Happiness. Heartache. Man's eternal struggle to achieve one and distance himself from the other. The Dramatic film is Hollywood's favorite genre, with six out of ten Best Picture wins at the Academy Awards this past decade (Crash, The Departed, The Hurt Locker, Million Dollar Baby and Slumdog Millionaire; other winners included an Action epic, a Biopic, a Musical, and a Fantasy film, respectively). Dramas provide stars ample opportunity to show off their acting skills, and a chance to impress their peers. They also give filmmakers the chance to probe the great mysteries of the human heart. Like all great films, though, the Dramas that matter most are the ones that surprise you with their depth and emotional impact.5. Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino, 2009)
The Top Five:
The Top Five:
Z-grade Dirty Dozen rip-off from the 70s), Quentin Tarantino's latest love letter to movies features some of his most literate work to date. It's still a mishmash of genres – this time it's World War II revenge fantasy meets Nazi spy thriller with a dose of French New Wave. I include it here based on the intensity of Tarantino's extended dialogue sequences, which build and build to the point of anxiety; an opening prologue at a farmhouse and, later, a rendezvous at an underground bar are like master classes in screenwriting, with adversaries playing verbal games of cat and mouse to discover each others' secrets. The movie itself is almost gleefully anachronistic – a David Bowie ballad plays at one point, and Tarantino even re-writes the outcome of the war so that Hitler meets his end at the hand of Jewish mercenaries. Not exactly what I'd call an accurate depiction of history. Just a director at his exhilarating, visceral best.
4. Cast Away (Robert Zemeckis, 2000)
3. Caché (Hidden) (Michael Haneke, 2005)
2. No Country For Old Men (Joel Coen / Ethan Coen, 2007)
1. Memento (Christopher Nolan, 2000)
Been a while, I know - I'm nothing if not an epic procrastinator. Next up: Family/Animated. Maybe a little sooner this time.