Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Top Films of the Decade - #45-41...

45. Tellement Proches – 2009 – Olivier Nakache, Eric Toledano
One of the things I look forward to every year is the COLCOA film festival held at the DGA in Los Angeles. This yearly celebration of French cinema has screened some of the best films I’ve seen and I really have my friend, Ted, to thank for showing me the way. A few years back we attended an incredible film that will be discussed later in this list and it was my first exposure to the work of directing team Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano. Well, this year’s festival saw them return with a film of true inspiration. It is a warm, hilarious tale of a modern family and the length people are willing to go to in order to find any form of happiness. The saddest part for me is that this, like their earlier work, will never find a release in America. All I can say is thank you to modern technology for Amazon Canada and France.

44. Gladiator – 2000 – Ridley Scott
Sword and Sandal fans rejoiced as “Gladiator” ushered in a new age of epic filmmaking at the cinema. I think Ridley Scott rejoiced, too, seeing as how this film put him back on top and gave him his first Best Picture OSCAR®. Russell Crowe is brilliant in the role of Maximus, the heroic and tragic Roman (though he was playing Spanish) General turned slave and gladiator. I really think this might be the most influential film of the decade, changing the way most modern action films are shot, scored and marketed. “What we do in life echoes in eternity!” It is one of cinema’s most memorable lines and will live on into eternity.

43. Ma Vie en L’air (My Life in the Air) – 2005 – Remi Bezancon
This is yet another gem unearthed from a memorable day at the COLCOA festival in 2006. It is a brilliant, tender, and funny film featuring standout performances from Marion Cotillard and Vincent Elbaz. I can’t say much more about this movie other than it features Marion Cotillard in a Chinese dress. Lucky for all of us it is available on DVD with English subtitles on Amazon Canada.

42. There Will Be Blood – 2008 – Paul Thomas Anderson
Daniel Day Lewis’ mesmerizing performance is what defines this movie and makes it a true classic. I sat in awe from the opening scene of the film, sucked completely into the world of Daniel Plainview, a man so driven, he crawled with a broken leg from the middle of nowhere to a town just to cash in a deposit of gold. I think it is the best performance of the decade and deserving of all the plaudits it received.

41. Downfall (Der Untergang) – 2004 – Oliver Hirschbiegel
It is a tough thing depicting Adolf Hitler as a man, but “Downfall” somehow manages to do it. Exploring the final ten days of Hitler’s life in his bunker, the film is powerful, harrowing and utterly gripping. Bruno Ganz is staggering in his portrayal of the world’s worst person, giving him dimensionality rarely seen before. You don’t sympathize with Hitler (something critics of the film were worried about), but rather you see him as a deeply psychotic man who would be sweet and caring to a pretty, young nurse or a dog, and then turn around to order the murder of millions in the name of purity. It is an unforgettable film and one of the finest of the WWII genre.

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