Thursday, December 31, 2009

The 101 Greatest Movies Ever | Kinn & Piazza



Critical Consensus, 2000-2008: Draft One

Too many lists at this time of year, I know. Some folks react the way I do to the Oscars - "I thought this was art! We have to make it into a competition?" Yech.

But for me, list-making isn't that sort of thing at all. It's oblation. Taking up the elements, the stones on the beach, "lifting them into our history" one at a time, considering them, "Behold - it is good!", offering them up.

It's in that spirit I offer this list. A compilation of the films that were most celebrated by critics at the end of each of the past nine years. (I'll add 2009 when it comes out of the oven - think of it as dessert! But it's not quite done yet...)

For 2003 to the present, I'm using the Movie City News tabulation of critics' year-end Top Ten lists. For 2000, the list that Alex Fung compiled. I'm afraid the data for 2001 is pretty shaky, my own tabulation of only 11 lists. 2002 is better, incorporating 36 lists. But neither of those compares to the MCN or Fung tallies: for example, the 2008 list compiled the top ten selections of 286 different critics. Perhaps by the time I'm ready to add 2009 to this feast, I can come up with more complete data for 2001-2002, especially the former. (Alex Fung, where are you?...) We'll see.

Though in a way it doesn't matter all that much. If this were a contest, consistent methodology and impeccably fair "scoring" would be essential. But all I'm looking to do is remember some terrific movies, and add a few forgotten titles to my Videomatica queue. In that spirit...

Here they are, sorted by how large a share of mentions each film grabbed in its respective year. In a few instances films showed up two successive years - always non-American films, with peculiar release patterns - so I added their percentages for the two years: those ones I'll asterisk. (I won't bore you with the way I derived the percentages, but if anybody's interested, post a note and I'll fill you in.)

Critics' Top Films, 2000-2008
tentative first draft

1. No Country For Old Men (2007, #1) 10.92%
2. Sideways (2004, #1) 10.55%
3. Lost In Translation (2003, #1) 9.84%
4. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000, #1) 9.49%
5. Brokeback Mountain (2005, #1) 9.33%
6. Lord Of The Rings: Return of the King (2003, #2) 8.94%
7. Wall-E (2008, #1) 8.76%
8. Lord Of The Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (2001, #1) 8.58%
9. Far From Heaven (2002, #1) 8.41%
10. United 93 (2006, #1) 8.22%

11. Mulholland Drive (2001, #2) 8.16%
12. Queen, The (2006, #2) 7.94%
13. Departed, The (2006, #3) 7.76%
14. History of Violence (2005, #2) 7.70%
15. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004, #2) 7.67%
16. Dark Knight (2008, #2) 7.56%
17. Y Tu Mama Tambien (2002, #2) 7.31%
18. Slumdog Millionaire (2008, #3) 7.22%
19. Mystic River (2003, #3) 7.09%
20. Million Dollar Baby (2004, #3) 6.97%

21. American Splendor (2003, #4) 6.75%
22. Talk To Her (2002, #3) 6.70%
23. Adaptation (2002, #4) 6.52%
24. Moulin Rouge (2001, #3) 6.47%
25. There Will Be Blood (2007, #2) 6.43%
26. Milk (2008, #4) 6.35%
27. Capote (2005, #3) 6.34%
28. You Can Count On Me (2000, #2) 6.28%
29. Finding Nemo (2003, #5) 6.22%
30. In The Bedroom (2001, #4) 6.19%

31. Aviator, The (2004, #4) 6.11%
32. About Schmidt (2002, #5) 6.00%
33. Black Hawk Down (2001, #5) 5.63%
34. Royal Tenenbaums (2001, #6) 5.49%
35. Traffic (2000, #3) 5.39%
36. Zodiac (2007, #3) 5.31%
37. Before Sunset (2004, #5) 5.26%
38. Almost Famous (2000, #4) 5.18%
39. Letters From Iwo Jima (2006, #4) 5.11%
40. Pan's Labyrinth (2006, #5) 5.10%

41. The Wrestler (2008, #5) 5.06%
42. The Diving Bell & The Butterfly (2007, #4) 5.04%
43. Incredibles (2004, #6) 4.94%
44. Punch-Drunk Love (2002, #6) 4.94%
45. Spirited Away (2002, #7) 4.56%
46. Lord Of The Rings: Two Towers (2002, #8) 4.54%
47. Once (2007, #5) 4.49%
48. Borat (2006, #6) 4.44%
49. Good Night and Good Luck (2005, #4) 4.28%
50. Juno (2007, #6) 4.26%

51. Squid & The Whale, The (2005, #5) 4.24%
52. Crash (2005, #6) 4.22%
53. King Kong (2005, #7) 4.16%
54. Little Miss Sunshine (2006, #7) 4.12%
55. In America (2003, #6) 4.08%
56. Waking Life (2001, #7) 4.08%
57. 4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days (2007/2008, #12/29) 4.04% *
58. Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008, #6) 4.03%
59. Wonder Boys (2000, #5) 3.97%
60. Dancer In The Dark (2000, #6) 3.94%

61. In The Mood For Love (2000/2001, #29/13) 3.92% *
62. Munich (2005, #8) 3.87%
63. Atonement (2007, #7) 3.81%
64. Shrek (2001, #8) 3.80%
65. Capturing the Friedmans (2003, #7) 3.79%
66. Master and Commander (2003, #8) 3.71%
67. Into The Wild (2007, #8) 3.67%
68. Gangs of New York (2002, #9) 3.63%
69. Yi Yi (A One And A Two...) (2000/2001, # 7/40) 3.63% *
70. Kinsey (2004, #7) 3.48%

71. City Of God (2002/2003, # 46/11) 3.46% *
72. Happy-Go-Lucky (2008, #7) 3.44%
73. Rachel Getting Married (2008, #7) 3.44%
74. Grizzly Man (2005, #9) 3.43%
75. Babel (2006, #8) 3.42%
76. Erin Brockovich (2000, #8) 3.40%
77. Ratatouille (2007, #9) 3.38%
78. Little Children (2006, #9) 3.27%
79. Requiem For A Dream (2000, #9) 3.24%
80. Pianist, The (2002, #10) 3.24%

81. A.I. (2001, #9) 3.23%
82. Man On Wire (2008, #9) 3.23%
83. Frost/Nixon (2008, #10) 3.18%
84. Let The Right One In (2008, #11) 3.16%
85. Away From Her (2007, #10) 3.08%
86. Children Of Men (2006, #10) 3.08%
87. Assassination of Jesse James (2007, #11) 3.00%
88. 21 Grams (2003, #9) 2.98%
89. Ghost World (2001, # 10) 2.95%
90. Kill Bill 1 (2003, #10) 2.94%

91. Sweeney Todd (2007, #13) 2.93%
92. Dreamgirls (2006, #11) 2.93%
93. Half Nelson (2006, #12) 2.93%
94. Hotel Rwanda (2004, #8) 2.93%
95. Chicken Run (2000, #10) 2.91%
96. I'm Not There (2007, #14) 2.91%
97. House Of the Flying Daggers (2004, #9) 2.90%
98. Gladiator (2000, #11) 2.85%
99. Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004, # 10) 2.82%
100. 2046 (2005, #10) 2.82%

*

At Dan's request, the photo credits

The Return of the King
Mulholland Drive
You Can Count On Me
Pan's Labyrinth
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Dancer in the Dark
Into the Wild
Little Children
The Assassination of Jesse James
I'm Not There

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Dec 29: MCN Critic Top Tens (#3)


Third iteration of the critics tally at MCN. Tarantino bumped Pixar out of the #4 slot - boo! An Education leap from #12 to #8 - polite applause. Wild Things slipped from 10 to 12 - boo hiss!! Antichrist joins the top 30, at #28 - are they kidding?

Work continues apace on the compilation of critic year-end lists for the past decade. Four years tabulated, getting rolling on the fifth. No sign yet of Alex Fung...

Oh yes. Sherlock Holmes: video game. Imaginarium: blech.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Movie Week! MCN! End of the Decade! Listomania!


With Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and The Feast Of The Holy Innocents behind us, here beginneth... Movie Week!!! I've seen fewer films this year than any in almost a decade, but a nice clear schedule means a great home stretch!

First order of business... The MCN Critics Scoreboard is up! The annual Movie City News tally of critic Top Ten lists for the year, which will continue being updated well into January. (See the bottom of this post for links to previous editions.) I'm thrilled to see A SERIOUS MAN, UP, WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE, AN EDUCATION and (500) DAYS OF SUMMER in the top thirteen - all favourites of mine this year. Liked INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS as well. Interested to see if THE ROAD will climb now that it's in wide release.

That list in hand, it's time to figure out what's on local screens and freshen up my Videomatica queue. Playing on big screens in Vancouver right now (that I haven't seen) are...
FANTASTIC MR FOX
SHERLOCK HOLMES
AVATAR (Imax)
THE IMAGINARIUM OF DR PARNASSUS
INVICTUS
ME AND ORSON WELLES
UP IN THE AIR
PRECIOUS
A SINGLE MAN
BLIND SIDE
BROKEN EMBRACES
are all playing in town. And if you're using this post to plan your own viewing, here are other films you'll want to consider...
WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE
AN EDUCATION
THE ROAD

...all favourites of mine this year.

As for the home screen, OF TIME AND THE CITY is on top of my DVD player - yes!! Terrence Davies!
Topping the Videomatica queue are...
HURT LOCKER (bombs under Iraq)
DISTRICT 9 (aliens vs South Africa)
SUMMER HOURS
IN THE LOOP
BRIGHT STAR
35 SHOTS OF RUM (Claire Denis)
ANVIL! (the real Spinal Tap)
THE COVE
ADVENTURELAND
TWO LOVERS
BAD LIEUTENANT (Herzog)
topping my Videomatica queue (though Hurt Locker won't come in until Jan 12, Bright Star Jan 19, and Bad Lieutenant (Herzog) Feb 22. No sign of WHITE RIBBON (Haneke! - alas, I missed its theatrical run), CRAZY HEART, MESSENGER, LIVERPOOL or POLICE ADJECTIVE, but I'll keep watching.

And - Big Big Fun! - this being the end of the tenth year of movies since 1999, time to dig in on an end-of-the-movie-decade list! Delicious. I've got an idea for a combined list of all the critic picks of the past ten season, drawing on the Movie City News tabulations back to 2003, and similar tallies pulled together for the preceding years. In the meantime, here are links to those individual lists...

MCN
2008
2007
2006
2005
2004
2003

Ron Reed
2002
2001

Alex Fung
2000

PS Alex Fung actually did critic compilations for 2001 and 2002, but the links are all dead. Lost in the ever-shifting cyber sands of the internet. And those lists are needed. So I'm going to launch a safari in search of Mr Fung, a cinematic list-making pioneer. I know he's out there somewhere. . . .

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Best of 2009: Award Lists


By mid-December, Movie City News has usually begun posting their tallies of critic top ten lists - a pretty good viewing guide to the year-end flurry of tasty flicks. Nothing yet on that front, but to whet the appetite, The Awards Scoreboard. (Each title followed by number of awards received to date. Films currently playing in Vancouver are boldfaced: check cinemaclock for details. Films available on DVD at Videomatica are underlined in blue).


The Awards Scoreboard

Up in the Air | 20
Inglourious Basterds | 17
The Hurt Locker | 16

Precious | 10
Up | 8
The Cove | 7.5
An Education | 6

The Fantastic Mr Fox | 5
Julie & Julia | 5
Summer Hours | 5

Sin Nombre | 4

Crazy Heart | 3

A Serious Man | 2
(500) Days of Summer | 2
Anvil! | 2
Food Inc. | 2
A Single Man | 2
The White Ribbon | 2

Invictus | 1.5

Avatar | 1
Coraline | 1
In The Loop | 1
Of Time and the City | 1
Me and Orson Welles | 1
A Prophet | 1
Seraphine | 1
Where the Wild Things Are | 1
You, The Living | 1

The Beaches of Agnes | .5


I've seen fewer films this year than any of the past six or seven, but looks like the crits and I are on the same page: all of my favourites are there except two foreign language films, Revanche and Lorna's Silence;
Where The Wild Things Are
Up
Julie & Julia
Revanche
A Serious Man
An Education
(500) Days Of Summer
Inglourious Basterds
Lorna's Silence
You, The Living
Coraline


Three other real discoveries this year, all from the middle of last century: The Apartment, The Sweet Smell of Success, and Sunset Boulevard.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Best of the New Century (and Best of the Nineties): TIFF


There's probably already a million such lists out there, and in another month there'll be a billion. But this looks like a pretty good one: the Toronto International Film Festival Cinematheque's poll of film festival and cinematheque professionals. Tempted to make this my Videomatica queue and do some catching up.

Girish rightly describes it as " a heady and wonderful list that militates unashamedly and polemically for film as art..." It's "a poll conducted by TIFF Cinematheque's Senior Programmer James Quandt. An esteemed panel of over sixty film curators, historians, archivists and programmers from festivals, cinematheques and similar organizations around the world participated and were asked to pick the films they thought were the most important of the past decade. The poll's participants are connected by their leadership in the field of historical film curation, with most having published books, essays and polemics on cinema, bringing perspectives that distinguish this poll from other end-of-the-decade polls."

(By the way, I've renumbered the results in a way that makes more sense to me: same order, different numbering. For fun, I'll boldface the ones I've seen.)

POLL FINAL RESULTS
(Score received follows country of origin)

1. Syndromes and a Century (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Thailand) - 53 votes
2. Platform (Jia Zhang-ke, Hong Kong, China/China/Japan/France) - 49 votes
3. Still Life (Jia Zhang-ke, China) - 48 votes
4. Beau travail (Claire Denis, France) - 46 votes
5. In the Mood for Love (Wong Kar-wai, Hong Kong, China) - 43 votes
6. Tropical Malady (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, France/Thailand/Germany/Italy) - 38 votes
7. The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (Cristi Puiu, Romania) - 35 votes
7. Werckmeister Harmonies (Béla Tarr, Hungary) - 35 votes
9. Éloge de l'amour (Jean-Luc Godard, Switzerland/ France) - 34 votes
10. 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days (Cristian Mungiu, Romania) - 33 votes


11. Silent Light (Carlos Reygadas, Mexico/France/Netherlands) - 32 votes
12. Russian Ark (Alexander Sokurov, Russia/Germany) - 31 votes
13. The New World (Terrence Malick, USA) - 30 votes
14. Blissfully Yours (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, France/Thailand) - 29 votes


15. Le Fils (Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne, Belgium/France) - 27 votes
16. Colossal Youth (Pedro Costa, Portugal/France/Switzerland) - 25 votes
17. Les Glaneurs et la glaneuse (Agnès Varda, France) - 24 votes
17. In Vanda's Room (Pedro Costa, Portugal/Germany/Italy/Switzerland) - 24 votes


17. Songs from the Second Floor (Roy Andersson, Sweden/Denmark/Norway) - 24 votes
20. Caché (Michael Haneke, France/Austria/Germany/Italy) - 23 votes
20. A History of Violence (David Cronenberg, USA) - 23 votes
20. Mulholland Drive (David Lynch, France/USA) - 23 votes
20. Three Times (Hou Hsiao-hsien, Taiwan) - 23 votes
24. Rois et reine (Arnaud Desplechin, France) - 21 votes
125. Elephant (Gus Van Sant, USA) - 20 votes
26. Talk to Her (Pedro Almodóvar, Spain) - 19 votes
27. The Wind Will Carry Us (Abbas Kiarostami, Iran/France)- 18 votes
27. YI YI (A One and a Two) (Edward Yang, Taiwan/Japan) - 18 votes


29. Pan's Labyrinth (Guillermo del Toro, Spain) - 17 votes
30. L'Enfant (Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne, Belgium/France) - 16 votes
30. The Heart of the World (Guy Maddin, Canada) - 16 votes
30. I Don't Want to Sleep Alone (Tsai Ming-liang, Taiwan/France/Austria) - 16 votes
33. Star Spangled to Death (Ken Jacobs, USA) - 16 votes
34. The World (Jia Zhang-ke, China/Japan/France) - 14 votes
35. Café Lumière (Hou Hsiao-hsien, Japan) - 13 votes
35. The Headless Woman (Lucrecia Martel, Argentina/Spain/France/Italy) - 13 votes
35. L'Intrus (Claire Denis, France) - 13 votes
38. Millennium Mambo (Hou Hsiao-hsien, Taiwan/France) - 13 votes
38. My Winnipeg (Guy Maddin, Canada) - 13 votes
38. Saraband (Ingmar Bergman, Sweden) - 13 votes
38. Spirited Away (Hiyao Miyazaki, Japan) - 13 votes


38. I'm Not There (Todd Haynes, USA) - 13 votes
43. Gerry (Gus Van Sant, USA) - 12 votes
44. Distant (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Turkey) - 11 votes


44. Dogville (Lars von Trier, Denmark/Sweden/UK/France/Germany) - 11 votes
44. The Royal Tenenbaums (Wes Anderson, USA) - 11 votes
47. Alexandra (Alexander Sokurov, Russia/France) - 9 votes
48. demonlover (Olivier Assayas, France) - 9 votes
49. Atanarjuat, The Fast Runner (Zacharias Kunuk, Canada) - 8 votes
49. Goodbye, Dragon Inn (Tsai Ming-liang, Taiwan) - 8 votes
51. Longing (Valeska Grisebach, Germany) - 7 votes
51. Secret Sunshine (Lee Chang-dong, South Korea) - 7 votes
51. Vai e Vem (João César Monteiro, Portugal) - 7 votes


51. Far From Heaven (Todd Haynes, USA/France) - 7 votes

*

Here's a rundown of the first TIFF poll, of the greatest films of the 1990s...

Dream Of Light (Erice)
And Life Goes On (Kiarostami)
Through The Olive Trees (Kiarostami)
Drifting Clouds (Kaurismaki)
Close-Up (Kiarostami)
Breaking The Waves (von Trier)
Sátántangó (Tarr)
Flowers Of Shanghai (Hou)
Taste Of Cherry (Kiarostami)
Chungking Express (Wong)
Hana-Bi (Kitano)
The Thin Red Line (Malick)
Histoire(s) Du Cinema (Godard)
A Brighter Summer Day (Yang)
A Moment Of Innocence (Makhmalbaf)
Goodfellas (Scorsese)
L’Eau Froide (Assayas)
Mother And Son (Sokurov)
Vive L’Amour (Tsai)
Nouvelle Vague (Godard)
Abraham’s Valley (Oliveira)
Safe (Haynes)
Dead Man (Jarmusch)
The Sweet Hereafter (Egoyan)
Unforgiven (Eastwood)
Exotica (Egoyan)
Sonatine (Kitano)
Maborosi (Kore-eda)
Naked (Leigh)
La Vie De Jésus (Dumont)
Fargo (Coens)
Pulp Fiction (Tarantino)
La Belle Noiseuse (Rivette)
Van Gogh (Pialat)
Three Colours: Red (Kieslowski)
The Last Bolshevik (Marker)
Dear Diary (Moretti)
Crumb (Zwigoff)
The Puppetmaster (Hou)
Goodbye South Goodbye (Hou)
Sicilia! (Straub/Huillet)

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The Godfather: Part III


Frustrating day yesterday, so I took myself out for dinner. Ate some ribs, sat there watching GODFATHER 3 on my laptop. Which I like doing. It's like reading a novel, except there's more to look at. And it seemed right. Annoying day, what's better than eat some ribs, put in the headphones, watch some bad guys whack other bad guys.

You know, when I first watched THE GODFATHER and SON OF GODFATHER or whatever they call it, they didn't do much for me. But I knew I had missed something, so I paid them a second visit years later. I was on a road trip, doing some work out of town, and my friend Tim had told me about watching movies in pieces, which I had always avoided, but he said it was like reading a good book. So I thought, what the heck. So on that trip I re-read/re-viewed G1 and G2. And it was sitting in a restaurant in Azusa California, probably eating ribs, that the Corleone movies really got to me.

So yesterday I figured the day had come to finally risk #3. See if it's as good and as falsely maligned as Roy says. Or if it's as truly awful as everybody else on the planet says. (Okay, one thing Roy and the rest of the planet agree on: Sofia stinks.)


The ribs were good.

The movie, not so much.

But Sophia has really nice hair.


The poor girl gets scape-goated. She's got maybe two really bad scenes, most of the rest are passable. Well, mostly passable.

It's the script that is atrocious. G1 and G2 took a potboiler, melodramatic pulp novel and made art out of them. G3 returns them solidly to melodrama: everything is either shamefully underwritten or grotesquely over-written. Another movie friend, Karen, tells me the film was a victim of a writers strike: that they had to push ahead without proper attention to developing the screenplay. Which would explain much.

It's not Sophia, it's the script. The script doesn't even have good hair.

Another movie buddy, Rory, points out that the scene in the restaurant between Andy Garcia and Sophia is like nails on a blackboard. "Hey Cuz." Yikes.

But I'm saying, okay, but let's start with the writing: "Hey Cuz..." ??!????!!!!!! Tell me a line like that would make it into G1 or G2. Tell me Meryl Streep could have spoken that dialogue and not stunk up the joint.


Her first lousy scene is on a rooftop, alone with Michael. Wooden, wooden, wooden. But until then, I was going, hey, they're scapegoating this girl because she's not a movie star. It took four or five scenes before I could grudgingly admit that Frank's kid couldn't always pull her weight. But I knew right away, the script! Tinny and flat like a bean can on a railway track. (Hey, I shoulda bin a writer...)

And talk about On The Nose. Michael and Kay walk through the streets of some Sicilian town. The conversation turns to The Girl With The Nice Hair marrying her cousin. Then they just happen to walk up to a puppet show where one puppet stabs his daughter puppet with a hatpin because she won't stop dating her cousin. Stab me through the heart with a hatpin, that's who I wish they had stabbed. And the puppet didn't even have nice hair.

And then the opera was just a 3D version of the same puppet show nonsense. Shoot me on the steps of the opera house, that's who I wish they had shot. And I don't have any hair at all.


Still have to puzzle out one thing. The priest gets Michael to say his confession. Michael says, but hey, I didn't think it counted if I don't repent. Priest says, confess anyway. And I'm thinking, Mike, you've got a point there. So what the hell kinda priest is this anyway? Except I'm also thinking, you take what you can get. Maybe this is Standard Priest Practice: the guy feels bad about his sins, he wants to talk, you let him talk. He's not ready to actually repent just yet, but let him talk, maybe he'll get there? So maybe there's some good theology - or at least some good praxis - at the heart of this movie after all?

Which is all Roy was really saying all along anyhow.