Best of the Decade #7: Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)

bestofdecade7

The #7 film on Film Junk’s list is a recent favorite, and as such is probably at a higher ranking than it would be had it come out years before. Regardless, I am very pleased that despite the gang’s split votes regarding the decade’s animation, Fantastic Mr. Fox has emerged as a consensus pick, allowing us one more chance to pimp this thing out while it is still in theaters.

As the decade began, Wes Anderson was King Shit of Indie Mountain, coming off of the modest success of Bottle Rocket and the breakout of Rushmore. While The Royal Tenenbaums was still well loved, for others it opened the door to the criticisms that continued to dog the new auteur throughout the decade: a reliance on the same themes of rich kids with daddy issues, Futura, old LPs, and senseless character quirks. To make things worse, Wes was ripped off in every which way imaginable, leaving him with an increasingly shrinking audience while those he inspired capitalized off of a more populist approach.

By the time it was released, Fantastic Mr. Fox was a bigger risk than when it had begun production. The Darjeeling Limited had further cemented his reputation among his critics, and even worries among many of his continued supporters. Was Mr. Fox going to be more of the same, just animated? Wes Anderson took his style to a new medium, adapting another person’s material rather than entirely developing his own, so the answer turned out to be both Yes and No. Somehow though, simply embracing his inner Charles Schultz and making the full blown cartoon he kept hinting at in his live-action films has breathed new life and new hope as Wes enters the new decade. Every second of this film is rich in color and texture, lovingly crafted in a way that both reminds of the old Rankin/Bass Christmas toons even as it pushes its animators forward with new and unique challenges. The story is sweet and as sly as its titular character, voiced wonderfully by George Clooney.

While the box office receipts have been sadly disappointing (no 3d = no kids?), Anderson has also delivered the only film in a very strong year for animation with a real chance of unseating the behemoth that is Pixar for Best Animated Feature. Okay, maybe that still won’t happen, but if it is any consolation, Anderson is on our consensus list, and (spoiler alert!) Up is not.

Check out previous entries from our Top 20 Films of the ’00s.

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  • wow, that’s a big reach. I don’t like animation but I do like stop motion….this is not Andersons best work… I even put it behind Life Aquatic!

  • Ian

    That was quick. That makes 2 Anderson films. I have got to check this one out, though I would be weary as the decade is long and many movies from the beginning might be forgotten for newer ones that are good but not better.

  • Nate

    It’s tough for me comparing Up and Fantastic Mr. Fox. I find FMF to be more aesthetically pleasing, funnier and more tonally consistent and singular. However, Up, despite some unevenness and being more of a kids movie, hits me much harder. Those first 12 minutes are the best 12 minutes of the year.

    Tough. Very tough.

  • MJS

    This whole lsit is swinging awefully recent. Six of the last fourteen (the better part of half) have been from the last two years and only one has been from before 2004. Maybe the enthusiasm for these recent movies just hasn’t quite been settled into perspective yet, or maybe the last two years have just been really good.

  • MJS

    Excuse me, six of the last fourteen have been from the last three years (with only one of those six from 2007).

  • Goon

    I’m sure passion for recent films makes a difference, but after looking at Row Three’s yearly retrospectives, I also think the second half of the decade was better than the first. I made an attempt to rank my favorite film years of the 00s and it came out like this

    1. 2007
    2. 2009
    3. 2008
    4. 2006
    5. 2002
    6. 2001
    7. 2005
    8. 2004
    9. 2003
    10. 2000

  • xego

    I haven’t seen this yet so I can’t really say for sure but I have a feeling I am going to conclude that this was ranked a bit too high…but I will have to wait and see.

  • Henrik

    The Wrestler is only no. 3? :O

  • Maopheus

    In general I hate lists because I think it’s impossible to compare a group of movies against each other that are totally different kinds of movies and that came out over a period of 10 years. It’s natural that such a list would skew recent, because of our memories. I sure as hell remember more recent movies than older movies. That’s why it’s rare for movies that come out early in the year to win Oscars. Of course the studios know this and release Oscar-worthy movies later in the year to take advantage of that. I also dislike the Oscars because of that reason as well. I don’t think a movie should get hurt by being released in a ‘tough’ year or get helped by being released in an ‘easy’ year. Movies should stand on their own and not be artificially shoved into a category and have to be compared to four totally different movies. Of course everyone can say that they certainly liked some movies more than others, but I hesitate to artificially rank or choose the best.

  • Scott

    I’m going to go ahead and say I’m glad to see this on the list. I wouldn’t put it in my top 10, but definitely in the top 20.

  • Glendon

    When I actually get around to making it, my list will probably skew to the earlier years since those have the movies I’ve had time to rewatch several times.

  • joe

    Sorry, but I’m not interested in seeing a movie with a fox man.

  • Rusty James

    I think for film 2006 was my favorite year of the decade. It’s difficult to quantify such a thing though.

  • The Man

    This is a bit much. I don’t even think this was the best Wes Anderson film released this decade.

  • This is what you call jumping the gun.

  • Justice

    Wow, I did love this movie, and its definitely in my top 3 or so of the year, but number 7 of the year? I think I need to give it a bit more time to really see if it has lasting power. I am glad it came above the RTs however because it is a much better movie.

  • Greg

    ‘This is what you call jumping the gun.’

    Explain.

  • Greg:

    The film came out a few weeks ago. You should see it a few more times and give it some time before declaring it the #7 film of the entire decade.

    I’m not saying you guys don’t know what you’re talking about– far from it. Film Junk is usually right on point, especially in terms of aligning with my own taste.

    I just think it’s a bit too fresh to give it such honor… in my opinion, of course.

  • Greg

    Jon:

    I see your point of view. You have to understand that this list is a combined list. We each picked our 30-50 of the decade and we basically took the 20 movies we all had in common and then re-ranked those 20. When we each put up our own best of lists, it will be vastly different. This is the 20 Best Films that we ALL thought were great over the last 10 years…with the exception of Some Kind of Monster.

  • Fair enough.

    And I concur– “Some Kind of Monster” was… awful.

  • I expected to see some criticism for having a handful of 2009 films on the list, and I agree that you can’t know for sure whether or not these will really leave a lasting impression. On the other hand, it wouldn’t be right to leave all 2009 films off the list either — especially since it’s been such a great year for film.

    In the end, this list is just a fun starting point for discussion and I think these are all movies that we can stand behind and give our seal of approval to. I’m sure people will have just as many criticisms of our individual lists.

  • Napalm

    I see what Sean is saying, if you use the “it’s too early to judge” argument, a lot of deserving movies from 2009 wouldn’t make this list.

    As for myself, I have no interest in watching this movie. Stop motion just doesn’t do it for me.

  • The fact that t his is even in here is a joke.
    Sure an entertaining movie, but so so little more than that.

  • Falsk

    “This is a bit much. I don’t even think this was the best Wes Anderson film released this decade.”

    Wrong.

    If people don’t like this as the #7, then go make your own freakin’ list.

  • Rick

    are you kiding me….this was ahead of the dark knight? and what about V for Vendetta