Sunday, 27 December 2009

Best of the 00's: The Eleven Most Under-Rated Films Of The Decade

An overlooked movie is a terrible thing. All these great movies condemned unfairly to mere cult success while something like A Beautiful Mind can win a best Picture Oscar. Goes to show that truly no-one in the film industry knows what they're talking about. Except me of course. Faux-arrogance plays to the back rows I'm told so there you go.

11) Primer

Made for Piss all money, this first and only film by director Shane Carruth is a sci-fi fans delight. Intimidatingly intelligent to the point where you almost need to take notes whilst watching, this obviously put quite a few critics and viewers off, but if you stick with it, its a tremendously rewarding experience. See how good science-fiction films can be when brains are actually applied.

10) The Man Who Wasn't There

The Coens forgotten classic, relatively ignored whilst every other one of their films was met with boundless praise; its an almost meditative, quite underplayed noir in which the plot is close to irrelevant, making it a terrific, slow-paced character piece, which is both visually and textually beautiful. Contains a great performance from Bily Bob Thornton too, something that you wouldn't believe without seeing it with your own eyes.

9) Frailty

Another low-key release, but its a great family dynamic horror movie courtesy of Private Hudson himself, Bill Paxton. He directs and stars in one of the smartest, quietly horrifying movies of the last thirty years. You'd think at least horror fans would have jumped on it but no. You all a bunch of incomprehensible motherfuckers.

8) Wonder Boys

Post LA Confidential, things haven't gone too well for Curtis Hanson. His films have been met with tepid reactions, often deservedly so. But the one disparity is the treatment of Wonder Boys, which is a charming, sharply written comedy with some great performances (particularly from Robert Downey Jr, who gives one of his strongest performances here. Its a mid-life crisis movie made a shade before they became cool again and suffered for it. But its about as affable as a film can be and I'm waiting for its rediscovery.

7) Unbreakable

Shyamalan may have gone to seed now, what with The Happening being one of the most blatant wastings of my life in recent memory, but with Unbreakable he made the ultimate version of the kind of movie he makes. Subtler and less twist dependent then the Sixth Sense (although it still has quite a good one), Shyamalan took a brilliant concept and made great movie with it. Perhaps too subtle for its own good, leading to a lot of bored looking people expecting Bruce Willis to crack some heads. But its not that kind of movie, and it represents Shyamalan's creative peak before he retreated inside his own ego.

6) Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang

Shane Black, the man who put pen to paper and wrote the immortal line ' I'm too old for this shit', made his directorial debut with this, a pretty awesome noir homage/comedy. Its hilarious, contains some of the best dialogue this side of Pulp Fiction and relaunched the career of Robert Downey Jr ( Iron Man would have been Ryan Reynolds without this kids), who delivers Black's writing with relish. This is not to mention Val Kilmer's best performance since he was relevant. Blissfully fun.

5) Inland Empire

Mulholland Drive is better, but this is quite possibly only a smidgen worse, and as a consequence a pretty fucking amazing movie. Disjointed, episodic and purposefully inaccessible; its a testament to Lynch's genius as a visual story-teller that it manages to be brilliant despite these things. A pretty great lead performance from Laura Dern too, which without this film would have imploded in its own pretentiousness. But it toed the right side of that line fortunately.

4) Adaptation

Everyone gets their panties in a twist over Eternal Sunshine, but this, for me at least the best movie ever to leave Charlie Kaufman's mind. Crushingly personal and truthful, its two hours of self-deprecation made glorious, in large part to what might be the last great Nicolas Cage performance, and Kaufman's under-rated talent as a comedy writer. Just fucking awesome.

3) Dogville

Lars Von Trier is an asshole. Because if he hadn't been such a pretentious twat and made this entire film on a near empty sound-stage, he would have no doubt made one of the best movies of possibly ever. But no. He had to be like that. He's such a great film-maker its a shame his arrogance seems to so often win the day. Once you adjust its still an amazing film though.

2) The Fountain

The film that drove Darren Aronofsky out of maverick indiedom into more mainstream (but still great) indie film making. This deceptively intelligent and contemplative film is a classic ignored. Its shot so fucking well too, you'd think people would at least give it that, but people have surprisingly little time for great sci-fi, even in the package of a great movie.

1) Zodiac

You think it was a crime when The Assassination Of Jesse James (Not on this list solely because it has already been pretty much been acknowledged as the classic that it is) got blanked in the Oscar best picture category. That's nothing. Zodiac, undoubtedly one of the best films of the decade let alone that year, got a grand total of fuck all. Not even a sound editing patronization. Its a shame it was so widely ignored, because its the All The President's Men of serial killer movies, wonderfully detailed and specific to the point of near genius. Fincher's hand is so meticulous and controlled, Zodiac would be his best movie if I didn't love Fight Club so damn much.


Tom Clift said...

This list is freaking awesome. I've still gotta check out a few, but great job!

Nick said...

I totally agree with Frailty, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and Adaptation.

blakecgriffin said...

I share your love of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Inland Empire, Zodiac and Adaptation.

Great article. I featured it in today's LAMB Chops. Check it out here.

spiral568 said...

Thanks, I'm glad to see there's so much love for adaptation and kiss kiss bang bang. They are just awesome films

Heather said...

I love WonderBoys and give you major props for putting Zodiac as your number one. It was my favorite of 2007.

sophomorecritic said...

Wonderboys is on my top 10 list. It is a great great film

I believe Dogville got enough due but it is a little hard to praise a filmmaker who says such ignorant things about Americans and seems so antagonistic about his art.

Adaptation certainly got very wide accolades and is still remembered as a classic today (slightly below Eternal Sunshine)

Zodiac gets a decent amount of attention. I saw it on quite a few top ten lists