At the start of the year I read an awful lot of critics’ best-of-decade lists and built my own list of must-see titles from those lists, collecting eighty of them here. But after watching thirty (more specifically, after watching Godard’s In Praise of Love) I rebelled against the list and watched no more. These are the ones I loved – so, not my faves of the decade (those are here) but my previously-unseen faves of other people’s faves of the decade. Whatever, right?
1. Inland Empire (2006, David Lynch)
Already broke a rule, since I watched this in theaters when it came out. But have you really “seen” Inland Empire until you’ve seen it twice? Who cares – I studied it closely this time, watched all the bonus material, and thought it was tops.
2. Colossal Youth (2006, Pedro Costa)
The only movie on the list (of the year?) to which I devoted more time than Inland Empire – because I figured to appreciate what critics were calling Costa’s masterpiece, I should first watch all his previous films. Can’t say I enjoyed them all, but I appreciated Colossal Youth much more for having seen them in order.
3. Va Savoir (2001, Jacques Rivette)
I limit myself to a couple Rivette films per year so he won’t take up my entire year-end list. If I only watched one this year, it’s because I wrongly assumed I’d also be able to see his latest, Around a Small Mountain, which played festivals in late 2009.
4. Syndromes and a Century (2006, Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
So fascinated was I by A.W.’s films this year, I can now spell his name without having to look up how.
5. Three Times (2005, Hou Hsiao-hsien)
Had to try watching this super-slow mood piece a few times, but it finally paid off. Completely transcendent – wish I could see it on the big screen.
6. Fat Girl (2001, Catherine Breillat)
Always assumed I’d dislike Breillat, and especially this movie, so maybe it gains extra points from being such a surprise favorite.
7. The Tracey Fragments (2007, Bruce McDonald)
McDonald’s second straight appearance on year-end lists. To think that in ’08 I’d never heard of him. Can’t wait to check out his early rock & roll road movies.
8. The Intruder (2004, Claire Denis)
It’s boring to say that I need to watch this again, since I’d love to watch all these movies again, and since the shuffled chronology and dreamlike narrative causes everyone to declare that they need to watch this again, but truly I need to watch this again. Denis is my favorite discovery of the year, even though I’d already discovered her.
9. Birth (2004, Jonathan Glazer)
Currently my favorite Nicole Kidman ghost story. She has starred in a few movies that question reality in interesting ways.
10. Frontier of Dawn (2008, Philippe Garrel)
One more ghost story to round things off. Colossal Youth is definitely one, and for all I know, Inland Empire, The Intruder and Syndromes would count too. Tracey Fragments has a haunting death, but I wouldn’t call it a ghost story.
Honorable mentions from the decade-viewing project: Kings and Queen (esp. the first half), The Bourne Trilogy (esp. part three), and Miike’s underrated Izo.