Posted on December 6, 2009 at 10:35 PM
With 2009 drawing to a close, I thought it might be interesting to look back on the decade that was and pick our favourite/most memorable films. As cinema history goes, I'm not sure how fondly the 2000's will be remembered, but as someone who spent their whole adolescence during this period and essentially had their love of cinema kindled by its offering, it will always have a special place in my heart; as I'm sure the 70's did for my parents' generation. Here are my favourite films from 2000 to 2009...
- The Lord of the Rings (Jackson, 2001-2003): The Star Wars of our generation. A fantasy epic that has overshadowed the entire decade in its scope, ambition and vision. While the dialogue and pacing can become frustrating at times, the films are filled with jaw-dropping moments of action, and punctuated by heart-breaking moments of humanity. The Battle of Helm's Deep may be the greatest battle ever filmed. Utterly immersive.
Training Day (Fuqua, 2002): Washinton delivers the performance of a lifetime as the fiendishly corrupt, wickedly seductive narc cop. The entire film covers less than a day in the life of L.A. police officers, and this tight focus really helps flesh out the workings of the city they inhabit, the shadowy, underbelly between the beach and the valley, with all of its beauty and violence. The story may not be revolutionary, but the writing and acting is so engaging you cannot look away.
Munich (Spielberg, 2005): If not Spielberg's greatest film, then certainly his boldest. The performances are all mesmerising, and the film is not afraid to unpack the amgiuity of Europe's cultural violence.
- Brokeback Mountain (Lee, 2005): A tragic, beautiful, and haunting love story between two men in the American mid-west. All of the performces are brilliant, but Heath Ledger delivers some of the finest work of the decade. The film looks beautfiful as well, contrasting the peace and purity of their mountain sancuary, with the mud and dust of their home lives.
- Children of Men (Cuarón, 2006): Maybe the most brutally believable film about the downfall of humanity. Unnerving in its violence, and disturbingly close to our own decaying world. The best part of the film, however, is the cinematography, which adopts a behind-the-shoulder, shoot-from-the-hip documentary style. At times shockingly intimate, while occassionally distracted by shots of fleeting beauty and horror. Might be my favourite film of all time.
- Zodiac (Fincher, 2006): Perhaps the best serial killer film ever made. The murders themselves are suitably brutal, but take backstage to the obsession that infects the characters (a cop, a journalist, and a cartoonist) in this cold, calculating, and mesmerising thriller.
- No Country for Old Men (Coens, 2007): A frightening and addictive film about the cultural violence of America. The fims works brilliantly as an on-the-lamb thriller, but eventually emerges as something so much grander and bolder. The performances are all excellent.
- The Dark Knight (Nolan, 2008 ): A dark, brooding, serious film about a man dressed as a bat and his clownish nemesis. Despite the silly superhero tropes, this film is closer in tone and style to crime opera's like Heat and The Departed than the usual comic book fare.
- Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation (Hartley, 2008 ): A crazy, kinetic and adoring look at the Australian exploitation movies from the 70s and 80s. The pace and energy of this documentary is extremely refreshing, and talking heads like Quentin Tarantino and Brian Trenchard-Smith make the material extremely engaging. Makes you want to be a film-maker.
- Inglourious Basterds (Tarantino, 2009): The last WWII movie that ever needs to be made. Tarantino's love of cinema coures through every frame of this film, and you cannot help but be infected. The performances and writing are all top-notch, but the clear star of the film is Christoph Waltz as the charming, psychotic Jewhunter. Every scene is beautifully and miticulously contructed, and the final scene of off-the-wall Jewish revenge fantasy is both fun and confronting.
At this point the only other films I'm looking forward to are Avater 3D and A Serious Man; the latter of which may be added to the list if early reviews are accurate. What about you guys? What are your favourite films of the past decade?