie. i had pretty much resolved to never see it again before he came to town and indirectly shed light on one of its central themes: creative freedom as a bad thing. i watched it again and i still couldnít like it but began to see intricate patterns and less meaningless sadness the more i thought about it. the third viewing finally turned me around. this movie is about a lot of things: the inherent futility of creating ambitious, existence-questioning works of art for one, which is a tragic and funny insight into its own existence. ultimately, itís about acceptance. the acceptance of an endless and indifferent universe. and about that acceptance ironically being the first step to happiness and perhaps transcendence. i think Kubrick would have approved.

16. Little Children

this movie is melodramatic in the best way, hilarious (!), disturbing (!!), and so ..enlightened. itís so GREAT that it managed to bring Jackie Earle Haley out of retirement. and the ending slaps the audience in the face in a way that seems like itís commenting on the very fabric of suburban-based movies. itís probably a little more obscure than some of the other movies on this list too so i offer this low-quality clip to show off some of its exceptional diversity in just over a minute:

15. WALLēE

wwwwaaAAAaallllēe... Ďnuff said.

...no? well. a robot accidentally teaches us to be human again... and nearly everything about this movie is perfect. the sound effects alone are a work of art. Ben Burtt manages to top his work as R2D2. as sacrilegious as that sounds. (and iím big into Star Wars.)

14. The Man Who Wasnít There

i consider this the final original Coen movie from a period where they were incapable of anything but genius. itís so original, so true to its truly weird self, itís near-impossible to compare it to anything even though i know itís kind of riffing on what noir is. Ed Crane is one of the top Coen characters. when he flashes back, in the midst of a car crash, to a memory of his wife getting rid of a salesman... i donít know what to say. itís a good encapsulation of why this movie is incredible. the salesman incident seems like a mundane experience, but itís a key moment in Ed Craneís mind. and why shouldnít it be? the final speech of this movie is so beautiful and strange.. it kind of changes everything that came before it. there are a lot of BRILLIANT speeches strewn throughout. this attempt at a summary is rambling, but so is the film. and so is everyoneís life. particularly Ed Craneís. and thatís great. For he IS modern man! (iím not being pompous, thatís a quote from the film.)

13. The Wrestler

the bare premise for this could have produced a terrible movie easily. because of the way itís written and delivered, it rises above clichť and becomes an original piece of art. my friend Perry sees Rourke as a representation of the US, and his opponent, The Iron Sheik, as an obvious, exaggerated stereotype of the Middle East. this implies a country uncertain of its identity unless itís fighting and entertaining, which is kind of the same thing. i donít think Aronofsky was conscious of this idea while he was shooting, but thatís one of the essential characteristics of truly great storytelling: it can be applied to history, both shared and individual. the use of Rourke is the best casting of the decade.

12. The Fall

this movie actually has the best performance by a little girl ever. as well as the best-acted death scene by a monkey ever. itís a major accomplishment and itís pretty well impossible to find another movie like it. at times it feels like a narrative version of Baraka, jumping to a new continent every minute for another scene of craziness.. this movie has a perfect sense of seriousness about it, too. itís half about a ridiculous, improvised story, but also about how the act of making stories is one of the most powerful and healing things we are capable of as a species.

11. Adaptation.

iím not sure what to write about this, which is pretty appropriate. i could go down a list of everything it does right but i dunno.. it kinda speaks for itself in that way. i will say Kaufman and Jonze completely succeed at getting across the beauty of flowers in the scene where Cooper talks about pollination. and that all happens in less than a minute... just watch it. i have a youtube tribute to Kaufman* that works better than a little paragraph.


10. Requiem for a Dream

watching this is always traumatic, and yet i canít count the number iíve times iíve hunkered down to let it destroy me. why do i do this to myself? itís easy to be drawn in by its wide range of eye-catching techniques. never has the snorricam (attached to the actorís body) been so effective and nightmarish. and itís also possibly the greatest performance by EVERYONE involved. will Jared Leto ever be this good again? Marlon Wayans? or that guy whoís in everything, this time playing a self-help tv guy? Ellen Burstyn maybe. (her aging monologue might be the best of the decade.) anyways. this is possibly the most subjective movie ever made about addiction. and thatís a good thing.

9. The Royal Tenenbaums

this is a movie that knows itís a masterpiece. it knows. and acts accordingly. elaborate cast introductions, insanely detailed momentary flashbacks, dozens upon dozens of well-illustrated relationships amongst an adept and enormous ensemble. and still at its heart, amongst all these complex illustrations and extravagant filmmaking moments, itís a story with heart. Wes Andersonís magnum opus. i heart it.

8. The New World

someone else compared the final part of this movie to the jump-cut from the bone to the spaceship in 2001, but 30 minutes long. 30 solid minutes of that level of visual mindblowingness and ďoh my god itís like iím seeing something for the first timeĒ-iness... i agree. this movie took a couple of views to sink in. i had to be able to see it as a whole rather than a series of events before i could appreciate it fully and experience it best. iíd call this medium-level difficulty Malick. not as tough as Thin Red Line to sink your mind-teeth into, but tougher than Days of Heaven. when you do get it, itís a rich, rich portrait of humankind... itís hard to word my feelings about this. itís kind of like the best alien invasion movie ever.

7. Zodiac

this is like three amazing movies in one: the standard whodunnit/murder mystery, the story of the burnt-out cops, and finally the unlikely detective story. each one is more compelling than the last, and leaves you as obsessed with the mystery as the central characters. the scene between ruffalo and gyllenhaal at the diner jumps out of the screen.. it feels like a real mystery is actually being solved in front of you. and everyone is perfect. and every shot is flawless. and it uses cg in the best possible way, where your mind is blown when you see what was actually digitally manipulated later. i could go on and on. itís a movie filled with brilliant choice after brilliant choice, and is endlessly rewatchable in no small part because of its unyielding level of detail.. a level of detail so specific itís still hard to grasp what this movie is as a whole instead of just a collection of great things. one can only keep watching.

6. Dogville/Manderlay

Lars von Trier is like a genius-level chess player as far as argument-makers go. in these movies he aggressively plays against himself and wins. but also loses. could slavery ever conceivably be a good thing? ...yes? how can i possibly be questioning this? the empty stage/zero sets idea works so well, paradoxically creating a sense of a real community that is always moving and unaware of its profound ugliness, which is hidden in plain sight.

5. Let the Right One In

for starters, child actors are impossible. if you want a child actor to carry a movie, you NEED to do a massive, lengthy search. this is why there are only ever 2 or 3 big child stars in hollywood at any given moment. so itís startling that a movie could feature two amazing, unknown lead children. on top of this you have a visual atmosphere so specific to this particular director that it becomes impossible to imagine anyone else handling the material nearly as well, or as boldly. i found out after the first time i saw this that the subtitles i had been reading were actually a second-rate translation. the fact that i fell in love with it despite that speaks to just how potent the subtextual meaning in this film is.. itís a powerful emotional experience, conjured not just by words but visuals, performances and score. even though itís based on a book.

4. Amelie

this movie is pretty much made of magic. every three seconds something wonderful happens. itís a grab-bag of amazing moments, but more than that, itís a perfect summation of an era in an imaginary personís life, and of the lives of many other imaginary characters. itís hard to find a movie that takes more simple joy in existence. even in misery and loneliness, this movie finds beauty.

3. Punch-Drunk Love

a true original. the execution is so strange and fascinating that you can never feel as though youíve fully absorbed it. a classic example [someone else pointed out to me] is the broken harmonium in the background of a single shot in Deanís warehouse shortly after we meet him. this is a near-subliminal detail, but it informs so much about who he is and where heís coming from. heís failed to embrace the music machine like Barry does, instead seeing it as a piece of junk to be discarded and forgotten. heís afraid of his own soul, whereas Barry is finally beginning to understand his (heís secretly Adam Sandler). there are so many ways to interpret this movie beyond the literal. some of my friends see it as sci-fi, a film prof has called it the filmic response to every Adam Sandler movie from the past. all valid. all make it worth watching again. it may have the score of the decade too.

2. No Country for Old Men

the first time i saw this i knew i couldnít make any sense of the last 20 minutes and would have to see it again to begin to understand. despite this, i still i knew iíd seen a truly amazing film. seeing it a second time knowing how everything would go down, i knew it was one of the best movies ever. i still canít get over it... a real mark of greatness is when you see a movie on tv and you watch it from beginning to end even though you own it on dvd and now really isnít the best time to be doing that. but it happened... i donít know what to say that hasnít been said. it just works on so many levels; as a merciless thriller, a grim character study, a picture of crime and justice in both a modern and primal sense... a dark-as-a-black-hole comedy. etc.

1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

a few weeks ago at work i recommended this movie to a couple, calling it my favourite movie of the decade. when they asked ďwhy do you like it?Ē i found myself at a loss for words, overwhelmed with the idea of summarizing its goodness... iím pretty sure Eternal Sunshí is the only movie i saw in theatres thrice this decade. itís so chock-full of brilliant ideas. and itís self-looping, so you kind of want to see it again the moment itís over. but itís so good you donít want to devalue it by wearing it out.. if you watch this movie, the reasons for it at least being among the greatest films of the decade should be self-explanatory. i canít come close to explaining why without simply transcribing it, which would be boring and a waste of time. and really, thatís the case with every movie on this list. if you havenít seen them and iíve managed to intrigue you, see them. my descriptions are just a feeble attempt at reflecting what it is to sit down and do just that.

if you made it this far, congratulations and i hope you had at least a fraction of the fun reading these as i had writing them. BUT IT'S NOT OVER...

BONUS scientifically-generated top three for next decade with photos and analysis from the FUTURRRRE:

3. Avatar 2

somehow by mixing things up and putting the characters and story ahead of the visual technology Cameron made up for his schlocky starter with this decadeís T2. he always was the best at sequels. so very, very hard to believe this happened.

2. Tree of Life

Malick has done it again! the scene where the dinosaur feeds plants to an injured, fresh out of time-travel school Brad Pitt never fails to make me laugh tears of sadness.

1. The Master

oh my god. Hoffman utterly pwns this L Ron Hubbard-inspired madman, making Plainview look like PTAís ambassador to the UN or something. i remember feeling so proud of Tom Cruise when he quit scientology after seeing this.

YET ANOTHER BONUS, 50 more of the BEST, far less thought-out, very little research, in NO ORDER WHATSOEVER:

capote ē atonement ē hot fuzz ē assassination of jj ē confessions of a dangerous mind ē life aquatic ē fantastic mr. fox ē o brother! ē in bruges ē hot rod ē departed ē catch me if you can ē finding nemo ē inglourious basterds ē grizzly man ē war of the worlds ē gangs of new york ē hurt locker ē chopper ē cloverfield ē down with love ē venus ē superbad ē wonderboys ē diving bell ē changeling ē five obstructions ē doubt ē into the wild ē cloudy with a chance ē high fidelity ē the lives of others ē i love you, man ē the informant! ē comedian ē zoolander ē my winnipeg ē away from her ē minority report ē king kong ē lust, caution ē no end in sight ē downfall ē polytechnique ē departed ē kiss kiss bang bang ē solaris ē american splendor ē triplets of belleville ē dear zachary ē

i think i hold the record for longest post now.


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Reply #113 on: January 31, 2010, 04:51:32 PM
Awesome. Don't agree with the list really but a great post.
ďThe myth by no means finds its adequate objectification in the spoken word. The structure of the scenes and the visible imagery reveal a deeper wisdom than the poet himself is able to put into words and conceptsĒ Ė Friedrich Nietzsche


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Reply #114 on: February 01, 2010, 12:57:46 PM
Yeah that was amazing. A truly inspired list. Nice work Pic.


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Reply #115 on: February 01, 2010, 02:23:38 PM
I read the whole thing.  Exactly as has been said: Great post, I disagree with so much of it.  :)
Christopher Nolan's directive was clear to everyone in the cast and crew: Use CGI only as a last resort.


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Reply #116 on: February 01, 2010, 02:43:11 PM
thanks guys. whoa mod, i'm impressed. what are your biggest disagreements (aside from the new world)?


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Reply #117 on: February 01, 2010, 02:52:21 PM
originally posted on my blog (with pictures!).  made it a point to be as concise as possible in the capsules.  excuse the redundancy.


- as this is a summation of an entire decade, i opted for twenty-five films as opposed to ten.
- one film per director.
- this list was made as intuitively and quickly as possible.  iím not going to bother listing possibly egregious/potentially regrettable omissions.  feel free to point them out and iíll respond accordingly.
- the order of 11 Ė 23 is pretty arbitrary, though there is some semblance of a progression thatís sort of indicative of my taste.


the list.

25. judd apatowís the 40-year-old virgin, adam mckayís anchorman: the legend of ron burgundy, larry charlesís borat: cultural learnings of america for make benefit glorious nation of kazakhstan,  jeff tremaineís jackass 1 & 2, robert ben garantís reno 911!: miami, jay chandrasekharís super troopers, trey parkerís team america: world police, and ben stillerís zoolander

is this cheating?  a.o. scott suggested that the pervading subject of american comedy this past decade was male immaturity.  in order as listed: the best movie judd apatow will ever make; juvenile humor at its most nonsensical; the most ingenious subtitle in cinema history; glorious exhibition of willful retardation; achieves sublimity by way of the moronic (the motel panorama scene); the underestimated, under-appreciated masterpiece of the highway patrol movie; shameless schoolyard vitriol posing as political satire; because itís one of terrence malickís favorite movies, and itís crazy funny.

i love dumb comedies.

24. peter jacksonís lord of the rings: the fellowship of the ring
the best and only great film of the trilogy.  (the two towers is bad and return of the king relies too heavily on the catharsis of closure)  the closest movies have come to matching the grandeur and mesmerizing artifice of classic hollywood epics.

23. pedro almodovarís talk to her
indulgence becomes almodovar.  his most sumptuous and felt melodrama, as emotionally engrossing as preposterous as its story is.

22. terry zwigoffís ghost world
ďdear josh, we came by to fuck you, but you were not home. therefore, you are gay.Ē  the best comic book movie of the decade, or ever for that matter.  understated, hilarious and deeply melancholic.

21. pete docter & bob petersonís up
pixarís finest hour.

20. jonathan demmeís rachel getting married
ďi prayed for you!Ē  demmeís humanist cup overfloweth.

19. todd haynesís far from heaven
haynes responds to two of his major influencesĖdouglas sirk and r.w. fassbinderĖwith a masterful third iteration of all that heaven allows.

18. bela tarrís werckmeister harmonies
an elegiac and bizarre cosmogony, and somewhat of a microcosm of tarrís magnum opus satantango.

17. joel coenís a serious man
bleak and hilarious, steeped in the coensí strange and oft misunderstood brand of humanism.  ďjust look at that parking lot.Ē  

16. david gordon greenís george washington
absolutely exquisite film about childhood.  green does malick better than anyone whoís grasped at the hem of the masterís garment.  does cinema get more lyrical?  (yes, but the bar is pretty damn high at this one.)

15. apichatpong weerasethakulís tropical malady
one of the most singular films from one of the decadeís most singular film artists, joe (the directorís alternative, easier-to-pronounce-for-white-folk name).  unorthodox, unprecedented, unforgettable.

14. guy maddinís brand upon the brain!
same as 15, but for guy maddin.

13.  robert altmanís the company
the pinnacle of his late career, altmanís true final masterpieceĖa prairie home companion is more of an encoreĖtakes the form of this formidably fluid and uncanny paean to human physicality and the inseparability of life and art.  malcolm mcdowell is incredible.

12. lee chang-dongís oasis
at once a challenging, novelistic heart-wrenching love story and scathing social commentary, oasis is korean cinemaís greatest contribution to the form.   one of the most compassionate films iíve ever seen.  the two central performances are of must-see caliber, as is the movie.

11. emir kusturicaís life is a miracle
the day robert altman died, this is the film i chose to console me without having seen it.  the assumption was that, like his other films, emir kusturicaís at-that-time latest would do nothing short of elate, about which i was more than correct.  life is a miracle is as joyous and cathartic as anything kusturica has created, and earns its title not by way of saccharine sentiment but an intense joie de vie. unfortunately the film was never distributed in the u.s.

10. lars von trierís dogville
self-proclaimed godís gift to film lars von trier continues his quest for cinematic immortality with this decidedly eloquent, brechtian damnation of not just small town america but humanity at large.  this may be the last time the quality of the film matches the reach of his egomaniacal ambition, but dogville is von trierís most confrontational masterpiece.

9. claire denisís 35 shots of rum
for my money, claire denis is the filmmaker of the decade.  iím rarely as excited about a filmmakerís new work as i am about hers.  with 35 shots of rum, denis achieves a lucidity that, even for her, is superlative.  intimate, sublime, profoundly simple, denisís most pleasurable film.

8. wong kar-waiís in the mood for love
wong kar-waiís most elegant and mature work.  at the end of his review of the film, ed gonzalez concedes that, ďin the mood for love is ravishing beyond mortal wordsĒ and indeed, words are failing me here.  at the moment i can do little more than claim my love for this film.

7. paul thomas andersonís punch-drunk love
superficially, there will be blood may be the more impressive feat but itís this, the strangest and flightiest of romantic comedies that represents fanboy favorite paul thomas andersonís greatest achievement to date, trading in his penchant for multi-charactered tapestries and virtuoso showmanship for a more acute, concentrated offering, so endearingly off-kilter, pathos-ridden as it is full of bizarre laughs.  barry egan is one of my all-time favorite characters.

6. edward yangís yi yi
generous and sprawling, in the grand tradition of eastern family dramas.  given his untimely death, this turned out to be yangís last film, and itís a more-than-ample swan song to his legacy, as it is yet another indispensable taiwanese fiction with substantive universal pertinence.  try not to cry at the end of this film.

5. michael hanekeís code unknown
incendiary, dauntingly ambitious, audacious both in its narrative experimentation and choice of subject matter, michael hanekeís code unknown is etched in my mind as one of the boldest films of the last ten years, one that polarized viewers but for me is entirely successful.  the film is comprised of sustained takes capturing incredibly tense and uncomfortable scenes that all cut just before what seems would be a pivotal moment.  this mounting of tension without any resolve makes for a truly riveting experience, paying off in a revelatory and powerful end sequence.  this film left me speechless.

4. terence daviesís the house of mirth
a masterful, visually arresting adaptation of an edith wharton novel, a classic tale of feminine struggle, disillusionment, and suffering within patriarchal victorian society and culture.  its formal prowess, precise execution, and overall excellence (especially in the performances) announces the house of mirth as a truly great and major work by filmís heartbreaking end.

3. richard linklaterís before sunset
i left this film glowing, assured that iíd just seen one of the most beautifully nuanced, near-perfect romances of all time.  if this and its predecessor before sunrise are bottles of wine of the same vintage, before sunset is aged to perfection (whereas before sunrise is nice but uncorked too early).  the prolific texanís best film, no small claim for the man behind waking life and slacker.

2. terrence malickís the new world
history as mythic poetry brimming with malickís characteristically ravishing imagery.  each viewing of this visionary film is unique but always breathtaking and moving.  i met this film with two-and-a-half years of anticipation and impossibly high expectations and the new world still blew me away, and continues to do so every time i revisit it.  malickís is a film for the senses, an embarrassment of riches in the way of intellectual, emotional, and even physical stimulus.  an ineffable, dream-like movie.

1. david lynchís mulholland drive
THE apotheosis of the decade and the film that started my addiction to cinema.  after seeing it for the first time, i obsessed about it for weeks, resorting to watching the trailer repeatedly to see the filmís images and hear its sounds in an attempt to relive the experience.  mulholland drive requires submission but not passivity, and those up for engaging with it are infinitely rewarded with no less than a glimpse at the expansion of the mediumís potential.  an utterly captivating surrealist masterwork.
« Last Edit: February 02, 2010, 12:57:15 PM by samsong »


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Reply #118 on: February 01, 2010, 04:53:47 PM
You know what a lot of us are forgetting about?

Not sure if I'd adjust my own list accordingly but I loved the hell out of this movie.


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Reply #119 on: February 01, 2010, 05:08:56 PM
Just loved your list Samsong, to me you just have awesome taste AND culture. congrats man, there are a bunch of movies I haven't seen in that list in between films that I love too, so I'll definitely check them out.