Dawn of a new decade. High time I join the Smackdown fray with my own top ten list. After all, some think I represent not only myself on this site but my country. My continent. Frankly, that's a lot of pressure. Representing a whole continent. Oh sure, I've got the confidence. And the time. And the technology.
Frankly though, I can't speak for anyone but myself and luckily, I don't have to. Everybody will have their own list and their own criteria. All I can do is go with my gut. Sounds a little disgusting but hey. I'm Australian. Here is my own personal list of the Best Ten Films of the Decade (between 2000 and 2009). And as a snarky little bonus — my personal list of the Worst Ten Films of the Decade. I'm the only Smackdown ref to bother with a Ten Worst list. The way I figure it — What have I got to lose? Nobody's coming to get me no matter what I write. It's just too bloody far to go.
The Best Of The Best
#10 – The Mist
Probably the most terrifying and heartbreaking film I've ever seen. The emotional weight this film slams you with at the final credits is staggering, a monumental heart-breaker that tears at your mind for days afterwards. Less a horror film than an examination of the human psyche amongst an alien attack, The Mist is one of Frank Darabont's less cultish efforts, and remains one of the best sci-fi/horror films I've seen in my life.
#9 – O Brother Where Art Thou
The Coen Brothers at their peak, George Clooney far removed from the "ER," and a soundtrack so eclectic it's profoundly weird. This film makes me laugh when nothing else will, the razor sharp dialog and the hilarious set pieces make this movie one of the greats of the decade.
#8 – Signs
Shyamalan's best film in my opinion, refines what he learned cinematically in "The Sixth Sense" and "Unbreakable;" this film is scary as hell and really well made. Mel Gibson (regardless of anti-semitic comments) does a great job, and this is the film that I think produced Joaquin Phoenix's best performance. Frightening, realistic (to a point) and eventually quite moving, this is the perfect distillation of terror and ignorance writ large.
#7 – Blood Diamond
One of the most profoundly moving cinema stories told in this decade. Bile rises up in my mouth whenever I think of this film, not because it's a bad film, but because the feelings it engenders are so powerfully anti-ethical, it makes you want to scream. One of Djimon Hounsou's better roles, standing alongside "Amistad" as his finest.
#6 – Finding Nemo
Possibly the perfect animated film. Regardless of the number of times you've seen it, it's still great to watch. A heartbreaking vocal performance from Ellen DeGeneres makes Dory one of the best animated characters of all time.
#5 – City Of God
It took me three viewings before I understood it all, but this violent and powerful indictment of gun crime in South America is simply stunning viewing. Nominated for a bunch of Oscars, criminally it did not receive any. Essential alternative viewing to any installment of "Die Hard."
#4 – A History Of Violence
Black, violent and gritty, this masterpiece from David Cronenberg starring Viggo Mortensen is a superb realization of man's inhumanity to man. A great example of a well made film.
#3 - The Dark Knight
Okay, so I succumbed to this film like almost everyone else on the planet. Regardless of your appreciation or not for the central character, this film would still be a powerful dramatic story even without the masked vigilante. Heath Ledger's early death probably served some part in him achieving only the second posthumous Oscar ever awarded, but upon recent viewing well beyond the ardor of mourning, "The Dark Knight" is both epic, depressing, uplifting and exciting. Pitch perfect performances from all the cast, and some truly great twists and turns in the plot made "The Dark Knight" a superior sequel in almost every sense.
#2 – The Lord Of The Rings: Fellowship Of The Ring
While the final film in Peter Jackson's monumental epic trilogy may have bagged the sweep of Oscars, the first film remains (in my humble opinion), the most emotionally resounding. From the glorious sweeping vistas of Hobbiton, to the frenetic chase to Rivendell, and one of cinema's most captivating moments, when Gandalf squares off against the Balrog, "Fellowship" is not only the first part of a trip of creative genius, but a magnificent opening act that perfectly encapsulates what glorious cinema is all about.
#1 – Babel
This is perhaps the first and only time I've actually agreed with the Academy's choice for Best Picture (with the exception of "Return Of The King," which was a given anyway…). "Babel" is a revelatory film, and should be mandatory viewing if you're a lover of fine cinema. Genuinely heartbreaking stories, layered and molded and intertwined to an astonishing level of emotional impact, "Babel" sets the bar on what can still be achieved in this modern day and age of spectacularity and style over substance.
The Devil Wears Prada
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Requiem For A Dream
The Worst of the Worst
Okay, so we've had a brief look at the best films of the last ten years, but what about the worst? It's easy to pick the crud from the cream, but which of those released really are the bottom scraping piles of manure Hollywood churned out as "entertainment," and we use even that term loosely. Be aware that this list avoids any of those stupid "Scary Movie"-style films, anything involving the Wayans brothers, and anything involving Adam Sandler as the leading actor. Here's my take on it…
#10 – Alexander
Eventually, Oliver Stone had to give up trying to make us like this film with all it's varied iterations, extended cuts, directors cuts and uber-cuts. Give it a break, Oliver, there's no denying this turkey's status as one of the most expensive piles of rubbish ever perpetrated as art.
#9 – Star Wars: Episode II – Attack Of The Clones
About as emotionally enticing as hemorrhoids, this "epic" from George Lucas represents the nadir of the entire franchise, as Natalie Portman and Hayden Christensen "act" for us all in ways not seen since Midday Movies came into vogue. Incomprehensible story, awful acting and too many action sequences that dragged on for an eternity, this film gave me a migraine in the cinema, and I have never forgiven George for that.
#8 – Vanilla Sky
Pretentious remake of the superior Spanish film "Open Your Eyes," this lost me at hello. Tom Cruise tries hard to deliver the tortured soul character required for this film to work, but he's miscast, and Penelope Cruz merely treads water reprising the same role she played in the original. Statically filmed, unbelievably it was commercially successful and is now considered by many to be one of Cruise's more emotional performances, "Vanilla Sky" is anything but a great film. Like the Van Sant remake of Psycho a few years back, you have to ask whyso many great films need to be remade for US audiences who appear to lack the ability to read subtitles or find the originals on DVD.
#7 -The Cat In The Hat
Mike Myers should stick to Austin Powers, because there's very little street cred to deal with if he keeps making trash like this. Annoying on almost every level, this "family fun" film lack either fun or the resemblance of entertainment with it's garish production design and distracting overacting from the leading man. A shameful waste of money.
#6 – Thir13een Ghosts
Okay, I only went as saw this because it had that hot chick from "American Pie" in it, but the film was terrible. Not only terrible, but without one shred of redeeming features at all. Quite possibly the most un-horrifying horror film I've ever seen. A complete waste of time and talent… and money.
#5 – Gigli
Roundly (and rightfully) lambasted by critics across the globe upon it's release, this selfish film involving J-Lo and B-Fleck is still a rank, rotten apple on their career sheets. A disaster of monumental (and career changing) proportions.
#4 – Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo
Anything put out by either Adam Sandler or Rob Schneider is bound to be off-putting to many serious film fans, but nobody could have predicted the complete drivel this film tries to spout as "comedy". How Schneider continues to have a career in anything other than a toll booth is beyond me. How this film got made is a travesty of justice to intelligent humans the world over.
#3 – We Own The Night
Possibly the most boring, lame-duck crime drama I've ever had the misfortune to watch, "We Own the Night" is simply awful. Why they continue to let James Grey make films is beyond me, after this and "The Yards," an equally terrible film that lacked any sense of emotional content.
#2 – The Love Guru
Everything bad you heard about this film is true. Anything good you heard about it is a lie. It's crap. Perhaps it's time for Mike Myers to give it a break for a while. His style of humor has worn too thin to be allowed to continue much longer.
#1 – My Blueberry Nights
Woefully disappointing, one of the stupidest and most pointless films I've had to endure. Essentially a high-budget art-house film, starring Norah Jones (the singer), who wafts through this film like a fart in an elevator, "My Blueberry Nights" is a depressing, soul crushing miasma of a film with little to say and even less to see.