Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Favorite 100 Movies of the Decade (#100-76)

We're doing this a little different than we did the male and female performances... but we're still skipping the 2009 films -- we'll get to those starting this weekend (I'm not quite ready to start the awards... sorry!). I'm still turning the 2009 movies around on my tongue and deciding how they taste. Had Avatar for a second time tonight. Verdict: deliciously bold flavors ... with a distinct cheese popcorn aftertaste. I will gladly devour it a third time.

DISCLAIMER 1: As you would surely know if you've ever made such a list, judging/enjoying an entire decade is a very personal thing and also a hopelessly ephemeral process. The movies would be in a different order if the list were made on another day. And decades take years to settle. I didn't know with 100% certainty when the 1990s ended that The Piano, Heavenly Creatures and Boogie Nights would cement themselves as my definitive trinity for that time frame but they did.

the list #100-76, #75-51, #50-31, #30-16 and #15-1.
Awards for 2009 begin tomorrow or thereabouts.

DISCLAIMER 2: I'm leaving out documentaries because -- personal thing -- I can't compare them to narrative features very well. Just not a trick I'm good at performing. But if you must know my favorite documentary of the decade is Grizzly Man with a sly wink towards The Gleaners and I and a shout out to Trouble the Water.

DISCLAIMER 3: I've decided to combine trilogies and two-parters (if i love them) because I am lame (sorry Robert!) and you should know ahead of time. This affects their final rank in every case though not in a positive way.

"I thought you might be worried... about the security... of your shit."

100 Burn After Reading dir. The Coen Bros (2008)
When the Coen Bros are feeling misanthropic I prefer their full throttle satires to their seriocomic efforts (I can't love A Serious Man. I tried) And because the actors seem to be having a blast going deliciously big.

99 Away From Her dir. Sarah Polley (2007)
We'd been away from her (Julie Christie) too long. Polley must direct again.

98 Match Point dir. Woody Allen (2005)
97 Vicky Christina Barcelona dir. Woody Allen (2008)
Because Woody used to deliver classics. And he almost did it again... twice!

96 Jesus Son (1999, released in 2000)
Because even "Fuckhead"(s) need love. Samantha Morton sure can shimmy.

95 Monsters Inc dir. Pete Docter, David Silverman and Lee Unkrich (2001)
A genius concept executed with Pixar panache.

94 The House of Mirth dir. Terence Davies (2000)
The inexorable downfall of Lily Bart still haunts me. You could blame that on the rich source material but this is real cinema: the gilded age tableaus, the musical interlude over the water, and the stomach turning malevolence of one Laura Linney (way scarier than she was in Mystic River)

93 The Painted Veil dir. John Curran (2006)
Because sometimes those movies that get buried at the tail end of December and are completely ignored by just about everyone including that 13" shiny gold guy are way better than you could possibly expect them to be. Naomi Watts is the best she's ever been in a film not directed by David Lynch.

92 Låt den Rätte Komme In (Let the Right One In) dir. Tomas Alfredson (2008)
I despair that Hollywood is foolish enough to remake it. I'd wish them good luck (because boy will they need it) but I don't feel particularly generous about this urge of theirs.

91 Monster House dir. Gil Kenan (2006)
Because right from its bratty first frames its hilarious, inventive and golden with nostalgia.

90 The Triplets of Belleville dir. Sylvain Chomet (2003)
The theme song is still stuck in my head 7 years later.

89 The Others dir. Alejandro Amenábar (2001)
I still chuckle thinking of Nick's description of Nicole Kidman's hit performance... "ceramic befuddlement" (teehee)

88 Junebug dir. Phil Morrison (2005)
Amy Adams is bliss but so is the rest of the movie. My favorite scene: George singing at church and his wife's silent stunned curiousity. Morrison must direct again.

87 The Squid and the Whale dir. Noah Baumbach (2005)
Pitch perfect performances elevate this already exquisite example of the riches that talented filmmakers can mine from their own backstory.

86 Michael Clayton dir. Tony Gilroy (2007)
The kind of expertly judged mainstream movie Hollywood ought to be making a lot more of. Bonus points: If there were only five nominees for Supporting Actress in the decade, Tilda Swinton would still look awfully win-worthy in the shortlist.

85 The Departed dir. Martin Scorsese (2006)
Repeat viewings don't diminish its potent plot turns and they actually improve the performances... particularly amping up the slipperiness of Matt Damon and the pain in Leonardo DiCaprio's eyes. And how many remakes can claim to be better than the original, anyway? Not too damn many. What's more: Infernal Affairs wasn't exactly a mediocrity.

84 No Man's Land dir. Danis Tanovic (2001)
I still think about that ending.

83 In Bruges dir. Martin McDonagh (2008)
Because it's a trip to see a great playwright transfer so well to filmmaking. And because Colin Farrell guilt-ridden hitman hurts so authentically without diminishing the funny.

82 8 Femmes (8 Women) dir. François Ozon (2002)
Love that curtain call finale. Take another bow, ladies.

81 The New World dir. Terrence Malick (2005, released in a different version in 2006)
Because I've only seen it once, don't know which version that was, but still vividly remembering touching the grass, feeling the water and blinking in the sunlight from my theater seat. And, finally, marvelling that there were two New Worlds when one was already enough.

80 Demonlover dir. Olivier Assayas (2002, released in 2003)
As icy and diabolically mysterious as Summer Hours is warm and practically forthcoming. How does Assayas do it? And can he keep on doing it?

79 Une Liaison Pornographique (An Affair of Love) dir. Frederick Fonteyne (1999, released in 2000)
There aren't as many intelligent, sexy, absorbing relationship movies as there should be. At least the French still make them. Merci!

78 Temporado de Patos (Duck Season) dir. Fernando Eimbcke (2004, released in 2006)
A true original and one that rewards the patient viewer. So many movies that cost 500 times as much don't give half this much pleasure.

77 Zodiac dir. David Fincher (2007)
Fincher's obvious affinity for obsessive haunted analytical men makes me worried for him. Do you think he'll be tearing his hair out while drinking himself to oblivion for years trying to solve the mystery of Benjamin Button being his most popular film and the only one Oscar ever cared for (even though it's nowhere close to his best)?

76 Un Conte de Noël (A Christmas Tale) dir. Arnaud Depleschin (2008)
I would so give Catherine Deneuve my bone marrow, wouldn't you? Desplechin's rich, thick anecdotal, testy, restless, mysteriously moving scrapbooky-cinemathing about the Vuillard family and their dying mother is so generous that I can shove nine-plus adjectives into this sentence (just did!) and still come up short in describing its arsenal of moods, feelings and detours.
next: 75-51
Aronofsky your supplier, Patrick Bateman the abstract, Morvern the enigma... and more

then: 50-31
idiots, unwanted pregnancies, superheroes, and a busty crusader


Glenn Dunks said...

Ooh fantastic! I thought we'd have to wait until after your awards for this. Lookin' good so far.

There have been quite a few first-time directors from the '00s that never went on to make anything else, which is so sad.

Andrew K. said...

Aaah. Combining parts of films..nooooo:) Surprised at your #100 and loving it. McDormand and Pitt were golden. I really did not know you were so hot on Tilda and Michael Clayton in general, though.

I can't do a decade in review though until I'm finished with 2009. It's just my idiosyncrasy.

cal roth said...

OK, let's predict the TOP 5:

1 - Dancer in the Dark
2 - Brokeback Mountain
3 - Moulin Rouge
4 - Far From Heaven
5 - Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Anonymous said...

<3 <3 <3 the list so far. Hoping Eternal Sunshine is up high! :) But if Monster's Inc can make the list and Ratatouille or Finding Nemo doesn't, I'll be disappointed.

And you are sooo right about Tilda. Amazing performance

Fernando Moss said...

Temporada de Patos!!!! YES! YES! YES! (altough for me is TOP 25, but still) So glad... I Love Danny Perea and the boys... they all give great performances.

Carl Joseph Papa said...

im predicting

1 - moulin rouge!
2 - dancer in the dark
3 - far from heaven
4 - brokeback mountain
5 - eternal sunshine of the spotless mind


Wilfred said...

Happened to pass by. Awesome list so far, looking forward to the continuation.

Jim T said...

Yes on Monster House, The Squid and the Whale, Zodiac, The Others! So many memories from my life at the time watching each movie!

par3182 said...

you totally tripped me up with -

Naomi Watts is the best she's ever been


in a film not directed by David Lynch


carry on....

filme said...

I have seen all movies released on 2009. All are great! Looking forward for 2010 best movies.

Deivith Coast said...

I´m really liking your list (hoping you haven´t forgotten Atonement and wishing that wonderful film has improved in your mind...).

But, sorry for the off-topic: PLEASE NATHANIEL, DON´T LOVE AVATAR! PLEASE!!! Everytime I read how you praise it I want to cry!!

I don´t understand why people like it, I hate when people say: well this one is the kind of movie where the story is not important. Couldn´t agree more, this is this kind of movie: A BAD MOVIE. And everything is so plastic and fake... Pandora is horrible, is tacky and really really digital!! It looks too digital. And maybe the relationship between Jakesully and Neytiri is the coldest and less believable in a movie screen in ages!! And Stephen Lang and Giovanni Ribisi... PLEASE!! And the movie is boring boring BORING. And ( I know this is not James Cameron´s fault) the 3-D glasses are so uncomfortable!! I think Avatar is a torture. I think this can´t be the cinema of the future (by the way, I didn´t see any innovation), to me is not a movie, is a huge mistake. PLEASE DON´T LOVE IT!! Because you are great, you (often)have an amazing taste, you (often) choose great! I´m more impatient for the Film Bitch than for the Oscars!! But please, don´t love Avatar!!! I swear I´m praying for something to happen in your brain and when you watch it the third time you think is a Z- movie. PLEASE!!

By the way, Happy New Year!!

gabrieloak said...

Oh dear you've already included one film I hate in your top 100. But I already see a love for French films, which is refreshing.

Kyle said...

You might have to help me on the "Michael Clayton" thing. I bought it on a whim when it came out on DVD and have tried to watch it twice to no avail...it's in my "to get rid of" pile. Maybe I'll try it once more just cause I trust your taste so much :-)

OtherRobert said...

I love Monster House and Triplets of Belleville. The former is fertile breeding ground for future horror fans, while the latter has one of the most inventive film scores I've come across. I'm just going to assume that there will be no shortage of animated films on this list, which is a nice change from a lot of the other decade-end lists. I doubt I'll ever cement down a Top Ten of the Aughts list (though I tried), but I'm sure Triplets would make the final cut.

Zodiac is great as well. I'm just sad that Burn After Reading couldn't match its utter likability to actually be a really great film. I love it in spite of the cracks and flaws, and give it bonus points for casting my favorite theater actress Elizabeth Marvel in a major film role. She deserves better than she gets. Such is the life of an off-Broadway darling.

Robert said...

I can appreciate the practical necessity of grouping movies (ex Lord of the Rings) together. I suppose the best argument for doing so is it frees up 2 additional spots to recognize 2 more great movies. And I can't argue with that.

Great list so far. Especially love the inclusion of Monster House, Let the Right One in and Junebug.

BrianZ said...

Duck Season, A Christmas Tale and Monster House...thank you.


OtherRobert -- isn't it weird how infrequently Hollywood taps into people like Marvel who've already more than proven their ability to handle challenging acting assignments?

Maybe all the NY theater casting outreach people got laid off. Or got lazy with L&O employing everyone in disposable but plentiful parts

Flosh said...

what others have said: great call on Duck Season. one of my favorites of the decade as well. way too few people (even among pretty hardcore cinephiles) have seen it!

Evan said...

Not sure that I like Junebug all that much if I don't consider Amy Adams's amazing turn, but I love the list, Nate. Bravo for turning one out so quickly.

Accursius said...

Wow, love for "No Man's Land". tnx :)

Howler said...

I could never combine "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. They just happen to be three different films and it's easily visible that there were changes in the crew, which influences the final effect rather strongly.
While "Fellowship of the Ring" is a terrific spectacle that insists on exploring Tolkien's Middleearth and deals with almost impossible task of communicating that the future of this world depends on a tiny thing, "Two Towers" and "Return of the King" lean heavily on spectacular battle sequences and feel like something much more mass-appeal and less special. They're both good films but they rarely reach the heights of the introduction.
My TOP 10 (with Honorable Mention to "Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham" which is probably the most fun I've had watching a "movie" this decade, but I really couldn't call it a movie despite giving it an "A". It's like a huge silly music video that doesn't take itself seriously at all)
10. Y tu mama tambien
9. Brokeback Mountain
8. Mulholland Drive
7. Birth
6. Hable con Ella
5. Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
4. Dancer in the Dark
3. Moulin Rouge!
2. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
1. Spirited Away

Marsha Mason said...

On Fincher, yes. I have to tell myself he never made "Benjamin Button" (much less at basically the same time) to enjoy "Zodiac."

Anonymous said...

I love this list. It really gets at why I love films. There's such variety in The Others, A Christmas Tale, Monster House, Zodiac, In Bruges, No Man's Land, 8 Women, Michael Clayton, Triplets and Junebug, and they are all so good in their own, different ways.


Howler -- agreed about Fellowship (more and more it feels so much stronger than the other two)

but i didn't want Lord of the Rings to hog so much room so i combined.

YMFY said...

Infernal Affairs was far better than The Departed.

Unknown said...

Agreed re: LOTR.

The first one is definitely the best, although I sorta depart from consensus after that because I think the second is fairly close behind it, and the third lags somewhat further behind the second one.


Fellowship of the Ring - A
Two Towers - A-
Return of the King - B+

cate blanchett said...

Yeah, “Zodiac”! Hmmm, somewhat surprised too see “Monster’s Inc.” and “Away from Her” make it into the Top 100… but even more shocked to see “The New World” and “The Departed” this early; I’d have thought they’d both easily crack your top 50.

Just for fun, here are my hasty predictions for Nathaniel’s Top 10 of the 00’s:

Moulin Rouge!
Dancer In the Dark
Talk to Her
Far from Heaven
Brokeback Mountain
The Lord of the Rings (trilogy)

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Mulholland Dr.

Kill Bill
In the Mood for Love

Rachel Getting Married
Y Tu Mama Tambien
Spider-Man 2
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

OtherRobert said...

Nathaniel, there's a running joke on Playbill's Cue&A feature that asks what character the actor has played on L&O or CSI. It developed organically after almost every interview subject was able to talk about their L&O/CSI experience. That's all NY theater actors are good for, apparently. At least Laura Linney and Stanley Tucci got into Hollywood pretty easily.

Jude said...

I hope to see a Woody Allen masterpiece in the upcoming decade! You're right, he keeeps getting closer (with the ocassional back step like Whatever Works)

Popcorn and Cigarettes said...

Thank you thank you thank you!

For including Woody, but thank you most of all for including Junebug and The Painted Veil... both of which I love to death.

I cannot wait to see what comes next.

christine said...

Oh, blast, now I have to watch a million more movies. You make them all sound good.

Rebecca said...

I adore The Triplets of Belleville. I just re-watched Monsters Inc. on New Year's Day, it's so wonderful. I haven't checked out Monster House, and since your taste in animated movies seems to line up pretty well with mine, I'll have to check it out.


@cate blanchett -- i'm so glad you're still reading despite everything i've typed about you! ;)

@popcorn -- always happy to hear from Painted Veil fans. nobody has seen that movie. stupid oscar glut problem!

Janice said...

@Nate & Popcorn - please add me to the list of PV lovers then; I LOVE that movie. Saw it for the first time on a tiny screen on a flight from CT to WA, wondered why the heck it hadn't gotten any awards love (it seemed right up Oscars alley, the performances and the cinematography were gorgeous, etc.) Watched it twice on that flight.

Part of what made the movie interesting for me was the fact that neither lead character was immediately and obviously "likeable" and yet I ended up being intrigued by them. Naomi's performance had subtle notes of Kidman in "The Others" and perhaps that's part of what made it intriguing: you never knew where Norton's character was going to go. At times it seemed as though it might veer into some sort of psychological horror. It doesn't go there, but the drama of these two people is richly and fully explored. It is in fact a rather deep study of rather shallow people.

And it's the film that turned me on to Liev Shrieber, even if he's wasting his talent in most other films.

downbythewater said...

i love the new world (director's cut) so much, great inclusion.

Andrew R. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Christofer Johansson said...

Well you give me the impression that you like animated movies and therefor should have some love for anime.

I like Wall-e, but i love Howl's Moving Castle and Spirited Away. I dont even think its close to say that those two Movies are atleast ten times better than anything Hollywood produced this decade.

I am from Sweden and I hate that "låt den rätte komma in" have placed on your top 100.


Cristopher. Never fear. It's not the only Swedish movie on the list. But why don't you like it? I am curious (red)

Anonymous said...

I gather no one knows or cares about demonlover, my 5th best of the past decade. Great shoutout.