28 January 2010
  Best of the decade, part 1

after reading through a thousand blogger's oscar predictions that are all virtually identical barring the occasional disagreement over whether to include julianne moore or diana kruger in the supporting actress category, i have really enjoyed reading a lot of critics best-of-the-decade lists. the reason is that they are all almost entirely disparate. of course there are a few films that crop up over and over again, but i think it is cool seeing films like steven spielberg's war of the worlds and synechdoche new york listed among the best. it just shows how despite this magical critical consensus that seems to form at the end of each year, people really do like all different kinds of films for all different reasons. as someone who counts west side story and twister as two of my top ten favorite movies of all time, i believe this is a fact that needs to be better understood if film awards are ever to get out of their current funk. that being said, here is my entirely singular list of the best films and performances of the decade:

best films:

**it kills me to limit the list to ten. honorable mentions go to cold mountain (2003)--how could this amazing movie possibly not be one of the decade's ten best?--erin brockovich (2000), frida (2002), best in show (2000) and bad education (2004)**

10. there will be blood (2007). this film perhaps more than any other expresses the spiritual, social, cultural emptiness of the 2000s. perhaps the only film made this decade that will undoubtedly survive (and continue to be relevant) into perpetuity.

9. slumdog millionaire (2008). the movie i wanted to hate from the beginning, but turned out to be one of my all time favorites. great movies, even about difficult subjects, can still be eminently watchable (hear that, lee daniels?)

8. moulin rouge (2001). this decade has certainly seen a revival of the musical genre, and this film is both partly responsible for that resurgence and the best movie musical to emerge from it.

7. lost in translation (2003). other than perhaps horror movies, the film genre that probably dominated the decade was the romantic comedy. lost in translation is definitely the best thing to come out of this genre in the last ten years, although to describe it as a rom-com would undoubtedly be a misrepresentation of a film that really defies categorization. also the best movie made by a woman this decade.

6. sideways (2004). the scene where virginia madsen describes to paul giamatti why she likes wine gets my vote as the best film scene of the decade.

5. avatar (2009). james cameron defies popular perceptions of what a movie can be. the greatest directorial accomplishment of the decade comes to theaters in its final days.

4. dancer in the dark (2000). the film that brought me to lars von trier. it's amazing to me how the filmmaker with the greatest understanding of the soul of this country has never even stepped foot here.

3. dogville (2003). von trier takes chances on screen that nobody else is willing to take, and he is brilliant enough to know that they will work. who could have possibly imagined that a two and a half hour film that takes place entirely on an empty soundstage would be so completely engaging?

2. requiem for a dream (2000). the film that brought me to darren aronofsky and brought me back to jennifer connelly. probably the best film ever made in the bloated drug-addiction genre.

1. amores perros (2000). i have been happy to see this often forgotten movie crop up on a few critics' decade top ten lists. one of the best films ever made. period.
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