Tuesday, August 18, 2009

In which I steal Quentin Tarantino's idea

... not that he'll mind, since he's been, ah, re-purposing cinematic ideas for his entire career. (And not that I mind. QT remains the single most exciting name in moviemaking. Nothing gives me quite the same burst of adrenaline as going to see a new Quentin Tarantino film.)

So as part of his promotion for "Inglourious Basterds," which will be unleashed on the public this Friday, QT decided to make a video listing the 20 best films of the past 17 years -- i.e., the 20 best films since he released his first feature, "Reservoir Dogs."

The choices make sense, considering who they're coming from. Here's the video:

So naturally, I want to follow suit and do the same. But here's the problem: Can I separate the 20 best movies from my 20 favorite movies? Many of my choices would appear on both lists, but I think I'll try to rationally decide which films from that time period are actually the best, even if I have no desire to ever see them again. (Something like, say, "Requiem for a Dream" comes to mind.)

So here's my attempt at it. Like QT, I'll start with my absolute No. 1, then proceed alphabetically:

"Magnolia," d. Paul Thomas Anderson, 1999
• • •
"A.I.," d. Steven Spielberg, 2001
"Dancer in the Dark," d. Lars Von Trier, 2000
"Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," d. Michel Gondry, 2004
"Eyes Wide Shut," d. Stanley Kubrick, 1999
"Get Shorty," d. Barry Sonnenfeld, 1995
"The Lord of the Rings," d. Peter Jackson, 2001-2003
"The Matrix," d. Andy & Larry Wachowksi, 1999
"Oldboy," d. Chan-wook Park, 2003
"Pulp Fiction," d. Quentin Tarantino, 1994
"Requiem for a Dream," d. Darren Aronofsky, 2000
"Rushmore," d. Wes Anderson, 1998
"Schindler's List," d. Steven Spielberg, 1993
"Seven," d. David Fincher, 1995
"The Shawshank Redemption," d. Frank Darabont, 1994
"There Will Be Blood," d. Paul Thomas Anderson, 2007
"Titanic," d. James Cameron, 1997
"The Truman Show," d. Peter Weir, 1998
"WALL•E,", d. Andrew Stanton, 2008
"Zodiac," d. David Fincher, 2007

I find I'm a bit embarrassed by this list, but at least it's honest. But it does contain two films apiece by Spielberg, Fincher and P.T. Anderson, and the biggest box office success in history. (But like "Titanic" or not, you must admire the massive undertaking it was, and the massive risk it took.)

Many will wonder why the hell "A.I." appears on this list. I plan to write an impassioned defense of Steven Spielberg's woefully misunderstood masterpiece at the end of this year, when I will almost certainly name it the best film of the decade. Yes, I really think so.

Why is "Get Shorty" on the list? Name me a better-scripted comedy from the last 17 years. Oh wait, you can't. Scott Frank's screenplay for that film belongs in some kind of comedy hall of fame, right next to Bob Zemeckis and Bob Gale's script for "Back to the Future." It's one of the great underrated films of my lifetime.

OK, time to bash my picks below ...

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