Thursday, December 24, 2009

My 100 Favorite Films of the Decade

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all! The past ten years have been an exciting time and a scary time for cinema - it seems that the divide between the exclusive, thinking man's cinema and the populist fare has grown enormously since the turn of the century, and yet as the same time, there have been numerous masterpieces that exist in both spheres. CGI special effects have become so commonplace in our escapism that we've come to expect them to be flawless, leading one to wonder what the final frontier is. Digital cinematography has also taken a steady foothold in the industry, creating new shortcuts and innovations, but also new drawbacks and stumbling blocks for filmmakers.

What follows is an ordered list of my one hundred favorite films of the past ten years. This is not a scholarly list of "important" movies, nor is my opinion intended to reflect the contemporary audience and critical culture at large. If any of your favorites were left off, it's either because I haven't gotten around to seeing them yet (In the Mood for Love, Far From Heaven) or I just don't care for them as much as the pictures listed here (Lost in Translation, A History of Violence.) All it is is a list of the films that moved me and spoke to me. Having said that, here you go.
  1. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001, Wes Anderson)
  2. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004, Michel Gondry)
  3. Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001, John Cameron Mitchell)
  4. The Incredibles (2004, Brad Bird)
  5. No Country for Old Men (2007, Joel and Ethan Coen)
  6. Children of Men (2006, Alfonso Cuaron)
  7. Munich (2005, Steven Spielberg)
  8. Punch-Drunk Love (2002, Paul Thomas Anderson)
  9. Shaun of the Dead (2004, Edgar Wright)
  10. Sideways (2004, Alexander Payne)
  11. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001, 2002, 2003, Peter Jackson)
  12. Let the Right One In (2008, Thomas Alfredson)
  13. Bubba Ho-Tep (2002, Don Coscarelli)
  14. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007, Andrew Dominik)
  15. Ghost World (2001, Terry Zwigoff)
  16. Ratatouille (2007, Brad Bird)
  17. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003, Peter Wier)
  18. Chuck and Buck (2000, Miguel Arteta)
  19. Amelie (2001, Jean-Pierre Jeunet)
  20. Zodiac (2007, David Fincher)
  21. Cowboy Bebop: Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door (2001, Shinchiro Watanabe)
  22. Before Sunset (2004, Richard Linklater)
  23. 25th Hour (2002, Spike Lee)
  24. O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000, Joel and Ethan Coen)
  25. The Fountain (2006, Darren Aronofsky)
  26. Linda Linda Linda (2005, Nobuhiro Yamashita)
  27. Sexy Beast (2000, Jonathan Glazer)
  28. High Fidelity (2000, Stephen Frears)
  29. Downfall (2004, Oliver Hirschbeigel)
  30. Minority Report (2003, Steven Spielberg)
  31. There Will Be Blood (2007, Paul Thomas Anderson)
  32. Y tu mama tambien (2001, Alfonso Cuaron)
  33. The Wrestler (2008, Darren Aronofsky)
  34. Synecdoche, New York (2008, Charlie Kaufman)
  35. Expired (2008, Cilillia Miniucchi)
  36. Battle Royale (2000, Kinji Fukasaku)
  37. Chop Shop (2007, Ramin Bahrani)
  38. Wall-E (2008, Andrew Stanton)
  39. The Beaver Trilogy (2001, Trent Harris)
  40. Spirited Away (2001, Hayao Miyasaki)
  41. Dead Man’s Shoes (2004, Shane Meadows)
  42. Up (2009, Pete Docter and Bob Peterson)
  43. Mulholland Drive (2001, David Lynch)
  44. Hot Fuzz (2007, Edgar Wright)
  45. In Bruges (2008, Martin McDonagh)
  46. Oldboy (2003, Chan-wook Park)
  47. The Dark Knight (2008, Christopher Nolan)
  48. Talk to Her (2002, Pedro Almodovar)
  49. I’m Not There (2007, Todd Haynes)
  50. Hero (2003, Zhang Yimou)
  51. Donnie Darko (2001, Richard Kelly)
  52. Finding Nemo (2003 Andrew Stanton & Lee Unkrich)
  53. The Squid and the Whale (2005, Noah Bambauch)
  54. 24 Hour Party People (2002, Michael Winterbottom)
  55. Inglourious Basterds (2009, Quentin Tarantino)
  56. Ginger Snaps (2001, John Fawcett)
  57. Once (2007, John Carney)
  58. The Baxter (2005, Michael Showalter)
  59. Collateral (2004, Michael Mann)
  60. Nosey Parker (2003, John O’Brien)
  61. Grizzly Man (2005, Werner Herzog)
  62. Pan’s Labyrinth (2006, Guillermo del Toro)
  63. May (2002, Lucky McKee)
  64. The Departed (2006, Martin Scorsese)
  65. Memento (2000, Christopher Nolan)
  66. Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack! (2001, Shusuke Kaneko)
  67. Super Troopers (2001, Jay Chandraskhar)
  68. Big Fish (2003, Tim Burton)
  69. You Can Count on Me (2000, Kenneth Lonergan)
  70. The Proposition (2005, John Hillcoat)
  71. Best in Show (2000, Christopher Guest)
  72. Black Book (2006, Paul Verhoeven)
  73. Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009, Wes Anderson)
  74. Happy-Go-Lucky (2007, Mike Leigh)
  75. Kill Bill (2003, 2004, Quentin Tarantino)
  76. Bug (2007, William Friedkin)
  77. Million Dollar Baby (2004, Clint Eastwood)
  78. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000, Ang Lee)
  79. A Serious Man (2009, Joel and Ethan Coen)
  80. Bad Santa (2003, Terry Zwigoff)
  81. Dracula: Pages from a Virgin’s Diary (2003, Guy Maddin)
  82. Suzhou River (2000, Lou Ye)
  83. Almost Famous (2000, Cameron Crowe)
  84. X2: X-Men United (2003, Bryan Singer)
  85. Wet Hot American Summer (2001, David Wain)
  86. King Kong (2005, Peter Jackson)
  87. The Five Obstructions (2003, Jorgen Leth and Lars von Trier)
  88. Cache (2005, Michael Haneke)
  89. American Splendor (2003, Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini)
  90. 28 Days Later (2002, Danny Boyle)
  91. JSA: Joint Security Area (2002, Chan-wook Park)
  92. Moulin Rouge! (2001, Baz Luhrmann)
  93. The Good Girl (2002, Miguel Arteta)
  94. A Mighty Wind (2003, Christopher Guest)
  95. Paprika (2006, Satoshi Kon)
  96. Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle (2004, Danny Leiner)
  97. Persepolis (2007, Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Parronaud)
  98. Open Range (2005, Kevin Costner)
  99. AI: Artificial Intelligence (2001, Steven Spielberg)
  100. Sin City (2005, Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez)

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Projects on the Drawing Board

At this point, it's pretty redundant to apologize for neglecting this blog. I'm halfway through with my last year of film school, and I've been about as creatively prolific as I've ever been. I'm not really all that sorry, since the main reason I started writing this blog four years ago, during my year off before college, was to keep my self busy writing about films because I was a little bitter I wasn't making them. Now, I'm so busy with making films I don't even have much time to watch them. So here's what forthcoming projects you will be seeing soon from me.

The Good Doctor - a silent movie set in New York in the 1920's. An idealistic young doctor makes a house-call at the home of a Russian Jewish immigrant family, only to discover that they are a coven of vampires who have set a trap for him. This was the first time I ever shot on film - on 16mm using the Arri-S. The film is still in the developing lab right now as we speak. It needs to be cut together and delivered by the Wednesday after next, but after it's handed in I plan on working on an original score for the picture.

Dwain Esper: King of the Celluloid Gypsies - a short documentary about the unscrupulous, hucksterish, mastermind director of the 30's exploitation classics Maniac, Sex Madness, and Marihuana: The Weed With Roots in Hell, and the producer/distributor of Reefer Madness and Freaks (aka Nature's Mistakes!) I cut this film together for my documentary class last year, but wasn't completely satisfied with the class's imposed 5-minute-maximum running time. This new cut will be a couple minutes longer, more leisurely, and a bit more lurid and lewd.

For Sale/Wanted - an offbeat romantic comedy which is my planned thesis film. An introverted, slightly grumpy young cinephile finds a VHS tape of an incredibly rare Mexican vampire film/melodrama from the 40's in someone's trash pile. However, he needs to buy a used VCR on Craigslist to watch it on, and the machine's owner turns out to be an earthy old hippie who tries to flirt with him, complicating his plan and causing him to reflect on the merits of cinephilia vs. companionship.