Archive for top 10 films

The Best Films of the Decade

Posted in film, Lists with tags , , , , , , , , on June 24, 2010 by N.W. Douglas

I don’t know why it happens this way.  I try to put together a “Best of …” list through methodical and reasonable means.  I let it stew for month after month, taking the time every once in a very long while to try and find spots for my new darlings and justify the ones that stubbornly hang onto their spots, all the while never making much actual progress towards finishing it.

And then, somehow, usually at 2:00 AM on a night that I really have to be asleep, everything falls into place.  The final list reveals itself to me in the dark, and I go scrambling for my notebook and pen.  That’s how it happened with my first All Time Favourites List, which (completely unexpectedly) solidified one night in December, and now it has happened once more with my long-frustrated attempts to figure out my absolute favourite films of the last ten years.

What sets these films apart?  They all have one thing in common:  My experiences of watching these films went deeper than any other experiences of films made between January 1, 2000 and December 31, 2009.  By “deeper,” I mean this: of the responses that plenty of good and great films from this period have stimulated within me – passion, worship, reflection, revelation, a heightened awareness of being alive – everything that passes between the viewer and the screen, and remains with the viewer for the rest of their lives; the richest and most powerful of these exchanges found me while sitting and watching each of these ten films, and realizing in real-time or soon thereafter, that something truly amazing was before me, and changing me.  All of these films strike me as vitally alive in ways that their contemporaries are not.  All of these films have blessed me richly.

My ten favourite films of the Aughts:

1. Children of Men (Cuaron, 2006)

2. Munich (Spielberg, 2005)

3. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (Jackson, 2003)

4. Birth (Glazer, 2004)

5. Sophie Scholl: The Final Days (Rothemund, 2005)

6. Moolaade (Sembene, 2004)

7. Speed Racer (Wachowskis, 2008)

8. The Twilight Samurai (Yamada, 2003)

9. Silent Light (Reygadas, 2008)

10. Once (Carney, 2007)

Too Good To Be a Runner-up, But I’m Not Sure If I’m Ready For It To Be on the Big List:

  • The Gleaners and I (Varda, 2000)

Runners-Up:

  • The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford (Dominik, 2007)
  • Gosford Park (Altman, 2002)
  • Grizzly Man (Herzog, 2005)
  • Hero (Yimou, 2004)
  • A History of Violence (Cronenberg, 2005)
  • I’m Not There (Haynes, 2007)
  • In Bruges (McDonagh, 2008)
  • Public Enemies (Mann, 2009)
  • Ratatouille (Bird, 2007)
  • There Will Be Blood (Anderson, 2007)

I hope to come back and elaborate on my reasons for these choices, but I’m away for most of this week for my brother’s wedding and need to keep this brief.  I’m very happy with this list, though.  It will be revised in the years to come; I’ve only scratched the surface of this past decade’s great cinema.  Several of my top picks are in need of revisiting, but the strength of their first viewings, years ago in some cases, remain too powerful to ignore. Until the next batch of great discoveries, these will do nicely.

Image above from Birth: arguably my single favourite shot of the decade.

“There’s enough C-4 on this thing to put a hole in the world!” or, My Favourite Films: Short Version

Posted in Miscellaneous, Reviews - Film with tags , , , , on December 2, 2009 by N.W. Douglas

I don’t know how I found the moment of insight or firmness of will to actually jot down an ordered list of my favourite films, but it did happen, last night, at 3:40 am.  And looking back on it 24 hours later, I’m only waffling on a few titles’ inclusion and placement.  I’m posting this because A) my Decade list is proving difficult to compile, and I’m still too busy with schoolwork to really get into the meat of the matter and B) I’d like to get a record of my favourites out now, because it will probably slightly change tomorrow, and the day after that, and so on (though the top five remain pretty consistent, year to year).  I may as well get the first real iteration out while I’m happy with it.

Here they are, sans explanation:

1. The Lord of the Rings (Peter Jackson, 2001-2003)

2. On The Waterfront (Elia Kazan, 1954)

3. Some Like It Hot (Billy Wilder, 1959)

4. Ran (Akira Kurosawa, 1985)

5. Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola, 1979)

6. The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Gary Trousdale, Kirk Wise, 1996)

7. M (1931, Fritz Lang)

8. Children of Men (Alfonso Cuaron, 2006)

9. Airplane (Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, Jerry Zucker, 1980)

10. Speed (Jan De Bont, 1994)

And eleven more:

11. The Insider (Michael Mann, 1999)

12. Casablanca (Michael Curtiz, 1942)

13. The Third Man (Carol Reed, 1949)

14. The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola, 1972)

15. Blade Runner/Kingdom of Heaven (Ridley Scott, 1982 & 2005)

16. Minority Report/Munich (Steven Spielberg, 2002 & 2005)

17. Mr. Smith Goes To Washington (Frank Capra, 1939)

18. North By Northwest (Alfred Hitchcock, 1959)

19. Once Upon A Time In The West (Sergio Leone, 1968)

20. Star Trek: First Contact (Jonathan Frakes, 1996)

21. Ronin (John Frankenheimer, 1998)

Also, in alphabetical order:

The Adventures of Robin Hood (Michael Curtiz, 1938)

A Man For All Seasons (Fred Zinneman, 1966)

Black Hawk Down (Ridley Scott, 2001)

From Russia With Love (Terence Young, 1963)

Glory (Edward Zwick, 1989)

Mean Streets (Martin Scorsese, 1973)

Serpico (Sidney Lumet, 1973)

Sophie Scholl: The Final Days (Marc Rothemund, 2005)

Three Kings (David O. Russell, 1999)

The Virgin Spring (Ingmar Bergman, 1960)

So many more could be up there, but these are the films I find myself returning to, year after year.  To be sure, I’ve only included films that I’ve had at least one year to contemplate after viewing, with two exceptions: The Third Man, which I viewed this summer and if the just-out-of-print Criterion DVD that just arrived at my door this morning is any indication, has already worked itself into my system as an all-timer (Thank you, Barnes & Noble!), and The Virgin Spring, also a summer discovery, of which I was lucky to co-present a screening to some of my fellow churchgoers.

Essays await.  In the spirit of my #1 pick, let us plow on through the night and at dawn, look to the east…

Richard Corliss and Speed Racer

Posted in News with tags , , , on December 9, 2008 by N.W. Douglas

To my utter surprise and delight, TIME’s Richard Corliss has named Speed Racer in his list for the top 10 films of 2008

The Wachowskis’ ill-fated return to directing after a break of a few years, Speed Racer gave me one of the best movie-going experiences of 2008.  I will write more about this when I compile my own list for the year, but for now, I’m just tickled.