Thursday, September 08, 2011

100 Favorite Films of the Decade: 40-21

40. The Star Wars Prequel Trilogy (1999-2005, directed by George Lucas)

Maybe it’s a cheat, since the first flick is from 1999, but there it is. I’m not interested in continuing to defend my love of ALL the Star Wars movies; just accept that I love them.

39. Hot Fuzz (2007, directed by Edgar Wright)

Well, this one’s just funny as hell. Brilliantly funny as hell.

38. Casino Royale (2006, directed by Martin Campbell)/Quantum of Solace (2008, directed by Marc Forster)

Boy, did James Bond ever need a reboot. Freeing the series from decades of increasing silliness, this more characterized 007 is the Ian Fleming character I recognize. The stakes seem more real, the intrigue and suspense more genuine. I love these movies, and I hunger for more.

37. The Illusionist (2010, directed by Sylvain Chomet)

A beautiful, graceful film that walks a line between melancholy and whimsy. There are moments of exquisite beauty, and moments of extreme bleakness, as we observe the magician Tatischeff try to keep up with a world where fashions and tastes are changing and his old-fashioned act feels outdated and purposeless. It’s a quiet film, one that demands and rewards attention.

36. Let the Right One In (2008, directed by Tomas Alfredson)/Let Me In (2010, directed by Matt Reeves)

I honestly can’t decide which version I like better. They both approach the same story of friendship in slightly different, equally valid ways. I was touched in both versions by the mutual dependence that grows between two people—one person and one vampire, at least—who are both just outside of society and find a sort of protection in one another.

35. About a Boy (2002, directed by Chris Weitz & Paul Weitz)

As EM Forster said, only connect. Another movie I love about people who grow from a superficiality or a social awkwardness to connect with others. I love the denouement in this film; some people are part of island chains. Making your own family in life.

34. Winged Migration (2001, directed by Jacques Perrin)

Just beautiful to look at, and to listen to—the Bruno Coulais score and the sounds of the birds are comforting on any kind of day. It doesn’t get any deeper than that, really. It’s just a comforting, gorgeous documentary with minimal narration.

33. Eloise at the Plaza/Eloise at Christmastime (2003, directed by Kevin Lima)

Christmas staples for me; every year I delight in Sofia Vassilieva’s adorable performance as Eloise and the unforced whimsy of these Disney movies.

32. The Harry Potter Series (2001-2011, directed by Chris Columbus, Alfonso Cuaron, Mike Newell and David Yates)

Can I add anything to what’s been said about the Harry Potter films?

31. In Bruges (2008, directed by Martin McDonagh)

A surprising, hilarious, moving film about a hitman racked with guilt and trapped in a city he despises. Dark, delightful, and very, very human.

30. Marie Antoinette (2006, directed by Sofia Coppola)

I love the modern approach to this film; rather than a historical epic or biopic, Coppola here makes a poignant film about what Roger Ebert called, better than I could ever say it, “the loneliness of being female and surrounded by a world that knows how to use you but not how to value and understand you.” Again, Coppola isn’t leading you to the conclusions, but giving you an impression, and it’s something else.

29. Finding Nemo (2003, directed by Andrew Stanton & Lee Unkrich)

I may not be a father, but I can relate to this film. I’m by nature a fairly overprotective person; I know I would be an overprotective father. Besides which, I’m cautious and agoraphobic (though getting better) and can be awfully timid. So to see a father face every one of his fears and move heaven and earth to find his lost child is incredibly moving. And that’s just without mentioning the vocal performances, the incredible design, and the astounding animation.

28. Spider-Man (2002, directed by Sam Raimi)/Spider-Man 2 (2004, directed by Sam Raimi)

Spidey was the hero I related to the most as a kid. He was just a guy with too much on his plate and rotten luck, overwhelmed by his responsibilities and, depending on the era you read, unrequited love. The first two films in the series capture that incredibly well, and remain my two favorite superhero movies.

27. Lilo & Stitch (2002, directed by Chris Sanders & Dean DeBlois)

Disney’s most unique film of the decade, a moving story of two outsiders who make each other whole. Stitch is a fantastic creation of animated cinema, and watching his story arc unfold is some of the most beautiful character development I’ve seen in a Disney movie. Or any animated movie.

26. The Triplets of Belleville (2003, directed by Sylvain Chomet)

A surreal, hilarious, somewhat angry film that sort of defies description. You just have to experience this ingenious movie.

25. V for Vendetta (2006, directed by James McTeigue)

I was expecting a B actioner; what I got was a surprisingly involving social commentary about politics and humanity, disguised a dystopian science fiction thriller. And today there’s the added hilarity of people wearing the Guy Fawkes mask to protest corporatism, which would almost be clever if they weren’t official Warner Bros. merchandise…

24. Kill Bill (2003-2004, directed by Quentin Tarantino)

Quentin Tarantino’s homage, love letter, what have you, to martial arts flicks and Westerns. Seen as a whole, it’s not the great character piece Jackie Brown is, but it is an incredibly stylish and fun grindhouse movie that is technically brilliant and fun to watch. Sometimes great grindhouse is all you need.

23. Persepolis (2007, directed by Marjane Satrapi & Vincent Paronnaud)

A meaningful coming-of-age story about an Iranian girl homesick for a country that she grew up in and which, really, doesn’t exist anymore. The Iran of Marjane’s girlhood is long gone, and we see a girl with a strong sense of family and value, trying to find her anchor in a world—both in the East and the West—where her gender makes her undervalued. A moving story; an animated masterpiece.

22. Black Swan (2010, directed by Darren Aronofsky)

One of the best horror movies ever made, though it’s seldom called that. A manic character piece about the search for meaning and perfection in art, raised by Natalie Portman’s visceral, almost scary, hold-nothing-back performance. Beautifully made, almost impossible to look away from. Wildly, intensely melodramatic, but this sort of Grand Guignol really should be.

21. Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008, directed by Nicholas Stoller)

My favorite achievement in the brief “romantic comedies for guys” micro-trend, and one of my favorite comedies of all time, because it has a genuine sense of romance. Sure, it’s got the raunch and the gag set pieces, but at its heart it’s about a guy who is stuck and who can’t bring himself to move on or become motivated. It’s not important what he does, but that, in the end, he does something and rediscovers his sense of self. (It’s also incredibly funny.)


Caffeinated Joe said...

Love Nemo, Love some of the Potter films, the final Star Wars prequel. Out of this bunch, my favorite has to be Lilo & Stitch. AWESOME movie!

Matt said...

Let Me In is the rare example of a remake/re-imagining/Americanization that stands up with the original. Both movies are incredibly well done... and in different but equally valid ways.

About A Boy is such a funny, melancholy under-rated masterpiece. The soundtrack by Badly Drawn Boy is one of my favorites, too.

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for not including the third Spider-Man film. The first two are good but that third one was such a turd.

Persepolis. Another movie that's on my Apple TV that I haven't watched yet. I don't watch movies often enough, clearly.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall is my wife's favorite movie of all-time. It's funny and sweet and everyone is incredible in it (even Russell Brand). Her favorite line: "...and now I have the freshest cereal." My favorite part: when his scream gets cut off by the quick cut out of the photo-deleting scene.

Roger Owen Green said...

In this group; loved the Spideys, About a Boy and Winged Migration.

Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness said...

This is really great stuff. V only gets better with age. I could only hope for a person like V to rise out of such an environment. His final 'dance of death' is as epic a scene as anything I have seen in the movies. - 'Ideas are bulletproof."

I love the series that grew out of the 'Lilo and Stitch' movie. The concept of 626 TRIES to get the concept of 'alien biological superweapon' right is a really fun take on the 'scientific method'. Jumba is my favorite mad scientist because of his jovial nature and that pitch perfect Russian accent.

I won't even start with Queegly's issues.

I helped develop some of the educational resources that went into using PEREPOLIS for cross subject study. Big fan of this movie because it accomplishes something everytime I see it - that people are not the creators of the systems they live under. They just are it's victims. This one also has a wicked subversive nature where tiny victories over authority are celebrated as hugh achievments. Tiny acts of rebellion because there are concequences to speaking one's mind.

Michael said...

Cool posting! I like the differences of opinion folks have when it comes to films. I've been hateful towards certain films for various reasons and then re-watched them a bit later when in a different frame of mind and came to a different conclusion. All things are relative, I guess.
I noticed that you killed one of your other blogs, I am sorry to see it go. I hope it was not out of complaints. Keep up the great work.

SamuraiFrog said...

Joe: I cry in Lilo & Stitch, I have to admit.

Matt: I keep quoting that freshest cereal line to my wife. I think my favorite line in Sarah Marshall has to be "He's like Gandhi, but better: he loves puppets."

I had the About a Boy soundtrack on repeat forever, then I got sick of it. But maybe it's been long enough now...

Roger: Winged Migration is another soundtrack I played for a very long time.

Cal: Persepolis is a great resource for education, although it's run into controversies here because of it. But it's such an important and well-told story.

Michael: Very relative. Sometimes, even the company I saw movies with will color my opinion.

If you mean my Tumblr, it got banned in an act of someone's petty revenge. I started over again.