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Best of the Decade: Expanding the Arena, Part I.

by Eric Kohn
December 30, 2009 4:10 AM
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Over the past month or so, critics and other cinephiles of various sorts have weighed in with their top tens of the decade. Disregarding the glaring reality that a decade is actually ten years and such summations ought to wait until the end of 2010, the idea of reducing so many moviegoing experiences into ten unmovable slots presents an enticing challenge. Given the brevity of the assignment, do you use the space to make an overall statement about your personal inclinations? Or attempt to adhere to some greater criteria that exists beyond your own needs as a humble spectator? I took the former option, using arbitrary judgment to illustrate my fondness for grassroots artistry (mainly surrealist narratives that reflect a single point of view) as well as blockbusters guided by sly ideological concerns. ("But really," they said. "X2?" "Yeah," I said, "I could probably swap that one for Children of Men." So I did.) But I doubt any single best of the decade list can be "definitive" in a universal way. Instead, they are extensions of our environment, irrevocably tied to the manner in which movies speak to everyone differently. Since this phenomenon does not magically apply to critics alone, I wanted to get a sense for what the so-called "non-professionals" think. Anyone with a brain and the capacity to use it should be able to make a list that's worth your time. So: I have reached out to a variety of friends and family members for their lists, partly because I'm just plain curious and partly because I think it demonstrates that smart people like good movies, no matter what path they've chosen in life. Here's what I've received so far.

Dave Hughes
Marketing Manager for Penn Schoen & Berland Associates; music critic for Slant; blogger

1. Shaun of the Dead

2. The Royal Tenenbaums

3. The Lives of Others

4. City of God

5. Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2

6. The Incredibles

7. Zodiac

8. A History of Violence

9. Cache (Hidden)

10. There Will Be Blood

Honorable Mention: 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, 28 Days Later, Adaptation, Amelie, Children of Men, Grizzly Man, In the Bedroom, Lost in Translation, Moulin Rouge, The Wrestler

Favorite performances: Penelope Cruz in Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Brad Bird in The Incredibles, Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men, Patton Oswalt in Big Fan, Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man, Christoph Waltz in Inglorious Basterds


Liz Bloomfield
Consultant, Webb Management Services

The Lives of Others

Nightwatch

Amelie

Children of Men

There Will be Blood

Memento

Siu lam juk kau (Shaolin Soccer)

Pan’s Labyrinth

Shaun of the Dead

Spirited Away


Nick Rizzo
New York political consultant

1. Memento
2. The Lives of Others
3. Talk to Her
4. Man on Wire
5. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
6. Mulholland Drive
7. The Wind That Shakes the Barley
8. Children of Men
9. Brick
10. Amelie

The last two slots on the list are tricky, and could possibly be
substituted by some of the runners-up that I'll list below. I think
Wes Anderson is the most influential filmmaker of the last decade, but
I don't love any of his films this decade enough to include them. If
The Wire were a film, it would probably have to be number 1, but I'm
glad I don't have to try to make that tricky comparison. The whole
thing makes me realize what a personal thing the 10 Best is. Here are
my runners-up:

The 25th Hour, Dark Knight, Inside Man, The Prestige, In the Mood for Love, Kill Bill, Goodbye Lenin!, There Will Be Blood, No End in Sight, A History of Violence, Cache.

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