Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Decade's Best On Screen

The book list was easy for me as I still read mostly things published in long gone days, but the movie list and music lists are much harder due to the sheer volume of amazingness to process. This is by no means a complete or ordered list, but these are certainly most of my favorite movies of the least, of the ones I gave 5 stars to on netflix...I'm sure if I spent more time, there would be a 4 star or two that belong here, but alas I have deadlines.

French arthouse film that is an entire metaphor of childhood and it's eventual end. But an extremely clever one and visually striking. 

Inland Empire-
This makes the list because it is hands down the best example I've ever seen of someone able to film what a dream feels like. It unfolds in dream logic. Looks like a dream. Truly an accomplishment.

The Assassination of Jesse James-
A rare biopic that manages to portray the many complicated sides of one of history's more interesting characters....and I'm not just saying that because me and Jesse are kin (which we are). Beyond the historical, it's just a great portrait of someone suffering from manic depression.

The Science of Sleep-
Gondry's best in my opinion. This movie is so full of visual imagination and creativity. In reality, it's a simple story. To me, it's a movie for adults made with a children's book sensibility.

The Proposition-
Written by Nick Cave, this Australian western is brutal and intense. A story of revenge, greed, and unchecked human nature. Powerful.

Hitler's last days in the bunkers below Berlin (as remembered in the memoir of his secretary). An amazing glimpse into the world of a man, who was on the verge of having everything he schemed for, coming undone by the fact that it has all fallen apart around him. Riveting. Sad. Horrifying. Unforgettable. 

The Life Aquatic-
A lot of people hate this movie...they are weird. It doesn't pretend to be anything it's not...just a fun, quirky modern Moby Dick. I'd fly Kentucky Air anytime.

Dark Water (Japan)-
The pinnacle of Japanese horror in my opinion. I've written about this movie on my blog before, it's use of slow-motion horror...of lingering shots to make the viewer uncomfortable is amazing. There aren't any shocks or fast cuts. It's just unsettling. And it works because the story is heartfelt and sad at it's core.

Many will disagree with me on this one, they saw it's slow, boring, and exploitive. I couldn't disagree more. The multiple angles of the same scene from different perspectives is fascinating. The characters are enthralling. And the message is eye-opening. This movie transports you into this school. You are a student with everyone else. In that way, it reminds me of my own books.

Lost in Translation-
A metaphor for how we are all lost in the world, in love, and even to ourselves. Wonderfully acted. Not too heavy-handed. The way a film should be made so sit back and's Santori Time.

28 Days Later-
Chilling. The only horror movie of the decade that scared the crap out of me so badly that I had to take a break from watching it. Alex Garland is one of my favorite writers. Danny Boyle is a great director. The combination adds up to a smart horror movie that transcends the genre.

Spirited Away-
My favorite anime director's finest movie (well, it's a close race with Totoro). The kind of imagination in this film is jaw dropping and envious from a writer's point of view. The main character is, in my opinion, the most realized animated character ever put on screen. Absolute brilliance. 

Though still no City of Lost Children, it's easily the closet Jean-Pierre Jeunet has come to making a film as good. He fills his movies with an incredible amount of imagination and thought-out little details that always come together in this amazing bigger story that it's impossible not to get swept away and enjoy his movies.

The Royal Tenenbaums-
Wes Anderson's modern family fairy tale is so original (though with so many imitations since, it easy to lose sight of how great this movie is). The family dysfunction is at absurd levels, but there's always a charm to it and always a laugh. 

The most intelligent and original writing I've encountered. This is how Robbe-Grillet would make a movie. Brilliant. I can't even imagine how one could go about conceiving of this story.

Lord of the Rings Trilogy-
I'm counting these as one movie, and though they lose their luster a little each time I catch part of one on TNT, it's still an achievement that needs recognized and I was blown away in the theater.

Monsters, Inc.-
Forget the Finding Nemo hubbub, this is the best Pixar movie ever made. The scope of its imagination is unparalleled. Plus, Boo is one of the funniest understated characters ever put on film. 

O Brother, Where Art Thou?-
One of the most quotable comedies ever. I've seen it a million times and still crack up. "I want Dapper Dan. I'm a Dapper Dan man goddammit!"

Dancer in the Dark - 
One of the saddest, most emotionally draining movies you'll ever watch. But beautiful too in it's exploration of love and sacrifice. (I watched this hours before writing the last 30 pages to my book Tomorrow, Maybe).

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