Everyone and his mother (and brother and sister) is compiling “best of the decade” lists (and, yes, I know that, technically, the decade’s not really over yet) and I couldn’t resist adding my own to the mix. Problem is a) I'm not sure if we really need any more lists and b) I can’t use the word best, since, really, how do I know what’s best and what’s not?
Let's start with my favorite movies of the past ten years. If I don't totally bore myself (and you!), I'll follow up with books, television shows, music and, of course, comics. No set number of selections here and no particular order.
1) The New World
Director Terrence Malick’s lyrical and exhilarating meditation on the lives of...John Smith and Pocahontas? No, I’m not kidding.
2) Matchstick Men
The much-mocked Nicholas Cage gives a brilliant, touching performance in a brilliant, touching film.
3) Catch Me If You Can
Spielberg, Hanks and DeCaprio come together in a movie that reminds us that Hollywood really can still make them like they used to.
4) King of California
An overlooked gem, with Michael Douglas and Evan Rachel Wood letter-perfect as a modern-day Don Quixote and his Sancho Panza daughter.
5) Monsters, Inc.
I adored Pixar's Up and Toy Story 2 and thought Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride was a perfect little gem, but MI stole my heart: it’s not just my favorite animated film of the decade, it’s one of my favorite animated films ever. I watched it again recently and it’s every bit as good as I remembered.
6) Lagaan/Om Shanti Om
Two of the most genuinely entertaining movies I'ver ever seen: Bollywood at its very best. If you’re looking for restraint, try Lagaan; if you want pure Mumbai excess, go with Om Shanti Om.
Enchanting. Old school Disney magic with a new millennium twist.
8) Wristcutters A Love Story
The best indie movie you’ve never heard of. Don't ask me how a movie about suicide and a grey, dismal afterlife ends up being so life affirming, but it does.
9) Shadow Magic
The (fictional) story of the first Westerner to bring movies to China becomes a celebration of the power of both film itself and the human imagination.
As far from Bollywood as you can get: a devastating—and unforgettable—look at the treatment of women in India.
My favorite new director of the decade was Tom Tykwer. If I had to pick one of his films for this list, it would probably be Heaven—with the great Cate Blanchette—but it’s more the collective impact of his work that has stayed with me.
And I suspect that, once the smoke clears, both District 9 and Avatar will stand as my favorite science-fiction films of the past ten years. Star Trek fans, you may commence firing.
More tomorrow. Maybe.
© copyright 2010 J.M. DeMatteis