My Top 100 Films Of The Decade…Part 2

Well I got a great response from films 100-81 yesterday so today I bring you 80-61.  Again, I am only ranking movies I’ve seen so if there is a movie that should easily make the list but you don’t see it, it’s most likely because I never saw it…and if you are too lazy to scroll down two posts to see movies 100-81 here is a link…
Films 100-81

Now without anymore grandstanding for attention here are films 80-61

#80 Wo hu cang long “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon” (2000)

Starring: Yun-Fat Chow, Michelle Yeow Director: Ang Lee

One of the most breathtaking movies of the decade and one that introduced modern martial arts cinema to the masses.  Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is one of Ang Lee’s finest films and probably the one that led to him being allowed to direct mainstream Hollywood productions.  The fight sequences in this film are like poetry, hell they are poetry.  You may think you’ve seen everything but until you see two people in a sword fight on the tops of bamboo trees you haven’t.  Choreography is second to none and the fights unfold like intricate dance routines, simply must be seen to be believed.

#79 Iron Man (2008)

Starring: Robert Downey Jr. Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeff Bridges Director: Jon Favreau

The rise of Robert Downey Jr. as a legitimate leading man cannot be talked about without including Iron Man.  He carried this film, and unlike so many other superhero movies that have been released this decade Iron Man was first and foremost about Downey Jr’s performance.  Without him the movie is a shell of what it became and the credit is all Downey’s.  Add to that a simple yet effective narrative and special effects that enhance not distract from the story and you have a sure fire hit.  Lots of times superhero movies get bogged down in mythos and exposition but where Iron Man succeeds is letting the character of Tony Stark take center stage and it makes you like him, because if you don’t like the hero then what’s the point?

#78 Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)

Starring: Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter Director: Tim Burton

A barber that returns to London to seek revenge for the death of his wife by setting up above a meat pie shop and slitting the throats of his patrons whose bodies are then used by the woman who runs the shop below to make her pies (phew)…that’s the dark twisted plot of Sweeney Todd…oh and did I mention it’s a full-on musical?  Yup only Tim Burton could direct such a perverse and bloody brilliant film.  Johnny Depp is his normal exceptional self portraying the utter lack of compassion felt by a man who has had everything taken from him.  While none of the musical numbers are especially memorable this film is at it’s best when the killing is at its height.  It’s an ultimately tragic tale that plays with your expectations until the final very bloody moments.

#77 Milk (2008)

Starring: Sean Penn, James Franco, Josh Brolin Director: Gus Van Sant

Milk is the true story of Harvey Milk, a gay rights activist, and his struggle for equal rights for homosexuals.  It’s a movie that could have failed in many way, if it became too preachy, or self-aware, but it never does.  While I usually don’t agree with Sean Penn’s views, as an actor he is one of the best.  He creates such a sympathetic, likeable character in Harvey that you find yourself rooting for him even if personally you may not have before the film started.  Cast wide strong performances especially Josh Brolin as Dan White.  The movie does what any good movie of its kind tries to do, make you rethink some of your preconceptions.

#76 Ocean’s 11 (2001)

Starring: George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon Director: Steven Soderbergh

This is why people go to the movies, to see films like Ocean’s 11.  A heist story with likeable characters with an intricate plan.  This was the first of three Ocean’s films and the only one really worth mentioning.  It was directed by Steven Soderbergh who before this had given us Out of Sight and Traffic.  He turns what could be a simple paint by numbers movie about robbing a casino into a unique experience.  It’s fun, memorable, with a great “how’d they do it” payoff that will make you want to see it again and again.  One of the purely enjoyable movies with no agenda made this decade, pure entertainment from start to finish.

#75 Mystic River (2003)

Starring: Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon Director: Clint Eastwood

Another film that many people might have higher on a list like this but while Mystic River is a great film, it’s not even my favorite Boston crime drama this decade, hell it’s not even my second favorite.  However, this film is worth mentioning because of the fact that it solidified Clint Eastwood as a great director as he was finally able to duplicate his work on Unforgiven.  This is a dark film, a really dark film, there isn’t any joy or happiness to be found anywhere, and that can turn a lot of people off.  And it probably would have in the hands of a lesser filmmaker, but Eastwood is able to craft these depressed characters in such a way that you can sense they used to be happy, that it wasn’t always so bad…but a film that begins with a child being molested and ends with an innocent man being murdered can’t be expected to be a light hearted romp.  Never the less Mystic River is a must see.

#74 Finding Neverland (2004)

Starring: Johnny Depp, Kate Winslet Director: Marc Forster

This is the story of what inspired author J.M. Barrie to create the tale of Peter Pan.  The film follows Depp as Barrie throughout the authors’ life.  Depp is the standout adult actor in the cast but it’s the children who steal the show, Freddie Highmore as Peter Davies is amazing.  He does an outstanding job portraying the child who would serve as the inspiration for Peter Pan with such maturity that you just hope he doesn’t fall into the void of forgotten child actors.  This is a feel good, inspirational film that only the most pessimistic and angry of people won’t enjoy.

#73 Million Dollar Baby (2004)

Starring: Hilary Swank, Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman Director: Clint Eastwood

Million Dollar Baby is the best picture winning drama about a female boxer.  The movie begins like many boxing movies with Swank walking into a gym wanting to be trained to fight.  Eastwood who plays a set in his ways trainer continually refuses until he is finally worn down by Swank’s persistence.  The real focus of this movie is the bond that forms between these two unlikely friends and when Swank is paralyzed during a fight the movie takes on a somber morbid tone.  It’s what happens after the paralysis that keeps me from truly loving this movie and rating it higher.  I don’t like movies with messages cut from the headlines, and this was made during the euthanasia debate with the woman in Florida.  When movies use current events so blatantly it takes me right out of the film, and obviously this film was pushing a pro-right to die agenda.  It’s time films learn that this kind of thing isn’t necessary, but regardless that doesn’t stop Million Dollar Baby from being one of the decades’ best.

#72 Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Starring: Brad Pitt, Eli Roth, Christoph Waltz Director: Quentin Tarantino

It’s hard to properly judge films you’ve just seen.  Movies need time to age, to morph in your mind then when you see them again months later only then can you truly judge their merits.  Inglourious Basterds came out this summer and I loved it, I thought it was Tarantino’s best since Pulp Fiction.  Christoph Waltz scared the hell out of me with his portrayal of Hans Landa.  The story is tight, funny, and horrifying but I have still only seen it once.  I’m sure if I went out today and bought the bluray and watched it again I would rank it higher, but the film hasn’t had time to properly digest yet, so I’m going to keep it right here at #72.

#71 The Last King of Scotland (2006)

Starring: Forest Whitaker,  James McAvoy, Gillian Anderson Director: Kevin Macdonald

This film was one big Forest Whitaker highlight reel.  He owns this movie as Idi Amin, Uganda’s genocidal dictator.  Honestly, I always liked Whitaker but I never knew he could handle a role like this.  He is brutal one minute, then charismatic the next.  It’s like watching Alice fall down the rabbit hole seeing McAvoy’s character get completely trapped by Amin’s personality.  He keeps getting deeper and deeper until there is no way out.  Unlike Hotel Rwanda this film has multiple layers and more to it than just Whitaker’s performance, his relationship with McAvoy is a compelling and ultimately tragic look at how men with power and personality are capable of the worst atrocities.

#70 City of God (2002)

Starring: Leandro Firmino, Alexandre Rodriguez Director: Fernando Meirelles

One of the most authentic films of the decade, City of God blurs the line between dramatic narrative and documentary to such an extent that at times I couldn’t tell which I was watching.  The story of a kid growing up in the slums of Brazil is heart wrenching and touching and incredibly hard to watch.  One of my main qualifications for what makes a good movie is how re-watchable it is…I want a movie to make me want to see it again.  City of God, while powerful and definitely well made doesn’t do this, I have no desire to see it again even though I am well aware of how good it was.  This fact keeps it from being ranked higher, and again I’m going against the IMDB grain since this film is fan-ranked as the 16th best movie of all time.

#69 Tropic Thunder (2008)

Starring: Ben Stiller, Robert Downey Jr., Jack Black Director: Ben Stiller

The rated “R” comedy was lost for much of the decade.  Slipping ticket sales do to a bad economy caused production houses to churn out generic crap like Disaster Movie, Date Movie, and Meet The Spartans.  However, we are in the midst of a kind of comedy renaissaince and Tropic Thunder is a prime example of why rated “R” comedies are simply better than those that are overly censored.  Apparently Ben Stiller came up with the idea for Tropic Thunder during the filming of Spielberg’s Empire of the Sun (which is in my top 5 all time) and held onto the idea for over 2 decades until he finally got it made.  And I’m glad he did, Tropic Thunder is what comedies should be, ridiculous, raunchy, lots of swearing, the stuff you can’t get away with in your daily life.  Downey Jr. continues his resurgence here and Tom Cruise’s cameo contains some of the funniest stuff you’ll ever see.

#68 Minority Report (2002)

Starring: Tom Cruise, Colin Farrell, Samantha Morton Director: Steven Spielberg

A film that has somewhat diminished for me over time.  If I made this list three years ago Minority Report might be in my top 20, but after a few more viewings I’ve started to become numb to what used to be highly emotional and adrenaline pumping scenes.  For example I will always get the same feeling I get at the end of Shawshank no matter how many times I see it, a good movie shouldn’t dim over time but sadly Minority Report has for me.  Still a great film, but one that I had hoped could stand the test of time a little better.  This is probably Spielberg’s best directed film of the decade, the action scenes are shot perfectly, you are never confused by what you are seeing which can always bee a problem with science fiction.  Collin Farrell tries like hell to do his best American accent and kind of pulls it off, Cruise though is very good, and it’s a reminder that the guy is a great actor no matter how crazy he is in real life.

#67 Snatch (2000)

Starring: Brad Pitt, Jason Statham, Benicio Del Toro Director: Guy Ritchie

Behind 12 Monkeys this is my favorite Brad Pitt role to date.  How in the hell he got chosen to play a gypsy in the first place is over my head but he pulls it off and then some.  It’s a shame he didn’t even get a support role nomination for this performance.  Guy Ritchie films have always been very quirky and stylized and Snatch is no exception.  From the slow-mo boxing scenes to the quick cuts and transitions you always know you are watching a Guy Richie directed movie.  Snatch is probably his most purely entertaining film to date, there isn’t a slow moment, every scene is hilarious, there are great characters and villains.  The names of the characters themselves are fantastic, “Bullet-Tooth Tony,” “Franky Four Fingers” it’s like you’re watching a British Dick Tracy.  Snatch is a movie I can throw in the DVD player any time and still love it.

#66 Into The Wild (2007)

Starring: Emile Hirsch, William Hurt, Kristen Stewart Director: Sean Penn

This is one of those films that leaves you emotionally confused.  The story at its heart is very simple and moving, a kid wants to leave the established world behind and venture out on a voyage of self discovery.  And it’s all very well done, the people he meets along the way are all genuine slices of America and noone is portrayed as better or worse, just different.  It’s a very liberal outlook on things and even though I am not liberal I still found myself completely buying into the premise.  Yet, it’s when Hirsch’s character blatantly turns his back on loving circumstances he has found just because he “has to live in Alaska” the movie loses it for me.  I stop rooting for him and start to question if he’s completely insane.  You don’t turn your back on a good thing and when he does I start to hate him.  Yes the ending is graphic and hard to stomach but that’s just because you see a humanbeing suffering, I had no feelings for the character whatsoever.  This fact is what keeps the movie at #66 instead of in the top 30.

#65 Wedding Crashers (2005)

Starring: Owen Wilson, Vince Vaughn, Isla Fisher Director: David Dobkin

Another shining jewel in the comedy offerings of the decade, Wedding Crashers was probably watched more often by guys aged 15-30 than any other movie.  It’s got everything a great comedy should have, it’s hilarious, it’s got likeable characters, hot chicks, and nudity.  Those are the four things you need for a sure fire comedy hit.  Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson have some great chemistry, but then again I don’t think Vince Vaughn could have bad chemistry with a person if he tried.  I still find myself quoting this movie without knowing I’m doing it to this day.  If you ever get into a friendly argument with me and you hear me say, “You shut your mouth when you’re talking to me” well now you know where that comes from…even though you should already know since there is no excuse for not having seen this film.

#64 Spy Game (2001)

Starring: Brad Pitt, Robert Redford Director: Tony Scott

This film is number one on my list of great movies nobody has seen.  This is the story of a young CIA operative (Pitt) who is trained by a veteran (Redford) in the world of international espionage.  The story is mostly a flashback into past missions of the two and is probably Tony Scott’s best directed film.  Tony Scott is the younger brother of Ridley Scott and his other films include, Top Gun, Enemy of the State, and Days of Thunder.  He’s got quite a list of action thrillers under his belt but Spy Game is his best effort, flawlessly transferring a great story to the screen.  He refrains (for the most part) from his usual sweeping tracking shots and extreme zooms and tells the story of the bond between two spies who can’t really ever have a bond.  It’s a high octane action movie with a sincere emotional contingent.  If you haven’t seen it you really need to.

#63 Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Elijah Wood Director: Peter Jackson

Well now I’ve done it, now I’ve pissed off the fan boys.  The Lord of the Rings trilogy was something new and indeed very successful.  However, not all parts were created equal, and after the first two (and far better) installations the series wrapped up with Return of the King.  The problem with this film is that it’s all very predictable, we know this is the episode where Frodo gets to Mt. Doom and destroys the ring, we know that everything turns out ok, so the “dramatic” parts of the film don’t work.  Sorry but when Frodo gets stabbed by the spider and cocooned I felt nothing, there was zero chance he was dead so the scene seemed pointless other than to display a cool CGI spider.  However, Peter Jackson again photographs the stunning New Zealand landscape with a master’s eye and the production itself is top notch.  I know they were hamstringed by following the book but this film should be noted for being the least successful of the three, and the 45 different endings didn’t help its cause either.  But #63 of the last ten years is not a bad place to be.

#62 Blood Diamond (2006)

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Djimon Hounsou, Jennifer Connelly Director: Edward Zwick

One of my surprise favorites of the decade Blood Diamond is an action movie, wrapped in a political thriller without the politics if that makes any sense.  The whole issue of the diamond trade in Africa is highly political and it’s discussed here but not once by men in suits which is refreshing.  DiCaprio and Hounsou steal the movie, especially Djimon.  The first role I remember him in was as Maximus’ companion in Gladiator (a movie we’ll get to much later, hint hint) and he was fantastic in that.  The dude can act and his portrayal of a man who would do anything to get his son back was genuine and believable.  What I really liked about this movie is that it didn’t pull any punches when showing the brutality of the child militias.  It’s a horrific part of Africa that still exists today and this film tries its best to expose it.  The story flows with a frantic pace and there is never a boring moment, just an all around great film with no glaring flaws.

#61 Shaun of the Dead (2004)

Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost Director: Edgar Wright

This is what you would get if you crossed 28 Days Later with Animal House.  Shaun of the Dead is a comedy horror film about a down on his luck electronics store worker who wakes up to find there has been a zombie outbreak in his town.  With the help of his hapless side kick they must try and save his mother and themselves from the zombie hoard.  The movie is absolutely hilarious, where else would you find a scene of guys throwing vinyl records at lumbering zombies but only choosing the worst ones to actually throw.  This is definitely in the genre of buddy comedy but with the gore factor of Rob Zombie.  It’s one of those movies that really has no business existing but I’m so glad that it does.

Films 60-41


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8 Responses to “My Top 100 Films Of The Decade…Part 2”

  1. My Top 100 Films Of The Decade 2000-09 « The Loon Says:

    […] Films 80-61 […]

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  5. My Top 100 Films Of The Decade…Part Three « The Loon Says:

    […] My original plan was the have this list completed by the last day of 2009 but I got sidetracked with a trip back home to see the family and friends so I’m just getting back to finishing it now.  The full list will be completed and soon and I’m sorry for the delay.  For those who didn’t read the previous two entries here are the links… Films 100-81 Films 80-61 […]

  6. My Top 100 Films of The Decade…Part Four « The Loon Says:

    […] are the links for parts 1 through 3 Films 100-81 Films 80-61 Films […]

  7. Top 100 Films Of The Decade: Top 20 « The Loon Says:

    […] 80-61 60-41 […]

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