Muruch’s Best of the Decade: Films

In addition to my usual year end lists, I’m also doing decade lists. Following are my favorite films that were released between 2000-2009…

Muruch’s Best of the Decade: Films

20. Mama Mia

I didn’t expect to include this musical on the list until my husband reminded me how much we enjoyed it. When it comes to favorite movies that I watch again and again, I tend to lean toward happy flicks. Whatever the Abba-centric Mama Mia lacked in substance, it made up for in fun and catchiness. And I just adore Colin Firth and Pierce Brosnan.

Buy @ Amazon

19. Tape

Everyone always remember Robert Sean Leonard’s performance in Dead Poets Society, but I think the best role of his career was in Richard Linklater’s claustrophobic 2001 film Tape. The film co-starred Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman as high school friends who have a bitter reunion with Leonard’s character in a motel room. The acting was so authentically tense and uncomfortable that I don’t think I’d rewatch the film. But it is unquestionably brilliant.

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18. Psycho Beach Party

This one might be higher on the list if I saw it again, but it’s been nearly a decade since a quirky friend of mine introduced me to his favorite film and I haven’t had the pleasure of watching it since then. Charles Busch’s twisted parody of 1960s surfing movies starred then unknown actors Lauren Ambrose (Six Feet Under) and Nicholas Brendon (Buffy) as beach-lovin’ kids embroiled in a series of murders.

Buy @ Amazon

17. Starting Out in the Evening

As I said in my 2008 review, the wonderful film adaption of Brian Morton’s novelstars Six Feet Under’s Lauren Ambrose as Grad student Heather Wolfe, who is writing her thesis on Leonard Schiller (Frank Langella), the reclusive novelist whom she adores.

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16. Vanilla Sky

I think my husband and I are in the minority in loving Cameron Crowe’s 2001 remake of Open Your Eyes. It’s a surreal fantasy and thriller about the misadventures and romances of an egotistical rich brat played by Tom Cruise.

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15. 2 Days in Paris

Actress Julie Delpy wrote, directed, and starred in this 2007 comedy about a couple’s wacky and awkward two days in Paris. As I said in my 2008 review: “Delpy’s characters are painfully, amusingly authentic and relatable. Especially for those of us that are one half of a transatlantic couple.”

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14. Enchanted

Disney’s 2008 romantic comedy that starred Amy Adams as a cartoon princess transported to real world Manhattan is probably a recent enough release that I don’t need to say much here about the actual movie. It was sweet, funny, and fun to sing along with.

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13. Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind

Charlie Kaufman wrote the script for this strange 2004 film that starred Kate Winslet and Jim Carey as a recently broken up couple who literally have their memories of each other erased from their minds.

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12. Amélie

The 2001 French romantic comedy about shy waitress Amélie Poulain introduced the world to adorable Audrey Tautou and is one of the most beautifully directed films ever.

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11. Up

In my review of Pixar’s animated film Up last June, I called it “Wizard of Oz awesome.” I think that says it all.

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10. The Anniversary Party

I don’t know if any of the old readers are still around, but I raved The Anniversary party on the old Muruch site back in 2002 (the archives of which were lost when I switched domains). The indie film was written and directed by Alan Cumming and Jennifer Jason Leigh, who starred as a troubled semi-famous couple hosting an anniversary party to celebrate their post-separation reunion. The ensemble cast included Parker Posey, John C. Reilly, Gweneth Paltrow, Kevin Kline, Jennifer Beals, and featured a hilarious cameo by Phoebe Cates.

Buy @ Amazon

9. High Fidelity

The 2000 John Cusack movie is one of the best book-to-film adaptions ever. The secret to its success was the completely American transformation of the very British characters and setting of Nick Hornby’s brilliant novel. The film made a star of Tenacious D’s Jack Black, but what I loved most about it was the authentic portrayal of a couple trying to decide if love is enough to keep them together when it seems they want different things from life. And of course I love the way music is woven throughout the story, the Top 5 lists, and the protagonist’s comical encounters with ex-girlfriends.

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8. Elf

This adorable comedy 2003 comedy about a human (Will Ferrell) who thinks he’s an elf was funny, sweet, and also paved the way for She & Him by showcasing the beautiful voice of Zooey Deschanel.

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7. Best in Show

Christopher Guest’s parody of a dog show is one of the funniest comedies ever, thanks to a brilliant ensemble cast that included Parker Posey, Catherine O’Hara, Fred Willard, and Glee‘s Jane Lynch.

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6. O Brother Where Art Thou?

Only The Coen Brothers’ would think to set an adaption of Homer’s Odyssey in 1930s Mississippi, let alone transform the epic into a quirky road picture comedy centering around three chain gang escapees. This is a film that has gotten even better with each viewing over the years, and its soundtrack brought bluegrass and folk music to the mainstream.

Buy @ Amazon

5. Hedwig & The Angry Inch

John Cameron Mitchell’s outrageous 2001 musical about a transgendered punk-rocker from Berlin is not for the easily offended, but it’s hysterical if you have a good sense of humor. It also featured some of the best rock songs ever recorded.

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4. Zoolander

If the order of this list were based solely on how many times I’ve watched and/or laughed at a movie, Ben Stiller’s bizarre 2001 flick about a dim male model would be #1. It seems to have become somewhat of a cult favorite in recent years, but I still don’t think it gets enough credit for being a great comedy. Sure, it’s silly and more quotable than respectable. But it’s hilarious and unique, and I love it.

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3. Wonder Boys

I rewatched and reviewed this 2001 gem about an aging novelist earlier this year, and as I wrote then: “It’s a rare film in that it is equally poignant and hilarious, and impossible to compare to anything else..”

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2. Before Sunset

Richard Linklater’s 2004 sequel to Before Sunrise is even better than the original. Not only do we finally find out if star-crossed lovers Celine and Jesse were ever reunited, but the film is lovely and intelligent in its own right. It’s beautifully directed and brilliantly acted by Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke, whose characters have much more substance and scars than when we first met them nine years before.

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1. Almost Famous

I loved Cameron Crowe’s film about a young music journalist following a classic rock band on tour when it was first released in 2000, but now I absolutely adore it. Back then I enjoyed the music, humor, and Kate Hudson’s hippie-fairy “band-aid” character Penny Lane. Now I find myself relating to William’s (Patrick Fugit) evolution from wide-eyed music enthusiast to conflicted music writer. And the best part of the film is its mood and style. It has that rare quality that all great classic movies posses – atmosphere. Instead of feeling like you’re watching actors play their parts, you find yourself so completely drawn into this fictional world that you forget it’s a movie. It’s a beautiful, funny, artistic piece of cinema and has become one of my favorite films of all time.

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Vote on the Contrast Podcast Festive 50 Shortlist!

Contrast Podcast recently asked music bloggers like myself to submit our favorite 50 songs of the year for their annual “Festive 50” podcast. Our selections were then compiled into a shortlist and now we’ve been asked to recruit votes to narrow it down.

For the curious, I’ve bolded the 10 songs I personally voted for. I really, really want “Nice Very Nice” by Kurt Vonnegut & Dave Soldier (from their album Ice-9 Ballads) to make the final list. Not only because it’s my favorite song of the year, from my favorite album of the year, inspired by my favorite book of all time, featuring my favorite author of all time, but also because if it makes the list, there’s a good chance yours truly will introduce it. 🙂

So please follow the instructions below to submit your top 10 from the list, and feel free to vote for the Vonnegut song if you agree with me!

Select your favourite 10 songs from the shortlist of 155 below and rank them from 1 (your favourite) to 10 and send the list to contrast.podcast@gmail.com. You may also (if you are feeling evil) give a negative vote to any single song of your choice! The deadline is Monday, November 23rd. Please ask your friends, family, blog readers, and anyone else you know to send in their votes, too!

Last year quite a few people said that they hadn’t heard many of the songs, so this year Tim setup a handy player with (almost) all of the tracks on it:

Listen Here

Here’s the list …

A.A. Bondy – When The Devil’s Loose
Aidan Moffat & the Best Ofs – Big Blonde
Alexi Murdoch – Towards The Sun
Alice In Chains – Check My Brain
Andrew Bird – Fitz & dizzyspells
Andrew Bird – Nomenclature
Andrew Bird – Not a Robot, but a Ghost
Animal Collective – My Girls
Animal Collective – Summertime Clothes
Antlers (The) – Two
Art Brut – DC Comics And Chocolate Milkshake
Asobi Seksu – Transparence
At The Stars – Oxygen & Rust
Atlas Sound – Walkabout
Auld Lang Syne – Where My Fortune Lies
Avett Brothers (The) – I And Love And You
Bat for Lashes – Daniel
Beirut – The Akara
Bell X1 – The Great Defector
Big Pink (The) – Dominos
Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears – Get Yo’ Shit
Bob Dylan – Beyond Here Lies Nothin’
Bombadil – Sad Birthday
Bon Iver – Blood Bank
Builders and The Butchers (The) – Barcelona
Butcher Boy – Carve A Pattern
Buzz Aldrin – You and I
Camera Obscura – French Navy
Camera Obscura – Honey In The Sun
Camera Obscura – My Maudlin Career
Casiotone For The Painfully Alone – White Corolla
Cats On Fire – Horoscope
Cats On Fire – Letters From A Voyage To Sweden
Cats On Fire – Tears In Your Cup
Danger Mouse & Sparklehorse with Wayne Coyne – Revenge
Das Racist & Wallpaper – Combination Pizza Hut And Taco Bell (Wallpaper. RMX)
Dave Matthews Band – Why I Am
David Bazan – Bless This Mess
David Gedge And The BBC Big Band – My Favourite Dress (live at West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds, 29 April 2009)
Death Cab for Cutie – Little Bribes
Decemberists (The) – Annan Water
Decemberists (The) – The Hazards of Love Part 4 (The Drowned)
Decemberists (The) – The Rake’s Song
Decemberists (The) – The Wanting Comes In Waves/Repaid
Decemberists (The) – Won’t Want for Love
Dizzee Rascal & Armand Van Helden – Bonkers
Doves – Jetstream
Doves – Kingdom Of Rust
Drums (The) – I Felt Stupid
Editors – Papillon
Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes – 40 Day Dream
Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros – Home
Eels – Fresh Blood
Elvis Perkins In Dearland – Shampoo
Fanfarlo – I’m A Pilot
Faunts (The) – It Hurts Me All The Time
Flight of the Conchords – Carol Brown
Flight Of the Conchords – Sugarlumps
Florence & The Machine – Cosmic Love
Florence & The Machine – Dog Days Are Over
Florence & The Machine – Kiss With a Fist
Franz Ferdinand – No You Girls
Franz Ferdinand – Twilight Omens
Franz Ferdinand – Ulysses
Future Of The Left – Arming Eritrea
Girls – Hellhole Ratrace
Gong – Dance with the Pixies
Grand Archives – Oslo Novelist
Grizzly Bear – Two Weeks
Guggenheim Grotto (The) – Fee Da Da Dee
HEALTH – Die Slow
Heartless Bastards – The Mountain
Here We Go Magic – Fangela
Horrors (The) – Sea Within A Sea
I Like Trains – Sea Of Regrets
Iggy Pop – King Of The Dogs
Jarvis Cocker – Angela
Jarvis Cocker – I Never Said I Was Deep
Jarvis Cocker – Leftovers
Jason Lytle – Yours Truly, The Commuter
Jason Mraz – Traveler/Make it Mine (live)
Kasabian – Fire
Kurt Vonnegut & Dave Soldier – Nice Very Nice
Langhorne Slim – I Love You, But Goodbye
Leisure Society (The) – A Matter Of Time
Leisure Society (The) – The Darkest Place I Know
Leisure Society (The) – The Last Of The Melting Snow
Lily Allen – The Fear
Low Anthem (The) – Champion Angel
Madness – We are London
Memory Tapes – Bicycle
Metric – Gimme sympathy
Metric – Sick Muse
Meursault – Love Or Limb
Meursault – Nothing broke
Meursault – William Henry Miller Pt. 2
Meursault – William Henry Miller Pt. 1
Mew – New Terrain
Middle East (The) – Blood
Morrissey – I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris
Morrissey – Something Is Squeezing My Skull
Mountain Goats (The) – 1 John 4:16
Mumford & Sons – Roll Away Your Stone
Mumford & Sons – The Cave
Mumford & Sons – White Blank Page
Muse – Uprising
National (The) – So Far Around The Bend
Neko Case – Middle Cyclone
Neko Case – People Got A Lotta Nerve
NOFX – My Orphan Year
Owl City – Fireflies
Pains of Being Pure At Heart (The) – Come Saturday
Pains of Being Pure At Heart (The) – Higher than the stars
Pains of Being Pure At Heart (The) – This Love Is Fucking Right
Pains of Being Pure At Heart (The) – Young Adult Friction
Passion Pit – Moth’s Wings
Passion Pit – The Reeling
Paul Haig – Relive
Pet Shop Boys – Love etc.
Pete Yorn & Scarlett Johansson – Relator
Phoenix – 1901
Phoenix – Lisztomania
PJ Harvey & John Parish – Black Hearted Love
Prefab Sprout – Earth, The Story So Far
Prefab Sprout – Let There Be Music
Prefab Sprout – Music Is A Princess
Raveonettes (The) – Suicide
Regina Spektor – Folding Chair
Regina Spektor – One More Time With Feeling
Richard Hawley – As The Dawn Breaks
Saint Etienne – Method of modern love
Sam Bisbee – Never Fall In Love
Spoon – Got nuffin’
Temper Trap (The) – Sweet Disposition
Thom Yorke – Hearing damage
Throw Me The Statue – Hi-Fi Goon
Twilight Sad (The) – I became a Prostitute
U2 – No Line on the Horizon
Very Best (The) – Warm Heart Of Africa
Wave Machines – The Greatest Escape We Ever Made
We Were Promised Jetpacks – Quiet Little Voices
We Were Promised Jetpacks – Roll Up Your Sleeves
White Lies – To Lose My Life
Wilco – Wilco (The Song)
Wilco – You And I
Wilco – You Never Know
Wild Beasts – All the Kings Men
Withered Hand – Love in the Time of Ecstasy
Withered Hand – Religious Song
Wye Oak – That I Do
XX (The) – Crystallized
XX (The) – Intro
XX (The) – VCR
Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Heads Will Roll
Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Zero