the 00’s are almost over now that it’s december, and i keep seeing top ten lists. i want in on it. so here are my top TWELVE movies of the decade. because i’m cool and i get an extra couple. this is my personal top twelve and i picked them based partially on how influential they were (particularly to me).
District 9 (2009)
I think District 9 is an important film in 2 ways. The first is that it’s exploring topics that many people don’t really consider happening in today’s world. It’s commentary on the political and economical situation that South Africa is in. It’s very raw and terrifying and doesn’t hold back. It’s a movie you watch and don’t immediately wish to watch again because it’s painful and make you think. The other way D9 is important is from a filmmaker’s perspective. It made tons of money and cost pennies to make in comparison with Hollywood blockbusters. It was directed by a brand new director with no experience, showing how possible it is for people to be seen and recognized with today’s very connected world. It was shot primarily on RED cameras – digital video, not film. It was on location in Johannesburg, with real residents on camera being asked about their opinion of the actual events taking place in some parts, and through editing it seems as though they’re talking about aliens. I think District 9 is the direction cinema is going – making it more available to everyone.
Dancer in the Dark (2000)
Before this film, I’d never seen a “musical” with a dark side. I’d never really seen a movie with such a hopeless storyline. It was a break from the conventional and mostly uplifting films around this time. I had begun to listen to Bjork a little before this, and this solidified my fandom. Also, watching and reading things about the making of the film and learning about the methods of Lars von Trier was changing to me, and also interesting because he was a part of the filmmaking movement I attempted to emulate almost 10 years later as the end of my college career.
This was another film that changed the way I thought about film at a time when I was just starting to learn about filmmaking. The convention of telling a story from the end to the beginning, and still having the same kind of three act structure was pretty amazing. I watched it sometime within the last year or two and even then I discovered something new about it. And of course it introduced me to Christopher Nolan.
Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain (2001)
Even though these movies are in no particular order, this has been my favorite movie since I saw it in like 2002. I loved the storybook quality of it, the breakaways from the main story to little short tidbits that really opened up Amelie’s world, and just how nice and fuzzy it was. I loved the storyline of a somewhat isolated and different girl and how she sees the world. I think my favorite sequences were when characters would be introduced by what they liked and didn’t like. Amelie is about appreciating the tiny things in life and not letting your various psychoses instilled upon you in childhood by your parents or in adulthood by your health prevent you from living. I also loved the color quality and I think this movie alone made me love color grading.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
The weird thing about this movie is sometime before casting had even begun, I somehow found the script of this movie online and read the whole thing. And I thought then that it would be amazing. It’s another movie with unconventional storytelling, with Joel’s mind being erased of all traces of his ex-girlfriend. It’s another one that made me think more three dimensionally about how I could tell and edit a story. The story itself was so amazingly good too.
Lord of the Rings (2001, 2002, 2003) (this counts as one)
This is a no brainer. It came out in the middle of a time when I was really learning more and more about editing. It doesn’t change the conventions of filmmaking, but it was so epic in scale that it was one of the main inspirations to pursue a career as an editor. The endless supply of behind the scenes stuff (that I still haven’t seen completely because there is hours and hours of it) allowed Peter Jackson to make the creation of this movie a transparent experience for anyone that was interested. It was fun to read the books and predict how sections would be adapted, or think about why parts were changed and why book actions don’t translate to film every time. This movie was a culmination of everything I loved, and it made HUGE projects seem more possible.
The Dark Knight (2008)
The 00’s re-defined the superhero movie genre, and this is the centerpiece. It changed the way people thought about how superhero movies could be. And it’s Christopher Nolan again. It took chances, stayed more true to the original graphic novel, and is kind of an example of how dark movies got in this decade.
Children of Men (2006)
This is another dark dark movie of the 00’s, but it ended happily (sort of). The story itself was great and horrifying. And the filmmaking was beyond what I expected – the long takes with so many people in them and so much action going on. I remember the longest long take toward the end of the film, I realized it in the theater that the shot had been running for at least several minutes now. I think this film is the first film since Dancer in the Dark to actually make me feel literally depressed.
Garden State (2004)
This was an interesting film to view just before leaving home, because it was about returning to home after being away for a while. It also changed the way I considered music in film, as it had one of the best soundtracks of any movie and introduced me to a lot of the music I listened to in college. I find it kind of parallels a lot of what I experienced after I left home. I should watch it again soon.
Monsters Inc (2001)
I could only put one Pixar on here really (because that could be a whole ‘nother top ten), so instead of picking my favorite – Ratatouille – I picked this. It was another film early on with Pixar that really showed the world what they were capable of before it really was totally convinced. This was the first of their films to showcase CG hair, and the story itself was so original and amazing that it set the tone for the rest of their films.
I picked this film to represent all the indie films I saw over the course the decade. This one was inspirational to me because the main actors were not actors, but musicians. The film was shot on location with no permits, and it was shot incognito so that nobody knew that a scene was happening on the street and therefore nobody would get kicked out of the area. That kind of guerilla filmmaking make me happy, because it’s possible for me too.
I had to put a live action comedy on here, and it had to be a Judd Apatow film because his comedies totally stole the decade. This film reminds me of high school in a way, though I never went to parties or got drunk. It reminds me of the kind of moronic things I spent all night doing in high school. It also kind of reminds me of the time right before the end of high school. This film is also such a great example of a good comedy.