Sunday, December 27, 2009

Top 10 Films of the Decade

As the decade comes to an end, "Best of/Worst of" lists are abound. As a movie buff, I figured I'd throw in my lists for the decade. The following list is my personal top 10 favorite movies from the past 10 years (2000 – 2009). The selection does not reflect money made at the box office or importance to film in general. These are the films that I find myself watching over and over again.

10: The Pirates of the Caribbean Trilogy (2003-2007). I was always a fan of old pirate movies when I was a child and I was quite excited when the first Pirates movie was announced. I didn't have very high expectations going into the theater.

Johnny Depp blew me away! Johnny's portrayal of Captain Jack Sparrow was fantastic and made the movie for me. Pirates is a popcorn film - entertaining with nothing profound. It's a nice little throwback to the old pirate movies with great special effects.

9: Donnie Darko (2001). I'm not sure if it was the title or if the trailer just didn't inspire me, but something about this film made me steer clear of it when it was released. Years later, a friend of ours suggested we'd like this movie. Several years later, a local video store was closing and everything in sight was marked down super cheap, so I picked up this little gem for a steal.

When I viewed the movie, I dove in fresh with no recollection of the trailer or the premise of the movie. To my surprise, it was an intelligent film. Not knowing anything about the film was a great boon for my enjoyment factor. Rarely does an original movie come along that does not force feed details to the audience, and challenges them to question what they saw on the screen. This film deserves multiple viewings to get a good grasp on what is going on.

8: The Dark Knight (2008). I was not a Batman fan until I saw this film. I saw Batman Begins well before seeing this film. While I didn't hate it, I wasn't entirely moved by it.

There was a lot of hype surrounding the performance of the late Heath Ledger in this film. We almost never buy into hype but decided to see this film in the theater anyway. Cassaendra loved Batman Begins, so if I wasn't thrilled at least she would still enjoy it.

Holy crow! Heath's performance was outstanding! He is the main reason I liked this film so much. His version of the Joker was crazy and diabolical, but most of all believable. It's rare that someone can pull off a character that is as terrifying. That is not to discount all the other outstanding performances in this film. Everyone was on their mark. This didn't feel like a ridiculous superhero movie. The characters actually felt real for a change.

7: The Host (2006). I enjoyed monster movies when I was a child. While leafing through an issue of Fangoria one day, I saw an article on The Host. I rarely read Fangoria these days as they tend to be overly biased on their film coverage, writing only about mainstream horror movies. In this particular issue, they covered this little-known Korean monster movie.

The Host was shown under limited release in the US. When we found out it was playing at a local art house theater, we had to take advantage of viewing it on a big screen.

This movie has it all: a unique monster, believable characters, humor, and tension. This, folks, is the best monster movie I have ever seen. While the creature in the flick doesn't do the building stomping or mega monster fighting à la Godzilla, it does seem plausible and very real.

6: Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001-2003). I did not read the books before seeing these films, but I was a Peter Jackson fan before this trilogy came out. Brain Dead (Dead Alive) and The Frighteners rank high on my short list of all time favorite films.

When I heard that PJ was taking on a very large and serious project like LotR, I was surprised, but most of all I was uncertain how it would turn out. Much to my and the rest of the world's surprise, it turned out better than anyone could have hoped (especially the studios that turned him down LOL!).

I love fantasy and I LOVE these films. Great story, thanks to Tolkien, and wonderful visuals by a relatively unheard of studio at the time, Weta. One could easily call these films the Star Wars of modern times; epic in every way, e.g., story, budget, influence, technology.

5: Sin City (2005). Style and substance. Normally those two don't go together very easy, especially in the world of big explosions and pretty CGI. Robert Rodriguez always has a flair about his movies and that didn't stop with Sin City. This movie is best described as film noir meets ultra violence.

Sin City is violent, gritty, violent, stylistic, violent did I mention violent? The violence in this film is very over the top, yet oh so entertaining. Based on the comic series of the same name by Frank Miller, who also co-directed the film with Robert Rodriguez, the movie is faithful to the source material.

4: Shaun of the Dead (2004). Many zombie movies came out over the decade. While the zombie fan in me thinks that is great, the film buff in me knows that means there are bound to be a lot of stinkers. Shaun is the cream of the crop. This gem of a film pulls off what few can, the horror comedy.

This movie is a great commentary of the way we walk through our day like zombies, while being very witty and downright horrific (in a good way). Simon Pegg is great as the Every Man stuck in a boring job with relationship problems. The characters in this movie feel like people you could very well meet on the street.

3: Clerks 2 (2006). Kevin Smith goes back to the well for this raunchy comedy and I hope he keeps going back. I love comedies, but I'm also very fickle when it comes to them. Rarely do they make a lasting impression on me or make me chuckle more than a few times throughout the film. Clerks 2 breaks that mold. I laughed so hard in the theater that at one point my side actually hurt. No kidding! That, folks, never happens to me, well except the time I saw The Kids in the Hall live, but that is for another time.

Dante, Randall, and the gang are back, and the wit is just as sharp as ever. The humor isn't for the feint of heart or the prudish. Nothing is sacred in this film, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings...nothing. Every time I watch Clerks 2, I laugh, despite having watched it at least 20 times.

2: Inglourious Basterds (2009). I like World War 2 movies, pure and simple. When I first heard about this movie, I had mixed emotions. While I like a fair bit of films directed and/or written by Quentin Tarantino, I also dislike several. I took the plunge and saw this in the theater, and couldn't be happier. The movie gets better with multiple viewings.

Inglourious Basterds has all the trademarks of Tarantino flicks in spades: homages to older films and directors, violence, and a lot of dialog.

The movie has very little in common with the 70's Italian film it takes its name from, other than being an exploitation flick set during the European Theater of World War 2. If you're a fan of war movies like The Dirty Dozen and Kelly's Heroes, you'll love this movie.

Look out for Christoph Waltz at Oscar time. If there is any justice in this world, he will win one for his portrayal of Col. Hans Landa.

1: Band of Brothers (2001). While this is technically an HBO mini-series, it stills ranks number 1 on my list of movies. This is MY list, after all, so deal with it. Few movies or series make me want to watch them again the second they end. This is one of them.

Produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg and running over a span of 10 episodes, the story is about the men of the 101st Airborne, Company E, during the European Theater of World War 2. The series starts with a flashback of the company during boot camp, continues to the night landing on the eve of the Normandy Invasion, and ends with the take over of the Eagle's Nest, the final holdout of Adolph Hitler.

The performances are top notch and the emotional power is amazing and the production is stunning. If there was only one war movie/series to watch all decade, this would be it. Make sure to have tissues on hand for episode 9, as it covers the death camps.

Next year, The Pacific comes out on HBO. The series will be similar to Band of Brothers, but will cover the Japanese Theater. I can't wait! If it is half as good as Band of Brothers, I'll be pleased.

- Bug

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