Saturday, January 09, 2010

The One True Best Movies of the Decade List (21-30)

Whew. Too busy lately. My best of decade list won't be done until 2020 at this rate!

Coming into the second half now, and like Loren, I find myself looking at a lot of great movies, even if they're way down here. I mentioned in the comments on the last ten that it was the hardest ten to do, since there are so many great movies that shoud never be associated with the term "bottom half."

21) Inglorious Basterds

Tarantino is just so. . .Tarantio-esque. Nobody has more distinctive dialogue, delivers better soundtracks. The criticisms are probably all true: He does take other film's ideas. He is a movie store geek that got lucky. He also makes great movies, so that's okay by me.

22) Children of Men

Is it Sci-fi? Is it a satire? Is it an action flick? It's all three! A mix that made me think of Kubrick while I watched. Always a fan of long takes (it just seems to give a film a grittier, more realistic feel), I was delighted to see them used even during action sequences.

23) L'Enfant

2005 Palme d'Or winner. They sell their kid. Which is a bad day for everyone. . .maybe. The absence of a soundtrack results in a novel effect, giving the film a verisimillitude it might have otherwise lacked.

24) Palindromes

Loren and I both buck critical consensus by including this in the list. If Solondz doesn't manage to offend you here, you weren't paying close enough attention, as he gives his take on the abortion debate: We're all hypocrites.

25) The Departed

Finally Scorcese gets his Oscar. Not that he hadn't deserved it most of the previous goes (Raging Bull lost? Really?).

26) Synecdoche, New York

Kaufman's movies are always so distinctive, and always so profound. I wasn't as blow away as Ebert in his best of decade list, but I was impressed.

27) The Wackness

Hey, I was a dope peddler in the 90s. I'm allowed to indulge this bit of nostalgia.

28) Mulholland Dr.

Does anybody deliver better plot twists than David Lynch? In a lot of ways this is the archetypal Lynch movie, and if you watched everything else he'd made before this it would almost become predictable.

29) Adaptation

A stronger finish, and this would have made the top 20. Prior to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, neither Gondry nor Kaufman seem to have known how to wrap their stories.

30) Crash

Wow. What an intricate weave of story arcs.

Friday, January 01, 2010

The One True Best Movies of the Decade List (11-20)

So we move down our list to numbers 11-20. A couple brief proviso's though:

1) The Ebert Principle

When looking at a great indie film or a great mainstream film, the indie film is to be preferred.

Heavy preference will be given to arthouse movies now that we're out of the top ten. One thing I always hate in these kind of lists is that they always name a bunch of movies I've already seen, and don't need anyone to tell me were great. Movies like 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days that score highly on Metacritic and aren't seen by most people are such exceptions, so the great indie flicks that aren't exceptions are getting their air time here.

If you're wondering why I'm calling this the Ebert Principle, take a look at Ebert's blog sometime. Guy can't say a bad word about an arthouse film. Even if it's a bad arthouse film.

2) I'll do my best to avoid indulgences

The nostalgia train for The Wackness being probably the biggest exception to this. I loved Star Wars Episode III because, well, I love Star Wars, not because it was a great film in the sense that Un Prophéte was.

Don't like the arrangement? My list. My rules. It's good to be king!

11) Man on Wire

Wow. This guy is seriously insane. "If I die, what a beautiful death!"

12) March of the Penguins

No real story. Nothing truly stunning about the cinematography. All they do is survive. And that's enough.

13) Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet both give solid performances in what was the most philosophically profound movie of the decade.

14) Chop Shop

Ramin Bahrani is the best director you've never heard of. A powerful story not because of the emotions it evokes (though those help), but because of the verisimillitude. Bahrani painstakingly researched his subject matter. As hard as it might be to fathom, this is real.

15) Hard Candy

A stronger finish and this would have easily made the top ten. It seems clear that the filmmaker lost his nerve (perhaps fearing an NC-17?), and decided it would be better to lower a god with ropes. We all know how it should have ended.

16) Memento

You almost have to watch it twice to catch this complex story. Brilliantly crafted, like the story's protagonist, you never know what has already happened.

17) Persepolis

Animated coming of age story? Really? My skepticism was increased by the story's setting in Iran, where I feared it might fall prey to political correctness or a crusade. It did neither.

18) Batoru rowaiaru (Battle Royale)

Lord of the Flies in futuristic Japan. The game is brutal, the winner unexpected, the story compelling. Suspension of disbelief is well-rewarded.

19) Das weisse Band (The White Ribbon)

Big year at Cannes in 2009, with four Palme d'Or nominees making the best of decade cut. The second entry, The White Ribbon, took home the Golden Palm. It shouldn't have, Un Prophéte was head and shoulders above it, but it's a masterpiece nonetheless. While the rise of Naziism is the obvious context, the film's subtext extends far beyond that.

20) Gaau ji (Dumplings)

Fruit Chan's horror on the lengths we go to to serve vanity. A horror in the Edgar Allan Poe sense of the term. Do yourself a favour, watch the short on Three Extremes, don't trouble yourself with the feature length offering, which is just the short with a lot of filler.