Monday, January 7, 2008

The End-All, Be-All List (of whatever I feel like today...)

So, ever since the movie reviews, everyone - and I do mean everyone - has been asking Sadie what her favorite movies are. Now, I know, for a dog, you'd expect Lassie, Old Yeller (though, that would be a morbid choice for a Dog's favorite movie), 101 Dalmations or even Air Bud.

That's not the case with our Sadie, though.

Bless her heart, she has class and taste. Without any further adeiu (though I love to write adeiu), let me present my - er - Sadie's top movies from the past 10 years:

2007: No Country for Old Men
Let's be honest - Juno might be my favorite movie of the year - but there was something about the Coehn brother's haunting, stark, subversive western/thriller that still sticks with me. I can't stop thinking about that movie. From the muted, powerful performances (hats off to Josh Brolin, Tommy Lee Jones, Kelly MacDonald, and especially Javier Barden (one of the scariest characters ever), to the convention-breaking, yet still amazing, structure, to the coitus-interruptis ending(s) that leave you spinning - this is a movie that you have to talk to someone about. It's powerful and scary, yet quiet and simple - yet massively deep and complex. This is a movie that needs to be seen. A thinking man's movie.
Second Best: Juno. Just an amazing, funny, poignant, powerful little movie about real people who really care about each other. Ellen Page deserves and Oscar (so does everything about this movie). This is one for everyone that everyone should see.
Hon Mention: Bourne Ultimatum

2006: This was a packed year of goodness. I'll try to expound.
Best: Little Miss Sunshine - never has a dysfunctional family road trip movie made me laugh and feel so much. Fantastic performances by the entire cast. This is Steve Carrell at his best. A powerhouse of a movie that never gets old. Great script, acting, and heart. It'll be a long time before another movie makes me feel like this one did.
Second: The Departed. Martin Scorcesse's best film - which, consequently, won him his first Best Picture and Best Director (including Best Adapted Screenplay) awards. Just an edge-of-your-seat, who's double-crossing who now, thriller. I don't think Mark Whalberg could be a cooler Badass - and, hey, this is the movie that finally broke Leo DiCaprio out of teen heartthrob and into a full-fledged, amazing actor. Probably the best movie of the year (though I still favor LMS).
Third: Children of Men. Alfonso Curaon got screwed in '06. Children of Men, one of the most powerful, inventive, original sci-fi/drama/thriller movies ever came out too late in a year where there were already too many good movies. An incredibly cool hook (humanity will be dead in thirty years) with amazing directing. I was entranced watching this movie and the war scene during the end is not only terrifying - it ends on one of the most visually powerful (and by visually, I mean no words were spent for the incredible emotion) scenes ever.
Fourth: Brick. Rian Johnson's Noir High School Crime movie is not only original and inventive, it's captivating. Like a finely crafted wine, it starts out slow but builds to one of the most satisfying endings of any movies of its kind. Just downright a great movie.
Fifth: Streanger Than Fiction. Who would have imagined that a Will Ferrell movie would be this good? Not only is he funny- he's human, he's tragic, he's heroic. It was advertised poorly - but don't let impressions fool you, this Kauffman-esqu film is tip top.

2005: King Kong. Now, now, you may call foul after I say this - but seriously, when was the last time you saw a movie that you enjoyed this much and reminded you why we have movies in the first place. Pete Jackson's homage to the classic movie did more than just fill the time - it excited and broke your heart. It let you forget that love between a 25 foot ape and a woman is kinda gross - and made you feel for the two. Pete Jackson can't really make a bad movie anymore (far cry from his early ventures into film) and this cements it.
Hon Mention:
Serenity - Joss Whedon's Sci-Fi movie that was what the Star Wards Prequels should have been. Awesome.
A History of Violence - David Cronenberg's haunting, chilling examinatio of the effects of violence and how we can't escape their consequences.
The Constant Gardner - Almost redeems Ralphe Finnes for The Avengers. Almost. And Rachel Weiss deserved the Oscar she got.
Crash - contrary to ignorant belief, this isn't a movie that makes a 'statement' about race - it's a powerful movie that makes a statement about humanity's fault of distancing itself from one another. Very, very good.

2004: Garden State. Zack Braff decided to try his hand at directing and writing (as well as acting) and just happened to make the best movie of the year (and best soundtrack too). Moppy-headed bastard. I hate people this talented. The story of a disassociated young man's return to his long-abandoned home town and his quest for a sense of normalcy in his life is profound and funny. Natalie Portman steals the show and again reminds us that she's not the wooden costume mannequin and action figure we came to know her as in Star Wars. What a fantastic movie.
Hon Mention:
Million Dollar Baby: Tragic and Poignant, Paul Haggis tries out the big screen with astounding results.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: One of the best love stories ever with a powerful statement about love and relationships at the end. A masterpiece.

2003: Love Actually. Call me a sap - but I love this movie. Intersecting vingettes about love around Christmas time in England not only has an amazing cast - but it's amazingly good. Richard Curtis is the kind of the romantic comedy and this solidifies him as such. Can you pick out a bad storyline in this? No. Can you pick out a favorite? No. All are so good and so true to life (with the witty exaggeration we expect from RomComs) that we can't say which is best - they all are.

2002: Adaptation. Odds are - you haven't seen this. Odds are - you need to. Nic Cage plays twin screenwriting brothers Charlie (who is a real person) and Donald (who isn't) Kauffman. Charlie has been hired to write an adaptation on The Orchid Thief - a book about a Florida orchid thief. Problem is - there is no story. Taken from real-life Charlie Kauffman's struggles to adapt The Orchid Thief, this movie straddles the line between reality and fiction so closely, you can't tell what is real and what is made up. Fantastic, original, genius movie.

2001: A Beautiful Mind. Ron Howard and Akiva Goldsman biopic about John Nash, Nobel Prize (or was it Pulitzer) winning economist's struggle with mental illness, life, and ultimately love rings true and powerful throughout the movie. Russell Crowe and the gorgeous Jennifer Connelly are perfect together. Great movie. Interesting, shocking, tragic, and always moving.

2000: Traffic. Okay, so "Sadie" was 17 when "she" saw this and it blew her mind. Traffic revolves around the US's war on drugs. It's graphic, haunting, honest, and chilling. Traffic doesn't bother to try and be one-sided or flippant about the issue, but explores the triumphs and tragedies of government-run initiatives trying to stop a problems that affects individuals. Shot in very distinct styles depending on the location of the storyline, Steve Soderberg hit is peak here (and, sadly, has yet to return). After this was over, it was well over six hours before I could even begin to think about of form an opinion. I was just blown away.

1999: Unbreakable. Back before movies like Lady in the Water, M. Night Shyamalan was a cinematical genius. The Sixth Sense was a phenomenon, but Unbreakable was really where M. Night showed us that he was a master (who eventually got too stuck on himself and made the piece of shit Lady in the Water - are you sensing my hate for that movie? good. It sucks.) with Unbreakable. Bruce Willis, in his best performance ever, plays David Dunn, a man at odds with himself. Through a series of strange, violent, and scary situations, he's introduced to a possibile explanation for his purpose in life. Supported by Sam Jackson, Spencer Treat Clark, and Robin Wright Penn all doing their best I've seen. If you're not moved by the end - you don't deserve to read this.

1998: Surprise - The Sixth Sense. Who doesn't remember the first time you saw this movie - especially the "How did I not see this coming, yet it blew my mind" ending that will forever be branded by The Sixth Sense (seen Fight Club or The Others - good, but you keep thinking "Too Sixth Sense-y"). What an incredibly good movie. Sure, it screwed Haley Joel Osment for life, but wow - he was incredbile. I still watch it and get chills with his performance. Best movie of the year.

1997: Can you guess? Look at the year? What were you seeing the end of that year (and subsequent viewings the beginning of '98)? If you guessed Titanic - you are right. Sure, you may laugh nervously now - trying to be cool - but admit it, you loved this movie when you first saw it. Sure, it may not be perfect, but this is the movie that opened my eyes to how powerful and incredible movies can be if done right. It hit on all cylinders, and, by the end, you were right there with the characters. You knew them, you felt them, and many (uh, not me, of course) cried with them. Ten years later - and it still stands as the highest grossing movie of all time (among many other records). It will take a very long time and a very amazing movie to beat that record. James Cameron - thank you for Titanic.

So, there we have it. Oh, and for Saide - go see Can't Hardly Wait (1998) - best Teen movie of that era. Totally under the radar, but extremely funny.

So, the next time you're at Blockbuster and you can't find anything to watch (which is the WORST feeling ever) - think: "What Would Sadie Watch?" and you'll be set for the evening.

Sadie loves movies!

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