Here’s the first of my top 10s of the 2000s. Starting in reverse from 2009.
I didn’t see a lot of movies from 2009 (I missed many, so forgive me), but I saw enough that I actually feel somewhat comfortable with this list. At least with the first several picks. I’ll be honest though–I kind of hate making lists. While it is an interesting and challenging activity to evaluate and rank things, it is also rather stressful and arbitrary. I think we all could agree on the level of difficulty it requires. When it comes to ranking movies in particular, I usually feel confident with my top 3 or so. Beyond that, its pretty goddamn arbitrary. As in this list here...
1. A Single Man
One of the most beautiful and moving film experiences I’ve had in my life. I saw the trailer for this and thought the cinematography looked absolutely lush (it is), and wanted to see it because of that. I definitely wasn’t anticipating the kind of profound emotional experience it provided. The first time I saw it I was with friends, so I held back my tears, but I still remaind utterly speechless at the end. I remember sitting there totally transfixed–unable to move or speak–and I was almost shaking. The movie had rocked me to my core. I was stunned. I watched it alone by myself the following day and just wept like a child. I couldn’t help it; it just spoke to me as deeply as few films ever have.
I know that the reason it did speak to me so profoundly was because at the time I saw it I had just gotten out of a very serious long-term relationship with a girl and was still feeling the loss of that relationship very intensely. I really, really loved this girl and losing her broke my heart; I was simply devastated. That’s why this film spoke to me so immeasurably. A Single Man is about the devastation of losing someone you love. It’s about the heartbreaking, earth-shattering reality that comes with Loss. It’s about unimaginable sadness. But, that doesn’t mean that it is simply a despairing experience. It’s also about the beauty that is life. It’s about those little profound moments that illuminate and sparkle before us and make our hearts enflamed with gratitude and amazement at life itself. It’s about being human and all the infinite beauty and sadness that comes with it.
It’s about so much, yet it is so compact and seamless. It flows so beautifully. The shots are stunningly gorgeous, the design is impeccable, the score is haunting and heart-rendering, and the script is poetic and perfect. And then there is the acting. Colin Firth gives simply one of the best performances I’ve ever seen from an actor. He makes the movie. He is the reason you feel it so deeply. This is the role he should have won an Oscar for. This is the role he should have gotten every conceivable acting award for. He is THAT good in this. If you need any proof of that, just look at the scene where he hears of his lover’s death over the telephone. His acting in that scene is heartbreaking, raw, and almost too real. You can’t look away from him. You could write a book about how much his face says in that scene alone. It’s astonishing really.
Anyway, I could rave forever about how much I love this movie, but I’ll simply leave it at that. And I really don’t care what anyone says about it. My experience with it is very personal. I will never be shaken from my absolute unwavering adoration for it. The best film of 2009, for me, by a landslide.
2. Inglourious Basterds
The first scene alone would put this at number two on my list. What a masterpiece from Tarantino. In my opinion, his best film. It probably would have been number one too if I had not seen A Single Man. But, not to take anything away from this movie. It’s amazing. Christoph Waltz deserved every bit of acclaim he got for this. What a masterful performance.
3. The White Ribbon
A great film from Hanake. I know he has his many fervant devotees, but I would just consider myself a casual fan. I like his movies; I think they are interesting, but I wouldn’t defend them the way I would others. I would definitely defend this film though (honestly it probably doesn’t need to be defended). I think it’s his best since the original Funny Games. With this and Cache, he seems to be maturing from his love of shock to something much more interesting and mysterious. I prefer films that are less in your face and more opaque like this one. Though sometimes I do go for in you face (like Funny Games) when I think it is executed very well. But seriously give me mystery over revelations any day.
4. Sin Nombre
I was enraptured by this. A wonderfully told movie that I couldn’t recommend enough. One of two really great immigrant films from 2009. Fukanaga is one to watch. I’m really eager to see his verison of one of my favorite books Jane Eyre.
The other really great immigrant film from 2009. I love that it isn’t really about baseball, but the experience of being brought up in its system, and being alone in a very strange land. It’s a beautifully told film.
6. A Serious Man
The Coens are on one hell of a roll since No Country for Old Men. I hope they continue to put a a movie a year like they have been doing. Their films are alway something to look forward to. This one is fantastic. Funny, enigmatic, and very intelligent. But, I guess that’s what you’d expect from the Coens. Last years True Grit has only expanded their greatness.
A really awesome sci-fi movie–my kind of sci-fi movie with beautiful models and big ideas. Great work from Sam Rockwell.
When your film has me with tears in my eyes within the first few minutes, you know you’re doing something right. A very touching and imaginative film. The past several Pixar films have really made me feel like a kid again.
9. Bronson/500 Days of Summer
I want to add both of these because I thought they were really enjoyable. Bronson is absolutely nuts. Tom Hardy is just a blast to watch. I’m stoked to see him as Bane in the next Batman flick.
And, 500 Days I really enjoyed, especially coming off a break-up. I don’t really care how great these two movies are or not; I thought they were fun.