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Poll lists top 150 films of the decade. How does LOTR rank?

N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Mar 23 2010, 10:03pm

Post #1 of 13 (293 views)
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Poll lists top 150 films of the decade. How does LOTR rank? Can't Post

Well, there is a reason I'm posting this in Off-Topic rather than Main or Movie.

Film Comment gathered ten-best lists for the 2000s from 183 "critics, programmers, academics, filmmakers, and others", and listed their top 150 responses.

LOTR failed entirely to make the list.

The top twenty:
  1. Mulholland Drive D. Lynch, U.S. 2001
  2. In the Mood for Love Wong K.W., Hong Kong 2000
  3. Yi Yi E. Yang, China 2000
  4. Syndromes and a Century A. Weerasethakul, Thailand 2006
  5. There Will Be Blood P.T. Anderson, U.S. 2007
  6. The Death of Mr. Lazarescu C. Puiu, Romania 2005
  7. A History of Violence D. Cronenberg, Canada 2005
  8. Tropical Malady A. Weerasethakul, Thailand 2004
  9. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days C. Mungiu, Romania 2007
  10. The New World T. Malick, U.S. 2005
  11. Platform Jia Z., Hong Kong 2000
  12. Zodiac D. Fincher, U.S. 2007
  13. The Intruder C. Denis, France 2004
  14. The Son J.-P. & L. Dardenne, Belgium 2002
  15. Dogville L. von Trier, Denmark 2003
  16. Caché M. Haneke, France 2005
  17. Kings and Queen A. Desplechin, France 2005
  18. Elephant G. Van Sant, U.S. 2003
  19. The Royal Tenenbaums W. Anderson, U.S. 2001
  20. Before Sunset R. Linklater, U.S. 2004

My favorite film of the decade, Nanni Moretti's The Son's Room, is also absent. The list includes films I think are pretty bad, like Tenenbaums above, and Miami Vice at #117.

It's possible that LOTR appeared on some individual lists; I'll have to find the magazine itself to check.

By way of comparison, here are the films these voters thought better than LOTR for each of its three years:

Better than The Fellowship of the Ring?
#1 Mulholland Drive —D. Lynch, U.S.
#19 The Royal Tenenbaums —W. Anderson, U.S.
#21 Spirited Away —H. Miyazaki, Japan
#30 A.I.: Artificial Intelligence —S. Spielberg, U.S.
#31 In Praise of Love —J.-L. Godard, France
#44 Millennium Mambo —Hou H.-h., France
#48 What Time Is It There? —Tsai M.-l., Taiwan
#57 Y Tu Mamá También —A. Cuarón, Mexico
#62 La ciénaga —L. Martel, Argentina
#78 Fat Girl —C. Breillat, France
#81 Donnie Darko —R. Kelly, U.S.
#87 Trouble Every Day —C. Denis, France
#101 La libertad —L. Alonso, Argentina
#107 Pulse —K. Kurosawa, Japan
#110 Time Out —L. Cantet, France
#115 Va Savoir —J. Rivette, France
#127 The Piano Teacher —M. Haneke, France
#128 The Lady and the Duke —E. Rohmer, France
#133 Ghost World —T. Zwigoff, U.S.
#146 Gosford Park —R. Altman, U.K.
#150 Dog Days —U. Seidl, Austria


Better than The Two Towers?
#14 The Son —J.-P. & L. Dardenne, Belgium
#25 Talk to Her —P. Almodóvar, Spain
#29 Russian Ark —A. Sokurov, Russia
#39 Blissfully Yours —A. Weerasethakul, Thailand
#49 demonlover —O. Assayas, France
#54 Distant —N. B. Ceylan, Turkey
#60 Ten —A. Kiarostami, Iran
#68 25th Hour —S. Lee, U.S.
#72 Adaptation —S. Jonze, U.S.
#74 Gerry —G. Van Sant, U.S.
#77 Punch-Drunk Love —P.T. Anderson, U.S.
#80 Far From Heaven —T. Haynes, U.S.
#88 Femme Fatale —B. De Palma, U.S.
#94 The Man Without a Past —A. Kaurismäki, Finland
#97 Turning Gate —Hong S.-s., S. Korea
#103 The Pianist —R. Polanski, Poland
#114 Morvern Callar —L. Ramsay, U.K.
#137 Spider —D. Cronenberg, Canada
#138 Friday Night —C. Denis, France
#145 Divine Intervention —E. Suleiman, Palestine


Better than The Return of the King?
#15 Dogville —L. von Trier, Denmark
#18 Elephant —G. Van Sant, U.S.
#23 Goodbye, Dragon Inn —Tsai M.-l., Taiwan
#37 Café Lumière —Hou H.-h., Taiwan
#43 Los Angeles Plays Itself —T. Andersen, U.S.
#55 Saraband —I. Bergman, Sweden
#73 Lost in Translation —S. Coppola, U.S.
#84 Memories of Murder —Bong J.-h., S. Korea
#85 West of the Tracks —Wang B., China
#96 The Best of Youth —M.T. Giordana, Italy
#108 Kill Bill: Vol. 1 —Q. Tarantino, U.S.
#113 Mystic River —C. Eastwood, U.S.
#117 Tarnation —J. Caouette, U.S.
#126 Oldboy —Park C.-w., S. Korea


Comments?

Here's an earlier discussion on TORN, based on a Salon article that also considered the standing of LOTR as the decade closed.

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MrCere
Sr. Staff


Mar 24 2010, 12:25am

Post #2 of 13 (143 views)
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Very interesting [In reply to] Can't Post

It is pretty difficult for me to comment since I have seen only a handful of the films. I can't say they aren't better if I haven't viewed them. I have seen seven of the top 20, which isn't enough to say much.

The trouble for me is, some of the films I have seen, I don't hold in high esteem or at least not high enough to be on this list. Making such a list of my own would be incomplete or impossible.

It is a good list of films to put on Netflix though!

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(This post was edited by MrCere on Mar 24 2010, 12:29am)


MrCere
Sr. Staff


Mar 24 2010, 1:14am

Post #3 of 13 (134 views)
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Oh and one other thing [In reply to] Can't Post

No "40 Year Old Virgin"?!?!?!

I have no choice but to believe in free will.

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FarFromHome
Valinor


Mar 24 2010, 1:50am

Post #4 of 13 (123 views)
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I think we've seen this effect before. [In reply to] Can't Post

Critics' and other professionals' "top tens" tend to focus on films that are a bit special - out of the mainstream, perhaps, maybe in another language, possibly interesting if flawed, or at least quirky in some way or other. The big, obvious movies don't get a spot just because they are so obvious, and don't need to be mentioned.

I notice it with my favourite reviewer, Mark Kermode, who reviews for the BBC. He's on record as saying that LotR is a masterpiece of filmmaking (still says so whenever the topic comes up), but when he's thinking in terms of lists, he tends to come up with the kind of unusual, interesting films that might otherwise be missed. I think that's a perfectly sensible way of dealing with the huge amount of film material that's out there. But when everyone's "top ten" of interesting films gets glommed together to try to make a "best of" metalist, it shouldn't really claim to be any kind of indication of the absolute best. Maybe it's not claiming that, and it's just aiming to be a good list of interesting films worth watching, which is certainly a worthwhile aim. But if it's claiming to have some special ability to have discovered the "best" in some absolute sense, then I think it's barking up the wrong tree.

They went in, and Sam shut the door.
But even as he did so, he heard suddenly,
deep and unstilled,
the sigh and murmur of the Sea upon the shores of Middle-earth.
From the unpublished Epilogue to the Lord of the Rings



N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Mar 24 2010, 2:40am

Post #5 of 13 (92 views)
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Do many critics think "Citizen Kane" is the greatest of films? [In reply to] Can't Post

Or one that needs further attention by being so listed, almost every time for fifty years running?


Of course, I'm pretty sure nearly every person who responded to the Film Comment poll would agree with you, that the combined result merely is an indicator of current critical opinion, and nothing absolute or objective -- because most respondents will find most of the films they listed somewhere below the accumulated top ten.

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Arandiel
Grey Havens

Mar 24 2010, 2:49am

Post #6 of 13 (90 views)
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There's also the SFF effect [In reply to] Can't Post

Meaning, Science Fiction and Fantasy get very little respect from those who trade in movie critique. Rather, that the acting in such ventures is overlooked or dismissed when placed in comparison to the acting in movies that don't have such large special effects budgets. And the (perceived) quality of the acting in a film seems to be of paramount importance to critics - the more unusual, loud or otherwise abnormal the acting is, the more it is celebrated. But they violate their own criteria whenever it comes to SFF; what could be more unusual than acting in a gimp suit and having your entire performance reinterpreted by a team of CGI experts? Somehow, it doesn't count.

Obviously, I have an opinion, and I don't like the treatment my favorite film genres receive because of this double standard.


SirDennisC
Half-elven


Mar 24 2010, 2:56am

Post #7 of 13 (94 views)
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Spider, [In reply to] Can't Post

released in the same year as The Two Towers, was not only better, but was better than some of the films that made it into the top 20 IMHO. Though Zodiac beat out both of them, which paints a bleary picture of the entire list.



weaver
Half-elven

Mar 24 2010, 1:48pm

Post #8 of 13 (85 views)
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similar to book rankings... [In reply to] Can't Post

LOTR, the books, tend not to rank highly with literary critics, too, who are often dismayed when polls of readers rank it at the top, instead of recognizing the value of the kind o more 'serious' , obscure, more difficult, or diverse works the critics like or feel deserve more attention.

Weaver






Darkstone
Immortal


Mar 24 2010, 7:48pm

Post #9 of 13 (166 views)
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And the best film of the noughties is..... a failed television pilot! [In reply to] Can't Post

 
Somehow that seems appropriate.


Basically this poll is a list of shaggy dog stories, or stories with totally repulsive characters, or shaggy dog stories with totally repulsive characters. No wonder critics love them. I'll agree that most of these films have great cinematography, but surely being pretty to look at isn’t the main critical criteria for a “best of” list.

Is it?


1. Mulholland Drive

Actually conceived as a two hour pilot for ABC. The pilot introduced the characters and laid the groundwork for a host of future story arcs. The network turned it down. Lynch then tacked on a quick ambiguous ending and released it to critical acclaim. Anyway, I thought his Inland Empire (2006) was much better. At least it was actually a movie!


2. In the Mood for Love

Cousin, Cousine (1975) did this much better. In the film it’s pointed out that to get rid of an awful secret you dig a hole, whisper the secret in the hole, then cover the hole with mud. Somehow the image of the audience left in a hole and covered with mud fits the ending perfectly.

3. Yi Yi

Almost three hours long. A leisurely study of a broken family trying to hold together. If you can stand it, it builds to a nice little conclusion. Good, but hardly in the top 20 of the films of the noughties. Still, it’s beautifully shot.


4. Syndromes and a Century

Random scenes in a small rural hospital followed by the same random scenes only different in a big city hospital a few years later. This is supposedly about the director’s doctor parents. He must have hated them.


5. There Will Be Blood

An original story kinda based on the first few pages of an Upton Sinclair novel and sorta modeled on a real life oil baron in California. Yeah, the film is pretty confused. It struck me as a low budget Heaven’s Gate (long and boring), only without the latter’s redeeming gorgeous cinematograph. It’s kind of difficult to conceive of Daniel Day-Lewis’ unlikable and unpleasant character as a Christ figure (“I am finished”), especially since Jesus isn’t recorded as chasing people around with a bowling pin. Nor does trying to give him street cred work either. (“I drink your milkshake” merely induced giggles when I heard it.) With the treachery of the slant drilling I suppose I could twist it to some sort of allegory of Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait, but it really isn’t worth it.

6. The Death of Mr. Lazarescu

A very unpleasant dying old drunk spends the night being shuttled from hospital to hospital accompanied by a rather passive nurse who is belittled by all the jerk emergency room doctors. That's the movie. And this is supposed to be a comedy.

7. A History of Violence

Based on a comic book, er, that is, “graphic novel”. Frankly Brad Douriff’s sequence in Grim Prairie Tales (1990) did this so much better, and in only ten minutes.


8. Tropical Malady

Two unfinished movies in one. The first is basically Brokeback Mountain, or rather, Brokeback Jungle. After that sequence ends abruptly, the second part is about a terrible unnamable evil in the jungle. (Hmmm. You don’t think the writer is trying to say something, do you?)

9. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days

That’s how far along one girl’s pregnancy is before her friend helps her get an abortion. The process of getting the abortion is pretty much the entire movie. The two girls seem to be in a fierce competition as to who can be the most vacuous and self-absorbed. I suppose this could be seen as a tale of the hypocrisy of Communist Rumania. Not a very nice movie.

10. The New World

I liked Disney’s Pocahontas better. Still, a nicely photographed period piece, if overlong, predictable, and rather static.

11. Platform

Kind of a political and depersonalized version of Chorus Line. The camera stays back and avoids close-ups. The movie is about how the culture, not the people, of China changed over the course of the 1970s. A clever movie that takes a bit of digging to be rewarding. I can see how it could get on some people’s “Best of the Noughties” list. But not mine.


12. Zodiac

Consider a murder mystery written and directed by Emily Litella. The detective reviews the cold case crime, assembles the evidence, zeroes in on a suspect, and, after bringing the film to a dramatic crescendo, goes “Never mind.” Roll end credits. That’s Zodiac.

13. The Intruder

This is probably the worst movie on the list. The totally unlikable character lives alone out in the wilderness and finds he needs a heart transplant. So which of his sons does he kill? Can he substitute an actor for the son he kills so nobody notices? Or does he get the heart from a woman who wanders into his house and takes a bath? Or maybe a complete stranger whose body he dumps in a frozen lake? Or does he go get a heart transplant in Korea? Or is his heart problem metaphorical? Who is the intruder? Which is the intruder? Is any of this real? Do we care? Now the last question I can answer: No.

14. The Son

A carpenter unknowingly (at first) takes as an apprentice the young parolee convicted of his son’s death. Basically the picture is the last part of A Clockwork Orange (1971) turned on its head. Why does the carpenter show forgiveness? Why does he help his son’s killer find redemption? Why does Man show mercy? As the carpenter tells his wife in the movie, “Heck if I know!” Yeah, great message.

15. Dogville

A stunning, extremely unpleasant story leavened only by being told in a very theatrical and stylized way. It’s the only film on this list I agree should be on a “Best of the Noughties” list. It's also so disturbing I wouldn't recommend everybody see it.

16. Caché

Another long pointless boring film about unpleasant unlikable people. I think it’s a metaphor for France’s oppression of Algerians. Or maybe it’s a statement about terrorism induced paranoia and racism against Muslims. The Battle of Algiers (1966) did this so much better.

17. Kings and Queen

Nora is an aging unpleasant golddigger who destroys the men she uses. Unlikable Ismael is her only surviving ex-lover, and is stuck in a mental institution. They come back into contact because Nora wants Ismael to legally adopt her son by another lover. Who cares? The film’s redeeming feature is that it has beautiful cinematography.

18. Elephant

A fictionalized version of the Columbine shootings. Or actually the build-up to the Columbine shootings. A couple of jerks kiss and hug in a shower, then prepare to shoot everyone at school, then they go to school. Maybe they shoot people, but that all happens off screen. Kinda anti-climactic, but I can see where the producers didn’t want to encourage this sort of thing. Indeed, apparently they thought better during production because the film ends abruptly during the bloodless massacre while one jerk is dead and the other jerk is still alive. I’m sure this means something but I don’t really care.

19. The Royal Tenenbaums

A poor copy of the mixed up dysfunctional Glass family of JD Salinger. He shoulda sued. And this shoulda been at the top of the poll. It’s everything the critics love: A shaggy dog story with unsympathetic characters. But it clocks in at under two hours, so the fact that it's short and boring rather than long and boring probably cost it a few slots.

20. Before Sunset

A totally unnecessary sequel to Before Sunrise (1995). This takes place in real time and lasts a little over an hour, so it’s mercifully short. Basically 24 without explosions and terrorists. Anyway, like Before Sunrise, the film ends with the possibility of a happy ending. But then, this film showed that the promise of a happy ending in Before Sunrise was false. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.


BTW, my own “Best of the Noughties” list is here:

http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=227520#227520

******************************************
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Sometime hours and hours hence:
In The Green Dragon two ales could buy
And drank the one less filling I
And that has made all the difference.
- The Ale Less Filling, by Robert Frostymug


Darkstone
Immortal


Mar 24 2010, 7:57pm

Post #10 of 13 (68 views)
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Proprietary pride [In reply to] Can't Post

A critic finds a nice little film, then overstates its quality because he's the one who discovered it.

Does the critic like it because it's a good film? Or is it a good film because the critic likes it?

It's like finding a nice little restaurant with pretty good food, then raving to all your friends about how great it is.

******************************************
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Sometime hours and hours hence:
In The Green Dragon two ales could buy
And drank the one less filling I
And that has made all the difference.
- The Ale Less Filling, by Robert Frostymug


Annael
Half-elven


Mar 24 2010, 8:24pm

Post #11 of 13 (73 views)
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Dogville [In reply to] Can't Post

horrible, horrible movie. All I got from it is how much Lars Trier hates the US, which I knew from his interviews.

No "Lars and the Real Girl"? That would go on my list.

But then my preference is for movies that explore the universe inside us, real or imagined, not those that seem to have nothing more to say than "look how bad people can be."

The way we imagine our lives is the way we are going to go on living our lives.

- James Hillman, Healing Fiction

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N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Mar 24 2010, 8:47pm

Post #12 of 13 (103 views)
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Delightfully contrarian. [In reply to] Can't Post

Question: is Alan Clarke's Elephant (1989) any better than Gus Van Sant's Elephant?



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Darkstone
Immortal


Mar 24 2010, 9:42pm

Post #13 of 13 (116 views)
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Excellent question. [In reply to] Can't Post

I think the difference is that Clark’s film is successful in communicating its message: Killing becomes meaningless after a while. If killing loses its meaning, then it becomes easier to commit, to witness, and to bear. But if killing has lost its meaning, then why continue killing? The message is short and focused.

Van Sant loses focus. At first he’s on the edge of making a great point. When adults (parents and educators) abdicate control of their kids, then someone (in this case the kids) has to assume control. Power abhors a vacuum, and the struggle for power (among the student cliques) escalates into violence. But then he wanders off and wonders if it’s caused by uncertain sexual identity, or, at the end, maybe it’s just random. (The “Eeeny meeny minny moe scene in the meat locker.)

(I understand Clark meant “The Elephant in the middle of the room” while Van Sant meant “A bunch of blind men examining an elephant”, so maybe Van Sant is deliberately unfocused. If he is I don't think it works.)

In the end Clark is successful because his work is short and to the point. Van Sant’s Elephant is all over the place, and worse, the middle part of a trilogy! Remember how problematic the TTT film was!

******************************************
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Sometime hours and hours hence:
In The Green Dragon two ales could buy
And drank the one less filling I
And that has made all the difference.
- The Ale Less Filling, by Robert Frostymug

 
 

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