best film: The Tree of Life from Terrence Malick Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life makes otherwise beautiful films seem unbeautiful by comparison. The Tree of Life opens with Sean Penn’s character Jack (character names are meaningless here and hardly, if ever, referenced – so I will be using the actor’s name here for the most part) praying/talking to his brother. The angelic Jessica Chastain takes the reins of the voice-over (before passing it to others) early, as, through her, Malick explains the duality that he has meditating on his entire five film and nearly forty-year career: grace and nature.



best film:  Inception from Christopher Nolan There are many ways to attempt to tackle Christopher Nolan’s Inception. It is one of the boldest films of the 21st century. Nolan pushes the conceptual and visual boundaries—he disorients, then reracks and compiles often through his greatest weapon: parallel editing. Hans Zimmer’s hammering score helps open the film—throwing down the gauntlet early (along with the breathtaking visuals of Saito’s (Ken Watanabe) place) for this elaborate work of cinema. Zimmer will mirror Nolan’s intricate narrative by marrying this score to Edith Piaf ‘s “Non, Je ne regrette rien” – pure genius https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YB-wuKo9rW0 . Inception is undoubtedly auteur cinema.



best film: The White Ribbon from Michael Haneke The White Ribbon is a magnum opus from Haneke and easily his most visually spectacular film On top of the picturesque beauty, The White Ribbon is formally accomplished (Haneke is one of the great formal masters) as well, and that is what he is most well known for. Ernst Jacobi does the voice over of the school teacher as an older man in flashbacks and whenever he speaks, Haneke uses these gorgeous landscapes shots in jaw-dropping monochrome voice-over narration accompanies the incredible landscapes– Haneke’s trademark formal prowess No musical score- like all of



best film:The Dark Knight from Christopher Nolan The film begins with a trademark Nolan gorgeous establishing shot of the city terrorism post-9/11 element in the Joker character and film- the hostage videos and cell phone surveillance and certainly a blurry line of good and evil two wonderful 360 degree shots- unlike De Palma though, Nolan chooses to do one revelation and pause at a choice time Absolutely has a gripping narrative and performances led by Heath Ledger Leger’s walk is studied, as are his facial tics There are multiple jaw-dropping sequences and set pieces. The tunnel chase scene is



best film: There Will Be Blood from Paul Thomas Anderson By 2007 Paul Thomas Anderson has done Altman and Scorsese but There Will Be Blood unquestionably leans more towards Kubrick perhaps even Welles. Yet,  it is his work entirely—especially with The Master (2012) backing it up as a companion piece.  The Master makes There Will Be Blood even stronger- and vice versa. The film is a meditation on capitalism, greed, and monomania. 2007 is a tremendous year- certainly worthy of all the praise form retro podcasts and articles—all due and warranted-- a towering year for cinema with that top top six to seven



best film:  Children of Men from Alfonso Cuaron The narrative is an outstanding biblical parable, there is strong social undercurrents on pollution and immigration, but ultimately it is a masterpiece because of the sonic boom film style on display from Cuaron. Children of Men is  one of the textbook examples of film art in the 21st century: camera movement, long takes, even a dedication to a color design. Again, it is not just camera movement- the mise-en-scene is as beautiful as anything Cuaron has produced (ok ok-- maybe Roma) which puts it up there with the masters.  The costume,



best film:  The New World from Terrence Malick Further study of Michael Haneke's Cache could change things at the top for 2005- but for now- it is Malick's work (I would say underrated but it has been making headway in recent years) that earns the distinction of being called the best film of the year. This marks the third straight time a Malick release (1978, 1998)  has landed as the top film of the year. magic hour bliss- at the 108-minute mark (at least in the director’s cut version) there is a jaw-dropper of a frame at dusk with the Native



best film:  2046 from WKW Four years after In the Mood for Love, WKW’s follow-up is the third and (so far) final film in the unofficial Love trilogy (Days of Being Wild from 1990 being the first) featuring Tony Leung as Chow Mo-Wan and Maggie Cheung (here only as a cutaway memory really) as Su Li-zhen. The story is more opaque than most of WKW’s films, with the added layer of Chow Mo-Wan writing science fiction – and 2046 (on top of the political meaning-the 50-year period the Chinese Government promised to let Hong Kong remain as it is) having two



best film: Lost in Translation from Sofia Coppola With Kill Bill married to the second half of the film, which came out in 2004, it is pretty easy to declare Lost in Translation the best singular film of 2003. The only other film, or part of a film, that is close, is the totality of Peter Jackson’s 10+ hour The Lord of the Rings but not only is it broken out over three years (2001-2003), but 2003 is the weakest entry of the three. Coppola’s work in Lost in Translation is her most perfectly realized - a meditation on



best film: Punch-Drunk Love from Paul Thomas Anderson PT’s stated goal was to “make an art house Adam Sandler movie” and it was purposefully anti-ensemble multi-character epic in size Boogie Nights and Magnolia. Jon Brion’s brilliant and experimental score (this is the pre-Jonny Greenwood PTA which would lead one to assume that PTA knows what he is doing when it comes to music  (not to say Greenwood and Brion are not both brilliant and possible geniuses as well) but there are such commonalities here with how segments of this sound (especially in scenes where PTA is ratchetting it up -think forklift accident



best film: Mulholland Drive from David Lynch Mullholland Drive is the Hollywood nightmare-- just like Blue Velvet is for the suburbs fifteen years prior. It is abstract and mesmerizing. It’ is a wholly unique world filled with small town naiveté (Naomi Watts, in a brilliant star making turn) and dark forces (not just the man behind the dumpster but the people pulling the strings in the industry as well). A masterful dissolve here from Lynch. If film history is about the dichotomy of reality (realism) and escapism or expressionism, this entry serves as one of the greatest examples



best film:  In the Mood for Love from WKW The film’s form is as good or better than any film in cinema history—it may be my go to example now when discussing film form—along with Dreyer’s Passion of Joan of Arc, Ozu and Toyko Story, and the combined oeuvre of Jim Jarmusch. In the Mood for Love is like a combination of Greenaway’s stylistic maximums and Jarmusch’s repetition (or theme and variation). A meditation on nostalgia- a love story of unrequited love (the best kind of cinematic love stories) like that of Casablanca. The violins in the score by as Mike

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