Monday, November 16, 2009

Movies of the decade

My top ten movies of the decade, based purely on how much of an emotional impact they had on me:
  1. United 93 An almost perfect movie that imagines what it was like inside the one hijacked 9/11 flight that missed its target. The closing sequence, not despite but because of its inexorability, is perhaps the most physically powerful scene I've ever experienced in the movies. I was completely overcome.
  2. The Lives of Others Three hours of shots of interiors and dialog, with virtually no action whatsoever, that nonetheless offers a riveting recreation of the psychology of a police state, from the point of view of a true believer in the system who is nonetheless a humanist.
  3. Children of Men What if the experience of life inside the Gaza Strip became the pervasive future, in a world with no children, and therefore no hope for the future? The dystopia is so comprehensive that even the redemptive moment feels merely like a prelude to worse horrors.
  4. In the Mood for Love A sad and beautiful account of the possibility of romance in the shadow of life's disappointments. Subtly erotic, with an endless parade of beautiful outfits for Maggie Cheung.
  5. Waltz with Bashir An animated Israeli movie about the difficulty of working through memories of extreme trauma. The animation induces in the audience the same sense of dissociation from the depicted events that the characters in the film experience as they try to remember what they went through as young soldiers in South Lebanon, in the run-up to the Ariel Sharon-sponsored massacres in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps.
  6. Borat Vile, obscene, politically incorrect -- and utterly hilarious.
  7. The Diving Bell & the Butterfly Grim yet oddly humorous first-person account of what it is like to lose all one's physical capacities while maintaining an intact mind.
  8. Memento A classic film noir that puts you in the hero's no-memory shoes by being narrated backward. Carrie-Anne Moss does a brilliant turn as the femme fatale.
  9. Sideways Side-splittingly funny account of a couple of odd-bedfellow friends going on a joint bender in opposite directions.
  10. Downfall The definitive view from inside Hitler's bunker (in odd ways parallel to United 93's reimagining of a hellish scene from the inside). Bruno Ganz gives the performance of the decade as Hitler.
For a longer list, check out this one from the Times (of which I've seen about half).


Unknown said...

You would really appreciate Sunshine, which speaks to thew nihilist in all if us:

Unknown said...

No Team America?

Unknown said...

Seen all but the Lives of Others. Strange that United 93 had such an effect on you. I didn't really like it. Waltz with Bashir was great. Loved the style...

Unknown said...

I thought this was a pretty interesting list as well, in the NYT, focusing on the movies which spawned new genres or narrative styles over the decade:

Nils said...

I actually left off two that I can't believe I forgot: "Gosford Park," and "The Fog of War"