I really, really tried to resist doing this. My decade choices. With every passing day, and every blog entry I read, someone else was stirring up the pot and listing their favs of the decade. I cringed. I told myself I wouldn't do it... in some sort of nonconformist attempt to be different. Then Fletch went and conducted one of those polls, and the hand-wringing and cringing started for me. I had to do it. Now my choices are listed and out in the open. For the most part, every film on this list was my personal favorite of its respective year (or a very close second), and they haven't changed. 2007, being a particularly strong year, scores a couple of entries as does 2006. 2002 and '03 serve as cop-out years where I didn't feel strongly enough to rank any films, opting for the alphabetical route instead. In retrospect, creating this 10 best list was fairly easy, and I'm certainly comfortable with my choices now.
1. The New World- Terrence Malick's film about the colonization of America is a meditative tone poem that looks, feels and sounds just as compelling as it did in early 2006.
2. There Will Be Blood- I initially saw P.T. Anderson's '07 film twice in three days, shaken and stirred each time I emerged from the theater. From the opening moments, Anderson's visual and audible control is impeccable. "There Will be Blood" is a continuation in a career that will be legendary.
3. Rachel Getting Married- '08's best film towers above the rest and it features a shattering performance by Anne Hathaway. Director Jonathan Demme's Cassavetes-like character study is patient and observant, bouncing with warm musical styles and pitch perfect characterizations.
4. Public Enemies- Michael Mann's strongest film since "Heat"... a pulsating and visually audacious gangster tale that firmly establishes his recurring themes of criminal fatalism.
5. The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford- In a few years, this film may rise in stature. I never expected anything like this from director Andrew Dominik, but this is a lyrical exploration of idol worship and star fascination. Languid and beautiful, it could be twice as long and I wouldn't care.
6. The Man Who Wasn't There- My vote for most under appreciated Coen Brothers movie... ever! Their 2001 black and white film remains a dazzling comedy and an honest pastiche of 40's film noir.
7. Almost Famous- Kate Hudson never looked better. Filmmaker Cameron Crowe has a tendency to slide into treacle in his movies, yet "Almost Famous" avoids those pitfalls and emerges as an engaging and thoroughly heartfelt autobiography.
8. The Departed- The best film Scorsese directed in this decade, it's a fast, loose and dizzying exploration of the Boston underworld complete with double crosses and triple crosses... and he makes it all look so easy.
9. Oldboy- 2005 was a stellar year for Asian filmmaking, but none quite as star making as Chan Wook Park's revenge masterpiece "Oldboy". This is a film that articulates itself even better on repeat viewings, and it never fails to make me giddy with its long takes and oblique camera angles.
10. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind- Pretty much the consensual choice for most lists of the decade, "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" is probably the decade's most prescient movie. It's use of multi layered storytelling, visual playfulness and emo-sensibility sums up the aughts in every way.
A few more films to catch up on (as well as 1 or 2 cd's) and the year end wrap of '09will commence.