21 Artifacts from the 21st Century

The end of the decade has resulted in a number of best of the decade lists.  We’ve kind of OD’d on best of lists here already, but Elijah and I wanted to throw in our votes for those works of culture from the 2000’s WE think will/should stand the test of time.

I feel somewhat presumptuous putting this out there, as if my vote actually mattered, but what I have found is that my friends, acquaintances, and YOU dear reader, often find your interest piqued by something that has been declared “the best.”  I know that some of Elijah’s musical selections caused me to listen to albums I had not heeded before…so perhaps you may find something here that causes you to want to experience, reconsider or even maybe avoid (?) the following creative endeavors.  Hope you enjoy…see you next decade!

– Greg

Albums (Greg | Elijah)

  1. Illinois/The Avalanche (2005/2006) Sufjan Stevens | Kid A/Amnesiac (2000/2001) Radiohead
  2. The Texas Jerusalem Crossroads (2001) Lift to Experience | Greetings From Michigan: The Great Lakes State (2003) Sufjan Stevens
  3. In Rainbows/Bonus Disc (2007) Radiohead | Figure 8 (2000) Elliott Smith
  4. The Midnight Organ Fight (2008) Frightened Rabbit | The Sophtware Slump (2000) Grandaddy
  5. Greetings From Michigan: The Great Lakes State (2003) Sufjan Stevens | Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like a Peasant (2000) Belle & Sebastian
  6. Figure 8 (2000) Elliott Smith | Songs in A & E (2008) Spiritualized
  7. Kid A/Amnesiac (2000/2001) Radiohead | Jane Doe (2001) Converge
  8. Lifted, Or The Story Is In The Soil, Keep Your Ear To The Ground (2002) Bright Eyes | Turn On the Bright Lights (2002) Interpol
  9. Feels (2005) Animal Collective | Illinois/The Avalanche (2005/2006) Sufjan Stevens
  10. Funeral (2004) The Arcade Fire | Blood Money (2002) Tom Waits
  11. Takk (2005) Sigur Rós | Control (2002) Pedro the Lion
  12. Boxer (2007) The National | Veckatimest (2009) Grizzly Bear
  13. Asleep in the Back (2001) Elbow | We Are the Only Friends We Have (2002) Piebald
  14. A Rush of Blood to the Head (2002) Coldplay | The Midnight Organ Fight (2008) Frightened Rabbit
  15. Merriweather Post Pavilion (2009) Animal Collective | Hot Shots II (2001) The Beta Band
  16. Gang of Losers (2006) The Dears | The Life Pursuit (2006) Belle & Sebastian
  17. Control (2002) Pedro the Lion | Tyrannosaurus Hives (2004) The Hives
  18. The Last Broadcast (2002) Doves | The Argument (2000) Fugazi
  19. The Invisible Band (2001) Travis | Hail to the Thief (2003) Radiohead
  20. Oh, Inverted World (2001) The Shins | Sea Change (2002) Beck
  21. Retreiver (2004) Ron Sexsmith | How It Ends (2004) DeVotchKa

Books (there were so many that we didn’t read [Elijah read only a handful of novels from the 2000s], so this list is incredibly subjective and limited in scope)

Novels:

  • Cloud Atlas (2004) David Mitchell
  • House of Leaves (2000) Mark Z. Danielewski
  • 2666 (2004) Roberto Bolaño
  • Atonement (2001) Ian McEwan
  • The Book of Illusions (2002) Paul Auster
  • Black Swan Green (2007) David Mitchell
  • American Gods (2001) Neil Gaiman
  • Thinks (2001) David Lodge
  • The City & The City (2009) China Mieville

Misc:

  • Blankets (2003) Craig Thompson, graphic novel
  • A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (2000) Dave Eggers, memoir
  • The Book of Other People (2007) ed. Zadie Smith, story collection
  • The Perry Bible Fellowship: The Trial of Colonel Sweeto and Other Stories (2007) Nicholas Gurewitch, comic collection
  • Box Office Poison (2001) Alex Robinson, graphic novel
  • The Rough Guide to Cult Fiction (2005) literary survey
  • Wall and Piece (2005) Banksy, art collection

Religion/Christianity:

  • Free of Charge (2006) Miroslav Volf
  • Jesus of Nazareth (2008) Pope Benedict XVI
  • The Sacredness of Questioning Everything (2009) David Dark
  • Renewing the Center (2000) Stanley Grenz
  • Across the Spectrum (2002) Gregory Boyd & Paul Eddy
  • The Mosaic of Christian Belief (2002) Roger Olson
  • The Shaping of Things to Come (2003) Michael Frost & Alan Hirsch
  • These last three Tom Wright books are included for their effective introductory appeal rather than any necessary anticipation of ‘classic’ status.
  • Paul: In Fresh Perspective (2005) N. T. (Tom) Wright
  • Simply Christian (2006) N. T. (Tom) Wright
  • Justification: God’s Plan & Paul’s Vision (2009) N. T. (Tom) Wright

Film (G | E)

  1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) Michel Gondry | ditto
  2. Amelie (2001) Jean-Pierre Jeunet | Lord of the Rings (2001-03)  Peter Jackson
  3. Children of Men (2006) Alfonso Cuarón | There Will Be Blood (2007) P. T. Anderson
  4. Lord of the Rings (2001-03)  Peter Jackson | The Pianist (2002) Roman Polanski
  5. The New World (2005) Terrance Malick | Dancer in the Dark (2000) Lars von Trier
  6. Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) Wes Anderson | The Royal Tennenbaums (2001) Wes Anderson
  7. All the Real Girls (2002) David Gordon Green | Memento (2000) Christopher Nolan
  8. Waltz with Bashir (2008) Ari Folman | Adaptation (2002) Spike Jonze
  9. In the Mood For Love (2000) Kar Wai Wong | Big Fish (2003) Tim Burton
  10. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2001) Ang Lee | ditto
  11. The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford (2007) Andrew Dominik | Zodiac (2007) David Fincher
  12. WALL-E (2008) Andrew Stanton | The Proposition (2005) John Hillcoat
  13. There Will Be Blood (2007) P. T. Anderson | Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) Wes Anderson
  14. Memento (2000) Christopher Nolan | The Prestige (2006) Christopher Nolan
  15. Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) Guillermo del Toro | Elephant (2003) Gus Van Sant
  16. The Royal Tennenbaums (2001) Wes Anderson | A Beautiful Mind (2001) Ron Howard
  17. The Proposition (2005) John Hillcoat | Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) Guillermo del Toro
  18. The Prestige (2006) Christopher Nolan | About Schmidt (2002) Alexander Payne
  19. The Lives of Others (2007) Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck | Capote (2005) Bennett Miller
  20. Moulin Rouge (2001) Baz Luhrmann | Lost in Translation (2003) Sofia Coppola
  21. Donnie Darko (2001) Richard Kelly | American Splendor (2003) Shari Springer Berman & Robert Pulcini

28 responses to “21 Artifacts from the 21st Century”

  1. Mark says :

    Grumbles, I’m surprised that Memento fell to 14th on your list, and that you so quickly put Mr. Fox so high. Have yet to see it, but could it be that you are still on that high of a freshly seen movie and that in reflection it may fall?

    Also, The New World is interesting to me. I find that both Thin Red Line and New World have moments of grandeur, but that as a whole I wouldn’t rank either very high. Their repeat watch-ability, which is an important factor in ranking movies for me, is near the bottom of the barrel.

  2. Sgt. Grumbles says :

    Boojsh,
    Memento is amazing, don’t get me wrong. Incredibly innovative and mesmerizing narrative scheme, great acting, all that. But it doesn’t completely work on an emotional, character development, human condition sort of level. Just my opinion. And someone told me once that if you watched the film displayed in the correct chronological order, it was just kind of boring…maybe that spoiled something for me.

    I do think Mr. Fox will stand the test of time (plus it feels sad to limit it from best of the decade simply because it hasn’t aged enough). Elijah said the same thing about Lift To Experience on the album list (that it was still so new to me), but I couldn’t, in good conscience, move it down.

    As to The New World (and other Malick films), I would say that we simply have a different aesthetic. The Malick visual style and his mise-en-scene, if you will, the languorous pacing, shots that don’t drive the narrative but add to the experience of the moment–these are elements which you can find in a number of films on my list (All the Real Girls, Jesse James, Crouching Tiger, In the Mood, Proposition, There Will Be Blood). Damn straight I’m not going to watch The New World while I’m wrapping Christmas presents… it’s more like a trip to a museum. I watch You’ve Got Mail while I’m wrapping presents, BTW.

    Watchability is a great quality, but it can’t be the driving factor in a hoity toity list like this. I love watching Garden State, but it’s not going to end up on the list, you know’t I mean?

  3. Pete says :

    You love watching Garden State? Are you serious? I’m always blown away that so many people like that movie. If I made a worst of (or most odious perhaps) list for the previous decade I’m confident that movie would be in my top two. Is there something wrong with me?

  4. Elijah says :

    Pete,
    I am all with you regarding Garden State. Overrated faux-indie crap.

  5. Andrew Faris says :

    A few things:

    1. Garden State is terrible.

    2. Memento is hackneyed. Would anyone care if the sequence wasn’t backward? It’s a cheap trick, and I’m actually surprised both of you liked it so much- surprised enough that I think it might be time to go back and re-watch.

    3. I liked The Prestige, but really? On this list? What is so great about it? It has two great qualities: (1) Michael Cain rules; (2) it’s fun. That’s about it as far as I can tell.

    4. The Royal Tenenbaums just isn’t that great.

    5. Rush of Blood is not even the best Coldplay album of this century- Parachutes is. Now, it might still be better regarded by some over time. But hopefully not, because Parachutes beats the crap out of it.

    6. Why not Punch Drunk Love?

    7. Eli: I always thought Sea Change was massively overrated. Why am I wrong?

    I love lists like this, for this exact reason: tons of fun to debate.

    Andrew

  6. Elijah says :

    Faris,
    Thanks for giving us a numbered list.

    2. Memento has its problems and I would probably like to rate it lower actually. But still, I was blown away by the film when I first saw it.

    3. You’re wrong.

    4. You’re wronger.

    5. You’re wrong again.

    6. Because while Punch Drunk Love is a good film, it’s far less of an achievement than P. T. Anderson’s other films.

    7. You’re wrong because you haven’t listened to Sea Change on a warm summer night driving through Joshua Tree National Park.

    Faris, I’d appreciate more ‘debate’ rather than stating facts without support (e.g. the cases of Rush of Blood, Sea Change).

    Thanks for commenting.

  7. Pete says :

    2) Memento is flawless. The fact that it might not play well in normal order is of no consequence- the reverse order is what makes the movie so captivating. It’s about a guy who can’t remember what happened 10 minutes ago- the sequencing is essential to getting the viewer to empathize with the character and be taken in to his drama. Arguing that it’s not that great if it’s not in reverse order is like saying that Star Wars wouldn’t be that great if it didn’t take place in space (it does take place in space right? I’m not a huge Star Wars guy).

    4) I’m with you Elijah – an incredible movie. The movie works on so many levels- a movie about a magic trick that operates exactly like a magic trick…the explanation to the trick is right in front of the viewer the whole time and yet everyone misses it.

    5) I’m with you Andrew – The Royal Tenenbaums is beyond overrated. It’s got some great moments, but it just feels to me like a bunch of hipsters showing us how cool they are the whole time, with very little in the way of actual compelling story. Wes Anderson has been a slowly developing train wreck since Rushmore.

    8) I’m surprised that Coldplay made the list at all. I guess they’re good at what they do, but I hardly expected you to stand up for them Elijah. To me they’re safe, they’re boring, and they’re the establishment- middle-aged NPR soft rock. Booo!

    6) I’m with you Andrew – Punch Drunk Love is my favorite P.T. Anderson movie.

    7) I’m doubtful that even the most serene, picturesque summer night in Joshua Tree could sway my opinion of Sea Change.

  8. Sgt. Grumbles says :

    1. Garden State. It is flawed, it has not aged well, it is the work of an inexperienced filmmaker. Hipsters are pissed off that bands that they liked suddenly became overexposed. Some, like Elijah, feel like it was faux-indie from the get go. I myself (and Mark too, for we were together seeing it in the theater) loved it when it came out & I still like it to this day. The visual gags, the underwrought performance by Mr. Braff, the frequently overwrought dialogue…all these were flaws that have become more obvious over the years. But many of the performances sparkle and zip, the mood often captures some kind of ineffable and deeply sincere longing for innocence (return to the Garden State) and many of the sequences can still make me laugh aloud. It is the good work of an earnest and intuitive voice…I wish he’d follow up with something else. And I have a huge crush on Ms. Portman and this was the film that revealed her early promise. I know it’s not cool to like this movie anymore & I’m not too concerned with that.

    2. I think Memento is neither hackneyed (trite, banal? it was without parallel when it was made, so this makes no sense at all) nor flawless. It’s simply very good, innovative and haunting, melancholy and visceral. Nolan is our generation’s Scorsese.

    3. You are so wrong about The Prestige and your comments reveal a cinematic retardation which would be swine to any explanatory pearls I might offer. (If I didn’t REALLY like you &rew, I couldn’t get away with saying that. I know that you are just a provocateur and can’t resist throwing in a well-timed grenade into a conversation.)

    4. The grandeur and beauty of The Royal Tenenbaums came to me over time. My original reaction would be similar to Pete’s–I felt Wes Anderson had disposed with characters and moved on to quirky, cartoonish caricatures and heavy-handed plot mechanisms. It ages better. The details, the probing of the family wound, the Peanuts music in the ice-cream shoppe…it plucks at the strings of a generation and thus, belongs on the list.

    5. Disparaging A Rush of Blood while lifting up Parachutes is the classic example of recognizing the genius while trying to maintain a modicum of indie-cred. Parachutes is lyrically mawkish (a charge which is ever at Chris Martin’s heels) and musically but a test run for the anthemic (and thus widely appealing) gem that is A Rush. I’m not saying these guys are innovators or amazing technically, they just simply work the formula better than so many others…Pete–nothing that functions within the establishment (read: pop charts?) can ever be of worth? I hope that libertarianism quickly becomes an establishment idea so you will abandon it as boring and middle-aged.

    6. Hmm, man, I don’t see much at all in PDL. It’s the emperor’s new clothes if you ask me. It’s like you’re supposed to say it’s genius because it’s an Adam Sandler arthouse film…naw, I’m not lining up.

    7. I told Elijah that Sea Change felt like a bit of a one-trick pony to me. But what a trick! I enjoy this album quite a lot when I’m thinking of everything wrong with the world!

    Thanks for the comments. Hope I didn’t flame too much. Love to all my homies…

  9. Pete says :

    Two more things:

    I’m glad to see that at least one of you ranks Funeral over Neon Bible. I’m mystified by the critical obfuscation over the latter.

    You guys really dig Sufjan Stevens that much? Would you dig his stuff so much if he wasn’t a Christian? Do you like “Illionoise” all the way through or more just a handful of tracks? There are some tunes in the second half of that album that are nearly unlistenable for me. I liked that album OK, but not enough to explore any further into the catalog. Just wondering.

  10. Sgt. Grumbles says :

    “You guys really dig Sufjan Stevens that much? Would you dig his stuff so much if he wasn’t a Christian? Do you like “Illionoise” all the way through or more just a handful of tracks? There are some tunes in the second half of that album that are nearly unlistenable for me. I liked that album OK, but not enough to explore any further into the catalog. Just wondering.”

    Peter,
    As Jesus once said to your namesake, “Get thee behind me Satan!” The latter half of Illinois contains “The Predatory Wasp of the Palisades Is Out To Get Us!” and “The Seer’s Tower” which are some of the greatest songs I’ve ever come across. “Night Zombies” and “The Tallest Man” are incredibly fun as well. Were you actually listening? I feel like recounting the freaking parable of the sower and the seeds…Those who have ears to hear, brother. Get some fertile soil in your palate!

    I know I sound the zealot here, but REALLY man, this comment reeks of the hipster vampire cult who drop a band at the first hint of popularity or broad critical reception and are only into bands that are so obscure even THEY haven’t heard of them yet! CONFESS & REPENT!!! (Ok, that was extreme and borderline heresy…but you fouled all over my favorite album dude!)

  11. Mark says :

    I want to jump in just to add my admiration to The Royal Tenenbaums. It has become one of my favorite movies… even though I agree with Grumbles’ “cartoonish” charge (but what funny cartoons).

    There is this very weird connection I have to Anderson’s movies. I loved Bottle Rocket the moment my brother Rob introduced it to me and Greg (…I still can’t believe he was the one to turn us on to Wes), but ever since then every time I see a new film by Wes I am disappointed – that is until I start to watch it over and over and end up loving it. Saw Rushmore opening night, and went home bummed… now it is in my top 3 all time. Same with Tenenbaums… now in my top 10.

    I even saw The Life Aquatic at an early private screening with Wes and Mark Mothersbaugh (what can I say, I used to be a Hollywood guy) and was terribly disappointed despite the joy of the night and talking briefly to both. But now I actually really like it in a silly way, and laugh quite often. It has yet to make any lists of mine though.

    Anyway… all this to say that there are so many small jokes and inside humor with his movies that it bears repeat viewings to find all these nuggets, and you realize how every little detail was thought out before and you are forced to give credit to the – dare I say – genius of Wes Anderson.

  12. No.17 Cherry Tree Lane says :

    First of all….

    *I agree that Garden State was overhyped and was only cool BECAUSE it was cool to see it. The only good part about that movie was the soundtrack.
    *Royal Tenenbaums is/was amazing. Totally disapointed with The Life Aquatic.

    I gave this quite a bit of thought and these are some of my personal film favorites from the last decade:

    1.) Kung Fu Hustle
    2.) Little Miss Sunshine
    3.) Love Actually
    4.) The Dark Knight (I have a feeling someone will laugh about this one)
    5.) Thank You for Not Smoking (again…i hear laughing….)
    6.) Big Fish
    7.) MADE (give it a few watches and you will be quoting it for life)
    8.) Kill Bill
    9.) Catch Me If You Can
    10.) And just for nostalgia….The Sandlot

    I might do books later.

  13. Greg says :

    I almost bought Kung Fu Hustle the other night…so incredibly funny and visually inventive! The Dark Night should have been somewhere on this list. And Thank You For Smoking is really well-made and darkly hilarious too.

    Kill Bill…not so much.

  14. Pete says :

    Greg, the overall theme of your response to me seems to be that you think I’m a hipster which, to the extent that’s true, is disappointing because all internet debate about movies and music seems to eventually devolve to that, which is why I avoid it with strangers.

    With that said, I will attempt to respond to a couple specifics:

    I will concede that I liked Royal Tenenbaums more on repeated viewings than I would have suspected, but it’s still not much of a compelling story as far as I’m concerned- I think it would have benefited from about 5 less big-name (or, at least, indie big) actors and a lot more focus, and it’s certainly not a best-of-decade movie for me.

    “Pete–nothing that functions within the establishment (read: pop charts?) can ever be of worth? I hope that libertarianism quickly becomes an establishment idea so you will abandon it as boring and middle-aged.”

    Greg, I can certainly appreciate songs that end up on the pop charts (Hey-Ya is a good example), and I will readily concede that Coldplay are great at what they do- writing catchy pop songs. But I don’t personally see them as interesting enough to stand atop 10 years of album-making. My comment was really more directed at Elijah though, who once told me that the Germs were rather intermediate on his scale of proto-punk. I would expect and hope that such rockingness would result in a basic aversion to anything so sugary and widely adored by middle class white people ages 23 to 40 as Coldplay, but to each his own. Like Andrew said earlier, these lists are fun for the debate, and as such I’ll admit that there may have been a hint of intentional provocation there.

    p.s. you’re going to have to hope in vain my friend because libertarianism will never be establishment for the same reason that the Germs will never be mainstream- it’s just not a readily digestible idea and it takes a lot of study and patience to understand. With that said, I’m really more of a Republitarian and I voted for George W. twice, so I’m not anti-establishment just for the sake of being anti-establishment.

    “Hmm, man, I don’t see much at all in PDL. It’s the emperor’s new clothes if you ask me. It’s like you’re supposed to say it’s genius because it’s an Adam Sandler arthouse film…naw, I’m not lining up.”

    PDL is my favorite as I said, but I don’t mean to say it’s the best. I honestly don’t care much for P.T. Anderson’s films because I never care about any of his characters, and when his movies are ending I honestly don’t care what happens to the characters in them, I just want the movie to be over. I have not seen Boogie Nights by the way, so there’s that. With PDL, I became intrigued with Adam Sandler’s character and slowly became invested in the character as the movie progressed. Therefore, I enjoyed the movie, found it interesting and well-played. I probably wouldn’t put it in a top-of-the-decade list, but then again I recognize that I know too little about film and have seen too few of them to ever suppose it would be good idea to make such a list.

    Finally, as for Sufjan Stevens, please be clear that I never said I hate the guy’s music or think he sucks. My comment was really just a reaction to the fact that you guys put every single note the guy ever recorded like in the top 5, including an outtakes album. That seems a bit effusive to me, so I thought I would prod. I generally liked the Illionoise record, especially the song about John Wayne Gacey, which is definitely one of my favorite songs from the last decade. I listened to the record about 20 times all the way through because I bought it while I was on tour and had nothing else to do, and I just remember getting so bored and uninterested with the second half of the album, and forcing myself to listen to it in hopes that it would start to click. Since you’re pushing back on it, I will listen again to such tracks as “The Predatory Wasp of the Palisades Is Out To Get Us!” but I must tell you that the title of that song alone is part of the reason I can only tolerate so much Sufjan Stevens- it’s just so cutsy, ironic, cartoony, or something- I honestly can’t even put my finger on it, but I find it annoying. I think he’s a great talent and I’m stoked that a Christian is out there pushing the envelope, but I can only take him in small doses.

  15. Sgt. Grumbles says :

    Peter,
    Most of my jabs were towards Andrew, but sorry if I was picking on you in specific at points. And I definitely forgot to thank you for your perfect distillation of The Prestige and your Funeral support (Elijah says he’s not a fan of AF at all!).

    As for Sufjan, I only included the Avalanche with Illinois because they were recorded at the same time & I see them as being kind of a single entity in two parts (most of the Avalanche is messing about, but some are genius tracks) in the same manner of Kid A/Amnesiac. Actually ALL of Sufjan’s 8 studio albums were released in the 2000’s, so I felt like I was actually being restrained in only including two. Even his unreleased songs (Majesty Snowbird, Night Own, Barn Killer) are better than many of the albums on my list. My affection and admiration for this guy is pretty intense, so I guess I get a bit riled up when people take potshots at him (and so I start taking potshots at their beloved ideas).

    And I would disagree, I would attempt to do so more civilly here, that he is “cuts[e]y, ironic, cartoony.” He may have some amount of deliberate pretension in long titles (i.e. “”A Conjunction of Drones Simulating the Way in Which Sufjan Stevens Has an Existential Crisis in the Great Godfrey Maze”) and I think it often plays as an homage to the subtitles of many 18th-19th century literary works, but if you actually listen to the songs, he is one of the most sincere, poignant storytellers writing lyrics today. To get a sense of his literary voice, you should read his intro to the Best American Non-Required Reading 2007. I truly believe will be remembered as one of the great American artists of the 21st century.

    No hard feelings?

    Speaking of hipsters, this is hipsterlarious.

    http://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2009/12/the-evolution-of-the-hipster-2000-2009.html

  16. Pete says :

    Greg, no hard feelings, and I will give Sufjan a fresh listen. I agree that the titles do not give a fair representation of the songs and the stories within, but I would find it much easier if he could simplify those titles all the same. I’ll listen to those specific songs you pointed out and report back to you.

  17. Mark says :

    No Arcade Fire for Elijah at all!! WTF (per Modern Family that stand for Why The Face)?

    It’s so strange when people have similar taste in so many things, and then are completely off on something.

    Never seen Kung Fu Hustle, so will have to add that to the ol queue.

    Also, I’ve noticed that the cutesy-style “indie” movies that I really enjoy in the theaters, do not hold up for me on repeat viewings. i.e.:
    -Little Miss Sunshine
    -Lost In Translation
    -Garden State
    -The Virgin Suicides (Sorry Sophia)
    -Juno

    I don’t know why that is… maybe the cute ones are superficial and rely on soundtrack and quirk.

    But Pete, Tenenbaums I think does have a compelling story about family that is foundational to the film. The closing sequence at the house is filled with so many great moments, and when Chaz tells Royal at the end that he’s “…had a rough year” – great stuff, man.

  18. Andrew Faris says :

    I didn’t realize the fury that would break out after my comments, but interesting that some of my disagreements at least were ones that others feel strongly about.

    So sorry for my delay, but here we go:

    1. Garden State is terrible. Even 15 comments later.

    2. As I mentioned over dinner to Greg tonight, it was awhile ago that I saw Memento, so I’ll go rewatch it at some point. Also, a couple of the comments help me see the appeal: the backwards aspect conveys what the main character thinks.

    What I meant by “hackneyed” is that the whole movie felt to me like a filmmaker saying, “Look at this cool trick I can do.” It feels cheaply creative and way back when I saw it, it felt poorly acted to me. Again, I’ll go back and give it another viewing.

    So it’s not that the fact that it wouldn’t play well forward makes it bad, it’s just that the fact that it’s backward doesn’t make it good. I suppose that’s my point.

    3. Again, I think The Prestige is fun, and a generally good movie, but good acting and a fun story don’t make it great- they make it good and enjoyable. Nothing about it takes it to the next level. And for that matter, I thought that the “twin” explanation was cheap. Eli, I’m curious: what did you like so much about it?

    As I told Greg tonight, I think that The Dark Knight is better than both because it asks great questions along with the excellent acting and the compelling story.

    One last thing about this. The following line from the Sargent might be the best blog comment of the century: “You are so wrong about The Prestige and your comments reveal a cinematic retardation which would be swine to any explanatory pearls I might offer.”

    4. It’s funny that y’all mention Tenenbaums as a movie that grows on you, cause I almost thought it was the opposite. It’s pretty good and all, but again, it just doesn’t blow me away. Whatever genius there is in it is in Anderson’s ability to create a world within a world. It’s set in real life- but is it?

    I suppose the problem is that while I think Wes Anderson is hilarious, I don’t necessarily think that he is an especially good maker of serious films, and while Tenenbaums is genuinely funny at point, I always got the feeling that this was his first attempt to say something- to make a somewhat more serious film.

    I just don’t know if it was said that well.

    5. Sgt said: “Disparaging A Rush of Blood while lifting up Parachutes is the classic example of recognizing the genius while trying to maintain a modicum of indie-cred.”

    No, it’s not.

    It’s the recognition that Parachutes is a virtually perfect album. Above all else, the genius of Coldplay is in their ability as songwriters (not as lyric writers, you’re right). Rush of Blood is good in this regard, but Parachutes is much better. I can’t even put my finger exactly on what it is, but I think it’s at least two things: dynamic and melody. I just don’t think that either of those qualities are near as good on Rush of Blood as they are on Parachutes at the most basic songwriting level. I don’t know how to explain it better than that.

    6. My love of Punch Drunk Love is not because it’s Sandler. It’s because few movies make me feel what the character feels so much- not even Magnolia, to be honest. The score, the camera work, the acting, the writing- all of it comes together perfectly to create incredible characters with remarkable depth.

    Further, the climax and resolution are both incredibly beautiful.

    7. I agree in some sense with you Greg: I always felt like Sea Change was Beck going, “See, I can write folk songs too.” And he can. And they’re good. But they’re nothing more than that: just well-written folk songs. Maybe I should put it like this: would people care so much if it wasn’t Beck? I doubt it.

    And Elijah, most people haven’t experienced Sea Change the way you have. So while you may forever think it’s good, it’s hard for me to see it on this list.

    Well, there’s my thoughts in more detail on each, and all of this is making me want to go back and reconsider some of these.

    Oh, and I totally agree with the comment about Thank You For Smoking. No laughing: few films manage to be so thoughtful and so entertaining at the same time.

    Andrew

  19. No.17 Cherry Tree Lane says :

    Mark,
    After viewing KFH, you’ll thank me.

  20. Pete says :

    I hear ya Mark. I definitely put Tenenbaums well above those other kitch indie films, but I still hold it in lower regard than the rest of you guys, and that’s fine. I agree, it really is strange that 4 guys like yourself, me, your bro and Elijah could be so close on many counts and so far off on so much else. I’m really not a huge AF guy myself, but I definitely like Funeral better of the two. I guess I’m closer to Elijah on that count. Again, it’s a strange deal.

  21. Sgt. Grumbles says :

    &rew,
    How come you never post any lists on your blog, Calvinists in Conflict? Too busy working on those heroes of the Reformation trading cards?

    Get on it, man.

  22. Elijah says :

    &rew,
    I’m too busy wrapping up ‘goodbye’s here in Los Angeles before I go back to the University of St Andrews to continue my postgraduate degree to adequately respond to your posts. Maybe I’ll get back to you in a couple of years when the Ph.D is done.

  23. Andrew Faris says :

    Actually Sarge, the trading cards are the creation of Norm, not me.

    And I don’t link to my blog because it’s the worst blog of all time. Everyone knows that.

    Andrew

  24. Ted says :

    Greg, get over yourself! Posting “best of” lists mere hours after the year is over has no historical significance. It will be good fodder for your kids to lampoon you with 13 years from now however.

    P.S. you never answered my challenge to a dual after you called me a fascist; I’ll take your silence as an implicit apology, and graciously forgive you.

    Happy New Year.

  25. Greg says :

    Theodore,
    I was ready by midnight, but Elijah was dragging his feet. Probably having something to do with his impacted social calendar during a furlough from his doctoral studies in Scotland. And man, my kids lampoon me NOW, so they don’t need 13 years… some kind of karmic justice I’m sure.

    Also, you are right that I don’t want to challenge you to a duel (I’m assuming this is what you meant by “dual”)–I remember you bringing a machete to Jr. High camp, so I can only assume that, given your tremendous financial resources, you would have some high tech, deadly weapons now that you could obliterate me with, if not with your superior muscle mass.

    I do apologize & thank you for your gracious, unsolicited forgiveness.

    Would it be ok if I called you an oligarch?

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