Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Big Mike's Top Films of the Decade, Part 1

Yes, I am writing my five part, DECADE in review list. You might have been seeing them a lot lately on sites such as Ain't It Cool, or the one I liked better at The A.V. Club. But, in order to get into the swing of things, I had to go with the movies I liked best, myself over the past ten years. While I struggled to balance movies that were actually good with those that were really fun, I had a hard time coming up with this list. 'Where are all the documentaries?' I asked myself. Foreign films? Indies? What kind of self-respecting film snob had I become in this decade, the one in which I got out of the Marine Corps, went to college to major in film, worked in television, went to jail and got my eyebrows waxed? In the end, I had to write what I know and pick the films that I liked for the reasons I liked them. It took a lot of coffee and a lot of research and in the end, I had to leave off some favorites, like Attack of the Clones and dig up some that I go back and watch constantly. I may not have the magic eye, but I think I got a pretty good list.

25. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy

“You have a dirty, whorish mouth.” “The arsonist had oddly shaped feet.” “I love lamp.” “60% of the time, it works every time.” “That’s how I roll.” “I’m sort of a big deal. People know me.” “I don’t know if you were listening, I did over a thousand.” “I want to be on you.” “The party. With the pants. Party in the pants.” “I’m in a glass cage of emotion!” For being the most quotable comedy of the decade, Anchorman earns the first spot on the list. “You stay classy, Planet Earth.”

24. Up In The Air

The only movie from 2009 on this list, it is rare to see a film that perfectly captures the essence of its time. I know that has been written about this film constantly, but it is also very true and this movie got to me in a way that a lot of films never will. George Clooney plays a man searching for a balance between life and work and never knowing which one will win. We don’t necessarily know either and its wonderful to see a man and a movie that so accurately shows us the truth of our world.

23. Superbad

What Forgetting Sarah Marshall did for romantic comedies, Superbad did for the ‘teen comedy’. Superbad actually had kids that were neither nerds nor jocks, but looked something more like my friends and I in high school. And, they learned some important lessons along the way that are actually true, like a girl doesn’t have to be drunk to like you or sleep with you and that confidence is your most valuable tool. Though we may all be more like Seth and Evan than we like to think, trying to be more like them wouldn’t be a bad thing either.

22. Training Day

By now, it is a forgone conclusion that ‘going Denzel in Training Day’ is a sure way to win an Oscar nom, but in 2001, it was a bold move for Washington, which paid off nicely. But beyond that, Training Day may have been a wash for some, but for the hip hop generation it was targeted to, we saw cops that looked and acted like the ones who patrolled our schools and our streets growing up, and while Denzel embodied the evil we feared as kids, Ethan Hawke was perfect as his counterbalance. He became the hope we placed in the police force to do the right thing and protect us from everyone, even themselves.

21. Casino Royale

Forget about all those Bond movies of the past, Casino Royale was a kick ass action flick first and a Bond movie second. Daniel Craig is THE new Bond and succeeds by being an actor first and an icon second. From the free running in Africa and no limits hold ‘em in Monte Carlo to very clever dialogue and visual references to the Bond mythos, Casino Royale was both old and new, fresh and familiar, fun and fascinating. Even if they had never made a follow up, this film stands as one of the best action films of all time, let alone the 2000’s.

Keep reading this week, I will have the full list up before the New Year.


The Mad Hatter said...

Great list so far, I know I for one enjoyed every one of the flicks you named. I got a special smile when thinking back on TRAINING DAY, as it was the first film I ever saw at The Toronto International Film Festival.

Kinda surprised that UP IN THE AIR is the only '09 movie to make the cut. Not to say that I expected more of 'em...just to say that I figured you'd be picking a different one.

And, uh...You waxed your eyebrows?

Big Mike Mendez said...

Yea, man, chicks dig it. To me, Up In The Air is the best film of the year and it's easier to look at movies in retrospect and appreciate them. In ten years, this list might look different, but for now, it is what it is.

Fletch said...

Well, lame on me, I didn't do a 25, I'm only doing a piddly 10. Anyway...

I have a feeling our lists will match up better the lower you get. Of these, I think Superbad might be the only one to scratch my top 25. I don't hate Anchorman, but never got into it like everyone else seemed to. Up In the Air was just *good* for me and never great. I'm one of the people that Training Day was otherwise a wash for, and Casino Royale didn't do it for me at all, at least beyond the groovy parkour intro.

Looking forward to the rest, of course.

schaggydog said...

Interesting list so far. I've been working on mine for a couple of weeks now and I'm going to try to cover 100 films, even though I haven't finished my other 100 film list (which I've started writing again and will hopefully have posted before the new year so I can move on to the decade list.)

I'm curious to see how similar our lists are going to be. I see only 2 of these so far that might make my 100 list. And like you said, the lists change all the time. In going back to start on my 100 favorite films list I'm already seeing films I'd easily change around, which will probably be reflected in my decade list. Either way, I can't wait to see your final list.

Big Mike Mendez said...

Fletch - I started with ten and it quickly spiraled to 25. I had to take the hard way out of it and plug it up there. Of course, I'll list some honorable mentions, but even those were tough choices. But, I see where our lists are already beginning to intersect.

Phil- You're doing ONE HUNDRED and only two of these will make the cut? What are you padding your list with?

Matt said...

Um.....it's the 29th. Are you going to be able to finish this list THIS decade??