Top 10 movies of the decade

Sun Nov 29, 2009 6:54pm EST
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By Kirk Honeycutt

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Let the arguments begin. The best films of the decade are, in my opinion, as follows.

For certain, they won't be yours, though I do hope this list jogs the memory. These are films that had an impact. They shocked, dismayed and provoked. They unsettled people. They established legacies, won awards and aggravated more than a few. None is easy or conventional. That's what great movies are about.


Austrian director Michael Haneke's "The White Ribbon," made in Germany, looks at the Hitler generation when they were in knee pants. A small Protestant village maintains a strict hierarchical order, where everyone knows his place, yet an inhuman moral code holds sway. Again, as in his "Cache," much is hidden, and Haneke is never one to resolve the story's mysteries. The youngsters have embraced the dark side of the adults' values, and he doesn't have to explain where this will lead.


The story of a devastating handicap -- a paralyzing stroke that traps French editor Jean-Dominique Bauby in his body where only a left eyelid can communicate -- becomes an essay about the strength of the human spirit. It is probably the only film ever to exist as virtually one long POV shot. Director Julian Schnabel, who specializes in films about artists who overcome huge obstacles, writer Ronald Harwood and cinematographer Janusz Kaminski solve the problem of a "locked-in" movie by showing everything the man sees from his bed and wheelchair, in sometimes blurred and shaking images, as well as his fantasies and memories. It actually improves on Bauby's dictated memoir by making us literally see and feel the rage, lust, hunger and humor that illness cannot diminish. The performance by Mathieu Amalric is both poignant and breathtaking.


Yes, Michael Haneke makes the list twice -- and I don' t even count myself a fan. These two films are simply that good. "Cache" -- "hidden" in French -- is a mystery film and one that never bothers to solve its mystery. That lies outside Haneke's interest. He is more concerned about institutional racism, the hidden, if not unconscious, bias that humans harbor about one another and the subject of guilt, communication and willful amnesia. The film operates like a thriller, with overtones of Hitchcock's "Rear Window," which serves to remind us that moviemaking -- and movie watching -- is an act of voyeurism.   Continued...