Saturday, January 09, 2010

Favorite 100 Movies of the Decade (#50-31)

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

So much cinema to love. Love it hard...

50 La Mala Educación dir. Pedro Almodóvar (2004)
Pedro's dizzying, carnal "fag noir" is one of a kind.

49 You Can Count On Me dir. Kenneth Lonergan (2000)
You know how wonderful it can be to hear a film's title worked into the dialogue? Turns out it's even better when the title warmly permeates the entire film and (just barely) goes unsaid.

48 Sideways dir. Alexander Payne (2004)
Eventually it will shake off the "overrated" tag that compromised its full bodied flavor. It's still one of the best comedies of the decade. Rrawwwr.

47 25th Hour dir. Spike Lee (2002)
Like The Painted Veil, its throwaway release in crowded December assured it wouldn't be noticed in its time. Hopefully the audience is still coming around to Lee's best film outside of Do The Right Thing (1989). This bitter drama, all past mistakes and future penance, needed time to breathe its city air, dance in its silvery dress and scream at itself in the mirror until it had to face facts.

46 Raising Victor Vargas dir. Peter Sollett (2003)
One of the most tender, well observed coming of age dramas I've ever seen. I consider it a major mark against the world that more people haven't seen it. And I'm still rooting for Victor Razuk to become a big star.

45 Idioterne (The Idiots) dir. Lars von Trier (1998, released in 2000)
Rude, tasteless, sad, funny, pornographic... and kinda brilliant. Dogme 95 may have been a short-lived cinematic manifesto but you could feel its reverberations in the cinema for years afterwards.

44 Reprise dir. Joachim Trier (2006, released in 2008)
A completely cinematic tale of two young literary friends, drifting apart while finding or losing their footing. Trier joins the frustrating list of exciting new auteurs on this top 100 who haven't directed a second film. He must.

43 Spider-Man (2002) & Spider-Man 2 (2004) dir. Sam Raimi
We're pretending that Spider-Man 3 doesn't exist. Which is good policy. The other two are pure popcorn pleasure. Spider-Man does the origin story better than any superhero film ever has, smartly using it as both puberty parallel and coming of age melodrama and #2 is one of those rare sequels that doesn't try to overstuff ... unless you mean with pleasure in which case, doubly so.

42 4 Luni, 3 Saptamâni si 2 Zile (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days) dir. Cristian Mungiu (2007)
This 80s-set Romanian drama about an unwanted pregnancy is relentless. But once you're on its desperate wavelength, a tense and revealing portrait of friendship, economic desperation, and life under Communism emerges.

41 The Hours dir. Stephen Daldry (2002)
An intimate birthday party thrown for actressexuals everywhere and in any time period. The actresses even make the cake and fetch the flowers themselves.

40 Mean Girls dir. Mark Waters (2004)
39 Bring It On dir. Peyton Reed (2000)
The twin titans of teen comedy in the Aughts. Never mind that their eventual imitators were dreck (especially the cheerleaders. Put those DVD spinoffs down. Mercy killing!) these films are so fetch. Eminently rewatchable, hilarious, smartly written, well directed and exuberantly performed... with spirit fingers! Who can even choose a favorite moment from either of them. I'd start listing them but then I'd never get to the next eight movies.

38 The Incredibles dir. Brad Bird (2004)
I could type a hundred words but one will do: bliss.
words are useless. Gobble-gobble-gobble-gobble-gobble! Too much of it, darling, too much!

37 The Royal Tenenbaums dir. Wes Anderson (2001)
Truth: It breaks my heart to think of this movie. And it also makes me guffaw. Both in equal measure. I don't care how many times Wes Anderson repeats himself as long as we have this movie, his masterpiece (according to me). And, besides, more directors should have a strong enough visual aesthetic that we can bitch about them repeating themselves. Do you know what I mean?

36 Birth dir. Jonathan Glazer (2004)
"You're a little liar, aren't you?"

35 Hatuna Meuhert (Late Marriage) dir. Dover Koshashvili (2001, released in 2002)
Like Vargas a bit earlier in the list, this movie became a cause for me: get people to see it! So I really should thank the person that drove me to it: Mike D'Angelo whose Time Out New York review had me rushing to it on opening weekend. Incidentally that's the same opening weekend when Attack of the Clones was making $80 million dollars. Late Marriage made $31,ooo in the same time frame but the return on investment, emotionally and cinematically speaking, was roughly 80 million times better (for me). Not that an Israeli drama about traditional family-sanctioned marriages, a stubborn bachelor, and his erotic affair with a divorcée is all that directly comparable to a movie about two callow (super)powerful teenagers embroiled in an intergalactic war but my point is this: I wish more people would support tiny foreign films when they're great. It's not actually that hard to find out which ones are (it's called "the internet") even if it is still something of a pain to find them (at least there's festival direct programs, dvd and whatnot). I long for those days I never experienced in the 1960s when Americans actually cared about them.

It's something of an Oscar past time for people to bitch about great films being snubbed in the Best Foreign Film Oscar category but this one is barely ever mentioned even though it's better than all the nominees of its year. Nevertheless that annual bitching is justified: there's 9 more foreign language films coming in the top 30 and only 1 of them won the naked gold man.

34 Gosford Park dir. Robert Altman (2001)
God how I miss Robert Altman, the world's best tour guide of crowded rooms.

33 Erin Brockovich dir. Steven Soderbergh (2000)
If only this film, which feels lifted straight from the Classic Hollywood school of dazzlingly executed star vehicles, had proved more influential than its best picture competitors: Traffic (the "hyper link film needs a sabbatical) and Gladiator (so many action films trying to ape it! Stop. You're not Gladiator!); because star vehicles will never leave us. Since they're an enduring staple of cinema, why can't they make them this well all the time?

32 Once dir. John Carney (2007)
How many films take you this close to the fire of creation? And how many films are smart enough to pull away with a bittersweet farewell, just when you think you couldn't possibly love them more.

31 Hedwig and the Angry Inch dir. John Cameron Mitchell (2001)
Though it's rarely discussed in stories about the rebirth of the musical (the story of this film decade?), it ought to be. Two vivid auteurist deconstructions (Dancer in the Dark & Moulin Rouge!) beat it to the theaters. Then Hedwig tore it up, tossing his/her wig around with wild rock n roll abandon, essentially shaking all the remaining cobwebs off the lond dead genre. Chicago dazzles (though it missed this list) but it owes its Oscars to the films preceding it. They cleared the way.



Robert said...

What I love is that so far there are only 2 films here in common with my own top 50 (which I compiled purely for fun), yet these are all great films. It's a testament to how great the decade was.

The two in common thus far are Once and 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days BTW.

adam k. said...

OK, so first 25th Hour was a best picture nominee and The Hours wasn't. THEN I remember at one point you subsequently said The Hours would fall out of your top ten in retrospect. NOW it actually beats 25th Hour on this list.

Just curious about your thought process regarding The Hours and how your opinion of it has evolved in your mind over the years. Because I'm not really sure how I feel about it now myself. But I mostly remember being way disappointed by the film after the book literally changed my life (what can I say? I was 19), and then coming around later to liking it a lot despite its limitations.

Maybe I'll check it out again.

adam k. said...

I do remember the actresses' DVD commentary being gold, though.

Kidman came off as waaaay more pretentious than the other two. Hee!

Ryan T. said...

Bring It On! I love its inclusion in the list!

"Awesome, oh wow, like totally freak me out, I mean right on... "


Ben said...

Great List- especially You Can Count on Me (in my top 10 of the decade), 4 Months, Gosford, and 25th Hour.

My one major qualm (like Adam K) is The Hours. I thought it was so overdone. I loved the book and the movie really disappointed me, even though I think the 3 leading ladies were great. It just didn't hit me at all.

MovieNut14 said...

Interesting selections of movies. Might have to check some of these out!

BTW, I've nominated your blog for an award on mine, be sure to check it out and pass along the love!

J.L said...

i'm sad not to see any Marie-Antoinette yet, but maybe it will come.

But the Atonement snub is hurtful for me : (

Love the list otherwise

Sid said...

Love the fact that "Birth" has vaulted ahead of many of the films that were in your top ten for 2004. The same thing happened with my list as well, and I'd easily call it the MOST underrated film of the decade.

Robert said...

I do also agree that Birth has improved with age. But the last thing I want to do is go back and rewatch it only to find out that it hasn't.

Hilary Swank said...

So, when are you gonna start your film bitch awards? I wanna know if I got in!


Hilary -- [SPOILER] you didn't.

Robert -- i'm actually a bit nervous about that too. I haven't watched it recently.

Adam K -- you can't take minor differences in rank that seriously. Rankings... especially over a whole decade are subject to change. I don't go back and altar the film bitch awards because i believe ... like the Oscars... that you just kind of have to take it as a snapshot of enthusiasms of the time, some of them being great calls i'm still proud of and others being less so. But at least I'm not embarrassed about anything like Oscar voters should be - ha ha.

Unknown said...

You've currently got my #1 and 2 at 37 an 38. Tenenbaums and Incredibles are the cream of the crop for me. Probably not a coincidence that they center on slightly (or hugely) depressed families. lotta great movies in this bracket. Love 25th hour, Sideways, Mean girls etc. 30-1 better be good nathaniel!

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Great and really diverse list!I love a lot of these movies.And I'm sooo happy about The Hours, my number 1.The most resonant and shattering emotional experience of my life.

Katey said...

What a great point about Erin Brockovich... with all the talk from 2009 about how stars are dead and it's all about franchises and toys and sequels, it's even more depressing to think that the star vehicle is dying out.

Mean Girls may be one of the most perfect movies ever made.

Katey said...

What a great point about Erin Brockovich... with all the talk from 2009 about how stars are dead and it's all about franchises and toys and sequels, it's even more depressing to think that the star vehicle is dying out.

Mean Girls may be one of the most perfect movies ever made.

Katey said...

"I will keep you here all night if I have to!"

"We can't keep them past four."

"I will keep you here until four!"

Anonymous said...

How about a top 100 comment posters of the decade?

Evan said...

Nate, you already know we love to hear your opinions, but I just wanted to comment and say how wonderful it is to read your writing. It's fluid, vivid, and very true. The comment about Robert Altman is one of the all-time best descriptors I've ever heard.

Thanks for all you do.

Travis said...

Agree about your description of Altman. Couldn't say anything more perfect. I doubt there will ever be another director like him.

Loving the variety of this list btw... And can we proclaim "The Incredibles" to be the greatest Pixar movie ever made?

gabrieloak said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gabrieloak said...

25th Hour! Once! Gosford Park!
You Can Count on Me! Late Marriage! The Royal Tenenbaums!

All better films than anything being considered this year for the Oscar.

Joe Reid said...

I love that you think the rebirth of the musical is the story of the decade. I seriously do.

kent said...

nat, do gradings for the films change as well? and do you consider your favorites the bests of its year now in retrospective?

Anonymous said...

your website is excellent, is very complete, thanks for the information.

Steolicious said...

Hey, that's cool - Sideways is also on my 48. spot of the decade! :)

To say it with Julia Roberts Oscar words "My Name start or last on the list but I still love the list." Or so...

Andrew R. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Greg Boyd said...

I haven't seen most of these, but I love the inclusions of "Once", "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days", and "The Incredibles" (my second favorite "Pixar" film).


Andrew R -- Spirited Away was already covered in an earlier installment.

G1000 -- it's my second favorite Pixar too. One more still coming up.

Pf_Iggy said...

Comment du Jour! Thanks! Next time I'll go for The Crush of the Week :) I should start making movies, then.