Tuesday, October 31, 2006

In Honor of Roger Ebert's Continuing Recovery

And having just finished Awake in the Dark, his latest anthology (and I agree with Whisky - a nice little bon-bon of a book), I figured I'd go through his listing of the top ten movies of each year and see which ones I'd seen, and what I thought of them.

(Bold means I've seen it.)

1967
1. Bonnie and Clyde: great movie, agreed.
2. Ulysses
3. Blow-up: thumbs up. Still engrossing. (And I love Blow-out, it's red-headed step-child.)
4. The Graduate: a classic.
5. A Man for All Seasons: saw this, but don't remember my impression.
6. The War Game
7. Reflections in a Golden Eye
8. Cool Hand Luke: decent movie, but aged. I still think of it when I eat more than one hard-boiled egg. Also, this was my younger brother's nickname.
9. Elvira Madigan
10. In the Heat of the Night

1968
1. The Battle of Algiers
2. 2001: A Space Odyssey: Groundbreaking, but dull and impenetrable. I only know what happened at the end because I read the book.
3. Falstaff
4. Faces
5. The Two of Us
6. The Producers: cute, but not all that. Haven't seen the remakes (stage or film). I also have trouble with "FUN!" fiction with Nazis.
7. Oliver!
8. The Fifth Horseman Is Fear
9. Rachel, Rachel
10. Romeo and Juliet: great film. The score still haunts. It's shocking to see how young the stars were (but the director wanted realism).

1969
1. Z
2. Medium Cool
3. Weekend
4. if...
5. Last Summer
6. The Wild Bunch: classic.
7. Easy Rider: dated, but worth one view if you haven't ever seen it.
8. True Grit: classic. The Duke at his best.
9. Downhill Racer
10. War and Peace

1970
1. Five Easy Pieces: good, but somewhat dated. Still worth the Nicholson performance.
2. M*A*S*H: awesome classic. A must-see for anyone who likes movies.
3. The Revolutionary
4. Patton: good, but a tad dated.
5. Woodstock: still fun, but long. Make sure the stereo is on.
6. My Night at Maud's
7. Adalen 31
8. The Passion of Anna
9. The Wild Child
10. Fellini Satyricon

1971
1. The Last Picture Show: still good, but muted. I recommend the source novel and its sequels more. Texasville is a comedy classic (the novel, not the movie).
2. McCabe and Mrs. Miller
3. Claire's Knee
4. The French Connection: great early action flick. Yes, that's Roy Scheider.
5. Sunday, Bloody Sunday
6. Taking Off
7. Carnal Knowledge: doesn't stand up. And a nekkid Art Garfunkel screwing a corpse is just gross. He should've left well enough alone with Catch-22. (Trivia, when Garfunkel went to make Catch-22, Simon wrote "The Only Living Boy in New York" about his missing Garfunkel. The lyric, "Tom catch your plane on time. I know you'll be ready to fly now," is a direct reference to Garfunkel, as they called themselves "Tom and Jerry" before they were "Simon and Garfunkel.")
8. Tristana
9. Goin' Down the Road
10. Bed and Board

1972
1. The Godfather: fuhgeddaboutit. If you haven't seen this, there's something wrong with you, or you're 12 (and thus shouldn't be reading my blog).
2. Chole in the Afternoon
3. Le Boucher
4. Murmur of the Heart
5. The Green Wall
6. The Sorrow and the Pity
7. The Garden of Finzi-Continis
8. Minnie and Moskowitz
9. Sounder
10. The Great Northfield, Minnesota Raid

1973
1. Cries and Whispers
2. Last Tango in Paris: kinda ok. I see why it was revolutionary and groundbreaking at the time, but I don't think it holds up. And I still squirm through the butter up the dirt road scene.
3. The Emigrants / The New Land
4. Blume in Love
5. The Iceman Cometh
6. The Exorcist: still the scariest movie ever (upon first viewing).
7. The Day of the Jackal: not a bad action flick, worth a couple hours.
8. American Graffiti: one of the best movies of all time, and make sure you see Linklater's homage Dazed and Confused.
9. Fellini's Roma
10. The Friends of Eddie Coyle

1974
1. Scenes from a Marriage
2. Chinatown: still a great flick.
3. The Mother and the Whore
4. Amarcord
5. The Last Detail: holds up, but is a tad dated. And it's excruciating.
6. The Mirages
7. Day for Night
8. Mean Streets: I know I've seen it, but my memory of it isn't clear.
9. My Uncle Antoine
10. The Conversation: ok, but slow going at first. I started this like 5 times before I finally got to the meat of the movie.

1975
1. Nashville: ok, but I'm not a big Altman fan. I think his excesses show here. The stripping scene left a bad taste for days (as it was supposed to).
2. Night Moves
3. Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore
4. Farewell, My Lovely
5. The Phantom of Liberty
6. A Brief Vacation
7. And Now My Love
8. A Woman Under the Influence
9. In Celebration
10. Dog Day Afternoon: great flick. Still has the punch. One of the few movies that has everything but a musical number. Must-see.

1976
1. Small Change
2. Taxi Driver: good movie, but still hard sledding after all these years.
3. The Magic Flute
4. The Clockmaker
5. Network: good, but dated. The speech - you know the one - is still fun.
6. Swept Away...by an unusual destiny in the blue sea of August
7. Rocky: still good, even after being done to death, and the latest zombie is in production now.
8. All the President's Men: still pisses you off. More relevant than ever. It's fun watching Hoffman trying to be pretty next to Redford. He almost does it.
9. Silent Movie: one of Mel Brook's successes. Still lotsa larfs. I love Madeline Kahn in anything, including a pantsuit that matches her car.
10. The Shootist: 'nother good Duke outing.

1977
1. 3 Women
2. Providence
3. The Late Show
4. A Woman's Decision
5. Jail Bait
6. Close Encounters of the Third Kind: still holds up well, even though the clothes and hair scream '70s.
7. Aguirre: Wrath of God
8. Annie Hall: one of the best comedies of all time. I still quote this one.
9. Sorcerer
10. Star Wars: need I even waste another kudo on this one?

1978
1. An Unmarried Woman: I liked it, even though I saw it when that stage of life (middle age and divorce) was still unimaginable. I'll never forget the guy reaching out and pulling Jill Clayburgh to him by grasping her nipples.
2. Days of Heaven: meh. It just doesn't move me. Thought it was dull and unrealistic.
3. Heart of Glass
4. Stroszek
5. Autumn Sonata
6. Interiors: boring. Go outside instead.
7. Halloween: I'm one of the few people on the planet who didn't find this very scary. I still quasi-enjoyed it, though. The Capn Kirk mask is a hoot.
8. National Lampoon's Animal House: comedy classic. Knowledge is good.
9. Kings of the Road
10. Superman: yes, a man flew. May he rest in peace. Currently getting the ultra-deluxe DVD treatment, and a new cut of the sequel.

1979
1. Apocalypse Now: loved it and still do. I pull this one out about every few years, and am enthralled every time.
2. Breaking Away: "He smelled like breath mints and Lavoris." Cutters rule.
3. The Deer Hunter: I didn't get this the first 57 times I saw it (I worked it and I loathed the wedding scene because it took an entire reel), but eventually when my grandma said, "there's no story, it's just about friendships," that unlocked it for me.
4. The Marriage of Maria Braun
5. Hair: I don't like musicals as a rule, but love this one. There are some jaw-dropping scenes thanks to director Milos Foreman. Great flick.
6. Saint Jack
7. Kramer vs. Kramer: good, but dated. Very 80s (decades don't necessarily start on the date line). For the George Costanzas among us, full frontal on JoBeth Williams.
8. The China Syndrome: loved it at the time, still dig Lemmon's performance, but it is a movie of its time. Was Jane Fonda ever able to act?
9. Nosferatu
10. 10: still a hoot.

1980
1. The Black Stallion: like Ebert says in his review, the first hour of this movie is perfection.
2. Raging Bull: meh, was Ok. Don't think it's the masterpiece others do.
3. Kagemusha
4. Being There: still moving and enigmatic.
5. Ordinary People: good, but dated.
6. The Great Santini: great, if somewhat hard-to-relate-to flick, unless you're from a military family.
7. The Empire Strikes Back: c'mon, it's Star Wars.
8. Coal Miner's Daughter: merely ok. I still like the line, "Wanna bump uglies?" Biography films are kinda the same, imvho.
9. American Gigolo: very dated. Kinda silly.
10. Best Boy

1981
1. My Dinner with Andre: still fun.
2. Chariots of Fire: ok, but a sports film after all.
3. Gates of Heaven: great documentary on pet cemeteries. Check it out.
4. Raiders of the Lost Ark: Karen Allen still gives me the good shivers. The only lighthearted movie with Nazis that got that aspect correct.
5. Heartland
6. Atlantic City: meh. Yeah, it was nice what Sarandon did with the lemons, but this movie just didn't grab me.
7. Thief: great stylized fun. Good guy flick.
8. Body Heat: one of the best ever. Coming out now on a deluxe DVD.
9. Tess: boring.
10. REDS: a spinach movie. Good for you, but enjoyable only if you like spinach in the first place.

1982
1. Sophie's Choice: most heartbreaking ever. I couldn't sit through it now that I have kids.
2. Diva
3. E.T.: still a classic.
4. Fitzcarraldo / Burden of Dreams
5. Personal Best: meh. So she's a lesbian. Next.
6. Das Boot: great action film, too bad you gotta read subtitles.
7. Mephisto
8. Moonlighting
9. The Verdict: good Paul Neman film. Still holds up.
10. The Weavers: Wasn't That a Time

1983
1. The Right Stuff: great movie. Hasn't dated at all. I particularly love how it took time to show even the wives' stories. If only that were done more often.
2. Terms of Endearment: great movie.
3. The Year of Living Dangerously: meh. So the dwarf guy is really a dwarf gal.
4. Fanny and Alexander: odd then, odd now.
5. El Norte
6. Testament
7. Silkwood: dated but watchable, if not for the shower scenes (and Meryl's flash).
8. Say Amen, Somebody
9. Risky Business: still comedy gold. "Guido the killer pimp."
10. The Return of Martin Guerre

1984
1. Amadeus: classic for all time.
2. Paris, Texas
3. Love Streams
4. This is Spinal Tap: more relevant and real than ever. See "cookie monster vocals".
5. The Cotton Club: nice try, total flop.
6. Secret Honor
7. The Killing Fields: harrowing, wouldn't want to see it again.
8. Stranger than Paradise
9. Choose Me
10. Purple Rain: how did this get here? The soundtrack is good, but the movie? C'mon.

1985
1. The Color Purple: didn't really like it, but mostly due to the source story (kinda feminist dystopia stuff). However, I saw this with folks who were from the African country used in the film, and they translated the lines on the spot for me. That was fun.
2. After Hours: one of my favorites. A great circular movie. Don't know why this isn't mentioned more often anymore.
3. The Falcon and the Snowman: ok, but mostly for the performances.
4. Prizzi's Honor: third-tier gangster film. Only the performances are worth it.
5. Ran
6. Witness: still a wonderful movie. Unique in that it respects all the characters and their stories.
7. Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome: meh. The Road Warrior is still the one to see.
8. Lost in America: Albert Brooks trying hard, but it's hit and miss unless his brand of humor connects with you.
9. Street Wise
10. Blood Simple: gripping low-budget film.
[Ebert excluded Shoah from his list, not because he thought the other ten films were better, but because he felt it was in a class by itself and it wouldn't be appropriate to rank ordinary movies against it.]

1986
1. Platoon: one of the better war movies ever.
2. Round Midnight
3. Hannah and Her Sisters: still good. Michael Caine's part is still wonderfully sad.
4. Sid and Nancy: merely ok.
5. Lucas
6. Vagabond
7. Trouble in Mind
8. Down and out in Beverly Hills: I didn't like this movie. Thought the comedy was too broad.
9. Peggy Sue Got Married: great little comedy gem. Still love the line in math class, "I know for a fact, sir, I will never use this."
10. Hard Choices

1987
1. House of Games: merely ok. Mamet being Mamet.
2. The Big Easy: big wet kiss of a movie. Still good. One of those rare guy flick/chick flick combos.
3. Barfly: meh. Bummer, then they die.
4. The Last Emperor: one of the few period epics I liked.
5. Moonstruck: still a classic.
6. Prick Up Your Ears
7. Radio Days: doesn't hold up.
8. Broadcast News: dated, but still full of fun performances.
9. Lethal Weapon: classic action film. It's edgier than you remember.
10. Housekeeping

1988
1. Mississippi Burning
2. The Accidental Tourist: yawn.
3. The Unbearable Lightness Of Being yawn.
4. Shy People
5. Salaam Bombay
6. A Fish Called Wanda: one of the funniest movies ever made. I wasn't DISAPPOINTED.
7. Wings Of Desire: actually, kinda good if you watch it on its own terms.
8. Who Framed Roger Rabbit: merely ok. Could'a been a contender.
9. Dear America: Letters Home From Vietnam
10. Running On Empty: meh. That's for sure.

1989
1. Do the Right Thing: I thought this was preachy and annoying. Couldn't decide which it was more of.
2. Drugstore Cowboy: meh.
3. My Left Foot: good show. One of the few bio/disease movies that's uplifting.
4. Born on the Fourth of July: ok, but harrowing. One of the three times Cruse actually acts.
5. Roger & Me: I liked it at the time. But now it think the sentiment is kinda wrongheaded.
6. The Mighty Quinn
7. Field of Dreams: if you like baseball, this is your movie. I don't really like baseball.
8. Crimes and Misdemeanors: don't remember how this went.
9. Driving Miss Daisy: thought it was kinda cutesy, and I didn't like the black servant angle.
10. Say Anything: good romance, but not as good as Cusack's previous The Sure Thing.

1990
1. Goodfellas: who am I to argue with the bazillion people who think this is one of the best ever. I found it entertaining, but find actual evil banal and scary, thus it taints the movie for me.
2. Monsieur Hire
3. Dances with Wolves: loved it. Still holds up, even it if is complete fantasy bearing no resemblance to actual Lakota Sioux culture. (Was filmed 5 miles away from where I grew up.)
4. The Grifters: cute con man film. And you get to see Annette Bening naked.
5. Reversal Of Fortune
6. Santa Sangre
7. Last Exit to Brooklyn
8. Awakenings: Ok, but any of Oliver Sacks writings are better than this was.
9. The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover: hated, hated, hated this movie. Hated it.
10. Mountains of the Moon

1991
1. JFK: fun conspiracy theory stuff. Stylistically wonderful.
2. Boyz N the Hood: meh.
3. Beauty and the Beast: one of Disney's best. I think "Mermaid" is better.
4. Grand Canyon: nice try, but no cigar.
5. My Father's Glory / My Mother's Castle
6. A Woman's Tale
7. Life is Sweet
8. The Man in the Moon
9. Thelma & Louise: this was fun, but eventually the tone shift from fun road movie to tragic victimhood didn't work for me.
10. The Rapture: odd movie. Spooky. And the person who wrote it doesn't get Christian theology (any form of it) at all.

1992
1. Malcolm X: good bio, for once. Longish. But if you want the story, here it is.
2. One False Move
3. Howards End: dear Lord, spare me from all costume dramas.
4. Flirting
5. The Crying Game: if the jack-in-the-box was your favorite toy as a kid, this movie might hold some interest for you. For those of us who find transvestites kinda tragic, this is a one-trick pony. (C'mon, was I the only one who figured it out the first time the character appears?)
6. Damage
7. The Hairdresser's Husband
8. The Player: Besides M*A*S*H, this is the other Altman movie I love. Opening shot is brilliant, and the rest of the movie follows suit.
9. Unforgiven: great western. Bit dour, of course.
10. Bad Lieutenant

1993
1. Schindler's List: as good as it gets, but I just can't wade through something this sad more than once.
2. The Age of Innocence: dear Lord, please spare me from costume dramas.
3. The Piano: I hated this movie. One of the handful I walked out on (the part when she goes into the drink). I think Campion has spiders in her soul.
4. The Fugitive: great popcorn movie. Still a lot of fun.
5. The Joy Luck Club: read the book, saw the movie, got the t-shirt, but neither connected with me all that much ('cept the t-shirt).
6. Kalifornia
7. Like Water for Chocolate: liked it. Was unique and sensual in a way I didn't expect.
8. Menace II Society
9. What's Love Got to Do with It: meh. Performances are great, but again, most bio films are just big screen versions of VH1's "Behind the Music" - maybe partially because screenwriters feel the need to force messy real lives into the constraints of fictional expectations.
10. Ruby in Paradise

1994
1. Hoop Dreams: didn't get what all the fuss was about. Yeah, it's a bummer when he doesn't make it, but, I dunno, most of us have some of our dreams thwarted, and there's always something else to take its place, if you look.
2. Blue / White / Red
3. Pulp Fiction: classic, of course. Still the only movie where extreme violence is always a comedic punchline.
4. Forrest Gump: classic. Doesn't age.
5. The Last Seduction
6. Fresh
7. The Blue Kite
8. Natural Born Killers: this one has aged. Still a fun ride if you can stomach the ultraviolence. It wears out with repeated viewings.
9. The New Age
10. Quiz Show: merely ok.

1995
1. Leaving Las Vegas: I'm split because I see how it's a good movie in terms of movie making and storytelling, but the story is just a pocket of puss.
2. Crumb: great doc. The man is sick, but at least he's found people who are ok with that.
3. Dead Man Walking: harrowing, worth one viewing. I like the way it walks the line on its opinion on the death penalty. I expected a more biased view.
4. Nixon: ok. Fun if you know the story.
5. Casino: I didn't much like it. Yet another banal gangster story.
6. Apollo 13: amazing movie. This one will go down in history as a landmark. Not a false step anywhere. The director's commentary on the DVD is one of the few worth listening to - it's a mini film school.
7. Exotica
8. My Family
9. Carrington
10. A Walk in the Clouds

1996
1. Fargo: you betcha, by golly, then. (I went to college where this take place - it just nails the accent and culture.)
2. Breaking the Waves: eh, kinda depraved for my tastes.
3. Secrets & Lies: rich decadent people being rich, decadent and incestual. And there are bugs, too. If that floats your dingy, dive in. (Notable for one of the few commercial movies to show a guy with a boner.)
4. Lone Star: kinda dry.
5. Welcome to the Dollhouse: an interesting attempt at a view into a girl's life, but smacks too much of being written by a boy. Had actual girls been involved in the writing, this might've been something.
6. Bound: stylistically it's cool, but the story is yer standard lesbians on a crime spree. Some folks can't get enough of the genre, but I find it kinda rote.
7. Hamlet
8. Everyone Says I Love You: nice try, and fun viewing for seeing how close it gets, but ultimately it just doesn't work.
9. Heidi Fleiss: Hollywood Madam
10. Big Night

1997
1. Eve's Bayou
2. The Sweet Hereafter: achingly sad, and boring, sadly.
3. Boogie Nights: outside of the titillation of being about the porn industry, and a glimpse of the stunning Heather Graham nekkid on skates, I didn't really dig this slice of underlife. Though Philip Seymour Hoffman's heartbreaking turn as a gay guy in love with someone who's not was stirring, but when is he not?
4. Maborosi
5. Jackie Brown: decent entry by Tarantino. Not revelatory, but he hasn't made a bad movie yet.
6. Fast, Cheap & Out of Control: another must-see documentary.
7. L.A. Confidential: great period flick.
8. In the Company of Men: meh. The cruelty kinda got to me. I guess if I'm gonna watch a story about mean people, there's gotta be something more for me than witnessing the evil.
9. Titanic: classic. One for the ages. I still hold my breath when the boat makes its final plunge.
10. Wag the Dog: was slapped together and it feels like it. Still, as a cultural reference, it's a must-see. And it is enjoyable. Dustin does a good job.

1998
1. Dark City: great sci-fi visualization of a complex idea. Striking. Plods a little in the middle, though.
2. Pleasantville: clever concept, overdone. Were it more nimble on its feet and about 1/2 hour shorter, it would be golden. Still worth it if you're stuck at home and it comes on the tube.
3. Saving Private Ryan: great flick, but harrowing. A one-time viewing did it for me.
4. A Simple Plan: clever and fun.
5. Happiness
6. Elizabeth
7. Babe: Pig In the City: awesome flick. Kids of all ages will dig this.
8. Shakespeare In Love: fun re-imagining. Contains one of the few sex scenes I consider well-done and legitimately erotic.
9. Life Is Beautiful: Jerry Lewis lives! Again, I have trouble with comedy and Nazis in the same broth. Still, this comes close to getting it right.
10. Primary Colors: great artifact, but not much of a flick out of context. Except for the two performances of Travolta and Thompson.

1999
1. Being John Malkovich: I liked it, but it's a love it or hate it kind of flick. For the record, I can't stand John Malkovich, and the fact that he would allow this kind of send-up made me finally enjoy him in something. The half-floor concept is brilliant.
2. Magnolia: meh. Biblical and nihilistic just don't mix. Great acting. Story - such as it is - sucks.
3. Three Kings: great gonzo war flick. Don't miss it.
4. Boys Don't Cry: I hated, hated, hated it, relaxed a bit and then came back and hated it even more. This movie essentially tries to make a career criminal a hero merely because she was gender confused. What's worse is there's a scene where they terrify a baby (babies can't act, so this child was really that distressed) only to serve the scene (they won't let animals be treated that badly for the purposes of getting a shot). Unforgivable.
5. Bringing Out the Dead: nice try, but ultimately doesn't adhere to its tone correctly and sorta falls flat.
6. Princess Mononoke: over the top, weird Japanese Anime. Compelling story, but only if you're a fan of the genre in the first place.
7. The War Zone
8. American Beauty: I loved this movie. It manipulated me exactly like it should have.
9. Topsy-Turvy
10. The Insider: good one-time viewing, just for the true story and the performances.

2000
1. Almost Famous: good flick. One of the few bio flicks that's fun (perhaps because there're no big tragedies, and because the subject himself wrote and directed it).
2. Wonder Boys: meh. Nice try, but too messy, and doesn't gel in the end.
3. You Can Count on Me: I have no idea why this got the kudos it did. It's dull, meandering, and not one character in the movie is sympathetic.
4. Traffic: another nice try, but ultimately too scattered and stylized to be enjoyable. (Yes, the color coding of the stories was clever, but other than that...)
5. George Washington
6. The Cell: great visual feast that ultimately makes no sense, and not enough sense to persevere through the icky serial killer stuff. I can see impressionable teenage boys digging this more than they should, but that's about it.
7. High Fidelity: nice slice of life, with great performances by Cusack and Black.
8. Pollock: a grand misfire. Think it's accurate, but Pollock was kind of a jerk, apparently, and it's hard to watch a long film about a jerk (unless it's Steve Martin).
9. Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon: beautiful visuals, silly story. Basic swat-fu once you remove the flying ballet stuff.
10. Requiem for a Dream: critic's darling, but essentially mind-garbage. I don't know about you, but watching the beautiful Jennifer Connelly descend into a drug-addled, sex-show bimbette is just too much to bear.

2001
1. Monster's Ball: I've always wondered if the title referred to the penultimate sex scene. I thought the characters were preposterous and rather flat.
2. Black Hawk Down: harrowing war movie about a real event - that manages to be a popcorn movie at the same time.
3. In the Bedroom: another critics darling about "real people" doing "real things" but duller than hell. I don't even remember what the plot was, if there was one.
4. Ghost World: mildly interesting slice of life that ultimately goes nowhere. Thora Birch in a batgirl mask is hot, though.
5. Mulholland Drive: the only contender in David Lynch's branch of abstract films that really works. Worth a few viewings. The first time should be "cold," then research on the web as to what people's guesses are for various meanings, then watch a few more times and get the soundtrack.
6. Waking Life: interesting if flawed experiment. If you like late-night dorm room philosophizing mixed with trippy visuals, get out the bong and fire it up.
7. Innocence
8. Wit: I don't like disease movies - Terms of Endearment being the only exception because it was so much more. She gets hardcore, inoperable cancer, has lived a quasi-squandered life, and realizes it before she dies. The end. Enough of our lives are going to end this way, so unless you watch this as a warning or as a kick in the pants to get going on something, don't watch it at all.
9. A Beautiful Mind: great attempt to portray insanity from the insane's perspective. I didn't enjoy much outside of that. (Will Jennifer Connelly ever be in a good movie? Let's hope so.)
10. Gosford Park: meh. Too long, too little mystery. Even my buddies who like Atlman gave this one a "meh."

2002
1. Minority Report: good sci-fi, though this is one of those that movies on the unfortunate trend bandwagon that uses a tonal color palette to mute the colors because the director really wanted to do it in black and white. And then there's the Tom Cruise thing. Also, the mag-cars are completely unrealistic; they would make everyone hurl their brains out in reality if they moved around like that at that speed. Worth getting past all that for a decent story, though.
2. City of God
3. Adaptation: I really dug this one, but then I'm a fan of Charlie Kaufman's Chinese-box plots. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is one of my favorite movies ever, another of Kaufman's. This one has a lot of great twists, and there's one mind-blowing scene with Meryl Streep grinding away on top of Chris Cooper. I dropped my popcorn. And of course, Nicolas Cage does one of his bravura performances.
4. Far From Heaven
5. 13 Conversations About One Thing
6. Y Tu Mama Tambien
7. Invincible
8. Spirited Away: see Princess Mononoke above. Same same.
9. All or Nothing
10. The Quiet American

2003
1. Monster: interesting portrait, but she was such an evil and tragic character, you get to the end and want to take a shower and watch a few Disney cartoons to recover.
2. Lost in Translation: I liked this Bladerunner meets Save the Tiger tone poem set in Japan. Not the revelation critics said it was, but still a nice, sedate voyage.
3. American Splendor: interesting in the mechanics of telling the story using actors, the real people, and animation, but ultimately is about the guy on the bus whom you avoid, so it's knee-capped by an unlikable main character.
4. Finding Nemo: my family did not enjoy this at all, thus we were one of the three people in that tiny minority. We felt that EVERYONE being handicapped was a bit over the top. (I think the only character that was not damaged in some way was the baby turtle.)
5. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World: great ripping yarn. The rare guy flick that the chicks can enjoy.
6. Mystic River: harrowing topic handled well by surprise auteur Clint Eastwood. However, I don't like anything that deals with children being killed or molested, so that diminished it for me.
7. Owning Mahowny
8. The Son (Le Fils)
9. Whale Rider
10. In America

2004
1. Million Dollar Baby: the controversy surrounding this pissed me off, and that may have spoiled the movie for me. I don't like boxing, so I couldn't get into it that way, either. I'll admit the movie is well done, but the topic just didn't do it for me.
2. Kill Bill Vol. 2: clever ultraviolence from Tarantino. I enjoyed it in spite of myself, but the harsher edges of the story derailed it for the most part. (Like when the nurse is selling Kiddo's body out while she's in a coma. Yuck.)
3. Vera Drake
4. Spider-Man 2: one of the comic-book-based movies done right. The scene where the crowd passes an unconscious Spiderman over their heads is iconic.
5. Moolaade
6. The Aviator: nice outing, worth a viewing. It does gloss over the more disturbing sides of Hughes' life, like his huge, personal espionage ring. So it kinda gold-plates a turd of a human being.
7. Baadasssss!
8. Sideways: perfect little movie that does what little movies should do. Very entertaining.
9. Hotel Rwanda: Couldn't get through it. Consummate bummers have to have a little something extra to get you through the bad stuff. Amistad has this same flaw. So if even Spielberg can't make this kind of material float, no one can. Well, maybe Spike Lee needs to try.
10. Undertow

2005
1. Crash: I thought this was a contrived piece o' shite. I have no idea why this got the awards and the kudos.
2. Syriana: thought this was duller than an accountant's explanation of the new tax regulations. And this is about real spies!
3. Munich
4. Junebug: couldn't get through it. Started fast-forwarding after 20 minutes. Glad I did.
5. Brokeback Mountain
6. Me and You and Everyone We Know: I hated this movie because all the children say and do graphically sexual things while the adults merely have cute little flirty conversations. I don't like seeing child actors made to do adult things for the sake of a movie. Had this movie confined itself to the adult romance, it might've been something.
7. Nine Lives
8. King Kong: too long, too loud, too much. (Someone should trim this monkey down to about 90 minutes; that would be a great flick.)
9. Yes
10. Millions: nice try (the visuals are stunning), but the parents-being-dead topic has got to be handled just right in kid's films because that's their biggest fear, and this one doesn't achieve that.


So, I've notice that as time goes by, my tastes have diverged from Ebert's when it comes to the "little films." We still agree on the big movies and documentaries, but we just no longer have the same taste in indie films whatsoever.

If I had the energy, I'd go back and construct my top ten for each year (I'd have to start about 77, because before that I was just too young), but getting a list of all releases, combing through them, etc. is a mind-bending challenge. Recently when the blogs I visit attempted to name "The best modern American film," I found I wasn't up to it - because picking just one is impossible, and eventually riffling through the lists from each year is ... dull.

However, let me just say here are ones I would plop in there somewhere, in the place of lesser entries:
- Airplane!
- Alien
- Aliens
- Big
- Blade Runner
- Blue Velvet
- Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
- Dazed and Confused
- Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
- Fight Club
- Groundhog Day
- Jaws
- Little Big Man
- On Golden Pond
- One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
- Peter Pan (The live-action 2003 version, done perfectly. No kidding. This story is as iconic as the Wizard of Oz and "Star Trek." Think about it, do you know anyone who doesn't know those three stories? A perfect companion movie to this is Finding Neverland, though I promise it will make you cry.)
- Primer
- Raising Arizona
- Silver Streak
- The Big Chill
- The Elephant Man
- The Little Mermaid
- The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
- The Matrix
- The Silence of the Lambs
- The Sixth Sense
- The Thing (John Carpenter's - my top fave movie of all time)
- The World According to Garp
- Young Frankenstein

Remember this list starts in '67, so it's missing top faves from way back, so no Philadelphia Story, Best Years of Our Lives, or Wizard of Oz.

Also, I almost put Smokey and the Bandit on the list, because for a redneck, over the top comedy, it still stands alone. I caught part of it on TV a couple months ago, and it's still funny. But, I just couldn't bring my self to put it up there with the other movies, so consider it the one runner-up.

My final impression is the sheer amount of great movies there really are out there. We've had a bad couple years in movies (and there is always a gem or two even in bad years - see The Matador above), and reviewing the greats is heartening. If you even see a third of this list, you've seen some great stuff.

Anyone else care to have a whack at this?

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

If you could more-than-tolerate Wings of Desire. I wonder if you'd like those 70s and early 80s Werner Herzog movies - Aguirre: Wrath of God, Fitzcarraldo, and (not on the list) Kaspar Hauser. Not Stroszek, though, and I haven't seen Heart of Glass.

Also, Wender's Paris, Texas was good, IMO.

Yahmdallah said...

I've seen some of those at the library, so I'll snag one or two next time I can. Thanks for the recommendation.

Anonymous said...

Alright, this is the second time I've read through this entry. I think I'm wiff ya about 50% of the time and agin ya the rest ... which is to say, if I'm going to comment at all, it might have to be in an entry of my own. I'll keep you posted.

Yahmdallah said...

I look forward to it!

Sleemoth said...

Another Herzog film on the list is Nosferatu, the Vampyre - a remake of FW Mourneau's classic. If you can handle the slow pace, it's a real spooker.

Anonymous said...

Okay, I've staggered off the starting blocks. Just don't tell me Balmy & Clod doesn't get you giggling.

Anonymous said...

Here are the top ten non-bolded films (in chronological order) that (IMHO) you ought to check out:

1. Wild Child
2. McCabe and Mrs. Miller
3. Kagemusha
4. Diva
5. Fitzcarraldo
6. Stranger Than Paradise
7. One False Move
8. Bad Lieutenant
9. Last Seduction
10. Topsy-Turvy

yahmdallah said...

Ok, I'll give them a shot. The only one that give me pause is "Bad Lieutenant". I mean how many times do we need to see Harvey naked? So, what's the hook? Why is it worth watching.

Anonymous said...

Was 2005 the worst year for movies ever? The evidence mounts.

McCabe and Mrs. Miller might be Altman's best, simultaneously an excellent Western and a great Altman-esque commentary on the Western, without losing anything from either element. Speaking of Altman, I agree with you on both Nashville (good, but overrated...reaching for something, but what exactly) and Gosford Park (actively bad).

I'm with you on most of this, but I thought you seriously underrated Fanny and Alexander. I felt it was a great movie and one of Bergman's best. But if that kind of pace doesn't work for you, then it doesn't work for you. Like a lot of Bergman's stuff, you probably need to feel some emotional resonance with the dark side of Scandanavian Protestant culture. But a truly happy, uplifting, and joyful ending.

I really agreed with most of the picks on your "alternates" list, especially the comedies. But I'd add "Something About Mary", which I think was a great comedy. Also, I though the LOTR trilogy was overrated and way longer than it needed to be. Always respected Ebert for not hyping that one up.

MQ

Yahmdallah said...

I enjoyed "Fanny and Alexander" when watching it, but outside of one scene where someone's on fire (memory too dim about it to be exact), it didn't stay with me. It was kind of a bon-bon.

I simply forgot "Something About Mary." I would have included it had I remembered it. When Stiller shows up in braces and that 70s hair, oh my God. What a great flick.