My Top 100 Films Of The Decade…Part Three

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

Now without furthur delay for plane trips and general laziness here are films 60-41…enjoy

#60 WALL-E (2008)

Starring: Fred Willard, Sigourney Weaver Director: Andrew Stanton

Pixar’s third best film of the decade is also it’s most risky.  Try telling a production company to finance a movie marketed mostly for kids and tell them there isn’t a single word spoken for the entire first act…only Pixar could pull off such a task.  WALL-E takes a very human story and tells it through non human characters and it doesn’t lose any of its impact.  It’s a love story first and foremost about a tiny outdated trash compactor falling in love with a sleek futuristic scout.  Set on Earth and in space WALL-E is a timeless love story told by those animation genius’ at Pixar.  For my money there wasn’t a more beautifully animated scene this decade than WALL-E and EVA jetting around the ship and through the firing engines, the music and feel were perfect.

#59 Gangs of New York (2002)

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Daniel Day-Lewis, Cameron Diaz Director: Martin Scorsese

This could be considered Scorsese’s most ambitious film.  With it’s enormous set pieces and elaborate costume design it was a huge production.  While the narrative was a little unfocused at times this film provided one of the single best performances of the decade.  I’m talking about Daniel Day-Lewis’ Bill “The Butcher”.  Much like Robert Downey Jr. this decade also saw Daniel Day-Lewis emerge as one of the finest actors working.  He has brought to life some of the most complex villains ever exposed to film.  He makes this film work, without him this movie hinges on a mediocre love story between Leo and Cameron who have zero chemistry.  The sets are amazing, the acting is great, but Daniel Day-Lewis elevates this film to another level and parks it squarely at #59.

#58 The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)

Starring: Viggo Mortenson, Elijah Wood, Orlando Bloom Director: Peter Jackson

The second LOTR movie saw the best battle scene of the series.  Some might wonder how I can say that with the spectacle of the final battle in Return of the King but the battle in Two Towers was the most organized brilliantly shot battle of the series.  There weren’t any random ghost people swooping in to save the day, there was the fortress and the enemy, and when Gandalf is charging down the mountain with the epic score blaring I got goose bumps, a sensation I didn’t get once during the third film.  However, without this battle the movie suffers from the same things that hurt the last film, it’s predictable.  We know there is another movie so we don’t expect a resolution, we know this is a bridge between the exceptional first film and the inevitable conclusion, but the final battle in Two Towers is one of the coolest things I have ever seen and it makes the movie.

#57 Hannibal (2001)

Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Julianne Moore Director: Ridley Scott

Some of the most beautiful cinematography you will see in any film ever.  Ridley Scott has crafted a film that I can watch again and again just because it looks so damn good.  The story is actually quite great if you don’t mind slow pacing and the moment when Clarice receives Hannibal’s letter is such a cool scene for those who loved Silence of the Lambs.  Hopkins was born to play Hannibal Lecter, he nails the performance as expected.  I think this movie was a tough pill to swallow for a lot of people for two main reasons, Julianne Moore instead of Jodie Foster, and the final scene where Hopkins feeds Ray Liotta his own brain.  It took me a while to get used to Moore as Clarice, and I had zero problem with the brain scene, it’s just the type of twisted thing Lecter would do…I loved this movie.

#56 Cast Away (2000)

Starring: Tom Hanks, Helen Hunt Director: Robert Zemeckis

Put Tom Hanks alone on a small island and tell him to carry a movie.  That’s what Robert Zemeckis did and Tom Hanks delivered.  This movie is so subtle in the details, so deliberate in its pacing that I’m sure it turned a lot of people off.  Well screw them because this is an outstanding movie.  How the hell can they make me care about a guy losing a volleyball out to sea??  But somehow they did.  This movie succeeded so well because of Hanks’ performance and Zemeckis’ direction.  Hell it even made Helen Hunt watch able, no easy task.  Lot’s of people didn’t like the “open” ending but I did, the simple image of Hanks standing at a literal crossroads could have easily come off as too on the nose, but it worked beautifully and actually made me think about what was next in my own life…obviously writing a fledgling blog…thanks Cast Away!

#55 Gone Baby Gone (2007)

Starring: Casey Affleck, Michelle Monaghan, Morgan Freeman Director: Ben Affleck

Who knew Ben Affleck could direct and who knew his little brother was such a good actor.  Well Ben can and Casey is and team Affleck made one hell of a movie in Gone Baby Gone.  My second favorite Boston crime drama of the decade this film doesn’t have any whistles and bells, just a really really good story, and great believable characters.  I loved the ending of this film most of all, Casey sitting on the couch with the little girl he helped return to her mother and he watches as the mother gets ready to go on a date without planning for a babysitter and as the camera slowly moves across the screen you can tell he is questioning the decision he made without a word being said.  That’s just great stuff right there.  Add in another great performance from Ed Harris and this film is easily worthy of #55 of the decade.

#54 Kill Bill vol. 1 (2003)

Starring: Uma Thurman, Lucy Liu, David Carradine Director: Quentin Tarantino

At the time I had never seen anything like it violence wise.  How could something that should be so disgusting be so damn cool?  Well Tarantino violence is its own animal, a blend of the darkest reaches of the human mind and cartoons.  To this day I think he must have set a record for severed limbs in one movie.  Add to this the epic coolness of his dialogue and you have a movie that is the ultimate in visceral entertainment.  With an amazing set up to what would turn out to be a lackluster second film Kill Bill vol. 1 is a movie I’m glad to have displayed on my elite DVD rack.

#53 Casino Royale (2006)

Starring: Daniel Craig, Eva Green Director: Martin Campbell

The first good James Bond movie since the 70’s saw the series take a drastic turn.  A blond James Bond? What? I’m sure diehard fans were pissed about this and I was skeptical with the choice of Craig to play the character that had been so brilliantly done by Sean Connery and Roger Moore.  But he pulls it off, keeping a semblance of the old Bond swagger but combining it with the fighting ability of Jason Bourne.  This new Bond can charm a beautiful woman and beat the snot out of anyone.  The decision to have this movie occur during the beginning of Bond’s career was a smart move because we see the man learning and growing into the character we all know and love.  My only complain would have to be the main poker game was too long and served as nothing more than a reason to take the bad guys money…something I’m sure could have been handled differently.  Nevertheless the series was recreated in a way that should ensure we won’t get another Die Another Day anytime soon.

#52 Zodiac (2007)

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo Director: David Fincher

If there is one thing David Fincher knows, it’s serial killers.  The director who brought the world Se7en returns to tell the story of unsolved case of the Zodiac killer.  This is a subject I really didn’t know much about before I saw this movie, and after seeing it I feel like I have enough information to write an essay about The Zodiac killer.  The details of the case are revealed with expert precision and you really do get a sense of the scope and brutality of the attacks.  Once again Downey Jr. steps up and delivers a quality performance, Jake Gyllenhaal is good but Mark Ruffalo does the best work here.  The standout character of the film however is the atmosphere, Fincher does a great job making you feel a little of what the Bay area must have been going through during this time when seemingly anyone anywhere was a target.  This is a movie that stays with you after seeing it and that to me is a sign of quality.

#51 Catch Me If You Can (2002)

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks, Christopher Walken Director: Steven Spielberg

A surprisingly fun movie about a check counterfeiter.  All the players are at their best here, especially and not surprisingly Hanks.  Carl Hanratty could easily be an unlikable kill joy trying to ruin DiCaprio’s good time cashing fake checks but Hanks brings a level a sincerity to the role that allows you to connect with him as he becomes almost a father figure to DiCaprio.  The movie flows very well and the direction is excellent, Spielberg know how to handle character moments and does some great things here without so much as a line of dialogue.  The scene where DiCaprio escapes at the Miami airport with mostly visuals and Frank Sinatra’s “Come Fly With Me” playing is one that will get a smile out of anyone.  Just an all around great film without any major defects but also without enough nuance to quite crack my top 50 of the decade.

#50 District 9 (2009)

Starring: Sharlto Copley, Jason Cope Director: Neill Blomkamp

It’s been a bad decade for really good science fiction films, there were really only 4 sci-fi films worth mentioning.  Luckily they were all great and District 9 was one of the most original films of any genre produced over the last 10 years.  It’s got a great premise, an alien ship breaks down above South Africa and the inhabitants of the ship are moved into a slum called District 9.  The design of the aliens or “prawns” is very creepy and extremely cool.  They are humanoid insects if that makes any sense and the detail of everything from their ratty clothes to scars on their exoskeleton are perfect.  The action sequences are quick and explosive, never feeling heavy on special FX.  That is another great aspect of this film, even though there is quite a bit of CGI used, it never feels like it.  It just goes to show that CGI when used right can enhance a film greatly.  Bottom line, if you want a truly original action packed experience I highly recommend this one.

#49 The Dark Knight (2008)

Starring: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart Director: Christopher Nolan

Here is another one that will get me into trouble, probably more so than where I have The Lord of the Rings ranked.  Fans of The Dark Knight are rabid, just a bunch of crazy people.  You will find people trying to tell you that this film is the best film…EVER!  They’re insane!  It’s a good movie, made much better by Ledger’s performance, but take away Ledger and what are you left with?  An average action flick with a weak story.  Batman Begins is so above and beyond The Dark Knight it’s not even worth arguing about.  Now all that being said, Heath Ledger is worth paying double to see this, he is that good.  It really is a shame that he was just proving that he could be a great character actor when he died, lots of cool Joker-esque performances we’re now going to miss out on.  Though it’s a good thing we’ll always have his Joker.

#48 Bad Santa (2003)

Starring: Billy Bob Thornton, Lauren Graham Director: Terry Zwigoff

Simply hilarious, only way to describe Bad Santa.  Well, that and perfect casting because whoever decided to throw Billy Bob into this role is a genius.  He’s the only guy who could have played this part, let’s ask a serious question…could this really be considered acting for Thornton?  I have no problem believing they just got him drunk, threw a Santa suit on him and followed him around with a camera.  Yet another great rated R comedy Bad Santa is one of those rare ones that also has a heart.  How can you not feel horrible for the fat kid?  He’s just so pathetic, and it makes from some awkwardly hilarious stuff.  With Christmas right around the corner I suggest you rent this if you haven’t seen it, it’s that funny.

#47 Finding Nemo (2003)

Starring: Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres Director: Andrew Stanton

Pixar’s first entry in the top 50 is also probably their best example of animation in a film.  The underwater scenes are rich in detail and realism.  Every shot on the reef is breathtakingly beautiful, the colors are so vivid they almost seem fake.  Add to this a very affective narrative about a father searching for his lost son and you have a film that is part action adventure part emotional rollercoaster.  Sure it’s a children’s movie but the great thing about Pixar is that they make all their films multi-layered enough where they can be enjoyed by any age group.  Finding Nemo is a perfect example of why Pixar is able to succeed on levels that DreamWorks can only, well, dream of.

#46 Lost In Translation (2003)

Starring: Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson Director: Sofia Coppola

One of those unexpected gems.  Lost In Translation might be Bill Murray’s greatest role in terms of acting.  An unlikely choice but at the same time a perfect choice, Murray toes the line between clown and depressed has been with an almost uncanny knowledge, as if this is how he views himself.  The movie is sweet without being sappy and might turn a few people off due to it’s independent style.  But there’s a hypnotic charm to it all, something you can’t quite put your finger on but at the same time know is there.

#45 Capote (2005)

Starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener Director: Bennet Miller

Capote is the true story about author Truman Capote and the research for his book In Cold Blood about the murder of a family in Kansas.  Capote who was a homosexual writer for The New Yorker ends up developing a bond with one of the men accused of the murders and begins to get personally involved with the case.  What’s great about this film is that it’s a biopic and a great acting opportunity for Philip Seymour Hoffman but it’s also a murder story that is fully engrossing.  Hoffman is great here and absolutely deserved the Oscar win he received for best actor.  Capote is one of those rare films that does stay with you, I have only seen it once on a random night on HBO but I still remember it vividly.

#44 O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)

Starring: George Clooney, John Turturro, Tim Blake Nelsen Director: Joel and Ethan Coen
One of the riskiest films of the decade but also one of the best, O Brother, Where Art Thou is a loose adaptation of Homer’s The Odyssey and is set in the south during the 1930’s.  It’s a highly stylized film, meaning it’s pretty crazy.  There is an otherworldliness to it all and so the settings seem familiar but at the same time you feel like you’re watching a fever dream.  Clooney is fantastic and carries the dialogue with his rambunctious delivery.  The story itself is just so damn creative and it’s really great to spot the direct nods to The Odyssey sprinkled throughout.  Some great musical work is done here from the siren’s call to the Soggy Bottom Boy’s “Man of Constant Sorrow” a song that many people have on their ipod to this day.  A great quirky installment in the growing library of great Coen Brother’s films.

#43 Moulin Rouge! (2001)

Starring: Nicole Kidman, Ewan McGregor Director: Baz Luhrmann

Normally musicals aren’t my cup of tea, I just don’t get the whole song and dance thing.  I don’t understand the appeal of watching a bunch of people singing a story to me.  That said, I love Moulin Rouge!  It’s just such a cool take on the musical that I can’t help but forget I’m watching one.  For one the songs are all contemporary, which wouldn’t be odd except the film is set in late 19th century Paris.  So when you have a bunch of people in period costumes singing “Roxanne” it’s pretty damn trippy, but in a great way.  The romance is believable and the performances are solid, I especially loved what John Leguizamo does here.  I’m also a big fan of marathon songs that combine a bunch of different pieces into one and the marathon in the middle of Moulin Rouge! is one of the best.  This film is just a great example of how you can add to the story with the song and dance not distract from it, which is why Chicago is no where near this list.

#42 Serenity (2005)

Starring: Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Adam Baldwin Director: Joss Whedon

Serenity is a movie that I’m sure a lot of people missed.  It’s based on the short lived television series Firefly and is one of the best sci-fi films of the decade.  It’s about a rebel band of robin hoodesque space pirates who go around stealing government money.  Their plans are forever changed when they take on the telepathic River who has knowledge of an elaborate government plot.  The story unfolds like a wild west shootout in space, full of quippy one-liners and fancy gun play.  The plot is a little fuzzy but the action and characters more than make up for any deficencies there.  The final act has some of the best special effects for any film made this decade and is also sure to give any viewer a great adrenaline rush.  I first saw this without ever having seen a frame of Firefly, so knowledge of that series isn’t necessary.

#41 Shrek (2001)

Starring: Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy Director: Andrew Adamson

DreamWorks’ take on the classic fairy tale is one of the funniest, sharpest, most poignant animated films ever made by anyone other than Pixar.  Shrek is one of those movies that no matter how old you are you will find something to love.  It doesn’t hurt when you have Mike Myers lending his hilarious Scottish accent to a massive green ogre.  Though the scene stealer here is obviously Eddie Murphy’s Donkey, the relationship between Shrek and Donkey provides some of the funniest banter you will find in an animated film.  The sight gags are great and it’s clear that more than a few shots are taken at Disney’s expense but it’s the fun of it all that you’ll remember most.  Shrek is one of those truly original films that will stand the test of time and be just as funny 20 years from now as it was the day it was released.

Films 40-21

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9 Responses to “My Top 100 Films Of The Decade…Part Three”

  1. bmqyanksfan Says:

    I knew Dark Knight was going to be in there somewhere. Btw-hope u had a great holiady season!

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

    […] Here are the links for parts 1 through 3 Films 100-81 Films 80-61 Films 60-41 […]

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

    […] 80-61 60-41 […]

  4. My Top 100 Films Of The Decade…Part 2 « The Loon Says:

    […] back tomorrow for films 60-41 Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)My Top 100 Films Of The Decade…Part ThreeThe Top 10 Films of the Decade (2000-2009) – Part ITop 50 movies of the decade (part 2)Top 25 […]

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