Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Listology # 13: Top 10 Films of 2001

10. Va Savoir (Jacques Rivette)
This is from French New Wave director Jacques Rivette, who frankly never lost much of his mojo since the heyday of the French New Wave of the 1960's. It's a comedic farce about the love lives of people involved in the making of a play: The actress, the director and their respective friends, ex-lovers, etc. It's actually quite fun to watch, believe it or not and it's wonderful, delightful film.

9. Ghost World (Terry Zwigoff)
Based on comic book by Daniel Clowes, the film is about two quirky teenage girls newly graduated from high school who decides to play a prank on a lonely middle-aged man but things don't go quite as they expected. Teen comedies tend to bore me half the time but this one is exceptional. Steve Buscemi was robbed of an Oscar nomination, I must say.

8. No Man's Land (Danis Tanovic)
A Bosnian and a Serb are caught in the crossfire of the two warring factions. This is a unique film because despite the dead serious subject matter, it's also a wickedly funny black comedy and also contains a scene that will get you to the edge of your seats. This film upset Amelie at the Best Foreign Language Film category at the Oscars and in this case, I agree with the decision. After a roller-coaster ride of laughs and heart-pounding thrills, the film leaves you with a lot to think about. It's a mark of a great film.

7. Gosford Park (Robert Altman)
This is another film little film. It's a murder mystery that doesn't really care about the murder mystery and you won't too because it's a sharp, witty comedy of manners about a group of rich socialites and their servants cooped up in a large stately mansion. A huge ensemble of mostly British actors bring to life Julian Fellowes' Oscar-winning screenplay under the direction of Robert Altman who uses his trademark maverick eye and gift for overlapping dialogue and storylines. 

6. Hedwig and the Angry Inch (John Cameron Mitchell)
This film is based on an off-Broadway musical about a botched German transsexual stalking her now-famous rock star ex-boyfriend who stole the songs she wrote. I was pleasantly surprised by this film because the premise does not do the actual film justice since it's so much deeper than that. Also, it features fantastic songs which I often play a lot in my iPod even to this day. John Cameron Mitchell makes a remarkable debut both as a star and as the director. 

5. The Royal Tenenbaums (Wes Anderson)
I'm very much a fan of director Wes Anderson (though I can't stand certain films and filmmakers who attempt to imitate his quirky style). The Royal Tenenbaums is about a man who after being estranged from his dysfunctional family, tries to make amends after he finds out he's dying. The film of course does not take the sentimental, predictable route. It allows its characters to be unlikeable and mixes laughs with dark moments. One of the best films of the year which more than earned its spot here.

4. Mulholland Drive (David Lynch)
"Predictable" is not an adjective used to describe the works of David Lynch. Especially, not his one. I've seen this film two or three times and every time I see something new. It's a truly bizarre piece of work about an aspiring actress who dreams of Hollywood stardom but finds murder instead, at least that's what the first half of the film is about. Then the story takes a bizarre turn that has to be seen to be believed. A word of warning: Don't read David Lynch's clues on how to unlock it. It will just confuse you more.

3. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (Peter Jackson)
Even after all these years, Peter Jackson's filming of J.R.R. Tolkien's epic literary masterpiece The Lord of the Rings is still quite a monumental achievement. The first chapter of the trilogy kicks off what would be thrilling fantastic ride through Middle-Earth. I don't need to tell you that.

2. In the Mood for Love (Wong Kar-Wai)
This is probably one of the most romantic (even erotic) films ever made yet the two main characters don't even so much as kiss. That's the beauty and power of this film. It's about a man and a woman who are neighbors and find out that their respective spouses are cheating on them with each other. They develop a friendship which blossoms into love yet refuse to stoop to their level. The film is a pitch-perfect symphony of beautiful acting, cinematography, music and direction.

1. A.I. Artificial Intelligence (Steven Spielberg)
 Among all the films in Steven Spielberg's oeuvre, this is probably one of if not the most controversial. Spielberg inherited this project from director Stanley Kubrick who initially wanted him to direct it. After he died, his widow gave him her blessing to continue this dream project of Kubrick's. It resulted in one of the most talked about films of 2001. Some people hated it. Some people loved it. It's a bizarre, endlessly fascinating amalgamation of the themes and styles of the two auteurs. It's modern-day Pinocchio tale about a robot boy who yearns for his mother's love. Between Haley Joel Osment's astonishing performance and a lot of the deeply emotional yet also thought-provoking and troubling themes embedded into the film, this is one of Spielberg's best films and one of his masterpieces. 

Runners-Up: Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India (Ashutosh Gowariker); Atanarjuat The Fast Runner (Zacharias Kunuk); The Piano Teacher (Michael Haneke); Monsters Inc. (Pete Docter); Memento (Christopher Nolan).


Sub-Radar-Mike said...

Interesting roundup... I have seen most of the films on this list, but the rest have been added to my "must watch" queue.

mad padre said...

Gosford Park is a good addition to that list. It is such a wonderful conclusion to Altmann's career, and so quirky on so many levels. The cameo role by Stephen Fry, where it veers into a sendup of an Agatha Christie style country house whodunnit, is wonderful.

I don't know the French film, I will have to check it out. Ditto for Ghost World. Is that the young Renee Zellwegger in the still?

The Angry Lurker said...

8 and 4 (which I liked but never understood) and Monsters Inc!

YeamieWaffles said...

I've never watched AI before but damn it sounds really good, I need to watch it now!

Mark said...

I didn't realise that the first LoTR movie was just that old. I also remember AI being very touching in places.

Anonymous said...

great list. LOTR series is classic. It really did justice to the books. Nice blog :)

Bersercules said...

I loved Ghost World! Steve Buscemi is one of the best actors ever!

(and oddly enough I never heard of AI till you mentioned it right now, I saw the Bicentennial Man though.)

MRanthrope said...

I definitely want to check out In The Mood For Love so thanks for the heads up.

I liked AI, I think Spielberg did a great job but just couldn't help but wonder what Kubrick would have done you know? That said, I really didn't care for Mullholland Dr. It wasn't bad but, failed to live up to the massive hype I'd heard behind it.

G said...

I'd forgotten about most of these...except LotR...

DWei said...

I'm proud of myself. I've actually seen a few of these. :)