Thursday, July 21, 2011

Top 25 Favorite Films of the Decade: 2000-2009 - Part 2, 20-16

This past decade has been awesome for movies with tons of really good big adventure films like Spider-Man, Batman, Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter. It also featured great genre films, highlighted by the emergence of wonderful new auteur directors and fantastic new stars. Here is the list of my personal favorite twenty-five films from the decade (not necessarily the best films critically speaking, just my favorites):

25-21; 20-16; 15-11; 10-6; 5-1

Rank: 20
Director: Noah Baumbach
Release Year: 2005
Genre: Dramedy
Summary: The film is about two brothers who have to deal with their parents’ divorce in Brooklyn in the 1980s. It is based on the childhood experiences of director Noah Baumbach.
Why It Made the List: Baumbach worked with Wes Anderson (who served as a producer on the film) and Anderson’s D.P. Bob Yeoman, giving the film a slight feel of an Anderson film – a little quirky with emotionally damaged pseudointellectual characters and dry humor. Baumbach’s dialogue is brilliant (he got a 2006 Oscar nod for Best writing). It has such wit and cracks me up every time. The performances that he garners are also fantastic (really giving Jesse Eisenberg his breakout role). Like many of the films on this list, The Squid and the Whale is great because of its characters and the emotional and comedic depth of the film.
Watch the Trailer: Here
Available on: DVD, Streaming and to Rent

Rank: 19
Director: Joe Wright
Release Year: 2007
Genre: Romance
Summary: The film, which takes place before and during WWII, is about Brioney Tallis. As a thirteen-year-old, she sees something she does not understand and makes an accusation that forever changes the lives of her older sister, Cecilia, and a man who works for her family, Robbie Turner.
Why It Made the List: The cinematography and aesthetic style of the film are beautiful and fantastic. There is a long-take on the beach at Dunkirk that is among the best in cinema history. Wright also captures very good performances and creates such a moving love story in a film in which the two main characters hardly share any screen time. I also have to mention just how good Dario Marianelli’s score is (listen to this piece for example – sheer brilliance). Maybe the best thing to come out of this film is the emergence of Saoirse Ronan, who is utterly phenomenal in her supporting role (and she has since gone on to be wonderful in The Lovely Bones and Hanna). She is a great talent to watch.
Watch the Trailer: Here
Available on: Blu-ray, DVD, Streaming and to Rent

Rank: 18
Director: Shane Black
Release Year: 2005
Genre: Action/Mystery
Summary: The film is about a smalltime criminal, Harry, who auditions for a Hollywood role to avoid being captured by the cops after committing a burglary. Once in Hollywood, Harry finds himself wrapped up in a murder mystery that is eerily similar to the noir hardboiled detective pulp he read as a kid.
Why It Made the List: Shane Black, the writer behind Lethal Weapon, created the best detective film of the decade with Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. It is very funny, as Black’s dialogue is hilarious (especially mixed with the superb performances from Downey Jr., Kilmer and Monaghan), has great characters and has an interesting and elaborate mystery at its heart. Plus, the film introduced the world the Michelle Monaghan and all her awesomeness, resurrected Robert Downey Jr.’s career in the eyes of critics and filmmakers (enabling him to win the role of Iron Man, which resurrected his career for studios and the average movie fan) and reminded us that Val Kilmer can still give an amazing performance (like he did in Tombstone). Every time I watch this movie (like many others on this list) I like it more and find it more engaging.
Watch the Trailer: Here
Available on: Blu-ray, DVD, Streaming and to Rent

Rank: 17
Director: Roman Polanski
Release Year: 2002
Genre: Drama/War
Summary: The film tells the true life tale of a Polish Jewish musician, Wladyslaw Szpilman, who somehow survived the destruction of the Warsaw ghetto during WWII.
Why It Made the List: Roman Polanski is a wonderful auteur director and this is maybe his finest film (though, a strong argument can also be made for Chinatown). He used some of his family’s own experiences during the Holocaust in the making of the film. It won best actor, director and writing at the 2003 Oscars (but not best film, which to this day makes no sense). Adrien Brody is absolutely outstanding in the lead role (easily the best work he has done to date), giving one of the top five male performances of the decade (and since you are wondering, the other four are Bill Murray in Lost in Translation, Bruno Ganz in Downfall,  Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight, and Christoph Waltz in Inglourious Basterds). The film (like all Holocaust films) is very sad, but it is a tale of perseverance and has a beauty to it.
Watch the Trailer: Here
Available on: Blu-ray, DVD, Streaming and to Rent

Rank: 16
Director: David Fincher
Release Year: 2008
Genre: Fantasy Drama
Summary: The film is about a curious boy named Benjamin Button – curious because he is born an old man and ages backwards as the years pass. The film focuses on his adventures and love affair with Daisy.
Why It Made the List: There are not too many films that capture the wonder that you felt watching the classics of your childhood as a kid and deliver that feeling to you as an adult viewer. This film just has that magical epic quality to it that (for me at least) evokes the nostalgic feelings of watching grand films for the first time as a kid in the 1980s (things like Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Princess Bride). You feel like you are watching a marvelous tale filled with enchanting and miraculous characters and adventures (but again for an adult audience). This is the epic of the decade (outside of the more direct fantasy adventure genre films like The Lord of the Rings trilogy). Plus, Fincher et al have created a film with astounding aesthetics (Claudio Miranda’s cinematography is among the very best work of the decade).
Watch the Trailer: Here
Available on: Blu-ray, DVD, Streaming and to Rent

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