Listing to Port

February is almost here, and I’ll thank whatever gods may be if it brings a respite from the torrent of Best-of/Worst-of lists that’s been pissing down on us the last two months. There used to be only one list in my life, Esquire‘s “Dubious Achievements Awards,” and then Texas Monthly brazenly stole the idea for its Tex-centric “Bum Steer Awards,” and I think that Spy magazine had something similar—but who knows, for the magazine itself read like a 100-page “Dubious Achievements” list. Nowadays everyone and his cat has a list about something, and Tom Blog, especially considering its dearth of original content, finds itself in no position to resist. And so we’ve come to this…

First up, we have the Top 50(+) Films of the Aughties, as determined by a pack of far-flung cinephiliac friends and low-lifes that I share a forum with, and as tallied by the redoubtable George Wu (creator of the immortal Netbrawl.com, a/k/a the “Deathmatch Coliseum,” as the concept was known when George brought it into the world):

1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
2. Mulholland Dr.
3. The Lord of the Rings
4. There Will Be Blood
5. No Country for Old Men
6. Spirited Away
7. The New World
8. O Brother, Where Art Thou?
9. Los Angeles Plays Itself
10. Y Tu Mamá También
11. 24 Hour Party People
12. Sideways
13. Ghost World
14. Yi Yi
15. Children of Men
15. Pan’s Labyrinth
17. In the Mood for Love
18. Gosford Park
19. Before Sunset
20. The Squid and the Whale
21. Lost in Translation
22. Waking Life
23. Zodiac
24. Adaptation
25. Synecdoche, New York
26. I’m Not There
27. The Royal Tenenbaums
27. A Serious Man
29. Dogville
30. The Saddest Music in the World
31. Memento
32. Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story
33. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
34. Amores Perros
35. Elephant
35. Memories of Murder
37. The Son
38. Kings and Queen
39. The Best of Youth
39. Morvern Callar
41. Head-On
42. Bad Santa
43. Tropical Malady
44. Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle
45. Rachel Getting Married
46. Grizzly Man
46. United 93
48. Perfume: The Story of a Murderer
49. AI: Artificial Intelligence
49. A Christmas Tale
49. Joe Strummer: the Future Is Unwritten
49. Margot at the Wedding
49. Punch-Drunk Love

That’s the weighted end-result of perhaps 20 of us, each submitting lists of 25 films. This list comes from some very smart people, people who are very dear to me, but they’re also only human, several of them are Southerners, two of them were stepped on by horses when they were children, and one of them is a film instructor. This information is only meant to explain The Lord of the Rings’ high ranking or how the bogus rehab dramedy Rachel Getting Married made the list at all.

FTR, here’s the 25 I submitted, unranked:

1. Mulholland Dr.
2. My Voyage to Italy
3. There Will Be Blood
4. The Squid and the Whale
5. You Can Count On Me
6. Sideways
7. L’Enfant
8. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
9. The New World
10. United 93
11. O Brother, Where Art Thou?
12. Michael Clayton
13. Werckmeister Harmonies
14. No Country for Old Men
15. Ghost World
16. 24 Hour Party People
17. Gosford Park
18. The Company
19. Lost in Translation
20. Los Angeles Plays Itself
21. The Weather Underground
22. Bad Santa
23. The Saddest Music in the World
24. Margot at the Wedding
25. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

All I can say is, while I love and/or admire all of these films, the number of them that stirs in me the kind of rocked-back awe I feel before His Girl Friday or The Godfather Part II is, well, slim, especially coming from a 10-year period. For better or worse the movies that rattle most around my head are ones I saw fairly recently but which tend to be older—in many cases, much older. In some instances, such as Fury or The Lineup, it’s only for a sequence or two; others, such as Marked Woman and The Night of the Hunter, have the same effect on me as Tilda Swinton, making me wonder how such perfection can exist side by side in a world with The Rock and that walking bowel movement Joe Lieberman. Although I’d seen several of these films at some previous point of my lifetime, they hadn’t stuck, doubtless because I was too young, too dense, or too rushed to absorb them. This time around, though, for whatever reason, they got me, and got me good. Here, then, are the movies I’ve viewed in the last 18 months or so—a period in which, all told, I saw some 900 films—that really had an effect on me, with little starry things beside the ones that wrecked my ass completely:

  1. Applause (Mamoulian ’29)*
  2. People on Sunday (Siodmak ’29)
  3. Au Bonheur des Dames (Duvivier ’30)*
  4. The Public Enemy (Wellman ’31)*
  5. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Mamoulian ’31)
  6. Million Dollar Legs (Cline ’32)
  7. Three on a Match (LeRoy’32)
  8. Heroes for Sale (Wellman’33)
  9. Wild Boys of the Road (Wellman’33)
  10. 42nd Street (Bacon/Berkeley ’33)
  11. Gold Diggers of 1933 (LeRoy/Berkeley ’33)*
  12. Baby Face (Green ’33)
  13. The Bitter Tea of General Yen (Capra ’33)
  14. Wonder Bar (Bacon/Berkeley ’34)
  15. Fury (Lang ’36)
  16. Dead End (Wyler ’37)
  17. Marked Woman (Bacon ’37)*
  18. The Roaring Twenties (Walsh ’39)*
  19. The Maltese Falcon (Huston ’41)
  20. High Sierra (Walsh ’41)
  21. Kings Row (Wood ’42)
  22. Roxie Hart (Wellman ’42)
  23. Cat People (Tourneur ’42)
  24. I Walked with a Zombie (Tourneur ’43)
  25. The Curse of the Cat People (von Fritsch/Wise ’44)*
  26. The Lodger (Brahm ’44)
  27. Scarlet Street (Lang ’45)*
  28. Nobody Lives Forever (Negulesco ’46)
  29. The Man I Love (Walsh ’47)
  30. Pursued (Walsh ’47)
  31. Daisy Kenyon (Preminger ’47)
  32. They Live By Night (Ray ’48)*
  33. Cry of the City (Siodmak ’48)
  34. Yellow Sky (Wellman ’48)
  35. White Heat (Walsh ’49)*
  36. The Heiress (Wyler ’49)
  37. Colorado Territory (Walsh ’49)
  38. Criss Cross (Siodmak ’49)*
  39. The Furies (Mann ’50)
  40. Stromboli (Rossellini ’50)*
  41. In a Lonely Place (Ray ’50)*
  42. Bellissima (Visconti ’51)*
  43. The Lusty Men (Ray ’52)*
  44. Clash by Night (Lang ’52)
  45. Carrie (Wyler ’52)
  46. Scandal Sheet (Karlson ’52)
  47. Pickup on South Street (Fuller ’53)*
  48. The Earrings of Madame de… (Ophuls ’53)*
  49. The Big Heat (Lang ’53)*
  50. Little Fugitive (Engel ’53)*
  51. The Band Wagon (Minnelli ’53)
  52. The Night of the Hunter (Laughton’54)*
  53. Johnny Guitar (Ray ’54)
  54. Senso (Visconti ’54)
  55. Voyage to Italy (Rossellini ’54)*
  56. Love Me or Leave Me (C. Vidor ’55)*
  57. The Phenix City Story (Karlson ’55)
  58. The Harder They Fall (Robson ’56)
  59. Lovers and Lollipops (Engel ’56)*
  60. God’s Little Acre (Mann ’58)
  61. Gunman’s Walk (Karlson ’58)*
  62. The Lineup (Siegel ’58)
  63. Some Came Running (Minnelli ’58)
  64. Wild River (Kazan ’60)*
  65. Jazz on a Summer’s Day (Avakian/Stern ’60)
  66. Vivre sa vie (Godard ’62)
  67. Contempt (Godard ’63)*
  68. The Fall of the Roman Empire (Mann ’64)
  69. Seduced and Abandoned (Germi ’64)*
  70. The Anderson Platoon (Schoendoerffer ’65)
  71. Point Blank (Boorman ’67)
  72. David Holzman’s Diary (McBride ’67)*
  73. Goin’ Down the Road (Shebib ’70)*
  74. …No Lies (Block ’74) (no relation)*
  75. Hearts of the West (Zieff ’75)
  76. The Whole Shootin’ Match (Pennell ’78)*
  77. The Battle of Chile (Guzmán ’78)*
  78. Cutter’s Way (Passer ’81)
  79. Last Night at the Alamo (Pennell ’83)*
  80. Los Angeles Plays Itself (Andersen ’03)
  81. L’Enfant (Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne (’05)*
  82. Caché (Haneke ’05)

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