Cocktails And Cinema - The Decade’s Best




















I know, I know, another top 10 list.  Well … yeah I suppose so. I understand they’re corny and all but I’ve always found them fun for debate.  As we all know, there really is no such thing as a “best” anything, it’s all-subjective.  That said, before the new year starts steamrolling along too far into the next decade, I thought I would pay homage to the ten films from 2000 – 2009 that left the deepest impressions on me.  This list isn’t trying to encompass various genres, or pay any attention to box office or cultural influence.  Just plain and simple the ten best films I saw this last decade.  As I will fully admit, my taste leans a little more to the dark than most, so I have paired each film with what I would believe to be the perfect complimentary alcoholic drink for each film.  Cheers.

*This list excludes any documentaries*



10. Sideways (2004) –

Sideways



Not only did Alexander Payne’s film change wine culture (when’s the last time you’ve heard someone order a glass of merlot?) but it’s also a great road trip movie who’s sense of humor is as searing as the pain these middle age men cause to themselves and to those around them.  Leading the charge is Paul Giamatti, who probably gives the most underappreciated performance of the decade.


Drink to watch with:
A glass (or bottle) of any fine Santa Barbara County pinot noir.






















9. In the Bedroom (2001) –


In the Bedroom



Todd Field’s closely observed portrait of an aging couple coping with the murder of their son is at once a study on grief, the passion of youth and a revenge thriller.  It’s one of those films whose suspense and drama lie in the holding back of emotions as much any words or action.  It is also the film that really launched Tom Wilkinson into a whole other level of respected actors.


Drink to watch with: 
A spicy bloody mary. (Vodka mixed with tomato juice and a pinch of Tabasco, pepper, Worchester sauce and horseradish.  The amount of “pinching” will vary depending on how spicy you like it. )

















8. Closer  (2004)–


Closer



This absolute gem by Mike Nichols based on Patrick Marber’s play covers the familiar terrain of two couples that betray their relationships by cheating with one another.  Yet there is something so observant and sad about their cruelty and the paper-thin precipice in which love can be developed and destroyed, that it’ll make you think twice before ever getting into a relationship again.


Drink to watch with:
A stiff dirty gin martini. (Gin, preferably Hendricks’s or Bombay Sapphire with a splash of vermouth and olive juice shaken hard and served in a martini glass. For a nice touch get some bleu cheese stuffed olives.)

















7. City of God (2002) –


City of God



City of God is probably the most brutal and breathless film of the decade.  Told with frightening pace and energy by Fernando Meirelles, City of God tells the story of a slum in Rio de Janeiro during a twenty-year span from the 60’s into the 80’s.  It follows the story of three kids that emerge into manhood in the most horrifying of ways where drugs, murder and emotional brutality are not only a daily but hourly occurrence.  Whatever problems you may have in life, see this film and I assure you’ll feel grateful for what you have.


Drink to watch with: 
Caipirinha (The national cocktail of Brazil.  For preparation Google Caipirinha cocktail.)























6. Amores Perros (2000) –


Amores Perros



This past decade was a golden age in Mexican cinema and this was the best of the bunch.  This film not only launched the careers of Gael Garcia Bernal and director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’ but brought global attention to the wave of talented Mexican filmmakers who have made deep impressions in Hollywood (Inarritu’, Cuaron, Del Toro). Told with the energy and fragmented narrative of a Tarantino film coupled with the soul of an opera, be it gunfights, dog fighting, beautiful models, assasins, unrequited love, this film has EVERYTHING.


Drink to watch with:
  A bottle of tequila or mescal of your choice–with the worm.



















5. The Lives of Others (2006) –

The Lives of Others



This German film by first time filmmaker Florian Henckel von Donnersmack follows a lonely member of the German secret police as he spies on a playwright and his actress lover. A tense and poignant look at pre wall-falling East Berlin and the frightening possibilities of governmental control, this film ultimately makes you a believer in the power of individuality.


Drink to watch with:  A pint of Beck’s dark lager.




















4. Dancer in the Dark (2000) –


Dancer in the Dark



Lars von Trier has his lovers and haters (more haters since Antichrist), yet that shouldn’t overshadow his Palm d’ Or winning masterpiece.  This utterly dark melodrama musical that epitomized the Dogme movement, stars Bjork as a factory worker who is slowly going blind from a genitive disease that her son has inherited as well.  As she saves pennies to save for an operation that can save her son’s sight, she escapes into fantasy imagining her doomed life to be a sequence of musical numbers.  Shooting in many styles and forms, this film is the ultimate reminder that there is no filmmaker in the world like Von Trier.


Drink to watch with:
Pure Absinthe




































3. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007) –


The Diving Bell and the Butterfly



Julian Schnabel’s elliptical film tells the story of  Jean-Dominique Bauby, former editor of Elle, who was left almost completely paralyzed from a stroke with only the use of his left eyelid to communicate. The premise sounds completely bleak but Schnabel and cinematographer Janusz Kaminski tell this story as a meditation on the strength of the soul and the power of faith rather than making it merely a weepy story of the handicapped.  Its balance of realism and dreamlike imagery make this extraordinary film on par with anything of the last ten years.

Drink to watch with: French coffee (Remy, Chambord and coffee topped with whip cream.)



















2. There will be Blood (2007)–


There will be Blood



Paul Thomas Anderson.  Daniel Day Lewis.  Is there really much more to say?  Two artists at the height of their powers doing the best work of their careers.  At once a large and small epic, this film portrays the demise of an oilman who gains an empire and loses his soul.  The social war between money and religion, personal gain and inner peace is on full display.  Here’s praying these two fearless artists collaborate more in the future.


Drink to watch with:
  Texas Tea (virtually a Long island with bourbon. Equal parts Tequila, rum, vodka, gin, bourbon, triple sec, sweet and sour, and cola.)



















1. Brokeback Mountain (2005)
-

Brokeback Mountain



Unfortunately, a plethora of late night talk show skits have turned this film into “the gay cowboy movie.”  Regardless of your politics, this film is less about sexual preference than the shortcomings of life.  The conflict that exists between Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger’s characters could easily be substituted for any religious, economic or social barrier.  Directed by Taiwanese filmmaker Ang Lee and based on Annie Proulx’s novella, Brokeback Mountain is at once an old fashioned western, a timeless love story, and an independent art film.  This is a fearless movie.  I am convinced that the only way someone could not be moved by this film is if they showed up with a pre-conceived opinion of it before watching.  Be it the two leads or the spouses and children who must bear the burden of their denial, this is a film of dreams lost, nature’s denied and the sheer force that an environment can play on a life.  Before Brokeback, with the exception of a nice small turn in Monster’s Ball, Heath ledger was a pin-up boy known for “a Knights Tale” and “The Patriot.”  The full embodiment and raw emotion in his portrayal of repressed cowboy Ennis Del Mar can only be compared with Brando in Streetcar.  What a pity his genius was cut so short.  While this decade has offered us a slew of great films, this one stands out far beyond the rest.  


Drink to watch with:
  Jim Beam whiskey – neat.

So there you have it, my top ten of the decade.  There were many other great films that were right on the cusp but didn’t quite make it.  I’ll be curious to see what this new decade holds for the cinema and what contributions the filmmaker’s on this list give us in the future or if it will be a host of completely new talent to leave their mark. At any rate, here’s wishing all of you a happy late new year. Let the debate and sipping begin!























Obren Milanovic

Obren Milanovic is a Los Angeles based actor/writer/director.








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