Wednesday, December 30, 2009

the top 50 movies of the decade!

As I'm typing this I'm rolling with the waves of the Carnival cruise ship Elation. It's about 75 cents a minute, so I don't think I'm going to finish this list before the new decade begins. However, since I'm starting this post on the 30th (I think that's today), it should pop up as my final post of the 2000s.

I've noticed on Twitter lately that people are sick of lists. I can't get enough of them, obviously. Plus the decade thing only happens maybe seven or eight times in a lifetime, so I seriously have a sense of duty to make a list such as this one. Here we go, get ready to disagree:

50. The Wrestler
This movie totally validated my fear that professional wrestlers are people too. Hey, just because it's fake it doesn't mean it's not obliterating bodies and breaking up families!

49. The Hurt Locker
Here's actually the first movie ever to use pretty severe shaky-cam (where the camera itself isn't a character) that didn't bug me. In fact, it was a terribly effective use of it. Way to make a good war movie focusing on individual psychology.

48. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
I wasn't actually a super big fan of the Lord of the Rings movies, but some mention needs to be made of their achievement. I think the first one was far better than the other ones. Far less WETA-oriented. The CGI came a long way with these films but it was way toned down in Fellowship and was far more immersive for me. Plus, there was this incredible forest tracking shot in the end that was quite breathtaking.

47. Meet the Parents
I told my mom and soon-to-be stepdad to see this one and it nearly derailed the wedding. Nevertheless I think this movie really birthed the decade's trademarked method of "awkward" humor. Of course I'm WAY sick of that humor type now.

46. Memento
Ehcysp eht sa llew sa dlrow eht ot liated gnitaicurcxe htiw taht riap. Dekrow taht kcimmig a s'ti.

45. Juno
Had a lot of fun with the "food baby" quoting for a good while, but I didn't really appreciate how well it was written until Maria and I discovered that we saw the characters in two completely different ways depending on our points of view.

44. School of Rock
I'm not a Jack Black hater, but he can be used wrong. I think he was used correctly here -- a manic high voltage humor dynamo with a sweet amount of heart. Plus, what better messenger to bring the message of the exhilaration that comes with rock 'n roll to children?

43. Serenity
Personally, I like the television show more, but the movie fleshed out lots of stuff I wanted to know from the series. If you don't think a science fiction movie with a huge branch in the old west cowboy genre can be cool, you're wrong. You may just need to face a fact you never considered -- you yourself may not be cool.

42. The Fast and the Furious
Didn't think I'd love this movie much, but somehow it got hold of every speck of what little frat-boy, fast cars, loose women aspects in me and totally fired on all cylinders.

41. Casino Royale
Hey, I love most all James Bond movies, but the gritty reboot made me actually look forward to 20 more.

40. Watchmen
I would have liked the director to have taken more chances, but this thing is a fine fine adaptation of my favorite graphic novel. Sometimes a flipbook set of photocopies based on a wonderful painting can offer its own form of exhilaration.

39. No Country for Old Men
There is a reason why movie makers don't take chances with storytelling conventions and plot structure. They work. Why mess with them? The result might not work. This one worked though. Oh man it worked.

38. Grindhouse
This is technically two movies, but the experience was pretty sweet. Too bad I saw a mall theater on a Thursday night with five other five people instead of at midnight in a seedy theater packed with miscreant scum.

37. Hellboy
I came into this superhero movie late. Saw it on dvd last year I believe. Loved it though. Loved that world. Sort of pulpy like Indiana Jones with some new-school comic supernatural irony thrown in.

36. The Royal Tenenbaums
Lots of fans of Wes Anderson consider this one his weakest. I think it's the only one worth watching at all and the one that actually sorta touched me.

35. High Fidelity
Obsessing over girls. Obsessing over music. Obsessing over lists. I like this movie.

34. The Departed
What a wonderful combination of good guys vs. bad guys but from both sides and with good and bad totally blurred for us and for the characters. Plus Marky Mark is freaking amazing.

33. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
You may not have heard of this, but the story is told through the single eye of a guy completely paralyzed. We see his vision and his memories and it's stunningly beautiful.

32. Austin Powers in Goldmember
I know this seems a little lowbrow, but I liked the third Austin Powers movie was 20 times more hilarious than the other two. "There's only two things I hate in this world. People who are intolerant of other people's cultures and the Dutch."

31. 24 Hour Party People
This sort of has a documentary feel to it, but is mostly acted out like a mockumentary -- even though the events actually happened. Sometimes they break a few rules -- like sort of a surreal-umentary. Anyway, this is the story of Factory Records -- the record company in Manchester in the 70s and 80s. Amazing music: Joy Division, Happy Mondays and eventually New Order. One of the reasons I want a time machine is to visit that era and location.

30. Pieces of April
Best Thanksgiving movie ever. Makes me cry and believe in family.

29. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Best book. Best movie. Easy. Suddenly, amazingly Harry Potter's world seemed believable. Plus I totally dig the unique play on introducing the new character with questionable actions through the entire movie -- keeping the main characters, and us, in the dark.

28. Training Day
Not even close to a horror movie, but may have been one of the scariest movies I've EVER seen. That scene in the bathtub? Yikes. Remember how there was a big fuss about Denzel beating Russel Crowe for A Beautiful Mind that year? Pffft. No question. Denzel was all over this. King Kong's got nothing on him.

27. New York Doll
How very strange. Here's a Mormon movie that actually sorta touched me a little. Watch it if you haven't. I think you'll be surprised. Excellent rock lesson too.

26. Star Trek
Obviously this is on the list. I mean, I run a Star Trek podcast for cryin' out loud. I'll just say that I'm glad they took a few chances with this one. Different direction, but they definitely CARED about it. Surprisingly this thing had a bunch of the same writers for the new Transformers movies. They royally screwed up what was my entire life from 1984 to 1987, but at least I still got Star Trek carryin' on.

25. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Can I use the word legendary? I actually mean it like I got the feeling that the tale truly was a legend -- even though I had just heard it (and I'm pretty sure it's not centuries old or anything (although I did do a quick internet search and discovered that the author of the book it's based on died in 1977 -- so there's a chance the story is almost 100 years old)). Anyway, out of all the movies on my list, this is the easiest one to use the word beautiful on. It's like dancing perfectly with the most beautiful person to the most beautiful music.

24. The Fall
Okay, maybe I spoke too soon on doling out the official beautiful ranking. This sucker's just about the most visually arresting thing I've ever seen. Much thanks to Lucia for being my supplier for this one.

23. The King of Kong
This may be one of the most entertaining documentaries I've ever seen. It's about two guys playing video games, but it's strangely accessible even to people who consider the subjects complete losers. The doc somehow goes beyond that. Even if you have a life, you can't help but cheer on Steve and boo and hiss Billy.

22. Match Point
Quite effective. Here's an intriguing Woody Allen movie. Half the people I know would never think of seeing one of his films (and never ever will), but if his name weren't in the credits for this one they'd never even know it was him. The film is slow and long (his longest), but it's an amazing subtle whirlpool of descent.

21. Slumdog Millionaire
I'll use the word beautiful again -- even the poverty was beautiful in that it was beautifully captured (and thus more poignant). Hey we all saw this. We all cheered.

20. Love Actually
Would you believe I just saw this for the first time like a month ago? Not a moment too soon either. Way to cram romance in as another necessary theme of Christmas! Mission accomplished!

19. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
I actually don't always like Charlie Kauffman's writing. This one though was tremendous to me. A love story about hurt and purging -- and the knowledge that just forgetting about things doesn't erase their existence.

18. Role Models
As the decade wore on humor became more and more about cynicism and irony. This movie began a welcome trend to reverse that. Yes it's absolutely hilarious. Yes it's dirty. But, in the end it's absolutely feel good. Can you imagine the restraint of not taking cheap shots at Larpers?

17. (500) Days of Summer
This is sort of a guys' chick flick. It's a story that needed to be told. We've all been there and it was simply so lucid to see it played out. Plus, I heard that they purposely used a blue filter to film with to bring out Zooey Deschanel's eyes. Zowie.

16. Inglourious Basterds
In a lot of ways this may be Tarantino's most accessible film. Surely it's the most linear. Personally I think the guy's desired themes are far more structured nowdays -- and well layered underneath the mounds of dialogue. I think this is one we'll be talking about years from now and what the thing is actually saying (after we cool down from that crazy Nazi butt-kicking sequence at the end).

15. The Dark Knight
Who would have thought that Jack Nicholson's amazing game-changing interpretation of The Joker would be so amazingly replaced by Heath Ledger's? Thank goodness such a creature can only exist in films and in our nightmares (I mean think about it -- the guy's most cherished value is anarchy, randomness and chaos, but there's no chance he'd be able to pull off what he accomplishes in the movie without the most meticulous and ordered series of events ever). Anyway, we also get a great fleshing of character in Commissioner Gordon. Plus, the story arc and the rising/falling character progression is really all about Harvey Dent. Such a wonderful crowd of characterization in a tense, lively action movie! Oh yeah, also Batman's in it.

14. The Incredibles
Here's when I think Pixar really started flying off the rails out of wonderful children's whimsy and into something wonderfuller. Although it's still obviously cute I really took this movie seriously as a comic-action movie. I could tell the folks knew their superhero lore too. Combination of Watchmen and Fantastic Four and better than both (at least film-wise).

13. Unbreakable
Another superhero movie. I found this to be a fascinating exploration of pre-heroism psychology if that makes any sense. Here's a guy who doesn't even really know he's a hero. I think he doesn't even know he's a good guy. It certainly works both ways.

12. Moulin Rouge!
A straight up musical that utilizes every edge and weight of classic pop songs. Confession. I never heard "Your Song" by Elton John until I saw this. How did that happen? I blame the world. How is it possible that I never heard that song until I saw Moulin Rouge? Now that and 20 other songs I'll fondly remember that song and 20 others as a part of this wonderful heart-breaking love story.

11. X2
Another superhero movie. Lame title aside, this might be my favorite superhero movie. Perhaps it doesn't hurt that I own the first 500 issues of Uncanny X-Men. Nightcrawler is one of my favorite characters of anything ever. Also a clincher -- just when I thought they'd play it safe, Wolverine gets out his claws and just goes nuts on some U.S. soldiers. Take that Comics Code Authority!

10. The Ring
I was entertained all throughout, but it wasn't until I got home at one in the morning that night that I realized that The Ring was the only horror movie all decade that legitimately scared me.

9. The Prestige
Too bad there aren't more summer movies like this one. Not an action movie, but a grand fantastical period piece about extreme obsession in science and magic. The conflict is threaded together with a half dozen dualities. Fact and fiction all twisted together into science and illusion. This type of speculative fiction is what movies were made for.

8. Shaun of the Dead
Much thanks to Jen for lending me this gem last year. Since then, I've seen it three more times. Lemme just mention something about Edgar Wright. I think for most people comedy is simply writing. Tell some joke. Make people laugh. Wright is a meticulous master of comedic directing. It's the attention to detail, the timing and the realism of his direction that makes this comedy so funny and not just jokes.

7. Donnie Darko
I love this movie with very little defense for it. When people tell me they hate it, and then explain why, I'm forced to agree. It doesn't make much sense. It's easy to make fun of. I just enjoy watching it so much though. It's a strange nonsensical world that I just immerse myself in. It's like having a weird dream and then talking about it as fast as you can before you forget it. Killer soundtrack helps. Opening shot to the sounds of Echo and the Bunnymen puts a smile on my face right from the beginning.

6. Mean Girls
It is so fetch!

5. Kill Bill Vol. 2
Lots of people liked this one more than volume 1 more. With good reason I think. Very well put together. The fight with Ellie in the trailer is amazing/rockin'/funny. Plus, the confrontation combined with the complexities of... actually I better not talk about it if you haven't seen volume 1.

4. Once
I don't tend to like the type of music in this movie, but seeing these non-actors earnestly tell this amazingly simple story through the music is simply elating. Can't even explain it in words. I wish I could in music. Can't carry a tune though.

3. Kill Bill Vol. 1
This movie was an absolute gateway. After I saw this movie I fell in love with movies. Before this one I considered movies just enjoyable. Now movies are storytelling devices of infinite potential. Somehow, all the crazy elements: choreography, dialogue, music, editing, camerawork -- all of it came together, supplanted their own cheesiness, and created one of the grooviest experiences of my existence.

2. Wall-E
Maybe I'm ranking it a bit high, but once again kudos to Pixar for not just making a cartoon. I found it a great science fiction story. Also, a lot of weight is put on love stories with that killer, snappy dialogue -- as if it's the words that are so important in love. Hey, here's a wonderful love story that shows rather than tells.

1. Hot Rod
Okay okay okay. This is NOT the best movie of the decade. I had to pick something though so I may as well pick the movie I've seen the most times. Also it's a movie that I own and I think I know more people who own it than just about any other movie. Plus, it's a movie where, on more than one occasion during the decade, I demanded that we watch it IMMEDIATELY upon discovering that someone in the room hadn't seen it. Also, it's got the best seen it-to-loved it ratio than any movie I know. Thanks Hot Rod! My friends and I enjoyed all 23 times we watched you!


Anonymous The Mad Giggler said...

Did you purposely organize your list to foment discontent? My brain almost exploded just scanning your list. Seriously, put you, me, and Joey in a room to discuss movies and I'm pretty sure no one comes out alive.

January 05, 2010 8:26 AM  
Blogger Maria said...

One point.

"This is sort of a guys' chick flick"

I will defend until the day I die (and probably longer) that 500 Days of Summer is not a dude's film or a chick's film.

I know you threw in the whole "we've all been there" thing, but you will not believe how many guys I've talked to use this as an example of how awful girls are in relationships.

Again, I will fight that point FOREVER.

January 05, 2010 9:24 AM  
Blogger Laura Lee said...

I forgot all about New York Doll.

January 05, 2010 10:03 AM  
Blogger Scott said...

Great list, i love lists, I especially love lists with which I can mostly agree. Star Trek, Hot Rod and Shaun of the Dead should be on any list of the 2000's.

January 05, 2010 1:14 PM  
Blogger Mickael said...

Excellent list. In fact it is so good that it made me want to watch the few movies I haven't seen.

January 13, 2010 6:16 PM  
Blogger Tara said...

Here are my thoughts:

1. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was NOT that great of a movie. I personally feel that the movies have gotten better and better. If I'm remembering correctly, this movie didn't follow the plot too closely. Or maybe I'm just still ticked that Sirius turned out to be ugly when he's always described as hansome in the books. But I do agree, however, that the 3rd book is one of the best. That's the one I always recommend to people if they haven't read the series. Start with the 3rd because that's where the plot really starts to develop.

2. I loved "Eternal Sunshine for the Spotless Mind" and think everyone who has ever been in any type of relationship should watch it.

3. How could you put Mean Girls in and not You've Got Mail?? You've Got Mail has WAY more substance than that. Honestly.

January 22, 2010 3:49 PM  
Blogger joN. said...

mg- your list would cause more discontent if you had one

maria- sure. it's more for guys than the standard date movie. so it's sort of in the direction of being for guys if not entirely.

mike- what movies haven't you seen?

and of course tara-

1. harry potter freaks are up in arms all the time about this with me. hp3 is interesting to me because it is an incredibly immersive stand-alone movie that isn't bogged down by the details of the book -- yet it's got some awesome details of its own. no sense in making a movie exactly like its source. then it's just by definition a lesser copy rather than a work of art itself.

2. agreed.

3. okay, this is hilarious. out of all the movies on there you picked mean girls to compare to you've got mail? also, we've had this conversation before -- so i assume you're referencing this as a private joke, but you've got mail came out in 1998 -- and is therefore ineligible for inclusion on the best movies of the decade. i don't know how you keep referencing it as a recent movie. you must have been like 7 when it came out. so argue with me about the best movies of the 90s.

January 22, 2010 4:34 PM  
Blogger Tara said...

Ah. You got me. I always forget that You've Got Mail came out in 98. I think just because I watch it more than any other movie, it still seems recent to me. And you were WRONG. I was not 7 when it came out.

I was 10.

January 22, 2010 6:04 PM  

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