this is part of an ongoing series called 25 in the 2000s. if you want a bit of information about the series, you can find the introduction here.
often, the story of a culture, a people, a time period is shared through cinema. movies transcend moments and create timeless asides from normal life. so it was over the last 10 years. during that time, the theater has seen the best of times and the worst of times. yes, we’ve had to sit through quite a few michael bay movies, but at the same time, we’ve had the pleasure to enjoy some of the truly great cinematic works of all-time. with that said, here’s my favorite movies of the aughts.
25. castaway. 2000. relatively little dialogue. mainly one man over the course of several years. living on an island by himself. talking to a volleyball. brilliant. yet another example of tom hanks’ greatness.
24. slumdog millionaire. 2008. this was the little indian movie that could. with a cast of people you’d never heard of, you were able to believe in what you were seeing—the beautiful, the ugly, the true, the hard to watch. this was a deeply touching movie that seemed to touch the world.
23. the passion of the christ. 2004. in the midst of the hype and controversy, people forget that this was a really great movie. mel gibson was able to tell the story of jesus’ last 12 hours on earth without resorting to overt clichés or sentimentality. this simply told the raw, honest story and it made the most compelling story just as compelling on the big screen.
22. inglourious basterds. 2009. i’m not a particularly huge quentin tarantino fan, so while i was eager to see the movie, i wasn’t a raging fan counting down the days. with that said, though, this was a surprisingly great movie. it had everything tarantino does well: great dialogue, character development, violence and sharp wit.
21. crash. 2004. while much of the criticism of the movie was somewhat justified (overplayed racial clichés), this was still an incredible movie that dug into the reality of racism, social segregation and fear of the unknown. this was a movie that left you deeply wounded after watching it.
20. children of men. 2oo6. this is certainly in my top 1 or 2 most anticipated movies of the decade. and it lived up to my own, personal hype. its story of deep-seated love cast against the scene of intense violence provided a great ride and a satisfying conclusion (if not mysterious).
19. sicko. 2007. regardless of the reality, some will never get past the name michael moore. that’s unfortunate because his 2007 documentary, sicko, was a great piece that exposed the human side to the health care debate. what was amazing about this also is that the “health care debate” was still a full 2 years away when he made it, making this movie somewhat prophetic.
18. borat: cultural learnings of america for make benefit glorious nation of kazakhstan. 2006. the more i think about it, this movie should probably be higher on this list. it’s insanely funny, offensive and shocking, but the element that makes this movie so great is its covert (or not-so-covert, depending on your perspective) social statement. racism and bigotry is absurd and borat shows it.
17. the curious case of benjamin button. 2008. this movie caught criticism for being forrest gump, pt. 2. when someone says that, i immediately go see it. this was a sweeping, epic of a movie that featured two of the most beautiful people in the word: brad pitt and kate blanchett. both proved they have much more than beauty, as they both punched in incredible roles.
16. million dollar baby. 2004. this isn’t the last time you’ll see a clint eastwood movie on this list. eastwood’s movies are so emotionally intense and just as equally visually intense and beautiful. this wasn’t just a boxing movie or a sports movie, but a movie about the fierce pull of love and innate human compassion.
15. the bourne supremacy. 2004. the bourne movies are american james bond movies with much more action (sadly, the latest bond movie tried to actually be a bourne movie…and failed). matt damon played this character just as it should be and 2004’s sequel to the bourne identity. in this case, the sequel superseded the original.
14. ocean’s eleven. 2001. who doesn’t love a heist movie? throw in george clooney, brad pitt, matt damon, don cheadle and a cast of countless other actors you love and want to be like and you’ve got a great movie. this movie knew how to weave an intricate plot while remaining light and enjoyable.
13. little miss sunshine. 2006. how many movies have tried to be “this year’s little miss sunshine” since this came out? imitation is the greatest form of flattery and this movie has been flattered over and over. it was quirky, it was fun, it was deep, it was hilarious. it was great.
12. no country for old men. 2007. i know many people couldn’t get past the way the movie ended (which i thought was great), but the movie—from start to finish—was great in every way. from its beautiful cinematography to its unforgettable characters to its intense edge-of-your-seat plot, this movie was one of the best of 2007 and of the decade.
11. napoleon dynamite. 2004. much like little miss sunshine, everybody wanted to be the next napoleon dynamite. and much like LMS, its predecessors generally failed. there was something just so strange and wonderful and absurd and bizarre and warm about this movie. few movies have prompted me to watch it over and over and quote it over and over like this one.
10. mystic river. 2003. my favorite clint eastwood. so beautiful. so depressing. so moving. so engrossing. eastwood and his cast of superb characters played by sean penn, tim robbins and kevin bacon masterfully portrayed the gritty underbelly of what a crooked father will do to avenge the death of his daughter. i think after 7 years, i’m still recovering from this movie.
09. casino royale. 2006. i’m not much of a james bond fan. i certainly don’t dislike them, but i’m just ‘eh’ about them. not this one. this, as far as i’m concerned, is the best bond film i’ve certainly ever seen. it was kitschy or contrived. it was (relatively) real and that made it great (not to eva green). 🙂
08. best in show. 2000. oh, the mockumentary. christopher guest knows how to do them. while there’s been some great, great christopher guest movies, this one tops the list for me. a good mockumentary has to be paired with a great concept is dog shows are the ultimate ridiculous concept. go see this movie. now.
07. moulin rouge!. 2001. yes, moulin rouge. i know, i know, i am surprised i’m into this also. i reluctanctly saw this probably 2 years after it came out in theaters and i couldn’t believe how great it was. the movie is simply beautiful and you can’t help but to love a clever and uniquely performed musical (not to mention nicole kidman traipsing around in very little). 🙂
06. bowling for columbine. 2002. if mystic river still has me recovering 7 years later, then this movie still has me in a state of sadness 8 years later. again, the name scares people away, but this is a movie that i recommend to every single person. following the columbine tragedy, people were searching for answers and this exposes an ugly reality that answers some questions and asks many more. as a sidenote, the footage of the security cameras inside columbine were probably top 1 or 2 hardest to watch movie moments i can remember.
05. anchorman: the legend of ron burgundy. 2004. serving as the anti-bowling for columbine, in 2o04, will ferrell managed to create one of the most hilarious movies of the last several decades. to this day, a good anchorman quote still goes a long way and receives an everlasting laugh.
04. nacho libre. 2006. on the heels of the success of napoleon dynamite, jared hess sought to capitalize on the momentum with this movie. for many, this movie was a bit of a letdown, but for me, it instantly became my favorite comedy of the decade. it was weird. it was random. it was quirky. and it featured jack black in stretchy pants. enough said.
03. gladiator. 2000. there have been few beautiful, sweeping epics like this movie ever made. in 2000, i don’t think i knew who russel crow was or even what this movie was about when i went to see it (at uca, for free), but i walked out wanting to sit down and watch it all over again. through elaborate costumes, epic sets and a beautifully compelling story of redemption and truth, gladiator stands as one of the great cinematic efforts of the decade.
02. lord of the rings trilogy. 2001-2003. i know, this is cheating. i’ve picked 3 movies for #2. in reality, though, this is just one movie. it’s just that audiences (as well as the studios) had no desire to sit for 8 or 9 hours in the theater. 🙂 the funny personal story related to this movie is that i didn’t even see any of these until the 3rd one came out in the the theater. i had zero interest and didn’t want to jump on the bandwagon. but jump i did and there was no looking back given the reality that these are not only some of the greatest of this decade, but of all time.
01. the dark knight. 2008. a batman movie is #1? absolutely. i can’t express how deeply compelling this movie was. i knew it would be good. i knew it would be memorable. i waited very expectantly. but i never imagined how great it actually was. it’s almost cliché to talk about how great heath ledger was, but he managed to take a character that dresses like a clown and make him multi-dimensional and oscar-worthy. there are so many layer upon layers to this movie and i can’t imagine the follow-up. it’s sure to be another instant classic…or be a colossal disappointment. if you’re the 1 person who hasn’t seen this, go get it now and open yourself to its greatness.
so there you have it. there’s the list. what do you think? i’ve certainly missed some big stories. what are they? i’ve, no doubt, ranked some things too high or too low. what are they? help me to flesh out and “correct” my list.
see you in a few days with my next list: cover songs.