Monday, March 10, 2008

Best of the 21st Century

It seems I have a knack for lists that are bound to change after I make them. The following is no exception. Inspired by a list that I frequently visit, I present you my favorite films from our very young century. Although technically speaking there is an ambiguity as to whether the year 2000 was the beginning of the century or not, but that should be a topic to be discussed perhaps later on these very pages. For simplicity's sake, the films that have been released in the 'noughties' are included here. And, as always, this list could change at any moment without due notice...

My Favorite Films of the 21st Century:

1- MULHOLLAND DR. (David Lynch, 2001): I don't think many people would argue with this one. It is the mind-fuck that can only come from the genius mind of David Lynch. I can never forget my experience of watching this in an old, large, and empty theater in Buenos myself. Definitely the most frightening movie-going experience of my life.

2- NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN (Joel & Ethan Coen, 2007): I stand by what I said before, this is the best movie of the last few years and the only reason why it doesn't hold the top spot is because the Coens' film is an excellence in convention despite some of the unconventional decisions they've made.

3- TALK TO HER (Pedro Almodovar, 2002): Viva Pedro! This is the film where the auteur really asserts himself and comes up with a mature film that is brimming with originality and energy - an energy that should come from a young director that has something to say to the wide world.

4- ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND (Michel Gondry, 2004): Charlie Kaufman was the JJ Abrams of screenwriting (great premise and start, but gets bored and abandons the thing towards the end) until this oddity. Science fiction? Romantic comedy? Drama? Horror? All?

5- THE FOUNTAIN (Darren Aronofsky, 2006): A flop it might have been on various fronts, but the feeling it leaves me with every time I see it is the closest to a sweet melancholy than any film I can think of recently. And despite what Dr. Cox thinks, Hugh Jackman is amazing here.

6- CHILDREN OF MEN (Alfonso Cuaron, 2006): A captivating story? Check. Convincing performances? Check. Brilliant cinematography? Check. Music? Check. Cuts that last 15 minutes through mind-boggling action set-pieces? Check. Check, check...It ticks all the boxes, it is almost ridiculous...

7- SPIRITED AWAY (Hayao Miyazaki, 2001): It doesn't matter how much Disney tries to ruin Miyazaki's masterpieces by adding excruciatingly annoying voice-overs, his amazing hand-drawn animation manages to escape the manacles of Hollywood. Oh, and the story should be taught at Screenwriting 101.

8- CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON (Ang Lee, 2000): It was this wushu that made the genre famous in the mainstream - and deservedly so. By mixing ludicrously graceful martial arts and a western melodramatic storyline (add to that some of the most beautiful images ever captured on camera), Ang Lee, perhaps inadvertently, created his masterpiece.

9- THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD (Andrew Dominik, 2007): It was Javier Bardem and his hair that swept the awards (deservedly so), but it was Casey Affleck's performance that was the star of 2007 (at least for me). His awkward mannerisms, pale complexion, and that childish voice makes him a lot more terrifying than Anton Chigurh. Add to that Roger Deakins' best work behind the camera and a great score by the inimitable Nick Cave, and you have a bona fide Western. Brad Pitt ain't bad, either.

10- THERE WILL BE BLOOD (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2007): The truth is, without Daniel Day-Lewis, the film is not that amazing, but his performance makes it an irresistible watch. Johnny Greenwood (criminally overlooked at all the awards) comes up with an unorthodox soundtrack that stayed with me for a long time. And, yes, you can't take your eyes off of Day-Lewis.

11- Code Unknown (Michael Haneke, 2000)
12- Pirates of the Caribbean : The Curse of the Black Pearl (Gore Verbinski, 2003)
13- The Hours (Stephen Daldry, 2003)
14- Garden State (Zach Braff, 2004)
15- Pan's Labyrinth (Guillermo del Toro, 2006)
16- Amelie (Jean-Pierre Jeunet, 2001)
17- The Motorcycle Diaries (Walter Salles, 2004)
18- The Lives of Others (Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, 2006)
19- In the Mood for Love (Wong Kar-wai, 2000)
20- Requiem for a Dream (Darren Aronofsky, 2000)

Bubbling under:
- O Brother Where Art Thou? (Joel & Ethan Coen, 2000)
- Das Experiment (Oliver Hirschbiegel, 2001)
- Brokeback Mountain (Ang Lee, 2005)

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