Tuesday, November 26, 2013

2014 Golden Globes Preview and Predictions

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association loves star power, foreign actors, new TV shows, and musicals. Check out how that is reflected in my yearly Golden Globe predictions. Nominations are announced December 12th, and the ceremony is on January 12th. I am nowhere near as good at this as the Oscars, which is why I sort of mock the awards with my “HFPA Dream Lineup” prediction every year, but it makes for fun conversation and something to pay attention to in preparation for the real awards show.
1. Anna Gunn – Breaking Bad
2. Kathy Bates – American Horror Story: Coven
3. Sofia Vergara – Modern Family
4. Kate Mara – House of Cards
5. Holly Hunter – Top of the Lake

1. Jon Voight – Ray Donovan
2. Mandy Patinkin – Homeland
3. Peter Dinklage – Game of Thrones
4. Aaron Paul – Breaking Bad
5. Corey Stoll – House of Cards

1. Elisabeth Moss – Top of the Lake
2. Jessica Lange – American Horror Story: Coven
3. Helen Mirren – Phil Spector
4. Laura Linney – The Big C Hereafter
5. Carrie Underwood – The Sound of Music

1. Michael Douglas – Behind the Candelabra
2. Al Pacino – Phil Spector
3. Matt Damon – Behind the Candelabra
4. Larry David – Clear History
5. Christopher Plummer – Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight

1. Behind the Candelabra
2. Phil Spector
3. American Horror Story: Coven
4. Top of the Lake
5. The Bible

1. Lena Dunham – Girls
2. Julia Louis-Dreyfus – Veep
3. Amy Poehler – Parks and Recreation
4. Zooey Deschanel – New Girl
5. Mindy Kaling – The Mindy Project

1. Michael J. Fox – The Michael J. Fox Show
2. Jim Parsons – The Big Bang Theory
3. Robin Williams – The Crazy Ones
4. Andy Samberg – Brooklyn Nine-Nine
5. Jason Bateman – Arrested Development

1. Girls
2. Modern Family
3. The Michael J. Fox Show
4. Arrested Development
5. The Big Bang Theory

1. Claire Danes – Homeland
2. Kerry Washington – Scandal
3. Vera Farmiga – Bates Motel
4. Robin Wright – House of Cards
5. Taylor Schilling – Orange is the New Black

1. Kevin Spacey – House of Cards
2. Bryan Cranston – Breaking Bad
3. Jeff Daniels – The Newsroom
4. Damian Lewis – Homeland
5. Liev Schreiber – Ray Donovan

1. House of Cards
2. Breaking Bad
3. Homeland
4. Game of Thrones
5. The Newsroom

1. Frozen
2. The Wind Rises
3. Monsters University
4. Despicable Me 2
5. Epic
Explanation: Animation at the Golden Globes is a bit different than the Oscars. They like the blockbusters, so the smaller or foreign animated films do not stand as much of a chance.

1. The Hunt
2. Blue Is the Warmest Color
3. The Grandmaster
4. The Past
5. Wadjda
Explanation: Normally, if there is an American movie in another language, such as Letters from Iwo Jima or In the Land of Milk and Honey then those films will at least be nominated. Here, I went with the most known and widely released of the foreign films of 2013.

1. “So You Know What It’s Like” – Short Term 12
2. “Young and Beautiful” – The Great Gatsby
3. “Let It Go” – Frozen
4. “Go Where the Love Is” – The Way, Way Back
5. “Best Song Ever” – The Is Us
Explanation: This is where the Golden Globes can get pretty shameless with their star invites. Here, they would invite the likes of Demi Lovato and One Direction. Sounds like a win for the HFPA.

1. Steven Price – Gravity
2. Arcade Fire – Her
3. Thomas Newman – Saving Mr. Banks
4. Hans Zimmer – 12 Years a Slave
5. Steve Jablonsky – Lone Survivor
Explanation: The original scores at the Golden Globes are certainly more random than the other awards. They always nominate a film that gets no other recognition. That film could be Lone Survivor. They will also jump at the opportunity to invite Grammy-winning band Arcade Fire to the mix.

1. Woody Allen – Blue Jasmine­
2. John Ridley – 12 Years a Slave
3. Eric Singer – American Hustle
4. Terence Winter – The Wolf of Wall Street
5. Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke, July Delpy – Before Midnight
Explanation: I hate predicting this category, but I love the idea of it. A screenplay is a screenplay. I don’t care if it is an original thought, an expansion of a short film, based on a play, or whatever. The HFPA loves Woody Allen. They also love Boardwalk Empire, so this will give them a chance at inviting Terence Winter during a weaker period in his show. The others seem like the preordained nominees and near-locks. I can see the Coens sneaking in there too.

1. Martin Scorsese – The Wolf of Wall Street
2. Alfonso Cuaron – Gravity
3. Steve McQueen – 12 Years a Slave
4. David O. Russell – American Hustle
5. Woody Allen – Blue Jasmine
Explanation: Scorsese has won four Golden Globes, the last being for Hugo a couple years ago. He could add another trophy to his collection. Woody Allen films, especially his dramas, are beloved by the HFPA. The others are the obvious contenders. This seems like a category that John Wells could show up in for August: Osage County, since they really like the talkative movies, especially based on plays. Keep an eye on him. The Globes is where that film could shine.
The HFPA Dream Lineup:
Nat Faxon, Jim Rash – The Way, Way Back
Ron Howard – Rush
Peter Jackson – The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Martin Scorsese – The Wolf of Wall Street
Ben Stiller – The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

1. Oprah Winfrey – Lee Daniels’ The Butler
2. Julia Roberts – August: Osage County
3. Jennifer Lawrence – American Hustle
4. Lupita Nyongo – 12 Years a Slave
5. Sally Hawkins – Blue Jasmine
Explanation: This seems like a fairly easy category to predict. Oprah would bring an audience bigger than anyone could imagine. Roberts was even nominated for doing nothing in Charlie Wilson’s War. Jennifer Lawrence…clearly. The other two are just great roles that will get in. Hawkins seems like a future regular at the Globes.
The HFPA Dream Lineup:
Scarlett Johansson – Don Jon or Her
Jennifer Lawrence – American Hustle
Reese Witherspoon – Mud
Julia Roberts – August: Osage County
Oprah Winfrey – Lee Daniels’ The Butler

1. James Gandolfini – Enough Said
2. Tom Hanks – Saving Mr. Banks
3. Jonah Hill – The Wolf of Wall Street
4. Michael Fassbender – 12 Years a Slave
5. Harrison Ford – 42
Explanation: Harrison Ford would be the Michael Douglas in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps-type nomination, reigniting a dormant career. Gandolfini’s death will only heighten his chances to get one last award from the organization that worshipped him and his show The Sopranos. Hanks is always here. I love this category. Watch out for comedy supporting guys. The Globes nominate the best performances, regardless of whether they make them cry or not.
The HFPA Dream Lineup:
George Clooney – Gravity
Bradley Cooper – American Hustle
James Franco – Spring Breakers
Mel Gibson – Machete Kills
Tom Hanks – Saving Mr. Banks

1. Meryl Streep – August: Osage County
2. Sandra Bullock – The Heat
3. Emma Watson – The Bling Ring
4. Melissa McCarthy – The Heat
5. Greta Gerwig – Frances Ha
Explanation: Meryl Streep made a movie, so she is in. The Heat seems like the typical trash that the Globes will flip over. Watson and Gerwig are the ones that actually deserve the votes. There are quite a few contenders for this category. This could be one of the random categories that get six nominees.
The HFPA Dream Lineup:
Jennifer Aniston – We’re the Millers
Sandra Bullock – The Heat
Julia Louise-Dreyfus – Enough Said
Helen Mirren – Red 2
Meryl Streep – August: Osage County

1. Ben Stiller – The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
2. Leonardo DiCaprio – The Wolf of Wall Street
3. Oscar Isaac – Inside Llewyn Davis
4. Joseph Gordon-Levitt – Don Jon
5. Joaquin Phoenix – Her
Explanation: These all seem like locks, unless there is some category change like Hanks for Saving Mr. Banks or if The Wolf of Wall Street goes drama. It is still strange to think that it has been campaigning as a comedy. Perhaps someone like Bruce Dern could sneak in, but Nebraska does not seem like a GG-type movie.
The HFPA Dream Lineup:
Johnny Depp – The Lone Ranger
Robert De Niro – Last Vegas
Leonardo DiCaprio – The Wolf of Wall Street
Michael Douglas – Last Vegas
James Franco – Oz the Great and Powerful

1. Inside Llewyn Davis
2. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
3. The Wolf of Wall Street
4. Her
5. Black Nativity
Explanation: The Globes love their musicals, no matter if they are good or not. Here, they can express that love by nominating a couple. Her is a bit of a strange inclusion here, but there is a bit of randomness at the Globes sometimes. Inside Llewyn Davis seems like a clear frontrunner, but if Walter Mitty or Wall Street kill the box office, look for one of them to take the trophy.
The HFPA Dream Lineup: The Heat
Last Vegas
Red 2
This Is the End
The Wolf of Wall Street

1. Sandra Bullock – Gravity
2. Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine
3. Emma Thompson – Saving Mr. Banks
4. Amy Adams – American Hustle
5. Judi Dench – Philomena
Explanation: Bullock won for her last nomination, which was also a double nom, and Gravity’s box office seems like all she will need to get another. Blanchett is her biggest threat. The other three are just normal nominees that will not take home the trophy. I am still not even sure if Adams is leading or not. I can see Kate Winslet maybe making it into the lineup, or one of the foreign actresses from Blue is the Warmest Color. Maybe Berenice Bejo has a shot. I am confident in these five, though.
The HFPA Dream Lineup:
Sandra Bullock – Gravity
Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine
Nicole Kidman – Stoker
Jennifer Lawrence – The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Kate Winslet – Labor Day

1. Matthew McConaughey – Dallas Buyers Club
2. Chiwetel Ejiofor – 12 Years a Slave
3. Robert Redford – All Is Lost
4. Tom Hanks – Captain Phillips
5. Hugh Jackman – Prisoners
Explanation: This is going to be the most interesting nomination announcement of the group. It seems like McConaughey would be a lock, but I thought the same thing about him in Magic Mike. Ejiofor will get nominated. The rest are less certain. How much did they like Captain Phillips? Greengrass has not had a great track record with the Globes. I like the randomness of Jackman getting in. I am just not sure here. There is so much star power.
The HFPA Dream Lineup:
Christian Bale – American Hustle
Tom Cruise – Oblivion
Leonardo DiCaprio – The Great Gatsby
Ryan Gosling – The Place Beyond the Pines
Tom Hanks – Captain Phillips
Chris Hemsworth – Rush

1. 12 Years a Slave
2. American Hustle
3. Lee Daniels’ The Butler
4. Gravity
5. Blue Jasmine
Explanation: The Butler seems like the weird one in the group, but Weinstein got the movie to blow up the box office, so its chances are great to secure a nom. Blue Jasmine is the stuff the HFPA dreams of. It could perform here as well as Allen’s Match Point. The rest of these are likely good box office films that are going to get mentioned no matter which show it is. They will be the frontrunners at the beginning of awards season.
The HFPA Dream Lineup: 
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Lee Daniels’ The Butler
Saving Mr. Banks

There they are. What do you like most about the Globes? Any TV stuff I overlooked? What are your predictions for this year’s awards? Let me know below.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Week 13 College Football Recap: Rankings, Heisman, BCS Projections

After another week hiatus (and attending a horribly frustrating self-inflicted Nebraska loss to Michigan State), I return with my Week 13 Recap. The top two offenses in the nation get smashed on the road. A couple teams put up 80 on weak opponents. Florida is going to finish the year with four wins after an amazing loss to Georgia Southern, who didn’t even complete a pass. I love college football. Check out the fallout below and the carnage that happened to the BCS and Heisman projections…

Top 25 Poll
Others receiving votes: East Carolina, Minnesota, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Texas
Dropped from the rankings: Minnesota (21)

25 (NR). Washington (7-4) – This is not just because the team put up 69 points at the one place in the Pac-12 that weird stuff happens, but their only losses are to top 20 teams, only one of which got out of hand. They are still among the most talented teams in the nation and could put on quite a show in the closing weeks of the year.
24 (25). Oklahoma (9-2) – The Sooners are still hanging onto a top 25 ranking. There is not really anything that the team is great at. They are just Oklahoma and get their wins. Their two losses were both blowouts, though.
23 (23). USC (8-3) – This USC team is confusing. If Pat Haden and company have not seen enough from Orgeron to know that he should coach the Trojans next year, then he should be fired.
22 (22). Duke (9-2) – It just feels weird to have Duke on this list two weeks in a row and not have it be a joke. Who is feeling better going into the Duke-UNC game next week? The 9-2 team or the team that scored 80 points in the game’s first 45 minutes?
21 (14). Texas A&M (8-3) – It appears that Johnny Football’s kryptonite is LSU’s defense. They just cannot win the big games in conference. They can upset teams and blow out teams, but when they need a win, pressure gets to them.
20 (12). UCLA (8-3) – Jim Mora suffered his first loss at home as head coach of the Bruins. It was an ugly one too, with a third consecutive Pac-12 South title on the line.
19 (24). LSU (8-3) – The Tigers are still holding strong and are clearly the best 3-loss team out there. They have the wins to make them a top 10 team, but that loss to Mississippi still confuses me.
18 (17). South Carolina (9-2) – This team just somehow keeps slugging along. You look at the record and the conference, and you think they are a stout team. They are not. Their league is weak, and they are…sort of average. I do not understand the Cocks.
17 (18). Northern Illinois (11-0) – This is one of the toughest cases in the nation. Jordan Lynch looks like he could beat anyone, but we saw last year in the BCS that they actually cannot. They are unbeaten, though. Let’s just hope that the BCS doesn’t take both the Huskies and Fresno State and pit them against each other a la 2010 Fiesta Bowl.
16 (16). Louisville (10-1) – The Cardinals seems to have the exact same format to every game they play. They are probably a lot better than this ranking, but we just do not have the evidence to prove that. I wish they were in the ACC this year.
15 (15). UCF (9-1) – After a near disaster and minor miracle against Temple, UCF got back to what they are best at. I would be surprised if they lose again this year.
14 (19). Michigan State (10-1) – The Spartans have taken care of business in every game this year, except against Notre Dame. That and Oklahoma State’s loss in Morgantown are two of the most confusing losses in recent memory.
13 (20). Arizona State (9-2) – The Sun Devils are hot, and I would not at all be shocked to see them take out Stanford in the Pac-12 Title Game.
12 (13). Fresno State (10-0) – You gotta love Fresno State and Derek Carr. They are just pure offense. I want to see them take on the big boys in a BCS game.
11 (5). Oregon (9-2) – I guess motivation is everything with Oregon. “We want Bama.” “Rose Bowl, Fiesta Bowl…been there, done that.” The Duck players are idiots. Have fun in the Sun Bowl.
10 (11). Stanford (9-2) – After that loss to USC, Stanford puts up 63 points in the Big Game against one of the worst defenses in college football history. Nice.
9 (10). Wisconsin (9-2) – This is appearing to be one of the toughest teams out there. The wins against run-based and physical BYU and Minnesota are as impressive as anything they have done this year.
8 (3). Baylor (9-1) – I do not think anyone saw that coming. Oklahoma State is talented and definitely good enough to win the conference, but completely shutting them down like that is shocking. There were injuries that played a part, no doubt. But that was a complete shellacking.
7 (9). Missouri (10-1) – This is exactly the type of team that Alabama does not want to see in the SEC Championship Game. I think they are better with Maty Mauk in there too. They might want to think about making him the permanent starter, but no way will they do that with their Senior Day coming up against the Aggies.
http://img.bleacherreport.net/img/images/photos/002/627/441/hi-res-451625049-clint-chelf-of-the-oklahoma-state-cowboys-reacts-in-the_crop_north.jpg?w=650&h=440&q=756 (8). Auburn (10-1) – It is amazing how much a miracle last second touchdown can change the outlook of a season. They are playing for perhaps a BCS Championship Game berth next week against the Crimson Tide.
5 (7). Clemson (10-1) – This team was riding a similar wave last year into the Palmetto Bowl, and they disappointed. I cannot see that happening again.
4 (6). Oklahoma State (10-1) – The Cowboys are one of the most balanced and scary offenses out there. Beating Baylor the way they did is one of the two or three most impressive wins of the year in all of college football. The Big 12 just cannot get an unbeaten team…Oklahoma State losing in Ames, K-State losing at Baylor, and now Baylor losing in Stillwater. I loved that conference…
3 (4). Ohio State (11-0) – Urban Meyer is in such a frustrating spot right now. Can one of the premiere college football programs out there have back-to-back undefeated seasons and not even get a chance at a national title? Yeah, the BCS will be missed…sure…
2 (2). Alabama (11-0) – The Iron Bowl is going to be quite a show. I can’t wait to see that scene.
1 (1). Florida State (11-0) – As long as Winston stays eligible, this team will not lose again. They just need to stay focused against a horrible Florida team and presumably Duke, and they will get their shot at Bama.

Top 5 Games for Next Weekend
5. Minnesota at Michigan State (#14), 9:00AM BTN – This will be a physical and ugly game in probably terrible conditions. Can Sparty avoid looking ahead to Ohio State? PREDICTION: Michigan State 20-13
4. Notre Dame at Stanford (#10), 4:00PM FOX – Notre Dame has beaten Michigan State and Arizona State this year, so they are more than capable of pulling an upset. Stanford has to have a bit of revenge on its mind after the overtime controversial loss last season. This could be a classic. PREDICTION: Stanford 31-28
http://4warnwxteam.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/ironbowl1.jpg3. UCLA (#20) at USC (#23), 5:00PM ABC – The Battle for LA may not have any real implications as far as the conference goes, but this will not be the beatdown that it was a season ago. Both teams are playing at or near their best at this point in time, making for a highly entertaining matchup. PREDICTION: USC 41-35
2. Clemson (#5) at South Carolina (#18), 4:00PM ESPN2 – South Carolina prevailed last season, but Clemson still only has that one loss. I bet they want this game even more than whatever BCS game they end up in. PREDICTION: Clemson21-10
1. Alabama (#2) at Auburn (#6), 12:30PM CBS – If you do not want to watch this, then you obviously are not a college football fan. This is going to be one of the most interesting games of the season. There is always something strange that happens in this game. Last year was an absolute raping, but that will not happen to this Auburn team. There is something a little quirky about them. I think they got a shot. PREDICTION: Alabama 24-16

Heisman Trophy Watch
5. AJ McCarron, QB, Alabama – He is one of the most successful QBs in recent memory. If there is an award for a career, then it is his. They might just do that with Winston’s investigation going on.
http://sportsofboston.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/9299524.jpg4. Andre Williams, RB, Boston College – Williams is the first player in conference history to rush for 2000 yards in a season, and many people forget the tough games BC gave Florida State and Clemson. He is the real deal.
3. Jordan Lynch, QB, Northern Illinois – Lynch absolutely should be invited to the ceremony. He is the most exciting player in the nation, and he puts the team on his back just like Colin Klein, Tim Tebow, and other great dual threat QBs before him. His numbers are staggering, as well.
2. Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson – Boyd seemed to be out of it earlier, but now with Mariota and Manziel faltering, he is right there as the best senior QB in the nation and in the driver’s seat to secure at least an invite.
1. Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State – Cam Newton still won despite his controversy. Winston, barring a terrible upset in the next couple weeks, will be the winner.

BCS Projections
Rose Bowl – Ohio State over Stanford
Orange Bowl – Baylor over Clemson
Sugar Bowl – UCF over Missouri
Fiesta Bowl – Oklahoma State over Fresno State
BCS Championship Game – Florida State over Alabama

What did you think of this weekend? Rankings? Heisman predictions? Let me know below!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Todd's Top 100 Movies of the 2000s

NOTE: This article was originally written in August of 2010, but just recently dusted off and updated in preparation for posting. It only features films released in the US from 2000-2009. Enjoy!
The ‘00s offered so many great films that narrowing the list down to just 10 was almost impossible. As a result, I expanded my lists to 100 films. It seemed appropriate, given the fact that I have seen somewhere north of 1200 films from 2000-2009. Basically, the ‘00s were ruled by huge box office films like The Dark Knight and Avatar and marked the emergence of widely-appealing indie comedies into the Best Picture lineups, such as Lost in Translation, Juno, and Little Miss Sunshine. It is also impossible to deny the impact that Pixar has had on film during the decade, becoming perhaps the best film studio in the world. Some of those aforementioned films appear on this list, and some of them missed the cut. Narrowing the list down to 100 was even quite difficult. I tried to be as unbiased as possible. I spread the distribution throughout the years as evenly as I could, trying to ensure that the films that are most fresh in my mind did not unjustly dominate the list (2002 did that anyway). I will throw in some comments after each 10 films, progressively increasing until I speak in-depth about each one of my top 10. Check it out:


100. Crash (Paul Haggis, 2005)
99. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (Wes Anderson, 2004)
98. The Bourne Ultimatum (Paul Greengrass, 2007)
97. The Lives of Others (Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, 2007)
96. Anvil! The Story of Anvil (Sacha Gervasi, 2009)
95. A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints (Dito Montiel, 2006)
94. Better Luck Tomorrow (Justin Lin, 2003)
93. The Hours (Stephen Daldry, 2002)
92. The Aristocrats (Paul Provenza, 2005)
91. Waltz with Bashir (Ari Folman, 2008)

Starting the list off with Crash seems appropriate, given the fact that its Best Picture win over Brokeback Mountain was one of the most controversial and memorable things that happened in film during the ‘00s. Wes Anderson had a tremendous decade, and The Life Aquatic is his best movie. Waltz with Bashir represents the only animated-foreign-documentary-drama that will appear on this list, but it is joined by a couple additional unconventional docs in Anvil! and The Aristocrats. A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints is one of my favorite underrated/underseen films that I recommend to everyone. These are the bottom of the list? This is going to get interesting really quickly…

90. Zodiac (David Fincher, 2007)
89. Sin City (Robert Rodriguez & Frank Miller, 2005)
88. Million Dollar Baby (Clint Eastwood, 2004)
87. The Aviator (Martin Scorsese, 2004)
86. Monster's Ball (Marc Forster, 2001)
85. Lost in Translation (Sofia Coppola, 2003)
84. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry, 2004)
83. What Doesn't Kill You (Brian Goodman, 2008)
82. Avatar (James Cameron, 2009)
81. Diary of the Dead (George A. Romero, 2008)

Here we have the second Best Picture Oscar winner in Million Dollar Baby, one slot below one of the two films that should have beaten it (if you know me, you will know what the other one is). We also have a couple more indie films that I recommend to everyone in What Doesn’t Kill You and Diary of the Dead, the best of all Romero zombie flicks. There are also a couple big budget films with highly-anticipated sequels coming in the next few years in Avatar and Sin City (whose sequel is finally official and getting a 2014 release!).

80. Capote (Bennett Miller, 2005)
79. Gone Baby Gone (Ben Affleck, 2007)
78. The Puffy Chair (Jay Duplass & Mark Duplass, 2006)
77. Audition (Takashi Miike, 2001)
76. Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (Sidney Lumet, 2007)
75. Grindhouse (Quentin Tarantino & Robert Rodriguez, 2007)
74. Igby Goes Down (Burr Steers, 2002)
73. In the Mood for Love (Wong Kar Wai, 2001)
72. The Pianist (Roman Polanski, 2002)
71. Capturing the Friedmans (Andrew Jarecki, 2003)

The most entertaining film-going experience I have ever had ranks at #75. The most uncomfortable movie experience I have had is two spots below in Miike’s Audition. My favorite indie filmmakers are represented with their fantastic debut The Puffy Chair. Capturing the Friedmans is my top-ranking documentary. Igby Goes Down marks the first of my 74 four-star films, so from here on out, it is just the best of the best.

70. 3-Iron (Ki-duk Kim, 2005)
69. Amores Perros (Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, 2001)
68. The Virgin Suicides (Sofia Coppola, 2000)
67. Talk to Her (Pedro Amodovar, 2002)
66. The Class (Laurent Cantet, 2008)
65. The 40 Year Old Virgin (Judd Apatow, 2005)
64. Elephant (Gus Van Sant, 2003)
63. Gerry (Gus Van Sant, 2003)
62. Broken Flowers (Jim Jarmusch, 2005)
61. Knocked Up (Judd Apatow, 2007)

I have to give some recognition to Judd Apatow, who redefined the comedy genre during the ‘00s. His two best films come in at numbers 61 and 65. The Gus Van Sant “Death Trilogy” is represented by its two best films at 63 and 64. I do like Last Days a fair amount, but Gerry and Elephant are just hauntingly good. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu had three films worthy of the list, but only his directorial debut cracks it. One spot above is another one my favorite debuts of the decade as well.
60. Flags of Our Fathers (Clint Eastwood, 2006)
59. Letters from Iwo Jima (Clint Eastwood, 2006)
58. Up (Pete Docter, 2009)

57. Ghost World (Terry Zwigoff, 2001)
56. American Splendor (Shari Springer Berman & Robert Pulcini, 2003)
55. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Andrew Dominik, 2007)
54. A Single Man (Tom Ford, 2009)
53. Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles (Yimou Zhang, 2006)
52. Punch-Drunk Love (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2002)
51. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (David Fincher, 2008)

Clint’s Iwo Jima saga makes its appearance here, both of which rank with the very best films to come out in 2006 (Yes, Flags of Our Fathers included…). A couple of the quirkiest and most brilliant screenplays of the decade rank next to each other at 56 and 57. A few of the elite cinematography achievements of the past couple decades show up here in Jesse James, Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles, and of course Fincher’s Benjamin Button. Riding Alone marks Zhang’s only appearance on the list, despite several other contenders, Hero and House of Flying Daggers being chief among them.
50. Brokeback Mountain (Ang Lee, 2005)
49. The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan, 2008)

48. Oldboy (Chan-wook Park, 2005)
47. Roger Dodger (Dylan Kidd, 2002)

46. District 9 (Neill Blomkamp, 2009)
45. [Rec] (Jaume Balaguero & Paco Plaza, 2008)
44. Mysterious Skin (Gregg Araki, 2005)
43. No Country for Old Men (Joel Coen & Ethan Coen, 2007)
42. Manito (Eric Eason, 2003)
41. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Julian Schnabel, 2007)

The third Best Picture winner appears with No Country for Old Men. A couple indies that no one has really heard rank at 47 and 42. Manito is one of the best uses of a minimal budget I have ever seen. My top horror flick of all time is [Rec], since remade in America as Quarantine. The most surprising film of the decade was District 9. The original Oldboy comes in this group as well. Hopefully Spike Lee didn’t botch the remake…
40. Pan's Labyrinth (Guillermo del Toro, 2006)
39. Where the Wild Things Are (Spike Jonze, 2009)

38. A Beautiful Mind (Ron Howard, 2001)
37. Catch Me If You Can (Steven Spielberg, 2002)
36. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (Cristian Mungiu, 2007)
35. United 93 (Paul Greengrass, 2006)

34. Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino, 2009)
33. Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki, 2002)
32. WALL
·E (Andrew Stanton, 2008)
31. There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2007)

Looking at this group, I realized that we are getting down to where every film is potential top 10 worthy. There is my top-rated animation in WALL-E, one spot above another fascinating animated film. Pan’s Labyrinth is one of the most imaginative and beautiful films ever, which is paired appropriately with another one in Where the Wild Things Are. There Will Be Blood only gets better with additional viewings. It could keep moving up as time goes along. We have a fourth Best Picture with A Beautiful Mind. There are a couple devastating yet undeniably thrilling and haunting films with United 93 and 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days. Inglourious Basterds is Tarantino’s second film on the list, but not the last. We have Catch Me If You Can, which is the only mention of both Spielberg and Hanks…it definitely is not the 90s anymore.
30. Once (John Carney, 2007)
29. Boiler Room (Ben Younger, 2000)
28. The Messenger (Oren Moverman, 2009)
27. The New World (Terrence Malick, 2005)
26. Gangs of New York (Martin Scorsese, 2002)
25. The Best of Youth (Marco Tullio Giordana, 2005)
24. Adaptation (Spike Jonze, 2002)
23. 25th Hour (Spike Lee, 2002)
22. Requiem for a Dream (Darren Aronofsky, 2000)

21. Into the Wild (Sean Penn, 2007)

This list is an interesting group. It has a bunch of films that I am probably alone on when ranking the best of the decade. Boiler Room is one of the most watchable movies I have ever seen. The Messenger absolutely destroyed me when I first watched it. It is such a haunting piece of work. The New World is a movie that sadly far too few connected with the way I did. Gangs of New York is now somehow one of the most underrated films of the ‘00s. I will never understand the hate. Then we have one of the most creative movies ever in Adaptation. There is one of the most devastating movies in Requiem for a Dream, which may also have the best score of the decade. Once represents the best soundtrack of the decade. Into the Wild is probably a much more personal choice than most others on the list. Something about that movie just really stuck, and continues to stick, with me. 25th Hour features some of the best ensemble cast chemistry of all time. Then there is The Best of Youth, or “a six hour Italian movie”, as Zach calls it. It is one of the most emotionally-satisfying movies I have ever had the pleasure of watching.
20. Closer (Mike Nichols, 2004)
19. Memento (Chistopher Nolan, 2001)
18. Matchstick Men (Ridley Scott, 2003)

17. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Ang Lee, 2000)
16. Monster (Patty Jenkins, 2003)
15. Tae Guk Gi (Je-gyu Kang, 2004)
14. Mystic River (Clint Eastwood, 2003)
13. Before Sunset (Richard Linklater, 2004)
12. In the Bedroom (Todd Field, 2001)
11. Traffic (Steven Soderbergh, 2000)

Here we have another group of films that I simply love more than everyone else. Closer is a movie that I have developed somewhat of an obsession over (with the song too). Memento is one of the more original screenplays ever written. Matchstick Men is one of my favorite movies to just sit down and watch. It is Ridley Scott’s best film, too…but don’t tell that to Gladiator or Alien fans. Monster is a film that shook me up like no other film I saw during the decade. Tae Guk Gi is the top war film of the decade (last two decades actually). Traffic and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon are two of the 10 or so best directed films of all time, so it is only fitting that they are near each other on this list. Mystic River marks the best film that Clint Eastwood will likely ever make. Before Sunset is perhaps the greatest sequel ever made. And of course we have In the Bedroom, one of the more unflinching and difficult to watch dramas of the 2000s.

Now to the top 10. We have one more Best Picture winner, a couple foreign films you might not expect or recognize, more Tarantino, and the rest of the undisputed best films of the 2000s.

10. Memories of Murder (Joon-ho Bong, 2005). This was the most surprising addition to my top 10 of the decade. It is the only one that I have seen only a single time, yet, now years since I first saw it, it is still present in my mind. This magnificent little fact-based crime drama from South Korea is about two brutal detectives investigating a series of murders and rapes in 1986. The tone of this film is very dark and mysterious. It is a twisting screenplay that will bring about shocks and thrills that the audience will not see coming. It blends dark humor and social satire into one nearly flawless picture, which has a final scene that will not soon be forgotten. Director Joon-ho Bong should be a director that people know about. He has had a terrific track record thus far, and not he finally has an American movie in Snowpiercer. His films succeed with their amazing tone and rich atmosphere. Anyone who loves a good crime-thriller needs to check this one out. It is one of the most suspenseful and rewarding of that genre that I have ever seen.
9. Battle Royale (Kinji Fukasaku, 2000). This film is one of the craziest, most exhilarating and thought-provoking films I have ever come across. This has been cited by Tarantino as his favorite film since he has been in the industry, and it is right up there on my list too. I realize that this is not one of the absolute best films of the last decade, nor did it have the ambition of much larger-scale films. But the storyline and moral questions that this cult classic asks are among the most compelling and haunting of any film. The relentless violence and top notch performances help this film transcend the language and culture barriers to become what it is known as today: a masterpiece. It is one film that I can happily say will never and could never be remade in the United States (other than in a glossier form, like The Hunger Games). This film needs to be left alone. It is perfect the way it is.
8. Mulholland Dr. (David Lynch, 2001). What could I possibly say about this maniacal and spellbinding film? What genre do I even put it into? It basically creates its own. Just when you think you have figured out movies and what is going to happen in basically all of them, master auteur David Lynch comes out with one and blows your mind and everything you ever thought you knew about anything. This is one of the two or three best directed films of the past decade, containing arguably the best female lead performance in that time span by the always reliable Naomi Watts. The mystery/thriller elements of the film are perfectly realized. The odd television pilot beginning is flawlessly interpreted and really adds to the overall mystique of the film. The visual elements are almost incomprehensible until about the third viewing. That is what the film is all about. You will never figure it out unless you discuss it in depth directly after watching it, or if you give in to your desires and watch the entire thing over and over. It is one of those films that you get the itch to watch every once in a while, if for nothing else than to escape into another reality. Lynch’s universe is one full of dreams, hallucinations, and the most priceless characters you could ask for. This is one film that will never leave my thoughts. See it, get weirded out, and take a crack at the puzzle. You won’t regret it.
7. Far from Heaven (Todd Haynes, 2002). This film is a classic throwback to the Douglas Sirk melodramas of the 1950s. It is about a family in crisis over a husband’s alternate lifestyle and the turmoil that it puts the wife through. It has flawless interpretations of that period’s racial tension and sexuality. Todd Haynes always has had a way with glamour, so this film is put together with some of the best costumes, set direction, cinematography, and one of the most beautiful scores I came across all decade. The performances are career bests by everyone involved. It has one of the greatest emotional impacts in recent memory. I can only honestly say this about a few films, but this one is as close to perfect as film can come. It may not be one of my absolute favorite films, but there are absolutely no flaws here.
6. The Wrestler (Darren Aronofsky, 2008). After the epic failure The Fountain, I was skeptical about Aronofky’s next effort. Little did I know how amazing of a talent the guy actually was until I saw this stripped-down and deeply emotional independent drama. It is about Randy “The Ram”, an aging professional wrestler who is about 20 years past his prime. He is tries to keep holding on to the life, despite his health concerns and now estranged family. Mickey Rourke was born to play the role, not only because of how similar his career is to The Ram’s, but because of his physicality and effortless charisma onscreen. It was one of my all time greatest joys watching the long dormant movie star coming back to life on screen. As the movie draws near its close, it is almost impossible to hold back the tears. We just care so much for these characters. “I’m here…I’m really here.” That is one of my favorite quotes of the decade. It also has one of the most fitting original songs of that time period too. It is a completely unblemished and richly rewarding film.
5. Little Children (Todd Field, 2006). Todd Field had two of the absolute best films of the decade, which are his only two features (In the Bedroom being the other one). This film is about an ordinary suburban neighborhood that is the home of a sex offender, two cheating spouses, and a police officer with a tragic history. All of their lives are connected, and this film shows in darkly humorous and sometimes incredibly bleak ways how they go about their daily lives. It is like no other suburban drama I have seen. Every moment is vital to the story, and every scene is just deftly put together by a master of tone and realism. The acting is as strong as any film of the past decade, and the score will haunt you long after the film is over. This also has one of the most awesome and random football scenes of all time. Showing this to friends who normally do not watch this style of artistic film was risky, yet every one of them connected to it in a major way, much to my surprise. Maybe it has that mass appeal that we never would have known about, simply because it barely had a theatrical release. Anyway, this is one of my favorite films of the decade, and it never gets old.
4. The Departed (Martin Scorsese, 2006). This represents the only Best Picture winner on the top 10. It is one of Scorsese’s many masterpieces, and certainly his best film since Goodfellas. It is the remake of an action film out of Hong Kong called Infernal Affairs. Since that was such a good film to begin with, Scorsese definitely had great shoes to fill, but Scorsese can do anything. He assembled one of the finest casts in modern film and made perhaps the shortest 150 minute movie of all time. There is not a wasted moment in the entire film. The editing is so relentless that the film will blow you away and leave you breathless. The twists and turns are all flawlessly done, and it is some of the most fun you will ever have at the cinema. Scorsese is still at the top of his craft, and this film finally got him that long-awaited Oscar. I cannot help but think he has at least one more coming his way. He can do no wrong, and this only reaffirms that truth.
3. Kill Bill (Quentin Tarantino, 2003 & 2004). These films provided one of my all time favorite film-viewing experiences. Seeing a Tarantino film is always amazing, but this saga is just an awesome and affectionate send-up to the spaghetti western genre. Its tale of revenge is classic, but never have I seen a movie so in love with its story and characters. It features some sequences of vintage Tarantino dialogue, but most of the film is a bloody brilliant tale of vengeance and settling old scores. The music in the film is terrific, as it always is with Tarantino flicks. The back-story and nonlinear screenplay make this film different from any other of its kind. There are tons of people who claim that Volume 1 is the better film. While it is absolutely incredible, Volume 2 surpasses it in every way. This is because the characters are so much more developed, and it boasts terrific performances from stars Uma Thurman and David Carradine. Basically, it calms down and lets the story breathe. It is the perfect end to a wonderful action saga, and it totally holds up even on a ridiculous amount of viewings. Apparently QT is has drafted a screenplay for a third film in this series, which is set to be released sometime in the next few years. I’m all over that.
2. Sideways (Alexander Payne, 2004). This is the only movie I can think of that I need to watch periodically just to satisfy my thirst for it. It has everything that a great film should have. It has flawless performances. It has the most interesting and real characters of any film of the decade. It has huge laughs and deeply dramatic moments. This is all accredited to Alexander Payne’s extraordinary screenplay. Its mass knowledge of all media, as well as its brilliant insight into relationships and people, make for the most touching and blissful movie-going experience imaginable. The more I watch this film, the more it moves closer and closer to being my all time favorite. The first time I saw it, I thought it was really well done and interesting. But upon a few additional viewings, these characters seemed even more authentic, which opened up entirely new layers of the story. So if you have seen it once or twice and liked it, then keep watching. There is no more satisfying film experience or representation of real life you will ever see.
1. Almost Famous (Cameron Crowe, 2000). This is the most entertaining film I have ever watched. The first time I saw it, I ended up watching it an additional six times in the following week. I just cannot get enough of it. The screenplay is so perfect and personal. The characters are genuine and unforgettable. After a couple viewings, these characters really feel like your friends, ones that you need to visit every once in a while. The film is in love with everything about music. It romanticizes the experience of being on the road and touring with a band, but not to the point that it does not feel genuine. The characters are so well-written, especially Lester Bangs and Penny Lane, arguably two of the best characters of the decade. Its music, both original and soundtrack, are flawless. The film is edited perfectly, yet the 40 minute longer uncut version almost seems essential for any fan of the film, adding in subtle character development points into every scene. Never will this film get unappealing, out of style, or boring. It is simply entertainment at its absolute finest and a film that has an appeal that stretches beyond any barrier. It has gotten to the point where I can simply think about any part of it, and I will instantly have a smile on my face. There is nothing like it. It is the best film of the decade, and possibly the most captivating and enjoyable one ever made.

Top 10 overview:
Actor/Actress most represented: Chiaki Kuriyama (2; Battle Royale, Kill Bill)
Oscar nominations: 24 (2 for Best Picture; The Departed, Sideways)
http://chockblock.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/chiaki-kuriyama-as-gogo-yubari-kill-bill-vol1.jpgOscar wins: 6 (1 for Best Picture; The Departed)
Genre breakdown:
                Drama: 3
Comedy-Drama: 1
                Crime: 2
                Action/Adventure: 2
                Music: 1
David Lynch: 1
Original Screenplays-Adapted Screenplays: 6-4
Domestic films-Foreign films: 8-2
Highest Rotten Tomatoes rating: The Wrestler (98%)
Lowest Rotten Tomatoes rating: Little Children (80%)
Highest box office: The Departed ($289,847,354)
Lowest box office: Memories of Murder ($229,652)
Highest IMDb rating: The Departed (8.5/10)
Lowest IMDb rating: Far from Heaven (7.4/10)

And there you have it. Thoughts? Your favorites of the 2000s? Most controversial choice on my list? Let me know!