December 23, 2009

Top Movies of the Year/Decade

I don't like to make up such lists because there are so many movies I haven't seen, so if I exclude your favorite, am I insulting your taste or just admitting my own ignorance? (Mostly the latter, no doubt.)

But, feel free to post your own suggestions in the Comments. Explanations for why they are good are helpful.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

227 comments:

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Varangy said...

I nominate The Lives of Others and Katyn.

1) They were great movies regardless of the subject matter.

2) There subject matter has been studiously ignored, for various reasons, by a certain minority who wields a lot of power in Hollywood.

Kevin K said...

I liked the "The Royal Tennenbaums." Its the only Wes Anderson movie that sustains its momentum all the way through. So many charming details but not so charming you can't connect with some of the characters.

Brian said...

I think the Hurt Locker blew everything else I saw this year. It was truly brilliant. As far as the decade goes: The Lives of Others, The Fog of War, There Will Be Blood, Brokeback Mountain, Children of Men, United 93, and About Schmidt stick out to me. Although I get depressed just thinking about these movies. None of them are exactly cheery, but neither was this decade.

Michael Ventura said...

I really liked 'How to Deal', starring Mandy Moore and Allison Janney.

It was set in Virginia and had both a very interesting sense of place as well as a grounding in intergenerational dynamics that is all too often lacking in modern movies about white people.

It also featured a subtly good performance by Alexandra Holden as Mandy Moore's best friend.

Middletown Girl said...

The Iranian film CRIMSON GOLD is powerful stuff. Thought-provoking too as no easy answers are provided as to why the fat guy went crazy. Was he sick in the head to begin with? Is it because of economic inequality and social resentment? Because of Iran's strange mix of religious orthodoxy and globalization? Because of personal crisis? The impossibility of communication in an alienating urban landscape? Because the Revolution has come to mean nothing on the one hand and opportunities are scarce on the other? As the fat pizza deliverer goes from place to place and encounters all sorts of people, we get to see a panorama of Iran that is third world, first world, libertine, repressive, etc. Fascinating movie. Has something of Fellini's La Dolce Vita and The Taxi Driver.

OhioStater said...

Gladiator for sure, but I would also add National Treasure, and the Bourne Trilogy. Roma victor!

ben tillman said...

If you do decide to make a list, I vote for a top 10 with 32 entries.

Dahlia said...

Apocalypto was my favorite movie this decade.

Anonymous said...

A little off-topic, but I'm catching up on some old TIVO'd shows, and just came to discover that some damned ***, named Glasberg, wrote the most disgustingly, sickeningly, shark-jumpingly PC episode of NCIS ever - Muslims & ***s good, WASPs & rednecks evil, anti-RKBA, pretty much the whole nine yards.

Someone please tell Bellisario & McGill that if we get another episode or two like that, then they can kiss our viewership the hell goodbye.

Oh, and I am officially an anti-semite now.

[And frankly I don't give a damn if "anti-semitism" is on Komment Kontrol's list of censor-worthy no-no's.]

Anonymous said...

My favorite movie of the decade is Osama. As good as it was ignored by the msm.

Jonathan said...

"UP" was the best film of the year.

Dennis Mangan said...

Memento: taut independent thriller, keeps you riveted throughout.

The Man Who Wasn't There: Billy Bob Thornton in the Coen Bros. best film, a noir that's a sleazy men's mag come to life.

I realize that those aren't reasons why they stand above other movies, but they appealed to me.

Sparks123 said...

Drama/Action
1) The Dark Knight (2008)
2) The Departed (2006)
3) The LOTR Trilogy (2001, 2002, 2003)
4) Training Day (2001)
5) American Gangster (2007)
6) Star Trek (2009)
7) Batman Begins (2005)
8) The Aviator (2004)
9) The Queen (2006)
10) Mystic River (2003)

Comedy
1) Bad Santa (2003)
2) Best In Show (2001)
3) Death At A Funeral (2007)
4) O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)
5) Thank You For Smoking (2006)
6) Charlie Wilson's War (2007)
7) Wedding Crashers (2005)
8) Old School (2003)
9) Mean Girls (2004)
10) Anchorman (2004)

Bob said...

My top 6, 2009

1. Adventureland Guy spends his summer before college working at a Pittsburgh amusement park. Just realistic people responding to real world stuff in a non-plot contrived fashion, producing a series of moments and emotions that might actually happen to/be felt by living human beings. Goes a little sideways at the very end, but ten, fifteen minutes later, I didn’t really care.

2. Fantastic Mr. Fox Stop-motion filmmaking allows Wes Anderson to fully engage his 1970’s-twee production design fetish and finally come through with something to halt his post-Rushmore free fall. Liked almost everything about this movie.

3. The Hurt Locker Didn’t care for the ‘psychological study of its main character'wrapping on an otherwise straightforward actioner. As a series of action sequences, it rocked. The Ralph Fiennes-desert shoot out was probably my favorite scene of the year. Last third gets a little unrealistic, but the rest makes up for it.

4. Funny People The big complaint was that it was two different movies jammed together. It was. I liked them both.

5. Adam Here we got N.Y. Asperger’s guy falling for neighbor. Will autistic romance ensue? Very moving even if you don’t completely root for their relationship.

6. Inglourious Basterds Ok, so Tarantino starts off, setting us up so we're all expecting we're gonna get Tarantino's ultraviolent, modern take on a the Dirty Dozen/Force Ten from Navarone flick.

Nice. So we're gonna get a bunch of training/bonding scenes then a lot of action behind the lines right? No. He gets all modern plot-tricky, hollows out the movie we expected, and grafts in a rather boring revenge flick.

Didn't work. Usually I appreciate the unexpected, but the new movie I got wasn't as good as the movie I didn't, even if I've seen that movie a bunch of times before.

Nothing remotely as compelling in the French/movie buff chick's side of the story as what we didn't see the 'Bastards' doing off-screen, how they earned their fearsome Nazi-killin reputation. That's not to say the farmhouse scene wasn't amazing. (I take back what I said above. This was the best scene of the year. Everyone knows it. It's not even close.)

This movie needed to be about the Bastards versus the Christopher Waltz character. Everything that was not that was a mistake. Everything that was that was awesome.

Overrated

Star Trek This was about 12 different flavors of suck. So very suck. Each scene an insult of coincidence, improbability, and illogic. Example: Enterprise hurtles toward alien threat to Earth. Commander Pike must leave ship on side mission. Appoints as acting commander, buck-cadet fresh from academy stowing away... Kirk. Well, of course he does. This Kirk guy's got moxie! In spades!

A moment please. This is the modern day equivalent of an aircraft carrier captain (the USS Enterprise, perhaps), picking out a mess room orderly to assume command of the nation's most awesome weapon of destruction for a battle that may very well end in the destruction of the country.... cause... that kid's got moxie!

For the movie to have retained any shred of reality, Pike's officer's, as soon as he uttered such nonsense, should have wrestled him to the ground, shot him in the back of the head, and jettisoned Kirk out an air-lock.

But no. And on it went. And people talk like this thing was good! All I can think is that it was pretty, and people were eager to excuse the aneurysm of a plot because of 40 years accumulated good will toward the characters (and how much muppet-baby fun it was to seem them all cute and young with the retro phasers and all.) Ugh.

DCThrowback said...

About a month ago I read a linked report from a critic (who's name eludes me) saying the best movie of the Aughts was the 25th Hour. That triggered a memory from a friend of mine who swore by the movie. I never saw, but that was good enough to give it a viewing.

I am no Spike Lee fan, but I have to say the movie was outstanding. Filmed in 2002 after the 9/11 tragedy, Spike Lee captures the best and worst of NYC (encapsulated in this clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Za2k5wA3sk). Edward Norton gave a wonderful performance as a man on the doorstep of a 7 year stint in prison; Rosario Dawson is amazingly hot as his girlfriend; Barry Pepper, Phillip Seymour Hoffman and my favorite character actor Brian Cox provide excellence in support. Highly recommended and worthy of a nomination for best film of the decade.

Runner-up: Team America: World Police. I mean, Film Actors Guild (FAG)? You can't top that. Or Kim Jong-Il feeding Hans Blix to sharks? Sublime.

Anonymous said...

MOVIES [chronologically]

2000: The Gift, All the Pretty Horses, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon

2001:

2002:

2003: I Am David

2004: The Village, Sideways

2005: The New World

2006: The Nativity Story, Lady in the Water, Broken Trail, Apocalypto

2007:

2008:

2009:



PEFORMANCES [even if the movie sucked]

Kate Winslet's performance in Little Children [2006]

Leonardo DiCaprio's performance in The Departed [2006]

Rachel Weisz had some good performances, in Enemy at the Gates [2001], and Confidence [2003]

Actually, I am including Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon on the list of best movies [the nihilistic purposelessness of the movie's conclusion notwithstanding] solely because of Michelle Yeoh's performance



Anyway, that's enough for now - I'll see whether anyone jogs my memory regarding other movies.

And it looks like 2006 was the best year for me - four outstanding movies, and two more excellent performances.

Fred said...

Year: District 9

Decade: District 9, Master & Commander, The Departed.

green mamba said...

Hmm, off the top of my head and in no particular order:

Sideways
Mulholland Drive
You Can Count on Me
The Squid and the Whale
The Savages
Ghost Dog
Wet Hot American Summer
Punch-Drunk Love
Gosford Park
A Prairie Home Companion
Garden State
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Me, You and Everyone We Know
Lost in Translation
American Splendor
Waking Life
Jackass: The Movie
The Orphanage

Anonymous said...

I don't like to make up such lists because there are so many movies I haven't seen...

I'd be interested in which movies you enjoyed just for their stories alone.

Not for the magnetism of the stars, or for the crispness of the cinematography, or for the cleverness of the director, or for any other reason that you, as a professional movie critic, might be drawn to them, but [rather] simply because you liked the stories that they told.

Or is it impossible to enjoy movies once you become a professional?

Anonymous said...

"The Hangover"

A movie that actually entertains.

It's rare to find real laughs in a movie.

Not everything worked and not everything was a smart as it might have been.

But it't rare that a movie doesn't bore to tears -- and isn't filled with killing and violence and special effects and who cares dialogue and other forms of mindless, pointless, soulless "entertainment"

Anonymous said...

In thinking back over the best movies of the decade, it dawned on me how many of them aren't even from this decade - they actually date from the 1990s:

Starship Troopers [1997], The Big Lebowski [1998], The Talented Mr Ripley [1999], The Matrix [1999], Office Space [1999]

Boy, that'll make you feel old!!!

Anonymous said...

Has anyone seen Terminator Salvation?

With both Bryce Dallas Howard and Moon Bloodgood, it ought to have plenty of eye-candy.

But I haven't seen it yet.

Although that reminds me - Clair Danes gave a very strong performance in Rise of the Machines.

Tom Regan said...

Most prescient: Idiocracy
Most damaging: Inconvenient Truth
Best: Lost in Translation, Sideways, No Country for Old Men.

Anonymous said...

No Country For Old Men (I know the landscape of this film well)

There Will Be Blood (Incredible performance by DDLewis)

Sideways (What can I say, I relate to the nerdy character)

Departed (Why should the Italians get all the glory? We Irish are fuckheads too!)

No Direction Home: Bob Dylan (It's Dylan and Scorcese, for heaven's sake)

Capturing The Friedmans (One of the best documentaries I've ever seen; rivetingly disturbing)

The are off the top of my head. I'm sure I'm forgetting a bunch.

Sean

James Watson is Right!!! said...

PAN'S LABYRINTH!!!! The greatest movie of the decade for weird people like me. Hangover was awesome, but would give the award to Star Trek for the best popcorn film of the year. J.J. Abrams actually created an interesting Star Trek film that was not typical nerd boring or action movie stupid. District 9, however, is the best film overall this year that I have seen.

agnostic said...

Surely it'd be Donnie Darko, Bowling for Columbine, and all those frat pack comedies...

I didn't see many movies this decade because most of those I did sucked, and I dropped out. Only 5 come to mind:

Mulholland Drive
Jackass Number Two
Lost in Translation
Mean Girls
Bridge to Terabithia

What makes them good is that they generally avoided the annoying and stupid meta-irony trend (Napoleon Dynamite, anything with Will Ferrell, Superbad, etc.).

Mean Girls had some of this, but it was grafted onto a pretty good movie (Heathers), so you could look past it.

The only kind of self-aware, winking at the audience comedy that works is slapstick, and Jackass Number Two is the best in that genre for the past... I dunno, a long time.

Bridge to Terabithia was a sincere children's movie that features the main adorable kid dying, and the movie sticks around after to see what effects it has on those near to her. No melodrama, though. They haven't made a kids' movie like that in forever.

Lost in Translation also was sincere rather than sarcastic / ironic, overall. Not up there in comedies from all years, but given all the recent so-consciously-doofus-I'm-cool bullshit surrounding it, it was pretty good.

Scarlett Johansson is 18 in that movie, unlike most leading women in their mid-20s. It's refreshing to see the naturally infectious sweetness and love of fun, as well as the brattiness, of girls that age. It doesn't last long.

Mulholland Drive is 1) a David Lynch movie 2) whose plot you can follow. And unlike the boring torture porn of the decade's horror / thriller genre, this movie has the creepiest scene -- when that guy confronts his fears behind the Winkies diner.

Chris said...

Probably 'There Will be Blood.' I just love that part of California history (~1900 to ~1950) The last quarter of the movie could have standed a little work, though.

Simon said...

Eh, this is really hitting me that the '00s was a notably weak decade for movies; the '90s were much much stronger. Maybe it was 9/11.

What was good? Hm, the second two LOTR movies. Shaun of the Dead was cool; pity Hot Fuzz sucked.

There were some ok movies (Oh Brother Where Art Thou? at the start of the decade, & I enjoyed the second Hellboy movie), but nothing to compare to the epics of the '90s. Plus the '00s was the decade of appalling Will Ferell movies, *sigh*

Dave R. said...

For the decade, The Incredibles. It's rare enough for a movie with an idealogical bent to be good in its own right. Add to that the rarity of a good conservative/libertarian movie getting a mass release, much less as an animated kids movie, and its one of a kind.

I'd also include the Bourne trilogy, even after admitting its weaknesses. Those being: an overuse of shaky cameras for the fight scenes, and in the final movie an implausible premise of the villainy of America. But as a less than absolute fan of the Bond franchise, I think Bourne is up near the top of action/spy movies ever made. I find the hero more sympathetic than James Bond, and the world and plots more plausible. The fight scenes, setting aside the camera work, look both good and realistic to me. I suspected watching them they had a good, real martial arts consultant, and getting around to googling it now I find they used Escrima and Jeet Kune Do. I think the fights will stand up very well in cinematography, albeit with eternal curses for the shaky cameras.

Middletown Girl said...

Brian said:

"Brokeback Mountain"

Puleeeeeeeeez. What are you, gay? Look, I'll watch an honest movie about two cowpokes who happen to be gay, but I will not watch manipulative gay propaganda pretending to be serious art.

Steve Sailer said...

My editor told me off (rightfully) for not reviewing "Sideways," so I spent the rest of decade trying to find The Next "Sideways," but never did. I can probably remember more scenes from "Sideways" than anything else in the decade, but I can't tell whether it was because it was really the best of the decade, or whether it was almost that good and I still feel guilty for not reviewing it.

Middletown Girl said...

"I liked the 'The Royal Tennenbaums.'"

It's pure wall paper. Hackman is good, but everything and everyone else is a gimmick or wallpaper. Also, it is too satisfied with its whimsy and eccentricism.

Rushmore is Anderson's only great movie. The oddball elements in that movie have a hard wall of reality to bounce against, in both funny and heart-rending ways.

Anonymous said...

I'll be back but it's shameful that no one has listed "The Dark Knight".

Steve Sailer said...

"25th Hour" was pretty good. I like Spike Lee's director-for-hire movies more than when he directs his own screenplays, because he's not that good at plotting. But he's real good at getting incredibly abrasive scenes of confrontation out of his actors (as in here and in "The Inside Man," another one based on somebody else's script.)

Middletown Girl said...

"PAN'S LABYRINTH!!!! The greatest movie of the decade for weird people like me."

Mawkish pulp gothic trash masquerading as anti-fascist consciousness-raising movie. Lookie at evil fascist beat up women, torture a stutterer, and a kill a child. And, all those
Spanish commies and anarchies were sooooo good, right? Gimme a break.
It's 'strangeness' was basically muppets on acid.

Fred said...

I'll second a couple other movies mentioned above as candidates for a best of the decade list: Crouching Tiger and Lives of Others.

Varangy writes, re Lives of Others and Katyn (which I haven't seen),

"There [sic] subject matter has been studiously ignored, for various reasons, by a certain minority who wields a lot of power in Hollywood."

Looks like I'm not the only member of that "certain minority" who liked Lives of Others -- it did win the Best Foreign Film Oscar that year, after all.

Anonymous writes,

"Oh, and I am officially an anti-semite now."

Congratulations -- that's quite an elite club you're joining. It's tough to argue with your logic though: someone with a Jewish last name wrote a TV episode that promulgated the typical lefty/PC claptrap pushed by other Hollywood Jews such as... James Cameron? Good reason to hate all Jews.

Middletown Girl said...

"25th Hour... I am no Spike Lee fan, but I have to say the movie was outstanding."

It would have been much better without the usual Lee-isms. The scene where he stares at the mirror and badmouths all ethnic groups is just Spike Lee regurgitating a similar scene in DO THE RIGHT THING. Lee seems to miss or suppress the central fact of American life. Despite all the negative stereotypes various groups may have of others, it's really no big deal. In other words, Swedish-Americans don't lose sleep over Greek- or
Chinese-Americans. Generally, it's ALL the various groups with fearful or hostile feelings toward blacks, and blacks having arrogant and hostile feelings toward all other groups.

Steve Sailer said...

"Mulholland Dr." had just the right mix of David Lynch's self-indulgence and flop sweat-induced logic. The story behind it is that the first two-thirds of the film were a pilot for an ABC dramatic series in which Lynch intended various random weirdness to happen and he'd just make up the plot as he went along. But ABC rejected the series, so Lynch buckled down and wrote and shot the last third, which succeeds in making sense out of about 80% of the first two-thirds, which is about the right amount.

The only improvement I'd suggest is that the first part should not be a dream, but should instead be a failed would-be star's self-glorifying screenplay (in the mode of "Twin Peaks"), rather like a distaff "Rocky."

Middletown Girl said...

I can't believe so many of you guys like SIDEWAYS, a piece of trash if there ever was one. Sure, Payne knows how to write scenes, direct his actors, and churn out a pretty watchable movie, but all he's done is formulate a schtick. Despite his 'art director' status, he's as predictable as Hollywood hacks.

His formula?

1. Show us seemingly well-adjusted middle class types. Initially, all seems well.

2. Layer by layer, reveal that his characters are hypocrites, liars, jerks, and petty monsters.

3. Do a dramatic switcheroo where things are not really what they seem. Thus, the studly guy in Sideways turns out to be a bawling baby while the fat blobby guy provers to be stronger than we or he himself thought.

4. Wrap it all up by hugging everyone as if to say that he, Payne, has a warm forgiving heart, and besides, are we any better than his characters? Aren't we all fools and jerks too? Thus, loving and forgiving the trespasses of our 'neighbors' is a way of forgiving ourselves.

EEEEEEEEEEYUUUUUCKK. Where is the barf bag?

Payne really thinks he's another Jean Renoir making variations of Rules of the Game. Renoir too was a biting satirist and all-embracing humanist. But, there is something genuine about Renoir's films, which I don't sense at all in Payne's films which are just exercises in cynicism wrapped in stale sentimentality.

Election, About Schmidt, Sideways, same shit over and over.
And, someone please explain how ugly Sandra Oh is supposed to any kind of sex symbol.

Gimme stuff like Planes, Trains, and Automobiles over Sideways. I'll take honest shallow laughs over sham irony and smug witticism.

Middletown Girl said...

Terry Zwigoff made two fine films:

Ghost World and Art School Confidential.

American Splendor is one of the smartest movies about celebrity, art, obsession, fiction/nonfiction. Almost like Crumb meets Alice in Wonderland.

Music Biopics Ray and Walk the Line were solid. But Beyond the Seas was the real keeper. I don't like Spacey but his film is insightful about identity, popular culture, and politics. Not just a biopic, it's a biopic staring itself in the mirror.

Johnny To is a master. His ELECTION and TRIAD ELECTION are excellent gangster films with sharp/stinging allusions to the Mainland/Hong Kong relations. Chilling.

M. Night Shylaman turned out to be a huge disappointment, but UNBREAKABLE is one of the most disturbing, subversive, and coded films about race and radicalism, power and powerless--and how both good and evil slips between the two realms.

Yellow Asphalt from Israel is a very revealing and dispiriting movie about the clash between Jews and Arabs, men and women, modernity and medievalism, innocence and corruption. Powerful stuff.

Fred said...

Re Punch Drunk Love, it was easily the best thing Adam Sandler's ever done -- what a great casting decision on the part of P.T. Anderson to tap into Sandler's obvious rage and derangement. I'd say it's the best thing Anderson has done as well, though I'm sure plenty would disagree with that. IMO Anderson works best with constraints. Treat him like a genius auteur, and give him a big budget, and you'll end up with a turgid, depressing 3 hour film. Not sure if Punch Drunk Love qualifies for best of the decade though.

Also, Inside Man was one of the more thoroughly entertaining movies of the decade (even though Steve would have preferred if the bad guy had ties to Russian oligarchs instead of Nazis). Again, not sure if that merits top ten for the decade. Similarly, the first James Bond movie with Daniel Craig was probably the most entertaining and tightly-plotted Bond movie ever, but not sure if it merits ten best.

Anonymous said...

Best scene of the year, the opening farmhouse scene of Inglorious Barstewards.

Worst scene of the year, from the same movie...despatch by baseball bat of captured German officer.

Q.T, most disturbed man in Hollywood.

Steve Sailer said...

One thing I've noticed is that they shouldn't let critics vote for best films of the decade, because the mechanics of the review-writing mentality get in the way of retrospective judgment.

For example, here at the end of the decade, I find myself wanting to talk about the movies I didn't write full reviews of, like Sideways or 3-Iron, this strange little Korean movie about a guy who breaks into people's houses and fixes their appliances. Or how about The Death of Mr. Somebody, this tiny Romanian movie about an old coot dying in various hospitals that looks like it was made for about $500? Or David Lynch's "Inland Empire," which makes no sense whatsoever?

In contrast, movies that I did review in full like "The Two Towers" or "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," well, I don't have much else to say about them. I had my say about them back then, and don't feel a need to unburden myself on them further.

I recognize that this is all an artifact of being in the business of having to have something to say about movies, what the French call déformation professionnelle

Objectively, the Lord of the Rings trilogy was better than 3-Iron, but I don't have anything more to say about Peter Jackson's masterwork now, so I what I really wanted to mention was that I thought the third act of 3-Iron, where the hero, who may or may not be insane, takes up martial arts was kind of a letdown compared to the first two acts, where's he's really into golf.

I just felt that I had to get that off my chest.

Steve Sailer said...

Yes, "Beyond the Sea" with an overaged Kevin Spacey playing singer Bobby Darrin is underrated: the only musical biopic without a going on the wagon scene. (Darrin died young of a heart defect.)

It's sort of a synechdoche of Spacey's career: he got famous playing villains, but he's really a sappy sentimental person, so as soon as he got power, he started making sappy sentimental movies. For some reason, I like that.

l said...

Best documentary of the decade: Bigger Stronger Faster --

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D8nOKJTL6Tg

http://www.amazon.com/Bigger-Stronger-Faster-Christopher-Bell/dp/B001B7CNW4

America's obsessions with sports, celebrity, medicine, being the best, winning. Hypocrisy.

I liked Joe Biden's grandstanding against steroids in a Senate committee meeting. Biden says the thought of athletes using anything but what God gave them to win at their sport offends him -- this from a guy who got hairplugs and dental veneers for a leg up in his game

Anonymous said...

http://newrightamerica.blogspot.com/2009/12/blue-in-face-take-breath.html

Interesting take on Avatar. The writer really thinks it's a GREAT movie with right-wing overtones.

l said...

On the subject of Wes Anderson, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou was his best work. Hands down.

Michael Ventura said...

I'll second Middletown Girl on Art School Confidential.

Black Sea said...

The Magdalene Sisters. Very powerful. I don't see many movies, and can't think of much else. I did think that The Human Stain was also pretty good.

Anonymous said...

Part I

This sort of question is difficult for me for four reasons: A) I enjoy almost every movie I've seen, particularly if seen in the theatre. B) I've seen so few movies. C) I'm afraid that my honest perspective will be colored in some ways by the unique forum in which I'm holding forth (and in some ways responding to). D) I don't have a full list of "The Decades Watched Movies" before me. That said,I suppose I could mention a few movies which at this very moment I happen to recollect have affecting me far more than most, particularly if I know that I've spoken about the movie at length to others - and I'll attempt to list those in the approximate order of how much I appreciated them.

Idiocracy: Though the final editing seems to have been done haphazardly, this movie spoke more truth to Power than any other recent (or non-recent) movie I can think of. That it managed to engage in this social criticism intelligently and hilariously at the same time while treating its audience (for the most part) as intelligent folk who would get the the joke is astounding and heartily appreciated.

(cont...)

Anonymous said...

Part II

Idiocracy: Though the final editing seems to have been done haphazardly, this movie spoke more truth to Power than any other recent (or non-recent) movie I can think of. That it managed to engage in this social criticism intelligently and hilariously at the same time while treating its audience (for the most part) as intelligent folk who would get the the joke is astounding and heartily appreciated.

Monster: It left me in awe and in tears. Whether it depicted the world accurately such that it made a female prostitute serial killer seem relatable to me (all the while without sparing us any of the details of her wretchedness) is a question for historians, sociologists, psychologists and neuroscientists, but it did give me that feeling as it presented the killer's actions in tandem with a philosophy that make some human sense.

Tropic Thunder: Fuggin Hilarious. Seriously, what a non-stop funny movie. I'm not gonna lie though, I laughed happily through every single last gay joke in Blades of Glory too but Tropic Thunder's humor mostly novel and startling all the while being hilarious. And what a set of zany characters played by the best actors to play those guys. Seriously, wonderful.

Sicko: This is an obviously unpopular choice for this crowd but truth is truth and I found Sicko to be an exceedingly worthy piece of (almost entirely accurate) propaganda that literally attempts to save tens of thousands of American lives a year (though whether it accomplishes anything near that number considering the powers that be is a separate question. The health care bill currently moving through Congress may in fact end up causing more human suffering than saving - may - but it in no way negates Michael Moore's mostly accurate portrayal of the hitherto mass-murder of thousands of your co-citizens each year).

Crash: The racial component pissed me off. The basic point of the movie is that, for the most part, we Americans are good folk who would like to be good to strangers but there's a complex societal system in place that causes a great many of us to act like inhuman cogs in the system as we interact with others thus causing each of us to get hurt and subsequently to lash out at others in return. There is, of course, some truth to that.

Anonymous said...

Part III

Blood Diamond: What an excellent look at Africa! Stunning! And the fellow played by that Titanic boy, what a character that White Rhodesian African is! TIA Danny Boy.

The Gladiator: Wonderful for all of the obvious reasons.

A Serious Man: A rather deep movie. My assumption is that to FULLY appreciate it, one should be well grounded in Jewish history, Minnesotan suburban life in the 60s, Physics and some philosophy/theology thoughts on the question of how one gets goodness out of his life and whether there's some system, metaphysical or otherwise, that provides the lay of the land for one on such a quest. Being personally almost fully grounded in two of those four areas and only minutely familiar with the other two, I can't speak for the totality of the film but having happened to (entirely by chance) have seen the movie three times within the span of ten days I can say that it's a well-worked on and precise movie that moves with devastating effect to the general Coen Brothers' display of the world, life and everything in it as without system, laughably puny in importance and fatalistic by design... if there was any such thing as design. Which there probably isn't but who can really know for sure anyway.

Gangs of New York: Daniel Day Lewis is almost always worth watching, regardless of what he's doing. In this instance though, Boy did he have a role to fill. That DeCaprio kid could have been replaced by almost anyone else, heck a CGI Effect would have done just as fine but the story... and the visuals... and the eventual back story as the lens zooms out of the tiny microcosm of the Five Points to reveal the small human squabbles on a street corner as wholly irrelevant as a continental war engulfs it without even knowing or caring that it's doing so...astounding.

The Aviator: It shames me to realize that I've apparently chosen three wholly distinct movies with DeCaprio in them (and in full confession, had Titanic have made the cut I would have chosen him FOUR times). The deep and abiding shame that I feel is haunting. I'll quell it with the claim that the Man does not make the Film (in most cases) but the other way around, famous actors get chosen for films with the best writers, directors, producers and co-actors. I'll say however that Titanic and Blood Diamond do owe him a debt, albeit a small one. His acting in those films improved them but they would have soared with almost any other serious actor too. Anyhow, The Aviator. Same as Gladiator, the reasons for its appeal kind of speak for themselves and would only require elucidation when speaking before an audience that is both female and historically disinterested while this audience is generally neither.

mnuez

Alticor said...

This is one I'm proudly unqualified to comment on, because I watch mostly old movies. I figure when I've seen all the good old ones, I'll start watching the new ones, but by then they won't be so new, and that suits me fine.

There have been some recent movies I enjoyed, some which I only watched because of this very blog Idiocracy was one, and a good one. Some other standouts for me were A Mighty Wind and Galaxy Quest. What do they have in common? Both reference the past in critical yet affirmative ways.

Oh wait. GQ was 1999. Oh well, I didn't see it until 2001...in a cinema. Of course, I saw Gentlemen Prefer Blondes in 2007 at Mann's Chinese (thanks Melinda...)...Ah, never mind.

One thing I always notice in these kind of lists is front end loading. In any list of the previous N years, half to two thirds of the referenced items are usually quite recent, then a random smattering from the rest of the time period. So say a list of "25 Great Westerns Of All Time" will have most of the Westerns made since the 80s in it, even though the number of Westerns made after the early sixties is a tiny fraction of those made before. Or a list of 10 movie sex bombs will have Ava, MM and Liz...and seven current young actresses (or five now-hot ones and two still working but now post-milfy.) The present is disproportionately important to the compilers.

Left out are the ones who were not megastars but were nevertheless bigger than the current ones.

Twenty years hence, the old ones on your list will be on the new lists (if they go back that far) but hardly any of the new ones.

John Craig said...

Superbad. The best teen comedy in history, because it was the most realistic teen comedy. No incredibly beautiful girlfriends, no witty bon mots, no over-sentimentalized what-incredibly-good-times-we-had-in-high-school bs. Just one incredibly awkward scene after another, the way it really was.

Eastern Promises. Grittily realistic, incredibly well-acted, great plot, uplifting without being sappy. And a great (mostly unconsummated) love story.

The Departed. For all the obvious reasons, and despite Nicholson's grotesque overacting.

Anonymous said...

The ones that jump to mind:

Primer (Criminally underrated, best Indy film I've ever seen.)

Memento

Apocalypto

Mulholland Drive (Reality vs. TV / Movie fantasy, Lynch's best film)

Idiocracy (America's present and future)

Anonymous said...

I liked: 25th Hour- always hated Spike, who knew
Starsky and Hutch- Highlarious
Blood Diamond- Love Leo
Anchorman- Straight funny
Step Brothers- John C. Reilly as funny as Ferrell
Sideways- Lowell's back
You Can Count on Me- Catholic film, you atheists wouldn't understand
Talented Mr. Ripley- I think Damon is gay in this one
Office Space- Love Judge
No Country for Old Men- love Brolin
The Road- masterpiece
Napolean Dynamite-scene where he is counting change after working at dairy farm is funniest all decade

Dan in DC

coldequation said...

Limiting myself to movies that have not been mentioned by others:

Downfall
300
Oldboy
Battle Royale
Soul Plane

Anonymous said...

"Apocalypto was my favorite movie this decade."

I'll second that.

Anonymous said...

Once
Parineeta (bollywood) 2006

Anonymous said...

MiddleTown Girl said : "(snip exuberant verbosity)"

I was sure this broad was the notorious, noxious FeministX, but I have a new theory: she's Camille Paglia! The extreme verbosity and the refusal to see a cigar as a cigar is the tipoff.

Anonymous said...

The Fellowship of the Ring
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Vanilla Sky
The Others
Spirited Away
Mr. Bean's Holiday
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Gosford Park
Just Visiting
Girl with a Pearl Earring
The Cell
Enemy at the Gates
Sweet Home Alabama

Pietro_F said...

The Royal Tennenbaums hands down. Wes Anderson succeeds in drawing from his characters that specific pain we associate with family.

Matra said...

Master and Commander was not just a great film but in many respects a traditionalist's film. The same thing could be said of Girl with a Pearl Earring (about Vermeer's painting of the same name).

I don't know what Demonlover was supposed to be about but I came away from it despising socially deracinated global capitalism more than ever. (How anyone can call such capitalism 'conservative' is beyond me).

But the best drama of the decade was not a movie but a TV series - Rome on HBO.

Baloo said...

Random order:

Persepolis
Incredibles
Lilo and Stitch
Little Miss Sunshine
Darjeeling Express
Howl's Moving Castle
Downfall
The Dark Knight
Serenity
Up

Heavy on animation, but I think that's the trend.

Stan B said...

How quickly everyone has forgotten about Todd Field's "In the Bedroom", despite it being nominated for three of the biggest Academy Awards (best picture, actor, and actress). Of course, nobody knows who "Todd Field" is because he's only made two movies. We'll see if his adaptation of Blood Meridian puts him back in the spotlight.

The Bear said...

The New World -- Terrence Malick captures the fear, wonder, and hope that accompanied the white man's arrival in America.

Manderlay -- Lars Von Trier's brillant examination of Yankee idealism and liberal masochism.

No Country for Old Men -- Combined with the other two movies on my list, it's the final film in a trilogy about the white man in America. The movie is all prophetic foreboding.

Mulholland Drive -- The first three movies on my list wonderfully capture a sense of place -- Amercia. Mulholland Drive captures the sense of a place that does not exist -- Hollywood. Dissociation has never been more realized on film.

David said...

> Or is it impossible to enjoy movies once you become a professional? <

The sad truth is, yes, it is impossible. Orson Welles said he couldn't enjoy movies anymore, because he always saw the ghost of the slate boy before every shot.

One enjoys other things ("great shot!" "tight editing!"), but one never sees movies the same way again. It's like eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge; paradise is lost.

The upside is one becomes (almost) impossible to sway with propaganda. For example, one's aware of just when the sound editor is sneaking in the schmaltzy music. Interestingly, the episode of "Mad Men" called "The Wheel" is made by its music; most of the emotion the average viewer feels when watching that scene is from the music only - sheer manipulation, transparent to pros. Assuming you know the lines already, try watching that scene with the sound turned off so that you lose the music. Better yet, don't do this; it will be a nasty bummer. (The writing is good but not as powerful as the music.)

(Another amusing exercise: listen to, but don't look at, any of the Bourne movies. What you will get is basically reiterations of the lines "Where is he? Nearby!" and "Get Bourne!" plus explosions. And nothing else. That's the whole plot.)

Didn't see as many movies as Steve this decade, but top favorite was "Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World" (2003) for the positive portrayal of British exploration and, yeah, intelligent, enterprising white guys - and the very worst was "Star Trek," which I had to walk out of after minute 10 because its manipulativeness was insultingly gross.

Mark Time said...

The Hours was a great movie, so is Sideways. I am struck reading these lists how many good movies there were, despite my almost calcified belief that anything coming out of Hollywood is pure evil with an anti-gentile bent.

There are some horrid movies listed as well. "Garden State"?

Thursday said...

The Lives of Others
Nowhere in Africa
Amelie
A Very Long Engagement
Angels in America
Up!
Coraline
Kung Fu Panda
The Passion of the Christ
Apocalypto
Mystic River
Million Dollar Baby
The Good German
Y Tu Mama Tambien
Gosford Park
A Prairie Home Companion
Memento
Pirates of the Caribbean
Snatch
2046
Master and Commander
Idiocracy
Adaptation

1. My moviegoing has been basically MIA for the last 2 years so this list is only accurate for 200-2007.

2. The films on my list are all very good but none of them are truly great. Filmmaking seems in decline, for the moment at least.

3. The best of the bunch is Adaptation.

4. The most underrated is The Good German. It takes a lot of effort to follow, but this riff on Casablanca and To Have and Have Not is worth it. I was right about Deconstructing Harry, The Big Lebowski and Eyes Wide Shut, all widely panned movies that are now getting their due, so I'll stick by my assessment of this one.

5. Most overrated that I've seen are Sideways and The Lord of the Rings.

Anonymous said...

I can probably remember more scenes from "Sideways" than anything else in the decade, but I can't tell whether it was because it was really the best of the decade, or whether it was almost that good and I still feel guilty for not reviewing it.

It really is that good.

Sideways is the "Animal House" of the aughts - it tells the story of what happened to the boys of Delta Tau Chi when childhood came to an end and they had to go out and face the real world and confront the decision as to whether or not they were ever going to grow up and become men.


I can't believe so many of you guys like SIDEWAYS, a piece of trash if there ever was one.

Sideways is the only movie about [real] American culture in the aughts that had anything even remotely interesting or insightful to say [concerning, among other things, the oppressive nihilism of the modern world and the question of whether broken men can manage to find - or wander - their way out of it, into something better, even if they don't actually deserve it].

It tells the story of 30-ish [or 40-ish] man-child adolescents who have to come to grips with the fact that all of the childhood fantasies they have been nursing [and chasing] their whole lives have come to naught and that it's time to grow up and face reality and move on and try to do something productive with what little time they have left in life.

It's a movie which plumbs the very depths of despair and offers just the faintest hope of redemption, all the while surrounding & engulfing you in a glorious tapestry of eclectic jazz, Central Coast pinot noir, and Virginia Madsen - I mean, seriously, what more could a guy possibly ask for in a movie? It even has a car wreck, for God's sake.

The only big question about Sideways is whether Miles hooked up with Maya in time to make babies with her - in real life, Virginia Madsen was already 43 when she made that movie [apparently she had a single baby - a boy named Jack - back in 1994, about ten years before the movie was filmed], but I guess [or at least hope] that in the cinema, you are allowed to pretend that the characters you are watching are five or ten years younger than the actors and actresses who are portraying them.


And, someone please explain how ugly Sandra Oh is supposed to any kind of sex symbol.

Ahem - you do realize that you're talking to an audience of paleocon HBD nerds, right?

To us, all asian chicks are smokin' hot sexy.

Uber-smokin'. Uber-hot. Uber-sexy.

Sandra Oh in Sideways?

Gwendoline Yeo in Broken Trail?

Michelle Yeoh in Crouching Tiger?

Honey, it don't get much better than that...


M. Night Shylaman turned out to be a huge disappointment

The Village and Lady in the Water are epic masterpieces of anti-nihilism [although I like to think that there's even more to them than just their overt anti-nihilism: in all honesty, anti-nihilism qua anti-nihilism (or gratia anti-nihilism, or whatever) would itself, in the end, be nothing more than just another form of nihilism].

Plus they both feature Bryce Dallas Howard, and, as far as I'm concerned, they could just as well have been silent movies without any dialogue or any plot whatsoever - just give me two hours of Bryce Dallas Howard wandering around the screen, dressed in white cotton, with flowers in her hair, and I'll be a happy camper...

Anonymous said...

America's obsessions with sports, celebrity, medicine, being the best, winning. Hypocrisy.

Did I dream this, or did I hear Rush Limbaugh [a few days ago] read an essay about how Tiger Woods, as athlete of the decade, was the perfect symbol of the fraud and deceit and chicanery of the aughts?

Anonymous said...

Didn't anyone mention 'The Passion'. It hit me harder than any movie I have ever seen. I went out and bought a copy on disc and I haven't been able to watch it because I have never been able to compose myself to watch it.

Eileen said...

OT: Merry Christmas, Steve! And to everyone in the Stevosphere as well! :-D

Svigor said...

The Big Lebowski

I thought TBL was one of the worst movies I've ever seen. Well, it was the worst "great movie" I've ever seen, anyway. I heard how great it was for years so I finally rented it. There's no there there. Expectations aside, I enjoyed about ten seconds of it.

Curvaceous Carbon-based Life Form said...

Okay, admittedly I'm a bit of a 'tard and I don't know anything about art, but I do know what I like.

I've seen Idiocracy about 42 times now. I laugh harder each time.

THAT's the ultimate test -- a movie that gets funnier the more you watch it.

Funny, and shudderingly, horrifyingly prophetic.

YEP, WE HAVE OUR WINNER!
That is all.

Nanonymous said...

I am pretty shocked that a movie that would definitely be on my list of the best of the decade wasn't mentioned even once among what seems to be over a hundred already:

Adaptation (2002). Everything is brilliant about it. The movie is a worldplay of its title. All we see is an adaptation on different levels. Fantastic script. Flawless performances by Streep, Cooper and Cage. Precise and economical direction. "Done with fish". Great movie.

Not necessarily candidates for a Top 10 anything but random movies I recalled right now as memorable:

- The Man Who Was Not There (2001)
- Memories of Murder (2003)
- Mulholland Drive (2001)
- The Machinist (2004)
- Notes on a Scandal (2006)
- Memento (2000)
- Sideways (2004)
- Surveillance (2008) - freaky for sure but memorable.
- A Dogs Breakfast (2007) - very little known; very low budget; masterful black comedy, very cute.

Well, that's it, time to click on that "submit your comment" button or the list will be very long...

Merry Christmas to you, Steve, and to your readers!

Dutch Boy said...

Easy choice: The Road (because it's the only movie I've seen in a while).

Wes said...

1. Gladiator
2. Casino Royale
3. The Aviator (except for it's silly Freudian subtext).

I enjoyed those two, especially the first. I'm one of those people that dislikes almost all movies that are produced. I've never walked out and felt "affected" by a movie in the last 20 years. Although Gladiator, with it's sense of honor from the ancient world came the closest.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the thread Steve.

This collective exercise helped me fill out my list of films to see more than a dozen film reviews could.

Not that your reviews are without value, far from it. You often reveal an angle nobody else sees or will touch with a 10 foot pole mic. It is just that an aggregation of Best Movies lists do a quicker and easier job of helping someone make their own list (of things to see). With many lists to chose from, you can quickly see who shares your interests and fill in the gaps in your own list.

Perhaps you could do this more often? Once or twice a year would be fine.

Darwin's Sh*tlist said...

If you judge movies by how they stack up within their genres, then "Paranormal Activity" is one of the best films of the year. Maybe not a great film, but few horror flicks are. As far as distilling an entire genre to its essence (the thing you can't see is scarier than the thing you can) and presenting it effectively, none was better. And, the female lead had bountiful endowments.

But best film for 2009 was probably "The Hurt Locker." I'd also have to consider "An Education."

For the decade, I like Memento. Two documentaries I haven't seen mentioned here are Grizzly Man and Start-Up.com. Both great.

For comedies, I probably laughed more at "Knocked Up" than anything else this decade - except maybe "Team America."

Most disturbing film was 2002's "Irreversible."

Anonymous said...

Not to give away too many spoilers, but...

SPOILER






...if the sight of Jim Caviezel taking the bar of soap in I Am David doesn't bring a little tear to your eye, then you might as well hand in your paleocon decoder ring now because you're never gonna grok paleocon-itry.

TD said...

"Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind."

If you'd asked me before this decade whether an artsy, ostensibly "romantic" film -- by a French director, no less! -- could ever become one of my favorites, I'd have laughed. But it's right up there near the top.

And I know I'm far from the only male who thinks this way. It's a magnificent film, on every level.

Kylie said...

I seldom watch modern movies any more for both aesthetic and political reasons so my list will be wildly askew.

Nevertheless, the following movies, listed in no particular order, got through my filter and impressed me one way or another.

Requiem (2006) Loosely based on one of those infamous "true stories", this may be about epilepsy, possession or some kind of hysteria. Brilliantly shot and acted, it feels like a documentary and whatever questions it raises, the sight of this extraordinarily afflicted young woman who just wants a ordinary life is very moving.

The Pledge (2001) I saw this before I took my own particular pledge not to do my bit to fill the coffers of Sean Pean and his ilk. Absolutely mesmerizing story of obligation turning into obsession, of how the desire to connect can lead to utter isolation. Beautifully shot, much of it seems to unfold through a screen of greenery. This partial view of what's happening is a great visual metaphor for the main character's inability to see the situation whole.

Nobody Knows (2004) I dislike the [over]use of strong adjectives in movie-reviewing but this one can fairly be called devastating. Based on the true story of a mother who abandoned her children in Sugamo and their efforts to survive in the city without being detected and thus separated from one another. I wouldn't have believed a scene of children eating carry-out could move me to tears.

The Devil's Backbone (2001) I didn't bother with Pan's Labyrinth after seeing the trailers and suspecting the director had, understandably, gone commercial. This earlier effort is wonderful, one of the best ghost stories around.

Primer (2004) Much discussion ensued about how reliable its science was but I don't care about that. It really moves. A ripping good story about time travel, has a nice documentary feel to it, lots of sly humor. Some real effort and talent went into this one.

Girl With A Pearl Earring (2003) One of the most visually ravishing movies I've ever seen, appropriately enough for a film that's all about seeing. It's the closest most of us will ever come to stepping into one of Vermeer's paintings (unless some science nerd takes Primer a little too seriously). A movie not about the fictional unrequited love (or lust) between Vermeer and his servant but about the bond that forms when two people share a vision of the world. Standing shoulder to shoulder looking outward is sometimes more intimate than gazing into one another's eyes.

A Time For Drunken Horses (2000) Orphans struggling to survive in war-torn Iran. A moving reminder that the relatively carefree childhoods of most Western children is a new and isolated phenomenon and that children suffering tragedy and hardship without any adult buffer is not. Like Nobody Knows, truly a devastating film.

Take Care of My Cat (2001) Charming film about a group of post-adolescent girls trying to find their way in the world.

The Intended (2002) Not a fan of its star, Janet McTeer, who is of the "I'm Vulnerable--See? I'm Plain And Horse-Faced But Have Big, Soulful Eyes" school of acting. But still a riveting movie with uniformly good acting. A group of unattractive, sweaty people thrown together in the jungle and trying to get away from each other. Yet another lesson about how badly people behave in humid climates.

The Prestige (2006?) Great story about obsession, from the perspective of two men obsessed by the same thing but for wldly different reasons.

Anonymous said...

I forgot

-Almost Famous

-Thirteen Days

Both came out in 2000-2001, I believe. I enjoyed both immensely.

Sean

Praxis888 said...

1) "Master and Commander" was surprisingly authentic and didn't destroy the spirit of the novels.

2)The screenplay for "Adaptation" is one of the most original ever written. Most people who see the film don't realize that a large part of it is true.

3)300 - for it's absolute lack of the normal Hollywood PC.

Anonymous said...

Interesting since the greatest movie of all time occurred in this decade; Serenity.

Middletown Girl said...

"On the subject of Wes Anderson, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou was his best work. Hands down."

Life Aquatic was Salingerisms-as-tourist-gifts. Utterly phony.

The former Accutane Guy said...

Hey Middletown Girl, I didn't get the coded stuff in Unbreakable, I don't think. Can you fill us in?

Middletown Girl said...

"Vanilla Sky"

No, no, no. See the Spanish original OPEN YOUR EYES. Much better. Vanilla betrays what's wrong with Hollywood. No poetry, all bombast.

DAJ said...

PAN'S LABYRINTH!!!! The greatest movie of the decade for weird people like me.

Count me in as a weird person because I agree with you!

Middletown Girl said...

"Sideways is the only movie about [real] American culture in the aughts that had anything even remotely interesting or insightful to say [concerning, among other things, the oppressive nihilism of the modern world and the question of whether broken men can manage to find - or wander - their way out of it, into something better, even if they don't actually deserve it]."

What it has to 'say' is trite and had been said before in About Schmidt and Election.
Compare the soulless--albeit amusing--efficiency of SIDEWAYS with the geniunely tumultuous, wrenching, and ultimately forgiving HUSBANDS by Cassavettes. The ending of SIDEWAYS is a foregone conclusion from the beginning, especially if you've sat through Election and Abuot Schmidt. Nothing is really earned but pre-ordained by Payne's knowledge of how to tweak the audience and push all the 'right' buttons. As such, Sideways is really just a John Hughes movies for adults.

Middletown Girl said...

"Didn't anyone mention 'The Passion'. It hit me harder than any movie I have ever seen."

That was the problem. It beat us over the head with its JESUS-SUFFERED-AND-DIED-FOR-YOU message. It was Mel Gibson pulling a Jewish mother on us, making us feel guilty and rotten UNLESS we submitted to Jesus.
Otherwise, a decent movie with some very good things. Bad ending though.

Steve Sailer said...

Another issue that doesn't get discussed much about one's opinions about movies is the order in which you see them.

For example, Wong Kar-wai's "In the Mood for Love" from 2000 was widely praised by critics as the perfect small, restrained, jewel-like romantic period (Hong Kong 1960) drama.

He then spent five years making a big budget semi-science fiction sequel to "In the Mood for Love" called "2046," which most critics, having seen the original, found bloated and out of control compared to the perfection of "In the Mood for Love."

In contrast, I saw "2046" first and just wallowed in the gorgeous excess of it all. So, I then rented "In the Mood for Love" and found myself thinking, "Well, sure, it's a tiny masterpiece, but how come Wong cast only one screen goddess instead of five like in "2046"? If one is good, why aren't five better?"

"And why aren't any of the characters in the first movie, which is set in a crowded apartment building in Honk Kong in 1960, beautiful but sad androids with tragic flaws? Where's the magnetic levitation train that goes all the way around the world? Why is Tony Leung playing a depressed shlump in the first movie when in "2046" his character is a devil-may-care rake with a Clark Gable mustache? What kind of lame prequel is "In the Mood for Love" anyway?"

So, the order in which you see movies has an affect on your feelings about them.

Truth said...

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the sphere
Not a creature was stirring, not even a deer.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that a new George Lincoln Rockwell
Soon would be appear!

The lil' Sports were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of nationhood danced in their heads.
And Midtown in her ‘kerchief, and Whiskey in his cap,
Were racking their brains to think of more odious crap.

When in Downtown Charleston there arose such a clatter,
Svigor sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window he flew like a flash,
Chucked his white hood and got rid of his stash.

The urine lines glistened in the new-fallen snow
Gave the stench of microbrew to objects below.
When, what to Roduck's wondering eyes should appear,
But a '09 Bentley with eight neocon's teathered near.

With a little old driver, so withered and yeller,
I knew in a moment it must be David Rockefeller.
More predictable than Limbaugh, his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

"Now Palin! now, Limbaugh! now, Don Black and Rushton!
On, Taylor! On, Brimelow! on, Le Griffe and Watson!
To the top of the heap! leave them down at the basel!
We know they're not smart enough to know elbow from Ace!"

As automatons would from an Orwelian book,
Just feed them garbage, they'll buy it line and hook.
So up to the stadium and the blacks they did pass,
With a faster 40 time for Jody and Mike Hass.

And then, in a thud, P/O Chinaman, heard rather late
Whites burglarizing his house; with their higher crime rate.
As he loaded his gun and was turning around,
Down the chimney Kudzu Bob came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his knees,
A pink fedora on his dome and a rolex under his sleeve.
He said "I've been practicing "game" with Testy
And I dress like The Mack!

His tie how it twinkled, his shoes with a luster!
His cheeks were like roses, The Scottsman
With heritage from Ulster.
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
A cursory glance revealed Udolpho in tow.

Dolph wore a "Draper" he proudly displayed,
to the numerous co-workers he routinely dismayed.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
Watching Whit Stillman is an action quite solitary!

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly young fart,
And when I saw him I thought "like Hannity he's smart!
A trip on a log and a bump on his head,
Let Chinaman know he had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And looked in his wallet and called Gladwell a jerk.
He gave the symbol to Victoria who was now
By the cupboard,
She was reluctant to enter
As snow was her "color".

They retreated to the car in a state of pure limbo,
Comforted only by the fantasy
Of one of Wood's Bimbos.
But I heard Bob exclaim, as they sputtered out of sight,
F--- Kwanza to all,
and let's keep up The Fight!!"

Bob said...

AS long as we're talking movies here, did anyone see Disgrace.

Steve recommended this one a while ago, set in South Africa post-apartheid. I'm gonna go heavy spoiler here, but... at the very end, the father approaching his daughter working at the house... he was going to kill her right, go inside the house with her and kill her?

It seems to me that this is a very different movie depending on whether or not that was the case. Can't find anyone else online who sees it this way though. And yet, that that was his intention seemed obvious to me - the scene immediately before where he puts down the dog, his parking some distance from his house...

Someone tell me I'm not crazy and it's the world, not me,that doesn't get this movie.

Middletown Girl said...

"Adaptation (2002). Everything is brilliant about it."

Brilliance alone doesn't cut it. A feat of mental masturbation to be sure(or cinematic hermaphrotism of filmmaker making love to himself), but what it did amount to? I have no idea. Synedoche NY has the same problem. Wes Anderson and Kaufman have fallen into the pit of solipsistic neuroto-narcissism. They are so enamoured of their own brilliance or 'ideas' that they've lost touch with all else.
It's like watching a balloon being sucked out backwards or a mental blackhole sucking everything in and spewing out new dimensions... which mean absolutely nothing other than 'hey, it's brilliant and original!'

Being John Malk and Eternal Sunshine were much better because the 'ideas' were grounded in some kind of reality.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Alexandre Desplat wrote a beautiful theme for Pearl Earring.

Kylie said...

Steve Sailer said; "Another issue that doesn't get discussed much about one's opinions about movies is the order in which you see them."

And still another issue is one's preference for "big" or "small" films. You mention seeing Wong's later, bigger "2046" first and then being disappointed in his earlier, smaller movie, "In The Mood For Love". I find I often prefer directors' earlier films in part because they are usually "smaller" than their subsequent films. I was surprised to find myself liking the larger, more sumptuous "The Prestige" over the smaller, more modest "Memento". But just seeing the trailers for what seemed a big, splashy "Pan's Labyrinth" were enough to make me stick with the earlier, more intimate "The Devil's Backbone".

Snorrebrod said...

Dave R.: "For the decade, The Incredibles. It's rare enough for a movie with an ideological bent to be good in its own right. Add to that the rarity of a good conservative/libertarian movie getting a mass release, much less as an animated kids movie, and its one of a kind."

"Conservative," maybe-- in the "high Tory" sense. I truly agree that it's a very entertaining movie in spite of its "ideological bent," which is strenuously anti-intellectual-- and which really burns me up.

"The Incredibles" has only two characters who show any creativity-- sidekick Edna Mode, supersuit designer, and villain Buddy Pine/Syndrome, whose super-power is creativity-- he's a genius inventor!

Buddy Pine is a white guy substituting brains for brawn, the sort of fellow responsible for nearly every technical and economic advance in the world in the last 500 years. He's Whitney, he's McCormick, he's Colt, he's Newcomen, Fulton, Bell, Edison, Tesla, Diesel, Maxim, well, you get the picture.

Bob Parr/Mr. Incredible isn't that sort of white guy. He's much more like his buddy Lucius Best/Frozone. He's strong, fast, and anti-intellectual.

Mr. Incredible's prototype is one of those bulky Dark Ages "nobles" who, like Bayard, tried to exterminate crossbowmen because they substituted cleverness for brawn and threatened to replace the smash-face dominance of overweight thugs with some arrangement more suited to intelligent men.

Worse than that, Mr. Incredible and his family are "supers" who all have inherited magical powers. They are natural aristocrats. (The filmmakers want us to worship them; Edna tells us straight out that supers are gods.) Isn't it shameful, the way the peasants oppress them throughout most of the movie? Good thing their senses (even non-American supers'?) of noblesse oblige make them respect the peasants' crazy strictures (though Mr. Incredible and Frozone are just rebellious enough to prove they still have balls).

The scriptwriters made Buddy Pine/Syndrome insane (even his super-name, "Syndrome," says he's sick), so the audience could dislike him properly. But that merely shows what clever propagandists they are.

If Buddy weren't insane, he would deserve to be the hero of the film, with Mr. Incredible as his sidekick. Sort of like George Kennedy's Dragline to Paul Newman's Cool Hand Luke. The Underminer could have been the antagonist.

[overlong comment to be continued below, I hope]

[part two of overlong comment]

Truth said...

"Generally, it's ALL the various groups with fearful or hostile feelings toward blacks, and blacks having arrogant and hostile feelings toward all other groups."

I was already to promote you past Whiskey into 397th place poster on this blog for your solid movie reviews (Brokeback Mountain, The Royal Tannenbaums, and Sideways were shit.)

Then you had to go and pretend you've actually ventured out of daddy's basement this decade, and speak for 275 million people.

BACK TO THE CELLAR FOR YOU!

Anonymous said...

There were only three movies made in this decade that I saw. They were all kid's movies which I watched with my young daughter: Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005), Ratatouille (2007), and Ponyo (2009). They were fun, not brilliant. My daughter loathes movie theaters, and I had to trick her into watching even these few.

I just don't feel attracted to the cinema, anymore. There's too much garbage being pumped out by Hollywood, and now that America is in steep decline I have little interest in the movies it makes. And it's painful for me to watch movies made in the last century, especially the ones that celebrate America's future technological progress. I find 2001: A Space Odyssey to be particularly depressing. (I still miss Leonard Rossiter.)

Snorrebrod said...

[part two of overlong comment]

But no, Buddy/Syndrome is a destructively-insane smartass. Get it? Inventors are all evil fruitcakes! Smart kids who invent rocket boots so they can go as fast as the kids with magical powers are wicked. Really, they are uppity peasants who deserve the gibbet.

(And unlike the Incredibles and Frozone, Syndrome is Jewish! He builds Golems to murder supers/Christians and steals super/Christian babies to raise them as heretics! [Yes, the supers are Christians. Remember the wedding scene?])

(Proper smart people worship and serve the supers, like Edna does!)

Thank goodness the world's true heroes, the folks who inherit great musculatures, kill that smartass who invents rocket boots and fingertip force rays and discoid flying cars and all that stuff. Why if Syndrome had survived, "everyone could be super!" Can't have that.

I realize and share, of course, the way we real live smart people react to the subplot about Dash's troubles in school. Even though, in the movie, the talent Dash has to conceal is super-running, his travails are really those of the high-IQ kid in public school. Which of us did not have our parents tell us to keep a low profile so as not to antagonize the other (less brainy) kids? Who among us did not end up in the principal's office because we pissed off some teacher who knew less than we did despite the 20-year difference in our ages, and hated us for it?

I understand all that, but I still dislike Brad Bird's too-clever scheme to transmute the anxieties of smart kids into troubles for natural athletes. It helps the movie appeal to the masses, who can more easily imagine themselves as super-athletes than as smartasses. But the price! Brad Bird has used his own brains to make a propaganda film against smart kids. Thanks a lot, jerk!

As for the "Libertarian" quality of the film, if there is any it's unintentional, or least tainted, partly by the substitution of brawn for brains and partly by the "prostitute with a heart of gold" (benevolent government bureaucrat) character Rick Dicker. In real life all "Libertarians" are intellectual types. Strong-but-dull types (like Mr. Incredible) favor simple oligarchy, or if sufficiently propagandized, socialism. The movie does argue that the "supers" should be free to strut their stuff. It shows how the envy of the masses turns into oppression. But the movie's concern is like the Scarlet Pimpernel's, for bonehead aristos oppressed by the Committee of Public Safety. It has no time for Solzhenitzens oppressed by the Politburo. Libertarians used to idolize clever men (admittedly, Ayn Rand did have a thing for well-built, albeit unbelievably prolix men). A "Libertarian" should look past the nominally "liberating" message of The Incredibles to the message it actually conveys: that smart guys who try to liberate themselves by using their brains to match natural-aristocrats' brawn are dangerous psychotics who should be killed to restore the natural order.

Snorrebrod said...

I nominate "The Aviator" to your list.

Going in I feared I would dislike it because I dislike most of baby-face Leonardo's work.

I was wrong. I decided it was a very good film.

I also nominate "Hellboy." It's my favorite special-effects-fest of the decade, and has a fine mixture of horror and heartwarming romance.

Finally, I nominate "The Watchmen." I realize it has a very disappointing ending. Even so, I thought it was all at once the most intellectual and dramatic "superhero" movie I've ever seen.

(I do wish they had hired a prettier actress to play (the junior) Silk Spectre.)

Matt G. said...

Gran Torino

Middletown Girl said...

Notable mentions:

Barbarian Invasions. A real suprise.

Son's Room. Italy's greatest contemporary director Nani Moretti goes 'serious'.

Evil. Tightly constructed film about how violence begats violence. Narrative packs one hell of a punch.

Stone's Alexander and WTF. Alexander is a sprawling mess but when it's good, it's very good.
WTF is interesting and was underappreciated as a Stone-gone-soft movie. But, the subtext is quite interesting, even 'subversive', for the male heroes are utterly helpless throughout the movie--like babies in wombs or pregnant women--while their women-above-ground function in an active 'male' way. It's not so much about gungho aspects but of the vulnerability of heroism.

My Architect. Son seeks out his late dad--architect Louis Kahn--private individual vs legendary artist, and gains a inner peace. The message may be a somewhat leftist, like in the movie A WORLD APART: children shouldn't be so 'greedy' for their parent's attention if the parents were meant to do GREAT THINGS for all mankind. A message of BLAME IT ON FIDEL also.

This is England. A revealing and fascinating movie about skinhead culture and its relations to the far right in the 70s or 80s. Interesting to learn that there was no single monolithic skinhead culture.

Scanner Darkly. Another brilliant alternative-animation from Linklater. Funny, frightening, creepy, cool.

Into the West. Sean Penn knows how to make movies. Wanderlust movie where a young man escapes/searches and finds his little heaven/hell.

Pusher Trilogy. Don't use drugs.

Blade Runner Final Cut. All the screws finally in place. Fantastic.

All About Lily Chou-Chou. Confusing and confused but offers a glimpse of broken rhythms of modern youth reality warped by electronica.

We Were Soldiers. Stock characters but the battle scenes kick you in the guts.

Blackhawk Down. Filmmaking as logistics than as storytelling but Scott wins his stars.

Forsyte Saga. Okay, TV drama but wonderfully produced and acted.

Rocky Balboa. Ok, not a great movie by any means but the only sequel with the charm and magic of the first movie--except the ludicrous fighting part.

Zatoichi. Unnecessary remake of the classic series but interesting nevertheless, what with Kitano pulling another zany stunt.

Brave One. Not great but revealing as to how white liberals really feel about urban dangers. Foster covered herself pretty good by making her lover a hindu, the attackers hispanics, and the good cop a black guy.

Amazing Chabrol continues to make top-notch movies: Merci Pour Le Chocolat, Flower of Evil, Comedy of Power.

The General. Boorman's gangter film is perhaps the grimmest, bleakest, and most realistic of them all.

Open Range. If only for Duvall's performance.

Wendy and Lucy. If only for the dog.

Bubba Ho-Tep. If only for the priceless DVD commentary by the King himself.

Capturing the Friedmans. Good for laughs.

Diary of the Dead. Romero finally gets it right again.

Cloverfield. Strangely affecting and romantic, about a young yuppie risking it all to save his goil.

Proposition. Aussie Western. Bruising!

Devil Wears Prada. Blissful.

Chasing Sleep. Genuinely unnerving and freaky. Lynchian.

Session 9. Maybe a bad movie but makes you feel like you're losing your mind.

Shaolin Soccer and Kung Fu Hustle. Uneven but some very big laughs.

Pistol Opera. Nonsense movie but highly eccentric.

Blood and Bones. Kitano goes crazy again.

Brother. Little yakuza guy in LA beats up blacks and Latinos. Funny as hell.

Last Samurai, Collateral, Valkyrie: If only because Cruise looks magnificent in them.

Eric said...

I liked Master and Commander for action and Wall-e for comedy.

blue anon said...

Middletown Girl, when can we get married?

Anonymous said...

Can't believe no one mentioned the Wrestler. That and sideways were my favorite for the decade.

Middletown Girl said...

"I nominate 'The Aviator' to your list."

Aviator, Avatar. Is Cameron the Howard Hughes of Hollywood Filmmaking? Is his latest movie like Hughes's largest plane ever built? Why not? Cameron made a movie about the largest ship ever built than sunk in the ocean... but it soared at the box office. If he can raise the Titanic, maybe he can raise entire galaxies.

blue anon said...

To me, almost of the movies named here were bad to wretched, not worth seeing for free.

Mystic River was pretty great.

Gangs of New York was bizarre and surreal in a mysterious, coulda-been-real way. (Usually, "surreal" means, to me, "crap.") But it was not great.

Bourne Identity was better than Bond as war/conflict uebermensch porn.

Mulholland Drive was one of the worst movies ever made.

New World, by my favorite of all directors, was terrible.

The Departed was watchable, passable macho power porn

Lives of Others was boring.

Children of Men, quite an entertaining pulp flick, meaningless.

All the Wes Anderson movies of this decade sucked.

I didn't see any of the movies mentioned by Kylie, nor Momento.

Thin Red Line and Pulp Fiction will be immortal. Movies from the 00s won't. Anyway, one jerk's opinion, think of it what you will.

Anonymous said...

I was busy having babies at the beginning of the decade but I'll go by those I thought enough of to add to my DVD collection (I am highly biased towards action movies - yes I'm a prole):

Best movie I saw this year (very slim pickings):
Inglourious Basterds (Up was a Close #2)

For the Decade (in no order):
Batman Begins
Gladiator
The Departed
Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle
The Entire Bourne Trilogy
Elizabeth
Pirates of the Caribbean
Transformers
Casino Royale
The Departed

Anonymous said...

I like some of Middletown Girl's movie critiques but her best of list is full of crap.

"Ghost World"? The Dan Clowes comics were great, the movie was a disappointing mess whose only virtue was introducing Scarlett Johannson.

"Diary of the Dead"? Laughably dumb attempt at social commentary with ridiculously amateurish dialogue and cliched one-dimensional characters. Romero throws in his usual left-wing politics too (right-wingers exploiting the zombie plague to drum up anti-immigrant sentiment, evil rednecks killing zombies for fun, etc.).

"Into the West" haven't seen it but I'm pretty sure you got the title wrong.

"Devil Wears Prada": okay, I guess she is a chick after all. Slick and shallow by-the-numbers Hollywood piffle.

I agree about Chabrol, though. Liked the one he made about an Italian-French couple doing a play in Paris, can't think of the title.

Carolyn said...

My standard of judging is based on what I liked well enough to add to my DVD collection. I am heavily biased towards actions movies (yes, I'm a prole):

Best movie this year (very slim pickings) - Inglourious Basterds (Up was a close #2)

Best of the Decade (in no order):
Gladiator
The Departed
Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle
Casino Royale
The Bourne Trilogy
Elizabeth
Transformers
Pirates of the Carribean
Batman Begins (so much better than Dark Knight)

Middletown Girl said...

Many mentioned Idiocracy, and I admit it is pretty funny, but it's a one-joke movie. It fizzles after the hilarious courtroom scene.

Besides, Idiocracy is only mildly 'conservative' and seems happily resigned to the future it depicts. And, it is a pro-'miscegenist' movie with a badass black president with white women and with Luke Wilson marrying the mulatto black woman.

Btw, I'm not sure that the movie is necessarily about the future. It could be about NOW. Wilson is supposed to be the SMARTEST guy in the world, and thus the message is the world should follow his advice. Well, who are the smartest people in America today? Jews, right? Isn't the neocon and liberal Jewish message that AIPAC and the likes of Paul Krugman and Cass the Ass Sunstein should rule or guide our lives? And who is our president?
We have a black president with largely Jewish advisors. In the movie, you have a black president whose main adviser is the SMARTEST GUY IN THE WORLD.

Liberal Jews have forged this alliance--largely symbolic but also moral and historical--between blacks and Jews. Their ideal is black charisma + Jewish brains should rule society. Hollywood and Music Industry run that way too. Largely Jewish suits, largely black talent. Much the same in sports. And now in national politics.

Idiocracy is too laughing and loving of this reality. It doesn't offer much for us white gentiles.

Anonymous said...

And it's painful for me to watch movies made in the last century, especially the ones that celebrate America's future technological progress. I find 2001: A Space Odyssey to be particularly depressing.

How did you get a pro-technology message from that movie?

Thursday said...

2046 is far superior to the original In the Mood for Love. (Everyone should also check out Wong's Chungking Express.)

I didn't know that Miyazaki's version of Howl's Moving Castle was from 2004. I assumed it came before Princess Mononoke and was then rereleased in North America after PM was a such a big hit. HMC is a wonderful film, way superior to Spirited Away, which looks gorgeous, but is otherwise a complete mess.

Nanonymous said...

John Craig wrote:
Eastern Promises. Grittily realistic

What? This is one if the least realistic movies ever

incredibly well-acted

You gotta be kidding. Wooden to the core from absolutely everyone. Watts' worst role by far.

great plot

What's great about it?

Here is the telling detail just how incredibly sloppy it is. The scene in the restaurant. French actor Vincent Cassel who plays Russian criminal answers a question from a Russian boy ("who is this?" - in Russian, of course) in French "Que? Ces't panda, panda!" Refer to IMDB's goof page for a long list of more. Sloppy work invariably correlates with shitty work. Not surprising that no one, not director, not editors, not critics noticed this goof.

Sorry, couldn't resist. I just don't get how Cronenberg, who basically made 1.5 good films, gets away with so much from gullible audience.

Watson said...

I hardly see any movies because I hate feeling ripped off, which most of the time I do - the amount of junk that makes it to the screen revolts me, as does the propagandistic BS that most mainstream movies foist off on us.

One movie I'd recommend is "Hero", which is basically about the unification of China.

I think it highlights - perhaps unintentionally - a basic difference between Chinese and Western culture/peoples: the chinese value unity and conformity far more than we do.

It was also very artistically presented.

I think its immeasurably better than Crouching Tiger, which I thought was just a series of asian movie-making cliches strung together.

greenrivervalleyman said...

First off, Merry Christmas To All! and a big thank you to our host for the fun, "gift" thread.

My movie watching dropped off precipitously this decade, yet from reading everyone else's comments it doesn't look like I missed much.

So my picks for best of the decade are:

Lord of the Rings trilogy. Absolutely the greatest epic series since Star Wars. Peter Jackson's lame attempts at comedy ("No one tosses a dwarf!") still grate, yet after watching it with my kids without the source material still fresh in my brain I have to admit his alterations make for a tighter, stronger film. And of course Aragorn's "men of the West" speech should give any true paleo or trad gooseflesh.

Capote. Perfectly, understatedly directed. The fact that such a senseless crime occurred in the heart of America's "Happy Days"-era and in the heart of that era's most wholesome stretch of territory (i.e. the Midwest farmbelt) has always haunted me.

Ocean's 11 trilogy. Fun, stylish, retro-entertainment from a more adult era.

Avatar-

just kidding!

Yet it's obvious now that the '90's (particularly the years '93-'97) were a mini-golden age for American cinema and blow this entire decade out of the water. Sideways? That would have been considered a mercy-watch back then, something to catch on Bravo after the initial theatrical run. I still remember just popping into a local theater once and, without any plan, getting to see two films of the quality of Ice Storm and Sweet Hereafter back-to-back. Box of Moonlight, probably the film most comparable to Sideways in style and attitude, was a very minor blip on that era's radar thanks to the overall quality of the market.

Carolyn said...

My list of Honorable Mentions:

Stranger than Fiction
In Bruges
Saw
Blood Diamond
In Her Shoes
Layer Cake
Cloverfield
District 9
Mean Girls
Shrek 2
Harry Potter Series

Anonymous said...

I agree with Master and Commander. What I found interesting about the movie - apart from aspects that have already been noted - is how deftly the film-makers side-stepped the thoroughly un-PC aspects of the novels, by setting it entirely at sea and making the whole cast white men, apart from some extras.

l said...

We Were Soldiers. Stock characters but the battle scenes kick you in the guts.

Uh, no. Unwatchable. It was like a John Waters spoof of a John Wayne movie, without Waters' humor. The battle scenes were a 10 year old boy's idea of heroics. Rat-tat-tat!

Anonymous said...

I could never take Gladiator seriously if only because it sounds like Glad-he-ate-her.

gucci mane fan said...

Muholland Drive, The New World, and Miami Vice

Anonymous said...

Most of your picking trite, well-made, but fairly dull and depressing fare - who wants to watch that in a movie? I mean punch drunk love and eternal sunshine of the spotless mind - beat me over the head with boredeom please.

Also, Lord of the rings was the most boring movie I've ever seen (the first one, never saw the rest obviously).

This is the problem with movie reviewers. Movies should be watched primarily for entertainment value. On that score, all my favorite movies are either thrillers involving multiple plot twists or comedies. Of course, that doesn't mean I like overly simplified plots with lots of holes or that are otherwise not super interesting like Dark Knight, Sideways, or Inside Man. In any case, the best movies I recall off the top of my head:

Little Miss Sunshine
Training Day
The Others
The Skeleton Key
The Hangover
Transsiberian - awesome
Unbreakable
Austin Powers Goldmember
Pirates of the Caribbean
About a Boy - #1
Old School
Love Actually
Meet the Parents
Jackass 2
Disturbia
Cast Away
Vanilla Sky

Honorable Mentions (too cheesy or not quite entertaining enough to be classified above):

Chuck and Larry
Knocked Up
I, Robot
I am Legend
Up
Whole Nine Yards
Hurricane
Crouching Tiger
Royal Tenenbaums
Road to Perdition
Chicago
The Departed

Middletown Girl said...

"'Mulholland Dr.' had just the right mix of David Lynch's self-indulgence and flop sweat-induced logic... The only improvement I'd suggest is that the first part should not be a dream, but should instead be a failed would-be star's self-glorifying screenplay."

But, it is BOTH. Lynch is onto something: that a person's inner-life is a private Hollywood with its dreams, heroes, villains, pimps, rats, light, darkness, etc.
Because Selwyn wants to be a Hollywood star, her dreams and fantasies take on the form of screenplays or movies. Consciously and unconsciously, she plots out an elaborate psycho-drama in her mind. And due to drugs and/or depression, she can't differentiate between dream and reality, fiction and facts. So, the first 2/3 is not just a dream. It is a dreamplay aching to be a movie.

Middletown Girl said...

Or, it is a dreamplay aching to be a movie aching to be real life.

Anonymous said...

"Barbarian Invasions. A real suprise. "

Second that, it was a masterpiece and should resonate with the gang here.

Middletown Girl said...

Dear Wendy by Vinterberg. A sharp prickly study of American fascination with gun culture and devolution into youth violence. Lots of fascinating themes here: white male fear of the black male; white male's idealization of the gun into a symbol; white man's construction of rules and regulations--and the concept of the sacred--to maintain advantage over the black guy; conflict between white will to power and white will to follow. A leftist film--like 99% of all the movies--, but a non-PC one.

Can't say it's really a good movie but certainly an instructive and revealing one.

Glossy said...

OT: Tired Harry Reid votes no on health bill

"Clearly exhausted, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid mistakenly voted no before changing his vote to yes, which got a laugh in the chamber, especially from Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell."

Steve, I think you've written before about an insider telling you that Harry Reid was the most senile of all the senators.

jimbo said...

I can't believe no one here has mentioned "District 9", in which a South African makes a nakedly pro-apartheid movie and the great and good (who can't even conceive of such a thing) all walked out convinced it was an anti-apartheid movie...

greenrivervalleyman said...

Actually, now that I think about it, it seems this is a trick question. The best scripted narratives of the decade were of course all on cable TV. Consider the fact that even former B-list network Showtime has more quality titles to its credit than any major studio.

Here are my favorites of the decade:

Sopranos
Deadwood
Band of Brothers
Rome
6 Feet Under
The Wire
John Adams
Weeds
Dexter
Californication
Tudors
Weeds
Mad Men
Friday Night Lights

OneSTDV said...

I tend to remember bad movies much more than I remember good movies.

Last summer, I rented a movie thinking it had a shot at being decent. It was from 2002 and based on a book written by Bret Easton Ellis.

The movie: "Rules of Attraction". If this isn't the worst piece of art ever created, I don't know what is.

Runnerup: Cloverfield (Youtube doesn't translate to the big screen) and Juno (sarcasm is just grating for teenage girls).

When thinking of the best, The Departed instantly came to mind, though I just watched it again on FX.

Guilty pleasure: Mean Girls.

OneSTDV said...

I also hated Eternal Sunshine: the most SWPL movie ever, along with anything by Darren Aronsky.

Great movies: Gran Torino, Training Day, 25th hour, Babel (yea it's overt "we are the world..." propaganda, but it was still really good)

I'm disappointed I can't think of a really great superhero or scifi movie. Superman Returns was a huge disappointment and Spiderman 3 could have been amazing, but they condensed 3 movies into one. Terminator 3 never happened, same with the last two Matrix sequels. Atrocious all of them.

And having trouble thinking of a good sports movie. Rocky Balboa was better than Rocky V (which never happened either), but just ridiculously absurd.

OneSTDV said...

@ jimbo:

I just watched District 9. I'm not getting the pro-apartheid tilt. Please explain your interpretation of it.

Mr. Anon said...

1.) Master and Commander (2003): A magnificently done period piece with great special effects (never thought I wasn't looking at real ships), great writing, acting, and directing, and unapologetic in portraying white, european military men as honorable and admirable men.

2.) The Count of Monte Cristo (2002): a fast paced and elegant retelling of the story, with a great performance by Jim Caviezel as the Count, and Guy Pearce as his nemesis. Also a good performance by Richard Harris. Also a very moral movie as well. This one was widely overlooked. Go see it - it's great.

3.) Blackhawk Down (2001): Exceptionally well told war story about a battle which was unimportant in itself, but important for what it presaged for our country. Ridley Scott's second best movie (after The Duelists). It's also non-stop thrilling, although it's hard to watch in places.

4.) Zodiac (2007): David Fincher's movie, although not entirely accurate, captures the feel of that time and place (late 60s / early 70s Bay Area) very well, and the fear occasioned by those events. It's a pretty creepy movie.

5.) The Illusionist (2006): Mesmerizing story about a magician in fin-de-siecle Austro-Hungarian Empire. Edward Norton, Paul Giamatti, and Rufus Sewell are all very good in it. The script is subtle and intelligent.

6.) Catch Me If You Can (2005): Light piece of entertainment. DiCaprio does his usual outstanding job, and Spielberg can turn out a good film in his sleep. The musical score was good too.

7.) The Incredibles (2004): I second what others have said about this one.

8.) The Bourne Identity (2002?): Gritty, fast-paced spy story. Not to believable of course, but entertaining. Matt Damon is a good actor, even if he is a snide jerk.

9.) Valkyrie (2008): Well told. gripping. And I believe it was, mostly, accurate. Tom Cruise does a good job. Plus he dies at the end.

10.) Dodgeball (2004): Comedies are supposed to be funny, yet most aren't. This movie was funny.

Honorable Mention:

Open Range, Frost/Nixon, that movie with Richard Gere about Howard Hughes (or rather, not about Howard Hughes), Idiocracy

TD said...

@OneSTDV

The best sports movie of the decade may have been this 2-minute gem by Guy Ritchie:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=anwlpTgbQTE

It's certainly a masterpiece on the technical level, and for absolutely nailing the real feel of on-field action.

And it's got the Eagles of Death Metal, for heaven's sake.

Gucci mane fan said...

The New World: indulgent and boring... if you are resistant to "art films," were tricked by the marketing campaign into expecting a historical epic war movie, or some combination of the above. However, if you accept Malick's premise, the lush cinematography keys you into his artistic PC direction. (for those attempting to read a standard pc liberal message here, while it doesn't matter, Malick is almost certainly working at a much more elemental narrative level).

Miami Vice: the purest distillation of Mann's macho aesthetic. The dialogue and narrative are so superfluous as to be hardly worth recounting -- instead, we revel in the shots. The action scenes reverberate with an unmatched force and the romance scenes favor visual over dialogue based story-telling. One of the decade's premier art film masquerading as an average action film... although it seems Mann intended as much, titling it as he did when in reality it has almost nothing to do with the eponymous show.

Muholland Drive: What more needs to be said? Film, as Steve has noted before, has traditionally failed at expressing its character's internal emotional experience -- the strength of literature. Lynch achieves an intimacy with Betty/Diane by exposing the viewer directly to her embarrassing unconscious self conception before pulling away the curtain...

These are the main movies that stick out in memory for this decade, although I'm sure I could think of others. For a top 10 list, I would have to chose something by the Cohen brothers, probably favoring "O Brother Where Art Tho" for Clooney's excellent comedic turn, although everything they make has the powerful sense of craft that makes it worth watching. "2046" was pretty great; "City of God" I found to be the best crime drama. Pixar leaves me flat, as does "There Will be Blood."

- gucci mane fan

Anonymous said...

I don't know if these are the best movies of the year but they are certainly the TOP movies by popularity or notoriety.

1. Obama the Messiah.

2. 9/11 blockbuster.

3. "Shock and Awe".

4. Sarah from the Tundra.

5. "Mission Accomplished"

6. House of Cards bubble.

7. The Wise Latina.

8. Cheney goes hunting and bags a white guy if not Osama.

9. Tiger the hunter gets hunted.

10. Katrina and the Waves.

Eric said...

Jimbo, that was an anti-apartheid movie.

Anonymous said...

Some of these are repeats, some I'm surprised haven't been mentioned. Not any particular order:

1. O Brother Where Art Thou?
2. No Country for Old Men
3. Tropic Thunder
4. Away we Go
5. Blue Crush
6. Amelie
7. Super Bad
8. Darjeeling Limited
9. Cast Away
10. The Constant Gardner
11. Gone Baby Gone
12. The Borne Identity
13. Syriana
14. Vicky Cristina Barcelona
15. Match Point
16. Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon
17. The Life Aquatic

Polistra said...

I'm not much on movies, but I saw the 2006 "Nativity" on TV a few nights ago and found it highly impressive. Unlike the Left-Behind-style Christian movies, it caught the full complexity of Mary's situation; and unlike the vast majority of Hollywood products in any era, it was built on a solid foundation of Christian truth. No irony, no backhanded inside-joke snickering.

Anonymous said...

Another I forgot and one I'm surprised has gotten no mention:

Zodiac

Not as hilarious as Capturing the Friedmans, but still funny.

Anonymous said...

District 9 - I dont know if its a nakedly pro-apartheid movie.

However Steve's review pointed out that the director himself said it was white dispossesion in SA and not a pro-immigration/tolerating differnce blah blah film - which is what the unwashed herd of regular reviewers wanted it to be aboput.

Christopher Paul said...

jimbo said...

I can't believe no one here has mentioned "District 9"


It's been mentioned at least three times.

I'm surprised no one's brought up "The 40-Year-Old Virgin," a film that marked a sort of turning point mid-decade toward serious-themes-with-dick-jokes and idealized-L.A.-as-the-universe type comedies (a good example of the latter being "500 Days of Summer," which I liked a lot and barely realized was set in L.A. — and I live here).

"Virgin" I also liked. Certainly it blows away some of the later efforts from that camp, drivel like "Knocked Up" and "Superbad."

"Munich" anyone? It gets no paleo love, I get that, but I found it stylish and daring. (And wasn't it mentioned in one of those Apatow flicks?)

Continuing in the vein of unmentioned movies: "The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters," a mesmerizing feel-good documentary about a nearly extinct American subculture and the characters who populate it. This one got thunderous applause in the theater where I saw it but wasn't nominated for any award that I'm aware of, what more need be said?

This decade seemed to be missing a blockbuster-cum-critical darling on the order of "Titanic." "Gladiator" came close, but it was created in, and belongs to, the 1990s. So I nominate "Spider-Man," which made about a jillion dollars and was a pro-Americana pick-me-up in the wake of 9/11.

Christopher Paul said...

jimbo said...

I can't believe no one here has mentioned "District 9"


It's been mentioned at least three times.

I'm surprised no one's brought up "The 40-Year-Old Virgin," a film that marked a sort of turning point mid-decade toward serious-themes-with-dick-jokes and idealized-L.A.-as-the-universe type comedies (a good example of the latter being "500 Days of Summer," which I liked a lot and barely realized was set in L.A. — and I live here).

"Virgin" I also liked. Certainly it blows away some of the later efforts of that camp, drivel like "Knocked Up" and "Superbad."

"Munich" anyone? It gets no paleo love, I get that, but I found it stylish and daring. (And wasn't it mentioned in one of those Apatow flicks?)

Continuing in the vein of unmentioned movies: "The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters," a mesmerizing feel-good documentary about a nearly extinct American subculture and the characters who populate it. This one got thunderous applause in the theater where I saw it but wasn't nominated for any award that I'm aware of, what more need be said?

This decade seemed to be missing a blockbuster-cum-critical darling on the order of "Titanic." "Gladiator" came close, but it was created in, and belongs to, the 1990s. So I nominate "Spider-Man," which made about a jillion dollars and was a pro-Americana pick-me-up in the wake of 9/11.

Anonymous said...

I have to go with Snakes on a Plane, costarring Samuel L. Jackson as an airplane passenger and an uruly group of snakes.

This is by far THEEE best snake movie ever made! It beats "Anaconda" by a long shot.

Edit: Just recieved an email from OneSTDV informing me that Big Black Mambas 2 is by far THEEE best snake movie ever made. Don't know about the rest of you guys but I, for one, have lost all interest in learning any more about OneSTDV's guilty pleasures :(

Ryan said...

Middletown Girl,

Adaptation was grounded in reality. Kaufman wanted to adapt a book about flowers into a film, but, as in the movie, became frustrated by the constraints of Hollywood -- the constraints of storytelling broadly, with McKee exemplifying it. So he used a metaphor, the process and nature of adaptation in general, which allowed him to tell an entertaining story that brilliantly captured and communicated the beauty of flowers AND human being. A third parallel was also created: the nature of adaptation regarding films, which he used to question how the traditional Hollywood narrative relates truthfully to life in general.

So the solipsistic "masturbation" was grounded in a meaningful truth. His self-referential method is just a means to an end. Also had wonderful acting and directing, so I'll nominate it as among decade's best. There Will Be Blood might be better, as it's perfect in every cinematic aspect, and better than the similar Citizen Kane.

Fred said...

""Munich" anyone? It gets no paleo love, I get that"

Just curious: why not? Plenty of Jews hated it, given its moral equivalency and respectful portrayal of Arab terrorists. Given that, why wouldn't paleos like it?

Middletown Girl said...

"Babel (yea it's overt 'we are the world...' propaganda, but it was still really good)"

No, it is not propaganda but a confused art movie. It doesn't say WE ARE THE WORLD but rather that globalism has connected the entire world and that human events now unfold according to chaos theory--you know, like a flutter of butterfly in one place can cause hurricanes in another. For example, it turns out that gift of a rifle by a Japanese tourist led to a chance shooting by Moroccan kids of a Western tourist.

The director has a big heart and great empathy for all involved, but the movie is actually quite bleak. There is no CRASHy sense of, 'gee, if we could only get along'. In the end, everyone remains apart. Worse, the movie shows us a world in which--though more inter-connected than ever--, a father cannot understand his daughter(Japanese), wife cannot relate to husband(American), the mother is separated from her son(Mexican).

The only thing that kinda pissed me off was the heart-tugging stuff about illegal immigration; by stranding two white kids in the desert, you get a feeling the director wass trying to make us sympathize more with illegal Mexicans. "How would it be if these were YOUR kids?" On the other hand, his depiction of Mexico and Mexicans in general--in this movie and Amores Perros--is anything but idealized or romantic.

When it's over, we don't feel a sense of 'we can teach the world to sing in perfect harmony, coca-cola' but a limited but real possibility of different cultures or with different problems coming to some degree of understanding.

Middletown Girl said...

"5.) The Illusionist (2006): Mesmerizing story about a magician in fin-de-siecle Austro-Hungarian Empire. Edward Norton, Paul Giamatti, and Rufus Sewell are all very good in it. The script is subtle and intelligent."

This is Art Fil-um trash. Look beneath its precious amber-lit mystique peddling, and it's nothing more than soulful-Jewish-guy-saves-lovely-goy-damsel-from-good-looking-but-cold-hearted-goy-bastard. The only interesting thing about this movie is the reversal of intellectual loyalties. It used to be that secular Jews stood for rational & scientific progress against the old order standing for Kultur and spiritual sanctity/mystery. In this movie, the son-a-bitch aristocrat is the rationalist while the main hero is a spiritualist. Of course, the character of the illusionist isn't spelled out as a Jew, but his cultural significance is unmistakable. And the message? The creative brilliant Jew is a better lover than a thick-skulled and heartless goy brute. Just an artsy version of MAN ON THE MOON except less honest and less fun.


"6.) Catch Me If You Can (2005): Light piece of entertainment. DiCaprio does his usual outstanding job, and Spielberg can turn out a good film in his sleep. The musical score was good too."

Spielberg, though a mainstream director, has been no less Jewishy in his themes than Woody Allen. Close Encounters is really about modern Moses chosen by higher beings. The Terminal is about the rootless and persecuted role of the Jew in the world. Catch Me If You Can, though not blatantly Jewish--nor even necessarily about a Jewish character--, is about the Jewish situational conundrum in the modern world. Jews have often credited their skills in finance and banking on having been forbidden to own land, thus being forced to survive by their wits, cunning, and hustling.
In Catch Me If You Can, Spielberg shows us a guy for whom counterfeiting and swindling have become a habit, so much so that he continues to do them even he no longer has to. It's not so much about money but identity and angry pride.
It could be Spielberg was making a point about modern Jews. Jews have been moneychangers and hustlers for so long that they cannot stop even if they wanted to.

We sense that the kid in the movie turned to crime because of lack of affection and belonging--emotional rootedness--in a fixed time and place.
The implication is that Jews are obsessed about money and fluid power because they've never been able to feel at home in single place or time. Thus, the movie could be both a critical analysis and an apology for the Jewish mindset--the Wall Street and Hollywood swindlers of the world.

It's as if Spielberg is saying, 'yeah, we Jews have this brilliant but nasty obsession with money and trickery, but it's because we've been persecuted and forced to deal in professions such as usury and other cunning activities for too long--to the point where it's become part of our soul'.

michael farris said...

While everyone loves the Lives of Others for its portrayal of Eastern European communist era paranoia, I would nominate the very small scale and small budget Romanian movie "12:08 East of Bucharest" for the best portrayal of post communist Eastern European paranoia.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0809407/

Set in a very unlovely small town in the hinterlands (Romanian Moldavia) the first half introduces the three main characters in a rambling, happenstance way and the second half is a live low-budget local tv call-in talk show the three participate in (as host and guests) on the anniversary of the Romanian "revolution". the Romanian title translates as 'was it or wasn't it?'

The behavior of the panelists and their callers is a catalogue of self-delusion, self-justification, made in an atmosphere of threats and recrimination where even intended attempted acts of kindness are liable to become occasions for cruelty and humiliation.

I've seen better movies in the last decade but none have stuck in memory quite like this one.

Anonymous said...

"Beijing Bicycle" is an excellent movie about rapidly changing China: rising materialism, Westenization of youth culture, conflict between city-dwellers and arrivals from the village. Comparable to Bicycle Thieves.

"Together" is another fine Chinese movie though it gets a bit sappy at times.

Zhang Yimou's "House of Flying Daggers", "Hero", and "Curse of the Golden Flower" are trash, but "Riding Alone" is a fine humanist movie about the need for personal as well as political reform in China.

Anonymous said...

"Darwin's Nightmare" is an anti-Western, anti-capitalist, and anti-globalist movie, but sometimes the images speak louder than words. Looks to me like that part of Africa is really messed up because of the people there. So, the reality in the movie has something to do with Darwinism but not like the director meant it.

"Liberia, an Uncivil War" is another film that tries to tag the blame for the problems in that country on the West--especially the uncaring West--, but again, images speak louder than words. 90%of Liberians simply come across as crazy.

TD said...

>>> I can't believe no one here has mentioned "District 9"

>> It's been mentioned at least three times.

Well, keep in mind the comment moderation here. The title may well have been unmentioned at the time the commenter made his observation. In fact, by the time you read this very comment, someone else may already have made the point I'm making.

Mr. Anon said...

"Christopher Paul said...

"Munich" anyone? It gets no paleo love, I get that, but I found it stylish and daring. (And wasn't it mentioned in one of those Apatow flicks?)"

I forgot to mention Munich. It was one of the more stand-out movies of the last decade. It was a well made movie (as indeed is everything now by Spielberg - one of the few remaining directors who still makes movies rather than video games), and reminded me of those old international thrillers from the 70s (Day of the Jackal, Odessa File, Black Sunday etc.). The only problem with it was that it was mostly bogus - the whole idea of a private, mom-and-pop french intelligence outfit that provides the Mossad with all of it's intelligence was laughable. I don't know how anyone (the producers, the screenwriters, or the publishers of the book the movie was based on) could have believed that story. I'm sure there is a real interesting story behind Israel's campaign of vengence after Munich - but this is almost certainly not it.

I would disagree on the praise here for Gladiator. I thought it was a boring, overblown, and ahistorical piece of crap (Commodus wasn't killed in the Colloseum). I'm surprised that nobody reviewing it, even professional reviewers, noticed that it was largely ripped-off from "The Fall of the Roman Empire", one of those international cast-of-thousands movies made in the 1960s.

Harry Baldwin said...

Steve,

Thanks for not listing your Top Ten Movies. Reading other people's lists reminds me how pointless this exercise is. You're either thinking, "Yeah, that was a good movie," or "Are you kidding? That movie sucked."

So then what? Are our minds changed?

Let's! said...

My favorite movie of the decade was "All About Steve (Sailer)."

The title character, an intepid, middle-aged blogger, tries to buddy up with the "cool guys" of the blogging scene and get into the best blogging discos.

Watch as he butters up Instapundit, who treacherously reveals himself to be...a neocon. Boooo!

Then, he invites Mark Steyn to hit the links with him. But Steyn can't be bothered...Fox News keeps calling him to fill in for Hannity, his cabin is snowed in, etc.

Burned, he turns to a younger protege, Colby Cosh, who just might appreciate Steve's old-salt wisdom. But Colby's career hits a ceiling and proud Uncle Steve has to move on.

Finally, the mysterious, unattainable War Nerd flirts with Steve. Monthly missives by Steve to the enigmatic character electrify our monitors. Who are you? Can I interview you? War Nerd plays hard to get, Bush's Surge succeeds, and the bromance just is not to be.

Without any big-name champions, Steve learns there is no point in clinging to the cool kids. For a while he even unilaterally identifies them as proteges, pointing to various columns in the New York Times and saying, "They'll never admit it, but they got that idea from me!"

When all seems lost, Steve gets a call. It's his buddy through thick and thin, The Derb. Steve and Derb enjoy an afternoon of number-crunching.

Derb lifts Steve into his arms, as Steve proclaims, "All you have to do is find someone who's as normal as you are!"

Sandra Bullock, watching the movie, thinks that would be a great line for a flick.

Steve's screenwriting royalties go through the roof, and he uses his newfound riches to found The Gentile Oscars.

THE END

Anonymous said...

For me, the test of a good film is whether you would like to watch it again, right now. I've seen a lot of the films you folks have mentioned, & most of them were completely forgettable. There is only a tiny handful that I would volunteer to re-watch right now, or for that matter, ever: The Incredibles, The Lives of Others, Spirited Away, Casino Royale, Batman Begins. For the others, once was either enough or too much.

Middletown Girl said...

HOUSE OF MIRTH. Saw this a bunch of times. Scorsese's AGE OF INNOCENCE may have the visual edge but HOUSE is more heartfelt and scaled better.

DISTANT. Excellent Turkish movie about a society at a crossroads between Western modernity and crude provincialism.

SPIDER. Neat Freudian thriller.

THE WORLD. Somewhat dull but stark look at the underside of globalism and materialism.

ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES. One of the finest westerns ever--or a southern.

YIYI. Thoughtful movie about middle class life in modern Asia.

TALK TO HER. Minor Almodovar but endearing(despite the perversity)just the same.

Movies I should have seen but didn't:

Saraband, Vera Drake, Platform, Tailor of Panama, etc.

Highly praised movie I can't stand:

MAGNOLIA. Has style to burn but what a bunch of ninnies who should be bitchslapped.

I'M NOT THERE. The Dylan-movie jinx continues. Just about any movie touched by Dylan turns to dross, exceptions being Don't Look Back, Pat Garret, and No Direction Home. Okay, Masked and Anonymous wasn't terrible.

CACHE. Shocking/gripping but it finally boils down to 'blame it all on whitey'.

Anonymous said...

Middletown Girl said... "Vanilla Sky" No, no, no... No poetry, all bombast.

Sweetness Follows as a prelude to a vanilla sky morning in a dream... I'm a brazilian living in a huge city of 20 million. I know poetry when I see it.

RD said...

Some of my favs of the decade:

Brotherhood of the Wolf (Le Pacte des loups)
The Dark Knight
Good Bye, Lenin!
Blood Diamond
No Country for Old Men
There Will Be Blood
The Bourne Trilogy
Syriana
28 Days Later
Catch Me If You Can
Master and Commander
3:10 to Yuma
Gran Torino
Blow

David Davenport said...

... This decade seemed to be missing a blockbuster-cum-critical darling on the order of "Titanic." "Gladiator" came close, but it was created in, and belongs to, the 1990s. ...

The 2005-06 HBO series "Rome" is better than "Gladiator." We've been watching "Rome" on DVd the past few days.

Ron Guhname said...

The best movie I saw this past decade was Hitchcock's 1946"Notorious" that I caught on TCM.

Anonymous said...

Some good conventional movies:

Daddy Day Care

Marley and Me

Middletown Girl said...

"I'm a brazilian living in a huge city of 20 million. I know poetry when I see it."

Does 'poetry' mean poverty in Portuguese?

Middletown Girl said...

"Adaptation was grounded in reality. Kaufman wanted to adapt a book about flowers into a film, but, as in the movie, became frustrated by the constraints of Hollywood -- the constraints of storytelling broadly, with McKee exemplifying it."

Just think, Ryan. What kind of person grounded in reality decides to make a movie about a freaking flower and entertains notions that Hollywood--of all places--would be supportive of his project?

OF COURSE, Kaufman intended his project to be a circular game where reality turns into fiction into reality into fiction into reality ad finitum until we no longer know which is which nor give a shit.

Michael Ventura said...

I’ll once again second Middletown Girl, this time on Dear Wendy.

It was fascinating how the characters in the declining mining town had their lives stalked and altered by a fear of gangs the existence of which was never confirmed.

Also interesting how the young Gun Nut Pacifists idealized the past, and how the film presented a slightly off “Non-American” view of America.

Anonymous said...

Here's a thought, let's not let people named fauruk on airplanes unless they swear that Mohammad was gay.

Chris said...

Fred said...

""Munich" anyone? It gets no paleo love, I get that"

Just curious: why not? Plenty of Jews hated it, given its moral equivalency and respectful portrayal of Arab terrorists. Given that, why wouldn't paleos like it?


Steve Sailer himself commented, in his review of "Munich," that "true believers on both sides will be infuriated by Spielberg's even-handedness."

It would seem so. But I'm sure that the Israeli triumphalism was more appealing, on average, to Jews than to paleocons, who are well represented here in Steve's comment threads and have indeed omitted the film as a top movie.

Middletown Girl said...

""Munich" anyone? It gets no paleo love, I get that"

"Just curious: why not? Plenty of Jews hated it, given its moral equivalency and respectful portrayal of Arab terrorists. Given that, why wouldn't paleos like it?"

"Steve Sailer himself commented, in his review of "Munich," that 'true believers on both sides will be infuriated by Spielberg's even-handedness.'"

"It would seem so. But I'm sure that the Israeli triumphalism was more appealing, on average, to Jews than to paleocons, who are well represented here in Steve's comment threads and have indeed omitted the film as a top movie."

--------------

Munich is very well-made--which Spielberg film isn't?--, but it didn't fool me for a second. It is a totally pro-Zionist film, and I believe most Jews who criticized it were just faking it.

The film does NOT present an even-handed treatment of both sides. At most, the film doesn't dehumanize nor monster-ize the Arab terrorists like most other Hollywood movies do, but this can also be said of Schindler's List or Saving Private Ryan in regards to the Germans. Notice that neither WWII movie dehumanized the Nazis as less than human. They were presented as humans acting monstrously than as non-human monsters.
Munich similarly doesn't present Arabs as monsters, but the entire narrative is framed by the beginning and the ending which, in effect, justify the grisly acts of vengeance carried out by the Israelis throughout the movie. The framing of the movie makes it impossible for us to see movie as even-handed. ALL SAID AND DONE, the movie says the Israelis MUST ACT viciously because it's up against an enemy that wants to wipe out the Jewish race. If you want an even-handed and truly ambiguous handling of this subject, see LITTLE SOLDIER GIRL.
(Besides, the movie also meticulously shows us that the Israelis take the greatest care not to kill innocents whereas Arabs indiscriminately attack all Israelis. Yeah, that sure was the case in the recent Gaza war.)

Also, guys like Spielberg and Kushner--and a whole bunch of liberal Jews--take pride in having made an 'even-handed movie', as if to say, 'we Jews are so fair, sophisticated, and open-minded that we can see BOTH SIDES of the story.'

But, is it really even-handed? Sure, some Arabs are shown to have a pleasant side, but none of it matters after the flashback scene near the end where we see the slow-motion killing of the Israeli athletes by the Arabs. All said and done, it is an apologia for the Mossad--that it must fight dirty because the enemy fights even dirtier--even kills innocent athletes.

"Even-handedness" is sometimes just another propaganda weapon because it fools people into thinking they are watching not propaganda but truthful art. Munich is 'even-handed' in the way that Battle of Algiers is even-handed. ALGIERS doesn't present the French as monsters and it even has an admirable French commander and scenes where French innocents get slaughtered. But, all said and done, there's no mistaking which side Pontecorvo roots for. Same with his follow-up movie BURN! with Brando. Brando is presented as a charismatic and even sympathetic figure, but all said and done, the movie's message is white man such as he must pay the price for the crimes of imperialism.

Of course, one can argue that some propaganda are so brilliant that they qualify as art too. ALGIERS certainly is both a work of propaganda and art, just like Battleship Potemkin and Triumph of the Will.

Middletown Cliffnotes Girl said...

CATCH ME IF YOU CAN = BERNIE MADOFF.

CJ said...

Another thumb up here for The Barbarian Invasions which is a severely neglected and underrated movie despite its 2003 Oscar. Mark Steyn has been talking it up because of its portrayal of Canadian and American medicine, but there's much more there. It's a movie made by members of the 1968 generation that attacks all of the most cherished illusions and fantasies of that era and of the superannuated adolescent boomers still stuck in it. Incredibly, it's a product of the Quebec French intelligentsia and was made with financial support from the Quebec City and Ottawa governments. Just as District 9 expressed ideas so unacceptable to the politically correct that they couldn't bring themselves to acknowledge that was really what they had seen, so it is/was with The Barbarian Invasions. A masterpiece really, an astonishing act of courage on the part of its auteur, a must-see.

I watch movies in flurries; some years I'll see a couple dozen, other years maybe none. I do catch some more on DVD (watching with an itchy eject finger). I don't see enough films to make any lists. Animated movies are indeed generally superior to those wih "real" actors but that's largely due to Pixar's high quality. Up is probably the best movie they've ever made. I'm indebted to this site for informing me about Idiocracy, which is probably the funniest comedy of the decade after Team America: World Police.

Anonymous said...

Gee, I'm shocked that nobody's mentioned the Romanian abortion movie (4 months 3 weeks 2 days). Most of the liberal female film critics have it in their top 10.

Ray Sawhill said...

They're still making new movies? Why?

Chip said...

Since no one has mentioned it, I'll throw in my vote for Taxi Driver -- er, I mean, "Observe and Report." Film of the year, hands down. Jody Hill's body of work poses a promising response/reaction to the winky-wink trend that Agnostic rightly targets in his pop-cult curmudgeonry. Hill uses "meta" tropes to subvert the same. His work is wonderfully dark and comical yet deeply sincere.

Kylie said...

Harry Baldwin said: " Reading other people's lists reminds me how pointless this exercise is. You're either thinking, "Yeah, that was a good movie," or "Are you kidding? That movie sucked."

So then what? Are our minds changed?"

Steve did say that "Explanations for why they are good are helpful". I agree. I included a brief summary of my responses to each film I listed, not in hopes of changing anyone's mind about a film s/he has already seen but as a way of recommending a film I found worthwhile to someone who hasn't seen or heard of it yet.

Based on recommendations here, I'll be on the lookout for several of the films listed. So a very worthwhile exercise for me, anyway.

David said...

"Munich": paleos are tired of Total Immersion in Middle Eastern conflicts. Israelis and their neighbors and their problems? What, again? Yawn.

The average member of those groups in America overestimates how interesting this stuff is to people without bloodties over there.

Bob said...

Just saw An Education last night. Didn't see it mentioned here. I gotta put that one at the top of my 2009 list. (Might be overestimating it cause I've just seen it, but I don't think so.)

The plot is lean. Intelligent girl with aspirations falls for a guy and suffers. Set in early 60s (late 50s?) England, its tension depends on a rigidity and decency of society and family of that time. Probably couldn't be set contemporary, not just because of the old-fashioned world/society tension drama, but because the central character, a young school girl, couldn't, realistically, be so smart and so innocent at the same time today.

And about that central character. She's 16/17 and I don't want to seem to pervy...but wow. It's hard to make a character that young so, again, intelligent and charming. Deeply attractive. I predict much for the actress.

Agio said...

Haven't seen a single movie this year...mostly crud, but will see "The Road".

Decade past:

No Country for Old Men
Open Range
Broken Trail
There Will Be Blood
About Schmidt
Idiocracy

and...The Devil Knows How to Ride. Off the reservation by 2yrs. (1998) Based on Daniel Woodrell's book "Woe to Live On". His more recent book "Winter's Bone" would make a fine movie...future catch-phrase from that book; "talkin' causes witnesses".

jody said...

nolan was the best director this decade and is a major talent on the level of spielberg and cameron. look at this output:

2000 memento
2002 insomnia
2005 batman begins
2006 the prestige
2008 the dark knight

in only 10 years!

Anonymous said...

1) LOTR Trilogy (extended editions, as one movie). Why is it good? Because. No further explanation needed.

2) United 93. Why is it good? Because it depicts one of the most crucial events in recent history, does so without overplaying its hand, and does so, quite often, with the people (not actors) who were actually there. If ever there were a better example of a film utilizing that medium's potential, this is it.

3) 300. Because it's history, real history (more or less), and because it gives a nice, big swift kick in the groin to political correctness. The thousand nations of the multicultural Persian Empire are due for a swift asskicking.

4) Black Hawk Down. American dogooderiness comes face-to-face with surly thirdworldist, marry-your-cousin clannishness. This movie came out within months of 9/11, and we didn't learn the lesson. But it shows American soldiers (some of them) at their best.

5) Frequency
6) Momento
7) Sherlock Holmes
8) Joyeux Noel

Come to think of it, the first four movies are fairly anti-PC. They all celebrate the martial spirit. None backslide into lefty sentiments. Minority characters are either antogonists or else, as in LOTR, completely absent.

I'm tossing in Sherlock Holmes as a guess. Haven't seen it yet, but I'm holding my breath. It's rumoured to be the beginning of a franchise. I hope it is.

These top ten lists need to be broken down. We need top ten (or twenty) action, drama, comedy, foreign-language, fantasy and anti-PC, films.

Middletown Girl said...

"Gee, I'm shocked that nobody's mentioned the Romanian abortion movie (4 months 3 weeks 2 days). Most of the liberal female film critics have it in their top 10."

Maybe a new for Romanian cinema--along with Death of Lazarescu or whatever his name is--, but France has been churing out a 100 movies like that every year since the 70s.

Middletown Cliffnotes Girl said...

'Munich' is about 'even-handed' as 'Battle of Algiers'.

Middletown Girl said...

Why I don't like LOTR Trilogy.

1. I haven't read Tolkien but the sheer size of books tells me he created a complete universe. But the movies are just an extended sword and sorcery video game. And, the bad guys are so easily defeated time and again by the good guys that we don't feel any suspense.

2. Fantasy is about mysticism, magic, and dark nature. Thus, it must look organic and natural, yet everything in LOR looks gigabyte-ish--and in a rather garishly saturated obvious way. Compare LOR with the organic feel and texture of Excalibur or the 13th Warrior.
Sci-fi can look artificial because it's all about technology, which is why Attack of the Clones doesn't suffer for being like a great videogame movie. LOR suffers because nothing really looks natural, organic, spiritual. It all looks computer-geeky.

3. Watching 100,000s of gigabyte soldiers and creatures battling one another scene after scene gets tiresome real fast.

4. How come the fat kid--servant of Fredo--doesn't lose an ounce of flab though he's had to climb mountains, go hungry, fight monsters, and etc for months on end?

----

I much prefer King Kong because there's a certain childlike innocence at the heart of it. LOR, whether Tolkien was a great writer or not, strives to be meaningful and deep, but I sensed little of it in the cliche-ridden trilogy.

Michael said...

http://www.2blowhards.com/archives/2002/12/10best_lists.html

Ray Sawhill said...

Looking over everyone's lists I realize I did in fact watch a few new movies during the 2000s ... A few pix I loved that haven't been mentioned, or mentioned much:

"You Hear Me Laughin'" -- doc about the delta blues

"Bukowski: Born Into This" -- doc about the writer Charles Bukowski

"B. Monkey" -- noir-reverie thriller showcasing a very young Asia Argento

"Be Here to Love Me" -- poetic doc about the Texas troubador Townes Van Zandt

"Fat Head" -- homemade eating-and-food doc that demolishes "Supersize Me"

"Machine Girl" -- far-out Japanese splatter comedy, in a class with "Dead Alive"

Some suspense movies I enjoyed a lot: "Shoot 'Em Up," "Cellular," "Red Eye," "With a Friend Like Harry"

"Come Early Morning" -- Ashley Judd, the working-class south, written and directed by Joey Lauren Adams

Some erotic movies that gave me a nice buzz: "Lie With Me," "Swimming Pool," "Exterminating Angels," "Secret Things," anything by Catherine Breillat

Pure genius outrageousness: "Irreversible" and "Ichi the Killer"

Random: "Being Julia," "Gilles' Wife," "YiYi," "A Prairie Home Companion"

Director of the decade: Takashi Miike

Anonymous said...

Lonesome Dove = Greatest Movie ever.

LOTR is second

Anonymous said...

don't know, but all i know is better contain a holocaust film for your sake.

Pat Vlahos said...

"Good Morning, Night" is a dark and disturbing movie based on a true story of abduction and murder of a rightwing politician by leftist radicals. Italy.

"Hidden Blade" is superior period film from Japan. Somewhat old-fashioned but nothing wrong with that in a world so obsessed with the cool and the hip.

Anonymous said...

Kwik Stop(2001), a strange little indie movie about how it's easier to procrastinate than really live. Crude at moments but very true about life.

Steve Sailer said...

I think this has worked out well, better than me posting a Top Ten list.

I would say that Top Ten lists work well for movies, as opposed to books or songs or whatever, because movies have about the right amount of pervasiveness -- enough people have seen enough of a percentage of movies so they can argue over some of them, but nobody who likes movies has seen so many movies that he isn't interested in picking up pointers on movies he hasn't seen.

The typical Top 10 list includes four movies I liked, one I didn't like, and five I haven't seen, suggesting I'd like four of the five unseen ones, which is pretty good odds.

Anonymous said...

"One movie I'd recommend is 'Hero', which is basically about the unification of China."

Really? I thought it was about how to make the most expensive shampoo commercial ever.

Anonymous said...

Dvd box sets are reviving old movies for new audiences. Recently, I came upon a box set of Budd Boetticher westerns. Wow, what a treat. I especially love "Ride Lonesome". The final image of the burning tree is one of the most haunting and poetic I've seen. Back in the days, Budd was considered just another B-movie director, but he came to be appreciated as a true 'auteur'.

Ray Sawhill said...

I co-sign on "Good Morning, Night"!

Anonymous said...

Cloudy with chance of meatball

my ukrainian kids love zis movie

Anonymous said...

"someone please explain how ugly Sandra Oh is supposed to any kind of sex symbol."

She was the director's wife. That's how she got cast as the "hottie".

Anonymous said...

Unlike the Left-Behind-style Christian movies, it caught the full complexity of Mary's situation; and unlike the vast majority of Hollywood products in any era, it was built on a solid foundation of Christian truth.

The Maryolaters at Popery Central HQ got all pissy because the depiction of a vaginal birth was in violation of the de fide doctrine of perpetual virginity.

I had never even HEARD of the doctrine of perpetual virginity until this movie came along.

Thank God for the Protestant Reformation.

Anonymous said...

Curious to me how a soft core pr0n movie like Mulholland Drive is getting so much love.

Maybe I shouldn't say anything more than that.

Anonymous said...

Casino Royale
Parineeta (indian) based on a chatterjee novel beautifully shot you literally want to stop the dvd and look at it like a painting same goes for
Devdas
Swades (indian)

why so many indian? because hollywood is morally bankrupt - yes sometimes there are major plot problems but they are much closer to golden age hollywood than anything today coming out of hollywood.

Once
Joyeux Noel

......................

GREATEST MOVIE NOT MADE:
Trafalgar - on the 2000 anniversary of the battle.
(i still have the script if anyone's interested)

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