Top Ten Films of the Decade
Well, the decade is coming to an end. And, with that, everyone is doing top ten lists of the decade. I guess it fills some kind of need we have to wrap everything up into tidy little packages. Anyway, here is my obligatory, TOP TEN FILMS OF THE DECADE list.
1. Mulholland Dr. (2001) - Dark, enigmatic, and a complete mindfuck, Mulholland Dr. David Lynch's best work since Blue Velvet. I get a lot of flack for praising Lynch, and particularly this film, so much, but for some reason I find it to be the most engrossing movie I've ever seen. Lynch is back to the same tricks that he used in Lost Highway to give us a new puzzle to construct (and deconstruct) in our minds, but Mulholland Dr. resonates a lot more than Lost Highway to me - it feels much more intriguing on every level than that film did. Figuring out the Diane/Betty characters is an exciting puzzle that may or may not end in a eureka! moment. Don't be fooled, there is a lot of thinking required when you view this one. So bring your thinking hats with you.
2. No Country for Old Men (2007) - My second favorite Coen Brothers flick (right after Barton Fink), No Country is a serious film (possibly their most serious film, short of Blood Simple) with pulp aspects. The reinvention of Josh Brolin is great to see, but obviously Javier Bardem steals the show as one of the greatest bad guys in the history of film, Anton Chigurh. I'm sure that everyone has seen it, there was a lot of hubub when the film came out (Oscar nods and what-not), and rightly so. But, and this kind of surprised me, there is a lot of rewatchability built in to this movie. Go ahead, check it out again next time it's on cable - you'll be hooked again.
3. Inglourious Basterds (2009) - Absolutely the best film of 2009, Inglourious Basterds is a superb film that works on many levels. All of the praise for Tarantino as the new wunderkind, and also the cries from the wild accusing him of plagiarism have levelled off (though I still think they are merited, considering his early work) and he's able to work unfettered. With Inglourious Basterds, he elevates himself - going from excellent retro craftsman of fanboy favorite homage films to a stand-on-his-own filmmaker.
4. The Departed (2006) - Likely Marty's best film since Goodfellas, The Departed takes the remake phenomenon of the last few years and really makes you rethink your stance on it. Could there actually be some good coming out of the seemingly uncreative cespool that is the Hollywood remake machine? Scorsese shows us that it is possible, though still incredibly rare. Perhaps it just takes someone as skilled as Scorsese (who claims to have not seen Infernal Affairs before filming his version) behind the camera. Regardless, the intricate story of treachery, intrigue, and deceit is one of the best cops and robbers films since the seventies and put Scorsese back on the financial map as a viable filmmaker.
5. Unbreakable (2000) - Who knew that my favorite comic book flick would be one that wasn't licensed from a comic book company? Bruno gives us the performance of his life as the unwitting superhuman David Dunn in this story about an everyman who one day realizes that his life is something more than ordinary. I really believe we were seeing lightning in a bottle from Shyamalan in 2000 with this one, as he's never been able to reach these heights again. I don't know how the film did financially, but it seems that for some reason or another M. Night turned his back on this type of filmmaking (with the possible exception of The Happening - which I actually liked, by the by).
6. Knocked Up (2007) - The Apatow crew was such a wonderful breath of fresh air to me. It kicked off with The 40 Year Old Virgin, but really grabbed hold of me with Knocked Up. Seth Rogen comes into his own as a leading comic actor that may be one dimensional, but is still captivating. The best thing about Knocked Up? It's the antedote to silly, over the top star-driven comedies that rely on gimmicks (read: Adam Sandler comedies). Or maybe I just like it so much because the guys in it remind me a little bit of me and my friends. There is definitely something to be said about relatability in movies that really makes them stick out to you. Maybe that's what Knocked Up does better than any other movie - it captures the paradigm of my generation and makes it really fucking funny.
7. Oldboy (2003) - Chan Wook-Park's violent master work has been able to draw me back several times, and that's really saying something for a movie based around a twist ending. I saw it once in the theater, and multiple times on DVD and it just gets better with every spin. A classic tale of vengeance (slotted neatly in the middle of Park's Vengeance trilogy), Oldboy works on you in a way that few movies do. It's a tense, funny, violent, exhillirating mystery movie that keeps you glued to the screen trying, barely even realizing that there is a puzzle to put together right in front of you.
8. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005) - This movie is getting a lot more play recently, and really gaining some steam to become a bonadfide cult classic. If you haven't seen it, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is a twist on that staple, the buddy cop movie (and written/directed by Shane Black of Lethal Weapon fame, no less!) only minus the cops. It pairs up a gay private eye and a bumbling thief to solve a murder. Only it's funny. Really funny. The film stars Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer in some of the quirkiest roles they've ever had to play. Sidenote: Kilmer's career is so intriguing - I think I kind of love the direction he is going in.
9. Downfall (2004) - Bruno Ganz performance as Adolf Hitler is nothing short of amazing. In this German film, we follow Hitler during his last days in the bunker. I know that the movie has been parodied to death on YouTube, but if you have not seen it, please do yourself a favor and watch this thing. It is one of the best World War II movies you will ever see. Hey, what are the odds that I would have two WWII movies on my list? Ah, but I digress, it really is one of the better character pieces I've ever seen, and Ganz completely drives the film.
10. Let the Right One In (2008) - Earlier this year, I ranked The Wrestler as the best film of last year. On rewatch, I would have to swap it and LTROI as number one and two. This movie is absolutely the single best vampire movie I've ever seen. It is a wonderful little Swedish masterpiece, full of all the things horror movies never contain. The movie is rather sweet, has endearing characters, features young romance, and all of the things you never knew you wanted in a horror movie. Luckily, the craftsmanship behind this cold beauty carries everything, it's an absolutely breathtaking film, the cinematography is spectacular, and the direction is sometimes inspired, and always good.