Anyways - the oughts. The decade following the best ever year in film (no, it wasn’t 1939, it was 1999, but that’s another blog piece altogether).
Yes, there are some films I still haven’t seen from this decade (25th Hour, Lantana, Half Nelson, Elephant, Cache, There Will Be Blood, Hunger, Old Joy etc.), but I think it’s safe to say I’ve seen a fairly sizable chunk of major releases.
A couple of notes about the list. I’ve separated them out into groups of 20, but within those divisions, they are listed alphabetically. I could barely settle on fifths. I couldn’t possibly rank all 100. I’d be stuck in perpetual indecision. Yes, my write-ups from 2009 are repeated. It’s my writing. I can do that.
While I whine and moan about the Academy giving short shrift to anything but serious, important dramas, nearly the entire top 40 is just that. What can I say? Either I’ve been brainwashed into thinking serious means good, or we just had a particularly good decade for drama. While some of the other films have shifted from second to third or fifth to fourth, the top 20 is pretty set for me. They’re just the movies that spoke to me the most and that I think can reasonably argued to be the best.
One would think I could just put together a top 10 list for each year, but it hasn’t worked out that way. Turns out I did not care much for films made in 2000 (3) or 2004 (5) and 2006 and 2007 were the best years in film for me (with 16 each) followed closely by 2003 (15). [Oscar winners for each of those years; 2000 – Gladiator, ugh, 2003 – Return of the King, 2004 – Million Dollar Baby, 2006 – The Departed, 2007 – No Country for Old Men).
Number of times Sam Rockwell appears in the top 100: 4
Number of foreign films: approximately 29 (some of the British ones iffy as to who was the majority producer, so it’s a rough guesstimate)
Number of animated films: 7 (that includes Mirrormask, and excludes ones with only scenes of animation, like Hedwig and Across the Universe).
Number of times Christian Bale appears: 6. Trufax.
The filmmakers that really stand out from this decade? Christopher Nolan (Memento, Batman, and the Prestige), Peter Jackson (LotR and King Kong), Danny Boyle (28 Days Later, Sunshine, Slumdog Millionaire), the Coens (O Brother Where art Thou, No Country for Old Men, A Serious Man), and Charlie Kaufman (Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Adaptation, Eternal Sunshine, Synecdoche
And seeing as most of the top 20 are notable for gorgeous camera work, a quick note on cinematography. This was the decade in which we lost Conrad Hall (Road to Perdition, American Beauty), Roger Deakins continued his rise to preeminence (O Brother Where Art Thou, the Man Who Wasn’t There, Jarhead, No Country for Old Men, the Assassination of Jesse James, the Reader, A Serious Man), Emmanuel Lubezki continued doing incredible work (Y tu Mama Tambien, the New World, Children of Men – my favorite of his, Sleepy Hollow, missed the decade by a year – and fun fact, Roger Deakins was DP for the New York bits), Wally Pfister worked as Christopher Nolan’s DP, giving each of his films their distinctive look (Memento, Insomnia, Batman Begins, the Prestige, the Dark Knight, and Inception due next year), Seamus McGarvey not only did great work on the Hours, but was responsible for the jaw-dropping tracking shot in Atonement which was the only camera work more noted than Children of Men this decade, Barry Ackroyd shot both the Hurt Locker and the Wind that Shakes the Barley and finally, Dion Beebe did amazing work on Memoirs of a Geisha (which mostly had cinematography going for it), Chicago and Equilibrium. Are there any women on that list? Nooooo… Because no matter how much you think directing is a boys club, cinematography is worse. Anyways…
Today's Section? The honorable mentions. We shall start at the bottom and work our way up, thus increasing antici....pation till the top bracket [for all two of you out there].
Honorable mentions, or, good flicks to add to your netflix queue; Wristcutters: A Love Story, Igby Goes Down, Kiss kiss bang bang, The Lookout, Grindhouse, Wanted, Sin City, Kill Bill, Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India, Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, A Single Man, Fish Tank (These last 3 may eventually make it onto the top 100 list, Fish Tank in particular being wildly brilliant, but since I just saw them, the proximity might be currently skewing me towards them)