Chris’s Top 25 Films of the Previous Decade

January 19, 2010

Good evening movie loving persons. These are my top 25 movie recommendations of this decade. Unlike some of the other lists, my choices are in no particular order as I have trouble deciding between them. So if a movie seems to be higher or lower on the list than you think it should be, don’t take it too personally. There will be more detailed reviews of these movies posted later. As these are recommendations, it seemed to make little sense to spoil them before you’ve had a chance to watch them.

Lord of the Rings (2001, 2002, 2003)

One of the greatest book series of all time becomes one of the greatest movie trilogies of all time. Everything in this newly created Middle Earth was greatly detailed, from the costumes to the buildings, to the weapons and food. The cast and their performances are also no less than spectacular.  Peter Jackson really knew what he was getting himself into. But I don’t need to justify why these films are the best of our generation, they can do that for themselves.

V for Vendetta (2005)

“Remember, Remember the 5th of November”…because we’re having a movie party!! Nothing like a movie that inspires an annual event!! V for Vendetta stands out to me as a movie that makes you think. Even if you fail to agree with V’s point of view (if you agree completely I would suggest psychiatric help) he challenges you to look at your world in a different light. Overall an excellent, albeit dark, movie. There is also quite a bit of foul language and a few scenes that get a little bloody, so be prepared.

Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)

I felt that an anime should gain some recognition in this list and Howl is one who has earned it. Amazingly cast and with an art style that wows, Hayao Miyazaki really delivers. The music, written by Joe Hisaishi, is also very well orchestrated and you’ll have it stuck in your head for weeks. One thing I will note is if you have read the book, the story has been changed in quite a few ways, but I feel even with these changes it is still a fun and enchanting story.

Pirates of the Caribbean (2003, 2006, 2007)

Despite some inconsistencies and occasional plot holes big enough to sail the Black Pearl through, this series stands out as one of the greatest of our time. The first reason of course is the establishment of a cultural icon in the form of Captain Jack Sparrow, played by Johnny Depp. The second is an endless stream of witty dialogue and epic music composed by Hans Zimmer (much of his best work lies in this series).  Hard to believe this is based on a ride at Disney World…

Oceans 11 (2001)

I must admit that this is really not my type of movie at all and it seems like the basic plot for this movie has been repeated way too many times. The story of the classy thieves is so easily misused and poorly cast. However this one not only possessed an all star cast (George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon,etc. ), but is packed with enough dry humor and classy music to keep its upper crust reputation to itself.

The Dark Knight (2008)

I have very little to say that’s negative about this movie. Christopher Nolan took one of the best know super heroes in the world, built off his recent reboot movie, and gave us one of the most amazing films ever made. When I initially heard that they were doing the Joker I was wondering just how they would go about it. Since he is Batman’s greatest nemesis he needed to be done with great care and Heath Ledger pulled it off.  Its very dark, so be warned, but it’s the standard that super hero movies will be following from this point on…

Final Fantasy 7: Advent Children (2005)

In a word, eye candy (or two words, I guess). This is one of the best CGI movies I have ever seen. Everything down to clothing stitches and drops of water are intricately designed. I will note that some things won’t make sense if you haven’t played the game but that hardly keeps one from enjoying it.  The plot of the actual movie isn’t very hard to follow (in fact the plot is probably one of the less developed things, unfortunately). There are lots of fun characters and amazing fight scenes.  And on top of all this it featured some of the most epic soundtrack music of all time, written by the famous video game composer Nobuo Uematsu, including a remake of “One Winged Angel”, his best known song.

The Passion of the Christ (2004)

Spoiler Alert: Jesus rises from the dead!  I was actually really impressed with this movie. Gibson spares no expense in bringing this film to life, even having the actors speak the original languages and using authentic whips and scourging devices (James Caviezel, the actor who played the role of Jesus, was actually injured by them on several occasions). Not only does it focus on the extreme physical stress put on the body of Christ but also the spiritual beating he took from Satan.  A very good depiction of the last day of Christ.

Stardust (2007)

What really kept this movie from taking off (more than it did) was a lack of advertising. I hadn’t even heard of Stardust until I heard it’s praises from my friends. Based on book by Neil Gaimen, Stardust transports us to an amazing new world across the wall. I don’t think I’ve had this much fun with a fairytale/adventure/romance/comedy movie since The Princess Bride. It’s not without its flaws at points but it’ll draw you in with its lovable characters, music, and a story that soars with the stars.

The Chronicles of Narnia (2005, 2008)

I expected these to be good movies but they exceeded even my expectations. These movies evoke both a sense of epicness and childhood wonder that I feel has been absent in a lot of movies out there. Liam Neeson was a good choice for Aslan and Weta Workshops did an amazing job bringing Narnia to life, just as they did with Middle Earth. Maybe not as good as the books or Lord of the Rings, but worth the watch and worthy of the author who wrote them.

UP (2009)

I have never been on an emotional roller-coaster so quickly into a movie, nor in such a short time. For the main character, Carl, it seems that life is beginning to wind down and near its end. Just one more thing left to do before he can rest. However, through characters like Russell the Wilderness Explorer (sort of equivalent to a boy scout)  and Dug the talking dog, he comes to realize that there are many more adventures yet to be had in life. A very funny and heartwarming film…

National Treasure (2004)

I’ll admit I’m a bit of a history nerd and that’s what draws me strongly to this movie. I mean pursuing a historical fortune? Heck yeah!! On top of that this seems to be a role that’s well suited for Nicolas Cage.  He and Justin Bartha keep the laughs and the action coming. The soundtrack is also fun and great to do homework to. Both a great family movie and a nerdy fantasy rolled into one.

Kingdom of Heaven (2005)

This is a movie I feel often goes unnoticed in a sea of merely moderate historical movies. It was actually this movie that that made me respect Orlando Bloom as an actor (although I will give him best supporting actress for Lord of the Rings). Set during the crusades and mainly taking place in the Holy Land, this film is a truly epic work. However, it’s not just the action scenes but the incredibly quotable material and thought provoking points about religion, seeking God, and relating to others of different beliefs that have earned it a place on this list.  Can be a bit bloody at points. Overall amazing film though.

The Island (2005)

Now it’s really hard to say much about this movie without giving anything away. Suffice to say it’s a fun action movie with a strong emphasis on the sanctity of life, and also explosions as only Michael Bay can provide them. Ewan McGregor and Scarlet Johansson do an incredible job with their roles. If I would make one suggestion: do not research this movie at all going into it, do not even read the back cover of the case. It will be worth it.

Spiderman ( 2002, 2004, 2007)

Sling us a web you’re the Spiderman, sling us a web tonight. Cause we all sure could use us a hero now, and we think that you’ll do all right –“Weird Al” Yankovic

In an era before Super Heroes had much hope as being good movie topics, Spiderman swung onto the stage.  Very well made and with good acting, good music, and a good plot this movie redefined the Super Hero movie cause. Also, strong moral ideas permeate these films as Spiderman develops as a hero and as a person. A must see series.

3:10 to Yuma (2007)

Well, after this movie I believe there is hope for a revival of the Western genre. Westerns were a dying breed, many of whose heroes have ridden off into the sunset for the last time (except for Clint Eastwood, who is busy being the most awesome bitter old man ever). Somehow though this film Christian Bale and Russel Crowe revive the classic western from the brink of extension. Amazing film, although it can be bloody and languagy now and then.

The Village (2004)

This is another film that is very difficult to talk about to any real extent because of the potential effect it could have on viewing it. But that’s the way M. Night Shyamalan movies are (or at least the pre Lady in the Water ones). Even if you think this one’s been spoiled for you I’d challenge you to watch it, as it will have you second guessing yourself constantly.

Phantom of the Opera (2004)

I felt I’d give my list some diversity by adding a musical. Now, when I was little, my mom used to listen to the soundtrack and I really liked it. Didn’t have a clue what it was about, but then I got a chance to hear it preformed in the film. Emmy Rossum really shines as Christine and Gerald Butler also makes an excellent phantom. Between them and the rest of the cast the music of the night really takes off and makes it the best musical movie of the decade (although I’m sure there are many preteen girls who disagree with me).

The Last Samurai (2003)

In general,  I’m not really a fan of Tom Cruise. He’s ok I guess, but not the best in my opinion.  What really gets me is the cultural experience offered in this movie. Initially, I saw it as a way of getting extra credit in my Asian history class. Through an American soldier we get a glimpse of the mind of the Japanese before the Meji Era and how different it is from our own.  It is a very deep and moving film full of epic swordfights, great music, and amazing acting.

TMNT (2007)

Finally, after a 14 year gap, the turtles made it back to the big screen, this time in an animated movie. This movie had a lot to live up to. The third Ninja Turtles movie left the taste of stale pizza in my mouth compared to the former two, so I wondered if this movie could bring back the laughs, action, and eighties slang that we all fell in love with. This film also had to reintroduce the turtles to a new generation while still appealing to their long time fan base. Since (as of now) it has been 25 years since the turtles entered into the world and (as stated before) 14 years since the last movie, there is a whole new potential fan base ready to be introduced to the turtles and, for some, this will be the thing that makes them love or hate the turtles. And I actually feel that it did a totally righteous job. It was also tubular as a movie that crossed the age gap, that is, it could appeal to a larger age group, not only kids or only adults. Cowabunga Forever!!!

I am Legend (2007)

This movie also belongs to a genre that has been abused over the years: the post apocalyptic movie. Since the beginning of film we have seen the world’s destruction and the near extinction of humanity in movies filled with zombies, extreme weather, dragons, aliens, asteroids, bad acting, and plot holes (I apologize if I seem a bit too critical, this isn’t my favorite genre). At best one in ten of these is watchable and only once in an apocalypse do we get a film that’s actually good (although this number seems to be growing in these last few years).  I am Legend is on of those few that makes the cut and Will Smith makes it all come together perfectly. Excellent suspense and action movie.

Luther (2003)

It’s good to see a very well made movie about a very important theologian. This movie captures many key theological issues of the time period and how Martin Luther took action against a Church that was more concerned with its own profits and rules than the will of God or His Word. Not only that, but many of the things he faced are similar to issues we often see even today. Both inspiring and thought provoking, Luther will hopefully draw you closer to God as He earnestly tries to seek you Himself.

The Incredibles (2004)

Well, it seems that once again Pixar has made another super movie. This is the first of their films that focuses on actual humans, albeit superheroes. These super heroes are gathered under one roof for a single purpose: “To face the challenge of every day life!” (If you fail to catch the reference, that’s ok, I’ll revel in my own nostalgia and the answer will show up in the full review.) A set of Super heroes get married, and, due to new anti super hero legislation, start lives as normal people and begin raising their super children. Great family movie as well as super hero flick.

The Patriot (2000)

Another great movie starring Mel Gibson. While not being quite as epic as Braveheart, The Patriot still cuts to the heart with its characters’ attempts to win FREEEEEEEEEEEDOOOOMMMMM!!!!!! Okay, now that I’ve got that off my chest I’d like to say as a history nerd that I enjoy a good historically based movie, but also know how easy it is to make them suck. This movie defines Revolutionary Patriotism like none before or after. There is no middle ground.

Amazing Grace (2006)

This film follows  the life of William Wilberforce in his quest to end the slave trade in the British Empire. Very emotionally stirring as it looks at one man’s faith and how he attempted to merge it with politics to make a difference. I’d say it brings out the best and worst points in trying to apply faith to the political arena. A good film and you should see it.

Honorable Mentions

In this section I felt the need to put down a few movies that didn’t make the cut, but deserve a place somewhere. However, to save on time and space I have decided to only list ones that no one else has previously mentioned in any way.

Napoleon Dynamite (2004): Because I feel it had a big impact and left this generation with a cornucopia of odd, quotable material and fun memories. However, it has the potential to get old faster than you can make yourself a danged quesadilla, to the point of questioning why our culture latched on so tightly. Its just not top 25 material ok??!! GOSH!

The Prestige (2006): While not quite as glorious as The Dark Knight, it is none the less an amazing Christopher Nolan film set in turn of the century London and about two rival stage magicians on a quest to outdo one another. I don’t want to give anything away, so I’m not gonna say any more. Worth seeing at least twice, because after seeing it once you’ll watch it differently.

The Emperor’s New Groove (2000):  Genuinely funny and with a good message it gave me hope for animated Disney movies to eventually rise to their former glory. The hope was in vain but hey, at least we got a break right?


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