Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Best of the Decade: Comic Book Movies & Sci-fi (revised)

Ok, so it's time for another entry into my series of best movies of the decade. Just to remind everybody, this is a series of blogs that is counting down the best of the decade in film, first through the top 10 of each genre, then the top actresses and actors of the decade, moving into a countdown of the top 10 films overall, and a list of the top 100 films of the decade. A lot of work? Perhaps, but I am up to the challenge and have been hard at work on this for a couple months now.

So, here we go. This week, I will look at comic book movies and science fiction films. First up: comic book movies.

This decade has seen an explosion of sorts with movies based on comic books to the extent that it went beyond just an occasional novelty - a la Donner's Superman, Burton's Batman, and every Howard the Duck and Steel in between - to a respectable genre of its own. Some say it started with 2002's Spider-Man, others claim 2000's X-Men, but I say it really started with 1998's Blade. You may notice that these are all Marvel comics properties. It is no coincidence that the publishing company that started the CBM craze grew to such success that it built it's own movie studio and ended the decade by being bought by one of the top corporations of the world: Disney. Blade made X-Men possible, which made Spider-Man possible, which blew the doors open for CBMs and has been unstoppable since.

But not every comic book movie was gold. Yes, there were many instant classics - most of which will be featured below. But there were also plenty of movies like Elektra, Catwoman, and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and some in between. Below are the best you'll find to come out this decade. Keep in mind, comic books are way more than just superheroes and so are CBMs.

10. American Splendor
9. 300
8. Ghost World
7. Sin City
6. Road to Perdition
5. Iron Man
4. Watchmen
3. X2
2. Spider-Man 2
1. The Dark Knight

Honorable mentions: Batman Begins, V for Vendetta, and A History of Violence

So, that brings us to sci-fi. Now, I should preface this list by explaining that I was unable to catch Moon, which came out 3-4 months ago. And since the film isn't being released on DVD until close to January I thought it best not to wait around. So it's VERY possible that Moon would be included in this list had I seen it.

Now, having said that I think it's important to note what makes a great sci-fi film. Well, as 2001: A Space Odyssey showed us, a great sci-fi flick uses the science fiction aspect of the story as a secondary element to the story. These sorts of films feature a rather intellectual, heady theme or story that is often innovative or, at the very least, very creative to the genre. That doesn't mean that every great sci-fi film must be as high-brow as 2001. In fact, those kinds of films are in the minority - and because they are in the minority, most sci-fi films are familiar, predictable, or focus more on special effects than on character or story. But sci-fi can also be fun and exciting and remind us why we go to the movies! The list below has examples from both camps of sci-fi: the intellectual and the fun - both offer something new and innovative, if not simply a great time at the movies.

10. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
9. Transformers
8. Star Trek
7. Serenity
6. Minority Report
5. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
4. Sunshine
3. District 9
2. Children of Men
1. Donnie Darko

Honorable mention: Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines

Ok, so I imagine this may be my most controversial list thus far. Keep in mind the order of the lists are slightly loosely contructed. But feel free to draw and quarter me up in the comments section or tell me what films I may have overlooked - or even why you agree! I look forward to your feedback.

Next time I will be counting down the best in musicals and family films. Until then!