just be good. Please. Be good.
Criteria not needed:
BEST OF THE DECADE SO FAR
25. I Saw the Devil
A relentless story of revenge that put Wu Jin Kim in the pantheon of such great Korean directors like Bong Jon Ho and Park Chan Wok.
23. The Sunset Limited
Two men. One room. It's as simple as a movie can get. When it's based on the words of Cormac McCarthy, it can also be the most soul searing. This is a little gem that has more power in dialogue and ideas than most of the scripts Hollywood churns out. There's times in my life where I identify with the Professor and times when I smell the lingering scent of divinity as Sam Jackson's character would say. Point being, this is a conversation starter.
21. The Wolf of Wall Street
20. Martha Marcy May Marlene
Durkin's script allows the movie to weave in and out of past and present creating a crippling state of paranoia that runs through the veins of the main character.
19. The Interrupters
I live in Chicago and luckily in the suburbs. It is well known just how bad crime has gotten in the city. The Interrupters shows an organization from the city called Cease Fire. This organization brings together people who stepped away from violence and hope to stop violence in their community. Gang violence, angry kids, and scared kids are a part of the range of situations the group tackles. There's no conventional structure here. No talking heads. We are given raw and intimate portraits of heart wrenching stories. As powerful as anything as Steve James made. And he made Hoop Dreams.
After Prisoners, Villeneuve's name was branded into my brain. I sought out this picture to find that he is not a one hit wonder, he is the real deal. Incendies opens with a elegant use of Radiohead's You and Whose Army and doesn't let up until it final haunting revelation.
The Salem Witch Trials are a subject that absolutely fascinate me. You can even see the mindset at work in modern day society with the West Memphis Three documentaries. It's that brand of psychological horror that scares me more than any monster. It's on full display in Thomas Vinterberg's picture. Only this time you see the source of the lie and track its destructive trail that attaches to the protagonist like a cancerous tumor. Mads Mikkelsen turns in his best performance here.
Carruth directed, produced, edited and scored this film. Proof that if your vision is unique and as singular as your passion and drive are, nothing can stop you.
14. Killer Joe
The best film Haneke has done involves an aging couple. Emmanuelle Riva gives my second favorite female performance so far this decade and Jean Louis Trintignant reminds me why he is one of the most gifted actors out there. We see their struggles, warts and all as the camera asks us to simply observe these two in what is, for the most part, a single location. The deterioration of memory and the physical body is captured in raw and naked honesty.
12. It's Such A Beautiful Day
11. Take Shelter
Witnessing a person's mind slowly breaking apart is a truly terrifying scenario. Michael Shannon gives a startling performance in the film that announced both him and Jeff Nichols as serious talents that should be looked at.
10. We Need to Talk About Kevin
Enemy fulfills the promise of Prisoners from a year before that Villeneuve is a force to be reckoned with. Gyllenhaal also peaks here after giving us great performances in Prisoners and Nightcrawler.
8. A Separation
The dissolution of a marriage kicks this movie off. Along the ways, we are given haunting revelations about class divide, Iran's laws and religion, relationships and all the gray areas in between. No single character could be labeled as bad nor good as everyone here is morally flawed. Few films have the patience and compassion as this one.
7. Inside Llewyn Davis
Drumming, out of all the other professions in music, always seemed to most fascinating to me. The endurance and timing it all requires. Whiplash, only the 2nd film from Damien Chazelle, manages to go beyond just drumming and showcase how far the limits of ambition can be pushed.
5. Blue Is the Warmest Color
4. The Act of Killing
I would like to think that this is "the horror" that Kurtz spoke about in Apocalypse Now. It hasn't really been since that film that a piece of art cut to the marrow of the notions of good and evil. Chilling doesn't even begin to do it justice.
3. The Master
Twenty years from now, people are going to look at this film as a masterpiece.
I've yammered enough about this masterwork from Nolan.
I remember seeing the near unanimous praise from critics when this film hit theaters. The 12 year project seemed to pay off in spades for Linklater. Then came the dissent.
Films about time and aging are ones I especially connect with. Synecdoche New York, The Up Series, Linklater's Before Trilogy. They are universal in their theme. The astonishing thing about Boyhood beyond its challenging of traditional narrative, is the collective power of it.
THE TOP TENS
Incendies (Denis Villeneuve)
I Saw the Devil (Kim Ji-Woon)
Toy Story 3 (Lee Unkrich)
The Social Network (David Fincher)
Mother (Bong Jon-Ho)
Exit Through the Gift Shop (Banksy)
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010, Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
Submarino (Thomas Viterberg)
True Grit (Joel and Ethan Coen)
Enter the Void (Gaspar Noe)
Note: In all my years of moviegoing, this was probably the worst year I experienced. If the rest of the decade was like this, I would have given up. Thankfully, 2011 was far better.
Take Shelter (Jeff Nichols)
A Separation (Asghar Farhadi)
We Need to Talk About Kevin (Lynn Ramsay)
The Interrupters (Steve James)
Martha Marcy May Marlene (Sean Durkin)
The Sunset Limited (Tommy Lee Jones)
Margaret (Kenneth Lonergan)
Shame (Steve McQueen)
Warrior (Gavin O'Connor)
Drive (Nicolas Winding Refn)
Honorable Mention: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Tyrannosaur, Snow On Tha Bluff, Red State, Oslo August 31st, Into the Abyss, Kill List, Rise of the Planet of the Apes
The Act of Killing (Joshua Oppenheimer)
The Master (Paul Thomas Anderson)
Killer Joe (William Friedkin)
It's Such A Beautiful Day (Don Hertzfeldt)
Amour (Michael Haneke)
The Hunt (Thomas Vinterberg)
West of Memphis (Amy Berg)
Django Unchained (Quentin Tarantino)
Skyfall (Sam Mendes)
Flight (Robert Zemeckis)
Honorable Mention: Cabin In the Woods, Pain and Gain, Rust and Bone, The House I Live In, The Dark Knight Rises, The Imposter, Central Park Five, The Grey, oom 237, Looper, Prometheus
Blue Is the Warmest Color (Abdetallif Kechiche)
Inside Llewyn Davis (Joel and Ethan Coen)
The Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese)
Upstream Color (Shane Carruth)
Nebraska (Alexander Payne)
The Counselor (Ridley Scott)
Prisoners (Denis Villeneuve)
12 Years A Slave (Steve McQueen)
Like Father Like Son (Hirokazu Koreeda)
Spring Breakers (Harmony Korine)
Honorable Mention: Gravity, Le Passe, Before Midnight, The Great Beauty, Lords of Salem, Short Term 12, Her
Boyhood (Richard Linklater)
Interstellar (Christopher Nolan)
Whiplash (Damien Chazelle)
Enemy (Denis Villeneuve)
The Babadook (Jennifer Kent)
Birdman (Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu)
Mommy (Xavier Dolan)
Nightcrawler (Dan Gilroy)
Inherent Vice (Paul Thomas Anderson)
Under the Skin (Jonathan Glazer)
Honorable Mention: The Grand Budapest Hotel, Citizenfour, Tusk, Gone Girl, Snowpiercer, Blue Ruin, Life Itself, Force Majeure, The Guest