Posts Tagged ‘Top 50 Films’

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Top 50 Films of the Decade: Pt. 3 (30-21)

December 28, 2009

30. 25th HOUR (2002) – Spike Lee’s opening to this film blew me away when I saw it. It sets a somber tone but Ed Norton kicks it into high gear as an unrepentant drug pusher who spends his last 24 hrs of freedom resigned to his jailtime and hanging with his best friends. The final escape envisioned by his father (Brian Cox) is one of the best rug pulling scenes alongside Brazil’s finale.

29. TALK TO HER (2002) – Perhaps the best Almodovar film that capped a great run starting with Live Flesh and All About My Mother (though he did pick up again after the misfired Bad Education with the wonderful Volver). Clearly a master of his craft at this point, he adroitly mixes the lives of a comatose female bullfighter, her boyfriend, her male nurse and the nurse’s patient. The dream sequence with the giant vagina is a particular stand out.

28. THE SQUID AND THE WHALE (2005) – Noah Baumbach returns after a long hiatus after the touching if slight Mr. Jealousy with this devastating and wry portrayal of 2 boys and how the divorce of their parents affects them. Jesse Eisenberg is a revelation and Jeff Daniels, shaggy yet cutting, pulls an amazing performance.

27. THE PRESTIGE (2006) – A mini Batman Begins reunion occurs when Chris Nolan cast Michael Caine and Christian Bale to star in this mesmerizing tale of two rival magicians (Hugh Jackman being the other) trying to outdo each other with the ultimate magic trick — teleportation. That it involves David Bowie’s Nikolai Tesla and thousands of hats is but one succulent detail of this richly layered thriller.

26. KILL BILL V1 & V2 (2003 / 2004) – QT proves that he can shoot the shit out of several action set-pieces inbetween his more trademark talky bits. Composed as a love letter of sorts to his star, Uma Thurman, the movie traces the journey of revenge of The Bride against her former employer, Bill (played with class and dignity by David Carradine) and his deadly assassins The Deadly Viper Squad. Poetic and bloody. “How do I look?” “You look ready.”

25. SERENITY (2005) – Having the unfortunate distinction of being released the same summer as Revenge of the Sith and only making $30M theatrically, guess which one ends up being the better film? Joss Whedon transports the crew of the Firefly TV show to widescreen success. Our beloved characters are put through the wringer as River Tam’s secret is made known and the Operative set to hunt them closes in. This movie introduced Chiwetel Ejiofor to me as an actor to keep my eye on. Any chance of a sequel, please?

24. SPIRITED AWAY (2001) – Miyazki’s wondrous film about a young girl who loses her parents to the ghosts and spirits who inhabit a bathhouse, and ends up trying to rescue them before losing them forever (somewhat similar to Coraline). The variety and oddity of the many ghosts on display here showcase a wonderful imagination, and the resourcefulness of the young girl as she comes of age makes for a highly entertaining and near-perfect film-going experience.

23. WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER (2001) – Absurd, ironic and straight-faced about its take on the 80s Summer Camp genre, this hilarious off-kilter comedy barely made it past its first week in theaters only to be “discovered” and rightly championed on home DVD. Any film that can have Chris Meloni talk to a can of food about dick cream deserves a place on every Top 50 Films of the Decade list. Also, best scene is the day spent in town. Rent it now!

22. DONNIE DARKO (2001) – Another overlooked instant cult classic from the same year as Wet Hot American Summer, Richard Kelley’s grim and moody view of Jake Gyllenhaal’s attempt to prevent the end of the world on Halloween, while he negotiates first love and high school, is equal parts philosophical and mystical without being too pretentious or too baffling (see Primer). Boasting a dark and mesmerizing score and 80s soundtrack, this film made Patrick Swayze cool again despite his playing a motivational speaker and possible pedophile, as well as introduced us to Maggie Gyllenhaal and Sparkle Motion.

21. STAR TREK (2009) – Boldly taking the franchise to where no other Star Trek has gone before — a character driven sci-fi actioner with crossover audience appeal. JJ Abrams’s ballsy rebooting of the Trek ‘verse uses a number of his bag of tricks (time travel, the MacGuffin) but to great effect. What follows is a thrilling tale about the nascent crew of the starship Enterprise as they come together to thwart a rogue Romulan (Eric Bana nearly unrecognizable as Nero) who plays havoc with the space-time continuum in an attempt at revenge. Zach Quinto as Spock is spot on and gets the best lines. Karl Urban as Bones is sublime. One of the few films I had the most fun watching this past decade.

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Top 50 Films of the Decade: Pt. 1 (50-41)

December 21, 2009

I will attempt to list my favorite top 50 films of the past 10 years. Be assured that this list is not an attempt at snobbery — these are my personal favorites of the films I’ve seen.

However, I have certainly skipped over many notable critically acclaimed films (I should absolutely expand my current movie-watching tastes to include more indie and international films), and if I should see something that would make me reassess this list, then so I shall.

Anyway, in the next five days I will countdown my list until I reach my numero uno on Christmas Eve. Until then, we start with the first ten — 50-41.

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50. LOST IN LA MANCHA (2002) – A documentary every filmmaker must see. Everything that can go wrong on a film set goes wrong thus lending credence to the idea that Terry Gilliam is either cursed or this is just normal for any film shoot or both.

49. BEFORE SUNSET (2004) – I was not a fan of Before Sunrise so this really floored me. Both actors are excellent and the ending reaches for the sublime.

48. GRIZZLY MAN (2005) – A heart-rending cautionary tale explored by the warmest eccentric that you’d love to have as your Uncle or be the guy to pull you out of a car wreck, Werner Herzog. The restraint and responsibility he shows to the subject is as fascinating as the subject himself.

47. THE NEW WORLD (2005) – Practically ignored both times it was released (long artsy cut and shorter artsy cut) this lyrical take on the conquest of the Americas and its natives is not short of beauty and emotion. One of Colin Farrell’s best performances (alongside In Bruges).

46. UNITED 93 (2006) – Harrowing and haunting. I only needed to see it once to know it would end up on a list like this. It’s realistic and straight-forward depiction of the events aboard this flight belies Hollywood fakery and melodrama and creates the best memorial for those that died.

45. EASTERN PROMISES (2007) – Scorcese has DiCaprio, Scott has Crowe, and Cronenberg has Mortenson. While most will cite A History of Violence on their list, I found this film to be more consistent in tone. It clearly shows a master at the peak of his craft as he continues exploring the theme of two worlds colliding. The fight scene in the Russian bath house is a stand out and ranks as one of the best fight scenes alongside the hallway fight in Oldboy.

44. RESCUE DAWN (2006) – Herzog dramatizes his previous doc Little Dieter Needs To Fly about a downed American pilot who is captured in Laos and eventually plots his escape with the aid of other POWs. The character’s optimism and daring in the face of desperate odds says much about the human will to survive, but the main selling point is the incredible cast. Christian Bale plays against type as the optimistic Dieter (a bit like Dignan from Bottle Rocket); he is joined by Steve Zahn (also playing against type) and the always fun-to-watch Jeremy Davies (playing to type, but that’s what I want).

43. GERRY (2002) – Forsaking Hollywood to reinvent himself, Gus Van Sant strips away everything — narrative, dramatic artifice — to give us two character who get lost in a desert. Never has two people wandering and mumbling to themselves been so thrilling. The best of his “Death” trilogy.

42. THE BROTHERS BLOOM (2008) – Rian Johnson’s sophomore effort dazzles with verve, style and wit. Mark Ruffalo and Adrian Brody play the title characters, both con artists out for the last big score that involves an eccentric rich woman (Rachel Weisz). The editing and visual storytelling are thrilling, reminiscent of Wes Anderson. And that is a good thing.

41. PLANET TERROR / MACHETE (2007) – Robert Rodriguez makes the zombie film John Carpenter should have made. Thrilling, self-referential and gooey, this film — and its companion trailer for Machete — pays off its set-up ten times over. It has the best third-act edit ever and the yummy Marley Shelton.

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Agree? Disagree? Let me know! I also welcome any guesses as to my Top 10.