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08 December 2009

At the movies for a decade...

Last time we promised to advert to Donald Clarke's Irish Times list of the best movies of the decade, but taking a look at Richard Brody's 10 Best list in The New Yorker (, I realised that where lists used to have value a couple of decades ago because they showed convergence regarding what movies really mattered to the critical canon, that no longer happens anymore.
The only movie I have seen of Brody's list is the shockingly bad “Knocked Up” (sorry that I have so far missed Wes Anderson's “The Darjeeling Limited”: I love Anderson's work) but the simple fact that it is on the list gives me much pause for thought. Otherwise, Brody's list is completely unknown to me, a rather good thing, except for Knocked Up.
The huge response to Donald Clarke's list in the 'Times shows how much people love lists, and love disagreeing about them, something I note my children also love despite their youth.
But the astounding disparity between Clarke and Brody's list has to give anyone pause for thought, so rather than doing lists, let's move sideways, and do this:

Studio of the Decade: Pixar. Ending the decade with Wall-E and UP is a sign of utter confidence such as no other studio can exhibit. My favourite, mind you, remains The Incredibles, but any movie that could make me weep as much as UP is a killer.

Director of the Decade: Guillermo del Toro: any fat Mexican guy who can swing between Hellboy and Pan's Labyrinth is truly gifted. A wizard.

Writer of the Decade: Charlie Kaufman: Kaufman knows what it is like to be a performer – the fear; the projection; the loneliness – and he writes it better that anyone else. Adaptation took a lousy book and turned it into a masterpiece.

Thriller of the Decade: The Bourne Trilogy. How anyone can watch a Bond movie after Bourne is beyond me. Lean, relentless masterpieces that understand tension and release better than any movie since “Terminator”.

Surprise of the Decade: Lost in Translation. How did Sophia Coppola ever get the nerve to go anywhere near to a camera again after the disaster that was “Godfather 3”? But thank heavens she did, for only a woman would have had the nous to show us Scarlett Johansson's bum in such an unflattering way, and also manage to coach such a stoic performance from beloved Bill Murray. Utter enchantment, which is what movies are supposed to be about.