Katherine's Favorite Films of the Decade, #75-51
75. Munich (2005)
Whatever Spielberg's failings as a director of Big Movies, Munich is a clever subversion of assassin film tropes. Despite Bana's rippling man chest and a pre-Bond Daniel Craig's liquid baby blues, there's actually nothing sexy or glamorous going on here. Just a good old-fashioned moral cause gone terribly, terribly wrong.
74. Mongol (2008)
73. The Class (2008)
A teacher reenacts his experience in an inner-city Parisian classroom, with the courage to be less than a hero, as we have to assume he probably was.
72. Away From Her (2007)
Based on an Alice Munro story, a film about the pain -- and mercy -- of forgetting.
71. United 93 (2006)
No first hour of film has ever given me a bigger pit in my stomach -- so much so, that when the terrorists finally took over, I almost breathed a sigh of relief. It's perfectly shot with Greengrass's signature hand-held cameras, and stars no-name actors who are as ordinary and heroic as I can only imagine the real people were.
70. Knocked Up (2007)
Though I still maintain Alison would've had an abortion, this is nonetheless one of the funniest movies of the decade and surprisingly shrewd about male-female relations. Debbie: "You think just because you don't yell that you're not mean, but this is mean." Plus: Paul Rudd with the chairs in Vegas.
69. Amelie (2001)
She's an adorable French gamine who revels in life's small pleasures and inspires Anthropologie merchandise.
68. About Schmidt (2002)
Jack, not being Jack.
67. Training Day (2001)
Denzel could not be better at being bad. "Oh, you federally fucked now!"
66. Stage Beauty (2004)
In college I took a great class on the politics of Restoration drama and then couldn't believe my good luck a few years later, when this movie came out. Claire Danes and Billy Crudup are women on the stage at a time when gender was at once a much looser and much stricter concept.
65. Match Point (2005)
Scarlett sizzles in London -- that is until she turns on the high-school-drama hysterics, which I'm choosing to ignore. Any aristocratic family blind enough to let JRM into its fold probably deserves what's coming, but that doesn't take anything away from Woody Allen's chilling tale of contemporary crime and punishment.
64. Let the Right One In (2008)
Turns out being a vampire is even worse than being a preteen loner.
63. Two Lovers (2009)
Don't be dissuaded by the melodramatic previews or lame title: this is a well-acted story about mental illness with characters just vulnerable and foolish enough to be real. In this role, Gwyneth reminds me why I've continued to defend her for all these GOOP-laden years.
62. Up (2008)
A life, a loss, an adventure: Pixar really knows how to do it. In the first twenty minutes of this incredibly bittersweet cartoon, tears were filling my 3D glasses -- and then I saw the balloons.
61. Marie Antoinette (2006)
A delightful orgy of fabrics, hair, and 80s New Wave. In this film, history matters less than metaphor, and the metaphor feels just right. Whether she told the peasants to eat cake or not, this teenage queen certainly enjoyed her dessert. Sofia Coppola is the decade's preeminent chronicler of spoiled girls, and she knows they just want to have fun.
60. A Single Man (2009)
If a Gucci ad had a plot, it might go something like this. Tom Ford eroticizes everything on this one day in George Falconer's life. But I liked Colin Firth as George, and liked seeing the world through his eyes.
59. Spirited Away (2001)
Lovely, odd, and beguiling -- an animated film that does just what the title promises. For lost children of all ages.
58. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
The exquisite choreography and doomed love stories of Ang Lee's female-centered martial arts epic blew me away on first viewing, and held up just as well on the second.
57. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007)
Julian Schnabel's celebration of imagination from the most confining state of life. Based on the true story of "locked-in" fashion editor Jean-Do Bauby's incredible effort to write a memoir with his eyes. Pretty French caretakers abound, which must have been good for morale.
56. The Son (2002)
A film of few words about revenge and its alternatives, as experienced by a carpentry instructor in the Dardenne brothers' favorite milieu: working class Belgium.
55. Children of Men (2006)
Like most post-apocalyptic films, Alfonso Cuaron's tale of crumbling civilization is a little too ham-fisted for me to consider it really great, but it's still pretty darn good. Children of Men benefits from some practically revolutionary camerawork and just the right doses of Clive Owen, Michael Caine, and Julianne Moore. The arrival of a baby on film has never been riskier (for the film and characters both) or handled with more narrative skill.
54. Memento (2000)
Christopher Nolan bursts onto the scene with this well-edited puzzle of a picture, based on a short story his brother was writing at the very same time. I might have preferred a more open ending, but I have to admit it holds up on second viewing. Then again, maybe that's only because after ten years I had, like Leonard, forgotten everything...
53. Reprise (2008)
Obviously, I like a film about twentysomething Norwegian friends struggling to come into their own as novelists. Reprise also plays with concepts of truth and fiction, as any self-respecting story about storytelling should.
52. Rachel Getting Married (2008)
Though it lurches into melodrama at times, there's no better site for melodrama than a family preparing for a wedding. With mercifully little exposition, Jonathan Demme takes us right in to the heart of this grief-addled, highly verbal, and thoroughly dysfunctional Connecticut family -- so much so that I felt I was one of them, cringing at the toasts, worrying over the table arrangements, and generally trying to make it through the show without unearthing too much of the past.
51. Where the Wild Things Are (2009)
Spike Jonze's glorious, brooding puppet world is inspired by Maurice Sendak's great children's book and the full range of childhood emotions, from the troubling to the tender. Though it goes on a little too long, so many other elements tip the balance back in its favor: Karen O's urgent soundtrack, Catherine Keener as Max's mom, and James Gandolfini as a wild thing you don't want to cross.