Welcome to the third and final act, the grand finale, the prestige (wink, wink) … my last chapter of my “Best of” series Back to the 2000’s.
The 2000’s are an interesting time in filmmaking. We saw both a renaissance of mainstream film (likely due to the successes of the indie movement of the 90’s) and a push for bigger, badder and realer than ever special effects and CGI.
However, as Tim Dirks of FilmSite.org says:
“Although, the new millennium dawned on January 1st 2001, the new decade of films (and film history) began on January 1, 2000. It began with trumped fears over Y2K and major terrorists attacks on 9/11/2001, was marked at its midpoint with the devastating natural disasters of the Asian tsunami of 2004 and of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and ended with the financial meltdown of the economy (the second crash and recession of the decade). The end of the decade was punctuated by James Cameron’s revolutionary and major blockbuster film Avatar (2009), the highest grossing (domestic) film of 2009 – and of the decade. [It became only the fifth film in movie history to exceed $1 billion in worldwide grosses, and did so in less than 3 weeks.] The film soon surpassed the highest-grossing (worldwide) film of all-time – Cameron’s own Titanic (1997).”
This punctuation has heavily impacted and affected the current film climate dominating our summers with comic book super movies, and adaptations of stories we only dreamed adaptable; however, as Dirks said the decade was dominated by events that overshadowed, and ultimately stunted the rate of growth seen in the decades prior paving the way for more story-driven filmmaking.
SO without further ado here are my favorite films of the 2000’s.
Hiayo Misayaki’s tops my 2000’s list with my favorite coming-of-age story Spirited Away. A Japanese spiritual journey laden with eclectic landscapes, charming unforgettable characters and heart by the ounce, Spirited Away instantly reminds us what it means to be independent and longing and loathing the obstacles life places before us all the while teasing the power of true love.
“Once you’ve met someone you never really forget them.”
At number nine, I have Alfonso Cuarón‘s masterpiece Children of Men.
Set in a dystopian future barren of legacy, CoM explores what it truly means to be human. What is our purpose, have we ruined everything, how far will we go for an icon, and (most importantly) how far will we go for the most precious gift of all … life?
“As the sound of the playgrounds faded, the despair set in. Very odd, what happens in a world without children’s voices.”
Winner of the best picture in 2008 Slumdog Millionaire is my number eight.
Shocking both myself and the world with it’s success at the Academy Awards should have been no shock at all when watching this best picture winner. This masterfully crafted love story used both aggressive cinematography and super stylized editing to capture our hearts and imaginations redefining the depths a man will go for the woman he loves.
“I went on, because I knew she’d be watching.”
Inspiring a generation even if it does not get the credit it deserves, Japanese cult classic BATTLE ROYALE comes in at number seven.
Truth be told I would gladly put this at number two, but that would be a reach and crazy by most standards … I digress. BR is a wonderfully crafted look at life in a fascist government, and while Hunger Games fans do not want to admit it, BR was the inspiration for it all. I will not get into the extreme similarities. Although silly and melodramatic at times, the message is clear, and BR succeeds as one of the perfect examples of the Japanese super gore film genre.
Oh yeah, and it’s cited as being one of the inspirations for Kill Bill … can anybody say GoGo?
“Life is a game. So fight for survival…and find out if you’re worth it.”
My personal choice for best picture of 2008 is my sixth favorite film of the 2000’s, Benjamin Button.
Filmed and set heavily in my hometown of New Orleans, I must admit I am a little biased, but you’d be a fool to argue it was not as close an Oscar race as we’ve ever seen (competing next to 2008’s winner Slumdog Millionaire)! As one of the most unique love stories crafted, Button shows us that love does not always travel the same wave length, and that it’s our job to make the most of the opportunities we are given. True love is a rare commodity, and although our lives may move us apart, love will always draw us back together.
“Your life is defined by its opportunities … even the ones you miss. “
A brilliant masterful fairy tale, Pan’s Labyrinth is my fifth favorite film of the 2000’s.
Showing us war and domestic abuse through the eyes of a child, this journey is one we can never forget. A wizard of practical effects, monster makeup, mood and theme, Del Toro orchestrated a new era in fear with his “Pale Man.”
“You’re getting older, and you’ll see that life isn’t like your fairy tales. The world is a cruel place. And you’ll learn that, even if it hurts. “
What can I say about my number four … this is one of the most personal, relatable, powerful, inspirational, wonderful films ever made.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is everything that we need. We need to forget. We need to let go. We need to move on. BUT. At what cost. Do we need to forget? Should we forget? What happens when our subconscious wins and love prevails? We need you, you need us. We love you, you love us. We forgot you, you forgot us. Then … Montauk.
Eternal Sunshine tackles what it means to be in love and heartbroken. It shows us how vulnerable we all are. It shows us that it is ok to be hurt, because as painful as loss is… love was worth it.
“Come back and make up a good-bye at least. Let’s pretend we had one.”
The perfect balance of comic book movie and a psychological thriller, Christopher Nolan may have created the best comic book adaptation ever. Anchored by the Academy Award winning performance of Heath Leger as the Joker, The Dark Knight showed the world that it is ok to make a serious comic book movie, and that it is okay to take this film genre seriously.
“Why so serious? Why sooooo seriooooouuuussssss?”
The most stylized, sexy, funky homage to Japanese cinema ever Kill Bill Vol 1 comes in as my second favorite film of the 2000’s.
While successfully crossing Americana, Japanese super gore (Remember Battle Royale?), and the Rza’s Iconic Score, Tarantino succeeds with flying colors at crafting a path of revenge. Most notably is the development of the Bride as she kills her way to justice hunting down the people who tried to murder her and her unborn child.
“That woman deserves her revenge…and we deserve to die.”
My favorite film of the 2000’s is also my personal favorite film of all time … Lost in Translation.
This movie speaks to me on a level no other film does. This is my life. This is me. This was my childhood … traveling to cities, making short term friends, sharing something special, living for that moment. We all want to be found, but are we all lost? If this movie does not stop you, and make you feel something, then I want your formula for happiness.
Also a big thank you to Lance Acord for some of the most inspiring cinematography that I’ve experienced.
“The more you know who you are and what you want, the less you let things upset you.”
Honorable Mention: Big Fish, Donnie Darko, The Prestige, No Country for Old Men, Gladiator, In Search of the Midnight Kiss.
I really hope you’ve enjoyed reading these lists as much as I’ve LOVED compiling, writing and re-watching these movies! Let me know what movies you would include in your list of the 2000s. Thank you!