Friday, January 15, 2010

Best of the Decade: Movies

I'm constantly debating myself on the criteria for my favorite movies of the decade. Ultimately, I decided to only include movies I own - with exceptions.

Exception one: documentaries. I have seen some exceptional documentaries, but I don't own any of them. I figured I'd be doing those docs and my faithful readers a disservice by not including them.

Exception two: movies I expect to own or think I own. Think I own? Movies I've tried to watch several times, only to be frustrated by their absence from my library. But when I go shopping for movies, I never remember to look for them (because I think I own them.) So I'm counting those movies. Besides, it's my blog and my list, and I make the rules.

So, here are my favorite movies of the decade, once again in alphabetical order. I'm still torn between some of the movies on the official list and my honorable mention. I just love so many movies! If you like the illustrations, check out the work of Elloh at her Etsy shop.
  1. Almost Famous. Hands down my favorite Cameron Crowe film of the decade. A teenage boy goes on the road as a rock journalist and discovers himself and his passion. Crowe based the film on his own life experiences and the authenticity helps the movie resonate. It also has great characters. Watching this movie makes me shake my head at Kate Hudson's career choices. Her breakthrough performance 10 years ago is far and away the best performance of her career.

  2. Amelie. Love at first sight, baby. Some movies pull you in instantly, like this one. How can you not be charmed by Amelie and her romantic journey and her quest to help others find happiness? Add in the city of Paris and gorgeous cinematography, and you have a winner. Seriously, check this movie out now.

  3. Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. (Before Sunrise came out in 1995, but I saw it in 2003. And you need to watch them in order, so I'm including both.) I like to think I would appreciate these movies even if I hadn't backpacked through Europe, but I can't be sure. The opening sequence of Sunrise left me giddy because it was so true to life. You meet strangers on trains, have deep and personal conversations, and alter your plans to travel with them, all before exchanging names. I lived it. From there, I was hooked. Nine years later, the sequel arrived, and I think I like it more than the original. The movies are one long conversation, set in Vienna and Paris, so don't expect much in terms of plot. But the point is the conversation and the relationship. Heads up: you might not like the ending, but I think it's perfect.

  4. The Best of Youth. I've written about this Italian miniseries before, and I will keep encouraging you to watch it. The movie follows two brothers throughout their lives set against the backdrop of Italian history. It stars, who I like to call, the Italian Hugh Jackman, and it's just captivating. Great storytelling. And over the course of six hours (not a typo) you feel connected to the characters. And by the closing scene, you feel closure. The final scene is one of my favorites of the film because it communicated so much without words.

  5. Brothers (the original Danish version). I just wrote about this film, so I won't say much more. This movie nails the nuances of all kind of relationships and manages to express so much with very little. And it's far superior to the recent American remake.

  6. City of God. This film is about the slums of Brazil and what you must do to survive, with our hero using his love of photography to escape his surroundings. It's not easy to watch, but it is beautifully made. Somehow it wasn't nominated for the foreign film category in its eligible year, but returned the following year with director, cinematography, editing and screenplay nominations. So it's a well-made film.

  7. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Is there any genre film Ang Lee can't direct and direct well? I loved many things about this film: the breathtaking fight sequences, the dominant role of women, the heart.

  8. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Charlie Kaufman and Michel Gondry team up and the result is better than any of their solo efforts. Loved the originality (it won the Oscar for original screenplay)! The movie is such a fun, unique journey. Kate Winslet should have won her first Oscar for this performance. She is outstanding!

  9. Grizzly Man. Fascinating is the best word to describe this movie. It's about a man who devoted his life to studying bears, believing that they are misunderstood by the human world. He lives with the bears every summer and this movie uses his own footage to chronicle his life until he is mauled to death (not shown). Fascinating.

  10. Little Miss Sunshine. How can I leave off the movie that made me laugh more than any other movie I can remember. After I saw this movie, I called several people to tell them to go see this movie immediately. And I couldn't stop laughing long enough to do much talking. I also couldn't fall asleep because I kept remembering scenes in my head and laughing.

  11. Memento. I say that my movie obsession began when my aunt took me to see the Spitfire Grill in high school, but Memento played a key role as well. I watched a lot of odd movies in college, and some were just awful. But this 2000 film convinced me that I had to keep searching. If I have to sit through a few duds to see a movie like Memento, it's worth it. This revenge thriller is told backwards because the protagonist has a memory disorder that prevents him from making new memories. If you want to know why so many fanboys were excited when Chris Nolan took over the Batman franchise, this movie is the reason.

  12. Moulin Rouge! I was in Europe when this movie came out, and didn't know much about it. I remember turning to Janie in the middle of the Elephant Love Medley and saying, "I love this movie." And that moment, when a movie overtakes you, is one of the reasons I love cinema. I still can't believe Baz Luhrmann didn't receive a best director nomination for this movie. It's travishamockery that boring Ron Howard and an overrated Beautiful Mind beat out Baz. Anyone could have made a Beautiful Mind; there was nothing distinct or special about it (multiple personalities represented by real actors does not count). Baz Luhrmann is the only person who could have made Moulin Rouge! It breaks my heart every time I see it.

  13. Murderball. Rugby-playing quadriplegics compete for Gold in the Paralympic Games in Athens. Really, that should be enough. Add double crossing coaches and other conflict, and you've got yourself an interesting movie.

  14. Once. The little movie that could. I'm not sure I've seen a more perfect movie scene than when Glen and Marketa get to know each other while playing and singing "Falling Slowly." And what a song! (So glad it won the Oscar because it was essential to move the story forward. Hate it when songs that play over the credits win. What is the point?) I have a smile on my face the entire time I watch them. I can't find a movie clip to show you, only edited and cut ones, which don't do the scene justice. Again, some people aren't entirely thrilled with the ending, but it doesn't change my love for the film.

  15. The Royal Tenenbaums. I know this isn't everyone's cup of tea, but I love the quirkiness of this film. Comedy with a heart.
Honorable Mention: Across the Universe (I'll take Julie Taymor reaching for the stars, sometimes hitting her target and sometimes missing, over cliched, blah romantic comedies any day), Big Fish (great visuals and a compelling story), Billy Elliott (what's not to like about a young boy falling in love with ballet), Bourne Trilogy (specifically the Paul Greengrass-directed second and third films - each one got better), Children of Men (kind of dark, with only a slight ray of hope at the end, but man, gorgeous to look it), Hairspray (fell in love with this movie by the end of the opening song), Hero (loved the decision to drench fight sequences in certain colors), In America (one family's story of immigrating to America, not all happy, with young actresses that break your heart), Lars and the Real Girl (delightful and moving; don't be turned off my premise of man dating sex doll), Pride and Prejudice (love the Keira Knightley version and how it portrays the character of Elizabeth), Slumdog Millionaire (a romance disguised as a thriller, this movie will steal your heart) , Stranger than Fiction (this movie comes across like a book, and it has brilliant moments, like when Will Ferrell brings Maggie G. flours), Waitress (slightly odd tone, but very lovable film with a great performance Keri Russell; takes on an added depth when you know the writer/director and star was murdered before it's release)


rdh97j said...

Whenever I come across the movie "Sliding Doors", I always think of you, so I was surprised it wasn't included on this list. Then I looked it up on IMDB and realized it wasn't from the decade you're referencing, and then I felt old. :)

Jamie said...

I also wanted to put Sliding Doors, but it was made during the 90s.