|Yeah, kinda like this|
Let me just say right off the bat that I fully expect to get enormous amounts of crap for this list. This is, as all reviews and things of this nature are, based solely on my opinions (which are also limited to movies I’ve actually seen). Feel free to disagree and leave criticism for my choices, but, as always, please be respectful and mature.
Also, I’m aware that most “Top 10” lists of the decade are from 2000-2009. But hey, since when do I follow established norms? So, without further ado, I present Ben’s Top 10 Films of the Decade.
10. Avatar (2009)
Oh snap. Let’s start it off with the one that’ll probably bring me the most crap. A quick clarification: Avatar was not one of my favorite movies of the decade. But I do think it deserves a spot on this list. While it had an incredibly cliché, overused plot, a weak script, and less than memorable acting performances, Avatar brought the visual bar significantly higher than it had ever been before. It’s hard to deny, no matter how much you may hate the movie, that it was stunning from a visual standpoint. Really, that’s all I have to say about it. So, solely for being a film that brought visual standards to a new level, Avatar managed to secure a spot on this list.
9. Pan's Labyrinth (2006)
It’s hard for me to describe why I like this movie so much. Apart from #1 on this list, Pan’s Labyrinth is my favorite fantasy film of all time. Director Guillermo del Toro brought out true childhood innocence and imagination, and combined it with real world issues, brutally bringing you back to reality. Possibly my favorite aspect of the film is that by the time it’s over, you aren’t sure what was real and what wasn’t. Led by captivating performances from Ivana Baquero and Sergei López, wonderful writing, and brilliant directing from del Toro, Pan’s Labyrinth was truly deserving of the Best Foreign Language Oscar. Curse you, The Lives of Others! Mexico needed this!
8. An Inconvenient Truth (2006)
Part of me feels super guilty for including this, mostly because I’ve never actually seen it. Even so, it belongs here for sheer subject importance. There’s not a lot I can say without having seen it, but An Inconvenient Truth was one of the decade’s most defining films, both for social and political impact. Anything that takes a potentially world-altering phenomenon and brings it to the front of public attention deserves some recognition in my book.
7. WALL-E (2008)
Alright, I’ll admit it. I’m a sucker for animated films, Pixar in particular. Maybe they bring me back to my childhood, or maybe I just don’t like looking at Nicholas Cage’s face. Seriously, the dude is in everything! But of all the animated films I’ve ever seen, WALL-E is one of the best. I say that not due to the quality of the animation or the shocking portrayal of the human race in 100 years, both of which I thoroughly appreciated, but due to the silence. WALL-E took an element of quality film-making that has been mostly lost in the last decade or two and brought it back with a vengeance. I would never have thought that a movie with such little dialogue could be so entertaining, which just goes to show the kind of film industry I’ve grown up with. But WALL-E took all of my foolish, preconceived notions about silence in film and shoved them back in my face. And, better yet, I liked it.
6. Spirited Away (2001)
Hayao Miyazaki is the greatest animated film director of all time, and Spirited Away is his masterpiece. Visually stunning, emotionally moving, and conceptually intriguing, this will always be one of my favorite movies. Spirited Away can easily be enjoyed by people of all ages, and for all sorts of different reasons. The massive ingenuity and creativity poured into the making and design of this film is astounding, and it pays off. Also, I maintain that the Japanese are much smarter than us Americans, letting Spirited Away overtake Titanic to become their highest-grossing film of all time. Princess Mononoke is the second highest-grossing animated film, also a Hayao Miyazaki production. The man is a genius.
5. Batman Begins (2005)
The Dark Knight was probably a better movie in most ways than Batman Begins. I chose the latter because it brought back a, for all intents and purposes, dead franchise. Not only did it bring back our Caped Crusader, it brought him back to a level that Adam West and George Clooney never dreamed of. That’s probably not saying a lot, since their movies were God-awful, but Batman Begins was the beginning of something new and wonderful. It wasn’t bad as a stand-alone movie, either, but the main purpose it served was to get the public’s attention and say “Hey, public. It’s a Batman movie. And it doesn’t suck. Weird, right?! No, but seriously, go see it. And all the inevitable sequels that will eventually go right back downhi-… Forget that. Just go see it.” And the public listened! Thank you once again, Chris Nolan.
4. Toy Story 3 (2010)
“OH NOES”, you cry, “Not a sequel! Or,*gasp*, a threequel!” Yes, a threequel. Toy Story 3 is one of the best films I have ever seen, animated or otherwise. If we imagine that it had been released as a standalone movie, without either of the prequels, it would not have been nearly as good. I’m not talking about how some stuff just wouldn’t even make sense. We’ll imagine that wouldn’t be true. The reason it needed the prequels was to establish a firm emotional connection to the characters, and then take advantage of that to make you sob uncontrollably for weeks after seeing it. If you don’t love Toy Story 3, you both hate joy and have no soul. It should be a serious contender for Best Picture.
3. Hotel Rwanda (2004)
Hotel Rwanda is included for the same reason as An Inconvenient Truth. It’s #3 because it isn’t just another cautionary tale; it was an engaging, powerful film. Don Cheadle was wonderful, the imagery was captivating, and everything about it made your heart ache. Granted, it has been a while since I saw this last. I doubt I was older than 14. But even back then, it made a relatively large impact on me. Never before had I quite realized the state of things in Africa. If for no other reason, see Hotel Rwanda to make yourself feel guilty. Or… something like that.
2. Up (2009)
Yes, I have a fourth animated film on this list, and yes, I have it as the #2 film of the decade. Up made tears come out of my face at least 3 times, including within 10 minutes of the film’s start. Go ahead; try to make a movie that will make me cry at the death of a character I’ve known for 10 minutes. I bet you can’t do it. Somehow Up established a firm emotional connection to every character, major or minor, and still managed to keep it light-hearted and fun. The animation is superb, the voice acting is as good as can be, and the writing is exactly what it needs to be. You will be moved by the characters and their goals, and touched by the integrity of their intentions.
1. The Lord of the Rings (2001-2003)
Well, I’m sure those of you who know me saw this coming, as did some of you who don’t know me. If you’re somewhat peeved by my lumping together of these films, it’s only because I didn’t feel like choosing one (Return of the King was the best) to represent all three, and I couldn’t have them hogging three spots. Separating them, however, would have resulted in a first place Return of the King, second place Fellowship of the Ring, and maybe fourth or fifth for The Two Towers. When looking for a series (or trilogy, to be more precise) that ends on a stronger note than it started, both this and the Toy Story trilogy immediately come to mind. The difference is that Toy Story 3 won’t win 11 Academy Awards. Lord of the Rings is the defining fantasy film (I’ll be referring to it in the singular from now on) of all time, and possibly the most critically acclaimed series of any genre ever. There is not a single bad aspect of any of these films (except for maybe the occasional excess of flair), from the cinematography to the acting to the writing. Everything is simply the best. Expect a review of it as a whole, coming soon(ish).
So yeah, that’s it. Things I learned: Chris Nolan rocks, 2002, 2003 and 2005 sucked for film, 2006-2009 were awesome, and animated film are severely underrated. Since this is based (almost) exclusively on movies I’ve seen, I made a list of honorable mentions that include many I haven’t gotten around to watching yet. Here are all 40 of them:
· 2001: Amélie, A Beautiful Mind, Monster’s, Inc., Moulin Rouge!, Ocean’s Eleven, Shrek· 2002: Chicago
· 2003: Finding Nemo, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
· 2004: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Incredibles, Million Dollar Baby
· 2005: A History of Violence
· 2006: The Departed, Blood Diamond, Letters from Iwo Jima, Little Miss Sunshine, V for Vendetta
· 2007: 3:10 to Yuma, Atonement, Charlie Wilson’s War, Eastern Promises, Juno, No Country for Old Men, There Will Be Blood
· 2008: The Dark Knight, Doubt, Gran Torino, In Bruges, Slumdog Millionaire
· 2009: (500) Days of Summer, An Education, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds, Star Trek, Up in the Air
· 2010: How to Train Your Dragon, Inception