The Decade’s Best: 2000-09 – Part 3 – 32-1
Ok, final part of the list, before I get into it I am going to give a couple other films some attention that I think might have deserved to be on the list but for whatever reason aren’t and also rattle off a couple of random awards that come to me in the moment. With that said, hit the jump and on with the list…(well almost, got those other things I just mentioned first)
My Favorite Scene of the Decade:
I always come back to Kung Fu Panda and the escape scene of Tai Lung from his one man prison. I was in awe and slack jawed and the insanity and beauty of it all put together. From the graceful camera, to the arrow barrage, the sequence is full of clever moments and was and still is exhilarating to watch.
Honorable Mentions: Dr. Manhattan’s origin in Watchmen, Mischief Montage in Royal Tenenbaums, Striking the Well in There Will Be Blood, The Kings Cross sequence in Bourne Ultimatum, The Hardcore Match in The Wrestler, , The Final Chase in Death Proof, 100 Mile Dash in The Incredibles, An Hour in Town in Wet Hot American Summer, Anakin vs. Obi-Wan in SW: Episode III, The Hallway Fight in Oldboy, Cutting the Album in Once, Breaking the Air Speed Record in Aviator, Bathhouse fight in Easter Promises
My Favorite Composer of the Decade:
This one is easy, Michael Giacchino. Creating score after score that just perfectly matches its film counterpart while being equally enjoyable on its own. It takes you back to the film in your head when you listen and you can almost watch the movie if you close your eyes. Up, Ratatouille, Star Trek, The Incredibles, Mission Impossible III, Speed Racer, LOST, that is a tough line up to beat.
Runner Up’s: Clint Mansell – Moon, The Fountain, Requiem for a Dream are all classic soundtracks, John Williams’ Harry Potter work and SW: Episode III scores almost win him the award right there.
My Favorite Character of the Decade:
This isn’t really a tough one, but I think the answer will always be WALL·E. Rarely has a character been so sweet, funny, and compelling and he can’t even talk. The animators at Pixar deserve a lot of credit on this one for their excellent animation work and making WALL·E so easy to love and adorable.
Runner Up’s: Daniel Plainview, Bill the Butcher, Jason Bourne, James Bond, Dash, Aragorn, Beatrix Kiddo (aka. The Bride), Ulysses Everett McGill, Steve Zissou, Mr. Fox, King Kong, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Ron Weasley, Dory, Randy “The Ram” Robinson, Oh Dae-su, Wikus Van De Merwe, Dennis (Observe and Report), The Joker, Harvey Pekar, Billy Mitchell, Derek Zoolander, Patrick Bateman, Brian Fantana, Ron Burgundy, Brick Tamland
And now some also-rans that are worth mentioning and might have ended up on this list had a maybe been a different mood or something…oh well.
Anchorman-A brilliantly hilarious movie that is one of the finer comedies of the decade
Zoolander-Again another brilliant comedy and shows that Ben Stiller has some talent behind the camera as well, “Listen to your friend. Billy Zane, he’s a cool guy.”
Best In Show/A Mighty Wind-Christopher Guest’s winners of the decade might have kept themselves out due to the fact that I don’t know which is better
I’m Not There-This unconventional biopic on Dylan was expertly acted, brilliantly conceived, and is one of the most original films of the decade.
A Serious Man-If i had seen this Coen Bros. flick again and understood it a bit more, probably sneaks on
Match Point-Woody Allen gets serious and this film sizzles from start to finish with a ton of surprises
Layer Cake-Daniel Craig’s breakout and great debut of Matthew Vaughn, great British crime flick
Public Enemies-Needs to age but is destined to be another crime classic from Michael Mann
Chicago-Rob Marshall’s loud and exciting musical is throughly entertaining and had me elated when I walked out of the theater
Kingdom of Heaven–Ridley Scott’s epic crusaders film is full of wonderful characters, actors, and a story that takes us through the heart of the Isreali conflict that still lingers oh so many years later
Primer-Low-budget Sci-fi done right, demands a second viewing and isn’t afraid to challenge the viewer
American Psycho-Bale’s best performance and Patrick Bateman is delightfully insane
The Brothers Bloom-Rian Johnson’s sophomore effort is a lot of fun and my love will only grow with time.
Che-Soderbergh and Del Toro create an epic and thrilling portrait of the revolutionary
X2-Excellent superhero flick from Bryan Singer and might have been dampened by the just ok follow ups
Minority Report/War of the Worlds-Cruise and Spielberg teamed up for a pair of thrilling and exhilarating sci-fi pictures
Speed Racer-Just a flat our fun and gorgeous movie that is made better at home on glorious Blu-ray
Rachel Getting Married-A quiet family drama that is slowly boiling and seems like it is always going to go
Iron Man-Quite possibly the funnest comic adaptation yet and the most compelling alter ego in Tony Stark
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl-Again like X2, might be dampened due to it ok sequels
And I guess we wrap that up and get on with the list…
32. There Will Be Blood
Paul Thomas Anderson’s character study of Daniel Plainview gave us possibly the best performance of the decade from Daniel Day Lewis as the aforementioned character and an arresting film that takes us through the life of a man unlike many others. As Plainview broods and moves from scene to scene we can’t help but become mesmerized by his demeanor and presence that is all together terrifying yet believable. I would not be surprised if a man like this existed, cut throat and overpowering in his emotions, you can’t help but be drawn into this character. The film is also beautiful to look at and is a real bright spot for PTA to show that he can make a film that doesn’t look like everything else he did up to that point. The score by Johnny Greenwood was fantastic as well and the striking oil scene is cinematic bliss as all hell breaks loose and the sky goes black.
(due to accidentally missing this earlier in the list I moved There Will Be Blood to here, and moving it up quite a few places to here is something I could completely defend and just goes to show how weird a list like this can be)
31. Kung Fu Hustle
Stephen Chow’s silly and over the top martial arts opus is both action packed and hilarious and is as fun and original as a kung fu movie can be. Staring in the lead role, Chow’s charisma carries the film and add to this the weird and bizarre characters and ideas he cooks up and you can’t help but be sucked into his world. Chow perfectly creates an homage to the genre, sends it up all the same, and the end result is one of the finer martial arts films of the decade. His cast is great from top to bottom and the effects are solid as well giving the film a cartoonish vibe that really lends itself to the material. I also love the score/soundtrack for this film as it really captures the moments and perfectly compliments the action on screen creating some truly wonderful and memorable cues.
30. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
This naval masterpiece was overlooked and overshadowed by the original Pirates of the Caribbean upon its release and was disregarded by many for not being as fun a picture. This film isn’t fun, it is adventurous, and one of the most realistic portrayals of naval life during the time period. Led by a brilliant, as always, Russell Crowe, the crew hunts down an enemy ship nearly half way around the world and the rousing suspense and adventure takes us places you couldn’t possibly imagine. Paul Bettany also shines in the film as the sips doctor and good friend of Crowe’s Captain Aubrey and the two have incredible chemistry. Peter Weir deserves accolades for making no compromises and making the film flashy yet still extremely engaging and accurate to the times it portrays and a film I urge you to seek out as it is a truly underrated and under seen gem that was buried by misconstrued expectations.
29. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
Shane Black’s buddy noir comedy was Robert Downey Jr.’s ticket back into Hollywood and one of the most fun and original comedies of the decade. Anchored by strong lead performance from Downey and Val Kilmer as a gay private detective, the film is full of nutty situations, razor sharp dialogue, and an engaging plot that is both interesting and always keeps you in your toes. The storytelling is also familiar yet fresh in the way it has a little fun with the formula of Noir and it is a shame this film never found the audience it deserves. Downey Jr. is truly hilarious in this film and I am so glad to see that he is the star he is now in his resurgence to the scene with this possibly being my favorite role yet in this incredible actors filmography.
28. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
David Fincher’s fantasy fairytale is a masterwork of direction, acting, effects, score, everyone involved in this film was in top form. The films can be seen as an incredible display of effects, an actors showcase, sweet and tender storytelling, it has something for everyone. Brad Pitt solidifies himself as one of his generation’s greats and Cate Blanchett notched another amazing performance to her already superb resume. Fincher also continues to keep himself in the argument for best film maker currently working and makes epic and complex films seem effortless. Fincher and Pitt also continue a run of magnificent collaborations and one can only hope they continue to work together on material of this caliber for years to come. Button’s tale is a remarkable achievement on almost every level.
Duncan Jones’ directorial debut features a career best performance from Sam Rockwell delivered through a sci-fi tale that is one of the best and most pure entries from the genre in some time. Focusing almost solely on Rockwell ‘alone’ at a mining facility on the dark side of the moon this film could have easily become both dull and excruciating in a hurry. Rockwell doesn’t let that happen and delivers a performance that makes us look into ourselves and ask questions about what it is to be human and what constitutes having a life. The films plotting is also very tight and tense keeping you on the edge of your seat and never once leaving you doubting the directors vision as it is as steady and strong as you could imagine. An outstanding achievement on every level, Moon will become one of the biggest cult classics of the decade.
26. King Kong
Peter Jackson’s follow up to Lord of the Rings is an epic reinvention of the classic film that stands on its own and is a triumph of fantasy filmmaking. Jackson, Andy Serkis, and WETA somehow make a giant CGI ape emotionally relatable and have us caring for this beast more than any other character in the film. The tragic final act kills me every time and actually keeps me from going back and viewing this film more often as it is terribly hard to watch without getting emotional. (Yeah, I cry, big deal!) The cast is great, the action set pieces are unbelievable, and the T-Rex fight is one of the most epic pieces of cinema ever put on the screen. One of the finer fantasy films of all-time this classic tale was able to find a whole new generation of fans with this new vision from Peter Jackson.
25. The Dark Knight
Christopher Nolan’s second foray into Gotham City takes everything in he did to right the Batman franchises ship in Batman Begins and improves on it seemingly ten fold. The film is essentially an epic crime film fueled by its relentless pace and an undeniably pitch perfect turn by Heath Ledge as The Joker. Capturing the insanity of the character and enlisting terror into the hearts of audience and those on screen it is a performance for the ages. Add to this one of the finer chase scenes of the decade, a story telling ability by Nolan that moves from beat to beat flawlessly, and a cast that few films can top and you have a comic book film that transcends it’s comic book moniker. A film almost impossible to top with a sequel, we still can’t wait to see what Nolan might have in store for us and you can rest assured millions will line up again to see where The Dark Knight goes next.
24. City of God
Fernando Meirelles’ shockingly true story about the drug, street, and crime culture of Rio De Janeiro in the 70’s is incredibly kinetic and perfect filmmaking. Quite possibly the finest crafted picture on this list, its material is tough to swallow and re-watch, even if the film is an incredible feat to experience. A world where children ruled and participated in violent acts and drug trade it is almost impossible to imagine that someone lived a life like this anywhere in the world but this tale is sadly true. Meirelles gets fantastic work out a bunch of completely inexperienced actors and kids he plucked right off the street and crafts a film that has to be seen to believed. The visual flair, the diversity of each scene, and the sadness of it all will arrest you and pull you into this unimaginable world unwilling to let you go and you unwilling to look away. A truly remarkable film on every level.
23. Synecdoche, New York
Charlie Kaufman writes and helms this incredibly dense and crafted film that will make your head spin in a good way and have you coming back for more. Delightfully bizarre like much of his work, Kaufman gets a brilliant cast together to surround the incredible Phillip Seymour Hoffman that sells us on this world, that turns into a world, within a world. The film will force you to sit back and think what this all means and almost seems like a window into the world of Charlie Kaufman’s mind. The insanity of the script is it’s brilliance and somehow Kaufman makes it work and keeps everything making sense, even if it takes a viewing or two to put the pieces together. Hoffman has rarely been better, same for Samantha Morton and Michelle Williams. It’s films like this from Kaufman we wish more of from the movies, but I guess if there were more films as inventive and original as this, it would just make it harder to see how brilliant Kaufman is.
This tiny little Irish film is full of so much heart, has such a strong message about relationships, and is a beautiful celebration of music’s connection between the writer and the listener. The soundtrack is phenomenal and you can’t help but be transfixed by this modern musical as it unfolds before our eyes. Full of spine tingling moments and wonderfully nuanced performances by untested musicians turned actors for the film, Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, they nail the quiet moments of drama and the blazing moments of making music together. The film warms your heart and makes your soul ache but will have you rooting for these characters no matter where their destinies may take them. John Carney deserves a million pats on the back for making this film for next to nothing and filling it with so much that it is impossible to not be affected by this film. And we must also thank this film for bringing together Hansard and Irglová who are still continuing to give us wonderful music to enjoy as they share their undeniable musical connection with the world.
21. Sin City
The adaptation of Frank Miller’s comic book by the author himself and Robert Rodriguez is a bloody good time that takes us into the seedy world of the comic with a visual style and flair that captures the look of the comic to the T and is the most literal adaptation of a comic to film that we have seen yet. Using the panels as story boards, the two directors perfectly cast the over the top and larger than life characters to tell us three chapters from the world of the comic. The look of the film is a marvel and the characters are realized wonderfully by their acting counterparts. Mickey Rourke made his triumphant return as the hard nosed, rugged and hilarious Marv here and turns an iconic performance that should be marveled at by more. Clive Owen and Benicio Del Toro have a blast in their ridiculous end of the story but like everyone else on board perfectly walk the line they need to make this work. Bruce Willis gives one of his more memorable performances this side of Die Hard and supplies one of the films true heroes. The film is arguably the best comic book adaptation yet.
Steven Soderbergh’s epic drug ensemble tackles the war on drugs from every angle and is anchored by fantastic performances at every turn. From Mexican authorities, Capitol Hill lawmakers, DEA agents, a drug lord’s wife, high society high school students, the culture effects everyone. Soderbergh’s views are unflinching and he beautifully weaves in and out of all of these stories with cohesiveness and grace that few filmmakers could pull off. Add in a career best turn by Benicio Del Toro, a wonderful Catherine Zeta-Jones, a fantastic duo of Luis Guzman and Don Cheadle, Topher Grace, Clifton Collins Junior, and endless other turns that are all worth mentioning even if I can’t here. The films style has been mimicked countless times since, but none have yet to top it yet and you are unlikely to find a more eye opening take on the world of drugs in film for sometime.
19. Children of Men
This dystopia sci-fi epic wows us with its original story, a star making turn by Clive Owen, and absolutely astounding camera work and direction by Alfonso Cuarón. In a world where the human race hasn’t had a baby in eighteen years, a young girl restores faith to the faithless and an unlikely hero is placed in the guard of this women on her road to a hopeful future for her child and the human race. Full of tension and jaw dropping cinematography, Cuarón dazzles us with his storytelling and craft unlike most films can. On the edge of our seats as our heroes encounter one obstacle after another we can barely catch our breath. Not knowing who to trust or what lies around every corner, our heroes have no weapons or army behind them and we are gripped with there every move as we hope they make it to the end. The film is brave enough to kill off important characters as well and will surprise and shock you from start to finish. Children of Men is a wild ride.
18. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
This past decade has seen a resurrection of the lost western with a few successful films from the genre but none could touch the utter brilliance and beauty of the masterpiece that is this film. A name so long a can’t afford to rewrite for space reasons, the film moves a long at a deliberate pace creating a mood and giving a weight to the film that most dream of. Dark, ominous, and full of A+ performances at every turn, Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck fully embody their roles. Affleck might never be better than he is here as the soft spoken and jealous Robert Ford that will surprise you at every turn and while appearing quite weak will keep you on your toes. Pitt brings James to life as a terrifying and tortured soul not to be trifled with and it’s all captured beautifully by director Andrew Dominik. Through in the fantastic Sam Rockwell, the veteran Sam Sheppard, the lovely and understated Mary-Louise Parker, and brilliant up and comers like Jeremy Renner and Paul Schneider, and you have a cast for the ages to bring this haunting story to life.
17. Confessions of a Dangerous Mind
We all new George Clooney was a great actor, what this film proves is that he is also a great filmmaker as well. The script written by Charlie Kauffman is the adaptation of an apparent memoir by game show star and creator Chuck Barris claiming to be CIA hitman on the side. The stories have been written off by most as a work of fiction by a man desperate for attention but one can’t help but wonder if maybe the man wasn’t full of it. Sam Rockwell is phenomenal as Barris in the role that should have made him a star but this film is sadly criminally under seen and remains so till this day. Clooney is great as well in a supporting role as the CIA recruiter and recruited many of his friends to pop up in and out of this film. Roberts and Barrymore play the females in Barris’ life and you couldn’t ask for more from either of them. But it’s the films look that almost steals the show from Rockwell. Clooney crafted one of the prettiest pictures of the decade and proved right from the get go that he is a director to be reckoned with.
This French film directed by the always superb Jean-Pierre Jeunet introduced most of us American’s not only to its tale but the fabulous Audrey Tautou as the title character. In short, this film is a look at love through the eyes of this young waitress, but is an undeniably unique, stylish, and beautiful ensemble piece as well that showcases many stories among many souls that come across Amélie’s path. Full of quirk and fun stories there are few films that will make you smile more and almost ooze love through the screen. A cast that is fine from top to bottom and gives us a characters to not only connect with but truly feel for is no small feet that Jeunet pulls off with seemingly ease as he glides us through this film as we look for love with/for Amélie in this brilliant world of Jeunet. A true gem that should be seen by more.
15. The Aviator
Martin Scorsese’s biopic on the life of Howard Hughes was just one of many real life personal tales we saw told through cinema over the decade but none was better than this. Thrilling, endlessly interesting, and almost unbelievable was the life of Howard Hughes, but the slow breakdown of the actress dating aviation pioneer playboy was an incredibly powerful tale. And this tale was delivered through the splendid performance of Leonardo DiCaprio who becomes Hughes. His ticks, his mannerisms, his voice, DiCaprio nails it and gives the man the natural charm and drive that made him who he was giving one of the most well rounded performances of the decade. DiCaprio is almost upstaged by Cate Blanchett as Katharine Hepburn who won a deserving Oscar for her role and was one of many excellent supporting players. Added to this, Scorsese gives us some incredible scenes surrounding Hughes’ aviation ups and downs and blends together so many genres the film is practically undefinable by one sole label. A perfect model for how to make a bio-pic, The Aviator dodges convention and makes its own rules, just like the film’s real life inspiration.
14. Moulin Rouge!
Baz Luhrmann’s kinetic and stylish musical not only rebirthed the dead genre but set the bar so high for what the modern musical should be nothing has topped it since. A classic tragic romance is brought to life through exuberant song and dance numbers that wow the eyes through the elaborate numbers and tap your toes with the fresh spin on classic songs. Everything from The Beatles, David Bowie, and Nirvana find their way into the musical numbers and somehow blend perfectly. The elephant love melody is a high light of the film and creates a sense of romance that bonds our characters till the end. Kidman and McGregor both have impressive pipes and dance steps to fill the roles given to them and helped demand that actors command all elements of their musical roles that followed them. The many musicals that hit the big screen over the decade can thank Moulin Rouge!, but I think it might be sometime before we see something that tops this.
13. Ocean’s Eleven/Trilogy
The film trilogy itself was very well executed and accompany this film well but neither of the sequels quite lived up to the absolute fun and joy of watching this film for the first time. From it’s A++ ensemble, to it’s quirky humor, and sharp writing, the film will keep you guessing as you grin ear to ear enjoying the ride. Steven Soderbergh used his buddy Clooney to assemble a cast that is so in sync and fun that you can’t help but want to go back and enjoy the heist again. Expertly paced and beautifully shot the film has a lot more going for it than just its bevy of star power. But having Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, and Julia Roberts on board didn’t hurt either and this film has become one of those movies that you just sit back and finish if you catch it on TV. Unlikely to find many films more fun or re-watchable on this list, the Ocean’s Trilogy will become one of the more vastly seen pictures in the years to come.
Rian Johnson high school noir detective story was not only one of the most original and promising filmmaker debuts of the decade but was one of its finest films as well. Following the path of a fast talking gumshoe type, Brendan, he begins to investigate what happened to his ex-girlfriend who hasn’t been around and had recently called him in a panic. The plot quickly gets darker and more sinister as Brendan dives into the schools cliques and uncovers that his girl Emily’s disappearance gets dirtier and more complex the further he digs. Johnson show off that he is extremely gifted as a film maker as the film oozes style and has some of the wittier and more clever dialogue of the decade to support the twists and turns the unfold in the plot and that you will never see coming. One of the most under seen films on this list, seek this one out as it is waiting to be discovered.
11. Donnie Darko
Richard Kelly’s mind spinning sci-fi high school apocalyptic countdown film is weird, head scratching, and thought provoking and if you embrace it you will want to dive right back into this world. Jake Gyllenhaal cements this cult classic as the loner Donnie who meets a nice girl who gets him, but also sees someone in a bunny suit with a creepy mask that makes him do bad things and informs him the world is coming to an end. The science, the plot twists, and the ending will keep you on your toes and the cast is full of a number of solid supporting players with a lot of faces that went on to much bigger things from here. This film will polarize viewers as much or more than any title on this list, but it’s has become a real favorite and treasure among those that embrace this bizarre world as you try and unravel the mystery surrounding the series of events that unfold over the course of 28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes, 12 seconds that hold the of Donnie Darko and the world around him.
10. The Royal Tenenbaums
Wes Anderson’s ensemble family dramedy has the laughs, sadness, and heart perfectly rolled up into a story about a father trying to reclaim his stake with his family. Gene Hackman gives one of the finer male turns of the decade as the mischievous Royal Tenenbaums as he tries to get back in good favor with his children played by Gwyneth Paltrow, Ben Stiller, and Luke Wilson. Throw in Owen Wilson, Bill Murray, Angelica Huston, and Danny Glover as well and you have a cast few can contend with. Add to this Anderson’s wonderful style and world he takes us to and the stellar soundtrack to boot and you have one of the director’s and decade’s best. From the brilliant tennis melt down, the perfect montage to “Me and Julio Down By The School Yard”, to the wonderful long shots Anderson assembles the film has style and an originality that we don’t get often enough in modern filmmaking.
9. O Brother, Where Art Thou?
The Coen brothers adaptation, loosely, of Homer’s The Odyssey is a wonderful comedy fable that makes your ears and eyes sing. Full of bluegrass and folk music with that “ole timely feel” it perfectly accompanies this depression era drama about three criminals on the run from the law for reasons not entirely true. George Clooney gives one of his finest performances as the silly and pompous Everett who has an answer to everything and is about as smooth as they come. His companions, not so much, but John Turturro and Tim Blake Nelson play an excellent pair of lovable dim witted side kicks to the hijinks that unfold. The film’s look is also brilliant with the color timing and treatment applied to the whole film and giving it a look that fits right into the era. Add in the Baby Face Nelson, the Ku Klux Klan, and the Devil and you have quite the mixture to create a really unique and fun, yes fun, musical adventure that works on every level.
8. Almost Famous
Cameron Crowe’s semi-autobiographical tale takes us through the up’s and down’s of being a teenager, a rock band, and the stress of throwing the two together over the course of a tour that perfectly captures the spirit of rock & roll. Following a young journalist enlisted by Rolling Stone to follow and report a band’s every move, we uncover the pains and labors of the tour and the effect it can have on everyone surrounding a rock band. Groupies, managers, fans, journalists, rock gods, it’s all covered here and everyone gets a fair shake. Crowe’s cast is a mightily impressive ensemble that might only be outshined by his stellar soundtrack that nails the hits of the era and integrates them wonderfully into his film. The film is a wonderful union of movies and music and has a wonderful story to support the union to boot that digs deeper than rock and into parenthood and family both at home and on the road.
Pete Docter and Bob Peterson carried Pixar’s perfect record through the end of the decade and did so by crafting the studios funniest and most adventurous film to date. Revolving around and old man, a young boy, a talking dog, and a giant bird the premise doesn’t jump off the page. But the story blends together such topics as parenthood, chasing your dreams, living up to your parents, never becoming one, and the loss of a loved one into something that works at all levels and never lacks emotion. From the sad flashbacks of Carl the old man to the slapstick hilarity of Dug the dog and Kevin the bird the film always feels right and genuine even if it is beyond belief. Possibly the most rewatchable film of Pixar’s lot, I plan on revisiting this film over and over again through the years as I think it will go down as a truly classic tale for all ages to enjoy on their own or together as it has the broadest appeal Pixar has had yet.
Andrew Stanton’s masterpiece is one of the many brilliant pieces put out by Pixar this decade and is masterful piece of work. The beautifully animated, realized, and executed world of WALL·E is a cautionary tale, a timeless romance, a wonderful character study, and rousing adventure all rolled into one and never falters on any level. WALL·E himself is one of my favorite characters of all time and the work that was done by Stanton and his team is nothing short of remarkable as they connect us to this little robot without him uttering a word. This touching, often hilarious, and even thrilling story that takes us across the stars and back again make us care about a cockroach and is Pixar’s closest effort to date to transcending into an art house film that some how still appeals to mass audiences. A stunning feat that’s another notch on Pixar’s belt as they refuse to fail.
5. Kill Bill
Quentin Tarantino’s ode to martial arts films is an perfectly executed epic on revenge that delivers one of the strongest female action leads since Ripley in The Bride. Uma Thurman strikes the perfect balance needed for this film that varies from deep camp to heartbreaking tragedy surrounding the films heroine. As she works her way down her death list, The Bride encounters a number of formidable enemies and we are treated to some of the best fight scenes of the decade made all the more impressive that they were almost entirely done practically. Technical achievements aside, Tarantino’s four hour plus film is just flat out fun from start to finish and while it straddles the line of being homage or rip off to some, Tarantino still assembled an amalgamation of endless influences to craft one of the finest and stylish action films to grace our screens and keep his track record clean through his first four films.
4. The Lord of the Rings
The Lord of the Rings is a three part epic that finally gave Star Wars some company in the absolute upper echelon of fantasy sagas. Crafted by Peter Jackson, he brings Middle Earth to life in such a fantastic way that we never want to leave. When the Fellowship of the Ring ended the first time I saw it I didn’t want to stop and could have sat there for another three hours following our heroes’ journey. The performances Jackson gets out of his cast are also remarkable as they are great from head to toe in an ensemble full of important characters. The film will also be remembered for giving us Gollum and the showing off what motion capture can do for film opening the door to many films down the line as the landmark film for the technology. From Hobbiton, to Mordor, and back again, it’s a trip that film goers are going to take time and time again for years to come and I think it will be some time before we find another film that joins the fantasy pantheon inhabited by only a few select classics. Also, all of this is solely in reference to the Extended Edition of the film which are the only way this should be seen.
3. The Incredibles
The Incredibles marked the first appearance of Brad Bird in the world of Pixar as director and writer on what is arguably one of the best animated and super hero films to ever be made. Full of thrilling action, heartfelt lessons on family, and a unique perspective on the dissection of a superhero’s psyche from the family prospective. The film’s brilliant spin on the fact that heroes collateral damage would lead to their eventual banishment from society also helped build the film’s unique perspective on the world of superheroes. This film also firmly put composer Michael Giacchino into most film lovers consciousness and has moved on from here to become possibly the best working composer today. All in all, The Incredibles raised the bar for animation and showed that animated films don’t need talking animals or be cute and cuddly and can actually be taken seriously as real films dealing with real issues.
2. The Fountain
Darren Aronofsky spent years trying to bring this film to the screen and it surely was worth the wait. Though a scaled back version of the director’s original vision, the film lacks nothing in emotional punch and will have you enthralled as you jump through this three part story. Hugh Jackman plays our heartbreaking scientist out to save his wife from cancer as we cut back between characters played again by Jackman 500 years in front and behind the films main narrative. The connection we form with Jackman and his wife in the film Rachel Weisz will not be an easy one to handle, but Aronofsky takes us through a story both painfully realistic and beyond our imaginations. Clint Mansell’s incredible score sets the mood for Aronofsky’s world which is one of the more unique you will find in cinema an epic tale that is concise at it’s core, love the one’s you have when you can.
Why does this film sit here at #1? Michel Gondry concocted a sci-fi romance that was original at every step your turned. Written by the brilliant Charlie Kauffman and grounded by incredible performances by Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey, Gondry throws us into this world of heartbreak, love, and relationships that is entirely relatable even while it unfolds in a, literally, disintegrating mind. Skewering the question of what keeps us together and whether the good out weighs the bad in our perils of love, this masterfully constructed production that wows you with its production ultimately wins you over with it’s heart and the questions it will have you asking when those credits role. A film not to be missed and one you will not forget anytime soon.
And that does it for the list, I hope you enjoyed it and keep an eye out for my 09 wrap up come Oscar week as I try and cram as many 09 movies in the next month.