Sunday, December 27, 2009

Top Films of the 2000s--Documentaries

One additional film list--a brief look at some great documentaries. Certainly I haven't seen all I need to, but here are 20 I was very impressed with.

1. When the Levees Broke--Spike Lee's film on Hurricane Katrina. Made top 50 films list.

2. Grizzly Man--Werner Herzog's film on Timothy Treadwell, also a top 50 film. 3

3. The Order of Myths--fantastic doc on Mardi Gras and segregation in Mobile.

4. Capturing the Friedmans--disturbing film on child abuse, so-called "recaptured memory" and the justice system.

5. The Fog of War--Errol Morris' profile of Robert McNamara.

6. Sicko--Michael Moore's film on the failures of American health care. Clearly his best film.

7. Manufactured Landscapes--great doc about the photographer Edward Burtynsky and his photos of new industrial nature.

8. China Blue--great doc about a Chinese textile factory. Still wondering how the filmmaker received this level of access.

9. Jesus Camp--about evangelicals, focusing on an evangelical summer camp in North Dakota. The best horror film of the decade. Deeply disturbing, but also very good in that the lead woman was quite pleased with how she and other evangelicals were portrayed. Also, Ted Haggard before he got caught doing meth and having gay sex. He comes across as a real condescending bastard.

10. No End in Sight--Probably the best documentary on Iraq. The 2000s--what a shitty decade.

11. Rivers and Tides--superb documentary on the British nature artist Andy Goldsworthy.

12. The Garden--about an urban garden in south central Los Angeles and how the city steals it from them. Possibly the best look at how power operates on a local scale that I've seen.

13. Up the Yangtze--China, the Three Gorges Dam, rapid modernization, all key themes of the early 21st century. Quite solid.

14. An Unreasonable Man--Fine documentary on Ralph Nader. Presents both sides very well. Reminds us how important he was to late 20th century American history before he gave into his own ego.

15. Crossing the Line--focuses on one of the American soldiers to cross into North Korea. Fascinating stuff.

16. One Bright Shining Moment--the George McGovern campaign. A complex story, though I'd like to see more of a discussion of McGovern's own problems with labor.

17. Our Brand is Crisis--political advisers are scum. James Carville's firm advises a neoliberal candidate for the presidency of Bolivia. Made me want to puke.

18. Street Fight--the Newark mayoral election and a battle between generations of black politics. Think of the differences between Al Sharpton and Barack Obama on a local scale with lots of corruption from the long-standing mayor. Quite interesting.

19. The Agronomist--Jonathan Demme's film on a Haitian reformer and his eventual death. Poor Haiti. Will it ever get better?

20. The Kid Stays in the Picture--totally self-serving look at film producer Robert Evans, but also tremendously entertaining.