There is always a false feeling that the past was a better place, but I challenge any decade to come up with as many brilliant films as the noughties. Many of the below have been on show in the last few weeks, and stand up to multiple viewing.
What a great decade for film.
The criterion is that all pictures must have had their premiere in the cinema, and are made for that medium.
It is noticeable that Paul Greengrass, Danny Boyle, Ken Loach and Mike Leigh have multiple entries but that there is a lot of UK writing and directing talent out there who deserve more of a chance.
I think our Cinema is in fine fettle but is dire need of more investment from the BBC and Channel 4 in particular.
1.Hunger (2008) Dir Steve McQueen. Completely amazing film documenting coldly and rationally the human tragedy that was the Hunger Strikes of 1981. I was totally distraught after the viewing. McQueen reminds us of the futility of the War in Ireland for all communities. Contains a twenty minute single shot featuring a head to head between Michael Fassbender as Bobby Sands, and Liam Cunningham as Father Moran which is one of the best scenes ever committed to celluloid in this country.
2.Control (2008) Dir Anton Corbijn.Sam Riley as the tragic musical genius Ian Curtis.
3. This Is England (2006) Dir Shane Meadows.A snippet of life in 1983- told through the eyes of an impressionable 12-year old-against the backdrop of the Falklands War.This film shows Director Shane Meadows at his best, a new generation Mike Leigh/Ken Loach. Gritty, ultra-real story telling (not least because it reflects time and events from Meadows own childhood. Themes of belonging, identity and adolescence come to the fore and the improvised dialogue gives this picture a true evocation of the issues.
4. Happy Go Lucky (2008) Dir Mike Leigh.
Poppy’s (Sally Hawkins) ultra optimistic outlook is challenged by her manically depressive driving instructor played wonderfully by Eddie Marsen. Is Poppy naive and in denial about the world around her, or is her open attitude to life, learnt from the kids in her care at school the way forward for us all?
5. Venus (2006) Dir Craig Strachan
Fantastic and Peter O’Toole is at his best in this sometimes-squirmworthy comedy as two elderly, randy actors (O’ Toole and Leslie Phillips) strike up a friendship with a brash teenager.
6. Sunshine (2007) Dir Danny Boyle
Satrean themes are at play as the Sun is dying and a crew are dispatched to save the earth from untimely death. The claustrophobic drama on board the spacecraft are reminiscent of the Frenchman’s best existential work Huis Clos. Genius.
7. 24-Hour Party People (2002) Dir Michael Winterbottom.
Richard Madeley by day, John Peel by night. We see the hey day of the Manchester music scene through the eyes of the one and only Tony Wilson.
8. Sexy Beast. (2000) Dir Jonathon Glazer UK
Ray Winstone and Ben Kingsley in the best British Gangster movie since The Long Good Friday.
9. Iris (2001) Dir Richard Eyre
Jim Broadbent’s benchmark performance as the husband of writer Iris Murdoch, battling with the tragedy of her decline whilst reflecting over their life together.
10. The Last King of Scotland (2006) Dir Kevin MacDonald
The brutality and madness of the Amin years seen through the eyes of his Doctor played by James McAvoy.
11. London To Brighton (2006) Dir Paul Andrew Williams
The brutality of life for those left behind and a reminder of work unfinished for the Labour Government, reaching out to the underclass. Contains one of the most shocking but necessary scenes concerning the desperate nature of the sex trade.
12. Sunday (2002) Dir Paul Greengrass.
Jimmy McGovern’s script managed to annoy all sides including the IRA, so job done in my opinion. Icily neutral where it matters, but the reality, and shocking nature of State sponsored murder of the streets of the UK is given the all-important human touch.
13. In Bruges (2008) Dir Martin McDonough.
Two hapless hit men are on the run, only to be tracked down by the manic Ralph Feinnes whose ten minutes on screen are a complete tour de force.
14. Red Road (2006) Dir Andrea Arnold
Kate Dickie witnesses all sorts in her job watching Glasgow CCTV, but when she observes a man from her past things get very nasty. An interesting take on the UK as the most watched society on Earth.
15.28 Days Later (2002) Dir Danny Boyle.
Fantastic horror from the pen of Alex Garland. We saw this at a sold out showing. A zombie blasts through a window at a culmination of a silent scene where you know something bad is going to happen. I screamed like a little girl and then we couldn’t stop laughing, much to the annoyance of the people around us.
16.Vera Drake (2004) Dir Mike Leigh.
Why the 1967 Abortion Act became a neccessery but depressing evil.
17. Tomorrow La Scala! (2002) Dir Francesca Joseph.
Jessica Stevenson as the music teacher bringing opera to a maximum-security prison. I remembered how she treated the men as men and with unconditional positive regard. If the mark of a civilised Society is how we treat offenders, then the UK is not civilised. For once I fell I know what I’m talking about here. Giving lads methadone even when they don’t want it in order to screw money out of the Justice Department is but one example.
Paul Abbot’s writing shows amazing depth, vision and empathy.
18. The Football Factory (2004) Dir Nick Love.
Tremendous assessment the Marxist theory of alienation, even when people have jobs and money there is more to it than that.
19. Shaun of the Dead (2004) Dir Simon Pegg.
Comedy genius. Funniest film for an age. Hot Fuzz was pretty good too.
20. Love + Hate (2005) Dir Dominic Savage
Dean Andrews is brilliant as the confused observer of a Yorkshire Romeo and Juliet for our times as Pakistani girl meets northern English lad. Stereotypes are avoided and clichés kept to a minimum as Dominic Savage (Lost/ Flash Forward) gets to grips with the unspoken truth that we a re a segregated Society and that multi culturalism is a Liberal Elite myth.
Some more in no particular order are;
Gangster Number One. (2000) Dir Paul McGuigan.
Mama Mia! (2008) Dir Phylidda Lloyd
Slumdog Millionaire (2008) Dir Danny Boyle
Dean Spanley (2008) Dir Toa Fraser
Bronson (2009) Dir Nicolas Winding Refn
The Damned United (2009) Dir Tom Hooper
Endgame (2009) Dir Pete Travis
In the Loop (2009) Dir Armando Innuncci
Looking for Eric (2009) Dir Ken Loach
Snatch. (2000) Dir Guy Ritchie
Gosford Park (2001) Dir Robert Altman
All or Nothing (2002) Dir Mike Leigh
The Magdalene Sisters (2002) Dir Peter Mullan
The Navigators (2002) Dir Ken Loach
Johnny English (2003) Dir Peter Howitt
Veronica Guerin (2003) Joel Schumacher
Dead Man’s Shoes (2004) Dir Shane Meadows
Layer Cake (2004) Dir Matthew Vaughan
Yasmin (2004) Dir Ken Glenaan
The Constant Gardener (2005) Dir Fernando Meirelles
Festival (2005) Dir Annie Griffin
V for Vendetta (2005) Dir James McTiegue
Casino Royale (2006) Dir Martin Campbell
Notes On A Scandal (2006) Richard Eyre
Pierrepoint (2006) Dir Adrian Shergold
United 93 (2006) Dir Paul Greengrass
Eastern Promises (2007) Dir David Cronenberg
Elizabeth The Golden Age (2007) Dir Shekar Kapur
Sleuth (2007) Dir Kenneth Branagh
Kidulthood (2006) Dir Noel Clarke
The Bank Job (2008) Dir Roger Donaldson
The Boy in the Stripped Pyjamas (2008) Dir Mark Herman