Friday, September 01, 2006

Top 6.666666 Movies of the First 2/3 of the '00s

Yesterday, August 31, 2006 marks the end of the first two-thirds of the decade. To celebrate, I'm making lists.

Top 6.666666 Movies of the First 2/3 of the '00s

Let me start by saying how disappointing this decade has been for movies, especially compared to the glorious 90s. In fact, the 00s are to the 90s what the 80s were to the 60s. I don't know why this happened. I think many of the best writers and directors gravitated to TV, for the creative freedom and relatively low financial pressure. Still, due to the sheer volume of stuff that's been made, there are some good ones. Really good ones.Another disclaimer: I don't like action films. I shun trilogies. I cruelly mock fantasy and scifi. And I hold road movies and comedies to such an exalted place of worship that my allegiance toward them borders on the laughable. Here we go.

Number 6.666666. Lola (2001)

If this list were limited to Canadian films, this would be #1. This is not the movie where that dyed-hair German chick runs through the streets of Berlin. This is Canadian director Carl Bessai's film about - and I quote from the IMDB page here - "a troubled woman and her search for identity." Yeah! Now that's what I want to see! A search for identity! Did I mention this is a road movie? No? It's a road movie and to see it on the big screen you had to catch it in festivals or live in Canadia because it never got wide release. I saw it on a cool spring night at the Twin Cities International Film Festival, in the old Bell Auditorium on the campus of the University of Minnesota, outside of which I was once asked the question that will haunt my dreams.
(And why does it get the .666666 spot? What makes it only two-thirds of a film? It's Canadian.)

Number 6. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

Those who know me understand that I'll give Jim Carrey in a dramatic role the benefit of the doubt and I'll give Jim Carrey in a comedic role the benefit of a complete absence of laughter. In this movie, he expertly plays the somber everyman to Kate Winslet's wacky fireball. Which is fine because Winslet's energy carries the movie and levitates it above the sluggish back-up story line of the guy who does the thing with wires and tapes and people's heads. Nice direction. Great soundtrack. Solid.

Number 5. The Squid and the Whale (2005)

Jeff Bridges and Laura Linney (or was it Jeff Daniels and Catherine Keener?) are amazing in this almost-perfect dysfunctional family film. I complain about the dysfunctional family film genre, bemoaning its partial failures and its (probably) complete failures, but I have to give credit where it is due and Squid, you made the top 5! This film wouldn't be on the list, however, if it wasn't for the absolutely perfect portrayal (in tone, set design, dialogue, costume design, etc.) of that greatest of years, 1986.

Number 4. Sideways (2004)

I can't think of a movie that better captures adult male friendship, with all of its showmanship, storytelling, and masochistic vulnerability. And sure the guy from Wings can't act but Paul Giamatti can and his lack of an Oscar nomination for Sideways is the second biggest awards travesty of the decade (the biggest being this bullshit).

Number 3. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

I want to give you reasons. I want to give you words. I want to be able to express my delight and fascination in this film using sentences and well-formed thoughts. But I'm just not finding what I need in my intellectual reserve. I really really liked this film. That will have to suffice for now.

Number 2. The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005)

Are you as annoyed as me by my new shtick of putting the word "Number" before the number. As if you didn't know they were numbers. I loved this movie because Steve Carrell is a genius and there really are 40-year old virgins and Catherine Keener is a hot grandma and the guys at the stereo shop were just really really funny. Plus it inspired the "you know how I know you're gay?" movement. This movie is about far more than virginity of course It's about reclaiming or at least reviving your life at the advanced age of 40. It's about taking down the Asia posters of his past and replacing them with a life lived!

Number 1. American Splendor (2003)

Further proof that movies about (or adapted from) comic books are often better than the source material. This movie grew on me each of the 4 times I saw it, its perceived flaws peeled away like a stripper who's also an onion. As with #2, it's hard for me to explain this one so I'll just give you the reasons I liked it in list form:
  • funny
  • Paul Giamatti
  • its dead-on portrayal of Midwestern city life
  • the inspiring (and hauntingly familiar) love story
  • the sweet ending (seemingly contrived but not really; I swear)
  • the looks on the character's faces
It all adds up to something big enough to overshadow the strange decision to have the biopic's subjects appear in the movie against a freakishly white background. Yes, this is my favorite movie of the 2/3. American Splendor yo.


zwigoff said...

Dude where's Ghost World? Haven't you said that it's your favorite movie of all time?

Ali said...

Test of time, Z, test of time.

it's a solid #7 though.

Jason B. said...

Hey, I knew that girl - the stripper who was also an onion - she came into Starbucks all the time when I was working as a barista in Las Vegas during my last year of college. I hit on her while the girl I was trying to break up with was making lattes. Good times.

Walt said...

I wish you didn't have so many freckles on your face.