Revisiting There Will Be Blood – The Best Film of the 2000’s

Most film bloggers and critics raced against time and each other to get in their “Best Films of the Decade” lists after the clock struck midnight and we were suddenly thrust into Arthur C. Clarke’s…dun dun dun…TWO THOUSAND AND TEN.  With the past decade so fresh on our minds, so many films yet to be seen or uncovered, so many to re-watch and re-examine, and the world-famous polling for this decade not to start until April over at Wonders in the Dark…it seems like there is still so much left to say about the 2000’s, or the Noughties as people like to call them now.

Yet all I can think of is one word.

DRAAAAAAAAAAAAAINAGE!

Drainage, my boy!!!!!!!!!!

Looking back, the 2000’s were to my generation what the 1970’s were to my father’s.  It seemed the dawn of a new golden age.  Gone were the nostalgia tinted frames of the 1980’s and 1990’s and here was the first decade to exist completely within the context of my adulthood…under the harsh scrutiny of my ever-evolving critical eye.  This was a decade where film reflected the big ideas, big dreams and previously unimaginable nightmares of the post-millennial, post 9/11 generation. 

This was the decade where Christopher Nolan emerged as the new Fritz Lang.  His Memento seems like just that now…a quaint reminder of his past and an entry point into his indomitable imagination that is equally at home in intimate gimmicky independent films as it is in the biggest of blockbusters.  But Lenny’s tattoos represented what would become the collective fears of society in the 2000’s…short-term memory loss, forsaking our identity and not remembering what we’re fighting for.  His breakthrough memory jogger, which looked backwards at an unstoppable and dark forward momentum that would birth Insomnia, The Prestige and the greatest pair of comic book movies ever made (Batman Begins and The Dark Knight) was the perfect way to usher in the new Millennium.

It was also the decade where Ang Lee made me believe, even if just for a moment where I was recalling a dream, that people could fly in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.  Sure, the success of his later Brokeback Mountain may be what most remember him for…but let’s not forget those broken-hearted Chinese warriors dancing across treetops and leaping into a boundless universe where ideas of love and honor fly forever in our collective unconscious.

This was the decade where ’70’s icon Roman Polanski found some kind of redemption by depicting, coldly and with a broken heart, man’s unshakable will to survive…anything…at all costs…in The Pianist.  To this day, I find it to be the most artistic depiction of surviving the Holocaust ever put to film.  Yet in real life, his tortured (and criminal) past still haunts him.

This was the decade where another 70’s mastermind, the visual poet Terrence Malick rediscovered the timeless fluidity of discovery in The New World.  This was a film I wasn’t sure what to make of at first (I was mostly enraptured but also slightly puzzled), but it has evolved upon repeat viewings to be a rousing masterpiece and Malick’s best.

Like ripples in the water…the after effects of discovery have the power to change the tides of history.

This was the decade where David Lynch took us down the rabbit hole in the middle of Mulholland Drive and made me fall in love with Naomi Watts, who with lead roles in films like The Ring, 21 Grams, King Kong and The Painted Veil would emerge as the definitive actress of these dark and troubling times.

And most astoundingly in 2007, it was Paul Thomas Anderson who flung me into that deep well of my nightmares, that seemingly bottomless black pit, along with the spontaneously combusting performance of Daniel Day Lewis in the decade’s greatest film…There Will Be Blood.

I am extremely confident in this choice.  My love for TWBB has become second nature.  Were I to suffer from dementia…or someone hold a gun to my head…or my body be lying on my death bead…and someone were to ask me, “What are your favorite films of all time?”  I would respond without a second thought:

The Passion of Joan of Arc

The Third Man

2001: A Space Odyssey

Network

There Will Be Blood

It’s the epitome of “unforgettable” — no tattoos will be needed to remind me of its greatness.  And let’s face it, even if you don’t like it, that prophetically chilling title…

THERE

WILL

BE

BLOOD

…it’s among the greatest titles ever and says everything you need to know about the Noughties.

Written by David H. Schleicher

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At The Church of the Third Revelation, Paul Dano behooves Daniel Day Lewis to look up and “Behold, we are amidst the greatest film of the Noughties!”

And now here it is, unabridged, (and with a few SPOILERS, so be warned) exactly as it appeared just over two years ago on this very blog and the IMDB…my original ‘Spin on Paul Thomas Anderson’s masterpiece There Will Be Blood:

The World of Blood and Oil According to Plainview, 6 January 2008
10/10
Author: David H. Schleicher

There’s a recurring nightmare of mine where I am falling down a well. Our reality is an illusion. This life is simply the dream we have while we are actually falling down a well. It always seemed as if the well was bottomless. After watching There Will Be Blood I discovered the well has a bottom. At the bottom of the well is one thing. Oil.

Also falling down this well was “The Performance.” Watching Daniel Day Lewis play the unstoppable, unshakable, unfathomably misanthropic and greedy oil man that is Daniel Plainview, one is left to imagine that “The Performance” was always out there. It always existed somewhere in the ether, in our collective unconscious, in our nightmares and anxieties. It took a visionary auteur like Paul Thomas Anderson to realize that if he did a modern film update of Upton Sinclair’s early 20th century novel “Oil!” and ominously renamed it There Will Be Blood then this performance could be channeled onto celluloid as a testament to the defining struggles of 21st century mankind.

Blistering cinematography of stark California landscapes from Robert Elswit, an evocatively organic and haunting music score from Jonny Greenwood (from the rock band Radiohead), and the beautifully fluid movement and framing of Paul Thomas Anderson’s maniacally calculating camera grab you from scene one and never let go. Daniel Day Lewis moves through the film like a cold burning firestorm combining and combusting with the technical elements and the fabulous ensemble cast around him to create a rising tension that is unlike anything experienced in cinema since the golden era of Stanley Kubrick.

The story is multilayered and allegorical. Led to an untapped area floating in dust on rivers of oil by a mysterious young man, Plainview soon comes face to face with that young man’s twin brother, Eli Sunday (a fecklessly manipulative Paul Dano). Eli is a wunderkind preacher at the Church of the Third Revelation and has the town wrapped around his finger with his claims to be a healer and prophet. Eli agrees to let Plainview buy his family’s land for the right price. The profits are to be used to build a bigger church. But when Plainview refuses to let Eli properly bless the drill site, a series of events unfold that Eli trumpets as acts of “God” while Plainview views them as results of meddling people he can scarcely see any good in and must crush.

The heart of the movie lies in Plainview’s relationship with his adopted son H. W. (a wonderfully naturalistic and quietly expressive Dillon Freasier). When the boy is injured on a drilling site and loses his hearing, Plainview, torn by his love for the idea of the boy looking up to him and the friendly face the boy has leant to the family business, abandons him only to latch on to a shady vagabond (Kevin J. O’Connor) who trots into town claiming to be his long lost brother Henry. Plainview’s replacing of a fake son with a fake brother shows his character’s deep-seeded and wounded need to connect to someone when insatiable greed has been his only driving force.

To explore in detail the film’s deeper message and resonance for today’s audience would be to spoil the ending. Suffice it to say, after the slowly infectious, nerve-shattering build-up, the film culminates with a soliloquy from Plainview to Eli that will make your jaw drop. In the end, it lives up to its title. There was blood. Whose was spilled is not a matter of debate, but what that blood says to its 21st century audience will be discussed and argued and studied for years to come. If you want to know what happens when greed guised in religious zealotry falls down a dark seemingly bottomless well with greed blatant as corporate capitalism, look no further than this film. There is a bottom to that well. There is a winner at the finish line. Meanwhile the blood is on the floor, the walls, the desert sand, the silver screen, the nightly news, and pumping through our bodies until we die.

Originally Published on the Internet Movie Database:

http://imdb.com/title/tt0469494/usercomments-59

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And now, David H. Schleicher presents his Top 25 Films of the 2000’s, followed by a chronological list of honorable mentions:

  1. There Will Be Blood (2007, Paul Thomas Anderson)
  2. Mulholland Drive (2001, David Lynch)
  3. The New World (2005, Terrence Malick)
  4. The Pianist (2002, Roman Polanski)
  5. Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (2000, Ang Lee)
  6. Memento (2000, Christopher Nolan)
  7. 21 Grams (2003, Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu)
  8. A Serious Man (2009, The Coen Brothers)
  9. Lost in Translation (2003, Sofia Coppola)
  10. The Edge of Heaven (2008, Fatih Akin)
  11. Silent Light (2009, Carlos Reygadas)
  12. Atonement (2007, Joe Wright)
  13. The Painted Veil (2006, John Curran)
  14. In Bruges (2008, Martin McDonagh)
  15. Road to Perdition (2002, Sam Mendes)
  16. Birth (2004, Jonathan Glazer)
  17. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004, Michel Gondry)
  18. The Hurt Locker (2009, Kathryn Bigelow)
  19. Inglourious Basterds (2009, Quentin Tarantino)
  20. The Proposition (2006, John Hillcoat)
  21. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008, David Fincher)
  22. The Constant Gardner (2005, Fernando Meirelles)
  23. Amores Perros (2000, Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu)
  24. Downfall (2004, Oliver Hirschbiegel)
  25. The Dark Knight (2008, Christopher Nolan)

Honorable Mentions:

  • Almost Famous (2000, Cameron Crowe)
  • Gladiator (2000, Ridley Scott)
  • The Devil’s Backbone (2000, Guillermo Del Toro)
  • Yi Yi (2000, Edward Yang)
  • Wet Hot American Summer (2001, David Wain)
  • Open Hearts (2002, Susanne Bier)
  • City of God (2002, Fernando Meirelles)
  • The 25th Hour (2002, Spike Lee)
  • Memories of Murder (2003, Joon-ho Bong)
  • Northfork (2003, The Polish Brothers)
  • Dogville (2004, Lars Von Trier)
  • Sideways (2004, Alexander Payne)
  • Good Night and Good Luck (2005, George Clooney)
  • Match Point (2005, Woody Allen)
  • After the Wedding (2006, Susanne Bier)
  • Black Book (2006, Paul Verhoeven)
  • The Departed (2006, Martin Scorsese)
  • The Lives of Others (2006, Florian Henckel Von Donnersmarck)
  • The Prestige (2006, Christopher Nolan)
  • Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (2007, Sidney Lumet)
  • Rescue Dawn (2007, Werner Herzog)
  • Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008, Woody Allen)
  • The White Ribbon (2009, Michael Haneke)

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Check out my past lists:

Revisiting The Sweet Hereafter – The Best Film of the 1990’s

Revisiting Paris, Texas – The Best Film of the 1980’s

Click here or on the sidebar for the archive of all My Favorite Films from the 1920’s to today.

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22 comments on “Revisiting There Will Be Blood – The Best Film of the 2000’s

  1. Prakash says:

    Hi David. An excellent list, again! I cannot but agree with your choice of movies, specially “There Will Be Blood”. And an equally, if I were to say, “bloody” review. I haven’t read a better review of this movie. Actually, come to think of it, no review/critique can do complete justice to this movie.

    I was also pleased to see “The Painted Veil” in your list. I think that was the most under-rated movie of the 2000s. I was in love with Maugham’s writing during my college-years and his writing and insight in to human nature continues to influence me, and my thinking, in more ways than one. So, glad to see this movie make it to your list.

    One grouse though is, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”. Personally, that movie failed to make me “curious”. In short, it didn’t move me more than a couch potato would move from his seat. At it’s core the movie has a deep philosophical insight about the perspective of death, aging and life itself. But somehow the movie superficially glossed it all and it’s actual meaning was lost. Again, this is a personal grouse and I know many people would differ from me.

    Prakash, thanks! The Painted Veil was very underrated…and I also thought it contained Naomi Watts’ most nuanced and quietly powerful performance. Funny you say that about TCCoBB. It’s a film I am actually afraid of re-examining because I fear I will not like it as much as I did when I first saw it. Its inclusion on the list is still based on that first reaction, which obviously was highly favorable. –DHS

    • Prakash says:

      “Its inclusion on the list is still based on that first reaction, which obviously was highly favorable.”

      That is SO TRUE!!! First reactions often (but not always) tend to mislead. At least for me they do. For instance, I actually was sucked in to the “escapism” vortex the first time I saw Avatar. So much that I went for a second viewing, and ended up with a headache.

      This taught me one thing. Maybe first reactions make us review movies as a mass audience, and consequent viewings bring out the real critique in us (although a bit biased sometimes). It’s a debatable topic and a fine line to tread on.

      Prakash, I agree…but there are just as many films I overrate as underrate on first view. The best films hold up over time and reveal something new each time you view them. I’m hoping TCCoBB does this when I finally work up the guts to re-examine it. Crash is a great example of a film I overrated upon first view and just doesn’t hold up at all. I don’t think TCCoBB would fall that hard though, given how fondly I recall its moments whenever I think of it.

      • Prakash says:

        I agree completely. I guess, at the end of the day it’s about how good a film really is. And like you said, “the BEST films… reveal something new each time”. And yes TCCoBB has its “moments” and moments alone. It is definitely a good film but, for me, not one of the BEST.

        Thanks David, for throwing some insight on this topic.

        Thank you, Prakash, for starting the conversation! –DHS

  2. DeeDee says:

    Hi! D.H.Schleicher,
    D.H.Schleicher said, “or the Noughties as people like to call them now.”

    Hmmm… I must admit that I have heard that term (Noughties) out there in the blogosphere too…When
    referring to the decade countdown.

    D.H.said, “This was the decade where Christopher Nolan emerged as the new Fritz Lang”

    Wow…big shoes to fill…Well, maybe not…just a new contemporary pair he (Nolan) put on…

    This was the decade where David Lynch took us down the rabbit hole in the middle…
    If the true be told…I’ am not a really “big” fan of David Lynch’s films. I have never watched any of his films…and I do not seek them out to watch neither. Believe me it is nothing personal against the man (Lynch)…it may just be his films.

    D.H.said,”I am extremely confident in this choice. My love for TWBB has become second nature. Were I to suffer from dementia…or someone hold a gun to my head…or my body be lying on my death bead…and someone were to ask me, “What are your favorite films of all time?” I would respond without a second thought:”

    Wow…I guess There Will Be Blood will be heading in the direction of my Amazon.com shopping cart…along with Malick’s The New World and the title that Troy Olson mentioned over there at WitD Black Robe. (I’am not sure if this is the correct title 😕 )

    The World of Blood and Oil According to Plainview and now here it is, unabridged, (and with a few SPOILERS, so be warned

    I may return and comment on your review after I watch the film…or then again, I may comment on your review tomorrow. (Who knows? 😕 )
    …D.H.Schleicher, What a nice overview of some of the films that you think deserved “special” recognition as the ten-year decade closed.

    Cont

    DeeDee, I am a bit surprised (though maybe not too surprised) that you are not a fan of Lynch…given his neo-noir aesthetic. His films are very hard to take, though, and not for everyone. –DHS

  3. DeeDee says:

    Cont…

    And now, David H. Schleicher presents his Top 25 Films of the 2000’s, followed by a chronological list of honorable mentions:

    Great list…very interesting too!
    By the way, I just received both Inglourious Basterds and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button as Christmas gifts…Therefore, after I watch the films I will determine whether these two films will be included on my list of top 25-30 list, but here goes a couple of films that I plan to add to my must-see list…too!

    Inglourious Basterds (2009, Quentin Tarantino)
    The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008, David Fincher)
    There Will Be Blood (2007, Paul Thomas Anderson)
    The New World (2005, Terrence Malick)
    The Pianist (2002, Roman Polanski)

    Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (2000, Ang Lee)
    A Serious Man (2009, The Coen Brothers)
    Atonement (2007, Joe Wright)
    The Painted Veil (2006, John Curran)
    In Bruges (2008, Martin McDonagh)

    Road to Perdition (2002, Sam Mendes)
    Birth (2004, Jonathan Glazer)
    Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004, Michel Gondry)
    The Hurt Locker (2009, Kathryn Bigelow)(Watched)
    I must admit I’am unsure of my feelings about this film.
    Good Night and Good Luck (2005, George Clooney)
    The Departed (2006, Martin Scorsese)
    Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (2007, Sidney Lumet)
    The White Ribbon (2009, Michael Haneke)and
    The Dark Knight (2008, Christopher Nolan).

    ——————————————
    Oops!…What I meant to say…
    D.H.Schleicher said, “or the Noughties as people like to call them now.”

    Hmmm… I must admit that I have heard that term (Noughties) out there in the blogosphere too…When ever other bloggers, refer to their decade countdown.

    Thanks, for sharing!
    DeeDee 😉

    DeeDee, looks like you’ve some serious watching to do 🙂 –DHS

  4. Troy Olson says:

    I have so many films of the 2000’s still to watch…it will be a bit before I feel I can comment with any expertise.

    But from 2007-2009, I have actually watched quite a few, so I am happy to see that IN BRUGES has made your list. Not sure if it will ultimately make mine, but it is a fine film and one of the biggest surprises I had in last year’s movie watching.

    Oh, and for DeeDee — you are correct on the name of the movie for BLACK ROBE (assuming you are looking for the film about the Jesuit missionary). Actually, it would make a fine double feature with THE NEW WORLD.

    Troy, I could watch In Bruges over and over. It seems to get better each time. There’s still quite a few films from 2009 I need to catch up on…but otherwise I thought, why not…let’s put this list out there. –DHS

  5. Longman Oz says:

    Damn. Had posted a comment that did not save. Short of time to re-type it now. However, the jist of it was that I have a copy of “Oil” sitting on my bookshelf and I would like to revisit the film with the benefit of knowing what the author’s original vision was.

    Longman, I’ve heard Oil couldn’t be more different than There Will Be Blood and simply served as a back-drop for inspiration for Paul Thomas Anderson. I’d be interested in hearing your comparison of the two after you read it. –DHS

  6. Sam Juliano says:

    David, how much do you love THERE WILL BE BLOOD???

    LOL!!! Just kidding of course, as this is unquestionably one of a small handful of films that is mentioned over and over for the top spot. I can’t render a satisfactory response as to why it isn’t among my own top picks of the decade, but I can certainly see and understand just why it is so venerated. I would say it’s time for me to check it out again. Your passion and presentation here for the film is spectacular. And subsequently, so is your Top 25 list, which oddly only includes five overlaps with me: ATONEMENT, ETERNAL SUNSHINE, THE NEW WORLD, MULHOLLAND DRIVE and DOWNFALL. But I can’t really contest any of the choices here, though I have been railing against LOST IN TRANSLATION for years. Over such a long period as a decade, personal taste and continuing favorites will always rule the roost. A few of your equally excellent runners-up list also made my cut. I also like THE PIANIST a lot, but somehow it didn’t make the final cut. I see you managed to squeeze THE WHITE RIBBON in. It’s a time and genre diversified list. Great job!

    Sam, thanks. I know you aren’t the only one who does not care for Lost in Translation, but I’ve stood by it all these years. –DHS

  7. Hi Dave:

    Interesting thoughts as always. Here’s a link to my picks for the top 10 of the decade: http://www.rgj.com/article/20100101/ENT01/1010391/1057

    Cheers!

    Forrest, thanks as always for reading. I had read your list when it first went up. Changeling and We Were Soldiers certainly are interesting (and against the grain) choices. –DHS

  8. Great post, Dave. I really like your choices. There Will Be Blood was a film that I ranked highly at first based on sheer audacity alone…I had some issues with the ending of the film not really ‘fitting’ with everything else before it (or to put it more bluntly, being as interesting as what came before it); however, subsequent viewings have quelled those feelings, and now I think that film is the masterpiece I thought it could be when I first saw it. It has slowly been climbing up my own ‘best of the decade’ list…which I need to finish sometime soon.

    Again, this is a great list and a great remembrance of some key moments in film that stood out to you.

    Kevin, I (obviously) thought the ending was brilliant and really brought home the underlying message(s) of the film. I look forward to your list when it goes up! –DHS

  9. Chris Tait says:

    Interesting list, Dave. I’m not surprised that THERE WILL BE BLOOD is tops for you. I remember reading your review of it when you first put it up. It didn’t really strike me the same way as it did for you and for others I know. It had me in its grip for most of the run time, but I’d say in the last 20-30 minutes, it lost me. Didn’t really seem like the same movie anymore. But I want to give it a revisit. Maybe it’ll play better.

    I don’t think I can comment with much authority on a “Noughties” list right now, since I’m still quite far behind in my movie watching (I haven’t even seen AVATAR yet, and there was a time when nothing, not even a blizzard, could’ve kept me away opening weekend—I’m slipping in my old age).

    Anyway, whenever I compile it, I know these movies will be in my Top 25: THE DARK KNIGHT, THE DEPARTED, INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS, THE LORD OF THE RINGS (all three), LOST IN TRANSLATION, ETERNAL SUNSHINE etc, SIDEWAYS, PUNCH-DRUNK LOVE, THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS, HIGH FIDELITY, and ALMOST FAMOUS. Tops for the honorable mention category would be ROCKY BALBOA. It’s not perfect but that ending gets me every time.

    Chris, ah, Rocky Balboa, you really are from Philly, my friend 🙂 Again, the ending of TWBB is what put it over the top for me. I thought it was perfect, but I know that is where it lost many people. –DHS

  10. To keep the conversation going, I’d thought I might start a thread (perhaps even craft a future blog post) on the most overrated films from the decade. These are films that had immense talent involved, grand designs for greatness, for the most part were well received by critics and audiences, but that I personally thought were criminally overrated. Off the top of my head, here I go:

    -A History of Violence (one of the worst films of the decade in my opinion)
    -Slumdog Millionaire (most know my feelings on this)
    -In the Bedroom (appallingly un-real)
    -Signs (just appalling)

    These ones I still thought had some merit and worthy elements but did not live up to the immense hype:

    -Babel
    -Children of Men
    -Pan’s Labyrinth
    -Brokeback Mountain
    -No Country for Old Men
    -Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (loved the first two films, but this one seemed to deflate as the runtime built up)

    So what films do you think were the most overrated of the decade?

    • Prakash says:

      The criminally-overrated ones (from the top of my mind):

      * Avatar
      * Twilight
      * Chicago
      * Borat

      And the ones that did not live up to my expectations (again, from the top of my mind):

      * Michael Clayton
      * The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
      * Zodiac
      * Vanilla Sky
      * The Pursuit of Happyness

      Prakash…Zodiac, eh? I did notice that pop up on a lot of critics’ lists at decade’s end. I thought it was a very good film, but not worthy of inclusion on such a list. –DHS

      • Prakash says:

        Yep. Zodiac was pretty disappointing for me. But I am not surprised that it found its way on many critics’ lists. Not after Avatar won the Golden Globe for both Direction and Best Picture — what a pity! My vote was for Hurt Locker (at least for Best Picture).

        Like Slumdog Millionaire undeservedly lapped up all the honor at the Oscars/Globes last year, Avatar is all set to do the same this year. They don’t just say, “History repeats itself”. Yeah David! I concur with your views on Slumdog. I read your review/post on Slumdog and left you a comment there too.

        Prakash, Avatar‘s Globes wins were a bit surprising to me. I think you may be correct where this is headed. I still thought Avatar had some moments, but yes, I am not as crazy in love with it as most are, and it certainly is far from the Best Picture of the Year. –DHS

  11. DeeDee says:

    Hi! D.H.Schleicher,
    The most overrated films from the decade as far as I’am concern has to be…Inglourious Bastard, No Country For Old Men and The Hurt Locker
    hands down!
    D.H.Schleicher said,”Slumdog Millionaire (most know my feelings on this)”
    Unfortunately,I don’t know your feeling about
    Slumdog Millionaire but I feel that it was overated too.
    -In the Bedroom (appallingly un-real)LOL!!!!
    -Signs (just appalling)LOL!!!!

    I will return when I can think of other films that I thought was overated during this past decade.

    DeeDee 😉

    DeeDee – I like how in the face of opposition you stand by your original conclusions regarding Inglourious Basterds and The Hurt Locker…and as for Slumdog Millionaire…you don’t even want to get me started! Sam knows all too well my feelings on that film. –DHS

  12. DeeDee says:

    “I will return when I can think of other films that I thought were overrated during this past decade.
    Oops! make that were my voice is too passive with the use of the word…was.
    Oh! Yes, I just thought of another film…The Da Vinci Code.

    DeeDee – The Da Vinci Code – also an overrated book! –DHS

  13. davidbdale says:

    Thanks, David. I’ll take your list with me to the Blockbuster. (Does anybody else still go there?) I think I know why The Dark Knight clocked in at 25: because it’s one of the best but also one of the worst films of the 00s, extraordinary in all its central conceits but so in love with itself it couldn’t bring itself to end when it should have. Intriguing list!

    David, I am a Netflix convert. I actually used to go to Hollywood Video until they closed all the stores around here. As for The Dark Knight, when a popcorn film is that good, it can afford to be a little bit in love with itself. I forgive it that transgression. –DHS

  14. Hi again David:

    I’m with you on “A History of Violence” and “In the Bedroom.” I thought both were enjoyable and well made but not worth all the hype.

    I disagree on “Signs,” “Babel” and “Brokeback Mountain.”

    And, oddly enough, I think “There Will Be Blood” was overrated, and we clearly disagree there.

    Others where I’m swimming against mainstream thought include “Avatar,” “Gosford Park” and “Mulholland Drive.” I think they all have things to like but I wasn’t blown away by them the way many others have been.

    Whoa, Forrest, them’s fightin’ words 🙂 Mulholland Drive and There Will be Blood…overrated?! –DHS

  15. Stephen says:

    David, I like how you see these films as products of their time, intimately informed by real-life struggles.

    I am not a particular fan of The Dark Knight or Inglourious Basterds but I do admire many many of your picks. I think Crouching Tiger, despite the brouhaha that surrounded it on release, has fallen under the radar a little recently.

    My Top Ten would be:

    1 The New World
    2 Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
    3 Three Times
    4 Spirited Away
    5 Revenge of the Sith
    6 Notre Musique
    7 A.I.
    8 Mulholland Drive
    9 Antichrist
    10 A Tale of Two Sisters

    Stephen, thanks. I think Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon has been “dismissed” by many as the years have passed. I’m glad to see someone else still holds it in high esteem. Interesting list! Numbers 5, 7, and 9 are quite bold. –DHS

  16. matterspamer says:

    Beautifully written post. There Will Be Blood and Mulholland Dr. are definitely my top two of the 2000s as well. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is also forgotten in the wake of Lee’s success/controversy with Brokeback Mountain. I think they’re both lovely movies in their own right, and shows how he can take a similar “unrequited love” theme and bend it into different genres.

    The Pianist is without a doubt one of the most under-appreciated WWII movies, and one of the most under-appreciated of the 2000s in general. I actually prefer it to Schindler’s List, which shocks most.

    I watched The New World after I saw Tree of Life, and it was what completed Terrence Malick’s filmography for me (not that difficult a task). It was definitely a beautifully conceived vision and a great debunking of the Disney Pocahontas myth. I would say it ranks just below the Tree of Life alongside Days of Heaven within his own movies.


    Thanks, dude – glad to see we often see eye to eye. –DHS

  17. walt walker says:

    I enjoy reading your thoughtful and well-written pieces on film. I’m surprised by your inclusion of Wet Hot American Summer in this list, though. I once had a girlfriend who worked for Miramax and would send me scripts of yet-to-be produced films. Ghost Dog was one of those treats. Almost Famous was another. When she sent me Wet Hot American Summer, I thought it was the worst script I’d ever read. I was shocked when it was actually produced. When I saw the movie, I thought it was better than the screenplay, but not by much. Did you review this one somewhere? I would be curious to know why you rank it with these others. Your search thingy only turned up a short blurb.

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