Sunday, December 20, 2009

100 Favorite Films of The Aughts

I got my first job during junior year of high school (class of '71), working as an usher in a suburban New Jersey movie theater. I didn't know it then, but we were living through a great era for cinema. At work I watched films like Five Easy Pieces and Women In Love literally dozens of times, which had the effect of convincing this serious young man that movies were something to take seriously. Around the same time, a Philadelphia rep house programmed a bunch of double bills curated from the New York Times' Ten Best lists of the Sixties. I'd take the train into Philly and return home dazed and overwhelmed by pairings like Red Desert and Juliet of the Spirits (the first color films from Antonioni and Fellini), and Visconti's The Damned alongside Nichol's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Forty years later, I offer up my own decade of favorites in memory of that NY Times series which kickstarted my film education. These lists were compiled at the end of each year and by no stretch represent what I might in retrospect consider "The Best" or "The Most Important" of The Aughts. They're simply the ten films which, at the time, exhilarated me most in a given year.

Chuck and Buck (USA, dir. Miguel Arteta)
Dancer in the Dark (Denmark, dir. Lars von Trier)
East-West (France, dir. Régis Wargnier)
The Eyes of Tammy Faye (USA, dir. Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato)
Human Resources (France, dir. Laurent Cantet)
Nowhere to Hide (South Korea, dir. Lee Myung-se)
Our Song (USA, dir. Jim McKay)
Requiem for a Dream (USA, dir. Darren Aronofsky)
Titus (UK, USA, Italy, dir. Julie Taymor)
You Can Count on Me (USA, dir. Kenneth Lonergan)

Dora-Heita (Japan, dir. Kon Ichikawa)
The Gleaners and I (France, dir. Agnès Varda)
In The Mood For Love (Hong Kong, dir. Wong Kar-wai)
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings (USA, New Zealand, dir. Peter Jackson)
Mulholland Drive (France, USA, dir. David Lynch)
No Man’s Land (Bosnia, dir. Danis Tanovic)
The Princess and the Warrior (Germany, dir. Tom Tykwer)
Tuvalu (Germany, dir. Veit Helmer)
The Vertical Ray of the Sun (Viet Nam, France, dir. Anh Hung Tran)
Waking Life (USA, dir. Richard Linklater)

Adaptation (USA, dir. Spike Jonze)
Atanajurat: The Fast Runner (Canada, dir. Zacharias Kunuk)
Bloody Sunday (UK, dir. Paul Greengrass)
Bowling For Columbine (USA, dir. Michael Moore)
Lantana (Australia, dir. Ray Lawrence)
Musa The Warrior (South Korea, dir. Kim Sung-su)
My Voyage To Italy (USA, Italy, dir. Martin Scorsese)
The Piano Teacher (France, Austria, dir. Michael Haneke)
Rivers and Tides (Germany, UK, dir. Thomas Riedelsheimer)
Y tu mamá tambien (Mexico, dir. Alfonso Cuaron)

Hukkle (Hungary, dir. György Pálfi)
Irreversible (France, dir. Gaspar Noé)
Kill Bill Volume 1 (USA, dir. Quentin Tarantino)
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (USA, New Zealand, dir. Peter Jackson)
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (USA, New Zealand, dir. Peter Jackson)
Marooned in Iraq (Iran, dir. Bahman Ghobadi)
The Path to Love (France, dir. Rémi Lange)
A Peck on the Cheek (India, dir. Mani Ratnam)
The Pianist (France, dir. Roman Polanski)
Russian Ark (Russia, dir. Aleksandr Sokurov)

15 (Singapore, dir. Royston Tan)
Before Sunset (USA, dir. Richard Linklater)
Control Room (USA, dir. Jehane Noujaim)
Games of Love and Chance (aka L'esquive) (France, dir. Abdel Kechiche)
Moolaadé (France, Burkina Faso, dir. Ousmane Sembene)
Oasis (South Korea, dir. Lee Chang-dong)
The Return (Russia, dir. Andrei Zvyagintsev)
Sideways (USA, dir. Alexander Payne)
The Incredibles (USA, dir. Brad Bird)
A Very Long Engagement (France, dir. Jean-Pierre Jeunet)

The Assassination of Richard Nixon (USA, dir. Niels Mueller)
The Devil and Daniel Johnston (USA, dir. Jeff Feuerzeig)
Duck Season (Mexico, dir. Fernando Eimbcke)
Gift From Above (Israel, dir. Dover Koshashvili)
I am a Sex Addict (USA, dir. Caveh Zahedi)
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (USA, dir. Shane Black)
Life is a Miracle (Serbia, dir. Emir Kusturica)
The Polar Express: An IMAX 3-D Experience (USA, dir. Robert Zemeckis)
Private (Italy, dir. Saverio Costanzo)
Thumbsucker (USA, dir. Mike Mills)

12:08 East of Bucharest (Romania, dir. Corneliu Porumboiu)
Babel (USA, France, Mexico, dir. Alejandro González Iñárritu)
Between the Lines: India’s Third Gender (Germany, dir. Thomas Wartmann)
The Child (Belgium, dir. Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne)
The Descent (UK, dir. Neil Marshall)
In the Battlefields (Lebanon, dir. Danielle Arbid)
Iron Island (Iran, dir. Mohammad Rasoulof)
The New World (USA, UK, dir. Terrence Malick)
The Science of Sleep (France, dir. Michel Gondry)
What a Wonderful Place (Israel, dir. Eyal Halfon)

7 Years (France, dir. Jean-Pascal Hattu)
Glue (Argentina, dir. Alexis Dos Santos)
Grindhouse (USA, dir. Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez)
Hairspray (USA, dir. Adam Shankman)
Opera Jawa (Indonesia, dir. Garin Nugroho)
The Page Turner (France, dir. Denis Dercourt)
Ratatouille (USA, dir. Brad Bird, Jan Pinkava)
Sicko (USA, dir. Michael Moore)
Syndromes and a Century (Thailand, dir. Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
To Get to Heaven, First You Have to Die (Tajikistan, dir. Jamshed Usmonov)

A Christmas Tale (France dir. Arnaud Desplechin)
The Duchess of Langeais (France dir. Jacques Rivette)
I'm a Cyborg and That's OK (South Korea dir. Park Chan-wook)
Jar City (Iceland dir. Baltasar Kormákur)
Nightwatching (UK dir. Peter Greenaway)
The Secret of the Grain (France dir. Abdel Kechiche)
Slingshot (Philippines dir. Brillante Mendoza)
Solitary Fragments (Spain dir. Jaime Rosales)
Still Life (China dir. Jia Zheng-ke)
Synecdoche, New York (USA dir. Charlie Kaufman)

35 Shots of Rum (France, dir. Claire Denis)
Ander (Spain, dir. Roberto Castón)
Everything Strange and New (USA, dir. Frazer Bradshaw)
The Fantastic Mr. Fox (USA, dir. Wes Anderson)
Fig Trees (Canada, dir. John Greyson)
Hipsters (Russia, dir. Valery Todorovsky)
My Dear Enemy (South Korea, dir. Lee Yoon-ki)
Revanche (Austria, dir. Götz Spielmann)
Still Walking (Japan, dir. Hirokazu Kore-eda)
Tony Manero (Chile, dir. Pablo Larrain)


Maya said...

Truly delightful intro, Michael. I always like hearing the personal dimension of film experience. As for the list, I think there's some you forgot to put on there. Heh. Just joking. As you know, I'm not a great one for lists of films, though I am interested in what YOU value and note that we've actually seen some of these films together, especially in the last half of the decade when I began to pay attention.

Matt said...

These are among the most original lists I've seen. Bravo!