A Slice of Fried Gold

Favorite Movies of the Decade: 15 - 11

Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Today brings us round 3 of the favorite movies section of my Slices of Fried Gold: The Decade Edition project. So far, I've unveiled numbers 25 through 16 in my list, with today bringing us to 15 through 11. An interesting list, and one that brings us two Danny Boyle and Alex Garland collaborations, two animated films, and one story of the single greatest news anchor that has ever lived. An intriguing trio if I do say so myself.

Before we get started, here are links to day 1 and day 2 of this, and below is the list to date.

25. Up
24. In Good Company
23. In Bruges
22. Everything is Illuminated
21. The Departed
20. Wall-E
19. Snatch
18. About a Boy
17. The Constant Gardener
16. Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring

15. Sunshine (Directed by Danny Boyle, written by Alex Garland)

Sunshine is a bizarre film in many ways. Chiefly, its effortless genre-hopping is very rare to see, and it is especially rare to see any semblance of success with this. This film starts out as a dreamy sci-fi film, edges into 2001 style psychological space film, and then moves into Event Horizon class horror thriller by the very end, yet never sacrifices quality throughout. Even at the very end, we're given a curveball, a haunting and completely gorgeous curveball, but a curveball no less.

The fact that this film is very difficult to pinpoint save the grand umbrella of sci-fi is not lost upon me, but however you classify it this is an out and out success. Danny Boyle and Alex Garland once again collaborated to form a brand new take on a tired genre to give us a memorable, beautiful, and chilling sci-fi flick about saving humanity from the sun burning out. The cast is a top to bottom standout, with the standout being the surprising Chris Evans, breaking out from his Human Torch past to steal every scene he's in as the enigmatic and passionate Mace. Throw in brilliant camera work from Alwin Kuchler and another stellar score from John Murphy (with help from Underworld), and this is perhaps the best straight sci-fi film of the decade.

14. Howl's Moving Castle(Written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki - 2004)

While many would choose Miyazaki's own Spirited Away as his greatest film of the decade (and who could blame him? it's a stellar film), I prefer his work on Howl's Moving Castle. Howl's is a story of two highly disparate people - of a cursed young woman named Sophie, pushed into old age prematurely by a vile witch and off to find the great and insecure young wizard Howl to cure her ills. Howl is a haunted man, and a man who is slowly but surely cruising along a path of self-destruction. Somewhat predictably though, both find resolution to their problems in each other.

But this film is no predictable romance. This is a story of many wondrous things, whether it be a home that travels on its own legs, a talking flame, hilarious young proteges, evil witches, and completely gorgeous vistas as illustrated by the master Miyazaki himself. Miyazaki is one of the only hand drawn animators going today (in terms of feature length films), and if I were other animators, I would have gotten out of the game as well. The detail and power he gives his illustrations are unmatchable, with John Lasseter (the king of Pixar) perpetually stating that Miyazaki-san is one of the greatest influences upon their work at Pixar. This is perhaps the finest example of his career, the most prominent jewel upon a most glorious crown, and an utterly brilliant addition to a unparalleled resume.

13. Anchorman (Directed by Adam McKay, written by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay - 2004)

Comedy is often a genre that people do not know how to rate properly. They're often discounted for being occasionally non-sensical, often completely absurd, frequently juvenile, and some would even say infantile. Anchorman is, without a doubt, all of these things. Yet it also is the single funniest movie I've ever seen, and the most effortlessly quotable movie to have come out of the decade. Whenever Will Ferrell releases a movie, he's trying to recapture the magic that came from this movie, but quite frankly, it's impossible.

It's science.

Whenever you combine the most precious of elements of film into one brilliant comedy filled with improvisation and genius, which, in this case, means Will Ferrell (I don't know how to put this but I'm kind of a big deal), Paul Rudd (60% of the time, it works every time), David Koechner (when this is all said and done we should get an apartment together), Steve Carrell (I love lamp!), Vince Vaughan (Dorothy Mantooth is a saint!), Jack Black (that's how I roll), and many many more. This is basically the greatest example of comedic synergy ever, and it will be difficult to find a movie that makes me laugh harder more consistently.

12. Finding Nemo (Co-directed by Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich, written by Andrew Stanton, Bob Peterson and David Reynolds - 2003)

Another example of Pixar brilliance, with this one being the under the sea adventures of a clown fish (Albert Brooks) and his moderately obnoxious travel partner (Ellen DeGeneres) as they try to make it all the way to Australia to rescue his son. While it's frequently simply a hilarious romp, it also packs the emotional power that we've grown accustomed to from Pixar. This isn't just an under the sea buddy comedy, this is a tale about being a father and being a son. This is about the lengths you're willing to go to save your family. It's emotional dynamism makes it high on the totem pole of Pixar's successes.

The fact that it is also hilarious, has some of the best voice acting in Pixar history, and that Thomas Newman absolutely brings it on the score is all the better. This really proved that Pixar could really do anything, as they imbued these aquatic creatures with more life and vitality than most live action filmmakers could ever hope to accomplish.

11. 28 Days Later (Directed by Danny Boyle, written by Alex Garland - 2002)

After bursting upon the scene in 1996 with Trainspotting, Danny Boyle hit a cold spell. He was starting to look like a flash in the pan after most hated A Life Less Ordinary (I love that movie though) and The Beach, but with this film Boyle came back onto the scene. With three other massive successes in the Best Picture winning Slumdog Millionaire, the previously talked about Sunshine, and Millions, Boyle in many ways was one of the most successful directors of the decade. However, this film really is what got it started, as Boyle turned the genre of zombie horror on its head with one simple alteration: fast zombies.

While that was a huge change in its own right, the fact that he paired this original turn with a powerful story of a lost man finding a new family and trying to protect that family in a horrible situation is all the more incredible. While George Romero effectively brought the zombie genre to the forefront with his Living Dead series, Boyle was one of the first directors to layer the film with actual terror and emotional resonance ever. A lot of that came from the script for Garland, the stellar lead performances (namely Cillian Murphy and Brendan Gleeson), and an utterly original and haunting score by John Murphy. All in all though, it's one of the best examples of a genre that is increasing in popularity with each passing decade.


Anonymous said...

You had me until anchorman. That movie is worthless.

David Harper said...

Ouch. I love Anchorman, it's a completely absurd but entirely hilarious movie that has maintained its appeal to me since I first saw it. While it isn't for everyone, I love it all the same.

Anonymous said...

I can respect that

Sara said...

Loved me some Sunshine. I went through a pretty serious Cillian Murphy crush phase a little while ago and have pretty much seen every movie he's ever made. And don't even get me started on Anchorman - the first time I tried watching it, I turned it off - couldn't get through it because it was so ridiculous. But after giving it another shot... and another... and another, it's easily one of my most quoted and most favorite movies E-VER.

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