Again, been lacking on any input here lately due to lack of time but here we are at the start of a new year (and decade) as I handpick some of my favourite films from the past 10 years. Picking just 10 movies to summise an entire decade hardly seems fair but hey, tough shit.
10. Man on Wire (James Marsh, 2008)
The inspiring story of wire-walker Phillipe Petit as he plans an unbelievable spectacle – wire walking between the now fallen twin towers in New York City, circa 1974. Petit is a funny and very watchable character. Director James Marsh finds beauty in the most unexpected of places. Kudos to Michael Nyman for the awesome and very fitting score. Winner of the Best Documentary Feature at last years Academy Awards.
9. Adaptation (2002, Spike Jonze)
The weird and wonderful minds of Spike Jonze and Charlie Kaufman produce another odd masterpiece after 1999’s Being John Malkovich. Nicholas Cage plays Kaufman himself as a struggling screenwriter with serious insecurites as he attempts to adapt Susan Orleans The Orchid Thief. In doing so, the film turns into a dizzying introspection of film structure. Adaptation needs to be seen to be believed if not just out of curiosity but also for Nicholas Cages hilarious and sometimes heartbreaking performance.
8. The Dark Knight (2008, Christopher Nolan)
When Christopher Nolan brought the Batman franchise back to life with the acclaimed Batman Begins, few would have guessed the level of anticipation that awaited it’s sequel – partly due to the untimely death of one of it’s stars Heath Ledger. The Dark Knight managed to live up to all the hype that preceeded it’s release to become an instant comic book movie classic. It was hard to ignore Ledger’s performance as the Joker for which he recieved the posthumous Oscar – as he steals every scene he is in. A great supporting cast including Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine doesn’t do any harm, either does Nolan’s insistance on practical effects, which is genuinely refreshing in an increasingly CGI age.
7. Lost in Translation (2004, Sofia Coppola)
With just her second feature film, Sofia Coppola has crafted a truly beautiful piece of work about lonliness and isolation. Scarlett Johansson and Bill Murray play two Americans who, while in Tokyo, latch on to each other and form a relationship that isn’t easily defined by standard terms but that feels completely genuine and relateable. Also noteworthy is the tranquil and haunting soundtrack which fits the film perfectly.
6. Wall-E / Up (Stanton/Docter, 2008/2009)
Okay so I’m kind of cheating here but these are both Pixar movies from the past two Summers and they both deserve a place in the best films of the decade. Pixar are gradually making more adult orientated films that are still accessible for kids. Wall-E and Up both feature adult themes (not that kind), i.e the environment and loss of a loved one in Wall-E and Up respectively yet are still hilarious and so much fun. Using Walt Disneys message of “with every laugh there must be a tear”, Pixar are the most exciting studio working today and I eagerly await what they do next.
5. There Will Be Blood (2007, P.T Anderson)
The greatest screen performance of this decade is undoubtedly Daniel Day Lewis’ magnificent portrayal of Oil tycoon Daniel Plainview in Paul Thomas Anderson’s sprawling masterpiece about greed and religious zealotry. Day Lewis’ performance encapsulates ‘Method Acting’ and thoroughly deserved the Oscar, as did the film itself for it’s stunning cinematography, unsettling tone and magnificent score by Radiohead’s Johnny Greenwood.
4. Spirited Away (2001, Hayao Miyazaki)
Studio Ghibli have become synonymous with producing epic animated features and Spirited Away has already become their masterpiece in their already impressive back catalogue. Beautiful visuals and fantasy visuals are Ghibli trademarks and they are definitely on show here. Watching in Japanese or English is equally rewarding as Ghibli usually pull out great English voice talent for their films, although the Japanese version can be more rewarding and engrossing. Spirited Away really does makes you feel like a kid again, not many films can do that anymore. (single tear)
3. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2003, Michel Gondry)
Rarely does a film come along that seems to speak to so many people of a certain disposition. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless mind is that film. Another mindfuck in terms of plot, thanks again to Adaptation scribe Charlie Kaufman, the film tells the love story of Joel and Clementine as each of them attempt to erase all memory of each other – only deciding that it’s not what they want. Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet give great performances as said lovers, Carrey in particular proving again how well he can do drama. A fantastic score from Jon Brion enhances the most emotional scenes, of which there are a few. A love story but not in a traditional sense.
2. Amelie (2001, Jean-Pierre Jeunet)
The best feel good movie ever. If you’re ever a bit down, put on Amelie and all will be right in the world.
1. Dancer in the Dark (2001, Lars Von Trier)
Who knew Bjork could act? Who knew you could make a musical about the death penalty? Who knew said movie could be so heartbreaking it was too hard for me to watch again. Who knew the director of the turd called Antichrist could make a masterpiece? Not me.
Okay there’s the list of MY best movies of the last decade but really I could make another list with another 10 fantastic movies – such as Requiem for a Dream, No Country for Old Men, The Wrestler, Brick, Gone Baby Gone, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Departed, Garden State, Juno, Memento, City of God, A Very Long Engagement, 4 Months 3 Weeks 2 Days etc etc.
Any views on my list, feel free to tear me a new one.