My PERSONAL Tops of the Decade (TV, Film, Video Games and Music)
It being 2010 now, everyone’s doing the whole retrospective thing. I am SO unqualified to do this as a “best by some aesthetic standard” list, because I wasn’t really old enough to have a good critical eye/ear when the decade began, and because there’s just so much out there that I simply haven’t seen. I’m just going to go with my personal favorites – the things I enjoy a lot, whether they’re “lasting greats” or not – of the noughties. So no flaming.
And by the way, these lists were very hard to narrow down. There were a lot that *nearly* made it (and probably would make it if I revised these lists) but I had to draw the line somewhere. Unfortunately.
Best Films – doesn’t include re-releases, restorations, or sequels. I’m only going with one from each major director/animation studio as well (because otherwise this list would be 60% Pixar films…)
- Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (dir. Peter Weir, USA 2003) This movie has everything – great characters, AMAZING sound design and editing, great sets, a thrilling story, wonderful suspense, a beautiful soundtrack, and lots of great naval battles. Every time I watch it, it gets better, and in my opinion it holds up as well as another historical epic, my #2 favorite movie of all time, Lawrence of Arabia. God damn, this is a good movie. Definitely my favorite to come out of this decade, no question.
- Ratatouille (Pixar, USA 2007) If I have to pick just one Pixar film for this top-10, then it has to be this one. It has a great soundtrack, great dialogue, lots of fun and humor, and timelessly beautiful settings. The sheer amount of detail and love put into this film is just astounding, and it’s a film that not only blew me away the first time I saw it, but actually got better with repeat viewings. And I just love how the end credits are done in traditional animation – Pixar isn’t losing touch with their roots, that’s for sure. Bravo for proving CGI animation worthy in my eyes, Pixar.
- Millenium Actress (dir. Satoshi Kon, Japan 2001) A great film that makes amazing use of both the film medium and the animated film medium, and one of the best and most interesting examples of “postmodernism” I’ve ever seen. Most people prefer Kon’s other 2000s film Paprika, but this one speaks to me more as a film buff so I had to pick it over Paprika. The film jumps through Japanese history, Japanese cinema history (and a bit of anime history too, one could argue), the history of the main character’s acting career, as well as the progress of her romantic pursuits. It takes a lot of skill to tell so many story threads in one film without losing the audience. Did I mention that the entire film is framed in a sort of meta-film documentary as well? This is one impressive film, and if it sounds confusing – surprisingly, it’s not – it’s pretty easy to follow, although knowing about Japanese history and Japanese film helps.
- The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (dir. Peter Jackson, USA 2001) This, in my opinion, is a modern-day revival of the old epics of the ’50s and ’60s. I have to give Peter Jackson and WETA a huge tip o’ the hat for using a lot of REAL stuff and not just reverting to CGI entirely, and for having the bollocks to knock out a generally faithful and highly entertaining adaptation of what is arguably the greatest fantasy series out there. This film is just so…dense….with awesome and detail, kind of like the old Star Wars films, that it’s great to watch again and again.
- The Triplets of Belleville (dir. Sylvain Chomet, France/Belgium/UK/Canada 2003) A triumph of unconventional animation and retro style weirdness that one wouldn’t expect to find in this decade. There’s almost no talking in this film, which is an achievement in itself. It’s surreal, funny, crazy, and reminds me of political cartoons. Plus, it has a great soundtrack, and some amusing stereotypes of French and American people. The CGI may be a bit odd in parts, but the film is still pretty damn awesome.
- No Country For Old Men (dir. Cohen Bros., USA 2007) A modern-day suspense classic. The acting and sound design are top-notch, and the story is riveting. I think the reason they gave Javier Bardem’s character that silly haircut was to take the edge off his otherwise-terrifying character…and to prove that even someone with that haircut could be totally scary. He’s an amazing actor. But anyhow, since I can only pick one Cohen movie for my favorite of the decade, it’s this one.
- The Cat Returns and Spirited Away (Studio Ghibli, Japan 2002, 2001) It’s a tie between these two. The Cat Returns didn’t get a very wide release, and I honestly like it just as much as Spirited Away (which DID get a huge release and tons of press – it was the first Ghibli film that a lot of Americans saw, thanks to Ghibli’s deal with Disney – although its Buena Vista affiliation generated some pretty lame English voice talent and translation, though it could be far worse). Both of these films, and Ghibli films in general, are so beautiful, fun, and magical. And both are thematically similar, dealing with a “real world” girl being transported into an alternate reality populated by non-humans.
- School of Rock (dir. Richard Linklater, USA 2003)
- Angel-A (dir. Luc Besson, France 2005)
- Amelie (dir. Jean-Pierre Jeunet, France 2001)
*honourable mention: Casino Royale was just edged off the list – it deserves at least a shout-out if nothing else. Also, I only just saw Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story which was utterly hilarious and also deserves a shout-out, as does The Princess and the Frog for getting back to what Disney does right, and Inglourious Basterds for being downright awesome, good old-fashioned Nazi-killin’ ultraviolent fun.*
Best Television Series – doesn’t include re-runs or “remixes” (ála Dragonball Kai). No TV movies – only miniseries and series. I’m being unfair here and including spinoffs and sequel series, if they occur separately and not just as extra seasons of the same show.
- Life on Mars (BBC, UK 2006-7)
- Top Gear (BBC, UK 2002-present)
- Ashes to Ashes (BBC, UK 2008-present)
- Cranford (BBC, UK 2007)
- South Park (Comedy Central, USA 1997-present)
- Samurai Jack (Cartoon Network, USA 2001-4)
- Flight of the Conchords (HBO, USA 2007-9)
- The Boondocks (Cartoon Network, USA 2005-present)
- Kino’s Journey (WOWOW, Japan 2003)
- Kingdom Hospital (ABC, USA 2004)
*honourable mention: Rome (it was pretty good but I never finished watching it, so I feel unqualified to judge it) and Doctor Who with David Tennant (because I’m a huge nerd)*
Best Video Games – doesn’t include re-releases of pre-2000 games unless they have been significantly altered. Only one game per franchise.
- Kingdom Hearts (Squaresoft, PS2, 2002)
- The Beatles: Rock Band (Harmonix, Wii/PS3/Xbox360, 2009)
- Black Jack Hinotori Hen (Sega, DS, 2007)
- Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (DS remake) (Capcom, DS, 2005)
- Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift (Square Enix, DS, 2007)
- Devil May Cry (Capcom, PS2, 2001)
- BioShock (2K Games, PS3/Xbox360/Mac/PC, 2007)
- Onimusha 3: Demon Siege (Capcom, PS2, 2005)
- WarioWare: Twisted! (Nintendo, GBA, 2004)
- Dynasty Warriors 4 (Koei, PS2, 2003)
*honourable mentions: Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance for GBA and King of Fighters 2000 for NeoGeo*
Is it just me or are “console exclusives” becoming increasingly rare these days? Maybe it’s so the companies can make more money….
Best Albums – doesn’t include compilations or greatest hits collections, although I am counting remixes. Only one album per artist.
- Guero (Beck, 2005)
- Love (The Beatles/George and Giles Martin, 2006)
- Employment (Kaiser Chiefs, 2005)
- Disney Bossa Nova (Various Artists, 2004)
- The Grey Album (DJ Danger Mouse [remixing Jay-Z and The Beatles], 2004)
- Friendly Fire (Sean Lennon, 2006)
- Demon Days (Gorillaz, 2005)
- Chaos and Creation in the Backyard (Paul McCartney, 2005)
- Crescent (Gackt, 2003)
- 100 Days, 100 Nights (Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, 2007)
(top comics/manga of the decade to come later, perhaps)
Sorry, guys – I never really finished working on this ages ago but I decided to just publish it anyway for the heck of it. Hope you enjoy the fragment 😛