Archive for January 2010

Top 100 Films of the 2000s

27/01/2010

So now we have the top 100 feature films of the decade, the 2000s, the “Aughts.”  Is the Auteur Theory at work in this list?  Absolutely, since 54 of the films were created by directors that have more than one film on the list.  Leading auteurs include Woody Allen (4 entries), with 3 each for Christopher Nolan, Clint Eastwood, Steven Spielberg, Ridley Scott, Martin Scorsese, Paul Thomas Anderson, Quentin Tarantino and Gus Van Sant.

As far as specific years go, 2002 is the winner with 17 entries and 2004 has the least number of entries at six but the list is still pretty representative of the entire decade.  In the area of completely useless statistics?  Eighty entries are Rated R by the MPAA.  This may relate to my mental illness real or imagined.  One other note, and without getting too into my (boring?) rating method, there was not a huge amount of effort in distinguishing #85 from #75 (for example) rather the list was broken into thirds and ranked within those groups.

For those of you that read the earlier segments I have added additional screen shots as well as copy.  Enjoy.

#100 The Secret Lives of Dentists (Alan Rudolph, 2002)

#99 Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (Sidney Lumet, 2007)

#98 Little Children (Todd Field, 2006)

#97 A Scanner Darkly (Richard Linklater, 2006)

#96 Meet the Parents (Jay Roach, 2000)

#95 Hollywood Ending (Woody Allen, 2002)

#94 The Illusionist (Neil Burger, 2006)

#93 A Mighty Wind (Christopher Guest, 2003)

#92 Letters from Iwo Jima (Clint Eastwood, 2007)

#91 Black Hawk Down (Ridley Scott, 2002)

#90 Love Liza (Todd Louiso, 2003)

#89 Gangs of New York (Martin Scorsese, 2002)

#88 Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (Jake Kasdan, 2007)

#87 Catch Me If You Can (Steven Spielberg, 2002)

#86 Finding Nemo (Andrew Stanton, 2003)

#85 The Departed (Martin Scorsese, 2006)

#84 Waking the Dead (Keith Gordon, 2000)

#83 Ararat (Atom Egoyan, 2002)

Egoyan’s oeuvre is a favorite of mine.  Of Armenian descent, he determined he could only tell the true story of the Armenian Genocide (by the Ottoman Empire during and after World War I) as a film within a film because the content was too personally devastating for him to tackle directly.  However, this fits into the director’s technique of telling stories using various media as a device for doing so.  Its a controversial film that had mixed critical reception and has been seen by few but its such a rewarding experience if you give it a chance.  Christopher Plummer should have received an Oscar nomination for his role as a custom’s official.

#82 Knocked Up (Judd Apatow, 2007)

#81 Swimming Pool (François Ozon, 2003)

#80 21 Grams (Alejandro González Iñárritu, 2003)

Babel, Iñárritu’s 3rd feature, has all the way over the top melodramatic elements that turn me off as a film viewer.  The vivid exploits of the deaf Japanese girl story thread was too much for me and the Brad Pitt/Cate Blanchett strain was needlessly masochistic.  I don’t get into masochism for masochism’s sake; however, 21 Grams provides a sensible amount of masochism and as I have observed throughout her career, Naomi Watts screen presence is undeniably brilliant.  Unfortunately, 21 Grams devolves into a stupid violent and depressing climax.  But Iñárritu’s style and story don’t detract from the film ending up at #80 on my list.

#79 House of Sand and Fog (Vadim Perelman, 2003)

The 2000s featured the blossoming career of Jennifer Connelly, one of the more beautiful actresses to ever grace the screen in my time.  Sand and Fog is maligned by some but I am captivated by the ambient beauty of the Northern California tragedy centering on issues of culture clash.

#78 Irreversible (Gaspar Noé, 2002)

In one of film’s better uses of Beethoven’s 7th Symphony as sound, Noe’s film is the most devastating of the decade making Requiem for a Dream look like Sunday Disney fare.  Told in a backwards and Tarantino fashion, this is not one for the faint of heart.  It stays with you.  It will haunt your dreams.  Most have heard about the 10 minute rape scene.  Stop – If you haven’t seen it, don’t, as half the audience already walked out anyway.  I hated this film in many respects but in many ways it represents the modern excess of films in this decade.

#77 Almost Famous (Cameron Crowe, 2000)

#76 The Dreamers (Bernardo Bertolucci, 2004)

#75 Traffic (Steven Soderbergh, 2001)

#74 Borat (Larry Charles, 2006)

Bruno is not to be found within 1,000 films of this list.  Borat has the advantage of some semblance of charm on his side.  Bruno is just a mean dude.

#73 Old School (Todd Philips, 2003)

This one started it all with the revived Animal House genre and I’m a sucker for it.  “Wait, wait.  Pull what out.  The dart man.  You gotta fu**in dart in your neck.  I feel tired.”

#72 Death Proof (Quentin Tarantino, 2007)

#71 Capote (Bennett Miller, 2006)

#70 Dancer in the Dark (Lars von Trier, 2000)

#69 United 93 (Paul Greengrass, 2006)

#68 Brokeback Mountain (Ang Lee, 2005)

#67 The 40 Year-Old Virgin (Judd Apatow, 2005)

#66 You Can Count on Me (Kenneth Lonergan, 2000)

#65 Insomnia (Christopher Nolan, 2002)

Nolan’s follow up to the classic Memento and a remake of the Norwegian film of the same name.  Love the acting in this film especially Hilary Swank in the role of a Nancy Drew local Alaskan police detective – I never liked her as much before nor after and what a year for Robin Williams!  I also love how Nolan captures what 24 hour daylight can do to a human psychologically.

#64 Melinda and Melinda (Woody Allen, 2005)

#63 Owning Mahoney (Richard Kwietniowski, 2003)

The great Philip Seymour Hoffman is all over this list.  Count them up.  I count eight times.  This is based on a true story about a Toronto bank manager with a gambling addiction and like all PSH roles he disappears into the character.

#62 Training Day (Antoine Fuqua, 2001)

#61 Minority Report (Steven Spielberg, 2002)

Part two of Speilberg’s fantastic ‘three-fer’ of A.I. Artificial Intelligence, Minority Report and Catch Me if You Can – other than Jaws, my favorite films of his.  Oh, and Tom Cruise is great!  Are there any more Phillip K. Dick screenplays out there?  I hope so.

#60 Wall-E (Andrew Stanton, 2008)

#59 Pollock (Ed Harris, 2001)

#58 The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Julian Schnabel, 2007)

#57 One Hour Photo (Mark Romanek, 2002)

Music video director Romanek delivers a surprisingly good and gorgeously shot yarn involving a very lonely man (Robin Williams) that takes “an interest” in a family who happens to be a his customer at the film development department of a WalMart clone.  Williams is brilliant.

#56 Where the Truth Lies (Atom Egoyan, 2005)

#55 Miami Vice (Michael Mann, 2006)

#54 Femme Fatale (Brian De Palma, 2002)

Most everything De Palma did in the 2000s sucked (I haven’t seen Redacted but I hear its probably the worst of his films).  Mission to Mars?  The Black Dahlia is so bad it is unwatchable.  Femme Fatale captured some the magic of his earlier films from the 1970s and 1980s.

#53 Southland Tales (Richard Kelly, 2007)

“American cinema is in the grip of a kind of moribund academicism, which helps explain why a fastidiously polished film like No Country For Old Men can receive such gushing praise from critics. “Southland Tales” isn’t as smooth and tightly tuned as “No Country,” a film I admire with few reservations. Even so, I would rather watch a young filmmaker like Mr. Kelly reach beyond the obvious, push past his and the audience’s comfort zones, than follow the example of the Coens and elegantly art-direct yet one more murder for your viewing pleasure and mine. Certainly “Southland Tales” has more ideas, visual and intellectual, in a single scene than most American independent films have in their entirety, though that perhaps goes without saying.  Neither disaster nor masterpiece, “Southland Tales” again confirms that Mr. Kelly, who made a startling feature debut with “Donnie Darko,” is one of the bright lights of his filmmaking generation. He doesn’t make it easy to love his new film, which turns and twists and at times threatens to disappear down the rabbit hole of his obsessions. Happily, it never does, which allows you to share in his unabashed joy in filmmaking as well as in his fury about the times. Only an American who loves his country as much as Mr. Kelly does could blow it to smithereens and then piece it together with help from the Rock, Buffy, Mr. Timberlake and a clutch of professional wisenheimers. He does want to give peace a chance, seriously,”  Manola Dargis, The New York Times.

#52 Vicky Cristina Barcelona (Woody Allen, 2008)

#51 Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino, 2009)

Too new to rise higher its the only entry from 2009.  Tarantino’s long set pieces never lose one ounce of suspense or my attention anyway.  The two best sequences from the film are the interrogation scene in the French countryside and the brilliant scene in the basement – Lt. Aldo Raine: “yeah, in a basement. You know, fightin’ in a basement offers a lot of difficulties. Number one being, you’re fightin’ in a basement! “

#50 Black Book (Paul Verhoeven, 2006)

On the heels of Starship Troopers I ventured through this and it took me three nights to do so because of various distractions.  My feelings are that this is certainly his premier film, his 6th feature after RoboCop (filmed in my home town of Dallas).  It is interesting to see (and perhaps poll?) directors’ finest efforts six to seven films in.  Watch the “making of.”  Verhoeven has an irresistable love of the medium and the energy of a first time director.  The female leads in the film are outstanding.  Carice van Houten and Halina Reign brilliantly capture the desperate attempt to stay alive using sexuality and male manipulation.  In this sense, Verhoeven gives Camille Paglia a run for her money and solidifies himself as a Dutch feminist.  The production value of the second act is weak and is the only hint at the relatively small budget that Verhoeven had on the picture – it does play like a weak Sunday night television thriller.  This stands among the best of Holocaust films.  Its a thiller that stands above all Verhoeven’s previous work.  I think it’s the film that he was meant to make.  Again, watch the “making of.”  His lead stars agree with me.

#49 The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan, 2008)

#48 Best in Show (Christopher Guest, 2001)

#47 Dr. T & The Women (Robert Altman, 2000)

#46 The Man Who Wasn’t There (Ethan & Joel Coen, 2001)

#45 The Wrestler (Darren Aronofsky, 2008)

#44 25th Hour (Spike Lee, 2002)

Plodding at times, but riveting all the same, Spike Lee’s post 9/11 tale of drug dealer Monty Brogan’s (Ed Norton) last day before incarceration.  Sustained tension highlights Lee’s love letter to the town, in need of redemption, that made him.

#43 28 Days Later (Danny Boyle, 2003)

#42 The Shape of Things (Neil LaBute, 2003)

#41 Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (Adam McKay, 2004)

#40 Eastern Promises (David Cronenberg, 2007)

#39 In the Bedroom (Todd Field, 2002)

Fresh off his acting in Eyes Wide Shut, new auteur Field delivers this devastating New England tragedy with superb acting by Sissy Spacek and Tom Wilkinson.  Stanley Kubrick obviously contributed to this guy having some real directing chops.  Expect to lose some sleep after a viewing.

#38 Wonder Boys (Curtis Hanson, 2000)

Wonder Boys really captures what it must be like to take a course in literature at a NE Uni.  Even though I experienced neither, Curtis Hanson so brings us into that world and allows for a wonderful performance from playing against type Michael Douglas.

#37 Match Point (Woody Allen, 2006)

#36 Mystic River (Clint Eastwood, 2003)

#35 Donnie Darko (Richard Kelly, 2002)

A cult classic by now and Kelly should have never released his far less superior “director’s cut.”  If you haven’t seen it rent it now.  I can’t say much else about it – you just gotta experience it.

#34 Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Ang Lee, 2000)

#33 Requiem for a Dream (Darren Aronofsky, 2000)

#32 The Fog of War (Errol Morris, 2004)

#31 Milk (Gus Van Sant, 2008)

#30 Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (Peter Weir, 2003)

#29 Magnolia (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2000)

#28 Kill Bill Vol. 1 (Quentin Tarantino, 2003)

#27 Waking Life (Richard Linklater, 2002)

A digitally enhanced live action rotoscoped film from Richard Linklater.  An existential cartoon that takes place in a very familiar Austin, Texas.

#26 The Aviator (Martin Scorsese, 2004)

#25 Matchstick Men (Ridley Scott, 2003)

Oh, Alison Lohman, you are so dear to me and I do not care what you are in.  I will like it.  You are beautiful and talented in a way that is underappreciated but this will change, I think.

#24 Caché (Michael Haneke, 2005)

#23 Inland Empire (David Lynch, 2007)

#22 Lost in Translation (Sofia Coppola, 2003)

#21 There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2008)

#20 Flags of Our Fathers (Clint Eastwood, 2006)

#19 The Lives of Others (Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, 2006)

A companion piece to Black Book only for the significant contribution of Sebastian Koch as Georg Dreyman.  But Ulrich Mühe takes the film and its heart.  In a way Hauptmann Gerd Wiesler is a poor man’s Oskar Schindler but in this case – he is a champion of the arts first.  The production values on the film are first rate (filmed in David Fincher greens ala Zodiac) and the palpable fear of 1980s East Germany is brilliantly portrayed.  Back to Black Book.  The story concerns the totalitarian state in its last phase just as in Black Book’s Nazi Holland.  The story of Surveillance harkens back to The Conversation in the way it affects the lives of those on both sides of the table.  The only weakness in the film is the pat way Wiesler is dismissed at the end.  Really enjoyed this film and Ulrich Mühe’s performance is fantastic and poignant given the fact he was dying of Cancer and did so during or after the release of the picture.

#18 Elephant (Gus Van Sant, 2003)

#17 The Royal Tenenbaums (Wes Anderson, 2001)

#16 Punch-Drunk Love (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2002)

A hypnotic and mesmerizing one of kind film.  On first viewing I didn’t get it but all subsequent viewings affirmed this as Anderson’s great accomplissement.  Adam Sandler has a film that his children’s children will be able to look back and say, “grandpa was a genius!”

#15 Collateral (Michael Mann, 2004)

#14 A History of Violence (David Cronenberg, 2005)

#13 Children of Men (Alfonso Cuarón, 2007)

#12 Junebug (Phil Morrison, 2006)

#11 Sideways (Alexander Payne, 2005)

#10 American Psycho (Mary Harron, 2000)

#9 Paranoid Park (Gus Van Sant, 2007)

Gus Van Sant exploring his familiar Northwest American childhood detachment and apathy.  This is among his best work – in the same league with Drugstore Cowboy, My Own Private Idaho and Elephant.  I cannot wait to watch this again soon.  It really is a companion piece to Elephant without the abject horror.  I know of these skatepark guys – I have seen them and met them recently and I used to do a bit of this myself back in the day – in this film a culture that signifies a generation or generations of youngsters alienated by the CNN new culture of bad news and the breakdown of the family in all its nastiness.  The scene between Alex (Gabe Nevins) and his wayward father (Jay ‘Smay’ Williamson) near the end serves as an afterthought given the make up of Alex and his droogs.  It is truly amazing how Van Sant captures this culture in a way far more superior to MTV, Nick Jr, you know what I mean.  I am too old to watch those stations.  This is stark realism set to an amazing soundtrack.  If and when you watch the DVD, keep the subtitles on for the song references – it will build a nice play list.  The only rub on the film is the blithe treatment of the early female love interest, the cheerleader who dreams of more condoms and superficial love.

#8 Man on Wire (James Marsh, 2008)

#7 Ghost World (Terry Zwigoff, 2001)

#6 Zodiac (David Fincher, 2007)

#5 Memento (Christopher Nolan, 2001)

#4 A.I.: Artificial Intelligence (Steven Spielberg, 2001)

#3 No Country for Old Men (Ethan & Joel Coen, 2007)

#2 Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry, 2004)

#1 Mulholland Dr. (David Lynch, 2001)

Roger Ebert: “And what about the whatever-he-is who lurks behind the diner? He fulfills the underlying purpose of Lynch’s most consistent visual strategy in the film. He loves to use slow, sinister sideways tracking shots to gradually peek around corners. There are a lot of those shots in the aunt’s apartment. That’s also the way we sneak up to peek around the back corner of the diner. When that figure pops into view, the timing is such that you’d swear he knew someone — or the camera — was coming. It’s a classic BOO! moment and need not have the slightest relationship to anything else in the film.”

https://nleakey.wordpress.com/2010/01/20/mulholland-drive-a-photo-essay/

Honorable Mention:

Snow Angels (David Gordon Greene, 2008)

Major oversight here.  This is Altman vs. Anderson, plus Ice Storm and Affliction and a little Sweet Hereafter plus Warner Brothers plus the saddest no dialogue communication scene involving the death of a child (with the possible exception of Sean Penn in Mystic River) plus Todd Fields plus a score that could have been much better had DGG hired me.  Plus Warner Brothers (is their final stamp all over it or am I silly b****).  Amy Sedaris (absolutely love her) casting really bad.  Rockwell and Beckinsale earned a new respect from me – its melodrama that generally gets me anyway.  The random trio (older black man, middle-aged woman and Rockwell) scene is very touching.  The ending – a misogynistic portrayal of divorce?  Been through one, related to the film in that way.

First David Gordon Green and I admire it.

 

 

Mulholland Drive (David Lynch, 2001): A Photo Essay

20/01/2010

It is the best film of the the 2000s.  Here is my collection of stills from this magnificent film.