Cinema in the 2000s was some of the more interesting decade of films. This was around the time where CGI became the norm and instantly, so many films that were considered “un-filmable” finally making it into the big picture. I will always remember films in the 2000s decade for the renaissance of comic book movies, the return to fantasy films (that was absent in the 1990s), international films making more success than ever before, and the serious case of sequelitus (More movie sequels than any decade ever). Of course, it is expected to find plenty of bad films from any decade and 2000s is no different. The down side about movies in the 2000s is that practical effects and traditional animation reached it decline (thanks to CGI), Hollywood ran out of original ideas, many action movies attempting to do what Matrix has accomplished, and too many unnecessary sequels. I did enjoy what this 2000s had to offer in films and I showed ten best movies of each year in the 2000s.
Top 10 Movies of 2000
Top 10 Movies of 2001
Top 10 Movies of 2002
Top 10 Movies of 2003
Top 10 Movies of 2004
Top 10 Movies of 2005
Top 10 Movies of 2006
Top 10 Movies of 2007
Top 10 Movies of 2008
Top 10 Movies of 2009
The positives about movies in the 2000s is that there was a lot less risk involved. Anybody who’s anybody could go ahead and watch these films as long as it has a decent trailer that interests them. Just like music in the 2000s, technologically movies has evolved as well. The decade started with DVD’s being the norm and then becoming available for download (possibly for pirating) just like mp3s. Though a lot of filmmakers who got their fame from the 90s stuck around giving their best efforts, many old faces in the movie world remain relevant and nothing drastically changed much throughout the decade of films. So here I am to give you the ten best movies released in the 2000s!
Number 10. – Oldboy
Oldboy is the sequel to Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and is a well thought out movie that ranks up there as one of the greatest revenge films ever made, more so than the likes of Kill Bill. This is nonetheless a superb piece of cinema — South Korea’s best, one that ever serious film fan should definitely check out. The level of filmmaking is superb and director Chan-Wook Park crafts a blistering picture that has stood out above others in the genre. This is a brilliantly shot picture that will certainly appeal to genre fans looking for something truly different. Oldboy is an in your face type of movie, one that doesn’t shy away from its violent content, and it’s one of the few film where the violence is an integral part of the story, and not used in an unnecessary manner. Along with that there is a truly compelling and well layered plot that entertains you from start to finish. Acting wise, the cast deliver some wonderful, convincing performances and in terms of a strong sequel, Oldboy is a worthwhile follow up that exceeds expectations. Korean cinema in the last few years has seen some stellar films, and Oldboy is one such prime example of the genres standout features. This is a near flawless picture that is haunting in its plot and tells a stellar revenge story that is sure to delight cinema buffs everywhere. Oldboy is a disturbing ride, but one that is worth taking if you love a well crafted movie that tells a great story. The direction is immaculate the performances are wonderful, and the film will certainly stay with you long after you’ve seen it. The scenes that use a heavy dose of violence are not for the squeamish and add to the experience that director Chan Wook Park is trying to convey in his Vengeance trilogy and it works brilliantly. Oldboy is a riveting masterwork that elevates the revenge genre to whole new levels.
Number 9. – Pan’s Labyrinth
It’s hard to pigeon hole a film like Pan’s Labyrinth as there are so many facets to it’s structure. On the one hand, it’s a political/historical drama and on the other it’s a fantasy/horror. Few (if any) films will spring to mind when these genres are mentioned in the same breath which reflects the very craftsmanship that’s at work here. One thing that you can undoubtedly count on, though, is it’s highly imaginative nature. Sure, we’ve had fantastical stories before where a young girl escapes her constrained life to enter bigger and more possible worlds. We’ve also had commentaries on the brutalities and restrictions of fascist regimes but to combine them into a wondrous journey of life, struggle and imagination is an amalgamation that I have rarely witnessed. Such is the case with this film and such is the skill of del Toro in his writing and handling of the material. He incorporates an abundance of childhood fantasies, from delving into books and mythology – that feature fauns and fairies – to the power of a piece of chalk on the wall. This may be built around the point of view of a child’s eye but its also not afraid to explore the darker recesses of that very imagination and construct some of the most monstrous creatures that can inhabit that realm. Del Toro is in absolute command here and he’s aided, immeasurably, by cinematographer Guillermo Navarro in capturing and contrasting his world within a world; one is a visually striking and enchanting fantasia, the other a stark and brutal reality. It’s a balance that’s difficult to achieve but with deft handling of coexisting genres, del Toro’s vision is able to come to fruition and manages to be both a reminder of the rigidity of fascism and the escapable ability of an imaginary youthful mind.
Number 8. – There Will Be Blood
God, what a heavy film. It’s a disturbing and weird and fascinating character study that is just out there, but extremely compelling. Even though this is a brilliant masterpiece, parts of it feel a tad forced and hollow, but that’s only a minor issue since the point of the film is characters and themes. It’s a character study about greed, ambition, family, ruthlessness, and insanity. This is more art than anything. As for the plot, well, it’s kinda hard to nail down exactly, but, in broad strokes, it’s about a ruthless oil prospector, and the clashes he has with a local preacher as he strives to strike it rich in California during the early days of the oil industry (late 1890s-late 1920s). Day-Lewis’s performance enters the history books after the first half hour. After the conclusion, the film follows suit. The camerawork here is thematically driven and hypnotic in a way that evokes Kubrick or Coppola. Any minor flaws in the script are dwarfed by haunting and grand beauty and physical craftsmanship, poignant exploration of timeless themes, and Day-Lewis’s mammoth performance. Relentless, strange, and sad, Anderson’s opus depicts human nature in all its contradictions, while also showing an America that, even a century later, has not changed how it operates.
Number 7. – Children of Men
There have been a lot of sci-fi stories that deals with the extinction of humanity, but never was there one that felt so original by not having another alien race eliminating them. Instead, it explores a grim world in which two decades of global human infertility have left humanity with less than a century to survive. Other words, since a genetic fertility defect in women there hasn’t been a single child born in 18 years, thus the world is corrupt with terrorism and anti-government movement holding government responsible for the infertility. Our main character Theo Faron, a former activist encounters his ex-lover, Julian Taylor whose leader of the rebellion to have Theo to join her team and show her Kee, an Arican refugee who reviled that she is pregnant and the first woman in 18 years to finally bare a child. But since she’s the only woman in the world to carry a baby, everybody around Theo and Kee would want to use the baby for various situations; send them over to the “Human Project” to cure the infertility to save humanity. This film goes leaps and bounds with the tension with foreground and background. It goes heavily on the topic of immigration, harsh realities, fear, religion, and government control all of which that is not afraid to show the grim world of what would society be like if humanity is coming to an end, but like Pan’s Labyrinth, as cruel as Children of Men seems its worth it because of the brilliance of hope and the will to overcome the impossible. This is a great display of heroism because using just a single baby to save humanity is perhaps the most magical and yet original idea of doing what’s right. Another thing I immensely appreciate, especially considering that it’s a risky move, is that Children of Men avoided sex. Imagine if Kee wasn’t a talented African actress, but instead was a dumb bimbo that everyone wants to get laid with; this wouldn’t make the subject matter of infertility to be at all taken serious and just made Kee pregnant as an accident rather than a blessing. For the actress who played Kee, she displayed a lot of heart in her role in making a mother to love her child to be believable and as well keeping both of them alive to be intense. There wasn’t a single moment in this movie that I didn’t loose my suspense of disbelief; everything was believable and thanks to the excellent and innovative directing and cinematography, which was the innovative single-shot action sequences. Today we have single-shot action sequences in other movies, like Cloverfield and Battle of Los Angelas, but still to this day Children of Men does its single-shot action sequences better than any movie that imitates it because it doesn’t give you a headache with the shaky cameras, directing was aimed perfectly, and the emotional scenes just makes it ground breaking. If you’re one of those people that complain why movies aren’t innovative anymore, check out Children of Men because it shows that there are still creative ideas for cinema. Its films like Children of Men that guarantees that cinema as art will really survive.
Number 6. – Watchmen
Since the comic book/graphic novel was released, we all were skeptical of even having a Watchmen movie because of the fact that it’s impossible for movies to adapt comic’s most important treasure. We needed to wait 2 decades in order for the technology to even visualize the story told in this comic book. In a matter of fact, I actually like movie more so than the comic book it was adapting. They took a way the stupid squid (made for shock factor) and even the ridiculousTales of the Black Freighter side-story that is unnecessary. Based on the Alan Moore graphic novel, Watchmen is set in an alternate reality where costumed “heroes” were created as state-sanctioned vigilantes to fight the mob and who helped the US win the Vietnam war and get tricky Dicky elected for 5 successive terms as president. Another superhero movie with a difference it sticks firmly to the moral grey areas, showing these “heroes” as human and fallible; who is the more heroic, a violent sociopath obsessed with punishment through vengeance or an emotionally detached self-appointed guardian willing to sacrifice millions of lives for “the greater good”…? The core of the film is provided by charismatic anti-hero Rorschach’s Noir style investigation into the murder of fascistic black ops hero The Comedian, set to the backdrop of a skewed history and political situation which all makes for very interesting viewing and tinges the usual big budget spectacle with a nicely grimy undercurrent. Snyder is hardly the most insightful of directors but his stylized visuals work perfectly here thanks to the wealth of intelligent ideas and interesting characters supplied by a source material that is very visual in essence. Definitely up with the best of the modern style hero movies, Watchmen is intelligent, dark and although I wouldn’t describe it as “exciting”, it’s perfectly paced over its 2 and a half hour length. Considered by most to be unfilmable, Snyder has managed to pull off a bit of a coup with this one and created a superhero film that ranks amongst the best. In a matter of fact, films in the 2000’s is recognized as the renaissance of comic book movies, but in my humble opinion, the genre built itself from mediocre films into the magnum opus of comic book movies with Watchmen!
Number 5. – Waltz With Bashir
This is the VERY FIRST animated documentary that artfully accounts the filmmaker’s forgotten, but haunting memory of the 1982 Lebanon War, Sabra and Shatila Massacre. Ugly history presented with irresistible creativity and charm; a strong and powerful work that explores the psychological trauma by warfare and does it much better than any war film ever created. This film is so goddamn creative by making such build up with the director of the documentary, Ari Folman, as himself animated interviewing as many veterans of the 1982 Labanon War as possible to piece out the stories and remember what did he do in the war that haunted him for years. The film uses a striking combination of frame-by-frame and computer generated animation to create a powerful and at times surreal portrayal of war and the way memory plays tricks on the mind. I love the fact that this film is animated because they were able to animate all the war stories told by these veterans. In fact, it was impossible to get any live-action footage of this war (except for the end sequence) this film took the perfect opportunity to use animation because this is the prime example that you can literally do anything with animation. There were a lot of scenes that were impossible to capture in live-action but Waltz managed to put display all it can with its unique usage of CGI animation. No way on Earth could a live-action movie could be done like this, ever! This film is so in-depth into the structure of this war that it’s nearly a psychological thriller due to the presentation of the traumas of these veterans. As you watch this film it really does open your eyes on its unrelenting and very powerful (yet very disturbing) messages. Waltz With Bashir is an animated documentary (possibly made out of guilt) that really is a life-changing experience. I mean there were so many entertaining and mesmerizing war stories being told and right after Ari Folman pieced everything out and remembered what happened at the end, I swear no one could see it coming. Waltz with Bashir is definitely a film where the more you think about it, the more and more you’ll feel appreciative it, not only what this film did in telling us about this war that not that many people today ever heard of, but also what it did to animation in general for going an extra mile.
Number 4. – Persepolis
We Americans are easily judgmental and lack the view-point of understanding one’s culture while we all only focus our own. I’m pretty sure that there have been a lot of films & books that tried to convince the world that people from the Middle East are civilized as to any other country, but they never got a world wide attention. That is until two graphic novels was released in France in 2000 by author/artist, Marjane Satrapi who showed the world her own life in Iran and it was very different than what we were told by the media. Then seven years later, she finally made her own masterpiece into the big screen that easily showed the world of cinema what her life in Iran is like and how did it feel like being a fugitive carrying the nationality. Out of all the ways you can display the truth to the world, she made it into an animated film and from beginning to end, it was a wonderful & also a harsh experience. This is a black and white animated film that captures the feel that you read in graphic novels and even better is that Persepolis as a film took that perfect opportunity of telling Marjane’s life in a subtle manner. This was a very well crafted coming of age story where it started Marjane’s life as a child who grew up in the Iranian Revolution in the late 70’s to where she is at today. Marjane Satrapi took all the things she remembered the most in her life and displayed them all in the film. In her childhood she faced the issue of her uncle’s loss in the revolution, Iran politics, and religion. In her teen hood, she faced the issue with women’s rights, lack of freedom, education, and to flee from Iran. Then in her young adulthood, she’s faced the issue of cultural differences, flawed love life, and even trying to fit in the social life. All of these were chapters of her life and I loved that this film was very entertaining, rather than depressing or pretentious, throughout the film. The way Marjane Satrapi portrayed her life in Persepolis was not only just events that happened to her, but also she makes references to show us what her life was like back in the time. She was a fan of pop, metal, and alternative music, celebrity stars she and everyone else were into, and historic events that pops out of on the course of the film. I couldn’t believe how effective these pop cultural & historic references were whenever they show up to not only amuse the audience but also remind them that this once existed. Marjane didn’t force you to feel sorry for her, but instead she wanted the audience to connect with her as a person and at times as a realistic cartoon character whenever she makes a funny scene. But most of all, this is a film that offered me something special that I don’t see any other film that does it this well, and in a matter of fact, this is a film that I don’t see any other film that could possibly execute as well as Persepolis. I learned so much from this film and this is the very film that showed how special life really is.
Number 3. – The Terminal
The Terminal is the very movie that I believe is perfection because it has everything that many movies don’t have, like mesmerizing cinematography that goes leaps and bounds from what we’ve already seen, the cast can’t possibly get better because each role an actor plays a solid performance, and the screenplay itself is perhaps the BEST screenplay I’ve ever seen in a movie. This movie could have been one of the most depressing films ever made if they didn’t make Victor Navorski (Tom Hanks) more active, intelligent, developed, helpful, and heroic in his own way. He starts out as a Krakozhian citizen that discovered that he had no country when he arrived in the JFK airport, sad & lonely without a single person who’s from Krakozhia to help him, and his English is limited. As the film moves on, he learns how to live in the airport and was able to improve the Terminal by working as a construction worker to fix the place and help everyone who’s in need in of help in the very airport that he’s in. The character is so well played that I forgot many parts of the film that he’s Tom Hanks and VERY rarely any actor could possibly do that. Yet, the antagonist, Customs and Border Protection, Frank Dixon refuses to let Victor to see America and is smart enough to keep him in there, but not enough to make Victor look like a criminal fugitive which he tries to do throughout the entire movie. But yet, as Victor makes more friends and a better reputation in the terminal, everyone can see the unfairness that Frank Dixon is putting towards Victor and soon letting him see America made the build up so engaging. And who can ever forget the love relationship with Navorski and stewardess Amelia Warren, played by Catherine-Zeta Jones? Amelia Warren is a stewardess who is having an affair with a married man and finds she can open her heart to this strange, simple man. But this film isn’t always about Victor Navorski, but also other characters in the airport such as Rajan Gupta who left India to save himself to work as a janitor, Enrique Cruz who’s needed Victor’s help to find out more for the woman he loves because he’s afraid to talk to her, and so many more.
What I admire most about the film is that we live in a day in age where we are in the subject of terrorism and putting a film set in the airport, you can almost feel it coming, but the Terminal never acknowledges that terrorism exists or else this film would have been considered prejudice or insensitive to internationals whom enters America. Instead this film just shows how difficult it is to have a nationality and being in another country, but yet this film had hopes to keep the movie going forward. There was never a film that was set in the airport that actually made the audience feel like they’re in the airport. And believe me, staying in the airport, though it may be a stretch in waiting too long, it is indeed a beautiful place and I have to take my hat off to Spielberg for showing the beautiful atmosphere of the setting and made the people working in the terminal to look important. Never was there a single movie that made me smile from beginning to end because of how beautiful and well crafted everything seen in this very movie. It avoids everything that I don’t like to see in films, which other movies very often do, and instead takes everything that I want in a good movie and left we with an impression that The Terminal is some the best movie I’ve ever seen in my life.
Number 2. – The Fountain
This film is absolutely… amazing! I must’ve be in the minority, but I thought this was a true masterpiece. The epic nature of the love story is incredible and completely unique. It’s the ultimate spiritual movie that uplifts you out of your own reality and gives you so many meaning and symbolism that feels awe inspiring. The usage of space and time is like nothing anyone has ever tried to accomplish before. While it is mostly a sci-fi fairy tale, you never feel as though each segment doesn’t have power in itself. Hugh Jackman gave truly his best performance and Rachel Weisz did a beautiful job as well. While this certainly isolates itself from most traditional hollywood narratives, I think once you break it down it really isn’t difficult at all to understand or analyze. I like narratives like this with twists and turns. It’s really one one of those films where you can decide what it is, but for me, I think it’s about life and death and how if people fear death, then it’s something to be feared. But if you embrace death as a natural part of your life then you can live beyond death and have something different to look forward to. I liked the juxtaposition between the past, the (relative) present, and the future showing how religion and spiritualism has been around for a long time and is an important part of many peoples lives. Spanning 1,000 years and filled with linking metaphors between the three separate storylines, this movie is surreal enough that any explanation of the literal story can be refuted. Ultimately though it’s asking if it is a tragedy, or a story of timeless redemption. Is heaven on Earth? This movie raises a lot of fun questions about who we are, who/what we are from, and of who/what we will become a part. Not just anyone can watch this movie and understand it. If you are open minded and looking for a meditative experience, the powerful journey that is ‘The Fountain’ cannot be overstated. From the semen like sap of the ‘Tree of Life’ to the use of rings to convey deeper meanings and the 3 interwoven love stories, this movie is a masterpiece of symbolism and spirituality. This movie is not about a man’s quest to save the woman he loves, it is about Man’s quest for truth and enlightenment but through the inevitable path of his own selfish desires for everlasting life and fear of death.
Number 1. – The Lord of the Rings
What defines a fantastic trilogy; a captivating beginning, mesmerizing middle, and an epic end! J.R.R. Tolkien has made some of the most memorable fantasy books and one of his most famous works was the Lord of the Rings trilogy that still to this day is claimed to be one of the most read books in the world. In the past, there has been plenty of animated film adaptation from the books but they never seem to show the full story of the Lord of the Rings nor have they completed the saga. For a long time, fans of the novels dreamed about a true live-action the Lord of the Rings movie and thus a director named Peter Jackson came to fulfill that promise. He made it in ways that the film was intended to be, not in just one movie, but rather three separate entrées in order of the trilogy; first being The Fellowship of the Ring, the Two Towers, and the Return of the King. And each and every one of them stayed true to each novel with a little addition of few to minor changes. Saying which one is the best is anyone’s personal pick, but there’s no argument that all three of films are one as a whole. The saga is about one of the toughest tasks to do in throwing the one ring in the Volcano of Mordor to end all evil and for that being the toughest task is to go through the dangers, obstacles, wars, and evils that forbids the ring from being destroyed. This is a bigger-than-life quest and an epic battle against ultimate good versus ultimate evil. For the first film we are introduced to the ring in which Frodo and his friends begin their journey in destroying the one ring in joining with the Fellowship. In the Two Towers, the fellowship is disbanded, but the journey has not yet ended having all of our heroes separated to seek help against the power army of Sauron. Then in the Return of the King retains everything good from its predecessors and delivers an phenomenal conclusion. All the characters in these movies had to endure so numerous terrain, trauma, battles, and tragic events in order to finally destroy the one ring. The beautiful cinematography and directing gave us the full visualization of all of Middle Earth, and Peter Jackson captures the heart and soul of Tolkien’s masterpiece and fulfills the world of Middle Earth while simultaneously delivering a legendary tale of orcs, warriors, magic, and characters. The best quality of the Lord of the Rings is the accessibility and its presentation. Each & every one of those scene in the whole trilogy is significant, groundbreaking, and biblical. Whether if you’re a long time fan of J.R.R. Tolkien’s work or casual movie goer, this movie pleases all!
The Top Listed Movies of the 2000s
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