Nightman’s Favourite Films Of 2010

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Okay, okay. You asked for it, you get it. Maybe no-one asked for it, but tough – you’re getting it anyway. I mentioned before that from 2010 onward I haven’t seen as many movies as previous years and there hasn’t been as much time for them to sink in to my being to say I truly love them. What that means is that these lists will likely omit a lot of great films purely because I haven’t seen them yet, and it may feel more like a simple collection of films I just happen to have seen and didn’t hate. In ten years time I imagine these lists will be different, while my lists of previous decades will likely be identical. If you’re curious as to why I’ve missed something – stick it in the comments and I’ll let you know! I’m only posting 2010 for now, then I’ll go back and redo all the previous years before I publish 2011 onward.

First, the almosts – Predators. Animal Kingdom. Tomorrow When The World Began. Predators was, for me at least, the long awaited sequel. I love the Predator franchise more than most and I even enjoyed both AVP movies – rubbish as they were. Predator is a Top Ten all timer for me and Predator 2 is decent. Predators has a great opening and some strong set-pieces, along with a strong cast featuring Adrian Brody and Alice Braga. The whole Topher Grace thing was predictable and the Lawrence Fisbourne angle ultimately goes nowhere, but it’s a neat twist on the whole ‘group of strangers working together to overcome a mutual enemy’ thing. Animal Kingdom is a film deserving a spot on any Best Of 2010 list – a supremely acted and directed crime thriller, with Jacki Weaver well deserving of that Academy nomination. Tomorrow When The War Began keeps things in Australia – it’s very YA and while I enjoyed it more at first watch than I have since, it’s still a better version of Red Dawn than the Red Dawn remake was. Plus, I’ll take any excuse to see Caitlin Stasey on the big screen – still waiting for her to go over big time.

11: Inception

It’s not the masterpiece people say it is. It’s unquestionably a great movie, inventive, well acted, brilliantly crafted. But man does it go overboard on the exposition, and it thinks it’s smarter and more groundbreaking than it actually is. Mostly it feels like a cloying teacher’s pet begging for validation from teaching staff. It’s okay – we already understand you’re good, just do your thing and we’ll still enjoy it, stop being a tryhard. Still, it sells certain constructs and philosophies to the masses who may have not been aware of such things or does it in a non-stale way. More than any other movie Nolan had directed to that point, Inception does that strange thing where scenes are edited together without the soundtrack changing, making minutes upon minutes feel like one extended scene or a montage, even though it isn’t. But lets focus on the many positives – it has a number of the best set-piece scenes you’ll ever see which are almost on par with the first time you saw The Matrix, improved by the fact that the technology used enhances the idea of what is happening on screen – the effects are integral to the plot, not just a bunch of fancy explosions. The soundtrack is great, the script is peppered with one-liners, and it all looks glorious. Like many of the best films of all time – it’s the fans who piss me off and tarnish the experience.

10: Kick-ass

The highest profile of a number of movies which came out around this time with a similar premise – what if a regular person just decided to suit up and fight crime like a superhero? Super is the other notable one – it’s great fun too – but Kick-ass has the budget and street cred and a number of memorable performances. You have Nic Cage on top form, Mark Strong in yet another villainous role, but the breakout stars are Aaron Johnson and Chloe Grace Moretz as two (sort-of) normal people with a penchant for justice, however violent its pursuit may be. There is plenty of fun action and humour, with just a touch of the psychology behind the decisions each character makes, and the cocktail of style and violence is perfect – much better than that Scott Pilgrim mess.

9: The Expendables

Of course if you want violent action, you go back to the 80s Action heroes heyday. In 2010 a project which had been discussed for years, and which seemed an impossibility, finally came to fruition – a film which tried to squeeze all of the biggest action movie stars into a single story. That means we have Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Willis, Lundgren, Jet Li, Jason Statham all arsing about with guns larger than most people’s arms and blasting away bad guys inside a generic ‘stop the warlord’ plot. As you would expect, it’s a lot of fun. It’s silly, but the cast all have a great time and it’s a film made purely for the maniacs like me who grew up watching them. Of course it’s a pity some of the stars are reduced to cameos, but we get Terry Crewes and Randy Couture filling in admirably, Stone Cold as a henchman, Eric Roberts as Eric Roberts, and Mickey Rourke mumbling his way through an emotional macho speech. Plus Charisma Carpenter on the big screen. It would have been nice to have seen this ten years earlier – it would have been nice to have even more stars involved – it would have been nice to have a plot more in line with something like Predator than Raw Deal, but it still happened, they still made a franchise out of it, and it;s still a lot of fun.

8: Kaboom

I’ve been a Greg Araki fan ever since I first saw The Doom Generation in my late teens. Its mix of sex, violence, humour, and post Pulp Fiction style was infused with a manic nihilism and tongue in cheek awareness that felt unlike anything else. Naturally, nobody else had heard of it and few even now know what it is. Since then he followed it up with further well-received, under-seen films with big name actors. Kaboom takes the manic qualities of The Doom Generation and ramps them up tenfold. It’s lighter in tone, more obviously a comedy, yet also a sex-filled jaunt into Science Fiction. It’s bizarre and it has a terrific ending. It’s a difficult one to summarize – it follows a University student who appears to be bisexual who has been having strange dreams which suggest he is ‘the chosen one’. We follow his sexual antics (and those of his friends) and he keeps noticing people he first saw in his dreams, in his everyday life. Plot-wise, that’s really all you need to know. But the movie moves like it’s on a combo of Ecstasy and Speed, Dekker is great in the lead role, and Juno Temple delivers the sort of performance which is deserving of an Oscar nod. It’s never going to happen for a film like this, but it put her on the map.

7: Tangled

It’s Disney’s Rapunzel. At this point it is still overshadowed by Frozen and the more ‘political’ Pixar movies, but it’s just as wonderful as those. Great songs, strong characters, lots of laughs, and a charming story – everything you want from Disney.

6: Ip Man 2

Most sequels tend to be an example of diminishing returns and the same is often more true in Martial Arts. With Ip Man 2 we get everything we loved in the original and more; more fights, more emotion, more Yen. Keeping the same cast and director as the first film it follows Ip Man as he moves to Hong Kong and sets up a new school. Sammo Hung shows up. It’s wonderful. It eschews the nonsensical fraud editing of Hollywood action and allows the camera to catch every movement of every fight, making it all the more breathtaking. It still looks glorious with a gorgeous vision of period Hong Kong and a dedicated attention to detail. For fans of Martial Arts movies, the Ip Man series is like the Holy Grail, and part 2 may be the best of the bunch.

5: The Last Exorcism

I believe I mentioned this in my review of the film many years ago, but it deserves to be said again; Ashley Bell deserved an Oscar nomination for her performance here, if not the win. She is extraordinary, easily on a par with some of the more critically popular horror performances – Kathy Bates, Toni Colette, Jodie Foster. Unfortunately the film is of a trashier, cheaper sort than others and The Academy believes it to be above such things. It’s a found footage horror movie about a charlatan exorcist who lost his faith and admits to making up most of what he previously called out as true exorcisms. He is invited to perform an exorcism on a naive teenage girl in the Bible Belt, and a film crew tag along. It is clear some sort of abuse has been taking place, but the group argues over whether it is from Nell’s father, friends, someone else inside the community,  or a genuine demon.

The film would not be as effective without Bell as Nell, but she is backed up by dedicated performances from Patrick Fabian, Caleb Landrey Jones, and Louis Herthum. Credit goes to Daniel Stamm, someone who remains little known even in horror circles, who elevates te least likely sub-genre.

4: Bedevilled

As I write up this list (29th December 2019), South Korea’s Parasite is gaining momentum as a possible Oscar Contender. In my introductions to Foreign Cinema series, I mention (in one unpublished post) that one of the great crimes and complete nonsenses is that South Korea has not even been nominated for a single Oscar before. That is quite frankly ludicrous, given the quality of output the country has been producing since 2000. If there is one thing which probably puts off the stuffy Hollywood Academy types, it’s the grim and macabre nature of the most highly regarded films, films which don’t shy away from showing violence, or sex, or the taboo. Bedevilled ticks all of these boxes and is one of the finest all round movies of the decade, yet is one which remains little known even among those who frequently dine out on Asian Cinema.

It’s a film that I would love to be widely seen almost purely to see the thoughts on any feminism and masochism which people will take from it. It’s a film concerning a woman who works in a competitive banking environment who decides to go on stress leave, taking up an offer from an old friend to visit the backwater island she grew up in. Once there, memories of her childhood and her friendships come back, and she recalls why she left the regressive, male-dominant, outsider-fearing community. Her friend has never left the island and wants a better life for her and her young daughter. To say any more would be spoiler territory.

There is a slow and steady assured direction to the film, a washed out palette, and some moments which will have you groaning in anger and shifting uncomfortably. It’s not as violent as other films of the ilk, but it’s just as shocking and pulverizing to your emotions. It probes your own morality and begs you to question how you would or could react and survive given your decisions. It’s a watch both difficult and effortless.

3: Stake Land

How many truly great vampire movies are there? There are hundreds of good ones, and many more which are entertaining and worth your time, but only a small number can be held up as great films. Stake Land should be added to that list, though it never will be, at least not until director Jim Mickle makes something which is both a widespread critical and commercial success. He has come close a few times and continues to make highly regarded films. Stake Land, while clearly appealing mostly to horror fans, remains criminally underseen even within that group. For those looking for a dark drama, there is more than enough here to seduce and provoke – for my money it’s better than The Road – a film it is often compared to.

It’s set in a post-apocalyptic USA where survivors must avoid rapists and religious cultists by day, and vampires by night. We follow Mister (Nick Damici), a vampire hunter of sorts as he takes a teenage orphan called Martin (Connor Paolo) towards a supposed last protected zone. Along the way they pick up a Nun (Kelly McGillis), a pregnant woman (Danielle Harris), and a marine (Sean Nelson) who was rescued by the cult who wanted to sacrifice him. The film moves from threat to threat with plenty of introspective chat and bleakly stunning views of a collapsed world. It’s not a pleasant, happy viewing experience – there are precious view jokes or moments of hope, but it’s never less than completely engrossing and you never feel like any character is safe. Like The Road, the film is interspersed with rapid bouts of violence – cultists dropping vampires into a survivor camp is of particular note. The sequel is worth your time too, but the original is best survived by watching the associated webisode prequel shorts.

2: Paranormal Activity 2

I said it at the time, and while I admit to it probably not being a true statement, I still kind of feel the same way – it’s the greatest horror sequel of all time. Of course, if you didn’t like the first film, you probably won’t like this one either. If you did enjoy the first, if the found footage shtick and use of shaky cam didn’t piss you off, and if the long moments of quiet followed by a thumping boom jump scare hadn’t yet been watered down to irrelevance for you, then PA2 does everything the first one does – but better. Better scares, a better story (one which expands the universe and mythology), and it is better directed. Most crucially, the characters are more likable, grounded, and not the nonsensical yuppies of the first. In fact, as the movies begin to cross over at different points, this one makes the lead characters in part one more likable – at the very least more interesting.

The film is most similar to Evil Dead 2 in its approach; it’s basically a remake, but also acts as a sequel. Not to confuse things, but it’s also a prequel. The film takes place over a number of weeks and follows the Rey family, with mother Kristi the younger sister of the first film’s Katie. The family have a new security system installed in the opening minutes due to a perceived burglary – you know what that means – beeping doors and subtly placed cameras! The family has an infant son – Hunter – and we watch their daily, and nightly, business as creepy activity increases, seemingly centered on the child. At various points the film crosses over with the first as we catch up on Katie and Micah as they too begin to experience unusual capering in their house.

While I’m not a fan of jumpscares – mainly because they are used so cheaply – that’s not the case here. Sure you know they’re coming, but the fun is in trying to work out which room something is going to happen in, which camera is going to catch a subtle movement, how long drawn out is the tension going to be? I’ve mentioned this before too, but seeing this in a Cinema was one of my best Cinema experiences as the audience was All In – people were legit screaming their heads off, shouting at the characters, and you could feel the held intakes of breath as people waited for the next fright. That just doesn’t happen in Northern Ireland cinemas and is the closest experience to to any time I’ve been in the Cinema in the US. While I admit it enhanced my love and nostalgia for the film – I would have loved it had I been there by myself. Some of the scares are completely out of the blue and the ones which are a retread of those from the first are dialed up several notches – greater impact, more visceral, more effective.

1: I Saw The Devil

South Korea strikes again. While Japan started out the 2000s as the biggest and brightest light in Asian Cinema, South Korea picked things up in the second half of the decade and that has obviously continued into the 2010s. Two of Kim Ji Woon’s previous efforts – A Tale Of Two Sisters and A Bittersweet Life are essentially flawless, beautiful, grim, stylish, and provocative in equal measures. With I Saw The Devil he embraces the grim and dispenses with beauty. It’s a singular viewing experience, with few easy answers, but many moments which will sit with you for years afterwards.

The film is essentially a game of cat and mouse between a cop and a killer, with escalating tension and violence. The killer, played by Oldboy’s Choi Min-Sik is utterly, thoroughly unlikable. Yet he is the mouse and by proxy, traditionally, the person the audience is supposed to sympathize with. Throughout the film he is stalked by the cop, played by A Bittersweet Life’s Lee Byung-hun. The killer brutally murders the cop’s pregnant wife in the opening moments and the cop, with nothing left to lose, becomes the killer, hunting down Sik and repeatedly beating him to a pulp, only to leave him dangling as a cat would, then hunt him down again. It’s a film concerned equally with blurring lines as it is with showcasing the director’s penchant for nihilism and inflicting pain. Both lead performers are superb, surpassing most of their prior achievements, and what they go through is keenly felt by the viewer. While the violence and tone is grisly, it is offset by just how well it is all put together, and the genuine emotional trip we are put through. There’s a fight scene inside a taxi which beggars belief, and there are a variety of side-characters and sojourns into their depraved lives which extends the running time and complicates the narrative, but it all makes up for the most devastating experience since Martyrs. There’s simply no excuse for this not to have been on the Oscar list for 2010, even if it was a particularly strong year. More importantly, there’s absolutely no excuse for this not be on your list of must see films right now.

Let us know in the comments what you think of the movies above, and feel free to share your Top Ten!

Nightman’s Updated Favourite Films Of 2009!

Greetings, Glancers! As they say in Pointless, it’s time to come back down the line. Yes, it’s time to go back through my favourite movies by year lists and update them with additional thoughts and information to expand beyond simplified originals, starting with 2009 and working backwards towards 1950.

Lets begin briefly with those who almost made the cut. Although we’re now ten years plus removed from 2009, the year was always going to be remembered for one movie above all – the all conquering Avatar. While we continue to wait for the next blue tinted extravaganza from James Cameron, time has been kind enough to the film. It still looks glossy and the 3D technology involved is still a marvel. The story was never very interesting first time around and it quickly collapsed into Transformers Vs Jurassic Park, but it remains one of the most important spectacles in Cinema history. It’s not one I will see myself revisiting often as time goes on but you can’t go without experiencing it at least once.

Harry Brown is like Get Carter for pensioners – or Get Off My Lawn. Capitalizing on much of the fear of ‘hoodies’ and society’s post millennium breakdown and paranoia it tells the satisfying story of an ex marine, now elderly man living in a run down council estate. Having lived through many years of war and violence you’d expect him to be enjoying his twilight years in luxury, but instead he has to deal with gangs and hoodies and chavs who prevent him from seeing his wife in her dying moments. With the police unable to help and refusing to end his days in fear, he goes on the warpath. It’s all a little right wing in the vein of Michael Winner, but I’ve always had a soft spot for vigilante movies – who hasn’t wanted to flip out and beat the shit out of a gang of scumbags or bullies? The cast certainly helps elevate matters – Michael Caine hasn’t been this badass since the 70s and a host of GOT faces will be familiar. There is the usual assortment of go-to thugs who have made a career of these types of roles – Jack O’Connell, Sean Harris, Ben Drew, and Joseph Gilgun all give committed performances. There were quite a few films of this ilk at the time, from Eden Lake to Gran Torino and director Daniel Barber went on to helm the Hailee Steinfeld/Brit Marling ‘Western’ The Keeping Room which is always well worth a look.

Moon is a film I was interested in from Day One, but took a few years to actually see. It’s Sam Rockwell alone (mostly) on the Moon near the end of his three year term as the only living worker maintaining a mining facility. It would be entering spoiler territory to give away anymore of the plot, but if you’ve seen the obvious influencers – Silent Running, Solaris, 2001, then you won’t be too far off what unfolds if you were to hazard a guess. It’s an opportunity once more for some moral and philosophical wondering under the guidance of Duncan Jones and writer Nathan Parker who specializes in this sort of high concept hard genre stuff. Rockwell is terrific and it was a little misguided when he was overlooked at The Oscars.

District 13 Ultimatum is… well, if you liked the original (and you should), it’s more of the same. This series has some of the best physical action you’re likely to find, taking the visceral quality of the Bourne movies and throwing in copious amounts of parkour. Both films have me wanting to leap out the living room window and begin tearing my way through the neighbours gardens – over walls, through bushes, up drainpipes and bounding from rooftoop to rooftop. Bringing back both David Belle and Cyril Raffaelli from the original we see quickly that the French ghetto is still in bad shape, with rival gangs fighting over filling the gap left after the events of the original. Again there are plenty of obvious allusions to political situations but we cam here for the action and it doesn’t disappoint. If you’re bored of superheros and CG and building crashing to the ground this will revitalize your interest in action.

Up is yet another near perfect movie from Pixar. I don’t love it as much as most people do and its best moments are in that opening, but it’s still a lovely tale about dreams and friendship that it’s hard to criticize. My only issue with the recent Pixar and Disney animations is the ‘chubby’ nature of the art – almost every film and character follows this style and even by the time Up was released it was long past time for a change – a change which neither Company has made since.

Bruno is exactly what you would expect if you’ve already seen Borat or the Ali G Show. It’s basically a carbon copy of Borat but with a different character – an excuse to ridicule the vain, the stupid, and the generally right wing. It’s offensive, it’s hilarious and the only reason I don’t enjoy it as much as Borat is that Borat is such an endearing character, in spite of being a terrible human. My wife’s parents loved Borat – they had to switch Bruno off within ten minutes. Ok boomer comes to mind.

District 9 got a lot of positive reaction this year, critics suddenly deciding that genre movies were worth discussing as long as they had a political subtext, however on the nose it may be. Never mind the fact that horror and sci-fi have always done political subtext better than almost any other genres. I came for the gore and the swearing and the ludicrous over the top performance by Sharlto Copley. I like the low budget creative approach and the fact that the aliens aren’t what we were used to seeing, and the descent to action in the final sections feels like a fun payoff. Again, I don’t think it’s as good as the praise it received at the time, but I’d take something like this over almost every other Best Picture nominee this year. Finally, The Road possibly should have been nominated in that category – a bleak and uncompromising take on McCarthy’s book with a great lead performance by Viggo Mortensen. John Hillcoat follows the approach he showcases in The Proposition and makes it a film well worth re-watching.

Just one final late entry, which probably should have made it into my original Top Ten, but I somehow overlooked that it came out in 2009 – The House Of The Devil. It’s a great slasher throwback, and everything simply works.

Now into the top ten.

10: Dead Snow (Norway) Tommy Wirkola

2009 was peak, or end of peak zombie renaissance territory, and even then most viewers were tired of the whole shtick. Enter Tommy Wirkola who smashes fun back into the genre which had become a little too serious. Dead Snow is one big episode of Wile E Coyote And Road Runner – a natural stepson of Braindead if not Evil Dead. The pitch is great – what if a gang of Nazi soldiers who had been frozen in the mountains woke up again in an undead search for gold? Actually, that’s not great, but it is hilarious. To set up the story we throw in your standard Cabin In The Woods tropes – friends staying in the wilderness for a weekend with all of their relationship crap and then unleash the zombie Nazis. The film neatly balances the shocks and humour and goes wildly overboard with the gore and kills to satisfy any gore-hound. While the cast and characters are almost irrelevant, Vegar Hoel impresses as a modern day Euro-Ash and expands upon that role to ridiculous levels in the sequel. It’s just silly, mindless fun with particularly chunky gore effects.

9: The Princess And The Frog (US) Disney

Call me old fashioned, but I still prefer hand drawn. It largely avoids the aforementioned chubby animation and just feels more tactile and committed. I’m not discounting the work CG animators perform, but when I see hand drawn it simply pulls me in more and gives me a greater sense of the the person behind the creation and the love and care which went into the work. The Princess And The Frog is yet another lovely, simple story from Disney – it’s them going a little meta, recognizing the tropes they helped perpetuate, and having fun turning them around. The voodoo setting and the first African American Princess are all positives, the voice work is particularly strong with the likes of Keith David, Anika Noni Rose, and Jim Cummings standing out. The songs may not be the huge hitters which translate well to the charts, but Almost There joins the ranks of classics which the Company has created over the decades and there are enough sentimental and scary moments to make it memorable. It’s not top tier Disney for me, but it’s in that large and wide B Grade territory where much of their material resides.

8: Micmacs (France) Jean Pierre Jeunet

I’m not sure why this film flew under the radar so much. It’s the director of Amelie making another utterly charming and quirky comedy drama, complete with all of the visual flair he is known for. It deserves a hell of a lot more recognition and while it’s no Amelie, that’s a bit like saying Heat is no The Godfather. It has that exaggerated colour scheme not quite comic book look which you’ll be familiar with from Amelie and A Very Long Engagement, and several of his usual cast members pop up, from Dominique Pinot to Urbain Cancellier.

The film follows a man who seems to be incredibly unlucky when it comes to weaponry – first his dad is killed by a landmine, then he is shot in the head by a stray bullet at work one day. Becoming something of a freak due to the bullet remaining in his head, he joins a group of similar outcasts who happen to live in a junkyard – a contortionist, a maths genius, a human cannonball etc – he has a history in mime. Essentially they become their own circus and they plot to get revenge on the weapons manufacturers who are causing so much grief in the city and around the globe using their unique talents not unlike The A Team. It’s all very charming, fast-paced yet gentle, and is one of the more unique comedies you’re likely to catch – old fashioned yet with a dark satirical streak. Something like this is always more interesting to me than generic rom coms or alpha male comedies.

7: Jennifer’s Body (US) Karyn Kusama

Karyn Kusama doesn’t make many movies, but each one is worth watching – maybe with the exception of Aeon Flux. I kept away from Jennifer’s Body – assuming it was another generic teen horror with a cast picked for their looks rather than their talents. If you’re in the same misguided mindset as I was, consider that it was written by Diablo Cody – Juno, Tully, Young Adult – and very much follows the dialogue and smarts of those movies. The film made me a supporter of Megan Fox – she’s great in this – and also features Adam Brody, Amanda Seyfried, and JK Simmons. It’s a film which has seen some deserved re-evaluation since the mauling it received at the time – when I watched it a couple of years after release I couldn’t believe that so many critics, and myself, had been so wrong.

Seyfried is your typical awkward teenager, ironically (?) called Needy whose best friend is her polar opposite – Jennifer, the popular cheerleader. Best friends since they were young children, the film truly captures the urgency and closeness and ‘us against the world’ feeling you have with such intense friendships when you’re young. Unfortunately, Jennifer seems to pick up some sort of disease which turns her into a killing (eating) machine impervious to harm. Naturally the friendship becomes strained.

The film ticks all of the boxes for horror fans – it’s bloody, some kills are inventive, and its funny. But at its core it’s a character piece – we care about the two leads, the writing is so sharp and the performances endearing that it’s difficult not to see yourself in them. The film is largely told in flashback too, but I’m not sure if that was a conscious decision to allow the audience to reminisce – it seems more likely that teens are the core audience, but ten years later the script still works. It also works as a take down of macho tropes and of some of the seedier aspects of masculinity.

6: Antichrist (Denmark/France/Germany/Italy/Poland/Sweden) Lars Von Trier

Lars man… who never know what you’re going to get with a Lars Von Trier movie, but on the flip side you always know exactly what you’re going to get. Controversy, and a whole lot of messed up shit. And recently – lots and lots of talking. Antichrist starts off in a tame enough way – a couple are shagging while their infant child takes a stroll out of their upstairs window and topples to his death. Naturally, this is all filmed in glorious, beautiful slow mo in a disconcertingly tender way. This intro kicks off the remainder of the plot – the grieving parents cope (or don’t) in their own ways, with the husband (Willem Defoe) a therapist electing to take his wife (Charlotte Gainsbourg) to a good old cabin in the woods where he can treat her personally. Things… don’t go to plan.

This being Lars, the film doesn’t simply descend into the torture and mutilation the tabloids would have you believe. No, we have our usual lengthy insights into the human psyche, merging philosophical jargon, music, literature, history, and manic foxes. Reality gradually becomes skewed, dark believes and fears carve their way out from beneath the skin, and scissors come into play. If you’re familiar with the turn the last act of The House That Jack Built takes, that’s quite similar territory to the final stages of Antichrist. You probably won’t want to re-watch this one, but every movie fan owes it to themselves to see it once. You can say the same for any Von Trier film – every one is worth seeing.

5: Trick R Treat (US/Canada) Michael Dougherty

Horror fans and Halloween go hand in hand, with movie marathons on the day or in October being a staple of each passing year. The same films come up each October – Halloween being the most obvious choice, but Trick R Treat deserves to be second on that list. It’s such a fun, creepy anthology – the stories just the right length and with the right festive tone and variety. Hell, there’s even a new mascot in Sam. Anna Paquin, Brian Cox, and Dylan Baker all feature, but it’s director Michael Dougherty who ties it all together. With only the Godzilla sequel and Krampus to his name in terms of directing, this is his best work. Even if you don’t enjoy horror, there is something here for everything – even the most ardent anti-horror watcher still succumbs at Halloween, and this is perfect for everyone.

4: Triangle (UK/OZ) Christopher Smith

Another terrific little mind-bending, overlooked horror movie with a great premise. Firstly, Christopher Smith has been hit or miss for me – mostly hit. Creep was a disappointment, not making use of a great location, Severance was sort of fun but inconsequential, and Black Death was very good. Triangle is his most ambitious and enjoyable movie.

Having Melissa George in any movie is a plus – a modern scream queen who generally picks better material than most. She stars as Jess, a single mum who is heading out for a boat trip with friends. They hit a storm and lose their boat but stumble upon a deserted liner. Although the liner is seemingly unmanned, there is fresh blood and various signs of people having been there very recently. As the friends search, they suspect they are not alone and we fall into a slasher style one by one pick off march. Except nothing is quite what it seems and without getting too much into spoiler territory, some time-looping stuff happens.

I usually enjoy these sort of high concept horror movies – there have been quite a few which take or twist a similar premise recently – TimeCrimes and Coherence being another couple I would recommend. If the snapshot above doesn’t interest you, possibly the fact that Liam Hemsworth is in a supporting roles might? It is a twisting affair which should be of more interest to non-horror fans and it raises a lot of questions which The Babadook would later be heralded for. It’s one of the best horror movies of 2009 and one of the more challenging and unique of the decade.

3: Inglourious Basterds (US/Germany) Quentin Tarantino

After Kill Bill, Quentin began slowing things down for himself – he’s pretty much a one film every 4-5 years kind of guy now. For years he had been dropping hints about making a WWII movie, his own Dirty Dozen and in 2009 it dropped – instantly becoming everything we would have wanted. It’s vintage Tarantino in style – vignettes, time-jumps, quotable one-liners, speeches, and set-pieces. He rips up the history book and makes his own alternate version of WWII and populates it with plenty of sinister character types – yes, none of the people here feel real, they’re more like heightened stereotypes. Brad Pitt is more fun than he’s ever been and Christoph Waltz is a revelation. After this Tarantino went on a bit of a down turn for me – Django was fine, The Hateful Eight was less than that. But this remains great – not Pulp Fiction great, but almost, and just as watchable.

2: Drag Me To Hell (US) Sam Raimi

Sometimes when you’ve been out of the game for so long, you just lose it. While Sam Raimi had hit a commercial peak with his Spiderman movies, something was calling out to him from beyond, a niggling rat gnawing at his creative cortex and saying ‘blood, cats in mouths, hoofed demons, vomit geysers’. Thankfully for us he embraced that voice and gave us one of the most fun film experiences of the year – a return to his slapstick horror roots with a film which both judders, disgusts, and tears belly laughs deep from within.

The films stars Alison Lohman (who is wonderful here) as a sympathetic loan worker who, against her own morals, refuses to pay out to a gypsy woman begging for her help. She wants that promotion you see, and her selfishness and annoyance at being seen as the whipping boy forces her to be harder than she normally would. After work, the gypsy attacks and curses Lohman’s character. Over the next few days she is tormented by attacks, nightmares, and visions and realizes the curse is true – finding out that if she does not find a way to reverse the curse she will be, literally, dragged to hell within three days. Cue mouth cats and vomit.

Raimi is having a whale of a time here – sure he employs plenty of cheap shocks but they mostly work – his mojo has not been lost and the film’s shocks are an antidote to the morose and stale torture porn of the time. Lohman is backed by the ever reliable Justin Long, with Dileep Rao providing some of the lighter moments. Horror doesn’t get much more fun than this.

1: Orphan (US/Canada/Germany/France) Jaume Collet Serra

My number one is the only film from this year which made it into my favourite films of the decade list – click the link to read my more detailed thoughts on it. It’s just a dirty little horror film raised by an exceptional performance from Isabelle Fuhrman who I feel should have got an Oscar nod. Of course that would never happen, but it is easily one of the best performances of the year. The film is more than just that performance, its creepy, has a neat twist, and also features Vera Farmiga and Peter Sarsgaard. Highly recommended, as everything else here is.

Let us know your picks in the comments!

Nightman’s Favourite Films Of The 2000s

If you’ve been reading my yearly lists, then you probably noticed that the 2000s was when I parted ways with mainstream Hollywood Cinema. This wasn’t necessarily a conscious decision – it’s just simply that better, much better, films were being made elsewhere. My favourite genres of horror, action, sci-fi, still had considerable output but the gluttony of remakes and the lack of risks being taken in the US led to the rest of the world picking up the slack. That boils down to more than half my twenty films being either completely foreign films, or joint productions between the US and (an)other nation(s). This is going to be my final yearly post for a while, maybe ever, as I’m so slow at catching up on modern releases – off the top of my head there aren’t that many films released between 2010 and today that I can say I truly love. It will be some time before I have seen enough of those, and seen them enough times to make a genuine attempt at a list beyond simply calling out random films I enjoyed.

21: Sympathy For Mr Vengeance (2002)

Chan Wook Park burst onto the scene in the early nineties, but it wasn’t until 10 years later that Sympathy For Mr Vengeance saw him making waves worldwide. Having already seen and enjoyed JSA, this revenge thriller was a step up in all departments. Bringing powerhouse actors Kang-ho Song and Shin Ha-kyun with him from JSA, the film follows the two men in an interweaving tail of tragedy and violence – hence the name. Saying much more would land us in spoiler territory – the story following a deaf mute factory worker who has just lost his job and goes to the black market to try to get a kidney for his dying sister. This is a film where people have the right intentions, kind of, but everything goes wrong. In the hands of anyone else, with a different cast, this would be lackluster B-movie fare, but with this team we have an extraordinary, bleak, piece of grim drama. The South Korean movie revolution didn’t start here, but this is where it started to wipe the floor with Hollywood.

20: Orphan (2009)

Horror hit a bit of a renaissance in the 2000s. First with Asia, kicking off a hole host of remakes and imitators in the west, followed by the new wave of extreme horror with Torture Porn sagas and French and Spanish extremism leading the way. Branching off this success we were treated to more adventurous indie or smaller scale efforts. Director Jaume Collet Cera ticks the Spanish and remake boxes and before he struck up a partnership with Liam Neeson he unleashed this neat little original on us. The director is assured, but the film succeeds because of the cast – Vera Farmiga, Peter Sarsgaard, and a stunning performance in the title role by Isabelle Fuhrman. Following the death of their unborn child, a married couple decide to adopt, bringing in Fuhrman before things get weird. Then things get much weirder. There’s a certain element of sleaze as the film progresses, and some uncomfortable racial issues which almost feel self aware, but there is enough intrigue and enjoyable tension to raise this higher than most ‘bad seed’ movies. You’ve heard me drop my Oscar nods in these lists before – Fuhrman was snubbed here.

19: Batman Begins (2005)

Everyone’s going to have this on their list, right? There are a tonne of films which most people will have – There Will Be Blood, No Country For Old Men – neither of which are anywhere near my list, but most people will have this and/or The Dark Knight. Christopher Nolan was already a successful, highly regarded director before this, but this is the film which gave him superstardom. He became a household name, a director that your average film-goer will seek out, a director who could pretty much do whatever he wanted from this point on.

Fans of the Burton movies will be at home here – visually, Nolan has is own style but as an origin story all of the boxes are checked. What truly holds it together is its scope and ambition, and its cast – Christian Bale the perfect choice and ably backed up by Oscar winners and nominees and that pedigree left right and center – Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Rutger Hauer, Cillian Murphy. There has yet to be a Marvel film which comes close to matching this in terms of quality – the film transcends the comic book genre and becomes something all of its own. It’s not even the best of the trilogy.

18: Rec (2007)

I mentioned New Wave European extreme horror earlier. While this doesn’t exactly fit in that ultraviolent category, it’s certainly one of the super successful breed or Euro Horror which got fans so excited. Capitalizing on the cheap to make found footage style, Rec instantly became the benchmark. Its sense of claustrophobia, mystery, tension, terror, and its sudden explosive violence is the closest we’ve come to a true Resident Evil movie. The shot for shot US remake was watchable, but there’s something special at devilish work here. In your perfect horror movie scenario, the almost perfect Rec follows a journalist and her team making a documentary about a fire crew – following them around on a typical day. The crew is called to an apartment building due to a report about an old woman trapped and screaming in her room. This being a horror movie, the old woman isn’t exactly screaming because she’s fallen over…

There is a lot of wild innovation on display here – those moments that make you think why no-one else had done it before. The apartment building almost becomes a character in itself, its rooms and corridors closing in on the inhabitants like a fist. 28 Days Later and its sequel raised the bar for what fast moving ‘zombies’ could do and Rec sticks you right in the middle of an unwinnable situation. Most horror movies fall because of lack of character – Rec realises this and cleverly builds a world where each person feels real and in danger, forcing you to see things from their POV even if most only get a few minutes screen time. The film builds tension in the classic sense but then decides to unleash all out war, rarely giving the viewer time to breathe before cranking up the nerves once more in the convoluted wtf finale.

17: Mulholland Drive (2001)

Here’s another which most will have on their list. David Lynch had been on a bit of a downturn in fortunes for ten years – at least that’s what They’d lead you to believe. Framing this as a pilot for a new TV show a la Twin Peaks, once Lynch heard that the show was never going to be made he spliced his footage together and released it as a standalone – a standalone which many believe to be his best work. Hypnotic, non-linear, packed with mystery and few answers, it’s a film which people are still dissecting now, connecting dots to find a bigger picture which may not even exist. Attempting to assign a synopsis may be futile, but on the surface it’s the neo-noir story of a hopeful aspiring actress who comes to Hollywood and meets an amnesiac woman who is recovering from a car crash. Interspersed are both random and connecting vignettes about other characters who would have presumably found greater meaning if the series had been realized – bumbling hitmen, ghostly totemic producers, actors, cowboys. Where most films start out fractured and end with a whole, Lynch’s film starts out broken, pieces form and seem to fit, before becoming shattered and pulped. Everything a Lynch fan loves about Lynch is here, including his underrated talent for colour and sound. Watts and Harring are superb ably backed by Melissa George, Justin Theroux, Robert Forster, and a host of cameos. The film’s greatest mystery may be why it was only nominated for a single Oscar in a year where fluff like A Beautiful Mind and Moulin Rouge were so successful.

16: Departures (2008)

While we’re talking about movie mysteries – how is it that Japan has only ever won a single Oscar for Best Foreign Picture? I think we all know that this category is complete nonsense anyway, but that’s another story. Before 2008 the number of wins for Japan was zero, Departures the shock winner this year. It’s the perfect film about life and death, a film inherently Japanese and which may give other viewers some culture shock, but underneath the customs it’s a film that we can all understand and relate to as human. As Jim Morrison once warbled – no-one here gets out alive. Joe Hisaishi crafts one of his finest scores – probably the best score of the decade – and the cast includes ex idol Masahiro Motoki, Kurosawa stalwart Tsutomu Yamazaki, and Ryoko Hirosue who I had been a fan of since her days as a Nintendo model (I’m weird like that).

The film a cellist who is forced to move back to his childhood home with his wife, after his orchestra falls apart. Out of work and with no valuable skills he takes the first job he can get – assisting departures, which he assumes is some sort of travel work. What he soon finds out is that he is assisting the departure of a soul from this world to the next – basically helping in old funeral rituals such as washing and dressing the corpse. Horrified and embarrassed initially, as this is seen as a ‘low’ or ‘defiled’ position, he quickly comes to see the the dignity and beauty in this work, and its importance to those left behind. All this plays out against his guilt over not spending more time with his now deceased mother and his anger towards the father who abandoned him as a child. I know what that sounds like, but trust me – you’ll love it. It’s one of the most moving, heartfelt, and poignant films I’ve ever seen and it had me moved to tears at several points. Those weren’t merely tears of emotion – the film had me laughing my ass off too, a strange combination of humour and drama that I haven’t really encountered to this degree of success before.

15: Oldboy (2003)

It’s that man Chan Wook Park again, back with the second part of his vengeance trilogy (the films’ characters and stories are unrelated – the only link being the theme of revenge). If you thought Sympathy For Mr Vengeance was dark, and enjoyed it, then you’ll love Oldboy. This time bringing on board the masterful Choi Min Sik, the film again merges overlapping stories of revenge where no-one is wrong and no-one is right – mistakes and terrible decisions ripple outwards, infecting everyone in the vicinity and ensuring that even greater mistakes and tragedy results. Oldboy is brutal in every sense – on screen violence reaching new heights without being sickening or voyeuristic, and with each new twist bringing a new level of depravity and head-shaking awe. The film has of course been remade… I’ve not convinced myself to watch it yet and I doubt that I ever will. Maybe it’s okay, maybe it’s even good, but I doubt it will come close to reaching the glory of the original. I’d advice everyone to do the same and only watch this.

14: Borat (2006)

I was never a fan of the Ali G movie, seeming like it was too much on the side of supporting what the TV persona was lampooning. I was a fan of Cohen in his early days on Channel 4, always tuning in for The 11 O’Clock show and later the Ali G show. The former was more of a cult show that only a select group of friends was aware of, while Da Ali G show was one that had everyone talking in school. Borat was my favourite character, seeming much more sympathetic and Mr Bean – like. I never thought a film featuring any of Cohen’s main character’s could be a success, but I am very glad I was proven wrong, because Borat is easily the funniest film of the decade, and one of the funniest of all time. Prepare to be offended. Borat exposes the racism and fear and paranoia which is all too prevalent in some parts of the world – specifically in the USA here, leading to many absolutely bewildering encounters with politicians and regular people all loosely wrapped around the story of Borat coming to the US and A to learn about its people and possibly meet Pamela Anderson. It’s not going to be to everyone’s tastes, but in the good old tradition of rubbing the human face in its own vomit and then forcing it to look in the mirror (sic) it’s a vital piece of art which should be seen by all.

13: Martyrs (2008)

The zenith and nadir of French Extremity. Martyrs is torture to watch, a grueling experience which will pummel you and leave you exhausted, this is film-making at its most visceral and powerful. Pascal Laugier’s debut was standard horror fare, a Virginie Ledoyan vehicle which suggested the director wouldn’t be anything more than someone who rode on the coattails of Christopher Gans by association. His follow-up, Martyrs, is a work of undiluted force, a shotgun blast to your sensibilities, and makes Hostel and pals look like Sesame Street. Starting out with the escape of a young girl – Lucie – who has been held captive and tortured for unknown reasons, Martyrs shows how haunted she has become, believing she is being stalked by some demonic creature. At an orphanage, she befriends another girl, Anna, who acts like a bigger sister. Once more, I don’t want to give away any further details because this is a film which takes some decidedly sudden shifts in narrative – it’s enough to say that the torture Lucie suffered has scarred her for life and into adulthood she and Anna continue to deal with its fallout – even as answers slowly drip through.

This is maybe the only film on the list that I’d only recommend to horror fans. I don’t mean people who enjoy a horror movie every so often – I mean hardcore horror fans who watch more from this genre than anything else. If you don’t do horror, stay well well away in your land of sunshine and rainbows. This is not a pleasant watch and at times it feels like an endurance test. It’s not merely violence glammed up in a neat budget or gore for the sake of gore. I wouldn’t go so far as examining it from every philosophical angle either, but it is a movie with brains for the viewer with brains, and regardless of the conclusions you choose to draw it is a movie that will stay with you for a very long time. This one has been remade too and no, I haven’t seen it.

12. A Tale Of Two Sisters (2003)

Another entry and another film which would be remade later in the States. This one features an Oscar snub too. Snub isn’t the right word as they would never nominate something like this in the first place, but supporting actress Yum Jung-ah gives the performance of a lifetime, full-blooded and horrifying. Director Kim Jee Won may be the best shot framer in the business. He may be the best since Kurosawa or Kubrick. Every. Single. Shot. Is set up like a painting, the camera a paying customer to the greatest gallery in the world. In fact, his only rival currently may be Chan Wook Park. A Tale Of Two Sisters is simply gorgeous, a joy to behold, almost beautiful to the extent that you forget the horror bubbling underneath.

The film is basically a twist on the wicked stepmother story – a teenage girl has been institutionalized but at the start of the movie is released back home to her father’s mansion where her distant father and loving sister wait. Also living there is the father’s new wife who he married after the death of his first wife. There is a lot of tension in the house, with the father not engaging with his new wife while the relationship between the sisters and the stepmother starts out uneasy and grows violent before long. Secrets and twists abound.

The film isn’t happy merely to offer the tried and tested Asian long-haired ghost girl tropes although it does present several chillings scenes of this nature. There is a more dream-like quality akin to something like Audition and the undercurrents of abuse – physical and psychological – create a murky atmosphere of unknown depth. This is a film that you’ll want to watch as soon as possible again after finishing to see how the puzzle pieces revealed in the final moments all fit together with foreknowledge. It’s a film which will leave you uneasy during and after, as mentioned it looks stunning, and the performances are all top-notch.

11: Dawn Of The Dead (2004)

In the pantheon of great remakes, only a handful are ever mentioned and agreed upon – Cronenberg’s The Fly, John Carpenter’s The Thing… The Departed. Romero’s Dawn Of The Dead is one of my favourite films of all time so Snyder’s remake marked one of the only times I really, truly loved the remake. This also marked the start of the zombie’s return to popularity, along with Shaun Of The Dead and 28 Days Later. This film was insanely successful and was one of those films which was a hell of a lot of fun at the screening, yet translated just as well to the small screen. The consumerism of Romero’s is replaced by a general end of the world paranoia, with a collection of interesting characters led by a great cast all with their own issues and presenting a view of the new millennium that doesn’t leave a sweet taste in the mouth.

The story isn’t all too different from the original, the difference being that we are launched straight into Dawn without knowing the night. It gets off to a rip-roaring start and barely lets up, introducing us to a nurse who wakes up one morning to find a zombie child chomping on her husband. Her frantic escape through suburbia is pulsating and she eventually makes it to a shopping mall where she meets a bunch of other survivors – teens, gun fiends, old couples, security staff etc. There they spend their days waiting for rescue, waiting for the world to revert to normal, talking, shagging, killing, but it becomes increasingly clear that the world is not going to get better. The fast zombies here add so much more threat, the movie frequently ‘goes there’, and it’s simply a lot of fun with a high rewatch factor. It remains Snyder’s best film, by quite some distance.

10: Final Destination (2000)

If the Nineties saw a renaissance in teen horror towards smarter, or at least more self-aware movies, then with Final Destination it looked like the new millennium was going to take things further. What better movie villain could there possibly be than Death? In spite of the quality of the various sequels, I still contend that this is one of the best ideas in the history of movies – a bunch of people, according to fate, are supposed to die in an accident but manage to cheat death, leading death to stalk them one by one so that fate’s course is corrected. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know I have a thing about inevitability – it creates an inescapable sense of dread and it reminds us of our own lives, situations, and mortality. Final Destination works on so many levels – as a thrill ride, as a perfect teen date movie, perfect popcorn fodder, as a grim comedy, as a visceral catalogue of memorable movie kills, and on all of those deeper levels. You can choose to watch it as you see fit. It features some great performances – Devon Sawa should be a much bigger star by now. James Wong directs with style, squeezing out every drop of tension from the kill scenes, adding plenty of fake-outs and establishing the tone of the series. This one equals of fun factor of Dawn of The Dead, but adds the depth missing from Snyder’s effort.

9: The Fellowship Of The Ring (2001)

By the time this came out I’d never read any of the Tolkein books in total. I’d tried Fellowship and given up and I think I read most of The Hobbit as a kid. This is weird because the books should have been right up my alley. As I saw the trailers and began reading the reviews of the movie I knew I had to see it and knew I had to read them. And so, I read the trilogy in a short space of time before seeing this. I’ll go there – the movies are better than the books. I mean, not really, but I do much prefer the movies. This is my generation’s Star Wars – an epic introduction to an epic saga featuring a massive ensemble cast fighting a classic battle of good and evil. I don’t think I need to say much more about it – you’ve seen it and you love it.

8: Ju On (2003)

This is the last horror film on my list, which surprised me more than you should be. I will say that this top ten, like all my lists, is pretty interchangeable. I will say that I love the entire series, and there’s a lot of entries. Takashi Shimizu is the maestro behind the series, directing the TV movie originals, then this main big screen effort and sequel, then the US remakes. They’re all good, and they’re all pretty similar, and yet they all have this weird interweaving timeline that you can lose yourself in. In the end it doesn’t matter, this is Ringu with jumpscares, played at a hundred miles per hour. This features some of the most innovative scares you’ll ever see, a non-linear plot which ends up feeling almost like an anthology movie, but isn’t merely a series of loud noises. It’s a film which instills a sense of dread with the slightest effort, giving some early scares in the first moments which set the tone and set you on the edge of your seat for the remainder of the movie. Sound design, atmosphere, directing, acting are all great here and the finale is a breathless, unsettling, hate-to-use-the-term-but-fuck-it-rollercoaster ride.

7: The Dark Knight (2008)

This is the one. The one everyone is going to have, right? Unless the film has aged to the point now that hipsters look down upon it, but who the hell listens to them. This is everything you want in a Batman movie (The Joker), everything you want in a comic book movie, everything you want in a movie full stop. The surviving cast carry over from Batman Begins, but this is Heath Ledger’s movie, a final hurrah to an actor on the cusp of greatness. Unlike The Crow, where the real life tragedy seeps through to every aspect of the film, this feels like a celebration. Nolan here does begin to direct his movies a little too close to being like a trailer – something which he has only done more with each subsequent film – where scenes don’t seem to connect, where the music continues through scenes without cutting or fading to another track… but that’s another point for another day. For my money this is still Nolan’s best film and like several others on the list I’m fairly confident you include it on your list, so I won’t say any more about it.

6: The Return Of The King (2003)

The epic to end all epics, this massive curtain call to Jackson’s saga is gigantic in every sense. Thankfully, it’s also excellent, giving closure to all of the characters and the story (perhaps too much closure) and featuring battles on a scale which haven’t been equaled yet. It feels wrong splitting the trilogy into three parts as they are not as distinct as say, the original Star Wars Trilogy, but feel more like one continuous story. Nevertheless, you can put this or any of them on, and lose yourself in one of the finest, fully realised fictional worlds ever committed to paper and screen.

5: Casino Royale (2006)

How on Earth do you follow-up the worst entry in your franchise? With one of the best, of course. Blonde and Buff, Craig takes the series into new levels of realism with his emotive portrayal further showcasing what I have always loved about the character – he is a broken man – everything he touches dies, and yet he keeps fighting for the cause. Team Craig and Campbell up with surviving cast members from previous entries, throw in a creepy villain, and add probably the best Bond girl there has been in Eva Green, and you’re onto a winner; the action, the plot, and the visuals are merely the icing on a very sweet cake.

4: X2 (2003)

Remember when there used to be good superhero movies? You know, instead of the twelve which come out each month now? Yeah. Yeah, those ones. This puts all the current MCU fluff to shame and it’s much better than any of the other X-Men movies. Alright, I haven’t seen most of the MCU, and I haven’t seen Logan yet, but give me a chance – I only have two eyes. Unlike several of the X-Men I imagine. Great action, effects, emotional resonance, interesting characters and story, rather than big ego A-Listers getting 20 million each for four minutes screen time.

3: Amelie (2001)

I don’t do romantic comedies and generally those quirky type Indie movies don’t work for me. The latter tries too hard and the former feel insincere and end up neither making me laugh or giving me whatever it is romances are supposed to give you. What a surprise then that Amelie is at once a quirky romantic comedy, but one which is entirely sincere and effortless. It’s also absolutely gorgeous, has Jeunet’s style down to a T, and features a career defining performance from Audrey Tautou who melts the hearts of every viewer. It’s one of the most beautiful films of the decade and one which never fails to put a smile on my face and think that maybe the world ain’t such a bad place. Just what we needed in 2001 and just what we need now.

2: Love Exposure (2008)

This came from nowhere and absolutely floored me. I hadn’t laughed so much at a single new movie in years and it came when the Japanese market wasn’t pushing out so many classics. I had already seen some Sion Sono films and I was concerned when I heard he had made a 4 hour religious drama, but this so far surpasses anything else in 2008 its ridiculous. In fact, it would be number 1 except for that film being a once in a lifetime masterpiece and a piece of vitally important work. Love Exposure isn’t important, it’s simply amazing, and I guarantee you won’t have seen anything like it. Religious monologues on an abandoned beach, ninja camera pantyshots, budgie worshipping cults, priests who resort to whipping their children, and love eternal. It also has the best soundtrack of the year, some of the best performances of 2008, an outrageous script, and Sion Sono directs like there’s a nuke down his pants. If there’s any film on the list most people won’t have seen it is this, and it is an absolute must-see.

1: Battle Royale (2000)

I knew the first time I saw this that it was going to be one of my all time favourites and that my mission for the next month was to make sure as many people as possible saw it. I held screenings in my house almost every day and forced everyone I knew to watch it. I argued that it should be shown in every school in the country. And then The Hunger Games came along, diluted and for the masses, and became a huge hit. I like The Hunger Games and as bloated as it became it remained sort of entertaining. Much of that was down to Jennifer Lawrence – take her out and it’s just forgettable popcorn YA fluff. Battle Royale is seminal in every way and every frame oozes a vitality which most films can’t achieve in their entire running time. It has over the top violence, it has anger, it has heart, action, comedy, scares, it’s heart-breaking, and it has a fantastic cast. I can’t gush too much about it and I find it a shame that so many people either haven’t seen it or will go into it having already seen The Hunger Games. Battle Royale is Buffy, The Hunger Games is Twilight – BR is The Godfather, THG is Mickey Blues Eyes. There isn’t a single better movie in the last twenty years than Battle Royale.

Let us know in the comments what your favourite movies of the 2000s are!

Nightman’s Favourite Films Of The 2000s – Stats Roundup

Greetings, Glancers! So, older readers of my Oscars posts may recall that I tried to give some stats at the end of the year. It became too difficult to gather metrics and I become too lazy, and lo the posts migrated to the Hades Of Blogs like so many before. The same will likely happen to these summary posts – where I give some ‘interesting’ stats on my favourite films of each decade. It doesn’t mean anything, you won’t gain any insight or pleasure from reading them, and they will be painful to write. Why do it? Well shucks, I’ve always had a thing for hurting myself. ‘Enjoy’!

Note – I wrote this before realizing I’d missed Pan’s Labyrinth, and I’m too lazy to update the figures now. Yay!

Number Of Best Picture Nominees: (Out of a possible fifty) Six

Number Of Best Picture Winners:  (Out of a possible ten) Three

Number Of Movies In The Top Ten Grossing of The Year: (Out of a possible one hundred) Eleven

Number Of Movies Which Were The Top Grosser: (Out of a possible ten) Two

The number of films nominated for Best Picture this year, and the number or Top Grossing films, are way down this year. If anything, the Noughties was the decade I just stopped caring what The Academy was picking (and my interest in the first place was fairly low anyway) and by the end of the decade I wasn’t really going to the Cinema on a regular basis anymore. The number of sequels and of comic book and animated movies earning big bucks increased, while on the flip side I started to watch and enjoy less of those movies. The Academy was playing it too safe, picking your standard dramas, one off hits, or gimmick films and avoiding actual quality, daring, film-making. Making the Academy numbers look marginally worse is the fact that in 2009 they finally increased the numbers of nominees from five to ten – that year I still only picked one of the nominees. I assume this trend will continue into the next decade, though the number of films I’ve seen from 2010 onwards is much lower. This will likely be the last Stats post I do until I get caught up with more movies from 2010 onwards.

Movies By Country In My Top 10:

USA: Fifty Eight

UK: Fifteen

Japan: Eleven

France: Thirteen

Germany: Eight

Poland: Two

Brazil: One

Italy: Three

New Zealand: Two

Hungary: One

Spain: Two

China: Three

Hong Kong: Five

Singapore: One

South Korea: Seven

Mexico: One

Czech Republic: One

Taiwan: One

Denmark: Two

Liberia: One

Sweden: Two

Canada: Three

Thailand: One

Norway: One

Australia: One

The USA dominates again although the numbers are drastically decreased from previous decades.

Movies By Director:

Quentin Tarantino: xxxxx

 

Jean Pierre Jeunet: xxx

Chan Wook Park: xxx

 

Takashi Shimizu: xx

Zhang Yimou: xx

Peter Jackson: xx

Robert Rodriguez: xx

Frank Darabont: xx

Christopher Nolan: xx

Sam Raimi: xx

Takashi Miike: xx

Christopher Guest: xx

Lars Von Trier: xx

Kim Jee Woon: xx

 

Shusuke Kaneko: x

Disney: x

David Lynch: x

Luc Besson: x

Zach Snyder: x

David Slade: x

Oren Peli: x

Juan Carlos Fresnadillo: x

Kong Su Chang: x

Martin Scorsese: x

Christopher Smith: x

Kevin Lima: x

Jaume Balaguero: x

Paco Plaza: x

Pierre Morel: x

John hoo Bong: x

Jean-Stephane Sauvaire: x

Bruce McDonald: x

Matt Reeves: x

Sylvester Stallone: x

Wilson Yip: x

Tomas Alfredson: x

Yojiro Takita: x

Pascal Laugier: x

Sion Sono: x

Tommy Wirkola: x

Satoshi Kon: x

Frank Miller: x

George Lucas: x

Judd Apatow: x

Mike Judge: x

Edgar Wright: x

Stephen Sommers: x

Bill Paxton: x

Larry Clark: x

Alfonso Cuaron: x

Alexandre Aja: x

Roman Polanski: x

James Wan: x

The Pang Brothers: x

Jaume Collet Serra: x

Andrew Lau: x

Alan Mak: x

George A Romero: x

Hideo Nakata: x

Fernando Meirelles: x

Bernardo Bertolucci: x

Len Wiseman: x

Mel Gibson: x

Kurt Wimmer: x

Yoji Yamada: x

Danny Boyle: x

Eli Roth: x

Shane Black: x

Ridley Scott: x

Tim Burton: x

Cameron Crowe: x

Karyn Kusama: x

Michael Dougherty: x

Gore Verbinski: x

Larry Charles: x

Martin Campbell: x

Craig Brewer: x

Neil Marshall: x

Takeshi Kitano: x

Brad Anderson: x

Kinji Fukasaku: x

James Wong: x

Ang Lee: x

Bryan Singer: x

David Twohy: x

M Night Shyamalan: x

One hundred films, 86 directors. Tarantino is the clear front runner, which surprises me more than you. I’m by no means a Tarantino super-fan and Reservoir Dogs is still my favourite of his, but it looks like this was a great decade for him. Disney had a bit of a shocker – the mainstay of my lists each decade only grabbing a single vote here. Elsewhere it’s foreign films which garner the most multiple votes with my only two triple votes being outside of the US and six or seven of my double votes being beyond Hollywood. Those getting single votes range from newbs and a wide array of past masters who have received multiple votes over multiple decades.

As always, check out my individual year posts and let me know what your favourites are in the comments!

Nightman’s Top Ten Films Of 2009

Greetings, Glancers! We continue my new series of posts which will detail my favourite films of every year since 1950. Why 1950? Why 10? Why anything? Check out my original post here. As with most of these lists the numbering doesn’t really matter much, though in most cases the Number 1 will be my clear favourite. As I know there are plenty of Stats Nerds out there, I’ll add in some bonus crap at the bottom but the main purpose of these posts is to keep things short. So!

There were a lot of films I liked this year, but few, if any, I truly loved. This top ten then – not much differentiation in the ranking. Here are the almosts: Avatar. Harry Brown. Moon. District 13 Ultimatum. Up. Bruno. District 9. The Road.

10: Dead Snow (Norway) Tommy Wirkola

9: The Princess And The Frog (US) Disney

8: Micmacs (France) Jean Pierre Jeunet

7: Jennifer’s Body (US) Karyn Kusama

6: Antichrist (Denmark/France/Germany/Italy/Poland/Sweden) Lars Von Trier

5: Trick R Treat (US/Canada) Michael Dougherty

4: Triangle (UK/OZ) Christopher Smith

3: Inglourious Basterds (US/Germany) Quentin Tarantino

2: Drag Me To Hell (US) Sam Raimi

1: Orphan (US/Canada/Germany/France) Jaume Collet Serra

How Many Of My Films Were In The Top 10 Grossing Of The Year: None

How Many Of My Films Were Nominated For the Best Picture Oscar: One

Nightman’s Top Ten Films Of 2008

Greetings, Glancers! We continue my new series of posts which will detail my favourite films of every year since 1950. Why 1950? Why 10? Why anything? Check out my original post here. As with most of these lists the numbering doesn’t really matter much, though in most cases the Number 1 will be my clear favourite. As I know there are plenty of Stats Nerds out there, I’ll add in some bonus crap at the bottom but the main purpose of these posts is to keep things short. So!

First, so close, so sad: Son Of Rambow. Wall-E. Ponyo. The Informers.

10: Johnny Mad Dog (France/Liberia) Jean-Stephane Sauvaire

9: Pontypool (Canada) Bruce McDonald

8: Cloverfield (US) Matt Reeves

7: Rambo (US/Thailand) Sylvester Stallone

6: Ip Man (HK) Wilson Yip

5: Let The Right One In (Sweden) Tomas Alfredson

4: Departures (Japan) Yojiro Takita

3: Martyrs (France) Pascal Laugier

2: The Dark Knight (US/UK) Christopher Nolan

1: Love Exposure (Japan) Sion Sono

How Many Of My Films Were In The Top 10 Grossing Of The Year: One (The Top Grosser)

How Many Of My Films Were Nominated For the Best Picture Oscar: None

Nightman’s Top Ten Films Of 2007

Greetings, Glancers! We continue my new series of posts which will detail my favourite films of every year since 1950. Why 1950? Why 10? Why anything? Check out my original post here. As with most of these lists the numbering doesn’t really matter much, though in most cases the Number 1 will be my clear favourite. As I know there are plenty of Stats Nerds out there, I’ll add in some bonus crap at the bottom but the main purpose of these posts is to keep things short. So!

2007 is a year which people frequently mention as one of the best ever, with critics and audience favourites being highly popular and significant. Naturally, I say balls to that, with none of the Best Picture Nominees or top ten grossing films appearing in my personal top ten. It was a great year alright, just not for the reasons you think.

So close, so sorry: 300. No Country For Old Men. Eastern Promises. Inside. Superbad.

10: Black Snake Moan (US) Craig Brewer

9: Sweeny Todd (US/UK) Tim Burton

8: Grindhouse (US) Robert Rodriguez/Quentin Tarantino

7: Angel-A (France) Luc Besson

6: 30 Days Of Night (US) David Slade

5: Paranormal Activity (US) Oren Peli

4: 28 Weeks Later (UK/Spain) Juan Carlos Fresnadillo

3: The Mist (US) Frank Darabont

2: Enchanted (US) Kevin Lima

1: Rec (Spain) Jaume Balaguero/Paco Plaza

How Many Of My Films Were In The Top 10 Grossing Of The Year: None

How Many Of My Films Were Nominated For the Best Picture Oscar: None

Nightman’s Top Ten Films Of 2006

Greetings, Glancers! We continue my new series of posts which will detail my favourite films of every year since 1950. Why 1950? Why 10? Why anything? Check out my original post here. As with most of these lists the numbering doesn’t really matter much, though in most cases the Number 1 will be my clear favourite. As I know there are plenty of Stats Nerds out there, I’ll add in some bonus crap at the bottom but the main purpose of these posts is to keep things short. So!

This is where it starts getting difficult… from here to 2010 I still saw plenty of movies but fewer and fewer truly grabbed me or made much of an impact, and then from 2010 onwards I watched less of the current releases. Those lists won’t be great as there are probably a tonne of great movies out there that I simply haven’t seen yet, while the next few lists don’t have many movies I outright love. I think these ten in 2006 are very solid though, and quite a few I do hold dear.

10: Paprika (Japan) Satoshi Kon

9: The Host (SK) Joon-ho Bong

8: Death Note (Japan) Shusuke Kaneko

7: Idiocracy (US) Mike Judge

6: Children Of Men (US/UK) Alfonso Cuaron/Pan’s Labyrinth Guillermo Del Toro.

5: The Hills Have Eyes (US) Alexandre Aja

4: The Departed (US) Martin Scorsese

3: Apocalypto (US/Mexico) Mel Gibson

2: Borat (US/UK) Larry Charles

1: Casino Royale (US/UK/Czech/Germany) Martin Campbell

How Many Of My Films Were In The Top 10 Grossing Of The Year: One

How Many Of My Films Were Nominated For the Best Picture Oscar: One (The Winner)

Note: It has come to my attention that I somehow missed Pan’s Labyrinth from this year, which is of course one of my favourites, so I’m adding it back on to the list.

Nightman’s Top Ten Films Of 2005

Greetings, Glancers! We continue my new series of posts which will detail my favourite films of every year since 1950. Why 1950? Why 10? Why anything? Check out my original post here. As with most of these lists the numbering doesn’t really matter much, though in most cases the Number 1 will be my clear favourite. As I know there are plenty of Stats Nerds out there, I’ll add in some bonus crap at the bottom but the main purpose of these posts is to keep things short. So!

Close, but you’re way off: Corpse Bride. The Devil’s Rejects. A History Of Violence. Serenity.

10: Land Of The Dead (US) George A Romero

9: Hostel (US) Eli Roth

8: A Bittersweet Life (SK) Kim Jee Woon

7: Sympathy For Lady Vengeance (SK) Chan Wook Park

6: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (US) Shane Black

5: The Descent (UK) Neil Marshall

4: The 40 Year Old Virgin (US) Judd Apatow

3: Revenge Of The Sith (US) George Lucas

2: Sin City (US) Frank Miller/Robert Rodriguez/Quentin Tarantino

1: Batman Begins (US/UK) Christopher Nolan

How Many Of My Films Were In The Top 10 Grossing Of The Year: Two

How Many Of My Films Were Nominated For the Best Picture Oscar: None

*Update – I forgot Noroi from Japan was released in 2005 and that would have made my list, knocking off Land Of The Dead. 

Nightman’s Top Ten Films Of 2004

Greetings, Glancers! We continue my new series of posts which will detail my favourite films of every year since 1950. Why 1950? Why 10? Why anything? Check out my original post here. As with most of these lists the numbering doesn’t really matter much, though in most cases the Number 1 will be my clear favourite. As I know there are plenty of Stats Nerds out there, I’ll add in some bonus crap at the bottom but the main purpose of these posts is to keep things short. So!

As always, here is the group which didn’t quite cut it: Napoleon Dynamite. The Passion Of The Christ. Team America. The Terminal. Dead Man’s Shoes. Hellboy.

r-point

10: District 13 (France) Pierre Morel

9: A Very Long Engagement (France) Jean Pierre Jeunet

8: R-Point (SK) Kong Su Chang

7: Shaun Of The Dead (UK/US/France) Edgar Wright

6: Spider-Man 2 (US) Sam Raimi

5: House Of Flying Daggers (China/HK) Zhang Yimou

4: Saw (US) James Wan

3: The Grudge (US) Takashi Shimizu

2: Kill Bill Volume 2 (US) Quentin Tarantino

1: Dawn Of The Dead (US) Zach Snyder

How Many Of My Films Were In The Top 10 Grossing Of The Year: x

How Many Of My Films Were Nominated For the Best Picture Oscar: None