25 September 2009
Tops of the Millennium: Preliminary Candidates for Top 15 of the Decade
Howdy. As you probably know, the year 2009 is almost at a close, and as such there is a strong need for many many needless lists and tabulations of different movies and genres and crap. This blog sees no different. I've been on a mystical quest that started last month to try to produce a list of the Top 15 Best Films of the decade spanning 2000 - 2009. I thought it would be nice to take a moment here and give you some of my criteria.
I first visited each year (using mostly Wikipedia, IMDB, BoxOfficeMojo and Rotten Tomatoes) and tried to write down, regardless of personal feelings (as good as that will get ya) the top movies of each decade, not necessarily counting Oscar wins or Box Office draw, but moreover which films stuck with me, perhaps more importantly for some older movies, films that were still relevant. In this kind of way, something like Chicago (2002) I don't believe makes the cut, even though it's a Best Picture Winner. Seven years later no one fucking cares about Chicago. So this kind of thing was my reasoning. What follows, year by year, are 38 movies that I have handpicked that fit this sort of vague criteria, which I will eventually refine down to 15 based on other criteria. Now is your perfect chance to disagree or yell at me, keep in mind this is based pretty much on personal instinct at this point. Let's begin:
1. Almost Famous- Rock and Roll will never die.
2. American Psycho- Playing with psychology, reality and narrative and Pre-Batman Bale make this worthwhile.
3. Cast Away- Tom Hanks and quirky volleyball-based humour dominate the screen.
4. Gladiator- The definition of an epic movie, one of the few movies of this decade I quote weekly, dominated box office and awards and provided a resurgence in its genre.
5. Memento- Very quickly you'll find out here that I love some certain directors. Chris Nolan is one of them, his first entry being one of the most original and engrossing movies of the past decade.
6. Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?- Add the Coens to that list of directors I'm incredibly biased for. This is the first and probably weakest of their entries here.
7. A Beautiful Mind- Crowe at his peak, fightin' 'round the world...and in his own brain.
8. Mulholland Drive- You'll quickly notice a slew of fanboy-ish smaller movies here amidst the blockbuster giants. This is a gem.
9. Ocean's 11- Remember how plain cool it was watching this for the first time? The second? It's still cool for me watching it for the 30th time really, this gets points for being the coolest movie of all time.
10. The Royal Tenenbaums- Incredible heavy-character based quasi-indie featuring the dynamic team of Stiller and Owens in some of their best insanity-turned-down roles.
11. Equilibirum- I'll probably get some flack for this, essentially to me much worse than The Matrix (1999), but superior to V for Vendetta (2005), its only faults should be existing in an overdone genre.
12. Gangs of New York- This has been on IFC a lot lately, so I've watched it about three times in the past two days, never gets old and Danny Day-Lewis is incredible as Bill Cutting, probably underrated as one of the top villains of the decade.
13. Finding Nemo- If you dislike this movie you have no soul.
14. Mystic River- I feel like this is another movie from this decade that should be remembered a long time from now as being truly great. The acting and story are incredible.
15. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King- Let's be honest, this is a sure shot. A monumental achievement in film making, its predecessors should be on this list as tops for their years as well, but I wanted to slim it down and give room for other competitors. We all know this will take some glory, let it be known though, that The Fellowship of the Ring could nearly beat anyone else from 2001.
16. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind- As it turns out, Jim Carrey's best performance in his lifetime, a great sci-fi spin on essentially a romantic drama.
17. Sideways- Merlot is good, so is this film essentially about the struggle of genius behind the limits of middle-aged-ness.
18. Brokeback Mountain- With all the gay shit aside, this is legitimately a great movie simply about two souls trying to be true to themselves amidst incredible social pressure to be something else. It should have won the Best Picture, feel free to notice that I don't think Crash (2005)has staying power at all.
19. Kingdom of Heaven- I should get some shit for this as this is probably one of the weaker movies here, but it's got some great moments. C'mon, it was at least a Nominee for Best Picture at the Teen Choice Awards.
20. The Prestige- Definitely one of my personal favourites from this decade without question, incredibly heavy thematically.
21. The Departed- I'll say this is one of the very few classically good films from this decade, it's instantly quotable, spoofable and incredible experience. Also I clearly love Scorsese.
22. Borat! Cultural Learnings of America to Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan- Strong runner for funniest movie of the decade, essentially brilliant in style, execution and push for social awareness. Kind of.
23. Children of Men- Clive Owen needs to take more films like this and Fonsy Cuaron needs to make more films like this. The impressivity of a couple of breathtaking single-shots alone should secure it a spot.
24. Pan's Labyrinth- Guilly del Toro should also do more of this and less of Hellboy/Frankenstein/whatever-the-hell else he's been up to lately (wtf)
25. American Gangster- A good Denzel flick deserves to be here, and it should probably be Training Day (2001). Gangster's all-around superior cast and directing give it the edge, though.
26. No Country for Old Men- This is really an incredible movie that tends to have more layers the more I see it. From a relatively simple story, the Coens blow normal narrative structure apart in a way that is effective, communicative, indicative of theme and groundbreaking-ative. Nice.
27. There Will Be Blood- I love No Country, but I always thought this was the superior film. Naturally they both deserve mentioning.
28. Knocked Up- Incredibly well-directed, scripted and original, not too mention one of the biggest influences on Modern Comedy, strong case for funniest movie of the decade. Nowadays try to watch it past ubiquitous Spider-Man 3 (2007) references and picture the first time you saw it, the reason it's here should be no question.
29. Wall-E- Arguably there should be more Pixar here, but Wall-E is by and large their best film, with a strong message, tone and humble cast by animation standards, all fueled by a charming little robot who hardly speaks. Awesome.
30. Cloverfield- Bear with me, this movie gets in based on its concept and execution, which is beyond extraordinary. Will it get the final cut, probably not, but it deserves some credit.
31. Gran Torino- Unlike the Oscars, I refuse to snub what might become Clint's final film. It's fantastic in every possible way and dammit...I do buy American.
32. In Bruges- This kind of caught me off guard, but it is a superbly acted film with a very unique story that also deserves a place here but may not make the final cut.
33. The Wrestler- This documentary of Mickey Rourke's life won all our hearts. Okay, maybe not but a superb film nonetheless, a great acting achievement.
34. Tropic Thunder- I love a lot of 2008 movies but this might be near the top. A cunning swipe at Hollywood featuring most of its major players in very original roles, half of which got Golden Globe noms and one very ironic Academy nomination. I'd love to see what some of these guys would have done in a year without a young actor from the next film.
35. The Dark Knight- I've been meaning to fit in some kind of entry on some faults for this movie, which weirdly get completely overlooked and ostracized in the fanboy world. To be perfectly honest, with all of Heath's stellar acclaim, part of me likes this Joker much much more. Hopefully that should gain the ire of every single reader out there.
36. Burn After Reading- Essentially perfect storytelling and screenwriting, I can't believe this didn't get a nomination. Here's their chance for redemption.
37. District 9- Now, there's no telling what the Autumn of 2009 will bring, but District 9 should be a good forerunner already for one of the best films of this decade. Just look.
38. Inglourious Basterds- As should Tarantino's only entry. Check this out for much much more!
There are many more possible candidates from the rest of 2009, including The Hurt Locker, Avatar, Shutter Island, A Serious Man and Sherlock Holmes (Check out my strong director diversity!) and I'm sure much more. Thus, there's a few months for this list to wax and wane, and surely I'd say we won't know what our best films were for months, if not years into 2010.
But that's just me.
So from this impressive list I will cut about 23 films to boil the whole crapfest down to 15. I'm planning to do this with some unbiased criteria from this point out, crunching some essential numbers. In the meantime, feel free to argue, yell, point out anything I blatantly missed, including every shitty indie film you discovered at the big Hipster Conference last year. Stay tuned, dear readers, stay tuned, to see how this whole mess works out!