DAILY FILM DOSE: A Daily Film Appreciation and Review Blog: The Best of the Decade in Cinema

Saturday, 2 January 2010

The Best of the Decade in Cinema

The following is the final posting in a series of features breaking down the trends of cinema in the 2000's. Click below for parts 1-5:
Part 1: Tentpole Franchisees
Part 2: Social Realism
Part 3: Documentary
Part 4: The New Auteurs
Part 5: The Old Guard

For me, it takes about 3 or 4 viewings to really appreciate a masterpiece, or at least to define a film a masterpiece (even though I've prematurely made declarations of such on first time viewings tsk tsk). What defines a masterpiece? Not just a good film, or a great film, but a film after the third or fourth viewing reveals new layers of depth, complexity, humour, suspense, or whatever emotion it stimulates. As a result as I cross-reference this list with my previous Year End lists, it’s much different. Many times, my knee jerk reaction to a first viewing of a film has decreasing returns on subsequent viewings. You might see an odd inclusion in there, ‘In the Loop’ which only made #3 on my list of the best of 2009, so how come ‘Inglourious Basterds’ or ‘Un Prophete’ is not up there? Well, I’ve seen “In the Loop” four times and each time it holds up. It also provides an antidote to the wholly dark material of the other 9 films on this list. It's not a scientific method either, a gut reaction, a feeling of what is rising to the top.

1. United 93 (2006) dir. Paul Greengrass

A rare occasion when a pivotal event in history is dramatized with as much resonate impact as the event itself. United 93 is an experience - intense, harrowing and reverential to the heroic participants, without sensationalizing them

2. Mulholland Drive (2001) dir. David Lynch

David Lynch had made eight feature films prior to Mulholland Drive, and a few of them masterpieces in their own right. Lynch remarkably recycles the character, themes, textures, and tone of his other films like a jigsaw puzzle into this beguiling compendium of Lynchian perfection.

3. The Prestige (2005) dir. Christopher Nolan

Sure his Batman films are great, but its ‘The Prestige” which packs the greatest emotional wallop. The Prestige is tricky, clever and complex, expertly weaving a great game of professsional one-up manship with a real cynical edge.

4. Werckmeister Harmonies (2000) dir. Bela Tarr

High contrast black and white photography, long meandering tracking shots draw the audience into the bleak and barren mood of a secluded Hungarian town and its post-Communist xenophobic townsfolk. A challenging aesthetic to be sure, but undeniably mesmerizing and hypnotic. European art cinema par excellence.

5. Primer (2004) dir. Shane Carruth

A $7,000 film written, produced, directed, shot, acted, sound designed and composed by one person makes this Sundance winner an inspiring story. But even more remarkable is Shane Carruth’s ability to execute a narratively complex time travel thriller with equally precise composition and control.

6. In the Loop (2009) dir. Armando Iannucci

The comic timing, and assured satirical tone of Armando Iannucci’s great political farce is pitch perfect. The manic complexities of the dozen or so ensemble actors riff and roll with one another like a well-oiled machine.

7. Battle Royale (2000) dir. Kinji Fukasaku

Kinji Fukasuku’s high concept black comedy action feels like a cinematic hand grenade like only the Japanese could explode. A near future society where a group of high school classmates are assembled on a island to kill each other off as part of a nationwide solution to youth violence. Audacious and potent and even more impressive that it was made by a 70 year old director!

8. Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) dir. Guillermo Del Toro

Guillermo Del Toro’s luscious and alluring gothic masterpiece is the pinnacle of fantasy filmmaking. It was sad to watch the disappointment on Del Toro’s face when “Lives of Others” was read out as the (albeit deserving) winner of the Best Foreign Language film Oscar that year. But "Pan's Labyrinth" willl remain a special film for a long time to come.

9. Lives of Others (2006) dir. Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck

But let’s not take anything away from “Lives of Others”, deeply moving Cold War character, which finds a surprisingly warm and optismistic sentimental tone.

10. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (2007) dir. Cristian Mungiu

Wholly disturbing and fascinating procedural involving a woman's journey tohelp her friend get an abortion in 1980's communist Romania.

And a second opinion from my contributor, Blair Stewart:
(in no particular order):

Morvern Callar (Lynne Ramsay)
My Winnipeg (Guy Maddin)
The Proposition (John Hillcoat)
Oldboy (Chan Wook-Park)
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry)
Hidden (Cache) (Michael Haneke)
The White Ribbon (Michael Haneke)
American Splendor (Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini)
Punch Drunk-Love (Paul Thomas Anderson)
Lost in Translation (Sofia Coppola)
No Country for Old Men (Coen Bros)
The Pianist (Roman Polanski)
Songs from the Second Floor (Roy Andersson)
Master and Commander:The Far Side of the World (Peter Weir)
Talk to Her (Almodovar)
Children of Men (Alfonso Cuaron)
Metallica: SKOM (Joe Berlinger)
Grizzly Man (Werner Herzog)
Bloody Sunday (Paul Greengrass)

And a second opinion from my colleague, Greg Klymkiw:
(in alphabetical order):

Antichrist (Lars VonTrier)
Dog Days (Ulrich Seidl)
Eureka (Shinji Aoyama)
Freddy Got Fingered (Tom Green)
Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino)
Lives of Others, The (Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck)
Mulholland Drive (David Lynch)
My Winnipeg (Guy Maddin)
Passion of the Christ, The (Mel Gibson)
Sin City (Robert Rodriguez, Frank Miller)


T.J. Hawke said...

For me, after some research, i tried to determine my top ten:
(in alphabetical)

Dark Knight, The
Departed, The
Five Obstructions, The
Hotel Rwanda
Lives of Others, The
Mystic River
Pan’s Labyrinth

T.J. Hawke said...

My acting Oscars of the decade

Male Lead
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Departed
Daniel Day Lewis, There Will Be Blood
Joseph Gordon Levitt, Mysterious Skin
Heath Ledger, Brokeback Mountain
Guy Pearce, Memento

Female Lead
Ivanna Baquero, Pan's Labyrinth
Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married
Uma Thurman, Kill Bill I and II
Naomi Watts, Muholland Drive
Naomi Watts, The Painted Veil

Male Supporting
Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men
Jamie Foxx, Collateral
Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
Mark Ruffalo, Zodiac
Peter Sarsgaard, Shattered Glass

Female Supporting
Rosemarie DeWitt, Rachel Getting Married
Melanie Laurent, Inglourious Basterds
Frances McDormand, Almost Famous
Lesley Manville, All or Nothing
Amy Ryan, Gone Baby Gone

Phillip Gilchrist said...

The Barbarian Invasions
Brokeback Mountain
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
The Lives of Others
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
The Queen
United 93

bcm said...

I'm kind of embarrassed that I haven't seen half the films in your top ten. I'll get on that