Monday, March 22, 2010

Top 100 Films of The Decade: 50-41

50. The Saddest Music In The World
(2004) Guy Maddin -Canada

When one of your major characters has prosthetic legs filled with beer, there's not much to dislike, as far as I'm concerned. Absurdly funny story about a beer baroness who starts a contest in Winnipeg to find out which country's music is truly the saddest in the world. Weirdly surreal and while Maddin is somewhat of a taste I've yet to totally acquire, I had a lot of fun with this. And did I mention beer legs?

(2008) Christopher Nolan - USA

I've never been too fond of comic book movies, even as a kid. I don't know why, but it was just never really my thing. Even with months of hype leading into this, I just really didn't have any sense of excitement about it and the only reason I ended up seeing it was because I attended a critics' screening. So, I was pleasantly caught off guard by how much I liked this, how well it was made. While a film like this is certainly prone to fanboyism and hyperbolic statements, if anyone were to call this the greatest comic book movie ever made, I certainly wouldn't onject to such a claim.

48. Milk
(2008) Gus Van Sant - USA

I thought this one did a great job of telling Milk's story, or at least the story I knew of based on the '84 documentary The Times of Harvey Milk. While Anita Bryant's crusade to ban gay teachers was sweeping America, it was heartening to see a leader like Harvey Milk stand up and get people to action against ballot initiatives like that, even his stands ultimately cost him his life. The film is problematic at times, but even those problems were easily overlooked when compared to how much it got right.

(2009) Jan Troell - Sweden

I can’t help but to feel Ingmar Bergman’s presence lingering over this story of the Larsson family, a struggling family at the turn of the century in Malmo, Sweden. While the Larssons are often faced with grim circumstances, usually resulting from the boorish, abusive alcoholic father’s actions, the film still manages to charm, mostly due to a pitch-perfect performance by Maria Heiskanen, as the matriarch who finds an outlet for expression through photography.

46. Riding Giants
(2004) Stace Peralta - USA

I really enjoyed this one a lot when it came out, and purchased it on DVD not long after, but it mostly sat on my shelf and collected dust. It was only when I went looking for age-appropriate movies for my friends kids to watch that I rediscovered this one and how immensely watchable and rewatchable it was, and how much all of us, adults and kids alike enjoyed it. It's a documentary about the history of surfing: it's beginnings, it's culture, and it's evolution as a sport elevated with fantastic visuals and a pretty killer soundtrack.

45. Waltz With Bashir
(2008) Ari Folman - Israel

Probably the most interesting foreign-language animated documentary you're likely to see. The story concerns a group of soldier's recollections about the Palestine War in the early 80's and their various recollections. But the film's focus is just as much on the very elusive nature of memory as it is about the war itself. Fascinatingly told and wonderfully animated, it's one of those films where I needed a second viewing because I was so entranced by the visuals that I'd occasionally ignore the subtitles at the bottom of the screen.

44. C.R.A.Z.Y.
(2005) Jean-Marc Vallée - Canada

It's too bad that this epic family saga about five brothers and their parents, which spans the late sixties through the eighties never got theatrical distribution in the United States. While it swept Canada's equivalent of the Oscars, my understanding is that acquiring the licensing rights to the film's amazing soundtrack (The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Pink Floyd, among others) was going to cost far more than a French-Canadian release would likely ever gross in the U.S., making it cost prohibitive to distribute. Luckily, it is available on DVD and it's one definitely one worth seeing if you have the chance.

(2003) Jim Sheridan - UK

Great little film about a family of Irish immigrants who move to America following the death of their little boy. While the two young daughters revel in everything new and different America has to offer, the parents find that changing their surroundings won't necessarily help them fix what's broken in their family. Both sweetly charming and heartbreaking at the same time, this is one of the few films that left me sitting in my seat at the in the theater while the credits rolled trying to not let a tear come out. It may just be a guy thing to not want to shed a tear in a movie, but I'll be man enough to admit that this one nearly did me in.

42. Children of Men
(2006) Alfonso Cuarón - UK

Another post-apocalyptic tale here, this time in a world where women are no longer able to conceive and with grim prospects of survival, the world has become increasingly violent and militaristic. But when a young girl is discovered to be pregnant, it becomes a race to get her out of the country in order to ensure the species' survival. Easily Cuarón's best film to date (and he's got several good ones).

(2000) Steven Soderbergh - USA

As has often been the case, we've attempted to solve complex problems with simple solutions, and Traffic kind of depicts just some of the reasons why the war on drugs was destined to be a battle we'd lose. It only really hits the tip of the iceberg, but makes an effective case all the same. Great ensemble cast and well written look at the challenges we face in a war without a clearly visible enemy.

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