Friday, December 4, 2009

Best Movies of the Aughts

As I have promised, I am starting to consider the decade from 2000-2009 now that the next one is nigh.  As my past six months of blogging or so have indicated, I am a big fan of movies and my tastes run the gamut.  I like to be entertained and occasionally moved.  My standards are that, nothing more than that, so I may not have high falutin' tastes and most folks should disagree with me!

Two notes: only movies I have seen myself, not movies that everybody thinks is swell; and some clips will have inappropriate language, drug references and the like.

First, the best comedies (not necessarily in order):
  • Shaun of the Dead/Hot Fuzz.  Both movies are simply wonderful--they are funny, contain some decent action and play very snarkily with two of the classic genres--the monster movie and the buddy cop movie.  Hot Fuzz actually plays more in my head--the Greater Good--than Shaun but the latter takes the Z and runs with it. 
  • Team America:  Trey and Matt engage in a wonderfully profane send up of the action movie and then some.  They show little mercy, and they do it all with marionettes.  And it is a fantastic musical (montage is safe for work). 
  • Tropic Thunder: Of all the movies of the past ten years, this one made me laugh the hardest.  It just hurt and hurt.  And Robert Downey Jr was simply amazing as the Australian method actor playing a dude playing a dude.
  • Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle:  The best trash movie of the decade.  The basic quest movie with drugs, sex and a career-changing cameo by the now legend-(wait for it)-ary Neil Patrick Harris. 
  • Best in Show: Dog show, neurotic people, great talented people riffing. 
  • Anchorman: 70's San Diego, the best comic fight scene I have ever seen. (although the clip here is very weak but the best I could find).   No commercials, No Mercy!! For that alone, this movie rates top ten status.
  • 40 Year Old Virgin: The best of the Apatow gang's efforts, although most of the others rate pretty highly as well (Pineapple Express and Superbad could go here as well).
  • Borat.  Very nice.  With Letterman to sell the movie.
  • Hoodwinked: Best animated comedy of the decade, wildly underrated with perhaps the best performance by a mountain goat of a decade.  Plus Anne Hathaway and schnitzel on a stick.
  • Hangover.  Ok, Harold and Kumar might have been replaced by this movie as the best trash movie of the decade. I mean, Mike Tyson!!  "I don't know they gave out rings at the Holocaust."
  • Dodgeball.  I cannot believe I originally forgot this one.  The movie contains the best parody of a 1950's instructional video and the best cameo by an athlete (Lance Armstrong's withering contempt for Vince Vaughn).  Plus the five D's of dodgeball: Dodge, Dip, Duck, Dive and Dodge.  Not to mention the best send of sports coverage--ESPN Ocho!

Second, best drama/action (many more movies to consider):
  • Spider-man (and the second one as well): Perfectly realized the comic book.  Iron Man is nearly in the same class.  Perfect casting, some nice twists on the old story (webbing!), and a very creepy villain.  Doc Octopus was great in the second. Sam Raimi was given a great responsibility and handled with class.  Plus some Bruce Campbell in each one.  Just amazing.  Dark Knight is a great movie with some fantastic scenes and a phenomenal performance by Heath Ledger.  But the movie has a big flaw--the Joker has too many completely unbelievable traps (the ferries, the hospital, etc) that could not have been done on the fly and would have been detected.  X-Men and X-Men 2 are pretty close as well, but Spidey just rocks.  From Aint It Cool on S-M 2:

    And if Mary Jane's "Go get 'em, Tiger" didn't have you walking out of the theater on air, you weren't a Spider-Man fan to begin with.

  • The Incredibles.  I think this move is superior to the Pixar flicks likely to make it onto the various lists (Wall-E and Up).  Classic superhero tale with some very nice takes--no capes indeed.
  • District 9.  Pretty sharp movie on its own and with the social/political parallels.
  • Flags of Our Fathers/Letters from Iwo Jima.  Together, just a great effort to show war from two opposing perspectives. 
  • Lord of the Rings.  Seriously in need of editing, but a great realization of a classic tale.  Complete with some wonderful lines (Don't Tell the Elf!)
  • Memento.  Insert lost memory joke here.
  • Beautiful Mind.  The best depiction of mental illness plus some game theory.
  • GladiatorYes, I was entertained.
  • Bourne Identity:  Best of the three.  Adrenalin
  • Brokeback Mountain: Great performances, path-breaking, potentially society-altering movie.
Close calls include Casino Royale, June, Little Miss Sunshine, United 93, 300, Sin City, Hotel Rwanda, Last King of Scotland, Cast Away and the Harry Potter flicks. 

Best Documentaries (I don't see many):
  • No End in Sight.  Devastating account of the Iraq War's "planning."
  • Fog of War.  Robert McNamara considering the lessons learned through the mistakes he made.  Quite spooky given the parallels to Rumsfeld, including their appearance.
 Other categories?  Omissions? Arguments?


Clancy Zeifman said...

You should check out Man on Wire, if you haven't already. Certainly one of the better documentaries I've seen in the last couple years.

Jacob T. Levy said...

Some stuff on here I'd argue with, but none more than the execrable Beautiful Mind...