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Best of the Decade: “Mulholland Drive” (Film Comment)

Best of the Decade: "Mulholland Drive" (Film Comment)

David Lynch’s “Mulholland Drive” has been named the best film of the decade in a Film Comment survey of nearly 200 critics, filmmakers and other cinema insiders from around the world.

The film, from 2001, topped Wong Kar Wai’s “In The Mood For Love” on a list of the best 150 movies of the decade published on the Film Comment website. A shorter version of the roster, including some eighteen pages of commentary and supplemental coverage, will be published in the January/February 2010 print edition of the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s magazine.

“Mulholland Drive” also topped the recent indieWIRE survey of nearly one hundred film critics and bloggers, with Wong Kar-wai’s “In The Mood for Love” at number two and Edward Yang’s “Yi Yi” at numbers, as with the Film Comment list.

“It was an amazing decade, there were a lot of great films,” Film Comment editor Gavin Smith told indieWIRE today, saying that the list counters concerns about the death of cinema at the end of the last decade. The roster, chosen by cinephiles from thirty-three countries, includes few American films, he noted.

“Indeed, this film decade has been marked by a sort of globalization of cinema,” Gavin Smith said, emphasizing the wide array of work from around the world.

“Places that weren’t really on the radar in the ’90s came on strong in this decade,” he said, citing the growth of internationally acclaimed cinema movements in Argentina, Romania, and Thailand among others.

Notably, a handful of international filmmakers each placed four films on the roster of the top 150 films of this decade: Jia Zhangke with “Platform” (2000), “The World” (2004), “Still Life” (2006), and “24 City” (2008); Apichatpong Weerasethakul with “Syndromes and a Century” (2006), “Tropical Malady” (2004), “Blissfully Yours” (2002), and “Mysterious Object at Noon” (2000); Gus Van Sant with “Elephant” (2003), “Gerry” (2002), “Last Days” (2005), and “Paranoid Park” (2007); Claire Denis with “The Intruder” (2004), “35 Shots of Rum” (2008), “Trouble Every Day” (2001), and “Friday Night” (2002); and Hou Hsiao-hsien with “Three Times” (2005), “Cafe Lumiere” (2003), “Millenium Mambo” (2001), and “Flight of the Red Balloon” (2008).

Smith sought to broaden the list of contributors to the survey, tapping the magazine’s relationships around the world, including participants from France, Italy, Austria and Germany alongside contributors from Serbia, Lithuania, Thailand, and Sweden. Voters in the poll included filmmakers such as John Waters, Eugene Green, Jia Zhangke, Andrew Bujalski, and Jem Cohen.

Contemplating the list during the conversation with indieWIRE today, Film Comment’s Gavin Smith worried that the list might be a bit too narrow in its scope.

“You can’t really get away from the fact that this poll is not reflective of the entire world of film,” Smith said, “It’s a sliver of cinephiles and people who have a vested interest in the world of cinema. I do worry that in the end, the lineup of people are a bit like-minded. There is an echo effect…you can’t really predict that.”

Meanwhile, the inclusion of just one traditional Hollywood filmmaker, Steven Spielberg with “A.I.,” speaks to the disconnect that exists between mainstream and critically acclaimed cinema, Smith observed. While some filmmakers on the list, like Steven Soderberg and David Fincher, work in the studio system, they are maverick directors.

“Back in the ’70s, there wasn’t such a wide gap,” Smith noted.

“In the ’70s,” he continued, “a top decade list would have been dominated by American films, while in the ’80s, perhaps only David Lynch’s ‘Blue Velvet’ would make the cut. With the exception of work by Terrence Malick, P.T. Anderson and David Lynch and a few others,” Gavin Smith said, “American films have sort of faded out a bit.”

“There is something to annoy everyone in here,” Smith concluded. “Things that will be annoying, things that will be delightful side by side.”

1. “Mulholland Drive,” David Lynch, U.S. 2001
2. “In the Mood for Love,” Wong Kar Wai, Hong Kong 2000
3. “Yi Yi,” Edward Yang, China 2000
4. “Syndromes and a Century,” Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Thailand/Austria/France 2006
5. “There Will Be Blood,” P. T. Anderson, U.S. 2007
6. “The Death of Mr. Lazarescu,” Cristi Puiu, Romania 2005
7. “A History of Violence,” David Cronenberg, U.S./Canada 2005
8. “Tropical Malady,” Apichatpong Weerasethakul, France/Thailand/Italy/Germany 2004
9. “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days,” Cristi Mungiu, Romania 2007
10. “The New World,” Terrence Malick, U.S. 2005
11. “Platform,” Jia Zhangke, Hong Kong/Japan/France 2000
12. “Zodiac,” David Fincher, U.S. 2007
13. “The Intruder,” Claire Denis, France 2004
14. “The Son,” Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne, Belgium/France 2002
15. “Dogville,” Lars von Trier, Denmark/Sweden/France/U.K./Germany/Netherlands 2003
16. “Cache,” Michael Haneke, France/Austria/Germany/Italy 2005
17. “Kings and Queen,” Arnaud Desplechin, France 2005
18. “Elephant,” Gus Van Sant, U.S. 2003
19. “The Royal,” Tenenbaums Wes Anderson, U.S. 2001
20. “Before Sunset,” Richard Linklater, U.S. 2004
21. “Spirited Away,” Hayao Miyazaki, Japan 2001
22. “The Gleaners and I,” Agnes Varda, France 2000
23. “Goodbye, Dragon Inn,” Tsai Ming-liang, Taiwan 2003
24. “The World,” Jia Zhangke, China/Japan/France 2004
25. “Talk to Her,” Pedro Almodovar, Spain

The full list of top 150 films of the decade is available on the Film Comment website.

List of Film Comment poll participants: Gilbert Adair, Sam Adams, Florence Almozini, Thom Andersen, Melissa Anderson, Dudley Andrew, Geoff Andrew, David Ansen, Alvaro Arroba, Anjelika Artyukh, Michael Atkinson, Miriam Bale, Alberto Barbera, Michael Barker, Margret Barton-Fumo, Jeanine Basinger, Marjorie Baumgarten, Raymond Bellour, Michael Berry, Stig Bjoerkman, Livia Bloom, Frederic Bonnaud, Nicole Brenez, Richard Brody, Andrew Bujalski, Joumane Chahine, Michael Chaiken, Andrew Chan, Chris Chang, Tom Charity, Paolo Cherchi Usai, Godfrey Cheshire, Li Cheuk-to, Ian Christie, Michel Ciment, Jem Cohen, Richard Combs, Mark Cousins, Noah Cowan, David Cox, Gary Crowdus, Doug Cummings, Giulia D’Agnolo Vallan, Mike D’Angelo, Evan Davis, Michel Demopoulos, Arnaud Desplechin, Sam Di Iorio, Anton Dolin, Lisa Dombrowski, Bilge Ebiri, Cheryl Eddy, David Edelstein, David Fear, Leslie Felperin, Paul Fileri, Richard Foreman, Scott Foundas, Lizzie Francke, Patrick Friel, Roger Garcia, Leonardo Garcia-Tsao, Charlotte Garson, Susan Gerhard, John Gianvito, Eugene Green, Stefan Grissemann, Larry Gross, Haden Guest, Tom Gunning, Howard Hampton, Piers Handling, Molly Haskel, Shigehiko Hasumi, Sandra Hebron, Eugene Hernandez, J. Hoberman, Zdenek Holy, Travis Hoover, Bill Horrigan, Robert Horton, Alexander Horwath, Marcus Hu, Matthew Hubbell, Christoph Huber, Nick James, Jia Zhangke, Thierry Jobin, J.R. Jones, Kristin Jones, Kent Jones, Serge Kaganski, Laurence Kardish, Danny Kasman, Laura Kern, Dohoon Kim, Lewis Klahr, Stuart Klawans, Uri Klein, Gabe Klinger, Robert Koehler, Michael Koresky, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Jean-Marc Lalanne, Nathan Lee, Elisabeth Lequeret, Diego Lerer, Jonathan Lethem, Dennis Lim, Phillip Lopate, Jan Lumholdt, Guy Maddin, Adrian Martin, Todd McCarthy, Maitland McDonagh, Mark McElhatten, Don McMahon, Gary Meyer, Olaf Moeller, Marco Mueller, Amir Muhammad, Rob Nelson, Katja Nicodemus, Geoffrey O’Brien, Mark Olsen, Damon Packard, Gilberto Perez, Jake Perlin, Vladan Petkovic, Andrea Picard, Tony Pipolo, John Powers, James Quandt, Quintin, Nicolas Rapold, Megan Ratner, Jean-Francois Rauger, Tony Rayns, Carlos Reviriego, Berenice Reynaud, Jim Ridley, Pierre Rissient, Kong Rithdee, Joao Pedro Rodrigues, Jonathan Romney, Rachel Rosen, Jonathan Rosenbaum, Joshua Rothkopf, Sukhdev Sandhu, Andrew Sarris, Richard Schickel, Regina Schlagnitweit, Alex Leo Serban, Gene Seymour, Girish Shambu, Josh Siegel, Irma Simanskyte, Alissa Simon, P. Adams Sitney, Gavin Smith, Vivian Sobchak, Chuck Stephens, Bob Strauss, Chris Stults, Daniel Stuyck, Jim Supanick, Amy Taubin, Jose Teodoro, David Thomson, Kenneth Turan, Keith Uhlich, Noel Vera, Tom Vick, Peter von Bagh, John Waters, Ryan Werner, Brynn White, Donald Wilson, Jessica Winter, Sergio Wolf, Manuel Yanez Murillo, Genevieve Yue, David Zuckerman

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