28 October 2009

Skandies: Best Films of the Decade, #2



Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004, Michel Gondry)
originally placed: #2, 2004.

47 comments:

Anonymous said...

It's official then. Dogshit is No.1.

wug said...

Good job, voters. This movie definitely belongs in the top five. Great Winslet performance. Carrey's never been better. Kaufman's second funniest script. Gondry at his best without going into his too-cute quirky indulgence. Powerful and poignant statement on human relationships.

Anonymous said...

There Will Be Lars.

Victor said...

LAPD ... ALL POINTS BULLETIN ...

Be on the lookout for a 30-something Asian male in a faggotty scarf and other signs of dandyism ... He was last seen running about screaming about dog shit ... He is not believed to be armed but keep him away from any sharp objects or tall buildings ...

OVER AND OUT

A.A. Dowd said...

Yessss!

C. Mason Wells said...

So no TOPICAL MELODY? Boo, voters. Boo.

Mike Lee, director of none of the top 20 films of the decade said...

I was less than spectacular with my suppositions for the perfs, but I did manage to guess eight of the final nine films, mistakenly swapping in Joe for The New World. How close was Joe, anyway?

md'a said...

So no TOPICAL MELODY? Boo, voters. Boo.

[Hangs head in shame.] It was in the top 20 for almost the entire balloting, then slipped off at the very end. I myself couldn't find room for it even though it's easily in the 99th percentile of all the films I saw over the past ten years (falling somewhere from #11-20). And it got screwed in that, of its two biggest champions within the AVB, one threw all of his weight behind The New World and the other chose to allot 10 points to everything across the board even though I believe Joe's film got his highest rating of the entire decade on the retarded 100-point scale.

I gave serious thought to expanding the countdown to 25 just to acknowledge Tropical Malady somehow. But that seemed like cheating.

jeff_v said...

Aw man, TOPICAL MELANOMA is so much better than DOGSHIT. I'll always prefer the jungle to the petri dish.

Nictate said...

I needed some good news like this. Thanks, AVB.

Ryan said...

Be on the lookout for a 30-something Asian male in a faggotty scarf and other signs of dandyism

Faggoty scarves are so 2002. I moved on to sockless wingtips and shrunken blazers, alas, and soon will be watching movies decked in Obi Wan-styled draped robes.

Anyway...I'm at that pathetic swami stage where I'm more emotionally invested in my prognostications than with the placement of my faves. Eternal Sunshine is one of my ten favorite movies of all-time, but sadly, I'm more concerned that The New World made it so better to school that second-rate analyst, Mike Lee.

As for Dogville, I've made my peace with it. After seeing Antichrist I've come to realize Lars is just a special ed. kid whose pictures should be viewed in concert with a kind of mental affirmative action program. Once you realize he can't help but let slip his retardation, you'd want to cut his movies a break. So I've come to think: Dogville is just like a Lars movie I adored, Breaking the Waves, except in the latter picture Lars held off his retardation until the final two minutes whereas in Dogville, the idiocy kicks in 45 minutes before the end. But why not think of both pictures as two hours and change of awesomeness, if only to boost poor Lars' plummeting self-esteem?

Anonymous said...

I could swear Mike had an A- for Eternal Sunshine. You dropped the grade, didn't you?

Funny how 2001 movies are 25% of the whole top 20, and still they peak at #4 and #3 only, behind two 2004 movies (considering Dogville's commercial release year). Hey 2001, 2004 just fucked you over.

Anonymous said...

Actually, 30%. Released in 2001.

Ryan said...

Sure 2001 got somewhat screwed in the Skandies, but it will do fine in other polls (if there are other decade polls) where Mulholland Dr. and In the Mood for Love will both do quite well.

(Btw, has anyone else come across this idea that 1999 is supposed to be an awesome year for movies? It was mentioned on NPR and in that Tony Scott article about 1962. What's so good about 1999?)

Anyway, I don't think anyone should be ashamed by the Skandies results. Sure, it reflects some D'Angelo voter-selection biases (D'Angelo faves like Dogville, Memento, and 25th Hour are unlikely to make the top-10-of-the-decade in any other critic polls), but the Skandies top 20 provides a good sample of this decade's best pictures.

KcM said...

"Btw, has anyone else come across this idea that 1999 is supposed to be an awesome year for movies?

Yes, I've always thought 1999 was a particularly solid crop, although it wasn't reflected in the Oscar picks that year.

The winner was American Beauty. The other nominees were The Sixth Sense, The Cider House Rules, The Green Mile, and The Insider. Cider and Green, imho, are particularly terrible.

But left off the Oscar ballot entirely were Three Kings, Being John Malkovich, Fight Club, and The Matrix, all very memorable flicks.

wug said...

I also thought 1999 was a great year. Using commercial release dates...

After Life (Kore-eda)
Adrenaline Drive (Yaguchi)
All About My Mother (Almodovar)
Being John Malkovich (Jonze)
Boys Don't Cry (Pierce)
Dead or Alive (Miike)
Election (Payne)
The Emperor and the Assassin (Chen)
Eyes Wide Shut (Kubrick)
Fight Club (Fincher)
Human Resources (Cantet)
Mast (Varma)
The Matrix (Wachowskis)
Not One Less (Zhang)
Pola X (Carax)
Rosetta (Dardennes)
South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (Parker & Stone)
The Straight Story (Lynch)
Time Regained (Ruiz)
Titus (Taymor)
Topsy-Turvy (Leigh)
Toy Story 2 (Lasseter)
The Wind Will Carry Us (Kiarostami)
The Winslow Boy (Mamet)
Wonderland (Winterbottom)

And although I didn't care for it, Magnolia.

lee said...

"D'Angelo faves like Dogville, Memento and 25th Hour are unlikely to ..."

I think you'll find that support / enthusiasm for Memento runs well outside the Skandies circle...

Stephen said...

I think Adaptation is a much better movie than this, but I get that I'm in the minority.

To be honest I don't really understand why people love this movie, my problem is my problem with most love stories. That most of it rings entirely false to me. I just don't believe I'm seeing two individuals in love (and all the complications that come with those emotions) when I watch the movie.

Robert Fuller said...

"Aw man, TOPICAL MELANOMA is so much better than DOGSHIT."

Not really seeing that. Unless you prefer pretentious performance art to great theater.

I do find it vexing that so many hate Dogville, but nobody (but me) hates Tropical Malady.

Jeff Slater said...

I'm the Anonymous who was the Metropolitan and Fog of War fanboy on past threads. I had been thinking about the comments re: running '90s or '80s decade polls, and I had the idea that if I could use year-by-year top ten lists posted on the websites of Skandie voters to develop a reasonable facsimile of the '00s results, I could use the same model to find the movies that would appear on polls from past decades, too. So I compiled the yearly top tens from the voters who have posted years and years of lists: 9 to 13 voters depending on the year in question, a fairly strong minority of the total voting body. Then I did a few rounds of weighting that would take a while to go through.

The list I developed for the '00s (more specifically, 2000-2008) certainly didn't get the films in order, and included some near-toppers that didn't even place here, but given the vagaries of the passiondex, I'm astonished that I came as close as I did: 17 of the Skandies' Top 20 were in my list's Top 30. (The three missing from my list: Before Sunset, Ghost World, and Trouble Every Day.) Plus I nailed the top two, though I switched their order. So my best guess would be that my lists for other decades wouldn't be much farther off the mark. Below is my '00s list, followed by my '90s list. I'll post my '80s list tomorrow and my '70s list on Friday. That's as far back as I think it's useful to take this.

Jeff Slater said...

'00s Top 30:
1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004, Michel Gondry)
2. Dogville (2003, Lars von Trier)
3. The Prestige (2006, Christopher Nolan)
4. Gerry (2002, Gus Van Sant)
5. Memento (2000, Christopher Nolan)
6. Tropical Malady (2004, Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
7. Yi Yi (A One and a Two...) (2000, Edward Yang)
8. In the Mood for Love (2000, Wong Kar-wai)
9. Silent Light (2007, Carlos Reygadas)
10. (tie) Kings & Queen (2004, Arnaud Desplechin)
10. (tie) The Man Who Wasn't There (2001, Joel Coen)
10. (tie) Primer (2004, Shane Carruth)
13. Capturing the Friedmans (2003, Andrew Jarecki)
14. Mulholland Dr. (2001, David Lynch)
15. L’Enfant (2005, Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne)
16. Grizzly Man (2005, Werner Herzog)
17. Waking Life (2001, Richard Linklater)
18. (tie) Friday Night (2002, Claire Denis)
18. (tie) Punch-Drunk Love (2002, Paul Thomas Anderson)
20. A Christmas Tale (2008, Arnaud Desplechin)
21. Irreversible (2002, Gaspar Noé)
22. (tie) The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford (2007, Andrew Dominik)
22. (tie) Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003, Quentin Tarantino)
22. (tie) The New World (2005, Terrence Malick)
25. Zodiac (2007, David Fincher)
26. There Will Be Blood (2007, Paul Thomas Anderson)
27. No Country for Old Men (2007, Joel and Ethan Coen)
28. 25th Hour (2002, Spike Lee)
29. Werckmeister Harmonies (2000, Béla Tarr)
30. I Heart Huckabees (2004, David O. Russell)

'90s Top 30:
1. Unforgiven (1992, Clint Eastwood)
2. Irma Vep (1996, Olivier Assayas)
3. Exotica (1994, Atom Egoyan)
4. Se7en (1995, David Fincher)
5. Reservoir Dogs (1992, Quentin Tarantino)
6. Goodfellas (1990, Martin Scorsese)
7. Naked (1993, Mike Leigh)
8. Pulp Fiction (1994, Quentin Tarantino)
9. Being John Malkovich (1999, Spike Jonze)
10. Rushmore (1998, Wes Anderson)
11. Short Cuts (1993, Robert Altman)
12. Boogie Nights (1997, Paul Thomas Anderson)
13. Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills (1996, Joe Berlinger & Bruce Sinofsky)
14. Schindler's List (1993, Steven Spielberg)
15. Glengarry Glen Ross (1992, James Foley, USA)
16. A Brighter Summer Day (1991, Edward Yang)
17. Red (1994, Krzysztof Kieslowski)
18. Out of Sight (1998, Steven Soderbergh)
19. Trust (1990, Hal Hartley)
20. Barton Fink (1991, Joel Coen)
21. Twelve Monkeys (1995, Terry Gilliam)
22. Truly Madly Deeply (1990, Anthony Minghella)
23. My Sex Life...or How I Got Into an Argument (1996, Arnaud Desplechin)
24. The Age of Innocence (1993, Martin Scorsese)
25. Fast, Cheap & Out of Control (1997, Errol Morris)
26. Late August, Early September (1998, Olivier Assayas)
27. The Thin Red Line (1998, Terrence Malick)
28. Toy Story (1995, John Lasseter)
29. (tie) Heavenly Creatures (1994, Peter Jackson)
29. (tie) The Sweet Hereafter (1997, Atom Egoyan)

Luis said...

Primer *and* Tropical Malady in the Top 10? Good job, Jeff Slater.

Nictate said...

I just don't believe I'm seeing two individuals in love (and all the complications that come with those emotions) when I watch the movie.

I think what ETERNAL SUNSHINE gets amazingly right is what falling out of love (or falling *less* in love) is like. When you find flaws you find almost unbearable in the other person -- the typical break-up point.

The scene in the hallway where they decide to love/accept each other "as is" is incredibly moving because that's ultimately the agreement two people need to come to to find lasting love.

And it becomes even more poignant knowing that they've made a decision to reunite despite all of the freshly heard, hatefully spoken evidence against both of them on the Lacuna tapes (not grievances dimmed by time like in real life).

md'a said...

The scene in the hallway where they decide to love/accept each other "as is" is incredibly moving because that's ultimately the agreement two people need to come to to find lasting love.

Wait wait wait. Is that what other people think happens at the end of this film? That we're seeing Joel and Clementine make some kind of lifelong commitment to stick with each other no matter how miserable they become later? Because what makes it unbearably moving to me is that they decide to continue with the relationship knowing in advance that it's doomed to fail, that they're eventually going to find each other repugnant. And they don't care, because the joy they're experiencing now is worth whatever pain may come later. That's what I've always found wise and true. I'd like the film a lot less if I believed they were saying, "Well, we're gonna hate each other one day, but we'll just deal with it."

Nictate said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nictate said...

Because what makes it unbearably moving to me is that they decide to continue with the relationship knowing in advance that it's doomed to fail, that they're eventually going to find each other repugnant.

Absolutely. Nicely described. To clarify: My comment was based on memory, so had more to do with how I extrapolated a real-life application of the wise truthiness.

Nictate said...

Robert,
You are not alone in hating TROPICAL MALADY.

I found the first half narcolepsy-inducing and the second half completely grating in its avant-garde-y-ness.

I actually noted in my blog at the time that I'd rather club baby seals than see that film a second time.

Ryan said...

Because what makes it unbearably moving to me is that they decide to continue with the relationship knowing in advance that it's doomed to fail, that they're eventually going to find each other repugnant.

Yeah, that's right, and that's one reason why this movie is so awesome. It never falls for "The One" bullshit when it comes to love.

And Lee, I know Memento (and Dogville, for that matter) have a lot of fans outside of the Skandies crowd, but is it your impression that it's the kind of movie considered a top 10 of the decade thing? The Fight Club crowd's got Lord of the Rings and Dark Knight, while Film Comment & Village Voice will go with you know, Lynch, Wong, Joe, Yang, Denis, etc.

Joshua said...

Can someone refer me to a review or analysis or something that could serve as a TROPICAL MALADY FOR DUMMIES? I basically got nothing out of it in terms of understanding what the point was.

(Actually, looking back, I rated it a 1.5 on the 4.0 scale that year, so it must not have been completely worthless to me at the time, but I certainly wasn't a fan. The only films I rated lower that year were AEON FLUX, ELEKTRA, FEAR X, and RITTENHOUSE SQUARE.)

Basically, I would like someone to recommend a TROPICAL MALADY review that might help me understand why it is so highly regarded.

Stephen said...

...because the joy they're experiencing now is worth whatever pain may come later.

Hmm, my understanding of that scene was just that they were totally confused by the cassette tape and wanted to find answers, but I guess I missed the romantic "give in to your desire" aspect.

md'a said...

Can someone refer me to a review or analysis or something that could serve as a TROPICAL MALADY FOR DUMMIES? I basically got nothing out of it in terms of understanding what the point was.

It's not gonna help—this film either works on you as a sensual experience or it doesn't—but here's Dennis Lim in some depth and the AVB's own Scott Tobias with a good précis.

Grand Poobah Ayatollah Love Free I said...

I'm just going to pretend Tropical Malady and Devils on the Doorstep are on the list, and Trouble Every Day and Kill Bill, Vol. 1 are nowhere to be found.

On the plus side, Dogville and Eternal Sunshine make about as good a #1 and #2 as I could ask for.

Victor said...

Yeah, Mike's right.

I'll defend TROPICAL MALADY and also a different Joe film as much more accessible than his reputations.

But my whole point is the direct simplicity is in their sensual and existential qualities and exactly that they're NOT about "making sense," though they're still not exactly "difficult" films

Michael said...

Apichatpong ain't for everybody. Just the sexy people.

Lars said...

That middle-aged couple who left during the opening credits of BLISSFULLY YOURS (thinking they were the end credits, no doubt) certainly weren't sexy enough.

Nictate said...

I've never seen that ESotSM poster before. Perfection.

jeff_v said...

I was always partial to MovieMartyr's Tropical Malady piece as a good guide.

James said...

I'm really curious to know if anyone else thinks this was the worst decade (at the top) in cinema history (since the 1910s). I don't think there is clearly a best movie this decade, and honestly can't think of a better choice than Dogville. However, as I reflect, I feel that Dogville wouldn't be the best movie of any decade from the silent period on. Do I just need more time and distance, or has cinema really gone down hill?
It's ironic that Dogville is so anti-Bazinian (as people on the site have stated). I've always considered myself to be a student of Bazin (though more truly Truffaut) and if the best (to me) movie of the last decade is aestetically opposed to everything I believe, then what has cinema become? Is cinema dead? Dying? I would really like to hear other opinions on this.

Sky said...

Is cinema dead?

No. There's plenty of good pro-Bazinian cinema left!

Joshua said...

Thanks to everyone who had suggestions about reviews of TROPICAL MALADY. If it's an "it works on you or it doesn't" situation, I can live with that.

Ryan said...

I'm really curious to know if anyone else thinks this was the worst decade (at the top) in cinema history (since the 1910s). I don't think there is clearly a best movie this decade, and honestly can't think of a better choice than Dogville.

I find this passage super-odd. Taste in movies is a subjective thing. And even surveys, all we're doing is looking for a consensus. With something like the Skandies, this is a small scale survey subject to the vagaries of all kinds of biases, right? In this case, there's a selection-bias in the votership that reflects D'Angelo's values.

By the end of the year, if a movie like Mulholland Dr. emerges as a runaway winner in a poll of 500 critics, then we will have a consensus of this decade, just as Goodfellas was a consensus choice of the 90s. Comparing decades at the top is just a recipe for people expressing their subjective preferences. Who wins if we pit, say, In the Mood, Mulholland Dr. and Before Sunset against, oh, Goodfellas, The Sweet Hereafter, and Se7en? I say the Aughts. Surely, someone will say the Nineties.

As for "no better choice than Dogville," I guess that's your perogative to think that, but here's a reality check if we're talking about a consensus choice: the movie received a 59 from Metacritic. A lot of respectable critics don't think it's the best movie that opened that month.

Dogville's prominence in this survey reflects a very vocal and outsized von Trier contingent (along with a notable D'Angelo effect) that I'm pretty sure will not be reflected in other surveys. After all, Dogville didn't finish #1 in any annual survey I'm aware of except the Skandies.

James said...

Ryan seems to be missing my point. I've long felt that Dogville is as good a movie as there has been this decade. That is my opinion. My comment had nothing to do with the Skandies list, I was merely curious to know what the Skandies voters themselves thought of my question.
It is my opinion that when you look at the top 10 or 20 (MY TOP 10OR 20) movies this decade it may very well be a worst list than from any other decade starting with the 20s. It is also my opinion that the best film from this decade wouldn't be the best film in any other decade. That is my point. From that basis it is a valid question to ask if cinema is dying. I'm not saying it is, but I do wonder if it could be. Obviously, you don't think so.

Jason said...

"It is my opinion that when you look at the top 10 or 20 (MY TOP 10OR 20) movies this decade it may very well be a worst list than from any other decade starting with the 20s. It is also my opinion that the best film from this decade wouldn't be the best film in any other decade."

I think my overall 00s list stacks up very well against my 80s list, but I prefer PARIS, TEXAS to any film from the 00s. However, I prefer my top film of the 00s to any film from the 30s or 20s (although, my sample size in those decades is admittedly significantly smaller).

I certainly don't think cinema is dead and I'm sure similar arguments were waged in 1999. There are still plenty of artists striving to push film language in new directions.

James said...

You make good points. I don't think that just because artists are trying to push the medium that they are (or are doing a good job at it).
I am sure arguments could have been made in 1999, but not by me. The top films from 90s are considerably better than the top films from this decade, and back in '99 I already thought the decade was better than the 80s. Time and distance are not always necessary.
What is your top film from the last decade? I don't think I've seen anything that I would even condsider being in my top 5 for either the 20s or 30s.

Ryan said...

It is also my opinion that the best film from this decade wouldn't be the best film in any other decade. That is my point. From that basis it is a valid question to ask if cinema is dying. I'm not saying it is, but I do wonder if it could be.

Okay, I guess I'm just super-dense and can't understand this point. I take you to be saying, "if I compare my top ten favorites from the Aughts to other decades, the Aught favorites compare unfavorably. Therefore, we can make a supposition concerning whether cinema is dying."

Sorry, it just doesn't make any sense. Even even if I grant that my top 10 from the last ten years fall short of previous decades, the sensible conclusions that can be drawn are the following: (1) my taste has evolved; (2) I am harder on movies seen on their commercial run compared to older movies seen on video/cable/rep screenings; (3) or most sensibly, nothing, as one's subjective, hair-splitting views on the top 0.01% of movies of an arbitrary ten-year period can tell you nothing objectively useful about yourself, the state of the cinema, or anything else.

If I want to espouse an opinion on whether cinema is dying, I'd look to a far larger sample than the peaks of contemporary cinema, and rely far better methodology than using nothing more than my own subjective opinions of the 1% of all movies released that I had chosen to see as a basis of determining the state of cinema.

James said...

Okay, so you don't think the cinema is dying then? I was only ever stating my opinion, and looking for other's on the matter. Congratulations on your opinion.

Joshua said...

Ryan: Actually, based on the U.S. commercial release date of March 26, 2004, I would guess that the critical consensus for the best movie released the same month as DOGVILLE was ...

ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND, which came out one week earlier.

I didn't realize until just now that the top two Skandie films of the decade were released within one week of each other.