Thursday, December 31, 2009

Big Mike's Top Films of the Decade, Part 2

20. Revolutionary Road (2008)

Some movies leave your memory almost as soon as you leave the theatre, but Revolutionary Road is a film that stays with you long after you finished it. Hypnotizing you with the beautiful imagery of the “Mad Men” era, (the television series was based on this book), the more in depth you get into the lives of Frank and April, the more crushing it becomes when their world falls apart. And yes, this was Kate Winslet’s best performance of that year.

19. No Country For Old Men (2007)

Not only did No Country make me go back to back with my Best Picture predictions, but also it was one of the most serious films about violence and the human psyche ever made in America.Though I have heard some crazy theories about the film, (not the least of them being that Javier Bardem’s character didn’t actually exist, but he was a figament of Tommy Lee Jones’ character’s imagination, allowing HIM to commit these killings.) I really admire Josh Brolin’s performance above all of the others.

18. The Bourne Supremacy (2004)

The reason I chose the second Bourne movie over any of the other two is basically because I feel that in the second installment, Jason Bourne has an emotional drive throughout the film that’s not necessitated by survival, but simply by revenge. Yes, Matt Damon kicks ass in all three movies and the Greengrass films are probably superior to Liman’s, but in Supremacy, the origin story is out of the way and we simply watch as Jason Bourne does what Jason Bourne was made to do.

17. Volver (2006)

One of Almodovar’s best films ever and probably Penelope Cruz’s best performance ever, the film took elements of Hitchcock, a brilliant color palette and of course, a love of cinema to make what appears to be an ethereal story about life into a simple story of family and love. And of course, it opened up Cruz to a better range of roles and we’ll all better off for that.

16. Mulholland Dr. (2001)

With the exception of Memento, no other film this decade played more with the narrative structure of a story than Mulholland Dr. David Lynch reminds audiences why every movie he makes is required viewing and the pairing of Naomi Watts and Laura Elena Harring has been written about ad nauseam, but they are one of the best on-screen couples of all time.

15. Brokeback Mountain (2005)

Beautiful. There is no other single adjective to describe this film than that. In terms of visuals, emotions, acting, dialogue, casting and everything else that went into the making of this movie, Ang Lee crafted a film that was so moving and so profound that many people had no choice to ignore it, rather than look inside of themselves and let the film affect them. People will still be watching this instead of reruns of ‘Crash’.

14. Y Tu Mama, Tambien (2001)

One of three foreign films on this list, Y Tu Mama was a huge success in Mexico and a moderate success in America, but it really opened the door for director Alfonso Cuaron (who will appear later on the list) as well as Diego Luna and Gael Garcia Bernal. But, the reason is was so successful it that it was a very touching coming of age story ably told by great acting and wonderful direction.

13. Chicago (2003)

Amongst all the musicals of the decade, there may have been a few I enjoyed more, but Chicago was simply a much better made film than all of them. It opened the door for the new wave of Hollywood musicals while showing shades of the Golden Age musicals and keeping in touch with its roots as a Broadway production. And in case you’re like me and had a hard time paying attention to MORE than Catherine Zeta-Jones, Richard Gere and John C. Reilly are criminally unappreciated for their supporting roles.

12. The Incredibles (2004)

This is the only Pixar movie on my list, the only cartoon and without out a doubt the best superhero movie (Batman and Iron Man have NO superpowers) of the decade. Spinning the classic superhero genre and comic book setting of retro future by placing the heroes in a litigious, ignorant world that too closely resembled our own, The Incredibles became an instant classic that could be enjoyed by everyone in your family, even when inspiring obnoxious criticism such as this. Oh yea, and with only about five minutes of screen time, Edna Mode goes down as best supporting character of the 2000’s.

11. Gangs of New York (2002)

Martin Scorsese’s labor of love that was considered an impossible project for more than twenty years finally came to pass in 2002, following closely on the heels of the attacks of 9/11. While it certainly remained in many viewers’ minds as they watched, most could not ignore the sheer magnitude of Scorsese’s biggest film ever. Though the film is far from perfect and had a large contingent of critics who were jumping to point them out, even they could not deny the scope of Scorsese’s vision. Huge sets in Rome, Leonardo DiCaprio and Daniel Day-Lewis, and a long running time that garnered a lot of media attention were just a few of the elements that helped the movie earn 10 Acadeny Awards nominations and helped re-establish Scorsese as a master filmmaker after a couple of flops, which in turn would lead him to make the movies that follow this one on the list. Personally, this movie helped me rediscover the magic behind making movies and I became fascinated with everything from the cinematography to Day-Lewis’ accent.


Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

Lovely list, and it's so nice seeing someone recognise Revolutionary Road and Gangs. Looking forward to the top 10.

Fletch said...

Some interesting picks, to be sure. Were I to expand to 25, I think that just 2 of these would make the cut - No Country and The Incredibles (I've not yet seen Mulholland Dr. or Y Tu Mama).

Of the rest, I'd say this:

Rev Road: really disliked it, despite its "prestige."

Supremacy: I'll be happy to sit in the minority and enjoy Liman's work vastly over Greengrass's, who seems to think that by merely using a handheld camera, his movies become "artier." Why the public goes along with this, I have no idea (hey, does this argument sound familiar?). That said, I did very much like all 3 Bourne flicks.

Volver: a good flick, and my introduction to ALMODOVAR (for some reason, I hate hate hate hate his "A FILM BY ..." schtick. I know Spike Lee bends the rules as well, but PEDRO's gimmick irks me tenfold. So pretentious.).

Brokeback: Can't disagree with what you said, but I'll take Crouching Tiger as my Lee pick instead.

Chicago: not my style, even if it is well-made.

Gangs: see my comments for Brokeback. I'll take The Departed over this one, though.

Looking forward to the next ten.

Big Mike Mendez said...

Yes, Fletch, you will being looking forward to the top ten. I can guarantee that much.