30. The Lives of Others (2006)
Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck brilliant film about late communist East Germany. Probably the best film about the end of communism, an interesting subgenre. Scary as hell, featuring the late great Ulrich Muhe as a Stasi agent who suddenly gets a conscious.
29. Children of Men (2006)
Alfonso Cuaron's dystopian masterpiece. I'm not usually a fan of this type of film, but it's so well-executed and features excellent performances from Clive Owen, Julianne Moore, Michael Caine, Danny Huston, and Chiwetel Ejiofor.
28. 3-Iron (2004)
Kim Ki-Duk's bizarre film about a guy who breaks into people's homes to live there while they are on vacation takes on weird Buddhist aspects that I don't necessarily understand, but create a really fantastic movie.
27. American Splendor (2003)
Biopics usually suck. Oscar voters jump all over them because they are lazy and like to see actors do imitations of people they already love (see Morgan Freeman's likely Oscar nomination for Invictus). But this film about Harvey Pekar captures his spirit, his crabbiness, and how he represents a segment of American alternate culture. The use of animation works great and Paul Giamatti was a perfect casting choice. A really enjoyable film.
26. A History of Violence (2005)
David Cronenberg's fantastic film about an ex-gangster who can't leave his old life behind. Viggo Mortensen, Ed Harris, and Maria Bello are all great, though by the time I saw it, I had heard so much about William Hurt's performance that I found it underwhelming. This could be Cronenberg's finest work.
25. District 9 (2009)
This allegory of immigration to South Africa is the decade's best science fiction movie. Like the peak of the genre, it uses science fiction as a barely veiled attack on current issues. However, I do not recommend eating during the film, as I did.
24. The 40 Year Old Virgin (2005)
The first Apatow film and probably the best. Steve Carrell is utterly hilarious. This film contains all the good and bad parts of the Apatow films--both hilarious off-color jokes, drug humor, and witty dialogue along with a lack of editing and a lot of moralizing. But the positives far outweigh the negatives. Of all the performances in the film, Jane Lynch's might be the funniest. She rarely gets talked about, but she is a brilliant comedian.
23. Pan's Labyrinth (2006)
Guillermo Del Toro's fantasy movie taking place during late 30s Spain, when Franco is putting the hammer down on resistance forces. The fascists only make this movie scarier and the fantasy bits are both visually arresting and emotionally arousing. Really first rate film.
22. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
Connoisseurs of martial arts films might scoff at this, but Ang Lee's foray into the genre is close to a perfect film. That it brought a sky-high budget to this often underfunded genre is no bad thing and expanding the genre's international audience should be commended, not scoffed at by snobs. Plus, it's just a great film.
21. The Squid and the Whale (2005)
Noah Baumbach's tale of a family falling apart. Jeff Daniels and Laura Linney are both wonderful as the parents. The movie is touching, sometimes gross, often very funny, and frequently painful to watch. One of the best domestic films of the decade.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
30. The Lives of Others (2006)