Wednesday, November 25, 2009

My (and only my) best movies of the decade: The 2001 edition

I should probably just drop the years from this thing altogether, because today's list will actually contain not one, as I had hoped, but two movies that actually came out in late 2000.

My only two excuses are that I write this very early in the morning, and well, I sometimes confuse when a movie came out with when I actually got to see it. And, to paraphrase the great Lewis Grizzard when people complained about errors in the Atlanta Constitution, "hey, it don't cost but ... well, nothing."

Anyways, here are the nine movies that made today's list, and though that's only seven actually from 2001, I really love all of these, so enjoy, and please feel free to add any you think I may have overlooked.

"O Brother Where Art Thou"
I fluctuate from week to week as to whether this or "The Big Lebowski" are my favorite Coen brothers flick, but for now let's just put them both on top as co-conspirators. Thanks to Bob for politely pointing out this should have been on my 2000 list, because no other Coen brothers flick better combines their talent for establishing a strong sense of place with simply wicked (and in this case delightfully silly) humor. It's a major strength of this flick that, although it clearly pokes fun at Southerners, I have yet to meet one who doesn't look back on it with love.

Nothing like getting your errors out of the way right up front, so here's another one that was apparently released in late 2000 but was misplaced by me (though, in my defense, it didn't get its U.S. debut until the 2001 Sundance Film Festival.) You can trace all the themes from Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight" to this mindbender starring Guy Pearce. I love a movie that I have to watch more than once just to make sure it all adds up (and there's another one coming later on this list), especially when it's good enough - like this gem - to make you want to invest the trouble of watching it again.

"Spy Kids"
Yes, really. Though the franchise got worse and worse with the subsequent movies in this series, the original from Robert Rodriguez was just great escapist fare for kids and adults - like me - who like to act like them fairly often. I haven't seen "Shorts" yet, but I will on video, because I just appreciate that Rodriguez - when he's not grindhousing out gloriously gross fare like "Planet Terror" - makes movies he thinks his own kids will enjoy.

You can count Jean Pierre Jeunet as one of my very favorite directors in the world, and I was just a sucker for this lighter than air romance starring a simply adorable Audrey Tautou. I'm really hoping Jeunet's "Micmacs à tire-larigot," as best as I can tell a goofy tale about a group of misfits who band together to take on a weapons manufacturer, is somehow playing at the end of the year when I make it to New York City, because when he's on top of his game - as with "Amelie" - Jeunet just makes movies that look like nothing else you can find in theaters, and you really can't say that about very many directors.

"Hedwig and the Angry Inch"
I love movies in which the music is at least as good as the movie itself, which is clearly the case with this flick that John Cameron Mitchell wrote, directed and starred in - as the truly unforgettable creation Hedwig. Yes, if there's a scale of somewhat gay to extremely gay, this flick clearly belongs on the latter end, but it's also just a giddy punk-rock romp and tons of fun.

"Ghost World"
This has developed - along with "Office Space" and "Super Troopers" - into one of those movies I can pop into the DVD player after a nightmarish day at work to make it all float away. What in the world ever happened to Thora Birch, who as Enid just made the perfect (anti-?) heroine? I love that, to this day, if I find the right person to talk to, we can still debate just what happened to her at the end - AND IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN THIS FLICK BASED ON THE GRAPHIC NOVEL BY DANIEL CLOWES, PLEASE SKIP TO THE NEXT PARAGRAPH SO I WON'T SPOIL IT FOR YOU - in which I've always thought Enid commits suicide. No matter how you read it, this is just a bittersweetly askew view of the world, and easily one of my favorite flicks.

"Devil's Backbone"
I watched this Guillermo del Toro movie again this year for Halloween when I was petsitting for a friend of mine (yes, I have a rather boring life sometimes), and though it takes its time telling the tale, it's just a wickedly entertaining ghost story. On a side note, if you want to see a more recent horror flick endorsed by del Toro, please see Juan Antonio Bayona's "The Orphanage" ("La Orfanato") on DVD before it gets the inevitable English-language remake next year.

"Donnie Darko"
Will Richard Kelly ever make a great movie again? I sat through all of "Southland Tales" and this year's "The Box" simply out of love for this flick, but they were both just serious duds. "Donnie Darko," however, took me multiple viewings to truly appreciate, but as twisted tales go, this one about Donnie (Jake Gyllenhaal) and his giant furry friend Frank is as good and ultimately absorbing as the best work of David Lynch.

"The Royal Tenenbaums"
Nothing like saving the best for last. Though all these flicks are winners for me, the best movie of 2001 was also Wes Anderson's best (though by just a nose over his first two, "Rushmore" and "Bottle Rocket.") No other of his movies better combines his artist's eye for detail with a great knack for storytelling, here about the Tenenbaums, a family of doomed geniuses who live in some kind of alternate vision of New York City. From all I've heard, he and co-writer Noah Baumbach have recaptured this magic with "Fantastic Mr. Fox," which I can't wait to see this weekend. In the meantime I'll leave you today with one of the funniest things I've ever seen in a movie, Royal Tenenbaum's epitaph.

"Died tragically rescuing his family from the wreckage of a destroyed sinking battleship."

So there you have it. As I said, please feel free to add any movies you think I may have snubbed, and have a perfectly pleasant Tuesday. As a bonus, here's the second trailer for "Youth in Revolt," which - despite the ridiculous voiceover pitching it as a routine teen comedy - I'm hoping will be one of my 2010 favorites, because the book by C.D. Payne is just a fantastic farce. Peace out.

Youth in Revolt Trailer #2

Trailer Park | MySpace Video


The Mad Hatter said...

can't wait to read the next in the series!

Solid list...and like I mentioned yesterday - don't fret getting the years wrong on the late season entries. Hell, for most cities in the world not named NY or LA, we have to wait until the new year anyway, right?

'01 flicks I loved that you skipped...

MULHOLLAND DRIVE (Don't even try to make sense of it)
MOULIN ROUGE! (The rest of the decade, musicals kept being made that wanted to be as good as this. None of them were)
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH (A rock and roll cult classic)
GOSFORD PARK (One of Altman's very best)
THE MAN WHO WASN'T THERE (Somehow I even forgot about that in my own 2001 post)

Speaking of the 2001 post...

Reel Fanatic said...

Ah, my friend, I do actually have Hedwig on the list, but I certainly forgive anyone who skips over parts of my sometimes turgid writing ... I love that movie! ... I'm probably all alone in this opinion among Coens fans, but "The Man Who Wasn't There" is the only one of theirs that I just couldn't get into much at all ... Mulholland Drive and Moulin Rouge were too that almost made the cut, but Gosford Park is one I somehow had on the list for 2002 (which may or may not come tomorrow, it being Turkey Day and all) ...

The Mad Hatter said...

Ah, my friend, I do actually have Hedwig on the list, but I certainly forgive anyone who skips over parts of my sometimes turgid writing...

Fail...on my part...epic fail. Good to see you included the underrated gem, and that you dig the amazing songs that come with it too. In our first apartment, my wife and I had a framed copy of that stunning poster up on the wall.

Where have you gone John cameron Mitchell? Our nation turns it's lonely eyes to you...

dbackdad said...

Great group of movies. There certainly seems to be a quirkiness thread throughout all these movies. I especially liked Memento and Amelie. Jeunet is one of my favorite directors also. I like the way in which the best foreign directors (non US or UK) look at things and in turn, how they make things look.

Aracir said...

awwwww no fellowship of the ring

Reel Fanatic said...

Perhaps I should have included that one, Aracir, but while I certainly like and appreciate Mr. Jackson's Lord of the Rings flicks, I'm afraid it falls too often into the latter category

PubbyPab said...

Enid SO did not commit suicide!!

Reel Fanatic said...

You may well be right, PubbyPab, but I think it's one of the best things about that thoroughly delightful that everyone can read into it exactly what they want to ... I'd love to be able to ask Terry Zwigoff or Daniel Clowes about the ending, though they may just want to keep it as blissfully mysterious as it is

best movies today said...

Oh very good
I like it