After being inspired by acclaimed film critic Roger Ebert’s article naming the best films of the decade, we over at Sepia HQ have decided to give our two pennies’ worth too. “Five years too late”, you say? “Never!”, we retort and facetiously publish them anyway.
By no means claiming to be a highbrow film critic, I just hope this gives an insight into “me” and maybe you’ll go “Yeah, I like that one too”. Despite most of my all time favourite films being from the 80s (Ghostbusters, Back To The Future, Batman…), I can’t deny that the noughties had it’s fair share of classics.
First and foremost I’m seething that Inception (Christopher Nolan, 2010) and Shutter Island (Martin Scorsese, 2010) have missed the cut off mark, with the latter premiering just 13 measly days too late. My enthusiasm for these films has nothing to do with my love for cherub-faced DiCaprio. Maybe. But enough fawning. In no particular order, here are my top ten films of the decade…
Shaun of the Dead (Edgar Wright, 2004)
I love this film. I love the cast. I love the plot. I love the humour. Shaun of the Dead is a “zom-rom-com” that follows protagonist Shaun (Simon Pegg) and overweight, loveable-rogue Ed (Nick Frost) as they race against the clock to save Shaun’s ex-girlfriend, Liz, and his mum, Barbara, from a zombie pandemic. Cue silly stunts, funny one-liners, gore and hilarious fight scenes between Shaun and his cronies and the walking dead. As a side note, I am thankful that these zombies only mooch along at a snail’s pace – me and my scaredy cat tendencies can’t be doing with running zombies. Shaun of the Dead was later joined by Hot Fuzz (2007) and The World’s End (2013) to form the Cornetto trilogy – Pegg’s and Frost’s other misadventures, all directed by Edgar Wright.
The clip below shows one of my favourite scenes of the film. “The Batman soundtrack?” “Throw it”
Pan’s Labyrinth (Guillermo del Toro, 2006)
This film, along with Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Amores Perros, was one of my first ventures into Spanish language cinema, probably because this was the year that I started studying Spanish. Managing to understand small bits of dialogue without having to read the English subtitles really gave a boost to the old self esteem. But I digress. Pan’s Labyrinth, or El Laberinto del Fauno in Spanish, is set in 1940’s Spain and follows cute little Ofelia -the stepdaughter of a vicious civil war army officer- through a life of torment until she escapes into a fantasy world. Pan’s Labyrinth offers just the right balance between Ofelia’s harsh life and the supernatural and fantastic, all set within a true-to-life historical context. Watch the video and try to get that haunting song out of your head. I’ll spare you the picture of the fawn and the child-eating Pale Man.
Batman: The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan, 2008)
From what you’ve read so far, you’ve probably guessed that I’m not really into big blockbusters. An action packed trailer filled with guns, explosions and the like will more than likely put me off going to watch the film altogether. I suppose you could say that all changed with The Dark Knight. Perhaps it’s because of the nostalgia factor of the old Batman movies -Tim Burton’s Batman with Michael Keaton is among my all time favourites- or maybe it’s because of my love for Heath Ledger which, tragically, only began to flourish after he passed away. Whatever the reason, I’m thankful for it. Whether for the special effects, clever plot or hint of comedy mixed in with all the action, in my opinion, The Dark Knight is the best of all Batman films post 1989. Not even Tom Hardy’s hilarious Bane voice in The Dark Knight Rises can top it. Wanna argue about it?
The Darjeeling Limited (Wes Anderson, 2007)
What a charming film! Why is everything that Wes Anderson does so bloody lovely? And quaint? And perfectly framed? With just the right soundtrack? As I didn’t see it fair to include more than one of Anderson’s films, it was a hard choice between The Darjeeling Limited, The Life Aquatic and The Royal Tenenbaums, with the latter delving deep into the psyche of a dysfunctional family and The Life Aquatic having sentimental value and starring my main man, Bill Murray, as lead. But The Darjeeling Limited just pipped them to the post. One thing that made me favour The Darjeeling Limited over the others is the short, Hotel Chevalier, that acts as a prologue to the main feature. It made my heart ache (ex-girlfriends, romance, nostalgia, Paris… you get the gist). The equally emotional full length feature sees 3 brothers -played by Adrian Brody, Owen Wilson and the lovely Jason Schwartzman- set off on a journey of self-discovery before meeting up with their estranged mother who lives in a convent in the foothills of the Himalayas.
There’s just something about Wes Anderson films that make me want to cry. Don’t even get me started on Moonrise Kingdom, *sob*.
Ghost World (Terry Zwigoff, 2001)
Based on the comic of the same name by Daniel Clowes, Ghost World follows oddball teens Enid (Thora Birch) and Rebecca (Scarlett Johansson) as they desperately try to make life plans after graduating from high school. While Rebecca gets a job and secures her own apartment, Enid gets wrapped up in the life of loner record collector Seymour (Steve Buscemi). Things spiral out of control and before she knows it, Enid isn’t making prank calls and laughing about it in diners anymore – she’s waking up naked in Buscemi’s bed. Come on, Enid, love, what woman wouldn’t want that? There’s no use crying about it.
This is a great adaptation of the original comic, offering a quirky plot that delves into the lives of teens. Teens with great styling. Enid: give me your stylist’s number.
Where The Wild Things Are (Spike Jonze, 2009)
Kids films, hooray! Spike Jonze took the incredibly famous and well loved 1963 book by Maurice Sendak and made it into a feature length film. This is a magical tale about a naughty little boy called Max who argues with his mum, sails away from her and ends up on an island inhabited by big monsters. Imaginative Max soon becomes the king of the Wild Things, who each show traits of people Max knows in real life, whether that be his mother, sister or even himself. Sopranos fans may notice that the late James Gandolfini voices monster Carol, Max’s closest friend. This is a fun film filled with adventure and nostalgia. Oh and a banging soundtrack by Karen O and Arcade Fire.
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (Adam McKay, 2004)
You’re a smelly pirate hooker! I killed a guy with a trident! Cómo están, bitches? Spanish language news is here! Sex Panther: 60% of the time, it works every time. Where did you get those clothes, at the toilet store? That squirrel can waterski! You’ve got a dirty, whorish mouth! He punted Baxter! Etc. etc. etc. eeeetttttccccc. Will Ferrel and co. never fail to make me howl with laughter as the Channel 4 News Team. Unfortunately I can’t say the same for Anchorman 2.
Austin Powers: Goldmember (Jay Roach, 2002)
I also blame you, Mike Myers, for a decade’s worth of quoting absolute bollocks from all of the Austin Powers movies. The only thing that’s stopped me is moving to Spain, and that’s only because I don’t know the quotes in Spanish. You should all think yourselves very lucky, amigos. Goldmember is absolutely bloody ridiculous: Beyoncé travels through time from the 1970’s in order to help Austin Powers catch a crazy Dutchman with a penis made of “gooooooold” who is set on destroying the world. And all the gang’s here too: Dr. Evil, Mini Me, Fat Bastard, Austin’s dad, the undercover mole agent…
One of the best scenes is Dr. Evil’s and Mini Me’s rap in jail done to the tune of Hard Knock Life. The Rap, The Mole and flaky skin-eating weirdo Goldmember are the main reasons why this installment, for me, marginally beats 1999’s Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.
Minority Report (Steven Spielberg, 2002)
Say what you want about Tom Cruise -apart from you, mum, we all know you fancied the pants off him in Top Gun-, he’s not as bad as you all make out. Minority Report was one of the first DVD’s I ever bought (Goldmember being the first). In fact, I think I bought it for my dad – a present with an agenda. I can still remember Tom Cruise make all that information whizz around on his futuristic screen with his futuristic gloves. This “neo-noir science fiction mystery-thriller” is based on a short story of the same name by Philip K. Dick. It is the second of Dick’s stories to be made into a Hollywood blockbuster, the first being the totally epic Total Recall starring Arnie in 1990. Minority Report has it all: time police, murder, mystery and even gross eye surgery! And talk about plot twist! Bet you didn’t see that one coming did you? Well, those psychic twins seemingly held against their will in that swimming pool contraption did, but apart from them…
X-Men 2 (Bryan Singer, 2003)
I can’t remember if I saw X-Men before I went to see X-Men 2, or whether someone just quickly brought me up to speed before going into the cinema. But I remember being particularly blown away by the opening scene where teleporter Nightcrawler breaks into The White House. And I mean goosebumps. I don’t know what it was. The music? The slow motion? Take a look for yourself below. Other highlights include the raid on the school where we see all the child mutants using their powers to escape, creepy Jason using Cerebro and the fight between Wolverine and his female counterpart. Mutant freedom now!
I’ll close with this Special Mention section for the ones that only just didn’t make the cut, and because choosing just 10 was harder than I thought. Looking back, maybe some of the films in this list should have featured above. (Perhaps I was too quick off the mark to include Minority Report…)
This is England (Shane Meadows, 2006)
The Hangover (Todd Phillips, 2009)
Lost in Translation (Sofia Coppola, 2003)
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry, 2004)
Big Fish (Tim Burton, 2003)
Little Miss Sunshine (Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, 2006)
The Prestige (Christopher Nolan, 2006)
The Machinist (Brad Anderson, 2004)
Inglorious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino, 2009)
Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban (Alfonso Cuarón, 2004)
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