Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Favorite Movies of the Decade #15-1

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

Let's wrap this sucker up!

I had really intended to rewatch the top ten (why not?) before I ventured into the mental hospital. Trust me, that's where I've been heading as I've tried to rank the movies I love more than people (kidding! sort of) but who has the time? The 10th Annual FiLM BiTCH Awards begin tomorrow so I have to get a move on to wrap up the 2009 film year. It's possible I'll revisit this rundown at some point for a special project but who knows. These rankings are NOT final. God... I'm not ready for the straightjacket yet. I need my hands free so I can talk.

What follows is more like tiers. The numbers function as mere placeholders.

Tier 3
You could group them with #16-20... It doesn't mean
I don't worship them. I got a whole lotta love to go round

15 Vera Drake dir. Mike Leigh (2004)
Vera Drake (Imelda Staunton) whistles while she works. Though her "work", you soon discover as you follow her into crowded residential blocks, is not something you'd normally think of whistling to. It's part of the genius of Mike Leigh's best film (yeah, you heard me) that Vera doesn't question her calling or the tune in her head. When the bomb finally drops on Vera's happy-go-lucky existence, Staunton returns Leigh's faith in her with one of the most devastating closeups in cinema. It's the moment everyone remembers from the film but my mind often drifts to the aftermath, diminutive Vera in her coat in the snow heading to the police car, terrified. She's warmly dressed but the chill is already down to the bone.

14 There Will Be Blood dir. Paul Thomas Anderson (2007)
If it's not quite this world great's best film (that prize to Boogie Nights saith I) it's definitely his most audacious and technically thrilling. There are so many sinister and seismic moments, it's a wonder the earth doesn't open up while you're watching it, and drag you to hell with Daniel Plainview. "I'm finnnissshed"

Tier 2
I think about them so much that they have
ceased to be movies. They're now life events.

13 The Lord of the Rings dir. Peter Jackson (2001-2003)
Magic. Especially the first one.

12 Mulholland Dr.
dir. David Lynch (2001)
So much has been written about this movie that I sometimes worry that familiarity will rob it of its mystery. Yet when Laura Elena Haring starts whispering "Mulholland Drive" I'm hypnotized again. I'm an amnesiac myself, and I've never heard her whispery chant.

11 Requiem for a Dream dir. Darren Aronofsky (2000)
"I like thinking about the red dress."

10 A History of Violence dir. David Cronenberg (2005)
In the past I've likened this movie to a machine, it's so finely calibrated and efficient. But that doesn't get at its emotional fire, its guttural poetry, and its savage eroticism. It's more like a cyborg.

9 Wo Hu Cang Long (Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon) dir. Ang Lee (2000)
Ang Lee is not the only filmmaker with three movies in the countdown. But he's the only filmmaker with two in the top ten. How great is Ang Lee? And how glorious was/is this utterly transporting adventure?

8 Rachel Getting Married dir. Jonathan Demme (2008)
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change... like the fact that so many people don't love this movie. Their loss. I'm ready to dive back into this immersive, noisy, eclectic, spontaneous, superbly acted, wonderfully sustained, bleeding heart of a movie right this very second. Pass me the DVD.

7 Hable Con Ella (Talk To Her) dir. Pedro Almodovar (2002)
So imaginatively structured, exquisitely controlled, and enigmatically moving that it's nearly impossible to wrap your head around in one go. It's a good thing then that Pedro's movies miraculous improve with repeated viewings... even when they were brilliant to begin with. "Cucurrucucú paloma, cucurrucucú no llores."

Tier 1
As sustaining as oxygen or water or pets or friends.
If you try to take them away from me, I
will cut you.

6 Fa Yeung Nin Wa (In the Mood For Love) dir. Wong Kar Wai (2000, released in 2001)
In a perfect world, I would always be fetching noodles or trying on cheomsangs with Maggie Cheung. Either that or writing wuxia and smoking with Tony Leung Chiu Wai. I'd gladly pay the price of heartbreak in the end.

5 Far From Heaven dir. Todd Haynes (2002)
Of all the things we have to thank Todd Haynes for: new ways of looking at Barbie dolls, Bob Dylan splintered, restless experimentation as cinematic life-blood, a mini Douglas Sirk revival, Ewan MacGregor naked and covered in glitter... this is the gift I cherish most: Julianne Moore in a purple scarf, waving love goodbye.

4 Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind dir. Michel Gondry (2004)
The Eyes: a singularly imaginative visualist in Gondry. The Brain: the twisty intellect of Charlie Kauffman. The Body: a great acting ensemble operating as one powerful machine. The Heart: a comic (Jim Carrey) positively aching with true drama. The Soul: one of the most elemental faces and emotional forces in cinematic history (Kate Winslet); It's the collaborative miracle movie of the decade, all its parts made greater by their interconnectedness.

3 Brokeback Mountain dir. Ang Lee (2005)
A love story for the ages. And one that quietly enrages.

2 Dancer in the Dark dir. Lars von Trier (2000)
1 Moulin Rouge! dir. Baz Luhrmann (2001)
List-making is, by its very nature, personal. If you're doing it right that is.

Selma & Satine. To quote the hilarious Moulin Rouge! FYC ads:

The story of the Aughts for this particular moviegoer was the rebirth of the musical. To yank the dead genre from its unfortunate grave, fearless visionary filmmakers and prodigiously gifted musicians were required. The impish deconstructionist (von Trier) provoked such genius from a totally modern composer (Björk) that ten years later you can still be transported with just a bar of "New World" or "I've Seen It All".

Then, the party of the decade. The inspired mashup conductor (Baz) and his darling stars (Nicole, Ewan, Jim) put on the messiest craziest livelest funniest tearjerking "Spectacular! Spectacular!" show on earth. I'd never claim it's a perfect movie but flaws are endearing when you love madly and deeply. and Love Is All You Need.

~ finis~


inessentials said...

Very happy to see someone else (finally!) cheering for Moulin Rouge! At the last minute, I knocked it to second, but it's easily the film I've loved the most, the longest, the hardest (what a huge talent).

MrJeffery said...

I love your list! Not a Moulin Rouge fan but Rachel Getting Married & Brokeback were fantastic. I'll be posting mine soon. Peace.

Amir said...

from the day you started, i knew moulin rouge would be your number one and that makes me really happy.
it makes my top five of the decade as well. the only movie of those five that you apparently didn't like is 'the Pianist'.
the inclusion of 'talk to her' and 'in the mood for love' (my number 1 and 2,) in the top ten also makes me smile.

GREAT list nat!

adam k. said...

Hehehe... called these 15 to a tee ; )

LOVE the top five. Absolutely the best picture ballot of the decade. I own them all. I actually own all of the top 13. I've never cared for Blood and Vera Drake as much as you, and have no real desire to rewatch them or see them on my shelf. But this list is sublime.

Love that 3 foreign films, and 2 Asian films, found a place in the top ten. And it's appropriate, really; the surge of great Asian & Spanish films (due mostly to wuxia, Wong, Lee, Mexico, and Pedro) was yet another big story of the decade.

Eternal Sunshine has really grown on me this decade as the perfect and utterly soulful film it is. And the two musicals are bliss. These films are what got me into cinema as a teenager. I literally owe my obsession to these films, among others.

Sad though that all of the top five (and nearly all of the whole top thirteen) hail from the first half of the decade. The aughts really dropped the ball toward the end... lots of ambitious, interesting films, but nothing that worked so flawlessly or transported us so magically as the ones on this list.

Sid said...

Moulin Rouge! deserbes it's place on any kind of "Best of the Aughts" list -- personal or otherwise!

My Tier 1 has 7 films:
The Lord of the Rings, Mulholland Drive, Dogville, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Moulin Rouge!, In the Mood for Love, Before Sunset

... in roughly that order. And the next film on that list is Punch-Drunk Love -- what a surprisingly great decade for romance!

Jeff said...

great list, my top 3 would probably be, Moulin Rouge,In The Mood For Love and Eternal Sunshine Of the spotless mind.

Benji said...

It is Luise Rainer's 100th birthday! Many happy returns to the oldest living Oscar winner!

Emma said...

Beautiful list! I adore Brokeback Mountain and Far from Heaven ♥

Ryan T. said...

Moulin Rouge! It's actually in my Top 5 of the decade as well. Great list!

Julian Stark said...

Awesome choice with Moulin Rouge!. Also love the love for Rachel Getting Married. Sure Hathaway was the best thing about it, but it was a brilliant film as well.

Have no clue if I'll ever post a best of the decade list :/

Unknown said...

I seem to recall you suggesting DITD could be best of the decade after 2000 was over. Kind of impressive that it stayed with you so long (deservedly so!) and became #2.

Can't argue with #1, though I'd probably put BBM or FFH in front of it on my own list.

Really awesome list as a whole!

adelutza said...

I remember when I first saw Moulin Rouge!, after 15 minutes half of the audience left the theatre ;-)

Kim said...

I am pretty sure Moulin Rouge is in my personal top 5 period. I will never forget seeing it in the theatres for the first time...and crying through a good deal of it cause I was so overwhelmed with awesomeness. But Baz's movies have that effect on me...

Sarah said...

A fine list, and I really enjoyed reading your thoughts on each of them - especially on Far From Heaven, Moulin Rouge, and Eternal Sunshine. Your passion for these films really seeps through your words.

Edward said...

A great list and very similar to my taste. Please see "The Lives of Others", I have a feeling you would have included it if you screened it.

Unknown said...

@ Edward
I was about to post the exact same thing.
The only film that I think is really missing from this is The Lives of Others.

OtherRobert said...

And...I love your list. Except for a certain crazy Jim Carrey film breaking into another top 10, of course.

Might I add: I'm loving Betty Davis in The Anniversary cackling away on your banner. Such masterful coordination of eye patch to ensemble will never be seen again.

Ivan R. Lopez said...

Loved your list. Just curious...no love for Amores Perros in your top 100???

Anonymous said...

I actually cheered at the end of your list, and then laughed at myself. There are so many movies here tat I've missed or never heard of that I was a little resigned to not recognizing the first one as well. Hooray for the unexpected!

Moulin Rouge is the only movie I've ever been in where the theater audience burst into applause in the *middle* of the film (at the end of the Elephant Lovesong Medley, then again at the beginning of Roxanne and Like a Virgin). It is a post-modern masterpiece complete with flaws, but a masterpiece nonetheless. It reminds me of Cabaret; the first half is a gorgeous buildup of frolicking fun, and the second half is a slow-motion train wreck that leaves me sobbing every time.

Karl said...

The suspense leading up to the Top 15 was killing me...nice job on the roll-out!

All of your top 15 were in my personal top 100, but we only overlapped on Far From Heaven at the upper end:

rtm said...

Agreed with LOTR and Moulin Rouge (apparently it's voted Best of the Decade in LOVEFILM survey: http://tinyurl.com/yhssvsy). It's Baz's finest that'd be tough to top. I have got to watch Eternal Sunshine pretty soon as it's practically on everyone's top list.

Dimitra said...

Really nice list, though I have to admit I haven't seen even half of them :P (but I want to)

I shed tears at this scene in Eternal Sunshine. Wonderful film.
LOTR of course is amazing, and so is Brockback Mountain.

I have to admit though, I was a little disappointed that you didn't include Atonement, it is one of my favorite films ever.

I've been reading your blog for about a year now, but this is the first time I post. Keep up the good work!;)

The Awards Prognosticator said...

I can't think of any movie this decade I love more than "Moulin Rouge!"

Anonymous said...

Not into Moulin Roige but its great to see Dancer in the dark, far from heaven and brokeback mountain.

Ben said...

Nice list. I'm a bit surprised Dancer ended up so high. My top 10 would probably share 5: Far From Heaven, Eternal Sunshine, Talk to Her, Crouching Tiger, and Rachel Getting Married (maybe).

This also makes me want to rewatch Vera Drake.

kent said...

great choices, nat. was it hard choosing the top three or were they already in your mind as the best this decade? still, great all around list!

Jim T said...

Thanks for this list Nathaniel. Moulin Rouge is indeed a diamond! And diamonds are a cinephile's bets friend. I guess that you, Nick and Guy showed so much love for Dancer in the Dark, I have to see it!

Anonymous said...

Today is Luise Rainer's 100th birthday. The oldest living Oscar winner.

gabrieloak said...

Moulin Rouge is a daring choice. I can understand the pick because despite some irritating editing, the movie has some exhilarating musical moments.

The only movie I hated in hour top 15 is There Will Be Blood. Pretentious to the core, with one of Daniel Day-Lewis's worst performances.

gabrieloak said...

And thanks for including two films by Ang Lee. Do you know he was recently called a hack by one of the Time Out New York film critics?

Travis said...

I'm still mad that Swank beat out Imelda Staunton's "Vera Drake", one of the best female performances of all-time (in addition to beating Winslet).

That category was stellar in 04, wasn't it? And yet they still manage to hand the statue to the least deserving performance.


Travis -- my discontent with 2004 is well known. It was such a great year for actressing that Hilary Swank wasn't even one of the *ten* best let alone five.

gabrieloak -- i'm assuming i know this film critic of which you speak and i will give him a kick in the pants next time i see him. He likes to say that. BOO.

Kent -- the entire top tier was hard... i changed the order a bajillion times.

DIMITRA -- thanks for being a first time commenter! and thanks for reading.

karl -- thanks

Mr.Jeffery -- let me know when you do.

Amir -- you knew it would be #1. I didn't even know this ;)

Amir said...

nathaniel, i read through the comments and as it sounds, you haven't seen 'the lives of others'.
is it true? if so that makes me REALLY happy, because i love that film and it's the only big omission on your list.

Amir said...

oh, and about your answer, haha.
i just had a feeling moulin rouge would come up really high. i was thinking you'd put either that or brokeback mountain. i'd be pleased with both :)

Jude said...

Adding Dancer in the Dark to the Netflix cue...now!

tesh said...

After nearly a decade of following you, it's great to see your flavor in sweepante fervor.

Yes, do watch 'The Lives of Others'.

And: THE BEST OF YOUTH ('La Meglio Gioventu') -- which for me is the movie of the decade, and probably my all-time favorite. It's 6 hours though, so may not qualify

Richter Scale said...

I would arrange them differently personally, but I still love your list. My favorite of the decade is, without a doubt, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, a film that I love not just for one thing, but for everything, the script, the acting, the visuals, the direction, the message, it's a film I always want to watch without distractions. There Will Be Blood would be #2 for me (such a majestic film), and I know I'm alone in this, but I would put Little Miss Sunshine in my top 5 (one of those films I love, warts and all) and Wall-E would also be in my top 5.

Moulin Rouge!, Top Ten easy, around #8 or #9 (I watched that film 20 times in one week, in four different languages on a ship in the Mediterranean, true story), and Hable Con Ella would also be in there. I still want to give 2009films a chance to settle before making my list definitive, but those are the films that would most likely be in there.

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

Your picks are awesome and I love everything on the list... except 1... I hate Vera Drake with a passion I´ve never felt for almost any film before. Staunton was really good, but the movie was so obvious and predictable to me, that I really despise it. I generally love Mike Leigh movies (Secrets & Lies and Happy-Go-Lucky are probably in my top 20 films of all time), but I hated everything in Vera Drake except the acting. Maybe I should see it again, but nothing about this film made me even slightly care for the characters or their predicament. I just kept thinking when the characters did something, "How stupid are you?" "Don´t do that, it´s ridiculous.", "You know this is gonna turn out bad, right?" and "Duh, what did you expect would happen?"

Seriously, I hated this film and I am definitely am not a pro-lifer. So anyone that takes umbrage with my hatred of this film, it is not a legitimate reason to think I´m crazy or stupid for hating the film.

City_Of_Lights said...

Legend has it Baz lured Kidman to take Moulin Rouge by sending her roses with a note that said "She sings! She dances! She dies!"

Nice list Nat.

Fernando Moss said...

pretty great list overall, of course we have differet tastes (Moulin Ruge! is not even near my TOP 100 and DitD is more like between 80-100) but still love it cuz it includes a lot of titles that are not the "default" for a lot of critics/people/awards...

kin said...

As a long time reader, I have a feeling that Moulin Rouge would be your top spot. Doesn't make it more bearable though, because I really did not like that movie. At all.

Bryan said...

@Travis-- I completely agree with you and Nate. Depending on the day, I would have given the award to either Winslet or Staunton, but not Swank. I personally think that was one of the weakest Best Actress performances of the decade to win (in comparison to what the other nominees were-- I'm not saying Swank was bad). Looking back on the decade, I also worry about the turnout of the 2001 Best Actress race, but that's another story.

Anonymous said...

OFF TOPIC NEWS: Graham King confirms that Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck will direct Jolie and Depp in The Tourist: http://hollywoodinsider.ew.com/2010/01/12/tourist-director-angelina-jolie-and-johnny-depp/


kin -- there's always another year .... in which we may agree (or not) ;)

Ryan Ray said...

Ahh Moulin Rouge at #1? Soooo predictable Nathaniel, so predictable haha. I didn't really think anything else would be at your top spot! I guess I'll have to try watching it again, although I feel it would be better in a huge theater than my tiny t.v.

I think Rachel Getting Married will be looked at more kindly in the future.

Dancer in the Dark was revelatory for me.

John T said...

Lord of the Rings, imo, was the best thing to come across cinematically this decade. However, I can't think of anything better in Entertainment than ABC's brilliant Lost. Even at its worst, it's an exhausting thrill ride.

Anonymous said...

Great list. My only complaint is that there is no Pan's Labyrinth. That is one of the most imaginative and heart-wrenching movies I've ever seen.

St. Jimmy said...

Glad to see love for Eternal Sunshine and Brokeback being so high. But my favorite part is RGM! I actually have it at 7 on my top of the decade, but quite honestly it could be higher in the future! ;) Not quite sure why everyone loves Moulin Rouge, I haven't seen it in about four years, but I will definitely give it another try very soon!

Glenn said...

Wonderful! Such a great list.

History of Violence is the only weak link of the list for me. There are a couple of B+ titles in the top 15 (Talk to Her, Return of the King), but everything else is literally an A- or A movie so well done!

pasifauna said...

I remember going to see Moulin Rouge in a multiplex. It was first movie I have seen in the city I have just started to live alone at the age of 18. I remember the sensational feeling of connection in the movie theatre, among the people who had seen a marvelous movie. I remember how I just could not get the tunes out of my head for weeks. Later on, I naively thought I liked that movie bc I was so young and did not see my share of movies and I am easily awed. Now after all these years and hundreds of movies, I can confidently say that I loved that movie because it was one of its kind.

Notafilmstar said...

I love your list Nate. MR was, togetehr with Pretty Woman, the very first DVD i ever got. i actually got them as birthday gifts just before I discovered your website and you were then doing the actresses list in 2005 I think. and if i recall Nicle topped both yours and your readers' list

Unknown said...

Where's "The Hours?" Excluding that film from any list is a crime lol.

And frankly "Chicago" was better than Baz Lurhmann's over-hyped extravaganza. I don't hate Moulin Rouge, it's quite the musical treat....just not too qualified to top a list.


Nigel -- The Hours is in the #50-#31 section i believe. You just have to click over there to see it.

pasifauna -- a happy full circle moment for you. thanks for sharing. it's weird how things we love in our youth go, some of them get fully justified later on. Others...

adam k -- in terms of the first half of the aughts being better. I fully agree. But I wonder if i rated Rachel too low. And also, it's just my nature that I love movies more after I've spent a lot of time with them. I'm not one of those people who lives for the last thing I just saw, like y'know, awards show voters ;)

Tim said...

As many people have mentioned, your #1 is no surprise at all, but it's still extraordinarily gratifying. One of my all-time favorite movies, and the only film from my "ten for a desert island" list from the past decade.

october said...

I love you. Your top 5 is absolute perfection --except I haven't seen Dancer in the Dark but am adding it to my Netflix Queue right after posting this-- because I couldn't agree with your top 5 more. Moulin Rouge! might be my favorite movie, and it is certainly the top on my imaginary decade list.

MrCaliDude said...

I am surprised that I don't see "Yi Yi" (directed by Edward Yang) on the list. Perhaps you haven't seen it?

Unknown said...

I cannot believe this! No one is giving "Chicago" some love...not even the slightest....come on people, ALL THAT JAZZ? anyone? oh well, the Oscar win for best picture is as far as the recognition goes lol.

Cody-B said...

Why is there nothing from 2009?


Cody-B... because i need some time to mull 2009 over. My awards will be leaking out from now until through February


MrCaliDude.... YIYI and THE LIVES OF OTHERS are probably the most acclaimed movies that I missed this decade. So of course people have mentioned them ;) I see 100 movies a year but i always miss something.

Javi Morales said...

Wow, great list!
Congratulations for listing your favorite movies for each year since 1915!

I missed in your list some of my favorites: Cidade de Deus, Adaptation, Le fabuleux destin d'Amelie Poulin, Memento...

Dubai said...

Delightful. Thanks for sharing.