top movies of the decade!

Thursday 31 December 2009

Hey — I thought I’d give you one more quick post before we hit 2010:

Since you already got my list of 30 favorite movies of the decade, I thought I’d point to a few others out there on the web.  Enjoy!

We Are Movie Geeks: Top 100 of the Decade

Daily Kos: Best films of the decade, top 10 (bonus 7)

U.K. Times Online: 100 Best of the Decade

Complex.com: Top 100 Movies of the Decade

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my favorite movies of the 2000s’ #1, #2, and #3

Wednesday 30 December 2009

So we finally made it to the top 3! (I agree – doing this in a week or less probably would have been advisable.) In any case, I’ve enjoyed writing this list and hope you’ve enjoyed having a chance to see it. As a bonus today, I’m adding 5 more movies to make it a top 30 (though you won’t get any descriptions, sorry). I’ll refer you back to my first post on this subject for movies I still haven’t seen so they couldn’t make the list, as well as the general description of the list itself.

(See previous days’ posts for descriptions of the other movies on the list.) I hope you enjoy and post your comments somewhere for me to see any omissions or suggestions! Happy New Year!

#30: Capturing the Friedmans (2003)
#29: Neverland: The Rise and Fall of the Symbionese Liberation Army (2004)
#28: Wordplay (2006)
#27: Children of Men (2006)
#26: Donnie Darko (2001)
#25: (500) Days of Summer (2009)
#24: FLOW: For Love Of Water (2008)
#23: In The Bedroom (2001)

#22: House of Sand and Fog (2003)
#21: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (2003)

#20: Wo Hu Cang Long (2000)
#19: Le Scaphandre et le Papillon (2007)

#18: Hable con Ella (2002)
#17: The Wrestler (2008)

#16: Revolutionary Road (2008)
#15: Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001)

#14: Hotel Rwanda (2004)
#13: Elephant (2003)

#12: Moulin Rouge! (2001)
#11: Juno (2007)

#10: Spellbound (2002)
#9: The Weather Underground (2002)

#8: Requiem for a Dream (2000)
#7: Wristcutters: A Love Story (2006)

#6: All the Real Girls (2003)
#5: Cidade de Deus (2002)
#4: Me and You and Everyone We Know (2005)

#3: Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple (2006)
When I saw this movie, I decided that if I were to make a documentary, this would be my model and inspiration. Jonestown combines rare footage and audio of the goings on of the Peoples Temple, both in California and later in Guyana, with interviews with former members of P.T. You’ve probably heard the phrase, “Don’t drink the kool-aid,” and Jonestown is where that came from. You have a vibrant leader, Jim Jones, who does talk about some great things of social justice and community, but unfortunately he uses his power in harmful ways again women and other followers and Peoples Temple becomes a cult. It also makes an excellent case that this was not a case of mass suicide, but of pred-meditated murder. It’s powerful and provocative and a true must-see!

#2: Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain (2001) (Amélie)
I’m lucky that I saw this movie in the theater, as it was still early in my accumulation to the wonders of foreign film. I fell in love with this movie quickly, as the opening sequence where the various characters are introduced is so original and beautiful I just couldn’t help myself. It’s quirky and stylized (when I showed it to my parents, they just didn’t get it), but it’s also sweet and romantic like any good love story should be. Audrey Tautou‘s smile lights up the screen, and the appearance of a gnome throughout made me smile. And I’m not really sure if it would be as beautiful, either, if it weren’t in French; that just adds to the charm factor. Maybe this film isn’t for everyone (as my parents would contend), but can’t imagine life without it.

#1: The Corporation (2003)
I feel very comfortable making a documentary my #1 film of the decade, because I think films should make a difference in your life, and documentaries often times do.  And of all the films I’ve seen, I’m pretty sure this is my most recommended. I’ve lent out my copy on multiple occasions (feel free to request it yourself, or watch it online here) because the information is too powerful to be kept quiet. Based on a book by the same name, it operates on the premise that current corporations, in many of the ways they are operated today, would be defined as psychopaths if they were actually human. You see how corporations have done everything from patented genetic material (Monsanto owns most crop seeds now) to externalized costs the government picks up (where would automotive makers be without roads?), not to mention the environmental toll many corporations take on the environment. Perhaps the real culprit is industrialization, but since we can’t go back in time there, it’s up to us to patrol how corporations are operated. It is thought provoking and eye-opening, and if it doesn’t cause you to change at least some lifestyle practice, then you weren’t paying attention. If you haven’t seen this movie yet, I implore you to see it as soon as possible, but definitely before the coming year is over. It will rock your world, as any good film should!


my favorite movies of the 2000s, #4, #5, and #6

Tuesday 29 December 2009

OK, so I’m pushing the end up a little, mostly because all the links every day are driving me a bit crazy!  I still hope to give you a bonus post/list on N.Y.E., but not promises at this point.  Enjoy what you have for now, and come back tomorrow night for #1!

#25: (500) Days of Summer (2009)
#24: FLOW: For Love Of Water (2008)
#23: In The Bedroom (2001)

#22: House of Sand and Fog (2003)
#21: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (2003)

#20: Wo Hu Cang Long (2000)
#19: Le Scaphandre et le Papillon (2007)

#18: Hable con Ella (2002)
#17: The Wrestler (2008)

#16: Revolutionary Road (2008)
#15: Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001)

#14: Hotel Rwanda (2004)
#13: Elephant (2003)

#12: Moulin Rouge! (2001)
#11: Juno (2007)

#10: Spellbound (2002)
#9: The Weather Underground (2002)

#8: Requiem for a Dream (2000)
#7: Wristcutters: A Love Story (2006)

#6: All the Real Girls (2003)
This is another love story on my list, and once again it’s not a conventional one.  This is perhaps the most realistic portrayal of boy meets girl and what follows that I’ve seen in film.  David Gordon Green (director of George Washington, another movie to check out) does a great job showing those small things that happen along that make and/or break a relationship.  It’s a nice character study, too, and just so intimate in all the details you’re really able to feel what the characters are feeling.  I won’t give away any more; you just have to see it to understand.

#5: Cidade de Deus (2002) (City of God)
This is another movie I saw too long ago to really remember, but I do clearly remember the poignancy and intimacy it treats its characters.  It’s the story of two boys growing up in Rio and the paths their lives take.  Perhaps with the Olympics heading there 2016, it would be interesting to see this fiction account of one part of the city.  I wish I could say more about this movie, but I saw it soon after its release and need to see it again to share any more specifics.  All I have now is the feeling this movie gave me, which is amazing.

#4: Me and You and Everyone We Know (2005)
The first time I saw this movie I found it a bit odd but intriguing (perhaps similarly to feelings I had for Magnolia, my favorite movie of the 1990s.  But then I saw it again, and I was completely pulled into the personal and intimate look at the characters portrayed.  There is the odd to be sure, like the young boys talking dirtily to a woman online about… well, watch it to see.  But Miranda July, the write and star, pulls you into the story in ways that can usually only happen in a book.  Her character is fragile and insecure, and the brilliance of this movie is how it makes us realize just how fragile and insecure we all are (what else could that title mean?).


my favorite movies of the 2000s, #7 and #8

Monday 28 December 2009

Are you itching for me to finish?  Look out, and I may get done before the 31st!

(These links go to previous post on these movies.)
#25: (500) Days of Summer (2009)

#24: FLOW: For Love Of Water (2008)
#23: In The Bedroom (2001)

#22: House of Sand and Fog (2003)
#21: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (2003)

#20: Wo Hu Cang Long (2000)
#19: Le Scaphandre et le Papillon (2007)

#18: Hable con Ella (2002)
#17: The Wrestler (2008)

#16: Revolutionary Road (2008)
#15: Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001)

#14: Hotel Rwanda (2004)
#13: Elephant (2003)

#12: Moulin Rouge! (2001)
#11: Juno (2007)

#10: Spellbound (2002)
#9: The Weather Underground (2002)

#8: Requiem for a Dream (2000)
This movie will depress you.  This movie will make you thankful you’re living the life you live.  This movie will challenge your ideas on addiction.  And this movie, in its final scenes, may end up being too much.  But even with all that, I love this movie.  In this movie, we get to see characters give in to drug addictions and the horrible repercussions that ensue.  But these aren’t characters that you could care less about, for the beauty of things is that you learn to love the characters before they fall.  Darren Aronofsky (director of another favorite movie of mine, Pi, he also directed #17: The Wrestler), brilliantly pulls together characters and scenes that horrify and astound you.  This movie should be shown in every high school (or junior high) in the country as a realistic view of the horrors of drugs.

#7: Wristcutters: A Love Story (2006)
After I saw this movie at the Milwaukee International Film Festival, I wrote a blog encouraging people to see this movie.  Then, over a year later, it finally found distribution and I saw it again in DC, and it was just as good as I remembered.  Based on a short story by Etgar Keret (a great writer himself: check him out) called “Kneller’s Happy Campers,” the movie takes place in a world where everyone has committed suicide.  You follow the main character who sets out to find his former love and girlfriend after he finds out she committed suicide, too, after he had died himself.  It’s not your standard love story, too be sure, and that’s what makes it such a good movie.  The characters are eccentric and quirky, another bonus.  If you can find it, watch it!


my favorite movies of the 2000s, #9 and #10, and top 11 documentaries!

Sunday 27 December 2009

We’ve finally made it to the top ten — that means 5 days left in 2009 and the decade!  Today you get two documentaries, and to liven things up, I’ve decided to add a bonus list, too: my top 11documentaries of the decade!  It means you’ll get a sneak peak at a few of the movies to come in my overall list, which is fine by me.  I have another bonus feature coming, too, but let’s do the #9 and #10 of the decade first, and then see the documentaries below that!

First, previous movies in the top 25 list (remember, these are my favorite of those I’ve seen this decade — see the link to movie #25 for a description of the list and the other movie links for previous descriptions):
#25: (500) Days of Summer (2009)
#24: FLOW: For Love Of Water (2008)
#23: In The Bedroom (2001)

#22: House of Sand and Fog (2003)
#21: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (2003)

#20: Wo Hu Cang Long (2000)
#19: Le Scaphandre et le Papillon (2007)

#18: Hable con Ella (2002)
#17: The Wrestler (2008)

#16: Revolutionary Road (2008)
#15: Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001)

#14: Hotel Rwanda (2004)
#13: Elephant (2003)

#12: Moulin Rouge! (2001)
#11: Juno (2007)

#10: Spellbound (2002)
Because I’m a big fan of documentaries (there are a total of 6 in my top 25, and 4 in my top 10!), I tend to see a good amount of breakouts in the theaters before they catch on with others, and I was lucky enough to see this one on the big screen as well.  It’s a basic premise: make a documentary covering the National Spelling Bee, doing individual features on a few of the participants along the way.  I think part of the genius is that spelling bee participants have to be pre-high school students, so the focus is on kids and their families.  You have first timers and those who have been there before.  Every one of them studies, but the amount varies drastically.  You have participants with rigorous study habits and private coaches, with parents pushing them all the way.  You have participants with language tutors (a lot of spelling is about etymology).  Some rely mostly on what they know already and are more laissez faire about it.  Personalities range from serious to bubbly to outright odd.  In the end, it’s a fun and suspenseful movie that leaves a smile on your face, something lacking from many scripted movies being put out these days.

#9: The Weather Underground (2002)
Without last year’s presidential campaign, most people would never have heard about the Weathermen.  But luckily for me, there was some kind of connection of Bill Ayers, one of the Weathermen, to now-President Obama, so it’s at least a recognizable group now.  (Bob Dylan mentioned them, too: “You don’t need a Weatherman to know which way the wind blows.”)  In any case, this documentary details the doings of the “radical” (debatable) group acting out west during the Vietnam War protests.  You get some historical footage along with present day interviews with former members (a trio died in the building of a bomb) to make a very engaging and thought provoking story.  No matter your opinion of such protest strategies, you get a good view of what was happening during that time in history and what the Weathermen were seeking to do.

And here are my top 11 favorite documentaries (I’ve seen) of the decade!  (Since 1-6 are in the general top #25 list and 7-9 in a soon to be released bonus list, I’ve only provided descriptions to #10 and #11 right now, but this page will change with other links as the year continues!):

1. The Corporation (2003)
2. Jonestown (2006)
3. The Weather Underground (2002)
4. Spellbound (2002)
5. The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (2003)
6. FLOW: For Love Of Water (2008)
7. Wordplay (2006)
8.  Neverland: The Rise and Fall of the Symbionese Liberation Army (2004)
9.  Capturing the Friedmans (2003)
10. The Natural History of the Chicken (2000)
I’m not actually sure if I saw this entire movie, but what I did see is enough to get it on this list.  This movie is a precursor to other “investigative” movies like FLOW and Food, Inc., but with a twist.  It’s a combination of vignettes about chickens (as the title implies).  You see a bit about chickens in factory coops (and their overcrowding).  You get to see a woman with her pet chicken.  You get to hear about complaints of neighbors because of disruptive chickens nearby.  We don’t think about chickens very much, but this movie put a nice personal touch on them.  I saw this in a film class and then headed to lunch where they were serving my favorite dish, marinated chicken.  I site it as one of the instigating factors in my vegetarianism!
11.  Food, Inc. (2008)
I just saw this movie this past summer (in a theater, so that 2008 date may be a bit off) and really enjoyed it.  There was a lot of information that didn’t surprise me, but a lot of new info, too.  In all, it tells the story of the industrialization of food into lots of “food like substances,” make with lots and lots of high fructose corn syrup.    There’s too much other information to detail here, but with it now out on DVD, you really should check it out (you can borrow my copy).  It will hopefully make you think more about the “food” you’re eating and the choices you make when putting things into your body.


my favorite movies of the 2000s, #11 and #12

Saturday 26 December 2009

I’m hoping you’re enjoying counting down the days until the end of the year by counting down my favorite movies of the decade!  If you haven’t read previous posts, use the links below to see the other movies on the list so far, and get ready for the top ten, soon to be unveiled!

#25: (500) Days of Summer (2009)
#24: FLOW: For Love Of Water (2008)
#23: In The Bedroom (2001)

#22: House of Sand and Fog (2003)
#21: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (2003)

#20: Wo Hu Cang Long (2000)
#19: Le Scaphandre et le Papillon (2007)

#18: Hable con Ella (2002)
#17: The Wrestler (2008)

#16: Revolutionary Road (2008)
#15: Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001)

#14: Hotel Rwanda (2004)
#13: Elephant (2003)

#12: Moulin Rouge! (2001)
The highest movie/musical on my list, even though almost all the songs are not original to the movie itself.  I pretty much love everything about this movie: the music, the story, the fun had by all.  While it may not be all fun and games (I mean, you need some conflict to drive any story), it’s commitment to beauty, freedom, truth, and love throughout is ultimately uplifting.  “Come What May,” my favorite song in the movie (and an important part of the plot), recognizes the challenges of love and relationships and the sadness that can happen when love is lost.  Ultimately, it’s a movie for the romantic and the realist in me, which really is a perfect combination.

#11: Juno (2007)
When I read the brief review of this movie in Entertainment Weekly (this was before it blew up), I knew it sounded like the kind of movie I’d enjoy.  When I saw it in the theater (still before its huge popularity), I was not disappointed.  It’s an eccentrically funny movie about a serious topic: teen pregnancy.  It has the quick wit and sardonic wisdom of the Gilmore Girls (a favorite TV show of mine) with dialogue you’d never heard in real life.  You laugh at and with the quirky characters as they make the best out of the situations set before them.  Ellen Page and Michael Cera make a great “couple” as Juno and Bleeker, stumbling through a challenging situation neither of them signed up for.  I saw this movie three times in a theater and a few times on video now, and it still makes me smile – a good indicator for any movie.  (It has a pretty sweet soundtrack, too.)


my favorite movies of the 2000s, #13 and #14

Friday 25 December 2009

Happy Christmas everyone!  Now that present opening and such is over, time to give you a few more movies to my list!

Here’s what we have so far (click on the movie to read the description on the previous blogs):
#25: (500) Days of Summer (2009)
#24: FLOW: For Love Of Water (2008)
#23: In The Bedroom (2001)

#22: House of Sand and Fog (2003)
#21: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (2003)

#20: Wo Hu Cang Long (2000)
#19: Le Scaphandre et le Papillon (2007)

#18: Hable con Ella (2002)
#17: The Wrestler (2008)

#16: Revolutionary Road (2008)
#15: Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001)

And now for two more!

#14: Hotel Rwanda (2004)
I hate to admit this, but I really knew nothing about the recent history of Rwanda until I saw this movie.  Some of that is because of my age (I was still only 12 in 1994 when the movie is set), but also I think it has a lot to do with the lack of attention I, and probably many of you, give to what’s going on in Africa.  Again, I claim ignorance.  But this movie (and my current reminiscence) began to serve as a wakeup call to the horrible tribal violence and genocide happening in Africa.  In the movie, Don Cheadle plays a hotel manager who houses people to save them from being killed.  It’s really a simple story, but it’s intensely powerful.  I was able to stay steady throughout the movie, but I cried for probably three or four minutes straight once the credits hit.  It’s based on a true story, using a script and actors, but it plays like a documentary of horror.

#13: Elephant (2003) (it’s said el ih font)
This movie isn’t for everyone.  It follows a similar premise of the Columbine shootings, which is hard to take.  But I enjoy movies that take you into difficult psychological realms, and this movie does just that.  Throughout the movie, you get to see the personal vignettes of different characters: killers, victims, those lucky enough to escape.  Perhaps the most interesting part to me is watching one of the characters playing Fur Elise and then moving on to plan the massacre.  The film has a dark mood, which is usually true of Gus Van Sant, and the visual pictures add to that mood.  The characters ring true as real adolescents with problems, dreams, and questions.  No matter their status in the situation, you want them to have the chance to strive for their dreams, but you know it won’t be happening for all of them.  Perhaps that’s the true tragedy of it all.