The Perpetual Three-Dot Column
The Perpetual Three-Dot Column
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by Jesse Walker

Thursday, December 22, 2011
A TIME ODYSSEY: When other writers trot out their 10 favorite films of the year, it's our tradition here at The Perpetual Three-Dot Column to instead list our top 10 pictures of 10 years ago, 20 years ago, 30, 40, and so on. And by "tradition" I mean "practically the only thing I use this old blog for these days."

When the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences looked at 2001, it gave its Best Picture award to A Beautiful Mind, a biopic that starts strong, peaks with an ably executed plot twist, and then gradually degenerates into crap. It isn't on my list.

1. Mulholland Drive
Written and directed by David Lynch

In dreams it isn't unusual for a person to switch identities, for one figure to turn into several (and vice versa), or for time to fall out of joint; and that's the sort of thing you see as Lynch's soap-opera-turned-nightmare unfolds. The best horror movie of the last 10 years.

2. Spirited Away
Written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki

All of Miyazaki's fairy tales are wonderful, but this is the one I like the most.

3. Y Tu Mamá También
Directed by Alfonso Cuarón
Written by Cuarón and Carlos Cuarón

As engrossing as the plot is, what I remember best about this picture are the details of a larger world lurking in the background while the protagonists obliviously zoom by.

4. Sex and Lucia
Written and directed by Julio Médem

Among its many virtues, this is the picture that proved DV could be used as artfully as film. And it did it by embracing the alleged drawbacks of the medium. I imagine Médem talking with his cinematographer: "So the sky looks washed out? OK; see if you can make that beautiful."

5. The Man Who Wasn't There
Written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen

"He told them to look not at the facts but at the meaning of the facts, and then he said the facts had no meaning. It was a pretty good speech. It even had me going."

6. Donnie Darko
Written and directed by Richard Kelly

Harvey meets Carnival of Souls.

7. The Office
Written and directed by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant

Steve Kurtz always gives me a hard time when I put a season of a TV show on one of these lists. Well, look: This is a coherent three-hour story with a beginning, middle, and end. Unlike any season of the American Office, which I also like but is much more open-ended, it could be a miniseries. And anyway, it's far too good to leave out.

8. Waking Life
Written and directed by Richard Linklater

Reason #23,000 not to trust the Motion Picture Academy: It found room for Jimmy Neutron among its Best Animated Feature nominees, but not this.

9. Lantana
Directed by Ray Lawrence
Written by Andrew Bovell

"This is not an affair. It's a one-night stand that happened twice."

10. The Pledge
Directed by Sean Penn
Written by Jerzy Kromolowski and Mary Olson-Kromolowski, from a novella by Friedrich Dürrenmatt

It's always a pleasure to see Jack Nicholson acting without carpet in his mouth.

Honorable mentions:

11. Storytelling (Todd Solondz)
12. Claire (Milford Thomas)
13. Amélie (Jean-Pierre Jeunet)
14. Gosford Park (Robert Altman)
15. The Others (Alejandro Amenábar)
16. Time Out (Laurent Cantet)
17. Ghost World (Terry Zwigoff)
18. What Time Is It There? (Tsai Ming-liang)
19. Ocean's Eleven (Steven Soderbergh)
20. Hyakugojyuuichu!! (Neil Cicierega)

Of the films of 2001 that I haven't seen, I'm most interested in CQ and Light of My Eyes.

posted by Jesse 3:00 PM
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