Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Best of the 00's - Danny's Best Movies of the Decade!

Welcome to the final entry in my Best of the Decade series! It's been a lot of fun writing these posts over the last few weeks, and I love all the feedback and comments I've been getting via email, Facebook, etc. So far, I've covered TV, music, comics, and games - so if you haven't yet read my previous Best of the 00's blogs, well, go and catch up! Now though, it's time for the big one. I always knew going into this that the movie post would be the 500 lb gorilla. On one hand, there are so many movies to consider for a list like this that it's hard to even know where to begin. On the other hand, I've been writing about my favorite films here since 2004, so I had the ability to go back and look at previous reviews and Best-Of lists. It was interesting to see how my opinions have changed with the passage of time, and it became interesting to see which movies have stayed with me and which have sort of faded away. But after much deliberation and internal back-and-forth, I'm finally able to bring you my take on the very best movies of the decade. So sit back, relax, enjoy, and be sure to leave your comments!


THE BEST MOVIES OF THE 00's:


- I know there's been talk of where the 00's stand in terms of cinematic history. Some say the decade was disappointing, that the overall quality of films in the 00's wasn't on par with the 70's or the 90's, and so on ... But for me, personally, the 00's were the best decade for movies ever. No, I'm not saying that this decade saw the greatest movies released as compared to other, more notable, more revered, more revolutionary eras of cinema. I'm simply saying that this was the decade where I became a real movie fan. As a kid, I wasn't exposed to that many films other than the standard stuff that all kids of the 80's and 90's watched. Even in high school, my tastes began to broaden, but I still didn't realize the breadth of what was out there. I was stuck in the proverbial suburban wasteland, and I didn't really know where to turn or who to turn to to find the good stuff.

But when I got to college, things began to change. I was in BU's College of Communication and surrounded by people who loved movies and TV and pop-culture. With DVD's exploding in popularity, not to mention all the opportunities that BU's vast online network provided for, I started to really get into film in a big way. I began taking classes about film and film history, and eventually, I changed my major to film and television. I took classes on film noir, Japanese cinema, and more. I watched The Maltese Falcon and Chinatown, Yojimbo and Akira. I took screenwriting classes in which we watched all manner of classics, from Glengarry Glen Ross to Five Easy Pieces to Body Heat. I discovered the Coen Brothers and Wes Anderson, David Lynch and Paul Thomas Anderson. And I started really going to the movie theater, not just to see the same stuff that everyone else was seeing, but to see Wet Hot American Summer and Amelie and Adaptation and Memento. And some movies, some movies became *events.* The biggest of all was The Lord of the Rings. Those movies were adventures, journeys, an experience. I remember being absolutely blown away by Kill Bill ... as soon as I walked out of Volume 1, Volume 2 became my most anticipated movie.

And then I moved to LA, where practically every day I'm surrounded by movies and the movie industry. Los Angeles is an embarrassment of riches when it comes to seeing films - with so many great theaters playing huge blockbusters, indie films, classic films, you name it. I've seen films here that I likely wouldn't have been able to see anywhere else, and I've seen them with audiences comprised of fellow film fans. It's an amazing experience, being in a theater with other enthusiasts, all of them anticipating some buzzed-about new film, or hoping it will be great but fearing that it could disappoint. Seriously though, living in LA I sometimes feel like a kid who never ate candy suddenly thrown into a candy store. At the same time, working in entertainment, it's easy to become cynical about movies. You see so much crap thrown out there, so many movies made by committee, that you can easily become jaded. And it's true, this was a decade in which the emergence of CGI technology gave filmmakers an easy out from actually telling a great story with great characters. It's like we're supposed to be so dazzled by the shiny objects on the screen that we forget about little things like plot and character. In the past, the technology was always in service to the story. Now, too often, it's "hey, let's put some giant robots onscreen, and figure out the rest later." Like I said, it's easy to become cynical. But then I go out and see a movie like There Will Be Blood, and it's like a shock to the system. A reminder of what it's all about. When I see a No Country For Old Men, a Dark Knight, a Hurt Locker ... I come out of the theater feeling floored, and I can't wait to experience that feeling again. So despite some voices to the contrary, movie magic was alive and well in the 00's. If you knew where to look, if you knew where to turn to find the good stuff, then there were whole worlds of great stories and amazing characters to discover.

And that brings me to the list. It should be pretty straightforward, although I'll point out that there were a few instances where I grouped movies together. In most cases, it's because they're seamless stories within a single franchise. I'll also mention that, yeah, I've seen a lot of films, especially in the last few years. But like everyone, I have gaps. There are many great movies from this decade, some obscure, some more mainstream, that I haven't seen. Don't think I didn't give it the old college try though ... over the last few months, I've gone back and watched several key movies that I missed the first time around (although there are many more I didn't get to). Some made this list, others didn't. And then there are those hard-to-rank movies - comedies, action films, cult-classics. I tried to present a diverse and varied list here - to me, for example, a great comedy deserves to rank highly when appropriate, even if the Oscars don't tend to agree.


For the sake of inclusiveness, I go beyond even my Top 100 list and include some other favorites as Honorable Mentions. What can I say, I've never been good at keeping things short. That said, I'm keeping all of my movie descriptions to two sentences each, for the sake of brevity. And like I said, it's interesting to see which movies have and will rise up in the cannon and which fade as time goes by. In any case, I hope you enjoy the list, and here's to a new decade of incredible movies.




DANNY'S BEST MOVIES OF THE 00'S:



1. The Lord of the Rings

- The Lord of the Rings was *the* epic movie franchise of the decade. Incredible direction from Peter Jackson, coupled with mythic storytelling and monumental acting from a superb cast, gave us places, characters, and magical movie moments that we'll never forget.


2. Memento

- Christopher Nolan blew my mind with his twisting, turning, backwards-moving film noir mystery. Rarely have I ever been so riveted or utterly enthralled by a movie, so much so that it's a film I can easily watch over and over again.


3. No Country For Old Men

- The Coen Bros. floored me with this movie, plain and simple. The dark fable of a merciless killer named Anton Chigurh took the Coen's trademark dialogue, directorial prowess, and storytelling acumen to new heights of artistry.


4. There Will Be Blood

- There Will Be Blood was a megaton bomb of a movie. Director Paul Thomas Anderson crafted a timeless, iconic tale of American greed and corruption made all the more powerful by a singularly incredible performance from Daniel Day-Lewis in the lead role.


5. Mulholland Drive

- David Lynch has crafted many memorable, uniquely surreal films in his career, but Mulholland Drive is likely his very best - a nighmarish noir that goes through the looking glass to paint a disturbing picture of Hollywood and the American Dream. Naomi Watts has never been better or more entrancing, in one of the decade's greatest performances by an actress.


6. Gladiator

- Are you not entertained?! This was the rallying cry of Russell Crowe in Ridley Scott's 00's masterpiece, an epic tale that was both intelligent and nuanced, but also 100% badass. Gladiator is one of those movies that you can't help but become engrossed with, no matter how many times you've seen it - the climactic payoff is always worth the wait.



7. Wet Hot American Summer

- One of the funniest films ever made, Wet Hot American Summer makes me laugh harder than almost any other movie, perfectly encapsulating the absurdist humor of the comedy troupe The State. Endlessly quotable and infinitely rewatchable, this is my favorite comedy of the 00's.


8. Kill Bill (Volumes 1 & 2)

- A white-knuckle rush of blood-soaked awesomeness, Kill Bill is Quentin Tarantino's homage to vintage action and martial arts movies, and it just plain kicks ass. With intense fight scenes, a too-cool soundtrack, a great rogues gallery of villains, and an iconic turn from Uma Thurman as The Bride, Kill Bill is a nonstop assault on the senses.


9. A History of Violence

- The 00's were a decade in which a lot of us were forced to grapple with mankind's seemingly unstoppable tendencies towards violence and bloodshed, and here was a movie in A History of Violence that brilliantly examined our duality through the prism of one man's case of mistaken identity. David Cronenberg directed one of the decade's most interesting and thought provoking movies, and it featured yet another amazing turn from one of this decade's most reliably great actors in Viggo Mortensen.



10. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

- Eternal Sunshine is a mind-bending movie that brilliantly examined the nature of memory in our lives. Can we erase memories? Can we forget about those we once loved? Can we wipe the slate clean and start fresh? It's a fascinating premise, and the movie's artful direction coupled with great performances from Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet followed through on the potential of the setup.



11. Munich

- Steven Spielberg's best film of the decade, Munich is a powerful and intense reminder of the price of violence, and the danger of an eye-for-an-eye mentality. It's also a riveting take on one of the defining moments of terrorism in this century, and works as a fascinating reflection on events of this decade.


12. Donnie Darko

- It's still to-be-determined whether or not writer/director Richard Kelly has another masterpiece somewhere inside of him, but until that time comes, Donnie Darko remains his crowning achievement. A trippy rumination on time-travel, fate, and the mysteries of adolescence, Donnie Darko is a retro-80's-throwback, a sci-fi mystery, and a dark social satire all in one.


13. A Mighty Wind

- In the late 90's and early 00's, Christopher Guest was quite simply on a roll, and A Mighty Wind was likely his funniest and most ambitious film. A folk-music mockumentary both hilarious and full of heart, A Mighty Wind had ultra-catchy tunes, and underrated performances from Eugene Levy, Catherine O'Hara, and many other extremely talented comics.


14. Slumdog Millionaire

- Danny Boyle's modern-day fairy tale was an absolute stunner, both a dark tale of poverty and crime and also an uplifting fable that reminds us that yes, anything is possible. One of the biggest and best creative voices of the decade, Danny Boyle directed Slumdog Millionaire with his finger on the pulse of the times.


15. The Departed

- Martin Scorcese had a somewhat uneven decade, but The Departed was a triumphant return to his crime-drama roots. Darkly funny, artfully violent, and featuring an all-star cast of some of the best actors of yesterday and today, The Departed was a well-deserved Oscar-winner for one of the all-time great directors.

16. The Hurt Locker

- Few movies of the 00's have managed to create riveting storytelling out of the real-life horrors of the Iraq War, but The Hurt Locker blasted into theaters in 2009 with something to say and something to prove. Director Kathryn Bigelow created a movie that works both as an ultra-intense action flick as well as an impactful statement on why we are so often compelled to go to war - and in doing so, she crafted one of the decade's finest films.


17. The Wrestler

- The aging superstar who wants one more shot at glory: it's a classic story, but few films have ever told it better than The Wrestler. Mickey Rourke turns in a career-defining performance as a pro-wrestler trying and failing to find meaning in his life post-retirement from the ring.


18. The Dark Knight

- Comic book fans have always known that the medium's most beloved characters deserved, and were capable of, better than the shoddy film adaptations Hollywood had become content to churn out year after year. Finally, The Dark Knight proved once and for all that comic book movies could also be great movies, period.


19. Wall-E

- One could endlessly debate the relative merits of Pixar's various animated features, but to me, Wall-E is the crown jewel of their 00's output. Wall-E is a visual wonder, full of animated artistry depicting a beautifully bleak dystopian future, but it's also thought-provoking science fiction at its best.


20. City of God

- A sprawling saga of violence and corruption, City of God is the riveting and violent tale of life and death in the nightmarish, crime-ridden slums of Rio de Janeiro. Thanks to kinetic direction and a number of memorable performances, City of God was an out-of-nowhere classic, a hard-hitting look at the struggle of youth desperately trying to escape a life of poverty and crime.


21. Little Miss Sunshine

- Few movies manage to be both relentlessly dark and at the same time joyously uplifting, but Little Miss Sunshine pulls it off. Featuring a great script, an amazing ensemble of actors, and some of the decade's most memorable movie moments, Little Miss Sunshine is one of those films that takes you on a roller-coaster-ride of emotion, and ultimately leaves you smiling.


22. Oldboy

- Chan Wook Park created one of the all-time crazy-ass cult classics in Oldboy, a movie that is consistently surprising, thoroughly entertaining, and also, straight-up insane. This twisted tale of revenge goes places that few other movies would dare, and features some of the most iconic scenes and most memorable plot reveals of any movie of the decade.


23. Adaptation

- Writer Charlie Kaufman entered the 00's riding high on the success of his screenplay for the surreal Being John Malkovich, and his follow-up film was no less impressive, or strange. Adaptation is classic Kaufman - a twisty, complex, meta-narrative that nonetheless works as a rather elegant examination of the creative process.


24. The King of Kong

- Sometimes, even the humblest pursuits can be the subject of an epic story when told through the right lens, and The King of Kong is a perfect example. Some might find it difficult to believe that a documentary about a would-be Donkey Kong champion could be one of the most fascinating and fist-pumping movies of the decade, but there's no denying the sheer awesomeness that is The King of Kong.


25. Pirates of the Caribbean (trilogy)

- Pure blockbuster filmmaking at its finest, the Pirates movies are flat-out fun. Some will tell you that the sequels don't measure up to the simpler, less bloated story of the original ... but personally, I love the swashbuckling adventure and comedic action of all three movies equally.




THE NEXT BEST:


26. Napoleon Dynamite

- Hilarious, quirky, and oh-so-quotable, Napoleon Dynamite was a breath of fresh air when it debuted in theaters.


27. A Serious Man

- With A Serious Man, the Coen Bros. did it again - in the tradition of The Big Lebowski, Fargo, and Barton Fink, this is a darkly hilarious comedy with a nihilistic edge.


28. Big Fish

- One of Tim Burton's best, Big Fish is a dazzling fable that reminds us of the power of tall tales, and that packs a surprisingly powerful emotional punch.


29. Inglorious Basterds

- Tarantino's latest tour-de-force, Inglorious Basterds is a movie about the power of movies, and a howlingly entertaining ode to the legend of World War II and the pulp fiction it inspired.


30. Batman Begins

- Before The Dark Knight became a sensation, Batman Begins brought the iconic hero back from cinematic purgatory, finally delivering the Batman film that fans had been clamoring for.


31. Punch Drunk Love

- Paul Thomas Anderson's funny, awkward, and semi-disturbing portrait of a man with some serious issues, Punch Drunk Love features a surprisingly affecting performance from Adam Sandler that matches the trippy, surreal style to a "T".


32. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

- My favorite Wes Anderson film of the decade, The Life Aquatic is Anderson's quirky-yet-earnest comedic style taken to its logical extremes. Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, and Jeff Goldblum are all in top-form.


33. Amelie

- The quirky little French film that could, Amelie is a clever and hard-to-resist look at love and fate, with a captivating performance from breakout star Audrey Tatou.


34. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

- The 00's saw a brief revival of the Western, and the best of the bunch was this hard-hitting, beautifully-shot picture that featured one of Brad Pitt's career-best performances.


35. United 93

- Absolutely gripping, this you-are-there thrill ride is so tense, so nerve-racking, that by the end of the film you'll feel as though you barely escaped by the skin of your teeth. A powerful testament and tribute to the tragedy of September 11th, 2001.


36. 28 Days Later

- Cutting edge filmmaking from Danny Boyle, this zombie apocalypse thriller is one of the slickest, scrappiest, smartest, and coolest horror flicks of the decade.


37. Zodiac

- An engrossing meditation on mystery and obsession, David Fincher's movie about the infamous Zodiac killer makes you feel as immersed in the case as the characters in the film.


38. Lost in Translation

- An entrancing movie about oddball relationships and being a stranger in a strange land, Sophia Coppolla's breakthrough film remains one of the most interesting movies of the decade.


39. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

- Ang Lee's martial-arts epic brought the wonders of wire-fu to America, and you couldn't help but get caught up in the graceful action and mythic storyline.



40. Grizzly Man

- Werner Herzog is one of a kind, and perhaps only he could properly relay the real-life story of man whose unhealthy obsession with wild grizzly bears ultimately proved to be his undoing. Funny, odd, tragic, and strange.


41. District 9

- District 9 was a wake-up call to Hollywood, a beacon of originality, inventiveness, and big-budget sci-fi action on a not-so-big budget. While other movies had more hype, District 9 flat-out brought the awesome-sauce.


42. Spiderman II

- Improving on the original Spiderman film in nearly every way, the sequel perfectly captured the spirit of the Stan Lee / Steve Ditko comics, with a snappy script, high-flying action, and great character moments.


43. Sweeney Todd

- A delightfully dark musical of the macabre, Sweeney Todd proved a perfect match for Tim Burton's gothic sensibilities, and Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham-Carter, and the rest of the cast were to die for.


44. Hero

- Zhang Yimou's Chinese epic features a classic story told form multiple perspectives, incredible martial-arts battles, Jet Li at the top of his game, and incredible cinematography and fight choreography.


45. Juno

- I'm not afraid to admit it: I love Juno. The quirky teen coming-of-age story benefits from an awesome cast (Ellen Page is fantastic), a bouncy script (screw the Diablo Cody haters), and a cool style thanks to director Jason Reitman.


46. The Fountain

- Talk about epic - Darren Aronofsky's The Fountain spans time, space, and the universe itself to deliver a cosmic tale of eternal love. Totally mesmerizing, it's one of the decade's most unique and ambitious films.


47. Master and Commander

- This one is an example of great filmmaking, plain and simple. A commanding performance by Russell Crowe, outstanding direction from Peter Weir ... this is a movie that embodies the spirit of adventure of the high seas.


48. The Royal Tenenbaums

- A funny yet heartbreaking work from Wes Anderson, this one is a showcase both for Anderson's unique style and for the incredible troupe of actors who bring his oddball world to life.


49. Shawn of the Dead / Hot Fuzz

- I'm sorry, I just couldn't pick one of these over the other, so here's a double-listing for Edgar Wright's two equally brilliant satires, each starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. One is a horror-comedy that posits that most of us are not too far removed from zombies (very true), and the other is an action-comedy that pays hilarious tribute to the excesses of Hollywood action flicks, and to the poor saps (like us) who love them.


50. Eastern Promises


- David Cronenberg's ultra-badass followup to A History of Violence covers similar thematic ground, but it's also one hell of a movie in its own right - featuring yet another amazing performance from Viggo Mortensen, as a conflicted Russian gangster who may not be what he appears.



51. School of Rock

- A funny and infectious love-letter to rock n' roll, Richard Linklater's uplifting film was a perfect fit for the eyebrow-raising, energy-filled comedy of star Jack Black. A traditional comedy that still felt fresh and new thanks to Linklater's unique combination of humor and heart.


52. Michael Clayton

- Despite it's deceivingly bland title, Michael Clayton is definitely not your average thriller. A cutting look at the evils of corporate America, Clayton is full of twists, turns, and intensity, and features a career-best dramatic performance from George Clooney.


53. Observe & Report

- One of the darkest and most twisted comedies I've ever seen, Observe & Report is a hilarious yet disturbing look at an oddball mall-cop with delusions of grandeur. Seth Rogen may have suffered from overexposure in the latter half of the decade, but he turns in a stunning performance in this one that you've got to see to believe.


54. Speed Racer

- Some dismissed Speed Racer as being empty entertainment for the ADD generation, but I couldn't disagree more. To me, Speed Racer was a brilliantly-directed future-shock roller-coaster-ride from the Wachowski Brothers - in its own way every bit as mind-melting as any of the Matrix movies.


55. The Road

- The Road marks yet another absolutely spellbinding turn from Viggo Mortensen, as well as another hard-hitting adaptation of a Cormac McCarthy novel. Set in a bleak post-apocalyptic world, The Road is a harrowing tale of survival and hope in the face of chaos and desolation.


56. Hustle & Flow

- Whoop that trick! Hustle & Flow not only features a star-making turn from Terence Howard, but it also tells a gritty yet inspirational hip-hop fable that is both memorable and heartbreaking.


57. Cars

- To me, Cars was a nostalgic trip down the highway straight towards the last exit of the American Dream. Thematically, it's one of Pixar's most interesting films, and visually, one of their most stunning.


58. The Prestige

- If anything, the 00's showed us that Christopher Nolan knows how to spin a great story full of unexpected twists and turns. The Prestige - a magical mystery featuring the high-voltage pairing of Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman - was Nolan at the top of his game.


59. Ratatouille

- Everyone's a critic, and yet few would argue that Ratatouille continued Pixar's 00's streak of high-quality animated films with enough depth and texture to entertain kids and adults alike. Ratatuille looked spectacular, but it also expertly conveyed a moving message about the importance of doing what you love.


60. Precious

- Talk about powerful ... Precious was a movie that absolutely pulled no punches in its ugly and disturbing look at the life of a troubled inner-city teen. Precious proved that there can be hope in even in the bleakest of situations, but it also didn't shy away from grim reality - reminding us that true happy endings aren't as easy to come by as Hollywood would have you believe.


61. Requiem For a Dream

- A nightmarish journey into the lives of addicts and lost souls, Darren Aronofsky's tour de force film is an absorbing and powerful cautionary tale. With a number of noteworthy performances and a killer musical score, Requiem is a movie that's hard to forget.


62. Borat

- Sacha Baron Cohen emerged as one of the decade's funniest provocateurs with Da Ali G Show, and he brought his shcok-comedy to the big screen with Borat. While some of the comedy was dervivative of his earlier material, Borat remains side-splittingly funny and absolutely brutal in its portrayal of America's uglier side.



63. The Man Who Wasn't There

- The Coen Bros. did it again with The Man Who Wasn't There, a wonderfully strange film noir featuring a great turn from Billy Bob Thornton in the lead role. Like so many of the Coens' works, the script here is simply a work of genius - every word carefully chosen, every line of dialogue beautifully composed.


64. Superbad

- Every generation needs its classic teen comedy flicks, and Superbad was likely the defining film of its genre of the 00's. A raunchy teen romp for the Facebook era, Superbad featured Michael Cera and Jonah Hill as two geeky dudes embarking on that time-honored teen tradition - the quest for booty. Also: McLovin!


65. Rocky Balboa

- Many, including myself, scoffed at the idea that Sylvester Stallone was dragging Rocky back from movie purgatory for one more go-round. But to my surprise and delight, Rocky Balboa kicked ass - a moody throwback to the original film, it got you pumped, on your feet, and ready to throw some hurtin' bombs like only a great Rocky movie can.


66. Almost Famous

- Cameron Crowe's rock n' roll coming-of-age story is the perfect movie for anyone who's ever dreamed of escaping a normal life in favor of something a little wilder, a little more dangerous. Crowe both breaks down and mythologizes the mystique of rock n' roll fantasy, and in doing so creates a film both personal and universal.


67. In Bruges

- This film snuck up on me, and it took me repeat viewings to realize just how badass of a film it really is. A crackling script and kinetic direction are some of the highlights of this darkly funny crime flick, a badass romp with a surprising level of tragedy and pathos.


68. Ghost World

- Terry Zwigoff's bittersweet tale of teen outcasts melds indie-comic quirkiness with understated humor. Steve Buscemi has rarely been better, and Thora Birtch and Scarlett Johanssen impressed in breakout roles.


69. V For Vendetta

- Remember, remember ... that V For Vendetta was an overlooked and surprisingly high-quality adaptation of the Alan Moore graphic novel. Hugo Weaving's performance as the title character was amazing, and the anarchic message of the story seemed appropriately cathartic for our tumultuous times.


70. Walk The Line

- Johnny Cash had an unexpected moment in the spotlight in the 00's, and Walk The Line was a fitting tribute to a man whose somber music proved as relevant as resonant as ever in this decade. Walk The Line made a whole new generation into fans of the Man In Black.


71. Up In the Air

- A fitting film for our times, Up In the Air is a poignant look at a man who lives in the air, from hotel room to hotel room, without any real human or material connections to keep him grounded. In an age in which people are increasingly mobile, plugged-in, and detached from real connection, Up In the Air is a fascinating character study of what some of us could - or have already - become.


72. Sin City

- An ultra-stylized adaptation of Frank Miller's crime-noir comic books, Sin City looked unlike any movie before it, translating a particular visual and aesthetic style from page to screen with uncanny accuracy. Maintaining Miller's flair for colorful language and over-the-top, hard-boiled characters, director Robert Rodriguez raised the bar for comic book adaptations.


73. Gran Torino

- Sure, Clint Eastwood has made a number of critically-acclaimed dramas over the last decade, but it was undeniably awesome to see him get away from dry melodrama and instead take one final shot at embracing his inner badass. A pulpy tale of a grizzled old warrior's final curtain call, Gran Torino is a fitting reflection on the culture of violence that Eastwood himself helped to perpetuate.



74. O Brother, Where Art Thou?

- The Coen Brothers' oddball comedy is a folky take on Homer's The Odyssey and a screwball adventure all in one. It's the kind of movie that seemingly only the Coens can pull off - and the fact that its bluegrass soundtrack went on to be a smash hit is, in some ways, a tribute to the film's infectious charm.


75. About Schmidt

- Some actors age gracefully, and others do it kicking and screaming. That's partly what's made Jack Nicholson so fascinating in his late-period work - he may be older, but he still has that child-like, mischievious gleam in his eye. About Schmidt is Nicholson in fine form - a cross-country journey that's both funny and moving.


76. Anvil: The Story of Anvil

- This inspirational rock doc is the true-life story of a rock band that had a brief moment of glory, but then faded into obscurity as the cold reality of showbiz set in. Many of us reach those moments in our lives where we see the window closing on opportunty, so it's awesome to see a band that never stopped rocking, through the good times and the bad.



77. Pan's Labyrinth

- Guillermo del Toro is probably one of the most interesting and creative directors to break out in the 00's, and you get the feeling that his great masterpiece is still yet to come. That said, Pan's Labyrinth is darn close - a visual stunner bursting with imagination.


78. Anchorman

- Will Ferrell was everywhere in the 00's - he starred in his share of very funny comedies as well as a number of clunkers. But to me, his best comedy of the decade was Anchorman - a hilarious parody of 1970s's era media-industry (mustache-clad) machismo.


79. King Kong

- I know there's been something of a King Kong backlash in recent years, but I stand by the quality of Peter Jackson's passion-project remake of the classic film. The movie was, perhaps, too ambitious for its own good, but that ambition also means its filled to the brim with cool concepts, amazing set-piece action sequences, and unbridled imagination.


80. Burn After Reading

- For some reason, the Coen Brothers' comedies tend to get dismissed by critics even as they eventually go on to become cult classics. To me, Burn After Reading is a hilarious and oddly profound sendup of how people and governments can make much ado about nothing - and it has a whole host of amazing performances to boot (Pitt, Clooney, Malkovich, McDormand, and Jenkins, just to name a few).


81. Collateral

- Michael Mann made a number of ultra-slick, high-octane dramas in the 00's, but his best was Collateral. A dark and intense morality tale, Collateral transformed Jamie Foxx from comedian to serious actor, and is also perhaps Tom Cruise's best and most memorable role of the 00's.


82. The Incredibles

- The Incredibles may be a riff on well-worn thematic territory (The Fantastic 4 say hello), but Pixar and Brad Bird create such a vibrant animated world that it's hard to care. Featuring a great cast of characters and rollicking action, The Incredibles was another winner from Pixar.


83. Avatar

- Time will tell how James Cameron's sci-fi epic will hold up, but I do think it deserves a spot on this list for sheer visual and storytelling ambition alone. Thanks to unprecedented digital and motion-capture f/x, the alien world of Pandora is brought to life with an astonishing vibrancy and attention to detail, and the badass action sequences are vintage Cameron.


84. 300

- A pure adrenaline rush from start to finish, 300 is balls-to-the-wall action the likes of which has rarely been seen in cinema. Director Zach Snyder created a stylized world in which his 300 Spartans kicked ass and took names in beautifully brutal fashion.


85. Moon

- Moon is one of those great dark horse movies that seems to come out of nowhere, taking you to a place you never expected to go. An old-school science-fiction fable straight out of The Twilight Zone, Moon floors you with its various twists and turns, even as star Sam Rockwell wows you with his incredible acting versatility.


86. American Teen

- At a time when teen life seemed documented only through the MTV-ified lense of a hundred godawful reality TV shows, American Teen came along and showed an earnest, warts-and-all portrayal of a group of average American teens - their hopes, their dreams, and their failings. By subverting the classic Breakfast Club stereotypes, this documentary paints a complex, funny, and moving portrait of what it is to come of age in American suburbia.


87. The Last King of Scotland

- A fascinating look at dictator Idi Amin's reign of terror in Uganda, The Last King of Scotland features, I think, one of the greatest performances of the decade, with Forest Whitaker absolutely tearing the house down as Amin. James McAvoy is also great in this film, which rightfully won Whitaker an Oscar, but was perhaps overlooked in terms of being simply a great movie on the whole.


88. Bowling For Columbine

- Despite what you may think of Michael Moore's politics, you have to admit that he brought documentary filmmaking back into the mainstream, and into relevancy for Gen Y, with Bowling for Columbine. A funny and fascinating and at times disturbing look at the culture of violence in America, Bowling For Columbine sought answers to a tragedy that deeply affected our generation, and whose aftermath carried over well into the 00's.


89. Forgetting Sarah Marshall

- A hilarious break-up comedy starring Jason Segal, Forgetting Sarah Marshall worked so well because it never pandered to the usual Hollywood comedy cliches. All of the characters were three dimensional, and that made the comedy all the more effective and genuine-seeming. Also: Dracula - The Musical. 'Nuff said.


90. Best In Show

- Another comedy classic from Christopher Guest, Best In Show shows off Guest's knack for gently mocking strange subcultures (in this case, the oddball world of competitive dog shows), all the while paying a strange sort of respect to them. This one is also a great showcase for Guest's troupe of ultra-talented improv comedians, including Fred Willard, Eugene Levy, Jane Lynch, Parker Posey, and Michael McKean.


91. Star Trek

- In an era when many a big-budget blockbuster turned out to be soulless, lowest-common-denominator dreck, Star Trek surprised the cynics (like me) with a rip-roaring adventure that captured the spirit of the original while also managing to feel fresh and new. JJ Abrams worked his magic in this one, reinvigorating the Star Trek franchise for the decade to come.


92. Son of Rambow

- Son of Rambow is a movie that brilliantly taps into the childhood desire to create. A funny but heartfelt film about two troubled kids living vicariously through the movies, Son of Rambow made me want to go out and write my own cheesy homage to 80's action flicks, just like the kids in the movie.


93. Rescue Dawn

- Werner Herzog delivered one hell of a harrowing story with this film about a group of soldiers struggle to survive after crash-landing in the Laotian jungle during the Vietnam War. Outstanding performances from Christian Bale, Steve Zahn, and Jeremy Davies highlight this intense thriller.


94. Let the Right One In

- Think you've seen every variation of vampire movies there is to see? Think again. This haunting Swedish film tells the story of a lonely boy whose new best friend is a girl who also happens to be an ancient vampire. It's a mesmerizing, disturbing film ... oh you crazy Swedes, you.


95. Drag Me to Hell

- The Evil Dead films are rightly considered cult classics, and for years, fans clamored for director Sam Raimi to return to his horror-comedy roots following his forays into the Hollywood mainstream. Finally, Raimi answered the call with Drag Me to Hell, an absolutely insane, over-the-top horror flick that is the work of a master at the top of his game.


96. Monsters, Inc.

- Yet another Pixar classic, Monsters, Inc. is a visually-amazing journey into a strange-yet-familiar world of monsters and things that go bump in the night. As always, the movie's cartoonish facade belies an unusual depth and thematic texture - Pixar just has that amazing ability to make films that work brilliantly on multiple levels.


97. Gangs of New York

- Scorcese's American fable is best known for its iconic performance from Daniel Day-Lewis as Bill the Butcher, but it's also a pretty amazing historical epic in its own right. Scorcese directs with style and aplomb, and, to me, it's a worthy addition to the great director's cannon.


98. Black Snake Moan

- Director Craig Brewer followed up the acclaimed Hustle & Flow with this underrated piece of pulp fiction - the down n' dirty tale of a bluesman (Samuel L. Jackson, in maybe his best-ever role), who gets mixed up with a troubled girl who seems to have a bit of the devil inside her (Christina Ricci - similarly great). Awesome.


99. Minority Report

- Steven Spielberg delivered with Minority Report, a sci-fi thriller that was unusually grim n' gritty given the director's usual stylistic tendencies. Featuring intense action and some ultra-cool high concepts, Minority Report was one of Spielberg's best of the decade.


100. Walk Hard

- It's sort of odd ... of all of the Judd Apatow-produced movies this decade, Walk Hard may have been the biggest commercial flop ... and yet, it's also one of the funniest. The movie is just flat-out hilarious - a pitch-perfect parody of musical biopics, full of both spot-on satire and random absurdist comedy.



HONORABLE MENTIONS:

- Up
- Sky High
- Grindhouse
- Bubba Ho-Tep
- Clerks II
- The Darjeeling Limited
- Farenheit 9/11
- War of the Worlds
- Children of Men
- Black Book
- Intolerable Cruelty
- Star Wars: Episode III
- Hot Rod
- Role Models
- Iron Man
- Hellboy (I and II)
- Vicky Cristina Barcelona
- Coraline
- Taken
- The TV Set
- Eagle vs. Shark
- High Fidelity
- Pineapple Express
- AI: Artificial Intelligence
- Brick
- Watchmen
- Adventureland
- The Invention of Lying
- X2: X-Men United
- The Incredible Hulk
- Frost/Nixon
- Pirate Radio
- Paranormal Activity
- Snatch
- Crank (1 & 2)
- Rambo
- Shadow of the Vampire
- Doomsday
- Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
- House of Flying Daggers
- The Last Samurai
- Knocked Up
- The 40 Year Old Virgin
- Talladega Nights
- Stardust
- Spirited Away
- Iron Monkey
- Nacho Libre
- Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist
- Miami Vice
- Metallica: Some Kind of Monster
- Mean Girls
- Shrek
- Enchanted
- Fanboys
- The Lovely Bones
- Milk
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
- The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe
- Thank You For Smoking
- Waltz With Bashir
- Ocean's Eleven

4 comments:

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