Day 4 is here and along with it we've cracked the top 10 of my favorite movies of the decade list! Today, we're going over numbers 10 through 6, with tomorrow wrapping up the list with the top five. Exciting!
Before we get into that though, see below for the links to previous days, along with the first 15 movies of the list.
24. In Good Company
23. In Bruges
22. Everything is Illuminated
21. The Departed
18. About a Boy
17. The Constant Gardener
16. Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring
14. Howl's Moving Castle
12. Finding Nemo
11. 28 Days Later
10. Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain (Written and directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, co-written by Guillaume Laurant - 2001)
This film is one of those movies that came out of nowhere to be absolutely beloved by movie fans everywhere. Yet when I first saw it, I liked it, but didn't love it. I gave it a shot, but even with aspects I loved about it (Audrey Tautou, the sheer joy in the filmmaking, Audrey Tautou) it still felt a bit long and a little odd. Then one day I accidentally heard Yann Tiersen's score to this film while in Kaladi Brothers and I had to get more. I picked up the soundtrack and listened to it over and over, and then on a whim I bought Amelie and it was like a curtain had been pulled and the true beauty had been revealed.
All in all, this movie is pure magic. From the love affair viewers have with Tautou (it is impossible to not fall head over heels with her while watching this movie), to the effortless charm, to the quirky energy, to the message the filmmakers pass to viewers, to Tiersen's stellar score, to the dynamic editing...this is a flat out superb example of filmmaking. That it features the most lovely city in the world as a co-star adds to the power. This is one of the most charming and beautiful movies of the decade, and worth every bit of the hype that preceded it.
9. I Heart Huckabees (Written and directed by David O. Russell, co-written by Jeff Baena)
This is perhaps the most polarizing movie of the decade. There is a large camp out there that absolutely despises this film, and it assuredly is a challenging one. But this existential comedy that, on the surface, is about a man trying to find out about what these coincidences in his life mean exactly, yet in reality that is only the plot. This movie is about how all of us, no matter how disparate, are connected, if only by the things that bring us down in life. Of course, it's also a completely hysterical film filled with live wire performances by a sharp cast, filled with a unique vision by a great director and aided by wonderful and thoughtful score by one of the best pop writers out there - Jon Brion.
While this movie does have a lot of very good reasons it is so damn spectacular (the mere fact that it stars Jason Schwartzman makes it a shoo-in to be enjoyable), one of my favorites is supporting actor Mark Wahlberg. Wahlberg plays Tommy Corn, a firefighter who is completely obsessed with petroleum and the fact that humanity is burning through all of the world's non-renewable resources so fast. His fire and passion for saving the world and figuring out his place in the world (which he attempts to find using whatever philosophy he can get his hands on) is often uproarious. Worth it just for that performance, but there is so much more here. Watch this film, take a philosophical journey, and laugh all the way through it. You'll thank me later.
8. Ratatouille (Written and directed by Brad Bird and Jan Pinkava, co-written by Jim Capobianco - 2007)
This is the last Pixar movie (I swear!) on the list, and somewhat fittingly for me this is the one I liked the least of the four when I initially saw it. While I enjoyed it greatly and thought Pixar made a great film, it was just a lot less funny than the rest of their movies had been. It was also the only of the four Pixar films on this list that I did not see multiple times in the theaters. The fact that it really took a new life after I saw it again on DVD and then again repeatedly when it came to cable was unsurprising, nor should it have been surprising given that it was all about Paris, food, cooking, passion, love, and exceeding the expectations that are put upon a person by the place and position they come from.
The moral of this story can be whittled down to one phrase that is often repeated throughout the film, "anyone can cook!" What Brad Bird (genius of geniuses that also created the most underrated animated film EVER in The Iron Giant) meant by that is, as his brilliant villain/proprietor/critic creation Anton Ego (voiced by the incredible Peter O'Toole) states at the end of the film, "not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere." Sometimes the greatest artists can come in strange forms, whether it's a rat that cooks or a writer from Alaska (I kid, I kid!), it doesn't matter. That this movie conveys that in such a touching and funny fashion is surprising, even for Pixar. Also, bonus point for casting Patton Oswalt as Remy, the rat in question. Pixar is well known for churning out elite performances from smaller named actors in their leads, and Oswalt is one of their all time greatest.
7. Shaun of the Dead (Directed by Edgar Wright, written by Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright - 2004)
This movie was without a doubt the greatest example of its genre of this decade, and quite possibly of all time. That it's the only example of a romantic zombie comedy ever (or rom-zom-com as some call it) helps, but even without that this is an achingly funny, devilishly charming, and often scary film and one of my favorite movies of this decade. This movie is the brain child of the same team who brought us the Britcom Spaced, with Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg co-writing and Pegg with his cohort Nick Frost starring, and it takes all the promise of that show and capitalizes on it, without bringing any of the negatives that brought that show down.
In fact, I would be remiss if I didn't mention this: this movie is movie that gave this blog its name. When Shaun (Pegg) and Ed (Frost) are discussing what plan they should follow to survive the zombie apocalypse, Shaun comes up with the plan of plans and follows it with a triumphant "now how's that for a slice of fried gold?" (that Frost responded with a "YEAHHHH BOYEEEEE!" is inconsequential) set the ball in motion for this blog to be named. This is not here because of that. This is just one of the funniest movies of the decade, and quite possibly my favorite zombie movie of all time. In case you didn't know it, I am a man who likes his zombies.
6. The Dark Knight (Directed by Christopher Nolan, written by Jonathan and Christopher Nolan - 2008)
I feel like I'll catch some flak for this. When it first came out, I was very positive about it but still had reservations. As time went on I started backlashing against this film because frankly, I thought people were massively overrating it. It was good, but it wasn't that good.
Well, I have a confession to make.
The Dark Knight really is that good.
After seeing it just once in the theater, I picked it up on Blu Ray and greatly enjoyed it. Then when it came to cable I realized something...holy crap, this movie has insane replay value. It gets better and better with each viewing. You start to notice the power of Aaron Eckhart's performance, the thoughtful brooding of Christian Bale, how much better Maggie Gyllenhaal really is than Katie Holmes, how intensely awesome this story is...you name it. This is the perfect comic book movie, in that it exists in the supposition that this isn't a comic book world, this is the real world with comic book things happening within it. Batman isn't some goofy protector of the night, he's a man standing up for what is right. Two-Face isn't some maniacal monster who kills as he pleases, he's a man haunted who is looking for retribution against those who took his greatest love away.
Best of all, the Joker isn't some clown prince who just wants to make the world laugh (while killing it of course). He's not a criminal based around the collection of money or power, he's someone who is just out to watch the world burn. In many ways, he's the evolution of the terrorist or the criminal, he's the Anton Chigurh to Anton Chigurh. The way Heath Ledger carefully crafts this character is just so dedicated and intense that he is the Joker, as scary as that seems. Not only should Ledger have won the Oscar for this, I'd be hard pressed to name a performance I was more blown away by ever, not just this decade.
This isn't a comic book movie. This is a nuanced crime film by one of the master filmmakers of today, with all of the power and intensity that Bob Kane and Bill Finger ever could have imagined for a Batman story when they first created him in 1939. Utterly brilliant, and I reserve the right to eventually move this movie up a few notches as the years pass.