Friday, January 15, 2010

Top 20 Movies of the Decade (according to me)


Currently having issues with uploading photo's here. Did I forget a step or something? As a result, my long-awaited (by my own conscience) Greece post is further delayed until I figure it all out. Furthermore, this post itself is going to look quite dull and for all I know will be dull...very text heavy. But I like text. It implies I have a lot to say, which I always do, and today's topic simmering in my brain deals with movies. I ADORE lists, especially end-of-year/decade/century lists. I've pored over every year-end issue of EW with absolute delight and dream of the day when I'm so savvy in pop-culture that I can actually reference in my memory half of what they list. I also am addicted to their website and the daily content that they can't squeeze into the print edition. One such thing was the movie critic's top ten movies of the decade. As most of you know, I think Lisa Schwarzbaum is my movie soul mate and while I didn't agree with every movie on her list (largely b/c I haven't seen them yet), it did inspire me to attempt my own list with my much more limited depth of movies I've seen over the past 10 years. And I also have too much to say, so I've extended mine to include 20 movies.

To qualify, this list is prone to change (b/c I'm sure I've forgotten some or overlooked others), is not saying they are the best movies of the decade, but rather, what I consider the best for me(and we all know I am prone to bias and error), and really is just for fun and to open up discussion. It would be REALLY fun to see your own lists or hear what you have to say about mine. Also, these are movies that were released in theatres from January 1, 2000 to December 31, 2009. It does not include movies that I just happened to see this decade but were released at another time (so, while I adored Rear Window but only saw it a few years ago, it doesn't go on the list). Without further ado, here they are in backwards order:

20: Identity (2003)- I love a good scary movie. I go to way too many supposedly scary/horror movies hoping to truly be terrified only to leave disappointed and grossed out. And while there are a few other contenders for the scary movie slot on this list (not that I have designated slots, but for such a hard list to make, I thought I should settle on one scary movie), Identity really stands out for me as blood-chillingly good. It takes a classic concept of picking the characters off (a'la Agatha Christies "Ten Little Indians"), adds a psychological element and gives us a nice twist at the end. Plus, the creepy rhyme they use still can give me the heebie-jeebies. Honorable Mentions: Paranormal Activity, The Descent, The Others, The Grudge

19: About A Boy (2002)- A great movie about how we need a support system to make it through the day. It has a fantastic musical climactic scene that is both cringe-worthy to watch and triumphant. Plus, Hugh Grant in a dramatic role needs to happen more per this movie. And I love all things British, so that helps as well.

18: Sweeney Todd (2007)- My exposure to this musical outside of this film is virtually non-existent. Pre-movie, this was largely b/c I was dependent on my musical theatre knowledge based on what my siblings performed in. Post-movie, I don't want to taint my wonderful experience with the film. I simply loved it; the over-the-top blood (clearly meant to be cartoonish and not realistic), the singing by actors who are actually singing, the Burton elements, a great tale of revenge set to song. I'm singing "Pretty Women" in my head as I type. Not to mention, while in London, is there a better song to sing through the streets of Picadilly Circus than "No Place Like London"?

17: Minority Report (2002)- Dystopian stories are my jam, and this one is particularly good b/c you can really see how a good idea can have severe unintended consequences. This was pre-crazy Tom Cruise, so I was front row center when it came out and I'm glad I was. It is also a feast for the eyes, yet doesn't let go of the action or heart of the story. Honorable Dystopian Film Mentions: Children of Men, The Road

16: There Will Be Blood (2008)- This is a movie one either loves or hates. I loved it, hence it being on the list. Daniel Day Lewis is simply fantastic, the story is tragic, and the overall feeling is haunting yet simple. Plus, any movie that can make "I drink your milkshake" a popular quote/insult makes it worth a second and third look.

15: Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004)- I'm really surprised at the number of people I've met who don't think this movie is funny. I remember weeping with laughter at it in the theatre and continuing to enjoy it on subsequent viewings. Steve Carrell (pre Office fame) was my favorite supporting character, still making me laugh at his clueless "I love lamp", and Will Ferrell hams it up perfectly. Meh, guess there are two kinds of people in this world--those who love Anchorman and those who don't. Honorable Will Ferrell Comedy Mention: Talladega Nights, Elf

14: Mystic River (2003): Ah, the movie that introduced me to both Dennis Lehane and Clint Eastwood directed movies. Oh, and movies I like Sean Penn in...It is a shakespearean-esque tale of murder and lies in working-class Boston with amazing jobs done by Penn, Tim Robbins and Kevin Bacon. Simply beautiful. Honorable Sean Penn/Clint Eastwood/Dennis Lehane Movie Mention: Milk, Invictus, Gone Baby Gone

13: The Prestige (2006): I came into this movie only this past year. And while my opinion of who is the worst of the villains differs from the rest of our family, it doesn't mean it isn't still a great movie with a fantastic twist that on first viewing is impossible to guess. Plus, who doesn't love to learn a bit behind the scenes of magic? And I love seeing David Bowie in almost everything he does (Labrynth anyone??? Or that Extras episode???).

12: Kill Bill: Volume 2 (2004): The first one is amazing as well, but it is in the second installment that we really get the emotion of the movies. It is just a fun revenge tale with a truly awesome female heroine who is kicking butt and taking names. Like Sweeney Todd, the violence in this is too colorful and over-the-top to really be grotesque, so I'm able to enjoy it (I hate realistic gore). And her time in Japan with bearded guy is perfect.

11: Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)- Whether or not the other installments were really necessary (I tend to lean towards not, even though I enjoyed them), this first one was a great summer movie. Swashbucklingly fun with dreamy male leads and a female lead who could almost always fend for herself. And pirates? You can't go wrong with pirates. Honorable Swashbuckling Mentions: The Count of Monte Cristo, Stardust

10: The Dark Knight (2008)- I need to see this movie again. A repeat viewing just might bump it higher on the list. But after only seeing it once, I still know it is probably the best comic-book adaptation I have ever seen and the best of the Batman franchise (and that is saying something since I have a place in my heart reserved for the campy Batman Forever). I remember going into watching this worrying that it had been over-hyped, and being delighted when acknowledging that it hadn't. Not in the slightest. Honorable Comic Book Mentions: X-Men (all movies), Batman Begins, Spiderman

9: Memento (2000)- One of the few movies I watched twice in a 24 hour period (but largely b/c I was soooooo confused, wonderfully so). It is just a great and original concept, with an under appreciated lead in Guy Pearce and leaves you with multiple discussion points. Truly mind-blowing. Honorable Mind-Blowing Mentions: Donnie Darko, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Unbreakable

8: Bridget Jones Diary (2001)- Taking Pride and Prejudice elements (especially dreamy Mr. Darcy) and making a comedic heroine the average girl can relate to and add in the best romantic movie kiss of ALL TIME, and you have my favorite rom-com of the aughties. It was a tough decision, but this movie just makes me smile, from the beginning with Bridget singing "All By Myself" all by herself (hilariously drunk on wine) to the fight scene with "It's Raining Men" playing, to that last scene with the kiss in the snow, it's perfection. And British. You all remember how much I love the Brit's, so this should come as no surprise. Honorable Rom-Com Mentions: Miss Congeniality, The Holiday, 50 First Dates, The Proposal, Enchanted, Kate and Leopald, Serendipity

7: Moulin Rouge (2001)- I tell anyone new to this movie that you have to stick with it past the first crazy thirty minutes and then you are in cinematic heaven. I just love this romantic tragedy with it's great pop-musical elements. And I recently read a critic's unique take on the movie that I have to agree with, that the movie has some clearly dissonant elements and scenes that only serve to further highlight the beauty and gloriousness of the love story and songs.

6: O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)- There are many Coen brothers movies I like, but this is my favorite. What a great allegorical tale with absolute hilarity and an appreciation for the Deep South. This was a movie that had to grow on me and boy did it ever. It's like a hysterical tumor on my brain. I love movies that are completely unexpected and make it work. Honorable Coen Mentions: No Country For Old Men

5: Casino Royale (2006)- It must first be mentioned that I hate the Bond franchise. I find it sexist, unrealistic (and not in a good way) and simply over-rated (and I really wanted to give Pierce Brosnan a chance). But this movie changed it all. It is a fantastic action movie that revitalizes an immortal character and makes me actually care about him. It is just so good, I can't help but watch whenever I catch it playing on cable. And Daniel Craig? SO dreamy. In my opinion, the best action movie of the decade and possibly one of the best I will ever see. Honorable Action Mentions: The Bourne Trilogy, Wanted

4: Ocean's Eleven (2001)- This movie is the quintessential feel-good, have fun at the movies kind of movie. It is just so highly entertaining and well-scripted. It has a great ending, a perfect heist, and a stellar cast. I want to hang out with those guys. They clearly had such a great time making it (and all other installments) that how can we not have a great time watching it?

3: Finding Nemo (2003)- It was tough picking just one pixar movie, but this one is it for me. Granted, I haven't seen Wall-E yet, so I reserve the right to shift things around. Finding Nemo though is my favorite pixar/animated film after the Toy Story's and A Bug's Life. When you have a pixar movie, you know it's going to be amazing. This one had me crying, then laughing, then crying with laughter, then cheering, then laughing and crying again. And I don't even particularly adore fish! Honorable Animated Mentions: All other pixar films released this decade

2: Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003)- How I wish this movie had come out any other year besides Return of the King year. I would have rooted for it so hard to have won best picture, you don't even know. It flows perfectly, between tense action and the calms in between. It has a great relationship between the captain and the doctor. The music is simply perfect. I still can't really explain why this movie moved me as much as it did and why I love it so devotedly, I just do. Russell Crowe certainly doesn't hurt (he is my almost sure-bet for a movie being great). Honorable Russell Crowe Mentions: Cinderella Man, State of Play, Gladiator, A Beautiful Mind, 3:10 To Yuma

1: Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001-2003)- Like there was any doubt in anyone's mind about my number one. I won't say anything that hasn't already been said by our whole family since I know we are all on the same page here. Basically, these are the best films I will ever see in my entire life. And you know what? That's okay. Because finding number 2 (b/c the three clearly count as one movie) and number 3 on is still a lot of fun.

So there it is. Hope some of this took you back down memory lane, and that some of these have inspired you to watch a movie for the first or second time. Like I said before, I KNOW I've missed some things and am eager to hear your suggestions for what I left out. The honorable mentions were just random and my way to acknowledging what I'm aware of that didn't make the list. It should be noted that I am still catching up on the majority of my 2008 and 2009 movies, so I'm sure a couple of them I have yet to see will make there way onto this list. Also, how interesting that nothing from 2005 made it. Was it just a crappy movie year for me, or am I just blocking it all from memory? Anyways, thanks for indulging me...I'm off to watch one of these amazing films!!!