Thursday, January 07, 2010

The Top Films of the Decade - #20-11...

20. Le Premier Jour du Reste de ta Vie – 2008 – Remi Bezancon
The standout film of the 2009 COLCOA festival is actually my pick for the best film of this year. It is a funny and touching film that follows the trials and tribulations of a modern French family as they grow over the years. Rarely have I seen a film that captures the joy and pain of family life like this and it was very refreshing to see. It is a bold film that dares you to laugh and cry along with the characters and that gives the viewer a sense of being a member of the family. It is just so good. Sadly, like so many other foreign films, Le Premier Jour won’t be having an American theatrical run. It is such a sad fact. Luckily, Amazon Canada stocks it on DVD with English subtitles.

19. The Bourne Identity – 2003 – Doug Liman

Outside of Gladiator, I think the Bourne Identity has been the most influential action film of the decade. Matt Damon is brilliant as the former CIA trained killer turned amnesiac nice guy trying to piece his life back together and Franke Potente is excellent as Maria, the girl who helps Bourne on his journey. The film has a dynamic mix of action, cerebral espionage, and thrilling chases, but its romantic story and personal drama are what really sets it apart. While the two sequels are excellent thrillfests as well, the original still stands apart for me. Just look at the new incarnation of James Bond, it has Bourne’s fingerprints all over it.

18. Hero – 2002 – Zhang Yimou

One of my favorite things about movies in the 00ties was the artistic growth of Martial Arts cinema. While the HK industry seemed to be in hibernation, the renaissance of the Chinese action epic took hold. “Hero” was right at the forefront with a wonderfully orchestrated story crafted in the style of Akira Kurosawa’s “Rashamon.” It is a beautiful, lyrical film, which lingers long after it has been seen. Jet Li is excellent as “Nameless,” the weaver of several deceptive tales of victory, which hopes to assassinate the King of Qin. There are brilliant performances throughout from Maggie Cheung, Tony Leung, Donnie Yen and Zhang Ziyi, and the cinematography of Christopher Doyle is nothing short of remarkable. It is a must see for everyone.

17. The Business – 2005 – Nick Love

Nick Love returns on the heels of “The Football Factory” with the lad culture gangster film of the decade! “The Business” is a coke-fueled love letter to Sergio Tacchini tracksuits and Britain’s early 1980’s lifestyle. The movie follows the tragic rise and fall of a young bloke’s career within a drug importing business run by a group of British gangsters living on the coast of the Costa del sol in Spain. Danny Dyer is the bollocks as “Frankie,” and Tamer Hassan picks up right where he left off in “The Football Factory.” This film actually contains my favorite scene of any film from this last decade, a scene in which Frankie drives Charlie around the Costa del Sol in a champagne coloured Mercedes, while listening to the 80’s fruitiest tunes.

16. Control – 2007 – Anton Corbijn

Manchester. Factory Records. Joy Division. Not much else is needed to describe why this beautiful, tragic film has made it so high on my list. Sam Riley is genius as the legend Ian Curtis and does a great job performing the icon’s songs in the film. The sumptuous black and white photography lends to the melancholy nature of the film and gives it a haunting quality. I am just so happy that it is on Blu Ray import from Germany.

15. Love Actually – 2003 – Richard Curtis

Let me start by saying Richard Curtis is my favorite writer, and when I read about his plans to make a Christmas movie that explored the nature of love, I was absolutely over the moon. Thank heavens my exalted expectations were met because I love this film, actually! And I don’t care what anyone says about it being corny, sappy or overly dramatic, it is! It is also funny, tragic and hopelessly romantic and that is why I love it so much. It was also one of my favorite movie theatre experiences of the decade as well. “All I want for Christmas is, you.”

14. Nana – 2005 – Kentaro Otani

In doing this countdown, I have started to realize that I am a total whuss! Look at all of these movies?! Well, I guess I am attracted to films that make me feel something, and this brilliant little Japanese movie did just that. Based on the Manga by Ai Yazawa, Nana tells the story of two girls, both named Nana, living two very different lives. One is a jaded singer looking to break into the world of music, while the other simply wants to start a new life with her boyfriend. After a chance meeting on a train, the girls’ paths cross again when they unwittingly become roommates in an insanely cheap apartment. I can’t sing the praises of this film enough. It is so sweet, tender and melancholy… it really left a lasting impression. It is on DVD in America and is available from Amazon and Netflix. I suggest you get some Kleenex and watch it!

13. The Importance of Being Earnest – 2002 – Oliver Parker

Being a bit of a dandy means that movies like this are right up my alley. Colin Firth stars in this delightful adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s classic play and it is both playful and funny. The comic duo of Firth and Rupert Everett is hilarious, making the film so much fun to watch. Dame Judy Dench is another standout with her amazing portrayal of Lady Augusta Bracknell. I’m sure that most people dismiss this film as fluff, but that is exactly why I love it. It never takes itself too seriously and it seems like everyone making it is having a great time. If you are in the mood for a late Victorian era romp this is the film to see!

12. Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings – 2001 – Peter Jackson

This film was a long time coming. As an eight-year-old child, I was a huge fan of the Hobbit. I loved the animated special that aired on CBS and I had the book edition, which served me well. Hot on its heels, I attempted to read the Lord of the Rings, but the gigantic book (I had the all-in-one edition) seemed insurmountable and I easily gave up reading after 15 pages. However, Ralph Bakshi’s 1978 animated film and several Hildebrandt brothers calendars arrived and kept my fire for Middle Earth burning until I could finally get through the book years later. Then, I read about Peter Jackson’s vision to bring all three books to the screen and all I could do is wait with baited breath. Would he be able to do it? Would it be like the books? Would is suck? How would they pull it all off? It was everything I could hope for and way more. All three films in the series are excellent, but this one stands out most for me. It has an epic sense of adventure and the fellowship’s sense of brotherhood is magic. It also has my favorite character, Boromir. Just thinking of Cate Blanchett’s voice in the opening darkness of the film gives me chills.

11. Bridget Jones’s Diary – 2001 – Sharon Maguire

Bridget Jones is a pure British romantic comedy and has Richard Curtis, too! Renee Zellweger does well as the frumpy Bridget, always smoking and drinking her way into personal disasters and Hugh Grant shines in the career-changing role of the cad Daniel Cleaver. Up to this point, Hugh Grant had been cast as the good guy in films, but he really showed dastardly charm that made Daniel come to life. Sure, the film is frothy, bubbly and full of sap, but there is nothing wrong with that. It is a winning comedy and you feel jubilated when Bridget finally finds her joy. Too bad they had to screwed it all up by making a terrible sequel.

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