MY FAVORITE MOVIES OF THE DECADE
Since everyone else is doing it, I will too. A lot of people knock these lists, but I think that's idiotic. They're terribly wonderful conversation pieces, they make for great nostalgia and I think they say something important about the person writing them. Does anyone care what I have to say about this decade's moving images? I don't fucking care. Don't read it if you're not interested. This is my space and you're being a jerk, you jerk.
I'm sure I missed something here or there, but for the most part, this is complete. Take to note that this is NOT a "Best Of" list; it's lacking (what I'm guessing are or are going to be) common staples like the LORD OF THE RINGS movies and NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN and SPIDER-MAN. It's not that I didn't dig those movies - I did - but for one reason or another they're not my favorites. Still, I know most of you, and if you think I'm a moron for missing something, well 1) you're probably right, 2) you shouldn't hesitate to point out a glaring omission and 3) YOU DON'T GET TO TELL ME WHAT TO DO.
Also allow for movies I just didn't get around to seeing, this year being a really bad example of that (ZOMBIELAND, THE HURT LOCKER, etc).
Before we get into it, some superlatives:
WORST MOVIE OF THE DECADE
GEORGIA RULE - I saw this movie with one of my best friends who's IN the movie, and I still had to get up and walk out. In fact, it was so bad that about twenty minutes in, I leaned over and said, "As soon as I see you onscreen, I'm congratulating you and I'm fucking leaving." And I did. Everything from the top on down was bad, but the writing...oh my God. It's tough to even fathom what could have happened in the development process for the writing to be this bad. One of only two movies I've ever walked out on; the other one was ARACHNOPHOBIA, and that's because I was fucking scared out of my fucking mind. I thought I could handle it. I could not.
Onto more positive things:
MY FAVORITE MOVIE MOMENT OF THE DECADE
While there was a lot of competition here, one moment stood to out to me over all the rest. Why this hit me so square I'm not sure, but I love it unconditionally.
In the movie THE LAST KISS, Zach Braff cheats on his fiancée with Rachel Bilson (probably because he's a thinking human). That causes her, understandably, to freak out, break up with him, and hole up in her parents' house. Zach goes to speak with her and ends up talking to Tom Wilkinson, who's playing her father. He asks Tom what he should do to get her back; Tom responds, "Whatever it takes."
Flash forward: as he's kicked out of the house, Zach decides to wait on the porch until his fiancée is ready to talk to him, let him apologize. He waits, literally, for days. One night, Tom drives by to check on the situation - he spots Zach slouched on the porch, leaned awkwardly up against the door, sleeping.
Tom looks at him, smiles triumphantly, and just drives away.
Writing about it, I've just found, is a total waste of time. But if you've seen the movie, you know exactly what I'm talking about - it's a small, beautiful, note-perfect moment that continues to make me unspeakably happy every time I think about it.
FAVORITE LINE OF THE DECADE
"I'm very sorry for your loss. Your mother was a terribly attractive woman." - THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS
THE BEST MOVIES OF THE DECADE THAT MOST OF YOU HAVE NEVER SEEN
A couple of you might have seen a few of these, but for the most part, you've never even heard of most of them. Seriously, seek them out, because they're all terrific in their own way:
THE RULES OF ATTRACTION; SWIMMING POOL; THIRTEEN; THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES; PRIMER; THE MACHINIST; RORY O'SHEA WAS HERE; EVERYTHING IS ILLUMINATED; LONESOME JIM; TRUST THE MAN; RIDING ALONE FOR THOUSANDS OF MILES; SHORTBUS; THE LOOKOUT; EAGLE VS. SHARK; SUNSHINE; THE TEN; THE ORPHANAGE; SNOW ANGELS; THE FALL; ROCKNROLLA; LET THE RIGHT ONE IN
THE ALL-DECADE TOTALLY, MADDENINGLY, REALLY FUCKING UNDERRATED/UNDERAPPRECIATED LIST
People ignore, blow off or just plain don't requisitely appreciate these movies all the time, usually without having seen them first. Give them a shot - they're better than you think and/or don't get the respect they deserve:
BOILER ROOM; SAVING SILVERMAN; AI: ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE; SERENDIPITY; HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES; SECONDHAND LIONS; INTOLERABLE CRUELTY; EUROTRIP; STARSKY AND HUTCH; DAWN OF THE DEAD (remake); HAROLD AND KUMAR GO TO WHITE CASTLE; SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW; NATIONAL TREASURE; THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY; KINGDOM OF HEAVEN; A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE; JUST FRIENDS; HOSTEL; THE LAST KISS; THE HOLIDAY; BREACH; ZODIAC; HAIRSPRAY; HOT ROD; STARDUST; DEFINITELY, MAYBE; LEATHERHEADS; GHOST TOWN; ROLE MODELS
Documentaries, like the films mentioned above, seem criminally underrated and unappreciated to me. If you've never really been into them, watch a couple of these and see if you aren't converted:
BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE; JACKASS: THE MOVIE (yes, I consider this a doc); SPELLBOUND; SUPER-SIZE ME; FAHRENHEIT 9/11; THE YES MEN; ENRON: THE SMARTEST GUYS IN THE ROOM; THE CORPORATION; MURDERBALL; THE ARISTOCRATS; THE COMEDIANS OF COMEDY; THIS FILM IS NOT YET RATED; JONESTOWN: THE LIFE AND DEATH OF PEOPLE'S TEMPLE; FUCK; SICKO; MY KID COULD PAINT THAT; AMERICAN TEEN; DEAR ZACHARY: A LETTER TO A SON ABOUT HIS FATHER; ANVIL! THE STORY OF ANVIL
THE "SO DAMN CLOSE" SUPER-HONORABLE MENTIONERS
These films were all in the running for the Top Twenty, but for one reason or another didn't crack it. Still, they're all fucking awesome, and I bet I could even add a few more to them:
UNBREAKABLE; MEMENTO; MADE; OLD SCHOOL; MONSTERS, INC.; ABOUT A BOY; SHAUN OF THE DEAD; SIN CITY; LAYER CAKE; ME AND YOU AND EVERYONE WE KNOW; WEDDING CRASHERS; THE 40 YEAR-OLD VIRGIN; LITTLE CHILDREN; THE FOUNTAIN; 300; ENCHANTED; KNOCKED UP; THE KING OF KONG; SUPERBAD; THIS CHRISTMAS; IRON MAN; WATCHMEN; ADVENTURELAND; INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS; UP IN THE AIR
MY TWENTY FAVORITE FILMS OF THE DECADE
20. ANCHORMAN (2004) - Will never forget seeing this for the first time, mostly because I cackled so hard and so often that my stomach and my throat hurt like hell upon leaving. Didn't think I would ever laugh that hard again...and then BORAT came along. All the same, ANCHORMAN was lightning in a bottle and has a rewatchability factor that BORAT doesn't quite muster. Possibly the most quotable movie of the decade to boot.
19. JESUS CAMP (2006) - My favorite documentary of the decade by a country mile, it more or less puts the disgusting backstage of organized religion on a platter and serves it up as a perfect example of everything I hate about the world. Most sickening: the outright (and comically conceited) way in which Evangelical Christian leaders indoctrinate - and often flat-out brainwash - impressionable kids into not just a religious mindset, but a connected POLITICAL ideology. You want a look at what's REALLY wrong with America? Watch JESUS CAMP.
18. THE DEPARTED (2006) - The quintessential "if it's on TV, I'm stopping whatever I'm doing to watch it" movie. Enough has been said about it, so I'll just keep it simple: it's fucking brilliant.
17. MEAN GIRLS (2004) - If it didn't land in the Top Twenty, it would have been at the head of the Underappreciated list. Tina Fey is a certified comic guru, and people have quickly forgotten that Lindsay Lohan used to be 1) really goddamn hot and 2) a pretty decent actress. The supporting characters really make this one - especially Tim Meadows, delivering every line with the dryness of midsummer California brush - and the humor is so smart that it almost makes me want to give up writing for fear that I'll never compare. That's what they call "healthy" jealousy.
16. BEST IN SHOW (2000) - Shares with THE OFFICE (the British version) the distinction of being the best example of mockumentary from head to foot. It is easily, I think, the best ensemble cast of the entire decade...which makes it so interesting that none of the efforts following it (A MIGHTY WIND, FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION) were nearly as good. Or maybe it just seemed that way since this was more or less perfect. Positively contains the best Fred Willard role ever, and that's saying something.
15. GLADIATOR (2000) - Don't think I was ever as excited to see a movie in theaters as I was to see this one...and holy Christ, did it ever come through. People love to retroactively crap on this since it won the Oscar for Best Picture and because they were disappointed to find out that Russell Crowe is a dick, but people are fucking stupid. Let me put it this way: I would gladly and immediately follow Maximus Decimus Meridius into battle, and I am a huge pussy.
14. IN BRUGES (2008) - Kind of a polarizing movie in that people who loved it really seemed to love it, and people who hated it wanted to kill those of us who loved it. I loved it. I thought the script was smart as hell and very well stylized, I thought Colin Farrell gave unquestionably his best performance ever, and it hit me with just enough twists and sucker-punches that I felt as though I was constantly reeling. Plus it features the most poetic, most gut-wrenchingly wonderful usage of one of my favorite songs, ON RAGLAN ROAD, that will likely ever be.
13. THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS (2001) - I'm a sucker for movies about family, and this is one of the best of those kind ever. Ever - and that's incredibly hard to pull off. You've got movies like this and THIS CHRISTMAS that really nail it; you've got movies that only get there halfway before pandering to the audience and crapping out with schmaltz (THE FAMILY STONE); and then you've got total crap (Tyler Perry). It makes me sad that this is Wes Anderson's best film so far, but I'm just glad it exists at all because it's amazing - funny, heartbreaking, and heartbreakingly funny.
12. (500) DAYS OF SUMMER (2009) - This year's only entry into the Top Twenty, but I think that's a factor of how incredible the early parts of the decade were rather than a sign of how lackluster the end has been. Speaking of being a sucker, I'm one again for movies that have something different to say about love or that find a different way to say it. The inability to do so is why most Romantic Comedies suck such a fat dick. This movie suffers from none of that. It's darkly funny and deceptively sweet and it thankfully manages something most "indie" movies can't: it allows for a quirky, interesting and appropriate soundtrack that ISN'T TRYING SO FUCKING HARD. If this doesn't win Best Original Screenplay this year I will start a riot and there will be murders.
11. OLDBOY (2003) - Outside of THE SIXTH SENSE and THE WICKER MAN (the original, please), perhaps the most shocking and wrongfully-satisfying ending of all time. Beyond that, I don't know how to express to you just how many asses this thing kicks without even trying or how many individual scenes you can discuss at length after seeing it; the hallway fight is the decade's best action sequence, hands down. It's mind-boggling in its technical and narrative mastery and is just a cinematic triumph. This is one of those movies that I will force someone to sit down and watch if they haven't seen it, which is just about everyone.
10. GREEN STREET HOOLIGANS (2005) - How this never got a wider release than 12.5 screens is the biggest mystery in the world to me, but suffice to say that I think someone made a big goddamned mistake in selling this one short. How great is a movie when it makes you want to walk straight out the doors and fight someone? How great is any movie that TURNS ELIJAH WOOD INTO A BADASS? Great commentary on loyalty, the idea of what "family" really is, and what it's like to be young and stupid before you realize you don't want to be old and stupid.
9. O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU? (2000) - As Coen Brothers fans go, I'm probably a bad one. I'm a much bigger supporter of the movies their "real" fans seem to ignore, like this one. It's far and away my favorite of theirs. Really, it's not even close, and here's the reason: if you can find a way to make me love a musical, you are a magician. Plain and simple. This is not only my favorite Coen Brothers movie, but my favorite musical of all time, save perhaps for THE WIZARD OF OZ, which I don't really put in the "musical" category. Also, I find it most visually appealing. Still listen to the soundtrack all the time. Near-perfect, this one.
8. ALMOST FAMOUS (2000) - The first of two Cameron Crowe movies on this list, and if you know me, that shouldn't be a surprise in the slightest. Here's the thing about this one: the era of music this is predicated upon? Maybe my least favorite ever. I've never been into "Classic Rock", and I think most of the music of the 70s could disappear and I'd be more than OK. But when it comes to this movie...well, I'm actually sad that Stillwater wasn't a real band and that FEVER DOG isn't a real song. This movie also sparked the beginning of what is probably my #1 Mancrush of All Time, Billy Crudup. Am I jealous of his mustache? You're goddamned right I am.
7. HIGH FIDELITY (2000) - Um, is it just me or was the Year 2000 the best year for movies, like, in history? If you can adapt a Nick Hornby novel, the chances are that I'm going to attach to it like herpes to Tiger Woods. Again, it's a movie STEEPED in Classic Rock, and again I don't care. You gotta love Cusack. Breakout role for Jack Black. Catherine Zeta-Jones at her peak hotness. Classic writing. What else is there? Here's a sentiment: I rented this movie from Blockbuster (back when people still did that) and refused to give it back. Truth.
6. ONCE (2006) - I'll make you a guarantee: I could give you 17 days and $150,000 and there's no way in hell that you're going to make anything even remotely as wonderful as this. As far as I'm concerned, this is the standard to which all other indie movies should be judged. It's the benchmark. And then you have to consider that not only was it one of the best movies of the decade, but that it produced the two best movie SONGS of the decade in FALLING SLOWLY and SAY IT TO ME NOW (even though the latter was recorded years earlier by Glen Hansard's band The Frames). That's an accomplishment, kids. Take notes.
5. AMERICAN PSYCHO (2000) - Yeah, Christian Bale will always be known as Batman, but he'll never do anything better than Bateman - Patrick Bateman, that is. There is not a guy in the world - NOT A GUY IN THE WORLD - that doesn't want to pull off "The American Psycho": fucking a girl doggie style while you look on in a floor-length mirror and flex. Totally nailed the material aesthetic of the 80s and celebrated the genius of Phil Collins. This movie makes me bubble with more pure glee than perhaps anything that's not THE PRINCESS BRIDE. And yes, that puts AMERICAN PSYCHO and THE PRINCESS BRIDE in a shared category. I'm that awesome.
4. SNATCH (2000) - If this movie had nothing else, it has the only thing that matters: One-Punch Mickey the Pikey. You could call Brad Pitt's turn in 12 MONKEYS a great role, but he'll never do anything better than the Character of the Decade. Past that, I'm beyond impressed with Guy Ritchie's seemingly effortless ability to perfectly connect multiple complex characters and storylines. He also writes some of the best one-liners in the business. One of those movies that just makes me smile from beginning to end without fail. There's nothing about it that I don't like, and again, that's powered by one hell of an ensemble cast.
3. VANILLA SKY (2001) - One of my favorite things in the world is telling film snobs that I love this movie, only to have them roll their eyes and say, "Yeah, well why don't you see ABRE LOS OJOS," only to have me tell them that I have indeed seen it and that I don't think it's anywhere nearly as good as Cameron's Crowe's remake. Fact: I do NOT know a lot of people that like this movie. They either found it too long or too weird or too confusing or they just didn't like it. To each their own, but I always feel like I saw a different movie than everyone else. I find it sentimental in the best and most chilling way and I think that Tom Cruise, from here on out, should only be able to work with Cameron. This movie is one of those that I do think has faults, but the high points are so elevated and lovely that they render them innocuous.
2. LOVE, ACTUALLY (2003) - Richard Curtis might be my favorite writer working today, and I think this movie is absolutely perfectly conceived and executed from beginning to end. While it doesn't say much about love that's NEW, it takes the concept and lays it out brilliantly and in such a way that there's no misunderstanding the power of the most basic - and ultimately, sometimes the most fleeting - human connection. It SHOULD be simply the most-loved-girl-movie ever, but it's way, way more than that. Even if you were dumb enough to ignore the writing, the terrific cast, the spot-on observations and the fact that it makes you feel part of a London Christmas even if you've never been there, you can't possibly stay dry-eyed at the real-life footage of people happily, tearfully greeting loved ones at the airport. Such a bookend is a perfect example of the small details that make this not only one of my favorites of the decade, but of all time.
1. ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND (2004) - It's pretty much established that Charlie Kauffman is an uncommon genius, but I don't think there's a word to describe the level of particular originality that went into this script. I've spoken about it several times, but no one ever comes up with a new look at love anymore. Ever. It's not like there's fault - it's been written about and played about and talked about and ruminated about so often by everyone on the planet that there are simply no new ideas out there...until there are. There's not a one of us that hasn't secretly (or not-so-secretly) lamented the fact that we can't have a certain someone and all their vestiges scrubbed from our brain. But what if you could try? That's the simple premise to a complicated movie that unfolds in a manner that just makes you ache. It's a grief-stricken, it's haunting and it's beautiful. Jim Carrey gives a performance that is nothing short of staggering, Michel Gondry shot a film that uniquely toes the line between surreal and all-too-real, and Charlie Kauffman gives us a story that's at the same time ludicrous and so, so true. It's nothing short of a masterpiece in showing us that there's really no way to ever completely rid yourself of someone you were close to...and maybe, at the end of the day, that's a good thing.
So there it is. Now you have the rest of the year to think about how to tell me just how wrong I am.