Tuesday, January 12, 2010

2000s - Movies

I figured I should join in on the best of the decade talk. I have read lots of lists and seen some consensus, but everyone seems to have their individual flair. I decided to go with a different criteria than the rest, so my list will not be filled with critically acclaimed artsy films. I am basing this list upon nothing less than "Rewatchability". I have seen lots of films that were good this decade, but it turns out that I don't want to watch a lot of them over and over again. I also notably left out some recent movies because I frankly don't know yet if I will want to watch them over and over again. So I made the following list counting down the films that I have watched countless times and that I think I will continue to watch in the decades to come.

10. Gladiator

This movie is known for its action sequences, but the famous monologue that screams righteous defiance is the pivotal point in the film. "My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, Commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions, loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next." The cheap political pandering that Commodus tries is still a tactic used today. The movie is probably short on historical accuracy, but comes up big in its defining moments.

9. Lord of the Rings: the Two Towers

I will admit that I own the super-extended version of the series. All 13 hours of it. But what do I want to watch over and over again? The Battle of Helms Deep. The main ideas that it conveys are that you can "Lay Down and Give Up or Fight for what You Hold Dear" and that "There are No Neutral Parties because all are affected". Like its predecessor, the cgi balrog scenes are great to watch. Gimli and Legolas baiting each other during battles successfully lightens the mood. The scene with the Uruk-Hai smashing their shields in front of Helms Deep is the most memorable point in the film.

8. National Treasure

For History Channel nerds, this movie had enough truth in it to make it enjoyable. Everyone loves a good treasure hunt as well and this movie delivered. Its just a fun film to get in to. I am sure that the historical sites have had to beef up security because of tourists wanting to see the 'secret passageways' and such. Nicolas Cage plays his stereotypical self, but for once it may actually be called for.

7. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

This is a film that caught people of guard with its strong characters that defied convention. It is way too much fun and humorous for a swashbuckling tale. The film also defined Johnny Depp. His quirky self keeps reappearing in other films such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Alice in Wonderland. It will be interesting to see if he can escape the typecasting. The film's successors tried to remake the magic, but the original is by far the best. "I think we've all arrived at a very special place. Spiritually, ecumenically, grammatically."

6. Harry Potter

Yup, I am one of these people. I have read all of the books. I have seen all of the movies multiple times. For some reason these are comfort movies for me. I do not think that they are Oscar worthy; but when nothing else comes to mind, I will watch any one of them. My favorite so far is The Prisoner of Azkaban and its time travel sequence. Like almost all instances, the books are better. The later ones are so long that they cut out many key things in the films. If you need more of the backstory, read the originals.

5. Elf

This over the top bowl of sillyness is always good for a laugh. The notable quotes are abundant and the fact that it does not take itself too seriously adds to the humor. If you have a chance, check out the soundtrack as well. Faizon Love's scenes as the Gimbel's manager are probably my favorite. Who can forget: "Buddy the elf, What's your favorite color"

4. Night at the Museum

Another nod to us supposed smart people. The humor is slapstick and is frankly my style. Mickey Rooney (Andy Hardy movies) and Dick Van Dyke (tons of stuff, with Diagnosis Murder being the most recent) are old favorites of mine and they play their part well. The scenes of Ben Stiller and Dexter, the capuchin monkey, slapping each other are great. Octavius and Jedediah are greatness together. Like many fell good movies, it has a great dance scene at the end. This light-hearted fun is a great way to unwind.

3. Oceans Eleven

The movie Maverick said it best: "there is no more deeply satisfying religious experience... than cheatin' on a cheater." This series epitomizes that phrase while being quite humorous. The movie leaves out details on purpose until the end and then it seems so obvious and so doable when in reality it is not. The second film got all artsy and such a key point was left out so early, it was infuriating. The third film was better and included the famous line: "Willie Bank: This town might have changed, but not me. I know people highly invested in my survival, and they are people who really know how to hurt in ways you can't even imagine.
Danny Ocean: Well, I know all the guys that you'd hire to come after me, and they like me better than you.
" These films get better with each viewing. Why is that? Well, now that you know the entire story, you can search for all of the connecting pieces that were purposefully left out. In this way, watching things happen in chronological order is fun vs. the order that they actually tell you. This series is also about the legitimization of Matt Damon. He moves from bumbling novice to running the show in the three films. His bumbling youngster routine has hopefully been left behind for good.

2. Ratatouille

This is a very close 2nd for me. Pixar created a lot of quality in the decade. Their films as ranked by me are Up, Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc., The Incredibles, Wall-E, and Cars. But the creme de la creme for me is this film. The writing is superb, the delivery is well timed and not forced. The animation is more than good enough. This is my comfort film. I can go to bed with a smile on my face after watching it. I love Skinner's line: "Let us toast your non-idiocy." Peter O'Toole's delivery of the best line is magnificent: "But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so."

1. The Bourne Identity

I debated about putting this here, but in the end I had to. I am fairly certain I have seen this movie more than any other during the past decade. I know that I saw it 4 times in theaters. This film came out right after I studied in Europe. I was at both the Zurich and North Paris train stations right before I saw the film. I knew the climate over there right after 9/11. This movie resonated. I still enjoy the tale and find myself enjoying the sequels more and more. Marie Kreutz's cynical line: "Nobody does the right thing." is probably a view held by more people than will admit it. I love how this was a throwback film. I say that because after The Matrix came out in 99, everyone went to the super-stylish computerized fights. Next came Mission Impossible 2, The latest Bond films, X-Men, and Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. Now compare those to the action sequences in this film. They suddenly felt both raw and plausible. It reminded me somewhat of the film Bullitt. The sequels were good, but it took time for me to warm up to them. The Supremacy seems better with every passing year. The Ultimatum seemed a little over the top, but then again it was more about closure. The uniqueness and timing of the Identity hold up. By far my film of the 2000s.

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