Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Listmania: My favourite movies of the 00s

So given that it's fast approaching the end of a decade, everyone's doing those "Best of the Decade" lists. Why should I be any different?

A word, though: This is not a definitive list. I don't have the time to watch every movie ever released, so obviously there are going to be some omissions here. These are merely movies that I have seen and thought were fabulous. I welcome your input, but don't read this and send me a comment saying "Jeez, what a dickhead, how come No Country for Old Men isn't in there?" because I haven't got around to seeing it, all right?. Damn, get off my back already.

I've sort of put them in order, but not really. That's how alternative I am. And yes, I clearly have a thing for cinema from the non-English speaking world.

City of God (2002) - Exhilarating Brazilian gangster movie that easily rates up there with The Godfather trilogy, Goodfellas and Scarface. Directors Fernando Mireilles and Katia Lund employ a unique cinematographical style to weave a tale over 3 decades about the rise of gang culture in the favelas of Rio De Janeiro.

Memento (2000) - Christopher Nolan's psychological thriller, about a man with anterograde amnesia trying to piece together the threads of his life, takes a daring concept - telling the story in reverse - and pulls it off with incredible results. An intricately plotted movie which demands the viewer's full attention, with an absolute killer climax.

Infernal Affairs (2001) - I have no idea why so many people creamed themselves over The Departed, yet criminally ignored the film it was copied from. Because The Departed is not fit to lick the boots of Infernal Affairs. Tony Leung gives a magnificent portrayal of a cop deep undercover in a triad gang, in a cat and mouse game with Andy Lau as the gang's mole in the police force. My review here.

Pan's Labyrinth  (2006) - Visually amazing, Guillermo Del Toro's dark fairy tale of a young girl using her imagination to escape her grim reality reads like a nightmarish rendering of Narnia for grown-ups.

Dirty Pretty Things (2002) - Bleak, moving suspense set in the unseen world of Britain's illegal immigrant workforce. Chiwetel Ejiofor's career-making performance as a haunted Nigerian doctor-turned-taxi driver can only be described as "soulful".


Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) - While it is significant in exposing the fantastical high-wire tricks of the wuxia genre to the Western world, Ang Lee's masterpiece stands out in its own right as a love story, and for its performances from its stellar cast from all over the Chinese speaking world.

The Host (2006) - Bong Joon-Ho's revitalised take on the monster movie, in which a mutant aquatic beast terrorises the riverbanks of Seoul, stands out for its offbeat but effective juxtaposition of horror, comedy and
drama elements.

Dirty Carnival (2006) - A fresh take on the gangster genre, and more proof of the current vitality of Korea's film industry. My review here.

Offside (2006) - Iranian maverick Jafar Panahi's funny but stinging critique of his country's treatment of females, revolving around a group of women trying to sneak into a stadium to watch a World Cup soccer qualifier.

Ong Bak (2003) - Yes, it's from the genre of "look what I can do" martial arts films with lots of action and little plot, but its the best example of that genre in ages. Visceral, fresh and exciting, and made Tony Jaa seem like the next great Asian action star. Unfortunately the rubbish films he made afterwards made this one seem like a fluke.

The 40 Year Old Virgin (2005) - The premise seems like fodder for an 80s teen boob-fest, but behind the ribald banter is a comedy with real heart. The best example of what Judd Apatow does best - making films about the complicated passage of boys to men.

Lagaan (2001) - It's a Bollywood movie, for all that entails (almost 4 hours long with lots of dancing) and it's about cricket. Doesn't sound terribly exciting, but Lagaan is an enormously entertaining example of the genre, depicting a humble village taking on the might of the British Raj in a game of cricket to determine their fate.


  1. Happy NY, Chris! Many thanks for your diligent and savvy blogging. I've linked you more times than is probably healthy this past year - what can I say? You're channelling what I think about so many things but haven't the wherewithal to post.

    And as for this movie list: I'm nerdily glad that you included The Host. It's one of my fave monster movies of recent years.

  2. Happy NY to you too Tseen! Glad you are appreciating - and don't worry, scientific studies show that linking is not harmful to health. I appreciate the support.