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. Time and Tide
8. The Heart of the World
9. Virgin Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors
10. The House of Mirth
11. Tears of the Black Tiger
12. Battle Royale
13. Wonder Boys
14. Suzhou River
15. Devils on the Doorstep
16. O Brother, Where Art Thou?
17. State and Main
18. Unbreakable
19. Mission to Mars
20. Needing You. . .
21. Bring It On
22. Help!!!
23. Almost Famous
24. Mysterious Object at Noon
25. Mission: Impossible 2
26. Songs from the Second Floor
27. Jiang Hu: The Triad Zone
28. Best in Show
29. The Beach
30. Chicken Run
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. Mulholland Dr.
3. The Fellowship of the Ring
4. The Royal Tenenbaums
5. Lagaan
6. Spirited Away
7. What Time is it There?
8. Shaolin Soccer
9. AI: Artificial Intelligence
10. Suicide Club
11. Pulse
12. Ali
13. All About Lily Chou-Chou
14. Running Out of Time 2
15. From the Queen to the Chief Executive
16. Wet Hot American Summer
17. You Shoot, I Shoot
18. Ghosts of Mars
19. Moulin Rouge!
20. The Others
21. Love on a Diet
22. Hollywood Hong Kong
23. The Man Who Wasn’t There
24. Zoolander
25. If I Should Fall from Grace
26. Trouble Every Day
27. Waking Life
28. Black Hawk Down
29. Toutes les nuits
30. Wu Yen
31. Vanilla Sky
32. Hit Team
33. Kabhi Kushi Kabhie Gham
34. Amélie
35. Fulltime Killer
36. Metropolis
37. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
38. Monsters, Inc.
39. The Cat’s Meow
40. Gosford Park
41. Knocking on Heaven’s Door
42. Ghost World
43. Replicant
44. The Fast and the Furious
45. In Public
46. Zu Warriors
47. Pootie Tang
48. Y tu mamá también
49. 61*
50. Ocean’s Eleven
51. Pearl Harbor
52. Spy Kids
53. Musa: The Warrior
54. Final Fantasy: the Spirits Within
55. Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back
56. A Beautiful Mind
57. Not Another Teen Movie
58. Shrek
59. American Pie 2
60. Legally Blonde
61. Bridget Jones’s Diary
62. The Condition of Dogs
63. Hannibal
64. 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. Fat Choi Spirit
7. Blissfully Yours
8. The Two Towers
9. Golden Chicken
10. Chinese Odyssey 2002
11. Russian Ark
12. Friday Night
13. Infernal Affairs
14. Windtalkers
15. Morvern Callar
16. Minority Report
17. Princess D
18. The Century of the Self
19. Resident Evil
20. Signs
21. Our Time, Our Story
22. The Truth About Charlie
23. Catch Me If You Can
24. Gangs of New York
25. Public Toilet
26. New Blood
27. Adaptation
28. Attack of the Clones
29. The Bourne Identity
30. Springtime in a Small Town
31. The 25th Hour
32. 8 Women
33. City of God
34. 24 Hour Party People
35. Zhou Yu’s Train
36. Spider-Man
37. Far From Heaven
38. Scooby-Doo
39. 8 Mile
40. Talk To Her
41. The Transporter
42. Bowling For Columbine
43. Spellbound
44. Face to Face
45. Confessions of a Dangerous Mind
46. About Schmidt
47. 28 Days Later
48. Solaris
49. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
50. The Business of Fancydancing
51. The Slow Century
52. Woody Allen: A Life in Film
53. Frida
54. Chicago
55. The Trials of Henry Kissinger
56. I Am Trying to Break Your Heart
57. Ice Age
58. Austin Powers: Goldmember
59. Sweet Home Alabama
60. 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. Return of the King
12. Turn Left, Turn Right
13. Pirates of the Caribbean
14. Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior
15. Golden Chicken 2
16. Matrix Reloaded
17. Looking for Mr. Perfect
18. School of Rock
19. Looney Tunes: Back in Action
20. Hulk
21. Jade Goddess of Mercy
22. In the Cut
23. Something’s Gotta Give
24. Masked and Anonymous
25. 2 Fast 2 Furious
26. Drunken Monkey
27. Feel Like Going Home
28. The Triplets of Belleville
29. Coffee and Cigarettes
30. Infernal Affairs II
31. Finding Nemo
32. Matrix Revolutions
33. Madness in the Desert
34. Paycheck
35. X2
36. The Mindscape of Alan Moore
37. Love for All Seasons
38. The Fog of War
39. Cinema Hong Kong
40. Lost in Translation
41. Camp
42. Wheel of Time
43. Oldboy
44. The Saddest Music in the World
45. Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter. . . and Spring
46. Old School
47. Gods and Generals
48. In Hell
49. Heroic Duo
50. The Animatrix
51. A Decade Under the Influence
52. Once Upon a Time in Mexico
53. Angels in America
54. Underworld
55. The Corporation
56. Shattered Glass
57. The Smile
58. A Mighty Wind
59. Intolerable Cruelty
60. Love Actually
61. Daredevil
62. American Wedding

2004 Endy Awards

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

2005 Endy Awards

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

2006 Endy Awards

1. Miami Vice
2. Still Life
3. Syndromes and a Century
4. The Wind that Shakes the Barley
5. Exiled
6. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest
7. Déjà Vu
8. Election 2
9. I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone
10. The Departed
11. Private Fears in Public Places
12. Isabella
13. Crank
14. The Host
15. The Shopaholics
16. Neil Young: Heart of Gold
17. Flags of Our Fathers
18. Inland Empire
19. The Anthem
20. Marie Antoinette
21. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
22. The Postmodern Life of My Aunt
23. Southland Tales
24. A Prairie Home Companion
25. Woman on the Beach
26. Paprika
27. Letters from Iwo Jima
28. Climates
29. The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift
30. Akeelah and the Bee
31. Dong
32. Fay Grim
33. Borat
34. 1966-1978: After the Crash
35. Belle toujours
36. Cocktail
37. Idiocracy
38. Superman Returns
39. A Scanner Darkly
40. The Devil Wears Prada
41. Rocky Balboa
42. The Fall
43 The Lady in the Water
44. Rescue Dawn
45. The Fountain
46. United 93
47. Inside Man
48. After This, Our Exile
49. Fearless
50. Leonard Cohen: Under Review: 1934-1977
51. The Break-Up
52. Mission: Impossible III
53. Wordplay
54. Summer Palace
55. Curse of the Golden Flower
56. Casino Royale
57. Children of Men
58. Paris je t’aime
59. The Lives of Others
60. Talladega Nights
61. The Prestige
62. Step Up
63. Clerks II
64. Snakes on a Plane
65. Pan’s Labyrinth
66. The Banquet
67. Cars
68. The TV Set
69. The Namesake
70. The Good Shepherd
71. The Black Dahlia
72. X-Men: The Last Stand
73. Friends with Money
74. I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With
75. This Film is not yet Rated
76. Little Miss Sunshine
77. Nacho Libre
78. The DaVinci Code

2007 Endy Awards

1. Flight of the Red Balloon
2. There Will Be Blood
3. Om Shanti Om
4. I’m Not There
5. 5 Centimeters per Second
6. The Romance of Astrea and Celadon
7. Zodiac
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. Resident Evil: Extinction
13. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End
14. Ratatouille
15. My Blueberry Nights
16. My Winnipeg
17. 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days . . .
18. Grindhouse
19. Hot Fuzz
20. The Mist
21. Lust, Caution
22. Eye in the Sky
23. Boarding Gate
24. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
25. Useless
26. Spider-man 3
27. Paranoid Park
28. You, the Living
29. The Darjeeling Limited
30. Triangle
31. Sukiyaki Western Django
32. The Rebel
33. The Other Side of the Mirror
34. Chop Shop
35. Assembly
36. Flash Point
37. Chacun son cinéma
38. Wonderful Town
39. Encounters at the End of the World
40. Helvetica
41. Margot at the Wedding
42. Paranormal Activity
43. Rocket Science
44. Superbad
45. Eastern Promises
46. Waitress
47. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
48. The Simpsons Movie
49. Luminous People
50. Knocked Up
51. Stardust
52. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
53. Lars and the Real Girl
54. Exodus
55. Sunshine
56. Once
57. Viva
58. Silent Light
59. The King of Kong
60. Hilary Hahn: A Portrait
61. Val Lewton: Man in the Shadows
62. The Rest is Silence
63. Across the Universe
64. Hot Rod
65. No End in Sight
66. The Ten
67. Juno
68. Becoming John Ford
69. Michael Clayton
70. 300
71. 3:10 to Yuma
72. Into the Wild
73. American Gangster
74. Snow Angels
75. Sicko
76. Mongol
77. Bienvenue a Cannes
78. The Bourne Ultimatum
79. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
80. In the Mood for Doyle
81. Atonement
82. Transformers
83. Spielberg on Spielberg
84. Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
85. Beowulf
86. 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. Jerichow
14. Rachel Getting Married
15. Night and Day
16. Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea
17. Cry Me a River
18. Still Walking
19. Summer Hours
20. The Happening
21. Medicine for Melancholy
22. The Hurt Locker
23. Cloverfield
24. The Good, the Bad, the Weird
25. Rembrandt’s J’Accuse
26. The Beaches of Agnes
27. If You are the One
28. The Headless Woman
29. Missing
30. Me and Orson Welles
31. You Think You’re the Prettiest, but You are the Sluttiest
32. All About Women
33. Wendy and Lucy
34. Good Cats
35. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
36. Step Up 2 The Streets
37. The Brothers Bloom
38. Liverpool
39. Che
40. Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog
41. Waltz with Bashir
42. Tulpan
43. Ballast
44. Iron Man
45. Milk
46. 1978-1989: Both Ends of the Rainbow
47. Hellboy II
48. Synecdoche, New York
49. High Noon
50. Ong Bak 2: The Beginning
51. The Equation of Love and Death
52. Ip Man
53. Beast Stalker
54. Vampire
55. Burn After Reading
56. Vicky Cristina Barcelona
57. In Bruges
58. Forgetting Sarah Marshall
59. The Incredible Hulk
60. Let the Right One In
61. Redbelt
62. The Dark Knight
63. The Clone Wars
64. Run Papa Run
65. Australia
66. Of Time and the City
67. Pineapple Express
68. Death Race
69. Gran Torino
70. Bigger, Stronger, Faster*
71. Linger
72. Pelléas and Mélisande: The Song of the Blind
73. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
74. The Wrecking Crew!
75. Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist
76. Roman Polanski: Wanted & Desired
77. Anvil! The Story of Anvil
78. Slumdog Millionaire
79. Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson
80. Recount
81. Dakota Skye
82. Zack and Miri Make a Porno
83. Tropic Thunder
84. Man on Wire
85. Baby Mama
86. Way of Nature
87. Twilight
88. Kung Fu Panda
89. The Forbidden Kingdom
90. Thriller in Manilla
91. The Order of Myths
92. W.
93. Thou Shalt Not: Sex, Sin and Censorship in Pre-Code Hollywood
94. Frost/Nixon
95. Valkyrie
96. The Business of Being Born
97. Dear Zachary
98. Quantum of Solace
99. 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. Clash
37. Air Doll
38. Alamar
39. Visage
40. Haiku
41. Woman on Fire Looks for Water
42. Looking for Eric
43. The Secret of Kells
44. I Am Love
45. Coraline
46. (500) Days of Summer
47. In Search of Beethoven
48. Emma
49. Sophie’s Revenge
50. The Taking of Pelham 123
51. Bodyguards & Assassins
52. Unmade Beds
53. Moon
54. The Exploding Girl
55. Mother
56. Hamlet
57. Black Dynamite
58. Overheard
59. Micmacs
60. Crank: High Voltage
61. Double Take
62. The September Issue
63. The Art of the Steal
64. The Young Victoria
65. Sweetgrass
66. Funny People
67. My Queen Karo
68. Everyone Else
69. Fast & Furious
70. Broken Embraces
71. Of Love and Other Demons
72. Ninja
73. Up in the Air
74. ZMD: Zombies of Mass Destruction
75. For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism
76. Food, Inc
77. An Education
78. Avatar
79. Where the Wild Things Are
80. 1939: Hollywood’s Greatest Year
81. Watchmen
82. The Cove
83. District 9
84. Kamui
85. Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould
86. Harry Potter VI
87. Queer China, ‘Comrade’ China
88. Humpday
89. 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.