In continuation to my run down of what movies I think really stood out in the decade, here’s part two …
Shaun Of The Dead
Of the few comedies to really make people get talking this past decade, this British collaboration between TV actors Simon Pegg & Nick Frost with director Edgar Wright really struck a chord. Not only was it perfectly timed with the renewed interest in the zombie movie following in the wake of Danny Boyles’ 28 Days Later, this clever as hell comedy doesn’t rely on cheap gags or absurd characters, but believable nobodies in a life and death situation, all topped off with a bit of romance for good measure. Endlessly re-watchable. The best rom-zom-com ever made.
Lost In Translation
A romantic comedy that isn’t really a comedy or particularly a romance – that’s some achievement. It makes Bill Murray more than just that 80s comedy star with a dry sense of humour, and re-discovers Scarlett Johansson and makes anyone who thought she was just a pretty face, think again. As a love letter to Tokyo and Japanese culture it can not be faulted, and as a representation of Sophia Coppolla, she definitely proved herself as not just the daughter of Francis Ford Coppolla, but as a director of real merit. Poetic, subtle, and timelessly memorable.
On paper this should be a dirty movie, but with Maggie Gyllenhaal as the nerdy, wannabe secretary and former self-harmer who discovers her kinkier side when she meets James Spader’s bizarre, secretive lawyer-boss; this erotic without any actual sex in it movie stands out for its subtlety and clever script. At its heart it’s an unconventional love story, and also a keen observation of human nature. It’s also very funny. Highly recommended.
This feels to me like the Woody Allen movie that was never made. Stephen Frears’ whimsical romantic comedy has a career best from John Cusack and it can also be credited as the movie with Jack Black in it you didn’t want to switch off ten seconds after pressing play. Based on the novel by Nick Hornby, this has so much to recommend it, not just because it has a great soundtrack, or makes a lead character that should be totally unlikable totally likable, but because it has some of the best dialogue I’ve ever heard as well as scene after scene that sticks in your head.
O Brother Where Art Thou?
Could this be the perfect Coen Brother’s movie? It has everything they love – deep south backdrop, a bevy of character actors in the form of George Clooney, John Totturro and John Goodman, a clever take on an old story (this time: Homer’s Odyssey) and stunning cinematography. The comedy is first class without being silly, the situations both reflective of American history and just brilliant set ups for our hapless heroes, with plenty of iconic moments. They didn’t come close to this again until No Country For Old Men.
Adapting one of the most talked about novels of the past twenty years was going to be tough, especially when said novel was often criticised for its highly detailed description of violence and murder. Yet the novel by Brett Eastern Ellis was also a satire of 80s culture, office politics and yuppies. Casting former child actor Christian Bale as the eerily charming Patrick Bateman, adding a cheesy 80s pop soundtrack, and also dousing the material in some surreal moments of horror, makes for not only one of the best movies of the decade, but also one of the sharpest and most fascinating serial killer flicks ever made.
There are many more movies I could mention, but I think this list and its predecessor form the movies that had the biggest effect on me personally. I think they all have their own unique merits and offered something perhaps we hadn’t seen before or at least not on such a level. I hope anyone who hasn’t seen some of the movies mentioned, takes the time to seek them out.