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The Best Films of the Decade: 2000

Fireworks2000.jpgWell here we are, rapidly approaching the big number of 2010, a number that would have meant someone would have had their space epiphany by now and we were finding that there was something amazing on a moon of Jupiter. The films have got it wrong. However with the passing of the date it's time to look back on the last ten years of cinema and see what we've seen, not what we haven't.

So I'm starting this quick fire series that will look at the best films of each year and see if you can pick the best of each year, and at the end, in the year 2010, we may just chose the best of the decade, with your help. So come on, get involved, speak your mind, otherwise the best film might just get overlooked.

I've looked at a mixture of the U.S. release lists, what some critics who I like to follow say, the box office figures, the most voted on IMDB, and just some of my personal favourites, and pulled out a list of films that I believe are the best of the year 2000.

After I've talked about a couple and shown you the list I'll open some voting, and for each year we'll keep the voting going for a week or so, revealing the winners at the end of the series, at which point we'll vote on the best of the best.

So, in no particular order:

Gladiator is a superb film, combining some of the great aspects of those old Hollywood epic films from the period of Roman history with modern film-making, and giving Russell Crowe a superb leading role. It's emotional and stirring from the music and visuals to the performances and the story, and it delivers some great entertainment and powerful punches. Joaquin Pheonix is a superb emperor for the Gladiator to do battle with, and there are two wonderful appearances from Richard Harris and Oliver Reed, Reed performing his last role before he died and a pretty amazing performance to remember him by.

Erin Brockovich
A strong performance by Julia Roberts, but deserving of so much praise? Well it fits the Oscar mould doesn't it? Woman from the wrong side of life picks herself up and fights for something more, taking on a job that seems totally out of her grasp but not only succeeding, but also winning a landmark court case at the same time. High fives all round.

The Patriot A film I never saw, but one which gave Mel Gibson some more exposure and was well received. To be honest the best war film he's been in is We Were Soldiers. I'm not sure about The Patriot considering it comes from Roland Emmerich, but it does also star Heath Ledger, Joely Richardson, Jason Isaacs, Chris Cooper and Tom Wilkinson.

Now here's a clever and innovative film that takes a seemingly unfilmable idea and does what you think can't be done. Not only did Christopher and Jonathan Nolan show us who they were with this film, but Guy Pearce stepped up and showed us that he's one hell of an actor and continues to deliver superb performances film after film. The story plays out the scenes in reverse chronological order, following a man who has lost his memory of everything since his wife was murdered who uses tattoos, notes and polaroids to try and keep track of his own memory and his tracking of the killer. Every morning he wakes up having forgotten the day before.

Requiem for a Dream
Now you may remember this film for one of the closing scenes and the beautiful Jennifer Connelly playing one of the most desperate and emotive roles she has ever tackled, but the entire film and story is one of despair and hopelessness, and yet it's a superb film that is deserving of being right up this list. It follows four people whose addiction to drugs spirals out of control, and we follow them all the way. It's a fantastic film and one of Darren Aronofsky's best.

For me Snatch is like Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, after a couple of viewings I didn't want to revisit it, and to be honest I haven't, despite the DVD sitting on my shelves. However at the time I was drawn to it and really taken in by the style, a style which seemed a lot more different to Guy Ritchie's first film.

This is the film that started off the X-Men film craze, and quite rightly so, for Bryan Singer's first film brings to life the characters from the comic books and cartoons and makes them very real. Pulling together some great talent including the stage actors of Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen, and plenty of other talented actors from Hugh Jackman and Halle Berry to Famke Janssen and Bruce Davison. The film started off a franchise that really doesn't seem like quitting. Still, this might well have been the high point.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
By this time general audiences were beginning to get used to Eastern cinema creeping into their films, but Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon took it all the way, introducing high wire flying during fight scenes, with some traditional Asian storytelling in both script and film, and not a Hollywood actor to be seen. This film opened up the way for others to follow in its path, and it did it with a beautiful style, wonderful (and beautiful actresses) and some fight scenes that the general audience could just marvel at. For breaking into western culture so heavily alone, this deserves huge consideration. Ang Lee together with Chow Yun-Fat, Michelle Yeoh, and Ziyi Zhang, made a spectacular and heartfelt film.

People like to beat up on M. Night Shyamalan a hell of a lot, and in his last film I think he deserved some kick back, but before then it was the popular bandwagon to be on, talent aside. That really annoys me, for I think Unbreakable is one of his finest films and everything is superb about it. Brining together the comic and real worlds like no other comic adaptation could have or has done, and producing a film that feels right on every angle, every beat. I honestly find it hard to find fault with the film and there are some scenes that capture the imagination and fire me up like no other film. Scenes like the build up to the crash, the hospital scenes, the walking through the station and understanding people, the kid and his Dad discovering what's special about his father, wondrous. It also did something special for me and Robin Wright Penn, it woke me up to what an amazing actress she is, as well as reinforcing the fact that Bruce Willis really can act. The scenes between them both when they stand at the doorway of her room are full of subtlety and the unsaid.

American Psycho
An iconic film, but I wonder if you look back will you consider this performance to be more of the same from Christian Bale? I think this is one of the ones that stands out for him, and although the film gained more notoriety for being the screen adaptation of the novel, I think it's worth a mention here, but not the best of the year.

O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Undoubtedly this was a significant role for George Clooney, allowing him to finally shed some of that old ER character charm and become the actor he is today, and to an effect it marked the beginning of him taking some very quirky and enjoyable roles. However I think some writes and directors are really a matter of taste, and the Coens can often be like Marmite. Bringing the epic poem The Odyssey to life in the 1930's and making it an enjoyable and much loved film is undoubtedly a feat within itself.

This film stays with me to this day and I still remember powerful scenes from it as well as the style it offered. Steven Soderbergh and Benicio Del Toro in easier days, with names like Michael Douglas, James Brolin, Dennis Quaid, Salma Hayek and many more in this huge cast that looked at four separate, but very connected stories, which charted the battle against drugs in America, all the way from the politicians to the front line. It's a tough film at times, but a hugely enjoyable one and highly recommended.

Thirteen Days
I think this is a highly overlooked film that brings together a superb cast of actors who deliver fantastic performances that chart a terrible time of crisis for the world as a whole. From the excellent Roger Donaldson comes a film which used actual recordings and documents to work through the actual events of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Bruce Greenwood and Steven Culp deliver great performances as John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy along with Kevin Costner as their Chief of Staff. It's a very tense and highly worrying film that really does capture the tension and paranoia of the time as well as bring home just how close to war America was with Russia. A superb film.

Well rather than me write about a never ending list of films, which I could so easily do, let me cut it short at that and list a few of the titles that didn't make the list and could so easily have. I'm still swithering about Finding Forrester. We'll see what you all say.

High Fidelity, The Cell, Pitch Black, Battle Royale, Chicken Run, Finding Forrester, Sexy Beast, Cast Away, Billy Elliot, Shadow of the Vampire, The Crimson Rivers, and Chocolat.

Those are the ones we could have had, but we didn't.

Get voting, you have a week, and in a few days let's look at 2001.





A favourite film of any year is as much about what I haven't seen as what I have. 'Memento' and 'Requiem for a Dream' are both films that have remained unwatched, will I waste away the hours watching films about space vampires ;-)

Still, when looking back over 2000, I was pleasantly suprised at how many good films were made. Had a quick peep at 2001 and that year looks even better.

Anyway, back to 2000... I went for Wong Kar-Wai's In the Mood for Love

Also worth a mention because its not listed anywhere above, is Chopper. A fantastic debut film from the guy who may well have directed my best film of the decade.


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