Everyone loves/hates lists. Here are two for the decade of 00’s. Don’t like the choices? Make your own list! It’s fun! PS If I forgot something, it’s inadvertent. Most boring movie of all time: “Gerry,” by Gus van Sant. I can still remember counting the panels in the Eccles Auditorium while Matt Damon and Casey Affleck wandered around the desert. In case you need to know, there are seven acoustic panels on either side of the movie screen.
THE BIG GUNS
1.” ‘Memento/The Dark Knight – Director Christopher Nolan was the find of the decade. That he could swing from the best indie film to best action/adventure says a lot.
2.” Almost Famous – Cameron Crowe’s summation film and memoir. My sentimental favorite.
3.” ‘Lord of the Rings (series) — Peter Jackson’s epic trilogy will last forever.
4.” ‘The Departed/The Aviator/Gangs of New York – Martin Scorsese flourished in this decade. Leonardo DiCaprio owes him something BIG.
5.” Chicago/Dreamgirls/Nine/Sweeney Todd – Rob Marshall and Bill Condon brought back the movie musical.’ Tim Burton made a valiant effort as well.
6.” ‘Vicki Cristina Barcelona/Match Point — Annie Hall was released thirty two years ago. Woody’s still going strong. This pair proves it.
7.” ‘Volver/Bad Education — Pedro Almodovar really can do no wrong. These were the highlights of his decade. Penelope Cruz in Volver is like a beautiful dessert.
8.” ‘The Pianist – Why do people fight over and support Roman Polanski? Here’s the reason.
9.” ‘Million Dollar Baby/Mystic River/Letters from Iwo Jima/Gran Torino – Clint Eastwood’s remarkable renaissance
10.” ‘Inglourious Basterds/Kill Bill, Vols. 1 and 2 — Audacious and annoying, hyper and hilarious Quentin Tarantino
11.” ‘A Serious Man/No Country/O Brother Where Art Thou? – The Coen Brothers can be confounding, but when they hit the mark, watch out.
12.” ‘Gosford Park/Prairie Home Companion/Dr T and the Women –Robert Altman, the master: his last films are as good as his first.
13.” ‘Casanova/Chocolat/The Hoax – Underrated Lasse Hallstrom, whose “Cider House Rules” came just before this, always combines charming and sublime
14.” ‘Slumdog Millionaire/The Namesake – Indian culture brought to the West. Danny Boyle’s tour de force, and one of Mira Nair’s valentines
15.” ‘Juno/Up in the Air/Thank You for Smoking – Jason Reitman is three for three. And this may be his year in the awards circle.
16.” ‘Eastern Promises/A History of Violence – David Cronenberg drops the creepy, and hits two memorable homeruns.
17.” ‘Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead – Sidney Lumet is our living legend. If ThinkFilms had had money, this woulda been an Oscar film. Now it becomes a cult classic alongside Lumet’s standards like “Prince of the City” and “Serpico.”
18.” ‘Farenheit 911/Bowling for Columbine/Sicko/Capitalism — Michael Moore tells like it is. This makes people crazy. But it also changes the playing field.
19.” ‘Minority Report/Catch Me If You Can/The Terminal/AI: Artificial Intelligence/Munich– Steven Spielberg made these five films, as well as War of the Worlds. Hopefully he’s taking a nap right now. Great stuff in each one of them. Revisit Jude Law in “AI” or Chris Walken in “Catch Me.”
20.” ‘Hotel Rwanda/The Last Days – Genocide explained. The first is Terry George’s retelling of a holdout during a disaster. The second is James Moll’s still searing documentary of Holocaust survivors. One of them returns to her Hungarian home; another questions the doctor who killed her sister. Stunning.
1. Wall E – Andrew Stanton’s genius moment.
2. Me and You and Everyone We Know/Thumbsucker/The Tao of Steve-A charming Sundance trio, by Miranda July, Mike Mills, and Jenniphr Goodman.
3. In the Bedroom – the Sundance hit that went all the way to the Oscars, by Todd Field.
4. Sideways/About Schmidt – Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor’s signature pieces.
5. The Motorcycle Diaries – Walter Salles crystallizes Che Guevara and Castro in a road movie.
6. Vera Drake – Mike Leigh has so many amazing achievements. But Imelda Staunton and co. did something extra special here.
7. Goodnight and Good Luck- This was the decade of George Clooney, from his meticulous directing here and in “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind” to his acting in Syriana, Michael Clayton, Up in the Air, even as Mr. Fox.
8.’ Diving Bell and the Butterfly/Before Night Falls – Famed artist Julian Schnabel cemented his place as a fine director
9. Rodger Dodger/Igby Goes Down/Thirteen– two coming of age films, maybe once in a lifetime offerings, pungent and sweet. The third, Catherine Hardwicke’s searing saga, is more relevant than ever today.
10. Precious/Talk to Me – 2009’s indie smash, by Lee Daniels. Deserving of all its praise. And Don Cheadle is so outstanding in Kasi Lemmons’ saga of music and politics. Dumped by its studio. Treasured by its fans.
11. Little Miss Sunshine – For a minute, Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris ruled the world. Rightly so. Movie making is so much about the right chemistry without a formula.
12. Fantastic Mr. Fox/Hotel Chevalier – Wes Anderson’s whimsy doesn’t always work. But in these two instances, the whole thing came together.
13. A Mighty Wind/For Your Consideration – So funny, you’re laughing now just thinking about them. Catherina O’Hara’s “facelift.” OMG
14. Lost in Translation/Marie Antoinette – So Sofia Coppola was not the second coming of anything, but she has a lot of great ideas.
15. Capote/The Savages – Bennett Miller nailed it, with the help of Philip Seymour Hoffman (our finest actor of the decade) and Catherine Keener. In Tamara Jenkins’ ode to imperfection, Hoffman is just as good if not better, with Laura Linney in lockstep.
16.’ The Lives of Others– Florian von Dommersmarck would have won the general Best Picture award, but the film is in German. Absolutely brilliant in any language.
17. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon/House of Flying Daggers–Ang Lee got his warriors flying, Yimou Zhang made them beautiful.
18. City of God/The Constant Gardener – Fernando Merielles goes from doc-style alarming to spies in the house of love.
19. The Station Agent/The Visitor – Tom McCarthy acts, and he directs. He does them both well. I hate him. (Just kidding.)
20. Finding Neverland/Stranger than Fiction/Monster’s Ball – There’s no theme here yet except interesting directing: Marc Forster’s tale of J.M. Barrie almost got Johnny Depp his long awaited Oscar. Stranger made no sense, but I loved it. Monster’s was Halle Berry’s big moment, and it has nice work from Billy Bob, Heath Ledger, and P Diddy.
21. Special Mention: Borat. Bruno was so awful that it’s almost tainted Borat. But you have to remember the way you felt when you first saw it, before the lawsuits and the backstories. A phenom.