Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Best Movies of the 2000's

Well, we've entered a new decade and I've decided to take a look back at the movie's of the 2000's. There were many great movies and I think I've managed to narrow it all down to the best fifteen movies of the last ten years. It took a lot of work and thinking but I think I did a good job.

Honorable mentions: Battle Royale, Being John Malkovich, Blood Diamond, The Bourne Trilogy, Children of Men, Crash, Donnie Darko, Downfall, Finding Nemo, Frost/Nixon, Good Night and Good Luck, The Host, The Hurt Locker, Iron Man, Juno, Little Miss Sunshine, Memento, Milk, Monsters Inc., Moon, Oldboy, Stardust, Tropic Thunder, Watchmen, The Wrestler.

15. Shaun of the Dead (2004)

I know, off to an interesting start. Well, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Edgar Wright created one of the most brilliant horror/comedies I've seen since Sam Raimi's Evil Dead movies. Shaun of the Dead has the perfect mixture of comedy and brutal horror. It has extreme re-watchability and I laugh every time I watch it. The writing is great and the performances are wonderful. I will admit, 2009's Zombieland rivals it pretty well, we'll see how it lasts over the next couple years.

14. World's Fastest Indian (2005)

A very sweet and heartfelt movie that tells the amazing true story of a man who broke the land speed record on his motorcycle at the age of 63. Extremely well written with what is one of Anthony Hopkins best performances of his career. I love to watch this movie, it is very moving and quite funny at times, not to mention incredibly motivating. After watching this movie you will never think "I am too old to do that" ever again.

13. O' Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)

An interesting twist on Homer's classic tale "The Odyssey" set in the deep south in the 1930's. The Coen Brother's struck gold with this movie. An amazing cast including George Clooney, John Turturro, Tim Blake Nelson and John Goodman. Clooney was amazing as the leader of the gang, Everett. This movie is absolutely hilarious and fun to watch from start to finish. Every shot in the movie is absolutely beautiful and it's no wonder it was nominated for an Oscar for cinematography. To top it all off this movie had one of the most perfect soundtracks of any movie, just great.

12. Avatar (2009)

I know a lot of people don't consider this movie all too original because the story line seems like a merger of Dances With Wolves and Ferngully. While I can admit, that is relatively accurate, I feel that what James Cameron did with the story and the characters was amazing. I connected to the characters on a level I didn't think I would. Also, the technology Cameron used to make this movie, to create the people and to create the beautiful world of Pandora was amazing and when I saw it on IMAX 3D I felt completely immersed in every aspect of the movie. Meaning I felt connected to the world and all of the characters. It's just a really well made movie.

11. Casino Royale (2006)

This, essentially, reboot of the James Bond franchise was wonderful. I went into this movie with relatively low expectations because the quality of the Bond movies seemed to be slipping and I had only seen Daniel Craig in Layer Cake and Tomb Raider so I didn't know how he would fit into the role. Well, the movie blew me away. Daniel Craig's portrayal of James Bond rivals only Sean Connery in the role. This movie got back to the basics with gorgeous girls, fast cars and cool gadgets, and what really made it that much better in my opinion was seeing Bond get beat to no extent and still keeping his cool. This movie is just fun to watch whether or not you are a fan of 007.

10. Up In The Air (2009)

A movie about a man who flies around the country in order to fire people from their jobs when their companies don't want to. In all honesty, part of what makes this movie so great is its timing. It comes out when the country is experiencing an economic crisis and many people are losing their jobs. What makes it great is how it makes you feel about that. I saw this movie shortly after losing my job and this movie really made me feel better about the situation. Also, George Clooney gives the performance of his career. His character experiences an extraordinary identity crisis and George Clooney just played the role perfectly. Not to mention that it has the perfect combination of humor, romanticism and drama. Just an amazing movie, I can't stop thinking about it.

9. There Will Be Blood (2007)

This movie was just beautiful. From start to finish the cinematography is just breath taking. Paul Thomas Anderson did an amazing job of directing this movie. Daniel Day Lewis gives an amazing performance. His character is very intriguing and seems to have many sides to him and Daniel Day Lewis did a wonderful job of depicting the character of Daniel Plainview. Paul Dano gives his best performance yet as the (slightly crazy) preacher, Paul Sunday. The movie's story and plot are gripping and exciting at times and the movie really just grabs you and doesn't let go until the credits.

8. Pixar - 3 way tie

Pixar just knows how to tell a story and they just keep getting better at it. During the last decade they put out several great movies but there are three in particular where I feel they really excelled.

Up (2009)

This movie was so amazing that I really feel that it shouldn't just be nominated for best animated picture at the Oscars but it should be nominated for Best Picture. The story is simply amazing and is full of emotion. During the beginning sequence of the movie Pixar shows how they can tell a story without saying a word and it is so emotional and so sad that it actually makes me tear up when I', watching it. Everything about this movie is so good and I would argue that it's not actually a kids movie as it deals with many grown up issues that most kids wouldn't understand. Just great.

Wall-E (2008)

Another movie where Pixar said so much while saying so little. They did amazing things with this movie. They gave Wall-E and Eve such great personalities that you really connect with them and feel for them even though they are robots. The story is wonderful and the visuals used in the movie are amazing and beautiful. Not to mention all the great references to classic sci-fi movies. This movie was great and it really shows Pixar's abilities pretty well.

The Incredibles (2004)

The story of this movie is fantastic: What happens to superheroes when they retire? Such an amazing new look at the world of superheroes. All of the characters are absolutely amazing and the visuals once again are just great. This is the Pixar movie that I can watch over and over and never get tired of.

7. Sideways (2004)

A wonderful comedy about two friends approaching middle age going on a road trip through California's wine country. This movie has two of my favorite actors, Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church, in some of the best performances of their careers. One of the most interesting things about that is that both are playing rather unlikeable people, but you end up feeling for them and sort of bonding with them. As well as the beautiful scenery of California's wine country. This movie is charming and moving and very funny. The movie really deals very well with the issue of human nature and the writer/director did a wonderful job with it.

6. The Departed (2006)

This movie is, in my opinion, Martin Scorsese's best movie yet. This movie tells an amazingly compelling story about two people from opposite ends of the law living undercover in the Massachusetts State Police and the Irish mafia. Both people, while undercover, have moments where they seem lost in their undercover personas. The movie is beautifully shot and has one of the best casts of any movie including Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCarprio, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen, Alec Baldwin, Vera Farmiga and others. This movie, along with Blood Diamond, convinced me that Leo DiCaprio can be a good actor because I didn't like a single movie he was in pre 2006.

5. El Laberinto del Fauno aka Pan's Labyrinth (2006)

Set in fascist Spain in 1944, this movie tells a beautiful story about a bookish young girl with a sadistic army officer stepfather who escapes into an eerie but beautiful fantasy world. Guillermo del Toro is one of the more visually fascinating director's out there today and he does not disappoint with this gorgeous movie. All the creatures and what not that he creates are amazing and beautiful. The story is really intriguing and very sad when you see why this young girl is creating this odd world in order to escape from her horrifying reality. Not to mention that all of the actors in the movie gave amazing standout performances all around. I also love the fact that many parent's only heard or saw the word's "fairy tale" in the advertising so they brought their kids only to watch a man get his face/skull smashed in with a wine bottle in the first five minutes.

4. No Country For Old Men (2007)

Brilliantly adapted from Cormac McCarthy's novel about a local Texas man who comes across two million dollars from a drug deal that's gone awry then begins to be hunted down by a contract killer. Josh Brolin and Tommy Lee Jones give amazing performances in this movie but it's Javier Bardem who steals the show as the disturbingly calm yet excruciatingly brutal killer, Anton Chigurh. All of the performances are captivating and the scenery of this movie set in Texas. The Coen brothers deliver their best movie yet and did such an amazing job they won best picture and best director at the Oscars. Just an amazing movie that really gets you thinking at times.

3.The Dark Knight (2008)

Proof that comic book movies can appeal to everyone if made correctly, The Dark Knight was a triumph in the world of comic book movies and was so perfectly made that it is an insult that it wasn't nominated for best picture. Christopher and Jonathan Nolan and David S. Goyer wrote a perfect script and storyline. The cinematography and direction were astounding. Not to mention amazing performances by Christian Bale as Batman, Maggie Gyllenhaal as the woman Batman longs to be with, Michael Caine is perfect as Alfred, Gary Oldman as Jim Gordon, Morgan Freeman as Bruce Wayne's ally of sorts, and Aaron Eckhart as a Two-Face I couldn't have dreamed of and of course the performance of a lifetime by Heath Ledger as The Joker. Ledger's Joker was chilling and terrifying as the Joker should be.

Batman Begins (2005)

I of course have to mention Batman Begins because if Christopher Nolan hadn't taken on this movie and reinvented Batman in a way that nobody could have expected, we wouldn't have The Dark Knight. What worked so well for Batman Begins were all the performances as well as Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer wrote a story that's not exactly a superhero movie but rather a gangster movie that's set in a world where a superhero exists.

2. Gladiator (2000)

A beautiful story about a Roman general who is betrayed and his family is murdered by a corrupt prince. He then becomes a slave and a gladiator and fights his way to Rome in order to seek revenge. The script is just amazing. Helmed by one of the best directors out there today, Ridley Scott, who made this movie look absolutely beautiful and you really felt like you were in ancient Rome. Russell Crow did a fantastic job as the Roman general Maximus and you really felt for his character. The rest of the cast that included Juaqin Phoenix in one of his best performances as well as Connie Nielsen, Richard Harris and Djimon Hounsou. This movie nears perfection in how well it's made and it has extreme rewatchability.

1. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)

The amazing story of a man who ages backwards and all of the adventures he takes in his life. In my opinion there was no better movie over the last ten years than Benjamin Button and it is probably in my top five movies of all time. Thanks to director David Fincher and cinematographer Claudio Miranda, this movie was a work of art from start to finish, it is definitely one of the most beautiful movies I have ever seen. From the early scenes set in gorgeous 1920s New Orleans to the later scenes in New York and Russia, every frame is just beautiful. The script and screenplay were written so well and the story was just amazing. Brad Pitt gives the best performance of his career yet as the titular character, Benjamin Button, I loved his acting in this movie. Cate Blanchett did a great job as Benjamin's love interest, Daisy. Taraji P. Henson just stole every scene that she was in as Queenie, Benjamin's adoptive mother. I still feel that she deserved the award for best supporting actress, simply amazing. Not to mention all the great performances by Tilda Swinon, Mahershalalhashbaz Ali, Jason Flemyng, Elle Fanning and Jared Harris. I feel that this movie is greatly underappreciated and I can't figure out why. I hear a lot of people complain about the length but what I get a kick out of is that it is shorter than all of the Lord of the Rings movies (especially their extended cuts) by far but people love those movies and at least Benjamin Button has an interesting story and plot and it has good acting. I personally don't care how long a movie is so long as it's good and this movie is absolutely amazing.

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