He Said – He Said … Top Films of the Decade

He Said – He Said … The Top 7 Films of the Decade

Our lists are done. We’ve checked them twice (and then some). Now there is only one thing left to do, complain, rant and argue. It’s time for the He Said – He Said … Top 7 Films of the Decade.

It’s He (Jeff Bayer) and his list …
7. Inglourious Basterds
6. Moulin Rouge!
eternal5. Michael Clayton
4. Memento
3. Wall-E
2. Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
1. Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind

Versus

He (Nick Allen) and his list …
7. The Band’s Visit
6. Superbad
5. The Lives of Others
4. Adaptation
3. The Dark Knight
2. Talk to Her
1. There Will Be Blood

Complete Coverage of Top 7 Films of the Decade

Top 7 Films of the Decade by Jeff Bayer
Top 7 Movies of the Decade by Nick Allen
He Said – He Said … Top 7 Films of the Decade

Amazing. Not one movie in common. I’ve decided to let you go first after this introduction, instead of going into attack mode right off the bat. By the way, I’ve been studying for this one. In the last 48 hours I’ve just watched Inglourious Basterds, Eternal Sunshine of the Spottless Mind and Moulin Rouge!. It’s like I’m back at my fighting weight. My plan, lots of jabs, work the body, and then an uppercut to finish you off. Man, maybe I should have added Rocky Balboa to my list, so I could have his hurtin’ bombs. Also, my first response will include making an additional case for Eternal Sunshine no matter what direction you try to turn the conversation. Also, I’m kidding about the battle. Lists are lists, meant to start good conversations. My opinion … there really can’t be winners and losers as long as we make our cases.

there_will_be_blood_poster2Allen Said

There Will Be Blood smashes Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind with a bowling pin, drags its bloodied corpse all over the alley, and THEN drinks its milkshake when it comes to be the absolute best film of 2000-2009. But don’t call me a soulless inglourious basterd just yet, as I have indeed been touched by Kaufman/Gondry’s movie. The concept of wanting to erase someone from our lives, that’s pretty spectacular, and yes, it’s done with such imagination, not to mention lively performances. But let’s be real. The tension of Blood (from the soundtrack and it’s horrific course of events) strikes deeper than any cushy emotional chord of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and the overall tone of Paul Thomas Anderson’s film is more demanding of the audience’s attention than Gondry’s. Daniel Day Lewis’ monstrous performance in There Will Be Blood will be regarded higher than another one of Carrey’s admirable efforts at taking on something serious/glum/awkward. Plus, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind may be an excellent movie about love for our decade, but it has its flaws. Much of the subplot with Kirsten Dunst and Elijah Wood is pretty boring, which takes away from the emotional momentum of the movie overall. That subplot imperfection alone sets it below There Will Be Blood, a film so in control of being basically perfect that it doesn’t even sweat an entire 20 minutes without dialogue.

If a person watches Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, their hearts starts thumping off-beat (in sync with the comedy), and their body becomes warmed by those special fuzzy feelings you get when a movie hits you in the metaphorical heart. But after a person watches There Will Be Blood, they feel a different, more extreme kind of chill (mental orgasm?). It’s the indescribable pleasure that runs down your body and into your soul, and you feel it only a few times in your life. It’s when you know you have witnessed the absolute definition of the word “masterpiece.”

Eternal Sunshine is just really, really good. But so were many of the movies we don’t have on our Top 7 lists.

Bayer Said

I love the argument that … “history will show.” Such a copout. I can win any argument with that phrase, or so could George W. Bush by that rational. My problem with There Will Be Blood … Daniel Day Lewis is more than the movie. Collectively, we remember his (milkshake) performance and not the film. Plus, I really needed more between Daniel and his son H.W. Either more distance or more of a connection would have helped the culmination of their relationship. For me, the film was about watching Day Lewis perform, and not watching the story unfold. At no point did I want the story to head in a direction, or wish for some sort of outcome.

My Eternal case …

This could be a theme for the whole decade … It’s the indie girl (Garden State, (500) Days of Summer) getting the nerdy guy. Judd Apatow’s career is almost defined by this theme.

It’s a romance that adds mystery, sci-fi, tragedy and dramedy. Also, this is not a comedy. You haven’t watched it in a while if you think it is.

It’s a time period that technology doesn’t exist. It’s either an alternative universe, or near future. But it’s undefined. I love films that don’t define the year or combine time periods. Won’t every action or suspense movie going forward be better off not having cell phones?

Jim Carrey at his best, beating out Truman Show, Man on the Moon and Ace Ventura.

The opening credits don’t happen until 18 minutes into the movie, which makes you that much more fully absorbed.

David Cross doesn’t ruin the movie (yes, I’m looking at you Year One).

From time to time, we all need a re-examination of love. Looking back is extremely important.

The first time you see the film you don’t know if erasing the memories of love is real or a hoax for a long time.

It doesn’t follow the standard screenplay flow. Joel’s true motivation … saving his relationship … doesn’t kick in until about an hour.

I have a bad memory. So this film taps into that fear that my favorite moments can be taken away from me. Trust me, my friend will back me up on this, I need cues for almost every past event, and then it all comes back to me.

“What if you stayed this time?” That’s a line from Clementine to Joel toward the end, which is a chance for there life (albeit just memories) to have a different ending. One day I will see a movie, and it will end differently, the way I want. It will happen (that’s how bad my memory is).

This film has despair with hope, which is one of my favorite themes. I actually find the novel “1984” uplifting because Winston Smith is ordinary, and almost broke through that horrific society. Someone else will come along and succeed.

And to end it all … “Everybody’s Gotta Learn Sometime” a killer cover by Beck.

Also, the Dunst sideplot is extremely engaging and sad. It gives you a glimpse of the great impact that this technology has in that society.

Now that we have agreed to disagree with our top choices, on to the rest of the list. I can’t complain about Dark Knight. It’s great, and just missed my list. Though we can talk about the almosts a little bit later. Here’s the bombshell though … I haven’t seen two films on your list. The Band’s Visit is the obvious one. I mean, no one has seen that and I’ve decided you’re quite excited to add that to your list for that very reason. It will give a movie that you loved some attention. I see nothing wrong with that. The one that kills me is Talk to Her. Everybody has that list of films they know they should see, but then it sits in your Netflix Queue forever and maybe you even finally get it home, but then you never watch it, and send it back so you can get “Weeds” Season 2 Disc 3 and feeling guilty, you then add it back to your Queue vowing that next time you will definitely see it. That’s Talk to Her for me. I swear, I won’t be proud that I have never seen this film (like some people are with Titanic). I will watch Talk in the near future.

Allen Said

The only mistake I might have made while concocting my Top 7 was not giving enough consideration to a film by Pixar. Everything they released in 2000-2009 is a worthy nominee of a fictional Top 100. However, Up would definitely be in my Top 10, and perhaps even in my Top 7 if I meditated on it enough. But I do not have the same thoughts about Wall-E, and am a bit baffled, (though not surprised, considering your glowing review back in ’08) that it made your Top 7 list.

I am going to bring back the year-old debate that Up is better Wall-E. The most recent film from Pixar has a much more consistent storyline than Wall-E does. Despite having radical location changes and shifts from drama to comedy to adventure, Up never loses its grip as universal entertainment, and all three parts of the film are able to prop up the film’s beautifully represented themes. Its story also allows for more adventure than Wall-E, and Up maintains its top-level creativity. Wall-E tends to busy itself with messages instead of making itself to be a movie with a lot of replay value (something that Up has).

The first act of Wall-E is a knockout. The dialogue-less gags and the montage that uses Louis Armstrong’s version of “La Vie En Rose” still stands as one of the best scenes from the decade. However, the second act drops off a bit, despite how marvelous it is to watch the film’s cojones swing in the face of its audience when it calls its viewers fat, lazy, etc.

But Wall-E stumbles when its third becomes a straight-forward action movie with a cheesy, preachy end about the environment. He has to get the plant inside the boot, conquer the technology that has made humans so lazy, and then help them grow pizza trees. The beauty of Wall-E’s first and second acts is lost by a linear shot to the audience’s Earth morals, all of which done in a tone that is obviously and a bit insulting.

More directly, Up is funnier than Wall-E. Squirrel.

When it comes to heart, Wall-E has as a lot of it. But Pixar, being the miracle workers that they are, were some how able to raise that ante with Up, a film that provides a more heartfelt couple and story of love than any they have before. The montage in the beginning, in which we watch the relationship of Carl and Ellie, should be enough of an example. The touching symbolism seen throughout the film, (Ellie is the house), and the beautiful imagery (the house lands right next to Paradise Falls) are spectacular additional layers. Pile on top of this the fact that Pixar made a gorgeous movie about a Gran Torino-like old man flying a house of balloons with the help of a talking dog and a little boy without once being too fluffy, and you’ve got the studios’ biggest success and top achievement.

I am glad you remembered to put a Pixar movie on your list. But I am not sure Wall-E is the best representation of Pixar’s potential.

Also, (and this goes to everyone else, apparently, as this is #2 on IMDB.com’s Top 250 List): Return of the King? These were great films, (Two Towers being the worst), but second-best movie of the past ten years? I saw this three times when it first came out, and was happy it won Best Picture that year. But number two? Really?

Bayer said

On the way to Chicago for the holidays, I watched Up again. You’re wrong. The main problem with Up … those first 11 minutes are amazing. First time I saw it, I cried. The rest of the film doesn’t come close to comparing to those first 11 minutes. Charles Muntz is an insanely forgettable villain, and exactly how old is he? No, I’m not saving everything needs to be believable in a movie about a balloon house, just curious. And while the talking dogs is an hilarious idea, the application only makes me laugh a few times. I’m just never fully engrossed in this story. Also, just in 2009 … The Princess and the Frog, Coraline, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs (surprisingly funny) are all equal to Up for me.

The joy of Wall-E has to do with the fist time I saw it … no previews and no idea where I was going on this adventure. I was totally immersed. Not just for 11 minutes.

And now I will defend Lord of the Rings: Return of the King

“I saw this three times when it first came out, and was happy it won Best Picture that year.”

There we go, that should do it. One more thing, in thinking of my list, I did take into account our society, impact, where the state of movies has been over this decade, and what this decade means to me. I didn’t just think … movie = good. For me, I spent more time caring for that trilogy than any other (sorry Jason Bourne).

Also, here’s my Top 30 of the decade. Yup. Thirty. It just happened.

Top 7

7. Inglourious Basterds
6. Moulin Rouge
5. Michael Clayton
4. Memento
3. Wall-E
2. Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
1. Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind

And the rest (in alphabetical order)

Almost Famous
Borat
Brokeback Mountain
Cast Away
City of God
The Dark Knight
The Departed
Igby Goes Down
Into the Wild
The King of Kong: A Fist Full of Quarters
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
Love Actually
Love Me If You Dare
Ocean’s Eleven
Old School
Once
The Orphanage
The Royal Tenenbaums
Spider-Man 2
Star Trek
Walk the Line
Wonder Boys
Zodiac

I’m going to say you haven’t seen three of these 30. Am I right?

Allen said

Lord of the Rings vs. Bourne. Hmm, that’s an interesting debate, though Lord of the Rings has an obvious advantage with all of its Oscar nominations and scope. But for the record, I’d say that I have spent more time thinking about Jason Bourne and his non-stop action trilogy than I have Peter Jackson’s game-changing fantasy opus. This could be a matter of genre preference.

As for your list, I admit I have not seen seven. But now I have another assignment for my little holiday vacation, and an activity to accompany with my Stand By Me like daily apple-pie eatings.

As for your extra 23, I can agree with the titles you have chosen. 22 of those films are pretty rock-solid when it comes to quality films. Igby Goes Down stands out Igby-style, however. That little moody movie didn’t leave a great impression on me. It’s a been a year since I’ve seen it, and I can only remember one scene: when The Band’s “The Weight” played during some airplane taking off. I am not asking you to re-watch it or to spelunk deep into your memory caves, but why do you like that movie to a “Top 30 of the Decade” extent?

Now that the stakes have been raised, here is my list.

Amelie (Gorgeous film, wonderful girl.)
American Psycho (Possibly my Top #8. It’s bloody brilliant!)
The Bourne Ultimatium (Yes, Virgina, there can be smart action movies that don’t even know that the word “Stop” exists.)
Burn After Reading (2009’s A Serious Man is pretty close to knocking this one off.)
Children of Men (Spectacular usage of extended takes, a treasure chest of surprises and apocalyptic imagery.)
The Departed (With extreme recognition to the original Infernal Affairs.)
Funny Games (Technically a remake, not a re-release.)
The Great Happiness Space (An AMAZING documentary about Japanese male escorts.)
Hot Rod (My choice for “Best Slacker Movie of the Decade not called Superbad.“)
Inglourious Basterds (“I think this may just be my masterpiece.”)
The King of Kong (Who knew that documentaries could be this entertaining?)
Match Point (Still Allen’s best of the decade, and a wonderful drama on its own.)
Mean Girls (This movie is the definition of the word “fetch.”)
Munich (This epic controls your pulse and your head. For two and a half hours.)
My Kid Could Paint That (A brilliant questioning of abstract art.)
Oldboy (No explanation needed.)
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Obsessively crafted by maestro David Fincher, and told with a lot of an underrated amount of heart.)
The Prestige (A rare movie that doesn’t trip over its twists).
The Royal Tenenbaums (Still Wes Anderson’s best work.)
Some Kind of Monster (Fascinating look at the band Metallica. Lars Ulrich deserved a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Comedy/Musical).
Spider-Man 2 (Yes, we agreed on this one!)
Team America: World Police (For the soundtrack alone. A brilliant send-up of movies before and after its time.)
Up (Nuclear armistice isn’t going to save the world from doom – Pixar will).
Volver (Viva la Almoldovar!)

You’ll notice that mine is longer. This is because my list is better than your list. Boo-yah!

Bayer said

You have some good ones that I am kind of kicking myself about. You haven’t seen seven of my Top 30? Which ones? I’m on pins and needles. More importantly, I am now six pounds fatter than when we first started this back and forth. That means I need to stop defending my superiority. Sometimes you just know. Unlink other guys who have to brag that there’s is longer. You just know there is insecurity behind such statements.


9 Comments

  1. Matt says:

    “Up was funnier than WALL-E”

    And herein lies the problem. It was trying to be a (very good) kid’s comedy movie. It succeeded, but only the first little montage of life with Ellie succeeded in anything more than that. The rest of it was “funny” and “cute” but not “art”.

    WALL-E, on the other hand, was a pure cinematic and artistic achievement. It never stumbles, it’s art throughout. The opening wordless half seems to appeal to those “true art is angsty” types and it is indeed great, but the second half is a marvelous commentary on our society (and done much better than the similar Idiocracy) as well as a beautiful love story. If you don’t love watching WALL-E and EVE’s ballet through space, you have no heart. If you didn’t have a tear in your eye when we were waiting on WALL-E to get his memory back, it’s time to turn in your human card, because you’re not one.

    Up, on the other hand, culminates in *talking dogs flying jet planes*. Sorry, but if your standard for animation is “is it funny?” then you’ve failed to miss the point. WALL-E, a robot, is more real than the entirety of the human cast of Up.

  2. Janey says:

    I found “There Will be Blood” to be so heavy-handedly obvious that I was laughing at the milshake scene rather than marvelling at it. I agree that Day-Lewis “eclipsed” the story–it seemed like the point of the whole thing was to construct a vehicle in which Day-Lewis could act stunningly crazy (yet again).

    But don’t get me wrong…I love me some Daniel Day-Lewis. The plot of the movie was just very dull and lacking in dimension. I like the chronicling of his descent into madness, but it was so singular…

  3. Nick Allen says:

    I laughed more when I saw “Up,” but that is only one factor as to why “Up” is a better experience overall than “Wall-E.” Humor is just one piece of the pie.

  4. Caitríona says:

    1, Osama 2. City of God 3. Once

  5. john says:

    Totally forgot about “The King of Kong.”  God, that movie is good.   And I may the only person I know who likes “Infernal Affairs” more than “The Departed”.

  6. Tony Reynolds says:

    I can’t believe that you guys are having a serious conversation about Wall-E versus Up for inclusion into the decade’s top 7.  That’s ludicrous!  I just watched Wall-E a couple of nights ago and besides the brilliant animation the story was incredibly simplistic and feeble, which is fine since its a children’s story told at a level that children can understand.  Also, the ‘message’ in the plot was treated so heavy-handedly.  Seriously, it was wielded like someone who was trying to use a chainsaw to stir sugar into their coffee.  I don’t have a problem with you adding it to your Top 7 list so much as I have a problem with anyone older than 12 actually calling it ‘good’.  And other than a few subtle differences, ‘Up’ is the same thing.  I just can’t see those two as serious FILM.  Fun diversions that are mildly entertaining to some?  Yes.  Greatest of the decade?  Absolutely not.

    The other travesty here, and this is really the big one, is Allen’s argument to dis-include LOTR: Return of the King.  What was not great about that film?  The story: brilliant!  The directing: brilliant! (except for the awful decision to use the dwarf as comic relief)  The acting: brilliant!  Special Effects: Brilliant!  Re-watchability: Off the charts!  And that undefinable trait known as movie magic: Almost Unequaled.  How can this not be one of the best films of the decade, or really one of the best ever?!?  Now I know that its not the most intellectually stimulating film ever but it never panders and it never strays from its vision which was undeniably bold.  Finally, it was a film that had a huge hurdle to overcome: namely that those films were based on some of the most widely read books in the world, ever!  And outside of religious texts the LOTR books are generally considered the most beloved books in the Western world (ref: Wikipedia) so doing them justice was an epic achievement.  And you know what?  Peter Jackson pulled it off by making an amazing trilogy that thrilled almost everyone who saw them while at the same time being able to do it without disappointing almost anyone who’s read the books.  That’s no mean feat.  Its not easy adapting widely read, well loved novels.  If you don’t believe me just look at the utter tripe that was the film adaptation of The Da Vinci Code.  Based on all of that, Allen, I’m shocked that you could have any objections to its inclusion in this list.  And unlike Superbad, people will continue to eagerly watch the LOTR films for decades to come.  If that doesn’t qualify it to be on your list then I must be really confused about what you’re judging here.

  7. chris bro says:

    There will be blood isn’t even the best movie of that year. Sorry.

  8. jasmine says:

    they’re both very good lists. i don’t know which one is better but in my opinion nick allen’s list, with its inclusion of foreign films and critic’s favourites, is a lot more pretentious. i don’t mean that as an insult necessarily, but it is certainly a contrast to jeff bayer’s more accessible and emotionally driven list. i personally share bayer’s taste, but that’s just my opinion. that being said, allen almost wins just for having “amelie” on his top thirty :)

  9. jasmine says:

    also, i think nick allen’s list is a very typical “guy” list. yes, i know i’m stereotyping and i sound stupid but “there will be blood” is a very masculine movie, and “superbad”… really?

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