Searching for my Decadian film winners was a great experience, going through vast amount of films from the last 10 years (which has flown by) and picking my personal 10 favourite films. It was a difficult challenge choosing them and also coming up with my 10 runner up movies from each year as there were so many quality films to pick from and I had to make some difficult choices in letting some stunning films miss out like Children of Men, District 9, Hurt Locker, Let the Right one in, The Departed etc. And so here are my choices, starting with the year 2000.
2000 Winner – O Brother Where Art Thou
The classic Coen Brothers film that created a new found love for Bluegrass and traditional Folk music for many people after seeing this film as it went on to win a Grammy for best album. George Clooney stars with Tim Blake Nelson and Coen regulars John Turturro and John Goodman in a film loosely based on Homer’s Epic Poem “The Odyssey”.
Visually it’s stunning, shot using digital colour correction to give it a sepia tone look which makes it fit the Southern America 1930’s period brilliantly. The comedy is typical Coen Brothers and probably some of the best they have written and all credit should go to George Clooney for delivering the best lines in one of his finest ever performances.
The story is brilliant as we follow Everett Ulysses McGill (Clooney) and his companions Delmar (Nelson) and Pete Turturro breaking free from a chain gang and going on a mis-adventure to find some buried loot before its lost forever in four days when a valley is flooded to create a lake. The trio come across a variety of excellently portrayed characters including a cyclops, Sirens, the KKK, a blind prophet, a musician who sold his sole to the devil and many more that all add to this stunning movie that will always raise a smile when ever you watch it.
Entirely entertaining and easily the winner of 2000 for me.
2000 Runner up – Unbreakable
One of my favourite superhero films ever made with some of the most stylish shot scenes. M Night Shyalaman’s finest film. Bruce Willis plays David Dunn, a man who is the only survivor of a train crash who comes to terms that he is ‘Unbreakable’ and unable to get hurt. The complete opposite to him is Samuel L Jackson as Elijah price and the film covers the story of being a real life superhero. It has unpredictable twists and turns and a very entertaining plot, although not positively received everywhere it was definitely one of my favourites of 2000.
2001 Winner – Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the ring
The Fellowship of the Ring was released first and is for me the best of the trilogy as we are introduced to the heroes of the film and the start of their journey through Middle Earth and even at three hours in length was the most enjoyable film of that 2001 by far.
Lord of the Rings gave another reason to look forward to Christmas with it’s annual December release date and nothing was more exciting than seeing the battle in the Mines of Moria as the music cuts just as the battle commences or Aragon taking on numerous Orcs and Boromir falling to the arrows of the Uruk–hai. It was perfect and exciting cinema that will never be achieved again to such detail and passion.
2001 Runner up – Amelie
Got to No.4 in the Heyuguys best film of decade poll and deservedly so. Jean-Pierre Jeunet masterpiece is visually beautiful, stunningly told and emotionally perfect. One of my all time favourite films ever, always makes me smile.
2002 Winner – Punch Drunk Love
It’s subtly Funny, it’s brilliantly acted and is so different from what Adam Sandler and Paul Thomas Anderson fans would expect from these artists.
The script is brilliant, as with all of Anderson’s films, and Sandler really carries the film well considering his slapstick and physical comedy roles previously and shows a really excellent side to his acting.
Punch Drunk Love was a surprising success for me and confirmed my love for Paul Thomas Anderson’s movies and with superb supporting performances from the ever excellent Philip Seymour Hoffman and Luis Guzman it made it the best film in 2002 for me.
2002 Runner Up – Phone Booth
An amazing and original film Directed by Joel Schumacher with a simple plot that worked perfectly. Colin Farrell stars as a slimy publicist who answers a ringing payphone to be held hostage by a sniper with a grudge against him. Tense and very very clever.
2003 Winner – Old Boy
The story is horribly bleak, the ending disturbing, the action is brutal and Min-Sik Choi’s turn from miserable average man to intimidating crazed killer is one of the most amazing character changes in movie history, you are barely able to tell it’s the same actor.
Dae–Su Oh (Min-Sik Choi) is kidnapped and imprisoned for 15 years and then suddenly released without explanation with just new clothes, a mobile phone and money to his name and the lust to find who did this to him and why. So off he goes in a story of revenge that is one of the most stunning and visually brilliant movies of 2003.
There are a couple of stand out scenes, but the one that impresses most and is probably one of my favourite all time film moments is the jaw dropping and beautifully shot corridor fight. Shot in one long continuous take, Dae–su Oh rampages his way through something like a hundred thugs, armed only with a hammer and the desire to make up for the 15 years he lost. It really is the perfectly shot scene of all time and the best film of 2003.
2003 Runner up – Mystic River
An emotional roller-coaster of a film that shows Clint Eastwood at his best. Childhood friends Jimmy Markum, Sean Devine and Dave Boyle reunite following the death of Jimmy’s oldest daughter, Katie. Sean’s a police detective on the case, gathering difficult and disturbing evidence; he’s also tasked with handling Jimmy’s rage and need for retribution. Tim Robbins and Sean Penn won Oscars for their roles and it was nominated for four other Oscars. Brilliant film.
2004 Winner – Shaun of the Dead
The film is basically about the relationship of Shaun and his girlfriend Liz and how their breakup and getting back together is set during the outbreak of a Zombie apocalypse. It’s a satirical take on the Zombie film that pokes fun and fully embraces the genre and adds it’s own spin on it by making a comedy of it. The film succeeds on all levels and surprisingly became a hit all over the world and received praise from Mr.Zombie himself George Romero.
There are some truly stunning moments and my favourites are the scene in the pub after Shaun breaks up with Liz where the banter between Ed and Shaun is so so funny. When Shaun goes to shop at the start of film pre-apocalypse and then again post apocalypse mirroring the previous scene as Shaun walks past all the destruction and walking dead oblivious to it all, it’s subtle and so well done. It’s just such a good film that never gets boring no matter how many times i see it. You’ve got red on you!
2004 Runner Up – Downfall (Der Untergang)
A German film brave enough to confront its country’s history head on. Downfall is both a history lesson and a knife-edge drama/thriller that astounds in it’s depiction of Hitler during his last days as his secretary, Traudl Junge, tells of the Nazi dictator’s final days in his Berlin bunker at the end of WWII. Bruno Ganz is the reason I loved this film, there has never been a performance like it. Incredible film.
2005 Winner – Batman Begins
Bruce Wayne heads off to the mountains of Asia to join the league of Shadows lead by Ra’s Al Ghul where he is trained by Henri Ducard (Liam Neeson). Bruce having different views on what the Shadows fight for returns to Gotham to fight crime and uses Wayne Enterprises to build the tools to create his secret identity of Batman. The story is incredible and hardly flawed, the characters are all well written and superbly performed by a stellar cast of Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Cilian Murphy, Morgan Freeman etc and never has a film helped the comic book genre improve it’s quality output as much as Batman Begins did.
It had everything you could want in not only a superhero film but in any action film. A plot that was exciting and smart, characters that worked well against each other, and when you saw the Batman Tumbler Batmobile for the first time you instantly smiled and thought “that is the dam coolest thing I’ve ever seen” and when it roared as Wayne put his foot down, you instantly forgot the neon absurdities from the last Batman movie. You can’t help love the Batman.
2005 Runner Up – History of Violence & Howls moving Castle
Howls Moving Castle is a masterpiece in animation from the legendary Studio Ghibli and incredibly talented director Mayao Miyazaki who’s animated films stun in their beauty and originality. Howls Moving Castle is based on the novel by Dianne Wynne Jones and is a sublime story that is nothing like I’ve ever seen before. Stunning movie and it’s hand drawn animation at it’s best.
2006 Winner – Pan’s Labyrinth
Everything about Pan’s Labyrinth works, stuns, fascinates and astounds as it drags you into the world and makes you question what is fantasy and what is reality as we reach the climatic conclusion of probably the most outstanding film of the decade so far.
The fantasy creatures the little girl, Ofelia, comes across are brilliant but none are as intimidating and terrifying as the Pale Man that guards over a table covered with food who she has to steal a dagger from, she disobeys the order not to eat the food and is chased by the Pale Man, it’s so dam scary but that’s mainly due to the excellent Doug Jones portrayal as the creepy child eating monster.
Great film, really can’t wait for Del Toro’s Hobbit.
2006 Runner up – Little Miss Sunshine
Little Miss Sunshine was the surprise hit of 2006, Nominated for four Oscars and winning two it would have easily won 2006 if it wasn’t for the incredible Pan’s Labyrinth. A brilliant cast and a brilliant story of a families road trip across America to get their daughter to the Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant. Hilarious, satirical and very moving. A real joy of 2006.
2007 Winner – Ratatouille
It’s about a Rat named Remy that has a taste for fine food and a natural talent for cooking and so when he comes accidentally separated from his huge trash eating family he ends up in Paris and gets involved with a talentless garbage boy named Linguini who works at a once famous restaurant called Gusteau’s. They team up and with Remy guiding Linguini to cook and to get Gusteau’s back on the map as the famous restaurant it was.
It’s wonderfully made and puts a lot of films that year to shame with it’s quality and touching story that is brilliantly voiced by the actors and with such high level of detail used in every aspect of the background, foreground, character animation, facial expressions etc everything has so much love poured into it creation that there is no doubt that Pixar is the most brilliant and successful film making company of all time.
2007 Runner up – No Country for Old Men
The Coen Brothers Quadruple Oscar winning masterpiece that is up there with the best suspense thriller movies ever made. Javier Bardem stands out amongst the stellar cast that also include Josh Brolin and Tommy Lee Jones who all take part in a story that just stuns from start to finish. Bardem rules the screen as one of the most terrifying movie bad guys of all time and Josh Brolin is brilliant as the luckless hunted nice guy who gets mixed up in all the chaos surrounding a drug deal gone very wrong. Stunning stuff
2008 Winner – The Dark Knight
The Dark Knight had everything Nolan did right with Batman Begins and tripled it to create not only one of the greatest comic book movies ever but one of the greatest crime thriller movies ever and with one of the finest villain performances of all time from Heath Ledger everything came together perfectly.
Having some of the most exciting set pieces of action of any film throughout the noughties the Dark Knight raised the bar for every film to come after it. The performances from everyone involved added to the quality of the film and I can’t fault anyone. The film ran for around 2.5 hours but could have easily gone on for more because it was so dam good.
Can Batman 3 really get better than this? who knows, but there is no doubt it’s going to be the most anticipated films of this new decade.
2008 Runner Up – Wall-E
Another Pixar classic and if it wasn’t for the Dark Knight it would have won the 2008 film. Wall-E is a wonderful film that again raised the bar of the expected quality in animation that’s matched to a stunning grownup story that appeals to both children and adults alike.
The first half hour stuns in it’s simplicity with hardly any dialogue and when the story progresses to space it continues to entertain with wonderful characters and an excellent story. It’s emotional, funny and a perfect example of just how talented the folks at Pixar are.
2009 Winner – Moon
Duncan Jones made an incredible debut film that was high in quality, claustrophobic, thoughtful and just visually stunning that has made him one to watch in this decade with everyone waiting to see whats coming next. Kevin Spacey adds his perfectly cast voice to Gerty the computer assistant that runs and maintains the space station and adds an air of unpredictability and doubt to the film. It’s quite brilliant.
Set on the Moon, Sam Bell is coming to the end of his three year contract to mine the Moon for Earth’s primary source of energy, he’s starting to get ill and become delusional and as he is looking forward to returning home to be reunited with his wife and child he has an accident whilst out in his lunar buggy. When Sam Bell awakes he eventually ventures out to find a lunar buggy crashed into one of the harvesters and finds something that looks like Sam Bell inside and takes him back to base. The film then deals with who or what is Sam Bell, is he imagining it? is he going crazy? It’s a beautiful brilliant movie and a real joy to watch.
2009 Runner up – Inglorious Basterds
Tarantino at his best, Inglorious Basterds was just one of the most enjoyable movies of 2009 with a great cast, incredible story and some truly unforgettable moments. It’s brutal in it’s violence, enjoyably funny at times and introduced one of the most scariest evil villains of movie history in Hans Landa, a character that deserves an Oscar for te best supporting actor role as the evil Jew hunting Nazi. The opening scene of Inglorious Basterds was the highlight of the whole film for me but the rest of it was never as good but still incredibly enjoyable.
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