Let’s just get it out of the way right off the ol’ bat: Yes, we know it’s been a few months since we left the decade. Most folks undertook this heavy task pre-2010, but we decided that it would be a little bit better to let the new year settle in a bit before hitting you with something of this magnitude.
So here we are, geeks; we’ve officially arrived in FUTURE *cue retro ’50s sci-fi music* and still we have no freakin’ flying cars yet. What’s the deal with that? While it is pretty exciting to be a month or so into the year 2010 — a year that always seemed unreachable to us mere mortals — we are also exiting another entire decade that leaves us staring at one majorly epic task. That task? To search, dig, locate, retrieve, organize, polish, and present the very best films of the past ten years!
We must once again declare that this list is also simply opinion. You are are without doubt going to find movies here that you hate and do not think deserve to be included. You will surely think of movies that you think should not only be on here, but that should be at the very top of the list. There will even be some that I have not seen and thus, can not add. Even at this very moment, I sit, worrying and wondering if I’ve forgotten any that I would include; that’s just the way things fly when compiling something this massive.
With all of that said, we invite you in to relax and check out Chapter I of our list, The Decade List: The 59 Best Films of the Past Ten Years!
#59 — Dear Zachary, A Letter to a Son About His Father
I’m someone who loves a good documentary, but it’s hard to place them ahead of the very best films that we’ve seen over the past decade. Even so, we’ve tried to include a few on the list, and it begins here with Dear Zachary, A Letter to a Son About His Father.
If you haven’t seen this documentary, it tells the incredibly sad story of a man who was murdered, leaving a son behind. The man’s many friends and family were interviewed by the film’s director so that his child would have something to watch when he was older, and so he could see how wonderful his dad was.
I’m a big softy, so a lot of movies touch me and perhaps even extract a tear or two from time-to-time, but Dear Zachary had me borderline weeping. This is one of the saddest stories that you’ll ever hear, and it is why I will never move to Canada.
#58 — Snatch
Director Guy Ritchie is something of an acquired taste. His style isn’t exactly easy to warm up to, but one thing is clear: Snatch is his best work to date.
The movie is fast-paced and chaotic and tells the intertwining stories of multiple eccentric characters involved in underground boxing, gambling, and a stolen diamond causing a lot of problems for a lot of people. The movie is entertaining enough on its own, but it’s really propelled by its ending, which is one of those great climatic moments where everything comes together in messy satisfactory glory.
With Sherlock Holmes coming out this past week, that may become a few Ritchie fans’ new favorite, but it’s not going to be easy to surpass the greatness that is Snatch.
#57 — Sunshine
The premise is simple, straight forward, and terrifying to think about: the sun is dying and we are left in a solar winter. A special team has been sent to reignite the sun, but contact with them was lost, prompting the order of a new team to set out and accomplish the highly-dangerous mission that is so crucial to the survival of the human race.
Sunshine is directed by fan-favorite Danny Boyle and begins with a well-trained, composed, and prepared crew. But as the time moved forward, you witness the slow deterioration of trust and sanity as it takes all of their will power to try and get the job done.
The movie has received much praise, but many felt that it lost control of itself toward the end. While this is true, the film as a whole is still fantastic. There is no doubt that if the ending was a little bit better crafted, it would be a hell of a lot more respected. Even as is, it is one of my personal favorite science fiction dramas, and absolutely one of the best of the decade. And again, the worst thing about this is that while it’s not likely to happen any time soon, this scenario is not as impossible as most science fiction stories tend to be, and that makes it really, really f’n scary to watch.
#56 — Amores Perros (Love’s A Bitch)
Alejandro González Iñárritu‘s Amores Perros is a movie that most likely would have won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Picture if not for the fact that it was up against Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon that year. However, as you might notice, Crouching Tiger is not on this list and this film is.
The movie is another which offers multiple stories that interconnect; in this one, they all run through one horrific fatal car accident and the people who were in it and witnessed it. One path is that of a young man (Gael García Bernal) who wants to take his brother’s sister out of the bad situation she’s in and run away with her, so he enters his dog into a dog fighting ring to make the money. This plan goes horribly wrong, and in a mad dash to escape he runs a red light, causing the crash. The other two stories we follow from this crash involve a beautiful young woman in a steamy affair whose relationship will be tested when the crash badly damages her leg as well as the story of a homeless man who rescues the dog from the crash site and nourishes it back to health.
Not a film for Michael Vick or those who can’t stand the thought of dog fighting, but for anyone else, it’s a brutally realistic and heartbreaking trio of stories that you will not soon forget.
#55 — Super Size Me
Morgan Spurlock broke onto the scene as one of the top documentary film makers with Super Size Me, a hilarious and sometimes scary study of the effects of fast food on the human body when consumed far too often.
Spurlock had the brilliant idea to eat McDonald’s every single meal for 30 straight days and see what it did to him. He made sure to get checked out by doctors and nutritionists and other specialists who recorded his health and body fat stats, and then saw them again as he moved through the challenge. The results of this were stunning and horrifying as we witnessed Spurlock lose energy, gain weight, and even become physically addicted to McDonald’s food before doctors told him that he had to stop immediately or risk life-threatening consequences.
While the documentary was very funny at times, it was also a crystal clear message to the negative effects of fast food. McDonald’s is still going strong, so it apparently wasn’t too damaging to their image (hell, even I sorta craved a Big Mac after seeing it), but obviously we the people learned to tone it back a bit in entertaining fashion.
#54 — Ocean’s Eleven
When thinking through the very best movies of the decade in your brain, you may not instantly jump to Steven Soderberg‘s Ocean’s Eleven — don’t worry, neither did I. But when I did come across it in my head, it was difficult not to include it here.
The movie tells the story of a group of eleven con men who are the best in the world at what they do. Their goal: to use their collective talents to pull off the biggest, most impossible heist job ever known to man as orchestrated by the infamous Danny Ocean (George Clooney). The massive and impressive supporting cast included Brad Pitt and Matt Damon and a pile of fantastic performances that made for a great and memorable Las Vegas heist adventure.
Ocean’s Eleven is a remake of the the 1960 film of the same name, but it did a great job of modernize the story and telling it in its own unique way. When it was all said and done, we the fans were presented with a smart, funny, and thoroughly entertaining heist film that stands firmly to this day.
#53 — The 40-Year-Old Virgin
It’s pretty difficult for comedies to work their way into any kind of overall best of list, but there were a small group of them worthy of the Decade List.
That group begins with The 40-Year-Old-Virgin, which tells the story of a simpleton (Steve Carrell) with a sweet toy collection that places him among our geek masses. When his co-workers (who usually just ignore him) invite him to a poker game and discover that he’s actually a virgin, they make it their mission to take him under their wing and get his middle-aged cherry popped. This of course is all completely uncomfortable to him and much hilarity ensues.
The movie is also the first really good look that we got of Seth Rogen before he blew up into one of the most sought after comedic actors out there.
#52 — Team America: World Police
Trey Parker and Matt Stone are of course known for their creation of South Park and their merciless attacks on the world of Hollywood and its stars. Beyond that, the duo have also made a few feature films as well. Among their titles is a South Park film, BASEketball, and Team America: World Police.
If you haven’t seen it, Team America is filmed entirely using marionette puppets, though it is not for kids at all. It might not even be for a lot of adults, to be honest; if you’re someone who can be offended, this one could probably ring the bell.
The movie tells the story of an elite force of anti-terrorist soldiers who train one of the world’s best acting talents so that he can infiltrate the enemy and help bring them down. It’s a crude and silly and a ridiculously funny movie, but that is not the only reason it makes our list.
You see — it just doesn’t matter whether you love Team America or hate it or refuse to see it. The main reason it’s on the list is because of the mind-boggling work that went into making it. Being someone who loves the hell out the movie, I can appreciate this more than some could, but a lot of people may not even realize the cinematic achievement that it is. Each puppet had to be controlled by multiple people who all had to work together to create the right movements and reactions. The sets and backgrounds were meticulously created with amazingly intricate detail — sometimes using humorous everyday items such as gold fish crackers and Chinese takeout boxes as scale model building material.
#51 — Slumdog Millionaire
Yet another film from the seemingly fail-proof leadership of Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire came out of nowhere in 2008 and stormed its way to a well-deserved Best Picture win.
The movie tells the story of a young man named Jamal (Dev Patel) who is on India’s version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and is doing far better than someone of his standing should be. The majority of the film is flashbacks of the Jamal’s life where he learned the many answers to the questions that he is being asked, but his success leads the higher-ups behind the show to think that he is up to some sort of trickery, and they even go so far as torturing him in an attempt to find out what it is.
Slumdog Millionaire is just one of those special films. It’s a feel good film that shows a lot of hardships and perseverance as these kids grow up in the horrible slums of India. It’s also a beautifully shot film, even in the dirty and damaged locations, that is supporting by some fantastic music.
Another documentary from the decade that didn’t make the list but deserves mention is Born Into Brothels. If you enjoyed Slumdog Millionaire like many others did, you must check out this documentary about a real group of kids who are growing up in those very slums. You’ll see the harsh hell that they live and breathe every day and how much they dream about getting out of that life. I was surprised to discover while watching that many of these children — even without proper and healthy homes and families — are still very bright, and they speak as if they’ve been educated from the start. These are some real stories from real kids that you will not want to miss out on.
#50 — Slither
A horror comedy about alien slugs that take over humans with Firefly Captain Malcolm Reynold’s Nathan Fillion?! You’re damn right this one makes the list.
Slither is a movie that is near to my own heart. In a time where good horror movies are nearly impossible to come across, this one shined through as a thoroughly entertaining, funny, and totally messed up little gem. Since it was released we’ve seen some strong new horror offerings come along and the genre is certainly looking up, but this movie still stands on its own platform.
The great cast, the endless sarcastic humor, and the sick and twisted mind of writer/director James Gunn dissolve into one another and create this movie that is to be cherished for life.
#49 — The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters
Once again, we have another documentary. And as I said before, it is really tough to put these documentaries ahead of most of the tops of the decade films, so they’re all making their appearances in the first part of our list.
The final documentary featured on our list and by far the best one I’ve ever seen strays away from the drama and sad stories that a lot of documentary films present. The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters tells the story of a normal every day man named Steve Wiebe who buys himself a Donkey Kong arcade machine, and discovers that he’s really, really, really good at it. Before long, he finds himself attempting to break the untouchable world record and in the mix as one of the top Kong players on the planet.
If he does indeed break the record, he may just find himself staring into the evil hot sauce-making eyes of the former record holder, Billy Mitchell…if he ever shows up.
#48 — Dawn of the Dead
Zack Snyder proved that he’s one of the best director’s working today with three different films making their way onto the Decade List.
The first of his film’s that shows up is his 2004 remake, Dawn of the Dead, which took the zombie sub-genre by storm when it was released. The remake used all of the pre-existing tools that were known in zombie movies, but also took the opportunity to enhance all of them and even add a few. For instance: where zombies used to walk slow enough for you to skip merrily away without the slightest worry of being caught, here they came at you fast and viciously, effectively creating a whole new level of fear while watching.
Hundreds of movies exist when it comes to zombies, but Snyder’s Dawn is easily one of the best ever made, and that earns it a spot on our list.
#47 — Super Troopers
When looking at this list, you’ll see a lot of movies that are clearly worthy of mention. What you’ll also see is a bunch of movies that you might not think of for best of the decade contenders; movies like comedies and big budget Summer blockbusters. One of these movies is Super Troopers.
Super Troopers is not only a comedy but it’s also an indie film, and that makes it one of the most unlikely candidates for any best of the decade list. It follows a group of Highway Patrol State Cops whose division is in danger of being shut down and taken over by the local cops due to budgetary issues. Not being much for serious situations, the group of cops end up in an all-out war with the locals while trying to gain the trust and blessing of the powers that be.
When the movie first came out, you could tell it was something special. Everything about it was brilliantly funny and chaotic — a combination that’s hard to top. Since then, the Broken Lizard team has been back at us with films like Club Dread, Beerfest, and the upcoming Slammin’ Salmon. Some people (myself included) adored these films and became life long Lizard fans, while some didn’t quite warm up to them the same way. Either way, nothing quite compares to the joy that Super Troopers brings us all.
Be sure to stay tuned tomorrow for many more as we count down to the #1 movie of the decade!