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December 31, 2009: "Closing the Decade with Another Top 10" 
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Post Re: December 31, 2009: "Closing the Decade with Another Top 10"
Let me be the first to throw out the customary Ebert comment: he had "Synecdoche, New York" as the best movie of the decade. That surprised me.


Fri Jan 01, 2010 9:21 pm
Post Re: December 31, 2009: "Closing the Decade with Another Top 10"
Very good list James.

Only thing that surprised me was that Minority Report was just an honorable mention.

I thought that would come in higher than Cast Away.

Its SO hard to rate Avatar and Inglorious Basterds in this type of list, isn't it?


Fri Jan 01, 2010 9:55 pm
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Post Re: December 31, 2009: "Closing the Decade with Another Top 10"
I'm not gonna list mine yet because I still have to see some movies and want to rewatch a few as well.

But I can say without a doubt that Almost Famous will be #1. That's because it's not only my favorite movie of the decade, it's my favorite movie of all time.

And I can also say without a doubt that The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (yep, like James I'm lumping them together as one) will definitely be #2.

That's all I can really say for now.


Sat Jan 02, 2010 5:33 am
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Post Re: December 31, 2009: "Closing the Decade with Another Top 10"
KRoss wrote:
Let me be the first to throw out the customary Ebert comment: he had "Synecdoche, New York" as the best movie of the decade. That surprised me.


Seen it three times (once at a festival, once in theatrical release, once on DVD) and, while I have warmed up to it a little, I still think it's vastly overrated in critical circles. I think one reason it's so well liked is that it allows/invites a wide variety of interpretations and can "say" pretty much any individual wants it to say.


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Post Re: December 31, 2009: "Closing the Decade with Another Top 10"
MrGuinness wrote:
Very good list James.

Only thing that surprised me was that Minority Report was just an honorable mention.

I thought that would come in higher than Cast Away.

Its SO hard to rate Avatar and Inglorious Basterds in this type of list, isn't it?


Movies for inclusion in a list like this need time to settle in the mind. AVATAR hasn't had that. In fact, I have only seen it once. (I will be going back for a second sampling in a few weeks.) But to wait until 2012 to release a Top 10 from 2000-2009 would put me a little behind the curve.

For those wondering about why MUNICH slipped onto the HM list, that's part of the reason. These lists are always fluid. The "core" titles may not change, but positioning can.

As for the Top 100, I don't remove films from it once I have placed them. For that reason, it will be at least 7-8 months before AVATAR and/or IB are considered for inclusion.

I sometimes think other people take my lists more seriously than I do. (Although I spent A LOT of time in developing the original Top 100.)


Sat Jan 02, 2010 12:05 pm
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Post Re: December 31, 2009: "Closing the Decade with Another Top 10"
James Berardinelli wrote:
I sometimes think other people take my lists more seriously than I do.


Well yeah. You think of them as a perfunctory aspect of your job, whereas we think of them as a window into your opinions, likes/dislikes, soul, etc. Besides, you see more movies/know more about them than the overwhelming majority of us, so your rankings naturally carry some weight, no?

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Sat Jan 02, 2010 12:18 pm
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Post Re: December 31, 2009: "Closing the Decade with Another Top 10"
MY Top 10 Films of Decade

1. Lord Of The Rings (all 3)
2. City of God
3. The Dark Knight
4. Traffic
5. United 93
6. The Departed
7. Munich
8. Million Dollar Baby
9. Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind
10. The Bourne Ultimatum.


Sat Jan 02, 2010 4:12 pm
Post Re: December 31, 2009: "Closing the Decade with Another Top 10"
1. Great list. I especially enjoyed the inclusion of 'In The Bedroom', which is an excellent statement of how substantial your four-star ratings are, even when divorced from the initial review by nearly ten years. I also agree that list should not be shackled by logic but desire. However, a Top 100 revisions seems almost necessary in retrospect.

2. I hate your #2 choice. Hate it hate it hate it. That being said, your reasons for praising Aronofsky's film are excellent (as is typical for you), and if I agreed with you all of the time we'd be the same person. And that would make things.. weird.

3. What can I say? Even proponents of 'Munich' provide wavering support. It is not only guaranteed to be forgotten in less than a decade, but I'd go so far as to describe the film's placement in Spielberg's filmography as hovering above 'Empire Of The Sun' and situated right below 'Amistad' for dramatic success.

4. Pan's Labyrinth found it's rightful spot on your decade-ending list; oblivion. City Of God, however, is our biggest disagreement this decade. You think it's merely excellent, and I think it's a brilliant piece of cinematic art which nearly outdoes 'Goodfellas' in its epic scope.

5. Glad to see your love for '21 Grams' has not wavered. Neither has mine (although 'Mystic River' is still much better).

6. To be honest, I have no problem with 'Avatar' on your list, although I'm relatively certain it wouldn't be there if you posted this in six months.


Sat Jan 02, 2010 8:45 pm
Post Re: December 31, 2009: "Closing the Decade with Another Top 10"
Evenflow8112 wrote:
1. Great list. I especially enjoyed the inclusion of 'In The Bedroom', which is an excellent statement of how substantial your four-star ratings are, even when divorced from the initial review by nearly ten years. I also agree that list should not be shackled by logic but desire. However, a Top 100 revisions seems almost necessary in retrospect.

2. I hate your #2 choice. Hate it hate it hate it. That being said, your reasons for praising Aronofsky's film are excellent (as is typical for you), and if I agreed with you all of the time we'd be the same person. And that would make things.. weird.

3. What can I say? Even proponents of 'Munich' provide wavering support. It is not only guaranteed to be forgotten in less than a decade, but I'd go so far as to describe the film's placement in Spielberg's filmography as hovering above 'Empire Of The Sun' and situated right below 'Amistad' for dramatic success.

4. Pan's Labyrinth found it's rightful spot on your decade-ending list; oblivion. City Of God, however, is our biggest disagreement this decade. You think it's merely excellent, and I think it's a brilliant piece of cinematic art which nearly outdoes 'Goodfellas' in its epic scope.

5. Glad to see your love for '21 Grams' has not wavered. Neither has mine (although 'Mystic River' is still much better).

6. To be honest, I have no problem with 'Avatar' on your list, although I'm relatively certain it wouldn't be there if you posted this in six months.


I actually pretty much agree with everything you said here, except for Mystic River.

For me, Mystic River is one of the more infuriating movies of the decade: if it ends with Sean Penn walking away on the street, arms spread, then I think it goes down as a true masterwork. However, the epilogue just doesn't work. On the page it made quite a bit of sense, but on screen it falls flat and awkward -- Linney's Lady Macbeth comes across forced and the meaning of the final "finger-gunshot" just doesn't make sense to the majority of viewers -- nor should it.

If memory serves, James had similar reservations about the ending (as did many at the time of its release). I still think the top 6 performers are fantastic, that the Oscars it won were warranted, and that it's Eastwood's most evocative score. But it just doesn't come together for me, and must stay on the high end of a 3-star rating, nowhere near my top 10 for the decade.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on the ending.


Sat Jan 02, 2010 10:31 pm
Post Re: December 31, 2009: "Closing the Decade with Another Top 10"
I agreed with James that the film had a superfluous ending; I disagreed that this lapse made the film less successful than "The House Of Sand And Fog", since the first half hour of "Mystic River" alone has more emotional substance than the entirety of Perelman's film. James said Eastwood's picture 'suffered more' because it was a character-based film over it's 'trick ending', but then didn't "The House Of Sand And Fog" basically create two characters solely to represent opposing sides of the socio-economic spectrum and play dramatic Pong with them? I'd say a weak ending to an otherwise sensational and emotionally honest motion picture is still superior to a maudlin soap opera with a turgid Jack Horner score, a lifeless Ron Eldard, and delusions of grandeur in the form of 'social relevance'.

This post was made less from a desire to discredit James' review than to assault what I found to be one of the most pretentious films of this decade, but nevertheless I'm shocked that this film resonated with a reviewer who usually values character development over sensationalism and broad characterizations. His praise of "Lost In Translation" (which might actually be the best film of the decade in terms of unforced effectiveness) is testament to this preference.


Sat Jan 02, 2010 10:57 pm
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Post Re: December 31, 2009: "Closing the Decade with Another Top 10"
Yeah House of Sand and Fog was overrated. I actually think Ron Eldard pretty much demolished it on his own. His character was so forced and his acting so unimpressive that he singlehandedly killed the film. But Evenflow, Pan's Labyrinth is never heading for oblivion, and since JB gave it three and a half stars I don't think he views it with the scorn you seem to.

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Sat Jan 02, 2010 11:15 pm
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Post Re: December 31, 2009: "Closing the Decade with Another Top 10"
I despise Top 10 Lists (although this may be because I can never decide on what I want to include), especially Top 10s for a decade. It's too easy to overlook something or completely draw a blank on it, and more recent films that are fresh in the mind tend to be hard to fairly place. Although most of this has been pointed out already, whatever.

As for the list itself these are my thoughts:

If we are ever to meet James I would happily buy you a beer and give you a hetero man-hug for not including Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Thank you.

I'd definitely switch out Cast Away for Minority Report, which is probably one Spielberg's most criminally underrated works (right up there with Munich).

Glad to see Memento, and surprised it made it that high on the list. Can't say I'm as happy with Requiem for a Dream's placement, Top 10 of the decade I can see, but #2, really? I mean really, really?

If I had picked one film from 2009 to be on this list, it would have been Up in the Air as opposed to Avatar or Inglourious Basterds. I think looking back in a few years that Up in the Air will be seen as much more important and significant, almost like a snapshot of how the world is now in 09. In the words of A.O. Scott, it definitely feels like it's "a classic in the making".

Not shocked at all by Lord of the Rings at the top, anyone halfway familiar with your reviews and tastes would have seen that one coming from a mile away. Your support for Rings has always been unwavering.

Yeah that's about it.


Sat Jan 02, 2010 11:29 pm
Post Re: December 31, 2009: "Closing the Decade with Another Top 10"
JamesKunz wrote:
Yeah House of Sand and Fog was overrated. I actually think Ron Eldard pretty much demolished it on his own. His character was so forced and his acting so unimpressive that he singlehandedly killed the film. But Evenflow, Pan's Labyrinth is never heading for oblivion, and since JB gave it three and a half stars I don't think he views it with the scorn you seem to.


I'm pretty sure Horner's portentous assault of a soundtrack helped assassinate any hope of emotional resonance. The film is a case of a decent drama with the forced pedigree of an elite picture; the elements of the film do not warrant the grand pretensions of it's creator, no matter how tragic the ending is contrived to be.

Pan's Labyrinth is a great example of a very good film that has had the misfortune of people praising it disproportionately. James' review hit the mark perfectly; he praised the film but was never palpably enthusiastic. Alot of critics from this decade have tripped over themselves to acclaim Del Toro's film, and while it is very good, it was neither the best film of the decade nor has it any right to the descriptor of 'masterpiece'. "United 93" and "The Departed" were two 2006 pictures of greater substance, and James treated them as such. I don't have scorn for the product in question, but on the other hand the people who laud it are overrating it.


Sat Jan 02, 2010 11:58 pm
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Post Re: December 31, 2009: "Closing the Decade with Another Top 10"
Hmm. It seems I'm the only one who thinks LOTR is a bit overrated. Oh well. I liked your list otherwise though.

When LOTR came out, I know I loved those movies, and when the final one came out, it was sad because that was the end of the trilogy. But today, it is hard to look back with the same love. It is a mammoth of a trilogy, and it redefined many aspects of film making for the decade, but was it best? I don't know. I find it hard to agree.


Sun Jan 03, 2010 12:49 am
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Post Re: December 31, 2009: "Closing the Decade with Another Top 10"
darthyoshi wrote:
Hmm. It seems I'm the only one who thinks LOTR is a bit overrated. Oh well. I liked your list otherwise though.

When LOTR came out, I know I loved those movies, and when the final one came out, it was sad because that was the end of the trilogy. But today, it is hard to look back with the same love. It is a mammoth of a trilogy, and it redefined many aspects of film making for the decade, but was it best? I don't know. I find it hard to agree.
Oh believe me you're not that the only, I NEVER liked the LOTR films no matter how many times I saw thme, I only saw them so often because my mom and sister both LOVE them, but I personally don't see what's so great about them and I don't feel like getting a discussion about it, it's mostly because, I just don't care for Fantasy films in general(the Harry Potter series being the exception)they usually don't provoke more thne a stiffling yawn from me. I can't i agree with ANY of James choices really(though I am REALLY glad Titanic didn't make the list, or I would've burst a blood vessel! :evil: )


Sun Jan 03, 2010 2:31 am
Post Re: December 31, 2009: "Closing the Decade with Another Top 10"
Yeah, if James put a film from 1997 on his top ten for the 00's I think it would be time to send Mr. Berardinelli to the hospital for a... short stay.


Sun Jan 03, 2010 2:45 am
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Post Re: December 31, 2009: "Closing the Decade with Another Top 10"
Evenflow8112 wrote:
Yeah, if James put a film from 1997 on his top ten for the 00's I think it would be time to send Mr. Berardinelli to the hospital for a... short stay.


Good call. For me LOTR feels like a once and never again experience.


Sun Jan 03, 2010 2:53 am
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Post Re: December 31, 2009: "Closing the Decade with Another Top 10"
Vexer wrote:
slksc wrote:
Great list. I have little argument with it. Although I wouldn't have included Avatar, I understand why JB likes it even if I don't agree. I was particularly happy to see Memento and Requiem for a Dream listed. Both movies seem to have been missed in many other decade lists (especailly Requiem).

I may be the only person on the face of the earth to feel this way, but I absolutely hated Lost in Translation. Maybe I expected too much, maybe I just didn't get it, but I've rarely seen a movie more pointless. On my list, it would be replaced with There will be Blood.
Oh believe me, i'm not at all fond of Lost In Translation either, I don't hate it, but It certianly did absolutely NOTHING for me, i'm sure pretty much EVERYONE on here will say I should rewatch it so I can "understand" I think that's a load of crap IMO, as I don't think films should require more then one viewing to fully "understand"


I hear you both. "Lost In Translation" is a one and done film for me. I had no idea what he whispered to her and really don't care. Lots of lonelylookingScarlettshotslookingoutthepenthousewindow, too.

Anyway, my list is:

1. Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon
2. City of God
3. 4 Months, 3 Weeks, Two Days
4. No Country for Old Men
5. Passion Of The Christ
6. Whale Rider
7. Memento
8. Casino Rpyale
9. Downfall
10. Finding Nemo


Sun Jan 03, 2010 4:13 am
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Post Re: December 31, 2009: "Closing the Decade with Another Top 10"
darthyoshi wrote:
Hmm. It seems I'm the only one who thinks LOTR is a bit overrated. Oh well. I liked your list otherwise though.

When LOTR came out, I know I loved those movies, and when the final one came out, it was sad because that was the end of the trilogy. But today, it is hard to look back with the same love. It is a mammoth of a trilogy, and it redefined many aspects of film making for the decade, but was it best? I don't know. I find it hard to agree.


Did you ever read the books? Cause if you didn't, then you can't fully grasp the stunning achievement Peter Jackson captured.


Sun Jan 03, 2010 10:48 am
Post Re: December 31, 2009: "Closing the Decade with Another Top 10"
DylnFan96818 wrote:
5. Passion Of The Christ


What a bad movie this was. I know this could become an endless, absurd argument, but I was so annoyed for having taken the time to see this. If they had shown some Caligula-type sex in it, maybe it woulda been the best torture porn movie of all time, but as a quality movie? I'll give the make-up guy props, but thats about it. And feeling the power of the almighty through celluloid is so self-righteous.

And did you actually say Casino Royale too? I mean it was a very entertaining movie, but as a top 10 movie of the decade?


Sun Jan 03, 2010 10:54 am
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