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May 13, 2009


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"What happened?"

"I got screwed!"


Seeing how this particular forum is up for grabs, I thought I’d plant a seed. About a month back film critic Mick LaSalle from the San Francisco Chronicle listed what he felt were the best films of the last decade. I understand we are early here, but I was hoping maybe sometime this December or January of 2010 you may want to jump into the fun Glenn. Just a thought. By the way, here is what he came up with.

Mick LaSalle's best movies of the decade

1. The New World
2. 25th Hour
3. The Lives of Others
4. The Best of Youth
5. Before Sunset
6. Downfall
7. The Pianist
8. Four Months, Three Weeks and Two Days
9. After the Wedding
10. (A tie) Almost Famous; Bridget Jones's Diary; The Dreamers; In the Cut; Match Point; and V for Vendetta


Someone should e-mail Mick LaSalle and point out that he accidentally put ALMOST FAMOUS, BRIDGET JONES"S DIARY, IN THE CUT and V FOR VENDETTA on his list.

Tom Russell

He also accidentally left out Ratatouille and The Wire.

Yes, I consider The Wire to be one 60 hour plus film. Don't you?


Bill I'll see you those and raise you a Match Point and The Dreamers. Yeesh.

Also if anyone's in the tri-state area, this might be a good place to let those unaware know that this weekend the Loews Jersey (awesome classic JC movie palace, quick hop down on the PATH) will be showing a classic comedy lineup, including It Happened One Night Friday and Dinner at Eight and The General (the latter with live organ accompaniment) Saturday. Be there or be stupid.


Rodrigo Rothschild

a little off topic.. Glenn, I've just learned that Mike D'Angelo over at the AV Club paid for his trip to Cannes by asking his readers for donations. Which I think in this day and age is quite fair.

Sad you didn't have the same idea. I would've gladly sent a donation for your coverage Glenn. I will truly miss it this year. I wouldn't even call it a donation, since I think it's fair payment.

Back to topic... Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is for me the film of the decade.


Mick couldn't make it through 2001: A SPACE ODYESSY.

But BRIDGET JONE'S DIARY is the kit!


Mark, I haven't seen THE DREAMERS, and I at least kinda liked MATCH POINT (not THAT much, though), so I left them off.

It's a little curious that La Salle was so keen on THE NEW WORLD, though, isn't it? Everything else I know about him, not to mention this list, would indicate to me that anything by Malick would burn him like sunlight does a vampire.

And I've never seen THE WIRE. I know, I know...

Tom Russell

You've never seen The Wire, Bill? Sheeeeeeeit.


@Tom - I said I know!! But I mean, at this point, THE WIRE has been built up so much, and praised so incredibly highly, that if it doesn't make every other film I see and novel I read and song I hear seem like the pathetic and desperate thrashing about of a third-rate college poet, then I'm probably going to be disappointed.

Aaron Aradillas

I'm down with Almost Famous. I think any serious-minded critic should probably love that film.

For me, Zodiac is the film to beat this decade. I must quickly add that I am NOT a drooling, mouth-breathing Fincher geek. I just feel it best approximates how we live today. I've always said that Fight Club is a pre-9/11 movie, and Zodiac is a post-9/11 movie. Think about it.

Having not seen Shutter Island yet, I hold that The Aviator is Scorsese's best of the decade. Hustle & Flow and School of Rock are two of the decade's very best entertainments.

Munich is Spielberg's best of the decadde. Superbad is the funniest film of the decade. Some years, The Wire and The Sopranos were better than any film I saw in theaters.

The one-two-three punch of Erin Brockavich, Traffic, and Ocean's 11 is pretty amazing.

Angels in America is a classic.

Sideways and Ghost World are two movies I'll always stop and watch whenever I'm clicking through the channels.

And I plan on seeing Rachel Getting Married and Adventureland a couple of more times before the decade is over.

Finally, Dave Chappelle's Block Party ranks with the very best concert films ever made.


@bill - Tom was using a Wire line in jest, methinks. But I don't think you'll be disappointed when you get around to watching it no matter how much it's been built up for you. I tend to find most TV shows that survive mostly on critical adoration (Friday Night Lights, Battlestar Galactica) to be hugely overrated, but The Wire is probably the only one I've seen that's worth every bit of acclaim it's received - no kidding. I tell everyone I come across who's never seen it that it's the "best thing ever" and then they watch it and come back and say "that was the best thing ever." It's pretty much immune to overhype.

And Match Point is a piece of crap just like every other movie Allen's made in the last 10 years. It just hides its crapiness better. The Dreamers sucks too despite bountiful footage of naked Eva Green.

Tom Russell

Mark's right about my use of profanity there: I was quoting a fairly ubiquitious line. He's also right that it's impossible to overhype, and the fact that it was only nominated for (and never won) one Emmy over the course of five seasons when Mad Men, The Sopranos, and Desperate Housewives seem to be showered in them is really mind-boggling. The Wire: Too Good For Emmies.



Although just a retelling of his 1989 “Crimes and Misdemeanors”, I found “Match Point” Woody Allen’s strongest film since that masterwork (he hasn’t really done anything worthwhile since).

As far as Bertolucci’s “The Dreamers”, I count myself amongst its biggest fans. Do take the time to track it down (none rated version only). I found the picture one of his most exciting and intimate since 1970’s “The Conformist”.


I don't know, you guys. I still don't know if I should watch it.

Aaron Aradillas

Match Point is a fare better film than the overrated Crimes and Misdemeanors. I like C&M, but that extra layer of "phiosophy" betrayed the implications of its story. The final scene of Match Point is devastating becuase the guy has only just started to realize the extent to which he's destroyed his life.


Robert - I'll go ahead and admit up front that I'm not overly fond of Bertolucci, but I promise to give "The Dreamers" a shot. Unrated only, of course.

And while I wouldn't defend much of it all that strenuously, I'm not one of those people who thinks everything Allen has done for the last decade is worthless. He's had some interesting and/or diverting films in that run. Nothing to get all that venomous about. But I agree with Robert that "Crimes and Misdemeanors" is one of his absolute best, though I think it's tied, in my view, with "Broadway Danny Rose", which I think is a tremendously underrated comedy.

Glenn Kenny

Not seeing a lot of love for non-American pictures here yet, so let me throw out Godard's "Notre Musique," Assayas' "demonlover" and "Summer Hours," Rivette's "Marie et Julian" and "Ne Touchez Pas le Hache," Apichatpong Weerasethakul's "Syndromes and a Century," Bong Joon Ho's "The Host,"Tarr's "The Man From London," Woo's "Red Cliff," Zhang Ke Jia's "The World," Aoyama's "Eureka"...there's gotta be oodles more.

I dig "The Dreamers" big time by the way, and not just for the obvious reasons. I don't understand the objection to basing a fantasia around May '68. And the argument that showing copious amounts of young flesh makes Bertolucci a dirty old man is nothing but ignorant dogmatism.


Are we doing documentaries too? Because I'd throw in "Grizzly Man".

Also a couple of obvious ones, like "There Will Be Blood" and "No Country for Old Men". And "Dogville". That last one's maybe not so obvious.


Yeah, the playing field gets pretty wide when them foreigners are added...I'd actually nominate Apichatpong's "Blissfully Yours," Zia's "Still Life," not to mention Hou's "Three Times"... Cantet's "Time Out", Denis' "L'Intrus", and Angelopoulos's "The Weeping Meadow"

Match Point was damn good, but I don't buy it beating C&M. And I'm always a little surprised when people sweep over Sweet and Lowdown, which is a true high point in Woody's late cinema...

As long as we're including TV shows (and I think we should, especially when they're so freaking good) I'll submit that Deadwood deserves a shot at the top...the only reservation being that it never completed it's intended run, which doesn't change the fact that it's a massive, massive achievement, and in my book it mops the floor with The Wire (which I like a lot but could never love.)

As far as domestic product: The film to beat this decade is The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. Hands down.

Although, close contenders would be Mulholland Drive, The New World, Punch Drunk Love...


I was thinking maybe we’d hold off till we got closer to the end of the year, but hey… time to jump in feet first.

1) Army of Shadows (Reissue) (Melville)

2) The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Dominik)

3) The Dreamers (Bertolucci)

4) Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Gondry)

5) Hero (Zhang)

6) Keane (Kerrigan)

7) Mulholland Drive (Lynch)

8) The New World (Malick)

9) The Piano Teacher (Haneke)

10) Zodiac (Fincher)

Norm Wilner

What, no respect for "Elogie de L'Amour" or "Cache"? And then there's my beloved "Shaun of the Dead", of course ...


Ooh. I like impossibly comparative lists!
I'd second MULHOLLAND DR. For all its obfuscation (and originally being conceived as a television pilot), I wouldn't hesitate to nominate it for best film of the decade.

Other possibilities:

THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BTCRF (a document of America's cultural past and a critique of its current one)
BLACK BOOK (how overlooked has this been in the U.S.?)
DOGVILLE (Our Town vs. the Bible)
DOUBT (too soon?)
DONNIE DARKO (flawed, yes, but best American debut of the decade?)
MY SASSY GIRL (2001 original) - maybe the best modern comedy I've seen (except for I HEART HUCKABEES)
THE PRESTIGE (Nolan uses filmmaking as his own prestige here)
REQUIEM FOR A DREAM (best editing of the decade?)
something by Kim Ki-Duk (BAD GUY?)

and Spielberg's best film of the decade is MINORITY REPORT, because
1) the ending isn't a real ending (improving on A.I.)
2) it would pass his test of being just as engaging as a silent film

and I don't think of THE WIRE as a 62 hour film. More like a 13 hour film with 4 interconnected sequels. And, yes, it probably is the best television drama ever made (despite what the "Stuff White People Like" blog says). It's the closest to reading a novel your television will ever give you.


I don't understand the objection to basing a fantasia around May '68.

I don't either, especially since May '68 itself has become a fantasia for so many (or maybe that's just my years in graduate school talking). I like THE DREAMERS, too, and think it would make an interesting double bill with JONAH WHO WILL BE 25 IN THE YEAR 2000, which in many ways is about the death of that dream.


Er, should've put quotes around that first line, to indicate I was quoting Glenn's earlier remark. Thought the "bold" tag would work to differentiate it, dammit.


Not this Army of Shadows as a recent release nonsense again. Hey, if they sort out that recently-found Metropolis footage before the end of the year, maybe that can take over the top spot!

All snark aside, I like the rest of your list, Robert, save for the Zhang Yimou. A few of those films/directors would be on mine as well.

And Glenn, nice to see a mention of Marie & Julien. I wasn't too sure how Rivette fans felt about it; personally I thought it was phenomenal, and does much to remove fantasies of the aborted Finney/Caron version. Also, your praise of Red Cliff has me intrigued and surprised, to say the least. Are we talking a Bullet in the Head level of greatness?

Jason M.

Well, guess I'll weigh in here. A few of my favorites have already been mentioned, like SYNDROMES & A CENTURY, EUREKA, THREE TIMES, THE INTRUDER. Also realized that 2000 was an amazing year, and I wouldn't be too upset putting together a best of the decade list from that year alone. (EUREKA, WERCKMEISTER HARMONIES, IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE, THE CAPTIVE, YI YI, DEVILS ON THE DOORSTEP, etc...)

One film that I'm not sure ever got a Stateside release but which makes a great companion piece to EUREKA (and is, to my mind, every bit its equal) is Hirokazu Kore-Eda's DISTANCE. Anyone here seen it?

Also, two lesser-seen films from the avant-garde which without a doubt make my best of decade list:



Both beautiful reflections on mortality, Brakhage's by the seaside in the Pacific NW, and Mekas in an editing room viewing years upon years of his own home movies. Yes, the Mekas film is almost five hours long. It's worth every minute.

And Bill, I realize you don't know me from Adam (who probably doesn't know me either), but you should watch the Wire. It won't make every film you see look like the desperate thrashings of a third rate college poet. But it might wreck most episodic TV for you. And either way, it's really damn good.


I was afraid the inclusion of “Army of Shadows” might come back to bite me. The reason the Melville masterpiece was included was that the film had never been released anywhere in the United States until April of 2006.

One other quick clarification regarding “Hero”, the one included on my list is the “all under heaven” version.

unreliable narrator

I always want some scintillatingly brilliant piece of incontrovertible evidence to lash out at me and prove that reactionary, excuse me, conservative arts critics have started trying to be smart again. Cruelly, however, J-Pod et al. continue to withhold this. What a quaint non-debate they are having! all about...um, about...well, as far as I can see, about absolutely nothing. "Do we need film critics?!" they ask, with googly eyes. No, what we apparently need is an increasing number of unresearched and poorly written trend stories asserting the demise of the entire reviewing profession. Even though said stories always link to reviews. Written by film critics.

Frankly just reading the names of these purported "movies of the decade"—including but not limited to Erin Brockovich, Ocean's 11, Angels in America, Donnie Darko, Minority Report, I Heart Huckabees, perhaps particularly the unbelievably ghastly Sideways, and also, apparently, anything whose publicity kit this Mick LaSalle guy ever *handled*—makes blood squirt out of my eyes.

What can I say, I'm a hater. They used to pay me for it too.

And Bertolucci's last good film was in 1970. And Woody Allen's last good film was Manhattan. And *all* films by Spielberg would be improved by being silent. Okay, fine, I admit it, I'm PMSing. Going back to bed to eat fried rice and watch Wild Strawberries.


Eeeeesh...Sideways "ghastly?" Allen's last good film was Manhattan? What kind of fried rice are you smoking?

FYI, just because I'm bored: Sideways is possibly the best American comedy of the decade. I'll back that assertion up any day of the week. I've often found that Payne's cinema can be polarizing - except the poles tend to be "yeah, he's pretty good" or "his films are so freaking brilliant I want to marry them and have lots of beautiful children" - it's probably obvious which camp I'm in. Don't meet too many outright haters - which makes me curious more than anything...

And Woody was banging out fantastic cinema on a regular basis for at least another decade after Manhattan...Zelig, Stardust Memories, Hannah and her Sisters for Pete's sake, all the way up to the aforementioned C&M.

But everybody deserves a hater pass once in a while. Enjoy Bergman.

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