Top Tens of the Decade: 2001
In 2001, I turned 16, became a junior, got my first car and watched a lot of bad film. Seriously. Save the Last Dance, Tomb Raider, Thir13een Ghosts, all things I saw in the theatre. There were a few gems I managed to catch on to. Please, please don’t judge me.
– Way back then, I had just acquired a brother-in-law who said that The Devil’s Backbone scared the shit out of him. I pretty much thought he was a pussy until I watched it myself. It was my first Guillermo del Toro film and it made me almost wet myself. Those Spaniards get into some freaky-ass stuff. The Asians seem to have the monopoly on creepy kids. But even they could take some cues from del Toro. Pan’s Labyrinth was really great, but this is my favorite film of his. He really hit all the right notes.
– I think I fell so hard for Donnie Darko because it was my first real mind fuck. I vigorously debated what actually happened in the film. That felt good. When Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal are sitting at the family dinner table, and start that hilariously inappropriate argument, that felt solid too. It was nice to see Jena Malone act in something other than a Lifetime original movie again. It’s a great film that Richard Kelly will probably never live up to again. I don’t care how many films he directs about Cameron Diaz’s box…
– Am I the only one who hated this movie? I remember it so well because I hate it so much. And it has a 97% certified fresh rating from top critics on rottentomatoes.com! What gives? This will probably be one of those films that I will never get. Thora Birch was supposed to stop acting after American Beauty, Scarlett Johansson isn’t hot, and Steve Buscemi, well, he was really funny. I’ll give the movie that. This was one of my first conscious forays into independent film, and I did NOT like what I saw.
– Does anyone remember that the tagline for this film is: ‘Tea at four. Dinner at eight. Murder at Midnight.’? Shame on you Mr. Altman. Despite being pretty dense, I really enjoyed this film. And it was in Gosford Park that I discovered Emily Watson. This may be the best ensemble cast of any film, ever. And, incidentally, it’s still one of the only Robert Altman films I really enjoy.
– Todd Field is brilliant. Although he didn’t pop onto my radar until after I had seen Little Children. I had to backtrack to In the Bedroom to see what all the fuss was about it. It treated revenge so differently than anything else I had ever seen. The film felt so close at hand, it could have been a serious of disturbing home videos. It shook me up quite thoroughly.
– This is, perhaps, my greatest guilty pleasure ever. Trust me. It was harder for me to type this than it is for you to read it. It’s a fact well known to those close to me, but one I’ve tried vehemently to hide in order to maintain my dignity. It’s Angelina freaking Jolie. Raiding tombs (I may have thought this was a euphemism in high school). With a soundtrack by U2 and Basement Jaxx. Not to mention, Daniel Craig has a little part in there. Someday, I’ll learn to fly this freak flag with pride.
– This was my first David Lynch film, and honestly, there’s not a better one to start with in my opinion. I feel comfortable calling this Lynch’s masterpiece. Distinctly Lynchian, yet accessible, and hypnotically beautiful, it opens to the door to his other, more dense, work (although nothing could really prepare me for Inland Empire. While it sparked my interest in his other work, it has always remained in my heart as his best.
– The Piano Teacher was most definitely not playing within hundreds of miles of Shelley, Idaho. So I had to wait a few years before I caught on to this Michael Haneke installment. I can’t, in good conscience, recommend this film to anyone. It’s so disturbing, I had to look away from the screen multiple times, and pray that no one caught me watching this at work. But it’s one of the best examples of the power of cinema (and the craftiness of Haneke) I can recall. It also features to of the best French actors, in my opinion, working today: Isabelle Huppert and Benoit Magimel. I will never, EVER, forget this film.
– Again, this was my first Wes Anderson film. The world he creates in his films, most especially in TRT, is unique and enveloping. I keep a vague list of my favorite movie scenes in my head, and one of them involves this movie and can be seen here. The cast is outstanding. The dialogue is just as good. And Anderson’s direction makes this one of my all-time favorites.
– This was my first Tony Scott film. And, thankfully, it’s before he went all retarded (see: Domino). This was recommended to me by a friend who said it was a spy film that didn’t depend on all the gadgetry and sexy women named things like Pussy Galore (remember, this is right around the time the Pierce Brosnan Bond dynstasy was hideously self-imploding with Bond girls like Halle Barry and Madonna). It’s still one of the films I throw on to fall asleep, and if I leave the country for a few months, I’m always sure to pack it.