Saturday, January 16, 2010

If they made a perfectly measured best of the decade list

Previously, I made a top 50 of the decade list. This entry is if they came up with a way to measure every film critic in America, every film buff and every academy award voter and they came up with some perfectly weighted system to measure the best films of the decade, here's what I would imagine the results would be. indicate which films are too high or low on this list. Also, I am not including more than one of any film series. AGAIN, THIS IS NOT IN ANY WAY A PERSONAL OPINION
1. Lord of the Rings: ROTK, Peter Jackson**-The definitive blockbuster of the decade. It had the trifecta of cultural buzz, box office success and critical success.
2. There Will be Blood, Paul Thomas Anderson *-Paul Thomas Anderson is a director with an increasingly more respected track record as his 90's films Boogie Nights and Magnolia have retroactively gained stature. "There Will Be Blood" has an Oscar-winning performance from Daniel Day-Lewis who's considered by critics to be a rare gem (especially since he rarely acts in movies). It's a film that touches on the themes of capitalism gone awry so it gets points for capturing the zitgiest as well as for having a bold, artistic vision.
3. City of God, Fernando Meirelles + -The '00s were a decade when international films had more of a fighting chance of entering the American mainstream if they were good enough. City of God was probably the most universally acknowledged as brilliant among those films that were widely seen by American audiences. It also has the gangster genre going for it, which is one that always gets critical acclaim.
4. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Michael Gondry-If the best-of-the decade retrospectives are to be believed, you would think that Eternal Sunshine and Sideways were the two front-runners for Best picture in the 2005 Oscar race rather than Aviator and Million Dollar Baby. My theories as to Eternal Sunshine's retroactive rise in popularity: 1) Broken storylines have defined the decade well and Eternal Sunshine had a fragmented storyline that didn't invalidate the story (i.e. Vanilla Sky, Mullholland Drive) but provided enough spin on the conventional love story 2) It merged technology with storytellling so it was kind of the next level of storytelling in that way 3) It was the most love storyesque of the three Charlie Kaufman films 4) Michael Gondry, Jim Carrey, Tom Wilkinson, Kate Winslet all have high Q ratings at the moment. Gondry was famous for music videos and short films and film students eat that s--- up
5. Brokeback Mountain, Ang Lee *-A love story between two guys that was slated for Oscar Gold. Has anything like that even come close to happening before? The performances in this film are already iconic.
6. Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan-It ignited a self-feeding euphoria of "Best film ever??!" talk when it ascended to #1 on the imdb. In its defense, it redefined and transcended the superhero film genre which is THE genre who's growth defined the decade. The film boasted sensational acting, sensational choreography, sensational sound-editing, a sensational score and a sensational adaptation making it primed to sweep the Oscars in a number of ways.
7. Pan's Labyrinth, Guillermo del Toro-In terms of unquestionably innovative, this is it. The idea of taking the war picture and telling it from the point-of-view from kids and it was one of the three Amigos' films: 3 Mexican filmmakers all had big Welcome to Hollywood hits in 2006: Pan's Labrynth, Gonzalu's Babel and Cuaron's aforementioned Children of Men.
It was ranked #1 by metacritic for films of the last 10 years.
8. Wall-E, Andrew Staunton-This film truly transcended the animated film genre. It was bold enough to forego dialogue for the movie's first act and bolder still in choosing to make it's love story about two robots. It had a message but didn't come off as preachy.
9. Mulholland Drive, David Lynch +-Lynch's film had the entire audience (including the critics) simultaneously scratching their heads at the end in confusion, but one of the supposed strengths of the film is that everyone went "Huh?" in union leading to one of the few moments of universality all decade long. It wasn't just the "Huh?" and the fact that people still couldn't figure it out but Lynch's disfigured narrative was engrossing enough that it remains one of Lynch's most widely-viewed and popular works.
10. Slumdog Millionaire, Danny Boyle **-An internationally shot film that was gritty and inspiring. Nary a bad review in sight and a near sweep at the Oscars. As it stands, the second most popular best picture winner behind LOTR. Boyle is a filmmaker for the 21st Century and this film's Best Picture award signifies a promising career that has rightfully blossomed since Trainspotting in 1996.

11. Gladiator, Ridley Scott **-Not particularly ambitious but the direction, performances, and overall production values of the picture propelled it to a best picture win. Whether a genre film like Gladiator ages well is partially dependent on the genre's level of saturation at the time of relief. Fortunately, this Roman sandals epic captured audience imaginations and created both word-of-mouth and cultural resonance.
12. Children of Men, Alfonso Cuaron **-Guys like Peter Travers at Rolling Stone and Jim Emerson at put this on their top ten list. EW listed it as one of 25 films that will remain a classic. I've seen it and I'm not sure why it was so great but it was unquestionably bold. Boldness of vision is a keyword I'm using a lot to describe what attracts critics to these films.
13. Almost Famous, Cameron Crowe-This didn't earn an Oscar nomination but retroactively it would have if critics were voting again. I've seen it pop up practically everywhere from the AV Club's list to Culture Snob to MSN Movie's list to name a few. I believe it's enhanced reputation over the years has come about because after this film, Cameron Crowe didn't make a good film again. Elizabethtown (which I personally liked) was panned for being a little too eager to tug at the heartstrings and Vanilla Sky was somewhat of a mess. The film has aged well and is the epitome of Crowe's personal touch.

14. Departed, Martin Scorsese **-Scorsesee tried hard to get an Oscar with every film he made this decade and this struck Gold. Whether it's ambitious as his two prior films, this was universally considered a crowd-pleaser. It was also a higher grossing movie than Aviator or GONY.

15. Hurt Locker, Kathyn Bighelow**-The 2000s were far more war-filled than the last two decades and the struggle to translate the conflicts from that war onto the movie screen were

16. Traffic, Steve Soderbergh*-Among films complex enough to be able to win big raves in the short-term and still feel like a work of art ten years later, this makes the list. Soderbergh won best director and Stephen Gaghan (director of Syriana) won best adapted screenplay and if they were to revote 10 years later, my bet is they would still win. Making an star-sprinkled ensemble piece that's more than the sum of its parts is rare to pull off (With so many stars appearing for narratively irrelevant cameos, I'd argue that even The Player falls short of this mark), but Traffic makes it work. Unfortunately, Soderbergh would do the exact opposite (making a movie for little reason other than the fact that high profile stars agreed to be in it) with Ocean's 12.
17. The Pianist, Roman Polanski*-Polanski's deeply personal film about art's power to heal tragedy scored some unexpected awards in the best picture race of 2002. It's a film with fairly universal praise.
18. Spiderman II, Sam Raimi- Before the Dark Knight, Spiderman II rewrote the rule book on sequels. Following up on a film that shattered records, Raimi and the filmmakers amplified the narrative by adding new angles (Spiderman's choice to be Spiderman) and revived the Superhero genre by keeping the action grounded in reality. It's a format that has been used in most of the superhero genres this decade. In short, it's been a big influence.
19. Letters from Iwo Jima, Clint Eastwood*-This has undoubtedly been the decade of Eastwood. His boldest directorial effort was telling a war story from the point of view from both sides. Whether this film changed the landscape of cinema like Unforgiven did or not, it won critics and audiences over. It was named the National Board of Review's best film of the year and made a lot of top ten lists.
20. No Country for Old Men, Joel and Ethan Coen **-It's not one that I particularly felt was worthy of best picture. Fractured endings are popular and the Coens, despite some inconsistency this decade, have overally come out of the aughts at the top of their game.
21. Lost in Translation, Sophia Coppola *-As Roger Ebert put it, this was a different kind of film that required the viewers to be patient and let love unfold at real-life pace. In a crowded year, the film eked out a best picture nomination and won a screenwriting Oscar for Sofia Coppolla
22. Memento, Christopher Nolan-The film's method of telling a story was a game changer at the time and the film holds up just as well now. Adapted from a short story by Nolan and his brother, this film was the world's first demonstration of Nolan's genius for telling a complex story and putting it to film. Curiously, Guy Pearce never got himself a slot on Christopher Nolan's preferred actor list for later movies

23. Avatar, James Cameron
24. Requiem for a Dream, Darren Aronofsky
25. Royal Tenenbaums, Wes Anderson

26. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Ang Lee *
27. Moulin Rouge!, Nicole Kidman
28. The Incredibles, Brad Bird
29. Far From Heaven, Todd Haynes
30. Chicago, Rob Marshall **
31. Little Miss Sunshine, Valerie Faris & Jonathan Dayton *
32. Grizzly Man, Warner Herzog
33. Pirates of the Carribean: Curse of the Black Pearl, Gore Verbinski
34. Munich, Stephen Spielberg *
35. Up in the Air, Jason Reitman *
36. Borat, Larry Charles
37. Juno, Jason Reitman *
38. Casino Royale, Martin Campbell
39. Fahrenheit 911, Michael Moore
40. Prestige, Christopher Nolan
41. In America, Jim Sheridan
42. Michael Clayton, Tony Gileroy *
43. Hotel Rwanda, Terry George
44. Gangs of New York, Martin Scorsese *
45. Gosford Park, Rob Altman *-Altman had some struggles finding audiences in the 80's and some of the 90's, but he has a strong base of admirers and with his last few films before his death in 2006, he further cemented his legacy as one of the legends of film. Godsford Park scored Altman his 5th Oscar nomination for director and was his 3rd film to be nominated for best picture.
46. 25th Hour, Spike Lee-25th Hour is making its way on some end of the year lists for the wrong reasons as far as I'm concerned: People are making too much of it as an allegory about 9/11 but some people (like Roger Ebert) just acknowledge that it's an excellent film
47. Mystic River, Clint Eastwood*- This film would have won the Oscar for Eastwood if that pesky sequel Lord of the Rings wasn't in the way. It was an adaptation of a Dennis Lehane novel that audiences found stirring, well-acted, and emotionally resonant. It basically marked the rebirth of Clint and might have been overshadowed since by Million Dollar Baby, Letters, Changeling and Gran Torino, I've seen it sneak up on a few lists.
48. Talk to Her, Pedro Almodovar+- This list needs more foreign films and Almodovar is hard to ignore with his success in Volver, Bad Education, and
49. Little Children, Todd Fields-Fields made a couple of melodramas in this film and In the Bedroom that critics found quite effective
50. 21 Grams, Alejandro Inarritu Gonzalu-A.I.G. had 3 successful films. Amores Perros was entirely in subtitles so it had the most indie cred. Babel was the most well-publicized film because it got the Oscar nom. 21 Grams was the happy balance in the middle.

+=Best Director nom without a best picture nom
*=Best Picture nom
**=Best picture winner
Also under consideration: Dreamgirls, Bill Condon; Into the Wild, Sean Penn; Up, Pete Doctor (animated); United 93, Paul Greengrass; Bourne Ultimatum, Paul Greengrass; Crash, Paul Haggis; King Kong, Peter Jackson; Constant Gardener, Fernando Meirelles; Ray, Taylor Hackford; Blind Side, John Lee Hancock; Milk, Gus van Sant; Match Point, Woody Allen; Amilie, Jean Pierre Juenet; Big Fish, Tim Burton; Blood Diamond, Ed Zwick

Also, by year:
2000: Gladiator, Almost Famous, Traffic, CTHD, Reqiuem for a Dream
2001: Mullholland Drive, Moulan Rouge, Royal Tannenbaums, Momento, Godsford Park, (Amelie)
2002: City of God, Pianist, Far From Heaven, Gangs of New York, Chicago, 25th Hour, Talk to Her
2003: Lord of the Rings, Lost in Translation, Pirates, Mystic River, 21 Grams, In America,(Big Fish)
2004: Eternal Sunshine, Sideways, Spiderman II, Incredibles, Fahrenheit 911, Hotel Rwanda, (Ray)
2005: Brokeback Mtn, Munich, Grizzly Man, (King Kong, Crash, Match Point, Constant Gardener)
2006: Departed, Children of Men, Pan's Labrynth, Letters from Iwo Jima, Casino Royale, Little Miss Sunshine, Borat, Prestige, Little Children (United 93, Blood Diamond, Dreamgirls))
2007: There Will be Blood, No Country, Michael Clayton, Juno (Into the Wild, Bourne Ultimatum)
2008: Dark Knight, Wall-E, Slumdog Millionaire (Milk)
2009: Hurt Locker, Avatar, Up in the Air, (Up, Blind Side)

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