Rankings: 2000-2009

2000 Endy Awards

1. La Commune (Paris 1871)
2. Platform
3. In the Mood for Love
4. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
5. Yi yi
6. Durian Durian
7. The Heart of the World
8. Virgin Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors
9. Time and Tide
10. The House of Mirth
11. Tears of the Black Tiger
12. Devils on the Doorstep
13. Unbreakable
14. Suzhou River
15. Wonder Boys
16. O Brother, Where Art Thou?
17. State and Main
18. Needing You. . .
19. Mission to Mars
20. Mysterious Object at Noon
21. Help!!!
22. Bring It On
23. Battle Royale
24. Almost Famous
25. Mission: Impossible 2
26. Songs from the Second Floor
27. Jiang Hu: The Triad Zone
28. Best in Show
29. Chicken Run
30. The Beach
31. The Tao of Steve
32. Jeff Buckley: Live in Chicago
33. You Can Count On Me
34. High Fidelity
35. Hamlet
36. Gladiator
37. Where the Heart Is
38. Memento
39. X-Men
40. Romeo Must Die
41. Chunhyang
42. Dancer in the Dark
43. American Psycho
44. Traffic
45. George Washington
46. Charlie’s Angels
47. Erin Brockovich
48. The Perfect Storm
49. Escaflowne: The Movie
50. Loser

2001 Endy Awards

1. Millennium Mambo
2. The Royal Tenenbaums
3. Mulholland Dr.
4. Spirited Away
5. What Time is it There?
6. Shaolin Soccer
7. The Fellowship of the Ring
8. Suicide Club
9. Pulse
10. All About Lily Chou-Chou
11. AI: Artificial Intelligence
12. Ali
13. Running Out of Time 2
14. From the Queen to the Chief Executive
15. Wet Hot American Summer
16. You Shoot, I Shoot
17. Ghosts of Mars
18. Moulin Rouge!
19. The Others
20. Hollywood Hong Kong
21. The Man Who Wasn’t There
22. Zoolander
23. If I Should Fall from Grace
24. Trouble Every Day
25. Waking Life
26. Love on a Diet
27. Black Hawk Down
28. Toutes les nuits
29. Wu Yen
30. Vanilla Sky
31. Hit Team
32. Amélie
33. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
34. Fulltime Killer
35. Metropolis
36. Monsters, Inc.
37. The Cat’s Meow
38. Gosford Park
39. Knocking on Heaven’s Door
40. Ghost World
41. Replicant
42. The Fast and the Furious
43. In Public
44. Zu Warriors
45. Pootie Tang
46. Y tu mamá también
47. 61*
48. Ocean’s Eleven
49. Pearl Harbor
50. Spy Kids
51. Musa: The Warrior
52. Final Fantasy: the Spirits Within
53. Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back
54. A Beautiful Mind
55. Not Another Teen Movie
56. Shrek
57. American Pie 2
58. Legally Blonde
59. Bridget Jones’s Diary
60. The Condition of Dogs
61. Hannibal
62. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

2002 Endy Awards

1. Hero
2. My Left Eye Sees Ghosts
3. Punch-Drunk Love
4. On the Occasion of Remembering the Turning Gate
5. Unknown Pleasures
6. Blissfully Yours
7. Morvern Callar
8. Golden Chicken
9. Russian Ark
10. Chinese Odyssey 2002
11. Fat Choi Spirit
12. Friday Night
13. Infernal Affairs
14. The Two Towers
15. Windtalkers
16. Minority Report
17. Princess D
18. The Century of the Self
19. Resident Evil
20. Signs
21. Springtime in a Small Town
22. The 25th Hour
23. The Truth About Charlie
24. The Bourne Identity
25. Catch Me If You Can
26. Gangs of New York
27. Public Toilet
28. 8 Women
29. Adaptation
30. Attack of the Clones
31. City of God
32. 24 Hour Party People
33. Zhou Yu’s Train
34. Spider-Man
35. Far From Heaven
36. 8 Mile
37. Talk To Her
38. The Transporter
39. Bowling For Columbine
40. Spellbound
41. Face to Face
42. Confessions of a Dangerous Mind
43. About Schmidt
44. 28 Days Later
45. Solaris
46. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
47. The Business of Fancydancing
48. The Slow Century
49. Woody Allen: A Life in Film
50. Frida
51. Chicago
52. The Trials of Henry Kissinger
53. I Am Trying to Break Your Heart
54. Ice Age
55. Austin Powers: Goldmember
56. Sweet Home Alabama
57. Red Dragon

2003 Endy Awards

1. Running on Karma
2. Los Angeles Plays Itself
3. PTU
4. Goodbye, Dragon Inn
5. Last Life in the Universe
6. Kill Bill Vol. 1
7. Memories of Murder
8. Café Lumière
9. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
10. Down with Love
11. Turn Left, Turn Right
12. The Triplets of Belleville
13. Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior
14. Golden Chicken 2
15. Matrix Reloaded
16. Looking for Mr. Perfect
17. School of Rock
18. Pirates of the Caribbean
19. Looney Tunes: Back in Action
20. Jade Goddess of Mercy
21. In the Cut
22. Something’s Gotta Give
23. Drunken Monkey
24. Coffee and Cigarettes
25. Hulk
26. Infernal Affairs II
27. Masked and Anonymous
28. Return of the King
29. 2 Fast 2 Furious
30. Finding Nemo
31. Matrix Revolutions
32. The Fog of War
33. Paycheck
34. X2
35. The Mindscape of Alan Moore
36. Cinema Hong Kong
37. Lost in Translation
38. Camp
39. Wheel of Time
40. Love for all Seasons
41. Oldboy
42. The Saddest Music in the World
43. Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter. . . and Spring
44. Old School
45. Gods and Generals
46. In Hell
47. Heroic Duo
48. The Animatrix
49. A Decade Under the Influence
50. Once Upon a Time in Mexico
51. Angels in America
52. Underworld
53. The Corporation
54. Shattered Glass
55. The Smile
56. A Mighty Wind
57. Intolerable Cruelty
58. Love Actually
59. Daredevil
60. American Wedding

2004 Endy Awards

1. Tropical Malady
2. 2046
3. Throw Down
4. Kung Fu Hustle
5. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
6. Hana and Alice
7. The World
8. House of Flying Daggers
9. The Power of Nightmares
10. 20 30 40
11. Alexander
12. Kill Bill Vol. 2
13. Anchorman
14. Yesterday Once More
15. Man on Fire
16. Collateral
17. Breaking News
18. Shaun of the Dead
19. Kings and Queen
20. Love Battlefield
21. Mind Game
22. Les Pont des Arts
23. L’intrus
24. One Night in Mongkok
25. Henri Langlois: Phantom of the Cinematheque
26. Fantasia
27. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
28. The Incredibles
29. Hellboy
30. The Village
31. Spider-Man 2
32. Howl’s Moving Castle
33. Alien vs. Predator
34. Mean Girls
35. Before Sunset
36. Friday Night Lights
37. Resident Evil: Apocalypse
38. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
39. Dodgeball
40. Woman is the Future of Man
41. The Aviator
42. A Very Long Engagement
43. Dumplings
44. The Bourne Supremacy
45. I Heart Huckabees
46. Primer
47. Troy
48. In Good Company
49. The Death Curse
50. Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
51. Team America: World Police
52. Night Watch
53. Fahrenheit 9/11
54. Million Dollar Baby
55. Spartan
56. Incident at Loch Ness
57. Melinda and Melinda
58. Napoleon Dynamite
59. Closer
60. Lollilove
61. Be Here to Love Me: A Film About Townes Van Zandt
62. Starsky & Hutch
63. Win a Date with Tad Hamilton
64. Garden State
65. Ray
66. Jersey Girl
67. The Hunting of the President
68. Bush’s Brain
69. Outfoxed
70. Howard Zinn: You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train
71. King Arthur
72. Crash

2005 Endy Awards

1. Linda Linda Linda
2. The New World
3. Three Times
4. Oxhide
5. Revenge of the Sith
6. Dave Chappelle’s Block Party
7. Election
8. Tale of Cinema
9. Princess Raccoon
10. A History of Violence
11. War of the Worlds
12. The Death of Mr. Lazarescu
13. Perhaps Love
14. A Bittersweet Life
15. Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story
16. Domino
17. My Dad is 100 Years Old
18. Munich
19. Himalaya Singh
20. The 40 Year Old Virgin
21. SPL (Sha Po Lang)
22. Mutual Appreciation
23. Brick
24. Seven Swords
25. King Kong
26. Constantine
27. Broken Flowers
28. Serenity
29. The Squid and the Whale
30. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
31. The Protector
32. Grizzly Man
33. Brokeback Mountain
34. Worldly Desires
35. No Direction Home
36. Cigarette Burns
37. Good Night and Good Luck
38. Me & You & Everyone We Know
39. Shopgirl
40. Land of the Dead
41. Kingdom of Heaven
42. Sin City
43. The Aristocrats
44. Curse of the Were-Rabbit
45. The Proposition
46. Man Push Cart
47. Match Point
48. Elizabethtown
49. Sarah Silverman: Jesus is Magic
50. Batman Begins
51. Unleashed
52. One Man Band
53. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
54. V for Vendetta
55. Capote
56. 9
57. Walk the Line
58. Cache
59. Mr. and Mrs. Smith
60. Transporter 2
61. Thank You for Smoking
62. Irving Thalberg: Prince of Hollywood
63. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
64. Why We Fight
65. Memoirs of a Geisha
66. Syriana
67. Brothers Grimm
68. Reel Paradise
69. Charlie & the Chocolate Factory
70. Cry Wolf
71. The Dukes of Hazzard
72. Aeon Flux
73. Fever Pitch
74. The Chronicles of Narnia
75. Fantastic Four
76. The Legend of Zorro

2006 Endy Awards

1. The Wind that Shakes the Barley
2. Syndromes and a Century
3. Miami Vice
4. Exiled
5. Still Life
6. I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone
7. Déjà Vu
8. The Departed
9. Election 2
10. Private Fears in Public Places
11. Isabella
12. Crank
13. The Host
14. The Shopaholics
15. Flags of Our Fathers
16. Inland Empire
17. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest
18. The Anthem
19. Marie Antoinette
20. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
21. The Postmodern Life of My Aunt
22. Southland Tales
23. A Prairie Home Companion
24. Woman on the Beach
25. Paprika
26. Letters from Iwo Jima
27. Climates
28. The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift
29. Dong
30. Fay Grim
31. Belle toujours
32. Cocktail
33. Idiocracy
34. Superman Returns
35. A Scanner Darkly
36. The Devil Wears Prada
37. Rocky Balboa
38. The Fall
39. The Lady in the Water
40. Rescue Dawn
41. The Fountain
42. United 93
43. Inside Man
44. After This, Our Exile
45. Fearless
46. Leonard Cohen: Under Review: 1934-1977
47. The Break-Up
48. Mission: Impossible III
49. Wordplay
50. Summer Palace
51. Curse of the Golden Flower
52. Casino Royale
53. Children of Men
54. Borat
55. Paris je t’aime
56. The Lives of Others
57. Talladega Nights
58. The Prestige
59. Step Up
60. Clerks II
61. Snakes on a Plane
62. Pan’s Labyrinth
63. The Banquet
64. Cars
65. The TV Set
66. The Namesake
67. The Good Shepherd
68. The Black Dahlia
69. X-Men: The Last Stand
70. Friends with Money
71. I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With
72. This Film is not yet Rated
73. Little Miss Sunshine
74. Nacho Libre
75. The DaVinci Code

2007 Endy Awards

1. Flight of the Red Balloon
2. I’m Not There
3. There Will Be Blood
4. 5 Centimeters per Second
5. The Romance of Astrea and Celadon
6. My Winnipeg
7. Ratatouille
8. The Trap: What Happened to Our Dream of Freedom
9. The Sun Also Rises
10. No Country for Old Men
11. Mad Detective
12. 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days . . .
13. Zodiac
14. Resident Evil: Extinction
15. Hot Fuzz
16. You, the Living
17. Eye in the Sky
18. My Blueberry Nights
19. Grindhouse
20. The Mist
21. Boarding Gate
22. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
23. Useless
24. Spider-man 3
25. Paranoid Park
26. The Darjeeling Limited
27. Triangle
28. Sukiyaki Western Django
29. Viva
30. Chop Shop
31. Assembly
32. Flash Point
33. Chacun son cinéma
34. Lust, Caution
35. Wonderful Town
36. Encounters at the End of the World
37. Helvetica
38. Margot at the Wedding
39. Paranormal Activity
40. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End
41. Rocket Science
42. Superbad
43. Eastern Promises
44. Waitress
45. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
46. The Simpsons Movie
47. Luminous People
48. Knocked Up
49. Stardust
50. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
51. Lars and the Real Girl
52. Exodus
53. Sunshine
54. Once
55. Silent Light
56. The King of Kong
57. Hilary Hahn: A Portrait
58. Val Lewton: Man in the Shadows
59. The Rest is Silence
60. Across the Universe
61. Hot Rod
62. No End in Sight
63. The Ten
64. Juno
65. Becoming John Ford
66. Michael Clayton
67. 300
68. 3:10 to Yuma
69. Into the Wild
70. American Gangster
71. Snow Angels
72. Sicko
73. Mongol
74. Bienvenue a Cannes
75. The Bourne Ultimatum
76. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
77. In the Mood for Doyle
78. Atonement
79. Transformers
80. Spielberg on Spielberg
81. Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
82. Beowulf
83. Hitman

2008 Endy Awards

1. Love Exposure
2. Speed Racer
3. 35 Shots of Rum
4. Sparrow
5. Red Cliff
6. Tokyo Sonata
7. 24 City
8. Two Lovers
9. Sita Sings the Blues
10. WALL-E
11. A Christmas Tale
12. Happy Go Lucky
13. Rachel Getting Married
14. Night and Day
15. Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea
16. Cry Me a River
17. Still Walking
18. Summer Hours
19. You Think You’re the Prettiest, but You are the Sluttiest
20. Medicine for Melancholy
21. Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog
22. Waltz with Bashir
23. The Hurt Locker
24. Cloverfield
25. The Good, the Bad, the Weird
26. Rembrandt’s J’Accuse
27. The Beaches of Agnes
28. If You are the One
29. The Headless Woman
30. Missing
31. Me and Orson Welles
32. Tulpan
33. Ballast
34. All About Women
35. Wendy and Lucy
36. Good Cats
37. Liverpool
38. Che
39. Iron Man
40. Milk
41. Hellboy II
42. Synecdoche, New York
43. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
44. Step Up 2 The Streets
45. The Brothers Bloom
46. High Noon
47. Ong Bak 2: The Beginning
48. The Equation of Love and Death
49. Ip Man
50. Beast Stalker
51. Vampire
52. Vicky Cristina Barcelona
53. In Bruges
54. Forgetting Sarah Marshall
55. The Happening
56. The Incredible Hulk
57. Let the Right One In
58. Redbelt
59. The Clone Wars
60. Run Papa Run
61. Australia
62. Burn After Reading
63. Of Time and the City
64. Pineapple Express
65. Death Race
66. Gran Torino
67. Bigger, Stronger, Faster*
68. Linger
69. Pelléas and Mélisandre: The Song of the Blind
70. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
71. The Wrecking Crew!
72. Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist
73. Roman Polanski: Wanted & Desired
74. Anvil! The Story of Anvil
75. Slumdog Millionaire
76. Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson
77. Recount
78. Dakota Skye
79. Zack and Miri Make a Porno
80. Tropic Thunder
81. Man on Wire
82. The Dark Knight
83. Baby Mama
84. Way of Nature
85. Twilight
86. Kung Fu Panda
87. The Forbidden Kingdom
88. Thriller in Manilla
89. The Order of Myths
90. W.
91. Thou Shalt Not: Sex, Sin and Censorship in Pre-Code Hollywood
92. Frost/Nixon
93. Valkyrie
94. The Business of Being Born
95. Dear Zachary
96. Quantum of Solace
97. The Mummy 3

2009 Endy Awards

1. Oxhide II
2. It Felt Like a Kiss
3. La danse
4. Fantastic Mr. Fox
5. Wild Grass
6. Inglourious Basterds
7. Bluebeard
8. Phantoms of Nabua
9. The Limits of Control
10. Bright Star
11. Accident
12. Like You Know It All
13. Police, Adjective
14. Public Enemies
15. Written By
16. Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench
17. Eccentricities of a Blond-Haired Girl
18. Lost in the Mountains
19. 575 Castro St.
20. Valhalla Rising
21. Drag Me To Hell
22. Universal Soldier: Regeneration
23. Vengeance
24. A Letter to Uncle Boonmee
25. Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans
26. The Hole
27. A Serious Man
28. Up
29. Love Aaj Kal
30. Star Trek
31. Adventureland
32. Around a Small Mountain
33. Summer Wars
34. In the Loop
35. Gamer
36. Air Doll
37. Alamar
38. Visage
39. Haiku
40. Woman on Fire Looks for Water
41. Looking for Eric
42. The Secret of Kells
43. I Am Love
44. (500) Days of Summer
45. In Search of Beethoven
46. Emma
47. Sophie’s Revenge
48. The Taking of Pelham 123
49. Bodyguards & Assassins
50. Unmade Beds
51. Moon
52. The Exploding Girl
53. Coraline
54. Mother
55. Hamlet
56. Black Dynamite
57. Overheard
58. Micmacs
59. Crank: High Voltage
60. Double Take
61. The September Issue
62. The Art of the Steal
63. The Young Victoria
64. Sweetgrass
65. Funny People
66. My Queen Karo
67. Everyone Else
68. Fast & Furious
69. Broken Embraces
70. Of Love and Other Demons
71. Ninja
72. Up in the Air
73. ZMD: Zombies of Mass Destruction
74. For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism
75. Food, Inc
76. An Education
77. Avatar
78. Where the Wild Things Are
79. 1939: Hollywood’s Greatest Year
80. Watchmen
81. The Cove
82. District 9
83. Kamui
84. Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould
85. Harry Potter VI
86. Queer China, ‘Comrade’ China
87. Humpday
88. Wolverine

Movies of the 2000s

Over at the Metro Classics website, Mike and I wrote about our combined Top 72 films of the decade, check it out. Here’s my personal Top 100.

1. Millennium Mambo
2. The New World
3. Kill Bill
4. The Wind that Shakes the Barley
5. The Lord of the Rings
6. The Royal Tenenbaums
8. Inglourious Basterds
9. In the Mood for Love
10. Punch-Drunk Love
11. Mulholland Dr.
12. I’m Not There
13. There Will Be Blood
14. 2046
15. House of Flying Daggers
16. Three Times
17. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
18. Last Life in the Universe
19. Sita Sings the Blues
20. My Winnipeg
21. Ratatouille
22. Still Life
23. No Country for Old Men
24. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days. . .
25. Spirited Away

26. Oxhide II
27. Goodbye, Dragon Inn
28. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
29. Tropical Malady
30. The World
31. Miami Vice
32. Hero
33. Fantastic Mr. Fox
34. The Limits of Control
35. What Time is it There?
36. Yi yi
37. Platform
38. Grindhouse
39. Climates
40. The Death of Mr. Lazarescu
41. The Departed
42. Syndromes and a Century
43. I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone
44. Morvern Callar
45. Kings and Queen
46. Flight of the Red Balloon
47. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
48. Almost Famous
49. Howl’s Moving Castle
50. Waltz With Bashir

51. Like You Know It All
52. AI: Artificial Intelligence
53. Anchorman
54. A History of Violence
55. Unbreakable
56. Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter. . . and Spring
57. Kung Fu Hustle
58. Sparrow
59. Blissfully Yours
60. Happy-Go-Lucky
61. My Blueberry Nights
62. Written By
63. O Brother Where Art Thou?
64. Mad Detective
65. Master and Commander
66. A Christmas Tale
67. Eccentricities of a Blond-Hair Girl
68. Woman on the Beach
69. Friday Night
70. Up
71. Amèlie
72. Grizzly Man
73. Rachel Getting Married
74. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
75. Infernal Affairs

76. The Incredibles
77. Talk To Her
78. Café Lumière
79. Two Lovers
80. Far From Heaven
81. Paranoid Park
82. Chop Shop
83. Munich
83. A Prairie Home Companion
84. All About Lily Chou-chou
85. Wet Hot American Summer
86. Bluebeard
87. Dave Chappelle’s Block Party
88. Signs
89. 8 Women
90. Rescue Dawn
91. The 25th Hour
92. Minority Report
94. City of God
95. Silent Light
96. Once
97. Flags of Our Fathers
98. Cloverfield
99. Ballast
100. Election 2

Movie Roundup: This Commercial Dog Won’t Ruin My Christmas Edition

A Christmas Tale – My second Arnauld Desplechin film in a week, and I think I preferred the other (Kings and Queen), though I did like this a lot. He’s clearly a master at the film-as-novel, a genre of film that doesn’t get made much because it’s oh so hard to do correctly (Marcel Carné’s Children of Paradise is my favorite film of this type). It requires a director willing to be both patient enough to allow the characters to develop slowly without ever letting the narrative feel like it’s moving slowly. Having a cast full of great actors helps a lot, and I was glad to see most of the cast from Kings and Queen show up here: Catherine Deneuve, Emmanuelle Devos, Jean-Paul Roussillon (who shined in a small role in the other film and equally great in a larger one here as the father) and Mathieu Almaric, who I’m now convinced is one of my favorite actors working today. Desplechin uses a grab bag of cinematic tricks (irises, direct address, narration, flashbacks), but his style never felt flashy to me; it doesn’t draw attention to itself, but instead serves to make the narrative more engrossing. The #3 film of 2008.

Morvern Callar – OK, so despite my decade-plus aversion to what I thought was the essential nature of Lynne Ramsay’s films, this isn’t depressing at all. I won’t believe that about Ratcatcher, however, and I don’t think the Dardennes have a chance with me yet either. Anyway, I did like this quite a bit. What is it with Scotland and amoral anti-heroes with great soundtracks? I don’t know, but this totally reminded me of early Danny Boyle, namely Shallow Grave and Trainspotting. The colors are terrific (so much red!), and Ramsay uses blinking lights in the corner of frames as well as I’ve ever seen. I thought the plot, such as it is (a woman’s boyfriend kills himself at Christmas, so she takes credit for the novel he wrote and goes on vacation to Spain with her best friend), was kind of gimmicky and not really believable, but I didn’t really care that much. Interesting that Morvern never really does anything that’s technically immoral, if you assume there’s no afterlife. The #5 film of 2002.

Friday Night – My first Claire Denis film, and while I liked it, I don’t think I fell in love with it in the way a lot of other people did. It’s got the second best traffic jam in film history, and a wonderful dreamlike quality with a few magical moments thrown in and just enough rewinding to make you unsure of whether what you’re seeing is “really” happening or not. I understand the conceit of the two main characters (who meet in the traffic jam and spend the night together) never interacting verbally in a way that reveals anything about themselves, revealing their personalities instead through action, but I don’t know that I liked it. It created an emotional distance that for me precluded the kind of romantic feeling the film seemed to be going for. The #14 film of 2002.

Movie Roundup: Woo! Cliff Lee! Edition

Talk To Her – This was my first Pedro Almodóvar film, and I’m a bit conflicted about it. On the positive side: the colors are beautiful, the actors are excellent (Geraldine Chaplin!), the dance and film within a film sequences are both stunning and hilarious, respectively. On the negative: I don’t know what to do with the ickiness at the heart of the story. If we’re supposed to sympathize with Benigno, well . . . ew. If Benigno is supposed to somehow represent a generalized idea of how men don’t listen to women, or don’t appreciate them or ignore them, that’s both awfully cynical and insulting, if also kinda funny. Basically, I loved every part of the film that didn’t have anything to do with its story. But once Lydia’s story ended and it became all about revealing the depths of Benigno’s depravity, the movie lost its balance for me. I want to have liked this more. The #6 film of 2002.

Kings And Queen – Novelistic melodrama from director Arnauld Desplechin. Emmanuelle Devos plays an art dealer who’s father is dying. Her son (the father of whom is long dead gets along well with her ex-husband (Mathieu Amalric, excellent as always) but not her super-rich fiancee. Ex-husband, is locked up in a looney bin and may or may not be totally insane. Despite the low-grade instant netflix video (I assume) this is a beautiful film, with great performances and a fascinating approach to character. Desplechin actually succeeds in making unlikeable characters sympathetic and sympathetic characters unlikeable, all without any of the characters actually changing throughout the film, if that makes sense. Plus, it’s got “Moon River”. I love “Moon River”. The #7 film of 2004.

Wendy And Lucy – Another location-specific American indie in the same vein as Chop Shop or Ballast, and comparable in quality to those films. Michelle Williams plays a woman traveling through Oregon on her way to Alaska who stupidly attempts to shoplift some food for her dog, and even more stupidly gets sent to jail for most of a day because of it and even more stupidly has had her dog stolen while she was gone. So, those elements, fundamental to the film, didn’t really work for me. But Williams and Walter Dalton (as the Walgreen’s security guard who helps her out as much as he can, which isn’t much) are so good that they almost sold me on it. The direction, by Kelly Reichardt, is what you would expect from this kind of movie: solid, realistic, unspectacular. The ending is sad, but necessary, as Williams finally seems to realize that her plan to drive from Indiana to Alaska in an ’88 Accord probably wasn’t so wise. The #11 film of 2008.

Far From Heaven – Like Talk To Her, a movie I wanted to like more than I did. It’s a pastiche of Douglas Sirk films, with Julianne Moore and Dennis Haysbert recreating the housewife/gardener dynamic from All That Heaven Allows. Except for this film, director Todd Haynes adds the twist that the gardener is black, changing the class issues from Sirk’s film to racial ones. And, in a twist too far, he gives Moore a husband (Dennis Quaid, trying hard) who’s working on trying to not hook up with other men every chance he gets. Haynes just piles on the social issues, and the humanity gets buried behind the topicality. The movie either needed to be a lot longer, giving it a more novelistic scope (at only an hour and forty-five minutes, surely there was room for greater detail on Quaid and Moore in particular), or a lot shorter, focusing on just the Moore/Quaid or Moore/Haysbert relationship. In every other respect, the film is fantastic. The set designs are wonderful, often putting even Mad Men to shame, but the real star of the film is the lighting: deep reds and blues, gold highlights breaking through the colors, magic hour sunsets and greens for danger, it’s all so lovely. The #7 film of 2002.

My Winnipeg – I might have a new favorite Guy Maddin film. This documentary about his home town is everything I always complain that documentaries aren’t. Yeah, it’s got a lot of great stories and interesting facts and shows me a world I didn’t know all about before (but kind of did), but it does it all from an intensely personal perspective with a unique style that adds something new to the documentary form. To be specific, Maddin adds to the convention of recreations by re-enacting scenes from his own childhood in an attempt to understand his mother, and by extension his hometown (town and mother being equated right off the bat). He hires a bunch of actors to play his siblings except for his mother, who he says will play her self (she is in fact played by actress Ann Savage, from the great ultra-low budget noir Detour). It’s a particularly Maddin-esque bit of silliness that nonetheless fits the weirdness of a city that held seances in a city hall designed as the world’s largest Masonic Temple and has the highest sleepwalking rate in the world. I have no idea how many, if any of the stories Maddin tells are true or false. It doesn’t matter. I want to live in a world where it’s all true. The #5 film of 2007.

Movie Roundup: Oden’s Depressing Knees Edition

Still got that Vancouver Film Festival thing coming. In the meantime, these are the films I’ve watched to try and get my mind off of the Trail Blazers.

Bad Lieutenant: Port Of Call New Orleans – Yes, it’s weird. But it takes awhile to get there. I really liked the slow build of crazy, with Nicolas Cage starting as a relatively normal guy and just getting crazier and crazier. Around the point that he starts doing a Jimmy Stewart impression for no apparent reason, the film just takes off. In fact, I loved everything about Cage’s performance, from his hunchbacked walk to the bizarre way he totally fails to holster his gun. It’s not nearly as ambitious as Herzog’s best films, but it’s fun, intelligent storytelling and that’s good enough. Very comparable in this sense to Star Trek for this year, I think.

Silent Light – As eye-poppingly beautiful a film from director Carlos Reygadas as it’s reputed to be. It’s about a man who lives in a Mennonite (which is apparently like Amish, but with digital watches) community in Mexico. He’s having an affair and can’t tell if the affair is the work of the devil (adultery and all) or God (he’s found his true love). Mostly he just feels bad. Then something happens and the film somehow turns into Ordet. Not much happens for most of the movie, but the crisp, sharply focused compositions and ultra-realistic soundtrack keep things interesting. The #13 film of 2007.

Funny People – The most ambitious of Judd Apatow’s films and one clearly made with a lot of affection. His love of stand-up and the people that practice is readily apparent. Seth Rogen is fine as the wanna-be who becomes superstar comic Adam Sandler’s assistant (in another fine, self-deprecating performance). It still feels a bit long, like the rest of Apatow’s films, but I don’t think it’s because Sandler’s illness goes away with 40 minutes of film left. It’s a portrait of a comedian, not a portrait of a dying comedian. Janusz Kaminski’s cinematography makes it by far the best-looking Apatow film to date, at least in the areas of lighting and color. Apatow’s framing and editing is pretty much rote, however.

The Death Of Mr. Lazarescu – More clearly a dark comedy than 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days . . ., this film by director Cristi Puiu might be even better than that one at examining the little details of Romanian life. The titular Dante Lazarescu feels sick and calls for an ambulance. When it eventually shows up, the poor EMT (Mirela Cioaba) ends up spending most of the night shuttling him from hospital to hospital as everyone in town is busy dealing with the fallout from a traffic accident. The film’s focus is on the details of the case, how hospitals work and how the people who work in them are, for the most part, heroic. Lazarescu has many things wrong with him and for the first part of his odyssey everyone seems to find only one of them (though everyone is sure to scold him for his drinking). It’s an epic of a film, certainly not insignificant that at one point a nurse calls for Virgil to take Dante to see Dr. Anghel. The #4 film of 2005.

Mulholland Dr. – I don’t know that I can say anything coherent about it right now, but I loved every minute of it. Lynch’s surreal mode of filmmaking is ideal for a story about Hollywood, the Dream Factory that’s founded on people changing their identities. A world run by gangsters and cowboys where everything is recorded and everything is an illusion. Naomi Watts is as terrific as advertised, just about the cutest girl ever as Betty and then tragic and heartbreaking. The rest of the cast is very good as well (Ann Miller!). Even Billy Ray Cyrus, of all people, is hilarious. And it’s always stunning to look at: both the clean bright colors of the first half and the harsh dinginess of the second. I really like Lost Highway, but this is even better. Without a doubt one of the best of the decade. The #3 film of 2001.

Inland Empire – Yeah, I didn’t like this as much. It has a lot of great things about it: the low-grade video gives the whole thing a samizdat quality that only amps up the creepiness, Laura Dern is terrific (I never really considered Lynch an “actors director” but he consistently gets outstanding performances in his films, he should get more credit for this), I love a good Gypsy curse as much as the next guy and I like how the movie makes a kind of sense, even when I have no idea what’s going on (a Lynch trademark, I suppose). Basically, my complaint about it is that’s it’s essentially a horror movie and really good at being scary which means it’s so terrifying that I’ll probably never want to watch it again because really scary scary movies really scare me and I usually don’t enjoy being scared. Basically, mystery whores doing the Loco-Motion: Yay! Crazy deformed screamy mouth: Nay! The #16 film of 2006.

Movie Roundup: Winter Break Edition

The eighth Metro Classics series came to an end this week with a resounding success. Our first ever sold out showing made this our most profitable series ever. We’re taking a break for a couple of months, but plan to be back just before Valentine’s Day. In the meantime, we’ll continue to have new content up at that blog every week, some end of the year lists and even a combined Top 72 films of the decade. For now though, I’m going to try to get back to writing here at The End. First up is a round-up of the movies I’ve seen recently, hopefully followed by the wrap up of what we saw at this year’s Vancouver International Film Festival which has been sitting here in draft form for over two months. After that, I’d like to get back to the Movies Of The Year countdowns, which I’m aghast to realize I haven’t updated in over a year.

Wild Reeds – A very nice coming-of-age movie and an interesting contrast with American Graffiti. Both films take place at the same time, roughly 1963, but Lucas’s film is an elegy, haunted by the war and social change that’d be coming a few years later. Wild Reeds though, is haunted by the past, both the war in Algeria that comes to an end during the course of the film, but also WW2 and the factionalism of France’s postwar politics. The end of American Graffiti leaves us with the sense that this time was the best night of its characters lives, that everything would go downhill from there. Wild Reeds leaves us with the sense that the characters lives are just beginning, that the whole world has opened up to them. The two movies use some of the same rock songs on their soundtracks (“Runaway”, “Barbara Ann”, “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes”), which I think had to be intentional on director Andre Téchiné’s part. The #14 film of 1994.

Where The Wild Things Are – The Marie Antoinette of 2009. Like that film, it looks pretty, has a wacky “indie” score and is totally self-indulgent and self-aggrandizing. Unlike that film, it is suffused with what appears to be an attempt at conveying the frustrations and melancholy of childhood, but which instead comes off as self-pitying whininess. Despite all that, the thing that irritated me most about the film was fairly minor: the film’s sense of time is utterly confused. It opens with the main character outside in the snow. Later in what is apparently the same day, he runs out into a completely snow-free night. His journey to the land of the Wild Things seems to take place entirely at dawn and dusk, with no day or night in-between. And once he gets there, we follow him through the night to dawn, when he goes to sleep. When he wakes up, it is apparently dawn still, as we follow him throughout the day time. Essentially, director Spike Jonze sacrificed all notion of temporal continuity for the sake of filming only at the magic hour (and the only reason I can think of for the weirdness at the beginning is he A. wanted the main character to build a snow fort as a precursor to his later actions while B. didn’t want the audience to worry about a little kid alone in the snow at night). I know it’s a nitpick, but it drove me nuts trying to figure out when things were supposed to be happening. Sometimes, I think I’m the only person in the world who can’t stand the Spike Jonze-Sofia Coppola-Charlie Kaufman-Michel Gondry brand of hipster solipsistic aestheticism.

Spring In A Small Town – From 1948 and directed by Fei Mu, the Hong Kong Film Academy voted it the best ever Chinese language film a few years ago. I don’t know about that, but it is really good. A love triangle plays out in a bombed out post-war space, the pacing is deliberate and the compositions are simple, beautiful and rarely call attention to themselves. I don’t know if it’s this film’s influence, or simply a matter of a national style, but it obviously has a ton in common with later Chinese and Taiwanese films. The #7 film of 1948.

7th Voyage Of Sinbad – Totally entertaining film full of great Ray Harryhausen monsters. Kerwin Mathews is serviceable as the hero who is blackmailed into stealing a lamp and an egg from a cyclops in order to return his girlfriend (the stunning Kathryn Grant) to the correct size. A weird mixture of Arab and Greek mythology that is always fun. The #19 film of 1958.

Road House – Pretty good, but still trails at least Commando on my Totally Awesome 80s Action Movies list. Great cast for a Rowdy Herrington film. Patrick Swayze plays a surprisingly short bouncer brought into to clean up a small town bar and runs afoul of the local tycoon/villain played by Ben Gazerra, of all people. Fortunately his old buddy Sam Elliot shows up to give him support. I like the idea of a world wherein bouncers can become nationally famous for their bouncing skills. The #25 film of 1989.

Godzilla – The original Japanese version which I’m surprised I’d never actually seen before (I think I might have seen the version with Raymond Burr once). So much better than I thought it would be. Surprisingly nuanced it the way it deals with the main theme of so many Cold War sci-fi movies: the unintended consequences of scientific advances. Both Takashi Shimura as the scientist who wants Godzilla to live so he can be studied and the eyepatch-wearing scientist who has invented the only weapon that can save Tokyo but doesn’t want to use such a destructive discovery are compelling: the film doesn’t have a reductive view of science but rather embraces its contradictions. All that and giant lizard mayhem! The #10 film of 1954.

Fantastic Mr. Fox – I’m having a hard time thinking of anything I didn’t like about Wes Anderson’s new film. The stop motion animation is excellent, and Anderson’s fastidious attention to set design and detail is perfect for this kind of filmmaking. The adaptation and expansion of Roald Dahl’s novel is completely in keeping with Anderson’s thematic obsessions (it’s about oddballs trying and failing to fit in with society, and their coming to grips and celebrating their own inner wild animal) and visual style (his 2D planar framing has never been more appropriate to his material). It’s fun and funny throughout, in that Anderson way that doesn’t necessarily make me laugh out loud, but instead leaves me smiling for an hour and a half. He’s most definitely my kind of hipster.

Woman Is The Future Of Man – The third Hong Sang-soo film I’ve seen, and the most imperfect. Once again, there’s a love triangle involving a film director, but the scenario doesn’t multiply as much as in Like You Know It All, nor are the repetitions as symmetrical as they are in that film or Woman On The Beach. It’s bleaker than those other two films as well. While Beach had a strong sense of melancholy, this film at times seems downright hopeless. Perhaps my problem was that the film didn’t, like those other two, focus on the film director character as much as his friend (a professor in this film). I really like that director character. The #12 film of 2004.

Team America: World Police – Too much of a mess to be more than halfway great. The puppetry and set designs are fantastic though. The film’s really only good when it’s parodying action movies: all the political, anti-actor stuff is either obvious or obnoxious. Same goes for the music. A huge letdown after all the brilliant songs in the South Park movie. But hey, who doesn’t love crazy puppet sex? And the cats, the cats were great. The #30 film of 2004.

The Brothers Bloom – Something’s missing here, but I don’t know what it is. This story of con artist brothers on one last caper should be a much better movie. I like a lot of it, but the prologue and narration are ultimately unnecessary (I hate disappearing narration) and I’m not sure that the end really makes sense. The film plays with the notion of life as performance and being written/unwritten, but I don’t know that it has anything really interesting to say about it. Director Rian Johnson shows some promise, but like with his first film, Brick, this ultimately feels like less than the sum of its parts. Rinko Kikuchi almost saves it though. She’s fabulous. The #36 film of 2008.

Gates Of Heaven – People are weird. The wife asked if he (director Errol Morris) was making fun of those people. I said I didn’t think so, he was just allowing them to dig their own graves (so to speak) and was reveling in their zaniness. Of course, she and I were making fun of them through most of the film. Even our dog was silently mocking them (during the scene where the woman is trying to make her dog sing, our dog had the exact same expression on her face as the wife and I did listening to the insurance salesman talk about motivation and positivity). And we really don’t like the guy from the rendering plant: “recycling” indeed. Cinematically, it’s nice to see Morris’s style almost fully formed: mostly static shots, no narration, people for the most part talking directly into the camera with little apparent prompting. My favorite scene was with the woman sitting in front of her house rambling for what seemed like ten minutes about whatever popped into her head (mostly about her grandson who is either “hauling sand” or “working at the office”); I loved how Morris just let her go on and on. It wasn’t malicious (how could you not like her?), but affectionate and playful. The #5 film of 1978.

Ballast – This year’s Chop Shop: a low-budget realist indie drama about poor people trying to survive in a very specifically realized location. Whereas that film was cramped by its urban setting, this one allows the rain-soaked beauty of its wintery Mississippi Delta locations to infuse the film with a powerful sense of loneliness and desolation. Despite all that, and like Bahrani’s film, there’s a strong undercurrent of hope as the film depicts a broken family fitfully reconstructing itself. Michael J. Smith Jr is exceptional as a man who seems too smart for his world and finds this thoroughly depressing, but keeps trudging on despite it all. The #10 film of 2008.

Gone With The Wind – My second time watching this, the first was on VHS almost 15 years ago. Needless to say, high-def on a big screen in a sold out theatre was a much better experience. I liked the movie a whole lot more as well. The first half, up to the intermission, is pretty much perfect, paralleling Scarlett’s decline with that of the South during the war. The second half is solid, but less engaging. Because it’s stretched out of a greater length of time, it feels more disjointed, but also because the plot doesn’t have the clear structure that the war brought to the first. Instead it follows Scarlett’s ups and downs in her relationship with Rhett, the impossibly perfect Melanie and the totally lame Ashley.

The acting is uniformly excellent, Gable and McDaniel are exceptional and Vivien Leigh gives what I’m convinced is one of the best performances ever (I always really liked her Blanche DuBois, but she’s better here). Fleming’s direction is much more fluid than I would have expected, or remember from his other films. The camera is constantly tracking along the massive sets, or swooping in on the characters to heighten the melodrama. It helps keep a four hour movie from ever feeling like a slog.

The biggest eye-opener for me, though, was the Technicolor. I didn’t think anything could top what Jack Cardiff and Powell & Pressburger did with The Red Shoes and Black Narcissus, but this film is at least a match for those, and was made almost a decade earlier. From the sunny greens of the open, through the fiery red in the films heart to the icy blues and grays at the climax, the film is never less than stunning. This is moving way up my 1939 list, all the way to #5.