Posted on: December 7th, 2009 Top 25 Geek Movies of the Decade
As the single-digit two thousands come to an end, we begin to look back at the decade that just flew by. With the arduous task of creating a ‘best of the decade’ list, I became more and more perplexed as to the protocol for compiling such data – how many entries are there? Does this span every genre, every country? Ultimately, what defines ‘best’?
Every blogger and their dog has a ‘best of’ list at the end of the year, most of which are predictably mathematical. Like clockwork, you can guess 75% of what will be on that list based on box office earnings and clout. You must admit, ten years worth of that can be painstaking, and ultimately you’re under such intense scrutiny that you will be bound to piss a lot of passionate readers (or fellow film-bloggers) off.
In an attempt to cover our own collective ass, GKS has defined this best-of-the-decade list as the Top 25 Geek Movies of the Decade. What defines geek movie? Well, if you’re a frequent visitor to the site, you’ll understand – we’re children of the 80’s, looking back on the 70’s, and forward to the future with sci-fi-action-horror-comic-cinephile glasses on. We’re geeks.
Begin the list. Note that these are not in a numbered order. Let the shit fly in the comments.
(2000) What the film lacked in budget it more than made for in script. The way the film is shot and edited, it’s almost as if you’re right there alongside Leonard Shelby as he pieces together parts of a puzzle, unable to form new memories. It’s one of the few films that actually works because it’s confusing. Great performances from Guy Pearce, Carrie-Ann Moss, Joe Pantoliano and Stephen Tobolowski.
(2000) Christian Bale had been in plenty of popular movies prior to this big-screen adaptation of the Brett Easton Ellis novel, but alas American Psycho let this actor and character – and subsequent Halloween costumes – into our hearts. Though the novel is far more disturbing than anything that could be put to film, director Mary Harron translated the source material brilliantly, capturing the ridiculousness and satire of an 80’s yuppie serial-killer. Don’t just stare at it, eat it.
Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring
(2001) You can consider the trilogy one film all you want, the first movie is the best. Peter Jackson brought us into this fantastical world wonderfully, when it could have gone horribly wrong and been a cheese-fest. Instead we got 3 epic action set-pieces. And Viggo Mortenson just didn’t seem as bad-ass in the second and third films as he did in this. Like J.J. did with Star Trek, Jackson made J.R.R. Tolkien accessible to everyone.
Kill Bill Vol. 1
(2003) Quentin Tarantino’s fourth film is a high-octane love letter to martial arts films with a dash of spaghetti western and relentless revenge thrown in for good measure. Every time I watch this film I’m convinced it’s his best. Though I find volume 1 to be superior to volume 2, there’s no doubt Tarantino succeeded in telling a complete story that will leave an indelible mark on pop-culture.
Lost in Translation
(2003) The first time I watched Lost in Translation I laughed. I was captivated by the performances of the leads, Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson, and their unlikely yet magnetic chemistry. The second time I watched Lost in Translation I cried. The film has so much heart and is so relatable, even though it takes place in a micro-universe of misunderstanding involving two polar opposites. The film connects with its audience just as Charlotte and Bob do, and at the end it whispers in our ear and sends us off blissfully alone. Beautiful movie.
(2003) This film is amazing. The performances are amazing. The direction is amazing. The script is amazing. It’s also filled with a near record amount of “wtf” moments. I like to think of it as Kill Bill meets Trainspotting. If you have not seen Chan-Wook Park’s Oldboy, I envy you, for you will never forget the first time you do. Also, the movie has one of the most intense fight scenes ever put to film.
X2: X-Men United
(2003) Bryan Singer was under a lot of pressure to perform with the sequel to 200’s X-Men. Granted the first film was successful, it’s glaring flaws made all eyes on the follow up more than meticulous. With X2, he not only bested the previous, but made one of the best comic book films to date. The script is tight, telling an original story while incorporating mythos from the universe created in the comics, and the action scenes were shot awesomely. The opening sequence involving Nightcrawler in the white house is one of my favorites of all time.
(2004) While the first Spider-Man film is flawed, it proved that the wall-crawling web head could be ported to the big-screen. Director Sam Raimi’s sequel, however, is near perfect. Capturing the essence of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s Spider-Man stories of yore, SM 2 is tonally one of the most respectful comic book adaptations. Alfred Molina shines as Doctor Octopus, while Tobey Maguire, though often times hard to look at, captures the plights of Peter Parker perfectly. It’s that damned Kirsten Dunst that makes this film a runner up for best comic movie ever.
Shaun of the Dead
(2004) One can argue that the whole “zombie infatuation” began with Edgar Wright’s immediately lovable Shaun of the Dead. The film is so retardedly awesome, I find it hard to believe that anyone couldn’t like it. It also paved the way for Wright to return with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost for Hot Fuzz, and we finally got a DVD release for the BBC series Spaced, a fanboy TV staple. Cornetto.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
(2004) Director and visual-artist extraordinaire Michel Gondry crafted a film with such great whimsy and depth that it would become an integral part of hipster DVD shelves everywhere. Kidding. The film is phenomenal and weird and sad and unique and beautifully crafted. This could also be Jim Carrey’s best work.
(2004) Never has a film lived up to its title so much. Disney-Pixar owned the comic book genre in 2004, competing valiantly against decades of lore in Spider-Man 2. The Incredibles is a ton of fun on its own, a really exceptional action film, while making nod afer nod to some of the best comic book material ever written (Watchmen stands out as on of the film’s main muses).
(2006) Screw the haters, Zack Snyder did what I thought to be impossible – he made a swords and shield period piece that could appeal to even the most fickle theater-goer. The story of the 300 Spartans that took on the millions-strong armies of Persia plays out more like a heavy metal music video than a national geographic special. The film also put Snyder on the map as a director with style, flare and a penchant for the visceral. Once you separate the (obvious) fiction from fact, 300 is the ultimate date movie for the fanboy couple.
(2006) My personal favorite film of 2006 is The Prestige. It’s one of the few films that I could not have figured out the twist half-way through (I blame myself for being so smart). Christopher Nolan brought together an impressive ensemble cast (Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman, Michael Caine, Scarlett Johansson and David Bowie) and immersed us in this thrilling tale of two feuding magicians. Fuck The Illusionist.
(2007) If you missed seeing Grindhouse, the Quentin Tarantino/Robert Rodriguez double-feature (complete with fake movie trailers before and in-between), then you missed a true cinematic event. The two features by themselves, Tarantino’s Death Proof and Rodriguez’s Planet Terror, might have been underwhelming had they been released on their own, but put together in this package that paid heaping amounts of tribute to the exploitation films of the 70’s and you have one of the most memorable movie-going experiences in your life. Grindhouse was fucking fun. I pray for the day we get a proper DVD/BD release, though it can never replicate seeing it in a theater.
(2007) Danny Boyle’s Sunshine is one of those films that wasn’t widely received, and poor marketing is completely to blame in this case. Let it be known, Sunshine is not one of those disaster space films like Armageddon or Deep Impact. Yes, the plot revolves around a team of astro-scientists on a mission to ignite the sun in order to save Earth, but the film is so much more than that. Once the film’s feet hit the ground, it’s thrilling science-fiction at it’s finest. Though the film’s third act loses a lot of people by dancing awfully close to flat out horror, Sunshine is a total gem of a movie.
There Will Be Blood
(2007) I know, it’s not really a fanboy/geek film, but c’mon… There Will Be Blood is pure craftsmanship from Paul Thomas Anderson, Daniel Day Lewis and everyone involved. There is just no denying the power of this film. Eerie, beautiful and unforgiving, all at the same time.
No Country For Old Men
(2007) A best of list without the Cohens? Shut me down and take away my badge. Not likely. No Country was spectacular and deserved all the accolades it received. Josh Brolin, Tommy Lee Jones and Javier Bardem captivated audiences and set the bar for amazing acting. This is a true cat and mouse suspense film that doesn’t once pander to the lowest common denominator. This is great cinema.
(2008) Jon Favreau, Robert Downy Jr. and co. brought comic book films (specifically Marvel’s) to a new level. The flick was tons of fun and looked and sounded incredible. It also gave us a new leading male character, living out our machismo-fueled fantasies onscreen as Tony Stark.
(2008) Disney-Pixar did something that I would have bet against: they made a wonderful and successful family film with a main character that was neither human nor spoke a word of English. Not only is Wall-E a touching film and a legitimate entry into the sci-fi genre, it is daring and relevant satire. Wall-E also serves up some of the most gorgeous cinematography I’ve ever seen, with faux environments no less.
The Dark Knight
(2008) What would a best of the decade list be without The Dark Knight? Though not without it’s flaws (which you may or may not want to admit), director Christopher Nolan’s follow up to Batman Begins is by far the most mature and accomplished comic book film. At times you almost forget our main subject is a man in a mask and cape. And just like Jack Nicholson’s turn before his, Heath Ledger put to film an unforgettable performance as Batman’s arch-nemesis the Joker.
(2009) I will fight to the death or until you concede that Watchmen is the most faithful comic book adaptation put to film. Not only did Zack Snyder manage to film the “unfilmable”, he almost did it perfectly. Of course there’s going to be discrepancies. Of course you can’t squeeze in everything. Snyder translated this story, these characters, to film, you can’t deny that. He also managed to add style and a personal signature to the film, solidifying him as a capable and entertaining story-teller. Folks, that is the Watchmen movie. We got it.
(2009) J.J. Abram’s reboot of the Star Trek franchise is incredible. He did the unthinkable by making the geekiest of geeky properties (next to Babylon 5) and turning it into something cool. Dude’s in Ed Hardy shirts love Star Trek now. But all that is moot because Star Trek does in fact kick ass. I’ve watched it four times now, and I need more. It’s so good that I can get over the plot-holes or the dodgy moments in the script; this cast is stellar, and everything fits and works. Star Trek is fresh and new, yet respectful of its elders. It is pure entertainment.
(2009) Disney-Pixar continues reigning with both animated films and exceptional story-telling involving unconventional main characters, in this case the senior-citizen-on-an-adventure Carl Fredrickson. Arguably, the film’s opening ten minutes contains more raw emotion than most films with similar subject matter. A definitely more mature film considering the prime demographic, Up offsets its drama with plenty of exciting set-pieces and genuinely likable characters. The retroesque design of the film is stunning making Up one of, if not the best animated features of the decade.
(2009) With the apparent resurgence of the high-concept science fiction film, Neill Blomkamp’s District 9 reinvents the genre, taking audiences by surprise. I often lambaste the general audience for not demanding more from mainstream cinema, but this film is proof that entirely good film-making doesn’t go unnoticed. The combination of a fantastic, original script, stunning visuals, and the unique doc-style presentation makes this film a solid entry on this list. Lead actor Sharlto Copley is awesome in this role as well.
(2009) This is the film which battles my previous statement that Kill Bill is writer/director Quentin Tarantino’s best work. Basterds had been anticipated and hinted at for years, and he finally made it. And it was everything we’d hoped for. Basterds nails in every single way. The funny parts are funny. The violent parts are violent. The dramatic parts are dramatic. Only Quentin Tarantino could make a Nazi film (not in the Indiana Jones series) fun as all hell.
Before you go ape-shit and give me the third-degree in the comments, remember how difficult it is to compile a list of a mere 25 films from 10 years worth of incredible films. This list is based on entertainment factor and quality, not an easy balance to make.
Now have at it, kids, let it rip in the comments. And here’s to ten more great years.
6 Responses to “Top 25 Geek Movies of the Decade”
Ben Rankel Says:
December 8th, 2009 at 12:31 am
We could all make our own very agreeable and understandable lists of the 25 best geek films of the last 10 years. And all the movies that deserve to be on such lists unfortunately trounce the titular “25”. As such I might have chosen a couple different films myself, but that would have been my list. As your list stands, I agree.
With on exception.
You’re going to give me huge hate for this Ryan, but I’d sub Watchmen for Sin City as the most faithful comic adaptation.
I’ve probably never engaged in a debate with you about all the wrong that happened with Watchmen, and how Zack Snyder, while going panel for panel in a lot of places managed to miss the soul of the story, and how that is completely the point as to why it should not have been made. But we needn’t be unfriendly this close to Christmas.
I’ll leave it at this, Sin City to me was much more faithful to the style, panels and intent of it’s source material than Watchmen ever had a chance at being.
Don’t hate me. After all, you practically coerced me into commenting.
Ok, nerd-fighting aside, thank you for a wonderfully entertaining year of content.
Ben Rankel Says:
December 8th, 2009 at 12:31 am
I really wish I could edit typos.
Ryan Ferrier Says:
December 8th, 2009 at 9:57 am
Too bad, your typos are your penance.
But Ben I agree with you in a way on Sin City. It perhaps SHOULD have been on this list in hindsight – something was bound to be left out, mistakingly, and you may have found it.
That being said the Watchmen debate is an epic one perhaps suited for a better forum; the film does have a certain amount of personal bank with me. The source material notwithstanding, as a cinematic entity, Watchmen is an undeniably incredible film, deserving of a spot on a top 25 film list.
Would it fit in a Top 25 Comic Book Adaptations of the Decade? Even then… that hasn’t been written.
December 8th, 2009 at 10:46 am
This is going to sound a presumptuous but I don’t give a fuck: I consider Watchmen a Kubrick film. Zack Snyder did it. Originally, he intended to put out the director’s cut of the film which is fucking amazing, but the studio fucked it up and asked for a shorter cut. Snyder should have stood his ground and said, “Uh, excuse me, but who made you guys a shitload of money with 300?” Unfortunately, he didn’t and general audiences got the theatrical cut which was, as we all know, extremely disjointed. As a result, Watchmen alienated audiences when it should have floored them. Thanks a lot, Warner Bros.!
December 8th, 2009 at 2:07 pm
I certainly can’t disagree with the majority of the choices on this list. There are a few that I wasn’t quite so fond of (Kill Bill, Watchmen, No Country) I still certainly understand their place on this list. I do have 3 comments.
1. This comment is more of an addition, but Night Watch is easily one of the greatest foreign films I’ve ever seen, and is certainly deserving of a spot. Sure, it’s Bekmambetov who some may hate for what he did with Wanted, and he certainly screwed the pooch when it came to the sequel Day Watch, but Night Watch is a thrill ride from start to finish. Watching it in Russian is the only way to watch it as the dynamic subtitles are extremely well done.
2. I haven’t seen it yet and can’t comment, but if you had to choose only one Cormac McCarthy adaptation for this list, would you choose No Country over The Road? Like I said, I haven’t seen The Road, but I’ve heard it’s a better adaptation than No Country.
3. Another addition, and perhaps it’s disqualified for not having made it to theatres, but Fanboys potentially deserves an honorable mention.
December 9th, 2009 at 12:38 am
I agree that’s a solid list, and I’ll stand with the Watchmen, as I loved it, both theatrical and directors cut. There will for sure be variations depending on the person ( I would have had Hot Fuzz in for sure), but I’m pretty sure that 80-90 percent of these movies would be on most geeks lists.