without a definite route

secret life

lights dim. bag of popcorn in hand, diet coke in the armrest holder. cell phone turned off and tucked away. completely attentive, yet relaxed. this is one of my favorite places in the world.

i can’t even begin to express how much i love movies. watching them, working on them, writing and talking about them. a good movie transports me to the untamed west, lowell massachusetts, pre-ww2 britain, the 4th level of a dreamscape or a world where toys come to life. honestly, i’m even a sucker for not-so-good movies, allowing myself to be taken to argos, hogwarts, persia or sherwood forest. although i can certainly get my judgey on, i approach the movie watching experience as open-mindedly as possible, filled with a childlike willingness to be pleased. i want to be entertained, affected emotionally and sometimes intellectually challenged. i want to laugh, cry, hide my eyes behind my hands, gasp, be amazed. for a short time, i want to be someone and somewhere else.

between work, kids and having the stoopid opposite schedule from josh, there’s not much time to see movies in the theater. our depressing goal every summer is to see 1 movie a month. 1 measly movie a month! of course, i watch movies at home a lot, but it’s not the same experience. not terrible, just different. no popcorn. no darkened cavernous room filled with strangers having a communal experience who will undoubtedly need to be shushed. no excuse to turn off the phone. no giant screen that completely demands my attention.

there is a time of year when i allow everything else to be undone and i go to movies with reckless abandon: oscar time. over the years, awards season has instilled a kind of movie watching ocd for me. i must see as many nominated movies as possible. for about a month every winter, i approach movie watching like it’s my job.

the crazy thing? for some reason the people in my life allow it. while on winter break, i take my kids to daycare. a matinée is only $5.50…if you don’t include the $10 an hour for childcare. i’ve convinced josh that double features on football playoff sundays are a totally fair exchange. i take long lunches away from work – not many, just enough to feel like a really bad hooky playing girl. did you know many hotels have movies that are in between their theater and dvd release? i may or may not have talked myself past a corporate sales rep to watch movies in empty rooms. and, of course, every netflix delivery contains oscar movies. it is a luxurious and lovely couple of weeks every year enhanced by the thrill of creative scheduling, sneaking away and the simple gesture of checking things off of a list. seeing 8-12 movies in 4-weeks can also be a little intense. the movies start to mix in my memories and dreams.

the oscars create an artificial excuse for me to feed my movie addiction. and addiction it is. the more movies i see in the theater, the more movies i want to see in the theater. i’ve fantasized about extending the obsessive behavior beyond awards season, but my kids, my job and josh might demand their rightful place in the priority order.

i’m feeling pretty good heading into oscar season this year. nominations, announced january 25, will give me my official list of movies i need to see, but i’ve been working off of critics best of lists. all in all, i think 2010 was a pretty good year for movies. i’m not really one for predictions. what the heck do i know how people will vote? my favorite movie tends to be the one i saw last. i am fickle that way. i hope true grit, toy story 3, inception, the town and the king’s speech are properly recognized. they have stuck with me the most.

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my 37 favorite movies of the aughts

i thought it would be fun to create a top 10 list of my favorite movies from the last decade. in addition to fulfilling my ocd list-making tendencies, it allowed me to relive some nice film memories. why 37? that’s just where it landed. could i come up with 13 more movies for a smooth 50? probably. but i have things to do so i’m happy with 37.

apologies if i forgot a glaringly obvious best movie of the decade. emmit was born in 2005 and i haven’t slept much since then. there are many movies i didn’t see and there are also genres that just don’t do it for me. i’ve seen the 40-year-old virgin on a lot of best of lists and for me it is mostly kind of…meh. also, although i really like documentaries, there aren’t many on this list. although i’ve learned a lot from some really amazing docs (who killed the electric car, bowling for columbine), there aren’t many that i would want to watch again.

i’m not saying that these were the best movies in terms of artistic achievement or critical success or whatever. i just enjoyed the heck out of them and can watch them over and over. i think, actually, that most of them are pretty celebrated, but there are a few that are simply my very own guilty pleasures.

i would love to hear what other favorite movies released between 2000-2009 are. what say you, internet?

  1. o brother where art thou – the music. clooney’s hair. “i said my peace and counted to 3.”
  2. children of men – perfectly captures dystopian helplessness and hopefulness. wonderful atmosphere. clive owen is amazing.
  3. lord of the rings trilogy – yep, i’m totally cheating here by counting these 3 movies as 1…if forced to choose my favorite? probably the fellowship of the ring…but please, don’t force me…
  4. gosford park – every time i watch it, i hear or see something new.
  5. memento – mind trippy and fun.
  6. amalie – luscious. gorgeous. makes me very happy.
  7. whale rider – simple and sweet. i cry just thinking about the concert of maori chants at pai’s school.
  8. pan’s labyrinth – one big wow! special effects and art as one.
  9. eternal sunshine of the spotless mind – one of the best love stories i’ve ever seen.
  10. crouching tiger, hidden dragon – the fight scenes are like elegant dancing. the bittersweet end chokes me up every time.
  11. layer cake –  british crime film with fun plot twists and turns. daniel craig is sexy.
  12. the bourne identity – action movies got smart. finally!
  13. the dark knight – dark and twisty. well played.
  14. quantum of solace – casino royale turned campy quippy bond into gritty dark bond. except for the bad title, i liked this outing better. more action, less texas hold ’em. daniel craig is magnetic as bond.
  15. best in show – maybe not quite waiting for guffman, but ultimately still a nearly perfect comedy.
  16. confessions of a dangerous mind – a little odd and perverse dark humor. great looking. george clooney as director was heavily influenced by the coen brothers and steven soderbergh. madly in love with sam rockwell.
  17. 25th hour – spike lee and edward norton at their best.
  18. royal tenenbaums – the freaking tennis wristbands crack me up!
  19. moulin rouge – “spectacular spectacular”
  20. sideways – funny and human.
  21. rabbit-proof fence – haunting. peter gabriel soundtrack is perfect.
  22. once – lovely lovely.
  23. gladiator – when russell crowe was sexy.
  24. brokeback mountain – beautiful and epic. moving performances.
  25. kill bill volumes 1 & 2  – cheating again – ha! if forced to choose…i’m a volume 1 girl.
  26. the departed – a scorsese violent classic about the concept of identity.
  27. the filth and the fury – super enjoyable doc about the sex pistols.
  28. triplets of belleville – great animation. great music. funny legs.
  29. sexy beast – ben kingsley rules.
  30. high fidelity – filled with ferocious verbal energy. extraordinarily funny. great use of breaking the 4th wall and of incorporating a music fixation into the story and soundtrack.
  31. star trek – love the casting. love that they messed with the TOS timeline. am excited for the next one. love jj abrams. was slightly distracted that the bridge looks like an apple store, but apple stores are pretty so i can forgive.
  32. minority report – the film noirish look is so very cool to look at. they overlit when shooting and did some magic in post to desaturate the colors. i also enjoyed the complexity of the story mixed with the action elements.
  33. rocknrolla – i love me some british crime  stories. an adrenalin fueled blast.
  34. young at heart – genuinely sweet and uplifting documentary about a senior choir that performs contemporary songs, like sonic youth and james brown. totally unexpected. made me kind of like coldplay.
  35. lost in translation – sweet and sad. a romance where emotional longing stands in for sexual gratification. bill murray is commanding and excellent.
  36. 300 – silly and fun. visually arresting stylized violence totally makes up for 1-dimensional characters. the abs don’t hurt either.
  37. becoming jane – the pretty costumes, production design and performances make a well crafted period piece, but it’s the chemistry between anne hathoway and james mcavoy that pleases me.