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Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Films of the Decade - Part One: 2000

I know it’s a bit late considering we are already nearly a quarter of the way through 2010 but I have decided to compile a list of my top 100 films of the decade, restricting myself to just ten from each year. Here is the first instalment starting off in the year 2000 when I was just 12 and not old enough to see nearly all of the films i've listed.

10. Chopper - Eric Bana stars in the true life story of Mark ‘Chopper’ Read, an infamous Australian criminal who penned his biography from the confines of prison. Bana’s portrayal of Chopper is unflinching in its accuracy, bringing his sick, twisted humour to life in this gritty black comedy that disturbs and amuses in equal measures. Worth watching for Bana’s performance alone, this is one of the best films to come out of Australia in a very long time.

9. Quills - History and fantasy collide in this stark portrayal of the notorious French writer the Marquis de Sade as his attempts to publish indecent stories lead him to be incarcerated in an insane asylum. Grossly under-rated, quills is a fascinating story, full of ingenious flourishes that differentiate it from the usual period dramas which often leave all but the dedicated historians helplessly bored. Featuring a powerhouse performance from Geoffrey Rush as the Marquis, who narrowly missed out on the Oscar - Russell Crowe nabbed it, Quills transports you to a world of crazed passion and lust once deemed unfit for public eyes.

8. Amores Perros - Unfairly losing out to the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in the best foreign film award at the Oscars, Amores Perros is a stylish and compelling drama that connects three tragic tales through a horrific car crash. In a powerful breakthrough role, the always enthralling Gael Garcia Berna portrays a young and cautious dog owner forced into a dogfight with disastrous consequences. This is the film that ignited my passion for foreign movies and it's not hard to see why.

7. Snatch - Lock Stock was a definitive gangster film of the nineties, a crass yet intelligent heist film chock full of loveable rogues and crafty conmen. Guy Ritchie’s follow up movie Snatch followed a similar formula but delivered something altogether more accomplished, with standout performances from Brad Pitt and Benicio Del Toro to name but a few. Russian Gangsters, unscrupulous gypsies and brutal boxing promoters come to blows over a stolen diamond in a series of elaborate encounters. The compelling story is complete with numerous quotable phrases and witty dialogue that would feel at home in any Tarantino movie. It’s a huge shame that Ritchie’s other films have since failed to live up to the incredibly promising start of his career but we should be thankful that Snatch is part of his legacy.

6. X-Men - Brian Singer had the difficult task of creating a film accessible to new audiences whilst still appealing to devout x-men fans and somehow managed to do not just that, but completely kick started the recent comic book movie revolution. As a fan of the cartoon, this film was beyond all my expectations, a perfect introduction to the mysterious world of mutants. Featuring superb special effects and choosing not to rely purely on action to drive the story forward, X-men is a convincing origins story, proving that character development is the key to creating a successful superhero franchise.

5. Requiem For A Dream - Not since Trainspotting had we seen such a harrowing portrayal of drug users on the big screen. Requiem For A Dream is a fascinating but disturbing view of a young group of friends and the sacrifices they will make in order to satisfy their habits. Darren Aronofsky is a visionary genius, the cinematography is awe inspiring and the unrelenting soundtrack has since become the theme tune for what seems like every sporting event on the television. If ever there was a film powerful enough to prevent people from trying hard drugs, then this is it.

4. Memento - Christopher Nolan has become a household name since his incredibly successful reboot of the Batman franchise, and it is sometimes easy to forget the mind-blowing films that he worked on earlier in his career. After the release of The silence of the lambs and Seven in the previous decade, it was hard to imagine that intelligent serial killers could improve any further but with Memento, Nolan managed to do just that. With the use of an ingenious jigsaw puzzle of a plot device that rewards the viewer with repeated viewings, Memento completely alters the viewers perception of serial killers - no-one can be trusted.

3. Battle Royale - A stark reflection on the state of the society and youth culture at the turn of the millennium, Battle Royale crept into the conscience of cult film fans everywhere with its stylised ultra violence and an extremely gripping concept. Based on a graphic novel, the film is set on a remote Japanese island where a group of thirty unruly students must fight to the death until only one survives. If you haven’t seen the film, I can understand how ridiculous the premise may sound but this is a relentlessly unsettling thriller that caused a wake of controversy on its initial release - not to be missed.

2. Gladiator - The film that turned Russell Crowe into a huge star. If you haven’t yet seen this yet, where have you been for the last ten years? It took five Oscars from an astonishing twelve nominations and deservedly so. From frantic battle scenes in the forest to brilliantly choreographed gladiatorial combat in the arena, Ridley Scott kicked off the millennium in style, proving that people could still stomach historical epics, even when they are as gruesome as this.

1. Dancer In The Dark - This is quite possibly one of the most heartbreaking films I have ever seen. Bjork puts in an outstanding performance as Selma Jezkova, a single mother struggling to earn a living and care for her son in a foreign country. Filled with strange musical interludes that echo the glory days of musicals and represent Selma’s desire for a simpler, happier life, Dancer in the dark is a beautiful study of humanity and the lengths people are willing to go to protect their closest family. Lars Von Trier is well known for his unconventional films, especially with the recent release of the controversial Antichrist, and this is no exception - he pushed Bjork to breaking point on the set, increasing his notoriety as a difficult director to work with. Easily the best film of 2000 and possibly even a contender for best film of the decade.

It was an extremely difficult task to decide which ten films defined the year 2000 - here are my choices that didn't quite make the list:

Sexy Beast
Happy Accidents
Vampire Hunter D
Pay It Forward
Best In Show
Pitch Black
Ginger Snaps
Billy Elliot
You Can Count On Me

Any films I missed? Let me know!

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