So here it is. I know I sort of cheated by having a few ties, but this is my top 20 bitches!
I should note that my picks for #1 and #2 are not only my favorite of the decade, but my favorite movies ever. My #3 pick is my #4 pick for best ever as well.
Me & You & Everyone we know, In America, Almost Famous, In Search of a Midnight Kiss, Bubba Ho-tep, The Incredibles, In Bruges, The Dark Knight, Knocked Up, Off the Map, Melvin Goes to Dinner, Fantasia 2000 (for stoners, this is trippy as fuck!), High Fidelity, House of Flying Daggers, South Park's Imaginationland trilogy (I know it's not really a movie, but put those 3 episodes together and it makes for a 65 minute epic movie. Funnier than the actual South Park movie and Team America, which is saying a lot, because both those movies were hilarious)
This is the best anti-romance of the decade for people who are fed up with generic cliched Hollywood romances. This movie is also further proof that stageplays turned into films often lead to great results.While love can be beautiful, love can also bring out anger, jealousy, and bitterness which is portrayed with 4 great performances, a dark sense of humor, and some of the finest dialogue writing of any movie this decade; memorable, quotable lines can be found everywhere in the movie. The break up scene between Clive Owen and Julia Roberts will forever be the most memorable, and most brutal break up scene ever put on film.
19. The lives of others
When The Lives of Others won for best foreign film over the heavily favored Pan's Labyrinth, people were shocked. Then people eventually got around to seeing Lives of Others and realized...it really was a better movie! This is a fascinating movie about East Germany, its socialist agenda, and the way everyone was spyed on and how easily the government can ruin anyone's career. On top of that, it's a wonderful and very touching character study of a man originally committed to his job of spying on a couple, and his character transformation where through experiencing lives of other people, he changes himself and realizes what's missing in his own life. I should also add, this movie has one of the finest endings of any movie.
18. 500 days of summer
It's so refreshing to get a romantic comedy which isn't held down by formula, predictability and contrivances. Here's a romantic comedy where you really have no clue where it's going or how it's going to end. Isn't it also refreshing to get a young director who clearly thinks outside the box and strives for originality? He takes a few big risks with some experimental filmmaking, and it all pays off nicely! There's a little Eternal Sunshine, Annie Hall and High Fidelity in this movie which by no means is bad at all...those are all fantastic movies. It is a hilarious, absolutely charming, and delightful movie. The humor feels like it comes naturally out of the situation and it doesn't feel like the filmmakers are reaching for their laughs (ie: Garden State). As a love story, it feels very genuine and honest. Easily one of the best romantic comedies of this decade.
Films like this are proof that to make a good movie, you don't really need a shitload of money. All you need is a great script and some capable actors. If I told you about a movie with just 3 actors and all shot in just one location - a hotel room, you would probably not be terribly excited to see it. It sounds boring. However, the time flies by really fast and the movie is unbearably intense by the end. It's kind of difficult to explain the movie's brilliance without giving away some very surprising moments.
At first the viewers have no clue what to expect. The movie begins as just a friendly encounter between two guys who've been really close friends since highschool. It seems like a friendly encounter, but slowly character motivations are revealed. Tape is a movie that is bound to leave you thinking about all its events and what it's trying to say. Its characters are very well developed and it's interesting to see how they react to the dilemmas and moral conundrums brought up to them. It's a fascinting look at friendships and past events, and how some wounds never heal. Or also, how a single event or memory can be completey subjective, how two people who experienced the same thing can walk away with totally different memories.
The 3 actors are pheneomenal, though I think the strongest performance goes to Uma Thurman. She's only in the movie for roughly 10 minutes, but what a performance! This is a movie that can lead to lots of debates and discussions. Tape is further proof that often stage plays lead to the best movies.
16. Tie: Slumdog Millionaire & Juno
I don't care what the haters say. Juno is one of the most charming, delightful, and smartly funny comedies of the decade. It takes a massive shit all over Little Miss Sunshine, Garden State, Away We Go, and all the other quirky indy comedies of the past decade (maybe except 500 Days of summer...maybe it just takes a bit of a piss on 500 days of summer, but not a massive shit)
This movie was released to huge critical acclaim, but since then it's gotten some pretty bad backlash...not Crash bad, but still pretty bad. It's almost become cool to hate Juno. But let's get something straight...being a Juno hater doesn't make you cool...in fact, you're totally not cool. Not in the slightest.
Not only is Juno one of the most unforgettable characters of the past decade, but Ellen Page puts on one of the most unique comic performances of anyone this year, firing off brilliant and witty one liners non-stop through out the whole movie. Yes, the dialogue is contrived for a 16 year old girl, but when it's this well written and delivered, it's very forgivable. While the movie's ending is probably the cutest most perfect ending for the movie, I wanted more. I feel like I could have spent 3 hours following Juno's life. She was that fucking good of a character!
This could be the only movie of the past decade that actually deserved its best picture oscar win. The sub-genre of the Hollywood inspirational rags to riches story is perhaps the worst genre out there plagued with being awfully generic, cliched, heavy handed, schmaltzy, and just fucking dull. The over-rated Blind Side and the even more over-rated Pursuit of Happyness...I'm looking at you! Your "happy endings" fucking suck, because your movies suck, and happy endings need to be earned.
When you think about it, Slumdog Millionaire is a cliched, Hollywood inspirational rags to riches story, except Danny Boyle does it 1000 times better than everyone else. How refreshing it is to get someone's life story told in such an original way...the use of "Who Wants to be a millionaire" to highlight the key moments of his life are brilliant. The movie takes you through so many different emotions of happiness, heart break, betrayal, brotherhood, and love. Its depiction of living in the slums of India are truthful, gritty, and don't hold back. The rise to a better life of one of the most likable protagonists is very well done, with a happy ending which is fully deserved and you really need to be very cynical to not be in the greatest of moods by the end of the movie.
Yes, the new Batman movies are awesome, but Memento will always be Chris Nolan's biggest achievement. Memento's is a fascinating exploration of memory, and a very intruiging mystery. It is such a fresh and original movie and completely unpredictable. Its structure of beginning at the end and unfolding the story in reverse is brilliant. Revelations become so much more shocking, and surprising this way.
Beyond the mystery, Leonard makes for a very fascinating character. His battle with memory loss and only remembering 3 minutes into the past, he needs to tatoo all important information, and keep photographs. It's interesting how at the beginning of the movie he seems like a somewhat straight forward character who's going through some tough shit. The more and more you get into the past, the darker, and more fascianting he becomes. It's always a treat seeing a vignette where you're like, "What the hell? Why's this happening?"...and the revelation of past event that caused it. Memento is a great movie about memory and how it shapes our identity and who we are.
14. The Descent
I think being the #1 best horror movie ever made warrants a spot in my list of the best movies of the decade. I don't think any other horror comes even close to The Descent. It simply transcends a usually mediocre genre and is easily the most intelligent horror that really exploits every human fear. It delivers pop ups better than just about any other horror (because hey, they aren't so fuckin predictable!), a lot of suspense, very well done gory scenes, and best of all...it's a horror that is a total mind fuck.
The cinematography is brilliant, might I add. The movie is frequently dark with just little bits of light here and there. It really adds to the horror as you see how little the characters can see and really makes you empathize with how fucking scary it must be to be in these characters' shoes. Besides working on a visceral level, this is a movie where you can have very indepth discussions about its themes, symbolism, and really break down and analyze it. Yes, it's scary that these critters are fucking the girls up, but the movie's also about the human condition, and what humans can be driven to do in a time of distress. I hope film schools add this to their circulum. This would be a very interesting film to study.
While I got somewhat bored with the huge number of biopics that came out this decade, MONSTER is one that truly stands tall above every other biopic. Not only is it also the most insightful serial killer movie, but also my pick for the best performance of the decade...maybe even the best performance of all time goes to Charlize Theron. Whoever stared at the gorgeous Charlize Theron and said, "Add 30 pounds to her and she'll look like Aileen Wuornos is a genious. Let's not sell her short by saying that she simply imitates Aileen. I had never seen any pictures or videos of Aileen before seeing this movie, and was completely blown away by Theron's performance. Although what she does is morally wrong and her actions should be excused, you can't help but sympathize with her and feel all her pain and everything she's been through.
What a powerful, fascinating, intense character study. It's a raw, disturbing, emotional, and uncompromising look at what drives an innocent person into a monster.
12. Up in the Air
A.O Scott on At the movies said, "50 or 60 years from now when people want to know what life was like at this anxious, strange moment of recession at the end of this decade, they're gonna look at this movie. I think that it captures something very deep and kind of sad about the way we live now in a light hearted and comic way"
Completely agreed! On the surface, Up in the Air is an extremely well directed, slickly edited, great looking movie with great performances from the three leads. Its comedy is very intelligent and it also has a really charming romantic subplot. However, I felt like I really connected with this movie on a much deeper level which is why it deserves a spot close to the top 10 of the decade.
I feel like this is one of the most relevant movies about...life, in our current recession society, and about people in the modern technology age trying to find their place in life, and find some sort of meaning. This movie really stuck with me well after its runtime. I found myself really thinking hard about my own life, how I've spent it, and where I hope my life takes me in the future.
11. Finding Nemo
You know...Wall-E, The Incredibles, and Ratatouille were all great movies, but Pixar's biggest achievement of the decade has to go to Nemo. This movie is what big blockbuster entertainment is all about. It's thoroughly satisfying in every way and can please anyone of any age group. It is stunningly beautiful to look at, very creative sense of humor (the sharks anonymous was funny shit), exciting action scenes, surprisingly very touching at times, but what really separates this movie is how well done the characters are. I found the father - son relationship between two fish to be far more effective than actual human relationships in many live action films.
On the surface level, the movie's about a father going on a death defying quest to find his son. On a deeper level, this is a movie about a good hearted, well intentioned father who's unfortunately become way over protective and neurotic due to the loss of his wife. Through his journey to find Nemo, he slowly learns how to become a better father and learns the lesson about parenting that sometimes you can't always be there to protect your kids and sometimes you just have to let things be. This is a good fucking character transformation.
Within a very cliched, generic hero's journey structure of the movie, there are plenty of very creative, inspired moments. There's a scene when Marlon tells the story of his son to a bunch of sea turtles. The sea turtles tell the story to other animals. It then turns into a montage of different various animals sharing the story of Marlon's struggle and how this man will stop at absolutely nothing to find his son. It's scenes like this which separate Pixar from everyone else. Perhaps the finest few minutes of any movie this year.
10. Tie: Waking Life & Before Sunset
I have a nostalgic reason for loving this movie so much. This is one of the very first movies that I got stoned to. For the longest time, no movie even came close to tripping me out the way Waking Life did. I should also mention that a while back, I had no interest whatsoever in philosophy. "Who fucking cares?" used to be my answer to any philisophical question. Waking Life is the movie that's single handedly changed that about me. Don't get me wrong, I'm no philosophy expert. If people ask who my favorite philosopher is, I'll just say filmmaker Richard Linklater for making Waking Life, Slacker, Before Sunrise and Before Sunset.
In one scene, the main character hitches a ride with someone he doesn't know. The driver is driving a boat-car and talks Buddhist philosophy...he's like a boddhisatva...and he's driving a boat. Little things like that are nice. They drop him off at a completely random spot. When the main character asks where he's being dropped off the driver replies, "I don't know, but it'll determine the course of the rest of your life."
This is such a fresh, unique, original movie. It is bound to change the way you think about life. It's rotoscoped animated style is perfect for making the film feel very dream-like. It's about life, how we sleep walk through our existence, about dreams, finding purpose and meaning, is our collection of memories what makes us who we are and establishes our identities, dream time vs. real time, evolution, human communication, is there such a thing as free will?...so many fascinating topics. You simply absorb them all, and it's a movie that's bound to have you thinking for a long time after. It's a movie that needs to be seen again and again to fully absorb everything.
Oh hey look, another Linklater movie. Welcome to the best sequel ever made. A sequel which was made purely for creative reasons rather than financial. We needed to know what happened to this couple who fell in love during one day in Vienna, and this sequel is absolutely perfect, showing how their lives have changed 9 years later after their one night fling. They were supposed to meet 6 months later, but we find out in the sequel that it never happened. Here they are in Paris, now.
Here's a romantic comedy made for intelligent people (let's say cinematically intelligent...you can write amazingly insightful film criticism, but be a fucking moron in other aspects of life, and vice versa.) Not a single Hollywood romance cliche can be found in this movie. It's simply two people who fell in love over one day, shit didn't work out, and here they are in front each other 9 years later. How have their lives changed? How did their one night stand affect them both? Their conversations are always fascinating, once again being a Linklater film, they discuss a lot of philosophy, though this time not being as confusing as Waking Life...you can probably understand it all in one viewing. Linklater and Delpy are both fantastic and put on some of the most naturalistic performances I've ever seen. It never looks like they're acting...it looks like we're simply peering into the lives of two very intelligent young people. Linklater understands that so much can be conveyed by just little actions.
The structure is perfect. They tip toe around touchy subject matters, conversation at the beginning being very light hearted. As the day goes on, the movie gets more and more tense as the two characters start to reveal more and how their lives are in fact not okay since the one night stand (the scene in the limo is fucking hard to watch). They wonder why things unfolded the way they did, and wonder how life would be had they spent it together. This is a funny, fascinating, intelligent, and poignant story about the one that got away.
9. Mary and Max
Not only is this the best film of 2009, but it's also my pick for the best animated film ever made. Yes, I'll pick Mary and Max over any Pixar movie even including the Finding Nemo. It's one of the most beautiful and touching films about loneliness, friendship and the impact we have on each other's lives.
What a refreshingly original, unique and insanely cute movie. Its structure and storytelling is unconventional, even its humor...you've never seen anything like it. At times cute and charming like a kids movie, at times very over the top, and at times extremely dark, but always very intelligent. When Max explains to an 8 year old Mary where babies come from he says, "Babies are laid by Catholic nuns. If you're an Athiest, they're laid by dirty, lonely prostitutes." That is fucking hilarious!
As much as I love Pixar, they still cannot take huge risks as they have little kids to please with their movies. Fortunately, Adam Elliot is not on the same boat. This feels like a movie where the director had 100% creative freedom and never has to pander. That is why this movie works so well. It's very original, brilliantly and darkly funny, and despite the characters being made out of clay...if you don't feel any emotion for them, or especially the ending...you simply have no heart...or a really cold one...even colder than the coldest glacier that hasn't been melted by global warming.
8. Minority Report
My pick for the best sci-fi/film noir ever made. Here's a big budget blockbuster which respects the intelligence of the audience and never feels the need to pander. There are action scenes, but the movie realizes that it's very fascinating plot is most important and never loses sight of that. It's a visually stunning movie with a very original storyline, a mystery that keeps you guessing, and also gives the audience plenty to think about with its philosophical exploration of destiny vs. free will, as well as its moral exploration of the concept of pre-crime.
This is a fantastic looking movie. Its vision of what the future looks like is fucking cool; it really goes all out. When it comes to the action scenes, I love how they're all very creative and deliver tension in different ways. The jet pack scene is a lot of fun. The scene where robotic spiders go into every room looking for John Anderton is absolutely brilliant. Or how about the scene in the mall where the pre-cog who sees the future tells Tom Cruise everything to do to avoid being caught...give the homeless man spare change, so when he bends down to pick it up, a cop will run in and trip over him. Shit like that...fucking creative!
It's such a good movie on so many levels. Unlike a lot of sci fis which fall into style over substance, or delivering the fascinating storyline in the first half to turn it into an all out action movie the 2nd half, here's a movie that's all style and all substance as well.
7. City of God
Not only is this my pick for the best foreign film, but also the best gangster movie ever made. Slumdog Millionaire owes A LOT to this movie as you can clearly see that Slumdog's shooting style was inspired by City of God. This movie not receiving a best foreign language film nomination from the Oscars is the #1 biggest Oscar travesty of the decade. City of God is a raw, gritty, disturbing, and very shocking look at life in Rio.
What immediately pops out about this movie is its hyper kinetic shooting style which adds to the intensity, and the chaos.
It's also a gangster movie which explores how unlike Godfather and Goodfellas, people in the slums of Rio don't get into the gang lifestyle for greed; in Rio, it's almost a must. It's for survival, where knowing how to fire a gun is more important than knowing how to read.
The film is not all gloom. There are some great moments of comic relief (Rocket's inability to join in the life of crime, because everyone he tries to rob is too cool is hilarious!), and the film has some very colorful characters. I like the structure and Rocket's narrations of the story, often jumping from past to present, but never being confusing. Rocket makes for a very likable protagonist, and I like that he never actually gets involved in the life of crime. He tries to live his own life and pursue his passion which is photography, but it's through photography that he finds himself thrown in the middle of two gangs who are about to shoot the shit out of each other.
Just when the film teases at a feel good ending, it ends with a final dialogue scene involving a bunch of kids which is even more haunting than any of the gangsters before. City of God is an unforgettable movie. It's sometimes hard to watch, but a true portrayal of how sad life is some parts of the world.
6. About a Boy
I'm aware that many people will give me a weird look for having this movie put up so high on the list. To me, this movie's like the Parenthood of this decade, as in, it's among one of the best human comedies. Hugh Grant puts on easily his funniest performance ever. This may not be the laugh out loud funniest movie, but I had so much admiration for the comedy writing. Instead of just laughing, I'd often laugh and think in my head, "Fuck! That joke was brilliant!" The humor is so intelligent, and About a Boy understands how to use voice overs for comedy better than just about any movie. Robert Mckee has shit-talked the use of voice overs as lazy writing...I wonder if he'd change his mind on that after seeing About a Boy.
Comedy aside, it also happens to be a wonderful coming of age story with very convincing character transformations, might I add that the friendship that develops between Will (Hugh Grant) and the little boy Marcus (Nicholas Hoult) is wonderful. Marcus first comes off as an annoying shit stain in Will's life; When Will realizes how important Marcus is to his life, it feels completely genuine. Love Actually tries to re-create this type of magic with his adult-son friendship, but it's not nearly as successfully as About a Boy.
5. Two Days
The term "Hidden gem" truly applies to "Two Days". This is a movie I had never heard of, and if you look it up at rottentomatoes, only 2 reviews can be found. I went over to Charles's house and he had just randomly found the movie in a bargain bin. I had no clue what to expect. After watching it, I am shocked as to how the movie flew so low under the radar. How did a movie this brilliant not get into filmfests?
Two Days is the most fascinating movie I've seen about suicide. The premise is simple; Paul Miller (played by Paul Rudd in what I think is easily his best performance and shows his talent as a dramatic actor) is fed up with his life and wants to commit suicide. He hires a film crew to film his last two days alive before he finally does it. To add to it, there is another film crew of film students who are filmming a movie about the the other documentary crew making this movie.
Had this movie been handled by a big Hollywood studio, it would have wallowed in cheap sentimentality. This is why Indys are better at this type of stuff. The drama is subtle, the comedy is very intelligent, and I really like the way the movie treats suicide. They don't try to attach bullshit reasons of "Oh, I had a horrible childhood" or anything like that. Fact is, a lot of people commit suicide and people will never know why. This is one of them. The movie handles it with subtlety. In his last two days, when the film crew follow him around and he interacts with friends and family, you can see subtle things about his life that makes him miserable. The dinner scene with his parents is brilliant at showing a relationship where his parents love him to death, but he feels so disconnected from them. I don't want to give away the ending, but there's one scene close to the end which is seriously one of the most intense, uncomfortable scenes I've ever sat through.
But this isn't just a drama. This is also a movie filmmakers will love. Two Days's satire on filmmaking is razor sharp and very funny. You've got the pretentious director of the documentary who wants that big emotional crying scene vs. the director who thinks documentaries should just capture life. Let's just say the movie has a lot of fun completely ripping into film students as well. After doing sound myself, I just loved the dramatic moment between father and son with the sound guy walking in being like, "Can you guys speak louder? My levels are really shitty."
It's too bad this movie's so hard to find. I really want to know why a movie this good has gone so unnoticed. It's funny, very dramatic, subtle, and it is very very observant about life.
4. Punch Drunk Love
What a dark, twisted, fucked up, weird, charming, refreshingly different spin on the romantic comedy genre. After complaining about how predictable and generic so many Hollywood films are, here's Punch Drunk Love...a movie where you have no bloody clue where the movie's headed (granted you don't watch the trailer which sadly gives away too many details. Luckily I never saw the trailer before the movie). I love that about the movie. I never knew which direction the movie was headed, but I simply went along with it and enjoyed everything about the ride. Even the music in the movie is completely unconventional and unlike anything I've heard.
The first 10 minutes of the movie are unlike anything I've ever seen. Note to anyone taking film studies...if you have a sequence analysis assignment, do it on the first 10 minutes of Punch Drunk Love...you'll have plenty of great material. The more I watch it, the more brilliant I find it in foreshadowing what will happen in the rest of the movie. The cinematography of this movie is so well thought out. Notice the way that Sandler is constantly peripheralized in the frame at the beginning of the movie, with his back always to the camera and the way that he dominates the frame much later in the movie as he gains more confidence and love in his life.
This is a movie where just about every scene is a memorable scene. The phone call with Philip Seymour Hoffman is brilliant, funny, and unbearably tense. No one in the history of cinema has told someone to shut up in such an awesome way. The car accident, the beating scene, the final confrontation at the furniture store, Sandler destroying the bathroom...every scene is so fucking good. Barry Egan is a fascinating character with many offbeat quirks, and his character transformation from a very shy, timid guy to a fully confident man full of love and fighting for his life is completely convincing. When Sandler says, "Say that's that, or I'll beat the living hell from you. I have a love in my life and it makes me stronger than you can imagine"...you can't help but believe him. I wouldn't fuck with him.
3. Matchstick Men
There's one part of this movie I love quoting, and I absolutely love the writing of this scene. When Nicolas Cage is talking to his shrink about his OCD, he is miserable. He says, "Sometimes I think about ending it all. Maybe I should just stick a gun in my mouth and blow my brains out. But then, I worry about what that would do to my god damn carpet!" Funny in a fucked up way, and I hear this is very true of people with OCD.
I know that many people will be surprised to see this movie so far up, but I think this is one of the most criminally under-rated movie of the decade. There have been many movies about con artists, but there's a reason why I pick Matchstick Men over the rest. The movie does a great job juggling three stories and later on connecting them nicely: a story about conning, the con artist's struggle with OCD, and then the change in his life when his daughter enters his life and his struggle with how to be a good father. In another wonderful moment, when his daughter is trying to run away from him, he says, "I'm just not good at being a dad. I barely get by being me."
As a con movie, not only are the cons brilliant, but I love the simplicity of them (especially the lottery ticket con he does with his daughter). Sam Rockwell and Nicolas Cage have great chemistry together. Sam Rockwell is hilarious and charismatic, while Nicolas Cage does a great job playing the straight man, simply reacting to Sam Rockwell's antics.
However, it is the characters that truly make the movie. The father-daughter relationship between Nicolas Cage and the very under-rated performance of Alison Lohman is wonderful. It is wonderful to see the transformation of her at first being just a big annoyance in his life to him finally realizing that she's finally brought happiness into his life for the first time.
The movie goes forward in such a straight forward manner that you almost forget that, "Hey. This is a heist movie. There's gotta be a twist." Here's the thing about twists...I hate it when a movie has twists just for the hell of it. Not only is the twist in the movie brilliant, but it serves a purpose as it changes the characters and their lives. At the end of the movie, a good question is who really won at the end?
Matchstick Men is very entertaining and just a wonderful movie. As a con movie it's just as clever as the rest, but it's really the characters that make this one memorable.
This movie is proof that Charlie Kaufman is the greatest screenwriter of all time. What happens when you're asked to write a screenplay based on a book about flowers; a book with no narrative and seemingly unadaptable? You make a movie about the struggle of adapting the book of the movie that we're currently watching. That sentence would seem confusing to anyone who hasn't seen Adaptation, but those who have...how fucking brilliant!
Adaptation is truly a writers movie. Not only is it the most painfully accurate depiction of writers block ever put on film, but if you happen to be friends with a writer and want to understand them better, watch Adaptation. The anxieties, insecurities, neuroses of your average writer is perfectly depicted.
Here is a film that constructs itself as it goes along. It plays around with the audience's knowledge of films and has fun with our expectations. We get to see how Charles Kaufman had originally planned to write this film, things that inspired him, and even how the process of writing this screenplay changed his look at life itself.
Let's not only compliment Kaufman, the writer. Nicolas Cage is really good playing the two twins: the nervous, neurotic, but brilliant Charlie, and his fictional twin Donald, funny, extraverted, outgoing, confident, and also representing everything that Charlie hates about Hollywood. Donald is a hilarious stereotype of what sucks about Hollywood films. Meryl Streep is fantastic at playing the author of The Orchid Thief, successful, but feeling like her life is empty. The direction her character takes in the last third of the movie is really funny. Of course there's Chris Cooper who won for his amazing portrayal of the charismatic, but somewhat fucked up John Laroche.
People who say that there's nothing original anymore and everything's been done need to watch Adaptation. I guarantee that absolutely nobody saw where this story was headed. This is one of the most original, creative movies I've ever seen, and is very darkly funny. Although the movie is not a 100% faithful adaptation of The orchid Thief, it seems to capture the spiritual nature of the book. Beyond all the craziness of the movie, it's simply a movie about life. Seeing the way the miserable Charlie Kaufman character finds happiness and changes through the writing of the screenplay of the movie that we're currently watching is beautiful.
1.Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Yep, both #1 and #2 are going to the same writer - Charlie Kaufman, truly the most brilliant screenwriter of all time. In Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Kaufman has not only made a very original movie that's very thought provoking, but it's also a movie that really tugs at the heart strings in a completely non-Hollywood way. Eternal Sunshine is the perfect concoction of a science fiction and romantic comedy; Its structure is unconventional and odd, yet brilliant. The direction of the movie is perfect and especially the memories through unconscious dream state is so artistically directed. Just like every other Kaufman movie, there is plenty of brilliantly delivered dark comedy to be found.
Ultimately, this is a movie that explores the notions of love and memory. Wouldn't it be great if we can erase painful memories? Here we have two lovers who erase each other from their memories. They had a good relationship at first, but by the end, it was just sad, and depressing, leaving them both angry and emotionally fragile people. However, as Joel has his memories of Clementine erased, and he re-lives some of the wonderful moments they shared, he realizes what a mistake he's making. I'm sure we all have some memories we would love to hold on to, and no amount of money can justify taking those memories away. Once we get past all the fights and see the times where Joel and Clementine were really in love, that's when the movie slowly drifts from the weird twilight zonish feel to a fucking fine drama. The tragedy is in losing the great memories. The movie makes a strong statement about how we try to forget when things go wrong. Memories are what define us, and sometimes you have to take the pain and make it a part of who you are, and especially hold onto all the great times.
I haven't even gotten into all the secondary characters who also add a lot to the movie. There are some unexpected twists that take place around Joel and Clementine. Some twists lead to what I think is one of the most brilliant scenes involving hearing Joel's audio tape. It's hard to think of a scene which is more painfully awkward and uncomfortable than this one. You can really feel what must be going through both characters' minds.
Jim Carrey is great in a surprisingly un-Jim Carrey like role, where this time he's the quiet introvert and his performance is subdued. I think just about every kate Winslett fan will name Eternal Sunshine as her most memorable performance. At the time she lost to Hillary Swank in Million Dollar Baby, I had agreed. However, the more years that have passed, the more that Kate's performance has really stuck with me as opposed to Swank.
I'm pretty sure I've seen this movie atleast 5 or 6 times, and it still gets to me. Every viewing you can find something new and brilliant to appreciate. Sometimes Charlie Kaufman can get a little too weird with his material, but Eternal Sunshine finds just the perfect balance. In the end of it all, beyond the weirdness and all the awkwardness, it's a really beautiful love story.
Best Short Movie of the decade
Hey check this out, you can watch my pick for best short film of the decade on youtube:
What a fucking crazy, brilliant movie! The first time I saw this, I was completely blown away. Ryan is a brilliant concoction of a documentary and cartoon. The animations are absolutely stunning and trippy as hell! The rise and the sad downfall of a brilliant Canadian artist is told in a very artsy animated way. The more viewings, the more you'll understand the symbolic reasons for why certain things were animated the way they were in representing the human psyche. The director calls it psychorealism.
Ryan tells a fascinating, but sad and painful life story. You see Ryan's rise to the top, an Oscar nomination for best short animated film, then as one of his friends says in the doc...trying to get that moment, that brilliance back can drive someone into insanity. They show the tortured soul that Ryan is today, becoming a cocaine addict and alcoholic. Kind of like how Adaptation is the perfect movie about writers, Ryan is the perfect movie about the tortured artist.
Other Random Categories:
Best Canadian film of the decade:
Best Stoner Comedy:
Harold and Kumar go to Whitecastle
Eminem in Funny People
(Best ever is still Bob Sagot in Half Baked...this will never be topped)
Best Super Hero movie:
The Incredibles (Yes, I like it better than The Dark Knight as well. Flame away)
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