Director – Marc Forster
Revealing the misplaced genius of Barrie, whose true abilities are buried in the Disneyfied version of his classic work, Depp is at his best in this touching and surprisingly accurate portrayal. The screenplay is managed with style, especially given the fact that the subject matter is unavoidably sappy.
54. From Hell
Director – Albert Hughes, Allen Hughes
Depp again, this time in the most true to the source material version of Sherlock Holmes you’ll probably ever find, even though the film makes no claims to the name, and is based on a very different book.
Jack the Ripper is running wild, but it’s hard to pay attention to anything other than Depp’s performance. A wild ride that, perhaps of necessity, delivers its story via a very different road than the graphic novel, but is nevertheless an intensely fun trip through several varieties of madness.
53. Frozen River
Director – Courtney Hunt
The lives of the very desperate are the focus in this film about two women who find themselves caught up in border smuggling. Single mothers who are at the end of their respective ropes, they are simply at the point of having to try anything. The emotion is delivered unapologetically and far better than most films can manage, and the connections and characters are as real and substantial as you’ll ever see.
52. Ghost Dog
Director – Jim Jarmusch
Underrated and overlooked (Jarmusch, this film, and to some extent Forest Whitaker) this particular film is wild, absurd, brilliant, and misunderstood even by some of its biggest fans. An assassin (or hitman, I suppose) working for the mafia lives by the code of the samurai. When he suddenly becomes a liability, the tables are turned, and now we have to work out how he can survive, and how far he is willing to take living by the code.
Largely misinterpreted (according to me), the film, story, and character are more or less insane by design, depicting a fairly crazy character living in an insane situation, according to self-imposed crazy rules of conduct. Aren’t we all?
51. Ghost World
Director – Terry Zwigoff
Early teens let loose and given a voice, the film is the daring sort of insightful that frequently irritates all audiences equally. Smartass and fancy free, two teens ride their sarcasm for all it’s worth and hope that it doesn’t actually turn out that non-comformists are the same.
Director – Laurent Firode
Ahh… the butterfly effect. More than a dozen lives interconnect one fateful day, and your treat is getting to watch it all happen. Clever, silly, and an immensely good time, this film is pure joy brought to the screen.
Director – Alfonso Cuaron
Without question the best of the books manages the greatest stroke of luck a franchise could hope for in capturing a director who will make the best movie he can, and source material and expectations be damned. With the kind of style that is actually expressive and the truest kind of storytelling ability, this film surpasses its source to a degree you’d never have believed possible. If the books understood storytelling, characters, and depth of purpose as well as this film, you’d be more understanding of rabid, over 20 fans.
Director – Laetitia Colombani
Generally I’m not at all a fan of films with a gimmick, but the stars deliver the characters so well here, and the direction is so solid, that you go along with it without question. A story delivered from two perspectives, it isn’t so much the way hearing only one side of events made you think (and being forced to catch yourself at it), but rather the realization that this is real life. Generally less intense and to a lesser degree, of course, but as the second part plays out you realize that this is simply how the world works.
It’s something that is so bumper-sticker that you can hardly hear it when people say it, but you’ll love to watch it here and you’ll listen even though you’re smirking.
Director – Yimou Zhang
Of all the martial arts filled films to come along during the decade, none had such a deeply pleasurable sense of fable about it. With its stunning visual style and often wonderfully labored effort at removing its own characters in order to somehow become all sub-text, Hero is a masterpiece of reveling in the theory behind the mere trivia of what happens in a story. And, all while delivering something mesmerizing in its grace and fluidity. Ultimately, something like a spaghetti western on angel’s wings. I know, you’re wondering about that other movie. It wasn’t so good.
46. Hidden (Cache)
Director – Michael Haneke
An ordinary life is thrown into chaos when Georges and Anne receive a bizarre package including what is apparently surveillance video of their lives. There seems to be a connection to Georges’ past, and when secrets and guilt bubble up, the whole world can turn upside-down. Daniel Auteuil and Julliette Binoche are wonderful, and the story is unraveled to great effect.