Monday, September 6, 2010

Joseph's Top Ten List of the Decade ('00 to now (Sept. '10))

Spoiler Alert . . .

Well, after Ben did his Top Ten of the Decade list, I thought I would just copy him with my own personal take on the best films of the decade. A couple notes: I haven't seen vast amounts of the movies released this decade, so if you have some ideas of what might be better than these movies, feel free to throw them out there. I'd love some suggestions for more awesome movies. Also, this is influenced a lot by my personal opinion, rather than attempting to objectively analyze the best films of the decade (not that this list is completely subjective), so if you're appalled by any of my choices, remember that that's a personal insult to me, 
so . . . way to go.





#10: Elf (2003)

You see where I'm coming from.
Blahahahaha. Yes, this is at least partly a Zooey-related joke. But seriously, Elf was probably the only good Christmas movie ever made. Will Ferrell stars in one of his only actually funny movies as a completely na├»ve immigrant from the North Pole, and his inherent childishness and joy infects all those around him in this movie that covers all the typical Christmas themes, but covers them right. Family first, of course, as Buddy, the main character, melts the rock heart of all the cynical people he encounters with his proper Christmas attitude. Sure, it’s never going to be a classic, but this is the only Christmas movie that’s ever managed to actually entertain me, and Zooey Deschanel as the Christmas carol-singing, cynical romantic interest would turn anyone’s frown upside-down.

#9: Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)

This movie showed that animated movies could also be interesting, unconventional, and well done, as well as showing that kid’s stories can appeal to not just kids (and that George Clooney really can play anything (so long as it’s a suave, charming thief)). The beautiful adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic children’s story is done with absolutely appropriate off-kilter humor, as well as a surprising, and surprisingly well-done, type of animation. The soundtrack is also quite excellent.

#8: Memento (2000)

Creative storytelling is always worth giving some credit to, and Memento’s excellently done backwards storytelling is definitely worthy of mention. The exposition is extremely well-crafted, compellingly telling a story backwards in small segments of one man’s memory. The short-term memory loss premise, at first merely interesting and entertaining, quickly becomes genuinely fascinating, culminating in an extremely well-camouflaged plot twist trick ending that leaves you wanting to the see the movie again, just so it might actually make sense.

Proof that Chris Nolan is better than you.
#7: Up (2009)

While this won’t be quite as much of an animation suck-up list Ben’s, some recognition is worth giving to Pixar, one of the few companies still consistently churning out smash hits. Up is another glorious childhood film that still manages to appeal to adults with its nostalgia and emotional maturity. This wonderful tale of adventure, with a very adult take on maturity, adventure and childhood, is a triumph of animation over its disappointing but mostly accurate reputation of being only for children.

"Pixar is AMAZING!" "Please, not so loud . . ."

#6: Inception (2010)

This gloriously entertaining, mind-boggling visual extravaganza definitely deserves a place on this list. The star power of Leo, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Ellen Page raise this to the entertainment level of Ocean’s Eleven, but this movie goes beyond mere heist high-jinks (not that it doesn’t have plenty of those). Well-done humor, combined with dazzlingly unreal visuals, entertaining action, appropriately dramatic character development, and a premise and plot that make you discuss the movie for days afterwards, plus a killer soundtrack, makes this a movie with something for everyone. This film is a relieving proof that great summer blockbusters aren’t dead.

#5: The Prestige (2006)

Like X-men, only . . . not.
In case you haven’t figured it out, this list is the Christopher Nolan suck-up list to combat Ben’s Pixar suck-up list. And in any Christopher Nolan suck-up top ten list The Prestige deserves mention. Widely known for being the only movie ever created to have Hugh Jackman, Christopher Bale, Michael Caine AND Scarlett Johansson and somehow manage not to be based on a comic book, the film starts out a Victorian period drama, and the dazzle of the seemingly out-of-place but fervent actors blinds you to the fact that this movie is slowly turning into something much darker and more meaningful, until the shocking final scene. A powerfully well-done piece about two magician’s rivalry and willingness to sell their souls for the ultimate magic trick, this movie’s version of the Prestige (the part of a magic trick that brings the disappeared element back) is a typically fantastic Nolan reveal in the last scene that leaves you feeling oddly unsettled.

#4: Dark Knight (2008)

OK, as soon as I said Christopher Nolan suck-up, you had to see this one coming. No matter what, this movie deserves mention for showing that superhero movies are allowed to be dark, moralistic and humorless, as long as they’re done really well. Not that I’m expecting The Avengers to take a cue from Dark Knight, but Christopher Nolan did a favor not just to the Batman franchise, but superhero movies everywhere by being, you know, actually good. This post-9/11 battle of evil and . . . less evil is a terrifying portrayal of ethics and terrorism. The acting, involving stellar performances by Michael Caine, Christian Bale, Morgan Freeman and Heath Ledger (RIP), is frightening in its intensity, and this story of heroism, light and dark, good and evil, ends up being an eerily accurate mirror of humanity.


Unlike Ben, I’m going to choose not to wuss out, and instead I’m actually going to pick one of the vaunted trilogy’s movies to put on this list. The entire trilogy is beautifully well-done, crafted lovingly by director Peter Jackson and a fantastic cast, showing that famous books can actually be made into movies entirely acceptably, matching and occasionally even trumping the original books. The sweeping, grandiose shots turn an already excellent movie into a classic. Shots of flaming catapult rocks and overviews of giant battles along with one of the best soundtracks of any movie ever make this the most convincingly real fantasy movie of all time.

#2: There Will Be Blood (2007)

Oil fires have never been more metaphorical.
Widely considered to be one of the best movies of the decade, I’m just going to have to agree about this movie. A gripping portrayal of capitalism, religion, greed, ambition and the frightening life of one Daniel Plainview, this movie is one of the most well-crafted, intentional movies I’ve seen this decade. The stunning acting by Daniel Day-Lewis, backed by an excellent supporting cast, fearsome soundtrack and gloriously odd shots combine to make an explosive movie. This movie is a work of art, and as such requires a certain type of person to be truly entertained by it, due to the occasionally long exposition and crafted character development instead of action scenes, but is still undeniably deserving of a berth on this list.


ZOOEY.
Oh yes. I really can’t say enough about how totally awesome this movie is, managing to be an interesting, meaningful, entertaining look at the hardest thing to portray in a movie: love. Like Elf, this is basically the only actually good movie of one of the most irritating genres, the romantic comedy. Besides the brilliant performances by two of my personal favorite actors, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel (!!!), the movie is a realistic glimpse at one relationship between two people who may or may not be destined to be together. With the creative cinematography, soothing soundtrack and, duh, Zooey, this insightful movie becomes a true masterpiece, showing life as it is, laugh-out-loud funny, horribly depressing, possibly predestined, and most importantly completely unpredictable. And in case you missed it the first two times: ZOOEY.

Honorable mentions, plus movies I haven't seen:
Kill Bill (2003), Up in the Air (2009), Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2005), Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010), V for Vendetta (2006), Across the Universe (2007), Juno (2007), Alice in Wonderland (2010), Hot Rod (2007), Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), No Country for Old Men (2007), Michael Clayton (2007), All the Real Girls (2003). Open to suggestions.


UPDATE NOTE: Just saw In Bruges (2008), and would consider placing that on this list, probably at number eight or nine.

Death and Glory,
Joseph

5 comments:

  1. Your Ben-bashing is uncalled for, cruel, and highly amusing. Props.

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  2. I like the Nolan emphasis. I definitely agree.

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  3. Why thank you.

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  4. A Christmas Story > Elf. Elf has too much cheese, and the child actor isn't that good.

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  5. I would say that both Annie Hall and Grounhog Day do a great job with tackling the romantic comedy.

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