The ’00s…the Zeroes… The Naughts… Whatever we call this first decade of the 21st Century, I have to say it was a great decade for movies. And yes, the movie universe is topsy turvy now, with mid-range budgeted films moved out to usher in $200 million comic book tentpoles and the Indie Film era is in great tumult, we can still reflect on the great films that brought back spectacle, as well as authentic storytelling that was strengthened by rising auteurs. In addition, in our globalized world, with the advent to DVD and yes, piracy, the audience became more empowered, in my opinion. At the end of the decade, the traditional space of the cinema may be vanquished as other alternatives have sprung up with home theater systems, as well as alternative online distribution models across various platforms.
But enough of my rant. I wanted to start this special Around the Horn by celebrating the best films of the Naughts. Now, it is very difficult to actually rank these personal picks so I am just listing them in random order. The criteria is that I didn’t just use my right brain, and by no means, do I want this entry to be all stodgy. On the contrary, these are personal picks that I reacted to in such an emotional level that I tend to revisit these films over and over again. They’ve joined my film viewing oeuvre. I’m going to highlight some titles with some cool clips that I hope strengthen my choice. I am sure many of our readers have seen these films, but if you did not, get them on your Netflix queue!
Far From Heaven (2002) – An homage to Douglas Sirk melodramas of the 1950s, Todd Haynes’ masterful look into the underbelly of White American artifice. The clandestine bond formed by perfect housewife Julianne Moore and black gardener Dennis Haysbert is touching as real emotions slowly seep out from the manicured simulacrum of White suburbia.
Half Nelson (2006) – This movie could’ve gone the cheesy way of the white savior, but instead, first-time filmmakers Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden create an authentic film about a cracked out teacher (Ryan Gosling in a groundbreaking performance) and the relationship he has with a troubled black youth named Drey (Shareeka Epps). It’s kind of like The Wire, Season 4.
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001 – 2003) – Most realized and most fantastical film trilogy ever. Even beats the original Star Wars trilogy, which is muddied by Ewoks in the third chapter.
The Dark Knight (2008) – Best comic book film adaptation ever. Christopher Nolan’s vision is unprecedented and everyone was on fire in this film, especially the late Heath Ledger but also Aaron Eckhart, who I think gets short shrift for his morally tortured and manipulated role as Harvey Dent. Read more...