by D.W. Lundberg

Saturday, January 8, 2011


Well, it hasn't been quite as long as a year – about one month shy, as a matter of fact. But when I officially started this "Best Of The Decade" project last February, I certainly didn't intend on it becoming such a massive undertaking. And I'm here to apologize. It seemed so simple in concept: ten total blog entries, six paragraphs a piece (that's five movie titles, ranked, plus an introductory paragraph per genre) – how hard could that be? A lot harder than it looks, apparently. Especially when you're like me – an attention-deficit, eternally-procrastinating perfectionist, who's always been his own worst critic.

In any case, I appreciate those of you who've stuck around long enough to see this thing through to the finish. It's always baffled me how so few of these "Best Of" lists take the title-by-genre approach, as if our greatest filmmakers only work at the top of their game within specific parameters. And so I set out to exorcise those particular demons, "to tickle my own fancy" as I (so eloquently) put it, just to have my kicks and get it out there, in a forum designed to reach as many eager listeners as possible.

For those of you still playing catch up, you can see my Action/Adventure top five here.

Then, laugh it up with my top five Comedies here.

Move on from there to the top Comic Book movies, here.

Documentaries here.

Dramas here.

Family/Animated films here.

Historical Dramas and Biopics here.

Horror flicks here.

Romantic films here.

And, finally (posted mere days ago), Science-Fiction/Fantasy titles here.

For those of you without working mouse buttons, here's the ridiculously short version (#1 films in bold, for those keeping score):

1. The Bourne Identity / Supremacy / Ultimatum
      (2002 / 2004 / 2007)
2. Wo Hu Cang Long (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon)
3. Kill Bill Vol. 1 / Vol. 2 (2003 / 2004)
4. Casino Royale (2006)
5. Banlieue 13 (District 13) (2004)


1. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
2. Stranger Than Fiction (2006)
3. Dan In Real Life (2007)
4. Juno (2007)
5. Ocean's Eleven (2001)


1. The Dark Knight (2008)
2. Batman Begins (2005)
3. Road To Perdition (2002)
4. Spider-Man 2 (2004)
5. Sin City (2005)


1. Grizzly Man (2005)
2. Touching The Void (2003)
3. Standard Operating Procedure (2008)
4. This Film Is Not Yet Rated (2006)
5. The King Of Kong: A Fistful Of Quarters (2007)


1. Memento (2000)
2. No Country For Old Men (2007)
3. Caché (Hidden) (2005)
4. Cast Away (2000)
5. Inglourious Basterds (2009)


1. The Incredibles (2004)
2. Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)
3. WALL-E (2008)
4. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban (2004)
5. Enchanted (2007)


1. United 93 (2006)
2. Zodiac (2007)
3. Black Hawk Down (2001)
4. Flags Of Our Fathers / Letters From Iwo Jima
5. The Aviator (2004)


1. Kairo (Pulse) (2001)
2. Låt Den Rätte Komma In (Let The Right One In)
3. Noroi (The Curse) (2005)
4. [REC] (2007)
5. Shaun Of The Dead (2004)


1. Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (2004)
2. Punch-Drunk Love (2002)
3. (500) Days Of Summer (2009)
4. Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain (Amélie)
5. Love Actually (2003)


1. A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)
2. Children Of Men (2006)
3. The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The
      Ring / The Two Towers / The Return Of The
      King (2001 / 2002 / 2003)
4. The Fountain (2006)
5. Star Trek (2009)

Would I call this "Noughtie" experiment an unqualified success? Yes and no. Yes, because it's a task I assigned to myself and – wonder of wonders – actually, eventually got it done. Because there's a sense of accomplishment in that, no matter how small. No, because a) it took months longer than I actually expected (sometimes even between posts), and b) I spent much of that time frustrated, kicking myself, disappointed to see myself struggle for so long over a matter of a few simple sentences.

I guess I should have seen it coming: I'm notorious, and have been my entire life, for always trying to impress myself. It's a never-ending cycle for me. As a writer, I tend to strive so hard for that perfect rhythmic flowing of words that I forget what I'm actually trying to say, and get lost in the process. It really shouldn't matter how I say it, as long as I just say it, right? Get those thoughts out, random though they may be, I can always scale back later. These are the rules of the game that writers play. Every sentence does not have to be a masterpiece.

I know these things by heart, and yet... and yet... with almost every word I write, I'm at war with myself. Does this make sense, does that make sense, does that word sound too snooty, am I talking over someone’s head, do I sound like an idiot, has this phrase been used before in another review, do I actually know what I’m saying here or am I just copying what I’d heard in a conversation about this very subject some time ago, should I add some flowery word in there somewhere to make that sentence sound more rounded and complete, am I getting my point across, is this nattering self- doubt I keep hearing in the back of my head an actual voice (and if so, how do I make it shut up?) – that kind of thing.

I'm aware that I may, in fact, need psychiatric help. It's just one of the things I realized over the course of this entire "Best Of The Decade"- writing fiasco. For those who are interested, here are five additional nuggets that sprung to mind too. Think of them as a guide on what you should avoid if – for whatever crazed, deranged reason – you ever take on this sort of endeavor:

1) Google Search was created for the singular purpose of frustrating anyone attempting to use it. This, I suppose, applies to the Internet as a whole, but as I often Google my research, we'll focus on that. First, let me say that Google's new- fangled "Instant Search" function is a giant, blistering pain in my side. It's a lot like that auto-complete function you've got on your cell phone when you send text messages – the device simply guesses the word you're trying to type at the exact moment you're typing it, to "save you time." Personally, I hate it when anyone tries to finish my sentences for me, let alone each individual word that comes out of my mouth. I don't understand how this function is helpful to anyone. In Google's case, when I'm typing a word and it tries to outguess me, it always freezes my computer while it does so (if only for a nano-second), meaning some of the letters I've typed fail to show up in the little box, and therefore render the word complete gibberish. (I search for the title "Titanic," for example, and Google freezes after the first "i" because it thinks I want the word "ticketmaster." Then, as it thinks about that, and I continue to type, it leaves off the next "t" because it was too busy thinking, and the "a" shows up next, then the "n," and it freezes again because now Google thinks I want to search for "Tiananmen Square," which I do not. By the time I think I'm finished typing "Titanic," it now says "tianc" instead – at which point I'm forced to search for hair-replacement programs online, because I've just ripped all mine out.) And why should I have to turn that "Instant Search" off just to keep this from happening? Call me old-fashioned, but that's too much runaround.

On that note, too, it really shouldn't take me 20- 30 minutes to find just one of those single movie stills I like uploading to my blog entries. But it's hard to find a specific photo when you're busy sifting through all the other crap that pops up at the same time. I understand how all that works – search engine optimization and all that – but can someone please tell me how to filter all that superfluous stuff out? (And, no, putting quotation marks around the word or phrase doesn't help, despite what anyone tells you.) It annoys me to no end when I'm scouring Google Images for pictures of V For Vendetta, and half the results I get show Megan Fox in a bikini. I worry – what are my kids being exposed to while they're online?

2) Don't take so long between posts, because people will lose interest. When you spark someone's curiosity, say, by telling them you'll be starting a countdown of movie titles that meant the most to you over the last ten years or so, make sure you keep those entries coming on a regular basis. During those first few months of 2010, with the previous decade still fresh on everyone's minds, that's when I should have gotten this stupid thing finished. I finally got my Science-Fiction/Fantasy list up and running almost a full year after post #1 – do you still even care? Or have you already honed your focus on the decade ahead? Think about that – how many other of these lists are you aware of that are still pending? Are there any other professionals out there sending these things out, five titles, one month at a time?

In retrospect, I probably never should have taken it upon myself to write up an entire paragraph on each individual film, when 1-3 sentences would have sufficed. Read almost any other "Best Of Decade" list, and you'll find only a brief blurb for every title chosen. Simple. To the point. There's a reason for that, and that's because you can find any critic's batch of original reviews in a database of some sort, and discover the precise details behind their reasoning. Since my own personal database exists only in my head, I felt this strange need to defend my choices, and decided to share that with you instead. Silly me, I should learn to keep my attention-deficit, eternally-procrastinating perfectionist thoughts to myself.

3) Comic books are extremely popular. If I'm reading my "stats" right, then my blog entry on Comic Book movies of last decade has 2,148 visitors. That's not a lot by any professional standard, mind you, but still. 2,148 visitors to one post alone? That's mind-boggling to me. Especially when you consider that, at the opposite end of the spectrum, my Family/Animated films post has only had 42 visitors total (so far).

I need to find out why this is technically so. Are the words "comic" and "book" (or the combination of both) really that popular among SEOs? Or am I missing some foreign element I have yet to think of, some all-encompassing call sign guaranteed to bring in that kind of traffic each and every time out? One thing's for sure, I'm seriously thinking about including the phrase "comic book" in every blog title I post from this point on, to see if that does the trick.

4) Self-imposed deadlines are counter-productive – especially if there are no penalties for every time you wind up pushing them back... and back... and back... This one's pretty much self-explanatory. Sure, I can say to myself, "Okay, me. Good job getting that last one out. Now, if you can just finish one paragraph per day for the next six days, plus a single day for polishing those paragraphs, you'll have the next post up at the end of a week." That's the easy part - setting goals. It's following through on them that really tests you. If there's no recourse for when those goals aren't met ... if you just shrug it off as something you can accomplish the next day, or the next day, or the day after that... then you're in trouble. Which leads me to the biggest and most important lesson I learned throughout this entire process, because at the end of the day...

5) You can blame missed deadlines on whatever external forces you choose, but in the end, it's nobody's fault but your own. Your family may "demand" too much of you. You might spend too much time at work. Your attentions may be divided beyond your limits or control. What matters, as it's going, is how well you take everything in stride. Write.

I'm not getting paid for this, you understand. I am not under any contractual obligation to stick to a mandated schedule. I write because it's fun, I write as an escape, I started this blog because I wanted to get my thoughts out there, to share them with anyone who would listen. It's been a rewarding, awful, exhilarating, frustrating, self- reflective, teeth-gnashing ride, one that I hope that will last well into the future, with any project, old or new, that I decide to rip from the dark recesses of my soul. And I sincerely hope you keep reading, and telling your friends and family members to come back and have a gander every now and then.

Until next time...

1 comment:

  1. You finished. Way to go!!! I've enjoyed it, even though I haven't seen a lot of the movies you posted about. =) Great job!!