Thursday, July 28, 2011

Top 25 Favorite Films of the Decade: 2000-2009 - Part 3, 15-11

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: 15
Director: The Coen Brothers
Release Year: 2007
Genre: Modern Western
Summary: The film is about Llewelyn Moss, a hunter who stumbles upon a drug deal gone bad – dead bodies, heroin and two million in cash. He decides to take the money. The bad news is: the men that money belongs to know he took it and have sent a truly sadistic killer after him to get it back.
Why It Made the List: The Coen Brothers are among my favorite working directors (with Joss Whedon, Chris Nolan, Alfonso Cuaron, and Wes Anderson) and after making a couple of their lesser films in the middle of the decade they came back with this amazing modern western that sort of looks at the dying days of the cowboy era. The writing and characters in the film are astounding (and it won the 2008 Best Picture Oscar). The performances in the film are also incredible across the board. Javier Barden’s chief among them (his probably should be in my top five male performances of the decade). The Coen Brothers mix comedy and violence so well and are among the best aesthetic directors around, and this is one of their masterworks.
Watch the Trailer: Here
Available on: Blu-ray, DVD, Streaming and to Rent

Rank: 14
Director: Joe Wright
Release Year: 2005
Genre: Romance
Summary: The film is about Elizabeth Bennett, a prideful girl who wants more for herself than the period would seemingly allow (being the early 19th century). When she first meets Mr. Darcy she thinks he is cold and overly prideful and does not like him at all, but as the story evolves and she learns who he truly is she begins to fall for him.
Why It Made the List: Joe Wright’s directing gives this period film so much energy and life, making it feel very fresh (which is saying something for a novel that is practically adapted every other year). The fluid camera work and long takes in particular are wonderful (and I love how all the dance scenes are shot). Keira Knightley also gives a fantastic performance in the film, establishing herself as one of the top young actresses (both having the ability to command the screen in blockbusters, like Pirates of the Caribbean, and prestige films) – this being her breakout film as a serious Oscar contending actress. It is hard not to love this film with its classic story, brilliant aesthetics and great cast.
Watch the Trailer: Here
Available on: Blu-ray, DVD, Streaming and to Rent

Rank: 13
Director: Alfonso Cuaron
Release Year: 2006
Genre: Sci-Fi Drama/Thriller
Summary: Set in 2027 Britain, the world is in chaos as women are no longer able to conceive and the world’s population carries on towards extinction. However, when an illegal immigrate becomes pregnant, it is up to a former activist Theo Faron to guide her safely to a secret research ship.
Why It Made the List: The first thing to say about Children of Men is that it has possible the two best long takes in the history of cinema. Those shots alone make this film a classic. But, the rest of the film is also quite astounding as well. If you did not already love Alfonso Cuaron’s work, this is just another example of why he is one of the best auteur directors working today. Cuaron does a great job of telling this dystopian story and creating the right look and tone, while mixing in thriller and adventure narrative aspects into the sci-fi drama framework. Along with Cuaron’s, I must note the sheer brilliance of D.P. Emmanuel Lubezki’s work (he might be the best cinematographer right now – see his work with Terrence Malick as well). As far as sci-fi goes, this film and the next on the list are probably the best films of the decade in the genre.
Watch the Trailer: Here
Available on: Blu-ray, DVD, Streaming and to Rent

Rank: 12
Director: Joss Whedon
Release Year: 2005
Genre: Action Sci-Fi
Summary: Taking off where Firefly left off, the film finds the crew of Serenity at odds (again) over River after a simple bank heist is interrupted by Reavers. Simon and River plan to get off the ship at the next port, but when a secret message triggers River alerting the Alliance to her whereabouts Mal and crew have no choice but to help escape and evade the capture of a deadly assassin.
Why It Made the List: If you love Firefly as much as I do (and other Browncoats), you will love this film – however it does have a much different tone (which some fans and critics do not like), being grander and more of an action film than the character-centric show. Basically, the film serves as the finale to the show (unless Joss Whedon finally gets the go ahead to make another film, or as planned the comic progress the series) and assumes you know the characters well enough from the series. Whedon’s characters and writing are what set this apart and make it the wonderful piece that it is, as it is funny, dramatic and entertaining – and just very emotionally engaging (which all the best films are). The performances are great in the film as well, especially from Nathan Fillion (who proves he could be a Hollywood blockbuster leading man) and Chiwetel Ejiofor (who creates one of my favorite villains of the decade). All sci-fi fans need to see this film and the series that precedes it.
Watch the Trailer: Here
Available on: Blu-ray, DVD, Streaming and to Rent

Rank: 11
Release Year: 2009
Genre: War/Black Comedy
Summary: Brocken into five parts, the film serves as sort of an alternate reality version of WWII history, as a plan is put together to end the war with the assassination of top Nazi officials in one grand strike.
Why It Made the List: Quentin Tarantino’s script for the film is maybe the best of the decade. The scenes are all wonderful and the dialog is top notch. Inglourious Basterds also boosts extraordinary performances (almost across the board, though Mike Myers’s performances seems out of place a little). While Brad Pitt is very funny and great in it, Melanie Laurent, Michael Fassbender and especially Christoph Waltz give career-making performances (at least for American audiences). The aesthetics in the film are very good as well and I love the use of found music by Tarantino, borrowing classic pieces from Westerns and other great genres and composers. While it may not be a completely fluid narrative, the individual scenes are magnificent and all come together brilliantly in the finale. (I have said this a few times in this list, but this is very true for this film) each time I see this, it grows on me more and more and I love it more and more.
Watch the Trailer: Here
Available on: Blu-ray, DVD, Streaming and to Rent

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