Guy’s top 50 of the decade: #11-20

Posted by · 6:51 pm · January 5th, 2010

Dennis Haysbert and Julianne Moore in Far From HeavenOkay, so I wasn’t expecting “Wolf Creek” to be the most popular inclusion — though in putting it out there, I was glad to see the number of fellow cheerleaders I have for that one. Such sharing is the principal joy of doing such lists.

I doubt that any titles in today’s group of ten are quite as contentious, though one received a far rougher ride from some major critics upon release than I think it deserved, and has rather disappeared from view in recent years. Keen-eyed readers will also notice my list’s first overlap with Kris’s best-of-decade collective — ironically, on a film that tends to divide opinion rather than unite it.

Several of you have asked, in comments and via email, about the films that would fill out my Top 100. I thought 50 films more than enough for me to write up, but since some readers are treating the project as the kind of playlist I had hoped for, I could be persuaded to offer an alphabetical, titles-only list of the also-rans.

The list continues after the cut.

“JUNEBUG” (Phil Morrison, 2005)
Amy Adams in JunebugDeserving of far more recognition than merely the plaudits for Amy Adams’s extraordinary breakthrough performance, Morrison’s perfectly pitched comedy of manners risks Southern caricature, but moves with its protagonist from brittle observation to large-hearted understanding.

“HEAVEN” (Tom Tykwer, 2002)
Cate Blanchett and Giovanni Ribisi in HeavenIn taking on the final screenplay of the late Krzysztof Kieslowski, the director of “Run Lola Run” always faced a tough critical crowd. But the director’s kinetics and the writer’s poetics make for a ravishing symbolic exercise, showcasing the finest work of Cate Blanchett’s career.

“THIS IS ENGLAND” (Shane Meadows, 2007)
Stephen Graham in This Is EnglandBoth a clear-eyed, stirring coming-of-age story and the most vivid, biting evocation of Thatcher’s ailing, socially fractious Britain yet put on screen, Meadows’s autobiographical study of a pre-teen boy’s immersion in skinhead culture rumbles with wit, fury and irresistible ska music.

“CACHE” (Michael Haneke, 2005)
CacheNever have I seen a cinema audience let out such a stunned collective gasp as at the climactic moment of Haneke’s ruthless psychological chiller, which crosses taut threads of domestic tension through larger political queries with breathtaking élan. An enduring conversation piece.

“DOGVILLE” (Lars von Trier, 2003)
DogvilleNever a filmmaker to try out one provocation at a time, von Trier further stoked the inevitable media furore over his film’s “anti-Americanism” with one of the most eccentric, cinematically contentious staging concepts in screen history. A fearsomely committed ensemble makes it fly.

“MULHOLLAND DRIVE” (David Lynch, 2001)
Laura Elena Harring and Melissa George in Mulholland DriveSo many things at once it rather defies a blurb, Lynch’s headlong dive into dream logic and Hollywood myth is, by turn, heady, funny, silly, profound, erotic and very, very frightening, airily pulling off its narrative somersault with a slightly different finish every time you watch it.

“MORVERN CALLAR” (Lynne Ramsay, 2002)
Samantha Morton in Morvern CallarWith only two features to her name, Ramsay has proved herself the most tactile, sensually alert filmmaker in modern British cinema, yet we still await her follow-up. Until then, multiple viewings of this magnificently unmoored character study, starring a peerless Samantha Morton, must suffice.

“TIME OUT” (Laurent Cantet, 2002)
Aurelien Recoing in Time OutNine years before “Up in the Air,” Cantet detailed the crippling emotional aftermath of retrenchment with such wincing exactitude, it makes most current cultural statements on the topic appear insignificant by comparison. Aurelien Recoing’s performance is a master class.

“BEFORE NIGHT FALLS” (Julian Schnabel, 2000)
Johnny Depp in Before Night FallsThere’s a happy, unruly spirit of artistic engagement coursing through Schnabel’s dense, marvelously florid biopic of Reinaldo Arenas; as a painter interpreting the life of a poet, Schnabel boldly allows his medium to color that of his subject, restating Arenas’ words with glorious imagery.

“FAR FROM HEAVEN” (Todd Haynes, 2002)
Patricia Clarkson (second from right) and Julianne Moore (right) in Far From HeavenPolitely tapping on the door of tomorrow’s Top 10, Todd Haynes’s glorious homage to the structures and stylings of the 1950s domestic melodrama undercuts its own swoony nostalgia with a tart academic dissection of the social and racial prejudices poisoning both that era and this one.

Tomorrow — the Top 10. Catch up with #41-50 here, #31-40 here and #21-30 here. Here’s the list so far:

1-10. TBA
11. “Far From Heaven”
12. “Before Night Falls”
13. “Time Out”
14. “Morvern Callar”
15. “Mulholland Drive”
16. “Dogville”
17. “Caché”
18. “This Is England”
19. “Heaven”
20. “Junebug”
21. “Brokeback Mountain”
22. “The Class”
23. “Beau Travail”
24. “In the Mood for Love”
25. “Jindabyne”
26. “No Country for Old Men”
27. “Once”
28. “Spider”
29. “The Departed”
30. “Wolf Creek”
31. “Last Resort”
32. “Wendy and Lucy”
33. “There Will Be Blood”
34. “Fish Tank”
35. “The Bourne Ultimatum”
36. “A Prophet”
37. “Moolaadé”
38. “Me and You and Everyone We Know”
39. “Intimacy”
40. “The Good Girl”
41. “The Hurt Locker”
42. “The Beat That My Heart Skipped”
43. “Lust, Caution”
44. “Iraq in Fragments”
45. “Jesus’ Son”
46. “Japanese Story”
47. “Saraband”
48. “City of God”
49. “Zoolander”
50. “Devdas”

→ 47 Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Filed in: Daily

47 responses so far

  • 1 1-05-2010 at 6:55 pm

    Daniel Crooke said...

    Guy, I was halfway expecting the image for Cache’s placement on your list to be the “climactic moment” from that film. Great pick.

  • 2 1-05-2010 at 6:55 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    I like two of these. Next. :)

  • 3 1-05-2010 at 6:57 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    By the way, in my opinion, kind of unfair to take a swipe at “Up in the Air” since that film isn’t about “retrenchment” or its aftermath.

  • 4 1-05-2010 at 6:58 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Haha. What’s the other one?

  • 5 1-05-2010 at 7:01 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    I would probably like a Schnabel film if he took a crap on celluloid, so…

  • 6 1-05-2010 at 7:04 pm

    James D. said...

    Junebug? Mulholland Drive? There is always tomorrow, I guess.

  • 7 1-05-2010 at 7:08 pm

    Robert Hamer said...

    Argh, I hate Dogville! I’m really hoping Dancer in the Dark sneaks in your top ten, Guy, since that is von Trier’s TRUE masterpiece (so far).

    I would add that Far From Heaven doesn’t just reprimand the 50’s for its prejudices, it also forces us modern audiences to examine the racial and social injustices of here and now. That’s a huge part of its genuis. Well, that and Julianne Moore.

    I’m not crazy about Mulholland Dr. (I can’t help but laugh at the final death scene), but I respect its structural and sensory audaciousness, and Morvern Callar is a wonderful little enigma of a film that I didn’t 100% understand, but I sure had a ball trying to figure it out.

    Can’t wait for the top ten.

  • 8 1-05-2010 at 7:09 pm

    Matt said...

    Unless something changes in 1-10, these lists just scream “elitist” and “snobby”. Like someone didn’t like anything that came out in Hollywood in the past ten years and they didn’t like it precisely because it came from Hollywood rather than any real problems with them. Big fat yawn.

  • 9 1-05-2010 at 7:10 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Are those such horrific picks, James? ;)

    In the words of Ricky Nelson, “You can’t please everyone, so you gotta please yourself.”

  • 10 1-05-2010 at 7:11 pm

    Matt said...

    Oh but it does make me happy to see The Hurt Locker and Fish Tank on this list. It seems great confirmation that those two stinkers will be forgotten in coming years in the wake of the aftermath of this silly awards’ season hype they’re getting.

  • 11 1-05-2010 at 7:13 pm

    Pablo (Col) said...

    Beautiful Far from Heaven. Now thats a masterpiece.

  • 12 1-05-2010 at 7:14 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Matt: Great theory. That’s exactly why such buried arthouse obscurities as “The Departed,” “The Bourne Ultimatum” and “Zoolander” appear on the list.

  • 13 1-05-2010 at 7:14 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Matt: Don’t douche it up in here, man. I know you couldn’t help it last year with your WALL-E bullshit, which came with your own boring brand of “elitism.” But a list is personal. Why does it have to adhere to your set of rules? THAT would be a “big fat yawn.”

  • 14 1-05-2010 at 7:21 pm

    Raffi said...

    Great to see “Far From Heaven” and “Dogville” rank so high. Was “Dogville” the one you said was met with alot of criticism?

    This is a really good list to add to my netflix queue as I’ve seen exactly half of them so far. Can’t wait to see the top 10!

  • 15 1-05-2010 at 7:21 pm

    Speaking English said...

    I really don’t care for “Junebug” outside of Adams’ performance, and the acclaim for “Far from Heaven” still perplexes me.

    But “Cache” and “Mulholland Drive” are brilliant. However, no thanks to you for using that image from Haneke’s film! Gives me goosebumps every time.

    Also, I have not seen “Morvern Callar,” but is it at all similar to “Ratcatcher?” I adore that one.

  • 16 1-05-2010 at 7:29 pm

    Michael said...

    I must say that I didn’t really take too well to Junebug. Amy Adams was of course really good and Embeth Davidtz and Celia Weston gave inspired performances, but overall the movie just did not flow for me, and Alessandro Nivola’s character was such a dud and didn’t seem related at all to the rest of his family. I didn’t hate the film but it did bore me slightly. I did think it was well-filmed though. And I am definitely not knocking you or your list, both of which I think are fantastic, but this just stood out to me as something that I personally wouldn’t have included in mine, but good for you for having it on yours.

  • 17 1-05-2010 at 7:32 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Full disclosure: Junebug bored me five minutes into the thing five years ago and I’ve been meaning to give it another look ever since.

  • 18 1-05-2010 at 7:32 pm

    Michael said...

    with that said, Mulholland Drive, Heaven, Morvern Callar, Cache, Before Night Falls, Far From Heaven, and Dogville are the real deal – anyone calling them elitist needs to re-consider. Nothing elitist about these movies, they are just simply extraordinary and legitimately deserve to be on anyone’s top 50 list.

  • 19 1-05-2010 at 7:34 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Hamer: You are quite right about “Far From Heaven,” of course, and I’ve reworded the blurb to fit.

    Raffi: I was actually thinking about “Heaven.” But I suppose “Dogville” could fit — though it’s remained in the critical eye a lot more.

    English: As storytelling, “Morvern Callar” is quite a different beast from “Ratcatcher” — it’s more digressive and fanciful, I think — but in terms of atmospherics, it’s unmistakably the work of the same filmmaker. I love them both; you should definitely check it out.

  • 20 1-05-2010 at 7:59 pm

    Nigel Bridgeman said...

    I watched Junebug on the weekend. It took me four attempts to get through it. Stupid me for trying to finish every movie I start watching. I honestly think that if it wasn’t for Amy Adams there would be no reason to watch it.

    Re: Dogville, I got through thirty minutes of it before I gave up. Maybe one day I’ll give it another go… but not any time soon.

    LOVED Before Night Falls. I really should watch Heaven, considering I used to be a Kieslowski groupie back in the mid 90s (the main reason I hate Legends of the Fall is because it stole the Best Cinematography Oscar from Three Colours Red). I should also start watching Dekalog some time soon.

    I’ve seen thirteen of the 40 listed so far. Shame on me.

  • 21 1-05-2010 at 8:02 pm

    Scott said...

    I’m rather taken aback by all the “eh” directed at Junebug. I think its wonderful in ways that go far beyond Amy Adams. Heck I even like the little meet at the start before they get to the South. I’m also with you on FFH, Dogville, Heaven, and most of all Mulholland Drive. I’m not a Haneke fan but I think Cache is his most interesting work. I’ve never really gotten the love for Morvern Callar, but to each his own.

  • 22 1-05-2010 at 8:34 pm

    Adam Smith said...

    OK, so a couple of things.

    1) I clearly need to give Dogville another shot, because I hated it first time around.

    2) For the life of me, I just don’t GET Cache. I respect it way more than I like it. There’s a fine line between “trance-like” and “boring,” and Cache toes that line constantly, and for me, it’s all too often falling on the side of boredom. There were a couple of images that really grabbed me, and times where I was really into it, but I could just as easily drift right out of it. And perhaps the fact that I had no idea of the political implications of the film and French history meant I didn’t give a shit about said implications.

    3) THANK YOU for the Far From Heaven love. Simply amazing.

  • 23 1-05-2010 at 9:03 pm

    Kevin said...

    I seem to be in agreement with you (Adam Smith) about a lot of things today! (see Scripter post) I remember giving Cache a try a few years ago and found it unbearably boring and a real trial to sit through. My reaction was just like yours – immersed one minute, distanced the next – although, to Haneke’s credit maybe that was the intent he was going for.

    This leads me to a point I want to make about “critically acclaimed, slow-burning, philosophical or moody” films that the general film community seems to demand you like (to take Morvern Callar for example). If you criticise them for their unengaging narrative, it’s likely you’ll receive a fair amount of vitriol for it. Sometimes it’s just hard to drum um the passion and enthusiasm to sit through these sorts of films.

    Nigel, you think that’s bad. So far, I’ve only seen 8 of Guy’s 40 titles listed. My stomach did a little flip of joy when I saw the post’s picture – Far From Heaven is an poignant, arresting and extremely releant piece of work.

  • 24 1-05-2010 at 9:04 pm

    Speaking English said...

    Adam, the political metaphor is drawn very clearly and simply in the movie, when Georges is talking about his adopted Algerian brother and how his parents were killed when their peace protest turned into massacre at the hands of the French.

  • 25 1-05-2010 at 9:08 pm

    Speaking English said...

    Also, I know what Kevin is talking about even if I disagree. I find Cache riveting, highly introspective, and as bone-chilling as any horror film or otherwise I’ve seen.

    But I get what you’re talking about when concerning some ‘art’ films. Like “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days,” which is a film I like but find its drawn-out lethargy somewhat of a practice in patience.

  • 26 1-05-2010 at 9:47 pm

    Glenn said...

    I’d have “Mulholland Drive” as my #1 of the decade, plus “Dogville” would probably be top 5. “This is England” was my #1 of 2007. “Far From Heaven” and “Cache” are also classics. Really liked “Before Night Falls” and “Junebug”, not that keen on “Morvern Callar” and agree with you that the reception “Heaven” received was baffling. I imagine if it were released today when Cate Blanchett worship is even larger than it ever has been then the reaction might be different. That period was strange for her – titles like “The Missing”, “Veronica Geuren”, “Heaven”, “Pushing Tin”, etc.

    If this list is “elitist” then good. Most of these movies are great. It’s people who criticise a list like this that can’t seem to get over movies like “The Dark Knight” not being nominated. Maybe people just don’t like the big mainstream movies as much as others. Yeah? ugh

  • 27 1-05-2010 at 9:48 pm

    Jake said...

    I’m hoping a Nolan films gets into your top ten. Maybe Memento? I’m personally hoping to see The Dark Knight. If there is no Nolan film, then …shock! =)

  • 28 1-05-2010 at 10:02 pm

    Maxim said...

    Far From Heaven? Seriously meh.

  • 29 1-05-2010 at 10:19 pm

    bw said...

    Guy, I’m really digging the look of this list so far. I own many of these films on DVD and have loved them to death.

    Kris, can the phrase “Don’t douche it up in here, man.” be added to the homepage. Maybe on a nice fancy banner?

  • 30 1-05-2010 at 10:21 pm

    bw said...

    Also, you threw This Is England on there. I just saw that film recently on Netflix. It makes for an amazing companion piece to the Alan Clarke film Made in Britain. If you haven’t seen that yet (though something tells me you probably have) then definitely check it out. Tim Roth is fantastic.

  • 31 1-05-2010 at 10:58 pm

    Adam Smith said...

    @Speaking English: Let me clarify by stating that I’m not saying “Fuck Cache for being so damn French.” I suppose what I’m trying to say is that it failed to engage me because the historical context has no significance for me as an American with no knowledge of it prior to the film. I will not begrudge Haneke that–that is my own fault, and nothing Haneke did could change that potential reaction in people (I imagine that I’m not the only person who felt this way). Aside from that, my critique of the film’s structure, style, and pacing still stands, and that is my larger complaint (for lack of a better word).

  • 32 1-05-2010 at 11:16 pm

    André said...

    wow Guy, this is gonna sound totally gay (which is weird, since none of us roll that way) but the second I saw these articles I KNEW “Heaven” was gonna be near the top… just your sort of film, I suppose…

    btw, have you or Kris seen “Five Minutes of Heaven”?? I’d love to know what both/either of you thought of it.

    also: cried like a child with a lost lollipop watching “Where The Wild Things Are”. and not ashamed of it. =]

    maybe the film’s made me lovey-dovey, but thanks to you both and other collaborators for the website! it makes my soul-crushing workdays go by a lot faster!

  • 33 1-05-2010 at 11:28 pm

    red_wine said...

    Far from heaven can feel a bit academic like you said, but still a very good film. Specially the cinematography. I was constantly mesmerized by the look of he film. I prefer I’m Not There though.

    Enough has already been said about Mulholland which is the most discussed movie of the decade. In addition to all the things you listed, it is also a very great tragic love story.

    Dogville I’m a fan of, but I really need to see some other films on this list. I sometimes feel I don’t watch enough modern movies, I mostly watch classics when I get time. One day I’ll finish the classics and get up to speed with others folks. But I still have time.

  • 34 1-06-2010 at 1:38 am

    Eunice said...

    Great list so far, Guy. I’m looking forward to see it complete. Nice to see ‘Far From Heaven’ and ‘Heaven’ so up your list–I feel that they’re two underappreciated movies which really deserve better.

  • 35 1-06-2010 at 1:48 am

    Andrew said...

    Wow, I really love your inclusion of Far From Heaven, Junebug and Mulholland Drive. Amazing films that are somehow underrated by most people. Bravo!

  • 36 1-06-2010 at 2:26 am

    Ross said...

    Amazing how offended some people seem to be by other people’s lists… I’ve seen about half of yours, and there are some things I’d agree with and some I wouldn’t, but that’s the way it rolls. I do love that there are three Australian titles on it (dare I say ‘so far’?) when a lot of lists seem to have bypassed the country.

    I must say, though, that I didn’t like Jindabyne – I’d rate Lantana head and shoulders over it any day of the week.

    Can’t wait for the final installment!

  • 37 1-06-2010 at 6:02 am

    Morgan said...

    Best moment in “Far From Heaven” (which I really enjoyed) was when Dennis Quaid let loose with the f-bomb.

    As Roger Ebert said, it’s the “best and bravest movie of 1957.”

  • 38 1-06-2010 at 8:13 am

    The Other James D. said...

    Man, what is wrong with everyone (but Guy)? I LOVE Junebug. I think it is a fascinating multi-character study, and yes, Amy Adams, a true revelation, gave one of the decade’s best performances in it. But in addition, Benjamin McKenzie was fantastic as well–took me by complete surprise, needless to say. And Celia Weston is such an underrated actress; excellent job as well. Now *this* ensemble cast is 2005’s real MVP.

    “I was born in Japan.”
    “…You were NOT.”

    Gets me every time.

  • 39 1-06-2010 at 8:19 am

    The Other James D. said...

    Btw Andre, I’m gay. Surely not the only gay. That’s rather ghey of you to assume otherwise, innit?

  • 40 1-06-2010 at 8:20 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Agreed. That line reading alone should have netted Adams the Oscar. (Well, that and her meerkat impression.)

  • 41 1-06-2010 at 8:33 am

    André said...

    I meant it as a joke. I really didn’ t mean to offend anyone! apologies, James!

  • 42 1-06-2010 at 8:50 am

    JJ said...

    CACHEA was boring for me, and not trance-like.

  • 43 1-06-2010 at 8:52 am

    The Other James D. said...

    Meerkats are eternally associated with her now. In fact, I’m convinced that Ashley was the model for The Lion King‘s animators.

    @Andre: Heh, it’s kosher. Just teasing you in return ;P.

  • 44 1-06-2010 at 9:01 am

    Joseph Knowles said...

    Nice one re: Time Out. :)

  • 45 1-06-2010 at 11:56 am

    Meli said...

    Not to be an “elitist snob” but… I’ve only let four films from your list thus far get past me, and your best-of mirrors my own more closely than any other I’ve seen online. That’s made coming to this website each day especially fun and I can’t wait to read your top ten later today. Thankfully most of us here GET IT that a best-of list is a personal thing and that we’re all here with open eyes and ears and minds because we love film….films of all kinds.

  • 46 1-06-2010 at 1:44 pm

    Amanda said...

    I completely agree with you about “Heaven”. It is one of my favorite movies and Blanchett is amazing.

  • 47 1-06-2010 at 2:06 pm

    David said...

    Glad to see Heaven up there. Really enjoyed that film.