Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Final 2009 List

The best of the decade list killed my energy. Let's get this over with before the month of January ends.
  1. Inglourious Basterds
  2. Red Cliff
  3. The Hurt Locker
  4. Star Trek
  5. Up in the Air
  6. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
  7. District 9
  8. State of Play
  9. Avatar
  10. The Hangover
  11. Sherlock Holmes
  12. Precious
  13. Zombieland
  14. The Road
  15. Public Enemies
  16. Watchmen
  17. (500) Days of Summer
  18. Tyson
  19. Drag Me to Hell
  20. Extract
  21. Brothers
  22. Where the Wild Things Are
  23. The Men Who Stare at Goats
  24. Adventureland
  25. The Box
  26. The Blind Side
  27. Taken
  28. Notorious
  29. Law Abiding Citizen
  30. Angels & Demons
  31. G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
  32. Observe and Report
  33. Push
  34. The Invention of Lying
  35. Pandorum
  36. The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3
  37. Terminator Salvation
  38. Ninja Assassin
  39. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
  40. X-Men Origins: Wolverine
  41. Jennifer's Body
  42. Fast & Furious
  43. 2012
  44. Underworld: Rise of the Lycans
  45. Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian
  46. Couples Retreat
  47. Whiteout
  48. Next Day Air
  49. Halloween II
  50. Crank: High Voltage
I do think that my inability to finish this could be chalked up to the subpar year that was 2009. It wasn't the worst year I've rated, but I really had to stretch in order to fill out even a top 20. There was way too much mediocre for me to sift through. We are talking damn near half the year circled around 5-7 stars. And most of those 7 star movies I was being generous. On top of that, I don't even feel compelled to see all the nominated movies and performances this time around.

Well, there's always 2010...

Inglourious Basterds

My bias towards Quentin Tarantino movies is so strong that I constantly struggle with not blindly giving everything he puts out perfect scores. So the answer to this problem is obvious, I’ll procrastinate for six months before reviewing it. In the end nothing has changed, Inglourious Basterds gets the gold star and I was just too lazy to write this.

Looking back on Inglourious Basterds I think the fact that everyone loves watching Nazis die will be my favorite memory. There may have been actual cheers from the audience when some of the Basterds were just unloading machine gun fire into a movie theater full of Nazis. They are like some sort of fictitious creation that allows you to glory in their pain without any of the guilt of wondering if this is right. Nazis are the villains that keep on giving even decades later. How awesome would it be if Jack Bauer could kill some Nazis? That would be the best season of 24 ever.

Although Brad Pitt is the face of Inglourious Basterds, in the end Christoph Waltz delivers the most memorable performance. Hans Landa, The Jew Hunter, dominates the first, third, and fifth chapters. His conversation with the Frenchman hiding the Dreyfus family was amazing in how it just kept swinging from menacing to hilarious with each sentence. Saying it now is not saying much because he’s already won every Best Supporting Actor award, but this should have been posted back in August with me saying that Waltz was going to win all those awards. I swears it. Everyone else is the usual Tarantino fed dialogue awesome. All names should be highlighted but in lieu of that … hey look it’s Mike Myers!

There is not much more to say. Inglourious Basterds was another chance for me to listen to Tarantino characters talk to each other. I can't think of many movie experiences I enjoy more than that. This time with Nazis.

10 out of 10

Up in the Air

After Jason Reitman was able to make tobacco spokesmen and teen pregnancy funny, we now got to witness the humor in George Clooney as corporate downsizer. Up in the Air provided a role that Clooney just fit right into and carried the entire movie on his back.

If there is one thing that George Clooney excels at is being slick and wearing a suit. And Up in the Air took advantage of these strengths and gave us a Clooney character that seems to be, in fact, George Clooney. I don't know the man but if I were to meet him this how I would picture him acting. The ease at which he handles every situation and every body he comes in contact with is something that Clooney has mastered in his performances. Although the movie revolved around Clooney, Anna Kendrick and Vera Farmiga both came through as the two females who helped change the way Clooney looked at life. Throw in cameos for Jason Bateman, Danny McBride, and Zach Galifianakis and I was a happy consumer.

All of Reitman’s movies have this odd tone. He delivers a unique blend of humor and drama that allows for a serious film that’s also constantly funny. In fact Up in the Air was funny all the way up until the ending kicks you directly in the balls. I usually am pulling for the non-sappy ending but even I was blindsided this time around. This was one of those time where the ending improved my final opinion of the whole film.

Up in the Air delivered on the praise it was receiving prior to its release. I was already a fan of Reitman and Clooney but even this exceeded my expectations. Just phenomenal work all around.

9 out of 10


Incest, rape, pregnancy … finally these three storylines have been put together in one movie. Precious was a movie that I knew about but didn’t pay much attention to until I heard the praise the performances were receiving. I knew if I bided my time Mo’Nique would eventually take her rightful place as one of the greatest living actresses.

This was a strange movie. The subject matter was insanely dark but at the same time the movie was uplifting. Multiple times the reality of Precious’ life was broken up by these strange fantasies that never really led to anything more than showing her imagination. Throw in a cast that includes Mo’Nique, Mariah Carey and Lenny Kravitz in non-cameo legit roles and Precious resembles nothing else I have seen in a long time. When the movie ends and you look back and think AIDS is the easiest hurdle Precious had to overcome, well my friends, then you know the story went to some dark levels.

How is someone like Gabourey Sidibe found for this role? I’m not even talking about her size; it was more about the way she spoke. Precious had little to no education and Sidibe was able to speak in a way that made her believable. Even better than that, Mo’Nique was just an awful human being as her mother. She was somehow able to keep her completely evil while not crossing over into a cartoon. Then she brought it all home in her final scenes, which just about sewed up the Best Supporting Actress Oscar. Slightly overshadowed by Mo’Nique’s work was a performance by Mariah Carey that I had no idea she was capable of delivering. Where the hell did this movie come from?

Great movies come from the strangest places. Precious seemed like one of those movies that would show up for one weekend then disappear never to be heard from again. Instead people are getting shiny statues for their efforts and I'm glad I bought the ticket.

8 out of 10

The Road

Alright, so I am a dark sonuvabitch but even I have my limits. The Road may have crossed whatever imaginary line in the sand that I measure stories against. This is a movie where I would go through a 10-minute preamble explaining myself before recommending it to anyone. Even with all that the commitment Viggo Mortensen brings to this role needs to be seen to believe.

What the hell was the damn point of The Road? You know all those bleak versions of the post-apocalypse? Fuck that pansy shit. You want cannibalism; you want decrepit skeleton people; you want humans hunted for sport; wait a second why do you want these things? There was no happiness in this story. No goal that would make the suffering worthwhile. Things just got worse and worse until the credits rolled.

Just to reiterate, Viggo was fully committed to this role. I don't know how you can fake that level of emaciated. He looked and acted like the ghost of a man someone in his position would be. There was a constant thousand yard stare in his eyes that was terrifying. And as his actions became more and more erratic, Viggo just kept bringing another level of insanity to his actions.

Although there were only 2 main characters in The Road, Viggo and his son, bit parts had Robert Duvall, Charlize Theron, Garret Dillahunt, Michael K. Williams, Molly Parker, and Guy Pearce showing up to make my day. Duvall was so amazing that I didn’t even recognize him at first. He may have been the only sympathetic character in the entire film. I am contractually obligated to mention Dillahunt whenever he works and he got to bring another scumbag to life. And who doesn’t want to see Omar whenever possible?

I don't recommend The Road to anyone. Oh its a great movie with breathtaking visuals and memorable performances, but I will not be responsible when it depresses the hell out of you. Put that on your DVD cover.

8 out of 10

Sherlock Holmes

A movie like Sherlock Holmes is bulletproof to me. The combination of cast, director, story, and tone means even if it fails I’m going to at least have a new movie to watch 100 times on TNT. Luckily it didn’t fail and in fact delivered on all of my expectations.

It’s nice to be in the middle of the let’s see what Robert Downey Jr. does this time around era. Downey was an intriguing choice to play Sherlock Holmes, but in the end this wasn’t the usual film translation of the literary character. Guy Ritchie turned this into an action movie and Downey was able to bring all the necessary character moments in the tiny intervals where shit wasn’t blowing up or fists were not connecting with faces. I don’t remember too much of an English accent but I’ve never been distracted by the horrendousness or absence of accents in movies. And where the hell has this version of Jude Law been the last 5 years? There was a time when Law could be counted on, Road to Perdition, The Aviator, Closer, and then he just disappeared from the scene. Thankfully he was up to the challenge of going toe to toe with Downey throughout the movie. If this ends up being the first in a series of films, I look forward to seeing this version of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. As for the first entry, I’m a huge fan of Mark Strong so I’m always happy to see his face even if he is just the villain that sets the scene for Moriarty down the road. I guess the speculation is Brad Pitt was the mystery voice leading to him taking on the role of Moriarty down the road. That would be interesting.

There is not much to say about Sherlock Holmes. It had Robert Downey Jr. and lots of sweet action scenes, that is enough for me. Every movie doesn't have to be an Oscar contender.

8 out of 10


My brain is arguing with itself right now. James Cameron annoyed me so much during the lead-up to Avatar that I watched the movie with an agenda. Yet it was soooo pretty I don’t know what the write now. I need to be professional here … wait a second … why do I need to be professional? This isn't a job. Avatar needs to be seen but they only thing that it is going to change about movies is that now all blockbusters are going to feel like they should be in 3D. What a waste of my money when they all feel its okay to charge 2-3 dollars more than regular tickets for 3D.

So after 10 years, Cameron gives us blue people. Really pretty blue people that looked believable but still blue people in the classic style where aliens look exactly like humans just slightly different. This makes it slightly more acceptable when you find a 10 foot tall blue Zoe Saldana hot. Although I will continue to make fun of them, the Na’vi and the world were easily the best part of Avatar. This went well beyond what Peter Jackson accomplished with Gollum. In fact this may have been the first time my brain just accepted what was onscreen without seeing it as fancy CGI.

The only negative, even the word negative is too strong, was the story. The whole plot was obvious from the start. It was just a combination of humanity destroys everything it touches mixed with undercover operative falls for the people he’s spying on. Then we all learn a lesson about disrespecting blue people while also trying to take their resources. But were you really going to see Avatar because of the screenwriting? Really? That's on you.

So are we all cool with Sam Worthington as the new blockbuster star? That happened kind of fast. It was nice to get see a couple people I really like, Giovanni Ribisi, Michelle Rodriguez, even if their roles were brief and they didn't get to turn blue. The non-Ripley role for Sigourney Weaver in a Cameron movie was cute but it would have been better if she was Ripley. I miss good Alien movies. The best non-blue performance was just how over-the-top evil Stephen Lang. Just classically badass, introduced with a wicked scar and speaking in futuristic marine gruffness, who constantly wants to kill things. Perfect for a shit blowing up movie.

Well I guess I am praising Avatar here. Let it be known that even when I prejudge movies I can still be swayed by the product on screen. Although 3D may not shake the core of movie-making, Cameron produced something real purty that should be viewed at least once in a movie theater.

9 out of 10

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Decade in Movies

What started out as a labor of love turned into a death march but came back around in the end. I apologize to anyone who reads this. But this needed to get out of my head for my own safety.

We'll start off with top 100 movies from the last 10 years. I could have gone all the way with this and ranked every single movie I saw but do you really want to see where I rank Rush Hour 2 versus The Mist? And once I get past movies I rank 8 out 10 or better they all feel the same to me. On to the list...

100. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

The first of many Harry Potters to show up, great action and near perfect Voldemort rebirth sequence, but the middle dragged.

99. Hot Fuzz

I love this trio, Edgar Wright, Nick Frost, and Simon Pegg. Hopefully every time they get together the final product stays this strong.

98. District 9

Anything in 2009 is still on shaky ground so down the road this may not hold on to its spot.

97. Before the Devil Knows Your Dead

This is a real dark story with one of many great Philip Seymour Hoffman performances this decade.

96. RocknRolla

I am a sucker for British gangster flicks so don’t expect this to be the only one.

95. Crash

Overrated but this a very good movie with many actors giving their career performances.

94. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

That’s 2. This has the best magic in action scene so far with the Dumbledore/Voldemort battle at the climax, but Sirius’ death should have been better.

93. Shaun of the Dead

I may actually prefer Hot Fuzz but this came first so it gets the nod.

92. Little Children

Kate Winslet pops up for the first time but, shockingly, this is the only one to include nudity. May have gotten a slight bump for the football game filmed and voiceovered like a NFL Films documentary.

91. The Proposition

You will eventually notice how much I prefer dark and twisted stories. Plus, there are just not enough westerns being made.

90. Talk to Me

I look forward to damn near anything Don Cheadle does especially when he gets the lead position.

89. Up in the Air

Way too early for me to tell.

88. 21 Grams

May have been the movie that caused me to hate the fractured storyline style of movie making. The acting was note perfect but seeing the end of the plot in the beginning just feels like an unnecessary gimmick.

87. In the Valley of Elah

The forgotten Tommy Lee Jones performance overshadowed by No Country for Old Men, but is it possible to have too much Tommy Lee Jones?

86. Appaloosa

Told ya I love westerns and it is the first of many Viggo Mortensen appearances with his coolest facial hair of them all.

85. In Bruges

Does this count as a comedy? Because if it does then it just may be the highest rated comedy this decade. Do I even have the ability laugh?

84. American Gangster

Here is one of my biggest disappointments from the last 10 years. This was a great movie that had the makings of a top 10 film … not so much after seeing the final product.

83. Sin City

Yeah comic books! Looking back, though, do I have to assign some of the blame for The Spirit on Robert Rodriguez for making Frank Miller think he can direct? If so, screw you Sin City!

82. Gran Torino

It doesn’t matter how hold old Clint Eastwood gets, if he is going to be stern and violent I will be in attendance.

81. The Lookout

It took less than a year for Joseph Gordon-Levitt to go from forgettable sitcom actor to a name I want to see in the cast of every single movie. The Lookout was his best work of the decade.

80. X-Men

Definitely a weak choice if judged solely on the movie itself, but this is more about the ground it broke. It’s success lead to all the actually great comic book movies of the decade.

79. Inside Man

I know it seems surprising when Spike Lee makes a great movie but the man can still hit a home run from time to time. Slick little heist film with Clive and Denzel on the top of their games.

78. Road to Perdition

Aw Paul Newman is gone. At least his last movie was still vintage Paul Newman.

77. The Bourne Ultimatum

The lowest rated of the trilogy only because someone had to come in last place.

76. Hotel Rwanda

Once again, Don Cheadle shines when he is on his own.

75. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

It gets to be the lowest rated David Fincher film on the list because of length and obvious similarities to Forrest Gump.

74. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

What a gift that just arrived out of nowhere; also the starting point of the Robert Downey Jr. renaissance.

73. Panic Room

I don’t give a shit. I love this movie. Badass Jodie Foster before that became a cliché.

72. Cinderella Man

Lots of Russell Crowe this decade.

71. Doubt

Just actors acting. Lots of great actors and actresses working with phenomenal dialogue.

70. 3:10 to Yuma

Are you keeping track of the westerns? More Russell Crowe, this time with Christian Bale by his side.

69. Charlie Wilson’s War

Hanks and Hoffman just tearing up Sorkin’s dialogue.

68. The Wrestler

This is here purely on the power of Mickey Rourke.

67. Slumdog Millionaire

I have to throw a bright and shiny film every once and awhile just to even things out.

66. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

Western … ding. Felt very different than any other western this decade with a top-notch cast including my man Garret Dillahunt.

65. Milk

Deserving of all the praise Sean Penn received.

64. Atonement

I’m still surprised at how much I enjoyed this film.

63. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Depp/Carter/Burton/singing/cooking people … hell yeah.

62. There Will Be Blood

Daniel Day-Lewis at his terrifying best, still don’t like the weird time jump at the end.

61. Eastern Promises

More Viggo, sadly, this time with much more nudity.

60. Ocean’s Eleven

I can’t help it I’m a sucker. I like too many members of the cast and they are taking nothing seriously and this was before trying to xerox it 2 more times.

59. Gone Baby Gone

Casey Affleck had a really sweet 2007.

58. State of Play

This feels a bit high for a movie I only saw once earlier this year and I have no idea if it will hold up, but for now this is where it will lie.

57. Zodiac

The highest ranking Fincher film. What a freaking decade for the man.

56. Frost/Nixon

Michael Sheen and Frank Langella were awe-inspiring here.

55. Collateral

My favorite Michael Mann, Tom Cruise, and Jaime Foxx movies of the decade.

54. Snatch

Nope, not the highest rated British gangster film.

53. The Bourne Supremacy

It was really hard separating the trilogy. The best action scenes happened here.

52. Brick

The Joseph Gordon-Levitt performance that knocked me on my ass, plus I love noir done right.

51. The Bourne Identity

So Ultimatum gets the shaft while Identity gets the top spot because it built the world with a terrifyingly young-looking Matt Damon.

50. A Scanner Darkly

Completely original looking movie with an appropriately strange story.

49. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

With the last 3 Potters, I have walked out of theater thinking it was the best of the franchise only to soften on that stance as time has gone on. Just being proactive this time, this one had beautiful imagery with great moments, i.e. stoned Harry.

48. Harry Potter and Prisoner of Azkaban

To me, this is still the pinnacle of the Potter franchise. Alfonso Cuaron reinvigorated the whole damn thing. Plus the shrieking shack scene is my favorite moment from all of the films.

47. 25th Hour

Just a phenomenal film from Spike Lee that felt nothing like a Spike Lee film and Edward Norton’s best work over the last 10 years.

46. The Hurt Locker

Now I am getting more comfortable with the 2009 movies that are popping up. This movie has to be seen strictly for Jeremy Renner’s performance.

45. Star Trek

Bunching together this year’s films because I don’t really know how high I will eventually push them. Thank you JJ Abrams for finding the alchemy to make Star Trek work as a big budget summer popcorn flick.

44. Red Cliff

One more from 2009, Red Cliff is completely in limbo until I can see the original 4+ hours versions from Hong Kong. Although, I find it hard to believe that seeing the entire thing will do anything other than make me love it more.

43. Infernal Affairs

The original pops up before the remake. I wouldn’t have thought it possible to improve on Infernal Affairs; just the casting of Tony Leung and Andy Lau alone was fantastic. The effort it takes to see Asian films means that I usually end up with movies that star the 2 big names of their industry, Leung or Lau, so it was nice to see them together.

42. Hard Candy

Now this is what the hell I’m talking about. I mentioned before how much I enjoy the darker side of film and it doesn’t get much dark than Ellen Page torturing a pedophile until he admits his crimes. This may have actually crossed the line that I don't have but many people who watch movies do.

41. Casino Royale

Ah sweet reboot. Just the idea that Die Another Day and Casino Royale exist in the same universe is freaking hilarious. I don’t know enough adjectives to praise what Daniel Craig brought to James Bond and hopefully he sticks around for as long as Roger Moore.

40. Finding Neverland

No seriously, why’d she have to die? My favorite actor and actress for the decade going head-to-head, so there was little doubt about this one.

39. Pan’s Labyrinth

Guillermo del Toro’s masterpiece; I quite literally cannot wait to see what he does with The Hobbit.

38. The Aviator

Here is the first of multiple top 50 showings for the team of Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese.

37. Letters from Iwo Jima

It was a shame that Flags of Our Fathers overshadowed Clint’s much stronger sibling WWII film.

36. Syriana

Syriana is one of those films where the cast completely covers up any issues I may have had with the plot. Matt Damon and George Clooney would deliver better performances in other movies but this is still top-notch work by the both of them.

35. Layer Cake

Here is the winner of the British gangster movie prize. I had to fight myself in order to stop from ranking this even higher. Can’t even count how many times I have watched this movie. Even with his work in the Bond franchise, this was Daniel Craig at his best.

34. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

The flaws of this movie can be completely ignored because Johnny Depp is creating magic with every second of screen-time. Captain Jack Sparrow is on another level that was rarely even approached during this decade.

33. Whale Rider

That’s 2 uplifting films! I have a soul somewhere buried deep inside me that occasionally forces it’s way to the surface.

32. Training Day

Now this is easily my favorite Denzel performance of the decade, maybe of his whole career. I get the annoyance that he had to portray a villain in order to win an Oscar but that was the beauty of Alonzo. We were so used to Denzel in the white hat that to finally see him take the other side was mind-blowing.

31. Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

The first one shows up first. Fellowship gets the short straw mainly because it had the least amount of action. Plus the CGI got better as the films went on so the couple shots of Gollum cannot even compare to what came later.

30. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

Sadly, this got completely overlooked when it hit theaters. A perfect 19th century naval movie, that brought realism to a genre that usually is more concerned with pirates. It is another award-worthy performance by Crowe with Paul Bettany keeping up with him step for step.

29. Traffic

2000 was such a phenomenal year that there are 3 different movies that I have rated well ahead of Traffic. Looking back it is hard to believe that a film with such strong performances and a tight plot could be topped multiple times, but what can I say? Traffic also benefits from having 2 of my favorite actors, del Toro and Cheadle, doing nomination worthy work.

28. Inglourious Basterds

I have had the opportunity to see it again on blu-ray so its rank is starting to solidify in my mind. In the end, Basterds will fall right in the middle of the rest of Quentin Tarantino's movies. But seeing as I’ve never rated a Tarantino film at less than 8 out of 10, he is only competing against himself.

27. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Who would have thought it possible a Jim Carrey movie would be rated this high? Now to be fair, I’m basing nearly all of my praise for the film on the work of Kate Winslet. Any leftover praise goes to Michael Gondry for the way he visualized how it would look if you watched your memories being erased.

26. Into the Wild

Outside of Zhang Yimou’s films, this is the most visually stunning movie of the decade. Sean Penn captured the beauty of McCandless’ journey peaking with the scenes in Alaska. Also, Emile Hirsch delivered a career defining performance.

25. A History of Violence

This was the best of the non-Lord of the Rings Viggo Mortensen films. The man commits to roles like no one else. The duality he portrayed was amazing; he was able to shift between affable small town father to murderous gangster at the drop of a hat. And since the movie has violence in the title, David Cronenberg made sure that the violence was visceral and disturbing throughout the film.

24. Lady Vengeance

I wasn’t able to place all 3 movies in Chan-wook Park’s vengeance trilogy but 2 out of 3 ain’t bad. The third and final movie is the only one to even come close to a happy ending … or at least not a slit-your-wrist ending. Lady Vengeance is a completely twisted tale with a truly disturbing climatic scene.

23. Juno

I’ve already dropped this movie significantly since my first go had Juno nearly in the top 10. I still feel that its too high on the list but then I think about how many times I’ve watched it and how Ellen Page’s performance still impresses me. Eh, it’s my list and I can do what I want.

22. Batman Begins

After The Dark Knight, this movie seems to have been forgotten. It should never be overshadowed because of how much it accomplished. This movie rinsed the taste of Batman & Robin out of everyone’s mouth, introduced a serious and realistic Batman, and pulled all this off without using a significant (to a non-comic audience) villain.

21. Munich

It ended up not being the best decade of Steven Spielberg’s career, but he still was able to put out at least 1 masterpiece. Most of the time he is creating blockbusters, so when he takes the time to craft a film like Munich I will always be there. The tension here was palpable from beginning to end.

20. Black Hawk Down

Here is Ridley Scott’s second entry into the top 100. Although most modern American warfare movies fail to gain an audience, thankfully people actually took the time to see Black Hawk Down. It’s always a nice change of pace to get a great war movie that isn’t based in Word War II or Vietnam.

19. Oldboy

Now its time for the Chan-wook Park move that completely blew my mind. It takes a whole helluvalot to disturb me and Oldboy accomplished that and much more in its 2 hours. The plot was so goddamned twisted that I truly had no idea where I was being lead, even when the credits rolled I still have questions about what really happened.

18. X2

No matter how many comic book movies improve on the formula, X2 will always have a warm place in my heart. This was the first comic book movie that ended up as perfect to me. My love for the X-Men franchise may have willed this ranking into existence, but you can’t deny the sheer awesomeness of Wolverine taking out the commandos in the mansion.

17. Michael Clayton

George Clooney may be getting best career performance praise for Up in the Air, but for me he has never been better than in Michael Clayton. There is no other actor working that I want to see in a suit for the entire film. Clooney just fits into these roles like he was built for them. If that wasn’t enough Tilda Swinton and Tom Wilkinson deserve the same amount of praise for their supporting work.

16. Children of Men

Alfonso Cuaron follows up my favorite Harry Potter film by creating the perfect dark future film of the decade. I don’t want to skip past the work of Clive Owen but I am more interested in applauding 2 of Cuaron’s scenes. He constructed these elaborate single takes in the middle of the action that just blew my mind. Hopefully Cuaron will work more often in the next 10 years because I haven't heard his name since this movie dropped.

15. Iron Man

When every single comic book franchise begins its trek to the movie screen, everything revolves around casting. In the last 10 years there has not been a better choice than Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark. From the moment it was announced, it was obvious that he was meant for the role. Then to have him exceed every possible expectation, Iron Man delivered on level I just did not expect.

14. Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

So, now it should be clear that the trilogy will have their rankings in order of release. The Two Towers comes in second only because The Return of the King got all the climatic moments. Even though it’s the middle chapter and all it really does is move the characters along, The Two Towers still contains the fantastic battle at Helm’s Deep and the best Gollum/Smeagol argument scene.

13. Spider-Man 2

I’m trying really hard to ignore Spider-Man 3 while I am ranking the previous movie in the franchise. Prior to the third movie, there was no franchise that I had more faith in than Spider-Man … that’ll teach me to trust people. 2 was the perfect Spider-Man movie. Everything came together here, Peter/Mary Jane, Peter/Harry, Doc Ock, and a marked improvement on Spidey action compared to the first movie. AVENGE ME!

12. No Country for Old Men

It may be set in the modern day, but this is actually the final and best western to appear on my list. This is the rare movie where everyone got the appropriate amount of attention for their performances. Javier Bardem won the Oscar while Josh Brolin was in the middle of reinventing his career and Tommy Lee Jones solidified his standing as the go-to grizzled veteran. So you have the three of them plus the Coen Brothers at the top of their game delivering perfection.

11. Gangs of New York

By the time Gangs of New York hit theaters, I had been waiting a long time for Scorsese to make another movie on par with Casino and if I was feeling greedy Goodfellas. Then he found a new muse in DiCaprio and the ship was righted. Although this was the first of many great DiCaprio performances for the decade, Daniel Day-Lewis dominated every second he was onscreen. He may have got his Oscar for There Will be Blood but Bill the Butcher was just as terrifying.

10. The House of Flying Daggers

9. Hero

Now that we are entering the top 10, I have to cheat a bit. I cannot find a way to separate these two Zhang Yimou films. The House of Flying Daggers came out second yet it may have been even more beautiful than Hero. The blood soaked final swordfight in the snow along with Ziyi Zhang’s, who I may or may not have an obsession with and I am uncomfortable with putting too much thought into it, dance sequence were striking. I gave Hero the ceremonial spot in front because it came first and had better kung fu scenes. It cheated on the fight scenes because the damn thing starred Jet Li and even included a Jet vs. Donnie Yen showdown. This time around the visual highlight was Maggie Cheung in the middle of the leaves, freaking stunning. Yimou is a master.

8. Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

And now its time for the final movie in the trilogy, some how after 3 years of build-up The Return of the King not only succeeded in meeting expectations it also exceeded them in every way. There are so many moments to highlight but what the hell do you expect from a 4-hour running time. To pick one out of the pile, my favorite scene from the entire trilogy is when Rohan arrives at Pelennor Fields. The sounding of the horn, Theodon’s speech, and their charge through the battlefield is the moment I always check TNT for when they inevitability show the trilogy every month.

7. Battle Royale

Well, I guess my penchant for the darkest movies possible is known by now so it shouldn’t be surprising that Battle Royale pops up in the top 10. It may be the most obscure movie here but there is no way I could deny a plot revolving around stranding an entire high school class on an island and forcing them to kill each other until there is only one left alive. We only seem to kill teenagers with monsters or psychopaths in Hollywood; Japan had the balls to have teenagers kill each other.

6. The Departed

Hell and yeah. I already wrote about Infernal Affairs about 40 spots earlier and I was happy enough with that movie. It gave me Tony Leung and Andy Lau in a tightly plotted cops and gangsters storyline; how was I to expect that the American remake would become a murder’s row of current actors. Every single cast member brought their A-game; an A-game with Boston accents. Thankfully Scorsese finally got his Oscar and it was on a deserving film and not a lifetime achievement at the end of his career.

5. The Dark Knight

And then that happened. I have praised multiple super hero movies over the last 95 ramblings but now we’ve reached the end point. Trying not to speak in clichés here, but The Dark Knight was a goddamn film not a comic book movie. Christopher Nolan has used the Batman universe to create something incredible. The IMAX scenes alone were worth the ridiculous price of admission. So, I’m wondering how long I can go before I get in legal trouble for not bringing up Heath Ledger. The Dark Knight is on constant rotation on HBO and every time I check the time to see if it is at the interrogation or hospital Joker scenes. I cannot turn down the opportunity to see Heath in action and just to get it out of the way it blows that he’s gone.

4. Gladiator

It may have been nearly 10 years ago now, but Gladiator is still as powerful as it was the first time I saw it. Time has not dulled the ending; an ending that is quite possibly my favorite of all-time. I'm still hoping to have the opportunity to honor and carry Maximus’ dead body to his resting place. This is the Russell Crowe performance that I measure everything else that he has done against. Not so much with Ridley Scott mainly because he already did Alien and Blade Runner but Gladiator had such a unique look that it separates itself from the rest of the sword and sandals movies that come out all the time.

3. Kill Bill: Vol. 1

2. Kill Bill: Vol. 2

And here is the second instance of 2 movies that I refuse to pull apart. Even worse than that, I only put volume 2 in front of volume 1 because I’m a dick and I’m tired of reading that the first was the better film. Bullshit. This is a complete work that was released in 2 parts and should be judged as a whole. I could just go through the chapters and detail how each and every one of them kicked ass. Why the hell not, let’s do that. The first chapter has the wonderfully brutal fight with Vernita Green. The second chapter includes the song “Twisted Nerve” that has been my ring-tone since ring-tones came into existence. The third chapter is the sweet anime backstory for O-Ren Ishii that ends with greatest speech ever, “I collect your fucking head!” The fourth chapter is Sonny Chiba killing it. The fifth chapter is the Showdown at the House of Blue Leaves and if I need to explain this scene then this whole damn thing has been a mistake. And I hate you. The sixth chapter finally reveals David Carradine after building him up for over 2 hours. The seventh chapter has Budd burying the Bride alive. The eighth chapter is Pai Mei and much like Blue Leaves don’t ask me to explain the awesome. The ninth chapter has the badass fight between the Bride and Elle plus eye removal. The final chapter is where the majority of the Tarantino dialogues lives and Shogun Assassin. I don’t pray, but if I did it would be for the third movie to actually come to pass.

1. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Well, it had to come to an end at some point. 4 out of the top 10 came out of Asia and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was easily the best. I loved every single second of Ang Lee’s masterpiece. From the story, to the visuals, to the cast, it all came together and blew the skull out of the back of my head. Going into the decade Chow Yun-Fat was already one of my favorite actors of all-time and he kicked off the year 2000 by delivering an awe-inspiring Li Mu Bai. That would have been enough for me but that doesn’t even take into account quite possibly my favorite kung fu scene of all time, Michelle Yeouh vs. Ziyi Zhang. Then that means I have to acknowledge my love hate for Ziyi in this movie; I love that its Ziyi but I despise her character with the power of a 1000 suns. This is the pinnacle for me.

Oh and for the record the worst movie is Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever. This is not even a contest. I usually can't stand what I wrote about movies 5+ years ago, but I will reprint my review:

The worst movie I have seen in a movie theater, probably ever. This was not even a movie. It was an hour and a half of stunts, then some editor intern attempted to splice together some dialogue that might explain why those stunts happened. On top of the complete and total absence of coherent story, I think half the movie was in slow motion. Not for stylistic purposes, but in order to extend the film past an hour. And Antonio Banderas is just about a quarter of a step and slipping ahead of Steven Seagal. How was this made? Who green-lighted it? Was he shot? Please? I’ll do it if no one will step up.

Now that we've got past that unpleasantness, let's move onto acting awards with some nominees to set the stage.

Best Actor

George Clooney, Michael Clayton

Russell Crowe, Gladiator

Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will be Blood

Johnny Depp, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

Denzel Washington, Training Day

Screw it; I’m not being paid for this shit. Johnny Depp gets the nod due to sheer awesomeness. Captain Jack Sparrow is beyond description. It’s been over 6 years and an infinite amount of cable and television reruns yet it is still mesmerizing when he is onscreen. I may bust my ass to see as many movies as possible but that doesn't mean I don't enjoy when shit blows up during the summer time. To have Depp put this much effort and skill into a Disney cash grab deserves praise and that is what I'm doing right now.

Best Actress

Helen Mirren, The Queen

Ellen Page, Hard Candy

Charlize Theron, Monster

Uma Thurman, Kill Bill: vol. 1 & 2

Kate Winslet, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Just like Best Actor, I’m going with my barely functioning heart. Uma Thurman was Kill Bill, my love for Kill Bill is a borderline felony, so Uma is gets the nod.

Best Supporting Actor

Alec Baldwin, The Departed

Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men

Robert Downey Jr., Zodiac

Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight

Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds

Well this just seems stupid. Is there really a discussion to be had here? And the winner is The Joker. Heath Ledger destroyed any lingering preconceptions of how a comic book character could look on the silver screen.

Best Supporting Actress

Cate Blanchett, The Aviator

Helena Bonham Carter, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Natalie Portman, Garden State

Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton

Kate Winslet, Finding Neverland

Hmm, this is the toughest one of them all. Carter and Portman were just nice to nominate because I love their characters so much. So of the final 3, we get back to the 2 C/Kates with Tilda crashing the party. I’ll go with The Aviator since Blanchett’s Katherine Hepburn was off the charts even in just 20 minutes of screen-time.

Let's end this here. There were a couple more ideas but this thing has gotten out of hand.