Thursday, December 17, 2009

Best of the Decade: Film (Take 5)

Posted By on Thu, Dec 17, 2009 at 9:25 PM

We conclude our five-part series of posts on the decade in movies (Take 1 here, Take 2 here, Take 3 here, Take 4 here.) with another 20 or so of our favorite scenes and moments. Finally, I wrap it all up with my own Top 25 films of the decade.


Basset hound Bruno dutifully organizing his days around barking at the passing trains, echoes of a puppyhood trauma in THE TRIPLETS OF BELLEVILLE. (CH)

Simon Skinner (Timothy Dalton) rolls by two cops investigating an arson, and he's so transparently guilty that "Fire" is playing on his car radio, HOT FUZZ. (AE)

Paikea (Keisha Castle-Hughes) gives a speech and sings and fights back tears all the while in WHALE RIDER. (GA)

Heath Ledger's Joker poking his head through a squad car window, soaking up the night air, soundtrack muted. A moment of peace in THE DARK KNIGHT. (CH)

The Joker at peace:

Two iconic images of Americana are combined as a man (Billy Bob Thornton) wearing a Mercury spacesuit rides a horse across a desert’s white sands in THE ASTRONAUT FARMER. (GA)

Maya Rudolph's expectant mother sings "Mr. Tamborine Man" — the Dylan version — as a lullaby to a troubled niece. A quiet bit of background activity stealing the show in AWAY WE GO. (CH)

Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant) holds his breath in a swimming pool while Eli (Lina Leandersson) wreaks bloody carnage on the bullies out of sight just above the surface in LET THE RIGHT ONE IN. (GA)

Let the Right One In:

King Kong plays with a T.Rex's broken jaw after he's won an incredible jungle battle, KING KONG. (AE)

The first, incidental glimpse of Elizabeth Short’s abandoned body — a third of the way into a lengthy tracking-shot setup of an unrelated shoot out — in THE BLACK DAHLIA. (CH)

Editor Christopher Rouse and director Paul Greengrass use tight handheld camerawork and sound (knives, fists, breathing) to build one of the decade's best fight scenes as Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) takes on a bad guy in a tiny bathroom, THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM. (GA)

As the "Soggy Bottom Boys" make their stage debut, political boss Pappy O’Daniel (Charles Durning), enters stage right, dancing a jig as honestly joyous as it is entirely opportunistic. The Coen brothers find their footing — if only for a moment — in O BROTHER WHERE ART THOU?. (CH)

The Birth of Rock and Roll in O Brother Where Art Thou (Durning's entrance at 4:05):

Salman Rushdie in conversation in BRIDGET JONES’S DIARY. (GA)

A brief look at the copious notes taken by amateur detective Harry Lockhart (Robert Downey Jr.) reveals a crude picture of a cat and the word "GATO!", from KISS KISS BANG BANG. (AE)

"He's already pulled over! He can't pull over any farther!" Stoners understandably freaking out in the presence of SUPER TROOPERS. (CH)

Two men wrestle naked through a hotel to a horrified and stunned audience in BORAT (GA).

Ben Affleck explains to Jason Bateman why Brad the gigolo is so dumb —"He's a whore" —in Mike Judge's EXTRACT. (AE)

Q (Rip Torn) pompously pronounces, “I … am a writer,” and his literary audience eats it up, in WONDER BOYS. (GA)

"I AM A GOLDEN GOD!": Rock star "Russell from Stillwater" (Billy Crudup) drops acid at a house party with some "real Topeka people," ALMOST FAMOUS (CH)

Hanging with some "real Topeka people," Almost Famous:

David (Haley Joel Osment) waits patiently at the bottom of the ocean for the Blue Fairy — a metaphor for man’s relationship with a silent God — in A.I.: ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE. (GA)

Near the end of Paul Verhoeven's outrageous WWII epic BLACK BOOK, heroine Rachel Stein (Carice Van Houten) finally breaks down, asking, between dry sobs, "Will it never end?" — and the audience feels the weight of a journey that has a few more twists to come. (CH)

"I'VE ABANDONED MY CHILD! I'VE ABANDONED MY CHILD! I'VE ABANDONED MY BOY!" Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) has a revelation at the hands of evangelical preacher Eli Sunday (Paul Dano), which he quickly undercuts by muttering "Gimme the blood, Lord, and let me get away"... THERE WILL BE BLOOD. (AE)

Confession and redemption, There Will Be Blood:

A mother pours unconsumed iced tea out of glasses and back into the pitcher: One of many unadorned details that make financial desperation feel real in THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS. (CH)

To regain his balance high in the sky, Stephen Chow steps on a squawking eagle before beginning his descent to earth as The Chosen One, KUNG FU HUSTLE. (AE)

Robert Altman's floating, penetrating camera captures the backstage hen-house where Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin are getting ready for the last show — a fitting farewell in A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION. (CH)


1. Mullholland Dr. (David Lynch, 2001)
2. Y Tu Mama, Tambien (Alfonso Cuaron, 2002)
3. In the Mood for Love (Wong Kar-Wai, 2001)
4. Vera Drake (Mike Leigh, 2005)
5. Before Sunset (Richard Linklater, 2004)
6. Far From Heaven (Todd Haynes, 2002)
7. Ghost World (Terry Zwigoff, 2001)
8. Children of Men (Alfonso Cuaron, 2006)
9. Black Book (Paul Verhoeven, 2007)
10. 25th Hour (Spike Lee, 2003)
11. Death Proof (Quentin Tarantino, 2007)
12. Knocked Up (Judd Apatow, 2007)
13. Monsoon Wedding (Mira Nair, 2002)
14. Happy-Go-Lucky (Mike Leigh, 2008)
15. Late Marriage (Dover Kosashvili, 2002)
16. Zodiac (David Fincher, 2007)
17. The Royal Tenenbaums (Wes Anderson, 2002)
18. Yi Yi (Edward Yang, 2000)
19. Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2 (Quentin Tarantino, 2003/2004)
20. 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days (Cristian Mungiu, 2007)
21. A History of Violence (David Cronenberg, 2005)
22. The Hurt Locker (Kathryn Bigelow, 2009)
23. Nobody Knows (Hirokazu Kore-ada, 2005)
24. Dave Chappelle's Block Party (Michel Gondry, 2006)
25. Caché (Michael Haneke, 2006)

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