Thursday, December 24, 2009

YMD and Friends Film Bonanza part 3

Our third entry comes from my homeboy Joe O'Connor, who besides being a bro of the highest caliber is also the drummer for Chicago-based new-wavers California Wives. Joe's hair isn't as long as it used to be, but it's nice to know that his love for dick jokes is as strong as ever. Here we go:

10. Finding Nemo dir. Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich (2003)
Funnier than many much more vulgar movies I have seen this decade and more smile-inducing than many heart-warmers as well.

9. Up dir. Pete Docter and Bob Peterson (2009)
The saddest first ten minutes of any movie I have ever seen and one that sets up the story with zero dialogue, better than most prologues. Has an ending that doesn't make me worry about growing old so much.

8. Little Miss Sunshine dir. Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris (2006)
People go on and on about Abigail Breslin and how adorable she is, but she was adorable in Signs and that movie was half-assed. The whole family dislikes each other, but they love Olive, which is all that keeps them together. That's the difference between an adorable child actor in a movie and one in a great movie, and it's why I love this movie.

7. The Incredibles dir. Brad Bird (2005)
I didn't see The Watchmen, but I'm pretty sure that you couldn't make a better screen adaptation of that graphic novel. If you don't believe me watch it again.

6. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind dir. Michel Gondry (2004)
People disagree on what actually happens at the end of this movie, but whatever happens to the relationship both parties decide that it was worth remembering.

5. Superbad dir. Greg Mottola (2007)
There is no movie that better illustrates how much teenage boys think they know about women, and how little they in fact do. It is also dead on in how they exhibit this "knowledge." The lines would not be as funny without this accuracy and they wouldn't be nearly as funny without the performances. The phrase "Jules and her stupid fucking friend," is not that funny on its own, but when Seth says it, it's the funniest line in the movie.

4. Adaptation dir. Charlie Kaufman (2002)
My favorite trivia item about this movie is that it was nominated for the Oscar for best adapted screenplay. It did not win. Considering it barely qualifies as an adaptation, I'm not sure I blame the academy. However, if it had won the Oscar would have gone to Charlie and Donald Kaufman. Donald as far as I know is a fictional character within the movie. That is just the beginning of this movie's quest to punch through the third wall. It might as well have been put up for best documentary as well because it captures the writing process, neuroses, social disorders, and crushing loneliness of Charlie's life. Although, he could be totally full of shit and everything could be made up. Who knows? But half the fun is wondering.

3. There Will Be Blood dir. Paul Thomas Anderson (2007)
Behind all of the revolutionary techniques involved in its execution Citizen Kane is a melodrama about a self-made powerful man, who we mostly find despicable and occasionally sympathize with. There Will Be Blood is quite similar, although we barely sympathize with Daniel Plainview at all. Blood, like Kane, did not win the best picture Oscar, but in a few years I think it will be obvious that it should have.

2. Children of Men dir. Alfonso Cuarón (2006)
I was so blown away by this movie when it came out that my immediate reaction was the best sci-fi film ever made. Repeat viewings of it, as well as 2001 and Blade Runner have convinced me this is not the case. Children of Men, however, still stacks up well against them. Having recently seen Avatar it strikes me how subtly Alfonso Cuarón draws parallels from his imagined world to our society and its issues without allowing anyone to mistake how he feels about them, unlike James Cameron, who feels the need to beat you over the head. The same is true of the execution of the two films, all the CGI and fast paced shots in Avatar are not nearly as exciting as the ten-minute-long takes and broken down sets in Children of Men. I liked Avatar a lot, but it, like most other movies this decade and before, cannot hold a candle to Children of Men.

1. The 40 Year Old Virgin dir. Judd Apatow (2005)
So how could I like a movie more than the one I just talked about? Well it took a movie that is vulgar, while still managing to be heart-warming; hysterical, while still managing to have something vastly important to say. I like to think that you can judge a movie's success by asking what it set out to do and then deciding how well it accomplished that goal. The 40 Year Old Virgin is a comedy and so it set out to be funny. It is the funniest movie of the decade and so it could be said it accomplished its goal the best of any movie made this decade. That alone could make it No. 1. On top of that, however, it manages to challenge us to completely rethink our assumptions about sex and relationships, which makes it an easy choice. That and no movie better shows how much grown men think we know about women, and how little we in fact do.

And with that, yet another fabulous post comes to a close. I'll probably post one more today before heading out for Christmas Eve dinner. If you have a list of your own, there's still plenty of time to send it in.

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