Best? Top? Favorite? I don’t know what to call them. I had enough trouble narrowing it down to as many movies as years. These annual reflective round-ups always confound me (and you, probably), but the tyranny of ten becomes even more outrageous when dealing with a decade’s worth of material.
So there’ll be no proselytizing here, just a sort of blurred time-lapse snapshot of one man’s (evidently rather arty) moviegoing disposition.
You’ll notice a lot from Europe. And one American film set in Europe. And another that’s a documentary about an American made by a European. What can I say? By the time you read this, I’ll have left for a European vacation. I doubt that will get it out of my system.
You may also spot me feeling wistful about the relentless march of time. Well, as someone in a movie once said, “Memory is a wonderful thing if you don’t have to deal with the past.”
1. Before Sunset (2004). Writer-director Richard Linklater reunites the couple played by Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy in his 1995 film Before Sunrise, with profound and moving results.
2. Caché (2005). A perfect little thriller that also happens to be a timely parable on colonial blowback and the inverse proportionality of surveillance and disconnection. Typically excellent actors Juliette Binoche and Daniel Auteuil rise to a typically pitiless challenge from the austere Austrian auteur Michael Haneke.
3. Grizzly Man (2005). This exquisitely appropriate union of artist and subject--German madman moviemaker Werner Herzog reflecting on doomed Alaskan bear-watcher Timothy Treadwell--has been haunting me for years.
4. Let the Right One In (2008). If I could see only one vampire movie ever again, or one coming-of-age movie, both would be Tomas Alfredson’s film of John Lindqvist’s script of his own novel. (Which is also to say that, Richard Jenkins notwithstanding, I can do without the forthcoming American remake.)
5. Me and You and Everyone We Know (2005). My first experience of writer-director-performance-artist Miranda July’s inspired, invigorating feature debut ranks high among decade-best movie memories. Its faith in artfulness and fellowship has since been guiding.
6. Russian Ark (2002). At last, a film that Russian history buffs and tracking-shot fetishists can agree on. Filmmaker Alexander Sokurov’s technically and poetically astonishing stroll through St. Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum is a virtuosic correlation of content and form.
7. Saraband (2003). The late, great master Ingmar Bergman reunites the couple played by Erland Josephson and Liv Ullmann in his 1973 film Scenes from a Marriage, with profound and moving results.
8. Sexy Beast (2000). Gangster chic had gotten tediously shabby when director Jonathan Glazer’s sinewy feature debut came along and revitalized it. Ray Winstone gives this brilliant black comedy its savory soul, and Ben Kingsley gives it a live-wire jolt. To borrow a line from the latter, “Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!”
9. Touch the Sound (2004). You might expect a documentary about a deaf percussionist to get gimmicky or shamefully schmaltzy. But Thomas Riedelsheimer’s innately cinematic portrait of Evelyn Glennie takes its subject’s example and defies all conceptual limitations.
10. You Can Count On Me (2000). With serene intelligence, genuine warmth and great roles for great actors Mark Ruffalo and Laura Linney, playwright/screenwriter Kenneth Lonergan’s directorial debut sets a new standard for intimate character-driven drama.