Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Design of a Decade: The Greatest Hits of the '00s - Part V

And so we come to the last entry in "Design of a Decade", my own personal look at the decade that was and you dear readers discover who and what were my most cherished memories from 2000-2009. ETA: er, not quite the last. If you haven't read Part I, Part II, Part III and Part IV then you will have no idea what's going on (reading the rules would be beneficial too) so before we continue please do so.

SCENE: "Run and Tell That"
Just such a superbly done scene, don't you think?

SCENE: "Hip to be Square"
American Psycho
Everything that is perfect about American Psycho - my #1 film of 2000, ahead of Dancer in the Dark, Requiem for a Dream and so on - can be found in this scene in which Christian Bale's "Patrick Bateman" recites a monologue about the virtues of Huey Lewis and News' "Hip to be Square" before sending an axe into Jared Leto's head. Embedding has been disabled, but click here to watch it.

SHOT: "Upside Down Kiss"
I wasn't as keen on this movie as I was the sequel, but there's something to be said for such an instantly iconic pop culture imploding moment such as this.

SCENE: "Hedge Garden"
The New World
Everytime I watch it I cry a bit at its immaculate nature.

"Ennis Del Mar"
Brokeback Mountain
I could never tell if people forgetting this performance when The Dark Knight came out was just fandom or something more suspicious. It's disappointing that Ledger's "Joker" seems to have overtaken this beautiful performance as the defining moment of his career, but I think truer fans will always see Ledger's "Ennis" as one of the truly greatest male performances of all time.

SCENE: "Crazy 88s"
Kill Bill, Vol. 1.
This is one of those gang up fight sequences that I kinda do believe that even if all the villains came after her at once (something that never happens in movies, we all know that) The Bride would still come out victorious. It's an incredible sequence in terms of action, choreography, filmmaking finesse, music and sound.

Yes, please bear with me as I go completely superficial. It may sound sad and desperate, but some of my fondest cinematic memories of the last decade were of the men I was watching on screen. It can't be helped, unfortunately. I do have eyes, after all. And I wouldn't have seen some very fine - and very terrible - movies if it wasn't for this very superficial predilection, so y'all will just have to deal with it. It wasn't reduced to just these pictured men, but they are the prime suspects.

PERFORMANCE: Ellen DeGeneres
Finding Nemo
Yes, one of the greatest performances of the decade is a vocal one in an animated film. Probably the single funniest performance of the decade and she does it all with only her voice. As funny as it is to think of DeGeneres in a Disney movie (being a publicly out lesbian and all), she truly is hysterical as "Dory". And she even does the tender, heartfelt stuff with aplomb, too.

SHORT: Logorama
Dir. François Alaux, Hervé de Crécy & Ludovic Houplain
So inventive and fun and one of the very few short films that I actually want to watch again (trust me, that's rare, I'm not a big short film fan).

See them all here
It was this or take up several spots on the countdown just for his designs of Antichrist, Look at Me, Suburban Mayhem, Good Night and Good Luck and so on. Key art designer extraordinaire. He's so good that I hold him at least partially responsibly for my movie poster obsession and I even got to interview him.

SCENE: "Cell Block Tango"
For someone who wasn't familiar with the Chicago score outside of, say, "All That Jazz" this scene was probably some sort of Earth-shaking event. Incredibly staged and performed. Energising and vibrant to the hilt. In a film filled with them, "Cell Block Tango" was the best musical sequence in Chicago.

DIALOGUE: Requiem for a Dream
"I'm somebody now, Harry. Everybody likes me. Soon, millions of people will see me and they'll all like me. I'll tell them about you, and your father, how good he was to us. Remember? It's a reason to get up in the morning. It's a reason to lose weight, to fit in the red dress. It's a reason to smile. It makes tomorrow all right. What have I got Harry, hm? Why should I even make the bed, or wash the dishes? I do them, but why should I? I'm alone. Your father's gone, you're gone. I got no one to care for. What have I got, Harry? I'm lonely. I'm old. ... Ah, it's not the same. They don't need me. I like the way I feel. I like thinking about the red dress and the television and you and your father. Now when I get the sun, I smile."

SCENE: "Last March of the Ents" / "The Battle of Helm's Deep"
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
I wrote at #163 that The Two Towers was my favourite of the Lord of the Rings trilogy and that is predominantly because of these duel action sequences. It helps that the Ents were my favourite part of the entire series and their attack on Isengard is actually quite moving as well as thrilling. The Helm's Deep part, however, is just about the greatest scene of its kind ever put to screen.

"Mary Jones"
Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire
I have spoken at lengths about how good Mo'Nique is in the role of Mary Jones, the abusive mother of the title character, so I'm not going to go through it again. Needless to say I feel as strong about that performance today as I did back then. "Back then" being a few months ago, naturally. Nothing has changed.

PEOPLE: Tilda Swinton
The Deep End, Adaptation, Young Adam, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Michael Clayton, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Burn After Reading & Julia
Swinton's performance in Julia would rank easily in a top five performances of the decade shortlist if I were to make one. I am not, but I thought I'd throw that out there. It's just amazing the things that Swinton has been able to pull of this decade, not least of all an Academy Award. This woman is incandescent.

SCENE: "The End"
Before Sunset
This would be, without a doubt, the greatest closing moment of a film this decade... if it weren't for #26 on the list. Still, as endings go, this is a doozy, an immortal and one for the all time list.

CRAFT: Cinematography
Emmanuel Lubezki
The New World
Put Emmanuel's cinematography alongside Wagner's "Vorspiel" and you have one of the most beautiful, heartbreaking and tender moments of the decade. Have Lubezki's cinematography and nothing else? Still out of this world.

CHARACTER: "Cherry Darling"
Played by Rose McGowen
Planet Terror

PERFORMANCE: Ray Lawrence Ensembles
Lantana: Anthony LaPaglia, Kerry Armstrong, Geoffrey Rush, Barbara Hershey, Rachael Blake, Vince Colosimo, Daniella Farinacci, Russell Dykstra, Peter Phelps, Leah Purcell & Glenn Robbins
Jindabyne: Laura Linney, Gabriel Byrne, John Howard, Deborra-Lee Furness, Eva Lazzaro, Leah Purcell, Simon Stone, Stelios Yiakmis, Sean Rees-Wemyss, Alice Garner, Chris Haywood, Tatia Reilly & Charles "Bud" Tingwell
If you haven't seen these two movies then you've missed two of the decade's absolute finest cinematic achievements. Central to them is the stunning ensembles that Ray Lawrence assembled.

SCENE: "Cerulean"
The Devil Wears Prada
This scene is not only pivotal in Dave Frankel's The Devil Wears Prada, but it's also key in my philosophy on film, music and other artistic fields. In fact, The Devil Wears Prada itself is important in that philosophy, in that I think a popcorn movie, just like a pop song, can be just as great, just as important and just as well-made as whatever hard-edged arthouse flick people are fawning over. It takes just as much effort to make a good popcorn flick as it does to make, for instance, Bright Star. This scene is perfect in how it is so simple and yet so effective in teaching Anna Hathaway's "Andy" that no matter how hard she tries to be "individual" that she's always going to be following someone.

The Strangers
This trailer for horror movie The Strangers is completely and utterly scary in itself so, I think, that's job well done. In this trailer there are, what I like to call, "movie making moments". Moments in a trailer that sell the movie without a shadow of a doubt. This trailer has several! First is, of course, the moment immortalised on the third poster at 0:53 when the stranger appears behind Liv Tyler. The next is at 1:26 when Liv Tyler gets to absolutely scream her lungs out to the tune of a skipping record player and an axe-swinging psychopath. And then lastly is the haunting dialogue exchange at 1:48.

"Why are you doing this to us?"
"Because you were home."

TREND: Animation
Pixar, Aardman, Studio Ghibli, Mary and Max, The Triplets of Belleville, The Emperor's New Groove, Fantastic Mr Fox, Tekkonkinkreet, Corpse Bride, Happy Feet, Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters, Teacher's Pet and others
I got a bit of a laugh out of people saying that 2009 was "the year of animation" since it has only been this decade that animation has become the dominant force that it now is. Before 2000 there were no more than two or three animated titles a year, now there are regularly 10 major releases, sometimes upwards of that, and a whole swag of smaller titles that appeal to all sorts of various audiences. One could that animation was this past decade's defining "genre" (even though, as I just said, animated films can cover a range of more traditional genres). Whether you agree or not (I'm not commenting), you can't argue that animation truly did break out this decade and gave us some of the greatest cinematic moments and achievements.

SCENE: "The Audition"
Smiley Face
I said up above that Ellen DeGeneres probably gave the funniest performance of the decade, well I could possibly say that Anna Faris gave the best, technically adept comedic performance of the decade in Smiley Face. It may be "just another stoner movie", but you truly cannot say that without having seen it. Faris is beyond and never more so than in this audition scene in which Faris' "Jane F." lets forth the film's catch phrase de jour. And let's not forgot Jane Lynch's priceless reactions, the kitty cat mumble and that so-good-but-you-may-have-missed-it eerie Lynchian sound design as the casting agent looks at Jane's headshot. Comedy perfection. Watch it.

SCENE: "Columbine"
Bowling for Columbine
There are many things in this film - one of the five best films of the decade if you want me to give a vague idea of film rankings - that left me speechless, none more so than this moment.

DIALOGUE: Year of the Dog
I didn't love Year of the Dog, but this film-ending monologue is one of the most touching and life-affirming things I've ever seen. You have to be made of stone to not be moved at all by the closing scene of Mike White's Year of the Dog. It's hard to put into words, really, so I think I'll let the dialogue speak for itself, but needless to say I feel so close to this movie because of it. It's a treasure of a moment and one that many may have forgotten or didn't really take notice of, but I sure did. Just thinking of it makes me yearn for every lost pet and wishing I had my cats right now to snuggle up to on the couch.

"If you all didn't think I was crazy, I'm sure you will now. How do I explain the things I've said and done? How do I explain the person I've become? I know I've disappointed everyone and I'm sorry for that. I wish I was a more articulate person. I believe life is magical. It is so precious. And there are so many kinds of life in this life. So many things to love. The love for a husband or a wife, a boyfriend or girlfriend. The love for children. The love for yourself. And even material things. This is my love. It is mine. And it fills me and defines me. And it compels me on."


This has taken a lot longer to write up than before so I'm going to give you the top 25 in a separate entry.


Joel said...

Reading that dialogue from Requiem For a Dream almost makes me cry. Her reading of the line 'I'm old' is so amazing. Best performance of the decade for me (Day Lewis in TWBB a close second).

J.D. said...

Good christ this is amazing.

Also, yay #44!

Simon said...

Damn, that Columbine thing is gonna give me nightmares.

Fernando Moss said...

F***ing loving this list... Can`t wait for the first 25.

Well done Glenn ;D

Fernando Moss said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fidel Antonio Medel said...

I have to agree with Joel. Ellen Burstyn's performance in Requiem for a Dream is a miracle work. It gives me the "water works" each time. That scene is just marvelous!

seanisbored said...

This list is damn near perfect.

Paul Martin said...

#50: yes
#49: I couldn't bring myself to watch American Psycho when it came out, and that clip confirms why.
#47: Fabulous, visual poetry - I have to get the Blu-ray
#46: I can't argue your point, but I think that Ledger's Joker is amazing for its audacity while his performance in Lee's far superior film bookends

the breadth of his talent. I think his performance in Brokeback Mountain has much to do with Lee's direction while his performance in The Dark Knight

is his own and made that film, which was otherwise quite ordinary - it exceeded or even transcended Nolan's direction.
#45: It's hard to pick out my favourite scene in what was one of my favourite films of that year, but Uma in that yellow suit (right from when we see

her on the motorbike) has got to be right up there.
#36: My favourite Swinton performances are the first two films I saw her in: Orlando and Female Perversions (check 'em out), and the most recent: Julia.
#29: I love how animation has been adopted in adult films like Persepolis, Waltz with Bashir and Waking Life.