Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Guest Columnist: Gianna's Best of the Aughts

Adaptation (2002, Dir: Spike Jonze)-Brilliant take on writer’s block and a scathing look at the workings of Hollywood. One of the rare films that Nicolas Cage was actually good in.

Amelie (2001, Dir: Jean-Pierre Jeunet)-A frothy, gorgeous confection of a movie whose one of many highlights was the performance of Audrey Tantou.

Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007, Dir: Andrew Dominik)-A breakout performance by Casey Affleck, tops this wonderful, if somewhat overlooked film.

Before Sunset (2004, Dir: Richard Linkletter)-The sequel to Linkletter’s Before Sunrise, catches up with the Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke now in their 30’s, and there’s still a lot to be said.

Billy Elliot (2000, Dir: Stephan Daldry)-A wonderful joyous film about discovering who you are.

Bowling for Columbine (2002, Dir: Michael Moore)-Love him or hate him, Moore’s examination of our country’s gun culture still raises many questions.

Coraline (2009, Dir: Henry Selick)-Selick’s master work of stop-motion animation was one of the most creative films of 2009.

Dogville (2003, Dir: Lars Von Trier)-The first of Von Trier’s ‘America’ trilogy, a thinly veiled commentary on US foreign policy, strips cinematic devices bare and produces a raw hard-hitting film.

Eastern Promises (2007, Dir: David Cronenberg)-This tightly woven crime mystery fully benefits from Cronenberg’s restrained direction and Viggo Mortensen’s fantastic performance.

Elf (2003, Dir: John Favreau)-An instant classic from the moment it was released. Quite frankly there is nothing more difficult than creating a Christmas film that succeeds and endures.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004, Dir: Michael Gondry)-A wonderful examination of a failed relationship, accompanied with haunting visuals. (Jami's note: meh.)

The Fall (2006. Dir: Tarsem Singh)-Singh’s wonderful fairy-tale fable is all the more impressive when you learn that all the visuals were achieved without any CGI whatsoever.

Finding Nemo (2003, Dir: Andrew Stanton)-First of three Pixar films on this list. Finding Nemo was a wonderful tale of letting go. Featuring the hallmarks of Pixar exquisite animation and a fantastic story.

Hard Candy (2005, Dir: David Slade)-What could have been a run-of-the-mill torture porn flick, Hard Candy became a taught psychological thriller. Two fabulous leads and strong direction elevated this film to a classic suspense film.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001, Dir: John Cameron Mitchell)-One of the many great musicals to come out of the decade. Cameron Mitchell’s film adaptation of his one-man show is something special, though not for all tastes.

History of Violence (2005, Dir: David Cronenberg)-An intricate study of who an individual is. Cronenberg at his best.

Hot Fuzz (2007, Dir: Edgar Wright)-This wicked send-up of Hollywood action films has what Hollywood parodies do not: humor.

In America (2002, Dir: Jim Sheridan)-A beautiful and heartbreaking story of one family’s introduction to America. (Jami's note: I think I'm still crying over this one!)

Inside Man (2006, Dir: Spike Lee)-A taught, well-crafted crime caper. Filled with great twists and turns. Wonderful entertainment.

Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001, 2002, 2003, Dir: Peter Jackson)-A daring gamble of shooting all three books at once paid off in spades. One of the most enjoyable movie-going experiences of the decade, hands down!!

Man on Wire (2008, Dir: James Marsh)-A wonderful tribute to one man’s unique quest. Unnerving, funny and ultimately inspirational.

Memento (2000, Dir: Christopher Nolan)-Nolan’s breakout film of a tale told backwards, was one of the most well-crafted mystery films of the whole decade.

Moulin Rouge (2001, Dir: Baz Lurhman)-The one that kicked off the great revival of movie musicals. Its strengths far out-weigh its weaknesses. (Jami respectfully disagrees with this choice)

No Country for Old Men (2007, Dir: Joel & Ethan Coen)-A true masterpiece from beginning to end.

O Brother Where Art Thou (2000, Dir: Joel Coen)-A great example of when critics simply get it wrong. One of the best and most quotable comedies of the decade.

Ocean’s Eleven (2001, Dir: Steven Soderbergh)-Unfortunately the subsequent sequels have tarnished this film. Still, it stands out and one of the cleverest films in a long time.

Once (2007, Dir: John Carney)-This wonderful love story, hits an emotional core that few films have ever hit.

Pan’s Labyrinth (2006, Dir: Guillermo Del Toro)-Del Toro’s fantastic horror/fairytale. Unique and beautiful.

Shattered Glass (2003, Dir: Billy Ray)-The best film you didn’t see, detailing the Stephen Glass/New Republic plagiarism scandal. If you missed it, rent it.

Slither (2006, Dir: James Gunn)-Yes, sometimes you have to grade within the genre. Slither was the best horror film to come out this decade.

Slumdog Millionaire (2008, Dir: Danny Boyle)-Why I personally love going to the movies. A great story from beginning to end; completely satisfying.

Spirited Away (2001, Dir: Hayao Miyazaki)-The film that brought Miyazaki to the mainstream.

Touching the Void (2003, Dir: Kevin Macdonald)-A taught and thrilling account of a mountain climbing expedition gone horribly wrong. The fact that you know how everything turns out and you’re still on the edge of your seat, speaks volumes.

Tropic Thunder (2008, Dir: Ben Stiller)- From it’s scathing indictment of all things Hollywood to Robert Downey Jr.’s inspired performance, it ended up one of the funniest comedies of the decade.

25th Hour (2002, Dir: Spike Lee)-Another great, and largely forgotten Lee film. One of the first NYC based films to acknowledge its post 9/11 status.

Up in the Air (2009, Dir: Jason Reitman)-A fantastic internal character study of one man’s established life. George Clooney ends the decade with one of the most subtle layered performances.

WALL-E (2008, Dir: Andrew Stanton)-Another crowning achievement in Pixar’s impressive roster of films. Sweet, touching, funny and with an environmental message that doesn’t hit you over the head.

Where the Wild Things Are (2009, Dir: Spike Jonze)-A heartful and insightful exploration of the psyche of the lonely child. Beautifully shot and heartbreaking.

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