Time Out's 101 Films of the Decade – Part 12, with reactions from Peter Jackson, David Fincher, Guillermo del Toro and more…

0

Comments

Add +

Predictable? Maybe. Deserving? Undoubtedly. Prepare to swoon and sigh with Wong Kar-Wai's sweeping romance: our favourite film of the decade.

View the personal top tens here

Explore the list: |101-91 | | 90-81 | | 80-71 | | 70-61 | | 60-51 |
| 50-41 | | 40-31 | | 30-21 | | 20-11 | 10-6 | 5-2 |

1. In the Mood for Love (2000)

Directed by Wong Kar-WaiIt's all too beautifulIn many respects, Wong Kar-Wai’s ‘In the Mood for Love’, the film voted Time Out’s best of the past decade, could have been made at any time in the last century. Its story of an unsought love that develops in contravention of social expectations and is frustrated by the practicalities of life, though timeless, somehow befits a period setting; in this, it anticipates ‘Brokeback Mountain’, another recent film set in the 1960s, and recalls ‘Brief Encounter’, Douglas Sirk and a whole tranche of Chinese romantic cinema, not to mention romantic literature. And Wong’s bravura technique, though adventurous, is more modernist than postmodernist, formally expressing psychological and emotional interiority rather than interrogating genre convention or audience expectations. The film, in other words, is not the radical standard-bearer for a new century so much as the superlative development of a longstanding storytelling tradition at which the movies excel.This story begins in Hong Kong in 1962. As the Chan and Chow couples move into rooms in neighbouring shared apartments, their belongings get mixed up, foreshadowing the intermingling of their marriages: before long, amid a communal hubbub in which every meal consumed and favour exchanged bears an expressive load, we realise that Mr Chan and Mrs Chow, never more than glimpsed from behind, have become involved; with regretful, incremental delicacy, Mrs Chan (Maggie Cheung) and Mr Chow (Tony Leung) recognise this too.

In The Mood For Love.jpg
Their initial commiseration is bounded by the watchfulness of neighbours, the attraction it husbands bounded by propriety and shame, and the tentative tenderness that develops between them is a model of sublimation. They collaborate idyllically on a fantasy writing project and take to playacting, rehearsing in diners and on the street scenarios exploring how their spouses’ affair might have begun; how they might confront them about it; how, in the end, they might take their leave of one another without great pain. Each ‘Vertigo’-like attempt can only be in vain.

Wong too gives himself boundaries, both developing and constraining the sophisticated cinematic language he had developed on pictures like ‘Days of Being Wild’, ‘Chungking Express’ and ‘Happy Together’ with production designer William Chang and cinematographer Christopher Doyle, here sharing a credit with Mark Lee Ping-bin. Narrative is approached elliptically, through repetitions and cycles that evoke the experience of routine and memory rather than conventional dramatic progression; on occasion, the only way to chart the passage of time is through the variety of Mrs Chan’s cheongsam dresses. Consistent in cut, as restrictive as Mr Chow’s equally ubiquitous neckties, their patterns vary from lava-lamp blobs to Rorschach blots, fluctuating shimmers to bold floral prints. It’s hard not to think of a chameleon, emotions flaring across its skin even as it remains placidly poised.

The film’s technique revisits a roster of gorgeous motifs – songs, shots, encounters – to establish and vary its emotional terrain. Cropped compositions and jump cuts suggestive of incompletion and destabilisation are set against the lush patterning and luminous slow motion of romance, and this tension is echoed in the leads’ rigorously contained performances. The result is an almost trancelike state of beauty sustained and fulfilment deferred, an ecstasy of longing.

in_the_mood_for_love1.jpg
It’s apt, then, that two of the most stirring components of this film about emotional displacement are not to be found in the film itself. They are found in its trailer, an impressionistic distillation of the picture’s aesthetic and psychological contours that qualifies as a beautiful short film in its own right. It offers a shot from one of the diner scenes in which Mrs Chan enfolds Mr Chow’s hand, closed around his fork, in hers; he withdraws, leaving her fingers splayed on the table. Intimate, frustrated, lasting less than three seconds, it’s more skin contact than the pair are permitted in the entire feature and jolts the heart.

The trailer is set to Bryan Ferry’s cover of the song that gives the film its English title but is never heard in it. (The feature offers instead the oblique pleasures of Nat King Cole singing in Spanish and the aching strings of Shigeru Umebayashi’s waltz from the 1991 film ‘Yumeji’.) As ironically loaded a title as ‘Happy Together’, the tension between song and story here is less sardonic than bittersweet. Sensuous, sinuous, sincere, Ferry’s arrangement, like Wong’s picture, winds us through the surprise, the yearning, the defiance, the submission and the wonder of love, stressing the joy to which we mustn’t allow the sadness of its possible transience to blind us. ‘Why stop to think of whether this little dream might fade? We’ve put our hearts together. Now we are one, I’m not afraid.’ BW
Read the Time Out review here


View the personal top tens here

Explore the list: |101-91 | | 90-81 | | 80-71 | | 70-61 | | 60-51 |
| 50-41 | | 40-31 | | 30-21 | | 20-11 | 10-6 | 5-2 |

Users say

23 comments
laura
laura

How could you forget "Amores Perros" from the brilliant Inaritu (whose movies are completely absent from your list)? I can't believe movies such as "A ma soeur" made it but not that one... Nice choice of movies otherwise

Jon
Jon

You sirs are, not to put too fine a point on it, barmy. The Two Towers (positively and totally the worst of the 3 lord of the rings films) makes the list but the return of the king (the slightly better film) doesn't ? At least you got it right by placing the Fellowship higher - the only film of the three that had any interest in character development as well as plot development, and that didn't become just another action movie.

Jacqueline
Jacqueline

Diving Bell and the Butterfly?? Terrible list.

Milan
Milan

I've just seen the utter rubbish that was voted for No.1. As pointed my M T, it had to be pretintious finale to the list. "... superlative development of a longstanding storytelling tradition at which the movies excel." THIS FILM HAS NO STORY, there are just pretty pictures

tom huddleston
tom huddleston

No, but I've seen the film 'The Emperor's New Groove'.

Brian
Brian

Ever read the book The Emperor's New Clothes?

James
James

Wonderful list and broadly speaking very difficut to argue with which makes a change from other "Greatest Film of ....." lists. Maybe missing The Beat My Heart Skipped and Moulin Rouge but a fantastic list and a great read...

Dion
Dion

What an absolutely wonderful choice for #1! I agree that it's the finest film of the decade, if not of all time. I'm also very pleased to see the beautiful Talk to Her, my personal #2, in 7th spot. Great list team.

Tage Weie
Tage Weie

Not one of Cronenberg's masterpieces from the decade made the list, but crap like "School of Rock" did; of course. What the hell is going on here? I halfway expected to see "Aliens vs Predator" as no. 1, seing how the integrity of TO has fallen from grace lately. Jesus Christ.

tschill
tschill

Quite often I disagree with your verdict on films, but the number one on this list was a sudden flooding of happiness running through my veins. Good work!

Marc
Marc

Coraline deserves to be on this and you know it.

P
P

Stupid list.

mia
mia

pretty good list i think but i am APALLED at the fact moulin rouge isnt up there anywhere...i mean it's not number one but seriously, not on the list at all?! that's really a shame.

mojo_b
mojo_b

Feeling pretty out of touch as I scanned through the list...then there it is no.1! There is justice in the world, my fave film is there. Yippee!

Tomsk
Tomsk

I don't get it, wheres transformers 2? :)

Dom Brewer
Dom Brewer

What a great list - definitely the best of this sort I've seen so far. So pleased to see some genuinely great films getting high places (Jesse James for example) and a truly brilliant and often overlooked film at No.1. I don't always agree with your reviewers, but this list is impressively done.

Amy
Amy

I can call people what I like. Mr. T, you can eat my crap. I knew you would reply sooner or later, and it's just taken a few days of waiting to get my chance. In your face Mr. T!! Oh and by the way. Kindergarten Cop is not very good.

M T
M T

Hey, listen you guys. I weren't trying to say Kindergarten Cop was supposed to be number 1. Although, I was suprised not to see it in the top 30. Somebody called me Mr. T. I find that offensive. Is it because I don't get on planes? What about the classic film DeathRace 2000? Surely that should be in the top 101!! There's no justice.

Partha P Mukherjee
Partha P Mukherjee

A good selection of notable films. As an Indian I am not sure how you included Lagaan. May be because it got show cased in London, may be. There are lot other films and I would request the reviewers to spare time for these in case they are looking out at Indian films. Have you heard about "Mr and Mrs Iyer" ? The choice of In the Mood for Love is a pleasant surprise. And I fully support the same. There are a few things which are intangible. And Wong Kar Wai is a master of narration of the intangible. Overall a good solid list.

Rob
Rob

M T's comment inadvertently makes the case for lists like this - I find it hard to imagine that anybody who'd actually seen In the Mood for Love could find it a 'pretentious' or even surprising choice as #1 film, and it's great to think that this will help introduce the wonderful films of Wong Kar-Wai to people who have not encountered them before

Al
Al

A superb, rarefied list and a shrill testament to Time Out's exceptional contribution to film - i truly believe you folks - DC, TH (hang in there kid, ignore the crazies) and DJ - are world class film critics. Thanks, have a good new year. x (Sorry, just a thought, 'Tokyo Sonata'?)

Amy
Amy

Mr T - you've got to be kidding if you haven't heard of Wong Kar-wai or In the Mood for Love. Or does your appreciation of film purely revolve around those of the western world? An excellent choice for #1, Time Out.

M T
M T

Great to see Jesse James at no.6 - such an overlooked film and agree with No Country and There will be Blood in top 5 but a typical Time Out choice at number one - a film many will never have heard of - pretentious finale to the list although I maybe I will have to go out and buy it - it does sounds brilliant



Top Stories

Meet the dream team: a preview of ‘Les Misérables’

Meet the dream team: a preview of ‘Les Misérables’

Director Tom Hooper and his cast tell us how they turned the super-musical into movie blockbuster.

Oscar predictions

Oscar predictions

The Time Out film team weighs in on the nominees for the 2013 Academy Awards

January film highlights 2013

January film highlights 2013

Get ready for the big guns… Spielberg, Tarantino and Bigelow

October film highlights

October film highlights

Daniel Craig’s 007 comeback, a genius indie romcom and all the mysteries behind ‘The Shining’ unravelled.

The Time Out film debate 2012 highlights

The Time Out film debate 2012 highlights

The results of our study on the state of films and filmgoing in 2012.

Read 'Time Out film debate 2012 highlights'

Martin Freeman interview

Martin Freeman interview

'The Hobbit' actor tells us why he wouldn't have a pint with Bilbo Baggins.

Sam Mendes interview

Sam Mendes interview

Dave Calhoun speaks to the director of 'Skyfall' about the latest film in the Bond franchise.

Ang Lee interview

Ang Lee interview

The genre-hopping director tells us how he invented a new genre with 'Life of Pi'

Michael Haneke interview

Michael Haneke interview

The twice Palme d'Or-winning director discusses 'Amour'.

Read our interview with Michael Haneke

Thomas Vinterberg interview

Thomas Vinterberg interview

The Danish director talks about his powerful new drama 'The Hunt'.

Read our interview with Thomas Vinterberg'

Ten things the 'Twilight' movies did for us

Ten things the 'Twilight' movies did for us

Time Out looks back at the impact of the 'Twilight' saga.

Discover what 'Twilight' has done for us

On the set of 'Sightseers'

On the set of 'Sightseers'

Time Out heads to the Lake District to visit director Ben Wheatley on set.

Read about our visit to the 'Sightseers' set

Tim Burton interview

Tim Burton interview

The director talks about 'Frankenweenie', which he describes as 'the ultimate memory piece'.

Read our interview with Tim burton

The top ten Christmas films of 2012

The top ten Christmas films of 2012

Our pick of the best films showing over the festive period.

Read 'The top ten Christmas films of 2012'

What's your film guilty pleasure?

What's your film guilty pleasure?

Mean Girls? Dirty Dancing? Tell us your favourite film guilty pleasure.

Read 'Film guilty pleasures'

When teen stars turn serious

When teen stars turn serious

Ten young actors come of age on the silver screen.

Read 'When teen stars turn serious'

50 years of James Bond

50 years of James Bond

From Connery to Craig, we revisit all 22 Bond films.

Read '50 years of James Bond'

Paul Thomas Anderson interview

Paul Thomas Anderson interview

The director talks Scientology and working with Joaquin Phoenix.

Read the interview

Hilarious horror films

Hilarious horror films


Ten funny horror movies which went spectacularly off the rails.

Read 'Hilarious horror films'

Martin McDonagh interview

Martin McDonagh interview

The director talks psychopaths and theatre – 'my least favourite artform'.

Read the interview

Autumn horror films

Autumn horror films

We round-up the five best horror movies of Autumn 2012.

Read about this Autumn's best horror movies

On the set of Skyfall

On the set of Skyfall

Time Out visits Istanbul to see the latest Bond movie being made.

Read 'On the set of Skyfall'

Bond: then and now

Bond: then and now

Does Skyfall refresh or rehash the James Bond franchise?

Sally Potter interview

Sally Potter interview

The British director explains why 'Ginger and Rosa' is her most mainstream film yet.

Daniel Craig interview

Daniel Craig interview

'I’m almost as in demand as Brad Pitt’