08 February 2010
Remember that Past Decade? 8 Films I Underrated
Ever since completing my End-of-Year / End-of-Decade Best-of Lists I've found myself feeling unfulfilled. I spent about four months thinking, tabulating and calculating what eventually became this countdown. Looking back on it now, that list sucks. It's real typical, unimaginative, uninteresting and lacks the kind of innovation I think my readers have come to expect from this site. Now, perhaps I'm being too hard on myself, but I hold the goofiness that runs through this place to a very high standard. Thus I bring you all today, my Revised TOP 8 Films of the Millennium (The Quirky List). Enjoy.
#8: The Hangover (2009)
Undoubtedly the film that may hold the greatest influence on the next decade's comedy, simultaneously launching the mainstream careers of Zach Galifniakis (who I'll maintain was actually funnier in Out Cold ), Bradley Cooper and Ed Helms and reestablishing director Todd Phillips'. It's also astoundingly (not really) a Golden Globe winner, one of the largest R-Rated movies of all time at the Box Office and a clever take on a premise that should have been implemented years earlier (or at least its prequel was). It's still one of the all-time greatest comedies.
#7: Hustle & Flow (2005)
Somehow I end up thinking about Hustle & Flow almost every day. It's an awesome film full of hearty songs, classic struggles in the hood and drunken Ludacris fights.It also features the greatest Academy Award-winning song ever made (I say this genuinely). Every performance is awesome especially Terry and Taraji (Terrence Howard somehow raps better than Three 6). It's also got suprisingly good performances from New Guy DJ Qualls, Anthony Anderson from Agent Cody Banks 2 (2004) and the already mentioned Luda. Watching this film again pretty much inspired me to revise all of my previous selections.
#6: Pineapple Express (2008)
The above clip has probably my favourite line of any film from 2008, about 0:44 in, Seth Rogen is trying to make sure his High School-age girlfriend is okay while James Franco stays guard outside. As he leaves and goes inside Franco gives a quick "Just be yourself!" line of advice. This still cracks me up. The line is so fucking stupid and out of place. It's not like Seth Rogen is trying to hook up with the girl or even that nervous about going in, they're already dating. It really demonstrates how spaced out and disconnected pothead Jim is the whole time. I probably should have highlighted this here. This film is heavily underrated and is by far the closest one can get to the experience of smoking pot (with an awkward dealer) without inhaling. The utterly over-the-top action ending is spectacular as is all the core performances (primarily Seth, more primarily Jim).
#5: Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)
The Coen Bros' best non-No Country film of the Decade, Oh Brother features the best, most concise writing, tightest plot and allegories, as well as one of their best mixes of wry drama and quirky humour. The period representation is excellent, the casting profound (undoubtedly one of Clooney's best roles, one of his first majorly comedic performances) and the direction is superb. It was also a landmark film in that it was one of the first movies to be completely colour-treated digitally to alter many of the scenes, fading and washing out the naturally vibrant colour to replicate a dust-stricken Depression Era Mississippi. It's a gorgeous film both artistically and methodically. Have I poured enough praise yet? Watch it and move on.
Also, its soundtrack won a Grammy. How about that.
#4: Snatch (2000)
I want to officially give Snatch its due. Everybody loves Snatch. Why not have it #4 of the Millennium? Of the many movies that offer complex, intricate gangster plot twists (see Crank , Smokin' Aces , Shoot 'Em Up , etc) Snatch was the first and most well done. Full of classic lines, Jason Statham's last good performance and a then-unforeseen breakneck trademark Guy Ritchie directorial style, Snatch is unmissable.
#3: The Prestige (2006)
I've already given Chris Nolan two out of my Top 15 earlier, but why not one more? The man is here for a reason - his movies fucking rule. Anyway, I feel like out of his oeuvre, The Prestige is mostly ignored for some reason. I can't understand why. It's inarguably Hugh Jackman's greatest ever role, and Chris Bale looks like he has much more to work with than either Batman: Mulligan (2005) or Terminator 4: Suckzilla (2009). Plus, I mean, c'mon. Bowie as Tesla, it's beautiful, man. The plot is intricate with a rewarding twist ending that makes you reevaluate much of what preceded it. It's a truly great film that was most ignored by both the Academy and the population at large. Go see it right now.
#2: Dave Chappelle's Block Party (2006)
Couldn't find the Dead Prez performance from the movie itself, but this song rules and their performance is one of the best in the film, or at least deserves more highlight than it gets (radio play for Dead Prez is almost nonexistent, their radical nature is brought up a few times in DCBP). This movie is great for a few reasons. For one, Dave Chappelle is the single funniest entertainer of the past decade, which is funded basically from this movie, two seasons of a cable sketch comedy show and a handful of stand-up gigs (his Inside the Actor's Studio is also a must-see) DCBP is more than some funny Chappelle Stand-up, though. For one it features a collection of the greatest rappers of our generation as well as a fucking Fugees reunion. It is also a high achievement from a political, social and spiritual stand point. It examines all the best parts of Black Culture and then asks why those moments have to be solely black instead of universal.
Some of course is unavoidable, but my favourite parts watching this is the white guitarist banging his head to Mos Def and the white trumpet player holding his fist up with the Dead Prez for solidarity. It's also very spiritually healthy, Chappelle at this point was higher than any Comedian in America, to throw a free concert in a crappy neighborhood featuring the greatest hip hop artists of the day shows an immense generosity, humility and groundedness. His $50 million walk away wasn't surprising at all. His principles, classiness, as well as his sense of humour forged one of the greatest films of our Millennium. Also Michael Gondry was somehow involved.
#1: Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004)
Like The Hangover, Anchorman was a springboard for many of the actors that would shape the Decade's comedy - Ferrell, Carrell, Rudd and director Adam McKay. It's a brilliantly surreal film with a lot of heart and passion, as well as a commentary on shifting societal gender roles that has never been topped. It's also the single most quotable film in the history of mankind. Hell, it's even easy to fake Anchorman quotes, they have such a distinctive rhythm and style.
Somewhat unfortunately, this remains Will Ferrel's funniest film and a high point for everyone involved. What's more awesome and virtually unknown is Wake Up, Ron Burgundy: The Lost Movie (2004), Anchorman's companion piece made up entirely of extraneous scenes left on the cutting room floor. It's nearly funnier than the source material, with enough of a story that may have been our own idolized cult film if not for poor testing with audiences. I've heard people begin to despise Anchorman for its prevalence among college idiots and overpopularity. This is bullshit. It's like recent reviews of The Departed (2006) claiming it lost its impact after repeated showings on F/X. It doesn't stop the film from being great or initially demonstrating its innovation. It remains regardless of mainstream popularity one of our greatest comedies.