Since everyone with a website and hands is pre-occupied at the moment with making lists, here’s one I made about films that I like. I don’t know if I’ll do a corresponding one for music, because I’m lazy and that sounds difficult. Here’s the list, in chronological order. Why don’t you list YOUR favourites in the comments? That’d be ka-blamo.
O Brother Where Art Thou? (2000)
My favourite Coen Brothers film. I know, I know. It almost got me into bluegrass music, but fell a little short. That aside, the scene towards the end at the Klan rally is insane, Clooney is really funny and I’ve enjoyed many hours of saying “I thought you wuz a tooooad” like Tim Blake-Nelson.
Dancer in the Dark (2000)
Loved it, will never watch it again. The sequence where she sings ‘I’ve Seen It All’ around the train is mesmerizing. It’s the only von Trier film I’ve really enjoyed, and even so, I can’t imagine I’ll ever watch it again. It’s a shame the film is only remembered for Bjork’s Oscar dress.
24 Hour Party People (2001)
Coogan and Winterbottom (they’ll be back later) told the story of Tony Wilson’s life in full, bonkers, technicolour glory. From the introduction, that’s addressed plainly to the viewer, to the closing Revelation, this was enjoyable, often funny, didn’t gloss over Ian Curtis’ suicide too flippantly, and featured some amazing tunes. Also, the scene where the Ryder brothers put rat poison on bread and then dead pigeons fall out of the sky is way funnier than good taste would suggest it should be.
My pal Nick brought this one back from Japan, a year or so before Tarantino got onboard and it made decent money in the States. We watched it on DVD at Kirk and John’s, and it blew my mind. Maybe it’s because I didn’t see Crouching Tiger until long after its hype had died down, and seeing this felt like a little secret. After this one came House of Flying Daggers, which I didn’t like nearly as much. The scene where there are thousands of raining arrows is the only thing I can remember all these years later – I really need to see this again.
City of God (2002)
This one almost cost me a girlfriend. We were watching it at the SLB, and the violence was too much for her, so she said “I’m going home.” Apparently, good boyfriends would get up and walk their partners home in this situation, but I was way too immersed in the film, so I let her go alone. Admittedly, our residence hall was a one minute walk away, but I appreciate the principle that makes me out to be a jerk. But in my defense, how ace is ‘City of God’? The cinematography, the way the colour saturation changes as the movie progresses to indicate the passing of time… it’s tremendous.
28 Days Later (2002)
The first of two London-set zombie films. Here, the zombies appeared to be well-mobilized, though. This one really worked on an emotional level. When Cillian Murphy’s character roams the deserted streets of central London, and then goes to his parents’ house, it’s genuinely affecting and creepy. Plus, ‘am180’ in the supermarket made me all happy.
How did a documentary about some kids manage to be both incredibly suspenseful, and also really really funny? While I naturally had a soft spot for the Indian kids, but my friend Nadia and I mostly just did impressions of the little boy who spoke like a robot. Wiki tells me that kid is now studying for a PhD. I feel very unaccomplished.
Jackass: The Movie (2002)
Yeah, yeah. Turn your noses back down, snobs. I didn’t really have any interest in this, missed it in the cinemas, but was working the night we played it at the SLB. I sat in the back row, so I could see the entire audience – all 380 seats were full – and it was an amazing movie-going experience. It was insanely fun to watch a big roomful of people all turn away, shriek and cover their eyes at the same moment. And later, I have fond memories of going to John and Kirk’s and watching the extra footage on the DVD that was also insane. There’s going to be a 3D Jackass movie soon? Hooray! I mean... probably not.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Will Gondry, Kaufman, Carrey, Winslet, Wood or Ruffallo ever reach these heights again? Also, T-Wilks!
Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Probably my fave of the decade. They just get everything spot-on. When it has to be, it's hilarious, and the last act gets really heavy. I just found out that Shaun's last name is Riley. I live for trivia like that.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
Not my fave book in the series, but definitely the best film. The final act, with the Time-Turner stuff, is majestic, and I’m always happy to see David Thewlis in things.
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004)
Despite the best efforts of everyone who still quotes it to death, ‘Anchorman’ is still the balls. I’m no cine-anthropologist, so I won’t go into how its success opened the door for many other great comedies, but regardless, it probably did. The giant newscasters’ brawl still makes me fall out of chairs, so I usually watch it while sitting on the floor.
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004)
Beginning to end, I just love it. My #1 Wes Anderson film. I am not on drugs.
Kung Fu Hustle (2005)
I saw this one by myself at the Paramount Theatre in Austin for SXSW. Obviously, I wasn’t alone, but everyone else in our group went to see something else, leaving me as Billy No-Mates. Luckily, the film is magical. The opening scene features bad guys getting laid to waste by some stylish vigilantes, culminating in a woman getting SHOTGUN’d. From there, it just gets better and better. Stephen Chow is a pretty bonkers filmmaker, and even his kids’ flick CJ7 had some things to love. But Kung Fu Hustle is his greatest.
I’d heard a lot of good things about Rian Johnson’s film, but didn’t bother to actually seek it out until it was recommended by my Torts professor. I’ve never claimed to be cool. Really gritty, with especially noteworthy dialogue and some really well-defined characters, it is an under-the-radar gem.
Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
Wow, writing paragraphs for each of these films is getting tiresome. So I’ll try and be briefer. Firstly, this film made me even more afraid of amputations than I previously was. The magical creatures are only half the story here – the plot is amazing, and the ending perfect.
Mission Impossible 3 (2006)
Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story (2006)
Coogan and Winterbottom reunited, and it feels so good. An entirely self-aware film that is very very funny and features a brief appearance from the late Tony Wilson.
Dave Chappelle’s Block Party (2006)
The lineup was made in my dreams. One of the most straight-up JOYFUL films of the last few years. My favourite character was the dude in charge of the marching band who was disarmingly proper throughout.
Man On Wire (2007)
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007)
Should’ve been Oscar winner!
The Wrestler (2008)
Should’ve been Oscar winner! Also, I’d like to take this opportunity to bitch about how ‘Big Fan’ STILL has not made it to Central Florida. What the hell, distributors?
Pixar at its finest. If you didn’t get misty-eyed when Wall-E was nursing Eve, and wrapped the Christmas lights around her and held her hand (claw?), then you’re made of granite or some other, more porous rock.
In the Loop (2009)
“No, you're right, I'm being unfair. I should be thanking you for not throwing up. Well done, you're a star. You didn't wet yourself, did you? You're in the right city. You didn't say anything overtly racist. You didn't pull your cock out and start plucking it and shouting "Willy Banjo". No, I'm being really unfair. You'd got so much right, without actually being there in the beginning of one of the most important moments of my career. Thanks, you're a legend.”
Unrelated: ‘The Thick of It’ as greatest TV show of the decade?