Top Ten of the Decade: Movies

In alphabetical order:

  • Best In Show:  Hands down the funniest movie of the decade, by the folks that brought you Spinal Tap.  Seriously, anyone who has ever raised a colicky baby cannot have at least pissed their pants watching the yuppie couple try to locate and replace the bee toy for their substitute baby.  And Fred Willard is in rare form as the stupid color guy, awesome enough to have been imitated several times since.
  • Casino Royale:  Daniel Craig is Bond.  The tension between Craig and Judy Dench is worth the price of admission alone.  But ultimately, it’s the respect shown to Fleming’s original work, albeit updated for the 00’s rather than the 50’s, is really what makes this a great film.
  • Downfall: I remember the horror when this movie was about to come out: Hitler, as a human?  How awful!  Humbug.  It’s Hitler as the pathetic, reckless, shell of a man in his last days holed up in his bunker, from the point of view of a young secretary.  This is the best portrayal of the monster I have seen in film and after reading Kershaw’s biography of Hitler, quite accurate and well done.  Not to be missed.
  • The Incredibles: I put up two Pixar movies, they were that good.  This one is great for the exasperation shown to those who would bring down those whose gifts will benefit us all.  It is a libertarian movie, showing the effects of a fear of excess success.  And best of all, it is chock full of great lines and stylish animation.  [“No kepps!”  “I’m the greatest good you’re ever gonna get!”]
  • Kill Bill vol. 1: A total guilty pleasure.  Sorry, but the extended scene in the teahouse with the Crazy 88’s has to rank as amongst the most singularly entertaining, ever.  And that jar of Vaseline!
  • Michael Clayton: A powerful movie about the moral compromises we make when we’re in over our heads.  Clooney as the title character is extremely likable and sympathetic, and I really enjoyed the ending and the way the story unwound.  Tilda Swinton as Karen Crowder, the general counsel of the baddies, is also in over her head.  She’s the opposite: school smart, kiss-ass, very unlikable, she falls victim to her moral failures in the end.  And Tom Wilkinson as Arthur Edens, a man who loses it and ceases his compromises, nearly steals the show.  Possibly my favorite.
  • Minority Report:  This one was pure excellence all around, asking some very disturbing questions about the nature of justice, all while presenting a very disturbing vision of the future without sinking into a dystopia.  How insane would you go having your retinas scanned dozens of times a day for personalized marketing?  And, as much as I hate to admit it, Cruise was very very good in this.  [And who could resist Max von Sydow?]
  • There Will Be Blood: Daniel Day Lewis gives a chilling portrayal of a man who is out to make a buck doing what he does best, and is driven to inhuman acts in the process of becoming rich.  The moral foundations of our nation – religion and business – are sickeningly amoral.  You will want to wash your hands after this movie, but no matter.  It is intense and just good cinema.
  • V for Vendetta: The slew of movies based on graphic novels in this decade provided great entertainment.  I think this one is the best of the bunch, but I am by no means backed up by the critics, who largely panned it.  Fuck them.  This is a straightforward vision of a fascist society in the making, in its execution, and its destruction.  The incredibly talented Hugo Weaving has to give a performance of feeling behind a mask that betrays none, and he is terrific.  Natalie Portman proves herself worthy of a good script and does the shaved head thing with dignity and righteous anger.  And John Hurt plays the mirror image of his Winston Smith character in 1984 as the fascist dictator, mostly seen on a giant screen yelling at his subordinates.
  • WALL-E: This is a cartoon.  I had to keep reminding myself of this as I watched likely the most incredible animation ever depicted on the big screen.  O, and this was accomplished with a mostly mute robot that used mechanical pieces to convey emotional signals.  I guess this too is another libertarian movie in a way, as it warns about the consequences of giving into our lazy instincts and letting other people clean up our messes.