Wednesday, November 02, 2005

15 Years, 15 Films

Alright folks. Let the debates begin. I was discussing people's top five favorite films at work today, and some of their choices kind of shocked me. When I mentioned some of my favorites, many of which I consider to be the best films I've seen, I was met with looks of shock and disgust. This got me thinking. Objectively, what are the best films of the last decade? Hell, let's make it the last fifteen years. I am 100% convinced that I know what the best film of the last fifteen years is. But feel free to attempt to change my mind. Each of the movies on this list is absolute perfection. They are all grade "A", four-star films, with nary a single fault. They all succeed on every single level. They are the risk-takers, the most ambitious, the most perfect films I can think of. Herewith: the best (not favorite), but BEST movies of the past 15 years...In order...

15. The Incredibles
14. Fargo
13. L.A. Confidential
12. Memento
11. The Lord of the Rings trilogy
10. Apollo 13
9. Se7en
8. Moulin Rouge
7. Boogie Nights
6. Goodfellas
5. The Shawshank Redemption
4. Magnolia
3. JFK
2. Schindler's List

and the Best Film of the past 15 years:

1. Pulp Fiction


At 10:29 PM, Blogger Jules said...

I don't disagree with any of these choices, but I am missing a little film that came out in, oh, 2000. Just a tiny little film that is near and dear to my heart. Let's call it "Gladiator."

At 10:29 PM, Blogger Jules said...

Wait. I do disagree with "Apollo 13." I find it dull.

At 10:41 PM, Blogger Hammer said...

This list would be a failure if there weren't some disagreements with it. Here are the films that I had a hard time deciding between, but ultimately, I was able to find flaws (albeit minor ones) in all of them: The Matrix, The Usual Suspects, Being John Malkovich, South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut, Jerry Maguire, Saving Private Ryan, Traffic, Fight Club, Three Kings, Braveheart, and Out of Sight.

At 10:45 PM, Blogger Hammer said...

Don't worry Wally: Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums were also in the running. As were Heat, Toy Story 1 and 2, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

At 10:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was kidding about Gladiator. Sort of. It did win best picture, after all.

At 8:50 AM, Blogger Jeff said...

I don't have time to give you my whole list, but off the top of my head, I nominate.

1. Fargo
2. Boogie Nights
3. Pulp Fiction
4. Jackie Brown
5. Mulholland Drive (fuck you)

At 2:12 PM, Blogger KLE said...

This one was tough...
I didn't put them in any order, because at this point it so hard to rank. So here they are, in alphabetical order:

Black Hawk Down
Much Ado About Nothing
Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels
Requiem for a Dream
Reservoir Dogs
Schindler's List
The Silence of the Lambs
The Usual Suspects

At 2:15 PM, Blogger KLE said...

Crap, I get 5 more! okay, the others:

American Beauty
The Piano
Pulp Fiction

At 9:42 PM, Blogger iv said...

alright, here we go. i've done all i can to remove personal favoritism (see #12, also note mysterious lack of tenenbaums)

15. talk to her
14. memento
13. american beauty
12. lord of the rings
11. the shawshank redemption
10. rushmore
9. boogie nights
8. the usual suspects
7. eternal sunshine of the spotless mind
6. fargo
5. goodfellas
4. the silence of the lambs
3. pulp fiction
2. schindler's list
1. magnolia

At 10:40 PM, Blogger Hammer said...

Interesting choices everyone. Jeff, you are way off with Mulholland Drive. Not even close to being in the top 15, even if you like the movie. And Jackie Brown is occasionally brilliant, but often times clumsy and overly long. It gets better over time but it's definitely a flawed film. Kate, glad you gave some love to Amelie and Clueless. Those are two excellent, and overlooked films. But I don't quite know if they're the best. Also, Black Hawk Down is good and powerful, but a little too narrow and not as moving as I would have hoped. Technically brilliant, but there's definitely a viewer detachment. Much Ado suffers from some out-of-whack performances, and Silence of the Lambs pales in comparison to Seven. Anthony Hopkins is just not that creepy. You enjoy him a little too much in that role. He's cool. As evidenced by Hannibal. Wally, glad to see you acknowledged Lord of the Rings, and I do agree that Rushmore definitely has a place in there, but I'd venture to say that The Royal Tenenbaums is a more ambitious, more moving, more successful picture. It's your favorite, and I definitely think it deserves a place over Rushmore, if only for the line, "it's been a rough year." Usual Suspects? Most people would put this film in the top 15. But aside from the ending, it's kind of boring. I think people have fonder memories of it. Taking a cold, hard objective look at the film, it's not all it's cracked up to be. I need to see Talk to Her. American Beauty is a tough one. Great script, great performances, great direction, but I think it's shelf life is limited. I don't think it will stay with us the way some of the other films will.

At 10:53 PM, Blogger iv said...

wow, and i just didn't feel like trying to make that argument for tenenbaums. i mostly figured no one would believe me. thanks for taking the side i wanted to be able to take in the first place.

but if we're looking for lines, rushmore has the best one: "with friends like you, who needs friends?"

as soon as americans stop trying to live picture perfect lives, american beauty will stop being important.

i can pretty much bet that you'll find talk to her to be a completely unworthy addition to the list, but i think it's incredible.

i've always found the usual suspects completely engaging from beginning to end. and as soon as it ends you want to watch it all over again. sometimes i do.

maybe it's because i snuck into a theatre to see it when i was far too young, but i have always found silence to be ridiculously effective.

if i drop talk to her, then i'm adding far from heaven.

At 8:47 AM, Blogger Jeff said...

Not to beat a dead horse, but Hammer, you are simply WRONG about Mulholland Drive. In fact, you are the only person I've met who doesn't like it (never thought I'd use that line of reasoning). It is perfection as far as I'm concerned.

Further, just to piss people off, I object to the following films that have been mentioned as perfect films:

1. The Shawshank Redemption (too much feel good Hollywood for me, not that I didn't enjoy it).
2. Gladiator (boring)
3. Apollo 13 (??)
4. Amelie (we've been down this road before)
5. Black Hawk Down (not perfect by any means, although it was intense)
6. Clueless (hated that movie)
7. American Beauty (didn't like the "isn't the trash beautiful when it's blowing in the wind" part)
8. The Piano (Harvey Keitel penis)
9. Lord of the Rings (ok, I need to actually see 2 and 3, but #1 just wasn't that good, I got lost)

And for some more of my choices

1. Eyes Wide Shut (just kidding, it's flawed)
2. Goodfellas

Eh, can't think of any others right now. Investigation continues.

At 11:03 PM, Blogger Hammer said...

Jeff, hate to break it to you, but Mulholland Drive sucks. Whenever I ask you why you like it, you say, "it's funny" and that's about it. That's the only defense you have of that movie. Yeah, well as "funny" as that movie is, that alone isn't enough to push it into the top 15 best films of the past fifteen years. Mulholland Drive may have its pleasures. I do not take pleasure in any of it. But even you can admit that it's narratively obscure and a tad incoherent. And yes, Naomi Watts is decent, but what good are the performances when no one is playing a real human being? They're all just ittle puppets for David Lynch to do whatever he wants with. Perfection? Don't think so. The people who like it probably enjoy its imperfections as much as anything else.

At 11:04 PM, Blogger d'shawn'tre said...

SUm peepel jest arent smart enuff to undersand lord uf da ringz. is a verrry dificelt story. boy haz ring. boy must get ridd ov ring. boy has freinds alongg to help.

y'all no were i stand. lay her cake, baby!

mulholind drive is pretenshis drivel.

At 11:05 PM, Blogger Hammer said...

I don't know what it is with American Beauty, Forrest Gump, and Titanic. Is it just a case of too popular for their own good?

At 11:07 PM, Anonymous sandra lee said...

good call on clueless and amelie. i thought of amelie immediately, but wasn't brave enough to note it. clueless is one perfect comedy that comepletely captured the time period.

At 11:09 PM, Blogger d'shawn'tre said...

i dont no wy sandra lee spelt 'completely' dat way. she a fool. jus like jef and hiz moovee pix.

how is glad he ate her boring?

At 10:30 AM, Blogger Jeff said...

er. fuck you d'shawntre

At 10:46 AM, Blogger Jeff said...

Mulholland Drive definitely does not suck, and it isn't pretentious drivel. People like to throw the word "pretentious" around to scare off more offbeat and complex artistic creation (eg. Erebus).

Mulholland Drive isn't for everyone, but this 15 years, 15 films list shouldn't be reserved only for mainstream films. Mulholland Drive is perfect, but not in a traditional way. It's a perfect bizarre film. I like bizarre films, and I think I'm qualified to pinpoint one that has all the right elements. I nominate it and I stand by my pick.

At 4:11 PM, Blogger KLE said...

Jeffy, I love David Lynch almost as much as you do, but Mulhulland Drive was just an exercise in throwing as much f-ed up crap as possible in one movie. LITTLE TINY PEOPLE?!?! Go rent "Lost Highway."

And I totally agree with Wally: "American Beauty" will only lose its significance when Americans stop trying to live perfect lives. Of course, my mom hated the movie because she thought it was completely banal that the mom would all of a sudden like Kevin Spacey's character once he was dead. Perhaps.

And I put Amelie in there because I know you all are much too manly to like such a seemingly girly movie. Yet this movie completely captures the dilemma of dreamers- huge hearts with no courage to share them.

As for Black Hawk Down, I think the detatchment was necessary- I had the hardest time keeping the characters apart (they all look the same, except for Josh Hartnett). I didn't even recognize Ewan McGregor. Yet, I think it was a good effect- it's not about the individuals (like it is in Saving Private Ryan or the other epic war movies). It's an expanded CNN report where one of the soldiers seems to be carrying around the camera. I thought it was a good effect.

As for Much Ado- I put it on my top 15 because the performances are brilliant. Even if you think Michael Keaton went over-board. Yet he was the Fool- this was a Shakespeare play, complete with stock characters whose only function is to make the groundlings laugh. A 14-year-old from hickville Alabama (a modern-day groundling) would laugh at Michael Keaton, just like he's supposed to. The settings are beautiful, the story never gets bogged down (a rare thing for a Shakespeare-gone-movie). As for the other actors, they are pitch-perfect. Okay, I'm ignoring Keanu Reeves. Just let me ignore that dark spot, because this is the ONE MOVIE that makes Shakespeare accessible without going all pop culture (i.e. Baz Luhrman's Romeo + Juliet). Did any of YOU sit through the 4 hour Hamlet???? How about the bad BBC version of Richard II? Well, I did, and there is not pleasure to be gained there, except from the Bard's brilliant words.

Okay, enough ranting. Besides, I think we all have different criteria about what tips the scales from "really good movie" to "15 best."

At 4:56 PM, Blogger Jeff said...

Just for information's sake, here are the rottentomatoes cream of the crop critics' ratings for the films mentioned on this post.

1. Mulholland Drive- 90%
2. Incredibles- 95%
3. Fargo- 84%
4. LA Confidential 93%
5. Memento- 94%
6. LOTR Trilogy- average about 98.5%
7. Apollo 13- 88%
8. Se7ev- 62%
9. Moulin Rouge- 65%
10. Boogie Nights- 100%
11. Magnolia- 82%
12. Goodfellas- 97%
13. Shawshank- 86%
14. JFK- 100%
15. Schindler's List- 100%
16. Pulp Fiction- 100%
17. Gladiator- 72%
18. Jackie Brown- 50%
19. Amelie- 85%
20. Black Hawk Down- 73%
21. Clueless- 80%-
22. Much Ado About Nothing- 60%
23. Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels- 57%
25. Requiem for a Dream- 73%
26. Reservoir Dogs- 80%
27. The Silence of the Lambs- 100%
28. The Usual Suspects - 83%
29. American Beauty- 93%
30. The Piano- 87%
31. Talk to Her- 93%
32. Rushmore- 57%
33. Eternal Sunshine- 90%

At 1:59 PM, Anonymous (Fuck You) said...

Critics: Top Tens: 2001: Harry Knowles by AAA

1. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring
2. Amelie
3. The Man Who Wasn't There
4. Moulin Rouge!
5. The Brotherhood of the Wolf
6. Shrek
7. The Devil's Backbone
8. Hedwig and the Angry Inch
9. Waking Life
10. Mulholland Drive

Hmm, a respected critic putting Mulholland Drive among other favs picked by other posters. Someone's looking less crazy or "foolish" ever minute.

Ok, I'll stop now.

At 9:25 PM, Blogger Hammer said...

Jeff (aka "Fuck you"), you'll notice that on that list, Mulholland Drive came in at #10 for the year of 2001. It may be one of the fifteen best of 2001, but of the last fifteen years? 'Fraid not. Try again.

At 11:12 AM, Blogger d'shawn'tre said...

man, hammer, u surved jef!

At 11:14 AM, Blogger Jules said...

And, D'shawn'tre et. al., look at how far Amelie is above Mulholland Drive. Oh, burn!

At 8:47 AM, Anonymous (Fuck You) said...

I'm not Jeff. Just a concerned citizen putting his two cents in. I just happen to notice that Jeff is often correct on most issues. Unequivocally correct, in fact.

I think fans of Amelie are a bunch of bullying Nazis. They pretend to be such a fun, freespirited group of people. But if you don't think their stupid movie is the best thing of all time, they'd rather you be hung.


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