Thursday, September 24, 2009

Decade in Review: Top 50 Films #30 - #21

#30. Tropic Thunder (2008, dir. Ben Stiller) - Tropic Thunder triumphs much the same way that Team America does. It is a dark and deep satire, but still stands as a silly and brilliant film in itself without it being too political. Ben Stiller directed it so you know what kind of lampooning you are going to get. It's honest about making fun of Hollywood and it's blindness to the world around it. Every actor in the film makes fun of different kinds of actors: method actors (Robert Downey Jr. in maybe the best role of his career since Chaplin), drug addled one-trick ponies (Jack Black) and beefy, mindless action stars (Stiller.) They are lampooning their own profession. They even got the likes of Tom Cruise to help in this. It's a parody of the ridiculousness of the movie making process and it's a brilliant work of comedic genius. Downey Jr. could have ended his career by appearing as a black man in the film, but the real message here is how insensitive actors can be when it comes to this. He isn't actually a racist for appearing in psuedo-black face. It's actually affirming that his character can come to terms with just how ridiculous he is sometimes by the movies end. It stands alone as a satire and stands high above as an action film as well. The stunts and explosions are all awesome and you get wrapped up in just how ludicrous the film actually is. Ben Stiller always hits homers when directing.

#29. A Very Long Engagement (2004 dir. Jean-Pierre Jeunet) Not every romance movie is formulaic and boring. Where movies like The Notebook go for the tears and more formulaic romance genre pitfalls, the French film A Very Long Engagement shows just how dedicated love can be. The tale of two young lovers separated by war and then separated by supposed death is beautiful and tragic. Mathilde, played by the lovely Audrey Tautou, is in denial that her love is dead and goes on a desperate search to find out. We also see in flashback,the WWI battlefront where Manech, played by the timid Gaspard Ulliel, and other of his comrades are forced to trudge the no mans land after trying to get out of their duty on the battlefront. Jeunet has always had an eye for the fantastical and even in this period piece, he finds places to add his flair to make it come alive in a whole new light.

#28. Che (2008, dir. Steven Soderbergh) How on earth does a 4 hour movie captivate any audience? Unlike Grindhouse, Che is really one long movie showing the rise and fall of the titular character. Split between two films entitled The Argentine and The Guerilla, we see how Che's revolution was successful and a failure all at once. The first half is based around the Cuban revolution and it's tedious depiction shows how hard it was for their revolt to succeed. The second half shows the failure in Bolivia and his eventual execution. One part without the other loses the focus on the life of Che and although this film doesn't show his entire life, it shows the importance he had on Latin America. Benicio del Toro shines as Guevera showing all the power, coolness of character and just how smart the man was perfectly. Soderbergh, who changes his game and style constantly, shoots one of the best war films (and one of the only ones on this list.) Che also had one of the more unique movie going experiences with it's "Road Show" showcase. A high quality booklet with all the credits were handed out, no actual credits in the film and a intermission made it all the more enjoyable.

#27. Michael Clayton (2007, dir. Tony Gilroy) As corporate fears grew in the 00's with Enron and all the mortgage chaos that has been happening, it was no surprise that the corporation would become an enemy in the world of Hollywood. This can either be disastrous (ie. The International) or flat out ingenious. There are a few of these fantastic films, but Michael Clayton is superior to some of the rest. What Michael Clayton does is it not only injects the political/corporate gains and losses of the characters involved, it also delves deeply into their characters lives. Not through voice over or extended flashback, but through context clues and subtle character developments. George Clooney's character is clearly a man who has lots of debts and problems yet is still driven by his duty and profession. Tom Wilkinson's troubled lawyer who comes to terms with his problems by dropping his medication and spiraling out of control is fitfully brilliant and hard to watch all in one. Tilda Swinton's ambition driven female shows her fragile side through her painstaking preparations before she goes and does her job. All of this surrounds a twisting plot of corporate conspiracy. It's a crying shame that this film lost the Oscar to Juno in the screenwriting category this year as it's a pitch perfect script. At least we know Michael Clayton has some longevity as apposed to the aforementioned piece of pop culture throw away material.

#26. The Prestige (2006, dir. Christopher Nolan) Easily one of the best directors of the 00's, between his massive Batman franchise came a small yet effective film entitled The Prestige. The film came out the same time as the less riveting more popular The Illusionist and many times gets set aside for it's inferior counterpart. The two only have the era and the idea of magic in common. The Prestige is written much the way an actual magic trick plays out. Everything is not what it seems. The two dueling magicians, Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman, both take different directions to develop their trade. Bale represents the sleight of hand or "prestidigitation" side of magic where as Jackman, who reels out of control, looks for more supernatural and true "magical" sides of the profession. The rest is a web of back stabbing and revenge and utterly shocking turns of events. I may have given some of the plot away, but it's so complicated in it's structure that it's still worth seeing for yourself. Plus, David Bowie as Tesla may be some of the best casting ever. Nolan's writing and directing is always top grade, as you will see some of his other films appear on this list. The Prestige is no stranger to this and is easily one of the most underrated films of the decade.

#25. The Royal Tenenbaums - (2002, dir. Wes Anderson) Wes Anderson is the kind of director who's fantasy view of the world is so stylized and precise that it exists on another plane. The Royal Tenenbaums, often lauded as his best, takes us through an ensemble cast of misfits living in parallel universe Harlem and fighting for the survival of their family as patriarch Royal tr to wriggle his way back into their lives. What makes The Royal T's so damn good is that it's eclectic cast carries these quirky characters to the heights of their possibilities. It's a film that proves Gwenyth Paltrow can play more than just the pretty face that she is. It's star and easily one of the greatest actors of all time, Gene Hackman, portrays royal as a royal asshole but one that you can't help but love. Wes Anderson is an easy target for people to make fun of. His uber nerdy world view is definitely not for everyone, but his auetuership and his eye for precision and wacky characters is pitch perfect.

#24. I (Heart) Huckabees (2004, dir. David O Russel) - When I first heard peoples complaints about I (Heart) Huckabees being too preachy or overwhelming or even confusing, I scratched my head in wonder thinking "did you not get it?" Huckabees is the perfect lampooning of movies trying to strive to have some existential meaning behind the curtains. It bashes you over the head with existential thought in such an innovative and clever way, it's sometimes hard to get past how smugly brilliant David O Russel's comedy actually is. Jason Schwartzman brings his A-Game as usual, Dustin Hoffman and Lily Tomlin shine and even more surprises, cameos and supporting roles come forth out of this ridiculous film. It's almost a slapstick film in it's comedy approach, but that gets seriously overshadowed by the tongue in cheek seriousness of the characters. Hearing Mark Whalberg rant and rave about America's petroleum dependency is hilarious. As much as this films zany cast intertwines and we slowly unravel that certain characters problems lie within themselves and their own insecurities, it takes this approach without a sense of sincerity. It's utterly hilarious.

#23. The Proposition (2005, dir. John Hillcoat) A western out of Australia penned by Aussie native Nick Cave is hardly the kind of film anyone expects to be transcendent, but I guess that would be a fools game to assume. The Proposition is utterly riveting to watch from start to finish. Thanks in part to brilliant director John Hillcoat and to the amazing cast, The Proposition takes it's lofty subtext and poetic storytelling to new heights. Guy Pearce, Danny Houston and Ray Winstone play the perfect trifecta of good, evil and somewhere in between. The violence may be graphic, but it's never glorified. Brutality and lawlessness in the Australian settlements is perfectly depicted both in it's period costuming and it's stark and arid climate. People look battered and old by the elements and their spirits are even more battered. It's a really impressive movie on all fronts. It has a mystical charm that not many other westerns since Dead Man could actually pull off well. A delightful indie flick that flew under the radar.

#22. There Will Be Blood (2007, dir. Paul Thomas Anderson) PTA's flawless character epic There Will Be Blood is a daunting task to watch. Much of what rises to the top of the year that was 2007 is very intense both visually and in theme. The themes of greed and the lust for power deep inside the heart of Daniel Plainview, brilliantly portrayed by Daniel Day Lewis, is the same reaction to the greed and power of present day oil companies and conglomerates. Lust for power doesn't stop in the corporate world in this film, however. Even Paul Dano's character of Eli Sunday is a preacher who craves attention and power. In a sense, these characters have no redeeming qualities, yet their tale is utterly captivating. The decent into madness that Daniel Plainview takes is raw and filled with rage and a goal for self-fulfilment. As he and his son claim New Boston for it's rich oil and are pitted against Eli Sunday, we get this clash of two titanic egos that take some comic turns but are mostly looks into their greed driven fantasy worlds. One comes out triumphant in a brilliant final sequence. Every aspect of this film, from cinematography to Johnny Greenwood of Radiohead fame's score, is pitch black perfect. Black as the oil under the ground and as the hearts of it's characters.

#21. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring -(2001, dir. Peter Jackson) Everyone rants and raves over The Return of the King, but where Lord of the Rings really wins is in it's first and most succinct chapter in The Fellowship of the Ring. Bolting through a ton of back story in one of the most captivating opening sequences in cinema, Fellowship takes off and even if you weren't a fan of the Tolkein classics, you would be sucked into another world immediately. It was a roller coaster ride. When that ended, we got the slow build of characters and the introduction to the all too important Frodo Baggins. Elijah Wood's career was more or less limited to indie films after his career as a child actor ended, but taking up this role obviously made him to be one of the most known actors of our time. The star studded cast of misfits came together to make the Fellowship and we followed these characters through there adventures over 3 years and 10+ hours of film stock. It was the only epic film of the decade that really captivated more than any other. More than Harry Potter and any of the many Superhero franchises. It was a world unlike I've seen and easily one of the most eye popping experiences at the cinema all decade long. One ring to rule them all.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Decade in Review: The Best Films #40 - #31

#40. Persepolis (2007 dir. Marjane Satrapi & Vincent Paronnaud) The second of two animated films to appear on this list, Persepolis is an adaptation of the graphic novel of the same name written by Marjane Satrapi. It's an incredibly moving and timely story. A young girls grows up during the Islamic takeover in Iran and as things go from a more westernized Islamic state to the polar opposite, her life changes for the worse. Her family, who is apposed to the new government, is under constant stress as they must hide from authorities trying to eradicate any dissent. All these events are based on Satrapi's real life experience. The animation exaggerates a lot of the visuals from a child and young adults perspective. Situations are intensified, growing up and going through physical changes are exaggerated and all in all we get a heartfelt and comical adventure through one of the harshest civil wars of our modern era. Much like Sin City, the inclusion of the original writer gives this an authenticity that other adaptations lack. Satrapi's end result is almost an upgrade from her print version.

#39. The Departed (2006, dir. Martin Scorcese) Marty returned to the crime saga after a few years of venturing into other directions. The Departed is a fantastic return to form. A crime saga that weaves through deception and double agents. One of the best casts around with Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon and Jack Nicholson in the lead roles, makes for an excellent experience. All the usual Marty authorship are here from Stones tracks to his usual epic storytelling. A tale of an undercover cop and a rat in the police force in hot pursuit to unravel each others game is riveting. Damon and Dicaprio don't see each other till the very end in one of the most climactic scenes in cinema history. The film keeps you guessing to the very end. It's filled with suspense and thrills and is one of the finest police dramas of the decade.

#38. Inglourious Basterds (2009 dir. Quentin Tarantino) The only entry for 2009 comes in Tarantino's biggest diversion in his career. Inglourious Basterds is a revisionist history of World War II and it's easily the most enjoyable war film I've seen in a long while. The movie is kind of frantic in a way. Each scene links together somehow but there are often times holes. This to me was easy to overlook as the characters were all intriguing, the situations that were arising were all bold and extremely suspenseful and the action was just enough to make it interesting. The titular group of American and German Jews hunting down Nazi's isn't even half of the film. In fact, the Basterds have less screen time then the two of the most intriguing characters Tarantino has. Christoph Waltz is riveting as the "Jew Hunter" who is jovial and loves his job. You are never sure if he hates Jews or he's just that good at his job. Melanie Laurent plays Shosanna Dreyfus who wants revenge for the loss of her family at the hands of the Nazi's. The cat and mouse game that ensues is excellent. If anything, Inglourious Basterds is a fun ride at the cinema.

#37. The Wrestler (2008 dir. Darren Aranofsky) Moving away from the heady and uber visual mind game of The Fountain and into a more character driven work, Darren Aranofsky hit a jackpot with the film The Wrestler. A simple story of a fallen and dilapidated pro wrestler and his struggle to keep any semblance of a real life after his career is basically wrecked by health problems and a battered body is heartbreaking and beautiful. Mickey Rourke finally shows his stuff again after years of falling from grace and brings one of the best performances of the past ten years. Rourke makes his giant of a man a lovable but epically flawed character. He's charismatic in and out of the ring, but his love life and his family life are in complete shambles. It's an anti-sports film in a way as it's not about the underdog rising from the ashes to reclaim glory as much as a washed up player trying to find meaning in his life and finding nothing outside the ring worth a damn. It's devastating and amazing.

#36. Hot Fuzz (2007, dir. Edgar Wright) The second in the "Blood and Ice Cream" Trilogy, Hot Fuzz is a perfect parody a bit better than it's predecessor Shaun of the Dead. It's a home run of a comedy lampooning the police procedural action movies on one hand and becoming a police action procedural at the same time. It's a beautiful realization every once in a while when you realize "hey, I'm watching a parody and not an actual buddy cop film!" that you see the genius that the crew of Pegg, Frost and Wright have created. The movie is frantic, has tons of suspicious characters, is edited so heavily to show how ridiculous movies like Bad Boys II and Point Break are, but then they fall into the conventions of those movies they are poking fun of to the point of idolatry. It's glorious. Unlike most parody films of today (ie. every shitty Wayans Brother's production to come out of the processing plant) Hot Fuzz is actually funny and smartly played. Parody film hasn't been this good since the heyday of Mel Brooks in the late 60's and early 70's.

#35. JCVD - (2008, dir. Mabrouk El Mechri) The same year as Aranofsky's The Wrestler, we received a similar story of a battered and bruised man just trying to make his way. Legal battles with his wife, financial ruin and nothing much to look forward in his career. But where the entertainment and originality factor go sky high is in the meta movie JCVD. The film is centered around the titular Jean Claude Van Damme in a too close to the truth tale about his fizzling career as an action star. As he goes home to his native Brussels to see his family and forget about his troubles, he gets caught up in a heist of a post office/bank and becomes one of the hostages or as reporters and those outside think he is to blame. The rest is a lampooning of other films that he's been in and as well as a post modern look at fame and stardom. It all comes down to a heartbreaking yet completely tongue in cheek soliloquy. We see JCVD wear his heart on his sleeve but only to be slapped in the face with the fact that it's all artifice. A genius film indeed.

#34. Freddy Got Fingered (2001, dir. Tom Green) - Sometimes a film gets the wrong impression when it's viewed. And sometimes the critics are absolutely right that something is total and utter garbage. When Tom Green somehow got a movie deal with 20th Century Fox, no one knew what to expect. What we got was a surrealist poem of a film. Not really much more than just the brain droppings of a man child, but it's almost a post modern view at the American Dream. Green plays Gordy, an illustrator trying to make it big. When the world slaps him in the face with the reality that dreams are harder to make reality than we think in American culture, he trudges back home to a loving, Leave It To Beaver kind of mother and a horrible father who only cares if he's employed. Rip Torn goes to Oscar worthy levels of physical comedy and the rest is just strange. The plot is close to non-existant and the gags are all at once disgusting to watch, but all too ridiculous not to watch.

#33. Sexy Beast (2000, dir. Jonathan Glazer) - What's stellar about Sexy Beast, which could have been a usual ex-con being persuaded back into the game procedural, is it's bending of the genre to be about masculinity and about not being able to run from your dark past. This comedy takes many dark turns from here to there and has it's fair share of blood. When a giant boulder nearly destroys Ray Winstone in the beginning of this film, we know that his journey to stay alive isn't going to end here. When Don Logan, played with intense comedy brilliance and viscious villany by Ben Kingsley, comes strolling back into his life with plans to bring him in for a big heist, things take a negative turn as Winstone's character is set in his life in Spain. As usual in these films, he does in fact head back into the fold, but with intentions other than being a full time criminal. The rest is an intriguing look into the male gangster persona. Ray Winstone proves that he would be one of the best actors to follow in this new decade as this is his second film on the list and he has another to come.

#32. Team America: World Police (2004, dir. Trey Parker) - Just three short years after 9/11, Trey Parker of South Park fame gave us one of the best satires of all time. Team America: World Police may have it's fair share of gross out moments (ie. a puppet sex scene with golden showers) but it also shows just how ridiculous American culture has gotten. It's less about how ludicrous the war on terror is and more a lampooning of Hollywood. The puppets taking place of actors is step one in this process. But having them do ridiculous things like accidentally blow up half of Paris or have a league of actors known simply as F.A.G. help Kim Jong Il take over the world is nothing short of brilliant. It comes off as low-brow humor, but deep inside it, there is brilliant satire on a Dr. Strangelove level. It may be mroe silly than the former, but only because who can take marionette puppets seriously? The viewer will as you will find out that halfway through the movie you've been watching puppets and realize just how ridiculous it is yet still be captivated. That takes skills.

#31. No Country For Old Men (2007, dir. Joel & Ethan Coen) - The Coen Brothers returned to form here with this nihilistic adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's No Country For Old Men. Three different characters who never meet face to face on screen throughout the bulk of the movie are on each others trail from start to finish. Each character is a brilliant look into the world of the greedy and naive (Josh Brolin,) the pure unadulturated evil (Javier Bardem) and the complacent and fearful (Tommy Lee Jones.) It's a terribely bleak tail hitting home the "money is the root of all evil" that dates way back to The Canterbury Tales. Shot beautifully and realistically, the Coen Brothers find nothing but darkness in their source material. Whether it be the brutally realistic violence to the stark and silent backdrop of a soundtrackless void. What the Coen Bros. have always been excellent at is capturing the American spirit whether it's nasty side or it's comedic side. No Country is a perfect tale for them to tell.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Decade in Review: The Best Films #50 - 41

#50. Sin City (2005, dir. Frank Miller & Robert Rodriguez) - What Sin City did was open the gateways for darker, deeper and pulpy comic book movies to get made. It also led to many a rip-off in it's style of shooting a film with lots of green screen and cool coloring effects (ie. 300, The Spirit), but Sin City was the first one and the one to do it the best. Not only was it a pulpy, noir comic, but it was a fun filled comedy fest and a feast for the eyes. Sin City was one of many times that the cinema really exploded in fun and an overall exciting atmosphere. It's not a heady movie filled with deep sub plots or intriguing character developments or studies, but a story of caricatures doing their best and being the best enhanced versions of those standard noir characters. Mickey Rourke's Marv would be the first step towards his career being revived, Benicio del Toro and Clive Owen shine in their opposing roles and their was plenty of blood and guts to keep anyone interested.

#49. The Aviator (2004, dir. Martin Scorcese) Martin Scorcese has had a stellar post 90's slump with many a great film and his story of Howard Hughes and his breakdown is just one of them. The Aviator is a sumptous movie that is all Hollywood glitz and glamor of the early years melded around the story of a man spiraling out of control. Hughes debilitating obsessive compulsive disorder is perfectly portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio. It's hard to watch at sometimes as he reels out of control not only in his ambitious career as an innovator in aviation but also on a personal level. Stellar supporting cast including Cate Blanchett and John C. Reilly, it's a movie that has visual flair and emotional characters that are engaging and heartbreakingly beautiful to watch.

#48. Oldboy (2003, dir. Park Chan-wook) - I first heard of this film from a Korean classmate in my film noir seminar class and his description, although vague, made the movie out to be one of the outstanding discoveries of this particular class. Asian cinema has always had this brilliant grasp on the human condition and Oldboy is no exception. A cross between Kurosawa and Tarantino, Chan-wook depicts this film graphically, but it's all sincere violence with a motive. It's not violence for the sake of violence, it's a film with a very intense subject matter and one of vengencace acted out in massive detail. To bog you down with plot points is to ruin one of the greatest things this film has going for it: mystery and surprise. It's a neo-noir with a taste of the east and one that is extremely bitter and graphic. It's a harrowing journey, but one that you can't take your eyes off of.

#47 - Lost in Translation (2003 dir. Sofia Coppola) - What Sofia Coppola did with Lost in Translation is take an element all of humanity fears and make it heartbreaking and beautiful to watch. That emotion of course is loneliness. Both Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansenn's characters are earth shatteringly lonely and complacent with their lives. It's not just hte language barrier that is hard, in fact that isn't even the point of the movie. Where the real emotional trash comes in is in their own relationships with their spouses. Either physical distance in the case of Bob Harris and his wife or the cold, uninterested distance of the newly weds of Charlotte and John. Visually stunning as well as emotionally charged, Lost in Translation is the perfect little movie. A small idea that has global proportions and emotions that effect everyone perfectly crafted. Also, the soundtrack is quite excellent which helps mirror the mood with great detail.

#46. Grindhouse (2007, dirs. Quentin Tarantino & Robert Rodriguez) - The ultimate movie going experience. Throwing back to the 70's and 80's schlock and awe film era of the Grindhouse, Tarantino and Rodriguez teamed up to make to films that would play as a double feature aptly named Grindhouse. From the gritty film stock to missing reels and fake trailers, it was an experience unmatched by any other film of the era. The two films, Rodriguez's zombie comedy romp Planet Terror and Tarantino's ode to classic stunts and meaningless dialogue are good in their own right. One is a fun ride filled with crude and rude gore and smart talking heroes and villains, the other a strange and surreal look at the world of stunt drivers and unsuspecting women. One has plenty of exploding heads and limbs being torn apart where the other has the most intense car chase scene since the heyday of true stunt driving. The fake trailers for Machete, Thanksgiving, Don't and Werewolf Women of the S.S. added a brilliant element. Sadly the film was not as well received as it should have deserved and now the original point of the film is lost on the DVD release, but luckily it was an experience I got to have in the theater.

#45. Zodiac (2007, dir. David Fincher) - The true crime story of the Zodiac killer is a mystery in itself. A mystery that spans decades of time and many different possible suspects. It was surely painstaking and a huge pain in the ass in reality, so when David Fincher helmed the movie, everyone expected something along the lines of Se7en. What they got instead is a brooding, long and hard film to watch, but one that is absolutely riveting. It's not hard to watch in the way of violent or boring, it's hard to watch because it puts you right next to the Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr. and Mark Ruffalo characters. You are painstakingly trying to figure out along with them who was doing these scattered, brutal murders with almost no links whatsoever. It's a modern day spook story of sorts. Fincher is a brilliant choice to direct as his murk and mire shooting is perfect for such a story shrouded in mystery.

#44. Shaun of the Dead (2004, dir. Edgar Wright) - The first in the "Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy," Shaun of the Dead is a perfect genre bending film. It takes the conventions of a romantic comedy and a zombie film and perfectly mesh them into one cohesive parody film. Simon Pegg plays the schmo who loses his girlfriend after he total screws up left and right over and over again. As he is trying to win her back, BOOM! Zombie apocalypse. As things slowly go from shitty to the shittiest, Pegg and crew are all cooped up together and dealing with their relationship problems at the same time dealing with their existence. Everything from endearing moments to fast zoom cuts and blood and gore are all shoved into the same frames. The idea seems like it would just be a campy comedy, but Shaun of the Dead is way more than that. The characters are engaging and the comedy is not just straightforward rom-com material, but authentic story telling and acting.

#43. Spirited Away (2001 dir. Hayao Miyazaki) The world of Miyazaki is a fantastical one, filled with strange beasties and precocious children spiraling into their fantasy worlds. Where American animated features tread on the trite and usually not as deeper themes (until Pixar, that is), Miyazaki tackles the transition from youth to adulthood with visual prowess and brilliant imagery. Spirited Away is sort of a revisionist tale of Alice in Wonderland. The comparisons are hard to deny, but something deeper seems to be going on in this version. The characters are bursting with life. Even though the images are surreal at times, every character and creature seems to have a personality all their own. It's a truly magical film that really captivates. From what I've read, Miyazaki's films can sometimes be geared more for children of a young age, like this years Ponyo. What makes Spirited Away an instant classic is that it bridges the gap between family and adulthood just like the characters. Anyone who sees this film will be captivated, no matter the age.

#42. Synecdoche, NY (2008 dir. Charlie Kaufman) - One of the best existential films I have ever seen, Charlie Kaufman's fantastic directorial debut Synechdoche, NY is a heartbreaking, captivating and visually sumptuous film. The world as we know it, our day to day lives is examined in a very strange way. Through the life of a playwright who's stage show slowly melts into his own personal life and as things become more and more complicated with his stage production, they also become increasingly harder on his physical and mental stability. As usual, Kaufman's kooky world view comes out shining in this film. The set within a set within a set idea and concept is utterly mind boggling. Each viewing of this film gives you another insight into the mental decline of the fabulous Phillip Seymour Hoffman's character. The supporting cast of Michelle Williams, Katherine Keener, Samantha Morton and many many other greats is nothing to sneeze at either. It's a superbly complex film filled with life lessons. It also has one of the greatest quotes from a film I've heard in ages: "There are nearly thirteen million people in the world. None of those people is an extra. They're all the leads of their own stories. They have to be given their due."

#41. Road to Perdition - (2002, dir. Sam Mendes) - Gangster films are usually less thoughtful and less about the characters and more about action and running through the usual gangster plot devices. When Sam Mendes helms a project, expect some breaking of genre conventions. Mendes takes the Gangster Genre and turns it into a beautiful tale of family. In one of Tom Hanks understated and under appreciated roles, we see a father stuck in a situation where he's lost so much but his one son who because of emotional distance and an awkward home life proves to be difficult but necessary to his character. At first, their relationship is strained and tough as Hanks has to run from his former boss, one of Paul Newman's finest and final roles, but as the film progresses, you see just how much he cares for his son. Not only is this a character driven film, but the Academy Award winning cinematography is beautiful. Bleak and stark colors never looked so beautiful except in this film. Truly an under appreciated masterpiece of the past ten years.

2000 - 2009: A Decade in Movies and Music

The new millennium was originally slated to be a shit show, at least on a cataclysmic scale, thanks to Y2K fear mongering. '99 gave way to '00 with not a glitch except in the package of a new era. 2001 would change everything for the United States. It's been a downward spiral of sorts since then. Terrorism, war, a president that many didn't like, near economic ruin and near the end of it all, a possible ray of hope and a new administration that is stuck with a massive mess and so much more. As art often does, both music and movies reflected the times. Sometimes in a very surreal way, other times mocking it and sometimes just flat out ignoring it to make us happy and give us an escape.

It's hard to describe this era on a personal level. It was a large time for change. I went from a naive high schooler to an anti-ambitious college kid to a young adult jaded about the life that he has created for himself. For only half of this first decade of the new millennium did I have this blog, which changed names many times. I feel that In the Wake of Poseidon is the best fit. I am overwhelmed by the massive amount of change and tidal swelling that has been the past 10 years that all I can do is sit back and look at the aftermath. So that is what I do mostly. I sit back and look at everything that has passed by and try to make sense of it all.

The next few months or so, I will be cataloging the 50 best movies of the new millennium as well as the 100 best albums. I will intersperse these lengthy lists with shorter lists like best acts of the new millennium, best live experiences and much more. It's gonna be a long ride, but here we go. I will start with the best movies of the decade and swiftly move onto the best albums, which is going to take much much longer.

Sit back and look back and enjoy.

{Editor's Note: I realize starting these lists are slighting this last year of 2009. Well, I may add some films that have yet to come out as the end of the movie season is always the best, but alas I need things to do whilst at work and this is just the time waster I need.My apologies to that great movie on the horizon that might get slighted. Your dues will be paid.}

Rock of Ages - 100 Songs - 100 Artists: Master List

Buddy Holly & The Crickets That'll Be the Day 1957
Roy Orbison Crying 1962
The Ronettes Be My Baby 1963
Otis Redding I've Been Loving You Too Long 1965
Bob Dylan It's All Over Now, Baby Blue 1965
Beach Boys God Only Knows 1966
Buffalo Springfield For What It's Worth 1967
Love The Red Telephone 1967
The Jimi Hendrix Experience The Wind Cries Mary 1967
Van Morrison Astral Weeks 1968
The Zombies Hung Up on a Dream 1968
Donovan Hurdy Gurdy Man 1968
The Beatles While My Guitar Gently Weeps 1968
King Crimson 21st Century Schizoid Man 1969
Cream Badge 1969
Sly and the Family Stone Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) 1969
George Harrison Beware of Darkness 1970
John Lennon God 1970
Paul McCartney Maybe I'm Amazed 1970
Creedence Clearwater Revival Ramble Tamble 1970
James Brown Sex Machine 1970
Grand Funk Railroad Sin's a Good Man's Brother 1970
Led Zeppelin Since I've Been Loving You 1970
Tim Buckley Song to the Siren 1970
The Kinks Strangers 1970
The Velvet Underground Sweet Jane 1970
Nick Drake Things Behind The Sun 1970
Don McLean American Pie 1971
T.Rex Jeepster 1971
The Temptations Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me) 1971
David Bowie Life on Mars? 1971
Flower Travellin' Band Satori Pt. 1 1971
The Rolling Stones Sister Morphine 1971
Faces Stay With Me 1971
Elton John Talking Old Soldiers 1971
Deep Purple Highway Star 1972
Lou Reed Perfect Day 1972
Big Star Thirteen 1972
Stevie Wonder Living For the City 1973
Mott The Hoople Foxy, Foxy 1973
The Who Love Reign O'er Me 1973
John Cale Paris 1919 1973
Pink Floyd Time 1973
Roxy Music Love is the Drug 1975
Parliament Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof off the Sucker) 1976
Warren Zevon Desperado's Under The Eaves 1976
Neil Young Like A Hurricane 1977
Television Marquee Moon 1977
Brian Eno Spider and I 1977
Electric Light Orchestra Mr. Blue Sky 1978
Nick Lowe So It Goes 1978
Elivs Costello & The Attractions What's So Funny Bout (Peace, Love & Understanding) 1978
Kraftwerk Neon Lights 1978
XTC Making Plans for Nigel 1979
The Police So Lonely 1979
The Clash Guns of Brixton 1980
Echo and the Bunnymen Crocodiles 1980
Talking Heads The Great Curve 1980
Adam and the Ants Prince Charming 1981
Michael Jackson Wanna Be Startin' Something 1983
U2 Sunday Bloody Sunday 1983
Prince Let's Go Crazy 1984
New Order Bizarre Love Triangle 1985
Tom Waits Jockey Full of Bourbon 1985
Public Enemy Bring The Noise 1987
Guns N Roses Welcome to the Jungle 1987
Sonic Youth Teen Age Riot 1988
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds The Mercy Seat 1988
Pixies Bone Machine 1989
Depeche Mode Enjoy the Silence 1990
Primus The Toys Go Winding Down 1990
My Bloody Valentine Only Shallow 1991
Pearl Jam Porch 1991
Soundgarden Jesus Christ Pose 1991
Teenage Fanclub The Concept 1991
Nirvana Heart Shaped Box 1993
Red Hot Chilli Peppers Soul To Squeeze 1993
The Lemonheads The Great Big No 1993
Nine Inch Nails Closer 1994
Jeff Buckley Lover, You Should've Come Over 1994
Stone Temple Pilots Silvergun Superman 1994
Stereolab Cybele's Reverie 1996
Wilco Misunderstood 1996
Radiohead Climbing Up the Walls 1997
Foo Fighters Everlong 1997
The Refused The Deadly Rhythm 1998
Pavement Carrot Rope 1999
Built To Spill Time Trap 1999
The Flaming Lips Do You Realize? 2002
Queens of the Stoneage No One Knows 2002
The Rapture House Of Jealous Lovers 2003
Arcade Fire Crown of Love 2004
Death From Above 1979 Romantic Rights 2004
Mastodon Blood & Thunder 2004
Franz Ferdiand Take Me Out 2004
Electric Six Dance Epidemic 2005
Islands Rough Gem 2006
Dinosaur Jr. Pick Me Up 2007
Beck Chemtrails 2008
Portishead Machine Gun 2008