Movies and lists and lists of movies are a few of my favorite things!
[Film reviews by Peter Ranier
of the Christian Science Monitor. The order of placement is mine.]
1. Spirited Away
This is the best film from the world’s best animator, Hayao Miyazaki. A 10-year-old girl, moving to the suburbs with her parents, discovers a tunnel leading to a world that might have astounded even Lewis Carroll. Miyazaki creates wondrously mysterious effects in almost every hand-drawn frame.
For pure unalloyed pleasure, few Hollywood movies of the decade could touch this bittersweet Alexander Payne film about an oenophile (Paul Giamatti) whose crankiness is the thinnest of veneers covering his sadness. It’s a comedy about how we all make it, somehow, through life, and it’s so sharply observed and deeply felt that, in the end, it also seems, of all things, wise.
3. No Country for Old Men
Joel and Ethan Coen are perhaps the most polarizing of contemporary American filmmakers, but in this adaptation of the Cormac McCarthy novel, they had their greatest critical and popular success. (It won the Academy Award for best picture of 2007.) It’s about the human response to death and dying as embodied in three men " a thief-hunter (Josh Brolin), a lawman (Tommy Lee Jones), and a terminator (Javier Bardem) " and it has an allegorical power that at times is close to biblical.
4. Waltz With Bashir
Filmmaker Ari Folman was a 19-year-old Israeli soldier in the 1982 war in Lebanon, from which he fashioned this one-of-a-kind animated memoir that, in the end, unforgettably breaks into live-action footage of the sorrows of war.
5. Time Out
Laurent Cantet’s 2001 movie about a husband and father, suddenly unemployed, who pretends he has a lucrative new job, seems doubly prescient these days. As the harrowed, deluded protagonist, Aurélien Recoing gives a withering portrait of a man who is trying to do right by everybody " and nobody. Although set in a very different time and place, this film has some of the spookiness of a Hawthorne story.
6. The Pianist
Roman Polanski drew deeply on his boyhood experiences as a Jewish child being hunted down in World War II Poland in this poetically stark adaptation of the wartime memoir of Polish pianist and Holocaust survivor Wladyslaw Szpilman, played with unerring grace by Adrien Brody.
7. 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days
The best Romanian filmmakers are among the most remarkable in the world right now, and none more so than Cristian Mungiu. In this masterpiece, set in small-town Romania in 1987 at a time when the waning Ceauşescu regime was still potent, a college girl (the great Anamaria Marinca) covertly arranges for her friend’s abortion. The consequences of this illegality, in a society where all human activity appears to be monitored by the state, are sorrowing.
Haven't seen the following ... (yet):
Y Tu Mamá También
The Wind Will Carry Us