Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The decade

I've been looking at a lot of film sites' best-of-the-decade lists, and I wondered what my own would look like. (This is the cue for the humorless nerds to speak up with this complaint: "Umm, actually, the new decade begins next year. The millennium actually started in 2001, not 2000, umm." Well, none of us were alive in the year 1, and nobody gives a shit, so shut the fuck up, nerds. We couldn't call the 1980s "the 1980s" if the decade left out 1980 and included 1990, so I'm content to continue our modern decade-defining system. That still leaves a small problem. What do we call this decade? The people who have been calling it "the noughties" make me a little queasy. I think I'll call it the double-donuts, because I like donuts.) Anyway, I went through my various collected sources and compiled two lists of my favorite movies of 2000-2009, one for movies seen on the big screen and another for those only seen on video. I think this was a strong decade for movies. Except for mainstream Hollywood, which probably had its worst decade ever.
My lists contain a lot of films, even though I narrowed them down considerably. I could have whittled them down to 10 each, or even 5 each, but I love movies, and I wanted to include all worthy titles. The criteria: These are my personal and idiosyncratic favorites, not a self-professed "best" list. These are the movies from the past 10 years that remained in my memory on a regular basis, had a strong visual reason to exist, and gave me a lot of pleasure or pleasurable frustration. Some of them are deeply flawed but still contain a lot of what I love about the art of film. I'm not interested in films that think they are literature acted out, or films that try to teach us a lesson, or films that try to uplift the human spirit. I am interested in movement, light and shadow, performance, character, people, life, shot composition, and humor. I prefer slippery messes to lumbering behemoths of perfection. I'm really impressed when a film can be slippery as hell without being a mess. Some films I didn't think much of while I watched them have never left my mind since. Other films seemed amazing but walked out of my brain forever. Other times other things happened. Sometimes I ate cheeseburgers. Here are my lists, in vaguely chronological order:

My favorite movies of 2000-2009, as seen on the big screen

The Circle (Jafar Panahi)
Dancer in the Dark (Lars Von Trier)
George Washington (David Gordon Green)
Ghost World (Terry Zwigoff)
Mulholland Drive (David Lynch)
The Man Who Wasn’t There (Joel & Ethan Coen)
Morvern Callar (Lynne Ramsay)
Punch-Drunk Love (Paul Thomas Anderson)
Far from Heaven (Todd Haynes)
Gerry (Gus Van Sant)
All the Real Girls (David Gordon Green)
The Man without a Past (Aki Kaurismaki)
Kill Bill: Vols. 1 & 2 (Quentin Tarantino)
Elephant (Gus Van Sant)
Bad Santa (Terry Zwigoff)
The Brown Bunny (Vincent Gallo)
Dogville (Lars Von Trier)
Zatoichi (Takeshi Kitano)
Songs from the Second Floor (Roy Andersson)
Crimson Gold (Jafar Panahi)
The Saddest Music in the World (Guy Maddin)
Before Sunset (Richard Linklater)
Los Angeles Plays Itself (Thom Andersen)
Goodbye Dragon Inn (Tsai Ming-Liang)
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (Wes Anderson)
Palindromes (Todd Solondz)
Last Days (Gus Van Sant)
Grizzly Man (Werner Herzog)
2046 (Wong Kar-Wai)
A History of Violence (David Cronenberg)
Junebug (Phil Morrison)
Keane (Lodge Kerrigan)
The World (Jia Zhang Ke)
Bubble (Steven Soderbergh)
The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (Tommy Lee Jones)
Cache (Michael Haneke)
Neil Young: Heart of Gold (Jonathan Demme)
A Scanner Darkly (Richard Linklater)
The Science of Sleep (Michel Gondry)
Pan’s Labyrinth (Guillermo del Toro)
The Host (Bong Joon-Ho)
Climates (Nuri Bilge Ceylan)
Inland Empire (David Lynch)
Death Proof (Quentin Tarantino)
Offside (Jafar Panahi)
Lights in the Dusk (Aki Kaurismaki)
The Boss of It All (Lars Von Trier)
Eastern Promises (David Cronenberg)
The Darjeeling Limited (Wes Anderson)
I’m Not There (Todd Haynes)
Romance and Cigarettes (John Turturro)
Paranoid Park (Gus Van Sant)
There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson)
Be Kind Rewind (Michel Gondry)
The Flight of the Red Balloon (Hou Hsiao-Hsien)
Happy-Go-Lucky (Mike Leigh)
Goodbye Solo (Ramin Bahrani)
The Hurt Locker (Kathryn Bigelow)
Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino)
Lorna’s Silence (Luc & Jean-Pierre Dardenne)
A Serious Man (Joel & Ethan Coen)
Antichrist (Lars Von Trier)
The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (Werner Herzog)

My favorite movies of 2000-2009, as seen on video

In the Mood for Love (Wong Kar-Wai)
Wonder Boys (Curtis Hanson)
Yi Yi (Edward Yang)
Esther Kahn (Arnaud Desplechin)
The House of Mirth (Terence Davies)
Werckmeister Harmonies (Bela Tarr)
The Heart of the World (Guy Maddin)
A.I. Artificial Intelligence (Steven Spielberg)
Late Marriage (Dover Koshashvili)
Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki)
What Time Is It There? (Tsai Ming-Liang)
Y tu mama tambien (Alfonso Cuaron)
I’m Going Home (Manoel de Oliveira)
All or Nothing (Mike Leigh)
Ten (Abbas Kiarostami)
Finding Nemo (Andrew Stanton)
The Son (Luc & Jean-Pierre Dardenne)
Unknown Pleasures (Jia Zhang Ke)
Decasia (Bill Morrison)
Moolaade (Ousmane Sembene)
Tropical Malady (Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
Kings and Queen (Arnaud Desplechin)
Cowards Bend the Knee (Guy Maddin)
The Holy Girl (Lucrecia Martel)
The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (Cristi Puiu)
Battle in Heaven (Carlos Reygadas)
Letters from Iwo Jima (Clint Eastwood)
Terror’s Advocate (Barbet Schroeder)
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Andrew Dominik)

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