Tuesday, November 24, 2009

My (and only my) best movies of the decade: The 2000 edition

Though I will confess I swiped the idea of picking the best movies of the last decade from somewhere in my morning Web reading, I promise you these choices are all my own (and since, I believe, only one of them from the first year received a Best Picture nomination, they're clearly not anything approaching consensus picks.)

The rules? Well, there aren't many. Simply that I limited it to 10 for each post (though that's a maximum, not a minimum), mostly because of the time it takes to do this. And beyond that, I only ask that if you want to ridicule my picks, please allow for the factors of time and space since they came out, and that these are indeed only MY favorites (and please, feel free to add your own.)

And, also please feel free to check back tomorrow for the 2001 list, and, interrupted only possibly by reviews of "Ninja Assassin" and "Fantastic Mr. Fox," then the best of every year through 2009 (so far, of course.)

OK, here goes: My best movies of 2000, in no particular order (though I will tell you the best in my book.)

"The Hurricane"
You know, I really dislike "Training Day," not only because I just find it to be one of the most overrated movies ever (yes, some hyperbole to start), but also because the Oscar it netted for Denzel Washington was clearly just awarded to make up for him being so egregiously snubbed in this and Spike Lee's "Malcolm X." Though a pretty straightforward biopic, Norman Jewison's movie about Ruben "Hurricane" Carter is anchored by a great, nuanced performance from Mr. Washington and just tells a tragic American story very well.

"Wonder Boys"
This is one that had to grow on me on DVD, but it pretty well captures the spirit of Michael Chabon's book, and besides, Michael Douglas, Frances McDormand, Tobey Maguire, Katie Holmes (yes, Katie Holmes), Robert Downey Jr. and even Rip Torn clearly just had as much fun making this Curtis Hanson flick as I did watching it.

"High Fidelity"
When I heard they felt the need to transport Nick Hornby's novel across the pond to make it into a movie, especially since it was being helmed by British director Stephen Frears (one of my favorites), I was certainly skeptical. It works, however, because of John Cusack and because Frears captured the obsessive rhythm of Hornby's work, and it's just one of my favorite romantic comedies.

"Chicken Run"
Though hardly anyone noticed, there was a Wallace and Gromit movie released on DVD this year ("Wallace & Gromit in A Matter of Loaf and Death"), and it's really good. And since children's movies actually aimed at adults are certainly in vogue now, why not go back and check out this masterwork from Aardman animation maestros Peter Lord and Nick Park?

"The Virgin Suicides"
I'm really looking forward to Sofia Coppola's "Somewhere," scheduled to drop sometime next year, because in my book she really needs a winner after the disaster that was "Marie Antoinette." However, three out of four ain't bad, and even better than her "Lost in Translation" was this debut flick starring Kirsten Dunst, which was just a perfect hazy dream to watch unfold. (And yes, in case anyone is wondering and bothers to pay this much attention, this movie is listed as being from 1999 at the Internet Movie Database, but I'm going with Movieweb for this list.)

"Almost Famous"
Man, what in the world ever happened to Cameron Crowe? I just hated "Elizabethtown" with a passion, but for proof that he was once a great writer and director, look no further than this autobiographical tale at least loosely based on his life as a scribe for the Rolling Stone. If the best test of a movie's merits is how often you go back to it, this is my pick for the best movie of 2000 (and by any standard, it is.) And in case you were wondering, all Crowe is down for now at the IMDB is a Pearl Jam documentary, which just makes me say meh.)

"Bamboozled"
I had to go back and look at his filmography to make sure, but this was indeed the last Spike Lee movie I saw in a theater that just blew me away ("When the Levees Broke," a real stunner, doesn't count, since I only saw it on TV.) Though it falls apart rather disastrously at the finish, Lee's "Bamboozled" still works very well as a scathing satire about race and entertainment, and Savion Glover and Tommy Davidson are just great in it. And if you want proof that Spike Lee can still make good movies, his take on the Broadway hit "Passing Strange," which you can watch On Demand (or whatever your cable services calls it), is exceptional.

"Unbreakable"
Yes, really. The last M. Night Shyamalan worth a spit in my book is, I think, actually better than "The Sixth Sense." I just wish M. Night had concentrated long enough to deliver a sequel based on Samuel L. Jackson's Elijah Price character rather than making two of the worst movies of the last decade (probably a much funner list, and one I may tackle later) with "The Village" and "Lady in the Water."

"Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"
Yes, this is the only movie on this list that made the Best Picture slate, and it was well-deserved. I can still remember watching this movie in a New York City theater and then seeing it being played again later that same day on TV at Grand Szechuan. A rather amazing lesson in the power of piracy and also a great kung-fu epic from Ang Lee.

"Bring It On"
I should probably put some kind of asterisk by this one to denote it as a guilty pleasure, but I really don't feel remotely guilty about loving this extremely silly cheerleader flick that has spawned what seems like a zillion direct-to-video sequels. And yes, Kirsten Dunst really did make this list twice, which probably robs it of all credibility, but movies just don't get much more fun than "Bring It On," and I often don't ask for much more than that.

And there you have it. As I said, this is a ten-day project, though not necessarily on 10 straight days, so please feel free to check back for the next nine years, and of course, also please feel free to rain mockery down on my picks or offer your own.

And anyone who bothered to stick around that long today certainly deserves a reward, so here's what has to be the craziest short film I've ever seen about baseball but just a great little discovery, James Blagden's animated tale about Dock Ellis' no-hitter pitched under the influence of some rather seriously heavy drugs. Enjoy, and have a perfectly pleasant Tuesday. Peace out

20 comments:

The Mad Hatter said...

Great list! THE HURRICANE was a 1999 movie, but I don't think it gets nearly enough props...so good on ya for including it.

I actually started doing this 'Best of 00's' myself a little while ago (co-incidentally, today I posted 2008). If you're curious, here's my list for 2000:

http://mcneilmatinee.blogspot.com/2009/04/decade-pt-i-top-five-00s-movies-2000.html

Chalupa said...

When I saw "Bamboozled" I thought you were talking about "Bedazzled" with Hurley and Fraser and was about to question your sanity until I saw the poster.

Nice list by the way.

Reel Fanatic said...

I'll definitely stop by and check it out, Mad Hatter ... I knew my list was going to have some technical problems year-wise, but given the way they keep moving things around nowadays, I had to do this fairly quickly ... For tomorrow's installment I'll do a check with the IMDB to make sure they are all indeed 2001 movies

And I've never bothered to see that Bedazzled remake, Chalupa, so there's no danger of it appearing here!

Chalupa said...

Yeah, I didn't waste my time with it either. That's why I was so surprised to "see" it hear. Good thing I came to my senses.

Justin said...

Almost Famous is one of my favorite movies of the 2000s and all time.

The Mad Hatter said...

@ Reel Fan... Oooh, one more I'd add in here is TRAFFIC - which you obviously know having already gone to read my list.

And I have the dishonour of admitting that I did indeed see the BEDAZZLED remake. In a theatre. For full price.

*raises his hand* Loser!

Amy said...

I like a lot of these. Love "Wonder Boys." The only Chabon book I've read though is "The Adventures of Kavalier & Clay," which I didn't really care for. Similarly, I enjoyed "The Virgin Suicides." Haven't read the book, but did just finish "Middlesex." So-so.

Reel Fanatic said...

I know I'm way in the minority, mad hatter, but "Traffic" is one that just left me a little cold ... Well made, yes, but Soderbergh and Stephen Gaigan just tried to cram so much in and seemed to be so detached from it ... Great work as usual, however, from Benicio del Toro

I haven't read "Middle Sex," Amy, though I probably should ... Another Chabon novel I just loved was "The Yiddish Policemen's Union," a crazy mystery of sorts

Sachin said...

I am glad to know someone else thinks Unbreakable is better than The Sixth Sense :)

And Bring it on is also a nice guilty pleasure for me. It is a fun energetic picture which along with 10 Things I Hate About You (1999) are two high school based films that I have no trouble watching.

Reel Fanatic said...

10 Things I Hate About You is one I enjoy with no guilt whatsoever too, Sachin ... It's just clever but still silly enough to be thoroughly entertaining

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