Monday, December 14, 2009

List-O-Mania, Part 2: The Decade

The decade comes to a close, and we can't resist making lists. Here's The AV Club; the delightfully surly Michael Atkinson weighs in here; here's the aggregate Time Out New York list, with links to critic's individual ballots; Richard Brody of The New Yorker has a delightfully pretentious list here (even more so than my own); the online social networking/streaming video, and home of friend-of-this-here blog Ignatius Vishnevetsky, The Auteurs, has got a huge collection of links here and here; James Quandt and TIFF Cinematheque have a list compiled Indiewire style from a bunch of international critics, curators and programmers.

My participation in a list of the decade's best came about originally as a simple joint effort between myself and some close friends, under the auspices and benevolent editorial hand of Alex Dowd. As of now, the project has expanded to include writers for the relatively new film/music website In Review Online, home to Mr. Dowd and a few other friends. I've got no problem with this, although the inclusion of several new people has changed the eventual consensus Top 100 (coming soon!), which I'm also assuming will be eventually unveiled on their website. Contributors have been encouraged to release their own personal ballots, so here we go.
A few thoughts on list making: There is no 'Dark Knight'. Nor will you be seeing the Coen Brothers or Almodovar. You'll also notice a lack of documentaries and animated films on my list. With the exception of Pixar and a handful of anime titles, there wasn't a lot else to even begin to consider. In the end, I decided that offering a unique and artistic statement about our world using the building blocks of filmed reality were more important than mentioning, once again, how rad Pixar movies are. Call me an old fashioned Bazinian, but that's how it goes. At the risk of incurring further wrath, I'll also say that most straight forward documentaries don't particularly interest me, from an aesthetic point of view. This decade saw an impressive group of home grown, DIY docs about the war, 9/11, Katrina, corporate malfeasance, etc. I applaud their intentions, and am happy that they exist - these are truly important pedagogic utensils. Nevertheless, their polemic intent frequently overshadows any exploration of film as a medium; in other words, the camera is simply a means to an end. I'll also add that some of the films on my list do utilize documentary film techniques, blending them in fascinating ways with traditional narrative visual grammar. This intersecting of mediums is what interest me. I did make an effort to think globally, although their are no 'token' films present on the list - in other words, the Sembene film is not on here simply because I needed an 'African' film. There is also a lack of films from 2009 - simply put, there hasn't been, in my mind, enough time to fully live with '09 films, or to see them again. The way thoughts and feelings change over time and multiple viewings is very important to me, and as much as I value 'Serbis', 'Public Enemies', 'The Headless Woman' and 'Where the Wild Things Are', I simply haven't had a chance to revisit and test my initial responses. Incidentally, all of these films will appear on my 'Best of '09' list, and I have seen 'Public Enemies' more than once - but Mann has plenty of love on the list already. On that note:

1. Miami Vice (Mann; 2006/USA)
2. Werckmeister Harmonies (Tarr; 2000/Hungary)
3. Inland Empire (Lynch; 2007/USA)
4. Notre Musique (Godard; 2004/France)
5. Ten/10 on Ten/Five (Kiarostami; 2002;2004;2003/Iran)
6. Demonlover (Assayas; 2002/France)
7. The Intruder (Denis; 2004/France)
8. Millennium Mambo (Hou; 2001/Taiwan)
9. Goodbye Dragon Inn (Tsai; 2003/Taiwan)
10. Moolaade (Sembene; 2004/Senegal)
11. Exiled (To; 2007/Hong Kong)
12. Bright Future (Kurosawa; 2003/Japan)
13. Code Unknown (Haneke; 2000/France)
14. Morvern Callar (Ramsay; 2002/UK)
15. ABC Africa (Kiarostami; 2001/Iran)
16. The Uncertainty Principle (de Oliveira;
17. The Holy Girl (Martel; 2002/Portugal)
18. Syndromes and a Century (Weerasethakul; 2006/Thailand)
19. In the Mood For Love (Wong; 2000/Hong Kong)
20. 24 City (Zhang-ke; 2008/China)
21. Yi Yi (Yang; 2000/Taiwan)
22. A History of Violence (Cronenberg; 2005/USA)
23. Offside (Panahi; 2006/Iran)
24. L’Enfant (Dardenne’s; 2005/France)
25. Zodiac (Fincher; USA)
26. The Duchess of Langeais (Rivette; France)
27. Los Angeles Plays Itself (Anderson; 2003/USA)
28. Regular Lovers (Garrel; 2005/France)
29. Ali (Mann; 2002/USA)
30. Bamako (Sissako; 2006/Mali)
31. Colossal Youth (Costa; 2006/Portugal)
32. Memento (Nolan; 2000/USA)
33. Russian Ark (Sokurov; 2002/Russia)
34. Children of Men (Cuaron/USA/UK
35. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Gondry/USA)
36. The Royal Tenenbaums (Anderson/USA)
37. Last Days (Van Sant/USA)
38. Invisible Waves (Ratanaruang; 2006/Thailand)
39. Esther Kahn (Desplechin; 2000/France/UK)
40. Los Muertos (Alonso; 2004/Argentina)
41. The Flower of Evil (Chabrol/France)
42. The Believer (Bean/USA)
43. Before Sunset (Linklater/USA)
44. The Proposition (Hillcoat/Australia)
45. Woman is the Future of Man (Hong/South Korea)
46. All the Real Girls (Green/USA)
47. Dogville (Von Trier/Denmark/UK)
48. Case of the Grinning Cat (Marker; 2004/France)
49. There Will Be Blood (Anderson/USA)
50. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Dominik/USA)
51. Moments Choisis des Histoire(s) du Cinema (Godard; 2004/France)
52. Spider (Cronenberg; 2002/Canada/UK)
53. Warm Water Under A Red Bridge (Imamura; 2001/Japan)
54. Mulholland Dr. (Lynch/USA)
55. The Man From London (Tarr/Hungary)
56. Summer Hours (Assayas/France)
57. Kings and Queen (Desplechin; 2004/France)
58. The Son (Dardenne’s; 2002/Belgium/France)
59. Strayed (Techine/France)
60. Divine Intervention (Suleiman; 2002/Palestine)
61. Chekovian Motifs (Muratova; 2002/Ukraine/Russia)
62. Aporto of My Childhood (de Oliveira/Portugal)
63. Fat Girl (Breillat/France)
64. The Captive (Akerman/France)
65. Comedy of Power (Chabrol/France)
66. Nobody Knows (Koreeda; 2004/Japan)
67. Eureka (Aoyama; 2000/Japan)
68. Sparrow (To; 2007/Hong Kong)
69. 2046 (Wong/Hong Kong)
70. Still Life/Dong (Zhang-ke; China)
71. Three Times (Hou; 2005/Taiwan)
72. Tokyo Sonata (Kurosawa; 2008/Japan)
73. Last Life in the Universe (Ratanaruang; 2003/Thailand)
74. What Time is it There? (Liang; 2001/Taiwan)
75. Tropical Malady (Weerasethakul; 2004/Thailand)
76. George Washington (Green/USA)
77. School of Rock (Linklater/USA)
78. Spartan (Mamet/USA)
79. Brick (Johnson/USA)
80. Half Nelson (Fleck and Boden/USA)
81. The Mad Songs of Fernanda Hussein (Gianvito; 2001/USA)
82. Punch Drunk Love (Anderson/USA)
83. We Own the Night (Gray/USA)
84. Code 46 (Winterbottom/UK)
85. Paranoid Park (Van Sant/USA)
86. Sunshine (Boyle/UK)
87. I Heart Huckabees (Russel/USA)
88. The Devil’s Backbone (del Toro/Spain/Mexico)
89. Homecoming (Dante/USA/Canada)
90. 25th Hour (Lee/USA)
91. Marie Antoinette (Coppola/USA)
92. Primer (Carruth/USA)
93. Space Cowboys (Eastwood/USA)
94. 28 Days Later (Boyle/UK)
95. The Devil’s Rejects (Zombie/USA)
96. Black Book (Verhoeven/Netherlands/Germany)
97. Keane (Kerrigan/USA)
98. The Descent (Marshall/UK)
99. Vera Drake (Leigh/UK)
100. A.I. (Spielberg/USA)


chazz lyons said...


My name is Chazz Lyons and I'm the editor-in-chief of a multi-writer independent, film review and essay site called Gone Cinema Poaching, where we push underseen and undervalued cinema. It's good to see a number of my site's favorites of the past ten years (including Claire Denis's wonderfully confounding L'INTRUS) on your own personal decade list.

Currently, GCP is looking for new film critics and/or essayists to contribute regularly or even semi-regularly if preferable. Take a look at our site ( and if you're interested in contributing shoot me an email at or drop me a line via AIM at editorGCP and we can talk details.

Chazz Lyons

Danimal said...

Chazz, thanks for stopping by. I've checked out your site before, my buddy Alex Dowd has it on his blog roll, and I like what I see. I'm flattered by the invite, and I'm always happy to see other writers/enthusiasts who value the same things in cinema that I do. I'll drop you an e-mail one of these days; I'm in no position to contribute to anything on any kind of regular basis (as my infrequent blog posts can attest to), but perhaps we can work something else out. Keep up the good work, and I'll be visiting again soon.