Top 50 Films Of The Decade : 30-39
39. Hotel Rwanda (2004)
Talk about leaving its mark, this highly-emotional and somewhat grueling true story has left quite a few unsettling images in my noggin. It’s a film that plays all the more real â€“ and hits all the more harder â€“ thanks to the bravura performances of its superb cast, noticeably Don Cheadle. The film just takes you over as youâ€™re watching it. Itâ€™s powerful stuff. Really strong. So powerful it evokes emotion any time you even think of the picture â€“ as I am now; thus, a short review. Cheadleâ€™s performance as Paul Rusesabagina, a hotel manager who housed over a thousand Tutsi refugees during their struggle against the Hutu militia in Rwanda, is one of the best turns of the decade. No doubt about it. If you missed it theatrically, Netflix the DVD.
38. Knocked Up (2007)
Inarguably one of the smartest, wittiest and sweetest romantic comedies of the decade, ”Knocked Up” reminded us that the genre no longer belonged to Tom, Meg and Sandler. The writing is the star of the show. Itâ€™s flawless. From side-splitting pop culture references to some of the filthiest argument silage youâ€™ve ever heard, itâ€™ll keep your gut busted for the duration. Credit though to the fine cast. Seth Rogen â€“ great to see the lead isnâ€™t being played by a guy who looks like he gets more pussy than a cattery â€“ proves himself the likeable leading man with his rob as the slobbish make-over man, whilst beautiful Katherine Heigl (best known for her role on TVs â€˜â€™Greyâ€™s Anatomyâ€™â€™) splits sides and breaks hearts as the all-too-real expectant one. The supporting cast here are gold, too. Paul Rudd is fantastic, again proving what great comic ability he has when let off the chain; Leslie Mann (Apatowâ€™s real-life wife) has some great moments as his slightly overbearing wife; whilst Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, Jason Segel and Martin Starr get oodles of laughs as Rogenâ€™s stoner buddies.
Outrageously funny (I donâ€™t think Iâ€™ve enjoyed a comedy this much since the 80s!), Terribly Sweet, Very unhollywood real (some things in the last five minutes of the film have never been on film!) and superbly cast, â€˜â€™Knocked Upâ€™â€™ was 2007â€™s must-see movie.
37. Lantana (2001)
I don’t think anyone at the media screening for “Lantana”, back in 2001, quite knew what they were in store for – I know I didn’t. Director Ray Lawrence hadn’t been very forthcoming on what the film was about, and the studio hadn’t been dousing us with publicity for the film either (not until later, when it was clear they had a real audience-pleaser), so to discover that the ensemble drama was not only the best pic most of us had seen that month, let alone year, was an absolute joy. Yes, I suspected it might be ‘good’ – what with such names as Geoffrey Rush, Anthony LaPaglia, and Barbara ‘Lips’ Hershey in it – but never did I expect I’d be watching something that’d make the astronomical parking fee that I likely paid that day worthwhile.
36. Batman Begins (2005)
Wow, I loved this movie – nearly as much as I love “The Dark Knight”. I’d read the script about six months before, so most of the surprises had been spoilt for me, but still, I had a great time. And I dare say if I was writing up a ’20 best superhero films of all time’ list, this’d be in the top 5. It’s Gold.
First things first, forget that the first four â€˜â€™Batmanâ€™â€™ movies ever existed. I know, it’s hard, many people still blame their insomnia on Schwarzenegger’s bothersome ‘Mr Freeze’ from the hour and a half toy commercial that was â€˜â€™Batman and Robinâ€™â€™. We’ve got a clean slate now – it’s out with Prince, it’s out with the middle-aged actor wearing a nippled-rubber suit, it’s out with a Gothic-looking backdrop, and it’s back to pure storyline: Bob Kane style. David Goyer’s script is the most important element here – because it tells a story. The effects, the adventure, the identifiable cast, and iniquitous villains work around that. First and foremost, this is a tale of a manâ€¦ turned Bat. A bewildered, troubled soul – the subject of his own psychological thriller. If you’re looking for merely a big fat cartoon, you’ve come to the wrong movie. The movie’s scriptwriter, Goyer, has basically written a solid, absorbing movie with crooks, conspiracies and psychologically tattered characters and plonked Batman in the midst of it. In other words, this is the most grounded, most realistic Batman movie to date. Gotham looks like a real city (not some purple-coloured gothic township of the 1930’s), the characters – even the villains – are realistic and never over the top, and even the character of the Caped Crusader is much easier to relate to (believe it or not) than he has been in the past. This is no more than a mixed up guy whose actually created a suit, a persona and a set of gadgets from somewhere – not just out of cinematic thin air, as we’ve been led to believe in the previous films. Batman isn’t a superhero with powers, he’s a guy, like you and me, that’s built himself body armour, done up a car for himself and got his hands on some cool toys. That we can swallow, besides the guy running around in a bat bit.
35. Children of Men (2006)
Though labeled by many by yet another â€˜film that wasnâ€™t as good as the bookâ€™ (in this case P.D Jamesâ€™ 1992 novel), Alfonso Cauronâ€™s â€˜â€™Children of Menâ€™â€™ was a bloody good film. A smart science fiction film that kept the audience on the edge of their seat (not to mention, thinking of it days after),the futuristic thriller, set in a world where pregnancy is prohibited, tells the utterly gripping tale of an inadvertent hero (the always-solid Clive Owen) who must find safe transit for a pregnant African “fugee” (refugee). You’ll break a sweat watching the mission take place, I kid you not. I still canâ€™t believe I nearly passed up the opportunity to sit in on the â€œChildren of Menâ€ panel at Comic Con a few years back so I could grab a latte â€“ me and my damn coffee! – but at the same time, the studio didnâ€™t drum up much attention for the film (even at Comic Con) so I likely wasn’t the only one who suspected “Children of Men” would be just another movie.
34. The Dish (2000)
Paris Hilton makes movies more often than they do, but when they do point-and-shoot, you can guarantee Working Dog will always deliver something solid – as was the case with 2000’s “The Dish”. Set in Parkes (NSW), and fixing on the 1969 moon landing as seen through the eyes of the Australianâ€™s whose dish can reach the moon, the film was one of the highlights of 2000. Funny, Touching, Brilliantly performed (Sam Neill gave one of the best performances of his career here, but he was aptly backed by familiar faces like Kevin Harrington, Tom Long and Roy Billing, as well as â€˜importâ€™ Patrick Warburton, then best known as â€˜Puddyâ€™ from â€œSeinfeldâ€) and, most of all, something the whole family can enjoy together, â€œThe Dishâ€ is one our local industry should be quite proud of.
33. Brick (2006)
I remember going to Indonesia a few years back, for the first time, initially unexcited. For the first week or so there, I was rather lost â€“ spending most of my time trying to figure out the place, rather than simply enjoying what was on offer â€“ and wondered what Iâ€™d got myself into. I soon begun to get a sense of the place though, became more comfortable to my surroundings, and eventually, started to settle in. By the time I started enjoying myself, it was time to leave. Most will feel the same way watching newcomer Rian Johnsonâ€™s â€˜â€™Brickâ€™â€™. Youâ€™ll be scratching your head for the first three quarters of the film, but once you start to feel itâ€™s cadence, and just give into itâ€™s maverick ways, youâ€™ll experience the best cinematic vacation one could hope for. But yes, you might still be scratching that head of yours for a couple of minutes on the drive home.Thereâ€™s films you can easily get away with walking ten minutes late into â€“ say, a superhero flick, or something like â€˜â€™Die Hardâ€™â€™ â€“ and thereâ€™s films you can afford to be a good 20 mins or more, later for â€“ like â€˜â€™Top Gunâ€™â€™ or an Adam Sandler comedy. Then thereâ€™s â€˜â€™Brickâ€™â€™, a film that doesnâ€™t really matter what time you walk into it â€“ be it at the very start, the first quarter or dead middle â€“ because nobodyâ€™s, regardless of how long theyâ€™ve been in auditorium, is going to be any the wiser as to what the heck is going on than the tardy. Yep, itâ€™s a mindf**k alright â€“ buy boy, does the headular penetration feel oh so good.â€™â€™Brickâ€™â€™ is your typically convoluted murder mystery, but with the setting flipped from burnt-out private dicks, seasoned kingpinâ€™s and by-the-book seargents, to the schoolyard â€“ where itâ€™s teenagers that are caught up in the central mystery. Thing is, the youngsters act as if â€“ and weâ€™re not talking no â€˜â€™Bugsy Maloneâ€™â€™ bullshit, either â€“ they are seasoned professionals of this harsh-world, especially our long-suffering hero and the mobster-like thugs of the piece, immediately erasing the â€˜ageâ€™ predicament from the scenario. And it works. Never for a moment do you say to yourself, â€˜Oh, sure, that kidâ€™s only like 18 years old. As if!â€ â€“ because itâ€™s played out, and written, so honestly and meticously. Obviously influenced by – not only the classic detective films of the 40s and 50s, but â€“ David Lynchâ€™s eccentrically outstanding whodunit series â€˜â€™Twin Peaksâ€™â€™, â€˜â€™Brickâ€™â€™ is as a cheap-as-chips indy thatâ€™s essentially relying on itâ€™s captivating storyline to hypnotise itâ€™s audience. And it will. From itâ€™s extremely well-written dialogue, exciting set-ups, uniquely drawn characters and tasty pay-off, the words are pure gold. Johnson is clearly a man who knows how to write. (Heâ€™s definitely an actorâ€™s writer too, giving the cast, including Gordon-Levitt, some chunky stuff to chew on).
32. The Notebook
Iâ€™ve got a confession to make â€“ Iâ€™m a big softie. Oh, and Iâ€™ve loved near every (â€˜â€™Nights in Rodantheâ€™â€™ stunk!) film adaptation of Nicholas Sparksâ€™ novels. I thought â€œA Walk to Rememberâ€ was really sweet, and by golly if I didnâ€™t near choke up when [how do I put this without spoiling it for anyone that still hasnâ€™t it?!] she, er, left him. Quite a moment. And what a brave performance by young Shane West. But if â€œA Walk to Rememberâ€ left a few unadmitting guys a little dry in the throat, â€œThe Notebookâ€ probably had them dashing for the loo after for some of that soft tissue to blow their nose with â€“ it was, quite simply, a beautiful, beautiful movie; one that seemed to strike a chord with everyone. I remember walking around the Burbank campus of the Disney studios a couple of years ago and spotted the legendary James Garner, sitting comfortably in a fold-up chair, on some lawn outside one of the studios (where, I believe, he was filming â€œ8 Simple Rulesâ€ at the time). I really wanted to go up to him and shake his hand â€“ not just because heâ€™s because heâ€™s an absolute out-and-out cinematic great, but because heâ€™d given so much of himself to the film version of â€œThe Notebookâ€ â€“ everyone in the film did. And I didnâ€™t. I wanted to respect his privacy (he was obviously on his break), and no doubt he wouldâ€™ve appreciated that, but Iâ€™ll always wonder whether he also wouldnâ€™t have minded hearing how great I thought he was in the film…
31. 25th Hour (2002)
A drastic departure for director Spike Lee, â€˜â€™ 25th Hourâ€™â€™ relies much more heavily on the human spirit and themes of comradeship and slip-up, than the political snitch usually raised in his movies. It’s not so much what happens in this movie, as to the narrative undersiding the actions. But even more, it’s very uncommon to see Spike using an all-white cast, when he’s known for casting largely African-Americans. But geez, has he picked some of the finest white meat to employ. Edward Norton, as Monty, is fantastic. Say what you will about Norton, but he makes even the poorest of movies play better. In this film, he’s really immersed himself into the character, resulting in a performance that’s credible, touching and ultimately memorable. Without Norton’s performance being so rich and real, this movie could not have worked – because one does have to feel for this commoner and his fatal mistake.
And as co-stars you really couldn’t do much better than Hoffman, Pepper, Dawson, Paquin and Cox, all superb in their singular ways. We mightn’t get to know these characters as well as we’d hoped, but it’s a hard task squeezing 30 years of someone’s make up into a film set over 24 hours. All in all though, you know these guys pretty darn well by the time the sun comes up on the life-altering prospect – and feel their hurt and mÃªlÃ©e.
30. Drag Me to Hell (2009)
After riding the cash-cow that is the superhero-movie genre the past few years, â€œDrag Me to Hellâ€ marked Sam Raimiâ€™s return to the world of horror â€“ or rather, the horror/comedy. The filmmaker makes a formidable return to the scare-factory hereâ€¦ serving up a film thatâ€™s calculatedly amusing, but equally as frightening. If thereâ€™s one thing you can say about Sam Raimi, itâ€™s that he knows how to give audiences a good time. Youâ€™ll be both on the edge-of-your-seat, and beside it in fits of laughter â€“ as our heroine encounters all sorts of hilariously ghastly creatures (largely, the repulsive old bat at the centre of the picture) and finds herself embroiled in a rather ridiculous situation. Itâ€™s the perfect balance of lunges and laughs â€“ which, as â€œEvil Deadâ€ fans will attest to, is a Raimi speciality. â€œDrag Me to Hellâ€ is a watertight masterpiece. Itâ€™s truly one of the funnest and most frightening pictures in years; I personally canâ€™t recall having this much fun at the cinema â€“ well not that since the back-row smooch at the â€œDie Hard 2â€ screening.