Are you a There Will Be Blood kinda guy, or an Eternal Sunshine kinda gal? The choice of our favorite movie of the decade is one of the most important we as individuals can make.
There is no more personal act in the contemporary society than compiling a Best Of List. Since Congress decreed that people could no longer have personalities and substituted cultural pastiche for humanity, the choices we make in terms of what we put on our year end best lists has said everything about who we are and more importantly, whom we'd like people to think we are.
However, in our best of the year lists, we find ourselves so constricted; so many times ending up with the same ten movies or Mad Men episodes or Arcade Fire songs as everyone else. But in a best of the entire decade, our spirits truly have room to romp and play and reveal their golden shades within.
And for critics, this is the time to throw down the fire hose and say, this is who I really am. This is me, people!
Let's look then at some of the early entries in the Best of the Decade Derby and see what they say about the listmakers behind them.
- The Furrowed Brow: Many of the 00's are very heavy on turgid, dark dramas. Much like the times, would say the critics, who above all, want you to know they are thinking turgid, dark, serious thoughts in such turgid, dark, serious times. Rolling Stone's Peter Travers for instance offers a list guaranteed to make anyone take their own lives if they try to watch the list films straight through, featuring such laugh riots as There Will Be Blood, Children of Men, A History of Violence, No Country for Old Men, Brokeback Mountain, The Departed and Mystic River. Sounds like somebody needed a teddy bear this decade...
- When the Moon is in the House of Quirk: Whimsical goofiness was the theme for much of the world's intelligensia through most of the 00's; childlike wonder drawing on the looks and sounds of the 70's and 80's, the times of the artists' precious youth. Many lists are run heavy on the quirky side of the ledger, demonstrating the critics' refusal to dress like uptight smallminded Middle American people, thereby proving in contrast that the critic who likes quirk possess both intelligence and a depth of spirit unknown to non-quirky people. The Paste list heavily represents the decade's great moments in Quirk, including The Royal Tannenbaums, Amelie, Lost In Translation and Eternal Sunshine all in their top ten. Few quirk-centric critics had the courage to put their true spiritual leader, Napoleon Dynamite, on their list, but his spirit runs strong throughout them all.
- I Came To Play: Some critics shun the heavy Oscar-bait dramas that makes up so much of our prestige listing in favor of genre films. Cinematical's Jessica Barnes even breaks her list down by genre, giving the best of the horror, action and superhero genres, showing her adventurousness by giving the much-underseen and truly terrifying The Descent her top horror slot.
- A Man's Critic: The Times of London's Top 100 list demonstrates that these critics are guys' guys, who love to see movies about guys or watch intense, unnerving guy-friendly subjects. Their #1 pick, is Michael Haneke's unnerving Cache, something only an intense guy critic could handle. The rest of their top ten includes such a guycopia of titles about guys in extremis including Grizzly Man, No Country for Old Men, The Bourne films, Casino Royale, Team America and Hunger. (Somehow The Queen slipped in there too, but what real guy doesn't get weepy for HRM?)
- The Geek Flag: An end of the decade list is also a time to prove how much better you know your film than anyone else around could ever dream. The Onion's AV Club for instance, is heavy on the overlooked (25th Hour, The New World, Time Out) and the condemned (A.I) .
But there's still weeks left to the decade, and plenty of time for people to reshape their entire identity with the liste juste that makes the world see them in a whole new light.