Cahiers, Sight & Sound offer decade lists

Posted by · 4:21 pm · January 9th, 2010

Tom Cruise and Dakota Fanning in The War of the WorldsThe recent barrage of end-of-decade collectives has probably been enough to sate the appetite of even the keenest listoholic — but having consciously avoided most such lists while I worked on my own, I’m still wallowing in them.

So I can’t resist mentioning out the lists of two of the world’s leading film magazines — the eccentric, über-cinephilic Cahiers du Cinéma, and my own favorite, Sight & Sound. The Cahiers list is exactly what you’d expect from them, with a cineaste’s twisted valentine to Hollywood atop the pile, while its one concession to populist commercial cinema is a typically perverse choice:

1. “Mulholland Drive” (David Lynch)
2. “Elephant” (Gus van Sant)
3. “Tropical Malady” (Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
4. “The Host” (Bong Joon-ho)
5. “A History of Violence” (David Cronenberg)
6. “The Secret of the Grain” (Abdelatif Kechiche)
7. “West of the Tracks” (Wang Bing)
8. “War of the Worlds” (Steven Spielberg)
9. “The New World” (Terrence Malick)
10. “Ten” (Abbas Kiarostami)

Sight & Sound, meanwhile, refrains from offering a ranked list, instead offering an alphabetical selection of 30 titles; in their words, “not a ‘top 30,’ but the films that in our opinion best represent the decade’s most distinctive oeuvres and movements.” They are:

“Adaptation.” (Spike Jonze)
“Battle in Heaven” (Carlos Reygadas)
“The Beat That My Heart Skipped” (Jacques Audiard)
“The Bourne Ultimatum” (Paul Greengrass)
“Caché” (Michael Haneke)
“Colossal Youth” (Pedro Costa)
“The Death of Mr. Lazarescu” (Cristi Piu)
“Éloge de l’amour” (Jean-Luc Godard)
“The Five Obstructions” (Lars von Trier and Jorgen Leth)
“The Gleaners and I” (Agnès Varda)
“The Holy Girl” (Lucrecia Martel)
“Inland Empire” (David Lynch)
“In the Mood for Love” (Wong Kar-Wai)
“Memories of Murder” (Bong Joon-ho)
“Platform” (Jia Zhangke)
“Russian Ark” (Aleksandr Sokurov)
“The Son” (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne)
“Spirited Away” (Hayao Miyazaki)
“Talk to Her” (Pedro Almodovar)
“Ten” (Abbas Kiarostami)
“There Will Be Blood” (Paul Thomas Anderson)
“35 Shots of Rum” (Claire Denis)
“Touching the Void” (Kevin Macdonald)
“Tropical Malady” (Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
“United Red Army” (Wakamatsu Koji)
“Uzak” (Nuri Bilge Ceylan)
“Waiting for Happiness” (Abderramane Sissako)
“Werckmeister Harmonies” (Béla Tarr and Agnes Hranitzky)
“Workingman’s Death” (Michael Glawogger)
“Yi Yi” (Edward Yang)

→ 26 Comments Tags: , , , , | Filed in: Daily

26 responses so far

  • 1 1-09-2010 at 4:30 pm

    Jake D said...

    War of the Worlds…


  • 2 1-09-2010 at 4:31 pm

    BurmaShave said...

    WAR OF THE WORLDS pick is just fascinating. It’s certainly a film that’s been extremely underrated, much like Speilberg’s decade. I’d still have gone MINORITy REPORT or MUNICH.

  • 3 1-09-2010 at 4:41 pm

    James D. said...

    I have avoided War of the Worlds for so long. I guess I will try it.

  • 4 1-09-2010 at 4:44 pm

    Silencio said...

    @burmashave: Haven’t seen War of the Worlds, but the other two I agree with you on.

  • 5 1-09-2010 at 4:48 pm

    Speaking English said...

    The Cahiers list is a total WTF with “War of the Worlds.” Hey, I enjoyed that film, but coming anywhere NEAR a Top 10 let alone Top 100 of the decade is mind-blowing to me.

    The continued ecstasy over “A History of Violence” also very much confuses me.

  • 6 1-09-2010 at 4:50 pm

    david said...

    It would be nice if film critics could appreciate main stream movies a little bit more. There tastes just seem so skewed to the art house side of things. The ordinary guy is just left scratching his head, and wondering if he was living on a different planet during the last decade. I follow film very closely, and spend countless hours reading through dozens of thick movie guides, and still haven’t heard of a few of the film titles above. It’s like everyone is just trying to impress their peers by coming up with the most obscure movies they can track down.

  • 7 1-09-2010 at 4:55 pm

    Speaking English said...

    Very true, although the Cahiers list is fairly mainstream by “movie buff” standards.

  • 8 1-09-2010 at 4:57 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    David: I understand your frustration, but you must understand it’s not necessarily a case of critics “tracking down” obscure films. Professional critics for such publications spend a significant amount of time at film festivals where all manner of smaller films are presented to them — and the ones that stick, stick. In that sense, these critics do live on a somewhat different planet — but they shouldn’t be blamed for the fact that some of the films they fall for subsequently don’t get the exposure they merit.

  • 9 1-09-2010 at 5:02 pm

    Al said...

    Re-watched War of the Worlds a few months back and was pleasantly surprised at how good it actually was.

  • 10 1-09-2010 at 5:05 pm

    A.J said...

    “best represent the decade’s most distinctive oeuvres and movements”

    Yet they leave out Moulin Rouge! huh.

  • 11 1-09-2010 at 5:07 pm

    david said...

    I agree Guy…I’ve shot a few little “art house” films myself, that only a very privileged folks have seen…lol.

    My problem is just that these lists seem so one-sided, and could benefit from including a few more films that got at least some exposure outside the arthouse circuit. Still, I’m thankful in a way, because it helps to introduce me to films I would have never been aware of otherwise (whether they are really “all that” or not).

  • 12 1-09-2010 at 5:16 pm

    Mr. Milich said...

    Finally. A legitimate voice backing up what I said about War of the Worlds when it first came out.

  • 13 1-09-2010 at 5:58 pm

    Maxim said...

    Guy, if you had an ounce of sense you’d understand that “The Host” is just as populist and “perverse” as “War of the Worlds”.

    Which happens to be a lot less perverse then one note critics make it out to be. It’s a perfect adaptation of it’s material. Dark, disturbing and brilliantly realized and with a misunderstood ending that stays completely true to the original novel.

    No, the didn’t pick 2012 or G.I. Joe. War of the Worlds is at once a very intimate experience and one that really provides a sense of scale.

    The scene in the car is chaotic as any I’ve seen and no other movie I’ve seen theatrically gave me the same sense of being attacked from all sides and no visual effects movie has ever gave me the same impression of walls and other physical structures being destroyed.

    The Host, it’s worth saying, also has the same combination of thrills/substance going on.

    What people don’t realize is that, of course, there is an inherent amount of silliness in Tripods attacking Earth but this movie gets passed it, it’s sound design invokes geniune terror. It’s not a very light experience either. Tom’s character brushing away ashes from a hair is anything but entertainment.

    Spielberg’s Sci-Fi work in 00s is absolutelely phenomenal and while I personally prefer A.I., War of the Worlds is still an amazing achievement. To think, that just 6 months later he would complete and release a movie as beautful and complex as “Munich” is just unbelivable.

    I, for one, say “Bravo!” to Cahiers du Cinéma!

  • 14 1-09-2010 at 6:10 pm

    voland said...

    War of the Worlds has its moments of genius, but Tom Cruise and Dakota Fanning are totally annoying and ruin the movie, at least for me.

  • 15 1-09-2010 at 6:46 pm

    Andrew2 said...

    Would great to have a thread and analysis on the BAFTA long lists

  • 16 1-09-2010 at 7:35 pm

    Brian said...

    It should be noted that Lady in the Water nearly made the top ten as well. So.

  • 17 1-09-2010 at 8:07 pm

    Sam Juliano said...

    I just saw these lists at Craig Kennedy’s LIC, where they are also posted, but what I found here even more interesting was Guy Lodge’s top ten! I recently posted my own Top 50 at my own place, but was absolutely delighted to see than Guy has Von trier’s DANCER IN THE DARK way up there. This is one film I have gotten into trouble with defending over and over agian, but I stand my ground. I’ll post my Top 20 here:

    Far From Heaven (Haynes)
    2 Son Frere (Chereau)
    3 The Fountain (Aronofsky)
    4 WALL-E (Stanton)
    5 The Return of the King (Jackson)
    6 Kings and Queen (Despletchin)
    7 The New World (Malick)
    8 Dogville (Von Trier)
    9 Bright Star (Campion)
    10 Tropical Malady (Weerasethakul)
    11 A. I. Artificial Intelligence (Spielberg)
    12 Talk To Her (Almodovar)
    13 Atonement (Wright)
    14 Moolaade (Sembene)
    15 Elephant (Von Sant)
    16 Once (Carney)
    17 Avatar (Cameron)
    18 Assassination of Jesse James (Dominic)
    19 Dancer in the Dark (Von trier)
    20 The Lives of Others (Von Donnarsmarck)

  • 18 1-09-2010 at 11:56 pm

    Nigel Bridgeman said...

    I’ve seen 3 from the Cahiers du Cinema list and 5 from the Sight & Sound list. Sad. Haven’t heard of most of the Sight & Sound films actually.

  • 19 1-10-2010 at 1:22 am

    Bing147 said...

    I’ve heard of all but 1 on the Sight and Sound and all on Cahiers… seen 5 of Cahiers and 16 of Sight and Sound. Some great movies to add to my queue hopefully, I’ll get to the rest… eventually, the majority were already on my to see lists anyway, particularly 35 Shots of Rum, Collosal Youth, Tropical Malady, Elephant, The Secret of the Grain, Ten, Touching the Void, The Holy Girl, Platform… all already in my Netflix queue, just waiting to get to the top…

  • 20 1-10-2010 at 2:20 am

    Jonathan Spuij said...

    A History Of Violence is one of the tightest and great “little” films of the decade indeed. I absolutely love every minute of it and it was brutally ignored by the Academy for one.

  • 21 1-10-2010 at 3:32 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    @Maxim: I was describing the choice as perverse, not the film. As in, against the grain of popular critical opinion. Which it undeniably is. That’s the way Cahiers roll, and we love them for it.

    @Andrew2: We already have a piece on the BAFTA longlists, here.

  • 22 1-10-2010 at 6:10 am

    tdr said...

    I’m very surprised that the two lists have only two titles overlapping: Ten and Tropical Malady.
    Either way interesting lists.

  • 23 1-10-2010 at 6:48 am

    Gustavo H.R. said...

    I was going to write something in defense of Spielberg’s, but Maxim beat me to it.

  • 24 1-10-2010 at 7:20 am

    dogsbody said...

    It’s not the job of critics to lists films the ‘ordinary guy’ can sympathize with, but only to give their opinions of what they think has the most merit. So what if we haven’t heard of some of these films–maybe that’s the fault of the film business and doesn’t mean these films couldn’t be viewed as the best.

    Anyway, Mulholland Drive, The New World, and Spirited Away are clearly the decade’s best films, so there. :)

  • 25 1-10-2010 at 12:08 pm

    Clayton said...

    Eh, Bong Joon-ho’s The Host is scattershot (tone- and content-wise) at best. Whereas the director was completely in command of his medium in his follow-up, Madeo. But I guess that hasn’t been as well-seen, as of yet.

    War Of The Worlds…some interesting visual design, but the tiresome characters sink it.

  • 26 1-10-2010 at 1:03 pm

    Johnny Doubles said...

    So ‘Mulholland Drive’ looks to be the critical consensus #1 of the decade. Topping the ‘TONY’, ‘Cahiers’, ‘Film Comment’, ‘Village Voice’, and ‘Indiewire’ polls. ‘Yi Yi’, ‘The New World’ and Weerasethakul in general continue to appear in these lists as well