Friday, March 19, 2010

Top 50 Films of the Decade: Introduction (and the other 50)

In what I hope will be something that I can complete before I go back to school and work here is the first entry in my 'best of the decade' series. I'll unveil a new top ten with each entry. Here are my initial thoughts and 50 other films that make the back-end of a top 100. Remember, these exercises are entirely arbitrary, and I could probably find a good enough reason to reposition a lot of these choices. Feel free to discuss in the comments. Enjoy.

I don't feel like I can put some of my favorite films of the last ten years in here that were released during an entirely different decade. I'm speaking specifically here to Apocalypse Now Redux and Army of Shadows, both of which got theatrical releases the last ten years; also, I can't seem to find a place for Russian Ark or Grindhouse. Two very different films, sure, but they both qualify more as experiences than anything else, and they both have very distinct and different feels to them than all of the other 50 films on this list. Russian Ark with its single take is definitely more than a gimmick, and Grindhouse was one of the most surreal experiences for this fan of grindhouse cinema. Certainly the two films within Grndhouse Planet Terror and Death Proof – can be separated and reviewed as singular films, but I think doing that is to miss the point of what Tarantino and Rodriguez were going for here, and the only way I can certainly review the film is as the experience in the theater – fake trailers and all – that it was meant to be. So, these four films (I'm sure there are others, but I wanted to single these out) deserve special mention as I unveil my list.

This list was a lot of fun to compile. I hope it sparks some debate. This was a good decade for American film, and you're going to see a lot of it on here, but I also have to admit that I was extremely out of the loop of world cinema for the early part of this decade. If you don't see a film on this list there's a good chance that I haven't seen it…or I just didn't like it. Discuss…

Here's the other 50 (100-51)

100 – Where the Wild Things Are (Spike Jonze)

99 – The Life Aquatic (Wes Anderson)

98 – All the Real Girls (David Gordon Green)

97 – Heist (David Mamet)

96 – Knocked Up (Judd Apatow)

95 – The Darjeeling Limited (Wes Anderson)

94 – Gone Baby Gone (Ben Affleck)

93 – The Limits of Control (Jim Jarmusch)

92 – Ocean's Twelve (Steven Soderbergh)

91 – Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgandy (Adam McKay)

90 – The Contender (Rod Lurie)

89 – Wet Hot American Summer (David Wain)

88 – Sexy Beast (Jonathan Glazer)

87 – Solaris (Steven Soderbergh)

86 – Syriana (Stephen Gaghan)

85 – The 40 Year-Old Virgin (Judd Apatow)

84 – I'll Sleep When I'm Dead (Mike Hodges)

83 – The Ice Harvest (Harold Ramis)

82 – The Proposition (John Hillcoat)

81 – Cache (Michael Haneke)

80 – The Man on the Train (Patrice Leconte)

79 – Million Dollar Baby (Clint Eastwood)

78 – Lord of War (Andrew Niccol)

77 – High Fidelity (Stephen Frears)

76 – Almost Famous (Cameron Crowe)

75 – Black Hawk Down (Ridley Scott)

74 – Bubble (Steven Soderbergh)

73 – The Lookout (Scott Frank)

72 – The Orphanage (Juan Antonio Bayona)

71 – Redbelt (David Mamet)

70 – Inland Empire (David Lynch)

69 – Adventureland (Greg Motolla)

68 – Vanilla Sky (Cameron Crowe)

67 – Open Range (Kevin Costner)

66 – Volver (Pedro Almodovar)

65 – Breach (Billy Ray)

64 – The Aviator (Martin Scorsese)

63 – Ghost World (Terry Zwigoff)

62 – Femme Fatale (Brian De Palma)

61 – A Serious Man (Coen Brothers)

60 – Wendy and Lucy (Kelly Richardt)

59 – The Pledge (Sean Penn)

58 – Far From Heaven (Todd Haynes)

57 – The Hurt Locker (Kathryn Bigelow)

56 – Northfork (The Polish Brothers)

55 – I Heart Huckabees (David O. Russell)

54 – Disgrace (Steven Jacobs)

53 – Adaptation (Spike Jonze)

52 – No Man's Land (Danis Tanovic)

51 – Michael Clayton (Tony Gilroy)


  1. #59... you mean THE PLEDGE?

    Nice start, can't wait to see your next 10.

  2. Tony:

    That's why you should never attempt to blog while watching the NCAA basketball tournament. Nice catch.

    Thanks for the comment.

  3. Few I can really strongly disagree with - some a little higher, some a little lower. I gave Open Range a miss - worth a visit then?

    Didn't care for The Lookout - surprised Adventureland is in there but it's not a horrible surprise...

    Nice to see a fellow The Man on the Train admirer - did you really enjoy Gone Baby Gone that much?!

    And surely Hidden has to be higher!:)

  4. Ah Man on the Train, just one masterpiece in a career that has been full of great, original, exciting films. Some suprising choices here, but the one that is most pleasantly so is Northfork, which I think is a very special film that I wish more people would have hunted to see. On that note, I also loved the Polish Bros. Astronaut Farmer for many of the same reasons that I loved NorthFork.

    Can't wait for the next installment. There were so many great movies that it will be interesting to see which made the cut. Can I assume, based on the conversation on the PDL post that Saraband will be making an appearance?

  5. Burning Reels:

    Thanks for the comment. Perhaps I'm missing something...but what is it you're referring to when you say "Hidden"...?

    Glad to see you love The Man on the Train, of my favorite filmmakers.

    I love love love Adventureland and think it's probably the best of its ilk to be released since The 40 Year-Old Virgin. And yes, I really did love Gone Baby Gone -- warts and all -- that much.

    Thanks for checking this out.

  6. Mike:

    I too love the Polish brothers. I actually never got around to seeing The Astronaut Farmer. I'll have to give it a try some night.

    I', also glad to see you too love Leconte's films. A true underrated master.

    Hmmm...looking at my list I see I don't have Saraband on there, and I don't remember thinking it was great at the time I watched it. It's memorable because it gives closure to the story of Johan and Marianne, and it's Bergman's final film; however, I didn't have any other TV films on here and I just don't remember enough about it to place it in the top 50. I know shouldn't hold the fact that it was made for TV against it, but perhaps it should be added to that short list of films that were more memorable "experiences" than anything else.

    Thanks for checking this out and for the comment!

  7. Nice list already! And that makes me wonder how enticing the top 50 might be :)

    I really liked your including some good and solid entertainers albeit underrated movies in the list like Darjeeling Limited, Ice Harvest, High Fidelity, etc. Okay, I might have place Proposition & No Man's Land slightly higher, but then this is your list and that would be my list.

    I hope to come up with my list soon. Until then, looking forward to knowing which movies constitute your top 50.

  8. Shubhajit:

    That is the great things about these lists, isn't it? My biggest fear is that I'm going to get done with this list and then inexplicably leave something off just because it's hard to keep all of these films organized, hehe.

    Thanks for the kind words and I'm glad you're intrigued by the list.

  9. I know very little of Northfork - one to add to the list?


  10. Burning Reels:

    Gotcha. I wasn't making that connection for some reason.'s a great movie, and like I said earlier, on any given day this whole list could be jumbled around.

  11. Wow, I was surprised to see ALMOST FAMOUS and MICHAEL CLAYTON so far down the list. Excellent films that I would rank much higher but I am very curious to see what cracks your Top 25.

  12. J.D.:

    I'm not going to list will baffle some people. But I can only list what I feel is true for me; however, like I said in an earlier comment you could take all 100 of these films and shake them up and re-order them and I'd still think it's a good list. The numbers give you a good sense of that film's value to me, but it also is just what I was feeling at the time I compiled this list together.

  13. So glad David Mamet's Heist and Redbelt got a nod on your list though, personally, Redbelt would make my Top 50! But it's your list, not mine! Love those films. . .


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