Time Out's 101 Films of the Decade – Part 5, with reactions from Peter Jackson, David Fincher, Guillermo del Toro and more…
Part 5 reminds us its important to have friends, be they impossibly upbeat Cockernee sparrows like Sally Hawkins, downtrodden Mumbai slum kids like Dev Patel or portly sex-obsessed nerds like Jonah Hill... While both 'Oldboy' and 'Hunger' remind us of the perils of spending too much time alone.
60. Happy-Go-Lucky (2008, GB)Directed by Mike Leigh The word 'chipper' doesn't even begin to cover itMike Leigh surprised many with the lighter tone of this 2008 film, which deservedly won lead actress Sally Hawkins the best actress award at the Berlin Film Festival. It certainly has a more free, less determinist spirit than some of Leigh’s films, but as usual it celebrates life in all its guises, the highs and the lows, the successes and the knockbacks. Like David Thewlis’s Johnny in ‘Naked’, Hawkin’s upbeat, glass-half-full Poppy is in almost every shot and she offers a hilarious foil to Eddie Marsan’s poisonous driving instructor – a man with more hang-ups than the National Gallery. DCRead the Time Out review
59. Slumdog Millionaire (2008, US/GB)Directed by Danny BoyleFeelgood poverty porn wins Academy hearts, minds and statuettesThis rags-to-riches Dickensian yarn was touted as the ‘feel good’ movie of the year but it’s actually a brutally honest portrait of life in India’s slums. Shot largely on location in Mumbai, it’s the story of Jamal (Brit Dev Patel) who makes it to the final of India’s version of ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?’ Danny Boyle does what no Bollywood director would dare do: he showcases the utter depravity of life in Asia’s largest slum and turns it into an escapist love story which captures the current hopeful mood of life in India’s ‘maximum city’. Jai Ho! ASRead the Time Out review
58. Little Miss Sunshine (2006, US)Directed by Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris Everybody pretend to be normal! The consummate breakout success, ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ may be studio product masquerading as indie individualism, but it’s still an enormously likeable, beautifully constructed and very witty study of family dysfunction. First-timer Michael Arndt’s script is impeccable –a third-act blunder into ‘Weekend at Bernie’s' territory notwithstanding – but what really makes the movie sparkle is that glorious cast: of the three relative newcomers, Abigail Breslin was Oscar nominated, Steve Carell became one of America’s most reliable stars and Paul Dano went on to give arguably the decade’s most unnerving performance, as Eli Sunday in ‘There Will be Blood’. THRead the Time Out review
57. Superbad (2007, US)Directed by Greg MottolaMouths don't get much pottier than thisAs the first half of the comedy decade belonged to Will Ferrell and Ben Stiller, the second was the property of Judd Apatow and Seth Rogen. This was their best (Apatow produced, Rogen wrote and acted), a touching tale of three geeks coming of age as they head for an end-of-school party armed only with fake ID (in the name of McLovin), a condom and a bottle of spermicidal lube. Scorsese’s ‘After Hours’ meets ‘Dazed And Confused’, creating an adolescent universe that you won’t want to leave. PWRead the Time Out review
56. Sideways (2004, US)Directed by Alexander PayneOnophilia in action with Giamatti's loveable lumpDrunkenness is a promising topic for cinema; wine, however, is not. So the success of Alexander Payne’s film partly depends on the interplay of the two: after all, most wine lovers, like Miles (Paul Giamatti), may be able to talk winemaking technicalities until dawn, but they still drink too much - especially on an odyssey around California’s vineyards that’s as much a flight from the realities of unsuccessful middle-aged life as a celebration of Miles’s best friend’s impending nuptials. The four leads – Giamatti, Thomas Haden Church as his dim Adonis friend, and Sandra Oh and Virginia Madsen as the women they inevitably meet – are perfectly cast. But it’s Payne’s Oscar-winning script that makes this the cinematic equivalent of Miles’s precious 1961 Cheval Blanc. NCRead the Time Out review
55. Être et Avoir (2002, Fr)Directed by Nicolas PhilibertLess 'Blackboard Jungle', more 'Blackboard Farming Community'...It would not be at all surprising if there had been a sudden rise in parents naming their newborns ‘JoJo’ in the months and years following the release of Nicolas Philibert’s inspiring and sweetly funny document of the workings of a tiny village school in Saint-Étienne-sur-Usson in southern, rural France. Though the undoubted ‘star’ of the film is the preternaturally collected and philosophical professeur, Georges Lopez, it’s the actions of inquisitive, comically disruptive tot JoJo who helped bring the film a decent measure of mainstream international success (Philibert’s first since starting out as a filmmaker in the late ’70s). Yet, beyond its memorable participants, the film offers an exhaustive depiction of the process of how information is passed between the generations, whether that’s in the classroom, around the kitchen table with the family trying to solve maths problems, or out in the fields tending to the family plot. DJRead the Time Out review
54. Hunger (2008, GB)Directed by Steve McQueen Best piss-sweeping scene everBritish artist Steve McQueen forged a very particular filmmaking style, mixing cold realism with more poetic elements, for this harsh portrait of Northern Ireland’s Maze prison in the early 1980s – a portrait which constricts gradually to become a study of the imprisonment and death of IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands. One of McQueen’s more daring moves was to contain most of the film’s political debates within one explicit, talky scene between Michael Fassbender’s Sands and a visiting priest played by Liam Cunningham, so allowing McQueen to express himself almost free of dialogue elsewhere. This flight from the constraints of text also allows McQueen to explore the more physical elements of Sands’s story, such as the bodily realities of a ‘dirty’ protest and a hunger strike. All eyes will be on what McQueen does next. DCRead the Time Out review
53. The Dancer Upstairs (2002, Sp/US)Directed by John MalkovichSee the world through John Malkovich's eyes... againThe only reason this film didn’t make it into the upper reaches of Time Out’s recent ‘50 Greatest Directorial Debuts’ list is simply because we forgot about it. Quite how we managed to do so is thoroughly baffling, because Malkovich’s masterly adaptation of Nicholas Shakespeare’s probing novel about terrorism, corruption and ballet set in an unnamed Latin American country (Peru) is a haunting, unsettling film that lives long in the memory. Javier Bardem’s riveting performance as a conflicted police detective on the trail of some bomb-crazy guerrillas holds everything together while The Malk’s subtle, intelligent deployment of photography, score and editing to further the story is totally captivating. ALDRead the Time Out review
52. Memento (2000, US)Directed by Christopher NolanThat film... you know, with the guy... wait, what was I saying?Obfuscation has long been the name of Christopher Nolan’s game: be it Bruce Wayne’s mask, the smoke and mirrors of underappreciated conjuring caper ‘The Prestige’ (2006) or the self-deluding synaptic two-step promised by next year’s ‘Inception’, Nolan rarely lets both the audience and his characters in on the same trick at the same time. ‘Memento’ is a prime example, spinning Guy Pearce’s short-term memory loss into a tight little revenge yarn that works equally well as a thorny metaphysical puzzler or a vicious, grubby neo-noir. Parceling out only enough plot to propel the film from scene to scene, Nolan keeps us - and Pearce – guessing right up until a final kick in the narrative guts sends everybody reeling. Guy, of course, will have forgotten all about it 15 minutes later. You won’t. ALD
Read the Time Out review
51. OldBoy (2003, S. Kor)Directed by Park Chan-WookHere's that sick squid I owe you...He chows down on live squid, dangles snivelling minions off of tall buildings and proves to be quite tasty with a tack hammer when it comes to taking on a private army of hired goons, but it’s all in the name of that modern cinematic mainstay: revenge. One minute, Choi Min-sik’s hapless salaryman, Oh Dae-su, is out on his Friday night drink-up, next thing he knows he’s been incarcerated in prison cell decked out in mock-’70s funky wallpaper and left to stew for fifteen long years with no idea of what his crime is. Once released, he’s given five days to work out the reason for his imprisonment, which, it transpires, is all down to a clean-cut Machiavellian bastard in a tailored suit. Having already paraded his tough guy credentials with his previous film, ‘Sympathy for Mr Vengeance’, South Korea’s Park Chan-wook knocked it out of the flamboyant retribution caper park with this operatic distillation of Kafka, grungy genre pyrotechnics, hardcore violence and, of course, a wicked sense of humour. DJRead the Time Out review
Click here for 50 through to 41...
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