Monday, December 28, 2009

Robert Mentzer's Certified Finest Movies and Television of the Oughts

Remember, the point of these things is to argue about them. Here goes:

Runners up: Gosford Park, Borat, Capturing the Friedmans, Punch-Drunk Love, Wall-E, Erin Brockovich, Syriana, Y Tu Mama Tambien, Far from Heaven, No Country for Old Men, The Royal Tenenbaums

20. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
19. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
18. Requiem for a Dream
17. Up
16. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
15. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
14. Elf
13. Lost in Translation
12. Spiderman
11. Being John Malkovich
10. Grizzly Man
9. Serenity
8. Ratatouille
7. Iron Man
6. The 40-Year-Old Virgin
5. A Mighty Wind
4. There Will Be Blood

3. O Brother Where Art Thou
This and The Big Lebowski are still for my money better than anything the Coen brothers have done since. Perfect synthesis of kitschy stoner comedy and archetypal detective story.

2. The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
I am counting them together as one film. One of the great achievements in all of movie history. If I have to choose a favorite, I choose "The Two Towers."

1. The New World
My second-favorite film by my favorite director, Terence Malick. (Favorite would be Days of Heaven.) I love the way this movie really lets you see through the eyes of the first American settlers as they encounter the hopelessly alien "Naturals," their word for American Indians. Later, the film captures the same sense of strangeness for Pocahontas on her first encounter with Europe. It's also a disquisition on the (sometimes false) idea of paradise and the (sometimes prosaic) nature of love. And its nature photography is absolutely gorgeous.

I am not quite sure why, but I think my taste in television shows is much closer to the critical conventional wisdom than is my taste in music or movies. Arguably that makes this my most boring list. Still, these are all great shows:

15. The Colbert Report
14. Futurama
13. The West Wing
12. Mad Men
11. The Sopranos
10. Angel
9. 30 Rock
8. Veronica Mars
7. Battlestar Galactica
6. The Daily Show
5. Deadwood
4. The Office (American)
3. Arrested Development
2. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
1. The Wire


Skillet Doux said...

Glad to see that Monkey Island: The Movie made an appearance at 15.

Not that I'm bitter or anything.

Skillet Doux said...

Since I used to be a film geek, back when I used to... you know... watch movies, some notable omissions (there's never room for them all) from my personal list... weighted heavily towards the earlier half of the decade for obvious reasons:

City of God
Dancer in the Dark
Mulholland Dr.
American Splendor (Surprised you skipped this one, actually)
Best In Show (Ditto American Splendor)
The Constant Gardener
The Deep End (Can't really argue top 20, but an underappreciated little film, so here it is)
Downfall (Probably worthy for the YouTube fallout alone)
A History of Violence
Moulin Rouge! (Softened up the Academy so that Chicago could win Best Picture the next year but, unlike Chicago, actually deserved it.)
No Country for Old Men
Pan's Labyrinth
Punch-Drunk Love (And I loathe Adam Sandler)
Solaris (Ditto The Deep End)
Spirited Away


Magnolia was 1999... can we include that one again on the basis that it's close enough and deserves to be mentioned twice?


I'm beyond thrilled that Requiem for a Dream made your cut.


If you're going to throw Spidey in there (I wouldn't, good as they were), 1 instead of 2 seems like a mistake to me.

and of course

Trapped in the Closet

Any one of these could go up there in place of, oh... I don't know... Elf.

(Really? Elf? The decade? That one's the plant to inspire an indignant reaction, isn't it? I mean, yeah, it was kinda funny at times but... seriously?)


Come to think of it, all of the great films of the past decade, tons of which I missed or have neglected to mention, and Will Ferrell's taking of three of the top 20 spots? He was officially the mass appeal funnyman of the decade, but that doesn't strike you as kind of overrepresented?

Skillet Doux said...

Whoops... missed Punch-Drunk Love in the honorable mention... very good call.

Skillet Doux said...

Oh! Oh!

And at the risk of overrepresenting Aronofsky after just chastising you for doing the same with Ferrell, you have to throw The Wrestler into the ring (ha). It's (clearly) distinct enough from RfaD that I think it avoids being redundant.

This would be near the top of my list of omissions, actually.

Skillet Doux said...


Were you being intentionally funny, or did you not realize that the Coen Brothers didn't make any movies between Lebowski and O Brother?

(No more comments!!!)

Rob said...

Oh man, you mentioned Best in Show. I've always been an A Mighty Wind man, personally -- I can't BELIEVE I forgot about it, and may actually have to revise the list because of it. I love that movie.

On the Coens, I guess I was trying to say that I still favor O Brother and Lebowski over everything they've done since. May have to reword.

I count only (!) two Will Ferrell movies, unless he had a cameo on There Will Be Blood that I am not remembering. As a guy who likes comedies, I think that may actually be reasonable. He was a major player on the comedy scene this decade.

Maybe No Country for Old Men should be here somewhere, I do like that one a lot. Most of the others you mentioned just didn't do it for me -- I either hated them (Pan's Labyrinth) or didn't quite see what the fuss was about (Mulholland Drive, History of Violence). And a couple I haven't seen, like The Deep End and Downfall.

I also have an admitted pro-comedy bias, so there is that. But I stand in defense of Elf! Sweet but unsyrupy, funny but not crass. It is one of the few Christmas movies I don't mind watching when it comes on cable.

Skillet Doux said...

Oops... I stand corrected on Farrell. For some reason I can't explain, I counted 40YOV as a Farrell movie. I agree, two doesn't seem inappropriate for the big comedy guy of the decade.

I'll still fight you on Elf, though. Its inclusion aside, I agree with your characterization. But it seems to me that there's a RATHER wide chasm between "Christmas [movie] I don't mind watching" and "Certified Finest [20] Movies... of the Oughts".

Skillet Doux said...

Since I'm enjoying this so much... really, if I were going to champion one on my list for inclusion, it'd probably be Moulin Rouge.

Incredibly brash, unique and vivid, a rare musical that actually does a compelling and fun job of playing with classic songs, took the route of embracing and amplifying the inherent schmaltz and ridiculousness of the genre rather than trying to take itself too seriously, and it absolutely touched off a massive musical revival in Hollywood.

It's not personally my favorite of everything we've mentioned by a longshot (though I did enjoy it a lot). But for many reasons, it strikes me as a lot more worthy than most of them.

Rob said...

I like your argument. Unique vision and all that. With added points for reviving musicals. Not a personal favorite, but I am now convinced that it belongs on a list of, say, "Significant Movies of 2000s."

Also, good luck moving bro!

AngelMonkey said...

There is much I could stay, but I'll start by agreeing that if you must include a Spiderman flick, #2 was far superior to #1.

MPP said...

Serenity as a best movie, but no Firefly in the best of TV? That's messed up.

I like the American Office, but I don't think there's anything they could ever do to make it as good as the British version.

I bought a copy of The New World about a year ago, but can't seem to make myself put it in the dvd player. Maybe I'll get around to that soon.

O Brother is a good movie but for whatever reason I enjoyed No Country for Old Men, Burn After Reading, and Idiocracy more.

Moulin Rouge is one of those movies that I just don't "get" how it's anything more than a giant turd with confetti. I have a general immunity to musicals though, and it didn't seem to pass whatever threshold level I need to pay any attention to a movie. I see it on a lot of these 'best of decade' lists so maybe I should give it another chance. I think it's more than just the musical thing though because I liked Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Enchanted.

And also, Bad Santa.