Monday, December 21, 2009

My Top Fifteen Films of the Decade

Since I selected my top ten films of the year I also decided to tackle a list of my top films of the decade. I am not including any animated films on this list as I think I'm going to give that genre its own list due to the broad amount of anime and cg films released the past ten years. I don't think that these last ten years have been as original to previous decades, due to the endless number of remakes and sequels. However the growing trend of remaking films signifies that in this decade we have had many improvements in filmmaking and technology, which allow for better ways to introduce classic films to modern audiences. Overall we have had an excellent decade for filmmaking, and I hope that the next ten years are also full of excellent films.

15. Twilight/Twilight Saga: New Moon

Sit the hell back down and don't exit the page just yet, I have a good reason for this. For as bad as these movies are they are just as important to the decade as many of the others on this list, mostly due to how they've influenced the popular culture and audiences as well. They have brought vampire movies back to the public's attention and have also grown a huge fanbase. They've shown Hollywood that licensed films are great to invest in and will hopefully bring attention to better works of literature. I know that these definitely don't deserve to be on this list and that in ten years they won't be remembered as anything more than trashy romance films, but they have defined a generation of tweenage girls and moviegoers alike.

Honorable Mention: Lord of The Rings Trilogy

Peter Jackson accomplished what should have been the impossible when he brought J. R. R. Tolkien's magnum opus to the big screen. These films are the greatest any director can ever come to adapting a book to the screen, which is why these films are some of the best of the decade. Jackson's trilogy certainly deserves to be mentioned on this list because he proved that fantasy is an acclaimed and professional genre, as well as that computer generation has come far enough to properly render characters and landscapes. These are brilliant films that importantly deserve to be mentioned on this list.

14. Donnie Darko

This movie threw one of the decade's best actors, Jake Gyllenhaal, into the spotlight, as well as marking the directorial debut for Richard Kelly. This movie was incredibly sophisticated with an intense and intelligent story that required repeated viewings to fully comprehend. Kelly honestly hasn't made a film as good as Donnie Darko, but this could be because he set the standard too high for himself with his first film. Donnie Darko has grown a huge following and the philosophical questions it asks greatly represent the society of today, such as belief in God and the fear of the unknown. This is one of my personal favorite films of all time and is definitely one of the best of the decade.

13. 40 Year Old Virgin/Knocked Up/Funny People/Superbad/Anchorman

Anything Judd Apatow has a hand in is extremely successful critically and profitably (except his TV shows). These films are hilarious and dramatic; uplifting and depressing. Apatow's regular actors are destined for success, especially Rogen, Hill, and Cera. This group of films show that Apatow is a very talented producer with the ability to select wonderful actors and tell amazing stories. These films feel real because of their amazing acting and brilliant storytelling, which have influenced this decade's comedies by proving that humor doesn't have to be composed of just stupidity and fart jokes, but can be something much greater with a heart and soul. These were the best comedies of the decade and there is no denying that without Apatow we would have had a hell of a lot less to laugh about these past ten years.

Honorable Mention: Clerks 2

Kevin Smith is a comedic genius and the last installment in his View Askew Series was an amazing effort on his part. It greatly joked about the technological and social changes of this past decade. Kevin Smith utilized his usual brand of situational comedy and his writing is perfected in this film. Clerks 2 was absolutely hilarious and thus deserves an honorable mention.

12. Avatar

I know that it may be too soon to put this on a list for the best movies of the decade, but I have to admit that Avatar was a very special film. To me it encompasses what this decade was most importantly about technologically, breakthroughs in computer graphics and the return of 3D. Avatar represents both with a perfection of 3D photography and stunningly realistic computerized graphics. The story of the film also represents two important aspects of the decade, the Bush administration and Iraq war, as well as the destruction of our environment. Both of these are powerful issues that are representative of the decade, which without this film I would have included Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth, which was an important film historically this year. It truly is a well polished film and definitely deserves to be in my top fifteen.

11. Bowling for Columbine/Fahrenheit 9/11

It would be hard to make this list without including Micheal Moore's passionate and raw documentaries on this list. These movies arose controversial and important issues that we dealt with this decade, and greatly encompass the struggles and uncertainty concerning them. The Iraq war and gun control were extremely important topics that lasted throughout the entire decade, and without Moore's acclaimed films these issues may not have garnished the same spotlight. To be brief these were outstanding documentaries well-deserving to be on my list.

10. United 93/World Trade Center

The most important event of this decade was unfortunately 9/11. Without that event we would have had a much different last ten years. These two movies encompass the pure anxiety and passion that this event contained. These movies wonderfully tell the struggles of very real experiences that occurred on that fateful day. The dreary mood and anticipation of these movies build up tremendous amounts of suspense for a story we already know the ending to. These are two films that embody the last decade through suspenseful imagery and the event that defined a generation.

9. Borat/Bruno

Excellently harsh critiques on American culture, Sasha Baron Cohen's two films are fundamental to the decade. Cohen plays both characters with a certainty, creating two believable people through his acting. These films show the public's reaction to Borat, a Kazakhstan citizen visiting the United States, and Bruno, an openly gay male trying to get famous. These characters perform ludicrous actions that any American person would find crazy, yet the character's perceptions of the United States demonstrate why they would perform these stunts. Two greatly shaped comedies that encompass the public's reaction to their own cultural stupidity.

8. Spiderman 2

This was a definitive movie of the decade because it proved that comicbooks could work as movies and still please critics and fans. Since Spiderman 2 already had the origin story told by its predecessor, the movie was able to contain a complex and sophisticated story without being too long or boring. It had a kickass villain and showed how a superhero would have to keep a balance crime-fighting and his normal life. This paved the way for all the other greatly told comic-based movies of the decade, the best being X-Men, V for Vendetta, Iron Man, and The Dark Knight. This movie didn't create the superhero genre, but it certainly gave it new life, which is clear reason why it deserves to be on my list.

Honorable Mention: Watchmen/Sin City

On the subject of comic-based films, these are two movies that were greatly adapted from complicated source material. The comics these films were based on were wonderfully stylized and had a distinctive atmosphere that would have been hard to recreate in a film. Thanks to two of the best director's of the decade, Zack Snyder and Robert Rodriguez, it can honestly be stated that these films were a huge success theatrically. They encompassed the entire meaning and style of the novels, the color being directly transplanted between mediums. Watchmen tells an amazingly passionate story that blurs the line of heroism, and through the filmmaking process does not lose the comic's meaning. Sin City is adapted to look and feel exactly like the comic book with intriguing cinematography and the usage of color. These two films prove that comic book adaptions have been perfected in the last decade, proving they deserve an honorable mention on this list.

7. Team America: World Police

I couldn't resist putting Trey Parker and Matt Stone's hilarious marionette action comedy on this list. It does an excellent job at parodying terrorism and our culture's worship of celebrities, as well as including enough stupid comedy to appease general film goers. Not to mention that it's a funny as hell film and infinitely rewatchable, it also contains a deeper meaning behind it that asks whether we are a pussy, dick or an asshole. This is a greatly made film that spotlessly encompasses the dire times that we've had this decade, then farts.

6. Shaun of the Dead/Zombieland

Both of these are greatly made zombie films that wonderfully parody the genre and represent modern society. These films are hilariously crafted using intelligent black comedy that leaves the viewer wondering whether or not they should be laughing (RIP Bill Murray). The two films also show the criticize fast paced society and the fact that the end of the world might not be such a bad thing. The movies greatly parody the zombie genre by using our fast modern technology to obliterate the slow moving zombies. These are two great comedic movies that totally deserve to be on this list due to their ability to parody the genre and still critique our society.

5. Ichi the Killer/Audition

The amazing stylization and color of Takashi Miike's films were original and inspirational for the films of this decade. These two movies are both flawlessly made with an eye for detail that many filmmakers fail to obtain. Audition is a dreamlike and slow-moving horror film that deals with the uncertainty of relationships as well as female empowerment. Ichi the Killer is a colorful and outstanding movie that is Miike's best film in my opinion, mostly due to its enjoyability and wild premise. These films also grew wide acclaim throughout the world, which sparked the rise in the Japanese horror and gore market for horror films. Both of these are tremendously good films that defined the Japanese market and were two of the best films of the decade.

4. 28 Days Later/28 Weeks Later

Remember when earlier I said that Shaun of the Dead was a great parody of the zombie genre that also critiqued modern society? 28 Days Later is like that, but without the comedy and much more ruthless concerning its criticism. These films made zombies scary all over again by making them fast as hell and fueled by an infectious disease we ourselves created. In our modern world everything can be explained by science, which is why it is so terrifying that our 'no hope' scenario is created by our science itself. By using the infected as an allegory for our angry society, the movie shows us the inhumanity of humans and how the earth would probably be better off without us. 28 Weeks Later shows how by rebuilding society in the way we remember it we can only repeat our mistakes, and in the end return to self destruction. These are brilliant zombie movies that greatly show our society's errors.

3. Inglourious Basterds/Kill Bill

I just had to throw Tarantino's two films of this decade (not including Grindhouse) on this list because he is Tarantino. The man himself was a huge figure of the decade, whether by using his influence to help films get released in North America to shedding light on the Japanese and Asian film markets. Not to mention that he also created to awesomely fun and energetic films with superb direction, acting, and camerawork. Kill Bill and Basterds were powerful and remarkably crafted films that could probably be at the top of this list, but sometimes Tarantino's style is to borrow from other films, some much more deserving of the top spots.

Honorable Mention: Grindhouse

This was an outstanding horror film that introduced modern audiences to the grindhouse cinema of the early seventies. Planet Terror and Death Proof are two unpolished and dirty horror films with no boundaries on what can happen. With tons of gore and a strictly dark sense of humor these two films not only bring new life to the horror genre, but also parody the stupidity of the subject matter. Grindhouse was a greatly made film this is probably the best horror movie of the decade, which is why it deserves and honorable mention.

2. Battle Royale

"Wow" is probably the best word to describe the scope of this brilliantly designed film. Wonderfully shot and with the perfect setting and lighting, Battle Royale is one of the most impressive films of the decade. The look into the human condition is chilling and correct, with the film's plot dealing with school-children killing each other to stay alive. Harshly criticizing Asian culture's controlling and self-destructive nature, Battle Royale successfully remains emotional and unforgiving towards the audience. Many films feel the need to sacrifice entertainment for being artsy, which Battle Royale does not fall a victim to, perfectly balancing the criteria of both aspects perfectly. After ten years Battle Royale is a classic; still a thought provoking and powerfully emotional film.

1. The Host

A unique and energetic film, The Host was a brilliant Korean monster movie with likable characters and an amazing story. I believe that this was one of the most enjoyable film's of the decade, as well as one of the most powerful and thought provoking. The monster is created by man's scientific error, which adds to the realism of the film and creates a truly terrifying reason for the audience to fear this monster. The film is also enhanced by brilliant cinematography and dreary lighting, as well as long shots that show the scope of the monster's attacks upon civilization. The plot deals with one family's struggle to rescue their daughter from the giant tadpole monster, which leads to an unforgiving and depressing ending that leaves the viewer truly impacted by the characters' actions. The film constantly shows the struggles of remaining a family and the growing detachment that youth have from their parents. The movie does a great job at showing the reaction to a monster attack and how the government and corporations would step in to deal with the chaos. This movie embodies the entire fear and uncertainty of scientific process that our civilization has had over the past decade, as well as deals with the importance of preserving the environment and the corporate control of the world. Hands down an amazing film that is easily the best of the decade.

My Top Eleven Films of 2009

These are my top ten films of 2009. Remember its just my personal opinions and I'm not expecting everyone to agree with me (only smart people). The only movies I haven't seen that could be on this list are The Lovely Bones, Nine, Precious, Moon, The Hangover, or An Education, so I don't have an opinion yet on those films. Hope you enjoy my list and agree with some of the stuff I put on it.

11. Drag Me to Hell

I believe that Sam Raimi's 2009 return to the horror genre was an excellent new entry in his horror repertoire. The creator of The Evil Dead has made a great gross-out horror film with tons of gore and bodily juices. Alison Lohman does an excellent job in the starring role and puts up with all kinds of abuse. This film also had a unique story and is delivered amazingly with a PG13 rating, which upon watching feels impossibly obtained. Drag Me to Hell is a fun and original horror movie which Sam Raimi has done an excellent job with.

10. Zombieland/Adventureland

These were both movies I did not expect to be good. They were both low budget films that drastically surprised me. Adventureland's Jesse Eisenburg has made a career for himself this year as a great comedy actor like and I hope to see him in more films to come. Adventureland was a heartfelt romance-drama, which caught me off guard when I went with some friends expecting a comedy, and I actually really liked it. It represented all the great parts of summer, romance and working a mindless job, which really spoke to me and represented my own experiences working over the summer. An amazing film.

Zombieland. I really didn't know what to expect with this one. Yet all the same I knew exactly what it would be about: Zombies and comedy. But it was the heart in it all that I wasn't expecting. The movie has extremely likeable characters (Jesse Eisenburg again, do I sense a pattern?) that all had perfect actors for their roles and feel like real people. An amazing celebrity cameo brings the lulz and the overall plot is simple and enjoyable (who'd have thought that Twinkies would be so hard to find?). Great movie that blew my expectations out of the water.

9. Observe and Report

Seth Rogen made this movie funny, yet the story remained quite serious and upsetting. This is not an uplifting movie at all. Actually quite the opposite. It was a great story of a man trying to be more than just a mall cop (funny that it opened around the time that the terrible Paul Blart opened) and actually brought some great comedy, yet also remained a serious film about the underdog. I loved it and hope to see Seth Rogen in more demanding roles in the future, as it showed that his acting abilities aren't just limited to comedies.

8. Paranormal Activity

This film had by far the best marketing campaign of the year (although not as creative as District 9), and really was quite scary (minus the corny ending, although I did like the original ending). This was a great example of less is more in a horror movie, as nothing happens. Its all about what the audience is waiting for. The anticipation scares the audience more than the cheap scares. However, I do have to admit that it did feel real. A lot of the special effects made you think, "How could they do that?" and I had some stupid teenagers in my theater asking if it was real. No other horror movie this year did what Paranormal did and it made a LOT of money for an independent film. Best horror movie of the year, possibly of the decade.

7. Watchmen

This was the first time that Alan Moore's graphic novel masterpiece was adapted for the big screen, and christ did Zack Snyder do a good job at it. The entire story of Watchmen was a masterpiece and Snyder does an excellent job at leaving almost nothing out of the main film, which I highly recommend getting the Ultimate Cut of the film for. Watchmen is the best adaption of a comic book ever and the set design of the film perfectly displays the mood and themes of the comic. The film is extremely well polished and looks fantastic with a gloomy lighting scheme that perfectly illustrates the dreary atmosphere of the comic. Snyder's action sequences in the film are also stylistic through his usual slow-down, speed-up editing, which works well in this film because it makes the action more passionate and closer to the viewer. I loved this film and I believe that it is the best ever comic book adaptation, which is why it deserves the spot on this list.

6. Funny People

Apatow at his best. I will start by saying that Judd Apatow is a very good producer of smart comedy films. Maybe not too smart, but I still love them. His writing is down to earth and feels like what real people might actually say. Funny People mostly has its comedy stem from the fact that the main characters are comedians, and since those main characters are played by Seth Rogen and Adam Sandler, they definitely are funny as hell. This movie also surprised me this year, like many of the others on this list, and it wasn't as funny as I thought it would be, but much more dramatic. It may have been a little long and dragged on at parts, but overall it was a great film totally deserving of one of the best films of the year.

5. Up/Monster vs. Aliens/Princess and the Frog

These were all outstanding animated films. To start with Up, I believe that this could have been number one on the list if the movies below this didn't come out. It was a perfect movie for kids and adults, and the childish parts didn't take away from the rest of the movie. It was a tearjerker of a film and the first ten minutes is some of the best work Pixar has produced. It was imaginative and funny, as well as heartbreaking and sad. Just wow...

Monster vs. Aliens was just hilarious. It wasn't much more than a kid's movie, but it has enough classic scifi references that I was greatly entertained. I loved all the characters and how they were directly taken from 50's B movies. The jokes were all very funny and relevant (maybe not for long though). I loved this film.

I don't know if Princess and the Frog will be a classic Disney movie in ten years, but sure as hell should be. It had all the makings of a classic Disney film and I definitely loved every bit of it. It had a ludicrously good story and a couple of great and likeable characters that went on a quest to have their wishes granted (Wizard of Oz, much?). The animation itself was beautiful and is probably the best reason for it to be on this list. A must see classic in the making.

4. Star Trek

How could this not be on a top ten list of this years movies? Everyone, critics and audiences, loves this film. I wasn't sure how a reimagining/prequel of the Star Trek franchise would be, but it sure as hell was good. Chris Pine was a believable Captain Kirk and the movie itself was a great introduction to the entire Star Trek universe. As a mild Star Trek fan without much knowledge of the rest of the series, this film made a believer out of me and many others, introducing Star Trek to the mainstream. Just for that, and the fact that it was a rollercoaster ride of a film, does it deserve the number four spot.

3. District 9

What could beat out a scifi film based on a hugely followed series with an outstanding fanbase? How about a film that comes out of nowhere and is hailed by critics and audiences alike? First time director Niel Blommkamp delivers an outstinding achievement in modern scifi film making by using a harsh and unforgiving political allegory to create his film's universe. With amazing special effects for a low budget film (you don't need $300 million dollars to make realistic aliens, Jim) it throws us into a world that's just too close to home. For that it deserves this spot on the list.

2. Inglourious Basterds

Quentin Tarantino. That is all I really need to say about this film, as that encompasses every great aspect of it. Beautiful direction and camerawork. The best writing we've had all year, possibly of the decade. This was a movie that portrayed how we all wish WWII could have been like, featuring cock-shooting and Hitler being blown to bits. The 'Bear Jew' sequence steals the show and the explosive finale proves that Tarantino knows how to make good movies (by that I mean he knows what the audience wants to see). Best film of the decade, maybe. Best film of the year...

Well, there is one that's better.

1. Avatar

How could this movie NOT be number one? While most of the movies on this list met my expectations or I didn't have very much to expect in the first place, Avatar met my extremely high expectations, then turned around and doubled them (more like quadrupled them). It was the grand spectacle of Cameron's achievements in film making. It wasn't just that James Cameron composed his own new technology to make this film or that it looks really really really really good. It's the fact that every detail is perfect. The CGI is the best ever and the best their ever will be (until Jackass 3D next year maybe, lol). This movie's scope is just enormous, mostly due to the fact created an entire living breathing PLANET with all its own life forms, including animals, plant life, and landscape (floating mountains are so cool). The Na'vi are so beautifully rendered that I could cry (I'm such a softy...) during some of the sequences of the film and was surprised that they were actually sexy. Not to mention that the ending battle is a 45 minute orgy of awesome. James Cameron has created his masterpiece and none of the other films on this list can recreate the shear glee I had experienced during this film. Most of the movies on this list I've only seen once, while Avatar was so good I decided to go the next day to see it again. I just hope that it makes back its budget because it's such a shame that in its opening weekend Twilight Saga: New Moon (more like New Moan, amiright?) made more money than Avatar. I urge everyone to see this masterpiece, then tell their friends to go see it. Although this film has its flaws (predictable plot, which might be a good thing at parts) it is still the best movie of the year by far!

Longest movie of the year. Most expensive movie of the year. Best movie of the year.