Friday, November 13

The CDP's Top 30 Movies Of The Decade (5-1).

"So you lie to yourself to be happy. There's nothing wrong with that. We all do it."
- Memento

Here we are; the conclusion to the Film portion of the CDP Decade In Review, and the selections for my five favorite films of the decade. Enjoy.

Before we get into the Top 5, I will be crowning the Actor/Actress Of The Decade. I wanted to take a second to recognize an actor or actress that had an amazing decade, raked in a ton of cash for themselves and their respective studios, made some great movies, and also someone that seems to be universally praised. This decision took me less than three seconds.

Actor Of The Decade - Johnny Depp

Honestly, has any actor had a better decade than Johnny Depp? The man's films have grossed over 2 billion dollars, he's starred in over 20 films over the past 10 years, girls love him, guys love him; he's one of the few actors on this Earth who's movies you'll see based on his presence alone. The man owns an island. His Pirates Of The Caribbean trilogy was a success in every facet of the definition; Depp is one of these rare acting talents that can seemingly do everything. Therefore, he is bestowed the honor of Actor Of The Decade. Your statuette is in the mail.

#5 – The Ring

The Ring was an anomaly in nearly every regard. For one, it spearheaded a massive movement when it came to American remakes of Japanese horror films (The Grudge, Dark Water, Pulse, One Missed Call, Shutter and The Eye, just to name a few). However, what sets The Ring apart- and what will probably get me slaughtered by J-Horror fanboys- is that the remake was better than the original. Gore Verbinski did it right; it was masterfully shot, masterfully marketed and genuinely scary. Don't get me wrong, I love the original (I own two different copies, actually), I just believe that The Ring was one of those rare moments that only added positively to the original (despite weak casting, which I fully admit).

Also, The Ring earned some massive cash (it earned over 8 million in just two weeks in Japan, compared to the total 6 million that the original made), started a new sub-genre in Hollywood, and essentially changed the way that horror movies have been filmed in America ever since. Easily the scariest mainstream film of the decade, The Ring has arguably done everything it needed to do to become an instant classic.

#4 – Fahrenheit 9/11

"While Bush was busy taking care of his base and professing his love for our troops, he proposed cutting combat soldiers' pay by 33% and assistance to their families by 60%. He opposed giving veterans a billion dollars more in health care benefits, and he supported closing veteran hospitals. He tried to double the prescription drug costs for veterans and opposed full benefits for part-time reservists. And when Staff Sergeant Brett Petriken from Flint was killed in Iraq on May 26th, the army sent his last paycheck to his family, but they docked him for the last five days of the month that he didn't work because he was dead."

Had John Kerry won the 2004 Presidential Election, Fahrenheit 9/11 would have been #1 on my list for global impact alone. But he didn't, so I didn't. When this film was released, I was 22 years old, on the verge of voting for only the second time in my life, and as you could imagine, I was pretty fired up. We all were; the 2004 Presidential Election was the craziest, most larger-than-life piece of history we had ever seen on a political scale up to that point. Everyone had an opinion, nobody was playing nice, and it felt as if almost everything was riding on either A) Getting this dude out of office, or B) Making sure this dude could finish the job that he started.

In the end, we got neither. If what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, opponents of George W. Bush became superheroes on November 2, 2004. It's a shock I can't time-travel or reverse the orbit of the planet to stop a terrorist attack.

It's no secret that I never liked Bush. To this day, the mere sight of that guy in the luxury box of a baseball game makes me want to learn kickboxing in the rare circumstance I could meet him in person and roundhouse kick his head off. But in retrospect, I never liked John Kerry, either. And you know what? In 2000, I wasn't even sure that Al Gore was the guy to take me to the Promised Land. The only guy I ever voted for that I actually respected is the man that's currently in office. So often, we're fed a two-party shit sandwich, and the only thing we can do is take a bite out of the side that stinks the least. But what can you do? Not vote? Go third-party?

I'm always stunned by the difference in standards that we've given to Barack Obama in contrast to George W. Bush. By the time Bush left office, our economy was obliterated, we were fighting two wars and the shadow of 9/11 was still fairly heavy on our minds. And now, just a little over one year in the term of Obama, there's a fairly loud buzz concerning why everything isn't awesome again, and what's taking him so damn long.

Perhaps this is because we expect such big things from him. If you're a detractor of Obama, you'd claim that you merely want him to keep all of the grandiose promises he made during the campaign. If you're me, however, you're patient enough to give the man some time, and take a little bit of solace in the fact that he's trying, which is something I never saw nor felt in eight full years of Bush's tenure. Obama inherited a house that was chock-full of feral cats and soiled food that had been breeding and rotting for nearly a decade; don't fault the man if the place still smells like piss a year after he signed the lease, know what I mean?

#3 – No Country For Old Men

Getting back to instant classics, it seems that the Coen Brothers are capable of nothing less than perfection. It seems that since 1984, we could always expect another amazing film by these guys every two years. Borrowing heavily on Hitchcock and adding their own genius through dialogue, casting and location, the Coen Brothers represent that rare talent that you wish could be bottled and saved for future generations.

No Country For Old Men instantly reminded me of Fargo before I even watched it. Fargo (probably my #2 favorite film of all-time) was slightly more lighthearted, where No Country was pitch-black and nearly hopeless. The 2007 Academy Award winner for Best Picture, No Country introduced us to the Hannibal Lecter of the 21st Century with Anton Chigurh, played masterfully by Javier Bardem (who also netted an oscar). Personally, I found myself captivated by the understated-everyman performance of Josh Brolin; following him around felt like being in real danger, and- as we see as the film moves along- these feelings are understandable.

One of the best compliments I can give to any director is to say that their films always feel relevant and I could watch them a dozen times in a row without getting sick of them. With the Coens, and No Country For Old Men in particular, this proclamation is easy to bestow. The universe they create is brilliant, the story they tell is as deep as anything they've ever written, and No Country For Old Men will always be remembered as one of the best dramas of the last decade.

#2 – The Dark Knight

(This is what I wrote immediately after viewing The Dark Knight in July of 2008:)

It doesn't happen very often, but every once in a great while, Hollywood and the mainstream get something right. Absolutely, 100%, right-jab-straight-into-the-pant-bulge spot-on. I can say without a shred of uncertainty that The Dark Knight is one of those rare moments.

For the first time in over a decade, the biggest and most lucrative movie on Earth is also the best and most worthy of praise. The Dark Knight is nearly perfect; a film that is so above and beyond any 'Superhero' or 'Comic Book' film that it's almost an insult to call it one. Christopher Nolan and his ensemble cast of performers created a picture that, while I'm sure it will receive one or two, should never be followed by another sequel under any circumstances. They've put the finishing touches on a once-tanking franchise by devising the most perfect send-off of all-time; a movie that is on par with Titanic and the LOTR trilogy in terms of its cinematic experience and brilliance. It deserves to be followed-up by nothing; it's magnitude will be impossible to replicate in the Batman universe.

I'll say no more about the plot, scenes, tone, performances or storyline. It simply needs to be seen, and apparently, it's been seen by quite a few people, smashing opening weekend all-time box office records (suck it, Spider-Man 3!). The IMAX footage is breathtaking, Chicago as Gotham City is beautifully filmed, and Oscar nominations will surely follow for Heath Ledger and various other cinematic creations spotlighted in The Dark Knight. I'm also extremely proud of Christopher Nolan; a guy that once shot Following for a few thousand dollars is now at the helm of a film that could gross over a billion dollars. Good for him; he deserves it.

I'm fresh out of adjectives and descriptive paragraphs, so I'll close the book on this rant by posting the following photo, which accurately represents my unspoken feelings towards The Dark Knight:

And you know what? I still feel the same way.

#1 – Memento

When I started compiling this list, I didn't think that Memento would place very highly on the list. In a decade that saw blockbuster smashes, critical masterpieces and two Jackass movies, it seemed that this little psychological character piece would slip through the cracks and be forgotten. But as I started re-watching movies and doing research, I began to remember not only how perfectly original Memento was, but how nothing else this decade came close to matching its creativity and brilliance. Eventually, there was nothing more interesting, entertaining, enthralling and mesmerizing than Memento this decade.

The story alone was special. The way that it was shot was unlike anything ever seen before. The way that it ended threw yet another monkey wrench of a mindscrew into the mix. There were plenty of good movies released this decade, yet not many of them could raise such philosophical, ethical, psychological and moral discussions. Nothing was this deep. Nothing was this interesting, yet it still captured the noir-elements from which Christopher Nolan found his roots. The fact that Christopher Nolan would go on to create one of the biggest films of all-time (with The Dark Knight) is wonderfully fitting and deserving. He's a genius, plain and simple, and Memento is my favorite film of the decade.

Sound off in the comments section, rake my tastes mercilessly over the coals and enjoy your weekend. On Monday, the CDP Decade In Review begins a week of hodgepodge, miscellany and general flim-flammery. Tally-ho!

I still haven't seen nor will I ever see The Dark Knight.
Thank you for your input.
"it seems that the Coen Brothers are capable of nothing less than perfection."

Have you sat through "Burn After Reading"?

The only three movies I haven't seen on your list is Frailty, Monster House, and Paranormal Activity. Also i have to admit I would have cheated when putting this list together and put the Batman movies, Christopher Guess movies, and Moore movies together.... I unlike you am a flat out cheating son of a bitch.

Also I completely agree with Memento. Just pure brilliance.

A couple of movies that I think should have been listed and wanted to know your thoughts on them:

-The Departed
-Mystic River

And I have a soft spot for Million Dollar Baby... It made me a weepy pile of shit when I saw it in the theaters until I walked out and saw Jon Lovitz waiting for his wife/girlfriend to come out of the bathroom. Seeing Lovitz can just cheer anyone up.

And no Apatow/Comedy movie from that vein? Anchorman perhaps?
Cargirl--you're cheating yourself. See the movie.
The Ring? Mehhhhhh. I lost interest and got really bored halfway through the first time I ever tried to watch it. And you *really* like Michael Moore, don't you? ;)

(I've never seen any of his documentaries, on the basic principal that I try not to help fund anyone's propaganda machine)

I loved - LOVED - No Country for Old Men. Javier Bardem is one sexy beast (even playing a bowl-cut sporting psychopath whose principals transcend money or drugs), and the acting in that film was amazing. Of course, it's a Coen brothers film & they have few films I'd consider "misses", plus it's based on a book written by an amazing author. (seriously - don't read The Road unless you want to be creeped out and have your heart broken to the point where you end up just wanting to lay in bed weeping for humanity...but maybe that was just me)
Why don't you love Almost Famous as much as I do?
I'm with you, Maus. Javier Bardem= RAR! Even though his character totally gave me nightmares for a week..
Momento is definitely one of my favorite films ever. I need to pick up Following; looks intriguing. I've already commented on The Dark Knight; your exhaustive praise is seconded by me. I frequent theaters on a limited scale that rivals yours, but The Dark Knight was mind-blowing on the big screen; wouldn't have missed it. Still need to see "No Country..." but am wondering if it would freak me out too much. Perhaps I'll begin with the book...
CHARLOTTE - No Country is It's really an experience. Intense, yes, but nearly a must-see.
I love the Coens.(CDP- "Fargo" is one of my faves of all time as well!)And Kevin, I enjoyed "Burn After Reading", but I'll agree with you about "The Departed", that movie is awesome.
"The Dark Knight" is so amazing. It's one of those movies that can be built up so much and not ruined. I remember when I first found out about the casting choice of Heath Ledger as the Joker, I could not even imagine it, and now I can't imagine it any other way.
CAITLIN - Absolutely well-put on The Dark Knight; we had all been waiting for it for so long, and the idea that it actually lived up to (and exceeded!) the hype was crazy.

If we ever meet up, we're going to have a killer Movie Night. Bring your Snuggie!
we're currently compiling a top 100 of the decade on our site. Theres a poll if you fancy voting for your choice. Memento would of been higher but due to it coming out at the begining of the century, didn't believe it had time to sum up the past ten year. Although Nolan has to be a candidate for director of the decade.

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