Thursday, January 07, 2010

Favorite 100 Movies of the Decade (#75-51)

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 soon

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


Here we go again...

75 The Fountain dir. Darren Aronofsky (2006)
Who needs drugs when you can snort Aronofsky movies?

74 thirteen dir Catherine Hardwicke (2003)
I still maintain that this was a stunning debut, deeply felt and ferociously performed. I'm still confused about what followed with Hardwicke.

73 Monsoon Wedding dir. Mira Nair (2001, released 2002)
For its color, energy and beauty and for one of my all-time favorite portraits of extended family love. Naseeruddin Shah and Shefali Shetty jerk my tears every time. Plus a great soundtrack.

72 Kings and Queen (Kings and Queen) dir. Arnaud Desplechin (2004, released in 2005)
Anchored by two of the most important French actors of the decade (Mathieu Amalric and Emmanuelle Devos) and so rich with feeling and complication, that I actually feel guilt that I haven't returned for a second look

71 Brødre (Brothers) dir. Susanne Bier (2004, released in 2005)
The remake is Globe nominated and in theaters right now, but this is the one for you.

70 Lovely & Amazing dir. Nicole Holofcener (2001, released in 2002)
So few films are made about women and when they are they're so often cheaply written romantic comedies with clichéd quirks for lovable girlwomen protagonists. I love how thorny and mature these characters are and how authentically they navigate their relationships. Bonus points to Holofcener for achieving here what she didn't achieve with Friends With Money which is the threading of thematics (body image and identity) through interpersonal drama without coming across as stiffly THEMATIC at its core.

69 Peter Pan dir. PJ Hogan (released in 2003)
If more people had read the source material, they'd understand how diluted this story had become and what a gift this movie was for the centennial of J.M. Barrie. Bonus points for the amazing below the line team: Roger Ford (production design) known for the Babe films, Donald McAlphine (cinematography) fresh off of Moulin Rouge! and Janet Patterson (costumes) of Jane Campion filmography fame.

68 Ying Xiong (Hero) dir. Zhang Yimou (2002, released in 2004)
It couldn't possibly live up to my expectations since I had to wait two years for it (Damn you Weinsteins!) but it was still a joy to lay eyes upon. The color and structure alone... orgasmic. Please don't remind me that this is the last pairing of one of the greatest screen couples of the entirety of cinema (Maggie Cheung & Tony Leung Chiu Wai) or I may well burst into tears. Don't do it!

67 Me and You and Everyone We Know dir. Miranda July (2005)
))<>(( forever

66 Sen to Chihiro no Kamikushi (Spirited Away) dir. Hayao Miyazaki (2001, released in 2002)
Transfixing. I really need to see it again. I only wish it had proven more influential. I'm not going to pretend it hasn't been a great decade for animated films, but there is a certain "sameness" that can occassionally feel like poison. Miyazaki is the antidote.

65 American Psycho dir. Mary Harron (2000)
What could have been another disposable serial killer picture (my god there are too many of them) was instead a slickly sick smart and well judged character piece. Without the character.
There is an idea of a Patrick Bateman, some kind of abstraction, but there is no real me, only an entity, something illusory, and though I can hide my cold gaze and you can shake my hand and feel flesh gripping you and maybe you can even sense our lifestyles are probably comparable: I simply am not there.
64 Shia Mian Mai Fu (The House of Flying Daggers) dir. Zhang Yimou (2004)
Eye candy extraordinaire

63 Shortbus dir. John Cameron Mitchell (2006)
I've realized in the years since its debut that the cracks from concept to execution show. But whatever. This is one of my favorite films about New York City and it's recognizable to me in a way too few films are. The cinema needs more intensely personal visions like this. Mitchell has only made two films and they're both on this countdown. Needless to say, I cannot wait to see Rabbit Hole.

62 Morvern Callar dir. Lynne Ramsay (2002)
A signature role for the screen's most talented enigma, Samantha Morton.

61 Pola X dir. Leo Caraz (1999, released in 2000)
Restless, foreboding, confident, shocking, erotic, dangerous, indelible... certifiable. At least that's how I remember it.

60 Ratatouille dir. Brad Bird & Jan Pinkava (2007)
Everyone can cook. Too bad that not everyone can make movies as well as Pixar.

59 Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl dir. Gore Verbinski (2003)
Every once in a blue moon a summer blockbuster is perfect. I still remember the joy and shock of the first viewing. I pretend that the useless sequels don't exist and I watch this grand adventure any time it's on TV.

58 Tillsammans (Together) dir. Lukas Moodyson (2000, released in 2001)
So unusually warm, generous and moving that I felt scarred by the brutality of Moodyson's follow up Lilya 4Ever (2002). I've been scared to go forward into any of the subsequent miserabilist movies since. I like depressing hopeless movies (as this countdown should make clear) but I don't want to think of Moodyson making them after the humane beauty of Together and Show Me Love (1998)

57 Se, Jie (Lust, Caution) dir. Ang Lee (2007)
Against all odds, the follow up to Brokeback Mountain wasn't a letdown at all but another startlingly potent and exquisitely rendered doomed romance.

56 The Devil Wears Prada dir. (2006)
über quotable and movies that achieve that last. Think about it: they do. "Gird your loins!"

55 Children of Men dir. Alfonso Cuarón (2006)
So many great moments: a morning coffee explosion, the purring kitten, that slow car escape, that long violent tracking shot, Theo crying by the tree, the "theatrics" of the kidnapping. I don't even mind so much that they left out such fascinating parts of the book. Here was a complicated concept beautifully executed. I'm still mortified that Oscar didn't give Emmanuel Lubezki the cinematography prize. How many times have they stiffed him now? For shame.

54 Happy-Go-Lucky dir. Mike Leigh (2008)
Leigh's follow up to the brilliant Vera Drake put another cheerful woman center stage to very different inspirational effect. Life isn't always sweet, but why not enjoy it all the same?

53 In the Bedroom dir. Todd Field (2001)
Because I saw it so long ago but I can still feel the sting of the Sissy slap, the echo of the gunshot and the disturbing domesticity of that subversive quiet finale.

52 Pride & Prejudice dir. Joe Wright (2005)
One of the freshest liveliest filmmaking debuts of the decade... and for something that should have felt so disposable. Thankfully Joe Wright didn't make us wait for more. (Atonement almost made this top 100 list, too)

51 Milk dir. Gus Van Sant (2008)
If we have to have so many biopics every year, why can't they all be like this one: original, focused on a worthy subject, technically accomplished, and overflowing with fine performances?

continue on to #50-31


Wayne B said...

What a fantastic list. Still have to see Monsoon Wedding, Pola X, Together and Me & You & Everyone We Know. I'll have to add them to my never-ending must-see list.

Ryan T. said...

Great list. Though it was hard to find out that Atonement is not in your top 100. Maybe it's because it made my own personal top 10 of the decade, but hey everyone's list is their own. Still great list!

Steven said...

I will say you have impeccable taste, Mr. Nate. If this is the lower 50's, I cannot wait for your top 50! (I don't know why lists make me this excited, but I guess they do.)


BrianZ said...

Very much enjoying this. Thanks for the Kings and Queen love. You turned me onto this film years ago and it is a favorite of mine.

Ryan Ray said...

I saw Hero in the theater when it came out and I remember actually detesting it. It felt overlong and a mess but was indeed pretty (not enough). I recall praying for it to end and considered even walking out. I rarely have that sort of reaction to a movie I see that is relatively highly praised. Perhaps I will have to give it another try.

Amir said...

great list. i can't wait for the remaining 50.

reading your bit on emmanuel lubezki made me think of 'the tree of life'.
are you as excited as i am for that film?

Alexis said...

totally agree on the devil wears prada...
my favorites:
no,no that wasn't a question...
please bore someone else with your questions
even the gestures...
emily blunt's hands during the ..yeah I'm hearing this, and I want to hear this
and Meryl Streep's stare when she says...oh and emily...and looks at anne hathaway's shoes.

and before you ask...yes,I like to shut people up and yes I've watched this movie a gazillion times on DVD

Glenn said...

Continuing with the greatness! Keep it up.

Rebecka said...

Great list! I still haven't seen some of these, but I have to say I'm glad that you have so many Scandinavian films listed.
Though how House of Flying Daggers ever qualified for any of these lists is completely beyond me. Especially when it's ranked above Hero. The latter is a pure masterpiece in my mind, while House... is a sloppy, boring, badly acted piece of eyecandy that's been done better a 100 times before.

Anyway, I will definatly use this list for reference when I want to know what naughties-movies I missed!

adam k. said...

Interesting to see what's grown in your esteem and what's slipped... The Devil Wears Prada is right behind Children of Men now... would it be one of your best pic nominees? It's significantly ahead of The Fountain and even Shortbus if I'm remembering correctly.

Can't say I disagree with that assessment, though. What felt back then like a guilty pleasure now feels like a bonafide populist classic (Prada). That screenplay medal you gave it felt ridiculous to me at the time, but now I have to admit it was deserved.

cal roth said...

RE: Kings and Queen

You really need a second look. NO way The Devil Wears Prada is better than this. In The Bedroom? PotC? You gotta be kidding.

Just try to see it again, please (it's exactly the kind of movie that, as a reader, I know you'll love more and more).

I'm sure this is the best original screenplay of the decade. Life is just like that.

cal roth said...

Hero is so much better tha House of the Flying Daggers. It has a compelling structure, great screenplay, breathtaking visuals (2000's gold medal for art direction). After seeing this, I couldn't get impressed with House. It feels understated when it should be as spectacular as Hero.

Jim T said...

I think I want to watch Happy-Go-Lucky again. It seems like the kind of movie that improves each time. Because of its simplicity perhaps? I wish Milk was higher. In my top 10 of the decade although I haven't watched as many movies as you.

Off-topic: I recently watched LA Confidential for the first time. It seems I'm the only one who didn't like it. Am I?

Deborah said...

Like any two people, we both agree and disagree many times over, but I do love looking at your list. Monsoon Wedding made my top ten (which was a top 13); what a rich and thrilling portrayal of family and love and loyalty.

Ramification said...

What a great list, I haven't seen In The Bedroom in a long time either but I still remember parts of that film.
Is Mean Girls going to show up in the top 50?

Ryan said...

somewhat disheartened to see IN THE BEDROOM only make the top 60... as opposed to the top 25… but what a perfect, concise and evocative summary of the film’s most indelible moments.

Oh, and glad to see AMERICAN PSYCHO made it in. Criminally underrated and Bale is malicious perfection. Much as I admire DiCaprio, im so glad the former was given the honor of bringing “Patrick Bateman” to cinematic life.


Michael said...

I try to avoid taking anyone's top anything personally, but I must admit seeing both In the Bedroom and Lovely & Amazing mentioned brought a smile to my face.

Pf_Iggy said...

I remember being really surprised when I saw in the credits of American Psycho the name of a woman director. As many others, I thought women were only let to direct romantic comedies. And probably many women still find it hard to direct other kind of movies, Bigelow apart.

But I'm even more surprised to see (IMDB) now that Mary Harron hasn't had a career in the movies since then. I think that as it happens with most movies led by a great performance, the director was overlooked as if she had been there just to check things, and the actors had directed themselves.

OtherRobert said...

I still like Shortbus a lot. I didn't expect to since I'm a total prude about onscreen sex, but I got what he was doing and accepted that. I wish John Cameron Mitchell would direct more films, but then I'd be afraid that he'd be rushed and screw it up somehow or be ruined by outside forces.

Travis said...

Yay for the (kind of) Atonement mention! A vastly underrated film if you ask me

gabrieloak said...

Peter Pan! Hero! Children of Men! Milk!

gabrieloak said...

Re: Ratatouille. Everyone can cook? I'm not so sure about the cooking part. I've eaten some lousy cooking in my day.

Precious said...

Like Michael, I was thrilled to see In the Bedroom (my #1 of the decade) and Lovely and Amazing on this list. I still think that Milk is anything but original, but you can't win them all.

Anonymous said...

Love the list, but really, House of Flying Daggers? Probably the most pretentious, empty piece of exercise coming from the director. I don't know why is it on the list and also ABOVE Hero?

Clover said...

Children of Men's cinematography is the finest I've ever seen. Not that "El laberinto del Fauno"'s wasn't good, but that Oscar was Lubezki's.

Unknown said...

Remember, everyone: These are favorites, not necessarily "best of."

At least, I'm assuming that's why stuff like Prada is ranked so highly.

(Note: No dig on Prada. It's one of my personal favorites/somewhat guilty pleasures. I think the writing is half-pedestrian and half-uninspired, and the filmmaking itself generally unremarkable, but it's tons of fun, thanks to the half-inspired writing ;-) and to the totally winning performances by the four principals.)

Rebecca said...

I recently watched 'Lust, Caution' for the first time because of your website. It was amazing. I thought it might be a bit of a slog to get through, but I was wrong - it had me under its spell the whole time.


anon 5:12 -- funny. i never thought of HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS as "pretentious" because it seems to be having so much fun being so over the top and stylized and, well, fun. But maybe it's not as good as i remember (entirely possible) since i preferred it to Hero at the time but I remember Hero much better now.

Stephen... while it's true that these are favorites. i also consider them bests. Ranking is somewhat arbitrary of course since art and entertainment aren't exactly easy to measure outside of the arthouse. what are you in the mood for when you made the list, you know?

But that said: i have noticed that people seem upset about the comedies making these lists and HELLO there is nothing wrong with loving comedies. It's only wrong if the comedies are bad ;)

it seems to me that everyone wants the academy to be less stuffy but they'd vote the same way if they had ballots "important" things getting higher priority.

just sounding off.

Prada is awesome. and sure it's easy to not notice how good it is but all you ahve to do is see a pale imitator to be reminded. The entire first half hour of THE PROPOSAL for instance just reminded me of how great DEVIL WEARS PRADA is. It just flies and it's sharp and funny and the performances are bliss.

Rebecca -- THANK YOU. i love hearing that someone enjoyed something i recommended (though i get the opposite too. i can't believe you made me waste 2 hours o fmy life ;)

Anonymous said...

You hit the nail on the head, Nate, when describing In the Bedroom. When Sissy slapped Marisa, my cheek practically burned. Such intensity (and I was so surprised!). And I love when Cecilia Weston tactlessly mentions how her family will never die out, and then is suddenly overwhelmed with tears having realized her faux pas. Two great moments.

Anonymous said...

Well, Nate, maybe it's just my view that "House of Flying Daggers" is pretentious. You probably enjoy it more than I do. I find the effects are breathtaking, but without serving the story. As a result, I feel saying "It's pretty but everything else...".....but yeah, I love Prada too! Just saw it on TV again the other night.

Anonymous said...

I agree about putting "House" over "Hero" - the latter just reeks of communist propaganda.

Unknown said...


Whoops - sorry for the misinterpretation!


well, it's not a misinterpretation so much as a 'not the whole story' thing. It's like a fusion of both :)

Guy Lodge said...

Pf_iggy wrote:

"But I'm even more surprised to see (IMDB) now that Mary Harron hasn't had a career in the movies since then."

Not true! Check out The Notorious Bettie Page, with its vastly underrated performance by Gretchen Mol.