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

2001 Endy Awards

1. Millennium Mambo
2. The Royal Tenenbaums
3. Mulholland Dr.
4. Spirited Away
5. What Time is it There?
6. AI: Artificial Intelligence
7. The Fellowship of the Ring
8. Running Out of Time 2
9. Suicide Club
10. Wet Hot American Summer
11. Ali
12. Shaolin Soccer
13. Pulse
14. All About Lily Chou-Chou
15. You Shoot, I Shoot
16. Ghosts of Mars
17. The Others
18. Trouble Every Day
19. Moulin Rouge!
20. The Man Who Wasn’t There
21. Zoolander
22. If I Should Fall from Grace
23. Waking Life
24. Love on a Diet
25. Black Hawk Down
26. Toutes les nuits
27. Wu Yen
28. Amélie
29. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
30. Zu Warriors
31. Vanilla Sky
32. Fulltime Killer
33. Monsters, Inc.
34. The Cat’s Meow
35. Gosford Park
36. Knocking on Heaven’s Door
37. Pootie Tang
38. Ghost World
39. Y tu mamá también
40. Metropolis
41. 61*
42. The Fast and the Furious
43. Ocean’s Eleven
44. Pearl Harbor
45. Spy Kids
46. Musa: The Warrior
47. Final Fantasy: the Spirits Within
48. Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back
49. A Beautiful Mind
50. Not Another Teen Movie
51. Shrek
52. American Pie 2
53. Legally Blonde
54. Bridget Jones’s Diary
55. Hannibal
56. 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. Blissfully Yours
6. Morvern Callar
7. Friday Night
8. Golden Chicken
9. Russian Ark
10. Chinese Odyssey 2002
11. Fat Choi Spirit
12. Infernal Affairs
13. The Two Towers
14. Windtalkers
15. Minority Report
16. Unknown Pleasures
17. The Century of the Self
18. Resident Evil
19. Signs
20. The 25th Hour
21. The Truth About Charlie
22. The Bourne Identity
23. Catch Me If You Can
24. Gangs of New York
25. 8 Women
26. Adaptation
27. Attack of the Clones
28. City of God
29. 24 Hour Party People
30. Zhou Yu’s Train
31. Far From Heaven
32. 8 Mile
33. Talk To Her
34. The Transporter
35. Bowling For Columbine
36. Spellbound
37. Confessions of a Dangerous Mind
38. Spider-Man
39. About Schmidt
40. 28 Days Later
41. Solaris
42. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
43. The Business of Fancydancing
44. The Slow Century
45. Woody Allen: A Life in Film
46. Frida
47. Chicago
48. The Trials of Henry Kissinger
49. I Am Trying to Break Your Heart
50. Ice Age
51. Austin Powers: Goldmember
52. Sweet Home Alabama
53. 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. Turn Left, Turn Right
8. Café Lumière
9. Master and Commander
10. Down with Love
11. The Triplets of Belleville
12. Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior
13. Golden Chicken 2
14. School of Rock
15. Pirates of the Caribbean
16. Looney Tunes: Back in Action
17. Jade Goddess of Mercy
18. In the Cut
19. Something’s Gotta Give
20. Drunken Monkey
21. Coffee and Cigarettes
22. Hulk
23. Infernal Affairs II
24. Masked and Anonymous
25. Return of the King
26. 2 Fast 2 Furious
27. Looking for Mr. Perfect
28. Finding Nemo
29. The Fog of War
30. Paycheck
31. Cinema Hong Kong
32. Lost in Translation
33. Matrix Reloaded
34. Camp
35. Wheel of Time
36. Love for all Seasons
37. Oldboy
38. The Saddest Music in the World
39. Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter. . . and Spring
40. Old School
41. Gods and Generals
42. Heroic Duo
43. X-Men 2
44. The Animatrix
45. A Decade Under the Influence
46. Once Upon a Time in Mexico
47. Angels in America
48. Underworld
49. The Corporation
50. Shattered Glass
51. The Smile
52. A Mighty Wind
53. Intolerable Cruelty
54. Love Actually
55. Daredevil
56. Matrix Revolutions
57. American Wedding

2004 Endy Awards

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

2005 Endy Awards

1. The New World
2. Linda Linda Linda
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. The Death of Mr. Lazarescu
12. Perhaps Love
13. A Bittersweet Life
14. Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story
15. Domino
16. My Dad is 100 Years Old
17. Munich
18. Himalaya Singh
19. Grizzly Man
20. The 40 Year Old Virgin
21. SPL (Sha Po Lang)
22. Mutual Appreciation
23. Brick
24. Serenity
25. Seven Swords
26. King Kong
27. Broken Flowers
28. The Squid and the Whale
29. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
30. The Protector
31. Brokeback Mountain
32. War of the Worlds
33. Worldly Desires
34. No Direction Home
35. Cigarette Burns
36. Good Night and Good Luck
37. Me & You & Everyone We Know
38. Shopgirl
39. Land of the Dead
40. Kingdom of Heaven
41. Sin City
42. The Aristocrats
43. Curse of the Were-Rabbit
44. The Proposition
45. Man Push Cart
46. Match Point
47. Elizabethtown
48. Sarah Silverman: Jesus is Magic
49. Batman Begins
50. Unleashed
51. One Man Band
52. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
53. V for Vendetta
54. Capote
55. 9
56. Walk the Line
57. Cache
58. Mr. and Mrs. Smith
59. Transporter 2
60. Thank You for Smoking
61. Irving Thalberg: Prince of Hollywood
62. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
63. Why We Fight
64. Memoirs of a Geisha
65. Syriana
66. Brothers Grimm
67. Reel Paradise
68. Charlie & the Chocolate Factory
69. Cry Wolf
70. The Dukes of Hazzard
71. Aeon Flux
72. Fever Pitch
73. The Chronicles of Narnia
74. Fantastic Four
75. 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. Déjà Vu
7. Isabella
8. I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone
9. The Departed
10. Election 2
11. Private Fears in Public Places
12. Crank
13. The Shopaholics
14. Flags of Our Fathers
15. Climates
16. Inland Empire
17. A Prairie Home Companion
18. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest
19. A Scanner Darkly
20. The Anthem
21. Fay Grim
22. The Host
23. Marie Antoinette
24. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
25. The Postmodern Life of My Aunt
26. Southland Tales
27. Paprika
28. Letters from Iwo Jima
29. The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift
30. Belle toujours
31. Cocktail
32. Idiocracy
33. Superman Returns
34. Rocky Balboa
35. The Fall
36. The Lady in the Water
37. Woman on the Beach
38. Rescue Dawn
39. The Fountain
40. United 93
41. Inside Man
42. After This, Our Exile
43. Fearless
44. Leonard Cohen: Under Review: 1934-1977
45. The Break-Up
46. Mission: Impossible III
47. Wordplay
48. Summer Palace
49. Curse of the Golden Flower
50. Casino Royale
51. Children of Men
52. Borat
53. Paris je t’aime
54. The Lives of Others
55. Talladega Nights
56. The Prestige
57. Step Up
58. Clerks II
59. Snakes on a Plane
60. Pan’s Labyrinth
61. The Banquet
62. Cars
63. The TV Set
64. The Namesake
65. The Good Shepherd
66. The Black Dahlia
67. I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With
68. This Film is not yet Rated
69. Little Miss Sunshine
70. Nacho Libre
71. Friends with Money
72. X-Men: The Last Stand
73. 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. You, the Living
16. Eye in the Sky
17. My Blueberry Nights
18. Grindhouse
19. The Mist
20. Boarding Gate
21. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
22. Paranoid Park
23. The Darjeeling Limited
24. Triangle
25. Sukiyaki Western Django
26. Viva
27. Chop Shop
28. Assembly
29. Flash Point
30. Chacun son cinéma
31. Wonderful Town
32. Encounters at the End of the World
33. Helvetica
34. Margot at the Wedding
35. Paranormal Activity
36. Superbad
37. Eastern Promises
38. Waitress
39. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
40. The Simpsons Movie
41. Luminous People
42. Knocked Up
43. Stardust
44. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
45. Lars and the Real Girl
46. Exodus
47. Sunshine
48. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End
49. Rocket Science
50. Lust, Caution
51. Once
52. Silent Light
53. The King of Kong
54. Hilary Hahn: A Portrait
55. Val Lewton: Man in the Shadows
56. The Rest is Silence
57. Across the Universe
58. Hot Rod
59. No End in Sight
60. The Ten
61. Juno
62. Becoming John Ford
63. Michael Clayton
64. 300
65. Hot Fuzz
66. 3:10 to Yuma
67. Into the Wild
68. American Gangster
69. Snow Angels
70. Sicko
71. Mongol
72. Bienvenue a Cannes
73. The Bourne Ultimatum
74. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
75. In the Mood for Doyle
76. Atonement
77. Transformers
78. Spielberg on Spielberg
79. Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
80. Beowulf
81. Hitman
82. Spiderman 3

2008 Endy Awards

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

2009 Endy Awards

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