A Half-Decade in Film

Since 2005, I have nerdily kept track of virtually every film I have watched.  Below, I rank my favorites in accordance with the year I watched them.  The original film release date is in parenthesis.

2005
01. The Motorcycle Diaries (2004) – A road movie about young Che Guevara.
02. Annie Hall (1977)One of Woody Allen’s (and Diane Keaton’s) best films.
03. Breaking the Waves (1996)Lars Von Trier’s unsettling take on faith/love.
04. Nobody Knows (2004) Haunting film about poor Japanese children.
05. Dogville (2003)Von Trier does “Our Town” with Nicole Kidman.
06. Reconstruction (2003) – Visually clever and stunning Danish love story.
07. Ten (2002)Excellent Iranian film by Abbas Kiarostami.

2006
01. Without Memory (1996) – Best documentary I’ve ever seen.
02. Seoul Train (2004)A documentary on North Korean refugees.
03. Paradise Now (2005)Complex film about Palestinian suicide bombers.
04. Fire (1996)A dissection of Indian culture and mainstream values.
05. Le Grand Voyage (2004)An estranged father and son travel to Mecca.
06. Cache (2005) – Michael Haneke’s exploration of modernity and guilt.
07. The Science of Sleep (2006)An enchanting story by Michel Gondry.
08. 21 Grams (2003) – A devastating tragedy by one of my favorite directors.
09. Trois Coleurs: Bleu (1993) – The best of the famed Kieslowski trilogy.
10. L’enfer (2005) – Danis Tanovic directed this Kieslowski screenplay.

2007
01. Grbavica (2006)An amazing Bosnian film about a mother and daughter.
02. Babel (2006)3 stories from Mexico, Morocco, and Japan intertwine.
03. The Prestige (2006) – Christopher Nolan’s clever film about rival magicians.
04. Russian Ark (2002)The longest, most gorgeous one-shot film in history.
05. Magnolia (1999)P.T Anderson’s ingenius take on interconnected stories.
06. Rabbit Proof Fence (2002)2 Aboriginals in Australia walk 2000 km home.
07. The Simpson’s Movie (2007)I laughed so hard in the cinema.
08. Crossing the Dust (2006) – A simple, profound Iranian film.
09. Bled Number One (2006)Never seen anything like it.

2008
01. 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days (2007) – Incredible Romanian film on abortion.
02. There Will Be Blood (2007)P.T Anderson and Daniel Day Lewis.
03. Three Monkeys (2008)Fantastic Turkish film from Nuri Bilge Ceylan.
04. JCVD (2008) – Redeemed Jean Claude Van Damme’s acting entirely.
05. I’m Not There (2007) – The best American film I’ve seen in ages, on Dylan.
06. Funny Games (US) (2007)Michael Haneke remakes his original exactly.
07. Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008) – A fun film about modern love.
08. A State of Mind (2004) – Documentary about North Korean acrobats.
09. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007) – A man writes solely by blinking.

2009
01. The Virgin Spring (1960) – Bergman’s best about the complexity of faith.
02. A Man Escaped (1956)A profound story of escape by Robert Bresson.
03. Frost/Nixon (2008) – Ron Howard’s take on Nixon and watergate.
04. Les Diaboliques (1955) – The best suspense film I’ve seen.
05. The Class (2008)Cinema verite par excellence about teacher/students.
06. Death in Gaza (2004)Good documentary about life of Gazan children.

2010
01. The Great Dictator (1940) – I saw this Chaplin masterpiece in the cinema.
02. Na Patu (2010) – Bosnian film about a couple’s struggle with Islam.
03. Inception (2010)Christopher Nolan’s take on dreams within dreams.
04. La Vie en Rose (2007) – The life of Edith Piaf, played by Marion Cotillard.
05. Husbands and Wives (1992) – An excellent drama by Woody Allen.
05. Into the Wild (2007) – A modern tale of simple living in nature.
06. The Boxer (1997)Daniel Day Lewis in an amazing Irish film.
07. The Soloist (2009) – The power of relationship with the homeless.
08. Lars and the Real Girl (2007) – The power of community.
09. The Secret in their Eyes (2009) – A haunting Argentinian film.
10. In the Mood for Love (2000) / 2046 (2004)Finally seen in the cinema!

2011
01.  Of Gods and Men
02.  Seven Chances
03.  Get Low
04.  The Wrestler
05.  The Burning Plain
06.  The King’s Speech
07.  Tree of Life
08.  Inside Job
09.  Drive
10.  Blue Valentine

2012
01.  The Master | Paul Thomas Anderson | 2012 | USA
02.  The Artist | Michel Hazanavicius | 2011 | FRANCE
03.  A Separation | Asghar Farhadi | 2011 | IRAN
04.  Life of Pi | Ang Lee | 2012 | USA
05.  Being Flynn | Paul Weitz | 2012 | USA
06.  The Dark Knight Rises | Christopher Nolan | 2012 | USA
07.  Lorna’s Silence | Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne | 2008 | BELGIUM
08.  Moonrise Kingdom | Wes Anderson | 2012 | USA
09.  Looper | Rian Johnson | 2012 | USA
10.  Chicken with Plums | Vincent Paronnaud & Marjane Satrapi | 2011 | FRANCE

2013
5 Broken Cameras | 2011 | PALESTINE | Emad Burnat, Guy Davidi
12 Years a Slave | 2013 | USA | Steve McQueen
A Late Quartet | 2012 | USA | Yaron Zilberman
Amour | 2012 | FRANCE | Michael Haneke
Beyond the Hills | 2012 | ROMANIA | Cristian Mungiu
Blackfish | 2013 | USA | Gabriela Cowperthwaite
Blue Jasmine | 2013 | USA | Woody Allen
Charles Bradley: Soul of America | 2012 | USA | Poull Brien
Django Unchained | 2012 | USA | Quentin Tarantino
Enough Said | 2013 | USA | Nicole Holofcener
Gravity | 2013 | USA | Alfonso Cuarón
The Grandmaster | 2013 | HONG KONG | Wong Kar Wai
Jiro Dreams of Sushi | 2011 | USA | David Gelb
Mud | 2012 | USA | Jeff Nichols
Prisoners | 2013 | USA | Denis Villeneuve
Searching for Sugar Man | 2012 | SWEDEN | Malik Bendjelloul
The Hunt | 2012 | DENMARK | Thomas Vinterberg
The Imposter | 2012 | UK | Bart Layton
The Impossible | 2012 | SPAIN | J.A. Bayona
This Must Be the Place | 2011 | ITALY | Paolo Sorrentino
The Waiting Room | 2012 | USA | Peter Nicks
Zero Dark Thirty | 2012 | USA | Kathryn Bigelow

BEST FILM SEEN IN LAST DECADE:
The Great Dictator (1940) at the Herzliya Cinematheque in Israel, December 2010.  It was completely surreal to see a film released 70 years ago and to feel it still had immense relevance and power.  The film is a lasting testament to the power of comedy vis-a-vis social change.  This film is a Chaplin masterpiece and one of the bravest, most enduring works of cinema in our time.  I feel privileged, enriched, and more human to have seen it.

WORST FILM EXPERIENCE IN LAST DECADE:
Watching Krzystof Kieslowski’s Three Colors Trilogy (Blue, White, and Red), one after the other at the Broadway Cinematheque in Hong Kong, 2006.  The films, by themselves are good, but I entered the cinema at noon and left six hours later feeling like some disgusting creature emerging from hibernation.

2 comments

  1. “07. The Simpson’s Movie (2007) – I laughed so hard in the cinema.” — DEFINITELY the most unexpected thing I came across here.

  2. I only went to the cinema once or twice this year, however “Un Prophète” was bloody good. Other films I enjoyed this year were “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans” and “JCVD” (although, unlike yourself, I dig his whole filmography).

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