The 2000s decade is coming to an end in a couple of weeks and I wanted to celebrate by putting together a list of my favorite movies of the 00s. Notice I didn’t say the best. “Best of” lists are pretty arrogant since art, especially movies, are so subjective. So these are just my personal faves, for varying reasons. I would love to hear from you about your favorite films of the decade as well.
Without further ado, my top ten favorite movies of the 00s (in no particular order):
One of the best Iranian movies I have seen in a long time. It was so refreshing to see a comedy that worked so well, with such a talented cast. (One of the best parts was when the religion student would ask inane questions such as how would an astronaut know which way to turn to when doing his prayer in space). And through the laughter, there was of course a sharp social and political commentary. Too bad there aren’t enough people out there who read and live by the Little Prince!
By far, the best comedy of the 00s. I think I have watched it twenty times at least. As I wrote in an earlier review on this site, Borat is a character that not only provides us with laughs but his heart and soul resonate with all of us, the ever optimistic immigrant persevering in the face of rejection and hardships in a strange land. What I most loved about his character is that, as Sosa tells Tony Montana, there is “no lying” in him. Borat may be a naïve but at least he is not a hypocrite, like so many of the real individuals he lampooned on his journey of cultural learnings in America to make benefit of glorious nation of Kazakhstan.
Of course I had to include a chick flick on this list. And while there were many good ones to choose from (Sex and the City, He’s just not that into you), I had to pick this Chris Rock film as my all time favorite of the past decade, for two reasons: 1) A brilliant script by Rock and Louis C.K., and 2) it is one of those rare instances when a “relationship” story is told so honestly from the point of view of the man. When I found out this is a remake of a French film, I had my A-Ha moment. I don’t think any American film could deal so honestly and maturely with the ups and downs of marriage. Most chick flicks are just escapist fantasies with unreal, unattainable men. And while I can enjoy those as well, this is the film that stood out for me.
A return to the swashbuckling movies of Errol Flynn with a dash of Kung Fu and a sprinkle of the supernatural. All that and you get Monica Belluci, Vincent Cassel and Emilie Dequenne, perhaps the most photogenic and talented European stars of today, and some fantastic cinematography. Bring on the popcorn, this is going to be a wild ride.
There were many amazing documentaries this past decade, from Michael Moore’s fiery Fahrenheit 9/11, to James Toback’s heartbreaking, lyrical Tyson, and Al Gore’s Oscar winning An Inconvenient Truth. But I chose a little known and unfortunately little seen, fascinating, disturbing, documentary by Maziar Bahari about the serial killings of prostitutes in the holy city of Mashad. There is really shocking footage here, of the convicted killer and his family being candidly and chillingly interviewed about his crimes, of the victims’ family members including two little girls with child’s bodies but old people’s souls, and the community members who take sides between the killer as martyr and hero and the killer as evil and monstrous.
Here is when I become judgmental. Because, if you are not moved by this film, I can truly say that you are heartless!!! You can read my blog about this here.
You know that recent news story in the United States about Jaycee Dugard, the little girl who was kidnapped as a child and kept in captivity through her adult life, even bearing her tormentor’s children. If you want to truly understand how something so incomprehensible can happen, this movie has the answer for you. A totally non-melodramatic and very realistic portrait of child abuse and the child sex trade in the United States, the likes of which I am certain you have never seen before. And Tom Arnold is so exceptional in it as the kidnapper who does not LOOK like a monster but acts and talks more like Uncle Roger. If you are like me, you won’t be able to watch this film again after the first viewing, but it will stay with you for the rest of your life.
Well, I had to include at least one horror movie, didn’t I? And while vampires, sorcerers and werewolves are the ones getting all the publicity right now, I really think this was the decade of the zombies! The one great innovation we had in the 2000s was how they were reinvented from the laughably slow, drooling pieces of rotting corpses we were used to, into really terrifying, rabid, fast predators with superhuman powers. In films from Dawn of the Dead (the remake) and Resident Evil, we were confronted by a totally new breed of zombies. The best of those zombie movies for me was 28 days later, with the delicious Cillian Murphy as the hero, Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, Trainspotting) as the director, and Alex Garland (The Beach) as the writer, this was an all-star team that delivered the goods.
Every once in a while, a movie comes out that kind of speaks for its generation. Rebel without a cause, Breathless, Easy Riders, Clerks, come to mind. This film redeemed my opinion of Sofia Coppola which had been totally shattered by her terrible performance in her father’s film Godfather III. Who knew she was going to get out from under the shadow of her famous father and come into her own? Bill Murray and Scarlett Johanssen are one of the most unlikely romantic couples in film history but somehow it is totally believable. The background of the luminous city of Tokyo, beautifully photographed by Lance Acord, lends a fairy tale quality to this unforgettable movie.
You can say that Lars Von Trier (Breaking the waves, Dancer in the dark) is a pioneer, a great artist, a visionary, fearless. Yes, he is all that. But I would add that he is also a misogynist. I ‘m sorry, but after seeing his female heroines battered and humiliated with a cruelty that I had never seen before in cinema, I wonder when the social commentary ends and the director’s jollies begin? Nevertheless, his movies are different, interesting, and worth seeing, whether you end up hating them or not. With probably the most high caliber cast you would ever find on screen these days (Lauren Bacall, Nicole Kidman, James Caan, Patricia Clarkson, Philipp Baker Hall, John Hurt, Stellan Skarsgard, etc).
Honorable Mentions: Blue Car, Birth, The Departed, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Hangover, Kill Bill, Match Point, Passion of Mind, Persepolis, Sex and the City, He’s just not that into you, Fahrenheit 9/11, Tyson.
Stay tuned for my list of the movies I hated in the 00s…
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