A New Year and A New Top 10 – Top 10 of the 2000s
Happy New Year and welcome to 2010! 2009 was a pretty eventful year for me. Mrs. ReeltoReel (Thanks to M. Carter for the new nickname :) ) and I celebrated our 2nd anniversary, moved to Carbondale, started law school and new jobs respectively, and my posting on this blog was hit and miss. But with a new year comes new year resolutions and one of those resolutions is…oh, it’s not even worth typing. On to the top 10 of the 2000s!
10. Children of Men (2006)
Alfonso Cuaron’s chilling look at the future. Clive Owen gives his best performance as Theo, an apathetic man given the task of caring a great deal for the only pregnant woman alive. Julianne Moore and Michael Caine turn in solid performances, as well. Cuaron, along with Alejandro Inarritu and Guillermo del Toro, proved during the 2000s that Mexican cinema is alive and well. This is a film that I feel is underrated/underappreciated. A solid story, heart-pumping action, and some of the best tracking shots ever filmed help put this one at numero 10.
9. No Country for Old Men (2007)
The Coen brothers did it again in 2007. With movies like Fargo and The Big Lebowski already in their pantheon of greatness, they didn’t need to prove anything to anyone. But they did it anyway because, well, they can. That’s how they roll. Based off of Cormac McCarthy’s (which, btw, you should read his stuff if you haven’t) novel the Coens delivered a pulse-stopping thriller with fantastic turns by Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, and Tommy Lee Jones (who had a great 2007 in general). If you haven’t seen it, grab a coin and give it a flip. Lands on heads, you watch it. Lands on tails…Trust me. You don’t want it to land on tails.
8. Juno (2007)
No Country for Old Men and Juno were made in the same year and you couldn’t get 2 movies more different from each other – a psychopathic serial killer on the prowl in one and a 16 year old snarky hipster pregnant girl in the other. While they differed a great deal, they were 2 of the best films of 2007 (and now, looking back, the 2000s). Jason Reitman’s second feature film was a great one (and his newest is pretty darn good, too) with a smoking hot screenplay by Diablo Cody that sizzled with enough one-liners to make even Anton Chigurh crack a smile. Check out my full review here.
7. Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
Like his fellow Mexican filmmaker Alfonso Cuaron, Guillermo del Toro has emerged as a director to be reckoned with. With a flair for the fantastical, del Toro took a fairy tale about a little girl named Ofelia trying to survive in war-torn Spain and turned it on its head. It is terrifying, beautiful, gut-wrenching and mesmerizing. It makes Alice in Wonderland look like a birthday party at a McDonald’s Playland.
6. Pride and Prejudice (2005)
Surprised to see this one on the list? You shouldn’t be because it’s a great film. Joe Wright directs Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen in the best adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel. Wright doesn’t simply present the story, he involves us in it with his curious camera (a la Scorcese and Paul Thomas Anderson). Check out the ballroom dancing sequence with a wonderful unbroken shot that takes us from one room to the next while still moving the story along. This movie exudes romance.
5. The Departed (2006)
Martin Scorcese has had an amazing career. Taxi Driver in the 70s, Raging Bull in the 80s, Goodfellas in the 90s, and now The Departed for the 2000s helps complete his “At Least One Great Movie Per Decade” quota. This is the movie now responsible for showcasing Boston as the “new” New York City, gritty, dark, violent, and one heck of a nice city to look at. The Departed plays like a crime thriller, but, as is usual with most Scorcese films, he transcends the story and delves into the human psyche. Leo Dicaprio and Jack Nicholson are wonderful counterparts, and the juxtaposition of Dicaprio’s boyish good looks with Nicholson’s tough guy persona help add to the suspense of the film. The fact that this was Scorcese’s first Best Director Oscar is a travesty, but at least it was for one of his best.
4. Once (2007)
Once is a low budget, pseudo-musical written and directed by a former indie band bass player starring the same indie band’s lead singer and a singer from the Czech Republic. This movie shouldn’t have been a success, but John Carney, the bass player turned writer/director, paints such an intimate portrait of the Guy and Girl that you can’t help but feel good afterwards. And Glen Hansard’s and Marketa Irglova’s Oscar winning soundtrack help carry the film to it’s surprising but perfect ending. The R rating is ridiculous. This isn’t a sex-fueled rom-com but a mature and lovely movie about two people meeting and falling in love in their own way.
3. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Don’t let the fact that Jim Carrey stars in this movie keep you from watching it. This isn’t his typical Ace Ventura character. He plays Joel Barish, a man reeling from his recent break-up with Clementine (Kate Winslet). He discovers there is a procedure that will erase any memories of Clementine and decides to go forward with it, but half-way through he realizes he’d rather hold onto the memories, good and bad, than forget about her. The catch is he can’t wake up to stop it. Charlie Kaufman’s screenplay is nothing short of genius and Michel Gondry handles the material with care and gives us one of the most original movies of the decade. It blew me away when I first saw it and it still blows me away with each viewing.
2. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001, 2002, 2003)
You can argue that this is really three movies in one pick, but you can’t view one without the other two. This trilogy defines the term “epic.” Who knew that a movie about hobbits and orcs and elves and wizards could be so moving? Sure, LOTR doesn’t present us with any new or profound ideas, but the message of hope and friendship shines bright and clear even in the depths of Mordor. Peter Jackson proved himself as a true auteur with his handling of such a huge story with an equally large cast. You’re not a true fan of the series until you’ve watched all 3 in succession – the extended versions. Yes, that’s a challenge.
1. The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters (2006)
A documentary about a man playing Donkey Kong shouldn’t be the best film of the decade let alone interesting, but it’s definitely both. Steve Wiebe is an average man that finds himself unemployed and with a Donkey Kong arcade machine in his garage. After playing it a few times he realizes that he is pretty good and might actually have a chance of breaking the high score held by Billy Mitchell, a video game champion from the 1980s that might not realize quite yet that it’s the 21st century. This isn’t really a documentary about video games but rather about a man up against a system and a society that seems to want him to fail. His wife comments that he “is good at a lot of things but isn’t great at any one thing.” She understands that this Donkey Kong crusade is about more than breaking a silly record. It’s about Wiebe’s redemption to himself as a man that has some sort of worth. I’ve seen the movie now at least half a dozen times and each time it hits me like a ton of bricks. It’s the most personal movie on my list and not everyone may like it or “get it.” But if you’ve ever dealt with anxiety or depression or simply dealt with a bully that you wanted to kick in the balls, this movie is for you.